A Tricky Tooth

Photo credit: Peter Skadberg

Photo credit: Peter Skadberg

I’d had enough of tooth pain. For 15 years, I’d suffered from headaches due to the pressure from wisdom teeth that didn’t have room to erupt.

In April, I went in and had one of my top wisdom teeth pulled. It was a breeze. I was in and out of the office in 15 min. “Oh, it’s out?” I asked in surprise when the tooth was presented to me between the tips of needle-nose pliers. There was so little pain during the recovery that I didn’t even need to take pain medication.

Why had I waited so long? It was heavenly to have that miserable tooth gone.

On Thursday I went in to have another wisdom tooth pulled, this one on the bottom. It was also causing me some headaches and jaw pain.

I was cheerful going in, but the ordeal soon turned nightmarish. The tooth was impacted and the roots wound around my jaw bone. The dentist had to cut through bone at least three times. The pressure was so profound as she yanked and pulled that I was worried my jaw was going to break.

Time dragged on, and more than once my dentist sounded panicked that she wasn’t going to be able to remove the tooth. A significant amount of blood was making it difficult to see. I was worried that I was going to end up at the hospital under a general anesthetic before this was over.

Piece by piece, my tooth was coming out and was carelessly tossed onto the tray. When the last big piece was retrieved, the dentist cheered and relief flooded my body.

“There’s one more piece of root left in there, but I think it would do more harm than good to try and remove it.”

Fine, fine, I thought. Just sew me up and let me out of this chair.

An hour-and-a-half after I blissfully waltzed into the office, I stumbled back out. $430 dollars to be tortured? Hardly seems like a good deal, but I quickly paid.

“How’d it go?” Kevin asked.

My mouth opened and closed as I tried to answer, but I finally just shook my head. Tears were too close to the surface to try and answer.


It’s Saturday, and I was able to eat some soft food again after 2 days of a liquid diet. The swelling has subsided in my jaw, and my children no longer startle every time they look up from their schoolbooks and glimpse my distorted face.

Health, sweet, sweet health. I often fail to enjoy it and be grateful for my health until I lose it for a time. The pain of the past few days makes me think of those who deal with chronic pain every day of their lives. My heart goes out to them!

Another thing I’m thankful for is anesthetic. What was dental work like to endure before pain relief? I shudder at the thought.

I find that each day brings opportunity for thanksgiving. I’m not thankful for the terrible experience of having my wisdom tooth removed, but I am thankful for God’s goodness through it.

I’m also thankful that one of my wisdom teeth never grew in. (My mom also only ever had three wisdom teeth.) And the last wisdom tooth? . . . It’s fine. Really. ;)

We Remember

A couple weeks ago, my oldest daughter compiled this video of the poem “In Flanders Fields.” I hope you are blessed by it as we remember the fallen.

<3 Rachel


Photo Credit: Betty Miller

Photo Credit: Betty Miller

I’m not sure if this is unique to my family, but the males in my home love to make me scream.

It’s often during a pause in a movie—while the house is dark and ominous. Kevin will find a door to hide behind or a corner to emerge from unexpectedly. I’ll scream or make guttural noises in my throat and flap my arms—and for a moment Kevin will look worried—but then I’ll see a hint of a smile that spreads all the way to his eyes, and soon we’re laughing until I’m wiping away tears.

There’s something exhilarating about a good scare and a neighbourhood-rousing scream. It’s better than coffee for revving up the senses.

Often, after I’ve been thoroughly terrified, I’ll hear the children giggling in their rooms. Somehow my screams boost the morale of the whole family. I’m just as confused at that as you are. But now the boys are getting in on scaring me too.

A few nights ago, I was walking with my friend Miriam on the driveway. It was getting dark. We were deep in conversation as we walked past my husband’s work truck. Suddenly, a dark figure leapt off the bumper, landed in front of us, and yelled.

