Monday, March 30, 2009

Spring Break '09

We are home from our vacation at the beach!!! What a wonderful seven days we had in Lincoln City at a beautiful beach house with our good friends. It was a full house the whole week. With 6 adults and lots of kids; we kept so very busy!

The weather wasn't the best, but hey, it's the beach, that's to be expected. We went down to the beach and played even in the rain. The first half of the week was mild in temp and had light rain but the second half was very stormy! No matter what the weather was like it is still very beautiful there. The kids loved playing in the ocean even though it wasn't sunny.

We enjoyed our dear friends from Eugene the first three nights. The Ulms and the Seidels were in our small group while we lived in Eugene. It was fun to reconnect with them and the kids had fun getting know their friends again. Scotty Seidel brought his projector. he put up a white sheet and we watched movies on the big screen. We also had the privilege of seeing some pictures of their time in Africa. I was amazed at how well everyone got along and how well behaved the children were.

Then on Wed. our friends the Perkos and Braatens joined us for the rest of the week. We also had an extra teenager; Mandi's friend, Rachelle came for the second half of the week. We took a trip to Tillamook and toured the cheese factory and went to an Air Supply concert at the Chinook Winds on Friday. Mandi and Rachelle babysat for us. We had so much fun -dinner, concert, and then karaoking. (Amanda and Kelly sang, Michael and I just watched.) I need to work up some songs before embarrass myself. I was very impressed with Amanda's and Kelly's performance. American Idol watch out!

The concert was the highlight of Michael's trip! He loves those old 80's ballads. I had heard of them but never really listened to them, I was in middle school at the time. Most of the people at the concert were older. They were a little before my time. I did enjoy the concert and may now listen to some of those old 80's songs with Michael. That would make him happy!

It's good to be home and sleep in my own bed, but it was a great week. Our family will have wonderful memories of this vacation and boy do I have lots of pics to show. I took over 400 pictures!! Here are some pics of the week!

Pictures of the first part of the week!

Pictures of the second half of the week!

Oh, and by the way- the music you are listening to on my playlist is Air Supply!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Beach, Family, Friends and Fun!!

We leave tomorrow after church for our Spring Break vacation. Michael found a great beach house in Lincoln City and we are sharing it with good friends. The first part of the week will be with great friends from Eugene. Both families were in our small group there and are so very special to us. They each have 3 kids who are around the same ages as Emma and Josh.

One of the couples have spent the last several months in Africa as Missionaries. They had been there a few years back and were able to return this last year. Unfortunately it has been hard health wise and needed to return to the states. They just returned this last week. We are excited about spending time with them and giving them some time to rest and relax before putting all the pieces back together in Eugene.

Then we have the pleasure of spending the second half of the week with good friends from Redmond. Again, there will be two families joining us.

This week should be very fun and hopefully relaxing. It is suppose to rain most of the week, but no worries, it's the coast and that's what you expect in the spring! We are praying though for some sunshine so the kids can use the beach as their playground.

Today was packing day. I can't believe how long it takes to pack for a weeks vacation. There is so much stuff to remember. I always think it is easier and will go quicker than it actually does. I was so blessed today to have my wonderfully sweet mother in law help me do all the laundry and pack the kids. I hope it didn't wear her out too much.

This week will be computer (Face book and blog) free, cell phone and t.v free, except for an occasional movie. I just want to focus on my hubby and children and have awesome family time. To sit and play games, or read books or take long walks with then is what I am looking forward to. Of course, I wouldn't mind some girlfriend time at the outlet mall or a little quiet time for myself. I'm hoping to get it all!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kari Jobe

This last week I was introduced to a new Christian artist, Kari Jobe. I bought her new cd that came out in Feb. on itunes and haven't been able to stop listening to it. Her worship music is so refreshing, absolutely beautiful, and worshipful. I found her MySpace page which has clips of her songs from her new album for you to listen to.

