Happy Homeschool Tips From a Happy Homeschool Mama

“To teach is to touch a life forever.”

I don’t know who said that, but it was given to me on a beautiful heart plague over twenty years ago from one of my music students. I have it hanging on my wall and I believe it with all my heart!

If you are reading this blog, it is either because you want to become a home school family or, due to the Covid19 Pandemic, you are seeking to home school temporarily or permanently. Whatever the reason, I am very happy to try and offer you any help that you may need.

I am not a home school expert, there are many out there who have done this longer and have gained many more years of experience. I also do not believe that my methods of doing things are the only ways of doing things. Every family is different and so what I recommend is to read this through and see if there are any ideas which might work for you or ideas that you could alter to fit your family’s needs and learning styles.

I hope to make this an enjoyable experience for you! So, let’s begin!

The very first thing that is important to say is… believe in yourself! You can do this!

I know that in the beginning, I was nervous about it because I wondered, “Will I provide my children with a strong, quality education that covers all they need to know? Will I be able to give them the education in this competitive world that will stand strong when put to the test?”

Yes! You can and you will!

I began teaching music and directing choirs when I was a teen and as time went on I taught and directed dozens of kids and adults but only in music. Even though I had years of teaching experience, I was concerned that I would be able to expand my teaching abilities to other subjects. What I learned was, the more I taught the other subjects, the more I learned how to do it.  It was the process of teaching that taught me how to be a teacher! Not only that, I also learned so much and loved every minute of it!

There will be things that you will remember from school, there will be some things that you need some refreshing on and there will be some topics that you never learned at all. It’s all good! Learning together will be one of the bonds that you will form with your children through homeschooling!

I know those paragraphs are not going to build instant confidence in you, but I hope to keep encouraging you as we go along!

Before we go forward, let’s talk about one extremely important element… attitude. If you are choosing to home school your children then this shouldn’t be a problem, but if you are doing it because of necessity or in some cases you have no other option, it is so important that you maintain a healthy, happy attitude when with your precious students. Think back to your school days. Did you have a favorite teacher? If you did, I am quite sure that some of the reasons why they were your favorite was because of the joy they brought to the classroom. Their excitement to teach and for you to learn was contagious! They had a great attitude about teaching and successfully conveyed that to you. They inspired you, motivated you, encouraged you. Let these words be something you add to your daily routine with your children.

It is also very important if you have to home school and it is not something you want to do, please make sure you are careful to guard those emotions from your child. You do not want at any point and time to convey to your child that teaching them is a burden that you do not want so the child never feels like your homeschooling them is their fault or something that you resent. Remember, it is not their choice so keep to kindness and protect the hearts of your young ones.

Having said that, there will be days when the frustration might spill out. Allow yourself room for those mistakes and just be honest with your children let them know that just like they are learning new things in school, you are learning new things in how to school them. I was always completely honest with my children and found that they respected me for my honesty and didn’t look at my shortcomings like I did. They were very forgiving when I would lose it and they it also was so good for them to learn from me how to say, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that,” or, “I’m sorry, I made a mistake, please forgive me.” Learning how to apologize to your children when you have those moments is going to teach them how to properly apologize to others and how to forgive and  that is a very good thing!

Everyday when you wake up to get ready to teach your children, make sure that you take some time to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. Teaching will test you—daily, so be sure that you are prepared daily to pass those tests.

Prayer and time in the Word of God are the best ways to prepare yourselves.
I open my morning by reading a chapter of the Bible and spending time in prayer for my day. I ask for help, direction wisdom and that I will handle my children with the same loving kindness that God handles me. I give thanks for my three precious children and I give thanks for the opportunity, no, the privilege to teach them. Home schooling is, in my opinion a blessed privilege. Teaching my children has created a bond with them that I never imagined nor experienced before. I hope that you will find that bond as well through this process.

To have the freedom to teach your own children is such a blessing. You are able to fill them daily with the faith, values and ideals that your family holds dear. You are able to protect them better from bullying and build confidence and strength in them that they cannot receive from anyone else because anyone else is not their mother or father and no other human means more to them than you.

I do want to make note before I get to my tips, that I am in no way against public, charter,  or private schools. I absolutely loved my school days from grade school to college and I really liked my teachers, though, I admit, my high school days had some rougher times. I just want to be clear that I am not against regular schools and I do believe that children can thrive and flourish in them! I just wanted to able to explain to you that there are also so many benefits your children can receive from homeschooling with you.

Now! Let’s get into some tips that can create a happy homeschooling environment.

Affidavit

Before you doing anything, make sure that you file a home school affidavit with your state. All you need to do is Google: Home school Affidavit along with your state’s name and you will find links to direct you to download the affidavit and where to send it.

Understanding State Requirements

I cannot speak about what happens in any other states, I can only say that in the state of Arizona there are no requirements that you need to meet as far as grading or testing during the elementary years. I know that might sound a bit strange, but I have asked that question to dozens of other home school mothers and home school organization Presidents and have been told the same answer.  I have always used the Spectrum test prep series and I also that I found online test preps that I used at the end of the year with my children to make sure they were on track with what the state would be expecting and that they were scoring well. Of course, they will all have to take the SAT’s and there are some excellent online prep classes for this as well which I will discuss later on.

Home School Organizations

During the time of Covid, home school organizations and their activities might look a bit different. However, if you Google for local home school organizations around your area they are still helpful because they offer all kinds of resources for home school families. We are member of AFHE Arizona Families for Homeschool Education and for a $45 a year membership we can receive all kinds of online tutorials, journals, magazines and access to group activities. If you don’t think you will make home schooling a permanent change for your family then you might not want to join an organization, but if you do want to make home-schooling the choice for your family you can really gain a lot of inside and make some beautiful relationships through these groups!

Learning Environment

If it is at all possible, you need to establish an area of your home to be your “classroom”.

If you do not have an entire room to devote to this area do not worry, you just need to be able to have a place where the children can learn, decorate, store their books and supplies that they can call their classroom. Allowing your children to be part of setting up this space will help them not only feel part of creating their “school” but will get them excited about it. Allow them to create a name and perhaps a mascot like the family pet for their new school. Let them choose school colors and come up with an alma mater! This can be great fun for you all to create!

There are, of course, all kinds of classroom posters, wall art, bulletin board decor, etc. to be found on Amazon, or Google, but you can also find local shops in the states online which will be beneficial to you. I was blessed to have a Lakeshore School Supply store up the road from me and that is where we go for many classroom and curriculum needs.

Which brings me to my next subject…

Curriculum

Depending on what state you live, you may find different requirements for different grades. Still, for elementary grades there will be basic topics that are pretty general in all states: reading/comp, writing, spelling, math, science, social studies, humanities studies (art, music, etc.) and history. When I first began teaching, I would look up the requirements for several different states, my home state, a state on the west coast and a state on the east coast to get an idea of the standards across the country. Once I knew all that was out there and the basics that the children needed to know, I decided how I was going to structure my children’s education. Take note! This is just what I personally decided to do. You might have your own ideas or just want to focus upon what the requirements are for your state are. There is nothing wrong with that!

I did some research on many different curriculum varieties that are out there and have experimented here and there, these are some of my favorites for when the children were in their younger days:

Comprehensive Curriculum

Brain Quest

Spectrum

These books held all my children’s attention well with each subject and gave them a strong foundation to build upon for the higher grades to come.

Some of my other favorite curriculum for higher grades have included:

Classical Conversations – for a variety of subjects, but I loved the writing program!

Saxon Math Curriculum

Mission Generation – for history and Biblical worldview

Those are just a few places you might like to review. There are countless other resources that you can find online and I do suggest you take some time to do the research for what will be the best fit for your family.

I was also very blessed to be surround by women who had home schooled their children and had so many varieties of curriculum donated to me. I got TONS of stuff!!! and had a luxury of experimenting with what worked and what didn’t at little or sometimes no cost to me at all. I know that probably won’t be the case for most of you reading this, so I encourage you, take time to pray about it and do your research. You know your children better than anyone else in this world. You know how they learn, what they gravitate toward, what inspires them. I am sure than when you take a look at the vast varieties of curriculum out there, you will know what will work best for your family. Some of the ones I have listed may not work for you. Every family is different, every child is different and may learn differently and that is okay!

