Wed early AM

We are in the hosptial with Rachel. They have admitted her because of this mysterious rash moving up her arm. They are unsure exactly what it is. The have two theories. One that it is a case of shingles. The other theory is that we are dealing with an agressive staph infection.

They are treating her for both. She currently is recieving rounds of anti-viral IV fluids and anti-biotic IV fluids.

The doctor said that if it is a staph infection it appears to be heading towards the lymph system. That could cause this to become a very serious issue. They have taken blood cultures and we are waiting for results.

Since we have been here the few hours the rash has continued to move up the arm, past the elbow and is now very close and near to her shoulder bone. They are still unsure of what we are dealing with here. It does appear that whatever it is - the IV's we have been doing this evening are not stopping the spread.

Thanks for your prayers!


We had planned a small vacation for the few days after the holidays. Our plans changed for several different reasons - one of the main ones was Rachel. She has developed a burn like rash on her hand. On Monday morning, I was awakened by a phone call. Her doctor telling me the test results of the throat culture she had before Christmas. They were positive for strep. I told her about the burn - she asked me to come in. We have been in every day since. Every other day the burn seems to move up the arm anywhere from 4-6 inches.

They have tried some aggressive treatments to get it to stop. We have been unable to do so at this time. She has been referred to the hospital wound clinic this afternoon. We are heading down there shortly.

Just posting to ask for prayer. Not sure what this is - or what the treatment available will be. They have been putting out some pretty nasty names of infections. We are praying for a correct diagnosis this afternoon and a form of treatment that is able to take care of this burn.

Rachel is in considerable pain - as the rash burns badly on her arm. At this time her arm has a burn like rash on it from the hand to about 3 inches past the elbow. Just to touch her arm you can feel how hot it is.

Thanks for your prayers.



I am amazed at how God has encouraged my heart this Christmas season. It has been a difficult time with Rachel being sick - and we continue to battle things, it seems, on a daily basis. Yet, God has been there to help and encourage us even during this difficult time.

God many times uses people to encourage. He has done that again.

For all of you readers who know what I am talking about - because you were involved in the blessing - I can only say to you - "Thank You!"

For the past 6 weeks or so we have been trying to manage life with only one running vehicle. It has not been easy! Rob and I have prayed that God either provide us with another vehicle or give us the strength to do what we needed to do to accomplish our daily life. I can honestly say that God has answered both of those prayers! (I will spare you the details of the past weeks - but it was not easy!) To add to that, we have come across some financial needs during this time that have strapped us.

Last week my husband officiated a wedding for a girl that was a member of our church in Kaukauna. It was wonderful to see friends and fellowship with people after the wedding. During the reception, several people gathered around us and handed us a card and a box containing several gifts of cards and money. They they told us they had something else for us outside. We were overwhelmed when we went outside to find that there was a car sitting in the lot with a bow on it's hood. The car was titled and insured with our names on it! With tears running down our cheeks - we knew God had answered our prayers. Then we were taken to the trunk of the car where we found it packed with boxes of wrapped gifts for our family. We were overwhelmed! We still are overwhelmed!

For all of you who had a part in this - I can not even begin to tell you how much your sacrifice for us has encouraged and blessed us.

This Christmas my children opened more gifts than they have in several years. Several key needs we were praying for were met - and we stand amazed. Our God is good - all the time. If we had finished Christmas day with only one car in the driveway and only a few modest Christmas gifts under the tree - God would still have been just as good. But this year - He chose to allow us to be amazed at His love for us.

We have counted our blessings so many times in the past week - and knowing that so many people sacrificed for us has humbled us and brought us to tears more times than just that first night. Thank you.

God truly has blessed us with some amazing friends. I pray that someday we are able to turn around and do that same for someone else. Thank you!!

Merry Christmas,



It seems we have been so busy lately with everything. However, with Christmas break right around the corner I can feel things slowing down a bit. I am looking forward to some family time in the upcoming days.

The snow seems to complete the holiday ensemble quite nicely. I enjoy looking at all the trees still heavy with snow even a week after the storm. The county landscape is beautiful on our way to school each day. I would enjoy it more if I did not have to worry about driving on roads that still have ice on them!

