I am so excited to report that our son loves to vacuum. Well, let me clarify a bit. He's scared to death of the big vacuum, but he adores the little 'shark' vacuum I use to pick up small messes. Every time I bring it out he follows me around the house and attempts to take it from me. So, one day I decided it was time to 'train the child in the way he should go...' (please excuse me for taking this verse slightly out of context). :)

And guess what his Ya Ya got him for Christmas?!

His very own vacuum! He loves it! For now, it will do, but you better believe when he gets a few years older he's taking over the chore of vacuuming! :)

Merry Christmas (2 days late!)

Okay, so maybe it's December 27th and I'm just now wishing you all a Merry Christmas, but better late than never, right?! I pray you all had a wonderful holiday celebrating the birthday of the BEST gift this world was ever given! God WITH us!

Thank you, Jesus, for giving up your home in Heaven and choosing to be obedient to the Father's call - walking among common, dirty (physically and spiritually), selfish people. Thank you for loving us FIRST so that we could in turn love You! We celebrate Your birth, life, death and resurrection every single day of the year!


Christmas at our house

At my mom's request, I went around our house and took pictures of most of our Christmas decorations. Since she's halfway across the country and we won't see each other this Christmas, I figured that's the least I could do. :) So, if you could care less about what our house looks like right now, you may want to just skip over this post and move on to another friend's blog. Otherwise, scroll down and enjoy getting a taste of what Bramlett land looks like this season.

An old window from the seminary campus that hangs in our kitchen. That's where I'm keeping the Advent calendar my parent's gave Riley this year. Each morning he and I read the little square for the day. If I forget to read it while he's eating breakfast, he'll turn around (his chair sits right under the window) and say, "book, book" until I grab it and read. Too cute!
Our Christmas card holder (which I might add was found in a dumpster by my husband) and the piano. You can also see our tree in the mirror.
View from the other side of the piano. The nativity in the bottom right corner is from Swaziland.
Dining room table
Dining room hutch (with some of our Spode pieces...thanks, Mom & Dad!)
Garland hung across our 4 massive windows
The chopping block: The little tree was given to us by Daniel's mom our 1st married Christmas when we lived in a 414 square foot apartment and had no room for a real tree. I love thinking back on our experiences in the short (almost) 3 years we've been married! The punch bowl filled with silver balls was my grandmother's (dad's mom) and I just got to use it for the first time the other night when we had a Sunday School class party at our house!
Our tree (which you'll notice is up on a table since we have a little boy with curious fingers roaming around our house)
Nativity in the entry way given by my former boss at the seminary
I love Christmas lights on the outside of houses! One of our traditions growing up was to load up in the car and drive around looking at lights. Daniel wasn't too keen on putting up lights this year, but I pleaded by saying, "It's our first year to have a real house! We have to put up some lights!" I guess my face was pathetic enough because he gave in and hung all of the lights for me. Love that man! :) Here's the front door.
And the whole house. The plan is to buy more lights after Christmas so that next year our house will be even brighter :)
My two favorite guys peeking out at me as I took pictures



Riley goes through favorite fruit phases (alliteration, anyone?!). First it was blueberries, then strawberries, grapes, pineapple, bananas, and now we're in the apple phase. The funny thing is when we're in the grocery store, he thinks anything round is an apple (onions, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes, etc). He will say "apple, apple, apple..." over and over and over, you get the picture! So the other day I decided to try and capture it on video. It didn't quite turn out like I had planned (when does it ever with a 1 year old?), but you'll still get to hear the sweet boy's articulate pronunciation of 'apple.'


Jehovah Rapha

Once a month a group of ladies in our church gets together for what's called Christian Ladies Fellowship (CLF). It's always on a Tuesday night, there's always yummy food, and we always have great speakers. The speaker for the month of November was sweet J.M. (going to use initials to protect her privacy). One thing that's so special to me about J.M. is that she was our first contact with FBC Hughes Springs. She was a member of the pastor search committee, and she called Daniel in New Orleans, which began our dialogue with the church that we would soon call 'home.' We were then able to put a face with a name in early January when Daniel preached at FBC Hope, AR and the search committee came. From then until now, I don't think I've ever been around J when she hasn't smiled. She is truly one of the most joyful women I have ever met. I intentionally used the word 'joyful' instead of 'happy' because her joy does not come from herself...it is clearly from the Lord!

