Friday, August 1, 2014

Five of Faith's All Time Favorite Books

We've been reading books to Faith ever since she was a baby.When she was little, she had to wear an eye patch for 30 minutes a day in the hopes it would help strengthen her eye muscles so they would no longer turn inward. Reading a book to her while she was wearing the patch was a great way to keep her distracted from having to wear it. Even after she no longer had to wear the patch, she continued to love being read to.
Reading to Faith when she was little
As Faith got older, we had hopes she would learn to read on her own. She is ten and that still hasn't happened. We continue to pray and try to find ways to help her be able to read. Her music therapist is trying to do all she can to help us with this endeavor. We know her vision is fine but we think her eye muscles might not be working properly to enable her to focus on seeing a word long enough to read it.

Instead of reading, she spends a lot of time memorizing. For this reason, she likes shorter books and even though I've tried to read chapter books to her, she quickly loses interest. She even memorizes the name of the author and the illustrator which is handy when we go to the library to look for books!

Daddy reading one of Faith's favorite books to her
Through the years, she has especially liked these five books:

Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish - Even though there is a younger and more modern Amelia Bedelia, Faith still likes the old-fashioned funny housekeeper who works for Mr. and Mrs. Rogers and has a habit of taking things way too literally. There are a lot of times I roll my eyes at Amelia Bedelia's silly antics but I must admit, she is pretty hilarious.

The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone - I was amazed to see that this Sesame Street book featuring Grover was first published in 1973. That means the story is older than me! One of Faith's former respite care workers loved this book as a child and I'm glad she recommended it to us. Ever since Kimberly came for a visit last month, Faith has been wanting to read this book again almost every night.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen - This modern classic is not only a book but a video as well. There are a ton of videos on YouTube where kids do their own rendition of this popular book. (Check out one of our favorites below). I must admit when I first read it to Faith I wasn't overly impressed but she absolutely loved it. It started to grow on me though and for as many times as we've read it, I'm still not tired of it.


Curious George's First Day of School by H.A. Rey - Curious George is a cute little monkey "who's also very curious." Faith loves the most of the Curious George books but the one where he goes to school to be a helper is one of her favorites. She also likes to watch Curious George on DVD and Netflix. It's also on PBS at 7:00 a.m. but that's a little too early for us!

Franklin Makes a Deal by Paulette Bourgeois - Franklin is a cute little turtle who has lots of animal friends. There are lots of Franklin books but this one is Faith's favorite. I think it's because we're always saying to her, "OK Faith, here's the deal..." She also likes to watch Franklin on DVD.

I'm curious to know what some of your child's favorite books are. Also if your child has special needs, what are some things you are doing to help them learn to read? 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Reflecting on These Past Ten Years

As all of the Fourth of July celebrations are coming to a close, I am still thinking about that one Fourth of July that happened ten years ago.

It was around this time back in 2004 that we made the move from our home in Watford City to the Bismarck-Mandan area. I will never forget our first Fourth of July in Mandan. Due to getting moved in to our apartment, we didn't take in any of the celebrations. As we were still putting stuff away late into the night, I opened up the curtains and to my pleasant surprise, saw fireworks going off in the sky. 

“Look!” I exclaimed to my husband, “We can see the fireworks from here!” He picked up Faith and lifted her to the window so she could see too. We couldn't have known it then but in our next ten years here, we would be experiencing fireworks of many kinds - some bright and beautiful and others complete duds!
Faith playing in our first apartment
After living in Mandan and driving Faith back and forth into Bismarck for all of her appointments, we found another apartment right on seventh street close to where she needed to go several times throughout the week. This made things so much easier for us as Rob could simply walk Faith to all of her appointments, even in the colder weather.

Faith depended on a KidKart for her mobility at that time and it was relatively easy getting her and the Kart up and down the stairs. First, we would take Faith out, bring her upstairs then take apart her Kid Kart and bring up the base and then the seating system, although Rob could get it up and down the stairs in one trip.
Faith playing in her Kid Kart in Bismarck
When she graduated to her first “real” wheelchair, even though the seat came off the base, it was quite cumbersome to get up and down the stairs. Not to mention, carrying her up and down was getting difficult for me, the more she grew. God provided for us once again and the spring before starting kindergarten, we found an accessible place to live right next door to an elementary school.

