Saturday, July 31, 2010

End of Summer

It seems this summer has flown by faster than usual. We greatly enjoyed several summer trips and especially enjoyed having time to connect with family and friends. Bella & Luke start school in one short week and are very excited to see their friends and get back to their studies. They both are so relieved that our house has not sold and that they have another year at GMG.

After 10 months with our house on the market with very few showings and no offers we have decided to take the house off the market and take a break until next spring. Although we still feel we ultimately need to move to Ames for schooling for Seth we don't want to stress Bella & Luke out with another year of living in limbo and not knowing where they will be for the school year. This has not been an easy decision as it means another year of homeschooling Seth which is a great challenge for Jenn and Seth. Yet another good reason to turn to the Lord in prayer for strength. It seems He knows I need big challenges to stay completely dependent on Him. When things are going too smoothly I'm so prone to think I can handle things myself.

Over the past couple weeks I have been busy at work getting the kids bedrooms repainted so we could switch the boys' and Bella's rooms to make room for foster children. We received our foster license in the mail at the end of July and are excited to receive our first placement and now I can say that I'm truly ready logistically to welcome foster children into our home. Being ready emotionally is certainly another thing altogether - but this is one of those things I'm not sure you'll ever feel you're truly ready for. So we take the leap of faith and trust God to provide all we need.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Summer Fun!

Summer is in full swing at our house. It's hard to believe we're nearing the end of June. The kids last day of school was June 3rd, which was followed up a couple days later by Bella's dance recital weekend and sending Bella off to Bible camp for the first time. She had a great time even though she was concerned she would be homesick. Last week we had a calmer week at home and managed to get to the aquatic center for the first time. We've had a lot of rain here in Iowa so we hadn't had a clear day when our schedule was free. As always the kids had a blast on the slides and in the lazy river.

This week we have VBS, which Bella & Luke are lovin! Seth attended the first evening, but I've kept him home nights 2 & 3. We'll try to go one more night, but it's a lot of craziness for him especially after a full day of therapy. And we're tryin' to not get him too maxed out right before we leave for our trip to CO.

Saturday we take off to travel out to CO to attend Adam's Camp - a special needs camp in the Winter Park area. We had the wonderful opportunity to experience this camp last year through God's orchestration and we're looking forward to attending again. Seth will have 5 days of intensive therapy, Bella & Luke will attend their sibling day camp program and Mike & I will have time together in the mountains. It's a great program designed to refresh the whole family.

Along with attending camp we're excited to have a chance to visit family and friends along the way in Colorado and Nebraska. We'll spend several days in Nebraska on the way back and have a chance to visit with extended family. And Bella & Luke are excited to be able to stay on in Nebraska for "Nana Camp" the week after the 4th of July. Hope you are all enjoying your summer and if we're coming your way soon we're lookin' forward to seeing you!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Autism Awareness Month

April is autism awareness month. In years past I was very excited about this month and hopeful that the extra press and raised awareness would bring us closer to revealing the causes of this epidemic and turning the tide of autism. This year I feel less enthusiasm and less hope that the necessary changes will be made to curb this epidemic. I continue to do my part to educate those in my circle of life about the risks of vaccines, overuse of antibiotics, and other environmental toxic exposures that are causing the autism epidemic.

20 years ago 1 in 10,000 children were diagnosed with autism. Today 1 in 100 are diagnosed; 1 every 20 minutes. Every 20 minutes a family's life is forever changed; dreams for their child are forever altered, marriages are put in greater jeopardy with a divorce rate of 80% in the autism community, and family resources are strained while providing therapies and treatments. This is only a few of the stresses that autism places on a family. The cost is simply too high to sit back and allow this to continue.

Unfortunately the powers that be have decided that facing the truth will be too expensive for them which I believe is very shortsighted when you consider the enormous financial burden this ongoing epidemic will have on our country in the years and decades to come. This causes me great sadness; not only for my family and the daily struggles we face but for the many families new to this journey who need not have faced this struggle. Autism is preventable!

So how do we turn the tide of this epidemic? How can we prevent autism? There are a few basic things we as parents can do that will make a huge difference.
1) Educated yourself about vaccinations. We can determine the right vaccine schedule for our children - the schedule set out by the CDC is a guideline, not the law! You can choose to wait, stagger, or refuse vaccines all together. I believe it would be best to wait on the vast majority of vaccines until a child is 2 years old and their immune system is better developed. At that point take one vaccine at a time and never vaccinate when a child is sick or getting over an illness.
2) Green your cleaning products. Change over to non-toxic cleaning products and be aware of the many chemical products that you might be bringing into your home that do not have to be tested for health safety such as room freshening sprays and devices, febreeze type products, and wood polishes.
3) Control what your child eats. Go organic whenever you are able and to the best of your ability do not feed your family foods that are highly processed and contain preservatives and food dyes. These are chemicals that our bodies don't know how to process and can affect our children's brain development.
4) Limit antibiotic use. Only use antibiotics when absolutely necessary. Antibiotics deplete the balance of our GI systems which is our primary immune fighting system. Over 50% of ear infections in children are viral and therefore won't respond to antibiotics. Our bodies will fight even bacterial infections, so even in those cases antibiotics are not always necessary.

