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RSV :: Hudson’s Story

With 6 kids and a limited income, I’ve become an expert at researching my kids’ sicknesses and staying out of the doctor’s office whenever possible. Despite all the wonderful medical info online, I often find myself drawn to personal stories written by parents describing their experiences with their kids’ illnesses. Since we’ve experienced hospitalization with RSV, I thought it was my turn to write a story in hopes that it will be helpful to parents looking for answers.

Please note that I am a stay-at-home mom, not a medical professional. Please consult your doctor concerning your child’s illness.

 

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Meeting their baby brother

Hudson :: Background

Hudson is my 6th child. He was born much like the rest… fat and healthy at full-term via a vaginal birth. He came home from the hospital right away with no issues. Unfortunately he was born in December and straight into flu season.

How it began

At 3 weeks Hudson became very congested which caused very noisy breathing. I figured it was just a cold. But when his temp went above the infamous 101 mark, I took him to the ER in the wee hours of a Sunday morning. Of course by the time they took his temp, it was down in normal range. They took a urine sample and hooked him up to the oxygen and heartrate monitors. Being that it was 3am, he quickly fell asleep. With nothing else to do, I watched the monitor and noticed that the oxygen saturation would occasionally fall to 88, even 87 once. This would sound an alarm but no one would come in the room. As the number went up, the alarm went away. This happened again and again. Finally I googled “oxygen saturation” and learned that a reading of 87 is very dangerous. I mentioned this to the nurse when she checked on him, but she told me it’s normal for O2 sats (as I learned they are called) to drop that low when infants sleep (this was not correct). We were discharged a few hours later and basically told those dreaded words, “it’s just a virus.” I felt like they were treating me like an over-reacting mom. I wanted to scream… and probably should have… I have 6 kids and I know what I’m doing. Why in the world would I come here at 3am and pay gobs of money if I didn’t think it was serious?!

When I started to worry

A day or 2 went by and I noticed Hudson was very sleepy and not feeding well. He was also spitting up all the time, which is unusual for my babies. His noisy breathing was still there and so was his fever. I remember looking down at him in my arms that morning and thinking he just doesn’t seem well. I started messaging some nurse friends of mine with some questions. One of them stopped by and looked at him. “They didn’t check him for RSV in the ER?” she asked. She seemed amazed by this. I really started to worry.

How I figured it out

Hearing about RSV set me off on a flurry of googling. That night as Hudson lay in my bed breathing loudly, I read everything I could find about RSV. I found some great YouTube videos (like  this) that explained all the terms I was reading such as cyanosis and retractions.  They explained that RSV can cause bronchiolitis, among other things (this video was very helpful). That night I barely slept as Hudson quickly deteriorated. From my research I learned to count his respirations. They were definitely above the limit. Using the light from my phone I looked for the retractions I’d learned about and noticed his sides sucking in around his ribs as he breathed. And I felt so dumb as I remembered that earlier that day the skin around his mouth had seemed bluish… and I’d just thought it was a newborn thing. I now know that he had all the signs of RSV and was entering respiratory distress.

When they finally took us seriously

The next morning we went to our pediatrician. As soon as they put on the oxygen monitor we all saw the reading… 88. There was a flurry of activity. They tested him for RSV (it was positive.) They put him on oxygen and then gave him a breathing treatment. Within an hour’s time I was driving him to be admitted at the hospital.

The hospital stay

Hudson spent 5 days in the hospital with RSV-caused bronchiolitis. Although it sounds very serious (and it was), the stay was very uneventful. He received IV fluids for 24 hours due to dehydration from poor feeding. He received oxygen through a nasal canula and they slowly  weaned him off of it until he could keep his O2 levels at 97 and above for 4 hours. They also did deep nasal suctioning, which is just as violent as it sounds!  Basically they were just supporting him as his own body recovered from the virus.

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Right after the nasal canula was inserted

 

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After a long night he was taken off IV fluids and I started mine!

 

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Even though he was sick and drowsy, he still managed to fuss whenever it was my turn to eat 🙂

 

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After 5 days of staring at these numbers, a reading of 99 was a beautiful thing! This was the day we were discharged.

 

The good news

At discharge I was told that Hudson would very likely develop asthma and have frequent bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia. Although it took over 5 weeks to fully recover, he is now 14 months old and I’m happy to report that he has been mostly healthy. However, when he does develop a cold the doctor can hear some slight wheezing (I never can hear it.) After a few days of nebulizer treatments he is fine. We continue to monitor him closely and watch for signs of asthma, but I’ve been thrilled so far at his health!