I screamed…and I screamed. My legs went numb. And there was my son Owen, bouncing from one foot to the other in complete delight. The three of us laughed long and loud, and before long the feeling returned to my legs.

We went back to walking, and Owen went off to bed. Almost an hour later we were even deeper in conversation, it was darker, and an even larger figure jumped off the same bumper and scared us again. It was Kevin this time, and he didn’t even know that Owen had beat him to the scream.

My family knows not to tickle me—I’m much more likely to punch than laugh when tickled…But being scared? Yeah, I’m okay with that. :)


Photo credit: winjohn


Computers. Sometimes you love them, and sometimes you want to smash them with a hammer.

The girls were finishing their Biology course and were supposed to do a presentation via the internet at 7:00pm on Monday night. At 2:00 I thought I’d log onto the v-class to see how to go about presenting slides.

We’d logged onto the class several times before without incident, but this time an innocent little screen popped up: “How do you want to open this type of file (.jnlp)?” It seemed polite enough. I had no idea how loathsome those words would become after 5 hours.

There was a list of apps that I could choose, so I picked Adobe. It didn’t work, so I tried internet explorer. That just took me to a page of gibberish. And worse, I couldn’t change it. Finally I tried a system restore. It took most of an hour, and when my computer came back on, I couldn’t use google chrome at all, and the school website doesn’t support internet explorer.

My computer is a laptop, and at this point I was considering closing it and flinging it like a Frisbee. I might have asked for help in the first place, but here it was 2 hours later, and I was even worse off than when I started. There was no point in asking for help on how to open a “.jnlp file”, when I couldn’t even access the website anymore.

I redid all my updates. Nothing. I re-downloaded Chrome, and it worked, but another 30 minutes had passed.

I downloaded an app suggested by my very helpful computer, but it did nothing. I would have just given up and gone to the library, but the library is closed on Monday. I fretted and stomped and finally hung my head on my arms and shed a few tears.

I’d like to think that being a mom of six kids, I’ve learned some patience along the way—but apparently not. I was completely undone by a computer. I did finally ask for help, but I was too frustrated to think straight, and nothing worked.

Five hours. I vainly fiddled and fussed over this inanimate object for five hours.

I’d sent of dozens of little, “Please help me to get this stupid thing to work” prayers. But I finally asked Kevin and the kids to pray with me, and I gave the situation to God.

It all comes down to surrender. Do I trust God with the outcome? Even if things don’t work out the way I planned? These were the questions I felt probing my heart.

We never did get logged onto that v-class. It was disappointing, but God had a lesson to teach me about computers, faith, and surrender.

By 7:00, my heart was restful. Thankfully, there wasn’t a hammer handy at 5:00. ;)

“ Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

                                                                                                                                     ~Philippians 4:6-7


Drawing credit: Cieleke

Do you break dishes weekly? Burn yourself every time you use the oven? Find large bruises and not know where they come from? I feel your pain, friend. I’ve been there.

I remember one year that was especially full of injuries. I was six or seven at the time. It started with jumping on my parent’s bed with my little brother. I always get carried away. I tripped over Dan and smacked my forehead on the headboard.

I reached up and touched the sticky wound. It didn’t hurt until I crawled up onto the bathroom counter and saw the blood all over my face. I was screaming so loud when we got to the hospital, that the doctor decided to apply a butterfly bandage instead of stitches. Yes, that is the scar that you see in the middle of my forehead.

My folly is that I don’t learn from pain. It’s so quickly forgotten.

We went to the circus a couple of months later, and I was entranced by the woman on the trapeze. Effortlessly she swung from a bar high above the sandy floor. I held my breath when she gracefully hung by one hand, her legs splayed, toes pointed out. She tipped her head back and held on by her teeth as she gently twirled.

I never was one to play princess. I would be a circus girl. I would soar on a trapeze.

I shimmied up the rope that held our tire swing, grabbed a hold of the other end of the rope with my teeth and hung there spinning. I imagined I was soaring through the air on a swing high above a crowd. I fell.

