Happy 7th Birthday To Our Precious Girl

Dear Jaden,

Happy 7th birthday (a little more than a week late)! Better late than never right? I am sure you will agree that we had a fun time celebrating your birthday. As you know, the fun started five days early with a Minnie Mouse party at Hodge Podge on Main. Wow! What a crazy but precious night!!

20131116-184436.jpg20131116-185317.jpg20131116-185354.jpg20131115-232357.jpgA few days later, do you remember your excitement as we travelled to the Barter Theatre for our second annual birthday trip? Little House on the Prairie was great. Wasn’t it? I am sure you won’t ever forget seeing Mrs. Nelson is Missing last year. But, I think you liked watching Laura, Mary, Pa, and Ma a little more.

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How did you like your special (one day early) birthday lunch? I bet I can guess your favorite part. The donut Neannie bought you, of course!!

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I am sure you were super surprised when Mawmaw Wilma and Pawpaw David threw you a birthday celebration that very same evening. I know you were overly excited when you unwrapped the American Girl doll that you had been praying for. Things are so much sweeter when we wait on the Lord. Aren’t they?

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How did it feel when November 8, 2013, your big day, finally arrived? Early that morning, were you anxious to see what the final celebration would be? I am sure when you thought of all the things that might come about, you never anticipated getting whipped cream smeared ALL over your face at your favorite Mexican restaurant in this one stoplight kind of town. I will never forget the look on your face through all that delightful mess! I was anxiously awaiting tears to begin trickling down your precious little cheeks. But to my surprise, you held them back so well. Another clear sign that you are growing up a little more each year.

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Do you know the best part of birthdays coming and going each year? The very best part is watching you let the Lord mold you into who He wants you to be. Getting to be a part of seeing you grow closer to Him is worth more than anything this world has to offer. My heart smiles as simple phrases that show Christ’s love flow from your sweet little lips! Simple phrases such as: “I’ll get it for you, Mommy” “Come on Jayla. I will help you.” “Here you go James. I washed you a fork.” “Mommy, can I share my candy with Jacob?” Thank you sweet girl, thank you! We all love you very much. Jesus gave us a great blessing 7 years ago! And, I am very grateful.

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Love Always,

Mommy

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Your Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 7

What is your favorite food? Cheesy potato soup; Mawmaw makes the best potato soup in the whole world!

What do you hope you never have to eat again? Broccoli

What is your favorite thing to do? Play with my cat, Smores

What is your favorite animal? Cat

What makes you happiest? Mawmaw’s house

What is the best memory from when you were 6? Going to Dollywood

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 7? See a Christmas play at the Barter

What would you like to be when you grow up? Just a mommy ( ;) so sweet!!)

What is your favorite song? The Poochie Lip Disease

What is your favorite place to eat? Mexican

What is your favorite book? If You Give a Dog a Donut

Where would you like to go on vacation? The beach

What would you like the world to know? I want them to know that I am seven years old.

O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endureth forever.  Psalm 136:1

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Do you want to see her birthday interview from last year?

http://learninggodsway.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/look-who-is-six/

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Molded by Him

It is hard to believe that it has been three months since I have taken the time to write!  This summer flew by!  Didn’t it? It. really. did!  I am not sure why it has taken me so long to share what the Lord has done in my life over the past three months because He has blessed me every single day!

But, the words that I needed to fit each little happening in my life over the past three months never really came when I needed them to. However, the Lord has been too good to me and taught me SO much. So, I am ready to share!!

What has The Lord showed me? Ready. Set. Go.

✨The Reformers Unanimous Program and the Reformers Unanimous Institutional Program were exactly what I needed to become a disciple of Christ! These programs have taught me how much Jesus loves me and YOU! Serving in these two ministries never gets old! Christ has given me so much love for all the workers and students in these two programs.  I cannot even describe how much the Lord has blessed my family through these programs. The Lord is using them to teach me how to become the humble person that He has desired me to be for so many years.

✨The fear of the Lord brings us to the right choices, but the fear of man leads to destruction and death!

✨It’s okay to hurt when a friend is hurting! But it is best to cast their burdens to the Lord by praying for them.

✨The devil is the father of lies!  When God is the only thing that matters, the devil is like a roaring lion waiting to devour every good thing that the Lord has started!

✨Jesus saves!  Jesus saves!  Jesus saves!

✨Our trials are worth more than gold when we let God fight our battles for us!

✨We all need Jesus for the same reason!

✨God loves all of US the SAME!

✨Regret leads to repentance!

✨The devil tells us that we are nothing.  God tells us that we can do what He has called us to through His strength!

✨Faith!  Without faith it is impossible to please Him!

✨ Contentment is only found through Christ! His plan is best because He knows our future!!

✨ God provides every single thing that we need. And, God’s people take care of each other!

I hope these past three months have treated you well! What has the Lord taught you lately?

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💚 Please join us at the Reformers Unanimous Program at Chilhowie Baptist Church every Friday night at 7:00. God uses this program to change people’s lives! Not in our area? Go to http://www.reformu.com to find a Reformers Unanimous in your area. You will not regret it.

Matthew 10:27 – What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.

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Boast Not of Tomorrow

I am too busy. Or, it seems that way most of the time. At least I like to convince myself that I am. I have kids to teach, mouths to feed, a house to clean, a garden to tend to, bedtimes to enforce, farm animals to keep afloat… Well in my craziness, I lost out on two very special blessings that the Lord put in front of me.

As I glanced up, I saw her at church one night not so long ago. Her glowing face. Her beautiful smile. But, if I have replayed the scene correctly, I was too busy. I don’t remember if I took the time to wave to her. I don’t remember if I talked to her. I don’t even remember if I smiled at her. But, at first glance, I remember thinking how rushed I was. I felt an urgency.  Of what? I can’t even recall. Her hug would have made the tiredness and stress all  fade away. I am sure I didn’t get one that night.  I would have remembered it!

That is my life. Rushed. Urgent. Forgetful. Selfish. A few days or maybe even a week or so later (remember forgetfulness is written above) at a 4-H meeting, the kids and I planted flowers for widows and shut-ins. As I stood looking at the flowers, feeling a sense of satisfaction, Millie’s name came to my mind. I thought about how great it would be if the kids and I could take her one of the flowers. But, it would not be that night. Oh, no. I was too busy. I was in the middle of packing for a trip to Richmond. So, I told the kids that Daddy could water the flowers while we were gone, and we would deliver them when we got back from our trip.

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They were content. I was content. We all were content. Little did I know that one phone call received while we were in Richmond would change the fate of my plans. God had different plans for that flower. That flower never made it into Millie’s hands. The kids and I missed the blessing of seeing her smiling face and hearing her say, “Oh thank you!” Because she would have said thank you, and she would have smiled. She always, always smiled. When we returned home, our little J.J. delivered that flower not to Millie but to her sweet daughter instead.

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The Lord taught me a very valuable lesson through Mrs. Millie’s passing. Don’t put off til tomorrow what ought to be done today. Stop the hectic me centered life. God has blessings waiting if I will just stop and receive them each and every day. All I can do now is look forward to seeing Millie’s smile again one day.

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She was so beautiful. And, she always made a point to tell me how beautiful I was every time I saw her. She had a way of making everyone she came in contact with feel special. She loved Christ, and His charity shone through her in an amazing way. She never complained. She never raised her voice. She was one of a kind. Yes, the older generation was sent to teach the younger generation. She is a legacy that will never be forgotten. And, her kitchen table was the place to be. A simple life she led. Peaceful. The kind of life we should all long for. A life full of glory. She took the time to serve Christ and smell the roses every second of every day. Thank you Mrs. Millie for teaching me so much. We all loved you very much. And, whether I have to wait 30 seconds or 60 more years to see your sweet smiling face again, it will be so worth it!

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Some of my fondest childhood memories were playing on this swing set at Millie’s.  She would always give me money to get ice cream at the store beside her house.  I loved it!  And, I will never forget it!

Proverbs 27:1 - Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

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Happy 4th Birthday (Baby) James!

Dear James,

Your 4th birthday was not what we expected, but you did not complain one bit. Despite being sick, in the emergency room, and at the doctor’s office for the biggest part of the day, you did not let the circumstances get you down. You smiled through the pain and made the best of your big day.

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I will have to admit that I felt a few tears try to sneak up on me when the nurse announced at 12 a.m. that you had just turned four! Four! Really? How did it happen so quickly? It seems like it was just yesterday when I wrote this letter. The tears crept even closer when you gazed at me with your big blue eyes and asked, “Am I still little Mommy?” When I responded with a huge YES, you looked a little disappointed. “But, I want to be a big boy now,” you whispered in my ear. Okay, I responded, BUT you will always be my little boy.

No matter what the situation, you bring pure joy to our lives. And, I will never forget cuddling with you in the hospital bed just after midnight reading about Mary and Jesus per your request. I will never forget the smile that came across your face as the nurse brought you a birthday bear. I will never forget holding your hands as you got your x-ray. I will never forget the tears welling up in your eyes as you stayed strong while the nurse gave you that dreaded shot. But, most importantly, I will never forget you wrapping your arms around my neck and kissing me just below the nose as you held those huge tears in your rounded eyes. Why? Because 4 year old boys don’t cry. Just so you know, your 32 year old Mommy cries when her big boy is hurting. So, it is okay to cry, big boy. It is okay to cry!

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James, no matter how tall you get, no matter how much you weigh, no matter what size shoe you wear, you will always be my baby! I thank Jesus for you every day. You make my world brighter and my days so much sweeter. Happy Birthday, sweet boy! Happy Birthday!!

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The Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 4

What is your favorite food? pancakes and bananas

What do you hope you never have to eat again? roast beef

What is your favorite thing to do? clean up

What is your favorite animal? horse

What makes you happiest? dinosaurs

What is the best memory from when you were 3? playing with cars

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 4? go to sleep

What would you like to be when you grow up? a rancher and a human — I don’t want to be a doctor. They are not humans. ;)

What is your favorite song? Obedience

Where is your favorite place to eat? Cracker Barrel

What is your favorite book? Danny and the Dinosaur Go To Camp

Where would you like to go on vacation? Disney World

What would you like the world to know? about God :)

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Philippians 4:11 – Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

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Blessed Is the Man…

In the Bible, blessed means happy. How can a born again Bible believing follower of Christ find happiness? The answer is dispersed throughout the Bible. Psalm one discusses how a true believer can be blessed. Jesus also discusses true happiness through His Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:1-12, Christ spells out the Beatitudes for the crowd during His sermon. The Beatitudes show each believer how to find true happiness through Christ alone and the reward that comes to those who allow Christ to live in their hearts.

For believers to be blessed or happy, they have to humble themselves before the Lord. After salvation, prideful flesh must die.  A true believer depends on the Lord every second of the day to guide him/her into righteousness. This is the first step to finding true happiness. As stated in Psalm 1, the Lord is only able to bless those who are humble in spirit and seeking after righteousness. Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.

Dying to flesh and turning from wicked ways allows Christ to live in believers, which brings forth grieving and mercy for the lost. The Lord is faithful to show us all of the godless sins in our lives, so we may quickly repent. Believers of Christ do not have a desire to continue in sin, but rather their desire is to please the Lord in everything they do seeking His will for their lives. This type of surrendering allows believers to reach those who are lost. True happiness through Christ brings forth freedom and followers of Christ have a desire for all those that are lost to experience true freedom. It is vital for believers to live a humble life that seek after righteousness in order to show Christ’s love to those who are lost and on a path to Hell.

The Lord is also quick to convict His children of their sins in order to bring forth a pureness of the heart that can only be found through His love. This pureness of the heart allows believers to be obedient by asking for forgiveness of any sin that has crept into their lives. This pureness leads to a peaceful life. True believers do not thrive on strife. True Christians love peace and despise discord. Christ’s desire for believers is to bless them through His love and peace.  His love brings true joy.