Online Resources

While most parents don’t just want to leave their younger ones to learn with just themselves and a computer, still there are many wonderful resources that can be found online or through YouTube which can be extremely beneficial to home school families.

YouTube is full of instructional videos that are so helpful in all subjects. One of my kids’ favorite channels is “Crash Course”, but there are hundreds videos that can be found for any subject from learning proper table manners to science projects, reading games, history lessons and math tutoring. Of course, parents need to go in and preset their laptops and YouTube channels to prevent any inappropriate material from popping up… I say this from experience! It’s amazing what some completely innocent words can bring up without child guards! But I do recommend utilizing YouTube and also GodTube as an excellent resource for home school kids.

There are also some fantastic computer games that we bought for our children and they couldn’t wait to play everyday and learned so much from. These are software programs that would need to be installed on a laptop or home computer.

Brain Play by Scholastic offers a variety of levels of games for reading, math, science and typing. My kids loved the Clifford reading carnival when they were little and learned to read quickly with the help of this fun filled game. I recommend visiting the scholastic website to see if there would be some software which would be a good fit for your family. www.scholastic.com 

We also loved the Leap Frog software games and DVD’s.
leapfrog.com

We also enjoyed software programs from these companies:

Encyclopedia Britannica Children’s Learning Suite
Innovative Knowledge
iLakeshore
The Learning Company (Reader Rabbit and Blue’s ABC Time were favorites here!)
and Hooked on Spanish software

I also want to highly recommend to you Khan Academy. This is a totally free online schooling program that was created, I believe, by the Disney Corporation. They have all kinds of classes and AP classes for high school and they even provide tutorials for college classes.

I was thrilled that my husband found this site because I was not confident to teach my kids their high school algebra and geometry. With Khan Academy you can track your child’s progress and you receive weekly emails to let you know of their accomplishments, weaknesses and strengths per subject.

They also offer some really incredible classes to teach children algebraic equations through the means of computer animation like in their “Pixar in a Box” class and also “Storytelling” in which the project is for the child to design a theme park attraction as if they were really going to build it. They have to calculate speed, timing, persons that can ride, etc. My kids loved this! It was some serious STEM learning in disguise!

Here is the link if you would like to use it! https://www.khanacademy.org/

Public Libraries

I don’t know if all public libraries are fully functioning in your area, but when they are, they are a fantastic place to inspire your children’s learning. Not only can you enjoy checking out books, but you also can use their online computer learning games and some libraries provide the “reading to dogs” program. Ours even had a reading to miniature horses program which the kids LOVED. They also offer reading challenges where children can earn prizes, which you can also do on your own at home!

We often drew out a “thermometer” for each child and then when they read a book, we colored in the thermometer until they reached the top. When they did, they got a special treat like a happy meal from McDonald’s (bleh) or an ice cream from Dairy Queen (yum!).

Libraries also have a fantastic online resource program that you can ask about and be trained on easily. This system can be used for research, personal reading or even videos. Our library often held events for lego clubs and art classes back in the days before Covid, and I am quite sure they will have those again. Many libraries also offer for children to “check out” seed packets. These don’t have to brought back, of course, but it an excellent way for kids to get excited about growing plants at home. This is something my kids love, I have some natural born farmers!

Another excellent program many local libraries provide are “Culture Passes”. Not all libraries methods of providing these passes are the same, but our library allows us to be able to check out two passes at a time to visit certain museums. This helps home school families get the kids out, when they feel safe to do so, and explore the wonderful museums of your state. I always loved taking my children on “field trips” and some of our favorite home school memories have been made during these trips together. I highly recommend you checking into the cultural passes!

In addition to museums be sure to check and see if your state have cultural gardens that you can visit. In Arizona we had the Chinese Cultural center, which was gorgeous and we also have the Japanese Cultural Garden, the Butterfly and the Botanical Gardens. These locations in additions to any farms you can get them to make for excellent field trips and wonderful memories!

Schedule and Structure

Another one of the lovely elements of homeschooling is that you have total control over your schedule and the structure of how your child’s schooling is done.

I will share with you our family’s schedule which is just to provide an example of how freeing homeschooling can be, but it is just an example. You know what is best for your family. You might even set up a schedule and as you go long see the needs for alterations and you have the freedom to make those adjustments to meet the needs of your family!

I would like to explain also that one of the main reasons I began homeschooling was because my daughter, MaCaedyn, was involved in an accident when she was two months old that left her with a sleeping disorder. Thank God that was all she had! Still, her disorder has it’s direct affects upon her and the rest of us in the home. Without going into all the details of her condition, I will just say that I did not know how she would function in regular school. Nor did I know how my other children would function because so many nights when MaCaedyn was young she would wake up the whole household.

This was how we began home schooling, it made sense to try it and I am so thankful that I have been able to do it ever since!

Schedule

Our family gets up probably a little later than most, we have our breakfast, do our chores and the kids have to practice their piano all before we begin school. Usually we start school at 11:00am. Through experience I learned that my children were not at all as focused early in the morning as they were at 11am. Once I started schooling them at this time, I learned that it was a good fit for us. We break for lunch around 2pm and finish around 4:00pm unless the girls need more time for some of their high school math classes, which now as a senior and sophmore, they always do.

These days, I have my kids cook their own lunch and I use that time to read aloud to them from a favorite novel or new novel while they cook and eat. It is very relaxing and helps with their listening skills.

When the children were younger I usually was able to accomplish all their work in a four hour time frame.

In addition to being able to start and end during the days, you also have the freedom to choose when you start and ending your school year.

My family currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona and if you don’t know about the summers in Phoenix they are HOT. Actually, hot doesn’t cut it. How about, sweltering, melting, excruciating, days spent in a/c? You get the picture. Let’s just say it like this, there have been summer Sundays when we were able to cook a tin of brownies on our dashboard while attending the morning church service.

If you are blessed enough to have a pool then you might to elect to keep your kids on the same school schedule that the public schools run on. We don’t have a pool and never have, so I wanted to see what it would be like to home school through the summer while we are stuck inside with the air conditioning where it is cool. We always joked that our kids were vampires during the summer because they only went out to play after sunset!

I start my school year the third week January because our family also has a nonprofit organization for children in need called The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. and I have to get all of my Christmas decorations down (which can easily take a week) and close out our contributions reports and send them out to our contributors for their taxes. Once we begin, we go through the summer, taking a little time here and there if we have a trip or special event, but mostly plowing right though until Halloween. The kids know that on October 30th, they are done for a while and we take off November, December and the weeks I need in January.

I can only speak for our family, but I can tell you, this is AMAZING! The weather is fantastic! There are so many things to go and do outside and we can just totally and completely enjoy the entire holiday season without any of the usual stresses of school.

I did learn to change my children’s grades at the end of July, let them have a week off and then come back into their next grade in August so that they would be on the correct grade level for their age. This made it easier when participating in church or sports events etc. where the children are often broken down by their grade.

Again, you will find out what works best for your family. The beauty of homeschooling is that there is no right or wrong way, it is YOUR way! As long as your children are learning what they will need to be able to score well on their SAT’s or other test scores needed for college, you can do what works best for you!

Structure

When setting up your day, try to give the children something they will look forward to. I’m sure you had a certain class that you looked forward to everyday, so try to create something each day that will be exciting for your children.

When my kids were young we had time for our “book work” where we did the reading, writing and arithmetic. But then each day there was something special outside of the usual required book materials like, music, art, science experiments, field trip, building, gardening, or having a video day. Whatever you decide, remember there is no right or wrong way, just allow yourself leeway that if something you try doesn’t work after a while, you can try something new.

This is not something that most teachers in classroom environments can do. If they have a large group, they have to think in mass, but you can think smaller… unless you have a lot of children! Be creative! Think out of the box! You don’t have to conform to what you knew in a classroom at all times. There are times when you need to have some regular classroom structure so that when your child grows up and enters college they are prepared for it, but when they are little, learning should be fun, inspiring and something they are excited to do. You can do that better than anyone else because you know your children better than anyone else!

