Hurting Heart

I began this blog over three years ago as a type of online journal where family and friends could keep track of our family (especially the kiddos as they grow!). I love that I can write, post pictures and post videos all in one spot. I also love that one day my kids (and I) will be able to look back at the blog posts and see just how faithful our God has been throughout the years.

I don't normally use my blog as a place to rant and rave. Today is going to have to be different. I've pondered all day if I should really write about this or not. Do I want my kids to see this 5 or 10 years down the road? And then I thought, yes! Yes, I want my kids to see their mother standing up for what she believes and not being afraid to share it with the unseen world of blog-land. So, here it goes...

I was browsing through Facebook this morning when I noticed several 'friends' posting about a new movie.

Magic Mike

Have you heard of it? If you haven't, praise God - you're not missing anything. If you have, please stay away from any screen showing it!

I'm not usually one to post 'controversial' things on Facebook, but I could not stop myself this morning. After doing some research (since I'd never heard of the movie), I found this description of Magic Mike on imdb.com, "A male stripper teaches a younger performer how to party, pick up women, and make easy money." That in itself was reason enough for me not to waste my money on it. So then I scrolled down and saw: "Rated R for pervasive sexual content, brief graphic nudity, language and some drug use." And then I clicked on 'view content advisory.' I was appalled as I read a description of all of the sexual scenes in this movie. I'm pretty sure when I was little this would have been rated 'X'.

You may be thinking, big deal, Laura, movies like this come out all of the time. You're right. Here's what gets me. The women I saw posting about it on Facebook are self-proclaimed Christians! Lost people are just that, lost. I don't expect them to live any differently. But if you claim to be a follower of Christ, then you are held to a higher standard. Paul said it very well in Colossians 3.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God...Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. (v. 1-3, 5-6)

In April I helped lead a purity conference for the youth girls of our church. I was given the topic of 'pornography' to speak on. Naively, I thought, "what am I going to tell these girls about porn? It's a male problem. Women don't struggle with that." Was I in for a shocker when I began doing some research! I found some statistics on safefamilies.org that I'd like to share with you.

*28% of those admitting to sexual addiction are women (internet-filter-review.com)
*34% of female readers of Today's Christian Woman's online newsletter admitted to intentionally accessing Internet porn in a recent poll and 1 out of every 6 women, including Christians, struggles with an addiction to pornography.

1 in 6 women! Yeah, the statistics are much worse for men, but I certainly didn't realize so many women struggled with addictions to pornography. And books like "Fifty Shades of Grey" and movies like Magic Mike only make it worse.

Magic Mike (and others like it) are 'soft' porn (I hate the term, 'soft.' Porn is porn)! And they are so easily accessible. It absolutely makes me sick to my stomach to know that people all over this country (and globe) are wasting money on trash like this. It truly makes my heart hurt - especially for those who claim to follow Christ yet are feeding their sinful nature with images that will not quickly leave their minds. 

Also, if the tables were turned and this was a movie about a female stripper teaching a new female how to strip, women all over would be outraged! But since this one's "for women," it's okay somehow. I told Daniel tonight - no wonder our country is in such bad shape. We have no clue what it means to be a Christian nation. People wonder why God is allowing 'bad' things to happen to the U.S. I believe He has removed His blessing from us as a whole! Why should He bless us when we spit in His face and do our own thing? With 4th of July right around the corner, many people will be singing God Bless America. Not me. I'll be singing God Save America! 

7 months

Time continues to march on, and this little lady has now seen 7 months of life in our house. Such a sweet girl, but man can she be stubborn! The saying, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree" is SO true! Both Daniel and I are stubborn, so our children received a double-dose. :) We're still working on enjoying solid foods. I basically have to force-feed her. Once the food gets in her mouth, she'll swallow it, but the difficulty is in trying to get her to open her mouth so I can put the food in! Honestly, it's my least favorite part of mommy-hood right now. But, we're persevering and trusting that "this too shall pass."

In other news, her two middle bottom teeth popped through this past month! At the same time! No wonder she was SO fussy for about a week! You can't see them in the picture below, but this was my attempt to get a pic of the inside of her mouth. At least it's a close-up of her adorable face :)

Such a happy girl!

