Sunday, December 30, 2012

The birds and the bees...and food, sleep, water and sunshine

All of the children have come down with the flu this past week, but thankfully Alan and I haven't gotten sick. (He's been sequestered in our room and office, while the kids were confined to their rooms, and I've been the constantly-sanitizing go-between.) So tonight the kids were all feeling up to sitting together on the couch and watching a movie or two. After a couple of rounds of Battlefield Hollywood, Anaya and I opted for The Sound of Music. 

When we came to the scene where Liesl and Rolf kissed, there was much discussion. Anaya informed us that she would not be kissing anyone like that until she found the man she would marry. Then as things resumed, Seth followed up with his own musing.

"Boy, she's going to be surprised when the baby comes."

"What baby?" I asked, suspicious I knew the answer.

"The baby that comes from kissing."

"Well, Buddy, it takes more than kissing to make a baby."

"Yes," volunteered Anaya. "You have to sleep together to get a baby."

"Well, it's not just sleeping," I hedged. "It takes more than that."

Skyler submitted his theory. "It takes food and sleep and water."


"But Mommy," he added, "does it also take sunshine?"

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Blessings abound!

In checking the website that updates us on what drug trials are available, we have discovered that our doctor is finally approved to do a trial with the drug combo we have been waiting for! It is an all-oral treatment (no miserable shots) and Interferon-free (nasty drug with particularly bad side effects, both while in treatment and long-term afterward). And it is exciting to see that so far, it looks like the treatment will only be 24 weeks, instead of the 48 weeks that is mandatory with all drugs presently available (which would mean Alan feeling like he had the flu for almost an entire year).

The website also listed qualifications to be included in the study, and based on everything listed, it looks like Alan will qualify for the treatment. We are afraid to get excited yet...but cautiously speaking, it looks like great news! :)

So, we don't know when yet, but it looks like we will be able to start the treatments soon (likely January or February). Alan will have appointments with two specialists in Atlanta on January 2, so we should know more after that.

Also, my friend Susanne Vyhmeister has been working diligently on getting approval for nonprofit status for the ministry she is setting up to help us and others like us who are in ministry and are unexpectedly bombarded with treatment expenses. Immediate, huge expenses for the MRI, biopsy and other things are past for right now, and so far Susanne's huge efforts have helped raise $1,125, for which we are immensely grateful! Things like eating organic food, juicing, and child care while we are gone to appointments in Atlanta add up bit by bit, but if Alan is able to get accepted into the drug trial, that will help with at least some of the costs regarding drugs.

So, thank you all for your prayers and support! I can't tell you how much they mean to us. Over and over I am learning that when we invest in loving others, the investment comes back to us with great returns, just when we need it most.

Blessings and merry Christmas to you all!


Friday, November 30, 2012

A fiery preacher

"Dear Jesus, make us like fireworks. Amen."

Seth prayed this puzzling prayer, then opened his eyes and looked up at me. "You know how we should be like fireworks? We need to light lots of other people's lights, and then they will go out everywhere to preach the Gospel all over the world!"

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Update on Alan's health

Just a quick update: Alan is at Eden Valley Institute in Colorado for nine days. He is getting natural treatments to detoxify his body and boost his liver function. While some of the treatments are challenging (hour-long hot baths with your temperature hovering around 103.5, anyone?), we are hopeful that this will boost his body and help him to regain energy and immunity. Getting sick is a constant threat, as the doctor has warned that a bout with the flu or other serious illness could be life-threatening. So we appreciate your support and prayers as we continue soldiering through this ordeal. God has blessed with overall very few significant side effects from the hepatitis C so far. Alan's previous growing fatigue has not returned so far since his anointing in September.

We are still waiting to hear more about the potential for medical treatment in the near future. We have not heard yet whether he will be eligible for the drug trials starting in January or February in Atlanta, but there are several indications that there are several promising drugs coming in the near future that will have neither the intense side effects during treatment nor the long-term negative potential effects that are inevitable with the treatments currently available. So we are waiting uneasily. Please pray that God will guide us to exactly what treatments will work best for Alan.

