August 2011 archive

First Day of School Layouts

I survived the first week of the kids going back to school! But of course, they didn’t get any homework. I suspect next week they will get down to business.

Yesterday we went to the Pro Shop and ordered Alex’s competitive figure skates and blades. She can hardly wait for them to come in. We took my mother-in-law out for her birthday dinner last night. She chose Rib City. They have serious ribs there. We all had melt-in-your-mouth-no-need-for-sauce-ribs. But I am a sucker for sauces… This is the one restaurant that I KNOW my kids will eat well at. Parker (4-years-old) complained that her rib basket didn’t have enough ribs in it. I think she could eat a whole 1/2 rack by herself!

Today we are being lazy, doing laundry and watching Back to the Future (I, II, & III) on cable. I had such a crush on Michael J. Fox…and if you were a teenager in the 80s, you did too! Admit it.

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Get Your Craft On! Today’s Creative Blog

Women Who Inspire | The Mercy House

Today I receive 3 new Christian music CDs in the mail from EMI. I won them from Kristen at  We Are That Family (and The Mercy House). Although winning something is always awesome, I really wanted to introduce you to the double-force behind  The Mercy House.

Kristen, living in America, is mobilizing support for Mercy through her blog and donations. Her partner in Mercy is Maureen, who is working in Africa.

The Mercy House was established as a safe haven for young pregnant girls in Kenya, Africa. The young girls accepted into The Mercy House have no safe place to call home.

The stories are all different. Yet all the same. They are all filled with unbelievable pain: Step-fathers forcing themselves on young, scared girls. Orphaned pregnant girls sleeping on the ground, scrounging for food because they’ve been kicked out of their house. And finding girls too late, suffering from the trauma of self-aborting, injuring themselves, then trying to commit suicide.

God has given us a dream to build a house of mercy in the heart of Africa to help heal and offer hope to pregnant girls.

The Mercy House Shop sells beautifully made jewelry and art made from recycled magazines. The girls at The Mercy House craft these one-of-a-kind creations to sell. 25% of the sale of these items goes into a fund for the girls’ future, the other 75% goes back into The Mercy House to sustain monthly expenses.

The girls are taught living skills for the future, such as sewing, meal preparation, and cleaning. The girls also receive prenatal care including ultrasounds and blood work.

The Mercy House is a testament of God using women to leave this world a better place than they found it.  That is why Kristen and Maureen are Women Who Inspire.

May God richly bless The Mercy House in the years to come.

Have researchers found the cause of ALS?

SUNDAY, Aug. 21 (HealthDay News) The apparent discovery of a common cause of all forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) could give a boost to efforts to find a treatment for the fatal neurodegenerative disease, a new study contends.

Scientists have long struggled to identify the underlying disease process of ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) and weren’t even sure that a common disease process was associated with all forms of ALS.

In this new study, Northwestern University researchers said they found that the basis of ALS is a malfunctioning protein recycling system in the neurons of the brain and spinal cord. Efficient recycling of the protein building blocks in the neurons are critical for optimal functioning of the neurons. They become severely damaged when they can’t repair or maintain themselves.

This problem occurs in all three types of ALS: hereditary, sporadic and ALS that targets the brain, the researchers said.

The discovery, published Aug. 21 in the journal Nature, shows that, all forms of ALS share an underlying cause and offers a common target for drug therapy, according to the researchers.

“This opens up a whole new field for finding an effective treatment for ALS,” study senior author Dr. Teepu Siddique, of the Davee Department of Neurology and Clinical Neurosciences at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a university news release. “We can now test for drugs that would regulate this protein pathway or optimize it, so it functions as it should in a normal state.”

This finding about the breakdown of protein recycling in ALS may also prove useful in the study of other neurodegenerative diseases, specifically Alzheimer’s and other dementias, the Northwestern researchers said.

ALS afflicts an estimated 350,000 people around the world. About 50 percent of patients die within three years of the first symptoms. They progressively lose muscle strength until they’re paralyzed and can’t move, speak, swallow and breathe, the researchers said.

