Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Gramps is a Fighter

Many of you know that I asked for prayer for Gramps about a month back. Thanks. By the grace of God, Gramps is walking (with a walker) again. It's a miracle he's alive, let alone walking. Gramps is such a fighter.

About a month ago, Gramps went out for a drive. He was in a bad accident and was in the hospital for over 3 weeks. He had spinal surgeries and was told that he might not ever walk again. He had therapists coming in every hour to teach him how to walk again. He had severed the nerves at the base of his spine, which also led to other complications. It wasn't looking too good for him.

The day after Christmas, we went to go visit him. This is when we got the full story. The day of the accident, he was driving on the 15 freeway, near Fallbrook. Someone in the lane next to him swerved, so he automatically swerved to avoid them. If you know the 15, you know that the 15 is built up from the road, down below. He careened down the enbankment 50 feet. Witnesses said he flipped back over front 2 times, and side over side 3 times before landing on all 4 wheels at the bottom of the hill. All 4 wheels, right side up. That part is amazing in itself, but the fighter part comes next.

Gramps was coherent the whole time. When his car stopped rolling, he smelled smoke and gas. He had the where-with-all to turn off the engine, undo his seatbelt, and open the door. Ok, let's just be honest here. If that was me, I would probably have passed out on the first flip. Just in case I was still coherent at the bottom of the hill, I probably would have been screaming and struggling with the seat belt. But that's me, not Gramps. Gramps stepped out of his car. Stepped. Walked away from the wreck.

Trip on this, he had a BROKEN BACK! Witnesses had called 911 while the accident was happening, so crews were on scene pretty fast. The paramedics asked Gramps how he got out of the car. He walked.... with a BROKEN BACK! He's such a fighter. He doesn't even take a broken back laying down.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Mother's Thoughts

Everyone gets nostalgic around Christmas. Mother's get nostalgic on their children's birthday. For me, that's the same time. See, today is Jack's 4th birthday and I thought I would write his story here. This story is for you, but it's also for me. I like to remember............

It really all started Christmas 2004. Joe and I had been married 2 years and we still had not started our family. We were at my Grandmother's house and of course, family was asking "when?". "When?" You don't ask a woman who has been trying for over a year, "when?". You don't ask a man who has already seen a specialist and done all their tests, "when?". That simple word can spark tears. And, I cried. We shared our struggle. Not a new struggle to our family, as my cousin also had battled "when?" and the doctors came back with the answer "never". As we were walking out to our car that night, my family laid hands on us and prayed for a family that would be pleasing to God. I'll let you absorb that for a second.

I continued on with the doctor's tests. Joe was cleared, so the "problem" must lie with me. The last test they wanted to do was to inject me with dye and see where the dye would go; IF it could go. I broke down in tears (again) and told them that I didn't want to continue. I sat in my car in the parking lot, sobbing. Sobbing. I couldn't even start the engine. Sobbing, and praying. Lord, I want YOU to get the glory. I don't want the doctors to get the glory. I dried my tears and went home; verified that I was not pregnant.

One month later.............. I got pneumonia. I was so tired. I couldn't walk from the couch to the refrigerator to feed myself. Joe had his father fly in from El Paso to take care of me. He made my meals and drove me to my doctors appointments. He was (and is) so sweet. A friend came over to bring some soup and took one look at me. She said, "you're pregnant". I said no, that I just had pneumonia. She suggested that I take a test before my next chest xray. hmmmm, come to think of it, am I pregnant? I had just spent the last 19 months counting days, taking temperatures, buying umpteen pregnancy tests. Could I........? hmmm. But, I was way too sick to go to the store to buy a test.

Yep, you guessed it. Joe's dad. Picture this: a 70 year old man, with broken English, walks into Walgreens and asks where the pregnancy tests are located. I can only imagine what the lady must have been thinking. Oh, and when I asked him to get me one, he said, "they make tests for that?". So cute.

Well, since I am writing this story, you can probably figure out what the test revealed. WE WERE PREGNANT! After all this time! Did the doctors make it happen? No! God gets all the glory. When I finally gave up my control, God gave me the greatest gift; motherhood.

However, the story doesn't end there. You have to hear the delivery story, as I think it's pretty funny.

Oh, and by the way, it was the most beautiful 9 months of my life. Never sick. Glowed from head to toe. The world's cutest belly. And I could eat all that I wanted. Oh to be pregnant again.............

I was speaking to a friend, who just happened to be pregnant at the same time, about delivery. I was joking around saying that I need an aspirin for a papercut, and that I would definitely need drugs for delivery. I am so glad that she gave me the Bradley Method book. There was so much about my own body that I didn't even know. If you don't know, the Bradley Method teaches women how to work with their body during labor to deliver naturally. Beautifully. The way God intended.

