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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Another year has ended.........

Sometimes that seems like a really awesome thing. A chance to start over.......

Truth is that tomorrow I will still have all the problems that I have today. My son will still be broken, my family will still be incredibly financially challenged, and I will still have the insane merry go round that is my life. Not to mention, I still have that Christmas tree to deal with and those darn outside lights!! 2010 really won't erase these things.

So then what is it that makes us feel renewed with the changing of the year.........

Promise! and Hope! The passing of a year brings us back to the hope of renewal. No matter how dire the circumstances, we revel and celebrate..........we dare to hope and dream again. This new year hasn't been jaded by our bad decisions, crummy circumstances, and inner turmoil. It lays beautifully in our minds.........like the forgotten special Christmas present ready to be opened.........

and we will open it!

We will walk into 2010 for time really pauses for no one.

It is my prayer for all to have a year of joy, prosperity, and love. I pray that we will all become more aware of our creator and His intentions for our lives. That we will be compassionate and loving toward each other and less consumed about ourselves. I pray that God will give special blessings to parents of Special Needs children and the world will one day discover the uniqueness of these amazing children. I finally pray for healing for our children......all children everywhere....... for it is children that truly understand hope and new beginnings.

Happy New Year dear friends! See you all in 2010!! :)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

Why is it that every year about this time we think we need to reflect. It's not that I'm against reflection it's just that sometimes people spend too much time looking backwards and not enough time looking forward. This phenomenon is only worse when December 31st rolls around. I have to admit that I am guilty of indulging in this holiday tradition along with so many others.

A year flies by so rapidly........it seems like just yesterday 2009 dawned with all the promise of an unopened gift. I had so many hopes for my family and personal life. Things I was going to change, improve.........

Well, on December 30th, reality dawns! So many things I didn't accomplish! My children still aren't perfect and I am still not slim, and my husband is still cranky! What's a woman to do??

LET IT GO!!!

Tonight, I am going to make a choice to focus not on the things I didn't get right but on what I did get right! I am tired of punishing myself for all the things I flubbed. We could all be better, brighter, more considerate........

I am thankful I have such a forgiving God. His Son certainly covers up many blotches that cover most of my life! I am going to strive to be better, be more holy, be more Christ like! This is my resolution for the coming decade. However, this has been my resolution for the last forty years of my life. I will NEVER be perfect........but, with Christ, I can be better than I ever imagined myself to be!

Happy New Year to everyone! May God bless our country with abudance and compassion this year.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Shades of Grey

I consider myself rather low maintenance. In fact an old friend of mine once told me I reminded him of peasant women who had children in the fields and then packed them on their backs and kept right on working. I have always taken pride in the fact that I work really hard and complain very little. I don't need tons of beauty treatments to feel beautiful. Tonight, I had to challenge my thinking on my whole self concept.

Kelsie and I arrived in San Diego after a day of total chaos. We had cleaning, packing, cooking, organizing and loading before we could leave for ARBA National Convention in San Diego. Life has been like this pretty much for the last two months. This means that I have not had time to do much with my personal appearance. I was really looking forward to getting to our hotel tonight and having a much needed uninterrupted hair color treatment.

Now, I am not an amateur at coloring my hair. I started coloring when I was thirty after cancer treatment. When my hair came back in, it was really dark, coarse, and GREY. I was pretty salt and pepper at thirty and that just wasn't going to work for me! Hence, I started coloring.

Tonight, I colored with the same color I have been using for years. Left it on for the same amount of time......and then rinsed. No biggie, right? When it dried, I asked I daughter if it looked exceptionally blonde.....no grey. She stated, "Mom, your hair is as grey as a fifty year old." WHAT?? I totally freaked. Not just a little freak, total freak.

We ran to the nearest grocery store and bought a new box of hair color....Darker. I again repeated the process....praying and bargaining with God about total grey removal. The hair color worked, Thank God!

Now that the whole event is over, I have to admit that this is really trite. I cannot believe that I got so upset about grey hair that I had to run to the grocery store at eleven thirty at night.

I guess even I have learned that Mrs. Low Maintenance has a vain side. Guess we all do. There are things that we just don't want the world to see about ourselves. Now that the hair is fixed, I wonder what else I hide. What do we all hide?

People are complicated. I think patience is needed more along with tolerance for our
harried and frustrated race of beings. I'm SO glad that my heavenly Father loves me warts and all. It makes approaching Him so much easier. I know He had to have a good chuckle over my behavior tonight! I know in retrospect, I did!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Endless Summer

Things here in Yuma have been pretty frantic and crazy the last couple of months. There have been three rabbit shows out of town and the usual keeping up with DJ and his trips to Phoenix and endless food preparation. On top of that, there has been many subbing jobs, house cleaning, laundry and the twelve thousand things that keep a house running. It's all about to come to fruition with the culmination of the American Rabbit Breeders National Convention.

Kelsie and I are leaving on Tuesday to head over to San Diego to help set up for Convention. This is our first and I still can't imagine seeing thirteen thousand rabbits and cavies all housed in one place! Just the thought of this is really overwhelming......

Overwhelming too was the first two years of DJ's diagnosis. My sole focus was autism and how to best help my son. I spent endless hours doing research and other endless hours developing a treatment plan. Once I found Dr. Schneider and other therapies, I would spend weeks and months at the Ronald McDonald house in Phoenix getting DJ the treatment he needs. Time spent away from the rest of my family. This too was overwhelming......

So how did I end up imersed in my daughter's "Rabbit Habbit"? I fell in love with many of the people!

I don't actually raise and show cavies or rabbits, but I'm intricately involved in the hobby and community of breeders. This hobby has been my complete and total escape from the world of autism. Most breeders didn't even know I had a disabled son until I started my blog and jumped into Facebook. Through this hobby, I have met some of the most amazing people and rejoined the world. Her hobby has forced me to quit living in such isolation. Although most days I question my sanity (Kelsie's hobby is even more time consuming), I realize that my daughter's rabbits and cavies have brought me back into the world! :)

I am praying that I can pull my life together to get out of here on Tuesday. I just want to experience all of the Convention this year. I have been told that California Rabbit and Cavy Shows puts on the most phenomenal Convention ever. I cannot wait to be a part of it!