As a born again Christian, it is my desire to experience true joy by always seeking the Lord’s will for my life. I am grateful that Christ’s desire for my life is to feel His peace as I seek His righteousness. It is my desire to show Christ’s love to others so they may come to have a personal relationship with Him. His eternal blessings are far greater than the persecution that comes forth on this Earth!  Eternal blessings are all that matter! This world will soon be gone, but His love is eternal. He died for you and me.  Seeking His love and delighting in His law brings forth eternal blessings. Please pray that I will always be willing to die to the lust of my flesh in order to show others Christ’s love! It is His commandment that we love one another as He loves us!

Matthew 22:37-40 – Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

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**This is my third essay for the Reformers Unanimous discipleship class.  If you want a closer relationship with the Lord, I urge you to find a Reformers Unanimous chapter in your area.  Be prepared to be changed for His glory!  If you live in my family’s area, please join us at Chilhowie Baptist Church every Friday at 7:00 pm!  We look forward to growing in the knowledge of the Lord with each of you.

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All Things Work Together For His Good (Romans Chapter 8)

Romans chapter 8 explains the importance of walking after the Spirit of Christ instead of fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. Jesus paid it all, so believers can be free from the law. Believers can never fulfill the law because of our sinful flesh; therefore, Jesus is the way to righteousness. He died on the cross and rose again to save humans from our unrighteous sins.

After the Holy Spirit enters into a believer’s heart, his/her own sinful behaviors will become clear. A true believer will begin to focus on heavenly desires instead of earthly desires. It is important for all believers to have a desire for Christ to bear fruit through us. If a believer continues in sin, God will not be pleased. If believers walk after Christ, peace and hope will be brought to them. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and He is waiting on us at the right hand of God. And, NOTHING can separate God’s children from His love, peace, hope, and joy.

The suffering and trials that Christians endure on this Earth are little compared to the blessings waiting in Heaven. Therefore, as a believer, I have the desire to walk after the spirit and not after the flesh. I am thankful that Jesus saved me from Hell, and I am grateful for His blessings on Earth and those unknown blessings waiting on me in Heaven. Often times, God’s promises cannot be fathomed!! But, He is good all the time. I am thankful that all things work together for His good!! Not my good. But His good!!

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**This is my second essay assignment for the Reformer’s Unanimous Discipleship Class. Reformer’s Unanimous is a wonderful program.  And, our family has grown so much closer to the Lord since we began working in this ministry.  We call it an honor and blessing to do Christ’s work.  For without Him, we are nothing!  http://www.reformu.com/  or https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chilhowie-Baptist-Reformers-Unanimous/512995975407525

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Saved from the Pit of Hell – Romans Chapter 6

Romans chapter 6 holds a lot of great truths for new believers of Christ. It is also very helpful for Christians that are backsliding, Christians that are growing in the knowledge of our Lord, and nonbelievers who are seeking the truth. Okay! Romans chapter 6 is a wonderful guide for all! So, today, I am going to share what the Lord revealed to this believer.

This beautifully written chapter gives clear instructions on how to live a life in Christ. It paints a picture of how Christ is the way to eternal life. It points followers of Christ towards His love and away from sin.  It is evident that the duty of every believer is to live a life pleasing to God. Why is it so important? Because Christ loves us so much that he died on the cross and rose again to save us from our filthy unrighteous sins!

In Romans chapter 6, Paul makes it clear that Christ is the only way to be cleansed. Therefore, Christ expects Christians to show believers and nonbelievers alike His love and sacrifice by bearing fruit that can only be found through Him! As followers of Christ, we are not to dwell on or live in our old sinful habits that displease God. After we are washed in Christ’s blood, our unrighteous sins are forgiven and forgotten. What a promise!!

It is our responsibility to flee from the sinful habits that keep us from Christ’s love. Christians are like butterflies. We have been transformed into new creatures. Our old lifestyle that robbed us of God’s will and blessings has been buried and put to rest. Christ longs for us to be pleasing to Him because He loves us. God created us in His image! The freedom found through Christ helps us flee from evil, shows us how to use our hearts as mediators to search His word, and helps us have minds that seek His will in all situations. And, why are these things so important? The answer will never change!  He died for us. He wants what is best for us! He. Loves. Us.

As Christians, if we continue in sin, Christ’s love will not be reflected to the believers and nonbelievers around us. When we refuse to flee from sin, we reject Christ’s love and will for our lives. We cannot serve sin and God. We cannot serve two masters. The sin of the world must be put to rest to be a faithful child of God. Heaven is a righteous place. Therefore, it is vital for Christian’s to have minds that focus on the righteousness of God. He deserves all the honor and glory because He gave us His son, Jesus, as a FREE gift to eternal life in Heaven! Grace through faith saved us from the awful pit of Hell! It is necessary for us, as believers, to ask the Lord to reveal sinful habits in our lives. He is faithful by showing us how to die to our sins! Christ is life and sin is the equivalent of death! I am so glad I chose life.

Through Christ, Christians can humble ourselves and live a life that honors Him! Without Christ, we are unrighteous to a Holy God, but Jesus paid it all. He is the only way to God the Father. The law did not and cannot save.  Immersion baptism represents Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection and is an outward way for a new believer to show he/she has made an inward profession of faith, but it is not the saving grace. Nothing but the blood of Jesus can save! Fellow Christians, let’s serve righteousness by being obedient to our savior! His love and blessings are amazing. His promise to never forsake His children is amazing. My desire is to always mirror the truths found in Romans chapter 6! Why? Because Christ is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, our Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. He is the only way to eternal life! And, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:1-2 - What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

*This essay was written for the Reformers Unanimous discipleship class that I am taking at our church.  My family has the privilege of working in this ministry.  Next to our salvation, it is one of the best things that has ever happened to us.  For more information, please visit: http://reformu.com/ or our local chapter’s facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chilhowie-Baptist-Reformers-Unanimous/512995975407525

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Happy 9th Birthday to One Sweet Boy!

Dear Jacob,

Has it really been nine years since you stole my heart? Yes! Nine years have come and gone. But you, my dear, have made the past nine years unforgettable.  You make my job as a mommy so simple yet rewarding all at the same time. I have learned so much from you, my first-born son!

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  • Putting God first is all that matters.
  • Loving others unconditionally is the only way to love.
  • A willing giver makes a cheerful giver.
  • Being a birdwatcher is very healing.
  • Living debt free is the best way!
  • The Bible is the most important and exciting book to read!
  • Memorizing scripture knits our hearts oh so close together.
  • And last but not least, the small stuff really doesn’t matter!

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Yes, in 9 short years, you have taught me a lifetime worth of lessons! And for that, I am thankful that God let you be the first one to call me Mommy.  Your love for our Savior and others shines through more every day.  Thank you for being such a godly boy. You make your father and me so very proud. We gratefully give the one above all the credit!  I can’t wait to see what the next nine years hold for you, my dear son. I know you will teach us more each day!

Love Always,
Mommy

The Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 9

What is your favorite food? Blueberries

What do you hope you never have to eat again? Spaghetti

What is your favorite thing to do? Ride my scooter

What is your favorite animal? Wolfe

What makes you happiest? Playing

What is the best memory from when you were 8? Staying with Mawmaw when Jayla was in the hospital

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 9? Build a fort

What would you like to be when you grow up? A carpenter

What is your favorite song? Jesus Loves Me

What is your favorite place to eat? The Mexican Restaurant

What is your favorite book? A To Z Mysteries The Canary Caper

Where would you like to go on vacation? The Beach

What would you like the world to know? How to be saved :)

ImageThank you Jesus for sweet Jacob!

Isaiah 54:13 – And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

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Happy 1st Birthday to Our Fourth Miracle!

Can you believe it? Can you believe a whole year has flown by since our 5 lb 3 oz miracle made her grand appearance? I.Cannot.Believe.It. Little Jayla has taught our family so much.

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Her early arrival taught us how to love and be loved. It helped us look to our creator in all situations.  It is true that understanding did not come easy as our precious baby girl was separated from us after she inhaled her first breath. It was difficult to be joyful while we were away from our three older blessings for what seemed like an eternity. And peace seemed to exit our inner beings each time we left sweet Jayla in that sterile somewhat, in a strange way, comforting NICU. Temperance screamed my name the first moment I saw her in that NICU isolette. Do you even realize how much self-control it took not to grab her up and embrace her? She looked so tiny. So frail. So beautiful. So perfect. Our creator makes no mistakes!

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Despite the doubts, fears, and hurdles we have crossed these last 365 days, our precious gift from our Father in Heaven has taught her whole family how to be content and joyful in all situations.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAThrough it all, our Heavenly Father has been so faithful. He held our hands through all of our fears and doubts. He comforted us. He strengthened us. He loved us. As quickly as the peace and understanding fled, the Holy Spirit restored it through verses, pastors, family, friends, nurses, and doctors. This past year, He has sent people to encourage us at exactly the right times!

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Yes! Miss Jayla is an amazing gift from above. Through Christ’s love, she has taught us to take each day a little slower, love a little harder, and laugh a little longer. It is with great joy that we say Happy 1st Birthday to our fourth miracle! The tiny miracle that was sent to teach us how to ALWAYS look to our Father above. For He has all the answers. Faith. That’s all it takes. Faith.

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Her birthday muffin was delicious!

GE DIGITAL CAMERAOpening the baby doll Jacob bought her!

GE DIGITAL CAMERAShe loves her new puppy, Violet!

jaylas-birthday-spring-homeschool-075-e1364413526632 Thank you Lord for sweet Baby Jayla!

Hebrews 11:6 - “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

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A Somewhat Spring Day

As I gazed out the window on this somewhat spring day, I couldn’t help but stare as my kids laughed and played.  Refreshment, aliveness, and contentment hit me all at once.  Peace filled my soul at the thought of what a blessing it is to be their mother. A simple, “Mommy will you play with me,” got me out the door.  Sweet memories were made as I watched the kids being little pioneers.

Joy was unmistakable as I witnessed Jaden’s excitement as she rode her favorite horse down the long gravel drive for the very first time. She whispered, “I can do it, Daddy.”

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Laughter and panic came quickly as James so calmly uttered, “Look Mommy, I see something,” as a skunk sauntered right under his nose as he stood at the rippling creek’s edge. What a wonderful time we had watching “Jimmy” Skunk make his great escape.  He was doing so well until “Bowser the Hound” aka George got a whiff of him.  Thornton Burgess books weave nature stories together so well.  We never complain when we actually get to live the things we have read.

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As things quickly settled back down, my heart skipped a few beats while Jacob swung in the rafters of the “work in progress” sheep shed. A Saturday project that was so fitting for a Pawpaw, a Daddy and his two boys. Who says a family driven barn raisin’ is old fashioned?

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Love placed smiles upon our faces as we all took turns playing on the seesaw the kids’ Pawpaw made them the day before.  Fancy toys and store bought are not needed when you have a few boards and an old rounded log.  Tears flooded my heart as I saw that their Pawpaw had taken the time to show them how much he cares.  As they rose up and down, James politely said, “Pawpaw is a good builder, Mommy.”

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A kind of love that is so indescribable overcame me as I was reminded once again that these brothers and sisters truly are best friends.

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And, what contentment I felt as James asked for a little boost. My pleasure, little buddy.  My pleasure…

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Peace. Peace wrapped its arms around me as I watched Jamie walk back up the gravel lane with his two little girls.  Jayla was asleep on his shoulder and spunky little Jaden clasped his hand as if there was no one else in the world.

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What peace I find in the ones who love me.  What peace my Heavenly Father has given me because he loved me first.  His son shed His blood for me. It is His love that shows me how to love others.  He is the only reason that I have unconditional love for the blessings that He is letting me borrow.  I am in awe of the joy, peace, and happiness that He has given me as He is teaching me to be a godly wife and mother.  His love for me is so inspiring. I cling to his word every day, especially John, Romans, and Proverbs as of lately. I strive to know more. What a high price He paid for my happiness. His love is everlasting.  His love is amazing.  His love is joyful.  His love is peaceful.  Oh what a friend I have in Jesus. Please Lord, don’t ever let my desire to feel your love fade away!

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John 8:31-32: Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

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True Meaning

What’s the meaning of that word?  Do you really understand what this verse is saying?  Let’s look up the meanings of some of these words.  The kids and I have this conversation as we study Bible verses. Defining unknown words in the Bible helps God’s message become crystal clear. It is best to use an 1828 dictionary to look up words from the Bible because word meanings have changed over time.  You may not know what a word means just by reading it. Sometimes context clues are helpful but other times they are not. Defining words helps reflect their meanings right to you.