Sarah, my super good friend, agreed to be my doula. She had taken time off work at Jack's due date, so that she could be with me. Well, we all know about due dates, right? You might as well give due months, instead of due days. His due date came and went. Sarah had to return to work, in Yosemite. In winter. When snow can close the one and only road out. Come to think of it, snow could close the only road out of Oakhurst too. hmmm.

December 23, our church had a Christmas carol event. We went to church that night and sang Christmas carols for hours, while sipping hot chocolate. It was so much fun. Sarah came home with us, but had to return to work on Christmas day. Three am I woke up with a BIG contraction. When you are pregnant for the first time, you keep wondering, how will I know? What does a contraction feel like? Let me tell you, I KNEW! I quietly went to the living room to do my meditation. I kept track of the times and intensities. At eight am, I went into Sarah's room to tell her that today was the day. She was already awake. She had been laying in there, praying for me, since six am. And she didn't even know that just through the wall, on the other side, I was already in labor.

We woke up Joe, to let him get prepared. What were the first words out of his mouth? "Today?! I have to go Christmas shopping today." Well, you're having a baby today. Don't get me started.

I continued to labor and track at home for a few more hours. Sarah was wonderful. Joe read the newspaper.

When we felt is was time, we drove down the hill to the hospital, about one hour away. At first, they didn't want to keep me. I told them that I was not driving back up into the snow. I was staying put in the waiting room if I had to. Funny thing. I got a room right away.

Again, Sarah and I made a wonderful team. I had my relaxing nature sounds music. We breathed. We visualized. She fed me ice chips. Joe read the newspaper. There must have been some good news that day. I wouldn't know, as I never got around to the paper that day. Every time he turned the page, he had to rattle it real loud. Uggg. Sarah nicely suggested that he go get some coffee.

When he brought the coffee back, he slurped it so loud. Every sip. I'm trying to get in the zone, here! I'm visualizing my cervix opening, here! Sarah suggested Joe go to Home Depot. Ahhh, peace and quiet.

Soon after, I got the feeling to push. Sarah called Joe to come back. It was time! An hour later, he strolls in. Folks, the Home Depot is across the street from the hospital. And what does he say, "she hasn't had the baby yet?! See, I know I should have walked around the store one more time." Anyone else getting the feeling that my husband is uncomfortable in this situation?

One hour later, Jack Isaiah Rodriguez is born. Naturally. Beautifully. With all glory to God. On Christmas Eve, 2005. Remember how my family laid hands on me at Christmas? Jack was born within that year. Glory to God.

"“My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high." 1 Samuel 2:1

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Oh come, let ALL adore Him

I love Nativity Scenes. I can stare at them for hours. I imagine what Mary must have been thinking/feeling. I think about Joseph (who is often forgotten). I mostly think about Baby Jesus. My Best Friend. My Saviour. My Love (I am His bride, afterall).

I have many different Nativity Scenes, each different, yet the same cast of characters. Before we had children, they were set out on coffee tables and end tables. They were admired, but never touched. Never. They might break.

When the boys were born and became mobile, up went the Nativity Scenes. Banished to high perches on shelves. For, the boys might touch them. They might break Baby Jesus....... break Jesus.........break the One who was broken for us............

If I want my boys to have a personal relationship with their Saviour, why won't I let them play with Him? Why am I afraid they might break Him?

Let me tell you about my favorite Nativity Scene. My mother is another one who loves Nativity Scenes. She too has them all over the house. She has one that is very humble. The "stable" is made out of bark. It is coated with hay. The characters are all scratched up and broken. The angel's wing is clipped. But, as a kid, I played with that Nativity Scene every December. All December long. Ten years later, my sister played with the Nativity Scene. For a short while, there was a Cabbage Patch angel in attendance at the Miraculous Birth. Along the years, one wise man has lost his treasured gift. We're not really sure if it was the frankincense or the myrrh. That doesn't stop us from loving it all the more.

This morning I went out to the living room, to look at the Nativity Scene. Guess what I found there? Even Avatar creatures and monster trucks were in attendance. "Oh come, let us adore Him."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Skype Hype

Friends and Family

Joe and I have recently converted one of our cell phones to internet service for the netbook. Although I am extremely happy with having the net at home, it is a little inconvenient not having 2 cell phones. Sometimes, Joe takes the phone to work and I am left with no phone. And even if I do have the phone, we reduced our non-Verizon minutes by half. Friends have been telling me about Skype. Free calls with a webcam. Pretty cool as our new netbook came with a webcam.

So, instead of me typing in all of your names and searching for you, comment me back if you are on it and like it. Or better yet, if you do like it, add me as your contact on Skype. I am saved as Susan Rodriguez, Lakeside.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Craft

One of the best things about being a teacher, is that you are surrounded by greatness.

