Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Living on a Dairy Farm

After we moved to the Lynden area, we moved quite a bit.  We lived in a rental house for about 2 years, then in a duplex for about the same amount of time.  Then our finances were getting worse and we needed to move to a more economical rental.  We then moved to an apartment converted from a storage shed/garage.  This was definitely a move down in quality, but we made the best of it.  Before moving in I spent days painting and cleaning, so we wouldn't have to pay a damage deposit (and to make it livable)

This apartment was located in a functioning dairy farm...the holding barns were just 40 feet from our windows.  It was nearly constant ewe de colonge.  We moved  just after Jason was born.  The only heat we had was a wood burning stove, and the only wood was wet and rotten.  We moved in January.

There wasn't a tub, so we stopped up the shower and had shallow baths for the boys.  While living there we were convicted that watching cable TV was not good for our marriage/family, so we got rid of our TV and spent the evening together in our 14 X 12 foot living room (half of which was taken up by the wood burning stove), reading.

A major milestone in our lives happened while we were there.  We took a realistic look at our situation and came to the conclusion that Daryl needed to step out of the drapery business and go back to school to learn a trade he had always wanted to learn - machining.  So he started school and I started working more hours, many more hours.

Jeremy's time in the hospital happened while we lived there, but there were several very scary incidents that happened while we lived there.   The first was when Daryl woke up one night and could not breath.  He felt like a Mac truck was sitting on his chest.  I rushed him to the ER, and we found out that he had an ulcer.  Very scary, but we were so thankful that it was nothing worse.

The second was that I came down with a bad cold, a bad headache and my neck went very stiff and sore.  I went to see my doctor and he was concerned that I had meningitis.  After a ton of tests, we found that I just had a sore neck and a cold.  Again, so thankful that it wasn't worse!

One morning Daryl had left for school and I was doing some housework before leaving for work.  I soon realized that Jeremy was no longer in the house, so I went outside to see if he was playing in our yard.  He was no where to be seen.  I looked all over the farm, leaving Jason to fend for himself inside (I believe he was napping).  After looking everywhere I could possibly think of, I began to believe that something awful had happened - that he had slipped into the manure pond.  I'd heard of that happening to children on farms.  I frantically called Daryl as school and he came right home.

As he got close to our place he started looking around.  He found Jeremy wandering around in the field across the street from us, soaking wet.  This was sometime in was very cold outside.  He had decided that he wanted to go to that field and the ditch didn't look scary.  It had a lot of water going through that ditch though, and he remembers to this day how close he came to drowning that day.

Daryl arrived at our apartment with a very cold, wet boy.  We got him washed up and warmed up and began discussing plans to move.  It just wasn't worth it.  Jeremy did not suffer any consequences from his adventure, but it was forever etched in his memory and our too.

God's grace in our lives - it could have turned out so differently.  But God had other plans for Jeremy and nothing can thwart God's plan.  Jeremy has been given an allotted number of days on this earth, and that day was not destined to be his last day on earth, and for that we are so thankful!

By the end of the month, we were moving into another apartment, it was safer, but not necessarily an improvement - it was a converted potato shed ;)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Factor 13

When our second son, Jason, was a little baby, we were getting desperate to own our own home.  We found a nice, unique A frame home in Lynden for a reasonable price.  We had no saved money, so we asked to borrow money from a relative (I'm not even sure anymore if it was my parents or my grandmother), and they agreed to help us come up with our earnest money and a down payment.  We put in our bid for the home and it was accepted.

Not long afterwards Jeremy became very sick.  Jeremy had been experiencing bouts of crying uncontrollably that ended up with him vomiting and the sleeping for a long time.  These bouts happened up to 4 or 5 times a month, but we had no idea what was causing them.  This time though, he just couldn't stop throwing up, plus he was suffering from diarrhea as well.  He was a very sick little guy.

When Jeremy became listless and I couldn't get him to drink anything without it coming right back up I knew it was time to get him to the doctor's office.  We lived so close that I took him there in his stroller.  The doctor looked him over and pinched the skin on the back of his hand.  He explained that when a child is properly hydrated the skin will bounce back.  Jeremy's stayed sticking up looking like some invisible hand was still pinching the skin.  He also looked at his eyes and explained that when a child gets dehydrated his eyes will look glassy - Jeremy's eyes were definitely glassy.  The doctor was very concerned for Jeremy's health and recommended, no, he urged me to get him to the hospital right away.

