Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fresh Veggies!

Our garden is giving us plenty of vegetables for eating and selling to our cow-share holders!


Monday, July 28, 2008

Sullivan's Birthday!

We couldn't have been any more thrilled to have cheerful Sullivan home and feeling much better for his 9th birthday! In these pictures, Sulli still had the splints in his nose, but today the doctor took them out. Sulli is SO patriotic. When he was still in the hospital, Mama worried about the care he would receive from one particular nurse after he (in a very medicated state of mind) began sharing all of the reasons why Obama shouldn't be elected! On another day in the hospital, when he was more coherent, he requested I make a Confederate flag cake for his birthday, because he bluntly said that he knew I couldn't do fifty straight stars for an American flag. :) We are so happy to have our sweet Sullivan home!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Enrollment in the School of God's Greater Glory

As I (Joy) type, Sullivan, who has been in the hospital for four days, is resting quietly next to me. His surgery, for a seriously infected septum, that resulted from a very unusual sinus infection, appears to have gone well and he is finally on the road to recovery. After ten days of fever, an immensely painful headache, visits to the emergency room and pediatrician's office, and finally a hospital stay and surgery, it looks like he really is getting better this time. There is even talk of being discharged within another day or so.

I am amazed by the number of hours that I have spent staring blankly as I've waited in the emergency rooms and sat silently at Sullivan's bedside. At times I've told myself that I should be doing something productive with this time...catching up on paperwork, reading an instructive or inspirational book, or at least looking at a magazine. But something about a child's sickness causes my attention span to be amazingly short and my desire to accomplish things greatly diminished.

Maybe it is accentuated by the lack of sleep, but it seems the season in which our family finds itself comes into clear focus. It is our time for trials. Having been here before, we recognize that God has chosen a brief time of refining - for our good and His glory.

As I first suspected God had enrolled us for another course in His school of greater glory, I immediately searched for any area where He had called for obedience yet we had refused. I have found that when God prescribes a time of refining, it is much easier to endure if I'm certain I am not in a self-imposed season of discipline for my own willfulness. After inviting the Holy Spirit to do a thorough investigation of my heart, I have sadly submitted to enrollment in yet another semester in God's school.

Looking back over the last year, I can see that the classroom was being prepared for our entry when plans to work as a family building homes for resale were met with God's choice of farming instead. It seems the Lord desired to teach an advanced course on dependence and contentment through the unforseen change of plans.

Although we gave our mortgaged properties to the Lord's control over two years ago, the sale of the homes and relief from the debt, is yet to be seen. While our resources have been depleted, we have been fed by a food previously unknown and have relied on milk from the cows and produce from the garden as our primary dietary staples. As we've watched our once stable financial condition shift while in God's school of greater glory, we've become much better acquainted with our Instructor's ability to provide. We've been humbled and made aware that it never was our own cleverness that allowed for the once taken-for-granted provision - it was God and God alone meeting our needs.

Finding contentment in the constant, never-ending labor required with farming has not come easily. When recently commenting to Timmy that we shouldn't all be so tired, since we get a restful 7 hours of sleep every night, he reminded me that our fatigue is not related to the sleep but rather to the fact that every work day is 17 hours - from the time our feet hit the floor until we return to bed at night. With the exception of the 15-20 minute lunch and supper breaks and the much-needed refreshment found in reading the Proverb chapter for the day as a family, the farm requires everyone be working the remaining hours.

While in this season of refining, God has added a course on empathy for those around us who are faced with continual health concerns. Prior to this year, our family has enjoyed a truly unbelievable gift of wellness from the Lord. Only as we have faced sicknesses have I verbalized the phenomenal blessing of the past. In January, our family took turns enduring a terrible virus that was long-lasting and eventually landed Meredith in the emergency room. As I answered the many questions asked by the medical staff about her prior health history, I realized that she (age 20), along with Elliott and Oliver (ages 17 and 14), hadn't been to the doctor for sickness since they were ages 5, 3, and 1. They looked at me with disbelief and their puzzled expressions conveyed a suspicion that we were somehow neglectful parents. However, I assured them that God had blessed us with unbelievably good health and we've truly had no need for medical attention.

On the heels of our family's recovery from the virus, the Lord provided for Oliver to finally have braces for his teeth. While doing the panagraphic x-ray, the orthodontist discovered a mass on Oliver's skull that he said needed attention. Throughout the next several months of research and attempts to receive proper medical care, Oliver began to develop symptoms of faintness, shortness of breath and dizziness. Although the first emergency room visit proved alarming with the doctor calling the mass a brain tumor, the second emergency room visit and resulting CT scan assured us that the mass was benign. Yet still there was one more trip to Patient First that finally diagnosed the dark circles under Oliver's eyes, as well as dizziness and an increased white blood cell count, as symptoms related to a bacterial infection along with exhaustion and dehydration.