Another blessing of the structure of how you teach your children is that they can also have the freedom to move at their own pace. All three of my children completely skipped over grades of certain subjects, depending on how quickly they absorbed the material. For example, Samuel is incredible at science and so he is currently doing the high school science curriculum with his sisters. Samuel is in 8th grade, MaCaedyn is currently a sophmore and Aven is a senior. I will keep teaching him other science programs as we go along because he absorbs it so well. You have the freedom to allow your children to do that when homeschooling. They are not structured in the way that they have to move at the same pace as the rest of the class. THEY are the class! So if there is a subject they excel at and want to move passed their age, let them go!

On a side note if, there is some healthy competition in your kids, this might be a benefit to you. My MaCaedyn always wanted to keep up with her sister who was two years older than she was. This was not something I inspired but when I saw how hard she would work like in learning her times tables or in her reading, I let her do it! It inspired both girls to keep working hard and there was no animosity or jealousy that came from it, all was done with good healthy efforts to strive forward!

Physical Education

I know that right now it is a challenging time for kids who want to engage in group sports due to Covid. If your child is unable to participate in a group sport they want to attend, invest in what you can and take them to the park. Buy the baseball bat, ball and glove, or the football or soccer ball and if you don’t know how to play these sports, watch the YouTube videos to learn some of the basic techniques they would learn. This is not just good for the child, it is good for you! You might learn something new and find that you also enjoy it!

There are also excellent YouTube classes for dance, Zumba, martial arts, boxing, or just regular workouts! Take them on bike rides or get some roller blades, buy a corn hole game or Bocce ball! Buy some tennis or racket ball rackets and go to the park! Walmart offers quite a good selection of sporting needs at reasonable prices that will help you.

If you are blessed to have a pool, get on YouTube and study different swim styles and their techniques. We have had volleyball nets and badminton nets along with croquet and golf and enjoyed every minute of it together. When things get better with Covid —and they will get better, you will find that there are so many different activities your children can do which can easily fill the space that they will have while homeschooling. One of our children is a second degree black belt in TKD, another is a first degree black belt in TKD and plays basketball, and the oldest was an Excel level diamond gymnast. Trust me, there are a lot of organized sports that can easily fill the need your children has for physical education outside of being in a school!

Home Skill Learning

Education is not limited to books or online resources. Never underestimate all of the life skills that you can teach your children. Things like, doing the dishes one day, helping you with the laundry one day, sweeping and working outside on the grounds of the home, keeping their room clean are all excellent for home care education. We have always had a chore wheel where the kids would spin to see what chore they would do that day. The chores can increase as the child ages, but it will teach them all how to take care of things in their home presently so they will have a better understanding of how to care for their own home in the future.

Having your children learning how to cook in the kitchen with you is also a wonderful way for them to learn and to develop skills that they will need. For the younger children simple tasks like helping measure ingredients (which teaches fractions) or washing fruits and vegetables, running water in pans, all of these things can be fun for children and will expose them early to the joy of cooking. Who knows? It might reveal any undetected culinary talents they may have!

I also take one child at a time with me when it is grocery shopping day. Well, right now my husband is doing the shopping during the Covid season. Every two weeks I went and we planned it out for the year on the calendar so that we could know whose turn it was. Before we went shopping I had the kids help me take “inventory” of what we had and what we needed and we created a list. I taught them that sometimes there might be a few things here and there that are not on the list but to try and stay disciplined to just the items on the list so they didn’t overspend. I also told them our budget and had them help me keep a tally of the items as we shopped so that we were able to always stay on budget–and I mean always! We do great! These are all important life skills that kids need to know!

Josh also teaches them various skills with car for our cars and other household items so they are learning how to care for the things they will someday own. Speaking of cars, that is a great place for learning! We keep trivia cards of American history in the doors of our vehicles, Brain Quest has some great car trivia games and sometimes on longer trips we would break those out. Listening to audio books, musicals or teaching your children about different genres of music can all be done together in a car and makes your time driving much more fun!

The Blessings of Home Schooling

I know that there are probably many more things I will think of to add this blog after I post it, but I do hope what I have written here will give you some happy tips for creating a happy home school for your children.

I also want to encourage you to Google your state and join whatever home school organization you may like. Even if you don’t attend any of their events, they are always giving out emails and sometimes journal posts that offer excellent ideas and advice.

Just remember that no one knows your children better than you. You know how they learn and what they love to learn. You know their schedules and personalities, their strengths and their weaknesses better than any teacher ever would. You just might find that being your child’s teacher can be a tremendous blessing –not a burden and can develop an even stronger bond with your child than before. I feel that way. I am so thankful for every single day that I have had with my precious babies and I am thankful beyond words that I have had the blessing to educate them. And yes, I still feel that way even though they are all teenagers! TRUE, the teenager is a different creature! But you will find that so much of your child’s innocence will remain longer because it is not being taken away from them by other kids who don’t share the same values as your family.

I will close with this, I have done much research through the years on this topic and have read many different articles about it. Home schooled children grow into adults who will stand strong in their faith. The most recent study I found says that 87% of adults who were home schooled are very strong in their Christian values and beliefs of the Bible.

This is not to cast a shadow upon children who are not home schooled in any way. It is still a very important fact that was significant for me that I wanted to share because of everything that I teach my children every single day, nothing, absolutely nothing is as important as teaching them the Word of God, the power that comes from memorizing and speaking it and also the power of prayer. I get to do that. I get that blessing and I cherish it. That doesn’t mean that my children or home schooled children are better Christians than other children, I don’t make those kinds of comparisons, that is not healthy, just or even true. It is just very important to me that my children have a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ and their Heavenly Father God, Jehovah and that is a responsibility that I want to have. My husband, Josh and I are unified in leading our children down the path of Jesus’s love and it is a blessing that I am able to do every day through homeschooling.

I do hope this blog has brought you a little bit of help and should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! thehuggabears@gmail.com

May God richly bless, keep and direct you and your family during this time and thank you so much for reading!

 

 

 

 

Covid 19 Pandemic Entry 7 – The Road from Infertility to Motherhood

Reflection. That is something that I have been able to spend a lot more time doing lately. During the Covid 19 Pandemic of 2020 one of the things that I have been so very grateful for is my family. I have a wonderful husband and three amazing children that God blessed us with, Aven, who is currently 17, MaCaedyn, who is currently 15, and Samuel who is currently 13. You might think, “Wow! That must be rough! Being quarantined with three teenagers!” Honestly, it has been a blessing. Though I admit teenagers are an entirely different being of their own, I love being with my children and I try to soak up every moment I can with them while they are with me. I know that on the timeline of life, the days of my children living at home are fleeting and so I am thankful for every day.

This past Mother’s Day 2020 was an interesting one. “Normal” plans of attending church and lunching publicly or with extended family members is not on the agenda due to the quarantine. Still, my crew had all kinds of wonderful plans for me! First, we all slept in, which was lovely. Then, I was showered with hugs, kisses, “I love you’s” and sweet gifts. I get hugs, kisses and “I love you’s” everyday, but on Mother’s Day, Christmas and my birthday, I get extra! Next, my husband packed a fantastic picnic and then, we drove to northern Arizona and spent the day at Christopher Creek. For me, there is nothing better than getting out to God’s great nature with my family. I appreciate all the marvels that humans can build, but there is nothing compared to the beauty of the natural world that God spoke into existence.

Being in nature cleanses me. Whether it be the beach, the mountains and woods, lakeside or hiking a desert trail. I love being outside with my family. But I admit, my favorite places of nature are where I can hear water flowing. I remember my Mema and Papa taking me to different places in the wilderness and whenever we were by a river, stream, or babbling creek, Mema would say, “Listen, it’s singing a little song!”

So there I was, wading through Christopher creek and laughing as Josh would teeter upon an unstable rock he stepped on and yell “Bad rock! Bad rock!” or watching my son Samuel fall into the creek time after time, after time, until he looked more like he had been swimming, and I I began reflecting upon how blessed I am to be a mother.

I am truly a blessed woman to have the family I do and be a mother, I know that and it is something I have never taken for granted. I have reflected upon it thousands of times in the seventeen years that I have been a mama, but this particular Mother’s Day during the pandemic, gave me an even grater perspective on how richly I am blessed.

The road for me to become a mother was not an easy one and that is the story I will tell you.

