Saturday, October 28, 2006

First Pregnancy Memories

So about this day 10 years ago, I was discovering that I was pregnant for the first time. I remember it all so clearly! I had been faithfully charting, and I was maybe 15 days past ovulation--not the 18 days where you can be pretty sure you are pregnant. But Bob was going TDY the next day for a few days, and I wanted to find out before he left. So I went to the BX (ah, those days of freedom where I could just pick up and go wherever I wanted to whenever I wanted to, LOL!) and bought a test. I knew what it would reveal could possibly change my life forever, including my diet, so I decided to have a slice of Anthony's pizza before going home and taking the test (since I would never sully my mouth with something unhealthy like pizza if I WERE to be pregnant, LOL!!!). It was positive, and Nathan was born about 8 months later.

I remember that day so clearly, but I don't really have any other strong memories of the pregnancy. I guess I was tired, but I could nap whenever I wanted to (I wasn't working). I didn't have any morning sickness, I do remember that. The main thing I remember was having to give myself heparin shots twice a day in my stomach. Yeah, you don't forget that sort of thing very easily!

A few months after Bob and I got married, I developed a blood clot in the right subclavian vein of my arm. Apparently I have always had a narrowing there (it actually bothered by when I would run track in high school, but of course I had no idea what the problem was), and somehow after I got married, something triggered a clot. I was lifting a lot of weights and working out (Bob and I would go to the gym together in the mornings--ahhh, how sweet and healthy of us newlyweds!), so maybe bulking up in the area did the trick. Anyhow, I ended up with a large clot, made larger by the fact that the Wright-Pat ER doctors didn't realize that was the problem when I went in with excruciating pain in my upper arm (this from someone who has had 5 natural childbirths, so you can tell what kind of pain it was!). After several more days of pain, and finally purple dots (burst capillaries) showing up all over my upper arm, a civilian doc figured out it was a blood clot, and I was immediately admitted to the hospital for about 2 weeks. I was put on some super-duper clot-busting drug (urokinase? It's been awhile and I didn't write it down--and now my records have been lost by the same lovely military health system), which caused me to bleed pretty much constantly out of my IV port in my right arm. I was in the ICU because I was losing so much blood while they were dissolving the clot. Finally the clot was gone and I was able to go home and back to classes. I was taking Genetics, Org. Chemistry, Logic and Methods of Proof, and God and History, I believe. God was gracious, and I still managed to get a 4.0 that quarter, although I'm sure Dr. Phipps, my genetics prof, wondered about me. His class was at 8:00, and I fell asleep every morning (Amy remembers, LOL!!), and then I missed over 2 weeks--who was helping me cheat?! But fortunately for me, genetics is like a big math puzzle, and I always loved it and didn't have any trouble! I had an excuse to miss chapel for several more weeks, though, because I wasn't strong enough to walk across campus. So to wrap up the story, the clot kept coming back, and in May 1995, right before I graduated, I had my right first rib removed. I have had no other problems with clots since then.

Fast-forward to my pregnancy. When I went in to my first appointment at the USAFA hospital, they greeted this news of past blood clots with great alarm! I was immediately cast as a high-risk pregnancy, and I had to start giving myself these heparin shots to prevent clots from forming during the pregnancy. Whoa--wasn't expecting all that! But I wanted to do what was best for the baby, so I started poking away at myself. In the beginning it was pretty easy--gather up extra tummy flesh and give the shot there. By the end, when your belly is stretched so tight, it became quite difficult and painful, and the shots left huge bruises more often than not. It looked like someone routinely took a big baseball bat to my tummy, and combined with my attractive newly-minted stretch marks, made my tummy something for a horror exhibit! I would hardly look at myself in the mirror! I had to keep on giving the shots until 6 weeks post-partum, but well, you know how much extra skin is there then, so that was no problem, LOL!