So back to the CLF meeting....J was asked to speak about Mary, the mother of Jesus. She shared a very challenging and heart-felt message about being women of faith and acting out that faith. She quoted the Word several times, but one verse that sticks out to me right now is Luke 1:38

And Mary said, 'Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.'

You see, J was not only speaking to the 12-15 women sitting in that room on a Tuesday night. The Lord was speaking to her and preparing her for the next step in her physical and spiritual journey. J had been having some physical ailments the weeks leading up to her message, but she and we had no clue what was going on in her body. As she spoke that night, cancer was developing in her breast and moving into her lymph nodes and spine. I hate even typing that ugly "C" word. It is evil, and it is not from our Lord! But, as we all know, it's a very real part of this world and we are all affected by it in some way or another.

As I've watched J go through test after test, biopsy after biopsy, wait days and days for results, drive back and forth to Longview (45 minutes away), I've often thought, "how would I respond in this situation?" Would I sit around crying and saying 'woe is me,' or would I respond as J has with a smile on my face telling everyone around, "I know it's going to be okay! God is not through with me, and I am going to be healed!" Even typing those words challenges me so much! J has told me on several occasions that her goal in all of this is to glorify our Father. I, in turn, have told her several times that He has been glorified in so many ways so far. She is truly living out her faith in a way that I haven't seen done in a very long time! Have you ever 'smelled' Christ on someone? Before you think that sounds crazy, it's Biblical! 2 Corinthians 2:15 says, "For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing..." I smell Christ all over J!

So why do I tell you all this? Well, part of this post was probably for my own benefit...you know, a little writing therapy. But, I also wanted to challenge all of my readers. How do you respond to curve balls that are thrown your way? Do you say, "bring it on!" or do you turn and run into a hole? May we all be men and women of faith who are actively seeking ways to bring our Father glory! And also, please remember J.M. in your prayers. She will be heading to M.D. Anderson in Houston soon. Pray that the Lord our Healer (Jehovah Rapha) will truly heal J from this awful disease. Pray that as she goes through surgery, chemo, and whatever else is ahead, she will continue to trust in His plan and purpose. Pray for her family as they walk this difficult road with her. I will keep y'all updated on her, and I can't wait for the day when I'll be able to report that she has been healed!!

I love you, J, and I am SO proud of you, my friend!


Christmas family pics

We took Christmas family pics this past Saturday and had so much fun! Of course, it was one of those random warm days of December, but we still dressed the part. :) Here's one of the shots, and to see the rest simply click on the picture.

Have I mentioned that I love my family?! Well, I DO!


Happy Thanksgiving!

We're heading out for Hope, AR in about an hour, but before we left I wanted to share a quote with you. Every week Daniel writes a short article in our church newsletter. Here's an excerpt from this week's article...

"...as I read through the Bible looking for the word "thanks," I never came across any instance of people thanking God for their stuff. This really surprised me! I at least expected a few to thank God for houses or land...something. Instead what you see is people praising God (i.e. thanking Him) for who He is, thanking Him for what He has done in their lives, and overflowing thanks for His grace in saving them. In other words, life with God took precedence over every other instance of thanks in the Bible."

He also talked about this exact thing this past Sunday in his sermon, so I've been thinking about it a lot since then. How often do I thank God for things?! "Thank you, God, for my house, my car, the food in our house, etc." I can guarantee you that I pray these prayers of thanksgiving much more often than, "Thank you, God, for the ways you are changing me. Thank you for your grace and all-sufficient love. Thank you for saving me!" I challenge you this Thanksgiving and all throughout the year (for that matter) to focus more on what God has done for you than what God has given you. I think this change of focus will cause us all to be even MORE thankful!

I hope you all enjoy your families and friends this week! Oh, and be sure to eat plenty of turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie! I know we will! :)

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever."
Psalm 136:1


1st REAL haircut

Riley got his first REAL haircut today. Why, you may ask, am I calling it a REAL haircut? Well, I can't believe I didn't write about this, but back in August Daniel decided to take it upon himself to cut Riley's hair. I guess I was so mortified by the outcome that I didn't want to sit down and have to type out the story...you know, if it's on paper (or in this case, the screen), it all becomes much more real! I did post pictures on facebook, so if you somehow missed those, click here and you'll see why I was not too happy with my husband. :)

Anyway, today I took him to a professional! She's one of our church members and we're becoming great friends. She has a lot of experience cutting children's hair, so when Riley sat on my lap and screamed in her face, she wasn't alarmed. :) Yes, that's right, this experience probably won't go on Riley's list of favorite things he's ever done. Thanks to a sweet lady in the salon who played peek-a-boo with him and the ever-faithful goldfish, we made it through the experience without screaming the ENTIRE time. And don't worry, his curls are still there. I learned that the first time his hair was cut...you can cut the hair, but you can't take away those adorable curls!