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Hudson at his first birthday!

What I learned

I am my child’s BEST advocate and so are you. I often wonder what might have happened if I hadn’t done so much research on my own. I could have easily assumed that the ER doctors had done a thorough exam and left it at that. So my advice to you is to follow your mother/father instinct and advocate for your child. As a PA friend recently told me… the doctor only sees your child for a small window of time. You have been with your child 24/7. You know best what their symptoms are and what is and isn’t normal for them.  Don’t be embarrassed to go back to the doctor for the same issue. And be willing to get a second opinion if you’re not sure the first one was accurate or well-thought out. Doctors are just people who can miss things and make mistakes. You are the expert on your child.

I also purchased this pulse oximeter for use at home. Did I mention that I’m cheap and hate to go to the doctor? This has saved me many trips when I’ve just wanted to check his O2 levels.

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Having my own pulse oximeter has been so helpful!

If  you have any questions, feel free to comment below. Thanks for reading!

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What the kids & I are into these days No. 2

After my previous post What the kids & I are into these days, I really enjoyed the feedback from you all about the products, shows, etc that your family is into.  So I thought I’d write another post and keep the conversation going!  So here are a few more things rocking our world right now.

Sling TV

slingWe have been cable-free for most of our 15 years of marriage, mostly because we are ridiculously cheap frugal.  So we normally have an exterior HD antenna (like this one) for our local channels and Netflix.  This works GREAT, especially since it costs a whopping total of $8/month.  The only drawback is that we can’t watch many sports.. and we love us some football around here.  So last fall we decided to cancel Netflix and give Sling TV a try.  We loved it!  I’ll do my best to explain it.  Sling TV is an a la carte live cable service with no contract.  Their basic package is $20 a month and includes CNN, ESPN, Disney Channel and lots more (see pic).  Not only can you watch shows live, but there are also many previous episodes available to watch.  You need a device to stream Sling and we purchased a Roku to do this.  If you prepay your first 3 months of Sling TV, you can get a Roku from them for 50% off (info here).

What we loved:

  • Watching live sports
  • Disney movies
  • Live news
  • Movies on AMC
  • House Hunters, Duck Dynasty and of course Fixer Upper!

What we didn’t like:

  • Commercials.  We’re SO not used to commercials since we’ve had Netflix for so long.  I am amazed at how evil some of them can be!  So I had to stay close if my kids were watching.
  • There wasn’t as much for kids as there is on Netflix.

So we kept Sling TV through the football season, then cancelled it and resumed Netflix for the kids and to save money.  We’re planning to switch back when football season is here (go Noles!)

The Book of Virtues

book of virtuesI love to read aloud to my kids.  And I love classic literature.  The Book of Virtues combines both, so it makes the perfect addition to your home library.  Right now we are reading one or two short passages each morning.  The book is a collection of “moral stories” and is categorized by character quality, such as self-discipline, compassion, etc. You will find classic poems, Bible stories, writings by America’s founding fathers and much more.  Here’s an excerpt from one of our favorite poems called Boy Wanted…

A boy who is polite to every man and respectful to every woman and girl.

A boy who does not smoke and has no desire to learn how.

A boy who never bullies other boys or allows boys to bully him.

A boy who, when he does not know a thing, says, “I do not know”; and when he has made a mistake says, “I’m sorry”; and, when requested to do anything, immediately says, “I’ll try.”

How great is that?!

Trikke Carving Scooter

trikkeMy kids don’t play with toys.  I don’t get it.  But I’ve given up.  The truth is that they want to be outside playing with their friends, climbing trees, building fires, chopping down trees, fishing and piling way too many people into a paddleboat.  So when it’s time to make Christmas lists for the grandparents, I’m always on the hunt for anything that they can use outside.  Two years ago I hit the jackpot with these Trikke Carving Scooters.  Granted, these things are expensive, but hear me out.  They are equally fun for my 4 year old and my 13 year old, meaning this toy has lasting power!  It can either be powered by one leg like a traditional scooter, or by standing on it with both feet and twisting your body back and forth.  And they go really fast if you want them to.  I can’t say enough about how much we love these!

 

Now it’s your turn!  What is your famiy into these days?

 

What the kids and I are into these days

I always love to hear what other families are into.  So I thought you might be interested in what the Schuesslers are loving these days.

