#967 - Easter '13

Easter 2013

Today I am thankful that He did not stay dead, but arose on the 3rd day (or according to Riley, the 3rd month)! Because of His great love and sacrifice, I was able to freely worship with my faith family this morning. What an incredible privilege and blessing it was!

The tomb is empty! (resurrection rolls)

My God's not dead, he's surely alive
And He's living on the inside roaring like a lion,
My God's not dead, he's surely alive
And he's living on the inside roaring like a lion! 


#968 - March 28


Today I'm thankful for today. Sounds weird, I know, but today is my birthday, and as I sat here trying to think of one thing I was thankful for, I just couldn't narrow it down to one. So, I'm simply thankful for the whole day. :)
It began as our typical Thursdays do by going to Community Bible Study in Mt. Pleasant. The church where we meet plants these gorgeous tulips every year. On a beautiful spring day like today, pictures were a must!

Here are the kids with sweet Iylene. She rides with us each week and she's an adoptive grandmother to them. I don't have time or room to list ALL Iylene has done for our family. She is such a blessing!

 Ella was d.o.n.e. by this point. She misses her morning nap on Thursdays, and she was more than ready to get in the car and fall asleep! And I'm not really sure what Riley was daydreaming about.

 Aren't they amazing?!

When we got home the kiddos went to their rooms for nap time/rest time. 3 of my sweet friends randomly came over (1 to drop off an amazing cake she made me - and I forgot to get a picture with her!). My friend, Jamie, and I are almost birthday twins. She was born on the 27th, so it was very fitting for us to share some birthday cake together.

And then there's Becky (the kids call her B.B.). She took me under her wing the minute we moved to Hughes Springs. Love her!

After the fun time with friends and a piece of yummy cake, I enjoyed some time alone. When Daniel got home and the kids woke up, we headed to Longview to cash in a gift certificate for Texas Roadhouse. I forgot how DELICIOUS that place is!

 You can't tell from the picture, but even Ella enjoyed her meal. :)

I got the 1/2 rack of ribs, veggies and salad. A lot of it came home with me, and I'm excited to get to experience it again tomorrow!

Besides the food, my 2nd favorite thing about the meal was watching Riley enjoy the food and atmosphere. He kept saying, "I've never been to this Cowboy Restaurant before!" and "This food is so good, Mama!" and "I'm so glad we came here tonight! Are you?" So precious!

Daniel and I will go on a date Saturday night, but tonight it was important to us that our whole family celebrate together. And I'm so thankful we did!

And then there's my gifts from the hubs...first, a box of imported Swiss chocolates! I've only tried one so far, but oh. my. goodness. Melt in your mouth chocolate! Amazing! Such a thoughtful gift - my hubby definitely knows what I love!

And then this shirt. Daniel designed and ordered it himself. Funny and again, thoughtful.

The day ended with Daniel and I watching 2 episodes of Downton Abbey courtesy of Netflix. Before we started it, though, we put the kids to bed. While I was cleaning up the kitchen, Daniel called me over to listen to Riley's monitor so I could hear what he was singing. As he was falling asleep he sang the chorus of "10,000 Reasons" by Matt Redman

Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before, O my soul
Worship His holy name, Worship His holy name

What a way to end the day!

So, as you can see, my 25th birthday (ha ha!) was wonderful and very blessed! Thank you, Lord, for showing me so much love in so many ways.


#969 - Hide & Seek

Hide & Seek with a 3-year-old

When your daddy's a preacher and your house is a stone's throw away from the church, it's inevitable that you spend a large amount of time inside the church building. This morning was one of those times.
I was finishing up the bulletin, and the only thing left was Daniel's articles. As he sat down to type them, Riley looked at me and said, "Let's play hide & seek!" I said that I'd love to and then gave him some boundaries as to where he could and couldn't hide.

The game began with him hiding and me counting. When I finished counting, I left the office where I was working and began walking down the hall toward the sanctuary. And there standing in the doorway of the sanctuary was my son. He said, "Here I am!" I laughed and then tried to explain the concept of "hiding."

So then it was my turn to hide. I went into the choir room (which is beside the office where we were counting) and hid. While I was hiding I heard, "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, seventeen, eighteen, thirteen, ready or not, here I come!" Again, I laughed to myself and thought, we really need to work on sixteen through twenty! I then heard, "Mama, where are you??" Daniel said, "She's not going to tell you where she is! You have to go find her!" So Riley ran down the hall toward the sanctuary, and I heard him in there saying, "Mama! Mama, where are you?" Daniel convinced him to try the choir room and ta-da, he found me!