The clip below is from YouTube and it introduces Kari Jobe and her heart for ministry and worship. Make sure you pause my playlist on the right side of the blog so you can hear her speak. Then when you are done you can unpause the playlist and listed to a few of her songs that I love.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Family Fun Night!

The last several days Emma and Josh (who have been sick with bad colds and fevers) have been cooped up in the house. I stayed home from church with them today just to make sure that they weren't contagious and would be rested enough for school tomorrow.

Somewhere around 4:00 after we watch "White Fang" the kids just went bizerk (is that how you spell it?). The fighting started, they were yelling and screaming at one another and all "hell" was breaking loose. I, myself was going crazy. Usually, I would sent them outside to run off some steam; to tire them out a little, but not today! the weather is rainy and it's very blustery. The last thing I needed was for them to get sicker.

Michael turned to me and suggested that we get out and find something to do. What can you possibly do on a Sunday evening in rainy weather that doesn't cost anything? H suggested that we go to the church. That is exactly what we did. After stopping by Wal-Mart for a cheap pizza and bottle of Root Beer we headed to the church to used the auditorium/gym to run laps, play kickball, and play a little basketball. I cooked the pizza in the kitchen while Michael ran them hard. Then after we ate I joined in on the fun and had a nice workout myself.

I usually exercise on the elliptical but tonight I ran several laps around the gym and ran up and down the basketball court. I'm embarrassed to say that my children lapped me a couple of times and even out played me in b-ball. My 5 miles on the elliptical seems like a piece of cake compared to what I did tonight. Whew- I'm sweaty, tired and feeling good! The kids are looking a little tired too.

Then Michael started playing the keyboard while Jeff played the drums, Emma played the tambourine and little Josh sang. Mandi and I were dancing around the gym, probably looking very funny! I know Mandi tried to take a picture of me but the battery ran out. I am so happy about that! She herself has a blog and could have posted it for all to see.

When my children start to act up like this I tend to overreact without thinking why they are doing what they are doing. I mean really, when I've been cooped up in the house for several days without little outside activities I can get the same way. All we needed was a change of pace, some different scenery, and a little activity.

I think we are all going to sleep well tonight and I think this fun family activity will be a repeater. The kids want to do it every weekend. We'll see how long that lasts!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Happy Birthday to our little miracle!!

Today is the 2nd birthday of my niece, Natalie. Her story is a miraculous one and I want to honor her today by telling it.

First, I should start off by saying that this is my sister's second child. Kimberly is my only sibling and we are only 16 months apart. For several years, after getting married, she was unable to get pregnant. I know that this brought a lot of pain and heartache to her and Jeremy, her husband. I remember so vividly, like it was yesterday the day she miscarried. She was driving up to Eugene to welcome our final child, Joshua. It was during this trip to meet her second nephew that she miscarried. The birth of a child and the loss of a child all within hours. I can't explain the many emotions we were all feeling.

20 months later, we received the wonderful news that they were expecting again. Many people were praying for this pregnancy and 9 months later they were blessed with a very healthy baby girl, Isabella. We have all heard stories of how God works in mysterious, funny ways. I know that God has a sense of humor because three months after Isabella was born, Kimmie found out she was pregnant again! After 7 years of no children, could it be possible that She was to have two kids one year apart, or even closer?

Sure enough, on March 11, 2007, Natalie Rae decided to present herself to this world, 6 weeks early. Kim told me tonight when I called her to get all the facts straight that it was daylight savings time - so, Natalie even came earlier.

Natalie weighed in at a whopping 4 lbs 4 1/2 ozs. For being early, she had a very high apgar score of 8 points, and all seemed well. She was taken over to the Salem Hospital because Silverton didn't handle preemies. Kimmie and Jeremy remember holding Natalie for only a handful of minutes before they whisked her away to the hospital in Salem.

Shortly after Natalie was taken to the Salem Hospital, the doctor detected a heart murmur. They decided to do an echo gram which was done by a technician and not a doctor because the only heart doctors were in Portland. They did four echo grams on her and found out that Natalie had: Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD), which is a hole in her heart. She also had Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) and Patent Ductis Arteriosus(PDA). I am still unsure what these last two are.