This was a shock to me, and presented many challenges as well.  My husband, Daryl, had left for the entire day to go to a car show with one of my nephews.  He wouldn't be back until close to midnight.  I had a little baby that I was nursing and no transportation.  I called Daryl's parents and they helped me get to the hospital and took Jason home to stay with them.

Having your child in the hospital for the first time is very traumatic.  The worst part is getting an IV into a dehydrated child.  It took a long time and I stayed by his side for most of it, but in the end they suggested I take a little walk to get some fresh air (I probably looked like I was close to fainting dead away) and go to the patient's kitchen and get something to drink.  I cried harder than I had ever cried before in my life.  Finally Daryl arrived with Jason. He had come home to an empty house and a note to call his parents.  He called and got caught up on everything and came straight down to be with me and bring Jason so he could nurse.  It was late before he was finally settled in his own room, sleeping from sheer exhaustion.  Then Daryl went home with Jason and got some much needed sleep.

The next 3 days were a jumble of tests and more tests.  He got hydrated by his electrolite were still low so they changed what he was getting through the IV.  His vomiting subsided with the IV but then the diarrhea got worse.  Then they were concerned about how much he was bleeding when they took blood samples so they test his blood.

The results were not good.  It showed that he was missing one or more clotting factor.  The doctor took me aside and told me about hemophiliac disease, how Jeremy would never be able to ride a bike or participate in sports like normal children.  That his life would be one of getting clotting factors, daily blood tests and worse.  He was so compassionate, and told me he would be running some more tests to know exactly what factors he was missing. but I went back to Jeremy's room devastated.  I cried out to God that this would not be true.  I called Daryl and told him the news and we talked over some of the changes this would make in our lives.  

The next day we talked with the doctor again and he told us how relieved he was after seeing the results of the blood work.  The factor that Jeremy was missing was factor 13.  He told us the factor 13 deficiency was not a problem, that factor 13 was not directly involved in blood clotting and that by only missing that factor, he would not fact the problems of all other hemophiliacs.  He also shared with us that it is the most rare for of hemophilia, and that there had only been a few known cases in the world in all of medical history.  He asked if he could send Jeremy's information down to the University of Washington so they could have record of this in case they ever did any studies on factor 13 deficiency.  Wow, we were amazed, shocked and so thankful!

We were able to take him home that day, and he slowly recovered.  He continued to have these bouts, but the doctor prescribed a medication to give him in the future that would stop the vomiting before it got that bad.  The medicine did the trick and kept him from ever having to be hospitalized for that again.

With in a month, we got the bill for Jeremy's hospitalization.  We had no insurance.  We also had some other bills hanging over our heads as well.  It became very clear to us that God was shutting the door to purchasing that beautiful A frame home.  What a let down. 

We contacted the sellers, and I met with them over lunch.  I shared with them what had transpired and told them that we would have to back out of our earnest agreement.  I knew that our earnest money was history.  But, surprise, the couple had such compassion on us that they refunded our earnest money in full.  My parents said I didn't have to pay them back, and we were able to use the funds to pay off all our bills and the hospital bill.  

God met our needs.  He always does.  Even when things seem darkest, God is there with us and will light our way.  We never purchased a home in Lynden, and I'm glad we didn't.  God had other plans for us (more about that later), and if we had forced our way through with that purchase, I am sure we would have lost that home as our financial situation did not improve much over the next few years, in fact it got worse.  But God always met our needs, and we were never without a roof over our heads.  

Friday, June 8, 2012

But There's Nothing to Do There

When Daryl and I got married, he was in the Air Force and planning to get out when his stint was completed.  We only had 9 months until then.  We had no idea where we would go when that time was up.  We didn't even talk about it much!

We were both pretty "in the here and now" people at that stage of our lives, that is for sure.  Then an opportunity presented itself.  Daryl's aunt on his father's side had put her business up for sale, as she wanted to retire.  Daryl's parent told us about it and offered to be partners with us in the business - they would be the capital, and we'd be the labor.  We had no other offers or ideas, so we agreed to the offer.