16 Months

This 'little' guy turned 16 months yesterday. How is it possible that it's been that long since he left my belly and entered the world?! As we all know, children change and grow every day, so I wanted to share some of Riley's latest...

1. I am amazed by all the words he can say! As a friend described it the other day, it's like a switch gets flipped and all of a sudden they're repeating everything you say. Here are some of his most common words: dada, mama, ya ya, happy/be happy, car, shoe, cracker, that, book, turkey, amen (he says this when we finish praying...absolutely adorable!), milk, more, Jesus, mwah (does this when I ask for a kiss).

2. He is SO observant! Sometimes this is a really good thing, and other times it can cause trouble. For instance, when I'm wanting some sort of dessert after a meal and he sees me get it, he of course wants some. I then don't give him any and must try to divert his attention if I don't want a fit to ensue.

3. His favorite toy right now is shoes...his shoes, my shoes, daddy's shoes, even our guests shoes :) Some friends came over the other night and the little girl was wearing flip-flops. The minute she took them off, he grabbed them and began walking all over the house. I think it freaked her out a little.

4. He understands so much more than I ever realized possible at this age. The other day we were outside picking up pecans off the church grounds (there's a pecan tree just on the other side of our privacy fence - nice!), and I said, "come on, let's go see daddy in the office." At first he thought that was my way of saying we had to go home, so he started whining and walking the opposite direction (he HATES going home when we're outside having fun). I realized what he thought, so I said, "no, Riley, Daddy's in his office at the church. Let's walk over there and see him." Once I said that, he immediately quit whining and began walking toward the church. I was amazed!

5. We're going through some MAJOR separation anxiety! I've been told by many people that this too shall pass, but it's been going on for about 4 months now and I'm beginning to wonder when the 'passing' will come! :)

6. He LOVES any type of vehicle. You think this makes his daddy just a little happy?! Yesterday I bought him 2 new sippy cups at Target, and I purposely got the ones with cars and trucks on them. This morning I was washing one of them so he could use it, and when he saw it (across the room while sitting in his high chair eating breakfast), he started saying, "cars, cars, cars, cars!" He then drank an entire cup of water (after just having a cup of milk) because he was so excited to be using that cup! Too cute!

7. He still takes 2 naps a day (thank you, Lord!). I'm hoping this one continues for at least a little while longer. He's always been a great sleeper, and he just can't handle being up for more than about 3-4 hours at a time.

Speaking of sleep, it's been a long day and tomorrow morning is coming soon! I've learned that no matter what time I finally get myself into bed at night, he's always going to wake up around the same time each morning (between 6:30 and 7)! Hope you enjoyed the Riley update! Daniel and I are so thankful for our sweet boy. What a joy he is, and what a blessing it is to partner with the Lord in raising one of His creations!


Go Mustangs!

One aspect of living in a small town that I'm still getting used to is there only being one high school. Not only is there just one high school, but there's one middle school and one elementary. Oh, and they are all 3 located on the same property. VERY different from the way I grew up in the city! In Jacksonville, FL, where I spent most of my growing up years and all of high school, we had a bagillion (I know, that's probably not a word) different high schools. All of my close friends from church didn't even go to my school. Anyway, I love that there's just one school here because the entire town supports the Mustang football team. And I do mean ENTIRE town.

This year our team (still getting used to saying "our", also) has been really good! In fact, they are undefeated 2A district champs! Tonight they are traveling to Lindale, TX (close to Tyler) to play in the first round of the championship playoffs. Riley and I will not be attending because it's an hour away and doesn't start until 7:30, but Daniel is going. This afternoon when Riley and I were out for a walk, I noticed one way that the community is supporting the team. It's kind of hard to see in the picture, but there are signs and balloons all along the road where the school is located. The signs are placed in such a way that when the buses pull out of the school driveway and head toward Lindale, the players and coaches will be able to read these signs all the way down the road.

I'm a little overemotional right now anyway, but this really almost brought tears to my eyes! It definitely made me proud to live here. Go Mustangs!!!