I have always had a very special love for children in my heart. I was an only child until I was almost ten years old. I remember the day my baby brother was born. It was one of the happiest in my life. I loved helping take care of him and watching him grow up. I remember it so well. His coming into my life lifted the love I already had for other children in my heart to a higher level. I began teaching and directing children’s choirs at my church at the age of twelve and fell in love with the sweet, innocent, sincerity that can only be produced through the vocal chords of a child. I am happy to say I have never stopped teaching and directing children to sing since and I never plan to.

I love children’s curiosities and laughter, to see their eyes sparkle with wonder and excitement and, of course, I personally believe the sound of their giggles are like seeds of healing joy that when heard can plant and grow happiness in even the most sorrowful heart.

I loved having children in my life as a child, as a teen, and as a young adult. They made me feel happy, young and they always gave me the opportunity to be silly, playful and imaginative.

I was twenty-five when Josh and I first got married and he wanted a baby right away. He told me that one of his greatest goals for his life was to be happily married and have children. I love that about him.

We were married in May and it was in the following month of June that I thought I had a miscarriage. I had missed my regular cycle date and then later on there came a day where I had horrible abdominal pain that was different from regular cramps. Sharp, cutting like knives, not dull, heavy and pulling. Though the pain spread through my abdominal area, it seemed to stem from one certain location on my left side. I went to the doctor and she thought that I was having an “early miscarriage”. Since this was different than anything else I had experienced through menstruation, I had no reason not to believe her.

At the time we were sad, but then it also helped us to understand that we were not actually ready for a baby. We were living in a one room apartment and I was working three different jobs while attending college. I was the director of the Arizona Girl’s Choir, the Music Minister of Parkway Community Church, and I had my own voice and piano studio and had over 40 private students. Josh was working and still going to college, so the experience helped us see the reality was it wasn’t time.

We decided to wait. We wanted to travel, buy a house, finish up what we planned to with school and have more financial stability.

We married in 1997 and by 1998 I was working full time at the church, Josh finished his two year degree, and we had bought a four bedroom, two and half bath condo. We had also done some traveling during that time, so we threw caution to the wind and decided to start our family.

After several months I felt something was wrong. I began reflecting over my bodies history remembering how things had been for me before marriage. I had never really had a regular menstrual cycle during my teen years. One of my doctors even had put me on birth control pills to try and regulate me. That didn’t fix the problem either, though it did help my skin through those challenging acne years!

As Josh and I moved along in life together we took steps of faith that someday we would have our own family together. We began creating a nursery. A room of hope where someday we would rock our babies, play with them, dress them, sing to them, cherish them. There were times when I thought I was pregnant as I would skip over a month or so at a time. But I would learn I wasn’t. I remembered that I would sometimes skip months in my teen and premarital years too. Remembering this led me to believe there was something going on.

During this time there were people around us at the church who were getting married and starting their families. We were able to enjoy learning a little bit of what life with a baby was like through them. We were very happy for them and loved all the children we were blessed to be around very much. They were all so precious and beautiful. Those were very blessed days that helped prepare our hearts for our own family. As time went on, I knew we were ready for our own baby. We had the home, had done even more traveling and were financially stable to care for a child. The longing I had to have my own baby was growing deeper within my heart.

I went to my gynecologist and had a conversation about my history. After asking many questions she believed I needed some testing. The first round of testing revealed that I didn’t produce hardly progesterone, only a very tiny bit, but nothing close to what would be considered normal.

That doctor referred me to an infertility doctor who worked with insurance companies. He put me through more tests, tests which not only tested my female organs and their fertility but also my patience and pain tolerance. Tests that leave a person in total and complete humility, which at the time I didn’t realize, but God was using to build great character and strength for our parenting skills in the days to come. Let me just say it like this, and for those women out there who have gone through the testing they will agree with me, you know a woman is really desperate to have a baby to endure it! Infertility testing is not easy–or cheap!

For Josh it was a bit easier, maybe even more enjoyable. 😉
We learned that he was strong (like bull) for his sperm counts. In fact, the day the doctor received his test results she literally opened the door to call her nurses in to see them.
For some reason she thought his name was Johnson and kept saying, “Johnson is Gold!”
I guess an average sperm count for a man is anywhere between 15 million to 200 million.
Johnson aka Josh’s count was over 260 million. Something that still makes him walk tall with pride to this day.

When my test results came in, we learned that I did not have any blocked tubes, but that I did have a common condition among women called PCOS, which stands for Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome.

I have another blog for women with PCOS and symptoms it can cause with weight gain, but for this story I want to focus on the complications it caused me with infertility. In addition to the regular occurrence of cysts being present on the ovaries, PCOS can affect the levels of progesterone produced. Hmm, now we are getting somewhere.

Progesterone is a hormone which helps regulate a woman’s monthly cycles. BINGO! We have a winner! There was one answer to one of my problems! Progesterone also thickens the wall of the uterus for a fertilized egg to implant. If there is no fertilized egg, the progesterone drops. If there is a fertilized egg, the progesterone helps keep the lining of the uterus thick and strong to support the growing fetus.

I guess I should have warned you ahead of time that this would also be like a mini-class in reproduction. Just be glad I’m not taking the time to explain in detail what some of the tests for women are like or involve!

The doctor put me on progesterone supplements and also a prescription called “Clomid”. I can’t get too technical with this because there are things I still didn’t quite understand about it. I do know it was to raise my FSH and LH levels to help me with ovulation to produce more eggs… I believe.

The problem was that in order to take the drug, I had to make sure I didn’t have any cysts of threatening size on my ovaries. Clomid can add cysts on ovaries and it can also cause ovaries to swell. So if ovarian cysts are present, the medication cannot be taken so as not to cause the woman any harm or damage.

Month after month we tried this process and I was now in the third year since beginning my infertility treatments. I was becoming more and more desperate. I was trying my hardest not to covet the beautiful families which were blossoming all around me. In my heart, I wasn’t angry or jealous of the women who were having their own babies, I loved them and I loved their children dearly. It was that my heart was longing deeply to pour love into my own children. My arms longed to embrace my own babies. The nursery that Josh and worked on creating off an on in our home was silent and patiently waiting for the children to come and live there. We both were longing for that day to come.

The doctor knew I was depressed and asked me if I would like to try something new. I agree and he said we could double the amount of Clomid that I was taking.  After taking the meds for a few days I knew something wasn’t right when I could literally point to where my ovaries were located because of the pain they were in. They were on fire and so I stopped taking the medication. I was out of town when this happened so I didn’t get into the doctor. Then one night after I came home from my trip, the result of the double dose of medication hit me. I remember the night it happened vividly. I thought I had food poisoning because I had horrific pain in my abdomen and kept throwing up. One moment I was burning hot, nauseous and vomiting, in the next moment I was shivering violently and cold all over. My husband got me to the hospital and on the way a new pain began. Now, there were stabbing, sharp pains in my shoulders. I had no idea what was happening but knew that it could not be food poisoning.

The doctors at the hospital told me that my ovary had erupted. The double dose of medication either caused a large cyst to form and explode or there was one on the ovary that the doctor didn’t catch in the ultra-sound. Either way, it landed me in emergency surgery to cauterize the ovary. By the time the bleeding was stopped I had bled out over 60% of my body’s blood into my abdomen. It was the blood gases which were building up  in my abdominal region that were causing my shoulders to feel like they were being stabbed. Crazy right?

After all this happened and I was back on my feet, the infertility doctor, whom I will just refer to as Dr. AlmostKilledMe, told me that he wanted to try the medication again…

(crickets)

The exact same treatment which exploded my ovary, he wanted to do again.
Needless to say, I walked out of that office and never went back.

I began searching for new doctors that were covered on my insurance, but for our particular insurance program, the list was slim and the other doctors on the list were not taking new patients at the time. I had to be put on a waiting list.

More waiting. For women who are waiting to have their own child, waiting is depressing.

I kept quoting the scripture during this time, “They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall walk and be weary, they shall run and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31. At the time, I didn’t understand this verse and how the waiting would be good for me, just like another verse where Jesus said in John 13:7 “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” There is truth in both those verses that I didn’t realize at the time. I would understand on many levels later on what God was doing through this infertility and the patience of waiting that I learned during this time of was the strength of patience that I would use later on as a mother.

