Sunday, September 26, 2010


Today a friend who I sadly haven't seen in a bit asked me if I have seen anything that has helped me to understand why the month of June played out the way it did. Has God revealed anything to me, she was wondering. It's interesting because looking back on June, it just doesn't seem like it was that BIG of a deal. Our trips to the ER and Urgent Care were inconvenient for sure, as was a casted foot. And those trips were expensive also, but our money is from God, so I have to rest in that (even though it is hard at times). But really it was not so bad. However, I spent some time as I drove home today thinking about it because hopefully I can gain or learn something from the "inconveniences" in my life. This is what I came up with.


My family is all together, serving God together. Everyone is healthy for the most part. I am thankful that David's scare with his heart is something I can look back on and laugh . . . because it was heartburn!!! I am thankful that his concussion was mild. I am thankful that Sarah's break was straight and that it fully repaired and she is running and jumping and back in gymnastics and just doing well. I am thankful that Brent's back is feeling better and that he is up and about and being more conscientious about what he is doing and lifting (still a little bummed that he can't run with me, though). I am thankful that I had a silly migraine and not a stroke or a seizure. We are in good health. We have great friends. We have good jobs. God is an amazing provider. I could go on and on.

I think part of this thankfulness, besides the question being asked of me, is the result of my week . . . both good and bad. Wednesday was probably the worst and most stressful day of my entire social work career. I can't express the helplessness and hopelessness I felt in a situation that I was dealing with. I thought I might leave the situation and quit my career forever. I regained some sense later. However, in the midst of those hopeless and helpless feelings, while I was completely alone with only a voice behind a closed door and a voice on the other end of the phone, all I could do was pray . . . pray for God to protect and provide comfort, peace and hope in a situation that was anything but that. As Wednesday came to an end, I was emotionally and physically exhausted and fell asleep very early, only to have terrible dreams through the night. I spent Thursday continuing to deal with the events of Wednesday and just praying for the person I was trying to help and for my own peace because I was really struggling with what had taken place. I still am on some level.

Then today, which was a tremendously amazing day, we served a group of homeless people by taking a nice meal out to them, along with some toiletry items. At the last minute, we had a friend over for the boys to hang out with so that his mom could get some work done. Then we had our Community Group Worship service in conjunction with Downtown Christian Fellowship tonight. I ended up watching the kids, which I was bummed about initially, but even that turned out to be a blessing.

As I was driving home after lunch, contemplating the question about what God revealed to me after June, it was so clear to me that I am just so blessed. My husband loves Jesus with all his heart and wants so much to grow and to help others grow in their love for God and others. My children are equally the same. I watched as James struck up a conversation with one of the women at the park today. She had a severe cleft, which had obviously not been properly repaired, and while I do not think she was actually homeless, she has very little and was obviously delayed. Yet, James was able to draw her in with that commonality between the two of them. It brought tears to my eyes. I watched as he and Jason reached out to the younger kids in our group, playing whiffle ball with them and watching over them as we were around people who could not necessarily be trusted. I listened as James told his friend, who he invited to join us in our adventure with the homeless, why he enjoys serving so much and how he was so judgmental before we lived here and he had this exposure. I listened to David tonight as he expressed how he loves Jesus and prayed that Jesus would live in his heart and how he wants to follow Him and obey Him. And I was able to giggle as Sarah exclaimed that she doesn't want to be baptized because she "still can't breathe under water."

God may have other purposes for all of our medical emergencies in June, but maybe it was as simple as just causing me to contemplate on the question and realize how blessed we are!!!! I love my family! Tonight I am just really content with where we are. I love that God gave us an opportunity to hear tonight how he is using people in our Kaleo community to reach others and to love others. It's always nice when you can really see God at work and when you can be encouraged. It's at those moments that I want to say, "God is Good." But the truth is that God is Good all the time, even when it might not feel like it, even when I am feeling helpless, even when He seems so far away, even when my kids are driving me crazy and not displaying the behaviors evident of God being the Lord of their lives. The "evens" could go on and on, but you get the picture.