I had to give the shots while I was pregnant with Luke, since we were still in Colorado, but when we moved to Ohio, I became pregnant with Caleb. When I went in to the Wright-Pat hospital for my first appointment, I duely told them all my previous woes. There was a real high-risk OB there, and I think he laughed at the idea that I needed the heparin shots! "No problems with clotting after your surgery? Then there is no reason for you to be taking heparin!" REALLY?! How wonderful! What a wonderful pregnancy! And I haven't had to give myself a shot ever since. You will never enjoy pregnancy as much as you do when you thankfully realize every day when you wake up that you don't have to give yourself any shots that day! It makes every pragnancy a breeze! I wonder if we could have even contemplated having so many kids if I had had to give myself the shots with each one. What a hassle! But it does show the extent that I was willing to go to make sure my babies were healthy! And, praise the Lord, they have been!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Research would have been good

So I have been busily working to increase my milk supply by pumping so that Anna can have one more breastmilk bottle a day. I nurse her in the morning, but by evening, after she's had a couple of formula bottles, she is spitting up the time. All.the.time. The boys scurry after her with the wet wipe box to clean up her messes. I have had to change her outift as many as 3 times in a few hours, as she will spit up and crawl through it, smearing the nasty stuff all over herself. It is GROSS. No question that soy formula does not totally agree with her little tummy.

Well, it is not easy to start pumping again after months of not doing so, and after a few weeks of only nursing once or twice a day, but I finally started letting down for it, and things were going fine. Then, all of a sudden, three days ago there was no more milk. Maybe 1/4 ounce total each pumping session. What?! I tried pumping at different times of the day--same result. So frustrating! Finally I got smart and searched "nursing while pregnant" last night on the computer. Well! It turns out that during the second trimester, your body stops making milk and gears up to make colustrum for the new baby. Since I figure I'm at about 13 weeks, that would fit right in. People who continue nursing throughout pregnancy are mainly doing it for the comfort of the child, not for any milk benefit. My kids have never been ones to just comfort-nurse. If they are nursing, they expect things to happen and tummies to be filled! Anna fussed around this morning when I was nursing her, so I am sure she is noticing the same thing--not much more milk. I guess this is about it for her, then. I'm actually have a hard time dealing with that. This is so not my timing! She obviously needs something other than formula, and now I can't give her that. It's frustrating, and I'm trying not to resent the new baby. I guess this weekend I'll head to Walmart and buy the expensive pre-digested formula and give that a shot.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Small World

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about some newspaper articles dealing with large families. One article talked about Leslie Leyland Fields, a woman with 6 kids who wrote a book called Surprise Child: Finding Hope in Unexpected Pregnancy. I think I just assumed she was Catholic or something (why else would she have so many kids, LOL!!), so imagine my surprise when I read through my Cedarville alumni magazine and found out she was a '78 Cedarville grad! Wow! So here I am, totally guilty of the same prejudical thinking that bugs me about other people--"So, you have a lot of kids. Are you Catholic or Mormon?" LOL! Anyhow, she lives on Kodiak Island in Alaska, and every summer she and her family got to a remote island where they commercial fish for salmon. They are the only ones on the island, and this solitude is where she does a lot of her writing. Interesting!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Social Butterfly

Well, I can see that I have not been faithfully blogging. Do you ever have weeks where it seems like every social engagement you've had for the month is concentrated into one 7 day period? That's how this last week was for me. I went out with other moms 4 out of 8 nights. I think that's some kind of record or something! I had a ladies' Bible study with Elizabeth and 2 other ladies Tuesday night, then our church ladies had a games night on Wednesday. Sunday was our church picnic, and the Sunday night was the homeschool co-op moms' meeting. Last night Elizabeth, I and one other lady went out to celebrate Elizabeth's birthday. I think I'm home now for the foreseeable future, LOL.

I also finished teaching yesterday at co-op. Yay! It went well, although they did have a little trouble with the Greek root words worksheet. They liked the Archimede's Principle experiment, with chocolate kisses and quarters, although that was probably due to the fact that I gave everyone a Hershey's kiss when it was over, LOL. There are 2 more weeks of teaching (not me though!), and then we have our fifth week "Olympic" day. I have to make a banner for our tier (3rd and 4th grade), and also get all the food together for the Greek snack room. Nothing fancy though.

On Saturday after the soccer games, Bob took Nathan and Luke to see Facing the Giants , a movie made by a church for very little money. It got rave reviews from them. They went because the L's had seen it the day before and highly recommended it. Ed said something interesting about it. He said that Hollywood doesn't really understand the Christian life at all, so when they make a movie with Christians in it, maybe they will deal with struggles that a new Christian might face, since that's about all they know about. But Ed could tell this movie was made by people who had deep walks with the Lord, because it dealt with issues that come up later in your walk. Luke said he cried, which I thought was very touching. I'm sure I'll see it later, but I had to work on Greek stuff on Saturday, which was why I didn't go then.