Annedroids

annedroids

Annedroids is an original Amazon live-action show for kids .  It’s free for Amazon Prime members and there are 2 seasons so far.  I watched 3 episodes with my boys ages 4, 8 and 11 and they loved it!  It’s basically a kid’s dream come true.  Inventions.  Robots.  Full access to a junkyard.  And I love it because they sneak in tons of science facts, plus it’s super clean.

Math Games

We stink at learning our math facts.  Sure, we can recite the entire timeline of the world, but 7 x 9?  Ummmmm…. So, I’m on a mission to fix that.  I’m a big believer in traditional math, which means using flash cards and drills.  But I knew I needed more than that to keep my kids attention.  So here’s what I did:

  • I read a few articles about teaching math facts like this one and the comments on this one.
  • I printed out the instructions for various card games like Subtraction War, Race to 27 and Flip 3, Pyramid, plus a few more that you can find on my Math Pinterest board.
  • I printed out some dice games like Gain & Loss
  • I put these inside page protectors in a binder 1457148795782
  • I grabbed a small plastic bin at Target and filled it with all my supplies: dice, playing cards, dry erase markers and baby wipes (for cleaning off the page protectors.)  I keep this with my binder.  I find that having everything in one place is SO helpful for me.
  • I made flashcards for my kids according to what they are working on.  I put these in index card boxes that I found at Walmart.

So each day I gather my 6, 8  and 11 year old and we do a mix of games and flashcards. We’ve done this for a week now (in place of our usual math curriculum) and I’m already seeing great results!

Classic Starts Series

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When I was only homeschooling one or two kids, I was able to read them the classics, start to finish, and we loved it.  But now that I have 6 kids, including a nursing baby, it just isn’t the season to read a 300-page book.  In fact, we started both Anne of Green Gables and Little Women last year, only to give up on them.  This is where the Classic Starts series comes in.  They’ve taken books like The Swiss Family Robinson and abridged them for a 3rd-5th grade reading level.  Please and thank you.  Now we can finish a good book in a decent amount of time and feel a sense of accomplishment.  And it’s easy enough to read that you can pass of the book to one of your kids to read while you change the baby, corral the toddler or fetch the preschooler out of a tree (true story.)

Catan

catanApparently we are late to the game when it comes to Catan, but we have discovered it and we love it!  This was a gift to my husband for Christmas and he and the kids (ages 8-13) have played it at least 10 times since.  I won’t even try to explain how the game works, but it’s full of strategy and math, which should make any mom happy.  And we love things that we can do as a family with multiple ages.  Beware, this game is a little pricey, but I tracked it with my favorite Amazon-tracking site camelcamelcamel and waited until the price dropped. It’s been worth every penny!

Magna Tiles

magna tilesI’m sure you’ve seen these at the store and thought “Sweet heaven I could feed my family for a week for the price of those dumb magnets!”  But stop.  You need these Magna-Tiles.  It would be worth eating ramen noodles all week if it meant having these glorious beauties in your home.  I’ve never had a toy that ALL my kids love to play with and that keeps their attention for so long.  Plus, major bonus points for not having tiny pieces (I’m looking at you Legos.)  And it has that open-ended, creative play that keeps kids coming back.   Put this on your kids birthday or Christmas list for Grandma.  If it’s all they get, I promise that no one will regret it.  (And thank you to our Grammi for buying ours!)

Plugged In

I doplugged inn’t know about you, but I have been burned too many times by movies/TV that I thought was safe for me or my kids and wasn’t.  So I love pluggedin.com, a division of Focus on the Family.  I use it to look up pretty much everything that we watch and it has saved us more than once from renting or something that we’d inevitably have to turn off.

So those are a few things we’re into these days.  What about you? Any great products, sites or shows that you’re loving?  Share it in the comments!

Laundry.  It never ends.  Seriously, every single day my children insist on wearing clothes.  Why?  What is this obsession with being dressed?  Don’t they know that what they are collectively wearing will have to be gathered, washed, dried, folded and then eventually (someday, maybe) put away?

Apparently nudity is frowned upon by society, so the laundry struggle will continue.  Around here than means about 12-15 loads per week, plus crisis laundry (bed pee, sports uniforms, mud ball fight aftermath, you-have-to-wash-my-favorite-princess-dress, etc.)

