Saturday, October 24, 2009

For The Peepers

Looking down the driveway.
Looking to the left of the front porch.

View from the Dining Room windows.
View from the side yard.
Plenty of rain, cooler temperatures ....
perfect ingredients for spectacular fall foliage.
The trees here are changing, a bit at the time,
and the colors are brighter than we can remember
them being in several years.

The colors ... the smells ...
the crunch of leaves as you walk ...
the bonfires ... the preparations ...
apples, pumpkins, and gourds.

Autumn has arrived !!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Prayer Request

In the side margin of our blog, we requested prayer for L.U. and for her family, who live nearby. Below is the story, written by L.U.'s father, concerning his daughter who was involved in a single-car accident almost 2 weeks ago. (I took the liberty of replacing names with initials.)

She is a miracle -- and while resting in the loving arms of Our Father, continues to improve.

Won't you please pray for her, and for her precious family ?

"It was a typical Tuesday! We were going about business as usual and making preparations to leave town on Thursday for a five day trip. When my wife, A, got that fateful call informing her that our 21 year old daughter, L, had been involved in an automobile accident, it was not the callous voice of a law enforcement officer she heard, nor was it the indifferent official notification given by a medical professional. No, when A received that call, it was the caring and loving voice of a dear sister in Christ who shares our love for L, and who has children of her own. Her words were tempered with wisdom and prudence, giving A the information we needed, but leaving out details which could have only added to A's anxiety. In this simple way, our Lord was so kind and merciful and it was truly the voice of Jesus A heard.

Shortly after the accident occurred, two men arrived on the scene. They had responded from the CW Fire Dept. They did all they could to protect and sustain our daughter until the ambulance arrived. These men were not simply doing their jobs - they are volunteers. They did this because they care, and in this way they are in Christ-like fashion, laying down their lives for their brother.

One of the paramedics from the ambulance, recognizing the possible severity of L's injuries felt compelled to offer up a prayer on her behalf. Yet another expressin of our Lord's love and compassion for His people.

There was a young lady who happened upon the accident scene as the paramedics were extricating L from the wreckage. She did all she could to assist and comfort our little girl. It just so happened that this lady, a complete stranger, is a qualified first responder and the ambulance crew allowed her to ride with L as they transported her to a location where the helicopter could land to meet them. The ambulance crew had apparently recognized that this lady was truly ministering to L's needs, and they wanted her along. Again our Lord, in His abundant love and kindness had sent this angel - a true minister of Jesus!

I was overwhelmed as friends, brothers, and sisters in Christ dropped all they were doing to gather around us in the hospital that first night. We were absolutely surrounded by love and concern ("As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so Yahweh surrounds His people"-Ps. 125:2). These angels sent by our loving Father prayed with us, encouraged us, and did all they could to bear our burden with us - and again - they were the hands, the feet, the voice of Jesus.

My dear mother arrived at our house at hardly more than a moments notice to care for our children while A and I were at the hospital. My big sister (yes, she still is!) showed up a little while later from out of state to help my mother help us! Yes - again - the hands and feet of Jesus!

Words cannot express the thankfulness which fills my heart for all that I've witnessed as days have rolled by. One brother retrieved our wrecked van and completely handled that part of the ordeal so that I didn't need to lift a finger in that regard.

Friends have rallied around us from around the country and abroad to keep L in constant prayer. Our Lord's precious servants have shown up at the hospital in a never ending stream to encourage and pray with us. Many have brought food to the hospital ministering to our physical needs as well. Some of our brothers and sisters have been so committed to "being there" for us that they have spent nights in the hospital with us. I have joked about their determination to share our pain, because sleeping in the waiting room recliners usually leaves me craving chiropractic therapy.

Other friends and brethren are taking turns preparing and delivering meals to our house for our family there. Such thoughtfulness and kindness comes from the heart of our Lord, Jesus.

Even the youngest of our Lord's servants have participated by sending cards, letters, pictures and various sorts of notes of encouragement for L.

One brother delivered hay to our home for L's horse. He knew that it was needed and I had not had the chance to take care of that - so he did! A man delivering hay? No - the hands and feet of Jesus - Hallelujah!!!