Now, as Sullivan is seen by a multitude of doctors and nurses, I rehearse the magnificent blessing that he (turning 9 in just a few days) and his little brother, Harrison (age 7) haven't been to the doctor since they were ages 3 and 1. It only compounds the doctors' confusion that a perfectly healthy little boy, with no symptoms of a sinus infection or even a common cold, would end up with surgery from an infected septum. Although not recognizable to the passive on-looker, I can hear the squeak of the chalk on the board as our loving and all wise Instructor teaches us new lessons in His school of greater glory. Without even the most remote hint of being unjust or unloving, God records these lessons in the notebooks of all our lives.

Every single thing has been, and is now, for our good and God's glory. Our season of refinement, our enrollment in God's school for greater glory - it is all for our good and comes to us from the hand of our most loving Creator. Although my flesh cries out and begs to graduate, my soul submits and, like a child, runs to the arms of the One who is all-knowing and is allowing this for eternal good in all our lives.

May God be glorified in His instruction of the Alexander family.

Another Update

After an ear/nose/throat doctor examined Sullivan at the hospital on Tuesday, he said that the cause of a lot of the pain was due to a rare infection on the cartilage in Sulli's nose and he would need to do surgery to remove the infected cartilage. They did the surgery yesterday morning and the surgeons said that it went well. Sulli is still on a lot of pain medications so it is hard to know how much he's improving after the surgery, but we're hopeful that he and Mama could possibly get to come home tomorrow.
Thank you so much for your prayers! We are encouraged and blessed to know that so many people are praying for Sullivan. In the picture above, I am showing him a "Get Well" card that our grandmother, Pat-Pat, sent to him after his surgery yesterday.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Update on Sullivan

As I mentioned a few days ago, my sweet brother, Sullivan, has been very sick for the last week. After many calls to the doctors over the weekend, they suggested that he come back to see the doctor again yesterday because he wasn't improving and the medications were causing even more problems. At the doctor's office, they admitted him to the hospital and he will be staying there for about 3 days. Mama says that they have him on many pain medications now and he is doing better. Hopefully they will be able to get the antibiotic to start working so he won't continue to need the powerful pain medications. It's all been pretty confusing because even the doctors haven't completely understood what was causing his sickness to get worse instead of getting better. Please pray that the Lord will give the doctors' wisdom, quickly heal Sulli, and also for Mama who is staying there with him at the hospital.Sullivan's 9th birthday is Sunday, so we're really hoping that he will be better by then! We miss his cheerful attitude here around the house.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Grilled Chicken

We love having our own grass-fed chicken for dinner every once in a while.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Polyface Farm Field Day

This last weekend Oliver and I(Elliott) went to the Polyface Farm Field Day in Swoope, VA.

Mr. and Mrs. Wilson invited Oliver and me to go with them. They are such nice folks!
Visit their farm website at www.fullquiverfarm.com

There were lots of Amish people there.
These are broiler shelters where the chickens stay for five weeks until they're slaughtered.
This is Joel Salatin. He is the owner of Polyface Farm and he has lots of brilliant ideas.
This is what you call "Salad Bar Beef". These cattle do not eat grain( unlike their supermarket counterparts) and are healthier for you to eat.


Blackberry Ice Cream!

We are all blessed to have a mother who takes time every night to make us some homemade ice cream.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Visit at Granddaddy and Grandma Brickhouse's

On Thursday night, we went to Granddaddy and Grandma Brickhouse's home in NC for a visit and a delicious meal!

Granddaddy and Sheridan...Mama, Aunt Jen, Dustin, and Kristen...
Elliott and Sheridan...
Me, Sheridan, Payton, and Lauren...Sheridan and Harrison...We had a very nice visit and are still enjoying the yummy leftovers that Grandma Lou sent home with us!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Harrison's Sermon Notes

Harrison took very creative notes this past Sunday while we were watching a DVD by Jim Sammons called, "How To Keep Your Sons Pure".

Harrison named the first picture "Reclaiming Ground" (speaking of reclaiming the ground that Satan tried to take). The second picture is of a man driving a tractor and "Knocking Down Strongholds" (that Satan will build). The third picture is called "Temptation" and it is a little boy holding a Harry Potter magazine. Harrison and Sullivan aren't allowed to read Harry Potter books (popular books about a little wizard boy), but it must be a big temptation for sweet little Harrison!

Yesterday, Sullivan, Harrison, and I (Meredith) went to the library and Harrison later commented to me that he was very tempted to look at something he shouldn't have while we were there, but he remembered the lesson from the DVD the day before and he didn't. I asked him what it was, and he quickly replied, "a Harry Potter book!" His innocence is so precious.