Christmas shopping is finishing up this weekend. I find having the kids going to school our time is limited in doing any shopping. I am taking two of the kids out this afternoon to start/finish their shopping for siblings. They are looking forward to the time out with Mom.

Zak is busy reading the names on packages under the tree. He is doing a pretty good job at it too. We seem to have a problem though, in that if he sees his name on the gift he thinks it is for him - even the ones that are FROM him. We will see how that works out for us on Christmas morning.

Rachel continues to battle quite a bit of health issues. We did have some blood work that came back this week showing significant vitamin D deficiency. It seems that most people lack the D vitamin; but according to the doctor Rachel's tests showed extreme deficiency. We are working on that. She is getting sick A LOT! We are in the process of making some decisions about what to do for her there. We feel very strongly that we have to get her better and need to do anything it takes to get her that way.

Rob is preaching a wedding this week at in Appleton. We are looking forward to seeing friends there that we have not seen in a while. I am looking forward to enjoying a Christmas wedding. Anna will be there - and I am sure that she will take it all in with joy. Her current fixation on princesses and long flowing gowns will aid her enjoyment of the event quite a bit! If it works out, we are planning on Anna being able to visit with her foster parents while we are there.

Hope, that despite the busyness of the season, you are finding time to enjoy your family. Thanks so much for stopping by - I am so glad you did.



Ready for Three

Ready for snow...

and ready to be three. Just a few more weeks and we will have a birthday girl!

Our Weekend

(A Cardinal was sitting outside our window this morning as we were getting ready for the day)

We heard the weather reports and knew it was going to be a doosy! Grandma and Grandpa were visiting and cut their trip short - needed to get on the road before it hit. Groceries were purchased ( by Grandma - thanks Mom!), coats and hats were made ready in the mudroom.

It started out as rain. It turned to snow. As we were on our way to a Christmas dinner - hosted by my husband's boss and his wife. The drive there was slow; and we were well aware that it would be an even slower drive home in a few hours.

The flakes that were falling were heavy and wet. It made the country landscape picture perfect for the party. We enjoyed a hearty beef stew, salad and carrots. The chef brought in for the party made the perfect meal for a snow night. We visited with others at the party as we ate; but when the meal was done every one's thoughts moved to getting home.

The drive was slow; but we made it home fine. Then we snuggled in for the storm - and did it storm! The wind rustled the windows all through the night. The snow continued to fall through the night and most of the next day. I loved it! All together as a family.

We enjoyed left over lasagna and salad for lunch and each other's company for the afternoon. Dad and James spent the afternoon digging out the driveway. I had homemade hot chocolate waiting for them. Zak and Anna, too eager to wait for them to finish their jobs, sat at the table sipping their hot chocolate with spoons. A test drive was done to see if there would be any way that we could get out and head to church for the evening service. Every road out of town was tried - all offered no hope of making the trip. Dad came home to tell everyone that we would be staying home for the night. There were tears. Disappointment was there as we thought about the Christmas program that we would not be able to enjoy.

A pot of chili was put on the stove and our prayers were made for the church and people in the play as well as those in attendance. Prayers that Christ would be lifted up and all there would be drawn to Him. Dinner was enjoyed together as a family, while wet mittens and hats hung from the folding rack placed near the heating vent in the dinning room. I am not sure what made me feel warmer, the hot soup or enjoying it with my kids and family all around.

It causes an inconvenience; but I must say sometimes it is nice to everything stop and just be able to be home enjoying each other.

Trust you had a good and safe weekend. Thanks for stopping by, I am so glad you did.



In Memory

One of the happiest days of my life: July 1, 1997


By far - one of the saddest days of my life: Dec 13, 1997

I have thought a lot about this event in the past six months. Rachel being sick has caused my mind to reflect on Ally's home going a bit more than I normally do on an everyday basis.