As I was pondering some issues on my heart last night, the following questions ran through my mind. What do I reflect to others?  Do I really reflect what I read in Proverbs every day?  If someone looked up my name in the dictionary what words would flow after it?  How do people define me as a person?  These thoughts cut deep.

So, I decided to come up with a definition of what I thought people might find if they looked up my name in the dictionary.  The following words flooded my mind:

Amanda B. – quick tempered, slow to listen, offers advice too often, opinionated, excuse maker, judgemental, weak, a talebearer, meddler of strife

These words continued to race through my mind as I snuggled Jayla as close to my body as I could. I felt tears well up in my eyes. But, I finally took Jayla’s lead and drifted off to sleep.  As I woke this morning, these same thoughts came to my mind. I had prayed and gave it to the Lord.  Or, at least I thought I had. It was evident that I really hadn’t let these thoughts go as I murmured to Jamie while he read Proverbs at the kitchen table. I made my definition of myself come to life as I let the next few words slip from my mouth.  Why do I even bother reading Proverbs if I am not successful at living the virtuous life that is described in the verses? I give up. Why does the Lord expect so much from us if He knows how hard it is to follow through?  I am just not going to try to be like those verses anymore.  It is evident that I am not cut out to be the type of Christian that the Lord expects me to be.  Jamie just listened and went on reading.  (Poor guy!) I know he was kind and offered some words of wisdom, but I don’t even remember what they were.  I was just thankful that he was willing to listen to the nonsense spewing from my mouth.

So, as quickly as I said that I wasn’t going to read Proverbs any longer, I pulled it up on the computer.  And, I began to read Proverbs 28.

1 The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.

2 For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged.

3 A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food.

4 They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.

5 Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.

I believe I stopped at verse five.  I became distracted by little blessings peaking at me from every direction. Suddenly, I became consumed in the daily duties of breakfast and the kids’ school.  But, my definition of myself and the ugly words that had spewed from my mouth, continued to bog me down.  So, I decided to evaluate myself again.  I came up with a new definition.

Amanda B. – cares for others, quick tempered at times, listens but quickly offers advice, hurts when others hurt, can be overly opinionated more often than not, makes excuses for wrong doings, loves her family, sees negative actions in others even those closest to her, weak, becomes caught up in strife or causes strife when she should only be listening

While this definition doesn’t hurt quite as bad as the first, some of the words still prick my heart. I am not content with most of those words plastered after my name.  So, what now?  Where do I go from here?  Do I continue to let the devil convince me that I can’t be in the Lord’s will?

Absolutely not!  I cannot be the person God has created me to be without His help. I need Him. He believes in me!  He knows I can be that woman described in Proverbs. He loves me.  He knows what is best! But, he also knows I am human.  He knows I fail too many times.  I know He isn’t satisfied as I constantly mess up His will for my life.  But, thank goodness for His mercy! I am so thankful for His mercy.  But, I want to stop cashing in on it so often.  I want to be more pleasing to Him (because He first loved me). I want to be more pleasing to my family and my friends. So I am praying that before the Lord takes me home to Heaven, the following definition will be written beside my name:

Amanda B. – loves the Lord, loves others and expects nothing in return, joyfully completes tasks at hand,  has a meek and quiet spirit, bears the burdens of others by listening without offering opinions, prays for others instead of judging their actions, is a cheerful giver, waits on the Lord’s will and is content in His will, is content with the Lord’s will in her Christian sisters’ and brothers’ lives, is quick to admit she is wrong and ask for forgiveness, takes her burdens to the Lord and is not an excessive worrier, has faith and is sensitive to the Holy Spirit

Now that is the only definition I am satisfied with.  If God is for it, so am I!! Please pray for me as I ask for the Lord’s help to become the person He so desires me to be. Please pray that I will move out of God’s way and let Him do the work!  I cannot do it on my own.  Please pray that I will not let the devil convince me that these things do not matter. Please pray that I will stay in His word dissecting and defining each and every word! Yes, Proverbs, Galatians, as well as every other book in God’s Holy word makes the importance of bearing fruit crystal clear! Without Him, bearing fruit is impossible! I want to live my life in Christ!
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Pslam 51:10 – Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

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It’s A Matter of the Heart

My babies!  My babies are growing so quickly.  I see it every day.  James has shot up like a stalk of corn and is praying that God’s will is for him to be a rancher. Jayla has went from sitting, to crawling, to nearly walking in 10 short months.  Jacob invents new things each free moment he gets.  And just last night, he showed that he can take the death of a pet in stride as he graciously announced that he already knows about the life of Job.  God’s will be done. And little J.J. is sputtering new words as reading becomes her forte bit by bit. At family Bible time she whispers, “I want to keep on reading.”  It all melts my heart and drips freely from my eyes.

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Am I doing my part as I watch them grow? Is Proverbs 31 becoming ingrained in me? Are my cries to my savior being heard?  My cries for Him to live through me with gentleness, meekness, and kindness.  I surely hope so. Does my husband see my efforts?  Does he hear my cries to the Lord?  As he writes in our little green journal, he thanks me for teaching our babies the importance of Mark 12:30.  He thanks me for being a Proverbs 31 woman.  I read his words of encouragement and am grateful that he sees I am trying.  Trying my best not to fail time and time again. Trying my best not to doubt. It is all so new to me. I never truly made sense of it all until recently.  I am slowly weaving the pieces together as I flee from doubt.

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Doubt.  It creeps in so quickly when you least expect it.  It makes you question not only your abilities but your salvation.  Doubt: such a little word with so much power. It is a joy killer.  It suffocates. It is one of the devil’s favorite tools.  But wait! There is hope. Doubt quickly becomes powerless when God becomes your power.

Not so long ago, He silenced my doubt. He put it to rest. I ran to Him.  I pleaded with Him.  I got in His word.  He was faithful.  He listened.  He is working. I continue to run to Him.  I continue to plead with Him.  I continue to read His word.  He continues to be faithful.  He is empowering me to joyfully complete the daily tasks that come with being a wife, a mother, a teacher.  He silences doubt in an instant.  He is in FULL control.  He is holding onto my heart so tightly.  It is in the palm of His hand.  I never want Him to let go.  His love is everlasting. I love him so. It is a matter of the heart.

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He understands my longing to be a Proverbs 31 woman.  He hears my prayers.  He gives me strength.  He knows how much I love the husband and babies he has blessed me with. It’s not about me.  It’s about them.  It’s about Him.  It’s a matter of the heart.  I call out Psalm 139:23-24 to Him.  I plead for Him to search my heart and not let any wicked ways be found in me. I ask him to take any negative thoughts or complaints away. Because more times than not, I see the negative.  I am a complainer.  Oh, how I want all of that to change.  I long for all of those evil ways to be hushed like the doubt.  What a huge task I have laid at His feet.  My longing is for a heart that bleeds the fruit of the spirit.  That is what He expects.  I want to please Him.  He died for me.  He died for you.  He died for us.  It is the least we can do.  It is a matter of the heart.  His love is sufficient.

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Perfection may be screaming out at you.  Impossible.  Perfection is impossible because of sin.  Yes.  But, all things are possible through Him.  He paid it all.  He is our Savior, our Redeemer, and our Father which art in Heaven.  Following Him is the only way to bear fruit.  I love Him.  I thank Him.  I have no more doubt or fear.  He will give me the strength needed to be a Proverbs 31 woman.  The devil can’t win.  Not this battle.  The Lord is my teacher, my Father, and my strength. His words are beautiful.  He is the author and the finisher.  He is the beginning and the end.

What happens when the anger slips back in?  When the wrong words slip out?  When I get frustrated because the beds are not made, the toys are left out, the dishes are piled in the sink, the husband is working nearly 18 hours each day?  The answer is quite simple. I run to Him.  I ask for forgiveness.  He forgives.  And in my daily journal, I scratch out those horrible sins.  They are forgotten.  I run to those who the anger and frustration spewed over.  I ask them to forgive me.  I hug.  I kiss.  I love them more than ever.  I vow to try harder.  I start over again.  I squeeze tighter.  They hug.  They kiss.  They love me and understand me more. They squeeze tighter.  We all try harder.  We have the power to love through Him.  We all hug.  We all kiss.  We all squeeze tighter.  We all love each other one hundred times more than the day before.  We are human.  We are sinful.  We are powerless without Him.  How sweet it is to be loved by the Savior of the world.   Will you let Him guide your heart?  Proverbs 3:5-6  explains it so well.  His ways, His truths, His words, and His guidance are the only reasons to ever follow your heart. He is so enveloped in mine.  His love is amazing. I will do it all for Him.   It’s a matter of the heart.

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John 8:32 – And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.

Psalm 19:14 – Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, my redeemer.

The Fruit of the Spirit bracelet can be purchased here: http://shop.reformu.com/product-p/mr-055.htm

The proceeds from the bracelet go to the women living in the Reformers Unanimous (a Christ centered addiction recovery program) women’s home in Rockford, IL.  The bracelets are made by the women living in the home, and the money helps them live in the home while they learn that Jesus will set them free from their addictions.  The money is sometimes used to help the women purchase gifts for their children for birthdays and holidays.  It helps the mothers stay connected to their children while learning of Christ’s love as they are being set free from their sinful addictions. The bracelet in the picture was made by a woman name Brittany.  Will you join us and pray for her?

Posted in Let's Reminisce and Reflect! | 4 Comments

Just A Little Time

A week or so ago, I decided to try out a new toothpaste just before bed. As I opened the cap, a somewhat familiar scent came rolling out of the tube. I didn’t think much about it until I pressed my toothbrush onto my tongue. The vivid taste of that toothpaste made past memories rush through my mind. And all at once, it hit me! The smell wasn’t so unfamiliar anymore. All of a sudden, I could see myself sneaking my Papaw’s breath mints off of his coffee table. I smirked as I remembered how he would let me pop more than one out of the roll before he acted like he noticed! I would swish the mints around in my mouth and savor the taste as we watched Sanford and Son, The Adam’s Family, and the Braves together.

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You see, most days the big yellow bus dropped me off at his house when I was in elementary school. And, until I tasted that toothpaste just a few nights ago, I didn’t realize how much I still miss him. I miss him calling me Bubba and singing “Oh My Darling” over and over again. He passed away when I was just 22 years old. It was almost a year after my wedding, and his death was the first painful event in my adult life.  I rejoiced that he was no longer suffering, but I wanted to spend more time with him.

Instead of letting wonderful memories heal my hurt the past ten years, I added to the pain by getting hung up on things that don’t really matter. I have been selfish. Over the last decade, I now know that I wasted so much time focusing on the few things that I thought he should have done for me while he was still here. I have focused on him not coming to my wedding. I have focused on him not rescuing me when my washer was flooding my laundry room floor. I have focused on him not calling to check on me like I thought he should. I have focused on the fact that I wanted him to quit smoking, but he wouldn’t. I have focused on how I never got to hear him tell me that he loved me.

It wasn’t that I didn’t love him while he was here. Because I did. I made sure he knew that I loved him not long after I found out he had lung cancer. I wanted him to hear me say that I loved him before he was gone. The two times that I told him he couldn’t say it back. The second time I told him, right before his surgery, I reassured myself that it was okay that he hadn’t bounced those three words back. I just wanted him to know that I loved him. I went further by showing him that he was special when I bought him an angel coin while he was recovering in the hospital. It hung above his bed and was placed in my hand the day he went to heaven. He entered the pearly white gates from his hospital bed.

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I cried like a baby the night he died. I cried like a baby several days after. I cried like a baby when more angel coins fell from heaven and landed at his back door. I even took flowers to his grave not long after. I promised to remember him when I named my future children. But, then I did what I always seem to do. I became numb. I became numb to what it was like when he was here. I became numb to the childhood memories that we had shared. That is until I tasted that toothpaste, and I was forced to see him again!

