Monday, June 17, 2013

Tiny Messes

As Mike and I were going through our nightly ritual of putting away toys, and cleaning up the kitchen for the last time of the day I was putting all of my frosting tips back in their little tackle box. Oliver had been playing with them while I was preparing dinner [or as Mike and I call it: "Oliver was re-organizing the Tupperware cabinet.." (the baking stuff happens to be in the same cabinet)] I said to Mike "I think it is a one-year-old's JOB to UN-do everything that is "done". Then, putting the frosting tips back below, I turned to put the bottles and sippy cups and all the little feeding devices that were drying on a towel next to the sink away into what used to be my spice cabinet.

All of this just another illustration to the phrase we may as well record, press play and hit the repeat button... "this is just the phase of life we are in"
Why am I blogging about this? Because.. "this is just the phase of life we are in". Before entering parenthood... it was so common to think "why can't they just get it together?" After experiencing the chaos of a home of small children. My oh my... I wouldn't say that I am a neat-freak... but I like organization. I don't like crap on my counters... not even appliances other than the coffee maker... it just drives me nuts to feel like I am amidst clutter in my own home. I am always striving to create a place for everything... I have always had my little piles, but they get sorted.

This whole small children thing... takes the challenge to a whole new level... Children come with things... things that have LOTS of parts... they also require every single ounce of time and energy that you never knew you even had. That is why our token phrase is "this is just the phase of life we are in" It's not our excuse for not getting things done... it's how we comfort ourselves in the fact that although we never stop moving and trying to get the laundry to where it needs to go or keep the pile of clothes that are not quite dirty... or the toys or the sippy cups or the toy-littered bath tub at bay.... and it appears as though we've "lost our touch" we're actually doing our best... and it could be a whole lot worse.

But at the end of the day, our job is to insert as much love and knowledge into our little treasures that God has gifted us with. After checking on their sweet sleeping faces before going to bed last night I said to Mike... "they're completely exhausting, but they're only this little for a little while" So I guess we just need to embrace the moment and trust that everything will get done... and it always does when it counts.

Friday, March 1, 2013


Okay so I am waving the white flag.  My bad, at the new year I said something like... "Bring on 2013, there's no way it can be anything like 2012".  I really thought a several month battle with severe infant allergies, a run in with cancer and all of the other 2012 craziness couldnt be topped! 
Well the past 3 weeks alone we've come mighty close.  It started with a child birth followed by emergency surgery, 5 days later a 911 call and another 5 days l later the hospitalization of my 10 day old son.  As I sit up nursing my baby, reflecting on it all here on March first.  This is what I am thinking.... This  happens to be the month of my 10 year wedding anniversary.  I can't help but think " okay Satan if you're trying to create adversity, youve only reinforced or made stronger our bond, and although you have your tiny moments of victory when I am overcome with fear for my sons next breath; it is not you who I cry out to for help and strength.  It is Jesus.  So you still lose.  You will always be a loser. So you may as well go pick on someone else because Im already taken.  That is all.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Refinery