Kimmie felt very uneasy about Natalie being in a hospital that didn't have a heart specialist. She called our Pediatrician Grandpa, Natalie's Great Grandpa and talked these concerns over with him. Grandpa encouraged Kim and Jeremy to push for Natalie's transfer to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland where they were more skilled in dealing with heart defects. It has been so nice having a Grandpa who is a doctor. We have all utilized his expertise at one time or another. I drove Kimmie up to Portland behind the ambulance. We were so scared and in shock of how fast things were moving. Looking back I am so grateful that I was with my sister that day.

Once at the new hospital, many test were done on little Natalie, who was just a few days old. The test results came back that she was indeed dealing with these multiple problems and one other major one, Coarctation of the Aorta. This is the narrowing of the Aorta which is what causes heart attacks. The Aora was so narrow that they said she could die at any time.

Surgery for this was immediate. In fact, all the other patients that were scheduled that day were pushed back to give Natalie, who was just over a week old first priority. It is very rare that they do a surgery on a baby under 4 pounds, unless it is life threatening because of the risks involved.

Natalie's Pediatric Cardiology Surgeon was Dr. Iguidbashian. We remember him having such large hands for having to do such an intricate surgery on a newborn. He also ended his sentences with, okie dokie? Kind of funny and quirky huh? Kimberly said tonight that this doctor is "one of her best friends," if you know what I mean. Someone she and Jeremy will never forget and will always be thankful for.

Natalie came through the surgery and all had thought that now she could recover and get well. Yes, there was a huge road ahead with other possible surgeries but the worst was over. Or was it?.

The doctors were hoping to wait until Natalie's 2nd birthday to perform the other surgery that needed to be done but the four days after her first surgery she steadily got worse. Her breathing became more labored and it was imminent that they would have to go in and do open heart surgery on such a tiny baby under 4 pounds and close the hole that was in her heart.

We were on Spring Break and I was outside of Mo's Restaurant in Newport when I got a call from my sister. She finally broke down with me on the phone and shared that the doctors gave little hope for baby Natalie. Can you imagine hearing that? I was starting to plan a funeral in my head and preparing for the worst. We drove to Portland to be with them and family while Natalie was in surgery.

I was amazed at how strong my sister was handling it. Here she was, just days after giving birth by C-section, pumping every 2 hours so that Natalie would have a great supply of breast milk and Kimmie wouldn't lose her milk, and living at the McDonald house with Jeremy and Isabella their 10 1/2 month old. She told me later that it was just before the second surgery that she went by herself to the chapel and was able for the first time to pray and pour out her heart to God. She also decided then and there that no matter what happened to Natalie she would continue to trust and follow God. It was God who was giving both her and Jeremy the strength so they could be strong for Natalie. It is through hard times like this that one's faith in God is not only tested but can be strengthened.

Fast forward a bit. Natalie ended up being at Legacy Emanuel for a month before being transported back to Salem. She was at the Salem hospital another two weeks to recover until she was a certain weight, temperature and proved to be eating well. Natalie's total hospital stay was 6 weeks. Natalie was able to come home on April 21 which was her original due date.

Praise the Lord that they were able to bring home their little miracle. The first couple of months of having Natalie home proved to be challenging. It is always a major transition when a baby has spent it's first few weeks of life in the NICU, but the JOY of knowing your daughter is on the road to recovery greatly out ways the challenge.

Now I get to tell you more about this miracle baby than just her medical procedure.

Today, Natalie is a very active, curious, talkative, lovable toddler. Kim and Jeremy call her Curious George. You would never know by looking at her that she had such a rough start at life. This firecracker is the BOSS. Yes, even the NICU nurses at the hospital saw that in her and named her that. Natalie is so very funny and boy does she have a little sense of humor. She brings out tons of laughter from everyone who meets her especially her older sissy, Isabella. She loves to be touched and cuddled and is sweet and sensitive. I love it best when she is eager to be held by me, and shows affection by giving me lots of hugs and kisses. She just melts your heart.