A sister established a website so that anyone who desired could keep a constant vigil on L's condition. This has enabled everyone to know exactly how to pray at any given time. It also has greatly reduced the amount of time A and I must spend on the telephone giving updates. Yes, we know who inspired that!

We have truly been ministered to in every way - spiritually, physically, and even financially. Every need has been met and we have only been praying for L's healing! Yes, I have seen Jesus in this.
Jesus has shown up to minister to us in the hospital regularly. I have seen Him in the faces of strangers who have heard of L's need through emails and prayer chains. They have taken time out from their busy lives and make the trek to the hospital to pray for our daughter, and to encourage, exhort, and edify us. His mercies are new every morning!!!

Believe it or not, it gets better. After the initial emergency surgery, the marathon began. The team of surgeons had dealt with L's internal bleeding by removing her spleen and packing the liver in place. She had multiple punctures in her lungs from her nine broken ribs. Other injuries were relatively minor for the most part. However, a substantial contusion to the left side of her head caused concern. A CT scan revealed no brain damage and the spinal cord was intact. The doctors counseled us to be prepared for what may be ahead. There could be blood clots, infections, pneumonia, or other potential hazards.

It has been one long day to me, so I'm not sure of time, but the blood and fluids were drained from the injured lungs, and other procedures were constantly performed. As sedation was withdrawn, doctors and/or other specialists gave L stimulation tests. She would move her legs and feet, even her head, but not her arms or hands. Eventually, when she should have been awake, she didn't seem able to snap out of her drug induced slumber. Another CT scan was administered and revealed several blood clots had made their way to L's brain. These blood clots had prevented oxygen from reaching areas of the brain. These areas atrophy, or die. The neurologists explained that these areas were in the front, rear, left and right regions of the brain. These "dead spots" in the brain were strokes and would result in neurological deficiencies. Just what functions and/or how many bodily functions would be impacted would be determined as L regained consciousness. We should be prepared for long term disabilities, possibly rehabilitation, etc., etc.. L would probably need to re-learn some things, and could have some disabilities for life.

But Yahweh GOD - the One who created L - the One who designed her body, had different plans for her. The Almighty One, who spoke the cosmos into being touched L's body, mind and spirit. Those circuits in the brain have been either re-routed and/or repaired by His hand. He has done what no surgeon made of flesh can do!

As L regained conscientiousness, she was mentally alert and responded to us. In short order she was moving her arms and most of the rest of her body. By the following day, not only could she move her hands, she could squeeze my fingers in hers. By the next day her strength was greatly improved and when she squeezed my fingers then I could only speak one word - HALLELUJAH!!! Jesus, my Lord - Yahshua (Yahweh's Salvation) had shown up again!

L has continued to become more alert and communicates better as time goes by. Because of tubes in her throat and so forth she can't speak and we are forced to attempt to read lips. She is sometimes frustrated when we can't figure out what she is saying. Regardless she has regained her smile and is mentally sharp!

My little girl has been returned to us whole, intact, restored in mind, body and spirit - HALLELUJAH (Praise Yahweh) - for His servants who have been so faithful to do His work. And Hallelujah, Praise Jesus for His Healing Touch!

Yes, from the very beginning of this ordeal until now, my Lord has been faithful. He has provided every need from the most basic and simple to the most profound. Through His loving body and ultimately by His divine touch He has abundantly supplied my family's needs. He healed my daughter and He calmed the storm in me!

If I had not believed in Jesus before, I would believe now. If someone asks why I believe, I can smile and say - I saw Jesus today!!!"

UPDATE: Saturday 10/24:
Well, it is Saturday! Hard to believe!!
They moved us into a real room this morning at 4:00am!! Shortly thereafter a doctor blazed in and removed L's trach!!! Today they have stopped all her remaining meds. She is down to her feeding tube and one central line. They will probably keep the central line a little longer because it is a way to draw blood without having to find a new vein each time.

L has really done well at at advancing daily. She has been out of the bed at least a half dozen times today. Each time she grows stronger.