I feel the Endless Summer is a perfect theme in my life right now. The point being that life hits you with an endless amount of unforeseen problems and tragedy. I would like to think I am finding a balance in the insanity. Much like taking a break to reflect and walk down the beach on a warm Fall day. When you have an intense personality like mine, it's easy to miss these opportunities for balance. I continually thank God for all my breeder friends. They bring humor and joy to my very complicated life! I am truly blessed for my daughter's "rabbit habit" as it has brought me a needed relief from the endless needs of my very special son!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Open Mouth....Insert Foot

I did something today that I don't usually do.....I got into an email argument with someone I shouldn't have even bothered with. For some reason, I felt the need to justify myself to someone who really doesn't care about me, my family, or the truth. So, I felt the need to shoot off an email and tell this person "just how it is"!! DUMB!

This person decided to shoot back another email to let me know "how it was". This is where it gets tricky........

I sat down at my computer.....madder than a wet hen....and I got busy letting them know how they were still incompetent and ignorant! My beautiful daughter told me to basically get a grip.........and just STOP! I yelled some nasty comment back at her and proceeded to type. Then it happened........God stepped in! I deleted the email and removed the person from my contacts. I quit playing the game.

I LOVE the feeling of power you get when you know that you are right. You know, the feeling of superiority when you tell someone how they need to get it together. Here's the problem with that smugness.......it never lasts. Sooner or later you begin to feel stupid for having the argument in the first place. All I accomplished today was to give this person more ammunition to use on me. I really didn't accomplish making my point or changing anything about the relationship this person and I have. If anything, my very unchristian behavior made the situation more toxic.

Sometimes the best thing to do is just let go. I feel terrible for behaving in such a trivial manner. I just wanted to make a point......I did. It just wasn't a good one.

I'm glad my daughter set me straight. It shows me that I have at least gotten something right in raising her. God doesn't always work through force.........He sometimes reminds us that we have gotten off track through our children. At least she didn't lead by example today.......today she was my example!

Monday, September 28, 2009

They Don't Have to Speak Your Language!!

Today, I wanted to be one of the Apostles during Pentecost. I wanted to speak and interpret foreign languages! But.......I'm not, and I can't. This proved to make my day complicated and difficult.

Today, I substituted in an ELL Kindergarten where these little buggers no se habla English. Seriously....they kept talking to me in Spanish and figured that I would eventually figure it out! Bless their little hearts, I know enough Spanish to get myself into trouble.........not much more.

Still, we all stumbled through our day. Between hand gestures, drawing pictures, a lot of pointing, and some good interpretation from a few children, we managed authentic communication. It just made for a REALLY long day. partially because they physically exhausted me. However, I was more mentally exhausted from trying to understand and be understood.

This whole process made me realize how much we actually don't communicate with those who are actually close to us. I thought about my husband today. I worked harder to express expectations to thirty little Kinders than I do my husband. We communicate through Post Its, email, texts, and voicemail. Then, we have the audacity to get angry with each other when we misinterpret an intended message. It's like face to face communication went out years ago when technology rolled humanity into this century.

The point being.....communication takes real effort. It takes work to formulate your ideas into language that is received by others correctly and this is only half of the communication equation. An individual still has to listen and interpret information that is sent back your way. Communication takes active participation. Think about it, how often do we really communicate??

It took some adorable five year olds to remind me that real effort on both parties is required to make our needs known. The nifty thing is that I get the opportunity to practice my skills again tomorrow! Now how cool is that? I get to practice authentic communication again.....try it.....it's a great way to learn about yourself and those you care about.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Life Goes on Without You

I do apologize to everyone for my extended absence from my blog, but I was stricken with illness the last week. I hadn't actually been feeling well for about a week and a half. By Tuesday of this week, I was completely down. I must admit that it has been quite a few years since I was stuck in bed.......I honestly didn't move a whole lot this past week.

I have been working as a Substitute and in various Children's ministry's at my church. It is inevitable that little ones with runny noses, coughs, and sneezes will eventually catch up to you. I figured that I just had a cold that turned into a sinus infection. By Wednesday, I knew it was the flu. I felt like someone had beat on me with a two by four, and I really couldn't get out of bed.

Mom's never actually get the option of being sick. I still had to have my son's meals prepared and get him up and ready for school everyday. That was about all I could accomplish as I never even made it to any stores or even out to the rabbit barn this week.

This amazing thing happened in spite of my illness..............Life went on without me!

Now, I must admit that I am somewhat guilty of thinking that my corner of the world will stop if something ever happened to me. I am learning that it won't. This lesson is a little painful in the ego department, but it's pretty darn practical in the end. All the times we stay up to finish a project knowing that life won't go on if we don't get it done.......is crazy thinking! The world will turn, birds will sing, and the sun will come up in spite of whatever we do. It's time to minimize our importance on what we do. The emphasis should be on who we love and how we have loved them.

God doesn't care how much we accomplish on our daily to do list. He cares about our relationships. Most especially, He cares about our relationship with Him. So........How much time have you spent with Him today?? He should always be the first thing on our "to do" list. I'm moving Him up to number one this week!
How about you?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's 4-H Time!

According to the Weather Channel....Fall has arrived. I think that Yuma missed that forecast as our temperatures are still projected to be hovering around 108 degrees for the next week. That aside, everything else is starting to feel like Fall. School has been in session almost a month, and it's time to sign up for 4-H!!

For those of you who don't understand the 4-H organization, here's a brief overview. 4-H is a youth organization open to children from 9 to 19 years of age. It encompasses many projects with the ultimate goal of teaching youth leadership, responsibility, and citizenship.

4-H has been a part of my life since I was nine years old. I started in a Foods project and added more projects over the years. I attended the National 4-H Congress, Citizenship Washington Focus and learned that the world is so much bigger than Yuma. Through 4-H, I learned so many lessons that apply to my life today. No wonder my daughter is a member of 4-H too!

I have watched her learn how awesome it feels to win a competition, and how to be a good sport when she doesn't. With animal projects, you definitely learn responsibility and the inevitable facts of life and death. She has learned about politics and how sometimes it's not important what you know but who you know. All of these life skills she will use for the rest of her life.

She has also learned how to actually practice being a Christian through 4-H. She has learned to turn the other cheek when people say hurtful things and how to stand up for others when they have no voice. She always tithes her income from her animal projects and God has blessed her with awesome bunnies to boot. It is amazing the lessons she has learned in such a few years.