Mount Laundry is calling me, so that's it for the update.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Ginger Snaps--a great recipe for Fall

Dy over at Classic Adventures asked everyone to post a favorite Fall recipe. I'm posting Grandma G.'s ginger snaps, which are so great with apple cider or tea or anything "fall-like" that you might like to drink! As a funny story, I took these to a ladies' Bible study potluck at our church in Colorado Springs. I was going through the line when the lady across the table from me poked at the cookies with the end of her fork and said (with a literal sniff, LOL), "Hard gingersnaps! I hate those!" I could hardly believe that, and my shocked mouth came out with, "They NOT hard . . . they're CHEWY" in a very strong tone. She looked surprised and took one, but I bet she never ate it. What a waste of a good cookie! So for the record, these are not hard ginger snaps. The moral here, however, is never criticize food in a potluck line when you don't know who made it--they could be standing across from you!

Grandma G.'s Ginger Snaps

3/4 cup shortening (butter works fine too, if you are like my wonderful sister-in-law and can't have crisco!)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
extra granulated sugar

In a large bowl, cream together shortening and sugar. Add molasses and egg. Beat until well-blended. Combine flour, soda, spices, and salt. Add to molasses mixture and mix well. Chill for at least an hour. Form into balls; roll in extra sugar. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand one minute before removing to cooling racks. (I always double this recipe because it just doesn't make that many cookies--about 4 dozen.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

X vs Y

So here is a model of a Greek trireme in bad lighting, LOL. Observe the "bronze" battering ram in the front, and the 3 rows of oars (yellow, green, and red). This is what we made for our craft at TNT yesterday, and it was a big hit. It also underscored again the difference between boys and girls.

Boys: "Look, mine has guns pointing out the back!" "Mine is breathing fire!"

Girls: " I made a king and queen to sit in the back, and they are holding hands!" "I'm going to put the table and chairs right here in the middle."

I was worried that the girls might not be too interested in the lesson, since it was mainly focused on the Greeks and war. I had no need to worry, however. They were very interested in hearing about Spartan girls, who had a lot more freedom than other girls in Greece--they were taught to read and write and also had to participate in gymnastics and combat games so they would be fit to bear lots of strong little Spartan baby boys to grow up to be big, strong Spartan warriors. Wow, I would have been like a goddess back then, LOL! Also, we talked about Xerxes, who led the an attack on Greece to try to punish it for his father's punishing defeat at Marathon. All the girls were quite interested in hearing this other information about Esther's husband! He was a real character too--when he had these bridges built to cross over the Hellespont, and a storm came up and destroyed them, he ordered the sea whipped 300 times. That got a big laugh. Also, he had this big throne built on the shore to watch the battle of Salamis, like he was at the Super Bowl or something. Too bad his team got crushed. LOL! So we had a fun time, but I was sure exhausted when I got home! I put Anna down, and then I crashed on the couch for a nap while the boys watched a video.

Now, one more week to go. Next week we're covering the alphabet and language, as well as some of the famous scientists and thinkers. I've got to organize my experiments, but tonight there's a women's night out games night with the ladies of church, so I guess I will have to start tomorrow!

Spinning Plates

This weekend I felt like the guy spinning plates, and mine seemed like they were all getting ready to fall! I just felt so overwhelmed. We still haven't heard about our waiver request, which weighs heavily on me. I've been worried about gestational diabetes with this pregnancy--I know my risk increases with every pregnancy, and plus, I have a mother and an aunt with diabetes, plus I've had 2 babies over 9 pounds. So I have been being fanatical about exercising almost daily, and also adopting eating habits that possibly might prevent GD, such as eating small meals often, having protein with my snacks, and having some protein before I go to bed. But it's one more thing to keep track of during the day, and sometimes I feel like I could do that full time OR homeschool, but I'm having a hard time with both. I'm also concerned about all of Anna's spitting up, so I'm thinking about starting to pump again so she could have at least one more breastmilk bottle in the evening (but when do I have time to pump?!). And then I had to teach at co-op on Tuesday, so I was scurrying around trying to collect materials for the craft, type up my notes, hand-draw maps, etc. Whew!

