Missing her

The sweet face above is my grandmother - my mom's mom. Gosh, I miss her! I've been thinking about death the last few days (a little morbid, I know) because we've had a precious lady from our church in ICU and we knew it was just a matter of time before she died. And in fact, last night around 6 pm she was ushered into the presence of the Lord. Her daughter told Daniel later last night that early in the evening she took her mother's hand and told her they would be okay if she wanted to go ahead and go home. She said Ms. Glo (as we knew her - Gloria) opened her eyes, looked around the room at her family, and took her last breath. Is that not amazing?!

Anyway, last night when I got in bed I realized that today was May 31. My grandmother's birthday. She would have been 106 today. It's still hard to believe she's been gone 7 years. I so wish she could have known my husband. She would have adored Daniel. I know she would have loved my children, as well.

Thank you, God, for the hope we have of seeing our relatives again one day! For believers, death is certainly not the end. But until we're reunited, there will always be that longing and nagging pain because we're separated.

I'm thankful for the life my grandmother lived and the legacy she left behind. It is so appropriate that in this picture she's holding her Bible (this was after church one Sunday). She loved reading the Word, and I am still challenged to this day when I think about how often I saw her studying God's Word. I pray one day that my grandchildren will know beyond a shadow of a doubt just how much I love the Lord and His Word! Definitely hoping to carry on the legacy!

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Psalm 119:103, 105


1/2 a year

This little lady celebrated her 1/2 birthday yesterday! It just doesn't seem possible that she's been with us for 6 months! She really enjoyed sharing some words with you a few months back, so she asked if I'd let her again. Only because she's the birthday girl!

Hey everyone! What do you think of my 6-month pic? It's Memorial Day weekend, so I guess Mama was trying to be festive or something. As you can see, it didn't matter to me what I was wearing...I was just happy about getting my picture taken. I've recently figured out what that little box-looking thing with the bright flash of light is! When Mama brings it out, I put on my best smile and cheese it up for the camera.

Yesterday was a pretty low-key day for us, thankfully! The past week has been kind of busy, so I was glad to take all of my naps in my own bed yesterday. Mama and I went to the grocery store in the morning. That's always an adventure! She thought it would be easier for her because my big brother is at Ya Ya's house this weekend and she'd only have to worry about me. I used to be content with just sitting in my car seat, and if I got sleepy I'd fall asleep. Not anymore! I got really sleepy at the store yesterday and now when that happens, I get LOUD! I really like to hear my own voice, and honestly, the louder the better! So, in order to quiet me down, Mama had to carry me around the store. We'll find out Wednesday how much I weigh, but according to her, I've definitely gotten heavier. :)

I also had my first taste of sweet potatoes on my 1/2 birthday. I was excited about trying something new!

 I had no clue what was in that jar, but I liked holding it for the picture!

Here comes the first taste. I'm used to the spoon because I've been eating whole wheat cereal for several weeks now.

This was a totally different taste, though! And it was orange!

Oh, Mama! Where is the cereal?! I'm not sure I can stomach this!

Mama decided the fun with sweet potatoes was over when I spit an entire spoonful all over myself and my chair. :) Oops! She kept telling me how much my brother loved sweet potatoes when he was my age. And I keep trying to tell her that I'm not my brother! I think we have to try some again today, though...we'll see how it goes!

It was a good day, but I sure am ready to see my brother! He should be home any minute! I can't wait! I also can't wait for the day when I'll get to go to Ya Ya's house with him!

You probably won't care too much about these details, but Mama wanted me to write them so she'd remember later in life. I currently wear a size 3 diaper, size 6-month clothes, AND I'm sleeping through the night like a champ! Mama used to have to feed me in my sleep around 11 pm so I could sleep all night, but not anymore! She puts me to bed at 8 pm and I wake up around 7:30 am. There is nothing like a good night's sleep - for ALL of my family members!

Well, friends, I better eat a little something before my brother gets home. Thanks for taking time to read about my life! I'm still a very content baby, and my favorite person in the world is Riley. Speaking of Riley...did I mention I can't wait to see him?! :)


It's Time

It's been 2 years ago now since my husband first mentioned the word 'adoption' to me. If you didn't read my post last year regarding my initial response, click here and you can read it. Obviously, when we found out we were pregnant with Ella, the plan of adopting was put on hold. Daniel's idea from the beginning was to resume the adoption process the day after Ella was born. I, on the other hand, had a different idea. :) Not knowing what the temperament of our second child would be, I knew I would need longer than a day to jump back into the game. Riley was such a good baby and toddler; I was very afraid our second would not live up to the standard he had set.