This means that my laundry room can become a hot mess.  Since it’s summer and we are taking a blessed-thank-you-Jesus break from homeschooling, I feel like I should attempt some productivity.  So the laundry room got a 4-hour deep clean.  (aka don’t be impressed by the cleanliness because that is not the norm!)

Since I’ve found that laundry is a common struggle among my large family friends, I thought I’d show you how I organized mine.  You’ll quickly see that it’s not cute, a chandelier is conspicuously absent and my appliances are from the stone age.  But it is a nice-sized room and I am grateful for it.  (I apologize for the grainy phone photos.  Who has time to walk all the way to the car to get their real camera?!)

Large Family Laundry

My momma always said, “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

Large Family Laundry

 

More about the gift box.  I’d love to hear your sock solution!

Large Family Laundry

 

In the summer my kids wear swim suits so often that it makes no sense to put them in their drawers.  Plus it makes it faster to pack up the pool bag.

Large Family Laundry

 

ProTip: Spray your stains right away, then throw them in the wash or the hamper.  Actually the longer it sits before you wash it, the better.  The resolve spray is especially great at ketchup and yellow infant poo!

Large Family Laundry

 

 

So there you have it.  My non-glamorous laundry room with grout that desperately needs cleaning!  Maybe that will happen next summer!

Screen Time :: How we cut back

I hate TV.  The brain drain.

I love TV.  The silence.

I hate TV.  The questionable messages.

I love TV.  The silence.

So what’s a mom to do?  Sure, I could throw the TV out, but honestly, I like to watch TV sometimes.  Hello… Downton Abbey!  Football!  But my kids were watching too much.  In fact, they were watching more before breakfast than I wanted them to watch all day.  Plus we have a PS3, 2 iPod Touch’s and 3 computers.  It was getting out of control.

My Cinderella watching Cinderella for the first time.

My Cinderella watching Cinderella for the first time.

I scoured Pinterest for ideas, but I’m not down with charts, cute popsicle sticks in jars or basically anything I have to keep track of.  So I came up with my own lazy simple system, which we’ve used since July… and it works!  So here goes…

No TV in the morning.  Wow, they get up and do their chores and get ready!  It’s a beautiful thing!

After school, you can only watch TV by earning it.  I made a stack of index cards.  Each one has a chore or activity on it.  Each day I pick what goes on top.  When they want to “earn” screen time, they have to do that activity.  Examples:

  • Listen to 15 minutes of math songs
  • Listen to 15 minutes of Classical Conversations memory work
  • Read for 15 minutes
  • Play piano for 15 minutes
  • Ride your bike or shoot baskets for 15 minutes
  • Do a household chore (like sweep/mop kitchen, pick up family room and vacuum, etc)
  • Clean your room

Each of these earns 22 minutes of screen time (the typical length of an episode.)  Each kid can only earn once per day.  The other kids can watch what they pick.  So since I have 3 kids doing this plan, it equals about 1 hour of total screen time per day… about what I am comfortable with.  Of course, there’s plenty of “free” screen time, like when we watch something as a family, or when I am at my limit and gosh-darn-it someone turn on the TV!

It’s beautiful.  They don’t beg for TV.  I don’t have to remember who watched more or whose turn it is to pick.  And I’m getting them to do all of those activities without me even asking them to!

The littles watch TV on an as-needed basis.  So they may watch some while we do school or while I make dinner.  Once they start school, we’ll switch them to this plan.

So that’s what works for us.  Each family is different, with different convictions and styles.  But if you’re looking to cut back on screen time, I suggest you give this a try!

Why House Hunters makes me crazy!!

In our world, cable shows don’t exist until they pop up on Netflix.  So this means we’ve recently discovered House Hunters.  And West Wing.  And Gilmore Girls.  But I digress.  Back to House Hunters.  That show drives me crazy.  I can’t handle it.  It stresses me out.  There are a few reasons, like… how rich are we in America?  A couple with no kids needs a 3,000sf house?  No one can cook dinner with mismatched appliances?  Popcorn ceilings illicit shrieks of horror?  Lord help us.

But that’s not my biggest beef.  Here it is.  The men on that show are whipped.  Beat.  Dominated.  Disrespected.  Time after time, the man mentions a few things that he wants in a house… and the wife quickly tells him to shove it.  Not in so many words, but that’s what she means.  She shows him the tiny corner of the closet that he can have.  She tells him how his video games will be relegated to the unfinished basement.  He wants a big yard to throw the ball around in?  Forget it.  He wants an older home with character?  That’s gross.  He wants an office for himself?  Sorry buddy, you can park your desk in the kids’ 1,000 sf playroom.

