My Fitness

Monday, October 26, 2015

NTTA is deceitful and dishonest

For anyone who knows me personally, you know what a terrible end to the pregnancy I had over the past couple of months. We are extremely grateful to finally have baby Zoë here. It's very infrequent that I visit Felipe at work. There's a toll road to get there. As the pregnancy lengthened I increased my visits to Felipe at work and with where I was mentally I just needed to be near my husband. I don't have a toll tag but read the NTTA sign that said to not worry about it because they'd mail me my toll bill.

In April I got a bill, I paid it within a couple hours of receiving it and verifying the dates. Then I got one at the end of August that I passed along to my husband to pay because that's when I started getting REALLY sick, if you remember. I still checked the dates and it looked good.

But then last week I got a notice from a collections agency that I was SO late with NTTA tolls that they tacked on an additional $40+ dollars of late charges. All without ever notifying me.

So my husband called them today and their "professional" response was that they're allowed to lie. They're allowed to be dishonest. They're allowed to lack integrity. They're allowed to be deceitful. They are the ultimate authority and they don't answer to anyone. They can get away with whatever they want because they say so. "because you know when you went through the toll and should have checked our site for the charges." even though that is not what the sign says.

These are the people responsible for such dishonorable charges and disgraceful business practices:

So what do we do with these people? They really do have all the power and the money. And while I'm sure $40 or even $100 is nothing to them, that's a LOT of money for me.

But you've heard me say it before and I'm forced to say it again. This world is not my home. These people belong here. I do not. They value money. I should not. If God wishes to give these people my money instead of a conscience and a heart, that is his business. Money will not last. You can't take money with you. This money is not mine anyway. It is God's.

And that leaves me with no option other than to pray for these people. I can hope that they stop practicing such horrible offenses. I can hope that they stop lying. I can hope that they take responsibility for the company they have chosen to represent. But I have no hope of seeing that $40+ again. And that's okay. What's worth more: $40, even $100, or these people's souls?

So pray for the souls of those people who are able to spitefully use you to further their own cause. They may not regard you. They do not love you. But we are called to be better. We are called to love. We will have no justice on this side of the grave. But my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. Not on money, mammon, and idols.

The bill is paid and I will never drive that road again. It will take a few minutes longer to just take the public streets and not allow them to use me again. This is forgiveness: moving on and learning from my mistake of assuming a company was reputable and honest. That is just not how things work in the country. Even in this great state of Texas. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

prayer cards prayer walk

When we first moved to this neighborhood I felt really safe. The neighbors were good and no one bothered anyone else. But the longer we live here, like the rest of the world, the worse things get. My neighbors share stories of kids graffiti-ing their property, damaging their vehicles, speaking immensely rudely to them, and other childish and yet hurtful pranks.

I've sat in my house waiting for it to reach us. It hasn't yet. And I wondered why.

Is it because our house is Protected? We have both God on our side as well as video cameras on our yard.

This morning it occurred to me that I should go on a Prayer Walk around my block. But I also wanted to encourage my neighbors. So I will leave little prayer cards in their mailboxes. I have to wait until my postpartum healing is done - right now just walking up the stairs is enough to send me into regression so a long walk is not even to be considered.

I think the prayer cards will simply say, "I have prayed for you today and I hope that knowledge brings you encouragement. I don't know the future but I know the One who holds the future in His hands." And then a Bible verse and possibly an email address that they can send specific prayer requests. And maybe a line saying something about "from anonymous with no affiliation to any earthly organization." I looked into buying some, but I can't find what I want. Luckily I'm pretty good with my Mac and I'll just make my own.

Perhaps something like this? (but with my own flower, this is just a random flower I found on google)

I'm considering setting up an email address that people can submit their prayer requests to, but I don't know that that is a good idea. I'll have to think about it more. On the backside I will consider adding a Roman Road outline or just a prayer. Maybe something like this?