A Kindergarten teacher that I work with, had extra Christmas crafts for Jack and Josh. This one was so easy. You get a styrofoam cone, toothpicks, and mini-marshmellows. Snap the toothpicks in half. Stab a mini-marshmellow with the toothpick and then insert it into the cone. Jack did very well, I thought, for being only 4 (almost) and the Kinders are 5-6 years old. His looked like this:

Joshua, on the other hand, is a creation unto his own. He made the tree just fine. It was cute, although it didn't have as many marshmellows on it as Jack's did. That's funny, I thought I gave him the same amount. Somehow they were disappearing. I could not imagine that he was eating them all, as I don't like marshmellows, hence I never buy them for the kids. At the end of the project, his tree looked ok, but after 5 minutes in his bedroom, this is what I found:

Do you think Josh likes marshmellows?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I Hate Xmas

No, I am not a Scrooge. Quite the contrary. I just hate "xmas". It is the most blatant omissin of Christ, our Saviour. The Creator. The whole reason we are here. Christmas is the celebration of God humbling Himself to come to earth to save us from.... well, from ourselves.

I LOVE Christmas! My house is decorated to the hilt. My mom even used to have Christmas toilet paper (I draw the line somewhere). So, imagine my frustration when I tried to find a nice Christ-centered background for this blog. Lots of Christmas trees and Santas and snowmen. By the way, I have nothing against snowmen. But, I wanted to focus on Christ. The current one is ok, but still not my favorite.

As I began to write my annual newsletter to be included in our Christmas cards, I was shopping for Christ-centered stationary. Granted our town isn't that big, but I still went to Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Hallmark, Walgreens, Safeway, and Dollar General. I had to settle on snowmen.

I have been reading this new (to me) blog and like everything she has to offer. She was talking about advent calendars and I thought that since the boys are older, they are ready for it this year. Again, I looked high and low. I would have even settled for a chocolate advent calendar. Of course, someone would have to sacrifice and eat all the chocolates so that I could stuff Bible verses into the slots. That someone could have been me. But no. No advent calendars. We made a paper chain with a different Bible verse or activity on each link. The boys are counting down the days that way and seeing that Christmas is not all about the presents and Santa.

Then, I came across this. I couldn't have said it better myself, so I am just going to include a link and you can read it straight from her. We need Christmas.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

God is Good

God is so good to us, and most of the time we don't even realize it.

As many of you know, I drive quite a distance to work everyday. And it's not just a distance, it's also down the mountain. Even once I get there, I'm not completely safe, as teachers have had their vehicles vandalized in the parking lot. I'm talking slashed tires, keyed, and break-ins; not to mention dozens of dents.

I am a safe driver. My only accident that was my fault was 12 years ago. And it was just a fender-bender. But, driving isn't always about what you can control. For instance, it snowed 2 feet this week. On top of that, a little melts each day and covers the road. It then freezes again at night. There is also the danger of wildlife crossing. Just yesterday, I had to stop for a cow to cross the road, but elk, bear, horses, and turkey are the usual offenders.

All this to say, God protects us even when we don't directly pray for it.

I drove to work and back just fine Friday. About 5 minutes after I got home, Joe went out to the garage. My back tire was completely, rim-touching-the-ground flat. 5 minutes! What if that had happened on the way to work that morning, when it was still dark, 20 degrees, and I was going 60 mph down the hill with no pullouts? What if it had happened while I was at work and I got out to the parking lot and saw the flat, and would have had to change it myself? I consider myself an independent woman, but even I draw the line somewhere. And then, what if it had happened while I was driving up the hill, going 60 mph, with no pullouts? And what if it had been any night Sunday through Thursday, where I would have to get it fixed that night so that I could go to work the next morning?

But no. God protects us, even when we don't realize it.

Here's the second part of the blessing: We got a stellar deal on the new tires and brakes.

See, the back tires came with the van 3 years ago when we bought it used. We knew they needed to be replaced then, but it was expensive enough to buy the van. We simply said, "later". I wasn't too surprised that we needed to replace the back tires.

Joe told me that my brakes were pulling and needed to be rotated. Whatever that means! Brakes don't pull, they stop. When the tire guys (I think that's their official name) pulled off the front tires to put them on the back, they noticed that my brakes were metal touching metal. They called us and said it would cost $400 for the brake job, on top of the new tire cost. $400! Who has that kind of money in December?! Joe told them he would call them back and tell them to proceed or not. We discussed it for maybe a minute. I mean, brakes are kinda important, y'all. When Joe called back, the man immediately offered to knock off $200. Hello? We didn't even ask for a discount and you are going to knock off your entire profit margin?! Ok, I won't fight you.