It was at this time that my mother decided to take out a loan on a home that she owned free and clear. She wanted to do somethings for herself and my brother, but also wanted me to go to one of the best doctors in the nation. His name is Dr. Jay Nemiro and at the time he was one the of top four infertility doctors in the U.S.

My mother, Bonnie LaFon, graciously and generously gave Josh and I $55K, no strings attached, to go to Dr. Nemiro because he did not work with insurance companies. It was a gift from God and an answer to our prayers.

Although Josh and I had a new awakening to our hope, the gift of the infertility funds didn’t come without challenges. There were some who thought it was completely ridiculous that my mother would do such a thing. Some said she was enabling us to “Go against God” in taking conception and creation into our own hands. Some said, “If it’s God’s will for Josh and Angelique to have a baby, they will without spending $55k.” We had a variety of things spoken to us, mostly by those we loved and cared about which made it all the more painful.

Comments like these from people are all part of the test.
Before Josh and I started the infertility treatments we had dealt with people giving us their advice and opinions on the matter. Sometimes it was put forth gently and with love, but sometimes it wasn’t. Some would say I was “causing my own infertility by stressing out over it.” That we just needed “to relax”, or “have a lot of sex” or “just let nature take its course.”

When you can forgive others for making hurtful comments about a circumstance that you are involved in and they are not, it builds your character. We did forgive all those who made their remarks and did not respond back to them in frustration or anger. The reason why I write about it now is because I want all those who read this blog who are going through infertility treatments to know, if you have heard comments like these or others and just need a shoulder to lean on, you can reach out to me. This is a place of understanding. A safe place where you will not be judged, mocked or ridiculed. But instead a place of prayer and support.

You will hear all kinds of things on this journey, but just listen to God. I fully believe that God gave us doctors and nurses, not to replace Him, but to be His hands extended to help one another. I also believe this was why Jesus asked Luke to be one of His disciples so that we would not be afraid to utilize the help that doctors have to offer. After all, God created the men and women who are the doctors and God is the one who gave them the knowledge they obtained to help us.

If a person had some other ailment and felt led through prayer to go to a doctor to learn more about their condition and possibly help it, that does not mean they do not have faith in God, it means they are using the resources God has given them for help. The danger of a person’s faith being hindered is when they put all their hope and trust in the doctor or science and not in God. A person must always take their situation of their health to the Lord first, and if they feel led to go to a doctor that should not be a judgement upon their faith. Even though I came across a doctor that made a poor decision which led me to a critical life and death moment, I fully believe that doctors and nurses are blessings from the Lord. God is the one who gave them the very special gift and heart they have to serve and help others. Not everyone can do it, that’s for sure. It is a special gift placed in their hearts by the Lord and when they go to work everyday, they are fulfilling the purpose God has for their lives. I felt God was in this 100%. It was His perfect timing and the movement of His hand which made it all possible.

We took the funds my mother gave us and went to see Dr. Nemiro. During our very first visit I learned that there were several tests which had not been conducted on me by other doctors in the past. This was probably because of insurance restrictions, but one of those tests proved to be the main reason I could not get pregnant the good old fashioned way. I had ASA or, Anti-Sperm Antibodies. Basically what that means is that my body produced antibodies that saw sperm as an enemy and would attack and kill them instead of allow them to do their thing.

No matter how many times I had taken the other medication, at that time without a miracle of God which I know was possible, I wouldn’t been able to conceive a baby without the assistance of surgery. So, that’s what we did. We knew that my Fallopian tubes were not blocked and were healthy so we elected to try the ZIFT procedure. ZIFT stands for Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer.

With this procedure, the eggs are extracted surgically from the ovary and fertilized in a dish. Once the eggs are fertilized, they are placed surgically into the Fallopian tube. The theory behind this treatment is that by placing the fertilized egg back into the Fallopian tube so it can travel and find it’s place of implanting on it’s own, it provides the fertilized egg a more natural process.

The first time that we went to extract the eggs all went well and we ended up with 2 fertilized eggs to place into the Fallopian tube. Before and after the surgery, I spent much time in prayer and I knew that it did not work. We grieved the loss of those two fertilized eggs and after some rest physically and mentally, I was ready to try again.

I will never forget the second day I went to have the eggs extracted… or should I say eggstracted. 🙂

The anesthesiologist did not show up.

I had the choice. Go ahead and do the procedure with a little bit of “twilight” meds which would not knock me out, just maybe take the edge off, or I could miss the chance at extracting the eggs and wait another month which meant going through all the medications and treatments to prepare for the extraction again.

My longing heart chose to go forward with the procedure and I can tell you I felt and remember it all. Even as I write this, I can remember the pain of it.
First, they clean you with a pretty decent sized sponge. They do this on the outside… and on the inside. That seriously was torture. Next, came the nice, long, sharp instrument that went up inside, punctured through the wall of the uterus and then into the ovary to extract the eggs. This was done on both sides. Nice huh?

The whole time I just kept thinking about the baby or babies that I would hold and love. The joy they would bring and the fulfillment I would finally feel as a mommy.

Once the procedure was completed, we learned we had 5 fertilized eggs to transfer, and this time after praying, I knew it had worked.  I felt different. I felt the surge of hormones in my body and I felt a spring of joy well up in my soul.

When we got the official word that THIS test was positive, we celebrated like we have never celebrated. All our friends and loved ones were so happy for our success and were rejoicing with us. Everyday felt like Christmas morning. I felt wonderful. Such happiness. I had no pain, no sickness, nothing but complete and total joy, joy, JOY!

I remember sharing this once with a woman who was pregnant and having a terrible time with illness. I felt so badly for her. She asked if I ever had experienced illness during pregnancy and I explained that I had not and that I attributed it to the incredible, constant oil of joy that the Lord had anointed me with. She rolled her eyes, laughed and mocked me, “Experiencing illness during pregnancy has nothing to do with how happy you are.”

Maybe for some, but not for me. I knew not ever experiencing illness during pregnancy was God’s way of blessing me for all the other pain and suffering that I had endured. The Bible tells us in Neh. 8:10 “The JOY of the Lord is our STRENGTH!” And it was the great joy of the Lord that filled my heart and soul!

My dream had come true and I knew that God was the one who made that happen!! God spared my life from the first doctor’s treatment. God brought the gift of the funds to my mother and placed it in her heart to give it to us. God led us to find Dr. Nemiro and God made it possible for me to see him right away and not be placed on a waiting list. God revealed through Dr. Nemiro what my problem was and God was the one who created the incredibly amazing baby that we were going to have. Absolutely, positively everything that happened to us, the lessons we learned, the strength which was built inside us, the compassion we gained for others going through this, God used to work for our goodness and I give God the glory for it all!  I rejoiced in the coming of our baby through praise to my mighty, compassionate and giving God. Josh and I were finally going to have our own child and nothing that happened around us or even to us was able to penetrate that joy!!

There was never a moment, not in all these years, when I have not been totally and completely grateful for God answering my prayer in the way I had hoped. I would have loved to adopt a baby, I just had it in my heart to strive for my own and felt led to pursue it. I know several women who spent many years striving to have a biological child, but God had another plan for them. Some adopted beautiful, precious children who God knew needed them as their mother and they are totally and completely their children. I remember a beautiful song I once heard Marie Osmond sing called “From God’s Arms, to Your Arms, to Mine.” I firmly believe that people who open their hearts to adopt or foster children are examples of unconditional love and acceptance that whole world can learn from.

Then there are some I know who decided to just have furry babies in their lives and they do a great work caring for unloved animals in the world that God told us to care for. I know all these women to be very happy and consider them to be pillars of strength who looked upon God’s answer and choose to embrace it. I do not know them to be bitter or envious. They are very happy and consider themselves richly blessed. I must also give my public thanks to some of these women who walked down the road of infertility with me, especially one in particular named Becky Merryman. The Lord sent her as my own personal infertility angel and, Becky, I am forever thankful for the help, education, support and encouragement you poured into my life during that time. God knew I needed you because you understood what I was going through like no one else. I only hope that I can be for someone else what you once were for me.

I was almost at the end of my first trimester when I got up for my second trip one night to the bathroom. It was then I felt it. The ovary erupted again. Within seconds I was feeling the same pain that I had felt just over a year ago when it happened the first time.