I'm not actually ready to start the chaos that is the 4-H year, but I am excited to see old friends again. I often am feel like I benefit more from Kelsie's hobbies than she does because of the awesome friends that I have made.

So here's to another 4-H year......craziness and all!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Needs Met....Any Questions?

I usually let my husband deal with the challenge of balancing the budget around here. My belief is that this is as daunting as balancing the U.S. budget most days. We seem to keep spending money like the government the only difference is......credit isn't extended to us regular folks anymore. DJ's expenses keep rising and our income doesn't........MAJOR bummer.

I haven't worried too much.....Joe's job is to worry about money, my job is to keep the rest of this insane asylum going. So far, this strategy has worked pretty well....until now.......

With Joe facing surgery, the very real need for income has permeated even my world. Lately, I have been contemplating whether Publisher's Clearing House might actually show up on my doorstep! Figuring this probably wasn't going to happen, I have decided to make a real conscious effort to help lower the Vielbig family deficit.

Hence.......Sub Fever!!

I haven't been able to get a "real" job, but God is providing through substitute jobs. I just started looking this week and I have already procured nine jobs. At this rate, I might get to the point where I could make a dent in our finances. Needs met......any questions?

God continues to move his way through my life. Painting murals where disasters once stood. When things seem the most dire, He opens more doors. Ever happen to you?? Miracles don't have to be huge flashes of light, smoke, and special effects. Don't answered prayers qualify too? I get miracles everyday......my husband, children, friends, and yes, even sub jobs. It isn't exactly what I wanted, but it is what I needed. Any questions? Nope......Thanks God!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Running the Race

Having a disabled child is not a sprint......it's a marathon. You have to realize that the finish line is a very LONG ways away. Possibly, a lifetime away.

In the beginning, I tried to run this marathon as a sprint. All I could think about was what did I need to do to beat Autism. It was a quest, a drive, an obsession. I spent hours, days, weeks on the computer researching. I attended conferences, and checked out TONS of books from research libraries. I then planned therapies, changed DJ's diet, went to many doctors, and spent countless hours driving to and from Phoenix.

I held this pace for two and a half years. It was certainly worth it as my son has recovered a tremendous amount.
But......we still have so far to go.

The difference is now I work at a bit slower pace. Instead of driving to Phoenix every week, or spending endless weeks there, I now go up once a month. I have taken on teaching DJ much of the therapy at home using my OT, PT, and Speech therapists as consultants. The work is still there is just slower and more deliberate. The gains aren't as obvious short term. We are looking for much longer term goals.....life skills that will help him function better in the real world.

For myself, I have learned to accept and cope. I work the programs that DJ wants to be involved in like AWANA and church preschool. This way, I can intercept for him when I need to. It's still unbelievably challenging and time consuming but I'm enjoying working with other children as well as my own son.

The major difference in my life today is my mindset. DJ and I have good days.....and bad days. Some days he is more "with it" than others. Either way, he's my son and I have learned to stop nit picking all his behavior. I have learned to let go. I will continue to do what I feel it takes to make DJ healthy and recover him but I will laugh, love, and relax a little along the way.

God has blessed my family with so many things.....I guess we can bare the burden because of the blessings. Autism has taught me that is the key to living.......finding joy in the journey. To find the joy sometimes you just have to let go the reigns........and just live.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Climbing Out of the Pit

I'm going to be gone for a couple of days so I won't post again until Monday or Tuesday. This is going to be the beginning of a series. I feel compelled to tell the story of how I learned to live with an unwelcome guest that came to live in my house. His name is Autism and he showed up to steal a beautiful little boy away from me. This will be the story of how I fought back......how I still fight today for my son and others just like him............

The last couple of days I seem to be reminiscing with other parents of "special" children. People who walk in my shoes everyday.......my friends! God may have allowed Autism to hit my house, but He gave me awesome friends to help carry me down the road.

Anyway, been reminiscing. Going down the long road that I started three years ago. Back to the really scary days.....the first days when the doctor blew up my whole world. I have been thinking of how it felt to hear the words.......your son has Autism. I remember crying in the office.......just staring at my sweet little boy. Waiting for time to pass, for the words to disappear.

I got home from Phoenix and started running. I DON'T RUN! I put my IPod on and started hoofing.....not going anywhere in particular......just running. Crying, and running just trying so hard to run away from my pain. We all know that you can't.

I let myself grieve for two weeks.......

Then, with the determination of a Pit Bull, I dug in. Nobody was going to tell me my boy was lost forever.....nobody! I spent HOURS on the computer and at the libraries. I didn't sleep or eat much. I just searched for answers and cried out to God. I cried enough to fill buckets and kept thinking of how God counted all my tears....how He cried with me. Still, I searched in desperation for someway to bring my son back.....to allow him to live in our world. It was truly the darkest moment of my life. Even darker than when I had cancer. Black.....Dark.........

I followed this path for about a month. Then, in His time......God began to open doors for me. I met people that pointed me in directions that ultimately led me to Dr. Cindy Schneider. Here was my lifeline. She is DJ's autism doctor and in many ways my friend. I had already put DJ on the "diet", and started supplements before I first met her so we were ready for the long haul........

The point of the story is that I fell in a deep pit. The pit of desperation and despair. Ever been there?? Think we all have. The pit is deep and seems insurmountable. Little rays begin to shine down on you down there in the pit.......rays from heaven. You hold on and reach for the light and stumble many times. Eventually, you crawl out one agonizing step at a time. Hand over hand....dirty, muddy, crying, screaming, fighting every step. Finally, you haul yourself out. You lay on the ground just grateful you made it.......you're totally exhausted. Then, the hard part starts. You start living all over again.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

PerilousTimes

We have all been tested in this recession. My family has been especially hit hard. I quit working three years ago to take care of our son and instead of cutting back we incurred DJ's skyrocketing medical bills and have had to assume tremendous debt. We are even at a point where we aren't sure how to pay monthly bills. Scary times for folks that were once debt free and didn't buy anything until we could pay cash for it. My paycheck often went to weekends out of town, shopping trips, and my savings account. Thank God, Joe had the mindset to save all these years because it kept us debt free until the last year.

Still, through the hardship and pain, lessons have been learned.