But here's the deal. I took on some extra jobs this year to cover... well, to cover our mortgage. I am on the District Curriculum Team, the Student Council Advisor, and a Tutor. The school district does not pay out these amounts monthly, yet twice a year. Guess when the first paycheck will be. Yep, you guessed it. This week. God is so good.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Festival of Lights

Across the highway, a cute little camp is perched in the pines. Camp Tatiyee is a camp in the summer for kids/adults with mental and physical disabilities. In the winter, they hold a Festival of Lights fundraiser.

When you arrive, you get to walk around the cabins. Each cabin is decorated by a local business and you get to vote on the best decorated (we voted for the Country Store). Then, you can go into the dining room and warm up with a hot cocoa (it was 35 degrees outside). They have little trinkets for the kids to buy. The boys bought little baggies of cars and road barriers. All money goes directly to the Lions Club that pays for all the campers in the summer.

The best part is saved for last. You can go into the gym and jump in a bounce house. We were the only ones there and obviously the first ones of the night. Jack and Josh were having so much fun, one of the "elves" wanted to jump with them. This elf was 80 years old! I don't know who had more fun, the boys or her.

We didn't even realize it, but we had been there for over an hour. The Festival of Lights will definitely become an annual treat.

P.S. these are stock photos as it was too dark to get good shots. But it does look like this

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Snow Storm

Just a quick post to share pics with you of our latest snow storm. Of course it started while Joe was in the hospital. Come to think of it, last years biggest storm happened while Joe was in the hospital. hmmmm.

We got 2 feet and lots of wind. Here are some cute pics.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

No Batteries Required

What was your favorite toy growing up? Did it require batteries? I'm guessing not.

My favorite "toy" growing up was reading a book. I always had a book in my hand. Whether we were at church, at the beach, or standing in line at the grocery store, I always was reading.

Or coloring. I still get giddy over a fresh box of crayons. The smell. The sharp tips of new crayons. And if you were rich, you had the box of 64 crayons with a sharpener on the back. A sharpener! I didn't have the sharpener, but I guess my crayons just sharpened themselves with use. To be honest, my absolute favorite crayon was a short, stubby brown crayon with no wrapper. I loved that crayon. I wonder if I psychoanalyzed that what it would mean....

I have a firm belief that the best toys are "no battery required". Long gone are the days when I played with toys. I do still read, but it's usually on the computer now (which is always with me). And I do still color (i.e., paint the house), but my favorite color now is a sandy green. It's my boys who do most of the "toy" playing now.

I have discovered the secret to a peaceful meal out or doctor visit. Coloring. I have this nifty clipboard stashed in my mom-van for just such occasions. It is well stocked with Color Wonder paper and markers. If you don't know Color Wonder, you must not have kids. Because every mom should have some. The markers work perfectly on the Color Wonder paper. But, they don't write at all on skin (this is a biggy in our family), clothing, carseats, or carpet. It's magic! I can let them create without having to stand over them and be the marker nazi. It might be a little spendy up-front, but we are still using the same notebook for over a year now. I guess we just don't go out all that often. Best part.... no batteries.

Last year for Christmas, the boys got a Magna Doodle. For those of us over 20, it's the updated version of the Etch a Sketch. You remember the Etch a Sketch. I could barely make a square and then someone would walk over and shake it and it's gone. Darn knobs. I never knew if I wanted to twist right or left, how to make it go up and down. But the Magna Doodle is way superior. And the little magnetic pencil is attached via string (in other words, my boys can't lose it). My boys usually ask me to draw this or that. I feel bad because my drawing skills are not up to speed. I spent my whole life coloring in the lines, not making the lines. Lately, Jack has been doing the drawing himself. The other day, he came running to me, "Mom, look! I made a Mr. Potato Head." I think it looks just like the real thing.

Last month my mom came to visit and brought some blocks for the boys. No fancy paint designs, so you can't tell the decade in which they were made. No flashing lasers. No screeming sirens. Just blocks. To be honest, they are probably older than me, and that gets older every year. You know what? They have become the favorite toy in the house. The boys will play with their blocks from sunrise to sunset. They make buildings, bridges, cities; and then send them crashing to the floor. Their other favorite toy is trains. I suggested they make a Wal-Mart (their favorite place to shop) next to the train tracks. "Mom. Trains don't go to Wal-Mart. People do." I'm glad he pointed that out to me. "I know! I'll make a Train-Mart!" And he did. He even made a parking lot for the trains. I wonder if trains come out of Train-Mart and forget where they parked their cargo.....

I should have taken a picture of it, but I was too wrapped up in the magic of it all. I did, however, take a picture of his car wash.

Notice the front door and roof. They are very particular that all their buildings have a door and roof. All from just blocks.

As Jack's birthday (December 24th), Christmas (December 25th), and Joshua's birthday (February 23rd) approach, I think of what they will be getting. I hope they will be "no batteries required".

where Glory meets my suffering