When Daryl and I talked about where we would live as we ran the drapery business, we talked about how we could never live in such a small town as Lynden - there would be nothing to do there!  We had both grown up in Seattle and were used to having tons of things to do and see all around us.  Lynden didn't even have a movie theater or a fast food joint!  We decided we'd look around Bellingham for a place to rent, otherwise we'd probably go crazy living in such a tiny town.

Our first home...not exactly a beauty, but it served us well.
We'll, God had other ideas for us.  Every place we found in the want ads for rent in Bellingham, was too much for our budget!  So we ended up looking around Lynden and found a cozy (that means small in realtor language) little old house to rent for just $200/mo (I think?).  It had two bedrooms (one the size of a closet and the other not much bigger), a cozy living room and a kitchen/dining room that just fit a table for 2.  The bathroom had been an add-on/remodel as the house was built before there was indoor bathrooms!  It also had a porch for a washer and dryer, and later we were able to put a little chest freezer there too.  It wasn't perfect, but it suited out needs - cheap rent and not terribly far from work.

Our living room and dining room.
Love that paneling!
Our landlords lived just across the alleyway, and Daryl's grandmother lived in the apartment next door.  We ended up being friends with our landlords (they had two very cute and sweet little girls) and learned a lot from them - like running a successful business, crocheting baby booties and such.

Our plans for doing things like movies and recreational activities never really materialized.  I was a couple months pregnant when we moved, and running a business took most of our energy.  But that wasn't a bad thing as we really had no money for doing all the things we used to do before, and after Jeremy was born it didn't get any better!

Looking back through the years, God used that business to bring us to a place we would have never gone voluntarily.  But we have loved living up here.  We went from city kids aghast at the thought of living in a town without a movie theater, fast food joint (Lynden now has several fast food joints, but we don't live there anymore, it's too big of a town for us!) or decent shopping mall , to eventually living on wooded acreage, baking our own bread, dabbling in raising animals, and having more children than is socially acceptable. We even made friends almost right from the start that led us to consider homeschooling.

We saw living up here as a temporary situation to give us a leg up in the world, but God used it to draw us out of the big city, live like everybody else mentality.  He used it to bless us beyond our wildest dreams!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Five Year Plan

Engaged - 12/1984
When Daryl and I were friends, we would talk about our dreams and aspirations.  One of the things we talked about was our dreams for children.  Funny, but we both wanted to have 5 children!  Our running joke for years was that we just didn't know that we would marry each other and we'd each get our 5 children...and then along came Esther and we called her our "bonus baby" and now that Carese has arrived, we have decided that Carese is my bonus baby, while Esther was Daryl's bonus baby!  But I digress....

When Daryl and I married, we talked about having children and were planning to have them, but not right away.  Like many we knew, we felt it would be best to wait to have children until we were "settled in."  Since Daryl only had 9 months left in the Air Force, and the future after that was unknown, we formulated a "Five Year Plan."  Much like many other couples or our era and most era's since then.  We wanted to wait until Daryl was out of the Air Force, well started in his civilian career and we had purchased our first home.  Sounded good, right?

Well, God didn't think so.  He is greater than our plans.  He is not limited by our plans.  He knows better than we do what is best for us.  We found out just weeks before he was to get out of the Air Force that we were expecting our first baby.  Even though we had "other plans" I was thrilled.  I had always wanted to be a mommy - it was the ultimate life goal for me.  So we rolled with it.

We adjusted our vision of our future and worked around being parents.  It wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be, but it wasn't easy....not by a long shot.  We had hoped that I would be a stay at home mom, but that wasn't in the plan either.  I ended up working part time in a business that we were partners in with Daryl's parents.  But God used that in my life to develop much of my ideas and perspectives about mothers working outside the home - it's hard on the mom, it's hard on the kids  and it's hard on the marriage.  Even though we worked together (and we worked well together), it was hard for me to be the kind of wife and mother I should be when I was spending so much time away from home, and coming home tired, with children who had been away from home all day saving up their naughtiness for when we got home.

First Anniversary
So, looking back, would I have wished for the 5 year plan, or the 5 month plan (I was 5 months pregnant on our first anniversary)?   I choose the plan God chose for me, as His was is always best.  We struggled and it was a long time before we owned our own home, but it was worth the wait.  God led us through the tough times and I learned so much first hand that I can pass onto my children, and we also learned many things that we were able to employ in our current home business, Snap-EZ.