But what really caused me to about throw in the towel was a small thing, mainly that Luke started losing things. Luke is my orderly one, the one who I can depend on to notice things and help me find things that are lost. But we spend about an hour before the soccer game on Saturday looking for his other purple soccer sock. One sock was beside his uniform. The other sock was nowhere to be found, and I mean we really turned the upstairs upside down looking. Finally he went off wearing black ones, but it really bothered me. Then thet next day we discovered that he had left his jacket at the field. This may seem very inconsequential to you, but that is because you are not a hormonal pregnant woman who has a system that is hanging by a very fine thread here! I have one jacket for about every size or so, and I just pass them down each new season. So Luke losing his light jacket means that I am missing one, and what will Caleb and Jonathan wear when it is their turn for this size? What if this new baby is a boy? What will he do?!! Iin tears, I told Bob that I didn't think I could keep track of any more people's stuff for this family, since I am obviously the only one doing so. It's too much!! Fortunately I then had the thought to call my Aunt Claire , who encouraged me and made me laugh. And then the Lord reminded me of a verse:

"To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy--to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power, and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!" Jude 24-25

So first of all, this took my focus of me and my woes, and put it back on God, where it belongs. And secondly, it reminded me that I am not able to keep any of my plates from falling--that's the Lord's job. And through Him, I can have great joy! I felt much better, and I have continued to do so, thinking about this verse.

Friday, October 13, 2006

This Week

I finally got my wish--Bible study is going to be at our house tonight, which has motivated us to clean. Once we made it through the paper morass in the kitchen, things really started looking up! The boys have been working on the playroom and basement today. Anna is improving her crawling speed by leaps and bounds each day, so I told the boys that now that everything is clean, this really is how it needs to stay, since Anna can go wherever she wants now (and, unsurprisingly, she wants to go where the boys are!) and pick up whatever she wants, as well. I also told them I would not be picking Bionicle pieces out of her poop, and that any she swallows will just be given up for lost. They became much more motivated to keep all the Bionicles upstairs in their room after that conversation, LOL.

We start the Ancient Greece unit in our homeschool co-op on Tuesday. I was looking forward to 2 more weeks to prepare, since I teach the second 2 weeks of the unit, but then the other teacher called me Thursday afternoon to say they had a death in the family and were driving down to Alabama for the funeral. Could I please teach Tuesday? Ack! Of course, I said yes, realizing, frankly, that I often procrastinate on these things anyways, so I might as well have the crunch time be this weekend. I have been up to my eyeballs in Greek military stuff though. This first Tuesday I will overview the main city states and then discuss Athens and Sparta in more depth. Then we'll talk about the war with Persia, and then the Pelopennesian wars, and finally deal with Alexander the Great. For our craft, we'll make models of a Greek trireme (that's their fighting ship, which has 3 rows of oars, for all of you not current on your ancient Greek naval terminology). That should be very interesting to the boys in the class (I'm teaching the third and fourth graders), but probably not so much for the girls. Oh well. I know the other lady is going to talk about art, architecture, and drama, which probably will not be of as much interest for the boys! For my second week, I'm doing the language, as well as some of the famous scientists. We're going to recreate some of the famous experiments, like Archimede's principle and maybe even build an Archimedes screw. I found what looks to be an easy one in a book.

We're also looking forward to Caleb's birthday, which is now less than a month away. Every day he asks how many more days, so it is having quite the lead-up. He also spends a lot of time thinking about what kind of cake he wants me to make. At first he said Larry-Boy, which I thought would be pretty easy. But recently he has changed his mind and wants "bug party--but not with ugly bugs, only friendly ones." Soooo. A lot of "friendly" bugs are sort of "girly" bugs, right? I'm thinking ladybugs, butterflies . . . I'm a bit stymied as to what to make for a cake. I guess I need to feel out the concept a little more with him. But hey, now that I'm not teaching the week right before his birthday, I will have a lot more time to do the cake!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Big Families Gain in Newspaper Coverage

The Washington Times has had two articles in the front section this past week dealing with large families! one of the them, entitled "Bigger Families Gain in Popularity", started out this way:

Laura Bennett isn't bound by convention. Professionally, at 42, she's pursuing a
midcareer switch into big-time fashion design. At home, she's a mother of five
-- with No. 6 due next month. "It was nothing that we planned ahead of time,"
Mrs. Bennett says. "It's more that we were enjoying all the kids. We have a
happy home. Why not have as many children as we can?"

The article goes on to discuss how people are more open now to more than 2 children, even in wealthy areas like Connecticut's southwestern suburbs. It does say that really big families (over 3, presumably) will remain rare because so many women are waiting until later to start having kids, so they might be having their third child in their early 40s, when it would be too late to have any more.

This quote towards the end of the article made me laugh. It is by a woman, Mrs. Clark, who has 5 children and lives in Minneapolis.