Christmas Cards

I love Shutterfly. If you know me well, you know that I am constantly using their site to store photos and make gifts for family members. I love taking pictures, and what a wonderful way to display them and make family and friends smile while in the process! I looked around the house to see what all 'Shutterfly' I had, and this is all I could come up with because (like I said) I give all of my projects as gifts. Below you'll see the book I made 3 years ago for Daniel for our 1-year dating anniversary and the book I just recently made documenting Riley's 1st year of life.

If you're not familiar with Shutterfly, you should check out their website and see all of the photo possibilities they provide.

Besides photobooks and prints, they also create Holiday cards (click here to see the huge selection). I am so excited about making our Christmas cards this year! I love photo Christmas cards because I feel they are so much more personal than just signing your name to a generic store-bought card. Plus, you can put these cards on your refrigerator and leave them up all year long to remind you of friends and family you may not see very often.

There are 188 different holiday photo cards offered on the Shutterfly website, and I'm going to share a few of my favorites with you.

I love that this one provides space for several pictures and lots of text. Great way to update those you don't see very often about the happenings of 2010!
This one is similar to the one above, but it caught my eye, too. Again, several pictures and text can be included. You know, the cute little boys may be part of why I like them, too...I'm drawn to cute little boys :)
I love all of the bright colors! The word 'joy' is such a short word, yet has such a powerful meaning. I would love to share our joy with those we send our cards to!
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Cor. 13:13 After all, Christmas is all about God's great love for mankind...SO great that He chose to send Jesus Christ to this earth!

So as I said earlier, I love Shutterfly. Now you know some of the reasons! Plus, for my fellow bloggers out there, Shutterfly is currently offering 50 free holiday cards! If you're looking for just the right holiday card and want to be included in this offer, be sure to go here.


Operation Christmas Child

It's that time of year again! Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan's Purse is collecting shoeboxes full of gifts for children all over the world. We found out when we came to FBC Hughes Springs that our church has been involved in OCC for years (which we were excited to hear!) - in fact, we're the collection site for our area. This morning was collection day for those in our church who chose to participate, so yesterday I packed our box so I could be sure to take it this morning. After I finished packing it, I called Daniel inside (he was out working on his 'new' car...surprise, surprise!) so we could pray for the child who would receive the box. Riley was toddling around as usual, so we asked if he wanted to pray with us. I am blown away every day at just how much his little 15 1/2 month old brain understands! He walked over, grabbed both of our hands, and just stood there the whole time Daniel was praying. Then when Daniel finished and said, "Amen," Riley said, "Amen." It was the sweetest thing! We always pray together at our meals, but I didn't know that he realized prayer didn't have to just be at mealtime, and I certainly didn't know he could say "Amen." Now, don't get me wrong. I don't think our son is some sort of super-spiritual 1-year-old who is going to start preaching tomorrow, BUT I do know now just how important it is that we SHOW him what it means to be a follower of Christ even at this young age. He is watching everything we do and listening to everything we say. We must be intentional about living out our faith in front of our son. I'll never forget standing in the kitchen praying over that box with our baby! Oh how I pray that whoever gets our box (a boy between the ages of 5 and 9) will know who Jesus is and have parents who desire to teach him about faith in Christ!

Here are some of the boxes collected this morning during the worship service
Riley and Daddy with our box


Riley's new favorite word is "happy." I'm not sure where he picked it up. Maybe it's from the multiple times a day that I sing "If you're happy and you know it." :) Anyway, he likes to walk around the house saying "happy" or "be happy." It is too cute, so I decided to video this morning. You'll also get to see a 'live' view of the joy that comes from playing with shoes.

*Disclaimer: I am well aware that his clothes do not even come close to matching and he's wearing a halloween shirt. It was Sunday morning, and he had just had a bath but it was too early to put on his church clothes. :)


Ferocious or Friendly?

*Let me begin this post by reporting that all those living in the Bramlett household are feeling much better and just about back to normal (whatever that is!). Daniel has a few more days on an antibiotic, and then we should be medicine-free! Thank you so much for your prayers!

I had no clue what Riley was going to be for Halloween until a few weeks before when I received a call from Daniel's mom. She asked if we had a costume for him yet, and I said no and that we really hadn't decided on one. She then told me she'd found one and wanted to send it to us. It took .2 seconds for me to say, "yes, we would love for him to be a lion!" :) Anytime a grandparent offers to send something you thought you were going to have to buy, you're dumb not to take them up on their offer! Plus, I saw a picture of the costume while she was in the store, and it was adorable! Are you ready to see the cutest lion ever?!