Looking back helps me to remember that God does have a plan for me, but it might not always seem like the best plan while I am in the middle of the tough times.  But I can reflect on all the blessings the Lord has given us and know that He not only had a plan, but he currently has a plan for my future.  One of my favorite verses in scripture is Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the Lord,"plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."  What comfort that is.

Our first born son, Jeremy
Born 16 months after we were married
We can not know the future, we can only base our plans on speculation, but God knows the future and knows so much better that we do what is good for us and what will bring about our sanctification (becoming Christ-like).    I totally believe that we can and should plan for the future, but we must hold those plans loosely and be ready to "roll with the punches" and find plan "G" (no, not plan B, but plan G - God's plan!). We did and God has brought blessings out of even the toughest of times.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Overlooking God's Best

Sometimes God leads us to the answer to our prayers without detours. sometimes He places the answer to our prayers right in front of our face and waits for us to recognize it.  Sometimes we are so blind, He has to hit us over the head with it before we can recognize His answer, especially if we are blinded by our own plans, ideals and preconceptions (misconceptions too!).  In my case, God had to use all three to get me to see His wonderful plan for me.

Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed of getting married and having a family.  I played weddings and babies with my baby dolls and barbie dolls.  As I grew older I loved movies and books about girls falling in love and getting married.  I dreamed of the day when I would meet that special, tall, dark and handsome man who would sweep me off my feet, take me on romantic dates, kneel before me and ask for me hand, and then meet me at the end of the isle in the midst of a beautiful (expensive) wedding that would be remember by all for years to come.  I knew that getting married was the biggest goal in my life.  I did not have great career aspirations, and I hoped to be a stay at home mom, raising my larger-than-average family of about 5 children.  I also really wanted a daughter - I planned that if I hadn't had a girl after 5 babies, that I would adopt a girl and that would be that.  Wow - was I a planner or what!!!

So from the time I was in high school, I was on the lookout for this man - the man of my dreams.  I met and dated several young men who seemed like they might fit the bill, but they all fell far short.  I never dated anyone from my school, and just knew that there was no one there I would ever want to date!

Looking back, I have realized that I never once prayed for God to show me the man He wanted me to marry - I prayed that I'd get married once in a while, but I pretty much thought that the finding of THE MAN was  up to me.  And all the while, God had placed the man He had intended for me all along right under my nose, only I was so blinded by my dreams that I couldn't see the perfect answer to my dreams even when it was right in front of me - he had to knock me over the head to get my attention!

Daryl and I  probably first "met" in church nursery as our parents went to the same church! We attended the same church and small Christian school, Daryl being one grade ahead of me. The small school we attended was great at one thing...developing strong clicks...and we were not in the same clicks, ever. But we did end up taking one class together, Chemistry (I know, funny...) and we were also in choir together. At the time I had two close girlfriends, Hildred and Kimberly. One night after a choir concert, Daryl ended up sitting behind me on the bus ride back to school. We struck up a conversation that included sharing about our families (ours are very different family back grounds to put it mildly...ever seen "My Greek Wedding"?). Our conversation ended up lasting far beyond the trip back to school and included tips on how Daryl could get Kimberly out on a worked, as he did go out with Kimberly, once, but that wasn't meant to be...he also later took Hildred to the Junior/Senior banquet (in Jaguar XJS no less...).

Our friendship, although a complete secret, continued on through the school year and beyond. It involved doing things together (rollerskating, biking, playing video games, bowling and such) but mostly just sitting in his car, on OPPOSITE SIDES - ie as far apart as we could possibly get..ewww yuck!! LOL! And having deep conversations about what we hope to accomplish in our lives, our dreams and aspirations...funny, we both wanted 5 kids... And, then, halfway through my senior year, he stopped by school and found me to say goodbye - he had enlisted in the Air Force and was leaving the next day for boot camp. We had been so good at keeping our friendship a secret that not even my best friends understood why he would come to say goodbye to me!

Like any good friend, I wrote a letter to him while he was in boot-camp...scented stationary just to get him teased by his fellow bunkhouse mates! We also recently found a letter he wrote to me from boot neither of us remembered him having written!