The game continued with us going back and forth between hiding and seeking. Every time he 'hid,' I'd find him standing in the middle of a room or hallway, and every time he was supposed to find me, he'd yell out, "Mama, where are you?" So, maybe he doesn't quite get the concept of the game yet, but we sure did have a good time laughing and enjoying each other!


#970 - Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter

Today I am thankful for peanut butter. Why? Because it assisted my daughter in eating apples and raw bell pepper last night. She eats apples on a regular basis, and sometimes she'll eat them without the peanut butter. But, she is a texture girl, and so far bell pepper has not made it on her I'll-eat-this-without-complaint list. Until last night when it was dipped in peanut butter - and then she gobbled it up!


#971 - Unique Personalities

Strong-Willed Children

Sometimes thankfulness comes naturally. Other days we have to choose to be thankful. Today is one of the latter. I am choosing to be thankful for the strong personalities the Lord gave our children. :) 
Riley began showing signs of being strong-willed pretty early on. It really hasn't surprised me that there have been many conversations in which I've heard myself saying, "Riley, who is in charge?"

Today, this whole strong-willed thing was taken to a whole new level, though. 

It all began last night when he saw me pouring Ella's bedtime milk. He said, "Can I have a glass of milk, too?" (background: this child has not liked milk for almost 2 years now) I told him he better not drink any before bed because he'd be up all night going to the bathroom. I then said that if he still wanted some in the morning, I'd pour him a cup. So, he woke up this morning, walked in the kitchen and said, "Don't forget to pour me a cup of milk with my breakfast!" I asked him if he was sure he wanted some because I didn't think he liked milk. He assured me he would drink it.

I watched him as he ate his breakfast, and he never once touched the cup of milk. I found this strange since he insisted on having it. When he was finished eating, he said, "I'm all done!" I asked him about his milk, and he said, "I don't want that. I don't like milk." And at that moment, for this strong-willed Mama, it was ON! I was not about to pour out a perfectly good cup of milk because he changed his mind (which happens quite often these days). 

So, his daddy and I decided that Riley would sit on the stool (he eats his breakfast at the bar) until his milk cup was empty (and before you feel sorry for him, the cup was only about 1/3 full). He began breakfast at 8:30. Guess what time he got off the stool (besides going to the bathroom once)???

12:10 pm 

That's right! He chose to sit on the stool for almost 4 hours rather than drink his milk. He missed the Library Story time, which he goes to every Thursday with a lady from church, and he didn't play with anything this morning. And guess what I did for about an hour of the time he sat on the stool? I read this...
 I remember buying this book when Riley was a baby. I didn't benefit a whole lot from it at that point, but it sure was helpful today! Our sweet boy (he REALLY IS a sweet boy!) is constantly struggling for control, which is one of the key signs of a strong-willed child. In fact, he looked at me towards the end of his time on the stool and said, "I'll never be in charge!" He was crying as he said it, and his little eyes were so desperate for some type of hope of one day having control over his life. My heart broke for him as I held him and explained that yes, one day he would be in charge, but right now God has put Mama & Daddy in charge of him so he can learn and grow in a safe place. Our little talk seemed to bring him some hope.

So how did the morning end? Well, he told me (again) how much he doesn't like milk. We talked about the importance of meaning what we say and not wasting the things God has given us (and yes, I did talk about children around the world who would give anything for a cold glass of milk). And then I told him how much I dislike milk and that I'd make him a deal. I said, "I'll help you drink this milk. You take a sip and I'll take a sip. We'll do this together." And about 2 minutes later, the cup was empty and Riley was free to move around the house as he pleased.

Phew! I'd love to share this story with anyone who claims being a stay-at-home-mom is an easy job. I was exhausted and it was only noon! But, I feel pretty confident that our son learned a lesson today, and I'm thankful the Lord gave me the strength to withstand the testing of authority and the wisdom to show grace towards the end.

Guess what's exciting for us? Ella began showing strong-willed tendencies in the WOMB!


#972 - Jehovah Rapha

Jehovah Rapha
The Lord our Healer

Last weekend I attended the Created for Care Retreat in Buford, GA (another post for another time). On Saturday morning my mother-in-law called and asked if Ella had ever shown any type of food allergies. I told her no and asked why. She said she woke up with puffy eyes and swelling around her mouth and chin. She wasn't having any trouble breathing, so I asked her to just watch her closely and keep me updated. Around lunch time she sent me a picture of her face, and it worried me so I said she should probably take Ella in to the doctor (they're open on Saturdays). Long story short, the clinic was closing soon after they got there, so they were sent over to the E.R. to receive some benadryl. By this time, Daddy made it to the E.R. (he had been about 2 hours away at a mission team training) and they all went back home.