For more information: ALS Association.

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I have written about ALS before. My step-father suffered with ALS for over 10 years. That is almost unheard of. He lost his battle with the disease on July 4, 2011. To read more about how this disease affected our family you can go here and here. These findings are very exciting. I pray that better research will some day result in better treatment and a cure.

My 4-year-old, the thief?

Yesterday was the first day of Pre-school for Parker. And it was the first day she became a thief!

My sweet, precious daughter smuggled a small teddy bear out of the school under her sundress…in her underwear!

So this reminds me of a story my mother fondly told of her childhood…

Mom’s twin sister, Bonnie, stole a candy bar and hid it in the seat cushion of the family car. She planned on retrieving it later on in the day.

Well, Bonnie thought my mom had beat her too it. She thought she had destroyed the evidence by eating the chocolate bar. Mom insisted she wasn’t the one who ate the candy car. It wasn’t until years later they found out who really ate the candy bar…it was their older sister Marylin!

Some say every child tries to steal something at one point. They test. If they are lucky, like Parker, they get caught and learn a very valuable lesson. We talked about how you shouldn’t take things that don’t belong to you and how we were going to make it right. And she did. This morning she took the teddy bear into the classroom and told her teacher she was sorry for taking it. I didn’t have to steer her in the right direction.

This was a good parenting moment. Lately they have been few and far between. 

{Mom’s childhood story was updated thanks to my sister, Shannon. Apparently I hadn’t remember the story correctly. They say the mind is the first thing to go! Thanks ‘lil sis!}

How “other” mothers live.

Do you think about how the “other half” of mothers live? Not that other half…the wealthy-with-a-nanny-kind-of-mother. I am talking about the “other” mothers living around the world who are living in poverty, despair, daily fear, and anguish.

I do. I think about “other” moms around the world a lot.

Today, the other mother will watch her child suffer and will be powerless to stop it. Does she pray at night for the suffering to stop?

Are her prayers answered?

Today, the other mother, living in Somalia, makes the choice of leaving one of her weakest children behind to die because she has to keep walking to save her other five children from starvation. What hope does she have for her child’s future?

Today, literally thousands of children are dying daily in Somalia of hunger and their Mother’s can’t feed them. Food donated to aid organizations are being stolen and sold on the black market; never making it to these children.

Today, the other mother has a 3-year-old son who is working hard labor in a granite quarry in Nepal. Does she wish her son could “just be a kid”?

Today, the other mother lives in a home that is a shack in Kentucky. Her children sleep with blankets stacked high on the bed because they only have one wood stove to heat the whole house during the winter. Does she wish for her daughter to go to college?

Today, the other mother has a 9 year-old son who is an ex-child solider in the Ivory Coast. Is she proud of her child or does she cry herself to sleep at night?

Today, the other mother comforts a daughter who is gang raped as initiation into a street gang in Denver. Does she wish for her daughter to find a “good man”, get married and have a family of her own?

Today, the other mother, just a child herself, is raped by her father. Now pregnant, she is banished from her village, her family. She is lives on the streets. Desperate, she gives herself a botched abortion, then commits suicide.

Today, the other mother will be lured into selling her daughter for a better life in American. But what she may not know is she has sold her daughter as a sex slave to be raped and abused daily by her “owner”. She is powerless to do anything about it.

Today, the other mother is trapped in an abusive marriage. She is either physically or mentally abused, or both. Her children are beaten and/or molested by their father. She thinks she has no way out.

Today, the other mother is so desperate for a better life for her children she is willing to risk her and her child’s life being stuffed in the cargo hull of a boat just for the chance to get into this great country. Or, she pays her life savings to a man to sneak her across the border in a U-Haul truck, only to be caught by INS and sent back to her home country.

Why am I so lucky? Blessed? These mothers around the world aren’t so different from me.

There is no such thing as “other mothers”. We are all mothers. We have the same hopes, the same wishes, the same dreams, the same prayers. I think their prayers may be more desperate than mine, but they are still the same.

Ultimately we want the same things for our children.