Mrs. Clark, 38, is aware of the buzz that large families -- in the suburbs, at
least -- are a new status symbol. "I thought it was kind
of funny," she said "Most people who have a lot of kids don't have the time or
energy to care what others think."

"A status symbol"? LOL!

The second article is called "In Defense of Big Families" , and it was about a woman named Leslie Leyland Fields who is a mother of 6 and wrote a book called Surprise Child: Finding Hope in Unexpected Pregnancy. The book does not seem to really be so much about big families as about welcoming a baby, even if it wasn't planned, but she starts out the article talking about what big families offer a culture.

Family size has a cultural significance, she says. "My
defense of the larger family is more of a question," says Mrs. Fields, who lives
on Alaska's Kodiak Island. "What do our cultures lose when our families shrink
to one or no children or 2.034 children?" Large families
offer social and interpersonal benefits, such as teaching children to be more
tolerant, conserve resources and work as part of a group, practicing good
citizenship on a daily basis, she says. However, Mrs.
Fields explained in a recent issue of Christianity Today, mothers of large
broods in contemporary America face a stereotype. "The
smart, ambitious, fully realized 21st-century woman chooses career. The
ambitionless woman has children." This stereotype is
specially true in a society that celebrates "individualism, the pursuit of
'unfettered time,' and the freedoms of self-fulfillment and self-actualization,"
she says.

But as soon as she makes this comment, the article switches gears and talks to some researcher with 2 children. Parents now want to have "high-quality kids rather than quantity of kids," said Mr. Mintz, adding that each child requires emotional, financial and psychological investment. The next portion of the article talks about only children and how they learn to turn friends into family, relate well to adult, and benefit from being the sole focus of their parents' attention, growing up with strong self-esteem. All true, but not much of a defense of big families.

More disturbing to me was the quote about having "high-quality kids rather than quantity of kids." I think this is what many people think when they see a big family--"How can you possibly give time and attention to each member of the family--you must be leaving someone out and damaging them forever!" There was a quote saying basically this in the first article:

Yet Mr. Morgan, who has three children of his own, doubts there will be a boom
in extra-large families. "No matter how much money the
parents have, most think each of their kids should have their own place and
time," he said. "More than four -- that's when people start thinking you're
crazy, that you're shortchanging the ones you already have."

And I guess if you don't have that many kids, then you might never really understand that God gives grace to allow you to share yourself as needed for the amount of children He gives you. It really is a mystery! Also, each older sibling also gives plenty of devoted attention and care. There are sacrifices involved in having large families, that is for sure. Sometimes, though, it is not all bad. For example, we can't afford to give our kids every new electonic toy. But even if we only had 2 boys, we still wouldn't want them to have X-boxes and all that, so no big loss there. I do sometimes feel guilty that Caleb and Jonathan most likely will never be able to take gymnastics like Nathan and Luke did. On the other hand, Nathan and Luke didn't have so many people around to play games or whatever else they wanted when they were younger, so it all evens out. There is rarely a time when Caleb or Jonathan can't find someone to play with them! And the boys feel sorry for people who don't have big families--"What do they do all day? They don't have anyone to play with!"

The thing is, I want to raise children who are Godly leaders. And the Bible says that whoever wants to become great must become a servant (Matt. 21:26). In a large family, you are living in a "servanthood lab", where you have to serve all day long, instead of just being served, as might be the temptation in a small family with lots of resources. We can't pay for a housekeeper, and the boys, the older ones especially, do the cleaning--vacuuming, bathrooms, etc.--even if they weren't the ones who made the big crumbly mess on the floor. Nathan wipes bottoms when I am nursing and can't easily get up. Luke goes upstairs to get Anna every time she wakes up from her nap so I don't have to go up and down the stairs so many times (he volunteered). They help Jonathan and Caleb get dressed and get breakfast so I can sleep later. They make sandwiches and snacks for their brothers. Caleb loves to scrub the carpet whenever Anna spits up on it. Caleb and Jonathan are still learning that they have to be patient because I can't always just leap to whatever they want or need. Some people don't learn that they are not the center of the universe until much, much later! That will serve them well in life and I think will certainly help them be better husbands and fathers (may my future daughters-in-law love me, LOL).