The last several weeks, the Holy Spirit has really laid this word on my heart: Refinement/Refinery. As I look around this is a process that is taking place in many areas.
The refining began at home:
In regards to my own life, 2012 has been a year of refinery. Beginning in January; living through the daily agony of the skin on my son’s head and face cracking, bleeding and sloughing off on a daily basis for about 3 months straight with no answers. I found myself sobbing and on my knees in prayer daily begging for answers, strength, perseverance and God’s glory to be revealed through that storm. As the healing began in May, everything around us was in need of catching up… adjusting to the first year of parenthood, the unexpected four to six hundred a month we spent just trying to figure out what was wrong with Oliver, paying for treatments, special lotions, organic formula and foods. My prayer was to trust in His provision. When it gets so overwhelming and unbearable he takes you ONE STEP further, to a place where ONLY HE can come in and wipe the slate clean.
It was time for total surrender, and the timing was right. By end of July and early August we could say we were trudging through a season of my Husband’s cancer news and [what seemed like] every appliance in the house breaking at the same time. But hope was beginning to shine through. It was a TUFF couple of months no doubt; but the refining process was already well under way. The previous nine months having given us new strength and an even firmer foundation in Him.
Everywhere around me I was reminded throughout the year not to pity my own tribulations as my dearest friends were dealing with heavy, heavy life challenges as well; folks unable to pay their bills, losing jobs and homes, fighting for their marriages and families, kids in the ICU the list goes on. Men of faith being asked to compromise their values for corporate America; that was a common theme this year as well.
All of these people and families near and dear to me struggling to live a respectable life without facing persecution for their differences, values, and faith; a process of refinement. I am proud to say in the cases that particularly come to mind, there is victory taking place on different levels. There is victory in perseverance for the Kindom of heaven (in marriages prevailing over the enemy’s will, jobs being found where men can speak truth) and there is victory from an earthly perspective (bills getting paid and healing taking place). All a part of a refining process.
On a larger scale:
I see things like apathy in the church and towards patriotism and I can’t help but wonder: Is this all part of a greater refining process? The apathy is something we see on a grand scale for instance a stat I learned today 80% of teens here in Tulsa [right smack dab in the middle of the “Bible Belt”] are unchurched. Kinda shocking huh? But, I also see it in my own small prayer group with lame excuses week after week for not showing up or participating. Totally taking for granted a group of people that have volunteered to offer support to one another and the simple fact that we even have the freedom to do so. Kinda makes me wonder how long we will keep fighting for a freedom we don’t even seem to treasure as a nation or as individuals. It’s scary frankly and if you just rolled your eyes; you, my friend suffer from apathy as well. My question to you… What DO you care about?? What ARE you willing to fight for? If you can’t answer that question you are without passion and in effect DEAD, spiritually dead.
But back to the refinement process. I can’t help but wonder if there IS a greater refinement process going on? Maybe God is putting his people through a refinement process. 1. To see who really has passion for truth. And 2. To make those individuals stronger and BOLDER for him.
Maybe he wants his entire church to go through a refinement process. Maybe people roll their eyes about church and walk away without introducing their children to Him because the people at the head of the church are not the ones who are truly passionate about Him ….and Truth! Maybe at the end of this process there really will be a revival; a movement of love … TRUE LOVE. It’s a refinery, that’s my theory. I can’t otherwise make any sense of the apathy and selfishness that literally makes me SICK in this world.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


It has been a source of both joy and comedy over the months to see how coordinated Oliver is with his feet. At times, as he is learning new motor skills and "tricks" it seems like he may be more coordinated with his feet than his hands.
When my mom came to visit in april he was about 5 1/2 months old; she bought him his first ball... we sat in a circle passing the ball around, trying o teach Oliver how to pass. He preferred to use his feet to catch and pass over his hands, this is where he gained the nick-name Pele.
Anyway I was putting him down for a nap this morning; I needed to change his pants first. As he was laying on his changing table I handed him his bottle. I went to grab his feet to lift his tush to slide the new diaper under and was un able to because his feet were occupied. They were holding his bottle in his mouth. What a goofball. There are times you wish you had a camera handy... if it happens again, I'll have to snap a pic.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Month of August

Well... suprise! Another challenging month for the Stenglein houhehold.

It's been a challenging year for us really, starting in January began the journey with Oliver's allergies and bacterial infection. Literally bringing me to my knees in prayer and pleading for answers, healing and resolution on an almost daily basis.

Finally in April and May we began to feel as though the situation was somewhat predictable and manageable. I felt like "okay maybe I can relax a little". (Other than Mike's 2 trips to the E.R. on Easter Weekend) The weather was beautiful, and the garden was more fruitful than EVER this spring.

In June we were pleasantly suprised with the news of our second baby on the way. We were not "suprised" about the pregnancy other than after YEARS of trying for Oliver we just didn't expect for things to come as easy this time. Truely a blessing an answer to prayer and wishes come true.