Now, maybe I could handle the man-squashing if the guys would stand up to their wives and give it back to them.  But that doesn’t happen.  The guy just giggles, makes a sarcastic comment, or even worse says “yes ma’am” or “you’re the boss.”

Lord help us.

Let me throw out a crazy idea.  Men were created and designed to be the head of the home.  The leader of the wife.  The main provider and the final decision-maker.  Woah.  Hold on.  So if the man is the leader, what is the wife’s role?  She is told to respect her husband.  Follow his lead and be his supporter.

I know it sounds harsh.  But let me show you how it works in my home.  Keep in mind that we are far from perfect.  In fact, one of my biggest hesitations in blogging is that I never want to put up a false impression of my far-from-perfect life.  

carrieschuessler.wordpress.comMy husband is the leader of our home.  He makes the final call on all big decisions.  I ask his permission before I spend money outside the budget.  I discuss with him how we should raise the kids, homeschool them and handle their various issues.  I give him my opinions and any wisdom I’ve been given from the Lord.  But ultimately he decides.  Now this doesn’t mean that he picks the colors of our paint or that he lays out my clothes in the morning.  I have plenty of authority over my day-to-day life.  But in the big things, he’s the boss.  You might think that I am forcing myself into this lower posture.  But the truth is that I am grateful for the place the Lord has given me.  I am grateful to be under Rick’s covering.  What a relief to have a Godly man praying for me, hearing God for me, covering our family with his protection and provision.  This doesn’t make me less than.  In fact, it makes me more than most women.  I have a husband who has accepted his leadership role… and in doing so he is giving his life for his family.

You see, true leadership is sacrifice.  It’s what Jesus exemplified in the manger and on the cross. Before He asked us to surrender our hearts to Him, He first laid down His life of glory and prestige.  Before He asked us to surrender our lives to Him, He first laid down His life on the cross.  Who wouldn’t want to follow that type of sacrificial leadership?

My husband isn’t Jesus.  But he is a disciple, a Christ-follower.  Every day he lays his life down for me and the kids by working, providing, loving and protecting us.  I have NO doubt in my mind that he would do anything for us.  Who wouldn’t want to follow that type of sacrificial leadership?

carrieschuessler.wordpress.comWives, you may be reading this and thinking… my husband is not stepping up.  He’s passive.  He’s apathetic.  He’s nowhere ready to lead us.  Here is my advice, take it or leave it.  Let him make some decisions, even small ones.  Don’t give all your opinions and tell him why he’s wrong.  Show him that you trust him and that you support him.  Make a habit of this.  Ask his opinion.  Ask him how he wants the money spent.  Ask him to pray for you and the kids.  Tell him that you need him to hear from the Lord for your family.  And then be his biggest cheerleader.  Praise him for working hard, for the things he does around the house.  Publicly compliment him, even if it’s something small.  Keep his failures to yourself.  Don’t uncover his weaknesses to others.  Speak highly of him to your kids.

Guys, you may be reading this and wishing your wife would do these things.  But are you giving her something to respect?  Do you make every effort to provide?  Are you living a Godly life and spiritually leading your family?  Are you on top of your finances?  Do you discipline your kids or just leave all that stuff to her?  Here’s my challenge.  Be the man your wife can respect.  Be honest and true.  Be chivalrous and kind.  Be confident and masculine.  Show her every day that you live to honor the Lord and love your family.  Trust me, she won’t be able to resist you!

This all might sound ridiculous to you.  It goes completely against our human nature.  You may have never seen this type of relationship in your own life or your family.  I can only tell you from my personal experience that it’s best.  It works.  It brings peace to your home.  There is nothing greater than a man who feels respected by his wife.  There is nothing that man cannot accomplish.  Give it a try and just watch the heights he will ascend to.

A Peek at our Grandchildren’s Thanksgiving

Each year on Labor Day, one of my kids will ask, “Mom, what is Labor Day about?”  And I will make up something half-way intelligent, but honestly have very little idea for the reason myself.  At this point, my husband will google the heck out of it and we’ll all learn something new.

I predict that my own daughters could have a very similar conversation with my future grandchildren about Thanksgiving.  “Mom, what is Thanksgiving about?”  And she will struggle to make up something about turkeys and Indians.  Her husband will use his google brain chip to look it up and then teleport it to the kids’ google brain chips and all they will all learn something new.

