Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Micheal Pearl Makes a Fool of Himself (along with a lot of other Christians)

Remember when the Josh Duggar scandal first broke in May? I blogged about my thoughts on the situation at the time.

Back then, many naive Christians afraid to lose their favorite TV show started falling all over themselves not condemning Josh Duggar's actions (molesting four of his own sisters), but rather condemning those who thought his actions were inexcusable under any circumstances, those who were angered by the family basically portraying a lie, those who were calling out the family's hypocrisy.

 (source here)

After just a brief period of silence following the initial shock, many Christians with a public platform also came out in defense of Josh Duggar. Some that come to mind are Mike Huckabee, Matt Walsh, Kent Hovind, Michael Seewald, and many others. Fans by the thousands were calling for TLC to bring the show back, starting online petitions, and leaving tens of thousands of supportive comments and messages on social media.

(Note: Matt Walsh and Michael Seewald have since changed their tune.)

I understand that if people committed sins, even serious ones, in the past and have since sought forgiveness and changed their ways, we should give them a fresh start, and not even mention those past failures.

However, I don't believe that this applies to serious, harmful crimes like pedophilia that deserve the death penalty. Such people are beyond repair, or what the Bible calls reprobates - Romans 1 says they have "eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin." Tell me that doesn't describe Josh Duggar to a T! And when those same perpetrators then lift themselves up to national stardom, revolving entire seasons of their TV show around telling us how they supposedly stayed pure until marriage, it just becomes ridiculously hypocritical, and an object of public scrutiny and derision. If the Duggars seek the attention of millions of viewers, they cannot then hide behind "that's a private matter" when it's inconvenient. Remember, the only reason why 99.9% of us have ever even heard of them in the first place is because they chose to make their lives very public. Anyone with the least bit of prudence or discernment should have known that such a skeleton in the closet would inevitably be discovered. Evidently, the love of fame, money, and stardom won out.

Personally, back in May I found it very alarming how many claimed that Josh's actions were a fairly normal occurrence, something all people are tempted by, and not a worse sin than regular everyday sins. I also blogged about that.

(source here)

LOL about the "anonymous members!" Nothing electronic is ever truly anonymous. Be sure your sin will find you out!

Then, the latest scandal broke. In and of itself, the fact that a man was looking at porn or committing adultery is not really shocking these days, nor does it make someone a reprobate. Even David was an adulterer. The shocking aspect was the fact that Josh Duggar had been living a double life of the worst kind. His latest admissions threw even the good-thinking Christians for a loop, as the overwhelming reason why we were supposed to have forgiven Josh Duggar was the fact that the had allegedly repented, and was a new man. Which, clearly, he was not. And those who had blindly defended his actions not because they were excusable, but because they liked the family, had egg on their faces. Imagine if it came to light that Obama had a similar past as Josh Duggar - would Christians everywhere rally around him in support, proclaiming forgiveness, and insisting that it did not at all reflect on the current state of his character?

(source here)

Right in the middle of all this coming to light, I received the current issue of the "No Greater Joy" magazine in the mail, with the feature article being "Two-Front War on Christianity", written by Micheal Pearl. Or, as my husband calls him, the "homeless looking guy." Most people know him for his controversial book, "To Train Up a Child."

You can still find the article here, though after the latest details about Josh Duggar coming out, I cannot for the life of me understand why they would not pull the article and post an admission of having judged falsely, along with an apology.

It became apparent right away as I read the article that it had been written and the magazine mailed out at the worst possible time - late enough to publish right as the second scandal broke, but early enough to get it out the door before the new issues came to light.

The article talks about how Christianity is facing war on two fronts: on one had from the world, the persecution coming from unbelievers. Secondly, from so-called "Christian Cannibalism." This is the part of the article I want to focus on.
 (source here)

There were many ridiculous points made in the article, but I will focus on the worst ones. They are representative of the nonsense that Christians everywhere have been repeating during this scandal.