Boy was I wrong! Ella even surpasses Riley as far as being content in just about any circumstance, an awesome sleeper, and a sweet temperament. She is a reminder to me every day that the Lord truly will not give us more than we can handle!

So, almost 2 months ago, I felt the Lord nudging my heart back towards a focus on adoption. Ella is not just a reminder the Lord won't give us more than we can handle. I believe she is such a good baby so that we can pick up where we left off a year ago and get the ball rolling towards 'rescuing' a child and bringing them into our 'forever family.'

Over the past year, God has been working on both mine and Daniel's hearts in regards to fostering in hopes of one day adopting one of the children placed in our home. A good friend I met at Community Bible Study just recently adopted 2 children she's been fostering. She put me in contact with a lady who works for Child Protective Services here in Northeast Texas. The lady told me the first step would be to attend an information meeting. I contacted her at the end of March, and the next scheduled meeting was in June. I kind of felt like that was a long way off, but she mentioned she was trying to set up a meeting in May in the next town over from us. I asked her to please let me know when that would be, and we would definitely be there! Apparently she sent me an email in mid-April telling me the meeting was going to be May 12, but for some reason, I didn't see the email until May 10! Thankfully, the Lord placed it on my heart to be 'proactive' (or at least I thought that's what I was doing!) and contact her, but when I was looking back through old emails for her address, I stumbled upon the one with the flyer about the information meeting. I'm so thankful I did that and we didn't miss the May 12 meeting!

At this meeting, we were informed that in 2007 there were more than 71,344 Texas children who were known to be confirmed victims of abuse and neglect. That absolutely breaks my heart! And if it breaks my heart, I can't imagine what it does to our Creator's heart! Daniel and I keep saying, "how can we not be involved in somehow helping some of these children???" Yes, it will probably rip out our hearts every time a child is taken from our home back into their original environment. Yes, it's scary to think about what the children may enter our home knowing or having experienced. But, we have to do something! We can't just sit by and watch this happen in our community. Ultimately, our goal is to be able to adopt one of the children we're asked to care for. As we wait for that child, though, my goal (and I'm sure my husband would agree) is to do everything in my power to make sure these kids know there is a God who created them and loves them!

You may be wondering how this will affect our biological children. We definitely feel that they're our first responsibility, so we do not want to do anything that could possibly place them in danger. Our rule right now is that we will not bring any foster child into our home that is older than Ella. Yes, that certainly minimizes the amount of children available for us to foster, but we refuse to put our children in any danger. As Ella grows older, obviously, the maximum age limit will increase. Also, since our goal is to adopt, we want the birth order in our family to remain as it is right now.

So, that's where we are right now. The next step is to fill out the initial paperwork, which will then lead us to about 35 hours of training. What has been SO encouraging to me, and one thing I love about the family of God, is that so many of our friends around the country are walking this same road. Some are adopting international children, some are adopting from right here in the U.S., and some are participating in the foster-to-adopt program. I love reading their different blogs and knowing we're not alone in this exciting, yet sometimes scary, adventure! Last night I started thinking about all of the different people we know in the adoption process, and I wanted to list them all here. As you are praying for us, please also pray for all of our friends (click on their name to read their story)!

Chad & Cole Gilbert
Jason & Terah Sampler
Matt & Jacque Middlecamp
Owen & Amanda Nease (they adopted their little girl in December!)
Jeremy & Amanda Lynch
Jeff & Alicia Audirsch
Wes & Sarai Barnett
Calvin & Erica Ho (they brought their son home from Ethiopia!)
Jon & Anna Palmer (they also brought their son home from Ethiopia!)

"Father of orphans, champion of widows, is God in his holy house. God makes homes for the homeless..." Psalm 68:6


Day o' fun

We were able to spend the entire day as a family. I honestly can't remember the last time that happened. There are a lot of exciting things going on at our church right now, but as a result, my hubby has been out of pocket a lot lately. So, for us to have the entire day together was HUGE in my book (and Riley's!).

We began the day by re-covering cushions for our 'new' pop-up camper. I don't guess I've done a post about my birthday present, but Daniel surprised me with an 80's model pop-up camper. I have always wanted an RV. Now, when I say RV, I mean something like this...

Needless to say, when I came home from zumba the night before my birthday (in March) and saw this, I was a bit shocked!

But, my husband knows (and I do, too) that we'll never own my dream RV, so why not settle for something a little more "Bramlett" style and have fun working together to fix it up?! So, over the past 2 months, that's what we've (mostly he!) been doing. And, I must say, it's looking a whole lot better!