I just knew that he would hate having the hood on his head, but he was completely content with it! He never once tried to pull it off. Such a good lion! :) Here we are on our way to the town's trunk or treat.
I was just looking back at last year's Halloween post...what a difference a year makes! We stuck with the African animal theme, though, and I love that! :) Doesn't he look oh so ferocious?!
Walking around at the trunk or treat.
This is my hands-down favorite pic (taken by Krystle, by the way) from the weekend. Here's Dorothy (Abigail - 24 days older than Riley) and the Lion. I printed this one and it will be going in a frame very soon!
Not only was Riley a great sport Saturday night, but he wore his costume again Sunday night for our church's fall festival. Family pic before heading to the festival. (notice my African shirt...yes, that was intentional)
I just love him!
My two boys...so thankful for them!
So, after seeing all of the pictures, what would you say? Ferocious or Friendly?! I may be biased, but I think the answer's pretty obvious. :)


More Shoes Please

I've been wanting to write this post for several weeks now, but haven't taken the time. Tonight's the night...after the week(s) we've had (and it's not over yet!), I need a chance to reflect on things that make my sweet boy happy. As you may have guessed from the title, shoes are one of those things. He didn't care about shoes until he began walking about a month ago. Up until that point, I wasn't too concerned about him wearing any because he was just crawling around everywhere. He wore the same pair all summer thanks to some great friends in N.O. handing them down (love y'all, Hudson's!). Anyway, he is now ALL ABOUT shoes!

He likes to walk around the house carrying our shoesHe likes trying on his daddy's shoes! Now that's a "shoe" I would love for him to fill one day! I pray he always wants to be like daddy.
And he likes to try on his own shoes in his room. Notice them scattered across the floor...
It's not even necessary that they match!
In fact, I think he kind of likes it when they don't match! :)
As you can tell, if we're just playing in his room and have no intentions of going outside, he still wants to have shoes on. One day he even tried to put a pair on OVER another pair. He wouldn't believe me when I told him it wouldn't work...I had to SHOW him! Can we say determined?!
I'm just so thankful that his shoes currently come from his cousin C.J. and his grandmother, Ya Ya! If he still loves shoes this much when he's older and we're buying them, I sure hope he'll get excited over the ones we find at Goodwill! :)

Sick boy

I don't have much time to write right now, but I wanted to ask you all to please pray for the little man. He's had a rough go of it the past couple of weeks. Last Monday (18th) I took him to the doctor for congestion and a cough. He was given an antibiotic and breathing treatments. The dr. said he didn't have bronchitis but was close to it. Yesterday he finished the antibiotics and still wasn't better, so we took him back to the dr. today. I'm so thankful Daniel was able to go this time. They did chest x-rays and took blood and determined he now has bronchitis. SO, we're trying a different antibiotic and continuing the breathing treatments. I feel so sorry for the little guy! He's such a good sick patient, though. He hasn't really acted like he's feeling bad, and he gets so excited when I give him his medicine...they must really make it taste good! Anyway, please remember him in your prayers. Thank you so much, and I'll try to write a more "fun" post soon.



I was reading a cooking magazine yesterday when Riley came up and pointed to the front cover. There was a turkey on the front, so I said, "turkey." He then said his rendition of "turkey." I thought it was just a fluke, so I said it again, and then he said it again. I was shocked...I mean, he won't say book, but he'll say turkey?! Then, last night after dinner, he just started saying it on his own for Daniel. I knew it was time for a video!


Lord of the Dance

Watch out Michael Flatly (if you're not sure who he is, click on his name)...Riley Bramlett has arrived! Just yesterday he started showing off his riverdancing skills, and it's hilarious! Enjoy our little superstar! :)

P.S. Thank you Ya Ya for the shoes! He loves them!

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Last week we were out for a family walk when we spotted two pear trees on an empty piece of land. The pears were ripe and ready to be picked, so we loaded up Riley's stroller. Said pears have been sitting in a laundry basket on the dryer for the past week, and I was given an ultimatum today by the hubby...do something with the pears, or they're going! So WE (yes, I made sure to include him in the fun!) peeled and sliced about 20 pears this afternoon.

I then used some of the slices to make a delicious pear pie (click here for the recipe)

Ready to go into the oven!

40 minutes later it was finished and smelled amazing!

Needless to say, we had to try it out and make sure it was edible :)

Later in the afternoon, after Riley woke up from his nap, he decided it was time for him to bake! I was innocently washing dishes when I turned around to find this...it's a little blurry, but he's holding a rolling pin while rubbing his feet in baking soda :)

And you thought we slept on Sunday afternoons!