Over the course of the 2 years that she has been alive, I have had the privilege to watch her a handful of times while her mommy and daddy go out. In changing her into jammies, and seeing her long but now fading scar, I am reminded of what a miracle she is and that she is truly a fighter. We are all thankful to the team of doctors who performed these intricate surgeries on her. We are thankful to God that he is Sovereign and that He is the Great Physician. He must have a very special life planned out for this girl. I also know that this experience has grown my sister and husband both in their faith in God and in their love for each other. They are such wonderful parents.

Natalie is doing great. However, at her 6 month they found a fifth defect. She has a left bi-valve instead of a tri-valve which is the most important valve that pumps fresh blood through the body. Dr. Kyser from Legacy Emanuel follows her and monitors her progress every six months. In the last 18 months it hasn't gotten better or worse. The doctor doesn't want to do another heart surgery unless things get worse because of the risk of surgery. This may continue like this for many years which means that Natalie needs to be careful with the activities she does, as to not put too much stress on her heart.

We continue to pray that complete healing will come to Natalie, that her heart will be strong and that this last defect will go away. Whether this happens or not, we continue to give much praise and glory to God for bringing this precious child into our lives. She is a living testimony of God's miraculous ways.
Natalie at one year!

Kimberly and Jeremy with Natalie and Isabella

Sunday, March 8, 2009

(Mandi) Kuhlman's 1st


Sitting here upon my bed
Spinning thoughts around my head
Can't explain the pain I feel deep inside

I can't seem to make it through
This hard day without You
Guess it simply goes to show I need You

I cry out to You and I know You're there
I cry out to You and You hear my prayer
I cry out to You and I know You're there
I cry out to You 'cause I know You care

Now I know that You're right here
Ridding me of all my fears
Helping me to know the truth you are here
Holding me in Your arms

I cry out to You and I know You're there
I cry out to You and You hear my prayer
I cry out to You and I know You're there
I cry out to You 'cause I know You care-

I cry out to You and I know You're there
I cry out to You and You hear my prayer
I cry out to You I will seek Your face
I cry out to You and receive Your grace

Music and Lyrics by Amanda Janae Kuhlman and J. Michael Kuhlman
© 2009 Amanda Janae Kuhlman

Mandi wrote this song for the talent show at school. She wrote the lyrics and Michael helped her put it to music. It is such a joy to see my teenage daughter grow in her relationship with God. She truly is learning to cry out to Him in all situations and let Him take control. She has experienced some painful times in her life. The job losses that we have gone through, the many moves that we made and my battle with cancer have been major times of growth for her. Through these tough times she has been gradually learning how to fully rely on God, realizing that He is there with her and cares deeply for her.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

How many words do you speak?

Click on the commic to read it better

I have always found it amazing how God made woman so verbal. If given the chance we could talk all day! Then their is the male who can take a whole day of events and condense it into just a few words. No wonder men are from Mars and Women from Venus!

Of course there is always the exception. I have a 10 year old son who can speak nearly double a mans total words in a given explanation or an event that happened that day in school. I can't believe how that kid can talk. Sometimes, I am guilty of not listening to all the details and waiting for the main point. I am almost always telling him to give me just the facts, not the play by play.

Then there is my now teenage daughter who has fewer words than a mummy. I can hardly get a word out of her, unless it is something she is crazy about...boys, and friends. Believe me when I say, I am so happy when she finally does open up and want to talk. I rarely have to ask her for just the facts.

I think that I am a normal woman who tries to get in my allotted 20,00 and Michael is truly a typical 7,000er, but he must use them at work because he ain't using them at home.