We can turn the tide!! Join me in praying throughout the month of April - check out this website to download a prayer guide for the month.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Blessing of Bella

Upon celebrating Bella's 12th birthday I have been thinking back on her life. It's truly amazing that it's been 12 years since her birth. She was born on a snowy night(18 inches of snow fell while we were at the hospital). From the start she was a joy; a happy, content baby who slept 5 hours the first night in the hospital and in 5 weeks time was sleeping through the night. She was by far the easiest baby I had - happy to play, happy to go, happy to sleep - just very happy. Mike and I joke that God lulled us into a false sense of security, thinking that having another baby would be no problem.

As she grew her beautiful personality become evident. She was a giving, sharing, obedient toddler who adjusted quickly to a new baby brother at the young age of 20 months. Her papa thought she was a little too obedient to be born to one of his strong-willed children. She always wanted to be mama's little helper and continues to this day. She has always been an outgoing child and easily fits in with different groups of people.

We see in her an amazing heart for people. She often puts me to shame with her selfless acts in our family. She truly has a heart to put the needs of others before her own. She also has a heart to teach and help others. Since we began therapy with her brothers when they were very young she has watched, learned and joined in teaching her brothers. She also loves helping others students at school and has a special affinity for young children. We see a great potential in her to be an amazing teacher or therapist when she grows up.

In the past couple years we have begun to see the amazing heart she has for the Lord. She spends time each morning in quiet times with no daily prompting from her parents and often talks about God's Word and what she is learning about God. She repeatedly amazes us, and other adults in her life with the maturity of her insights. She is truly wise beyond her years. We praise the Lord for the way she desires to grow in her relationship with Him.

We are blessed beyond measure to have Bella in our family and praise the Lord for her!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

February Musings

It's hard to believe that it's already February in the year 2010. Time really does fly. Winter continues with a vengeance here in Iowa. Bella & Luke have had only 1 full week of school since Christmas due to snow/ice storm, and the coming week is not looking hopeful with another storm already in progress. But we have enjoyed most of the days together playing games, reading, and watching fun movies. And I've found that Seth loves doing his schoolwork for big sis Bella. So I've taken full advantage of that as he generally fights working through things with Mom. Bella thoroughly enjoys being the teacher so it's a win, win!!

Seth is starting to spend a couple hours on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at the Christian school. We are hoping this will help him to adjust to a classroom setting and make the transition to school in Ames smoother. A friend from church who has experience as a special ed para is going in as his aid, which is a total blessing. We are still waiting for the house to sell and are grateful to hear from our realtor that the market is picking up a bit.

Unfortunately Seth's head banging has increased in frequency and intensity greatly in the past few weeks and we are feeling very frustrated in not being able to help him cope in better ways. It's heart wrenching to watch him potentially cause further damage to a brain that already is not functioning well and it's becoming more and more difficult to restrain him as he is getting bigger and is freakishly strong. After a bad incident at church this morning Mike and I were both very discouraged and honestly scared about how long we will be able to keep him in our home if this continues as he continues to get bigger and stronger. We would appreciate your continued prayers for Seth, especially about this issue. We are considering seeing a new doctor in Chicago with hopes that she could help us with this issues and some others, but waiting on God to provide the needed finances.

This is one of the ugly realities of autism, which prompt Mike and I both declare in moments of frustration that we hate autism. We love our boy dearly, so much that it's often painful. But we hate this disease that has a hold on him and keeps him from fully engaging with us and the world around us. We continue to pray for God's healing hand on our boy and are trying to not lose heart in petitioning the Lord. But there are periods when we both become very weary and feel very hopeless. These are the times in the past when God has used His people to carry us and pray us through the valleys. We so appreciate how God has demonstrated His love to us in this way.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A New Adventure

As we begin a new year we are prayerfully considering a new adventure in the Pedersen family. 2009 brought some challenges to our thinking, realizing that our life is pretty comfortable and incredibly blessed. Some close friends were amazed that we consider our lives comfortable, considering the challenges we have faced with our boys. But that is how we feel - considering the vast needs of people in our own country and around the world - our lives are pretty comfortable.

Mike's heart was touched through a couple classes he participated in and a friend's presentation on orphan Sunday in November. My heart and mind were opened to the needs of kids in our country through a great book I read last fall. We began to feel the tug of God's Spirit challenging us to make a difference in our part of the world in a way we are able.

As a result of God's promptings in our lives throughout 2009 Mike and I started talking about pursuing foster care in November. As we begin the new year we have officially started the process, which turns out to be a rather lengthy one. Our first step is a visit to the police station for fingerprinting (I hope that speeding tickets will not disqualify us). Next we fill out some paperwork and attend an informational meeting. After the background check is run we will start a 10 week, 30 hour class along with a home study to become foster parents.

Mike & I keep asking ourselves if we're really doing this. Some we've shared this with have pretty much said we are crazy, in not so many words. But it is what God has laid on our hearts and He is giving us complete peace and agreement with one another about this. We have talked with Bella & Luke about this possibility and they are very excited. We've told them that this will be hard at times - Bella's response was that it just means we'll have to love the child all the more - such a sweet girl she is!

We would welcome your prayers for us in this process. This is not something we would have imagined pursuing when we first married, or even a few years ago. But life is often quite different than we expect. Our desire to simply follow God's leading in our lives and this seems to be His leading for us at this time.

"Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all - he is the greatest."
Luke 9:48