We want our children to be safe. We want our children to grow up strong. We want our children to grow up, period. We want our children to be happy and healthy.

We blessed mothers must look out and help the other mothers. It’s not their problem, it’s our problem. Because mothers need to stuck together.

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Lord, I pray for the other mother today. You have blessed me so, Lord, I ask that you bless and protect and guide her in time of need today. Shelter her, Lord. Walk with her today because she needs you so. In God’s name I pray. Amen.

In the Moment | Photography

I’ve been “playing” with my DSLR camera again. I am re-learning f-stop, shutter speed, blah-blah-blah. Once I put away my SLR camera 10 years ago and went to a point-and-shoot digital I forgot it all! You’d think it would be like riding a bike.

Parker (4 yrs-old) has learned to tie her shoes!

Alex doing cartwheels in the street.

A sweet bee enjoying the Hostas blooms.

Missouri Primrose ready to bloom.

"Keep calm and do not be afraid." Isaiah 7:4

I call these "button daisies" but I am sure that is not correct!

Tonight we are meeting with the last ice skate coach and then we need to decide on which coach to go with. Alex is very excited. I am anxious. Wish us luck.

My 15 Minutes of Fame.

I will never be famous. I never want to be.

I wouldn’t want to live like Jennifer Aniston; consistently being hounded, stalked, living with no privacy, where a picture of me would be worth a million dollars.

But I did come close.

Okay, not really close, but my name and photo was printed in the local newspaper.

That's me in the middle...Excuse the 80's hair!

My senior year of high school, my friend Sherry and I entered a poster design contest. The challenge was to design a theme for the Missouri anti-drug program, “Mo Says No”. I guess you could say this was the start of my graphic design career.

Our concept was using a deck of cards with pictures of various drugs and alcohol on each card; fanned out like a losing hand in poker. Sherry and I worked for weeks on this poster. We drew out the cards and hand-painted the drugs and alcohol illustrations with acrylic paints. We laminated and hand-cut the lettering for the headline until our hands were sore. What I would have given for a Mac back then!

“Mo says No…Because there are no winning hands in drug and alcohol abuse.” Clever, right?

Then the day came that our art teacher told us we won…honorable mention.

Not first place, but it was still a big deal for two small town girls with no real idea what the heck we were going to do with our lives. We got a write up in the Versailles Leader-Statesman and we even traveled to Jefferson City to meet the Governor.

And the following fall, during the Versailles Apple Festival, we stood center-stage on the “Mo says No” parade float. Sherry and I wore beautifiul ball gowns. Mine was a sky blue jewel incrusted gown with puffy sleeves and Sherry wore dazzling red chiffon. We waved and smiled from atop the float to our adoring fans…oh, sorry, I was daydreaming!

But seriously, there was a parade float, but I was off at college so I wasn’t there to see it. I hear it was lovely though.

That is my 15 minutes of fame. If you can call it fame.

So, what was your 15 minutes of fame?

A Nightly Prayer.

Before the ending of the day,

Creator of the world we pray,

That you, with love and lasting light,

Would guard us through the hours of night.

 

From all ill dreams defend our eyes,

From nightly fears and fantasies;

Redeem through us our evil foe,

That we no lasting harm may know.

 

O wisest Guide, grant all we ask,

Fulfill in us your holy task,

Surround us with your love and care,

And lead us on, your life to share.

 

All praise to God, sustaining us,

Redeeming and transforming us,

Thanksgiving in eternity,

All praise, beloved God to thee.

 

–From “A New Zealand Prayer Book”, p. 177

Women Who Inspire | Amanda Lindhout

Photo from msn.com

I know this is all over the web today but, seriously, I cried this morning when I first heard this story on the Today Show.

Amanda Lindhout is truly a Woman Who Inspires! 

In 2008, Amanda Lindhout was a freelance journalist in Somalia when 
she was kidnapped and began 15 months of nightmarish captivity. But 
today she has returned, determined to make the country a better place.

Check out this link to read the whole story: Once a kidnap victim in Somalia, she returns to help.

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