It is interesting to me to watch family-size trends. As I have said before, we live in an area with a lot of REALLY big families (over 7 kids), so I still think of 4 as on the small side. I love to watch these big families interact at our homeschool co-op. And the moms are not unambitious women, but highly educated professional women, many with advanced degrees, who have chosen to teach their children and hopefully raise up a generation of Godly servant-leaders. They inspire me!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A Sabbath Perspective

I'm going to copy an article from the Veritas Press epistula about the Sabbath and education that I found very interesting and thought-provoking. I have never considered the Sabbath as a gift, like grace, not a reward for service done the past week. I looked on the website, but there was no link to their epistula, so I'm just pasting it in here. Enjoy reading it!

The Sabbath and Education

“Sabbath” is one of those words which has vastly different connotations to different people. To some it is a bitter memory of strict regulations. To some it is just a quaint Jewish custom. To others it conjures an almost militantly enforced holy day, about the same idea as Ramadan, the Islamic fast. It takes some back to a time when Puritanical people ruled the earth, and you could not buy beer on Sunday. For many conservative Christians it’s quite a long list of what you can and cannot do—mostly cannot.

Let us gain a fresh taste of the Biblical idea of sabbath in order to relate it to education. Is the taste of the sabbath bitter or sweet? Back in Genesis, we first find the idea of sabbath. “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Gen. 2:2–3). Right away it appears that this is God’s example for our benefit.

It is surprising to think through the creation pattern. Adam’s first day was a day of rest. He was created on the sixth day, thus his first full day of life was not a day of labor, but a day of sabbath. Unlike the day of sin when they “hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God” (Gen. 3:8), after the first man and woman were created, they awoke to a day in their Maker’s presence.

I believe this is a clue to the purpose and full meaning of the sabbath. No one works to earn rest in the presence of God. It is a gift before one labors. Originally it was not a six-then-one day pattern for Adam, it was a one-then-six pattern. This should remind us of the structure of salvation. It is redemption then service. The order is always grace then faithful obedience—not works, then grace. The sabbath gift was certainly not a meritorious reward of rest for Adam’s works. At this point we may need to adjust our thinking. Many of us believe that Sunday is the last day of the week, though on the calendar and in our theology it is the first day of the week. Sunday for Christians should not be the last day of the weekend, but the first day of a new week in which to have dominion in the world. We are to be future-thinking people, not those who cling to passing hours, begrudging a coming week of fruitful labor.

Later in the Old Testament, the sabbath commandment was expressed in the Fourth Commandment. It is striking that among many, “Thou shalt nots,” the form of this command is, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy”(Ex. 20:8). The Jewish sabbath observance included their synagogue convocations. “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings” (Lev 23:3). That is, they were to gather in congregations. This seems to be the origin of the Jewish synagogue. But it is important to note that there is an explicit connection to celebration. The next verse says, “These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times” (Lev. 23:4). It goes on to reference Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, both of which begin with a day of sabbath celebration. The sabbath was for instruction in the presence of God and His people. This has a very congregational sense, but notice it applies to homes, “in all your dwellings” (Lev. 23:3). It is not enough to go to church, but the character of our homes is to rest from labor and celebrate God’s presence.

Here too, we may have reason to repent. The sabbath is not about rules. The very heart of the sabbath is “remembering.” The word here (zakar in Hebrew) means “call to mind” or “recall.” What do we recall? This is a little clearer in the second giving of the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy. The sabbath was a memorial occasion for the emancipation proclamation of Israel. They were to remember their release from bondage by the power of God. “And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day” (Deut. 5:15). This release from bondage even applied to the land, which also was to be given sabbaths (Lev. 25:4). It applied to debtors in the cycle of restitution, the Jubilee, which is called a sabbath (Lev. 25:8–10).

Perhaps the more important lesson for us is to see that the fullness of this rest and release from bondage is the work of Jesus. Jesus is our sabbath rest. We can see this in the anticipation of His coming. The very paradigm of time leading to the “fulness of time” (Gal. 4:4, coming of Messiah) is a sabbatical pattern (“seventy sevens,” Dan. 9:24). After doing works of healing and restoration of the needy, Jesus was accused of sabbath-breaking. But it was the Pharisees who misused the sabbath (Mark 2:24–28). The sabbath, ironically, had become a kind of slavery. What was meant for the celebration of freedom, was made into a yoke of bondage. “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). It is just because of this that the True Man, the Last Adam was “Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28).

The Pharisaic accusations did not end with minor infractions of permissible sabbath activities. Their zealous bondage created murderous hostility to the Life-giver and Healer. After He healed a man, we read, “For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath” (John 5:16). Jesus’ answer to this charge is very interesting. “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working. . . . For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will” (5:17–21). In other words, the Lord is working for our redemption and that redemption is in the resurrection. He became a slave so that we might be free. He died so that we might live. Jesus is our sabbath. We were slaves, but now we are free. Does this sound legalistic?