That was my first broken arm of the summer. You’d think that one would be enough.

There are rumours that I broke my other arm when I jumped out of the fort with an umbrella. I don’t deny the Mary Poppins impersonation—but that’s not when I broke my arm. I was just climbing the ladder when I was distracted by a squirrel. I missed the rung and ended up making another run to the hospital with my harried parents.

Apparently three trips to emergency in half a year warranted my parents being sent out of the room while I was questioned about abuse. I don’t remember the conversation, but I must have passed the interrogation.


Fast forward two decades, and I was still injuring myself daily. I would burn myself while cooking or jump down onto ice and fall and hit my head. I have a cracked tooth where I smacked my cup against it every single day.

My husband had enough when we moved into our new house and I fell down the stairs three times. I had bruises from my ribs almost down to my knees. “You start paying attention and stop hurting yourself!” Kevin’s voice was tight with worry.

My twins were 25 pounds each at the time. I packed those babies up and down the stairs several times a day—and I never once fell when I was carrying them. I realized that I was careful with my babies, but not careful when it was just me.

I decided to try caution—more to put Kevin at ease than anything, but it worked. I’d tell myself, “Pay attention. Don’t fall,” while I walked down the stairs. I learned to move my cup slowly towards my mouth instead of whamming it into my teeth.

I know this sounds ridiculous to most of you, but some of us are born with our heads in the clouds, and it takes conscious effort to learn a little caution and care.

I’m proud to say that I can’t remember when I last broke a dish, and when I have a bruise—I usually know where it came from. Small successes, but successes none the less. If I can do it, so can you.

Have a fantastic—and safe—weekend!

<3 Rachel

Miriam and William

Miriam and William

This post was written last year by my dear friend Miriam after she watched our children while my husband and I were on vacation. She is a continuous blessing to my children and to me.

~     ~     ~

“I picked this for you, Miriam!” A little four-and-a-half year-old marches proudly into the house from his typically lengthy jaunt to the outhouse, holding out a fresh-plucked dandelion in his chubby hand. His sweet face is lit up by a huge and loving smile. My heart completely melts. “Thank you, William! That’s so sweet of you,” I exclaim as I accept the gift and add it to the steadily growing bouquet of flowers, smiling widely in return. Indeed, How can one help but smile when one is so blessed by the love of a child?

The baby giggles happily as I rock him to and fro and sing his favourite bedtime song, “Jesus loves me,” with a smile on my face. We are having so much fun together, that I start a new song right after, which includes the phrase, “God is always there watching you.” The baby catches the phrase, squealing in delight,” God watching me? God watching me!” I assure him that God does indeed love him and watch over him (and Mommy and Daddy and his brothers and sisters, too!) as I settle him into his crib, tucking the blankets around him and saying a little prayer. Precious moments, these!

“The soul is healed by being with children.” So Russian novelist Dostoevsky said; and certainly many times when I have felt ‘low’ – even for no particularly good reason – my spirits have risen just by having the chance to play with and read or listen to one (or more) of my friends’ little ones. There is nothing like caring for children to bring us out of and beyond ourselves – I find, anyway. I am so very grateful to those friends who have shared not only themselves, but also their precious ‘littles’ with me over the years.

Today more than ever marriages and families are in dire need of help and encouragement, as the attack against them (on both a physical and spiritual plane) grows steadily more prevalent and powerful. I have discovered that just because one happens to be unmarried, it doesn’t mean he or she has no role to play in the lives of the families whom God sees fit to place in his or her life.

Indeed, I believe single persons (as well as other married ones) may have a powerful role in supporting the parents’ training and work with their children, not only by being an example to them by how they live their lives, but also by teaching and affirming the parents’ instructions both in word and deed. For no family is an island to themselves; each requires the positive examples and strong support of other outside influences as they grow to maturity, be those influencing factors from individuals or from families, at home, at church, in schools and daycares, from various teachers, or from counsellors at a summer camp.