Lord Jesus, I'm like everyone else - I can't make it through life on my own. I'm imperfect. I'm prone to sin. I have come to realize that there's nothing in the world I can do to make myself acceptable to You. But I know that You have loved me so much that You were willing to submit to the cross and die on my behalf. That's a grace so amazing I cannot understand it; I can only accept it. And I do. I accept Your free gift, and I know that from this moment on, I am saved. I am a child of God. And I give the rest of my life to serving You and experiencing the joy that only You can offer. Fill me now, dear Lord, and raise me to walk in the newness of life. I thank You and praise You! Amen. 

I'll update with what I actually do, but that won't be until November some time. Maybe Thanksgiving week because my insides are still healing.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Science Fair Info

DCHSA First Annual Science Fair - general information
contact: board representative Lauren Mulford lauren.mulford

What is a Science Fair?
A science fair is an opportunity for students to apply the scientific method to conduct independent research. 

Who can participate?
Any student (inside or outside Denton county) currently homeschooled from Kindergarten through high school senior. We will divide the awards and prizes into three age groups: 5-9, 10-13, 14-18 

How much does the fair cost to participate?
The cost is $5 per family for DCHSA members and $15 for non-members. There is no cost for each additional child participating. All proceeds will go back directly into the science fair.

Where will the science fair be held?
Once I know how many, roughly, intend to participate I will be able to secure a location. Most likely it will be a meeting room at one of the Denton Library branches. I am open to any suggestions you may have.

When will the science fair take place?
Saturday February 13 at 10am and will end depending on how many students participate anywhere between 12 and 4pm. Sign up so we can gauge this accurately.

How does a science fair work? What is expected of students, parents? 
Select an appropriate age group. Come up with an idea for a simple, provable, experiment (ie a 5 year old is not expected to have scientific knowledge about carbon dating, but can be expected to figure out how colors mix). Go through the scientific method (see next page). Create a trifold presentation (an example is included in the link labeled “Example guide for students”) and bring it at the designated time of the science fair. Come and go until the judging is complete. Come back to pick up your award and presentation. How long the science fair lasts depends on the number of participants. 
Everyone will receive something because I want the focus to be on science and not an unnecessarily competitive atmosphere. No one should be nervous but rather proud of completing a science experiment. The goal is to appreciate science, not to “win”. But there will be a winner so to give some incentive for trying hard. 

How will the judging be done?
I’ve asked for local volunteers to come participate with us and I invite parents to be judges in the age group that their child is NOT in. The template that we will follow is on the following page. 

What about cheating?
Sadly, yes, there’s always someone who cheats. It IS appropriate to help your student, especially the young ones. It IS appropriate to make suggestions and corrections. It is NOT appropriate to take over - your student should be able to answer questions on the experiment. This is such a low key event that cheating shouldn’t be too much of an issue. 

What awards are there?
Depending on what sponsors we gain, I hope we will have award medals and possibly prizes from local vendors. 

How many volunteers? What do they do?
Depending on number of participants. Judges, “security”, set-up/clean-up, sponsor calls. Let me know where you would like to volunteer.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

the biggest story

Recently I found a blog that seemed interesting called The Scarlett Thread. Scarlett was reviewing a children's Bible that I had read about on that has endorsements from Matt Chandler (a pastor in my own community who has become a bit famous nationwide) and even Randy Alcorn! So you can imagine how excited I was when I saw Scarlett was having a giveaway! I was even more excited to receive an email from Scarlett letting me know that I won!

I never win anything. With this past couple of months being so rough on my family and me, it was especially nice to literally receive a word form God as a form of encouragement. Felipe looks back at the past couple of months and ponders if we were under a spiritual attack. I just happened to be reading through the book of Job as everything was happening - some things that we didn't even share with people, because, come on, after awhile it becomes, "really? something else?" For instance, our refrigerator stopped working. We had a back-up fridge so it wasn't a huge deal (only in America, amirite?) but as soon as the baby came it mysteriously started working again.

It's no secret that I've complained about everything, but also no secret that I never let that interfere with my praise of God and accepting whatever he sent my way. Am I to receive the good and not the bad as well? Thus it was nice to receive a good book in the mail and I look forward to reading it to my children.