  • "The second - and more destructive - wave in the war on Christianity is coming from within our own ranks. The actual physical persecution of Christians will not amount to much," "That is the disease that is killing the church," "The real threat to the church and modern Christian family is [...] coming from the pew in front of you"
Basically, forget everything you have read in Revelation about the Antichrist making war with Christians. The real danger according to Micheal Pearl are other Christians. #facepalm
  •  "many Christians have been induced to side with the accusers of the brethren," "blogs and Facebook are filled with Christian cannibalism," "Christians pile on like hungry wolves," Christians [...] loudly condemning the allegedly errant one"
This is not even factually true. The vast majority of Christians showed nothing but support and forgiveness for Josh Duggar. Even if it were true, that would not make it wrong, because we as Christians are supposed to judge righteously, show discernment, and warn others of evil perpetrators - not hush up about dangerous predators.
  • "Duggars were under attack," 
 Nobody attacked the Duggars. Their child did an evil deed, and brought this on the rest of the family. Would we say that a criminal on trial is "under attack?" Of course not.
  •   "I was highly impressed and proud to be a fellow believer with such an amazing family," "they handled the situation with their son in the best of all possible ways," "a godly response to a problem"
Sure! They did, in fact, do so well that we now know (some of) the rest of the story. ***sarcasm*** Let's judge the tree of the Duggar's parenting by its fruit: it's rotten. Their son DID NOT repent and forsake. Whatever they did to address the problem failed miserably.
I'd like to make one thing clear: either the parents want to say their 15-year old acted as a foolish child, and should not be held accountable for the sins of his youth. In that case, the responsibility lies with the parents, and they have to accept the fact that they failed.
Or they could say that at age 15, he should have known better, and that he was making his own decisions contrary to his upbringing and his parents' moral code, in which case they can no longer use his age as an excuse for his actions. 
  • "a problem that affects over 50% of the homes in America, including Christian homes" [referring to incest and molestation]
In what universe, Micheal Pearl? Surely, SOME Christian (in name only) homes face this problem. But most definitely not 50% of them. Cases such as this almost exclusively occur in broken homes, where derelict step-relatives and boyfriends commit evil acts against children. The Duggars are the exception that proves the rule, and even in their case, I am certain that Josh himself was first the victim of sexual assault himself.

So, yes, as much as I hate to be right in these types of situations, I must say "I told you so" when it comes to Josh Duggar.

Why is it so important to point out the fallacies in Pearl's article? Because Christians need to be warned, not told to simply assume the best about dangerous predators who self-identify as "being cured." They need to be taught how to recognize signs of impending doom, not close their eyes, plug their ears, stick their heads in the sand and pretend all is fine in spite of glaring warning signs. Maybe that explains why Micheal Pearl thinks that incest is to be expected in 50% of all households.

In order to protect our loved ones, it is vitally important to understand that cases such as that of Josh Duggar are NOT random and unpredictable, not something that can befall anyone, not something that there are no warning signs of. If you have not yet done so, please read my previous blog post of why there is not a pedophile lurking inside all of us

Please also watch this sermon, and learn the doctrine of someone becoming a reprobate.


Disclaimer: While I do find myself facepalming about a lot of the things coming from Michael Pearl and No Greater Joy Ministries, I do very much appreciate and recommend his wife's book, "Created To Be His Help Meet."

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

15-year Wedding Anniversary

Almost two weeks ago, on August 13th, my husband and I celebrated 15 years of marriage. We were happy and excited newlyweds, but it truly does get better and better! If you have never read the story of how we met and married, my husband did a series on that on his blog. To keep reading the next chapter, just keep clicking "next post."

Since we had no babysitter for our anniversary this year, we knew that whatever we did would have to involve the kids, too. With just having spent a lot of money on our house (termites, a/c), and the medical expenses from Stephen's recent hospital stay (it takes a couple of months for the money to come back from Samaritan Ministries members), funds were a bit tight. At the same time, 15 years of marriage is a big deal, and we knew that if we stayed home, the day would be like any other, because just to keep the kids dressed, fed, and alive requires a full day's work at this season of life.