That night she reacted crazily to the benadryl, and neither Ella nor Daddy got much sleep. In the meantime, I'm 12 hours away and don't know all of the details of what's going on. Sunday morning, my m-i-l sent me another picture and Ella looked worse. Plus she was now running fever. The E.R. told them the day before it was most likely not an allergic reaction, but a virus. So, I continued to stay updated via phone as my friend and I began our journey from North GA to Mississippi where I was planning on spending the night. As we were driving, I debated whether or not I should go ahead and finish the trip that day or wait until Monday to head home. I talked to Daniel about it early in the afternoon, and he said he did not want me driving 12 hours straight and that I should wait until Monday.

However, a couple of hours later, she continued to get worse, so Mama Bear instincts came out and I said that I was coming home even if it meant getting there after midnight. By this time, Daniel and I decided she needed to go back to the E.R. (a different one than Saturday night) so some more testing could be done. At 6 pm Sunday night, Daniel headed to the E.R. and I left MS headed west to see my baby girl.

I arrived at the hospital at 12:30 (shouldn't have taken that long, but there were complications as to whether this hospital would end up treating her because her doctor didn't have rights there...blah, blah, blah...so I sat in a parking lot for about 30 minutes waiting to find out where to go.) and saw this...

My puffy baby girl would only sit in this position. If we tried to move her for any reason she would scream to high heaven. And let's just say, she was not near as excited to see me as I thought she might be. In fact, I think she was pretty mad at me for not being there throughout this whole ordeal. It took her a good while to warm up to me. I'll admit, that was hard to accept.

By 2:00 a.m. they decided it was indeed a virus (couldn't tell us which one, though), and there wasn't a reason to keep her overnight. So, we headed home and Ella slept on my chest for the remainder of the night. To keep her comfortable and her fever down, we were given instructions to alternate between tylenol and motrin. At 8:00 a.m. Monday morning I called Ella's doctor and made an appointment to see him at 9:00 a.m. By this point, Ella was D.O.N.E. with doctor's and hospitals, so that visit was not too fun. But, we made it through, and she and her daddy came home and took a long nap together.

The rash and swelling that began on her face quickly moved to her entire body. She was so pitiful!

She still tried to find time Monday to play with her dolls and stuffed animals.


Sweet girl hated taking her medicine, but loved holding it while rocking with Mama. Here she is sound asleep while holding the tylenol bottle.

By Tuesday her fever had broken and some of the swelling was starting to go down. She was still pretty rash-y, though. Thankfully, her appetite was coming back.

 Her doctor asked us to check in with him every day, so when I called Wednesday I told the nurse that she'd had diarrhea since Tuesday and her rash/swelling didn't seem to be going away. The doctor suggested we bring her in for some more blood work just to be sure they hadn't missed anything the first time around on Sunday night. So, back to the hospital we went Wednesday afternoon. I took her by myself, and she was such a trooper! Yes, she screamed the whole time the nurse was taking blood, but she didn't try to squirm or pull the needle out. She just sat very still and screamed. :) The sweet nurse hummed "Jesus Loves Me" the entire time...sometimes I really do love living in the Bible belt.

We decided that if anything came back abnormal on the blood work, then we were heading to Children's hospital in Dallas. So, Wednesday night we were on pins and needles waiting to hear the results. He called about 8:30 p.m. and said that everything looked great. Thank you, Lord! 

So, we continued to wait.

 And then the peeling began...

And we're actually still in the peeling stages. It's as if she got a really bad sunburn all over her body. Her ears are even peeling (inside!).

But, we are definitely over the worst of this nasty virus. The weather has been gorgeous this week, so once she felt like it, we spent a lot of time outside. Swinging is one of her favorites, so we've done it a lot!

Lord, thank you for being Ella's healer. Even when the doctor's didn't know what was going on, you did. Thank you for giving Daniel and me wisdom as to how best care for our daughter that you've entrusted to us. Thank you for being our peace and comfort. Thank you that our daughter is on the mend, and that throughout this entire week we've seen Your hand at work.


#973 - Back door

The Back Door

So I realize this seems like an odd thing to be thankful for. Follow me for a second. Baby girl is very clingy these days. I don't know if it's teething - she is working on some large molars on the top - or her age, but if she's placed on the floor (because remember, she's still not walking), most of the time she will whine and fuss about not being held. EXCEPT when she's at the back door! Why? Because that's where she can sit and watch our dog, Mac - her current obsession. I sometimes feel like our back door is part of a zoo exhibit. She sits there and points, talks to Mac, touches the glass, etc. But, like I said, this is the only place in the house at this point that she's content to sit alone. Bring on the zoo!