I remember:

the joy of her birth...
the anxiety of being a mom to three so young...
the news that I was expecting again...
her smile...
her giggle...
a special Thanksgiving holiday - all together as a family for the very first holiday season of her life - and the very last...
the fear of finding her...
the finality of the words, "we did everything we could..."
the peace that surpassed understanding...
the reality of God's presence during intense pain...
the sleepless nights before her funeral...
the shopping trip trying to find a bonnet for her to be buried in...
the cold weather that stung to the bone during the graveside service...
the numbness in my heart...
the joy that God gave us another child six months later...
the ministry opportunities that have come our way...
the tears that still come this time each year.


I am amazed that:

no matter how much time passes I still remember - and it still hurts...
despite how little time we had with her - she still is part of our lives...
the lessons learned about the brevity of life still remain within me...
one day can change everything...
God's grace is still sufficient...
God still understands.

Taking time to remember her:


Allyssa Hope Spurgeon

Born: July 1, 1997
Safe in the arms of God: Dec 13, 1997

To the Doctor Again

We have returned from yet another doctor visit with Rachel. This has been a bad week. She has an inner ear infection, tonsillitis and the flu. We do have blood work pending and will get the results tomorrow.

Please continue to pray for her. We have had to put her physical therapy on hold this week, as she has not the energy to be able to work with her therapist. The doctor said this particular flu that she has lasts about two weeks. Needless to say, we are in this for the long haul.

On a happy note, we are all home for the night and there is a snow storm brewing outside. We are going to snuggle in and enjoy just being together as a family.

Thanks so much for your prayers. They mean a lot!


Dressed in Pink

If it is pink - - she will wear it!

If it is not pink - - she will take it off and find something pink to replace it! (That is how this dress came to be worn this day!)

She is our girly girl. I don't seem to mind a bit!

Prayer Request

Please pray for Rachel. She has had some serious changes in her health. She needs our prayers at this time; and we need wisdom in handling the situation.



Date Night

This past weekend Rob and I were able to enjoy a night to ourselves. We called it our 'date' night. The evening included a 45 minute drive through the country. We were able to attend a special night set aside to celebrate the season. The retreat center was offering dinner and a concert to follow. We arrived in plenty of time; Rob took advantage of the extra time to take in some reading.

Before dinner began we were able to enjoy the prelude music. The music was provided by the music department of our church. It seems funny to me that for the first 10 years after the kids are born we are paying someone to come and watch our kids in order to have a date night. Now, we are paying to watch are kids for our dates. I think I like this option the best.

There were lots of instruments. Lots of music and an overall enjoyable night.

The hall was beautifully decorated for the season. I love to white lights of Christmas.

Abbey played in a piece right by our table! I was able to get a shot of her with her cello. One of my most favorite things to do is to watch my children as they play their instruments. Abbey has a beautiful way of expressing her music as she plays her cello.

James and Abbey participated in a reader's theater. They told the Christmas story in their presentation.

An intermission allowed us the time to talk to the kids for a little while. I was able to take this shot of James and one of his friends.

The second half of the program was excerpts from the Messiah. Pastor closed off the night by encouraging people to talk with the kids about their relationship with Christ. It was neat to watch people talking to those in attendance after the concert.

Overall, we had a beautiful night. I wish that Rachel could have been there also; but her health is not yet up to par enough for something like this.
We had a wonderful drive home. Seems the best conversations can take place in the car. I am thinking that being alone in the car - with no kids; and driving at an hour of the day that does not condone cell phone calls, helps the conversation to be at an optimum.
Thanks for stopping by. I am so glad you did.

A Picture of Diligence

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with they might..."
Ecclesiastes 9:10

Twas the Night...

This past week we had an appointment on the calendar. An appointment we did not want to miss. A night set aside to set up the Christmas tree. Together. As a family.

We enjoyed a simple dinner of p&j sandwiches, popcorn, and apple slices. All prepared by James while Rachel and I were at her physical therapy appointment.
We enjoyed our dinner talking about Christmas memories of the past; and dreaming about all the things we want to do this Christmas season.
Then we went to work setting up the tree. This year Ann did the honors of putting the angel on the top of the tree. (With a little help from Daddy of course!)

The two little ones enjoyed just sitting and looking at the tree when the work was done.