We decided to take a short anniversary trip to Southern California. It's not too far, nice hotels are inexpensive, the weather at the West Coast is always perfect, and we had a gift card for a whale watching tour for all of us in Newport Beach that my husband got for his birthday from a family at church. 

We left after breakfast on Thursday morning, the day of our anniversary, and drove four hours to Palm Springs, where we had lunch at Round Table Pizza - a California must! As I was biting into a fresh, hot, cheesy slice (something I rarely do these days since being on THM most of the time), I remarked that in spite of virtually never having had a Coke in close to a decade, I still crave it every single time I eat pizza. My husband, being the great and wise man that he is, promptly bought me one to make the dining experience perfect. The kids looked at me with a mixture of surprise, jealously, and horror as I actually drank it. I did end up watering it down a bit with plain soda water just because I am not used to the sticky sweetness any more, but it was just perfect! ;)

After lunch, we continued on to Cabazon and toured the (creation-based) Dinosaur Museum. It was a very hot day, but we still had a great time.

This was taken from inside the head of the dinosaur in the first photo above.

After the museum, we headed back to Palm Springs and checked into our hotel. By staying in Palm Springs, we were able to break up the drive, and saved even more on hotels. These days, our family of ten requires two rooms with two queen beds each to comfortably fit, and thanks to the Express Deals on Priceline, getting a nice hotel in a great location for a low price was a snap.

Anniversary selfie

In the evening, my husband and the kids spent time playing in the hotel pool while I was able to relax in our rooms. They were adjoining rooms, so we were able to leave the door between them open during our stay, which really made for spacious accommodations. I then went and bought dinner for the kids (thank you to everyone who sent Chipotle gift cards for my husband's birthday - they are always much appreciated, and helped make this trip affordable), which they ate by the pool side. No mess in the room, nice! :) I also picked up pastries, milk, and OJ at Whole Foods so we could do breakfast quickly in the morning. My husband and I were holding out for our special anniversary dinner: The Cheesecake Factory was right by the hotel, so my husband bought us a nice dinner there, which we enjoyed by ourselves in peace and quiet after the kids were asleep.

Friday morning, we got up early-ish, and after breakfast, drove two hours to Long Beach where we had booked a homeschool field trip for the Aquarium of the Pacific. Tip: If you are a homeschool family and traveling, you can call ahead to the places you plan to visit, and inquire if they offer school rates for homeschoooled students. Few will give you the school group rate at the door, but virtually all will honor it if booked in advance. We were able to get into the aquarium for $6 per person, which is a huge discount compared to regular admission. 

 The kids wore their matching "field trip day" shirts again, which makes it easy to spot them in a crowd.

 A rare picture of yours truly

 Big helpers and little charges

 People watching from the parking garage

The Aquarium is super cool, and even though we were only there for less than 3 hours, we got to see every exhibit because it is laid out so well.

 The kids loved touching the sharks.

Big love and littlest love

From the aquarium, we headed down Highway 1 to Newport Beach, where we were going to go whale watching. Highway 1 is another California must, of course, and we enjoyed the drive.

Flowers from my sweetie. At his age, they are usually accompanied by a marriage proposal, much to the horror of the older kids. 

 Anna followed Boaz around like this the whole time,very protective of him.

The whale watching cruise was a lot of fun. At first, I was a bit unnerved by how much the boat was rolling and going up and down in the water, which was not exactly calm that day. None of the kids were in life jackets, and I was mildly alarmed about them going overboard. We did get to see three whales, which was great, as none of the tours before us that day had spotted any. And nobody went overboard, so it really was a great outing!

We arrived back at our hotel late on Friday night, and crashed after such a long, full day.

On Saturday, we slept in for as long as the kids let us. Then we played a DVD for them on the laptop, and got another hour of quiet that way. My husband went and picked up breakfast for us at Panera, which is a rare treat for us because they used to only be in California and none in Arizona (there are a few branches now, but I still only go there on vacation). After a leisurely breakfast, he took the kids to the pool to play while I was able to pack up and straighten the rooms without any little ones underfoot.