Please excuse the dirty window

The funny thing, too, is that Mac will "perform" for her. He runs all over the porch and back yard when he knows she's watching. Every now and then he comes to the window and that freaks her out a bit. She's more of a gaze-at-a-distance type of girl.

She will not let me pass by the back door or the window in the kitchen (which looks into the backyard) without stopping to see where Mac is at that moment. She'll then wave (even if he's nowhere to be found) and say, "Maa" (hasn't quite caught onto the "K" sound, yet). Here's a little example in the video below.

#974 - Fun with my girl

Girl's Night

Daniel recently began spending time at our local community college's BSM (Baptist Student Ministries). He goes on Wednesdays at lunch and just hangs out with the students, trying to build relationships and encourage those he encounters. Tonight the BSM sponsored a pancake breakfast (for dinner) since it's midterms week. Daniel and Riley headed out to the college around 4, so it was just the girls at home tonight.

We took a walk around the neighborhood, played some at the park, ate dinner at home and then played around the house. Here we are getting ready to slide at the playground. It's a wide slide, so we were able to sit side-by-side (and I held on very tightly to Ella) while we slid down. As you can imagine, we did it over and over. :) There's nothing like hearing the sweet girl laugh, though!

I'm thankful for one-on-one time I can spend with my kids!


#975 - Children's books

This Book

Today I am thankful for this book. Why? Because every time I read it to my kids (which has been a lot lately!), I get to share the Gospel in a very kid-friendly way. Riley found this book on his bookshelf a couple of weeks ago, and since then, we've read it multiple times. He is so excited about Easter this year - and not just because we get to dye Easter eggs (try explaining the difference between the word 'die' and 'dye' to a 3-year-old...a little bit challenging!). He knows we'll be celebrating Christ's resurrection first and foremost. 

I do have to share a funny moment from this afternoon, though. As we were about to read the book, he asked if we would go to church on Easter. I said yes because it's a Sunday and we get to celebrate Jesus coming back to life. He then said, "We're going to kill him at the church?!" LOL. Oh, I love the sweet, innocent brain of a child!

I also realized today when I turned the book over that I purchased this book while living as a missionary in South Africa in 2004. I don't remember for sure, but I'm guessing I bought it to read to the children I led in Bible study each week. I never dreamed almost 10 years ago that I'd one day be reading the same book to my own children! Thank you, Lord!


#976 - dotMOM

dotMOM Conference 2013

This past weekend I was privileged to take 14 women from our church to the dotMOM Conference in Dallas. It was absolutely amazing! Not only did it come at the EXACT time I needed it, but I loved every minute I was able to spend with these hilarious, fun-loving ladies! I see them week in and week out at church, but an hour or two a week just doesn't compare to spending over 36 hours together! We laughed together, cried together, felt conviction from the Lord together, worshiped together, shopped together, talked together until midnight, and so much more! I am so thankful for each one and that the Lord placed us together at FBC Hughes Springs.

If you are a mom and you've never heard of dotMOM, you MUST check it out! The next conference will be September 20-21 in Chattanooga, TN. You have plenty of time now to save up some money and make plans to attend! And no, this conference is not just for young moms. It is for mom's of all ages with children of all ages!

There weren't just women at the conference. There was a small handful of men who helped out with some of the breakout sessions. (L to R) Travis Cottrell (worship leader),Jerry Shirer (husband of Priscilla Shirer) David Thomas from Daystar Counseling in Nashville, and John Croyle, founder of Big Oak Ranch. Also, if you've heard of Melanie Shankle (author of Sparkly Green Earrings) she's on the far right. She was one of the hostesses for the event.

Samaritan's Purse asked this woman to share about Operation Christmas Child. She is originally from Romania. She grew up in an orphanage there, and when she was 12 years old, volunteers from OCC brought shoe boxes to her orphanage to distribute. The lady who gave her a shoe box ended up adopting her 2 years later. Incredible story!

LifeWay bookstore was there (along with about 15 other exhibitors), and they had a huge area set up with items to buy. I definitely had to practice self-control!

Priscilla Shirer speaking. This was my first time to hear her. WOW! That's about all I know to say.

Travis Cottrell and his praise band led worship. They definitely ushered us into the throne room of God!

I can't say it enough. If you are a mom of any age, I urge you to find a dotMOM conference near you (they occur twice a year) and attend! If I could, I would make my way over to Chattanooga in the fall and go again this year! :)