A friend came today and polished her nails!!!

One interesting thing today . . . L was complaining earlier of her ear being stopped up and feeling pressure in it. When the doctor came in to check to see if maybe she had an ear infection he found a fairly good sized piece of glass in her ear canal. We were all amazed. He is going to get an ENT (Ear, Nose, & Throat) doctor to make the necessary examinations to make sure there is nothing else in there.

She is counting the hours until her swallow test . . . she mentions eating several times a day!!! Love you all and keep praying! A

UPDATE: 10/29:
L.U. was discharged yesterday from the hospital. This morning, she is at home !! PRAISE GOD !!

Please continue to pray for L.U. as she adjusts to being at home again, and as she continues to recover from substantial injuries and also any residual effects from her strokes. Please pray for L.U. and her parents regarding decisions about potential heart issues resulting from the accident and surgeries.

L.U.'s progress thus far is nothing short of miraculous !! Our God is an awesome God !!

Also please continue to pray for the U family, for L.U.'s doctors, and for friends & family who have provided
(and who continue to provide) help for this precious family.

10/29: A Message From A.U., mother of L.U.:

Psalm 29 -
Ascribe to the Lord, O sons of the mighty, Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in holy array.
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; The God of glory thunders, The Lord is over many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful,
The voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; Yes, the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
And He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
And Sirion like a young wild ox,
The voice of the Lord hews out flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; The Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord makes the deer to calve, And strips the forest bare, And in His temple everything says, "GLORY!"
The Lord sat as King at the flood;
Yes, the Lord sits as King forever.
The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace.

It is so wonderful to be home and yet again I am overwhelmed. While I have been at my "home away from home" the last 22 days . . . this home has been fully functional and then some!!! The amount of food in the house is amazing. I can't begin to thank all of you enough for your generosity!!!

Thanks to the C family, we have all the equipment we need for helping L to be comfortable here.

The kids are so happy to have Sissy home! G could not get close enough to her yesterday . . . of course, we were trying to keep him from getting "too close"!!!

I admit I have battled some fear as we are here and I try to get back to some amount of normalcy. And then, I "happened" upon the above Psalm this morning . . .

What an awesome Father we serve!!!
I HEAR you, LORD!!! Loud and clear!
And thank all of you yet again for the HUGE part you have played in this.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

One More Mouth ....

What's one more pet, right ?
So far we have 18 hens, 2 horses,
2 dogs, 4 cats, 1 guinea pig .....
and now we have a
teeny tiny goat.
But this little goat has a story.
It was spotted along a road,
nearly hit by a car.
And then was there the
next day ... and the next.
Just wandering.
DadToCherubs spotted her
the first time, and it was
"goatie love at first sight."
DadToCherubs, incidently,

never had a pet of his very own.
There was a poodle once,
but it was really his mothers dog.
Not a goldfish, turtle, cat,
or dog of his very own.
And into adulthood,
he liked animals alright,
but never "loved"
a pet of his very own.

Until a certain little goat
caught his attention
one afternoon while
driving home.
He watched ... and watched ...
and she was by
the roadside day after day,
early and late,
rain and shine ....
nearly getting hit by
multiple passing cars.
So, after confirming that
she did not "belong"
in that area ....
well ...
he did what any
grown man who loves a
cute little goat would do ...
he brought her home.
He rescued her.
Upon her arrival,
she had a good (much needed !) bath,
and was dried with warm towels
fresh from the dryer.
She was given a nice little
stall in the barn, and
by day plenty of green-stuff
to munch.
She is as happy as
a goat can be.
She baaaaa's and baaaaa's
for him while wagging
her tiny tail.
She likes the rest of the family,
but she seems to know
who to thank for her rescue.
Her name is ZOE.
Our vet happens to be
coming in a few days
to give immunizations
and trim hoofs and claws ...
so we'll add her to the list of patients.
(She is having some
digestive tract issues.
Maybe worms ? And a good
check up will be in order too.)