The very heart of this is rejoicing in the grace of God and the reality of new life. Like the Jubilee, we need a fresh start. We need the weekly renewal of taking to heart our freedom and life in Christ. Our children need this, too. It does not take much imagination to find ways to grant release to our captive children after a long week. I attended a seminary which mandated that no work (even Bible research) could be done on the Lord’s Day. We all bucked against it as legalistic sabbatarianism. But given the workload of “two hours outside of class to every one hour in class”—and this was carried out with Pharisaical precision, believe me—not doing class work on one day a week was a slowly realized blessing. The purpose of a day of ceasing from labor to enjoy the presence of God and His people is not a bitter pill. God has not commanded us to eat green persimmons. He tells us to taste and see that the Lord is good.

Rev. Gregg Strawbridge

Gregg Strawbridge is the pastor of All Saints’ Presbyterian Church in Lancaster County, PA. He encourages you to worship with us when you are in the area.

Weekend Update

I guess the big news is that Anna started crawling Friday afternoon. She is still quite slow and spaceman-like in her efforts, with lots of stops for more rocking, but she is rapidly improving. As my friend Christine says, "Crawling is over-rated." I'm not ready to train her to not pull papers and books off the bookshelves, avoid the 3 (!) staircases we have, and be super-duper vigilant about keeping Bionicle pieces off the floor. Ah well. She is still spitting up a lot, and I think it is because of the soy formula. She is not unhappy about it at all, but she sure does smell bad! I am still pretty sensitive to smells, so I want to change her outfit about 25 times a day. I asked the doctor about it at her well-baby appointment on Friday, telling him about her sensitivity to real milk in my breast milk as well, and how she stopped spitting up entirely after I stopped having milk. His solution? "Put some rice cereal in her bottle to thicken up the formula. Probably a little bit of reflux." Hmmm. I don't think it's reflux. Sigh. I keep thinking, "When Bob retires, we'll get to pick civilian doctors!"

Before the big pregnancy news, I actually had big plans for this 3 day weekend--"Let's go to Philabelphia!" We're in the American Revolution time frame of history, so it would be perfect! But somehow I just never was motivated in the slightest to plan the trip, and so here we are, at home. I used to be such a great traveler, ready at a monent's notice to trot off somewhere, towing along several kids! What happened to me? I'm just. so. tired. Maybe Veterans' Day weekend? Yeah, don't hold your breath!

It was nice to sleep in yesterday and not drive somewhere or be in a hotel. Bob and the boys made some major inroads in our cleaning tasks. The kitchen is no longer buried under a mound of mail and other papers, and you can walk through the basement without tripping over castle pieces. That doesn't sound like much, but actually quite a lot got done! That just goes to show how messy it really was! I didn't feel too well yesterday, so I mainly just laid around on the couch. I feel better today. I guess I just needed the rest. It's still hard for me to really believe and act on the amount of rest that a pregnant and nursing mom of 5 actually needs, and of course, most days it is simply impossible. How nice that it was doable yesterday!

I have just remembered that I put a load of laundry in earlier evening and never transferred it to the dryer. I guess the fish oil MUST be working, since I realized only hours later, and not tomorrow, as I go to start the next 3 loads, as can be the case! Off to battle the laundry . . .

Saturday, October 07, 2006

College Comparisons

My friend, Jenna, with whom I went to both high school and college, is back at Cedarville today--must be Homecoming! Anyhow, she had a fun post comparing her life back at Cedarville with her life now. I linked it because I thought all my Cedarville friends who read this might enjoy it--I think we're all in the same boat (I mean minivan, LOL).

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Please pray . . .

We are planning on faxing in our waiver request for off-base OB care tomorrow. Bob found the letter we wrote last year (almost literally--we wrote it on Sept. 8, 2005, LOL), and we modified it for this pregnancy, so we are ready to go. There is a new person in the position this year, so who knows what he or she will say about this?