I went to bed that night with a new outlook of my memories of him. Since that night, I have let the memories take over my thoughts. And suddenly, I no longer focus on the few negative thoughts that I had created in my mind. Can you forgive someone after they are already in heaven? I am living proof that you can! But, this past week has taught me that after all these years, he didn’t even need to be forgiven.

The truth about my Papaw has come to life this week as I have remembered how he loved to eat a slice of apple butter bread with milk splattered over it. (So do I!) I have been able to see him in his trucker’s cap and big round sunglasses trying to teach me how to mow the lawn with that silver Sears mower. I have vividly seen him smiling as he shook his head because I failed miserably! (At the tender age of 10 years old, I was not cut out to be a lawnmower driver.) So, I have once again felt the rake enter my hand as he put me to work raking apples instead. Since the negative is gone, I have allowed myself to breathe in the sweet smell of those overly ripe apples! How I wish I could smell those same apples again. I have stretched out the mirror so he could clean the chimney. A task that I haven’t minded reliving because I got to spend time with him again.

Since, I have let all of the negative go, I have once again felt the pounding in my nose as my sister whacked me with a tennis racket one hot summer day while he was watching us many years ago. And, I can still see his face as screaming sisters came running at him.  He just shook his head, made sure I was going to live, and let us go about our way. He did not fuss nor yell that day. He chose to love us just the way we were! He loved us in the good times and bad. Yes! He loved us in the good times and bad.

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This week has taught me that his love shone through every day that he was with us. Now I know how much he loved me even though he never spoke those three words that I expected to hear so often. He showed me that he loved me every time he dropped by and picked me up from school so I wouldn’t get sick on the bus. He showed me that he loved me when he let me make huge bird nests out of all the grass that he had just raked. He showed me that he loved me when he would skip one of his favorite shows so I could watch Saved By the Bell. He showed me that he loved me when he listened to every word as I complained about how some people could be so rude when I worked at that grocery store in college. He showed me that he loved me by listening and not saying much at all! I don’t think he ever uttered a rude word to me. Can my children say the same thing about me? My husband? My sister? My family? My friends? Unfortunately, no!

By embracing his love this week and digging deeper into the person he really was, I have also realized that he not only loved me but he also taught me so many life lessons! Why has it taken me so many years to realize this? He has taught me that it is not strange if you only go to Walmart when you actually need something. He has taught me that the older the truck the better. He has taught me that home cooked meals are what it is all about. He has taught me that blue socks match whatever you are wearing. He has taught me that there is no place like home and family is all that matters. And, as I watched the water rushing from that old washer one more time this week, he has taught me that I don’t always have to have a knight in shining armor! Over thirteen years ago, he was trying to teach me that it is okay to learn to do things on my own.

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This week I have learned that my Papaw didn’t need to be changed.  I was the one who needed to remember how I once loved him for who he was. I needed to love him like I did before he went to see Jesus.  I was the one who needed to learn that life is not always about me.  I have realized that my Papaw was perfect just the way he was, and he had enough love to go around. Just because he didn’t say those three words like I wished he would have, doesn’t mean that his love wasn’t there. It was! I am so glad that my heart is now healed.  I am so glad that I can feel his love again. It feels good to be able to smile as I see him looking down from heaven. It will be just a little time until we meet again. I know he has a special room for my family in his mansion! And, I know it will be a celebration like no other when my little girl gets to meet the one I named her after.

Jaden Raeann

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Proverbs 25:11 – A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.

Posted in Let's Reminisce and Reflect! | 11 Comments

A Simple Thank You

Wow! It has been a few weeks since I have written.  I thought about writing several times over the holidays, but then I would get busy and not get around to it.  I missed posting about Christmas, Jamie’s birthday, and the New Year. I also missed sharing that during the hustle and bustle of these special times, Jaden lost two teeth and Jayla gained her first two teeth (a big deal in my book!)

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I have to admit that even though I could write tons more about the events that took place in our home over the past few weeks, I choose to focus on you guys instead.  I want to extend a simple thank you to each of you for taking the time to read what I write.  I have always dreamed of being an author, and I have a few books that I have written saved on various computers here and there.  But, this is as far as I have gotten to achieving my dream of writing for others.  I enjoy writing, but more importantly, I enjoy having the fellowship with those who take the time to read and respond to what I write.  So again, thank you.  Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to the words that flow across the pages of Learning God’s Way.  If it weren’t for all of you and the Holy Spirit prompting me to share His wonderful truths, I wouldn’t have much of a reason to peck at this keyboard time and time again.  I hope each of you enjoyed the special spirit of Christmas. And, I pray that 2013 brings you tons of joy.  Let’s band together in this brand new year and let our light shine for the only one that matters!

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(I got this idea from Ann Voskamp’s blog.  I haven’t read any of her books, so I don’t know a lot about her.  But, I liked this idea).

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

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Every Day Is Beautiful

I will have to admit that this past weekend was a struggle. A rather large unexpected expense came up while we were out-of-town, which left a thorn in my side. I tried not to worry about it, I tried not to complain about it, and I tried not to be frustrated, upset,or angry. I know in Philippians 4:12 that the Lord commands us to do all things without murmurings and disputings. So, why was I murmuring so much?

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(Look at how much fun they were having!)

I was focusing on the ugly moment at hand.  I was focusing on the world.  I was focusing on everything that was not important! I was trying to focus on praising the Lord for keeping us safe when our new “quite a bit used” vehicle broke down miles from home.  I was trying to praise Him. But, I just did not feel like being happy, cheerful, and okay with the situation. I tried to hide my gloominess throughout the day (probably not as well as I should have). But, after reading Philippians 4:4-6 with the kids at breakfast this morning, I realized that I cannot praise the Lord and find peace in Him with resentment in my heart! It. Is. Not. Possible.

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(They were not gloomy, unhappy, or bitter at all!  They were lovin’ it.)

Yes, the little bit of money that I thought the Lord had provided for Christmas is now gone plus more.  But. It. Is. Okay! Do you know why? Let me count the ways. I had wonderful Christian family members and friends encouraging me the whole weekend.  I had four beautiful children and an awesome husband who smiled despite it all. (They handle negative situations so gracefully!) The sun was warm and beautiful, which was such a blessing since we were outside enjoying an amusement park on Saturday (thanks to my mom and step-dad!).  Despite money being tighter than usual, we will have food on our table and a warm house to live in the entire month of December. The Lord always provides for our needs. And, the vehicle that really means nothing in the long view of things, can be fixed and should last us for many years to come. And if it doesn’t: It. Is. Okay!!  A vehicle is a luxury in my book. It is a worldly possession that will eventually rust and crumble to the ground. I am so glad that I don’t have to find my joy in worldly things!  I am so glad the Lord reminded me where my faith belongs this weekend.

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So, today I say thank you Lord for protecting us.  Thank you for sending the right people to encourage us. Thank you for making me understand that the Christmas gifts do not matter. Thank you for reminding me that you are the reason we celebrate Christmas.  You are our gift.  Thank you for helping me teach my children the true meaning of Christmas.  Thank you for taking away my bitter heart.  I love you, I love you, I love you!! You are good all the time.

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Philippians 4:4-7

4 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

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(The notes that Jaden snuck and wrote this morning while we were making an ornament to go along with a book we had read. Another reminder that there is joy in every situation and what prompted me to write this post.  I hope you all have a great week, and let’s rejoice in the Lord together!)

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Just A Swingin’

How do you create hours of fun for your kids?

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You tie sheets to the table in order to make hammocks underneath! (Warning – It is pretty fun for mommies, too!!) ;)

Psalm 127:3 – Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

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Look Who Is Six!

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Dear Jaden,

Today was an awesome day! Thank you for bringing so much joy to my heart.  You are a huge blessing. You ALWAYS know how to make all of us laugh.  You say some of the cutest things. Today was no exception.  You made me laugh and smile all day!  It is a day that I will never forget.  Our family would be lost without you.  You make us so proud. I am very proud of how much you have grown in the Lord this year.  You have an amazing way of  letting your love for Jesus shine through your bubbly personality. Don’t ever stop being so tenderhearted and caring.  I love watching you grow and change every day. I thank the Lord for you every day.  He gave your father and me an amazing daughter! And you are an amazing sister to your brothers and sister!

I hope you enjoyed the pictures from our day together.  I hope you will never forget the special memories we shared. I hope you will always hear the giggles that came as you watched the play Miss Nelson is Missing. I hope you will always be able to recall the taste of the Superman ice cream. I hope you will always see yourself sharing your gifts with your friends. I hope you will hear the laughter and chatter forever! I hope you will feel cozy when you relive the warmth inside the ice cream shop and the love of all of your friends. I hope the memory of today will make you smile for many more years to come. But most importantly, I hope you will always know how much you mean to all of us! I love you silly goose! ;)

Love Always,

Mommy

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Your Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 6

What is your favorite food? Macaroni and Cheese

What do you hope you never have to eat again? Broccoli

What is your favorite thing to do? Horseback riding

What is your favorite animal? A Dalmatian

What makes you happiest? Playing outside

What is the best memory from when you were 5? I got saved. :)

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 6? Play with daddy more

What would you like to be when you grow up? A hair stylist

What is your favorite song? This Little Light of Mine

What is your favorite place to eat? HodgePodge on Main

What is your favorite book? The Little Rabbit

Where would you like to go on vacation? The beach

What would you like the world to know? I love my dad and my family and my mom and my Jacob and my James and Jayla.

Proverbs 31:3 – Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

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How do you spell J.O.Y?

Today I will  start out by writing about a subject very dear to my heart: Abortion.  It has been a topic of discussion among Americans for awhile now, and the Lord has put this topic on my heart this morning.  When did murder become an issue of women’s rights?  Abortion is murder whether you believe it or not. The last time I checked all four of my children are breathing and their hearts are beating.  They are all special unique individuals that the LORD knitted in my womb. And they were breathing and their hearts were beating while they were in my womb!  I am saddened by the thought that I could have chosen to murder my children before they were born because it is MY right.  It is not a Right that I should have. It is not a right that I will take.  I refuse this right!  It is not a right that any woman should have!  No, not one! Two wrongs do not make a right.  I have known that since I was a child.  I pray that the women of our country will turn back to understanding that it is their duty but also a privilege and an honor to be a Proverbs 31 woman. Jamie and I will raise our children to understand that we have to stand strong on Biblical principals, or we have no hope.  I pray that as a family, we will always cling to God’s word for guidance and go to Him when we lack wisdom (James 1:5).  Please pray this prayer with us.

(Your child(ren) is/are just as special as my children.  God created my children and your child(ren).  The aborted children are just as special as my children and your child(ren).  God creates every child.)

Sadly today, I am not sure where some American citizen’s faith is. It should not be in any man who chooses abortion as an option. Our family is living proof that God will provide all your NEEDS if you ask and have faith.  (“But, without faith it is impossible to please Him” Hebrews 11:6)  It seems that the “I” needs to be taken out of so many people’s lives.  Jesus has to be first, Others second, and Yourself last.  For that is the only way to spell JOY!  Please know that I am talking to myself, too.  I also have to remove myself from my own wants not only daily but sometimes hourly! Jesus is still working on me!

(Harvesting sunflower seeds for their Pawpaw Ken).

After last night’s election my hope and faith in the Lord has not wavered.  I will continue to pray for my family (that we will always be in the Lord’s will and that we will not go astray because the devil is always lurking).  As a family, we will continue to pray for our nation and its leaders.  I pray that God will soften our leaders’ hearts.  I pray that they will accept Him as the true King, and they will trust His lead.  The leaders of our country were knitted by God; therefore, as Christians, it is our duty to pray for them.  I pray that as Christians, we can be a witness to the American leaders, and I pray that we will see them in heaven one day. God is a God full of grace, but He is also our judge and will bring chastisement to those who choose not to follow Him.  America was founded under His name from Biblical principals.  How has the greatest nation become so selfish and blinded in such a short period of time?  The answer is simple, the leaders now focus on what they want and what they think the majority wants instead of what God wants. It is a sad time, but it is also a time for Christians to pray, pray, pray!  God does answer prayers, and He will never forsake His people.  And, it is written that if you are on His side, evil does not prevail in the end! I am thankful to be on His side this morning. Which side are you on?  Please join my family and pray that His will shall be done.