This was back in March when we first began working on it

There was a leak in the roof, so we had to tear out the ceiling and put in a new one. Daniel also took down the window coverings and washed them. You can see to the left of Daniel the old ugly cushions.

Our project today was to re-cover those horrid-looking cushions and hang new curtains that a sweet lady in our church made.

There's a good view of the old fabric we were replacing

Riley LOVES to be his daddy's helper!

What a beautiful day for working outside! The camper was sitting closer to the back shrubs, but in order to work on it, we needed to pull it out into the middle of the back yard...hence the riding lawn mower. :) (and no, Riley did not drive the mower - he just likes to play on it when it is NOT on)

And there's the new cushions! Love them!

Riley testing them out

Sweet girl having fun with her rings

Working on one of the beds

The new curtains!

Look how much cleaner the liner looks!

Once the camper projects were completed, Riley deemed it time-to-ride-the-bicycle. He is really into bikes these days, especially ones that are entirely too large for him. The other day I turned my back for one second and the next thing I knew, he was perched on top of my bike! How he got up there, I do not know! Anyway, today he wanted to ride Daddy's bike. 

So, off they went! After taking this picture, Ella and I went inside to do dishes and not be witnesses to the completely unsafe craziness that was taking place. Needless to say, my heart beat a little slower 10 minutes later when I saw Riley (in one piece) playing in the backyard again.

And, we finished off the day with haircuts for the boys. I took this picture with my phone, so it's not the best quality, but you get the idea. Riley absolutely abhors getting his haircut. So, after many tears (and lots of gnashing of teeth), his hair is much shorter and should keep him a lot cooler as we approach jump into summer.

As I look back on this day, "I give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart," as David says in Psalm 9. Daniel preached on this Psalm last Sunday, and I've been thinking about it all week. It is my desire to be thankful with my WHOLE heart for all of His many blessings! Today, I am thankful for gorgeous weather, quality time with my 3 favorite people, a husband who loves me enough to surprise me with a special gift and then work countless hours fixing it up, nutritious food that gave us the energy we needed to work today, long naps for my baby girl, a little man that keeps us laughing, running water to clean us all after a hot, sweaty day, and a comfortable bed that I will soon lay my body in. Thank you, Lord, for Your many blessings!


Community Bible Study

I was first introduced to Community Bible Study when we moved to Hughes Springs in February 2010. Several of the women in our church attended CBS each week, but I wasn't able to begin immediately because there wasn't an open spot for Riley. That's right, CBS is not just for adults. They have one of the most incredible Children's Ministry programs I've seen. From 6 weeks old to teenagers, there's a class for every age group.

Riley and I began in September of 2010 when he was 14 months old. Yes, there were separation issues for him at first, but he quickly adjusted to his class. He was in the 1-year-old class, so I wasn't too sure how much he'd learn that first year. I was blown away when he came home a couple of months later and could distinguish between a Bible and an ordinary book. In their class they would each get a turn every week patting the Bible. Their teachers taught them the importance of respecting God's Word. At the age of 1! LOVE IT!

This past year, Riley was going through some MAJOR separation anxiety when we began CBS in September 2011. I would leave him literally kicking and screaming. After several weeks of this, I can remember one Thursday dropping him off and crying as I was leaving the children's area. I was so torn up over how he was responding to my leaving, and I had gotten to the point where I didn't know what to do. The director of the children's ministry stopped me and right there in the middle of the hall began praying for me. I'll never forget that moment! Not only did she pray for me, but she and her assistant went into Riley's classroom and prayed over him. That was definitely a turning point for my little man. It then became easier and easier to drop him off. And finally it got to the point where he would wake up excited on Thursday mornings and say, "Are we going to Bible study today?!"

Not only was he incredibly LOVED by his teachers, but they taught him so much this past year! He now knows John 3:16, Mark 16:6, Psalm 37:3, John 13:34 (the shortened versions, of course), and a re-make of "row, row, row your boat" that tells the story of Jesus calming the storm. He walks around the house all the time singing these different verses. I love it! At such a young age, he is learning what it means to hide God's Word in his heart.

When my parents were here visiting, my mom was able to go with us to CBS. She enjoyed it so much that she's looking to see if she can find a class to attend in her area! It just so happened that the children were going to perform their songs for us that day. I wasn't too sure how Riley would do because the last time they performed (in December), he immediately saw me from stage and walked himself down the steps and came and sat with me - before the songs even began! This time he did SO well! I was able to capture most of it on video, so I'll wrap up this post with the video of my little man's first performance on stage.