In reflecting back on these past ten years, while we have faced many challenges and difficult situations, we have also been abundantly blessed. God has brought so many wonderful people into our lives these past ten years and it has been these connections that have helped us through some of the storms of life. 
Faith hanging out on the balcony
We will forever be grateful for the prayer warriors at the Healing Rooms, which is also one of the reasons we felt God was making a way for us to move here. A group of ladies I am especially thankful for are all the women in JOY who have provided companionship, prayer, encouragement and a wonderful ministry for which to involve myself.

These past couple of years, we have also been extremely thankful for our church family at New Life. What a huge blessing Pastor Marc and his family have been to us along with our wonderful church friends. We have grown especially close to our little group at the Redefinition service or the "quiet" service as Faith calls it. We have learned so much about God’s word in just these past couple of years and Faith has grown spiritually as well.
Faith hanging out with some pretty incredible people at a church picnic
Besides the spiritual family we have gained, most of my “real” family now lives in Bismarck too. I would have never thought when we made the move ten years ago, my brother and his wife would follow three years later. And then just a couple of years ago, my sister and her kids and my parents all moved here too!

As the fireworks, the parades, the barbecues and all of the excitement of the Fourth begins to fizzle out, I am grateful for the Lord’s provision and am looking forward to all He has in store the next ten years!
We are so thankful to have this amazing lady in our life who has been
helping us with Faith since we lived in Mandan

Faith and her auntie having fun together  this year on the 4th

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Best Dad Ever - 10 Years in a Row

It seems to me that God really knew what He was doing when He made Rob Faith's daddy. Ever since Rob first met his tiny little girl in the NICU over ten years ago in Rochester, Minnesota, it was love at first sight. But his love and prayers for her didn't start there - it all started when we first saw the picture of her in my womb and we heard her heartbeat for the first time. He has loved her and prayed fervently for her ever since.
Kangaroo Cares
Snuggling
One of the most wonderful fruits of his prayers for her is her love for Jesus and for others. She truly does love people and makes a point to remember people's names and ask them all sorts of questions about their life because she really is interested. She loves to see photos of people's spouses, babies and even pets. Something else she has a result of her daddy's prayers is her own faith that keeps her strong and keeps her going through the difficult times.
Story Time
Play Time
I love that Faith has an inkling of how much her Heavenly Father loves her because she knows without a doubt how much her earthly father does. I really don't think one day has gone by in her 10 1/2 years when he hasn't told her he loves her. If that weren't enough, he is always showering her with affection and she goes many times throughout her day asking him for a kiss.Yes, of course there are days they push each other's buttons and they might get upset with each other but at the end of the day, Faith can remain confident knowing how much she's loved.
Hugs
Giggles
One thing Rob always says he is thankful for is that he has a daughter who laughs a lot and is filled with so much joy. And I am thankful Faith has a daddy who makes us both laugh. Thank you Rob for all you do for both me and Faith. She definitely has had the best dad ever 10 years in a row!
Father's Day 2009
Father's Day 2014

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Alternative Therapies for Faith

For most of Faith's life, we have focused on doing some of the more traditional therapies such as occupational and physical therapy in order to help her reach her fullest potential. More recently, though we have been trying some alternative forms of therapy such as chiropractic care and music integration sessions. Honestly, we have seen more progress this past year in trying these different therapies than we had been seeing with years of following traditional methods. You can read HERE to see how Chiropractic Care has benefited Faith and HERE for music therapy. 
Chiropractic care has benefitted Faith immensely
Unfortunately, most insurance companies, including Medicaid does not cover these different types of therapies as they are still considered experimental. One of the local fundraisers does not allocate funds for these alternative therapies for the same reasons. This means we have been paying out of our pockets and it is now getting to the point that we have to decide to quit doing the therapy or keep going with it.