Thank you all!

Shrewd insights or shrewed insides? Yes...

The other day I had the kids out working in the garden with me when the boys disappeared. After a few minutes, I sent Anaya around the front of the house to look for them and bring them back. I heard shouts, and Anaya came running back around the corner of the house.

"Mommy, we can't come now! School is happening in the front yard!"

When homeschooling mommies hear announcements like that, there is a momentary thrill of, "Yes! They get it! Life is meant to be crammed with learning!" followed by a "Whaddaya mean, 'school is happening'? I said come to the garden!"

"The cat caught a little animal, like a mouse or something!"

Muttering under my breath about who gets to decide when school happens and whether people need to come when I call, I ventured around the house and joined the kids, who were crouched, enraptured, watching the cat toy with a shrew that had apparently already gone toward the light. After a few minutes, I decided we had gleaned all the "school" possible. "Let's get back to the garden now."

"No, Mommy!" shrieked Skyler. "We want to see its insides!"

Now, I am firmly committed to welcoming my children's curiosity. I don't ever want to give them the impression that blood and guts are gross and disgusting. I want them to embrace life and learn to explore. I am committed to helping them discover whatever is laid upon their precious little hearts.

But not enough to ooh and aah at the guts of a shrew.

"We're not staying here to watch the cat eat it."

"But Mommy," wailed my youngest, "how will we ever know what's inside it?"

"We'll look it up on the Internet," I suggested cheerfully. "Come on, let's go."


Suffice it to say, I persuaded the budding surgeons to reluctantly abandon their science project to its just owner, and come back to the garden and resume work (if you could call it that). But about half an hour later, Skyler came bounding delightedly back from an excursion to the front of the house. In one hand, he held a makeshift platter of nameless trash, with the carcass of the shrew perched on top. In the other hand he held a large rock.

"Look!" he shrieked in unabashed glee. "The kitty left it! Now we can see what's inside!" He set his platter down and lifted his rock ominously.

"Augh! No! That's not how you see what's inside!"

It took some persuasion, but I finally agreed we'd figure out what was inside the shrew. (But not by smashing it.) And the next day found a cheerful nursing student (Thanks, Deborah!) ready to dissect the shrew with the kids--only to discover that the original murderous mortician had reclaimed the body for her own scientific exploits.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The dangers of teaching children to write...

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the 9-year-old author and do not necessarily reflect those of the parents of said author. (This was not an assignment; Anaya just wrote it in her free time. I had no idea she was writing it until she presented it to me.)

Freedom for woman

Woman have a lot of freedom but men have more. Men can be pasters woman can in some places but not all places. can woman own a house. but who takes care of the house? woman do. when a woman marries a man that his last name is parker the woman last name is parker. Men have more power. If men have more power what do woman have? Nothing. If men are the ones Who own almost anathing. What do women have? the things men don't own.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Latest MRI results

After nearly 2 1/2 weeks' wait, we got back the results of Alan's MRI. No cancer! There is still evidence of cirrhosis on it (we expected that), but we are praising God for the blessing of not having cancer. Alan will have to have screenings every 6 months for the rest of his life watching for cancer, but as long as he doesn't have it, his chances of recovery (or at least stability) are strong.

We got a few other pieces of info from the doctor, but I'll update you more later. Just wanted to keep you all posted and thank you again for your prayers.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Update on Dr. Parker's health

For those of you who are following our blog and praying for Alan's health: thank you all SO much! Despite Alan carrying a full load of work this semester, since his anointing, he continues to have energy equivalent to what he had before the accident in March (when he was hit by a car while crossing the street--the painkillers he had to take after that accident apparently affected his liver pretty severely, and we were unaware at the time he had hepatitis C). This energy boost is a direct answer to prayer. Before the anointing, he was exhausted by lunchtime and had to have at least one nap nearly every day. Now, he only needs naps if he doesn't get enough sleep at night.