I first learned how much I can live without. My car is pushing 120K and I pray that it holds together. Just two years ago, I pestered my husband almost into fits to buy me a new Chevy Tahoe. I am embarrassed to admit that I thought I couldn't live unless he bought me a forty thousand dollar car. I'm SO glad he told me no....the last thing we would ever need is a huge car payment now.

I buy my clothes in Sam's club and second hand stores. I honestly can't remember the last outfit I actually tried on! I don't even buy much to begin with.....mostly I shop for the kiddos. I've learned that being in style is not all it's cracked up to be. My daughter constantly jokes about me being a prime candidate for What Not to Wear!!

Everything, and I mean everything in our budget goes for necessities and DJ's doctor bills. It's so hard to be frivolous when your child needs so much.

Becoming financially strapped has taught me to be humble. I never thought a forty-two year old woman with a Master's Degree would be applying for retail jobs and substitute teaching. I'm not proud, I just need to take some of the burden off my husband. Unfortunately, I am trying to get back into teaching at the worst time......schools just got rid of teachers, and they surely don't want to hire me at a higher pay level than someone brand new. It hurts sometimes because I don't even get job interview calls. Talk about your confidence shaker!! Still, I press on and try to contribute the best I can. I know God will give me the job I'm supposed to have.

I have also had to ask my parents for help.....OUCH! It's easier for me than my very proud husband. I just thank God they have helped us as much as they have. It's not what I had envisioned, but at least God gave me such amazing parents.

I have learned most days to walk in faith. The blind, stumbling in the dark kind of faith. I believe that when you are pushed beyond your limits that is when you truly let go. I can't do this without God........ I just can't. We still have our house, and the necessities. I truly appreciate my friends and family. These are the things I value now on this earth........ These are the things I hold on to in these perilous times.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Please.......Remember Me

Parenting a special needs child isn't for the faint of heart. It takes a real warrior to face the obstacles of doctors, therapies, government programs, insurance claims, public perceptions, schools, daily care living tasks and then the actual parenting. Then, you can throw in a husband, and a couple of "abled" children, and be totally at your wits end.

I bring this up because a good friend of mine called me last night and shared a heartbreaking story with me. Anne is the parent of another special needs child. Different disability than my child ........but equally as challenging. It seems that after an incredibly LONG week, she decided to make arrangements to attend a Praise and Worship service at her church. She got someone to watch her three other children and headed off to the service with the disabled child in tow. An exhausting feat all by its self.

She explained to me how moving the service was. The message seemed directed toward her. (I love when God reaches us this way!!) The music was powerful and she really felt God's presence with her there. She shed tears of anguish and joy as is often the case when you have our children. I was so excited just listening to her tell of her experience. Then............

It was time to pray in small groups. Her group prayed for many important things, political leaders, marriages, the church, missions...........but they didn't pray for her. She was there, holding an obviously disabled child in her arms and as she stated........."wiping tears and snot with the sleeve of her shirt." But, no one comforted, nobody prayed..........

Why?? Maybe they didn't see her pain, she didn't speak up and specifically ask for prayer. Maybe, they were embarrassed and felt the situation was too uncomfortable to reach out. I'm not sure why no one spoke up or reached out........I'm just not sure.

I know the pain and isolation my friend felt. I know because I live it too. It is so hard to reach out to others in your community when you have given everything you have just to meet the needs of your special child. Then, you still have to push on to meet the needs of your other children, and husband. There's not much left of you at the end of the day. It can be a very lonely existence.

We are called to serve and serving doesn't have to be complicated and become cumbersome. Serving can mean a five minute phone call.....a positive email.....a quick card in the mail.......an offer to drive a child to an event........a hug and affirmation that the person really does matter. We all want to feel included and accepted because God meant us to live in communities. We sometimes just need a gentle reminder to step outside of ourselves.....to remind those around us that they are indeed important and remembered!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

They Remember What You Are

I often think back to my childhood. This seems to be a consequence of becoming a parent. Most of the time I think of how I wouldn't have ever back talked to my parents or behaved badly. Mostly due to fear of my father's wrath. It is amazing how time can cloud your memory of what a pain in the behind I actually was.........time does that.......clouds your memory.

Sometimes though, I think of the kind of people my parents actually were. They weren't perfect in any way shape or form, but they loved us kids pretty much unconditionally but with many boundaries. I learned how to be a person from my parents.....most especially my dad.

My dad wasn't a man of many words. He was a respected teacher and coach at the local high school. You learned early that your word was a bond and actions always speak louder than words. He knew the meaning of hard work.....he was the oldest of ten children and had responsibility thrown on him at a very early age. He left home to go to college and never had any help from his parents mostly because they were too poor.

You learned from my dad by watching. He put his personal stamp on everything........his job, coaching, the yard work, and his children. Embarrassing my dad publicly was probably the most heinous thing we could do. This infraction incurred the worst wrath! Still today, I think of what I do to make sure that I never bring any embarrassment upon my parents.

Still, who I am is the man I watched. I am honest, and forthright in all my dealings. I don't commit lightly and consider other peoples feeling before my own. My word is the same as a contract and I will overextend myself to make things right. The worth of a day is often gauged by how much I got accomplished and I often expect the same from my children. I feel like my father's spirit walks with me daily helping me be the person I am.

I ran across a quote the other day from Jim Henson. You know, the Muppet guy. Here was someone who took imagination and hard work, shook it together and created brilliance. He said, "The attitude you have as a parent is what your kids will learn from more than what you tell them. They don't remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are."

What am I? Do I yell to much?? Do I make enough time to listen?? How often do I lecture? The quiet simplicity of my father reaches to me at these times. I learned so much in the silence.....just watching.

What do our children see in us.....beyond the lectures.......when we actually live life? How have we served in our role as parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and cheer leaders? I can't answer this one yet. I am thinking today though of how my actions are interpreted by my children. I hope they see me as God's servant and someone who lived with integrity.......only time will tell.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

No Man is an Island

Have you ever had days when you just wanted to crawl under the bed and hide. How about having a life just like this? My pastor refers to this as having a messy life. (See his blog from today :http://dwellandcultivate.blogspot.com/2009/09/held-hostage.html) as he tells it much more poignantly than I can......