Then, before we all headed to bed, Daddy read to us from the Christmas Carol. We went to bed thinking about the holiday before us. I am looking forward to all the season has to bring us. I am especially looking forward to spending time together as a family.

Trust you are beginning to enjoy all the season has to offer. Time with family and friends remembering, not just the reason for the season; but the reason for life. Jesus Christ, Himself.
Thanks for stopping by. I am so glad you did!

Magic Fingers

I heard her little fingers playing. Notes here and there. They I heard an exasperated sigh and a frustrated grunt.

The fingers played again. I continued working. Notes here and there; and exasperated sigh and the frustrated grunt followed. Then I heard a little voice say, "I can't get it to come out!"

Again, more notes. This time the sigh was louder and the grunt that followed showed clearly that they frustration was growing. "It won't come out."

I decided it was time to make my move. "What's wrong, Anna?" I quizzed

She looked up at me and said with a whine, "I can't get 'Wise Man Built His House Upon a Rock' to come out!"

She played a few more notes, and then looked up at me with a 'see, I told you so' look on her face. Then a light came on. "Can you make it come out, Mom?" She was so sure of this idea that her legs were already manoeuvring her body from off the bench.

I sat down. I played. Her eyes got big and she clapped, "You got it to come out!" Can you make "Jesus love me to come out too?"

Needless to say, we spent some time this morning signing around the piano. Just me and her; and I LOVED it!

Thanks for stopping by, I am so glad you did.


Making Memories

I think sometimes we as parents make it so much harder than it really is. We want to do big things with our children - we want to build in their minds memories that they will carry with them long after they leave our house. Our minds seem to tell us that memories are made with grand schemes, or lots of money, and often require gobs of time.

How untrue that is most of the time. I remember a lot of my childhood having my parents struggling to make ends meet. My Dad was self- employed for many years of my childhood. Big vacations and expensive outings were not part of our lifestyle. Yet, I can recall some childhood memories that made a huge impact upon my life; and even years later I still recall them. It also is interesting to me that often the memories are centered around an ordinary schedule and routine. In other words, we were just a family living life day by day - and certain things etched their way into my heart forever.

I recall going to the parts store with my Dad. To this day, I still love the smell of grease and oil when walking into a auto parts store. I remember one such everyday occurrence when Dad let me buy a pop out of the pop machine. It was not an ordinary machine where the bottle popped out the base of the machine. It was one that you put in your money and then had to pull the handle and pull out your bottle from the machine.

I remember making zucchini bread with my Mom in the kitchen. We were making several loaves of bread that year to give to our friends for Christmas. What a day we had grating the squash and working together to create our gifts from scratch.

I remember playing the piano with my Mom sitting next to me on the bench. I would play and we would sing songs throughout the hymn book. Boy, what I would not give to go back and live one of those night over again!

I remember cleaning rabbit cages with my Dad. I liked it when he helped - he would do the dirty jobs and I would be left putting clean wood chips into the bottom of a freshly washed cage.

I remember eating breakfast in the morning and watching my Mom as she routinely read the morning paper while eating her corn puffs and drinking her diet Pepsi. I still can remember the details of the kitchen, even down to the smell as I think about this memory.

I remember Dad taking us to school and taking turns sitting next to him in the truck. When it was my turn to sit next to him I would get to put my hand on the gear shift and 'help' him as he changed gears on our commute to school.

It is nice to remind myself that memories are being made as I tuck them into bed at night. Stay up a little later to talk about their day, or ask for their help as I make a pie or luscious dessert. Even taking a couple minutes to color a page in their coloring books, can make their entire day!

I think I want things to slow down a bit so I can just live my every day life with my kids - and in the process make memories that they will take with them forever.

Trust you are enjoying the trip.


Better than TV

I love watching my kids do something productive! To watch their imaginations grow and the hands lean fine motor skills does something to this mother's heart! These two have found play dough to be a source of real enjoyment. Mom likes it because I have them close by playing while I am busy in the kitchen. What more can a mother ask for?