Last week we went to the (fourth) specialist. Dr. Pearlman is an expert hepatologist (not herpetologist) and a very friendly, warm man. His passion is helping hepatitis C patients, and it is clear he knows exactly what he is doing. He is hoping to be able to help with a drug trial starting in January/February of 2013, with a drug combination that will be considerably less damaging and miserable for Alan than any other treatment presently available. Every other option we have includes interferon, a substance the body produces when a person has the flu. Interferon treatments basically make a person feel like they have the flu throughout the treatment. Fevers, chills, exhaustion, nausea, headaches, low red or white blood cell count, and other draining side effects are the norm. Worst of all, if a person does not respond to interferon treatments, or the treatment has to be discontinued (which happens frequently because of the severe side effects), the patient is far less likely to ever respond to any treatment in the future. But it looks like it is possible we will be able to do a treatment without interferon. Please pray that this will work out, if it is best!

We have been told there is about a 60-70% chance that any treatment available, interferon-based or otherwise, will be able to conquer this particular strain of the hepatitis C virus (1b). However, Dr. Pearlman was very encouraging as he shared his enthusiasm about the latest developments in treatment for hep C. He feels confident that even if Alan does not qualify for this treatment (and we should know next month if he does), within the next year there will be several good options for other drug trial treatments.

For those who are enthusiastically encouraging us to try natural remedies, we are doing what we can in the midst of our busyness. We have started juicing with organic vegetables, and Alan has been walking to work whenever he can. He also has started going to the gym to work out (since it is getting cold now). We don't have the money (or the faith) to invest in a lot of the expensive therapy courses that have apparently done wonderful things for other people, though we are thankful that so many people care about us enough to share the information. (Thank you all!)

Some kind and generous friends of ours, Susanne and Bryan Vyhmeister, have started a fundraising campaign to help us raise money to help with our unexpected medical expenses. Whatever you donate will go toward the cost of organic food for juicing and eating, child care during doctor's appointments, etc. If we get enough, it will help us cover the cost of sending Alan to Eden Valley in Colorado for treatments (hopefully in January when he has a little more time). But please don't feel obligated to give. We know that God will provide for our needs, as He always has.

There is also a wonderful FB page that the Vyhmeisters have started for us, PrayforAlan. It is exciting to me to see how many people are praying for us (451 right now!), and that is also a way to get brief, regular updates on our progress.

This week we should get back results from Alan's blood work last week, and also from the MRI. The doctors are wanting to be sure he doesn't have any signs of liver cancer, but so far we haven't seen any, so we are optimistic on that front. We will let you know, here and in the PrayforAlan group.

Thank you all! Blessings!

Problem resolved

Last week as I read to the boys about Daniel being taken away to Babylon, I tried to make it more personal.  "Can you imagine how sad Daniel and his friends were when they had to leave their family and never see them again? What would you do if you were taken away from Mommy and Daddy and would never see us again? Would you believe that God wasn't loving, and listen to Satan's lies? Or would you always resolve to follow God?"

"I would resolve to follow God!" Seth assured me.

"I would wesolve to follow God, too," Skyler declared, "whatever wesolve is!"

Lesson learned

A chronic complaining habit has been plaguing our house lately, so during yet another paroxysm of "the blues," I decided a little parable was in order on the way home from church.

"Anaya," I began, "have you ever heard the story of the woman whose house was too small?" As the story unfolded and the woman's complaints to her husband escalated, the boys stopped their backseat chatter.

"So the woman went to her pastor and told him about her problem. And do you know what the pastor told her?"

"No, what?"

"He told her to bring the goat in the house for the week."

As the goat walked all over the woman's toes and interfered with her work all week, everyone in the back seat was quiet (oh miracle of miracles in itself!). Then when the woman returned to church a week later, she told the pastor what a terrible week it had been with the goat in the house. I asked, "And what do you think the pastor said?"

"To take the goat out?"

"Nope. The pastor said, 'Now bring the chickens in the house too!"

The kids giggled as the chickens spread feathers in the soup all week and pecked at the woman's hands as she chopped vegetables, while the goat stepped on her feet. "And when she went back to church the next week, she told the pastor what a terrible week it had been! And he said, 'How big is your bedroom?' And what do you think the pastor told her to do?"