What's another mouth to feed, right ?
And it's such an adorable little critter.
Who said dogs are man's best friend ?
The man of this house has
a special place in his heart for
a little tiny brown goat named Zoe.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Our Busy Scouts

Cherub 6 is a Tiger Scout now.
Isn't he just adorable ?
Cherub 1, Cherub 3, and Cherub 4
are Boy Scouts. They love Scouts.
Each of our Scouts spent Saturday
working on a Service Project at a
local Fall Festival. They were selling
popcorn, and making/selling stamped
leather arrowheads.
We hear they are fantastic salesmen !
They also helped generally at the Festival.
Carrying items for people, picking up trash,
and other helpful duties.
We'll post photos of all 4 of our Scouts
in uniform just as soon as the older
boys uniforms arrive.
So, stay tuned ...

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Help Needed: Tree Identification

We have a group of 3 curious trees
in our back, moderately wooded pasture
which we cannot identify.
And what makes it curious, you ask ?
It is blooming NOW ... and it's AUTUMN.
This are of the pasture is mostly (80%) shade.
The soil is rich woodland soil, although
it is rather rocky (flat "stack stone" type rocks).
Our home is technically "on the line"
between regular and "higher elevation"
according to the local Forest Ranger.
So identifications of natural things
can be from either "area".
(We are in SE Tennessee.)
Above: Looking up into the tree's canopy.
(large leaves, nut clusters, and if you look very closely
you can see that there are a few purple
blooms still attached)

Below: Leaves (Cherub 1's hand for "size")
The leaves are very smooth
but not slick on the front.
On the back side, the leaves are
covered in a fine fuzz -
not soft, but not rough in texture.

Below: Closer photo for tree bark detail. The bark
feels rather smooth despite these markings. It also
appears to be very thin (not think like an Oak).
Below: Cherub 1 and Cherub 3 standing in and beside
two of the trees in this cluster. These trees are not very big,
yet they have fairly large canopies compared to their small
size. And when closely inspecting damage and "injuries"
on the trunks, we definitely came to the conclusion
that these are mature trees, albeit small.
(Note: We cannot find any more of these trees
in the other wooded areas, nor anywhere else
in this "patch" of woods. But according to neighbors,
this pasture has been "just" pasture
for 30 years or more.)

Below: This is a cluster of nuts found not far from the
base of these trees. The shells are all open, are very dry,
and very brittle. Also, their "hulls" are rather thin,
although they are stronger than we expected.

Above: half shells from a single seed pod.
Below: This tree is dropping light purple trumpet-shaped
blossoms. And at the base of each blossom is a soft
tan-brown "container" that rather looks like
a puff-ball mushroom (it feels almost like soft suede).
The tan container is very soft and supple -- not hard.
Above & Below: Close up images of some blossoms
that have already fallen to the ground.
We have scoured our tree books and the internet,
to no avail. We tried Witch Hazels
(blooms are yellow and are quite different
from these purple trumpet blossoms)

and were tried willows of all sorts.
We're stumped !!
And so we are hoping, now, that someone
"out there" might know what this tree is ?
Or can at least have some ideas that
might help us along in our search ?
A friend from our
Nature Study Group,

Miss P.B.,
identified our tree.

It's a Princess Tree,
also known as

an Empress Tree.
It is not an native tree,

our difficulty with
the identification.


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Thursday, October 01, 2009

A Fall Collage

Autumn Collage
(found online)

Can you believe that today is October 1st ? It seems like only yesterday we were tilling and planting the garden, swimming, and enjoying our longggg summer vacation. Well, it wasn't very long at all. HA !
We are settled into our new home. Everything is unpacked, and life is back to normal. One big difference here is the privacy, which we have not had in many years now. We see a car pass on the road out front every few days, and that's it. Oh, of course we also see the Mail Carrier daily. The Cherubs are enjoying exploring -- the barn loft has become their "fort", the woods are full of new treasures to identify (leaves, nuts, creatures), and the open fields are full of spinning giggling children playing ball or tag or some other delightful game every afternoon.
The leaves are beginning to change ... as we look over the woods and mountains, we can see tinges of gold and red mixed among the deep green foliage. We are waiting anxiously to see the mountains in their glorious autumnal splendor. It shouldn't be long now.