By Mid-June, though, the heat just got so strong and unlike with my pregnancy with Oliver I was really lethargic, tired and having daily nausea. We gave up on the garden. Oliver and I didn't go much of anywhere for the next 4 weeks except the occasional early morning errand. The car would heat up too much to take the baby out. We were basically TRAPPED looking forward to our tuesday swim days and Living for the weekends when Daddy is home! I Began to sink quickly into a depression :(

The 3rd week of July my mom flew us down to Tucson for 2 weeks. A MUCH welcome change of pace! It was the end of my first trimester so the help and extra naps were a God-send. We were able to come home somewhat refreshed... and anxious to see Daddy!

The day we got home, Mike had gone in for a follow-up CT Scan for a "suspicious spot" on his kidney. [Three months prior, on Easter Weekend, he had gone in for another unrelated problem and a scan done at that time caused the initial suspicion]

On Monday July 30th Mike had a biopsy done on "the spot". We were feeling some anxiety, it was a long day. Our prayer was for an accurate Biopsy so we could deal accordingly and know what we were working with. We were told that the Doctor should have results within 24 hours so Mike called a few times the next day... but it wasn't until
August 1st that we found out the biopsy was/is malignant. He was informed over the phone with no details but an appointment set for the following Tuesday. The week to follow was without a doubt emotional. We immediatly began educating ourselves on every possible precaution we could take to stop feeding and reverse the growth of the cancer. [and I thought we ate pretty healthy before the cancer diet became a part of our household routine]

My Brother came in to offer us some much needed emotional and prayer support for a few days. I was, to say the least, OVERWHELMED now with every member of our household having different nutritional needs. What lies ahead being the pregnant mother of a 10 month old and wife of a cancer fighting husband? Mike's head swimming with similair thoughts "How do I take care of my Family and fight cancer? I have 2 babies..." We don't for a second claim to think that we are capable of or left to play this hand on our own. As a matter of fact it is because of the great friend and healer we have in our savior Jesus Christ that we have been able to stay sane and strong through ALL of the challenges we have faced... this... just another opportunity to give Him the glory.

Meanwhile we had been talking all summer long on our evening walks about how we have a strong feeling about God bringing a great change in this next season of our lives...

Anyway, rewind to the saturday before the biopsy, the heat of summer was topping out at 112-118 every day, and the Air Conditioner seemed to be literally dying. A service man came out dumped a bunch of chemicals into it and said "it's a matter of time" On Thursday, the day after we received our life-changing news it was nearly dead again, I had a guy out to give a price and were told we'd not only have to replace the A/C but we'd also have to replace the coil and furnace because it's all connected and out of date. I said thank you, we'd like to get another opinion before we make a decision. That night as we were getting Oliver ready for bed we heard an aweful noise coming from the laundry room which was literally the sound of the motor on our washing machine spinning it's LAST rotation. ARE YOU KIDDING ME???
We proceeded to put Oliver to bed, hand rinsed the laundry in the tub and as we were standing on the back patio wringing out towels we just had to have a laugh. I mean what ELSE could POSSIBLY happen in one week??
Oh... about the A/C, our "second opinion" guy was a miracle worker, he had everything working just fine in less than an hour. I told him "you have a new customer".

Anyway, the following Tuesday we went in for our long-awaited doctor's appointment. The doctor's attitude was very reassuring. We have aparently discovered this cancer VERY early on. It's also extremely RARE to find this type of cancer so early. Along with our nutritional, supplementational and hard-core prayer activity we plan to have it removed laproscoprically with a less than 10% chance of seeing it again. Plus we will be having routine scans done, so the "prognosis" is good. Praise the Lord.

This last week we have all gotten hit with a nasty virus, probably all the stress finally breaking us down... I finally have begun to feel somewhat human today after about 5 achy nauseus miserable days. I was beginning to wonder "Are we EVER gonna get a break around here?"