Originally, my husband had wanted to stop at the Salton Sea on the way home, but I was able to dissuade him from that idea when I started looking into why I had never heard of this place if it was supposedly the "Riviera of the Desert". Oh yeah, in my support, we also could smell the stench from it from the hotel parking lot, even though it was about 20 miles or more away. Ha! So instead, we headed home after lunch on Saturday. Thankfully the little kids slept through most of the 4-hour drive. 

Just a short trip, but we had a wonderful time. This was our only "vacation" this summer, but we enjoyed it. Traveling with as many kids as we have is not exactly a break, but it is a nice change of pace from our usual routine, and we got to see a bunch of new places. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Watch "Wait Till It's Free" for free until August 19th

Our family is a member of Samaritan Ministries. I've never blogged about them specifically before, but mentioned it here. We absolutely LOVE this alternative to health insurance, and cannot recommend them enough.

This week, I received an email from Samaritan Ministries, informing me that a new documentary by Colin Gunn ("IndoctriNation"), Wait Till It's Free, is currently available online to view for free, until August 19th.

Please click here to see it in full, through August 19th.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The myth of the perfect homeschool curriculum, and what we use

I don't like to think of myself as "veteran" anything, but now in my 12th year of homeschooling, I guess that's what I am, or at least am thought of as being. Our kids this year are in grades 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, and K5. Like you haven't already heard a million times before, enjoy your kids while they are little, because times goes by sooo fast! I remember teaching the oldest boys their letters, and it doesn't seem right that it happened as long ago as it did. 

Many times I am asked about my favorite curriculum, what I use, or what I would recommend. Of course I like to help other moms starting out on the homeschool journey, but I also want to caution them against the idea that there is such a thing as a perfect curriculum that works for all kids, all grades, from K through 12th grade. That's like asking me what I think a perfect spouse is like - my ideas and preferences are not those of someone else.

There are three main reasons why I believe there is no such thing as one curriculum that a homeschool parent can settle on once and for all:

- Learning style: Everyone is different, and what works for one child, may not at all work for another. To illustrate this, think about this: when getting directions, do you prefer a drawn map with the route, or do you prefer written/verbal directions? I am lost with the latter, I have to "see" where I am going. My husband is exactly the opposite. Kids are the same way - what clicks with one does not click with another.

- Aptitude: One child may be a math whiz, another may struggle with it, but excel at a different subject. The 8th grade level book that works for one child, may totally go over another child's head, who will need a less demanding curriculum in that particular subject.

- Interest: Not only do kids get bored using the same curriculum year after year, but so do we as homeschool moms! It's nice to change things up and switch curriculum around a bit to keep everyone engaged and interested in learning. 

Of course, switching around too much is not only costly, it also takes up much space to store your materials, and makes it difficult for the parent to become an expert at teaching any one subject with ease because he/she is not familiar with the curriculum.

All that being said, here is a little chart of what I have nailed down as our favorite curricula for the core subjects after over a decade of homeschooling. This chart includes the various options in each subject to allow for the three factors mentioned above.  

This is just what we do, what works for us, and may look totally different for someone else.

 And here is Week 1 of this year's lesson plans (if you click on the picture, it should come up bigger):

The colors are for the different children, and correspond to "their" identifying color in our family. Orange: Solomon, 10th grade; Green: Isaac, 8th grade; Blue: John, 6th grade; Turquoise: Miriam, 4th grade; Purple: Rebecca, 2nd grade; Pink: Anna, K5

For the first year ever, I was able to write all 36 weeks of lesson plans, complete with activities and field trips, for the entire year! Which is exciting, because it really helps the kids be able to work more independently, and us all to stay motivated and on track. 

This was our first week of school, and it went very well. We typically do field trips on Friday morning, and then finish up loose ends and go to the library on Saturday. 