See, this is exactly what a certain group of Americans want.  They want Thanksgiving to go away.  I mean, who wants to be reminded of how pasty-faced Europeans descended upon the tranquil, peace-loving Indians, practically dousing them with Typhoid and Bibles?  Isn’t Thanksgiving just a monument to greed, colonization and white supremacy?  Who wants to spend all day in the kitchen to remember that awful affair?

There’s another problem with Thanksgiving.  Pardon my language, but it’s so family-centered.  Sorry, I know that word is super offensive.  Babies are loved on and cherished.  Married, opposite-sex grandparents invite children into their home, where the patriarch (gasp! so many bad words!) may stand and pray to the God of the Bible (!!)  The women will cook food for the group (what?!) and the men may watch the barbaric game of football… in which someone might be injured!  You see, Thanksgiving brings together all that is wrong with America!

So how will the anti-American, anti-family progressives strip our grandchildren of the formerly-beloved Thanksgiving holiday?  Will our President outlaw it?  Will they take away it’s holiday status?  No.  They will do two things.  First, they will teach them about the evils of our nation’s founding.  Second, they will turn Thanksgiving into a shopping holiday, just like Labor Day and Memorial Day and all the rest.  Think “Thanksgiving Day Mattress Sale!”

A Peek at My Grandchildren's ThanksgivingI hope that my grandchildren will be part of the old-school few who will still eat too much, do Pilgrim crafts and thank the Lord that He led those pasty-faced Europeans to the most beautiful land on the planet.  That He rose up mighty men of God to establish a nation based on inalienable rights from our Creator.  That long ago there were brave men and women who sacrificed, worked hard with their hands and built something new and something better.

What about your grandchildren?  How will they celebrate the fourth Thursday of November?

 

 

Suffering: What a privilege

Written April 2014

I was 16 weeks pregnant, yet I was losing weight.  I hadn’t felt the baby move.  After having 5 babies, my instincts told me something was wrong.  But instincts can never prepare you for a silent doppler, an eerily-still image on an ultrasound.  The face of your doctor who doesn’t want to say it out loud.  Carrie, there is no heartbeat.

Suffering - What a PrivilegeThe next 3 days are a blur.  But one memory is crystal clear.  Being wheeled out of the hospital with an empty womb and empty arms.  How could this be?

Twelve days have passed since I lost my baby boy.  I have cried more in those twelve days than probably my entire life.  But I can honestly say that this experience, this crisis, this incredible loss has been a gift… a good gift from the Lord.  How could this be?  In Philippians 1:29, Paul writes,

 “For you have been given the privilege for the Messiah’s sake not only to believe in him but also to suffer for him.”

Given the privilege?  To suffer?  And yet Paul was a man who was well acquainted with suffering… more so than I will ever be.  And he regarded it a gift.  During these twelve days, that mystery has become somewhat more clear to me.

How has our suffering been a gift?  Here are three reasons…

We have seen the Body of Christ in action as never before

I have yet to cook a meal since this happened.  Multiple friends and family have watched all 5 of my kids for hours, even days.  I have no room left on my mantle for all the cards that keep coming.  There have been bags and bags of groceries, multiple gift cards to restaurants and more emails/texts/messages than I can count.  I have been a Christian for 29 years and yet I have never felt more loved by God’s people.  I want to respond that way when people face crisis.  I want, more than ever, to be His hands, His love, His compassion.  Because now I know what it feels like to be ministered to in that way.  I could not have this perspective without the gift of suffering.

We can now relate to others who suffer the loss of a child

Like all of us, I have known many women who’ve had miscarriages, stillbirths and even the loss of an infant child.  While I have been deeply saddened for these women, I could never put myself in their shoes.  I couldn’t identify with their pain.  That is different now.  From now on, I hope to put into practice the things I have learned to do and not to do, to say and not to say, at these times of immense grief and loss.  It is a gift to be able to come alongside someone and say I’ve been where you are.  And it’s terrible.  I am here for you.  And you will get through this.