Well, good thing I was feeling better today because I had an OB appointment today where we found out that we are expecting our next baby to be another BOY!! Soo excited, we were secretly hoping for Oliver to have a little brother... apparently our great "wish granter" was privy to the secret :) We are blessed.

Thursday we meet with the surgeon, so we'll be in prayer that goes well and we can schedule surgery soon.

So, we've had our challenges this year, nearly each one accompanied by a great blessing. We continue to live in great anticipation of what the next season of our lives will bring and are on the edge of our seats to see and be a part of God's Glory being Revealed through it all.

Monday, August 13, 2012


My reading this morning took me to 2 Timothy 2. At first I thought "how appropriate" as the first verse says (1)"You then, my son be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" as we are currently facing some pretty daunting [to the unbeliever] GIANTS in our household. (3) "Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus" Amen! I thought "we're suited up for battle!"
... Then I read on: (4) "No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affiars - he wants to please his commanding officer." Now wait a minute, this scripture is for all of his children.
Likewise verse (16) "Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly"

Thoughts of political rants, chick-fil-a non-sense, social networking conflict, personal conflict, useless ramblings with no basis other than self-importance and foolish pride rolled through my mind.

Brothers and sisters, God used this scripture this morning to remind me and whoever comes across this:

There is ONLY ONE battle worth fighting

Reconcile your differences

Be accountable

I guess scripture has a little something for all of us today.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Oliver 9 Months : A visit to Gramma's

This month Oliver and I went to visit my Mom in Tucson for 2 weeks. He was an absolute angel on the plane both ways, thank God! I was a bit nervous about how that would go! We went to see Dr Martha for Allergy treatments and also had 3 Cranial Sacral treatments done to help align the bones in his skull... what a difference! We went for a walk and swam almost every day and enjoyed lots of quality time with "gramma"!
Being in my first tri-mester with baby #2 it was a MUCH needed break from the "norm" for me too! I have been trapped inside much of the time this summer with the heat and this one is taking a greater toll on me that Oliver did! My mom was a HUGE help with Oliver and let me take some much needed naps too!

While we were there, Oliver turned 9 months.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In an effort to be both organized and budget conscious I decided to prepare 2 different meals with one chicken this morning... anyway... I failed to think ahead ingredients-wise... or at least I thought. I got started then realized I had no onions or carrots...
No problem! I took a little walk down to the old garden and dug some up! Although I have to shamefully admit things are getting a little overgrown down there so I had to dig around to find the onions. What a treat that was..... and not to mention SUPER cheap!
Having my own produce and herbs comes in handy from time to time :)


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hope for when everything is made RIGHT!

Loved this little note in my study bible:

on Revelation 17:7

...No matter what happens, we must trust that God is still in charge, that God overrules all the plans and intrigues of the evil one, and that God's plans will happen just as he says. God even uses people opposed to him as tools to execute his will. Although he allows evil to permeate this present world, the new earth will never know sin -niv

AMEN ... and that is a day worth living for!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Just thought I'd post a little update.. it's been a while.

In Mommy news we've been sucessfully introducing solids for the past several weeks. I felt confident and did green beans without checking for allergy first 'cause things were going so well. He broke out but we caught it quick. I had him treated and then 'pureed' some of my own, but they only chopped up fine... still kinda mealy... we tried to re-introduce today at lunch and he did not like AT ALL. I think it was more texture than anything so I am going to wait a bit ... maybe just give him store-bought for a while. I think they cook them more 'cause the color is not as fresh looking.

We've been eating asparagus, broccoli, chive, lettuce and herbs from the garden for a few weeks now. Peas are all blooming so hopefully a matter of time.

I'm motivated to get some of the landscaping looking better. Mainly because I want to mix-in some fun interactive kid-stuff... but some areas really need some attention anyways.

I've been having fun making the bags and purses... I was able to successfully come up with some of my own designs and they turned out cute. I feel like I was able to conquer (not perfect) that quest so I am okay with moving on to the out-door stuff for a while... haha.