To recap the situation for those who weren't in on last year's stresses, I am seen at a primary care clinic that is off-base, but is still a military treatment facility. It's about 35 minutes away, but it doesn't have OB care. For that, I have to go to Ft. Belvoir, which is an hour away by the Beltway and I-95, making it a real crapshoot for how long it could potentially take to get there, given the traffic situations on those 2 roads. You are automatically granted a waiver for civilian care if you live 40 miles away from the hospital, but we live only 33 miles away, so we have to beg and plead for a waiver. Obviously, having the waiver denied would mean incredible inconvenience for routine appointments, as I would either have to take everyone on a 3-4 hour trip, or I have to find someone to watch them all for that amount of time. All of our close friends here are homeschoolers, and I don't want to take up their entire school day with babysitting, not to mention adding 5 kids to already large families is certainly added stress. But we are also pretty concerned that if I were to go into labor during rush hour or when there was an accident on the road, we very likely could end up delivering on the shoulder of the Beltway. It certainly has happened here before. So please be praying that the military powers-that-be will take mercy on us and our situation and grant the waiver to us, and also that it wouldn't take long to make it's way through the system. Thanks.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Happy 80th birthday!

This past weekend we were in Bob's Pennsylvania hometown, where we celebrated his mom's 80th birthday. We had a really nice party for her Saturday night, and all 6 of the siblings were again in attendance! Twice in one year--a record!

Ann was born to Polish immigrants, and she was towards the end of 13 brothers and sisters. She met Bob's dad, Frank, because their houses' back yards were catty-corner to each other. They were friends all through high school, but Frank went off to war before they were married. When he came back, he had a mysterious injury/metal plate in his head, as well as a drinking problem, but she married him anyways. She birthed 9 children, but only 6 are still living. One was still-born, and the oldest 2 were killed in a car accident while Ann was pregnant with the third one. She never had a driver's license, so she either walked or was at the mercy of someone else to take her places. She and Frank still live in the house they bought right before Bob was born. It is in the middle of a depressed steel mill type town outside of Pittsburgh, and it has 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. That one bathroom is upstairs and doesn't have a shower--only an old fashioned tub. Bob's dad later put one in the middle of their basement, but I don't think Ann ever uses it. She is in remarkably good health--no hip or knee problems, even with all that stair-climbing, and the only thing she takes medicine for is an underactive thyroid! Amazing!

Ann has not had an easy life, and she has sacrificed a lot to keep her family together. She is a real inspiration, and we're hoping she has many more big birthday parties like this one!

Something old, something new . . .

I've decided to go a step farther with the whole "something old, something new" theme--past marriage and into pregnancy! The "something old" part is easy--that would be my maternity clothes. They've served me well, and they are still in my closet from the last time I needed them. And with each pregnancy I am needing them earlier and earlier! I am definitely showing now--at about 9 or 10 weeks--and having gained only one pound, after loosing all my pregnancy weight from Anna. Sigh.

The "something new" is fish oil supplements! I've never taken these before during pregnancy, but I'm expecting great things, LOL. With almost each pregnancy, there has been some incident of great mental lapse, completely unlike my normal self, that has made me run for a pregnancy test (or at least realize in retrospect that is what I should have done, LOL). For example, with Caleb, we were staying with my parents because we had just PCSed back to Ohio, and I was thawing ground beef in the microwave for dinner. After a couple of minutes, I took it out and was horrified to see that it was cooked instead of thawed. The crazy thing was that I couldn't even process what had happened--"What is wrong with the microwave?!"--instead of realizing that I obviously put it in to cook instead of thaw! And with Jonathan I made a big pot of spaghetti in the crockpot and then waltzed off to ladies' Bible study without ever turning it on. Both of these incidents immediately preceded my taking a pregnancy test because well, I just usually am not so scatter-brained.

This current pregnancy was the worst, however. On Sunday, Sept. 10, I was sitting in the study talking on the phone with my brother, when I happened to galnce at a stack of papers and see a party invitation for Caleb. Then I realized that the party had been that afternoon at 1:30, and I had totally and completely forgotten about it, even though it was on our calendar, and I had talked about it the day before. Oh, I felt so bad. This is pretty much the only thing just Caleb has been invited to, and he was so excited about it. I was literally in tears when I went up to tell him that I had forgotten, and we had missed the party. Fortunately, Caleb is a pretty easy-going sort of little boy, so he was more bothered by the odd sight of me crying (another pregnancy sign right there--how did it take me another several days to test?!) than by missing the actual party. But I just felt so awful.

So my point is that I usually start pregnancy off with some sort of dumb thing, and then I feel like I am sort of in a mental fog the whole rest of the way through, like I'm not really all there. But now I have started taking these fish oil supplements, and so surely all this craziness with go away. Right?!! I've heard such great things about them, and how they stimulate both the developing mind of the fetus as well as the mother. I need some of that!