I have determined that I have a very messy life! My family looks very far from perfect and honestly sometimes it's easier not to have to deal with others in this matter. I often find it too painful or difficult to present my problems and then deal with the bewildered looks that follow. I have determined that most folks want us messy people to give the standard reply of "fine" when asked how we are doing. They really don't want to hear that my life is a constant stream of disasters!!

However, I am copping out when I close myself off from others. Yes, relationships take work and commitment. Sometimes, I don't feel like I have time for that. If we are supposed to be pattering our lives after our Savior, then this attitude cannot prevail. Our pain and disasters might help someone else in their moment of crisis. We might also find relationships that ease the pain of our own lives. People need other people.........we were meant to live in a loving community to help and sustain each other. It's easy to forget that here in the cyber age.

I am challenging myself to reach out to others more this week. I know that I have some relationships that could use some patching up. I also know that the Lord has probably presented me with opportunities to meet people that I closed the door on. I am going to make a conscious effort to reach out more and hole up less.

What about you? Are you living on an island? Do you have something wonderful to share that could only be exposed through the messiness of your life? Or maybe, you have compassion and love that could be given to one of us messies. Either way, take a chance and reach out......Jesus did with twelve very messy men......and He changed the world.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Actualization of Accumulation

As I was driving home from Walmart today, it struck me.......We all own a ton of stuff. I saw many cars parked in the driveways of my neighborhood. Undoubtedly, because people had so much stuff in their garage that they couldn't fit their car in the there. So, they parked one of the biggest expenditures out on the street, and put their junk where it could be sheltered. Didn't make much since to me.

I arrived home and unloaded my groceries. Then, I proceeded to pick up my living room. It hit me.......my own family has too much "stuff"! It's piled everywhere and I am actually running out of places to put it all. Why????

How much of this stuff do we even look at or use?

We have technology stuff, therapy stuff, gaming stuff, reading stuff, children's stuff, and multimedia stuff!!! I don't know about you but a bulldozer pushing all this "stuff" out of my life would be exceptionally nice. It's in every room, corner, closet, and counter in my house. I am truly thinking of becoming a minimalist and getting rid of it all! I believe that my brain would be considerably less cluttered too.


My family like many others is learning the hard lesson of defining wants and needs. It's just hard for children to get this lesson when we belong to a consumer driven society. They are bombarded by advertisement, and peers that they need the latest and greatest "stuff" out there. Still, God is very clear about how we should handle our money. If we go back to biblical concepts, our family financial spreadsheet is bound to move into the black! Teaching our children concepts of tithing and living debt free will also help them be successful and happy in their futures.

Having a child with special needs puts an increased burden on my family. We learned three years ago how to do without long before the recession hit. We have had to learn to rely on God and cut every corner that we can. Decisions that are often painful for everyone.

Many families today are now facing this same financial issues. Some have lost jobs, still others have lived far beyond their means. Either way, the economy is a wake up call for us all to redefine what is truly important to us. If we can survive the pain of giving up stuff, I believe we will reap riches of enjoying those things that truly matter!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Forty-Five Years Ago.....

It was 1963. JFK was president and assassinated in Dallas, TX, America introduced the zip code, Martin Luther King delivers his "I have a Dream" speech, the Vietnam War is raging, Lyndon B. Johnson assumes the presidency, Beatlemania hit the U.S.............

AND............ my parents got married on August 31, in Bay City, Michigan.

I never realized how tumultuous this time must have been for them. Two kids that met at Arizona State University. My mom from a small town in Missouri, and my dad a football player from Michigan. They were just two Midwestern kids, trying to finish college, and fearless enough to get married during these very confusing times.

Forty-Five years is a very long time......

In this time......they raised two college educated children, obtained Master's degrees, taught and influenced thousands of high school students, made many friendships, and touched many lives. Not bad for two kids from the Midwest!

They have always been my stability. My foundation in a very confusing world. My father sees things in black and white......right and wrong. He instilled in me those Midwestern values of honesty, hard work, and commitment. My mother cushioned the wrath of dad when he didn't understand our paths. She was always there to comfort and pick up the pieces when my brother and I fell.

They are amazing people to have stuck it out all these years. They differ in stature, political beliefs, vocation, at one point, religion, and just about every other thing two people could disagree on............but not their love of the Lord.

I believe this is why they have made it these forty-five years. They clung to Jesus when days were dark and praised Him when life was going their way. This was handed down to my brother and I. We were the lucky ones to have been taught by such great examples.

I celebrate Dave and Deanna Sampson today! I thank God for such determined and committed parents. I was lucky to have such an awesome example of God's love poured out upon the Earth and thank Him for two such amazing people everyday!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Silent Partner

Most people know that I am married. However, many people have no idea what my husband looks like, what he does, or how important he is in my life. I must admit that I have secretly have held a grudge against my husband. I have thought he doesn't have a clue what my life is like. The absolute craziness of my days trying to keep my schedule together. I have discovered though, that I wasn't giving him credit for what he does and how much he loves us. Although, he doesn't completely understand the stress of my obligations, he always supports the insanity.
Joe .............is my silent partner.

My husband was born in 1950 when the world looked much different than today. He was raised in Baltimore, Maryland a whole world away from Arizona. He is an only child that was born to a poor working class family. I was born the youngest of two, my parents were educated and taught high school. Our worlds couldn't look more different. What brought us together was passion, love, and baseball. Seems rather shallow now!!

Our lives really didn't turn out the way we had planned. Does life ever?? We swore to never have debt, as we were comfortable with where we were. I taught school and Joe taught college. Life was simple and straightforward. Then came DJ........he was enough to throw any boat off course.

Because of DJ, I had to quit work. I also had to give up a substantial paycheck while we assumed tremendous medical expenses that continue today. I learned to trust God and my husband. We have struggled through three years of treatment that often meant I spent months in Phoenix away from home. Joe quietly picked up the pieces and kept the house going, helped with my oldest, and worked to pay the bills. I also watched him sell his prize baseball autograph collection to fund our Hyperberic Oxygen Chamber. He never complained, pouted, or grumbled......he just let things go.

We have an unorthodox marriage at best. I take care of DJ's treatment, medications, food, school, and church. I also take care of the the house, pool, yard, laundry, meals, and Kelsie. He attempts to deal with our budget, works every overload, works both summer sessions, and tries to pitch in to the effort every so often. He also takes care of our son on weekend mornings. I am NOT a morning person.....so I get to sleep in!