Our view of heaven is forever changed

We have always talked to our children about Heaven… a place where God is.  A place free of sickness and death.  A place where we will worship God forever.  But now our view of Heaven is forever changed.  Now it is a place where my baby boy lives.  And he is free of any sickness or pain that caused him to stop living on this earth.  What a joy to know that he is happy and whole.  The night before I went to the hospital to deliver the baby, the Lord gave me a simple picture that I will hold onto forever.  I realized that my son had met Jesus before me.  And that Jesus had met my son before me.  And one day I will get to meet them both at the same time.  What a comfort that gave me.  So now we see Heaven as a place of reunion.  A place where my family will be whole.  And Jesus is there, preparing it all for us.  What a gift so see Heaven in this new way.

Have you suffered loss?  Are you still reeling from a death, a divorce, a diagnosis?  I am so sorry. These things can be so hard.  But can you let the Lord bring beauty from the ashes?  Can you let him show you the joy that comes in the morning?  Can you let Him apply his resurrection life to the pain and grief you feel?  I hope you will join me in this journey.


 

When I wrote this 5 months ago, I had no idea the journey that lay in front of me.  If you have walked a similar path, you know that so much of the pain is deeply personal.  It’s hard for others to step into that place with you.  And so it can be incredibly lonely.   In those impossible moments, I have practically forced myself to look to the Lord and He has always met me there.  Recently, He gave me this passage which ministered to me tremendously:

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed

That I would see the goodness of the Lord

In the land of the living.

Wait on the Lord;

Be of good courage,

And He shall strengthen your heart;

Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Psalm 27: 13-14

Friends, let’s avoid the mushpot of mediocrity

I have a confession to make.  I am a total news junkie.  I was surely the only girl in my dorm to get the Wall Street Journal delivered to my mailbox.  During my college job, I spent my lunch break glued to MSNBC so I could track the stock market’s movement that day.  My poor college roommate.  How many hours of news did she endure in our tiny apartment?  No wonder she cranked up George Strait in her bedroom!  I think it all stems from the fact that I was becoming an adult at such a news-rich time.  The stock market was hitting its peak, the Bush/Gore recount happened during my honeymoon (and yes we watched some of the coverage from our hotel room in Italy…. sexy I know!)  And September 11th happened the next year.

These days I struggle to keep up with the news because I am sorely lacking two things… cable television and the time to pay attention to anything besides feeding/teaching/cleaning up after my 5 cherubs.  But i do my best via Twitter, Drudge, Rush, Mark Steyn, etc.

But even if you’re not a news junkie like me, you surely know that all is not well in the world.  From the horror of ISIS to Russian aggression to the rise of antisemitism, the world seems at the brink.  Honestly, I wake up each day and wonder, “is today the day” that something life-changing, even world-changing happens?  But truthfully, I believe that the demise of our culture and way of life will not be sudden. In fact, that might be easier to bear than the alternative.  What I see coming for America (and happening already) is a slow, gradual slide into a mediocre existence.  A place where tyrants are tolerated, brave men are few and morals are non-existent.  Where the Church is silent or even approving of so many things that are against the teachings of Jesus.

So that’s all super depressing right?  Is there anything we can do?  How can we prevent the demise of America and the American church?  Here are a few of my thoughts:

I may not have riches or fame, but I have a husband whose Bible looks like this. And that is worth far more.

I may not have riches or fame, but I have a husband whose Bible looks like this. And that is worth far more.

1.  Read the Bible.  I’m all for reading Christian books, blogs and listening to sermons.  But nothing can replace the Living Word of God.  My kids are memorizing John 1 and the first verse just hit me like a brick.  “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God.”  It’s so easy to look to everything/everyone else, but the Author of our faith.  Sadly, Bible reading has become almost obsolete in this country.  I struggle with this discipline myself.  But we must continue to struggle until it is a non-negotiable part of our day, our lives.  You see, the Church will not be torn down from without, but from within (I believe).  We see even now that a false gospel is taught every Sunday by so called “pastors” like Joel Osteen.  The only way a believer can discern what is true is to hold up the church’s teachings against the standard of the Scripture.  But if we never read the Scripture, we can’t make the comparison.  And our flesh will quickly grab onto teachings that tickle our ears, instead of convicting our hearts.

carrieschuessler.wordpress.com :: Friends, Let's Avoid the Mushpot of Mediocrity2. Teach our children to walk in the Way.  Who is the main voice in your children’s lives?  Their teachers?  Their coaches?  Their grandparents?  Their babysitters?  Their friends?  Characters on television?  Musicians?  You should be the overriding voice in your children’s lives.  And you have to fight for this.  Because the world longs to take that place.  What does this mean practically speaking?  For us, it means homeschooling and severely limiting outside voices that are contrary to the Gospel.  Yes, we are sheltering them.  Because that is what good parents do.  They protect their young from danger.  But we don’t stop with protecting.  We are teaching them the Truth so that one day they can face all the contrary voices and still stand strong by the grace of God.  I do not claim that our way should be everyone’s way.  But every parent needs a plan to maintain that primary voice in their children’s lives.