Strike a pose

She's getting so big! 
I love the quilt she's laying on. It was specially made for Ella by a relative of a lady in our church. A true treasure she'll use for years to come!

And she still has hilarious expressions!

I always wanted blue eyes. If I couldn't have them, I'm thankful my kids could!

A friend is letting us borrow this before it heads to our church nursery. Ella is having a great time exploring all the activities.

I told them both to look up (at me), and this is what I got from Riley. Such a great big brother, though! And Ella is still working on sitting up unassisted. We practiced some yesterday, and she's starting to get it, but she really loves laying on her back and KICKING those legs!

She's still not sure what to think of Daddy without hair. One of our sweet friends is going through chemo right now, so Daniel shaved his head this week to support her. Every time he walks in the house, Riley says, "Daddy, do you still have your hair cut??"

Ella boo, we love you SO much!!! Your precious personality is really shining through these days, and it's fun to watch. You love to play, play, play, and sometimes, you just start laughing out loud when you're playing by yourself. I would love to know what's going through that brain of yours! Your daddy, brother, and I love to laugh, too, so you fit right in! You are a petite thing, but I can tell you're growing and healthy. You've finally started drinking more than just 4 oz at a time. A couple bottles a day have 6 oz in them. You're still in size 3 diapers, but you're moving up to 6-9 month clothing.

We are so thankful for you, Elizabeth Grace Bramlett!



I should be going to bed right now. Daniel's at the hospital visiting a church member who was rushed to the ER. Both kids have been sound asleep for over an hour now. I've been dying to go to bed early the past few nights but haven't done it. It's not going to happen right now, either, because I am about to burst with thankfulness to our Father, and I just had to write about it.

Pretty much immediately after I found out I was pregnant with Ella, I began praying for Riley and the transition he would face as a new little one entered our family. I never wanted to hear him say, "Can we take her back now?" I prayed and prayed that he would love his sister and recognize the value she had in our family. I even wrote in my journal on 11/7/11 (19 days before she was born), "I pray that you will give him a supernatural understanding of what's about to take place in our household. May he feel an overwhelming love for his little sister!" Oh, how our Father has answered that prayer, and then some!

My cup runneth over in gratitude right now for what I witnessed tonight. Daniel had already left for the hospital and I was playing with the kids before bedtime. Ella was on a blanket in the living room while Riley was busily moving about the room as an almost-3-year-old does. I left the room for just a couple of seconds to take something to the garage, and when I walked back in, Riley was laying beside Ella on her blanket. I heard him say, "and I hope you will keep her safe and strong. Amen." I said, "Were you just praying for your sister?" And he looked at me and said, "Yeah!" and then ran off to continue playing. I tried to get him to repeat to me what all he'd said, but he had moved on to the next activity (as almost-3-year-old's do!).

As I was texting back and forth with my mother-in-law tonight and sharing this story, she asked if Ella had been upset or crying. I told her that no, Ella was completely content and having fun on her playmat when Riley prayed for her. And then I began to think...how like God to allow me to experience such a thing. I prayed and prayed for a strong relationship between my children. Not only did He answer that prayer with a resounding YES, but He is giving me MORE than I could have ever asked or imagined! Why? Because I deserve it? Absolutely not! Because He is that loving and that gracious. Because He wants to bless His children and cause their cups to run over. And for that (and SO much more), I will worship and glorify Him all the days of my life.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21

May these precious ones be used for YOUR glory, Lord!


Back in the Big Easy

When we found out several months ago that the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting was in New Orleans this year, it didn't take us long to agree we wanted to go. Neither Daniel nor I are heavily into the political side of our denomination, but we saw this as an incredible opportunity to see lots of old friends from our seminary days. It definitely was not a vacation for Daniel - he attended just about all of the meetings - but we both enjoyed quality time with friends we hadn't seen in several years. The week was completely exhausting, but oh so worth it! Below you'll find some of the pictures, and if you'd like to see more, click here.