I couldn't do what I do without him. I have never once doubted his commitment to me or our family. I also rarely tell him he is my Hero. God truly gifted me with a remarkable husband.

Today, I hope you think of who your silent partner is and thank God for their continued support and love. These people are such a special gift.....we should let them know regularly how much they complete our lives!

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Imperfect Present

The problem with presents are that you never know exactly what is inside. I honestly must admit that I have gotten some really awesome wrapped gifts. Only to look inside and find something less than what I actually wanted. I am sure we have all been on the receiving end of this predicament. It's really disappointing.......and certainly NOT what we expected. Now this is a major bummer for a gift........it is heartache when it's your child.

As I write this, I am thinking of the many children that unlike you and I......are not perfect in mind and body. Somewhere in this imperfect world, they were impacted. Then by no fault of there own, they became dirty and crumpled...........the damaged package. However, instead of being loved and cherished as our Savior would want, they are dejected, ignored, and pitied.

I know that much of this behavior from other stems from fear. It is amazing how much fear we adults can have. I know that people are afraid of simply the word Autism. They don't understand what it is or how it impacts the individual who has it. Our children present strange behavior for a variety of reasons.........much of which boils down to misdirected neurological patterns. Still.......they are just people. My son is not Autism........it is something he has. Beyond the label he is loving, mischievous, energetic, and most of all joyful. If you want to learn this.......you have to have patience and actually get to know him. Isn't this true of all people? You have to get beyond the packaging.

As I think about differences, I am drawn to our Lord. Now, here was the person who could love the unlovable. He didn't just love those we don't like....(tax collectors). He reached out and touched those we avoid and despise. It wasn't like people in his time were flocking to the lepers and disabled. Yet, our Lord touched them......He healed them.

If I have learned anything, it is push past my fear and look for God. He's always there in the discarded and ugly. In the eyes of the homeless man, the smile of the little girl with Cerebral Palsy, the laugh of the boy with Autism........He is there. Don't turn away.......Look, He is there!

It is my prayer that we can learn to love like this. Not to feel pity, but to see the creation that is inside each and every human being. We are all gift that He has given. Some of us just have dirty or crumpled paper.......still it is in the unwrapping that the gift is actually revealed.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Got Heat??

I really hate to be tryst, but today I think my brain has been officially baked. I'm not one to complain too much......(don't ask my husband this question).....but I am really sick of Summer. You see, I have been baking since late last April. Baking this long can do some interesting things to your thinking processes.

People who chose to live in the Desert Southwest become somewhat of heat officianatos. You see......there are varying degrees of heat.

First, you have the blast furnace kind. The kind that makes you think you have stepped into an oven set at 400 degrees. It comes up from the pavement and envelopes you in waves of radiation. Upon entering your car, you feel that you may burst into flames in spontaneous combustion. If you touch surfaces exposed to the outside sun, it is likely that you will blister any skin that comes in contact with the said surface. This is the DRY heat!

Then, you have the heat we usually have in July and August. This is the heat that suffocates you with moisture laden air. There is nothing more enjoyable than doing yard work when it's 108 degrees with 50% humidity. It's kind of like mowing with an elephant on your back. The experts call this phenomenon the Monsoon.........I call it misery. Everything sticks to you.......your clothes, the car seat, your hair. It gets better though. This type of heat also teases you with billowing thunderclouds off in the distance. They send empty promises of cooling rain only to fool you with a giant dust storm and hours of cleaning up afterward.......still in the heat.

I have actually started to envy my Facebook friends that are complaining about there 100 degree temperatures. I think this shows I must have fried a few cards in my deck already. At least it's late August.......that means the end of the inferno is getting close. By September, it's down into the mid 100's. Pray for me friends until then.......tomorrow the forecast is for 117 degrees. I might just melt before September.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Turn Me Around

I drive in Phoenix a ton!! I figured that in the last three years, I have spent as much time there as I have in Yuma. In fact, I know the freeway system as well as the Phoenicians. This last trip was scheduled for DJ but integrated with animal trips between the East Valley and the North Valley. I certainly logged some miles on Kelsie's car in three days.

Tuesday, I had to leave the Ronald McDonald house by 8:00am, drive over to the East Valley and pick up Guinea Pigs, then head way North to DJ doctor's appointment by 9:20. Followed by picking up feed and rabbits for my daughter thankfully still in the North Valley.

For some reason, I passed my exit off the I-10 West bound, and had to turn around. I got to the first stop only to get back on the I-10 heading East bound when I needed to go West. This finally culminated with me getting on the loop 101 heading East when I needed to go West to go home! I never get so turned around in Phoenix.

I think my directional dysfunction can be blamed on having too much to do in too little of time! Ever been here?

Currently, I am facing many transitions in my life. This ranges from decisions about my children, church, and eight thousand activities I am involved in. I just have too much going on..........

A very wise friend of mine told me to start to prioritize what I actually have to do with the things I actually enjoy doing. You see, I have been doing so much that I really don't enjoy anything anymore.

I'm sure none of you has ever been here either!

The problem is that when you start looking at your life, things fall into definite categories. The first one is things you HAVE to do. The second is things you Want to do and the third.......Things you THINK you have to do. I have tons of things in the first and third category and not too much in the second.........sound familiar?

It is a painful process to start to whittle things away in your life. I am currently struggling with that now as I tell people I can't commit to certain activities anymore. I don't like to say no, or do I like to disappoint other people. This type of thinking is costing me my sanity at this point and I am praying that I stick to my plan of simplifying my life.

When was the last time you felt turned around? Goodness knows our Lord planned a day of rest for a reason. My ultimate goal is to take my day back.........time to enjoy my family, read a book, take a drive, have lunch with friends.........whatever! When is the last time you did a "whatever"........maybe we all need to reshuffle from time to time. I am so glad I have friends that will direct me back on the right road!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bunnies Abound

My daughter shows rabbits and cavies (Guinea pigs). This will seem like a strange hobby for those of you who don't participate in this sort of thing. For us, it's almost like breathing.....once a month we drive off to a rabbit show. We load up the Turbo Van and off we go......

Rabbit shows are usually quite a few miles from here. Kelsie and I usually get up around 3:30 AM, and she loads up the bunnies and I take a shower. (we packed a lot more stuff the night before) Then, we load up and leave between 4 and 4:30am.