Romans 8:28 -And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

II Chronicles 7:14 – If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Joshua 24:15 – And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

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Viewer Discretion is Advised

Have you ever wondered what a mommy and her children (who don’t have cable television or satellite) do in their free time while daddy is at class?

No words are needed! ;) I bet they will never forget this night.  I know I won’t.

Psalm 113:9 – He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.

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Miss Baby Jayla Update

On Friday, we received the news from Jayla’s pediatrician that all of her test results seem to be within normal limits!  Praise the Lord!  A specialist at UVA is looking over the results now, and I will let you know if anything changes.  Thank you so much for your prayers.  Please continue to pray for her as we await the call from the specialist.  I believe in my heart that all of your prayers worked.  I am still unaware as to why Jayla had so many abnormal newborn screenings, but I do know that the Lord is still and will always be the greatest physician of all.  I also know that Jayla continues to be a huge blessing to our family.  She is growing so quickly, and her daily smiles are priceless.  On a side note, her favorite baby food is peas, and she can almost sit up on her own! :) I am grateful that all of you get to share her milestones with us.

Mark 11:24 – Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

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Our Snowy Day

Please let me bring it inside, Mommy! :)

 

Isaiah 1:18 – Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

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A Mid-Day Hike

The hikes that I shared with my family as a child still vividly stand out in my mind.  I am so thankful of the time that we got to spend together.  I can still see us winding through the trails at Hungry Mother State Park and Grayson Highlands State Park singing “99 Bottles of Kool-Aid on the Wall.” My sister and I would always fuss over who got to lead our Collie, Sandy.  She always rescued us from snakes that slithered onto the paths.  I will never forget the time we got lost on a trail at Grayson Highlands!  After laughing our way through some pretty rough terrain, we finally managed to find our way out.  Some of our best hikes were behind the farm that I grew up on.  Every hike behind the farm was an adventure because we never knew what types of animals we would run into.  I especially loved it when we walked up on the miniature horse that roamed the fields.

My love for nature hasn’t changed much over the years because Jamie and I enjoy taking our children on hikes throughout the seasons.  Autumn paints a beautiful scenery.  Below you will find some pictures of a hike our family took on our farm today.

The kids searched for tracks and made animal track plaster casts.  We found an opossum track and a dog track.  The one pictured above is the opossum track.

Jaden thought this rock would be a neat place for a picture! “Come on Jacob,” she called.

Jacob and Jaden found a puffball mushroom.  Jacob used it for a foot rest.  We are so blessed at how much these two love each other.  They truly are best friends!

We hiked to our tree stand to find the bobcat tracks Jamie saw a few days ago.  But, the leaves had already hidden them.  Jacob enjoyed looking for deer signs.  He kept telling us not to touch anything or the deer would smell us!

Jayla enjoyed her first ride in her backpack.  Isn’t this the cutest picture?

We all had a fantastic day together. On our hike, Jaden summed it up best as she sang,

“This is the day

This is the day that the Lord hath made

That the Lord hath made

We will rejoice

We will rejoice

And be glad in it

And be glad in it

This is the day that the Lord hath made!”

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A Band Angel Says It All

Yesterday was a tough day for Jacob and me.  We took Jayla to get her blood drawn at the hospital.  And, she had more than a heal prick this time.  The nurses had to draw blood from a vein in her arm.  Jacob hid his head in his lap.  He ended up leaving the room because he couldn’t stand to watch the nurse stick his baby sister’s arm.  He got to watch a western in the lobby.  He was happy about that.  He wishes he could have been one of the cowboys who won the west.  ;)  He only watches the “kid” friendly westerns, and he actually saved his own life using a trick he learned from one of them (but that is a whole different post)!

Jayla was a trooper.  I snuggled her oh so close while one nurse held her arm and another drew the blood.  It wasn’t as difficult as I anticipated!  I stared into her eyes and talked to her.  I lost count of the number of viles that they took.  I hope it was enough!  When the nurse asked if I would like a band-aid, I told her that I had brought her a special one.  She was more than happy to use the one that I had brought.

I started using these special band-aids on her after her third newborn screening.  I picked them up at a Christian bookstore for our three older children the day we brought Jayla home from the hospital after her NICU stay.  It was the Friday before Easter Sunday, and I needed a few things for the kids’ Easter baskets.  I wanted to go to the Christian bookstore, so I could pick up things centered around Christ!  These special bandages are called Band Angels.  And, they are so adorable.  Each one has a scripture printed on them about healing.

The one that she wore yesterday had Jerimiah 30:17 printed on it:  For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds.  What a great reminder that the Lord is the ultimate healer and physician!  I love Him.  I am clinging to His word.  He is my comforter.  This may seem small to so many, but this is big to me.  He has placed Jayla in my care, and I love her so much.  I want her to be healthy and be able to live a life that will glorify the Lord when she is old enough.  That is our purpose!  I fail miserably at letting my purpose shine, but thank goodness He hasn’t thrown away the clay.  Please pray that her test results come back quickly and that the results will be good ones.  Either way, He is our stronghold.   I am peaceful knowing that He is in control of our precious baby’s test results!

She loves the elephant Jacob and I got her after her blood work.  Our other kids got some M&M’s out of the deal.  :)  I am such a softy.

Last night, she slept peacefully with her new giraffe blankie that we picked out for her.  It was such a tough decision because we were trying to bargain shop.  Bargain shopping is so hard when there is no price tag on the amount of love each of us holds for her.

John 14:26: But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

(I read this verse to Jacob today as I was helping him with his work.  I didn’t realize at the time that the Lord would bring me back to it tonight.  He knows exactly what we need — exactly when we need it.  His love amazes me!)  Thank you for praying.

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A Few Questions from our Wedding

Today I would like to say Happy 11 years to the one I love.

Dear Jamie,

As our 11th anniversary approached, memories of our special day flooded my mind.  Some of them were wonderful and brought a smile to my face.  But others raised questions that left me wondering why.   As you find these questions intertwined throughout this letter, please don’t worry about lending me any answers. Because, I went straight to the Lord with my questions.  As I directed these simple questions to Him, He taught me so much about me (and you).  I am anxious to share exactly what He said.  (Sorry this letter is a little lengthy, but it is only a glimpse of how much I love you).

These past few days, I have vividly seen our guests bundled up freezing half to death.  The bitter coldness was almost unbearable for many on that October day in 2001.  I am sure everyone in attendance still remembers complaining about how blistering cold it was.  Do you recall how perfect the weather was the day before our wedding?  It was a beautiful 70 degrees.  But, probably around 2 a.m., the morning of our ceremony, I remember waking up to the rain beating down. Did you hear the rain that morning?  As I heard raindrops this week, I couldn’t help but wonder:  Why did it rain on our wedding day?

(See us laughing the night before?  This was before the rain!)

Well as we both know the rain finally stopped and the preparations for our outdoor wedding went on!  This week I saw all of the girls (including myself) rushing around to get ready as quickly as possible.  Then I remembered that it didn’t matter how quickly I had rushed, I still made us late!   What were you thinking that day?  Did you wonder why I am always late for EVERYTHING.   It’s okay because I was actually thinking the same thing!  But, I wasn’t all that late.  Was I?  As I thought about how I really haven’t gotten that much better at timeliness my second question arose.  Why am I always late?

This question quickly faded as I recalled the next stumbling block.  The stumbling block of trying to convince my dad not to wear his sunglasses replayed in my mind.  I could hear myself whining all over again.  I remember begging only for a few seconds on borrowed time.  He had already jokingly made it known that October 6, 2001 was the opening day of deer season.  How could I forget such an important date?  And it hadn’t been too long since he handed me my wedding gift.  Do you remember being a little nervous as he handed over a 22 magnum?  Thankfully, it only took two split seconds on our wedding day to make him realize how handsome he was without his sunglasses on.  And, deep down I also knew I was much more important than any whitetail deer!  But, this is what sent the third question up to Heaven.  Why did it seem that my Dad didn’t want to cooperate on my special day?

(Look, no sunglasses!)

Were you aware of that setback that I faced?   But, the sunglasses quickly faded as I heard music appear.   Do you remember the name of the first song that was played?  Don’t worry!  I don’t remember it either, but it still brings back memories when I hear it playing from Jayla’s swing.  As the music faded, someone’s whisper entered my thoughts.  I heard the whisper of someone slipping that almost turned into a fall.  Do you remember one of the bridesmaids slipped as she started down the aisle?  This week, I have pondered which one it was, but I honestly can’t remember.  Did you see her take her unplanned bow?  Eleven years later it doesn’t really matter, which one it was.  But as I pondered for a short moment this week, this question lingered: What was the purpose of the bridesmaid’s slip?

(Maybe it was Emily.)

At certain times the past few days, I could see my steps down that silky, white aisle.  I relived the comfort as I saw the smile on your face.  Can you still see me smiling back at you?  At times my smile faded as I remembered walking down the aisle and feeling my dress strap move out of its rightful place. This pesky little strap brought up yet another question.  Why did the seamstress not alter the strap perfectly?

However, the memory of the strap was quickly replaced by the image of you grasping my hands.   It was the best memory yet!  Once again, the calmness that I felt that day was revealed. I recalled how my fears were quieted forever because we were about to become one!  Over and over this week, I have felt the tight grip you placed upon my hands.  I have seen the shiny sparkle of the silver bracelet upon my arm.  But the sparkle faded as quickly as it came because I recalled the bracelet coming to a rest between our feet as we began to saw our vows.  As the memory of the bracelet raced through my mind, I felt your grip loosen for just a bit.  And, the next question quickly made an appearance.  Why did the bracelet tumble so quickly?

As the bracelet’s sparkle faded away, I caught myself staring into your eyes.  I have became anxious as I recalled the rapidness of our ceremony several times. But, the flame of the unity candle quickly blew this anxiousness away.  Do you recall our candle wasn’t lit until after our ceremony?  I am sure you remember how hard the wind was blowing.  Someone (maybe Molly?) had poured a lot of precious time into making that candle for us to use on our special day.   Plus, this step seemed so important to me.  So it wasn’t long before the next question became visible.  Why wasn’t the wind calm that day?

(Notice the empty chairs?)

As I felt the wind cease, I couldn’t help but turn my focus back on how quickly the day passed.  Do you remember how rapidly our ceremony came to an end?  As the activities of the reception came to me, a little bit of tension became present in my mind.  And, I suddenly felt the tension that you must have felt during the reception. I clearly remembered the tiredness that you showed after ALL of the pictures had been taken and the food had been tossed away. But, the tension quickly faded because I beamed from seeing your smile as we cut the cake.  When I looked past your smile, I recalled the puffy heart cake topper that was gently placed behind the figurine that I had chosen.  But, thoughts of the cake topper drifted as my strong words of warning became my focus.  Do you remember the warning I so harshly handed to you?  I warned you not to smear cake upon my face.  I recalled my strength and control of that situation! (By the way, thanks for listening to me!)  But as I sliced the cake with you once again, the puffy heart stared back again.  And the next question abruptly reappeared in my own heart.  Why did the decorator add the heart?

But, this question quickly faded as the view of the cake was traded for my own stubbornness. I wanted the festivities to linger, but I remembered how You. Were. Ready. To. Go.  And, I wasn’t ready just yet.  As I replayed our struggle, I still couldn’t figure out why you wanted to leave for our honeymoon so quickly.  And a question that has been hidden for so long quickly came back as sharp as ever.  But, a smile crept up once again, as I finally remembered that I did in fact submit to your plea.  I felt the birdseed pelt onto my skin once more.  Do you remember our decorated car?  I laughed as I saw us finally leaving.  And, I saw our special day ending once more!

(Look, they thought it was funny!)

But, I am sure you remember as well as I have this week that we weren’t off on our honeymoon just yet!  Instead, I asked if we could please make one last stop.  And I am sure you haven’t forgotten what I found when we arrived at our dear friend’s.  There were wedding gifts everywhere!  I heard myself insisting that we open just a few.  But, then once again, I heard your quick response: NO!  I could still see the eagerness on your face!  I quickly remembered how You. Were. Ready. To. Go. And the next question quickly arose: Why did you want to leave for our honeymoon so quickly? 