Anaya was ready. "Bring in the cow!"

So another week passed rapidly in our story, with the cow lowing beside the bed all night, the chickens pecking all week and the goat eating out of the trash can.

At the end of the final week, of course, the pastor told the woman to take the animals back to the barnyard, and predictably, the woman was thrilled at the spaciousness of her house.

"Anaya," I queried, "did you learn anything from this story?"

"Well, Mommy..." she demurred, "I would rather just think about it and not say."

"No problem," I agreed. "Boys, did you learn anything?"

"I did!" Skyler blurted. "Don't tell the pastor anyfing!"

Sunday, October 14, 2012

In everything give thanks?

Last night was the final meeting in a three-day series of meetings with Doug Batchelor, and after three late nights, the kids were uber-hyper by bedtime. I couldn't stop the boys from giggling, and exasperated, I finally had to spank them to get them to quiet down. Finally I instructed them all to stay in their beds at all costs, and closed the bedroom door to muffle the howling.

Since we have a guest this week (So glad Randy Siebold could squeeze in a stop at our house!), Anaya was sleeping in the boys' room. Within a few minutes of putting them to bed, she crept out of the room to me.


"This better be good. What are you doing out of bed?"

"Mommy, I just wanted to encourage you. Remember, 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.'"

A few minutes later she was back. "Mommy, I just wanted to let you know something. I heard Skyler making noise in his bed, and I thought he was talking. But then I listened and he was singing, "Rejoice in the Lord always."

Well, at least something is sticking.

Weally sweet

I overheard the boys in casual conversation this morning and it warmed my heart.

Seth: "Skyler, do you wonder if God is real?"
Skyler: "No. I just know He is weal."
Seth: "Yeah. Me too."

Friday, October 12, 2012

Blessings and miracles

Two weeks ago today Alan was anointed by several close friends within his pastoral circle. We all prayed together for God's will, and if it be for the glory of God, for Alan's healing. Many of you joined us from afar, and we sensed the presence of the Lord with us powerfully.

I am delighted to report that while we have evidences that Alan is not completely healed, he does have significantly more energy than he had for some months prior to the anointing. We observed this immediately. Alan has not needed a nap every day when he came home for lunch, something that has been nearly indispensable for some time. And he has been able to get by on 8 hours of sleep or less per night. This was an immediate answer to prayer, and nothing short of miraculous.

I have total faith that God can heal my husband, and that if He does not, it is because He has something better in store through this situation. But it has been a great boost of faith even for me, to see that God has done something miraculous to intervene in our situation already.

Whether this is a temporary miracle to enable Alan to accomplish the many extra responsibilities heaped upon him right now, or a permanent blessing, we do not know. We are simply grateful for the blessings as they come.

We are also very grateful for the prayers that so many are sending up in our behalf. Thank you all, so much! We know that prayer does not change the heart of God, but it changes us. It enables Him to pour out blessings that will make a difference for good in our lives and the lives of others in our support network. If we do not pray, we are likely to take for granted whatever blessings are given to us.

Please pray for us specifically this week, that our appointment with the specialist on Wednesday the 17th will go well. If possible, we hope that Alan can qualify for a new drug combination that may have a trial in Atlanta starting in January. We are afraid to get our hopes up, but if he qualifies, it would make it possible for Alan to finish treatment in only 24 weeks, instead of 48. He also might escape some of the terrible side effects of other drugs, and have a higher likelihood of recovery.

Thank you all again. We are so, so grateful for all of you, and most of all, grateful to God for sustaining us through everything.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Anointing service

We are having a small, private anointing service for Alan this evening at 6:30 pm EST. Wherever you are, feel free to join us in prayer. We are praying that God's purpose be fulfilled in our situation, and surrendering everything to Him.

For those who are unfamiliar with the ceremony, anointing is not a demand that God use His power to heal. Rather, it is a ritual demonstrating our surrender to His plan. Scripture tells us to anoint anyone who is sick, and have the elders of the church pray for him or her.