Rabbit shows are usually somewhat chaotic especially since Kelsie shows both rabbits and cavies. I spend my time getting her animals up and down off tables. I am the official "helper" and I take a back seat to the child.........I've learned to become very good with that role.

The thing about rabbit shows is that in so many ways it's not about actually having these little animals judged and the winning or losing. It's about the friendships you make, the life lessons you learn, the time spent with the daughter, the realization that the daughter is coming in to her own. I have watched her blossom over the last year into a beautiful young woman who is slowly building her confidence and getting ready to step out into the world.

We both have had the chance to grow so much closer. I guess there isn't much choice when your stuck in a car together for eight hours!! Still, Kelsie waited in line for her turn with Mom. First, it was my cancer, then her brother's diagnosis. She was robbed out of four years of my attention but not my love.

We both have learned and grown so much from raising rabbits. She has learned responsibility, hard work, and humility. I have learned to surrender...........

I am so grateful for this hobby and the opportunity it has given both Kelsie and I. I like to think that it's God's way of opening doors that were closed by hurt and the feeling of abandonment.

What things are your children interested in? (This applies to adult children also) When you listen to the spirit of your children's passions, it gives you an open invitation to walk into their world. I am so glad I was listening to my daughter's passions........because I wouldn't give up one single moment we have spent together.

Are you listening? Watch and observe.......then walk with them for adventures you'll treasure for a lifetime!

Friday, August 21, 2009

One More Time

Children have this incredible way of not letting go of things. DJ, for example, wants to jump in the pool, ride the train, ride on the bus, play a game of Uno, ride his bicycle down the street..........One more time! There are days it almost drives me crazy. I get so caught up in just trying to get things done that I forget..............

the early days.........

I remember having a two and a half year old that didn't talk. How I longed for him to just say my name. He did once.............then I never heard it again for three years.

I remember a little boy who was sick ALL the time. In a time span of a year and a half, he was hospitalized four times for the flu. The worst part was he couldn't even tell me what was wrong. He had to have tubes put in his ears, his adenoids removed, and his tonsils out during this same period of time. I thought about getting frequent flier miles at our local hospital! We even found out that he had sleep apnea. I endured two sleep studies on a three year old and the sleep machine that followed us home. I thought only overweight or old people had apnea........guess I learned.

I remember a little boy who sat in a room staring blankly at the dust filtering in the window.......for hours. He didn't even notice when people came and went from a room, or when someone came to the door.

I remember enduring endless doctors appointments. Only to hear the experts tell me....."There's nothing wrong with your child." Still.........I knew. I just knew.

I remember a child who wouldn't eat. He still ate baby food at two and a half years old because it was all he would eat. If you tried to give him something else he projectile vomited all over you, the counter, the floor and the walls. DJ threw up a lot.

Finally, I remember going to the specialist in Phoenix. Oh, this place was well known and I was finally going to get some answers.........only, I was afraid of the answers.

These experts told me my child had Autism and I should give him a multi-vitamin, fish oil, and think about long term care for my son. They really offered no hope and I sat very still, watching my boy, with tears rolling down my face. I couldn't speak.......I just had to leave.

Those were the dark days........the days long before, "One more time."

Taking care of DJ's needs isn't any easier but my child is healthy, happy, and lives in my world now. We still have much to overcome and many mountains to climb. However, we are so far from those dark and scary days.

So today, if your children or grandchildren start to drive you a little nutty........remember you could have silence and a life without "One more time".
************************************************************************************
Please pray for us:

Thank you God.......for recovering so much of DJ. You have given Michelle back the promise of DJ's future. I pray that other parents will be able to experience the joy of taking their child back from the grips of Autism. I also pray that other parents will be comforted in those dark times when this disease/disability robs so many parents of their hope.
Amen

The Prodigal Daughter


Most folks that know me today would never believe what an independent and free spirit I was as teenager. I honestly don't know how my parents put up with me. I wasn't bad to the point of drinking and doing drugs.........I just had the ability to find myself in terrible situations because I didn't engage my brain before actually rushing into things.

For example, I don't know how many cars I crashed. I remember crashing my Mom's car, my Dad's truck, and even my own car in the span of less than three years. My mom joked that everytime I went out she had the urge to call the emergency room. I wonder if she was really joking?

I didn't make really terrific grades in High School either. It was my personal goal to see how much stuff I could get out of and still pass. School just wasn't interesting to me.......that's got to be painful to deal with for two high school teachers.

Still my parents stuck by me......they yelled a tremendous amount, but they stuck by me. I know my mother had to spend entire nights praying I would get it together.

The final straw was when I was a freshman in college. I was attending Arizona Western (kinda) and working full time. I told my mom that I was moving in with my boyfriends family because they "understood" me. We had some serious fights but in the end......she let me move. It isn't like she had much choice in the matter. However, she didn't let me leave before she took my house keys and told me to call if I wanted to visit. OUCH!!

About six months later......you guessed it....I came crawling back. I knew they were going to let me have it with both barrels. WRONG........my mother was so thrilled!! She hugged me and asked if I wanted to go out to dinner. It was almost like some kind of celebration. She even helped me unpack and helped me set up my room.

I thought of this story today because my devotional this morning was on the Prodigal Son. I wonder if my mother was thinking of that story the day I returned............maybe?

It's nice to know that our Lord will take us back unconditionally.........I know I don't deserve His grace but I am so thankful to have it! I am so grateful today that I had an earthly example to remind me of His unending love. As I tend my own children the rest of this week, I hope that I can be an earthly example much like my mother was for me. I'm sure with God's grace upon us..........we all can!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Price of Friendship

Like many mothers and daughters, I have a complicated relationship with my mother. We definitely don't always see eye to eye and often have differences in opinion. She is my mother and I try to always respect that realizing that she is getting older and getting even more set in her ways. I honestly didn't think my mother had anymore lessons to teach me........but I was wrong.

Yesterday, my mother buried one of her dearest friends. She had been friends with her since I was in 4-H thirty years ago. They didn't always talk frequently especially after I grew up. Sometimes, they didn't communicate for months at a time. Still, when they did get together, they fell into a fluent pattern like no time had passed at all.