As I sit here tonight, I have some dear friends going through some serious trials . . . I am aching for them. But those aches keep me praying for them, too. I know I will have trials to experience in the future . . . And yet I know that I serve an awesome God who loves me and knows what is best for my life, even if what is best is not fun. And even in those moments of trial, I am truly blessed!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sarah + A Hard Lesson = A Really Funny Story

Yesterday Sarah was outside with our neighbor, who is seven, playing in the front yard. James was out there, too, keeping an eye on her. However, I'm not sure his eyes were open!!! I heard an ambulance outside in the distance. Then I heard Sarah running into the house crying (very hard). She sounded fearful and I realized she was telling Japan (that's the neighbor girl's name) that they were coming to get her. I heard Japan tell her that it was just an ambulance. I ran to see what was going on, and Sarah was frantic, hardly understandable. I came to understand after a couple minutes, that she was in the yard two houses down and was picking flowers from their flower beds. She heard the ambulance and thought the police were coming to get her for stealing. I tried to calm her down, but she was so upset that I ended up laying her in her bed until she could listen and talk. I felt terrible that she was so upset, yet I was kind of glad that she realized what she was doing was wrong and that it scared her. I think this will probably cure her from picking flowers, at least flowers that aren't in our yard. We all got a good laugh out of it (well, all of us except Sarah) . . . but I also felt pretty sorry for her. I took her down later to apologize, but no one was home. We will have to try again.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Neighborhood Birthdays

We are surrounded by such diversity in our neighborhood, and we have gotten a much greater glimpse of this over the past three weekends. Three of our neighbors' children (three different homes) had birthday parties. We have celebrated with a family from here, a family from Mexico and other parts of California, and a family from Jordan all in three weeks. It's been fun and interesting!

First a little about our small cul-de-sac. 11 houses on our little circle. Going clockwise, the families are hispanic and caucasian, hispanic, asian, hispanic, caucasian, caucasian, caucasian, african american, caucasian, jordanian and swedish, and hispanic. With the exception of a couple of the houses, we are all pretty well connected. Of the 11 houses, eight have children of various ages, so our kids are in school together. Most of the time you pull into our cul-de-sac, there is a basketball game going on between all of the teen boys and bicycle/scooter riding by the smaller children (that or riding in those large power wheel cars). Two of the homes are multi-generational. Two of the houses are owned by the same man, and his parents live in the second house (almost multi-generational). It's really a pretty fun place to live with lots of activity.

Over the past three weekends we have had birthday parties. The first was for Alyssa, who turned three. Her parents are from Bakersfield (I'm pretty sure born and raised here). I actually missed Alyssa's party because I was off in Palm Springs with my grandma, aunt and cousins. Brent and the kids went to it. The next week was for Kylee, who turned 2. She lives with her parents and maternal grandparents. They are hispanic, and they know how to throw a fiesta!!! The party was last Sunday. It started at 4. I told my friend Marcy that I was going to the party but would be home by the time she arrived at my house at about 6:30 to drop off her son, but if I happened to not be there, she could text me, I would be across the street. The point is that I really thought I would be home. I was so wrong. We had barely started eating, and there hadn't been a thought about opening gifts at that time. I finally left at about 8, but they hadn't begun winding down!!! The food was delicious . . . Mexican food with Carnitas and Carne Asada . . . muy delicioso!!!!! Tonight was Amir's 4th birthday and his brother, Ali's 17th birthday. They are our Jordanian friends, who live directly next door to us. Again, I'm having to adjust to parties that are not "American". The party started at 5. I finally told them I just had to leave to get the kids in bed because of school. That was after 8:30, and they were just beginning to open gifts. I had never been in their home before. It was interesting. Lots of interesting stuff on the wall. One of their friends was there. He just returned from Jordan and was sharing with us all about his trip and the different things he saw that he took for granted as a child. I never was certain, but he almost sounded like he might be a Christian. I need to ask Brent more about his conversation because I missed a lot of it. This family is interesting in that they are not your traditional middle eastern family who had arranged marriages. The mother is divorced from her first husband, who she met and married in Sweden, so even though her kids have dark brown eyes and dark brown hair and look middle eastern, they say they are Swedish, and they are because they were all born there. The mother met her current husband over the internet (both are originally from Jordan). After they met online, he went to Jordan, met and married her, and she returned to Bakersfield to live with him. They have since had their son Amir. Like I said not a traditional middle eastern situation. She cooked lots of interesting food for the party. There was this rice stuff wrapped in grape leaves . . . it was sour. Then there was some kind of meat with potatoes, but the seasoning was like nothing I had ever tasted before. She made some desserts that were very light in flavor. One was a cookie; the other some kind of custard or flan. I don't know if these were foods from Jordan or from Sweden. I forgot to ask, but last weekend, the daughter, Nadias, said they normally cook swedish foods.