While we pray for healing and express our complete confidence that God can heal Alan, we are surrendered and at peace with whatever God chooses to do in our situation. The anointing service will be an expression of this faith.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Echoes of faith

And despite everything else going on in our lives, our children remain the personification of joy and fun.

The other night, when my sister was staying with the kids (date night! Yay!), Seth prayed an interesting prayer. "Dear Jesus, please help us to be like echoes. Amen." After his prayer, he looked up at Valerie and asked, "You know how we can be like echoes? When we tell other people about Jesus, they will tell other people, and they will tell other people. Like ripples in the water."

Sweet little guy, he's so right. May the echoes of our faith ring until Jesus comes!

All things work together

We've been so blessed by the outpouring of love and concern from our friends, and even some strangers, over this past weekend as we shared with all of you our recent challenges with Alan's diagnosis. God has created us for community, and we find such healing and encouragement in the support of others. As God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone." Even Adam's life in a perfect garden with God Himself as a Companion wasn't complete without human fellowship.

But the greatest strength I find is in the promises of God. If that sounds shallow, it is probably because you have not been where we are today. Right now there are promises I want, promises that God doesn't give. I want Him to promise that my husband will not get very sick during treatment, and even more, will recovery quickly and completely. I want promises that God will intervene and take away all unpleasant circumstances.

I don't have those promises.

Instead, though, I have better promises. Promises that God will never leave me or forsake me. Promises that He will not allow more than we can bear. Promises that nothing really bad will happen to our family. Because He has said that He will make all things work together for good to those that love Him.

I can do that!

I don't know how I can possibly handle some of the potential outcomes of this crisis, but I know how to love Him. I know how to trust His promises. God is who He says He is in His Word--I stake my life on it.

So like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, I feel like we stand before the fiery furnace of affliction. "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace....But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Maybe we will be burned by the furnace of affliction. Or maybe God will do something miraculous and prevent that. Either way, God is with us, and we are part of a mighty brotherhood of faith. We don't need circumstances to testify as to whether He is loving and powerful, as He says He is. Some of our "cloud of witnesses" were delivered by chariots of fire; others were beheaded in cold dungeons. All were delivered by God, and all will someday stand together on the Sea of Glass and testify that His grace was sufficient.

There are times my heart fails at the thought of trials that may be ahead. But through everything I have a wonderful peace and absolutely solid assurance: God is going to use this situation to glorify Himself. By that, I don't mean He is a glory hog, or that our suffering is irrelevant to Him. Far from it!

I mean God is going to use this to prove that He is good, and to change us into His image. He is showing the universe that He is love, that His law of love is the best way to rule the universe, and that He can transform even sinful people into His image of selfless love. And even better, He can use any circumstance--even ones that are against His will--to contribute to that process.

 All things DO work together for good, for those who love God and have committed their lives to Him. I know He is coming soon to deliver us from pain and darkness, and to conquer the enemy forever. And trusting that puts everything else in my life into perspective.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A different kind of blog post from the usual

Years ago, I started this blog as a way to keep my mom updated on the amusing happenings in our household (since I couldn't remember them all well enough to tell her on the phone). Over time, she and I told other people about it and it metamorphosed into a window into the Parker household.

Well, it's still a window into our household, but some of the goings-on are likely to surprise you this time. They've certainly surprised us.

So...this post is an update on a new beginning in our lives. Not one we anticipated or would have chosen, but apparently one that God sees can bring blessings to our lives. Trusting that God is a God of love, we believe this new journey will teach us many precious lessons about the character of our faithful God.

Alan decided to write this update in his own words.

Dear Friends,

A number of you have been asking about my health, and we wanted to share publicly what has been happening so we can clarify the rumors and also solicit your prayers.
During the summer, we followed up on some routine blood work that had indicated elevated liver enzymes. The result was shocking. I have hepatitis C, and have likely had it for several decades. For those of you who don’t know much about the disease (as we didn’t), it is a virus that attacks the liver, slowly causing inflammation and scarring. Most people who have it show little to no symptoms and are unaware of the disease for 20 to 30 years. It is not easily transmitted, except through infectious needles or blood. We are not sure exactly when I caught it, as I had both blood transfusions and surgery during my childhood and youth in Africa. Since the virus was only discovered in 1989, transmission through blood transfusions was common.