A year ago, a mutual friend of theirs called my mother. She basically asked her if she knew their friend was dying. My mother, of course didn't know.......in fact, she was rather speechless. What defined my mother as a friend was what she did for the following year...............

My mother rallied around her friend. They would make trips to chemotherapy followed by lunch and Walmart. This was the one time my mom's friend could get out of the house, and she so looked forward to my mother's visits. My mom even taught her how to drive the motorized carts at Walmart. This gave her very independent friend freedom. Mom even once complained that sometimes she couldn't find her in the Walmart because she got moving very fast on that cart!

Cancer eventually robs it's victim of all energy, independence, and physical strength. The last few months were true for my mom's friend. This is usually the time when friends stop coming by and paying visits. It's the lonely part of cancer.

Mom didn't stop visiting. She even took on some care giving for her friend. She would help her eat, shower, and get to bed. All that while, she watched as her friend deteriorated. Mom told me the last time she helped her friend shower, her friend told her she was nothing but a skeleton. Mom replied....it doesn't matter. Truly, I don't think it did matter to her.

The last time mom visited her friend she could barley sit up, and had great difficulty speaking. As mom left for our family vacation, she knew the end was near. Her friend passed away the morning we were to return from our vacation.

I learned so much from watching my mother be a friend. Sometimes the price of friendship is very high........but what is the cost by walking away?

Jesus' friends left him during his greatest time of need. I would like to believe that I would have stayed, but would I?

My mother showed me a priceless example of what it is like to walk in Christ's shoes. What a tremendous gift.......you see, she showed me the awesome gift of compassion, love, and friendship by simply giving of herself. Could we all pay the same price?

Monday, August 17, 2009

School Daze!

Beginnings....are new, exciting and extremely complicated if you have a child with special needs. You wouldn't think that there would be problems with a Kindergarten repeat, but inevitably there is.

It seems this year that there are too many special needs kids and not enough aide to go around. This has forced me to repeat Kindergarten again. The last two days I have spent helping out in my son's class. I have done this to relieve some of the pressure on his teacher and aide.
I will have to continue on this course until I can have a meeting with the district personal to work out the kinks in his Individual Education Plan.

Not exactly what I had planned for........

Still, I have learned some interesting truths about life by hanging out with these "little" people. Things I think all adults should be reminded of every once and awhile.

1. When you got to go.....you got to go.
2. Recess is the most important subject and activity.
3. Sometimes the right color isn't found in nature.
4. Friends are the people sitting next to you.
5. Sitting and listening to stories is still fun.
6. Resting after lunch is a good idea and makes the afternoon go better.
7. Doing something for the first time is kinda scary.
8. There is nothing better than a brand new box of crayons.
9. Sharing is sometimes really hard, but it's nice to make your friends happy too.
10. Forgiveness isn't hard.....Just say your sorry and move on.

I guess you really do learn many of life's lessons in Kindergarten. We just have to go back and remember these lessons from long ago.......or hang out with Kinders!

I Play Farm Town!

It is rather embarrassing to admit........but I play Farm Town on Facebook. I don't just play Farm Town, but I am probably going to need some Farm Town intervention soon!

The game is rather simple....you create a virtual farm and find other Facebook friends that you can also addict to play with you. So far, I've manage to addict around sixteen friends.........want to be next?

Seriously, my husband thinks I've completely lost my mind. Everytime he turns around, I'm on the computer harvesting something or other.......I think he believes that if he becomes a Farm Town avatar I will have more interaction with him. I hope he is not right!

I have decided that the reason I play Farm Town is because it is predictable as the heat in the Arizona summer. I crave predictable. Since autism came to live in my house, not too much falls under the category of predictable. If you plant grapes on Farm Town......in four hours......you've got grapes. The whole crazy game works that way. If I am leaving town, I plant crops that take a few days to harvest. Farm Town even works around my trips to Phoenix with DJ! I've got people who can't work around my schedule.

Farm Town is predictable, and I am accomplishing a tremendous amount in my virtual world. Currently, I am working to get to level 34 so I can buy a mansion. This is probably the only earthly mansion I'll have and I'm pretty excited about it. I have a feeling after that I'll loose interest in the whole crazy thing. There just won't be anything else to accomplish on my virtual farm. Since as humans we feel like we have to be working toward a goal, I know my passion for the game will fade away.

Until then, you can find me on Facebook, playing this silly game............sometimes it is nice to have a distraction......at least for a little while!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Open the Door continued...

As I stated yesterday......I met Pam on one of my extended stays at the Ronald McDonald house.

Staying at the Ronald McDonald house is a blessing for many parents. It saves a tremendous amount of money and helps me afford the skyrocketing costs of DJ's care. It is however, an environment of people from all backgrounds and beliefs. Not being new to this experience, I usually kept to myself and focused on entertaining DJ to the best of my ability.

There was something tugging at my heart everytime I ran into this woman. Her child was disabled to the point of being frightening, and I didn't want to get involved. I had enough problems. I had already faced so much disappointment from my own "friends". People that I thought cared had disappered when DJ was diagniosed. I really didn't want to get hurt anymore.

Still, God kept knocking.......
..........glad I opened the door!

I was given the opportunity to learn about this special little girl and her mom over the course of the next few days.

Pam's daughter
, Makenzie, choked on a Goldfish cracker at eighteen months old. She suffered an anoixic brain injury. In less than five minutes time, this walking, talking, neurotypical little girl would be forever changed. Still, my best friend is not bitter. She has hope, and faith that literally could move mountains.

I have had the privlidge to watch "Kenzie" come back to our world over the last two years. I have seen God's healing power transform her into a happy, giggly, irrestiable little girl. It has been amazing for me to see His mighty power provide resources, and specialized therapy for this family.

The biggest blessing for me has been our friendship. I have someone in my life that understands my hurt and pain. Pam knows the day in and day out work it takes to raise a diabled child. She is my biggest supporter and is quick to comfort and rescue me when I reach the breaking point. She convinces me that it is ok to step out of my comfort zone........... You see, she is responsible for me joining Facebook and starting a blog!!

I am so glad that I opened the door when I really didn't want to...........what is God asking you to do? If we listen and obey, He will reward us with amazing blessings.......we just have to open the door!

To learn more about Pam and Makenzie follow this link to her blog and website: http://www.makenziesmiracle.blogspot.com/