I turned back to the vision of the wedding gifts several times this week, and I clearly saw how I had let my stubbornness creep in!  I felt the sting of me not submitting yet again. But, the sting subsided as I quickly became distracted by our wedding being replayed on the TV screen!  I remembered how someone was watching our wedding that they had just witnessed less than two hours before.  So once again, I heard myself pleading.  Can we stay and watch it for a just few minutes?  And quickly, I heard you say, No, once more! Why? You. Were. Ready. To. Go.   Tears almost filled my eyes as the biggest question became so clear.  Why did I struggle to submit to the one I love so dearly?

As I embraced the last question, I felt the reminiscing coming to an end.  And, I knew it was time for some answers. So, I decided to go to the one who knows.  The Lord provided answers, which are much deeper than the obvious ones that anyone else could have given.  And by seeking His word, The Lord gave me answers that not only pertained to our special day, but He molded each one into a truth that I can reflect upon each day.  He taught me that if I look deep within, He is always willing to show me the real answer to what I might be wondering.  Are you ready to see how He turned what I once saw as little negative bits into valuable lessons that we both can live by forever?

Why did it rain on our wedding day?

* The obvious answer is that He is in control of the rain.  But, God showed me that He sent rain on October 6, 2001, so we won’t ever forget that He is in control!  As I stated earlier, He ceased the rain at the right time that day!  So through the rain, He taught me that we have to trust that His timing is always best.  We have to find warmth in knowing that we have finally learned how to allow Him to guide us as one!  We both know we didn’t start out with Him in first place, but I am thankful for His grace.  Thank you for helping me see through the rain!  Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Why am I always late?

* This answer may seem evident to many.  Some may say that I don’t put in enough effort.  Or, that I may not care if I am late.  While these may be true at certain times, they don’t fully answer the question at hand.  And, I will tell you that being late feels like the black plague.  It is a habit that is hard to break.   Tardiness has always been a part of my life.  Just ask my mother!  I can clearly remember flailing myself up the schoolhouse steps in elementary school because the tardy bell was about to ring.  And later in high school, I had to serve lunch detention because the train had made me late for early bird one too many times!  I am not PROUD of this struggle at all.  It is embarrassing to show up late while everyone is waiting for YOU!  So, this week the Lord helped me to understand that on our wedding day He was preparing your heart to help me understand the importance of being on time.  He was showing you that you had a BIG job ahead of you because I have struggled with this for a long time!  Thanks for your consistent reminders.  I have gotten a little bit better since that day?  Haven’t  I?  Either way, keep your big boy britches on (your words not mine) and keep those reminders coming.  I wish I could say that I am thankful for my tardiness that day, but I can’t.  However, I do love you for showing me what’s best! (**Eleven years later, I would like to say thank you to all of our wedding guests for enduring the coldness just a little longer than you had to because your were waiting on ME!)  Philippians 2:3: Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Why did it seem that my Dad didn’t want to cooperate on my special day?

* This answer should have been clear to me my whole life. For it is a simple and obvious one.  I am sure a lot of people understand this very obvious answer quickly in life.  But, unfortunately it wasn’t until a little over a year ago that the Lord showed me the answer while I was being a disciple to our own children.  We were learning Ephesians 6:1: Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.”  I am glad that the Lord reminded me this week that this verse not only applies to our children, but it applies to me as well!  Should I have tried to convince my father that I knew what was best for him?  Probably not!  It is simple.  He is my father.  I should have submitted to what he felt was best.  Would it have hurt for me to let him wear his sunglasses?  He would have probably felt more comfortable with them on.  And, why didn’t I ask him if October 6th was okay with him before I scheduled the wedding?  I am sure he was just picking when he laughingly told me that I had scheduled our wedding on the opening day of deer season.   But, I should have asked him first.  I know now that I was only thinking of MYSELF!  This week, the Lord helped me take this answer one step further when He showed me that the same way I didn’t submit to my father’s needs that day, I haven’t always been successful at submitting  to yours.  You know I haven’t always considered your feelings.  It has been all about Me far too many times.  And, I am sorry for that!  Thank you for your patience.  I am slowly learning to take the “I” out of our marriage. Now I am thankful that Daddy wanted to wear his sunglasses!  I wish I would have known to listen way back then.

What was the purpose of the bridesmaid’s slip?

* The answer may seem simple to most.  It was wet outside!  She was wearing high heels while trying to walk on a white silk runner that would soon enough become a nice shade of brown from the mud.   But, the Lord’s answer did not stop there.  He opened my eyes to see that her slip meant much more!  Just like she slipped, the Lord made me see that we have slipped so many times throughout the years.  There have been times that we have left Him out all together.  He made me understand that we even put Him in last place on our special day!  We skipped our per-marital counseling.  Do you remember? We asked Him to abandon our ship from the beginning.  By doing this, we made a huge muddy mess.  But, despite the mud, the past 11 years, He has willingly showed us how to put Him first.  Did it take awhile for us to submit?  Yes, we both know it did.  (Too long!)  It took many years to even grasp the concept of a Biblical marriage.  I am so grateful that the Lord allowed us to walk out of the mud, so we could learn what was best.  Matthew 6:33: But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Why did the seamstress not alter the straps perfectly?

* Well, as much as I struggle with the simplicity of this answer, the Lord has helped me realize that the strap falling out of place means a lot to us.  The simple answer that He provided is no one is perfect.   He showed me this week that I should not have expected perfection from the seamstress.  She made a mistake!  And just as she made a mistake, He helped me to understand that just as we have made mistakes over the last 11 years, we will continue to make them (remember the mud from above).  But, our mistakes can be forgiven.  When I bring mud back into our marriage, I will strive to ask for His forgiveness before expecting forgiveness from you.   Will you promise to do the same?  Ephesians 4:32: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Why did the bracelet tumble so quickly?

* The Lord reminded me this week that He has been molding this answer into my mind for a few years now.  Before, I get to his answer I have to explain a few things to you.  The bracelet was my “something borrowed.”  Emily had let me borrow it.  As you know, I don’t own much jewelry, and I have never really had a desire for it.  The Lord allowed me to see the bracelet toppling to the ground this week to firmly plant the idea that we truly haven’t needed silver and gold in our marriage to be happy.  All we needed was Him.  All we needed was to put Him first!  He has shaped our hearts to understand that He is the one that blesses our marriage! He has already blessed us with love, children, a home, food, and so much more.  He has provided our every need!  I am so thankful that you know that I don’t expect riches, silver, and gold.  I am thankful that you know that I am more than pleased with the riches sent from above! Matthew 6:19-20: Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal

Why wasn’t the wind calm that day?

* The answer He provided for this question is the simplest of all. Just like the rain, He is in control of the wind.  No matter how hard we try, we cannot change its swiftness. No matter how hard we tried, we could not remain calm or have rest in our marriage without Him.  I am glad we have learned how to embrace His calmness! Matthew 11:29-30: Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Why did the cake decorator add the puffy heart?

* The noticeable answer is that she liked the heart.  She thought the top of the cake looked too empty without it.  She knew what was best!  And deep down, I know the cake was empty without the puffy heart.  And, I also think you will agree that our marriage started off empty because we weren’t willing to let the Lord lead us.  Thank goodness the cake decorator took away my control that day (the heart really wasn’t that bad)!  And, thank goodness the Lord has taken away our control and is showing you through Him how to take control and lead our marriage! As we both know so well, without Him we had no control(remember the rain and the wind from above?)! Ephesians 5:22-24: Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Why did you want to leave for our honeymoon so quickly?

* Only you can answer this question sufficiently.  But, I will show you what He taught me this week. Before this week, I have struggled with your plea to leave so quickly that day.  But today I see it in a new light.  I have allowed the Lord to help me put it to rest.  I now understand that you were only eager to get on the road because you wanted to spend quality time alone with me.  Why didn’t I understand this simple fact that day? I am grateful that the Lord provided us with a honeymoon.  And, I am confident that He did so because He knew soon enough that we would be blessed with four beautiful children.  He knew that those quiet moments that we first shared together would fade very quickly!  I thank the Lord for our honeymoon, but I also thank Him for our babies.  I know that you miss those quiet moments together (I do, too).  But I have to say, thank you for our babies, Baby!   Aren’t they worth all of the noise? Psalm 127:3: Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

Why did I struggle to submit to the one I love so dearly? 

Okay, Okay!  Submission!  The question is inevitable.  Isn’t it?  In reality the answer to this question is indeed the hardest of all, and may not be at all obvious to so many.  I feel that many married couples struggle with its answer daily! By thinking through the somewhat minor negative mishaps of our special day so many times this past week, I have learned that they all took away my control.  I have came to the understanding that on our wedding day and for many years after, I failed miserably at submitting to the Lord, to others, to You! Yes, I loved the Lord, and I have always loved you, but I have always wanted to be in control.  But today I am happy to admit that I actually had no control when I wasn’t letting the Lord lead.   Even though I did not exactly understand the battle that was taking place on October 6, 2001, I now clearly see that the battle of submission has been a difficult one to fight.  Through the Lord’s guidance and love these past 11 years, I went from trying to control the wind and the rain to learning how to submit to Him and now to you!  I am so glad the Lord didn’t let me control the wind and rain 11 years ago!!  I hope you can see, He has taught me so much from that wind and rain. The battle I fought was such an important one!  Thank you for becoming the godly husband that I am so willing to submit to!  Thank you for learning how Christ wants our marriage to flow!  Thank you for your grace.  You have always stood by my side.  You have never been ashamed of me.  But, most importantly, you have learned how to show me Christ’s love!  And for that I am forever grateful.  Please continue to direct me to the scriptures, so I will never forget why it is so important to submit to His will!  Submitting to Him makes submitting to you so much easier.   I know the Lord was with us on our wedding day.  He was kindly waiting on us. We made it difficult at first by failing to always put Him first. But, he never gave up on us! Today I am so proud to say that I feel honored to be called your wife.  I will love you through the calmness and through the storms.  The calmness may seem too quiet at times and the storms may appear too large, but it will all turn out perfectly because the Lord is our guiding light. 

In my heart, I will always hide Ephesians 5:25-33: Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

I love you, Jamie!

Yours Truly,

Amanda

Then….                                                                          Now…..

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We Covet Your Prayers

Dear Baby Jayla,

You look so peaceful sleeping with your tummy pressed against mine.  My hair is wrapped so perfectly around your hand several times.  Your head is gently nestled in the bend of my arm.  Your feet are stretched out barely touching your big brother’s arm.  The stillness seems so perfect as this night lingers on.

As I listen to you take each sweet breath, I can’t help but wonder what will happen next.  I know more sticks and needles are what your future holds.  But as much as I try to worry, I know it’s not what’s best!  God has willingly taken over so I can get a little rest.  He knows what you need so much more than your Daddy and me.  He has given us so much peace.

Just two short weeks ago, I prayed the abnormal test results were not so.  I remember thinking the odds of a genetic disorder are way too low.  Together we have jumped so many hurdles and each has been a blessing, not a curse.  They have caused more kisses, snuggles, and prayers as you already know.

So when a new hurdle came your way today, your siblings and I knelt over you and prayed.   For we know that your Heavenly Father is the one who heals sweet babies just like you.   And, until He gives us the answers, we will continue to jump hurdles for you.  Because you are our precious baby who has already come so far.  We won’t ever give up for He has placed you so deeply in our hearts.

Love Always,

Mommy

Philippians 4:6-7

6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

As many of you may know, our sweet Baby Jayla has had several abnormal newborn screenings.  We are unsure of what the results mean at this time because further blood tests are needed.   However, today we did find out that there is actually a possibility that she may have a rare genetic disorder that we were warned about after her second screening.  If she does have the type of disorder that is showing up, it may have already caused irreversible damage and other health problems will most likely arise.  Please pray that her newborn screenings are actually false positives.  This has been the prayer that I have prayed for two weeks now, and it is the one that I am clinging to for now.  As her mommy, it is hard not to worry about her. But, I know that is not what God wants.  I felt a lot of peace after her last test, and I just knew the results I received today would be different.  But, God has a plan for her, and I have to trust He knows what is best!  Thanks so much for your prayers.  Her doctor is consulting UVA tomorrow, so I will update everyone as soon as I get a better understanding of what lies ahead.  The only thing that I do know right now is that further blood testing is inevitable, but I will say that deep down in my heart, I feel like she is a perfectly healthy six month old.  And, we love her so much!