Anyways that's about it. I'm 33 today. WHhooopppeeedddooo.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

5 months....

Well... actually more like 5 1/2 months, He's 24 weeks today!...
I dressed him up in these overalls one day last week and thought he looked so cute, I better get the camera out! His skin has been so sensitive that all I've been able to put him in these last couple of months is sweats. I bought these overalls when I was pregnant and now that he can finally wear them, he will probably grow out of them in just a few short weeks! His skin is consistently improving, some days better than others.... nothing at all like how bad it was with the undiagnosed bacterial infection. We're slowly introducing solid foods.
He's been doing fine with rice cereal for several weeks. We tried Banana's first and he had a reaction. Then peas, then avacados, they seem to be going well. His favorite so far is avacado! Next is sweet potato's, then oatmeal baby cereal.
He's also rolling over now and has had 2 teeth since he was 22 weeks old! He's really at a fun age, sitting better and better all the time, and LOVES the Jump-a-roo!
Since moving to solid foods twice a day he's sleeping through the night too! He goes to bed @ 7, we wake him for a bottle @10, he wakes @ 5am for a snack and gets up around 7 or so. Not bad!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's a hard job

This picture is a reminder for me of where we've been and how far we've come

It's funny, I was thinking about the other day and shared with a friend of mine over a conversation about parenting... it seems as though being a mom is living in a state of constantly second guessing your decisions. It's so easy before becoming one yourself to look from the outside and think you know how you would react to situations or methodically approach things like bed time, food, illness... yikes just wait 'til discipline comes in play!
It's like you're trying to read your child and respond in a way that is appropriate for them as an individual. You don't want to give in on everything, but they live in this soft spot you never knew you had... especially if you're a real tuff-ass like myself. And when they're sick or hurting you just want to make it magically go away. Truthfully this whole process we've been through with the rashes, food allergies, bacterial infection has probably been ions more painful for me than him.
Over the weekend we tried our first non-cereal food; bananas. Everything seemed to have been on the mend since I finally gave up breast-feeding. So we thought it was a good time to get started... I mean, he's HUNGRY! Ya know? And he has 2 teeth! Well... we started noticing some reddness in the cheeks and around the mouth then tuesday night he started secreting/sweating UGH! I went to the store at midnight to buy goats milk thinking he was reacting to the formula. Who knows! My head swimming, I began to suffocate again. I swear the enemy knows his way in.... why can't I lock that door??? I would recite in my mind "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" Matt 11:28 I know he can take my anxieties but I can't fully let go. Somewhere in this life as a parent I am going to have to learn to let go a little bit. So maybe this is all a lesson in trust. Well, perseverence... now trust... Okay Lord have I learned all I need to from this? That's what I am really saying.
Anyways, In the morning I gave him cereal mixed w/water and called the doc. They said they would get him in in the afternoon. He was wtill hungry, I gave him the Goats Milk.... in front of my face he started turning redder, maybe even swelling up? Is my mind playing tricks on me? WHAT DO I DO??? I called my neighbor Dana a mom of 3 boys and asked her to look at him... I was panicking. I'm tired of panicking. She prayed with me over Oliver, a while later we left for the Doctor's a little early. During the last break out; the word took me to James 5:14 "Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord." So this time I stopped by the church, an emotional mess. Many staff members stopped what they were doing and gathered around me and Oliver in prayer. I am so thankful for a praying church.
The doctor felt confident that Oliver's reaction was to the Banana's and not the formula. Probably most people would have been able to see that... but you're lookng through a foggy lens when you're emotionally exhausted from putting out the same fire over and over again. Anyways, he seems to be doing good.
Last night I said to Mike, "I got dealt the wrong hand, I am not a good match for this challenge" He assured me that is not true, that I am strong enough. We agreed this is just the first of many challenges. It's the hardest job on earth. Probably cause you care more about this job than any other you will ever have. It's a blessing to care so much.