I woke Josh and he got me to the hospital. This time, I asked him to take me to a different hospital. After the ovary had erupted the first time I was sent to Good Samaritan in Phoenix. They did help me by cauterizing the erupted ovary, but then sent me home with a blood hemoglobin count of 6. For those who might not know what that means, a healthy blood hemoglobin count is between 13.5 to 17.5 and for women it is from 12 to 15.5. Needless to say, I crashed and crashed hard. I had to be hospitalized a few days later and receive two more blood transfusions to go along with the first one I had after surgery.

This time I asked to go to St. Lukes Hospital. Big mistake. If I had gone back to Good Sam they would at least have had my records on file for having an erupted ovary the first time and they would have believed me. Instead, St. Luke’s decided not to believe me and just pumped me up with Demerol and morphine. They kept me in the emergency room for seven hours and did nothing but an ultra-sound. When the results from the ultra-sound came back we learned I was pregnant with twins… but for how long? The doctor told Josh, “We see there is some fluid in her abdominal area but we are just going to give her pain meds and send her home.”

Now, keep in mind, I’m pretty crocked from all the meds they were giving me, I am in unbelievable pain, pain that I never knew existed, and every few minutes I am hot and throwing up or freezing cold and shivering. This time the pain is not just in my abdominal area and shoulders like before, this time it is also all over my back. I can’t even lie down and different ones are taking turns holding me up. I remember my uncle holding my back in an upright position and then holding my head up in the front because I lacked the strength to do this on my own.

I knew I was dying. I literally could feel my life drifting out of me. I looked at Josh and with as much cohesiveness as I could muster I said, “I am dying. Please get me some help.”

Josh called Dr. Nemiro who did not hesitate for a moment but had me transferred by ambulance to Scottsdale Shea Hospital where I was taken into emergency surgery. Once inside we learned that the ovary had erupted again, as I knew, and had bled into itself so much the ovary was the size of a Nerf Football. Normally, an ovary is the size of a thumb, so this was significantly bigger, yet no one at St. Luke’s hospital did anything at all to try and help me.

Normally, when I write something I don’t like to call people out for their mistakes and if it is important to the story, I don’t name names. This situation was about life and death and boy did I come close to death. We also had to pay a significant amount of money because Dr. Nemiro did not work with insurance companies. So his fees were out of pocket. It was all a mess... but Jesus was with us.

Dr. Nemiro tried to perform laparoscopy surgery but I had too much blood in my abdomen to see anything. They had to cut me like a cesarean, all the while they had a scope to monitor the babies’ heartbeats. One baby kept struggling. Dr. Nemiro said it’s heart beat kept stopping during the procedure. Once again, I had lost over 60% of my bodies blood and my ovary had to be removed. We were told after it all was over and done with that 20 more minutes and I would have gone into irreversible shock.

I have to take a moment and just process that… twenty more minutes. That was it. Seven hours I was kept in an ER room and had Josh listened to the doctors there and just taken me home, I… we, the babies and I would have died. Thank You Jesus for being with us and for Josh’s obedience to act when he did.

After the surgery I had to have ultrasounds every other day to check on the babies. After about two weeks we did lose one of them. I knew it before the ultra-sound technician said it but I didn’t want to speak it out loud. After having as many ultrasounds as I had, I grew pretty good at identifying everything.

We went home that day and grieved the loss of our little one. I wondered if I had done too much too soon and contributed to it’s death, but the doctor reassured me I had not. It was just not strong enough to endure all that we had been through together.

For the next two weeks I still had to have ultrasounds every other day to monitor the other baby and see if she would live. Of course, at the time we didn’t know it was a she, but she did live. She was strong– and she still is… incredibly strong in will, spirit and body. God made her that way so that she would survive with me. I praise God for her life and I know that someday, we will see her twin, whom we named Skylar Reagan, in the glories of heaven.

After I healed from the surgery, the rest of my pregnancy went back to being just as perfect as it was before the ovary episode. Our sweet little baby made it and on March 3, 2005 our first baby, Aven Salei La Fon-Cox was born. It was  of the happiest days of my life. Josh and I cherished every single moment of being parents and having Aven in our lives was all that we had hoped and dreamed for and so much more!

Aven was a month premature I might add, but very healthy and beautiful. She was a footling breech baby and danced her way out. I remember every time I went in for an ultrasound they said, “She’s doing great, she looks healthy and normal, but her legs are measuring almost two weeks ahead of schedule.” Ha! That’s because she’s got her daddies long legs! I went back to work two weeks after having Aven do direct an Easter Musical production. Aven was brought into this world through cesarean and although I still had an incredible amount of healing that needed to take place, I felt nothing but the JOY of the Lord!

Although I loved the work that I was doing for the Lord at the time serving as Music Minister and Administrative Assistant, I was beginning to grieve my time away from Aven. I didn’t want to leave her everyday. I wanted to be with her every moment that I could. It was also hard for me to leave her because she had something called “torticollis” which involves the muscles of the neck. Because Aven was in the footling or standing breech position for so long, her head was pressed up into my diaphragm. This kept her neck in a bent position and caused her to have not only a weak, crooked neck, but her little face was also crooked. Something that straightened out as she grew and nothing that hindered her beauty! But she would choke easily and often. The doctors we saw gave us instructions on how to care for her which involved constant attention. Even when she was sleeping, for the first six months while she went through therapy, we had to allow her to sleep upright in a vertical position either propped up or held on our chest because she choked so easily when asleep. The doctors also were concerned about her being in a day care where workers caring for many children might not notice right away if she were choking.

All of this just made me want more and more to be a stay at home mama and not work outside of the home. The joy of being a mother was the greatest experience of my life and I didn’t want anything coming between me and the precious and fleeting time with my baby.

There were so many wonderful changes that came to my life from being a mother and I embraced them all. I became very thankful for my infertility treatment because I knew it had prepared me for being a mother. And then, God revealed something else to me which was incredibly significant and took me back to the scripture of John 13:7 when Jesus said, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”  A moment had come for Jesus to reveal to me something which helped give me great understanding my infertility. I can’t remember the exact date I learned this, but sometime after Aven was born I remember Josh had a strange memory come to him. Something that he had forgotten about for years but suddenly remembered. He said that he had been told a story about me by one of his family members. It was told to him many years ago back when he was a kid and I was a very young adult, maybe still a teen myself. The rumor was that I had an abortion.

When I first heard this it took me a moment to process. Did I hear that right? That I had an abortion??? Me? A person who has loved, taught and worked with children for the majority of my life? Are you kidding?? Once I had a hold of the information an explosion of feelings shot through my mind, body and spirit. Pain, anger, confusion, bewilderment all went roaring through me. Why on earth would someone say something so cruel about me?

At first, I couldn’t understand it and I wasn’t angry that he told me or that he had been told by one of his family members. I honestly felt that God put that information to his family so that I could learn it. I had never heard it before, not from anyone. Who told it didn’t really matter. What mattered was it wasn’t true. I was never pregnant before I was pregnant with Aven. Not even in the times I thought I was or thought I had a miscarriage when Josh and I were first married. Dr. Nemiro explained that when a cyst on an ovary erupts, it can cause pain and bleeding, and so sometimes the symptoms can be mistaken for early miscarriages, especially if a monthly cycle had been skipped.

I don’t believe that God placed infertility upon me anymore than I would believe God placing illness on someone else. That is not how God works. He doesn’t punish us, Jesus took all the punishment needed for sin and GIVES us healing! Our troubles come from our enemy who seeks to destroy us in every way possible. We live in the world where sadly bad things often happen. I believe that God works through those circumstances to help us, teach us, mold and shape us, to bring us into a closer relationship with Him and to bring something beautiful from the ashes. Just like it is written in Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” After spending time in prayer about this painful rumor, the Holy Spirit began to speak to my heart. I began to see how God used the circumstances of my infertility to prove that rumor to be false. I don’t know how many people heard and repeated it but for those who heard the story of my infertility it should bring up some important questions. How could a woman who could not conceive a child without the help of extreme tests, shots, medications, and surgeries to get pregnant, spending over the $55k given for treatment possibly have had an abortion? The answer… she couldn’t. The truth is… I didn’t.