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Why Do We Have Thorns?

Jacob and Jaden:  Mommy, why do we have to have thorns?

Me: Because Adam and Eve sinned.   And, we are sinners.

I can’t tell you how many times my oldest two have asked me that question.  It has been quite a few considering the amount of time they spend playing outside in the meadow or forest.  They have had their fair share of thorn pricks.

A little over 48 hours ago, while collecting maple seeds for our 4-H Cloverbuds meeting, I realized how true the answer I always give is.  I brushed the leaves away from the base of the maple tree in order to scoop up a few seeds to place in a baggie.  When out of nowhere a huge thorn seemed to reach up and grab my right pointer finger.  Ouch!  A thorn!  A thorn!  I whined to my 5 year old as she stood watching me.  I brought my finger up to assess the damage and found the bright green thorn sticking out of my finger.  It was not letting go.  I dreaded pulling out that tiny thorn (that looked huge for a moment) because I knew it was going to sting more than it already was.   (Yes, I have birthed 4 children, but I do not enjoy any kind of pain.  And, the pain from this thorn was not going to bless me with a little miracle like the pain of child birth.  Or, was it?).

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As I stared at that thorn, the thought of Jesus’s crown of thorns flooded my mind.  The thought of how much pain he must have suffered with most likely hundreds of thorns pushed upon his head overwhelmed me.  Finally, I mustered up enough courage and pulled the thorn from my finger.  I watched three or four drops of blood trickle to the ground.  I lost three or four drops from one thorn, and I was complaining about the pain!  Can you imagine how many drops of blood Jesus shed on Calvary?  Can you imagine His pain?  Oh, how I love Jesus!

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Why do we have thorns?  The answer is simple.  Yes, they are a reminder of Adam and Eve’s sin and our sin.  But, more importantly, they remind us of Christ’s love for us!  He took the thorns upon His head, shed His blood, died on Calvary, and ROSE again the third day.  Why? Because He loves us.  He washed our SINS away!  Thank you, Jesus, for the thorns.   Thank you for allowing me to suffer a little for You suffered A LOT!

Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 5:8 – But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans  10:9 – That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Romans 10:10 – For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Romans 10:13 – For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

John 3:16 — For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

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Summer Vacation Rewind

Thanks to my mom, step-dad, and grandparents, our family was blessed with two vacations this summer.  In July, we went on a quick “bear hunt” in Pigeon Forge, TN, and at the end of August we spent a week soaking up the sun in Myrtle Beach, SC.  We had a wonderful time relaxing with family and friends on both trips.  (I am not so sure our family and friends felt too relaxed with our four kids running around, but they were nice enough to keep it to themselves if they weren’t.  :))

Pigeon Forge, TN

Myrtle Beach, SC

Thanks for the memories!

Luke 10:27 — And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.

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God Is The True Artist

The kids and I recently read the book I Am An Artist.  It is one of the books from Before Five In A Row (the curriculum that we are loving)!  The author of this book and the writer of this curriculum have opened our eyes wider to the world around us.  Both of them have made us truly appreciate what a magnificent artist God is. He is the artist of every single thing around us!  How awesome is that?

The details that God used when He created this world amazes me.  From the birds in the sky to the fish in the sea, He did not make any mistakes.  Everything that He made has a purpose and a place in this world.  The sand dollar, like the one on the front of the book, even has a story to tell.  The kids and I loved learning its story, so I would like to share it here.

The Legend of the Sand Dollar

There’s a lovely little legend
that I would like to tell,
of the birth and death of Jesus,
found in this lowly shell.

If you examine closely,
you’ll see that you find here,
four nail holes and a fifth one,
made by a Roman’s spear.

On one side the Easter lily,
its center is the star,
that appeared unto the shepherds
and led them from afar.

The Christmas Poinsettia
etched on the other side,
reminds us of His birthday,
our happy Christmastide.

Now break the center open,
and here you will release,
the five white doves awaiting,
to spread Good Will and Peace.

This simple little symbol,
Christ left for you and me,
to help us spread His Gospel,
through all Eternity.

The author of this poem is unknown, but aren’t you glad that we know the true creator and author of this truth?  Will you help share the good news of our Savior, Jesus Christ?

Hebrews 12:2

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

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Sugar Cookie Success

For awhile now, I have been searching for a good sugar cookie recipe.  A recipe that compares to the break ‘n bake dough in the grocery store.  I know homemade is always best, but until today, I hadn’t found a recipe comparable to the store bought dough.

I found the initial recipe on food.com, but I changed it up a little.  The best part about this recipe is that you don’t have to add eggs.  This is a plus for us because the kids like to lick the bowl and utensils (me, too) .  :)

Ingredients:

* 1/2 cup sugar

* 1/2 cup softened butter

* 2 tablespoons condensed milk (You can use any kind of milk.  I only had condensed.)

* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

* 1 cup all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur.)

* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

* 1 pinch salt

* 3 more tbls or so of flour (add to dough to lessen stickiness and sprinkle mat and pin)

* 1/8 cup sugar (to sprinkle on top before putting in the oven)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F

Combine softened butter and sugar in a bowl and mix until it gets lighter and fluffy.

Add vanilla and milk to butter/sugar mixture.

Combine a pinch of salt, flour, and baking powder in a separate bowl.

Combine the dry and wet ingredients.  (The dough should be a little bit sticky at this point.)

Add extra flour as needed until dough becomes less sticky.

Roll onto flat surface and cut into shapes. (We used a star cutter.)

Place on greased pan. (We used Pam cooking spray.)

Bake for 8-10 minutes until bottom is lightly golden.

Let cool.  Add icing and sprinkles.

The recipe was simple.  As ours baked, I was hoping they would turn out okay.  I wasn’t holding my breath.  But, to our surprise, they were great! The kids, Jamie, and even my grandma approved!  What was the secret in this recipe?  I think it was the condensed milk (I haven’t ever baked with it before), the vanilla icing, and the yellow sprinkles (made completely from sugar, of course)!  We limit sweets in our house, but when we do bake them, we like to go all out!  ;)

We decorated ours to look like starfish or sea stars (whichever name you prefer).  This week, we read books about the ocean and sea animals, so we had to have a snack to go along with our books.  Some of our favorite books were Kittens for Keeps by Mary Olson, Yellow Ball by Molly Bang, Swimmy by Leo Lionni., and Bright Stanley by Matt Buckingham.

These faces have success written all over them!

A little vanilla ice cream made them even better! ;)

What is the secret in your favorite sugar cookie recipe?

James 1:5 — If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

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Flat Stanley: What an Adventure!

Recently we teamed up with two sweet boys, Aidan and Noah and did a Flat Stanley project.   You can read more about Flat Stanley here:  http://www.flatstanley.com/books  Aidan and Noah made Flat Stanley and mailed him to us, and my kids made Flat Stanley and mailed him to them.  They took our Flat Stanley on adventures, which you can read about here: http://ourappalachiahomeschool.blogspot.com/2012/08/flat-stanley.html  And, we took their Flat Stanley on adventures, which you can read about below.

Jacob, Jaden, and James were elated as they pulled Flat Stanley out of the envelope.  They grabbed the camera and Flat Stanley’s adventures began. (I don’t think he realized what he was in for!) ;0)

Flat Stanley immediately complained about being famished because the postmaster would not allow him to eat in the post office.  He told Jacob that it had been almost two days since he had eaten.  Jacob felt completely sorry for him and gave him a chicken nugget.  Just look at that smile!

After his belly was full, his energy returned full force!  He decided that it would be fun to ride on the three year old’s head.  Since James wasn’t having near as much fun as him, he thought it might be a better idea to take a ride on the dog.

Molly wasn’t very excited about him being on her head either, so he moved on to the cat.

Smores sort of liked his company, but Jaden began to wonder if Flat Stanley was from another planet because boys do not take rides on cats.  She didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so she went along with his wishes and continued to let him ride on Smores.  But, when he asked her to take him to ride the pig, she just couldn’t bring herself to do it.  She feared for his life!  Not too long ago she had witnessed that very pig eat one of her books.  She tried to explain to Flat Stanley how much the pig loved to eat paper, but Flat Stanley would not take no for an answer!  So, what did he do?

He recruited the three year old to take him instead.  He did fall off of Dudley a few times and became a little fearful.  But, thank goodness James was able to grab him up quickly, or he would have been history!  :(  Flat Stanley knew Aidan and Noah would have been so sad if the pig would have gotten him!  Well, you think his adventures would end here.  You think the pig ride would have done him in.  But, oh no, Flat Stanley loves adventures, and he begged to do more.

So, Jacob promised him that the whole family would take him on an exciting adventure the next day, but first he had to get a good night’s sleep.  Flat Stanley agreed.  After reading the Bible with the whole family, he was out like a light.

The next morning came quickly, and Flat Stanley was the first to wake up.  He was ready for his next adventure.  So, the family loaded up in the car, drove for a little over an  hour, and ended up at New River Trail State Park.

Flat Stanley, Jacob, Jaden, and James were ready to get this adventure going!  Jayla opted to sleep and hang-out with Mommy, but the other four hit the trail running!

They headed straight for the river.  When they got to the river, their friend, Cash, was there.  Jacob, Jaden, and Cash, decided that tubing would be a blast, but Flat Stanley was not as thrilled.  He was leery of the creatures living in the water!  He didn’t like snakes, leeches, or paper pinching crawdads.  Jaden couldn’t understand why he was scared of water creatures and not a paper eating pig.  But, she wanted her guest to feel reassured, so she knew exactly what to do.  She taught him Psalm 56:3: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”  She explained to him that she is afraid of thunderstorms, but she knows she can trust God to keep her safe.

Flat Stanley said the verse a few times to himself.  He felt calm after saying the verse, and he jumped right in a canoe.  He wondered if he needed a life jacket, but he figured that since he was flat and made from paper then he probably didn’t need to bother with putting one on.

When they reached the shore again, he told Jaden and Jacob that the ride in the canoe was a blast!  He said that the waterfalls were AWESOME!  Jaden just giggled at him.  She was glad that she was able to convince him to get in the river.

After everyone was dried off, all the kids including Flat Stanley went to ride horses.  Jacob got to ride first while the others patiently waited for a turn.  Flat Stanley told Jaden that he was a little scared.  He explained that horses are so much bigger than the three year old, the dog, the cat, and the pig.  He said that he was afraid that he would get thrown off and get stomped on.  Jaden looked at him and asked him if he remembered the verse that she had taught him at the river: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”  She still couldn’t understand how he could be afraid of a horse and not a paper eating pig, but she didn’t mention this to him because she knows that a friend should love at all times.

Jaden’s turn came, but Flat Stanley couldn’t bring himself to ride the horse with her.  Of course, Jaden was a little disappointed when Flat Stanley decided not to ride because she was really starting to like Flat Stanley.  But instead of dwelling on him not wanting to ride, she came up with the idea of having him sit on the fence and hang out. He made faces at Jayla while Jaden was riding.  Jayla laughed and smiled at him.  After everyone had their turn, it was time to head back home.  The car ride home was pretty quiet.  Everyone was tired from the day’s adventures.

The kids were glad when they made it home!  As everyone piled out of the Suburban, Flat Stanley tugged on Jacob’s shirt and asked him if he thought it would be okay if he rode his horse.  Jacob wondered why he wanted to ride because he was so scared at the park.  But, he didn’t question him.  He was glad that he wanted to ride Dutchess, but he wondered what had changed his mind.

Jacob and Flat Stanley rode and rode.  They were having a great time together, but before they knew it, it was dark outside.  They decided to call it a night.  Before they fell asleep, Flat Stanley told Jaden that he had memorized Pslam 56:3.  He thanked her for teaching it to him.  He said that it helped him know that instead of being scared that he could trust the Lord to take care of him.  Jaden smiled at him, and they all fell fast asleep.

