Every Sunday it seems as though God confirms that First Assembly NLR is where He wants us to be. It's like Pastor Rod's sermons are written just for me and that I'm the only one in the sanctuary. Today he started a series called "Shipwrecked." Our worship leader does a great job pairing worship songs and hymns with the theme of the sermon. Today we sang a song called "In Christ Alone." It's one of my favorites and always gives me goosebumps. As we sang this morning, this lady kept coming into my thougts. It was the lady who has been assigned our case at social security regarding the supposed overpayment they made to us on Will's SSI. I spent three days this week talking with her, worrying about it all, and wondering "Why me?" I've been angry and fretful. I've felt abused by "the system" and frustrated with it all. But, this morning, God had it in His plans for me to see this situation in a completely different light. 
Just for a little background, I'll explain the situation with social security. Will started receiving SSI checks in 2006 because he is disabled and we were poor. At some point, social security overpaid us, but I didn't know this. I found out when we got a letter saying we owed something like $5600. Well, I applied for waiver based on financial hardship, and they waived $1999. They then proceeded to take another $675 out of his monthly checks until we stopped getting SSI in the spring (because I make "too much money" as a resident/fellow!). That left us with just over $2900 still to repay. Well, then we get another letter saying they'd overpaid us again. This time it was $3000. Social security is trying to say it's my fault, but I notified them of my pay increase. Anyway, now the total they're saying we have to repay is just over $6000. Now, back to the good stuff...
A particular line from the song caught my attention that hadn't ever before. "No power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand." Think about it. That means that no matter what kind of storm you're going through, no matter who is being hateful or how hateful they're being, no matter what - God has you in the palm of His hand. No one and nothing can touch you if you remain in Him. I just kept thinking about this situation with social security. He was telling me that it didn't matter. It doesn't matter how crapy our country's system is or how much money I may or may not have to pay back.  All that matters is that I'll be victorious through Him. 
Then He said something else. He said, "Isn't this lady's life worth $6000?" I was like, wow! I never thought about it like that. It never even crossed my mind that I might be going through this storm in order to reach a lost or needy soul for Him. All I could think about was me. How selfish is that? As followers of Christ we are called to be selfless and to follow Him, and here I was worrying about me. I don't know if this lady is saved or not. I don't know what she's going through. It could be something even more difficult than what I'm facing. I now know that whatever comes of this situation, what I say and how I act could affect her eternity. After thinking about this lady, I was able to anwer Him, "Yes. Her life is worth just as much as mine. And He paid the ultimate sacrifice for me." So, if I'm called to have to pay $6000 in order to reach someone for the kingdom, then so be it. 
Selfishly, I'm hoping that God will use me to reach her and that He'll allow social security to grant the waiver. But, no matter what, I'm praying that I can have a good attitude, speak lovingly, and make a difference in this lady's life. Please pray with me. Listen to this song (click the link below. It's a little hard to see.), and have an open heart for what He might be saying to you. 


Cate Vs. the Potty

Cate is going on three and a half years old, and she refuses to potty train. We've tried every method known to man: "Potty training in one day," letting her run around without pants on all weekend, scheduled potty sits, bribery, sticker charts...you name it and we've tried it. I have thought since the beginning of these efforts that her refusal had a lot to do with the fact that her older brother, whom she loves and looks up to, isn't potty trained either. She is still too young to really understand that her big brother isn't "normal" and that typically developing six year old children are potty trained. I've tried explaining that to her on a three year old level, but she just doesn't seem to get it. I've mentioned this to some of my friends in the psychology field, and they agree. They also say that she's the baby and may feel like this is her last baby thing to hold on to. Another suggested that she may feel like the time we spend changing Will is special time just for him and that she feels like she's getting robbed of special time by having to use the bathroom. 
It's very frustrating as a mom, and especially as a developmental pediatrician, not to be able to potty train your child. A lot of people look at your ability to potty train your child as an index of how good a parent you are and how smart your child is. I've come to believe that neither of these things are true. Some kids are easier than others to train. And some kids have extenuating circumstances that prolong their training - like having an older brother who is disabled and not trained. I guess I just want those moms (and dads and grandparents and...) who had kids who were super easy to train not to look down on moms who are still working with their kids after the expected age of training. (By the way, three and a half is still considered to be within normal limits for potty training.) Anyway, enough of my preaching and back to the story. 
Cate started preschool last week at our church. She's going two days a week and absolutely loves it. She is in the three year old room, so I'm hoping she's being exposed to lots of kids using the potty. They requested that we send her in pull-ups rather than diapers so she can practice pulling them up and down more easily. I thought, "Sure! I'll do just about anything if you'll help with potty training." So, we changed to pull-ups about two or three weeks ago. The last time we tried this Cate freaked out. This time it was a breeze. She especially likes them because they're pink and have Disney princesses on them. 
Anyway, since she tolerated that well, we've moved on to schedules potty sits. We started Monday with sitting on the potty every 45 minutes. She screamed and cried and screamed and cried! But, she did sit there. She never went in the potty that day, but by the end of the night, she had stopped crying! I give her one piece from a pack of fruit snacks for the initial sit, one piece half-way through (after about two and a half minutes) and a final piece at the end of five minutes. Then she stands up, flushes the potty, and washes her  hands. By the end of last night, she was pulling her pants down by herself! So, no actually going in the potty yet, but definite progress. I count this as potty 1, Cate 0! 
Please pray that she'll continue to progress and maybe even go in the potty soon. It would simplify our lives in more than one way, and any of you who have kids know that the simpler life is the better. I hope to have some more exciting news from the potty front soon!


Our time here in Montgomery has come to an end. We arrived on Thursday evening and had dinner at our favorite Montgomery restaurant, El Rey. The food was delicious, and the company was even better. Friday we went to the hospital to visit my great aunt who is in her mid-nineties and "at the end of life." We then had a delicious dinner at home with my family and my best friend Melanie and her husband Joe. Saturday we went shopping and then went to Aunt Sue's house to swim and cook out. It was really nice seeing everyone and spending time together. Will and Cate had a wonderful time in the pool. They both were able to tread water completely unassisted for the first time. Will walked all over the shallow end by himself too. It was really neat to see. Today we went to church and had lunch with my parents. Then we went to Jeremiah's dad and step-mom's house for a visit. We had a good time. The kids loved watching the chickens. We came back home, dropped off the kids, went and did a little more shopping, had dinner with Melanie and Joe, and then had frozen yogurt with Melanie, Joe, Catherine, and Jessie. It has been a very fun and exhausting day.
I love coming home and seeing everyone. I try my best to visit with everyone who wants to see us (mainly they want to see the kids). It's really hard to get that done in such a short trip. If we'd had anyone else to visit with I'm not sure we could have fit it in. While I love visiting, it is very tiring . We haven't been able to sleep in at all and we go non-stop everyday. I wouldn't have it any other way, unless I could add hours to the day during which I could rest. We'll be heading home again for Thanksgiving and then for Christmas. While I don't have any more vacation time now then I did last year, it's easier to get home and I can take my vacation whenever I want it. I like that! This weekend has been all I was hoping it would be. I hope things are this good when we get back here in November.