 Riley, Ella and I spent quite a bit of time in the hotel room. We didn't just sit around bored, but most mornings Ella would take her first nap in the room before we headed out for the day (while Riley quietly watched a movie and heard his mama say over and over, "we have to whisper because sister is sleeping!"). And then every afternoon we went back to the room for group nap time. Riley and Ella crashed in the afternoons. One day she slept for 3 hours straight - I effectively wore them both out. :)

We walked and we walked and we walked! A few weeks before leaving for NOLA, I ordered a new Graco stroller, and I'm so thankful I did! I don't know what I would have done without it on this trip! I had so much fun strolling the kids around the city and pointing out new and exciting sites.

I would show something to Riley and after a couple times of taking his picture in front of different things, he started saying, "Mama, do you want a picture of me with it?"

The last day we were there, we went to the French Market to do a little shopping. I wore Ella in the baby Bjorn, but thankfully that was only about 45 minutes. Our sweet girl is getting a little too heavy to comfortably stroll around with her attached to me - especially in 90 degree weather!

Music, music everywhere! Riley loved seeing musicians all over the city. One night we were waiting to be seated at a restaurant, and this impromptu parade walked by. The people behind the band threw tons of beads to the onlookers.

Riley studying his beads once we were seated at our table. He has had more fun with those (as he calls them) 'bracelets'!

Sister got some beads, too! This little girl has a grip, and she was careful not to let anyone remove the beads from her possession!

Later that night, once the kids were in bed, I was able to sneak away with some wonderful friends. We ended up at a delicious gelato shop called Sucre. We had so much fun catching up. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time - tears were rolling down my face!

One morning we went to the Convention and walked around the Exhibit hall. The Louisiana Baptist Convention is celebrating 200 years this year, so they had a booth set up where you could take pictures with a baby alligator. Riley refused to hold it for the picture, yet when it was time to move on, he started crying because he didn't want to leave the gator. Oh, the emotions of a 2-year-old!

Obviously, the gator was completely forgotten when we saw this...

Thanks to my husband, I was able to go to two events child-free. One was an adoption panel breakfast, and the other was a Minister's Wives Luncheon. Mary Kassian (below) was the speaker at the luncheon. She spoke challenging words based on 1 Peter 3. I'm very thankful for the opportunity I had to attend this event - and for a husband who was willing to support me in this way.

It wasn't all work and no play for Daniel. We stole him away one morning for a ride on the ferry that crosses the Mississippi River.

The seminary always has a picnic for alumni. We had a great time being back on campus seeing lots of old friends and showing Riley where he spent the first 6 months of his life.

As I said earlier, Daniel and I left New Orleans completely exhausted. However, as I told him, it was worth every minute of it because of the experiences we had with friends and as a family. Riley had so much fun - when it was time to leave the hotel and head home, he kept saying, "I don't want to go back to Texas! I want to stay in the hotel another night!" Prior to the week, I wasn't sure how it would work out for us all to stay in one room for 4 nights. It went so much better than I expected. Much prayer went into this trip, and I, of course, experienced the Lord's faithfulness and strength throughout our time away. He is SO good!

I want to wrap up this post by sharing about two items given to me while in New Orleans. One was from my husband, and the other I received at the Minister's Wives Luncheon. You'll see two bags pictured below. The one on the right was from Daniel. He bought it from a WorldCrafts table. It was made in Indonesia, and just as with all worldcrafts items, I can't help but wonder how his purchase has helped a woman halfway around the world. The bag on the left was made in India by women who work for Freeset, which is a fair trade business that offers employment to women trapped in the sex trade in Kolkata. What priceless treasures to bring home as souvenirs. Not just souvenirs, though. Constant reminders of the difficult world we live in, AND the merciful God we serve. I will definitely pray for women around the world while using these bags. If you're unfamiliar with WorldCrafts or Freeset, I encourage you to check out their websites and pray about how you might be involved in their ministries or ones similar.


Still in love

In December I posted about 2 of our favorite Christmas gifts. I'm definitely still in love with mine, and I am happy to report that Riley is still overjoyed with his guitar. I took this picture just last week.

