The 1992 Flanders Family Update
January began at a snail’s pace for us, due in part to the fact Doug was in the midst of a difficult rotation, Jennifer in the last weeks of her pregnancy, and the children on a less rigid “school” schedule. By the time February rolled around, however, things began to gain momentum.
Doug planned a nice, romantic dinner for two on Valentine’s Day, but the baby was quick to remind us there were actually three people present. Jennifer felt a sharp abdominal pain as we entered the restaurant, and by the time we were seated (an hour and a half later) she was having contractions three minutes apart. Dr. Cutrer advised we skip dinner and rush straight to the hospital. We complied, but the contractions stopped as soon as we reached the labor room and didn’t begin again for another five days. Still a week away from her due date, Jennifer anticipated a long labor and brought along Foxe’s Book of Martyrs to read while she waited, but after only four hours of contractions, she had to lay the book aside as our little David Michael made his hand-first appearance at 1:01 am, Thursday, February 20. He weighed 9 lbs. 1 oz. (our smallest yet) and measured 21 1/2 inches. From the very beginning, he has had the most pleasant disposition, seldom complaining about anything. He truly is a joy — always so happy and content!
Providentially, David was born just one day before Doug began a six-week vacation — we couldn’t have timed the birth better had we “planned it” ourselves! So it was that through the month of March, while Mom and baby rested at home, Dad and the kids painted the town, visiting a different museum, park or local attraction every day! By the end of the month, Jennifer and David had begun to venture out with them on their excursions, and our entire family enjoyed a three-day retreat in Pine Cove with a group from Believer’s Chapel.
April was birthday month for our family: Doug turned 25 and Jennifer 27. Our brother-in-law, Jeff, celebrated his 30th, though he scarcely looks it with his new braces. For his birthday, Doug received a copy of Larry Burkett’s Illuminati, which proved to be the best fiction we read all year (the year’s best non-fiction was Paul deParrie’s Romanced to Death and Cal Thomas’ Book Burning, which we’d highly recommend to any of you who have not already read them).
May marked the welcome end to Doug’s four-year stint in medical school. He graduated from Southwestern on the 30th, and Jennifer had to blink away the tears as she videotaped him crossing the stage to receive his diploma. (We almost missed capturing this moment of family history on film — Jennifer inadvertently left the battery pack for our camcorder at home. When she realized her mistake, she fervently prayed that God would send somebody with a Sony to sit in the seat behind her, which is exactly what He did. That person graciously lent us his battery pack long enough to tape the desired footage!) Doug’s parents and sister came to town for the big event, then stayed to celebrate Jonathan’s fourth birthday with us on the 31st.
We had an even greater cause for rejoicing earlier this month when, one evening at bedtime, our tender-hearted little Jonathan told us how sad he is when he does wrong and how much he wants Jesus to live in his heart and help him do right. He prayed that night to give his heart to God, then began the very next day sharing the good news with his friends.
June brought with it an indication that Jennifer might be expecting our fourth baby. The symptoms persisted the entire month, during which time we did several pregnancy tests. We thought the negative results we kept getting must surely be incorrect, but they were evidently accurate. Jennifer must have just had the flu. Those five weeks of nausea and fatigue would have seemed a joy had pregnancy been the cause, but it was a disappointment to have endured it for naught. What part of June was not spent at home performing pregnancy tests was spent traveling.
We made two trips to Oklahoma and also spent a couple of days in Corpus Christi. Additionally, Doug had to stay four days in Austin while he took the Federal Licensing Exam (FLEX). We were all back in town for Father’s Day, and that afternoon the elders met with us in our home for a time of prayer and sharing. We are so grateful for our church family — not a Sunday goes by that we do not thank and praise God for the fellowship and teaching we receive at Believer’s Chapel.
On July 1, Doug began the first year of his residency. He will be at Parkland for his three years of anesthesia, but is doing his internship year in medicine at St. Paul. He worked an average of 120 hours a week this first month. More difficult than any of us had anticipated was the adjustment to this new schedule. By the end of the month, Jonathan was wishing his dad had never graduated (his school schedule was much better than this!). During the long hours Doug was away from us, we distracted ourselves by reading. Jennifer finished Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly eight-book series in two weeks, and by the end of the month, Jonathan and Bethany had both logged 32 hours in the library’s Summer “Read-to-Me” Program, each earning a book of his/her choice and a reading certificate. Even David got in on the action with 16 hours of being read-to; the rest of the time he spent eating (adding solid foods this month), sleeping (through the night now plus two naps), and crawling (perfect cross pattern by July 30).