Our dogs are heading to the groomer soon, each for a Day of Beauty. A good bath, nail trimming, and a nice haircut. Daisy always enjoys her appointments. But Bella does not really care for this routine; she is in dire need of a bath however and so must go. HA !
Our horses have settled into their new stall. We managed to get the fencing finished on the upper pasture, and now we can visit with them while they graze. There have been some issues with Estrella since we moved, however. We consulted our vet, and then consulted a trainer, regarding Esstrella's aggressive dominant behavior which was more than we could handle. The trainer came yesterday afernoon for the first time. We watched her work with Estrella, seeing the wonderful, sweet dispositioned horse that we knew existed. It seems that the "issues" are ours, and not Estrella's. HA ! We, as human horse owners, have not been good "leaders", and so Estrella took it upon herself to step into the "lead mare" position with her whole 1500 pounds. Hummmmm. It seems the trainer will be coming to train us, rather than to train Estrella. HA ! She will be coming biweekly for quite a while, providing troubleshooting right now, and eventually teaching us horsemanship and horse management. Someday we will get into riding instruction. In the end, it was wonderful to discover that the troubles can be resolved, and fairly quickly, with training and education. And that in the near future our family will again have a respectful trusting and loving relationship with our horses. Sunny was a bit of a brat while the trainer was working with her Momma -- it seems she felt a bit jealous about the shift in attention. It was rather comical to watch, but we will be working hard with her as well to get these behaviors under control before she gets too big to manage. It has certainly been educational !!
Our girls are hoping to join a local Horse Club; we are awaiting more information and the next meeting. In the mean while, they are enjoying quiet time with DadToCherubs when the boys are out. They giggle abotu having him alllllll to themselves for a few hours each week (while the boys are at their Scout meetings).
And our boys are really enjoying Scouts. Cherub 6 just started Tiger Scouts, and was awarded his very first badge last week ! Cherub 1, Cherub 3, and Cherub 4 have been working on their tenderfoot raink, and on a hiking merit badge. Cherub 1, Cherub 3, and Cherub 4 will be attending a competative event in the near future where they will camp and complete with other troops in the areas of First Aid, Cooking, Knot Tying, and other skills. They are very excited. All 4 boys will be working this fall on a 100th Anniversary Service Project in the Smoky Mountains -- they are super excited about the opportunity.
School is going really well this year, despite having taken 2 weeks off while we were moving. Next Tuesday will mark our 5th week of school. The new schedule, schooling Tuesday through Saturday, is working really really well for us. On Sunday we go to church together, and on Monday we spend time doing some projects all together, and ususally manage a full little outing together too, going to the river or to the falls or out for an icecream. DadToCherubs is enjoying our new schedule too -- he actually gets to spend some "quality time" with us other than dinner and the bedtime routine. I wish we had thought to match our school schedule to DadToCherub's work schedule a few years ago. HA !
There is a lovely garden spot here, and the soil looks fairly rich, although it is currently heavily overgrown with weeds. We have plans to get the garden spot cleared of HUGE polk berry plants and MILES of bindweed, and then to start amending the soil with leaves and such, for next spring's planting. There should be lots of fall leaves to be chopped (thanks to a push mower with a bagger attachement) and added to the soil. In the mean while, we want to build a few raised beds topped with old windows, so that maybe we can grow lettuces and things through the winter. The raised beds will be rather like hot boxes. We loved the raised bed gardening we did last summer, but growing through the winter will be a new experience for us.
Cold season clothing -- can you believe it is time for that again ? Soon we will be sorting through our crates of fall clothes, and then (gasp) it will be time to do some shopping for needed items. (Did I mention lately how much I hate to shop ?!?!) And not long after all of that, it will be time to get out the winter coats, hats, and mittens.
That's it, in a nutshell. Now that things are in order, we will begin to take up our cool weather routines -- warm mugs of tea with bedtime readings, bonfires with friends, long leisurely drives in the mountains to see the leaves, sipping warm cider in the cool fall air .... ahhhhhhhhhhh ... 'tis fall.