Most children, including ours, receive a gift, are excited about it for a few days, and then once the newness wears off, the gift gets thrown in the toy box and pulled back out several months later - if ever. This guitar has never seen the darkness of the toy box. It's been 6 months, and while there have been some days when the guitar sat by itself in the living room all day, those days have been few and far between. Just within the last week, Riley has been logging many minutes (not quite hours, yet!) of play-time. His favorite thing is for me to turn on a children's Bible songs cd in the kitchen and he "plays along" with the music. Also, when we're riding in the car listening to the radio, he can pick out the songs with guitars in them. I can't wait for the day when he'll be old enough to take lessons! I really believe God will use Riley's love for guitars for HIS glory! Can't wait to sit by and watch it all unfold!

In the meantime, here are some videos (mostly for the grandparents) of the future guitarist. :)



Riley doesn't get to see his cousins very often. Our nephew lives in Maryland, so the last time we saw him was (I hate even admitting this) March 2010. Daniel's cousins live in Arkansas, California, Virginia, and Singapore, so needless to say, we don't see them very often, either. But, for the past 2 years we've been able to see Daniel's cousin, Hannah, at least once a year. Riley absolutely adores Hannah. She's 12 now, and every time they've been together they have had the best time. He talks about her all throughout the year. The only problem with Hannah is that she lives literally on the other side of the world in Singapore. Her father (Daniel's uncle) is the Minister of Music at the International Baptist Church in Singapore. When they make their way back to the U.S., we definitely make it a priority to try and get together.

Here are Riley and Hannah the first time they met in June 2010 (Riley was 11 months)

Buddies from the start 

 That year we were able to see them twice - June and July!

Here they are in July 2011 walking the streets of Jefferson together

I included this one just because I think he's so stinkin' cute!

Extra special treat last year - they (Uncle Alan and Hannah) came to church with us and Uncle Alan sang a solo!

Hannah reading to Riley before having to say goodbye for another year

We knew they were coming to the U.S. this summer, but we didn't think we'd get to see them until mid-July. Last night we found out they were going to be able to stop by for a visit today! I chose not to tell Riley because he's at the age where he asks every 5 seconds "if it's time yet." I knew if I told him last night that Hannah would be here today, he would: a) most likely not sleep and b) ask me all Saturday morning (they were coming at noon) if Hannah was here yet. With the week I've had, I just couldn't handle that. :) So, I decided to let it be a surprise. And a surprise it was! In fact, the first few minutes he had his head buried in my shoulder and refused to let me put him down. Once he warmed up, though, he was good to go!

Playing 'catch' with Hannah

We took them to the church to show them the remodeling that's going on. Here's Uncle Alan teaching Riley how far away Singapore and Texas are. (Riley used to think Singapore was just another state. He told me all the time that he was going to "Singapore State to visit Hannah." :)

Such a sweet family (and just so you know, they do have 2 older children! Austin and Emily live in Arkansas and Virginia, respectively)

Reunited and it feels so good...

Group shot!

Riley's in the zone

Hopefully we'll get to see them again before they head back to Singapore at the end of July!

Until then, though, I will hear over and over how much Riley loves Hannah and what a great time he had with her. :) I almost offered for her to move in with us, but I figured her parents might miss her. Maybe one of these days she'll be able to come for an extended stay and then Riley will really be in heaven!



My kids are a bit on the slow side when it comes to reaching "baby milestones." And to be honest, I'm completely okay with that! In my eyes, the more time it takes to mobility, the better! Riley was 6.5 months when he began sitting up on his own. He was almost 10 months the first time he crawled, and he was about 14.5 months when he began walking.

Ella seems to be following in her brother's footsteps, so far. She's almost 6.5 months and we're still working on sitting up unassisted.

 The boppy pillow...what a great invention!

Sometimes she gets a little wild, though, and begins to lose her balance. Notice the left leg in the air :)

Rocking to the other side!

And back to the right

there goes that left leg again!

Mama, this is hard work!

And here she is at the end of the practice getting a little tired of all the fun

Love my kiddos and thankful for the pace in which they grow and change. Because He created them, it happens at just the right time!