Bye Bye Crib

I apologize for not posting anything the past week. As the blog header says, things are constantly changing in our household, and the changes this past week have left me tired and unexcited about writing. Things are looking up, though, so I wanted to share some of what's been going on.

Here is Riley sleeping in his crib for the first time at the age of 6 weeks. Since then he has loved his crib and we've never had problems getting him to sleep in it. Sure, there were nights when he was teething or sick and didn't sleep well, but he's never just refused to sleep in it. That is until this past Saturday night. At the ripe old age of 19 months, Riley decided it was time to say goodbye to the crib and hello to a big boy bed. Was mama ready for this?? Absolutely not! In fact, I didn't even know it was happening until I returned late Saturday night from a youth girls' conference I had gone to with some girls from our church. Daniel took Riley to Hope to visit his dad Friday night, and the whole time they were there he refused to sleep in the crib. When they returned to our house Saturday night, he refused to get in his own crib. So, now we've had a fun week of adjusting to a "new" normal. Now that Riley is 'free' to move about the room, he does not want to stay in his bed when it's nap time or bed time. The first couple of days I just sat in his room until he fell asleep, but that took at least 45 minutes and was exhausting! I knew there must be a better way.

I love babycenter.com! I searched this website Wednesday afternoon and found a solution I thought might work. Just about every mother that posted about this topic said to go through the normal bed time routine, put them in bed and then walk out and close the door. If they get out of bed, put them back in without making eye contact or saying a word. Do this as many times as is needed until they stay in the bed. They'll realize (hopefully!) before too long that you're not going to give in and they're not going to win. Daniel was the lucky one who got to try this for the first time Wednesday night because I was at choir. :) When I got home at 8:45, Riley had just fallen asleep after getting out of his bed 46 times. Yes, you read that right. 46 times! Can you say "strong-willed child"?! I'm so thankful for his personality because I know the Lord created him that way for a reason, but good grief! Thankfully, nap times and bed time since then (2 naps and 1 bed time) have been much better! I think he's starting to catch on to what we expect of him. I'm really looking forward to the day when I can put him in bed and not have to worry if he's going to get back out or not!

Needless to say, it's been quite a week (on top of everything else, I think he's teething his 2-year molars...might as well work on those too while we're at it!) and we're all pretty exhausted. Here's to hoping and praying (feel free to join me in prayer!) for a restful weekend!


Pray without ceasing

I love how the Lord uses children to speak to us and teach us how we are to live. When we found out we were pregnant with Riley, it was evident to both of us that this child was from the Lord and HE would have to parent through us! We were (and still are!) clueless about how to raise a child - especially a God-fearing child. So, from the get-go, prayer was a huge part of our parenting technique. We prayed all the time while Riley was in the womb, and then once he entered the world, we began including him in our prayer times. Since he was just a 6 pounder, I've (I say "I" because I'm usually the one to put him to bed, but Daniel does the same when he puts him down) prayed with him right before laying him down for the night. I'll never forget the first time a few months ago when he said "Amen" after I finished praying. It completely took me off guard, and it was the sweetest thing to hear from my baby! Now it's a common occurrence. In fact, he now asks to pray throughout the day.

This morning is a perfect example. As soon as he wakes up, I give him a sippy cup of milk and he usually sits in his crib while drinking it. This morning was no different. After he finished his milk, he was ready to get down and play a bit in his room before breakfast. He has a twin bed in his room, and he loves to get up on it and play with several teddy bears that sit on the headboard. As he was playing with the bears, he saw a cross that sits on a shelf (which he plays with a lot, too) and started saying, "cross. hold it." I gave it to him and began explaining about Jesus dying on the cross so we could know God and talk to Him. Riley then said, "Jesus. Pray." and held out his hand (we hold hands when we pray) to show me he was ready to pray. So I said a simple prayer thanking Jesus for dying on the cross and loving us. As soon as I said "amen," Riley said, "pray." So I prayed for Daddy to have a good day at work and for us to have a great day at home. Again, when I finished and said "amen," he said, "pray." So I prayed for all of the relatives I could think of - for God to keep them safe and bless them. You've probably picked up on the pattern by now...when I finished and said "amen," he said, "pray."

And this, folks, is what it means to pray without ceasing! I love that the Lord used my 18-month-old son to show me such a clear picture of His Word. I also love that at such a young age, Jesus is real to Riley and he knows what it means to pray. And we wonder why Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 18:3) May we all have faith like a child and never take for granted the privilege we have to pray to the Lord and Savior of the world!

Auctioneer Dan

I'll bet you didn't know my husband had hidden talents such as this...



Happy Valentine's Day!
My husband gave me the best Valentine's gift...he took off work today so he could spend time with Riley and me! In my opinion, that's better than any necklace or bouquet of flowers. :) I'm definitely a fan of quality time. So, since it is an absolutely gorgeous day, we headed out for the park this morning...