I prayed and thanked God for revealing to me the story. I did not know of it until Josh spoke it and I thought, how amazing that of all the people in the world, the man who would one day be my husband and father of my children heard it. Why? So he could let me know that it was out there and so that I could find more understanding about my road of infertility.

Now,  in a world where abortions are common and in some places even celebrated into legislature, there may be some reading this who may wonder why is it important that I learned such a story was out there about myself and why it would bother me so much. I can answer that with three words:  my children’s ministry. My life’s work is in serving and protecting children. This is part of God’s plan for my life and He knew that story could rise up and come against me in the future if it kept going. Again, and always, God was and is with me, working for my good. Even when I didn’t see it, even when I didn’t understand. He was there. Now, I do see it and I do understand and I am so thankful for everything I went through because it not only killed out that wicked story, it also transformed me into the mother and child advocate that I am today. The only thing I wish could have been different is that Josh and I could have paid for the treatments and my mother could have kept all that money for herself. Other than that, I know every circumstance taught me something I needed to learn and brought me closer to God, and I would never trade that for anything. I also feel it is important to say that I personally do not cast judgement on anyone woman out there who has had an abortion and

Never was I pregnant before Aven, and never have I had an abortion. I love children dearly and have devoted my life to serving, protecting, providing for, caring for, educating and hoping to make them happy. I firmly believe that outside of the grace and salvation of Jesus Christ, our children are the greatest gifts our Heavenly Father God can bestow upon our lives.

I have learned that God does work in mysterious ways and I could see how my journey through infertility would not only help me become more compassionate and understanding of others who walk that road, it would make me so grateful for every moment I got to be a mother and also set my name and reputation of serving children free from any wickedness that was spoken to try and destroy it. God can use anything, including infertility for something good.

Fast forward about eighteen months after Aven was born and I started feeling strange. I told Josh, “You know, if I didn’t know better, I would think I was pregnant.” But of course, in our minds that was impossible, right? I had all these things wrong with me, I couldn’t possibly get pregnant without surgery and medication. But…

With God ALL things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

I was right, I was pregnant. God blessed us richly by healing me so that I could conceive a baby the good old fashioned way, which is so much more fun than infertility treatments. 😉  And FREE!

I learned the wonderful news of our new precious baby the week of Thanksgiving 2004 and oh my goodness we were beyond grateful! When I learned that I was pregnant with another precious child, I resigned from my job. I wanted to be home and not miss a moment.

(I began writing this blog after Mother’s Day in May 2020 and worked on it off and on. Today is June 17, 2020 one of the happiest days of my life!)

On June 17, 2005 Josh and I were blessed yet again with our beautiful, sweet, loving MaCaedyn Janei La Fon-Cox whom we loving call our Kooshla bear. I was in baby heaven and was never happier. After two months, MaCaedyn was involved in a crazy accident which is another blog for another time, but again, and always, God was with us and protected her life.

Aven loved being a “Big Sissy” and always wanted to hold and take of “her baby”.
We were so in love with these two precious girls and thought we were richly blessed when God decided to pour out even more blessings upon us. MaCaedyn is a beautiful child, not just on the outside but also on the inside. She gifted musically and has a tenderness, love and compassion that runs deep within her. She works with me constantly for our family’s organization for children in need, The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. and I see her working in ministry with children with me for many years to come.

Eighteen months after I had MaCaedyn, even though we were using birth control, I got pregnant again!!! This time with our beautiful boy, our “brother bear”, Samuel Braeden La Fon-Cox. He was an early Christmas gift for me coming into the world on December 12, 2006. I know I am partial, but he seriously was one of the most beautiful baby boys this world has even seen and he is growing into a beautiful young man. The girls are definitely going to be swooning in the years ahead!

The joy of being able to have my own children is something I honestly didn’t know I would ever experience. I asked God and He answered me. The joy that these three children have brought into Josh and I’s lives is absolutely irreplaceable, priceless and constant. I know that my life would never be as full and rich if I didn’t have them. Yes, they are all three firecrackers, we don’t have an easy one in the bunch. But I know God has a plan for all of them.

This past Mother’s Day and today with MaCaedyn’s birthday, I reflected upon all these things more than I usually do. This is a strange time for the world. The Covid19 Pandemic has changed things greatly, some for the good and some for the worse. But for me, these days with my family being so cozily secluded in our home have been priceless and precious. I know that there are so many others out there in the world who are not as blessed as we are. Many are alone, many are with empty nests and cannot have their children or grandchildren with them. Many have lost loved ones due to this crazy killing Covid. So I am extra thankful and know I am extra blessed.

God is so good to me. I could thank Him every minute of the rest of my life and it still wouldn’t be enough for all that He has done for me. So, I write my stories and share them with others who might need encouragement.

If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus or our Heavenly Father God, Jehovah and would like to learn more about them, please never hesitate to contact me. My personal email is thehuggabears@gmail.com

I always want to talk about Jesus and the goodness of God and will be happy to help you.
If you are walking on the road of infertility and just need a safe place to talk, I am here for that too.

Always remember that Jesus loves you, no matter what and He told us in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!”

Jesus knew we would have trouble in this world, that’s why He promised to never leave us. In closing I just want to say a prayer of thanks…

Thank You Father God for answering my prayer to make me a mother.
Thank You, Father God, for giving me the father for my children that You have and
Thank You, thank You, THANK YOU for the children that you blessed me with!
I love them with all my heart and soul and will always be so grateful that You made me
a mother!

Amen!

Covid 19 Pandemic – Entry 4 “Covid19 and the Ten Plagues. A Timing Observation.”

As I sit down to write this blog, my first thought, as is every thought right now, is upon all those in the world who are battling the Covid19 virus. Whether that be as patients, doctors, nurses (soldiers), medical or post death care workers, government leaders, whoever you are, our family’s constant thoughts and constant prayers are with you every single day.

Quarantine Life has brought a few changes for our family, but not like most. I home school my three children so we were not affected in the least in that way. I also work from home, so again, I wasn’t affected in that way either.

Right now, we are healthy, strong, and grateful. How we have been affected by Covid19 is in the same way as millions of people all over the globe. We are staying home. Quarantined. No basketball games. No outside lessons. No church or youth events. No Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. events. No concerts or performances anywhere. No (regular) shopping. No dining out. No libraries. No movies. No parties or social events of any kind… you understand. BUT! We are thankful to be healthy and alive and not suffering like so many hundreds of thousands of people in our world today. May God bless them all.

While I have had this time without any extra running around or activities, I have had more time to read, study, write, sing, and create–which I love doing.

In order for you to get a better understanding of what I am going to write in this post, I need to explain a few things. First, one of my favorite nonfiction authors is Rabbi Jonathan Cahn who is a Christian Rabbi of New Jersey and founder of Hope of the World ministries.  www.HopeOfTheWorld.org

Rabbi Cahn has a church in New Jersey and is a New York Times best selling author. He has written several books and I, ironically, got the last one and am working my way backward to the first! His other works include, The Harbinger, The Mystery of the Shemitah, The Book of Mysteries, The Paradigm, and then most recently, The Oracle.

I highly recommend these books to anyone who is a believer in God and His Holy Word, the Bible. They will enlighten you in ways that I can’t describe well enough in written words. What reading his books has done for me is opened my eyes to see that God is still doing miraculous works of mystery all around us everyday. Prophesies are coming true all around us even though we don’t always see it as it is happening or even understand it. Rabbi Cahn has been given a gift of understanding and his works have inspired me to look deeper into the timings of events that occur in my life. For example, the Pandemic of Covid 19.

I learned from Rabbi Cahn’s books that our calendar, the “Gregorian Calendar” or Christian (western) Calendar, is not the calendar that God uses. While we are recording and tracking our days, weeks, months and years by the sun, God uses the moon to track and calculate time. Upon learning this I bought a calendar that has both the dates of the western world and the dates according to God; the Jewish calendar.

The Jewish calendar differs from ours in many ways. Let’s begin with the days and how a day begins and ends. Genesis 1 says, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness He called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

What is key here is that first, there was darkness. Then God spoke and there was light.
So God doesn’t count days beginning and ending at midnight like we do. He counts the ending of the day when the sun goes down and at sunset that is the start of the next day. Let me explain it this way. Today is Thursday, March 26th and the time is 4:23 pm. When the sun goes down this evening at let’s say 6:45 pm, according to God’s clock, Thursday is over and Friday has begun during the evening of March 26th. I hope that makes sense!