Does recognizing (and seeking, as able, to walk in) this role mean I no longer desire to one day have a home filled with a husband and children of my own? Certainly not! I do, indeed; but more than this longing, I desire to glorify my Lord with my life, whatever my marital and familial status might be; and I perceive that if I cannot learn to be joyful, content, and productive in serving the Lord during this season of my life (which in His Providence may last all my life), I shall not discover greater joy in any other. “The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today” (Elbert Hubbard), “for while we are executing any work, we are preparing and qualifying ourselves to undertake another” (William Hazlatt).

As happy as my visits with my friends and their children may be, oftentimes I still drive away with tears stinging my eyes; but they are tears of joy rather than of sorrow. My arms may be yet empty, but my heart is, oh, so full!


“Who are you and what have you done with my wife?” Kevin pulled away from me, and his mouth fell open. Moments before we were getting ready to pray together—like we do every night—when I asked him if our daughters could go on a school trip to Hawaii.

It was out of character.

Since our oldest daughter was born, we’d held our children close and sought to protect them. When other 5-year-olds boarded a bus and went to school, I kept mine at home to teach them myself. Our children stayed with us during church instead of going to Sunday school. We felt that it was our duty to teach our children the Bible.

Of upmost importance for both of us was to protect our children. Too sheltered? A greenhouse? Maybe, but our children were happy and thriving, and we wanted them to be strong and have a firm foundation before being thrust into the world.

I’m not sorry for those years of holding them close.

But it dawned on me that there had to be a time of letting go too. In only a few years, our oldest would be old enough to go to college. We’d protected her and sought to teach her truth, responsibility and honesty, but what had we done to prepare her to stand on her own?

I was notified of a Biology 11 class that included a trip to Hawaii. It sounded like an incredible opportunity for hands-on learning, and both of our daughters have interests in that field. The thought of sending them that far away terrified me, but I prayed about it and then asked Kevin what he thought.

“Do you really want them to do this?” Kevin finally asked.

“I don’t know, but Myra’s 14 and she might be leaving home in four years. We need to be thinking about ways to prepare both her and us for this.”

We decided to send them to camp last summer and see how that went before deciding whether or not they would go to Hawaii. Even sending them to camp was hard, but a close friend was going to be the camp nurse for the summer and the kids’ home teacher would be there too.

The girls had an incredible time at camp. They came home tired, happy, and more confident. We signed them up for the Hawaii trip.

The interactive class completely engaged both girls. They took part in v-classes with their teacher and the other students. They did group projects, and were forced to look at some big issues—like evolution—and learn where they stood on them.

They were scared the day we stood in the airport. They cried when they hugged us goodbye, but they were ready for this. We’d spent years loving them, protecting them, and teaching them. It was time to fly.

Of course I worried about them. I’m a mom. On the morning we were to pick them up at the airport, I had a few meltdowns. The hotel put us down for the wrong time for the shuttle to the airport, and the girls’ plane was ahead of schedule. I was beyond upset at the thought that we wouldn’t be there when they got off the plane.

As it turns out…we were there an hour early and by far the first parents there.

I watched them come through the doors trailing their suitcases. They scanned the crowd. Anxiously. Looking for us. I waved, and they came running. They threw down their bags and suitcases and squeezed us tightly. I wasn’t ashamed of the tears on my cheeks.

The girls had been on the plane all night and had slept very little, but it didn’t keep them from talking excitedly about their trip most of the 11-hour drive home. I laughed when Myra said she woke up on the plane and saw Melanie sleeping with her head face down on the table in front of her. I laughed even harder when I heard the story of how they accidently stole a cooler from the beach and when they opened it, it was full of rice. Cooked rice.

It was a celebration. We were together.

Myra is now looking for a job. She wants to go on the school trip to Europe next year. A longer trip. Further away.

They grew up on this trip. They are more confident, more vibrant. The letting go has begun.


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