Yes, I will take this over TV any day! In our house, a play dough playing kid is a happy kid! And you know what they say, "if the kids ain't happy - you know for sure Momma is not going to be happy!"
Thanks for stopping by, I am so glad you did!

Vision Exam

It amazes me how God has a way of putting it all into perspective.

Life seems to constantly drive us. Forward. Backward. From side to side. Direction is irrelevant. Constant motion is the objective. Anything and everything coming at us to keep us moving. Constantly busy. Void from the thought that perhaps there is something else.

The bustle of life can make us loose perspective. On what is important. On what matters. Instead, we focus on the trivial. The trivial changes from situation to situation; but the end result is the same. Emptiness. Our lack of perspective brings our everyday life to be summed up in one word. Vanity.

Then... the Holy Spirit begins His work. He uncovers the issues. We see clearly our busyness. Our emptiness. He shows us how our spiraling thoughts move us from one issue to the next - all with our self as the focus. He whispers with a still small voice, "Is this what it's all about?"

The questions come. They drive us to examine. Examine things we have just taken as the way it is supposed to be - because it is the way they've always been. The questions continue in our minds throughout the day. They interrupt the quietness of our nighttime hours. They invade our thinking, whether we are at home alone and by our self; or whether we are in a crowded room filled with people.

Finally we come to the conclusion: "There has to be more..."

Then... in His mercy and grace He shows us exactly what we needed. He shows us someone else. He shows us His love for them and asks us to stop the merry-go-round of life to allow His love to minister to them through our lives. When we do the picture clears. It all makes sense. Suddenly we see what He has for us. Others.

I want my life to be enveloped in others. It's not about me. It's about an awesome God who has power to save anyone, anytime - for all of eternity. It's about HIM!
Tonight, the light came on. A 'little' opportunity turned into a water shed moment. WOW! I almost missed it! I'm thankful He has a way of bringing the lens of life into clear perspective. I surely am enjoying the picture!
Thanks for stopping by, I am so glad you did.

A Walk in the Park

Big sister wanted to take some photos of little sister. Little sister was glad to oblige the request. She can never turn down a trip to the park. This time she took a little friend.

With a smile like that, how could I ever be depressed! How she brightens my days!
Thanks for stopping by, I am so glad you did.

Dressing for the Occasion

Zak is quite excited that winter is here. He asked me if he could get his warm clothes on and go out to play. This is how I found him dressed outside with the cold wind blowing. He was also quite upset the he was so cold - even in his warm clothes.

OK, so we have a bit more teaching to do on deductive reasoning. Until the lessons are finished, I think I will be helping him get dressed for his winter outings.

Never a dull moment here!


Answered Prayers

The past few weeks have been interesting in regards to our vehicle situation. It seemed that every time we turned around something was going wrong with one of our two vehicles. The last such instance came on a Sunday night as we were heading home from church. The van started to act funny and we all knew of something was not right. (You get that idea when you see your husband carrying a bucket of water from out of a gas station at 9:30 at night - in his suit and tie no less!) We had been praying that God would show us what to do about our vehicle issues.

I knew that night that we were going to see God answer our prayers - I just did not know how He would do it. We told the kids that they could not go to school the next day because there was no vehicle to take them there. The next morning the children prayed on and off throughout the day that God would provide a car for us. They asked me several times how many days that they were going to miss of school. I told them I did not know. I told them the truth. I also told them that unless someone pulled up into our driveway with a new car - they were not going to school the next day either; because we did not have the money to just go out and purchase a new car.

Zak finished breakfast and said that he wanted to go up to his room and pray awhile about a new car. I told him that would be great. While he was up praying someone pulled into our driveway. I am not exaggerating at all - they had a car that they had purchased for us and were there to drop it off. The kids were jumping up and down. Some were crying. I was crying.

How thankful I am that we have a God who cares about the details of our lives. How thankful I was that He allowed this situation to show my children that He cares. Zak kept saying it over and over, "I prayed, God answered, I knew He would!"

I knew He would too - I just did not know HOW He would answer. I think it's best that way. I love being amazed by my God!

The other two vehicles have seen their last days. We now are down to one van. It leaves quite a juggling match for us in getting everyone off and to their correct places each morning; but we are managing.