This is me upon opening the package and being very excited! It looks like I'm eating it, but I am not. Just very happy:

And this is me snuggling my newborn while trying to read it...I actually didn't get to read it for another couple hours. Ah, the joys of motherhood! Always having to sacrifice my ideas for what should be happening to put kids to bed. haha! (and they didn't go to bed, they stayed up watching Star Wars with grandma and grandpa. oh well. I tried.)

As you can see the cover is exquisitely designed. I especially like the quippy name, "the snake crusher." That tells the whole gospel right there...if you know "Christianese." So kudos to whoever came up with that.

It even has a ribbon!

It reads very much like any story you would read your children. I'll be incorporating this one into either homeschool time or bedtime. I haven't decided. I don't know that it will replace my all-time favorite children's Bible, The Jesus Storybook Bible. But it seems very nice and very usable. The Jesus Storybook Bible claims to be written for children, but I find that I get just as much out of it as you may have been able to tell from previous posts. The Big Picture Story Bible is another I'd like to get my hands on. But now I'm just being greedy.

I'm so glad we live in a day where there seems to be multiple GOOD choices for children Bibles! The theology nerd in me is overjoyed, the mother in me wants to buy them all, the teacher in me wants to write a curriculum to surround each of them. Hey! The Biggest Story should have coloring pages. That'd be cool. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

baby zuzu story

[update below]
I'll try to keep this short! ha! Unlike my labor!

I am very pleased to announce that I am no longer pregnant. Zoë Isabelle was finally born almost a week after her due date after more than a dozen false alarms after a final labor of more than 12 hours.

Zoë's pregnancy was by-far the easiest...until September hit. August was fine but I did have a few weeks where there was a lot of false labor. I posted about it before. The only thing that made this pregnancy worse was all the pain. Every time Zoë kicked it felt much worse - it brought me to tears and even made me empty my stomach a couple of times.

Eventually we figured out she was posterior and once we got her to move to an ideal position, she no longer hurt me when she kicked. But then the false labor really picked up. We showed up at the birthing clinic about a dozen times. There were several more times when we just couldn't tell if labor was real or not and so we stayed home instead of bothering the midwife.

Many people have incorrectly assumed that I have been ignorantly calling these events "false labor" when they are correctly termed "prodromal labor" and insist that these contractions were contributing to something. But while I know the correct term, in my anger I will continue to call them "false" because I am mad at them. They are exhausting. They lasted since before week 35 and I didn't birth until almost week 41. And that day I had waning labor on and off and inconsistent and varying in intensity so the false labor seems to not have helped anything.
Zoë is Simone's first official "catch" as a
midwife student at Inanna Birthing
Center in Denton under Jean Sal

oh wait. It did exhaust me. I am not exaggerating. Exhaustion that led me to think I was dying that day. All my other babies I pushed out in 1-2 pushes, no effort. This baby took forever to come out; she wasn't even my biggest baby; I needed manual help from my excellent midwife; and I just didn't think I could do it. I pushed with all my effort and it just wasn't good enough. My midwife had to manually break my water. She still didn't come for over an hour. My midwife had to manually force me to a 10. She wasn't even my biggest baby and she still took so much effort. I didn't tear. I didn't have any complications. I had the best support team. I had a bossy midwife who knew exactly what I needed to do...I think I told her to shut-up at one point but she has a backbone and was able to handle it. Everything controllable was perfect for such an ungraceful birth.

My older daughter's birth was the epitome of grace and ease. I expected a duplicate experience. It was not. And once I let go of that expectation and allowed myself to be an ungraceful birther, my labor felt much more free.

Once the baby arrived I thought we were good. And for a coupe of days we were. Then suddenly one night I felt a cramping in my gut. I felt for the fundus of my uterus and it was quite low. I went to the bathroom and collapsed in pain. I screamed and screamed for Felipe and he got me and ice pack. That helped enough for me to call my midwife who said to go to the ER.