3. Be holy as He is holy.  Okay, I’m going to meddle (if I haven’t already.)  I find it hard for someone to claim to be a believer in our Holy God and yet continually fill their minds with all that stands against his Gospel.  How can we pretend to oppose the culture while opening wide our doors to all of its messages?  How many Christians watch trash on TV?  Game of Thrones, Criminal Minds, Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance (oh, how I wish I could watch that!), Modern Family.  Have I hit a nerve yet?  How about music?  Do we listen to songs that glorify sexual promiscuity or use foul language?  What about books?  Should we move onto movies next?  I’ll just write four words.  Fifty Shades of Grey.  You may disagree vehemently with me on this.  But I challenge you to put this verse above your television and judge all that you watch by it.  Trust me, you’ll have way more time on your hands:

…”always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things.” (Phil. 4:8)

No one is going to force any of us to do these things.  We can all choose to ride the wave down the descent of culture and melt into the mushpot of mediocrity that awaits (and possibly an eternity of separation from God… yes I just said that) or we can choose to align ourselves with God Almighty.  To throw off all that stands against Him and to teach our children to do the same.  What would America look like with a Church who stood tall upon the great Cornerstone of Jesus?  What would happen if His name was proclaimed with abandonment to a world dying without Him?  How would your city, your company, your country be different if there was a remnant there who was unmoved by the cultural decline?

It begins with you.  Will you stand?

My Classical Conversations Memory Board

carrieschuessler.blogpress.com :: My Classical Conversations Memory Review Board

 

We are apart of Classical Conversations, a homeschool program that has a major emphasis on memorization in the lower grades.  It’s super hard to explain, so head over here if you want to learn more.

My first year I tried to just teach from the Foundations guide and it was a disaster.  By about week 3 we were way behind and I never felt like we got our heads above water that year.  The second year I made a “memory board” like this one and it worked pretty well.  But I didn’t like the extra time it took me to change out the papers each week.  (See my previous post about how I’m terrible at the night-before stuff.)  I wanted to create a board that I could set and forget.  And I came up with one!   All on my own!  I’m pretty proud of myself!  Honestly, I wish it was a little cuter, but I don’t have time for cute these days.  If you do, by all means, cutify your board!

Here’s how I made it…

 

carrieschuessler.blogpress.com :: My Classical Conversations Memory Review Boardcarrieschuessler.blogpress.com :: My Classical Conversations Memory Review Board

carrieschuessler.blogpress.com :: My Classical Conversations Memory Review Boardcarrieschuessler.blogpress.com :: My Classical Conversations Memory Review Board

carrieschuessler.blogpress.com :: My Classical Conversations Memory Review Boardcarrieschuessler.blogpress.com :: My Classical Conversations Memory Review Board

How we use the board….

– At some point during our homeschool day, we gather in the school room, fire up Google Play and start listening to this week’s CC songs (hopefully a Google Play/CC tutorial is coming soon!)

– We go through each memory item piece by piece.  And that’s it.  It takes about 20 minutes.  This is our second time through this cycle, so it would take longer if all the information was brand new to us.

A few notes…

– I download all my memory work visuals from “CC Connected,” the file-sharing site on Classical Conversation’s website.  I think I pay $6/month for access to the site, which can be cancelled at any time.  To me, it’s worth it to save all the time of creating these myself.

– I don’t have a color printer so I upload the color documents to Staples.com, pay online and pick them up the next day, usually.  This year’s printing probably cost about $15.  I will save and re-use everything when we do the cycle again in 3 years.

– You might want to add Timeline cards to your board.  I ran out of time to do that. I”d love to hear any suggestions.

– There are probably a million better things to use than those hook/screw thingies I bought, but I had about 10 minutes of alone time in Home Depot and that was the best I could find.

– You could probably hang this on a wall, but it’s super heavy, so keep that in mind.  Plus the screws stick out the back a little.

– I have found an unexpected perk of the board is that I’ve caught my kids curiously looking through the pages and learning (gasp!) on their own (gasp!)

Have any questions or ideas for improvement?  I’d love to hear them!