In August, David got his first tooth, had his first haircut, and said his first word (“mama”); Doug was sworn into the Army Medical Reserves (he’s a captain); and we put a bid on what would have been our first house (had the owners not rejected our offer). Our fifth wedding anniversary was August 15. Since we’d been spending so little time together as a family, Jonathan and Bethany celebrated with us this year. We all went to Wet-n-Wild, but ended up spending most of the evening in the kiddie pool (Jonathan insisted the big slides made him feel like he “might need to throw-up” and Bethany feared she would drown if separated from her inner-tube again). Another prayer was answered toward the end of the month when Bethany gave her heart to God. More than anything else in the world, we want our children to know, love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and we cannot begin to express the joy it has brought us this year to see our oldest two express a desire to do just that. While we realize Jonathan and Bethany may still be years away from having the maturity to make this decision with full understanding of all it entails, it’s good to see that God is already at work in their hearts at this young and tender age.
Our sweet Bethany turned three in September, though she hardly looks 16 months younger than Jonathan. They are so near the same size that strangers often mistake them for twins. We feel very blessed to have such a loving and affectionate little daughter. Bethany is still very talkative (Papa insists that her curly hair is not the only trait she inherited from her great-grandmother!), so conversation seldom drags when she is around. Doug had the opportunity to demonstrate his medical expertise this month by doing a little cosmetic surgery on his wife-he removed five of Jennifer’s most bothersome moles, acting both as surgeon and anesthesiologist. Jennifer’s Dad was so impressed with his son-in-law’s work that he offered to let Doug “whittle” on him, too. Word spread, and by Thanksgiving a long queue of family and friends gathered around the kitchen table after dinner, watching and waiting for their turn to be de-moled!
October took us to Oklahoma again for Jennifer’s mother’s family reunion. Her parents were there for four days, but the rest of us (including Jennifer’s sister and brother-in-law) rode up together and stayed only two. Jeff didn’t want to be away from the books any longer than that, as is preparing for the CPA exam. Of course, Kimberly doesn’t have to study any more, since she finished her Master’s degree in June…. Jennifer went under the knife again the following week, and this time Doug joined her. We both had radial keratotomies done by Dr. Charles Key to correct our nearsightedness. Thinking we’d signed up for laser surgery, we were a bit unnerved when he warned us to “keep your eyes still” then started slicing away at our corneas with a sharp scalpel. Nevertheless, the surgeries were successful. We could both see 20/20 the minute we left his office, so neither of us needs to wear glasses any more. (Please note that the bulging of Doug’s eyes in our Christmas portrait is not a consequence of this surgery, but merely a side effect of the 36-hour shifts he’s been working at the hospital!)
Doug had a week’s vacation the end of October, and we spent two days of it at the coast visiting his grandparents. In an effort to pass time while on the plane to Corpus Christi, Doug reviewed flight-safety rules with the children. Jonathan was fascinated by how the seat cushions were designed to act as flotation devices, but Bethany was so terrified by the prospect of an emergency ocean landing that, when it came time to return to Dallas, she refused to board the plane until she had secured a promise from the captain that he wouldn’t fly over any water!
Of course, November got off to a rather dismal start with the unfortunate election of Bill Clinton. Jennifer took a photograph (for posterity) of the children in front of the newsstand the morning Clinton’s victory was announced in the headlines. As soon as the kids spotted Mom’s camera, all three broke out grinning from ear to ear, but we can assure you they were the only ones in this family who were smiling! Jennifer cried for half an hour when she heard Bush’s concession speech. As she lay awake fretting about the damage that could be done by such a morally-bankrupt president over the course of four years, Doug calmed and comforted her with a reminder that “He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world”. Indeed, we have nothing to fear — our God is sovereign over all.
By the end of the month, Jennifer’s parents were nearing completion of their remodeling project: Mother has her new bay window in the kitchen, an atrium door in the utility room, and 33 inches added to the length of both rooms (Jonathan got to help knock out the walls). Since Jennifer’s Dad is doing all the work himself, it naturally is perfect. It should really be spectacular once he gets entirely finished.Doug was off work the last week of November. We spent Thanksgiving Day in Oklahoma, but tried the rest of the time to just relax at home and enjoy one another’s company.
December will find Doug spending all of his days (and many of his nights) at the hospital again. He will not have another break in his schedule until next April. Though our family will be separated physically for much of the time this Christmas season, our hearts will be united in thanking God for the wonderful gift He gave us so long ago in the person of His Son, Jesus. It is our prayer that those of you who have likewise accepted this precious gift will join us in praising Him for it, and that those who have not might come to faith now and thereby discover what is the true meaning of Christmas. God bless you all and grant you a most joyous Christmas and prosperous New Year!