What a God we serve.

Trust you are able to bask in His greatness. Thanks for stopping by, I am so glad you did.

Birthday Celebration

This fall we celebrated Zak's birthday. I just can not believe how old he is getting! It also seems he gets taller each and every day. I am almost sure that he will be the tallest child in our family - we will wait and see. I wanted to share pictures of the birthday boy.

Zak with a plate full of food - he special ordered a cookout.

He had been asking for a balloon each time we passed the floral department at our local grocery store. He was quite surprised and happy at the gift. (We were surprised at how Zak's shirt matched his balloon!)

Our celebration was blessed with two different phone calls. Both sets of grandparents called while we were celebrating - making the night complete. Zak was so excited that they called to talk just to him!

I loved this picture. One of the few you will see where Zak is not smiling. I liked it because the look on his face is about how I feel each year as I look at a cake nearly on fire with all my birthday candles. I just wonder what his expression will be at 39 if this is what he looks like at 8!

No one can every know how thankful I am that God brought Zak into our lives. He truly is a gift to us from God. I can not imagine our lives without him!
Happy Birthday, Zak. We love you!

Truly Thankful

This Thanksgiving seems to be taking on a different feel than most. So much has happened in the past year - and to be honest, so much continues to happen. This summer has been one of the most difficult we have had; and forever it will be lodged within our memories. Difficult times have a way of changing someone; and I have found that to be true in this situation.

I am thankful for so many things in my life; but when we were faced with the news that Rachel was diagnosed with Guillian-Barre syndrome in July, the list of truly important things quickly shortened in my mind. So many things that had been important, even hours before, suddenly did not matter all that much. It has been a difficult recovery - and we still are traveling that road. This past hospital stay the doctors told us that they were certain the original diagnosis of GBS was correct ( a diagnosis that had been debated several times, by several different doctors) based on the issues Rachel continues to have. When I heard that news, I stopped and thought how fortunate we are to have Rachel home and with us this Thanksgiving. If she had a normal case of GBS we still could be visiting her in an ICU ward with breathing tubes still in place keeping her alive. God is good.

So, as we sit around the table this Thanksgiving I am going to be thankful for what I say every year, "I am thankful that we are together as a family once again for another Thanksgiving." But as I finish my turn telling what I am thankful for I am going to look over my family - each one - each face, and I am going to realize how close we came to have that not be a reality this holiday.

Trust you are able to enjoy the holiday wrapped in love of family and friends. This year I will think about how much I take for granted and how small the list really is of the most important things in life. Family is near the top for me. God truly gave us a gift when He made the family. This year, I want to enjoy the gift of family each and every day!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Family Fun Night

Several weeks ago - (yes, I am just now getting the pictures off my camera and into the computer!) we were all home for a Friday night. We decided that we would have a family night. Rob did not want to just do an ordinary family night - and surprised the kids with s'mores.

The weather was too cold for the marshmallow roasting to be done outdoors, so we improvised and had a cookout in the kitchen.

The marshmallow on fire seemed to be the pic of choice for all of them to pose for:

Unless, you are in Jr High - then a picture of you make funny faces and trying to be the star of the party is in order:

Again, the fire picture. Same pose - different kid:

Zak got all he could out of the marshmallows being the crackers have gluten. Bring on MORE of the sticky white things!

Now, this picture is to prove - 'like mother, like daughter' - is true not matter what. Anna HATES her fingers getting sticky. (None of my readers will appreciate this picture as much as my Mom; because somewhere in the shoe boxes of photos stored somewhere in her house, is a photo much the same. There is a difference, the baby in my Mom's picture is me but the look on my face is the same.)
I HATE my fingers getting sticky. This is EXACTLY how I feel inside when I find my fingers feeling sticky. "It's OK, Anna, Momma understands!"

You will see that there are no pictures of me roasting marshmallows or eating s'mores - of course not! My fingers might get sticky in the process. I just took pictures - and enjoyed a Diet Coke!
Thanks for stopping by. I am so glad you did. I must go - just looking at this picture makes me want to go wash my hands!