I hope this helps someone else out there! :)

Friday, July 31, 2015

July Birthdays

My husband and our seventh child, Stephen, share the same birthday - July 24th - though they are separated by 31 years. You can read about that here

At age 3, Stephen is into boy stuff, and likes dressing up as a racecar driver, a construction worker, or a fireman - or sometimes a bit of all three at once. Sometimes he demands, "Don't call me Stephen, call me [insert pretend character of the day]!" It's so cute, and it brings back memories of when the older boys were little. 

 That face!

  Becky got him this tool set, which he loves

  Playing with the toy cars from John

 Typical Becky...

  Miriam sewed this book for him by herself. He loves it and takes it to bed with him every day.

 This construction themed set of plate and cutlery was another huge hit. 

 Birthday breakfast of pancakes, syrup, fresh strawberries, and maple syrup. 

This racecar driver costume used to be John's, but is currently Stephen's favorite.

 My two handsome men


 Ticket to Ride is one of our favorite games, and my husband is all about India these days, learning one of their languages and such. So I figured he might like this extension set. 

(Please ignore the box of school supplies to be donated under the table...)

That night, we had a board game night at church, which was great fun. Many thanks to those who sent birthday wishes, cards, and even gifts. It was a great day all around. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Nakedness, Modesty, and Breastfeeding

This sermon my husband preached yesterday is spot on and full of biblical truth, cutting through opinions and worldly views commonly shrouding these topics in today's society. 

I am thankful that at our church, we do not have a problem of breastfeeding mothers being persecuted, simply because we started the church and have taught the people we have reached right from the start. I do feel bad for ladies and mothers being confronted with these issues virtually everywhere else, though.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Body weight and fertility

Disclaimer: As if you didn't already know this, I am reminding you that I am not a doctor or medical professional. I am sharing what I have learned in hopes of helping someone who struggles with infertility. 

As the mother of a large family, and married to a pastor who preaches against birth control, sometimes people get the idea that I am surrounded by nothing but ladies having one baby after another. And while it is true that many of my Christian friends and acquaintances likewise welcome all children as a blessing, and consequently have large families, there are almost just as many ladies who wish they had a(nother) child,  but struggle with infertility.

You see, trusting God with your family size does not equal having a large family. It simply means that you put God in charge of your fertility, whether that means not preventing children by way of birth control,  or likewise also not using assisted reproductive technology to artificially grow your family.

Modern technology and medicine can be a blessing, but it can also be used as a tool to play God. How can we tell where to draw the line of what is acceptable, and what is not? In regard to infertility, our test has always been: does this measure simply restore health, or does it go beyond that? Does it save, or does it destroy life? If a lady has medical issues that can be fixed, which prevent her from becoming pregnant, then by all means, address the underlying problems in hopes of becoming pregnant. Examples could be: hormone balances are off, the body is not producing enough progesterone, there are cysts/fibroids etc.  All these issues, when addressed, restore a normal state of health. Whereas if we think of other options out there today, such as IVF, using a surrogate, sperm/egg donation, etc., these all go beyond restoring natural health, and fall into the "playing God" category. 

To recap so far, I am not a stranger to counseling ladies regarding infertility, and I believe measures that restore normal health are morally acceptable.

With all that being said, I believe the vast majority of ladies struggling with infertility fall into two categories: they either weigh too much (BMI greater than 30), or they weigh too little (BMI less than 20). Both seem to be equally prevalent. 

That is the quick assessment. The BMI thresholds are not necessarily accurate for every individual. On a deeper level, it really is not so much body weight, as the underlying diet that is to blame, but for most of us diet/health and weight go hand in hand, so using body weight is a good indicator for most. I mention this because there are some people within normal weight ranges who struggle with infertility due to their diet, while others eat too much healthy food and are very overweight but fertile. However, the majority of people struggling with infertility tends to be either over- or underweight. 