At the end of the summer, I got a biopsy to determine how far the disease had progressed. Unfortunately, I have stage four liver disease, known as cirrhosis. A normal liver is stage one; an inflamed liver is stage two; a hardening or mild scarring of the liver (known as fibrosis) is stage three. Stage four is when there has been permanent, irreversible scarring of the liver and is the last stage before liver failure. While there are many potential complications, the greatest risk is the development of liver cancer, which occurs in 20% of all cirrhotic patients. Even without cancer, if the virus remains in my system, the condition will likely worsen and I will need a liver transplant.

I don't feel sick. Like most patients with hepatitis C, I don't experience many symptoms. Other than some mild fatigue and insomnia (that we had initially put down to the stress of my accident in March), I feel fine. I have continued to engage in my regular teaching and evangelistic ministry and we could almost fool ourselves that I do not have a potentially life-threatening disease. But the biopsy and test results are clear. Unless we do something, as our specialist put it, there will likely be severe liver complications within five years.

We have been through the cycles of good and bad news. First, we found out that there was medical treatment available that was able to clear the virus from over 80% of patients.  Then we got the bad news that I have the worst type of virus (known as Type 1), which has traditionally only had a 35% success rate. Then there was more good news. In the last two years, new drugs have been made available which have doubled the rate of success for Type 1 patients. Then more bad news, as we found out the potential side effects of treatment were severe, including fevers, fatigue, rashes, anemia, a lowered immunity, depression, nausea and a host of other unpleasant possibilities. About 15% of patients have to stop treatment because they can’t tolerate the side effects.

We have visited three liver specialists and talked to numerous doctors in our friendship network such as Neil Nedley, Mike Hollie and John Chung. It is clear that there are no natural remedies that will kill the virus. While we are taking steps to be as natural and healthy in our diet as possible (and fortunately, we had already been eating a healthy diet), we have no other recourse but to pursue treatment. There’s a danger in posting this publicly, as every person who has found a natural remedy to work for them will try to persuade us to adopt it so that we can fight this disease. We’ve looked into this extensively and we have not found a single person who has been cured of Hepatitis C by natural means.

So while we are convinced that we will do treatment, we are still finalizing what that treatment will be. In October we will see a fourth specialist to consider a clinical trial. There are several new treatments that claim to have better efficacy and less side effects. However, they are not publicly available as they are still being approved by the FDA. We are going to be carefully looking at our options before making a final decision and we hope to start treatment by January. My treatment is expected to last a full year and we will not be able to do any significant travelling or speaking during that time. Our hope is that I will clear the virus within the next year and then begin restoring my liver. We are hopeful that with natural remedies and a healthy lifestyle we can avoid a liver transplant.
We would appreciate your prayers as we move ahead. With three young children (who vaguely understand what is happening) and a burgeoning ministry, it is a little scary to face our own mortality. We are planning on an anointing in the next couple of weeks and believe in God’s restorative power (whether by medicine or more miraculous means!) Regardless of the future, we are grateful for your support, and most of all to our loving God, who never allows more than we can bear. We are confident that even though He has not ordained suffering, He uses it as part of His great plan to change us into His image, and to reveal to the universe that sin (not pain) is the enemy. Whatever is ahead, His hand is over our lives, and we trust His loving care.
Alan and Nicole

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Oh rats!

We have a rat.

Which, being an optimist, I like to think is better than having seven rats.

Here's our latest acquisition.

The story is, we were working out in our vegetable garden Sunday. (For you Americans, I know "garden" already means "vegetable garden," but for the sake of the Africans/Europeans/etc., we have to specify this.) Now, I love our garden, and having a beautiful garden area was one of the main reasons I fell in love with this house. But gardens come with an unfortunate feature, weeds. This could have a been a manageable phenomenon, but due to circumstances beyond our control (traveling quite a bit, and other things I'll mention sometime), our veggies have been sadly neglected this summer. The garden has bravely fought back and produced an admirable amount of delightful food, but finally the weeds were getting so tall they were going to seed. It was getting difficult to find the food nestled in their depths.