Daniel found this little wagon, and this was Riley's first time to ride in it since it's been SO cold! He loves it!
Of course, much sliding occurred while at the playgroundAnd playing with the mulch is a must!
Attempting to master the art of walking down stairs
Watching the wind blow the leaves
Looking cute and OLD! Where did our baby go?!Such a fun morning! I'm so thankful for these two. They make my heart smile every day - usually multiple times a day!

I hope you're all having a wonderful Valentine's Day! May we never take for granted the MANY ways God shows His love to us!

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love."
1 John 4:7-8


Bear attack

Before thinking my husband is cruel for what he does to our son in this video, be sure to notice how much Riley loves it!

His Righteous Right Hand

But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, "You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off";
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:8-10

As you've probably noticed, I am a little obsessed with special dates and anniversary's. I just love looking back at where we were and where we are now! A year ago yesterday, we pulled out of our parking space on Lipsey St. in New Orleans and headed north following the Lord's leading to our new church family and home. Our 3-vehicle caravan arrived at our new house in Hughes Springs a short 10 hours later. :) Not necessarily a trip I want to repeat again, but I'm thankful for the result it brought.

This past year has felt like a whirlwind. Riley has changed from a 6-month-old who couldn't even sit up unassisted to an 18-month-old who walks around saying "helicopter," "ready?", "shoe," and SO much more! Daniel has gone from a part-time chaplain and full-time student to a VERY full-time shepherd of a wonderful flock of growing sheep. And I have gone from a full-time stay-at-home mom to a...oh yeah, that's still my job! :) So maybe my job hasn't changed, but the Lord has most definitely grown and shaped me into more of His image this past year. He has revealed sins to me I was oblivious to, He has shown me the power of prayer and what it means to "pray without ceasing," His Word has come alive to me through an awesome Bible study I'm apart of in a city not far from us, and He has guided me through the ups and downs of raising a child.

I love the passage I quoted at the beginning of this post. I realize it was written to the Israelites, but there is so much truth in it for us, too! He has been completely faithful this past year to uphold us with His righteous right hand. There were many times when He was all we had to cling to! I am thankful that Daniel and I can look back on the past few years and know without a doubt that it was the LORD who led us to this spot. He called us here, and He will be faithful to show us how to best minister to those around us. I am excited to see what He has in store for this next year. No matter what it is, I pray above all that He will be glorified in us and through us.

Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
Psalm 115:1

Aunt Debbie

This one's for you, Aunt Debbie! :)


On my own

Meet my sweet friend Shannon
Shannon and I met when I returned to New Orleans in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina. She was the roommate of another good friend, and we immediately clicked. We began walking together 4 nights a week with another wonderful friend (miss you, Katie!) and really got to know each other. She knew me before I'd even heard of Daniel Bramlett, she walked with me through the ups and downs of dating, and she rejoiced with me when we got engaged. It was only fitting that she be one of my bridesmaids!

Meet Jonathan - Shannon's fun and crazy husband
After they got married in 2007, Jonathan moved to seminary and began pursuing a degree also. God worked it out so that when we got married in Jan. 2008, we moved in the apartment directly across the hall from them. Lots of fun times were had between our two apartments. We always joked that we should just knock out our adjoining wall (we were across from each other, but also on the end of the building, so we shared a wall) and make a pathway so we could get to each others apartments without having to go into the hall. The seminary probably would have frowned on that, but it was fun to think about.

Fast forward to Spring 2010. Daniel and I had recently moved to Hughes Springs and Shannon and Jonathan were in their final year at the seminary. I received a call from Shannon one day saying that a miracle baby was on the way! You see, according to doctors, Shannon wasn't ever supposed to be able to have children. Aren't you thankful that God is SO MUCH bigger than doctors or what's "supposed" to be?! Needless to say, when I heard the news I was completely ecstatic and wanted to rush down to N.O. When I told Daniel, he was very excited too and said, "When she has that baby, you need to go see her!" I said, "by myself?!" He replied with, "sure!" Oh, I love my husband! :)

Sweet Hadley Cole McDuffie (Cole) was born on December 16, 2010. They then moved to Mississippi for Jonathan to take a youth minister position. So the plan was for Daniel's grandmother to come on Thursday to help with Riley and I would leave early Friday morning (Feb. 4) to head to Newton, MS.
GiGi arrived as planned
And then this happened Friday morning...
So needless to say, I didn't get to leave as planned. But, Saturday morning everything began to melt so I headed out. I made it to Newton safely and am so thankful I've gotten to meet and hold this adorable little guy!

What an awesome sight to see Shannon kissing her SON! God is so good!I definitely miss my boys, but I am very grateful to be here sharing this special time with friends! Thank you, again, my sweet husband for giving me this time away!


Indoor Sledding

Yet another fun indoor activity. Listen out for Riley saying "ready?" Every time I hear him say it I can't help but stop what I'm doing and join him in whatever activity he's "ready" to do. Minus the tantrums every now and then, this is such a fun age!

Round and round he goes

On cold, winter days when we can't go outside, it's nice to be entertained by our sweet boy!