For those on the underweight end of the spectrum, a lack of consuming healthy fats in adequate quantities is a huge part of the problem. The right kinds of fats are absolutely vital to proper hormone production, which in turn control every process in our body, including reproduction. However, skinny people often believe the once prevalent but false notion that fats are unhealthy, when the truth is that natural fats are very healthy, whereas man-made fats are what is destructive. 

Also, simply not eating enough will not provide the body with enough nutrients to grow another human, which is why the rates of miscarriage are much higher in severely underweight and anorexic ladies. 

For those on the overweight end of the spectrum, either an over-consumption of bad fats, and/or of sugar and simple carbs, will wreak havoc on health and reproduction. While fats often get the bad rap for being destructive to health, this blame should really be placed on sugar and simple carbs. These simple sugars, when consumed regularly even in moderate quantities, are stored by the body as fat, and in the long run cause insulin resistance. Ultimately, this can lead to type II (acquired) diabetes, which simply means that the body is no longer able to produce enough insulin to even convert this excess sugar into fat. In the case of uncontrolled diabetes, excess sugar remains in the blood stream, where it can lead to diabetic shock, coma, and death.

Simple carbs that should be all but eliminated include sugar, white flour and other simple grains, starchy foods like potatoes, sodas, other high-glycemic index foods such as fruit juice, and for those struggling with insulin resistance, even sweet fruits like grapes, melons, and the like.

Healthy fats that should be consumed daily to the tune of at least 2 tablespoons per day include butter, tallow/lard from pasture-fed animals free of hormones, antibiotics, or GMO feed, and some naturally saturated plant fat like palm and coconut oil, as well as unheated olive and avocado oils. Some foods that are naturally high in healthy fats are fatty fish like salmon, nuts, eggs, whole milk products, and avocados. People struggling with infertility would do well to consume these daily.

Fats to be avoided at all cost, even in small amounts, are: vegetable oils such as corn, canola, or soy etc, man-made fats like margarine, store-bought "lard" or shortening, or any other hydrogenated fats. This also includes any ready-made foods and snacks that contain these, which includes virtually all conventional, packaged goods (e.g. cookies, chips, cakes, fast food, anything fried, etc.)

Further avoided should be simple sugars and carbs, especially in liquid form. These will destroy your metabolism and hormone balance, in turn preventing you from being able to become pregnant.

In a nut shell, my advice to those struggling with infertility is: If you are underweight, seek to gain weight and achieve a BMI of over 20 by daily consuming healthy fats, in combination with complex carbs. If you are overweight, switch to only consuming healthy fats, and drastically reduce your intake of sugar and simple carbs, while aiming to lose about 5-10% of your body weight. If there is no known underlying cause of your infertility, this will almost certainly allow you to become pregnant.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Hodgepodge Post

Please pardon the unusually long blogging absence. This blog has collected quite some dust since my last post I'm afraid. With summer in full swing, there have been some special activities and outings going on. Just typical summer bucket list stuff. The kids also go to bed later than usual, for which they make up by getting up earlier than normal. As a result, my quite alone time, especially on the computer, has pretty much ceased to exist. I have taken to going on early morning walks by myself at the park every day for that little link to sanity. The weather at that hour is cool and mild - some mornings, I have even enjoyed a bit of rain showers.

Most days, Boaz cooperates, and goes back to sleep after I nurse him whenever I wake up, typically around 5 a.m. Other days, he won't go back to sleep, but is too tired and crabby to actually enjoy being up. For these times, I just purchased a new soft-structured carrier that I really love, and want to recommend: the Lillebaby. Putting him on my back or front in it is a snap, and I can bring him along on my morning walk, which sends him back to dreamland where he is supposed to be at that early hour. Very comfortable even for extended walks!

That look! :)

Anyhow, the long days and extra activities have left me with virtually no computer time, but it's summer, so it's all good.


There was a gastrointestinal virus that made its way pretty much through the entire state, and also brushed us. None of us got seriously ill, but because no two of us were sick at the same time, it really, really dragged this thing out over the course of almost two weeks. Just as one person would get over it, the next person would start. Fun, fun!