Knowing this helped me understand many key points in the Bible and I hope it will help you too. In addition to how God tracks the timing of days, it is also interesting how He tracks the months.

According to God’s calendar, the beginning of a new year is not January 1st like we recognize and celebrate it. On God’s calendar, the first month of the new year is called Elul and it takes place during the month of September.

With every new moon there comes a new month which makes the Jewish calendar lose about 11.25 days from the western calendar. For the purposes of this blog I am not going to delve further into the understanding of how the days and months are distributed, you can Google that and find all kinds of excellent information on how that part of it works. For this article, I just needed to explain the basic timing of the days and months and how they differ from the calendar that the western world uses.

Our family has daily devotionals and Bible studies with our children, once in the morning at the beginning of school and once at night before we go to bed. Before the new year of 2020 came, I felt led by the Holy Spirit of God to have our nightly Bible reading start from the beginning of the Bible in Genesis. We were entering a new year, a new decade, and it made sense to start it with the beginning of God’s Word.

There have been some nights we missed or some nights we re-read something, so the timing of us reading a chapter of God’s Word since the beginning of the new year has landed us, at present, in the book of Exodus and the ten plagues of Egypt.

One night this week while my husband, Josh, was reading, I started thinking about when the plagues began. I knew that next month, April 12, 2020 would be Easter, Resurrection Sunday, when Jesus rose from the grave after being crucified on the cross and Passover, which is the celebration of God “passing over the Hebrew nation” and protecting them from the angel death, would begin on April 8, 2020. This made me think, we are experiencing the Covid19 Pandemic, which some might call a “plague”, at the same time as the plagues took place during the days of Moses.

Here is the definition of the word plague according to Dictionary.com
Plague: a contagious bacterial disease characterized by fever and delirium, typically with the formation of buboes (bubonic plague ) and sometimes infection of the lungs (pneumonic plague). “an outbreak of plague”

The Biblical definition of a plague is a bit broader and is defined as anything that afflicts or troubles; calamity; scourge. Any contagious epidemic disease that is deadly. 

I began my research and according to AskMoses.com (and other sites) I found “The plague of blood began on the first of Av 2447, and continued at the rate of one plague per month.”

The month of Av is during the end of July and beginning of August.

I then broke out my Christian/Jewish calendar and charted what the time frame looked like when comparing the two calendars and events side by side. If the first plague of blood began in Av and each month there was another plague, this is how it breaks down:

Plague                                     Jewish Month                                      Gregorian Month

1. Blood                                      Av                                                           July/August
2. Frogs                                      Elul                                                         August/September
3. Lice                                         Tishri                                                     September/October
4. Flies                                        Cheshvan                                              October/November
5. Pestilence                              Kislev                                                     November/December
6. Boils                                        Tevet                                                      December/January
7. Hail/Fire                                 Shevat                                                   January/February
8. Locusts                                   Adar                                                       February/March
9. Darkness                                Nisan                                                     March/April
10.Death of 1st Born                 Iyar                                                       April/May

Credible websites such as, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, all list the beginning of Covid19 from Wuhan, China during the month of December 2019. 

When compared with the time frame of when the plague of pestilence (a fatal epidemic, disease) was cast upon the Egyptians as written in the book of Exodus, it would have been during the Jewish month of Kislev, which falls within the same time frame of the Covid19 emergence in December.

I want to make it very clear I do not believe that God placed the Covid19 virus into the world to punish us. NO. According to the scriptures, when Jesus Christ gave His life for all the sins of humanity upon the cross, He nullified the old covenant that sins must be paid for with other blood. His blood was enough to cover all the sins of all mankind for all time. He paid the price in full. The blood Jesus shed fulfilled the plan of salvation for the new covenant (promise), that mankind, when we humbled ourselves, repented of our sins, asked Jesus to forgive us, and to live in our heart as our Lord and Savior, would not have to die as a punishment, nor would God any longer place punishments upon us. Jesus took all our punishment.

I hope that makes it clear that I do not believe our good and loving God is punishing us with the Covid19 virus. Because of what is written in His Word and knowing His Word is truth, God is truth, I can trust that Jesus paid it all and God no longer send punishments to His children for their sins. God is for us. He wants to bring us to redemption, forgiveness, and healing, He does not want to destroy us.

After getting into the Word of God and reading about the ten plagues during the time of Moses, and confirming they were taking place during the same time as what we are experiencing in this world with the plague of Covid19, I found this verse:

Exodus 9:15-16 “Now if I had stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, then you would have been cut off from the earth. But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.”

While I do not believe that Covid19 is a punishment of God, He is allowing it. Perhaps what He speaks to us in the verse above is why, to show His power in us and so we will declare His name.

My mind travels to John 13:7 “Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”  Again, just to be clear, I do not believe Jesus is placing this virus on people. Not at all. But for whatever reasons that we don’t understand at this time, He is allowing it to happen. I believe it is so that we will turn and cry out to Him.

My mind then goes to 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Perhaps this is another reason why it is being allowed. So that people of all nations, especially America whose foundation was built upon God, Jehovah, will turn back to Him, the God who loves them more than they will ever imagine.

Is it too hard to believe that when we push God out of our nations, tell Him we don’t believe in Him, we don’t want to believe or obey His Word and instruction, and literally slap His beloved and mighty hand of protection away from us, that something like this could happen?

I have heard it taught that to fear God doesn’t mean that you are afraid of Who He is. God, Jehovah, Yahweh, calls us His children, His friends. He freely gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us whether we accepted His gift or not. He loves us more than we can possibly comprehend and wants to have a close relationship with us. There is no need to have fear of Him. The expression “to fear God”, means to revere Him, to respect Him, to trust, and believe what He teaches us in His Word. His Word is truth and to follow His path and direction is the way we can live a wonderful life!

The fear of God is not be afraid of Him, but to be afraid of living in this world without Him and the covering protection of His loving hand.

If ever there was ever a time for prayer–this is it. This is a time to humble ourselves and turn from the ways of the world to the ways of God and welcome His Holy Spirit to dwell in our lands and nations. I believe that God wants to do exactly as He has told us in Exodus 9:16: “But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.”

I believe that is why God revealed the connection to the timing of the ten plagues and Covid19. What He said to the people then is what He is saying to the people now. He is the same and His Word remains true throughout all time.

Although I am a writer of Christian books, I am not a writer that is gifted for the task of discovering God’s mysteries like Rabbi Jonathan Cahn. That is not my calling. It is his. But I know that I was led to this information and to the verse above for this purpose, for this blog, for this time. Although I don’t know Rabbi Cahn personally, I believe that God is revealing things to him during this pandemic and I’m quite sure we will see it come forth in a future book!

I do want to encourage you to get into your Bibles and if you don’t have one, jump online! You can listen or read God’s Word in several different translations all over the internet. Listen to what it is God is trying to speak to your heart during this time. Heaven knows we have lots of it right now!

I also encourage you to pray. I already wrote a blog about prayer tips which you can find at “Daily Life During a Pandemic – Entry 2 A Call to Prayer.” Our family also created a display for the children of our neighborhood to reach out from our nonprofit children’s organization, The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. to let the world know WE ARE PRAYING FOR YOU every single day!

If you would like to see the display we created, you can find it on YouTube here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_1DZB3h_Gc

There is power in prayer! I say this from many, many years of personal experiences of miracles and answered prayers. Call out to Jesus. He will hear you and He will answer.

I also encourage you to get all of the books by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn! https://www.amazon.com/s?k=rabbi+jonathan+cahn+books&ref=nb_sb_noss_2
They are excellent and will shake you up–in a great way! They are mind blowing and proof that God is still on His throne! He is, was and always will be in control of all things!

Thank you for taking the time to read this post and if you would like any of my books, I am giving away FREE ebooks of all my titles for children, tweens, teens, and adults! Visit mastersmessengers.net for the list of titles. You can message me at that site or any of the other sites listed below to request free ebooks.

May God richly bless and keep you, your family, and your friends! Hold strong to God’s unchanging hand! HE WILL NOT FAIL US!!

huggabears.org
thehuggabears.com
theintercessors.org
mastersmessengers.net