So it is with a humble heart that I am asking for help from the readers of this blog and from those family and friends of Faith to help us in continuing these types of therapy for Faith. If you don't have the funds at this time, can I ask you to pray for us and that God would continue to guide us and give us wisdom on which types of therapies to try, which types might be beneficial and which ones we may need to discontinue? 
Integrative music sessions has helped with Faith's fine motor skills and other areas
Any help you can give in either of these areas would be greatly appreciated. If you do want to help us in our efforts to raise funds for Faith and you would like to do so online please click on the PayPal link on the top right. You will also be able to donate using a credit card. If you don't want to donate online, please feel free to e-mail me. You can find my e-mail address by clicking on 'view my complete profile' and it is listed under my contact into. Thank you so much for any help you can provide and I pray that God blesses you abundantly in return!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Forget Spring, It's Summer!

I think North Dakota forgot all about spring this year and just went right into summer. As our pastor said in church last week, "I guess North Dakota likes quick transitions!" It seriously seemed like one day the ground was still brown, the trees still bare and there wasn't a robin in sight then the next it was like the exact opposite. While everyone was certainly getting tired of old man winter, we sure weren't ready for 90 degrees!
Faith enjoying being outside at Michelle's with her ducks!
Besides it feeling like summer, I am thankful that it really is summer vacation and that Faith is done with school this year! She did so well the first half of fourth grade and somewhere along the way around Christmas vacation she seemed to really be struggling. We chalked it up to her high muscle tone protesting the frigid temperatures.

When it started warming up a little, though there were days she still struggled to get to school. In February she came down with a sinus infection then in May the kids were getting a little more rambunctious than usual so it was harder for her to be around them.
Fun in the sun!
Her last day of school was supposed to be Thursday, May 22nd but due to a snow day in April, the year got extended one more day. On Thursday, she didn't seem to feel well and was protesting going to school but we sent her anyway. That night she came down with a fever of 100.7 degrees and had a very sleepless night. She wanted to go to school on her last day because they were going to the park. Right after watching Wheel of Fortune she said, "Maybe if I go to bed early, I'll wake up and feel all better."

The next morning she still had a pretty high temperature but she still wanted to go to school. When we told her she couldn't go, she started crying. It was pretty sad. I felt bad all day about her missing her last day. We have since gotten over it though and she is very much enjoying her first week of summer vacation!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Healing Rooms - One of Faith's Favorite Places

One of Faith's favorite places to go is the Healing Rooms of the Northern Plains. I'm not kidding! If they were open seven days a week - she would be there everyday. As it is they are open on Mondays and Tuesdays and most weeks she wants to go both days.

We have been taking Faith to the Healing Rooms since we first moved here ten years ago, which is also shortly after they opened here in Bismarck. One reason I think Faith loves going there so much is the peacefulness she feels as soon as we walk through the doors. Another reason is because she just loves to go there to visit with the volunteers that she has gotten to know quite well over the years She knows all of them by name and is quick to remember any new members of the prayer team.

The first thing we do when we get to the Healing Rooms is greet whoever is at the desk and they hand us a clipboard so that we can jot down our prayer request. She usually tries to get them to say who is going to be on the prayer team that will be praying with her that day. Sometimes they give her hints, but most times they try to keep it a surprise. After we write down our prayer request, we wait for someone to come get our "charts." Then when the prayer team is ready, someone comes out to the waiting room to get us and leads us back to one of the prayer rooms. There are usually 2 or 3 people on a prayer team. Sometimes Faith likes to go in all by herself but sometimes I get to go in with her!
Faith hanging out with Joanne in the waiting room
Back in the prayer room, the leader of the prayer team anoints us with oil and then prayers over us. Sometimes they have an encouraging word from the Lord and they most always have a scripture to give us. They write this scripture down on a piece of paper so that we can take it home with us.

Sometimes Faith thinks she is actually on the prayer team. Last week when we were in one of the rooms together getting prayer, one of the team members was speaking words of encouragement to me with something I had been struggling with and Faith called out, "Believe in yourself mommy! Just believe in yourself!" As they finished praying for me, they reminded me how much God loves me and Faith said, "And I love you very much too, mommy!"
Faith receiving prayer
After we are done praying, the team member seals all of the prayers with the blood of Jesus and usually give us a hug and sends us on our way. Faith always has to make sure she says goodbye to whomever is at the desk and even asks if they can hold the door for us on our way out.

