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!