It was time. We vowed to devote Sunday morning to beating back the invaders.

We were blessed by two wonderful surprises: first, our dear friends Zeke Vasquez and Thomas Beihl offered to come help us, and second, the Klingbeil family offered to come help the same morning! We were delighted.

So we launched the assault. It was a huge success! But after an hour of digging, plucking and ripping out what seemed to be miles of weeds (specifically morning glory vines that had taken over the watermelon patch and suffocated everything else), Zeke called to me that something was squeaking under the weeds. With a little effort we located the source of the protests--a nest of pinkish-gray baby rodents!

We guessed at their identity for a little while (moles? mice?) before I saw the mother's head dart out of the weeds. A rat! Argh!

Squealing babies were strewn around under the weeds, but we eventually located six babies (and later a seventh). Mommy Rat amazed us with her courage by coming out from under the weeds, despite the herd of six human children and a few adults scattered a few feet away. She marched across the bare ground and picked up her children, one after another, five times. Marveling at her chutzpah, we let her do her job. (And now we have seven rats somewhere in our back yard. But we're not thinking about that. Well, actually, we are. What were we thinking?! We DO have seven rats! All outside waiting to invade our walls this fall!)

Her mothering instincts were sharp, but apparently other instincts weren't as well-honed, because when she came back for her sixth child, she looked around and wasn't able to locate it. (This was primarily because she was standing on it both times.) Eventually she gave up and disappeared. We found another hapless guy under the bushes soon after, but both were left in the abandoned nest in vain. Either Mom never finished first grade math, or she figured five kids were enough. Can't say I blame her. Whatever the case, one of those two disappeared sometime during the afternoon. When I went back to check around 7 pm, one pitiful baby rat remained. Foolishly I stooped to examine her wee little face.

And we acquired a rat.

In case you can't tell from the picture, said rat is currently the size of my thumb, from the knuckle up only (plus a tail). What you also can't see is that she has a voracious appetite and is getting me up twice a night to eat.

The rat adoption was met by varying degrees of enthusiasm. Needless to say, the kids were thrilled, and all clamored to hold her. Daddy was less warm in his welcome, though (generous as we are) the kids and I allowed him the glorious privilege of naming her. After several of his thoughtful suggestions, Snake Snack, Drat Zadie made her official entrance into the family.

At least, for now.

And no, you're not the only one questioning my sanity. I am myself. Regularly. Especially at 1 am when I am crawling out of bed to feed a rat.

I never thought I'd own a rat. Especially not such an adorable one.

Friday, August 17, 2012

And again I say, rejoice

Skyler has a perennial problem with being afraid of the dark. We've tried all sorts of remedies for this (light on in the hallway or bathroom, singing, praying, listening to Your Story Hour on CD, etc.). Recently we have tried letting him go to sleep holding his tiny orange New Testament in bed with him.

"Mommy," he pleaded one night, "would you pyeeze read something fwom the Bible for me?"

Not wanting to turn on the light, I knelt beside his bed, took his Bible, and opened randomly. Then I began to recite Psalm 23. Since I was doing it from memory, of course it ended up being King James Version.

When I got to "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." I saw his eyes light up with merriment, even through the darkness.

"Mommy," he sputtered in glee. "Why does it say "Yay!" in the Bible?"

Raising little ministry fans

Last week we went to the ASI convention, a once-a-year grand melee of friends, acquaintances and strangers milling about in blissful fellowship. It's also an opportunity for the kids (and me!) to roam the aisles of the exhibit hall, picking up freebie promotional materials from the many booths promoting their ministries there.

The kids' favorite promo this year was hand-held, tiny mechanized fans from It Is Written. They merrily buzzed each other with them and were thrilled with the lights spelling "It Is Written" on the whirring fan blades.

Apparently other ministries had fans, too. After one trip to the exhibit hall, Skyler whispered to me in awe, "Mommy! I saw some other fans, too. They were the kind from ancient times!"