In a little more serious of a medical incident, I took little Stephen to the pediatrician after having a somewhat severe reaction to a bee sting on his hand (red, hot, considerably swelled, and a rash over his body). Since all his symptoms involved only one system (the skin), this was not considered an anaphylactic reaction. But clearly, he must be allergic to some extent, and his reaction this time was quite a bit more severe than that after his first sting last year.

 It doesn't look so big, until you put it in relation with my hand under his.

The pediatrician was concerned the severe swelling on the hand would cut off circulation to the fingers, especially since the swelling had not yet reached its peak. So on we went to the children's ER, where Stephen was subsequently admitted to the hospital after several hours of observation, when IV steroids had failed to reduce the swelling significantly.

He took it all in stride. When they moved him up to his own room, I told him it was like staying at a hotel on vacation. So for the rest of his stay, he kept telling everyone he was on vacation in California :) He never cried once, not even when they laid the IV, but when I went home that night and he stayed behind with Dad, we wailed and really wanted me to stay instead. Since Bo still nurses, and I didn't want to keep him overnight at the hospital, me staying there was not really an option. 

 Watching the helipad and the arriving ambulances.

To my local readers, I just want to give a huge shout-out to Cardon Children's Hospital. This has been our second experience with them, and both stays have been excellent in service and care. (By comparison, every experience I have had with Phoenix Children's has been awful.) The nurses and doctors at Cardon are very friendly, respect their patients and their parents, and generally go out of their way to make everything as pleasant as possible. Some examples: Stephen was showered with new, in the box, age-appropriate toys and activities in the ER, while they fed me fresh deli sandwiches that are kept on hand just for parents. The inpatient rooms offer comfortable, spacious rooms, and made-to-order meals, hotel room service style (minus the price tag, since it's all included). There are tons of play rooms, therapy dogs, interactive displays etc. that make this hospital a beautiful and fun place to be for patients as well as siblings that are visiting. A few days after we were back home, Stephen received a card that had been hand-signed by all his doctors and nurses. Last but not least, because we do not carry medical insurance, the hospital automatically deducted about 2/3 off our price as a cash discount, making this stay cost only about what most people pay for their health insurance premiums in a couple of months. 

On that note, another huge shout-out to Samaritan Ministries, a Christian medi-share program that allows members to help each other bear such unexpected medical bills by sharing funds. We joined them last year, after a short and disappointing stint with "real" health insurance (which made as little financial sense then as it did ten years ago when we first cancelled it). Until this incident, I had enjoyed reading Samaritan's monthly newsletter, being able to put a real name along with my share each month and send it directly to whoever needed it, along with a Get Well card, but the way they have handled this need is truly just a testimony to how wonderful it is to join together with other believers in such an undertaking. We wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone as a fabulous alternative to medical insurance. This medi-share program is acceptable under the new mandatory health care laws, so between not paying the fines on taxes and the inevitable maternity and child-related needs being covered, this is a great fit for us.

Stephen now has to carry an Epi-pen (well, I do), but otherwise has no lasting harm. We have a lot of bees around here, so much so that I suspect a backyard urban hobby beekeeper must live close by. People always think of scorpions or rattlesnakes being the deadly animals here in Arizona, but they kill less than 1 person per year in the US. By comparison, bees are the deadliest animals, killing more humans in the US every year than any other animal (approx. 55/year).

Anyhow, if you think of it, please pray that Stephen does not get stung again anytime soon, and that if he does, his reaction will not be severe.

One last shout-out for my local readers to a place we discovered a couple of weeks ago: Shakes and Cones in old-town Scottsdale.

An all-organic soft serve ice cream place. Think Dairy Queen, minus the weird aftertaste and questionable ingredients. So, SO good!!! Price-wise, very reasonable, especially since the portions are humongous. Service is outstanding. What's not to love?  That they are not closer to my house. Or maybe that's a good thing.

Hope you are all enjoying summer with your loved ones!

(No affiliate links in this post, I really just like everything I have recommended above.)