The Healing Rooms has been a part of our lives for so long and I honestly do not know where we would be without their steadfast prayers for us. I really don't think Faith would be doing as well as she is had it not been for the prayers she has been getting nearly every week for ten years. It is an amazing ministry and both Rob and I have learned so much about healing through going to the Healing Rooms and also in taking their Heal the Sick Training. No matter where you live in the world, I strongly encourage you to see if there is a Healing Rooms in your city! You can check by clicking HERE.
The walls of the book room are lined with testimonies of people who have gotten healed
during or after getting prayer at the Healing Rooms.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Book Review: In Sickness and In Health by Mandy B. Anderson

The book, In Sickness and in Health: Lessons Learned on the Journey from Cystic Fibrosis to Total Health by Mandy B. Anderson, is the author's personal story of what life is like living with what doctors call an incurable disease. In reading her story, I felt like I could completely relate to her. Although my diagnosis of a congenital heart defect is much different than hers, all the ways in which being a sick kid can take an emotional toll, is very much alike.

For instance, most kids don't ever have to think about dying an early death or having doctors put an expiration date on your life. This cannot only be emotionally devastating but spiritually devastating as well as "words of death" are constantly being spoken over you. As a kid, you can feel the fear and anxiety in those around you so you take it upon yourself to be the "brave" one. You learn how to mask and hide your true feelings and inadvertently start pretending to be someone you are not.

While Mandy talks about these struggles growing up with cystic fibrosis and with doctors telling her she would never see her high school graduation, she offers much hope despite her dire circumstances. She does believe she has experienced God's healing in her life - to the point that she can run miles without gasping for air. But she also recognizes that just because she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, she knows she still has a choice to choose sickness or to choose health and wholeness. She says, "When it comes to our health and quality of life, we always have a choice." Some of the positive choices she has made to help her live as healthy of a lifestyle as possible include eating well, exercising, chiropractic care, massage therapy and using essential oils.
Mandy B Anderson shares her story at Java JOY in Bismarck
Throughout her book, Mandy talks about overcoming her fears of dying young and how having a new perspective, speaking words of life and forgiveness have all been paramount in living life as an overcomer. She says many people throughout her life have said hurtful things to her regarding her disease and she had to learn to forgive each and every one of them.

She recalls a time at a wedding reception when one of her classmates that she had not seen for several years and who had too much to drink came up to her and said very loudly, "Wow! You're still alive! I thought you would've been dead by now from that thing you live with." Not only had she learned to forgive people who said insensitive things to her but she also had to learn to forgive herself for thinking she wasn't good enough, for not believing in herself and for judgments she held towards herself.
Mandy and her team at a speaking event in Bismarck
One chapter I could really relate to Mandy is the one titled, "Walk by Faith, Not by Sight." Having had a medical condition my whole life and then having a daughter with a disability, I have struggled with how to balance science and medicine with faith and healing. Mandy says that faith is something that must be exercised every day, whether we see proof of it or not. She says when it comes to sickness and disease, we can still believe we're healed even if we don't see it from a medical standpoint. I love that Mandy says, "I will put my faith in God's word long before I put my faith in medicine." She goes on to explain that while medicine does have a place, we tend to have more faith in medicine than God's healing power.

Mandy does a great job throughout her book of telling her story to those themselves who struggle with chronic illness but also to parents who have children with a congenital or incurable disease. I think any parent of a child with any type of special needs will also get a lot out of this book and might enable you to better relate to your child by understanding what your child may be feeling or thinking. Even if you are not one who is dealing with sickness but are trying to make positive changes in your life, this book will be helpful and encouraging.

Click HERE to learn more about Mandy B. Anderson. Buy Mandy's book: In Sickness and In Health: Lessons Learned on the Journey from Cystic Fibrosis to Total Health
Mandy selling a copy of her book