Prayers from the heart

One of my favorite times of day is when the kids pray before hopping into bed. Yes! Silence on the horizon! Here are some of my favorite recent prayers.

"Help people, like the people in Chatta-noo-ga, to love Jesus."

"Help the Christians to not be in prison."

"Help me to be a real friend, who talks to You and reads Your letters, and really, really be Your friend."

"Hep us to be like the dinosaurs. To eat only plants."

Ladies first

This morning in worship, we read about Elijah and Ahab. Afterward, I talked with the kids about the worship of Molech. "Can you imagine if we worshiped Molech? If one morning Daddy and I came downstairs for breakfast and said that something bad is happening to us, and we need to sacrifice one of our children to Molech?"

Three pairs of round eyes stared at me.

"Skyler," I invited, "What if we decided to sacrifice you? You are the littlest, after all. It would be easiest to catch you."

"And what if something else bad happened?" Anaya chimed in. "You might have to sacrifice Sethie next! And then me!"

"Actually, Anaya, since you are a girl, you might be sacrificed first."

Skyler put in his two cents' worth now. "You know that 'girls first' thing, Mommy? I think girls should be sacwificed first."

Monday, July 30, 2012

That's yife

Seth is into punning and clever word plays now. He loves nothing more than humor. As we often say, the development of humor is an ugly process. :) (I could mention the endless knock-knock jokes that don't make sense..."Knock knock! Who's there? Dinosaur. Dinosaur who? Dinosaur that wants to eat you! BAHAHAHAHA!" But...nah...I won't mention those.)

But the other day, he came up with a cute one. "Daddy, what color is the sky?"

"It's blue."

"It's not blue. It's blue-tiful!"

We all had a good laugh at his cute shot at humor. But later, a puzzled Skyler (who still can't say L) asked me, "Mommy, when Sethie said the sky is byoo-tiful--why is that funny? The sky is byoo-tiful."

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Same world, different planet

At lunchtime today, I called for everyone to come eat. I heard Anaya parading slowly down the stairs and around the corner. "Anaya is gone," she announced. "She went...somewhere. And I am a queen," she added pompously, with a fair imitation of a British accent, "visiting from a faraway country. My name is Elizabeth."

Well, far be it from me to get in the way of my children's imagination. (Does this explain why they refuse to color in coloring books, and instead plead for plain white paper, so they can draw their own designs?) Queen Elizabeth, decked out in a slithery purple dress-up scarf and a Middle Eastern dress, joined us for lunch. The conversation centered around the religion in her country (which she informed us eventually was "Zim-bobz-we"), the peculiarities of ours, and our need for servants like they had (can't agree more there).

"Where are your servants?" queried Her Elegance.

"Right there, there and there," I replied, pointing to Anaya, Seth and Skyler.

"I'm not a servant!" Queen Elizabeth was shocked.

"Well, then, there and there."

"You just have your sons as your servants?"

"They're not very effective," I acknowledged, "but they're all we've got."

Eventually Queen Elizabeth tired of her meal with us, bade us a gracious farewell, and went out the door to return to her country. Anaya exploded back in the door a moment later, gasping, "Didn't you love Queen Elizabeth? Wasn't she amazing? I love her!"

Zeal not according to knowledge

This morning Skyler came bounding into our room with an announcement. "Mommy, I just went outside and yelled, 'I yuv you, God!' I did it two times." He paused. "I thought He would yike that."

Life is too busy!

And my first post in 2012 is in...July. The end of July, actually. That's pretty bad.

But anyway...I need to get going again. Life has just been exceptionally busy this year. I basically put almost all extracurricular activities on hold while I focused on schoolwork with the kids, and getting our lives organized and structured.

I started homeschooling in earnest this past January, and Anaya whizzed through all of first grade and 3/4 of second by the end of April. Seth made it 3/4 of the way through first grade, too, though considering that he's only 6, I am afraid we're getting going too fast, too soon! In general, I believe in starting later rather than earlier, to prevent burnout. But he was eager...and here we are.

So anyway...I'm trying to resume blogging. Got a lot going on in our lives. I'll try to say more about that later.