It's really fun to have such diversity around us. There is so much to learn from other people. There were things that took me out of my comfort zone a little, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. And as we allow others to share their culture with us, we are invited more and more to share out culture with them, and thus share Jesus. I'm looking forward to seeing what the future holds!!!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I can't recall if I have ever blogged about my epilepsy before, and I'm not going back through all my post titles, so this may be a partial duplicate entry . . .

When I was 17 years old, I suffered a grand mal seizure at church camp. I had been water skiing that afternoon and had a significant fall, hitting my head pretty hard on the water (which may seem kind of silly, but you can really hit water painfully hard). For years I never said anything about that to doctors because it seemed so silly, but just after that, I got in a car to go back to camp and dozed off only to be woken multiple times from startle reflexes. After we got back to camp, I had a seizure. Within a couple months I underwent a bunch of tests, had another seizure, was diagnosed with epilepsy and started on medication.

The first medication was tegretol, and the effect that had on me was terrible. There is about a month of my senior year of high school that I pretty much do not remember (and it's not due to age . . . I couldn't remember it at the time either!!!) I was then put on phenobarbitol and responded much more positively to that. It's hard for me to remember the exact number of seizures I've had in my life, but it has been very minimal and for that I am very thankful. I know I had one or two in college, several right after Brent and I were married (when I was not taking medication with doctor's permission) and another the day after James turned four. That was the last one, but also the worst one . . . lasting the longest and having the longest impact on me. Brent and I were at a marriage conference at our church that weekend. It was pretty much pointless for me to have attended. I cannot remember anything about it. I just felt groggy and out of it the whole time. That was almost 12 years ago now. Thank the Lord!!!

I really have nothing to complain about and I am really thankful for God's protection of me over all of these years. I had four babies and during the last three pregnancies I was off the medication for 16 weeks without a single problem. So I was shocked when I left my neurologist today with my eyes filled with tears. It should not be a big deal, and I'm sorry if there are others who have ongoing seizures who read this, but somewhere deep inside I have always thought that one day I might be able to be medication free. It's been 12 years now since my last seizure; 20 years since I started taking medication. But I'm pretty sure that without saying it directly, my neurologist confirmed that unless I ever live in New York City or someplace else with great public transportation, she will not recommend I discontinue medication. I went into the appointment knowing that she is conservative and concerned about my safety and the safety of others (regarding my driving if not on medication), but I held onto a glimmer of hope that she would say something like lets do one more MRI, and see what it looks like. Instead, she said she doesn't see any reason to do an MRI. There's nothing about it that would change her opinion. I really like her and respect her, and deep inside I feel like she is right. I would hate to be driving and hurt someone else because I had a seizure behind the wheel.

I don't know what it is about being on medication that is so bothersome to me. It really shouldn't be a big deal at all, but it definitely affected me today. I am on a new medication now, Keppra. I don't notice any side effects from it, but compared to phenobarbitol, it is a bit costly. I can think of a lot better things to do with the money each month, but I don't think that is what makes it so hard. I simply think it is the fact that I HAVE to take it. It's a little ridiculous. I am praying that I can let go of that and focus on the positives, the fact that I am overall healthy and that I am able to live independently and work. Many people who suffer from seizures cannot say the same. Their seizures have truly changed their lives, causing brain damage or emotional damage because they cannot cope with having them. Sadly, seizures can cause embarrassment to some people because of what they cause the body to do and because of the fear others have of seeing them.

I believe that as much as I do not like the news I got today, God must have some purpose, so I pray that I will be open and attentive to be used by Him in whatever way He wants to use me . . . in regards to my epilepsy and every other aspect of my life!