My pain was localized to my right lower side. So perhaps it was my appendix? But more likely it was a complication with birthing. After five grueling hours at the ER we got exactly no answers. So thank you Presbyterian Hospital Flower Mound for not being helpful. I'm sure you'll charge us appropriately. They are not quick down there. They have a poster on the wall that ironically says, "call don't fall!" but with NO WAY of calling anyone for help. And then the nurses all say "sure I'll do that" and then erase their memories once leaving the room. Thanks, gals. And then the sonographer left me in her office for close to 15 minutes because no one was answering the phone to see if she needed more pictures once she wasn't able to find anything...despite the doctor ordering such pictures. She couldn't see anything wrong and she couldn't see my right ovary. I was so exhausted that night that once we got outside a little gush of wind sent me into some uncontrollable shivers. I was freezing. It was after 3am.

Eventually we made it home. The next morning we went over to a different sonographer who could see my right ovary just fine as well as a huge mass in my uterus that shouldn't be there. To this day we do not know what it was. We hypothesized a succenturiate lobe but now that doesn't seem right since nothing came out that resembled that. It's possible it disintegrated. My midwife gave me some medicine to push stuff out, help with pain, and stop infection. I slept for over 24 hours the next day. Over the weekend things cleared up and at my last sonogram everything looked fine. 

What *I* think happened was that for whatever reason my uterus decided to take 6 weeks worth of shrinkage and condense it down to one day. That amount of change is hard on the body especially after an exhausting labor and delivery and month of false labor. I'm so mad about it all. 

But it's hard to stay mad. My body is fine. The money is all God's anyway and if he chooses to waste it in such a frivolous (in my eyes) way, that's his prerogative. I have to keep reminding myself of that - his money. Not mine. He always provides for us. I do not provide for us. I didn't want to go to the hospital but we needed to be sure it wasn't serious. If God is in control then he knew what would happen and he let it happen that way. Again, he doesn't 
ask my permission on these things. I don't make him answer to me. 

And besides, am I to take the good from the Lord and not the bad as well? Where was I when he laid the foundations of the earth? Who am I to question what God has done? He has never consulted me before acting and I believe he intends to continue in such wisdom.

I only get angry now looking back at the experience. I was very concerned that the amount of anger I had would be transferred to the baby once she arrived but as soon as I saw her, everything was better. The amount of love and joy I have for her melts the negativity away. She is so cute. I was able to bond with her so quickly. Right away! That has not happened. Also, I have no PPD. I think being honest about pregnancy and letting myself be ungraceful during labor really helped me accept things - including the baby. Plus I've been getting a lot of help at home so I can finally sleep. Work has given me unpaid days off and that really helps too. No pressure from them. And the other kids LOVE their new baby! I love watching them with her. 

Having four kids is the best thing ever. Zoë is so awesome. Caleb says he loves having two babies. Micah is always asking to see her and gives her kisses. Holly always wants to hold her. I couldn't be more pleased with my children. 

With my other pregnancies I felt that I shouldn't complain about how uncomfortable I was. After all so many women beg God for even a rough pregnancy. But this pregnancy I allowed myself to complain loud and long. I let myself be honest. I hate pregnancy. I love getting babies at the end. And my hatred of pregnancy won't hinder my openness to future pregnancies. -parents always say they'd do anything for their kids and pregnancy is a small sacrifice for such a huge sanctifying blessing. Bad experiences will draw you closer to God if you let them.

She gets lots of kisses.

I may not ever make it to Ireland or go on a Disney cruise, but that's such a small sacrifice for such a wealth of blessings. I've said many times that if you can't give-up a thing for the rest of you life, then it's probably an idol for you. If I can't turn away from vacations and luxury cars and even my own fit body or my idea of what my life should be, then those are the things keeping me from Christ. I am willing to let those ideas go if it means gaining Christ and Christ loves me too much to spoil me with worldly treasure: idols and mammon. So I embrace my heavenly treasure and thank God for his lavish blessings on my life. I thank God for Zoë.

UPDATE 11/16/15: I called the hospital and told them how horrible the visit was and how they got it wrong. I wanted at least the ultrasound charges dropped. The gal put the request through and instructed me to call back in a few days. Two weeks later I called and the new gal who answered said that the request had strangely not yet been processed and to call back in a few days. I called the next week and this gal let me know that the hospital dropped the ENTIRE bill! So grateful! Thanks, God! Thanks, hospital! I still have the doctor charges, though.