Then it was my turn to to college in Iowa. When I came back to Washington for summer break, Daryl was stationed in Tacoma, so we were able to get together again...this time he taught me how to play golf...he was dating a girl and I was dating a guy from college, but we were still good friends who enjoyed doing things together. The next spring break I took my boyfriend home to meet everyone, and this included Daryl...we played ping pong all kind of made my boyfriend jealous because it became obvious that Daryl and I had the same sense of humor and had a good friendship...

The next months were life changing for me...I got engaged, and then broke the engagement...resented God for silly now that I look back...I was trying to live out my dreams of getting married regardless of what God might have planned for me...I made it back to Washington State, and the first person I looked up was Daryl (he was supposedly in a relationship)...and I singed his ears telling him all the rebellious behavior I had been and was participating in....and I was so surprised that he didn't write me off right them and there...I also found out at this time that he had also broken up his relationship.

After a few months of rebelling against God I found myself contemplating suicide - but then I realized that what I was doing was only hurting myself and was living totally contrary to what I had believed almost all my life - that God is good and He has a plan for me!   I went back to church and recommitted my life to Jesus...I even told God that I was through looking for marriage...that I wasn't going to look at another guy for the rest of my life...if He wanted me to get married, he'd have to drop him in my lap....I was not going to be looking...

About 2 weeks later, after church, my brother, Tom, was driving his girls back home to Eastern Washington and asked if I would go with him...Daryl and I were talking at the time (by now a few people knew we were friends) so I asked if he'd like to go too..and he said yes. So we rode with Tom over and back, only on the way back, Tom decided to take the adventurous way home...mostly old logging roads...driving like a crazy man! I was sitting in the middle, between Tom and Daryl, and I reached over to grab hold of Daryl's arm so I wouldn't crash into Tom...only it was the first time we ever touched...ever...Daryl looked at me, I looked at him,, and we simultaneously said "NO WAY"...this happened more than once on the long drive home and Tom was beginning to wonder if we had lost our minds...

After we arrived at my house, Daryl and I stayed awake talking in my parent's living room for that we were alone, we could talk about all the things that were going through our minds in the car that resulted in the numerous outbursts of “no way”....”well”....”no way”.... We talked about how we both had the same sense of humor, we loved to hang out together, we both wanted a large family, we both thought women shouldn't work once they have children if at all possible, we both thought marriage was for life, divorce was never an option, we were both believers, but we kept getting hung up on appearances...Daryl had always wanted to marry a petite, brown-eye, brunette (I'm his height, not petite, blue eyed...I was a brunette, but 1 out of 3 isn't good stats)...and I always wanted to marry someone tall, dark, and handsome...(again, 1 out of 3 isn't great). We spent several evening/early mornings going over things, but we just kept coming back to appearances and that we just didn't find each-other attractive “in that way”...we'd been friends too long it seemed....

But then one night, we started talking about wanting to have a marriage that lasts through the years, that after being married 20, 30, 40 years, what would keep a marriage happy and healthy would be all the things we did have...and that what we looked like now would matter very little, if at all, down the road...that was the turning point...somehow God got it through our immature brains that what really mattered in a marriage was exactly what we already had...unconditional, intimate friendship. At this point we talked about where this was headed, and we both realized that we were either going to get married, or our friendship was over...there was no going back. Soon we got over our shyness (it took a tickle fight) and experienced our first kiss...a few weeks later, on my birthday (Dec 12) we were officially engaged, much to everyone's surprise...and just 3 ½ short months later we were married on March 29, 1985. Well, to almost everyone's surprise...two people, one of whom was my father, after my broken engagement, asked me “what about Daryl” and to both I replied “Over my dead body, he's not my type”...needless to say I was not dead the day we watch what you say!

So that was how Daryl and I came to be married, but that was just the beginning...a lot has happened since then, and neither of us are the same people we were when we married, and we have shared many good times and trials through the years.

One thing I want to leave with anyone who reads this store is this – God has a plan for YOU – and His plan is always perfect! And, His timing is perfect too. When we try to write our own story in our timing, we will only find hurt and pain and lasting consequences. We had never heard of “courting” or “having God write your love story” as many people, us included, are now encouraging their children to embrace. We came pretty close to the ideal though - we got to know each other very well, with no strings attached and we weren't out to impress each other...and that was the best foundation for a great marriage there is...and we are still best friends to this day, and whenever possible we still do things together, at home and away!