I think the best example of a couple using their allotted words is when you get them alone in a car for a very long road trip. I must keep the conversation going the whole trip (unless I am sleeping) so that there isn't any quiet moments. I will talk about anything and everything. I absolutely hate silence, because, obviously there is something wrong if we are not talking. Right! Then I start to analyze what he's thinking because he's not responding or talking back. Why can't I be secure in the silence of our relationship? Why do I have to fill every second? Maybe he has something important or wonderful to say but I just squelched it by not shutting up.

I obviously have to much time on my hands right now to analyze this or maybe, just maybe I am trying to use up my 20,000 words because I spent the whole, entire day with Joshua and didn't talk to a single other woman until 3:00 this afternoon. Which reminds me of my phone conversation with a fellow pastors wife.

She called me while I was in the pick up line at school. She happened to be behind me in line and thought we'd talk by phone. I ended up monopolizing the whole phone call and had to talk a mile a minute about my problem of losing weight. Really, I needed someone to listen to me because my husband just doesn't understand. Then it was time to get off the phone because we were at the front of the line. The next hour I couldn't shake the fact that I made the whole conversation about me. Maybe she had used her 20,000 words and didn't mind me using mine on her! Or maybe I didn't give her a chance to talk.

God mad men and women so incredibly different, He definitely created women with a greater tendency toward verbal expression than men. It's not bad for us to express ourselves with words or wrong for men to be less verbal. But it does mean that we, as women, must be especially careful about how we use our words.

Here is a thought to ponder- Of the 20,000 words a day that women use, how many of them are being spent helping and encouraging others? How many words are spent tearing others down? How many are spent in a selfish or prideful way? How many are spent in anger? How many are spent carelessly and without thought? How do I use most of my words?

Ouch!! I am so convicted right now!

All of this is making me think I should use my words a little bit less and start to use my ears. To everyone who talks to me on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis- please remind me to listen to you if I start to blabber away. Listening is something I could learn to do a little more with my kids, husband, and my friends. And most definitely, when I do open my mouth, I need to choose life giving words. Words of love, encouragement, and wisdom, and other ways that I am not thinking of right now.

“She opens her mouth
in wisdom, And the
teaching of kindness is
on her tongue.”

Proverbs 31:26

Monday, March 2, 2009

It's Monday Again

I love the weekends when my husband and kids are home and we can enjoy each other. The business of the week is gone and we can slow things down a bit. But the down side is that the house gets messy.

Then Monday hits and boy does it hit hard! I can't ever seem to get my body going, it wants to continue to be lazy and stay in the comfort of my bed. OK, it's not just Mondays but most every day. I don't know how my kids do it. They pop out of bed 5:30 ish to greet the day and they are off running. I've pretty much got them trained in the whole school routine so that I can role out of bed a half and hour before they leave for school, just enough time to touch base about the day and kiss them goodbye.

The best is when one of my children decides to bless me by emptying the dishwasher before they leave. This particular task is NOT my favorite. I would rather, vacuum, dust, do laundry, take out the trash, clean a toilet than unload a dishwasher. I know it doesn't take too long because I have timed it. Seriously! One day I was really fighting with the fact that the dishes were piling up from the day and started complaining to myself about how if the dishwasher was unloaded then I could easily load all the dishes. So I decided to time how long it took. 3 minutes and 45 seconds!! Wow! That didn't take too long. Now I don't see it as such a huge task. But I still don't like it!

This morning happened to be the morning that little Miss Emma decided to empty and load the dishwasher before she left for school. She even told me to leave any hand washing dishes for her to do after school because she loves hand washing. Does this child belong to me? What a perfect surprise for me, especially on a Monday! Oh, did I mention that my love language is acts of service? Yep, I feel really loved this morning! I think I'll get a sweet little note for Emma and stick it on her desk at school when I take Josh. She really values words of encouragement.

Well that is all I can write for now, because it's Monday and I have a lot of acts of service to do for my family so that they feel loved. Do you read how I am trying to syke myself up to clean this darn house? Some days are just like that, I have to remind myself to clean with a happy heart and do it unto the Lord and out of love for my family. Some peppy music helps too.

Have a wonderful Monday!


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