The next morning, the whole family went church.  Flat Stanley had a lot of fun in his classes with Jacob and Jaden.  He gave James a big hug as he went in his class.  After church they had dinner and played outside.  That afternoon they went back to church.  Before they went to bed that night, Flat Stanley told Jacob that he was having a lot of fun with him, but he missed Aidan and Noah.  So, Jacob told him that he would send him back home the next day.

Before he left, Jacob, Jaden, and James, all gave Flat Stanley a big hug and sent him on his way.  They knew that he wouldn’t be scared on his way home because he had hid Psalm 56:3 in his heart!

Thank you Aidan and Noah for letting Flat Stanley visit us!  We had so much fun with him.

~ Jacob, Jaden, James and Jayla :)

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Happy Birthday to a Very Special Lady!

My mother-in law, Wilma’s, birthday was yesterday, and I was glad that we got to spend the afternoon with her.  She is one of the most caring people I know.  She is always so willing to help us with the kids, the laundry, the bills, and the list just keeps going on and on.  The Lord knew what He was doing when He placed her in my life.   I am very blessed to have a wonderful, Godly biological mother, but the Lord knew I would need two moms to keep me (and all of my children in line.)  :)  Together the two of them do a great job, and I don’t know what I would do without them!  I need them both, my husband needs them both, and so do our kids.  We are truly blessed.

My kids adore their Mawmaw Wilma, and I am so happy that they get to spend so much time with her.  She takes them swimming, to the playground, to science class, to the park, and so many other neat places.  They are making lifetime memories with her that they will never forget, which I am grateful for.

I don’t thank her nearly enough for ALL that see does.  So, I want to take a  moment and say THANK YOU.

Thank you for caring enough to fold mounds of laundry, scrub icky bathtubs, and mop dirty floors.

Thank you for sharing food when our cabinets are empty, and we have no more.

Thank you for spending quality time with the kids and showing them how much they mean to you.

Thank you for letting Christ shine through.

Thank you for EVERYTHING you do!

We love you so much.

Happy Birthday!! I hope you had a great day.

Proverbs 31:28 –

Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

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Unexpected Guests are the Best!!

Early this morning, I received a phone call from my Papaw whom I love dearly.  His calls are always uplifting and encouraging. But, today he didn’t talk but a few seconds before he told me that someone was at his house, and she wanted to speak to me.  There was a short pause, and then I heard the sweetest voice.  It was my Aunt Glenna from North Carolina.  She quickly explained that she had made an unplanned trip with her two grandbabies to visit my grandparents.  She asked if it would be okay to bring them over to play with my kids.

Of course, it was okay!  The kids and I had the best day.  It was so nice to sit around (chase babies) and catch up.  It had been way too long since I had seen her, and I don’t think the kids and I had ever met precious Maria who is already over a year old.  Yikes!  That’s bad I know.  We have to do better!  Not too long ago, I was thinking about how my kids don’t spend enough time with their cousins.  It is not done intentionally, but everyone’s life seems to be so busy.  Well, I am happy to say that my kids had a wonderful day with two of their cousins today!  I am so glad they stopped by.

We visited Dudley and fed him cheerios.  (He loves them!)

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We took a hike down the driveway to see the sheep and Buckwheat.  James was checking on Maria after she had a little tumble.  She is a tough girl!  She never misses a beat.

Buckwheat and Aranea love Cheerios, too!

After a hike back up the driveway, all the kids rode Dutchess.  Lucas and Maria did so well.  Lucas had never ridden before.  He rode like a pro!  Jacob enjoyed taking Maria around the ring.  He thought it was cute when he got to take her pacifier out for the pictures!

Shortly after the horseback ride, they had to say goodbye.  Lucas wasn’t really ready to leave.  I wish they could have stayed longer.  Jacob wants to go and visit them in North Carolina very soon (me, too)!  Thanks for a great day Papaw, Glenna, Lucas, and Maria.  :)

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The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

On Friday, my mom and I took Jacob and Jaden (the two oldest) to see The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at the Barter Theater while my mother-in-law watched James and Jayla (the two littlest ones) for me.  We love visiting the Barter.  We have never watched a bad performance there, and this play was no exception.  We all really enjoyed it.  Jacob had just finished reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, so I thought this would be a great opportunity for him (he thought so, too)!

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The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is included in the Chronicles of Narnia series written by C.S. Lewis.  Not too long ago, I saw The Chronicles of Narnia for sale on christianbook.com.  I wondered why they were selling this series on a Christian website.  I remembered reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as a child, but I didn’t remember any Christian concepts in the book.  After watching the play as an adult, I now know why they have this series on christianbook.com.  I discovered that C.S. Lewis wrote The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as an allegory.  The characters are used to represent different people from the Bible and the story line represents different Biblical events and truths.  It was so easy for me to pick out all of the Christian symbols while I was watching the play. Every time I would pick up on the symbolism, it actually gave me chills.  While we were on intermission, I asked Jaden who Aslan (the lion) represents and who the White Witch represents.  She answered quickly by saying, the lion is Jesus and the White Witch is the devil.  After watching the play, she said, “The devil knew Jesus, but Jesus killed him.”

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Lucy and her brothers and sister learned a very important truth in the play that we can all benefit from, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God!” Ephesians 2:8  It was so glorifying to see how Jesus died to save us from an eternity in Hell.  It was even more amazing to see Him rise again.  But, the best part was watching Him return as it is stated in Revelation and defeat evil once and for all.   Hallelujah and Amen!  What a glorious day that will be.

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Forsake — What does it mean?

Jacob’s vocabulary word last week was forsake.   When I searched for the word forsake at kingjamesbibleonline.org today, I discovered that it is found in 57 different verses.  Wow, I thought.  That was a pretty good word to instill in Jacob’s mind (and mine).   I honestly had never looked up the definition of the word forsake before last week.  I am sure I have used context clues to figure out its meaning many times or maybe I just skipped over it and continued reading.  But, learning the true definition with Jacob this week has been a true blessing.  Below is a little story that explains why.

Yesterday, after church, Jacob, one of his friend’s, and Jaden were running a little lamb around in the barn lot.   They were trying their best to catch him, round him up, and tame him down.   Jacob got a rope around his neck a few times, but the lamb would proceed to drag him through the field on his bottom.  It was a little comical and a little disheartening to watch.  They were trying so hard.  So, I decided I would try and help them out before lunch was ready.  My wonderful husband volunteered to make lunch.  :) How lucky am I?

Anyway, we ran and chased, and we chased and ran some more.   We tried to work together and block him any way we knew how.  James had also joined in by this point.   He was a little cuter than the rest of us with his pudgy little hands stretched out trying to block that feisty lamb.  We all seemed to be getting more hot and tired than the lamb.  So, one by one all the kids except Jacob threw in the white flag and surrendered.  Jacob did not want to quit, and in my heart, I didn’t want to abandon the task at hand either.  But, tummy growls got the best of both of us.  We had to give up and call it quits.  I told Jacob to tell the lamb that we weren’t giving up on him, but we had to take a break.  He looked right at the lamb and said, “I will not forsake you.”  My heart glowed a little brighter when I heard him say those words.  He had remembered the meaning of his vocabulary word and actually used it!

As I walked back to the house, Jacob’s words rang in my ears.  Then, I looked back at the lamb.  As I glanced at him and realized how much he had grown in 4 short months, it suddenly hit me that maybe the lamb does feel forsaken, and Jacob should have started training him when he was much younger.  That’s when Proverbs 22:6 flooded my mind: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  Wow!  God had used that little lamb to teach me an important lesson.  Just as Jacob should have taken the time to teach that lamb when it was much smaller, God opened my eyes and helped me see that maybe I am not doing all that needs to be done to train up my children in a way that pleases Him while they are young.  Are my harsh words or quick temper helping them see Him through me?  Am I truly enjoying the time that the Lord has given me with them, or am I always bringing up the little things that annoy me on a hectic day?  Is being able to train my children in a way that pleases God a blessing to me? Yes!  It should be!

(Happily resting and hiding out!)

So, this week, I will be more cautious with my words, take time to give more hugs and kisses, and actually enjoy what God has blessed me with.  Through Jacob uttering the word forsake to his little untrained lamb while it was being disobedient and free spirited, the Lord has taught me this:  “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5

With His help, I am slowly learning to be content with what He has chosen me to do.  I am slowly learning the proper way to train up my children while they are still small with a quiet spirit that is pleasing to Him.  I don’t want them to be half grown and then realize how my heart needed to change in order to train them properly in His love.  Jacob’s lamb has taught me that if I wait too long to train through love, my chance will have passed me by.  Yes, with a lot of hard work and compassion, his lamb’s free spirit can still be tamed, but I am afraid our journey will be much harder now that he is older.  I want my children to learn by example.  I hope that I can teach them to obey God’s commandments because I have been willing to not only teach His commandments, but I have not forsaken them myself.

(Jaden’s mood ring on my finger after chasing the lamb.  The mood I will achieve this week with the Lord’s help! Blue = calm, relaxed, loveable)

My prayer:  Dear Lord, please show me how to have a meek spirit in order to train my children to love you.  Please help them to understand that you will never forsake them; therefore, they should never forsake you!! Amen!

**I linked this post to http://www.time-warp-wife.blogspot.com/.

Posted in Let's Reminisce and Reflect! | 4 Comments

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

My kids love the book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen.

They love it so much that they have it memorized and sing it all the time.  It is so cute to listen to them sing it at random times throughout the day.  Since today was a Funtastic Friday and the kids had two friends over, we decided to recreate the book right in our backyard.  After downloading the pictures, scanning through them, and smiling at how much fun we had together, I just had to share them with you all.   Come along with us!

We’re going on a bear hunt.  We’re going to catch a big one.  What a beautiful day!  We’re not scared.  Uh-Oh! Grass!  Long, wavy grass.  We can’t go over it.  We can’t go under it.  Oh, no!  We’ve got to go through it!

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Swishy swashy!  Swishy swashy!  Swishy swashy!

Uh-Oh!  A river!  A deep, cold river. (Or in this case a cold stream from the water hose).

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Splash splosh! Splash splosh! Splash splosh!

Uh-Oh! Mud!  Thick oozy mud.

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Squelch squerch!  Squelch squerch! Squelch squerch!

Uh-Oh!  A forest!  A big, dark forest!

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Stumble, trip!  Stumble, trip!  Stumble, trip!

Uh-Oh!  A snowstorm! A swirling, whirling snowstorm! (Also known as white rice in the summertime!)

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Hoooo woooo!  Hoooo woooo!  Hoooo woooo!

Uh-Oh!  A cave! A narrow, gloomy cave.

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Tiptoe!  Tiptoe!  Tiptoe!  What’s that?  One shiny wet nose!  Two big furry ears!

Two big goggly eyes!  IT’S A BEAR!!!!!!

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Shew!  We’re not going on a bear hunt again.

After our bear hunt, we read about polar bears and made polar bears from felt.

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We drew pictures of our family and painted with mud (chocolate pudding).

Then we ate the leftover mud!

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They also enjoyed a bear hunt board game.  Bear hunts will make any day a great one!

We have been reading this book since the middle of July.  I gave you a glimpse of the words from the book above and below our bear hunt pictures.  I encourage everyone with children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews to read this book to them.  They will love it, and special memories will be made.  This book is suggested in the Before Five In A Row curriculum that we have been working on this summer.  The kids LOVE it, and so do I!

Two great memory verses that we have learned while reading this book are:

Psalm 56:3 – What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.

AND

Psalm 27:1 — The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

A few more resources that I have used for activities are:

homeschoolcreations.com, homeschoolshare.com, and pinterest.com

We hope all of you enjoyed our bear hunt!

(Singing the words from the book together before our bear hunt). ;)

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Jesus Saves

**This is a special post written by Jaden (5 years old).  She asked me if she could write this letter on the blog.  I said absolutely! :)

Dear Everybody,

I got saved tonight.  Daddy read verses from the Bible to me.  They were highlighted.  He read from Romans.  I prayed.  Jesus saved me.  I was outside at our church.  Before I was saved, I was sad.  But, now I am happy.  Jesus ate with 12 men.  The bread is for Jesus’ body, and the drink is for his blood.  I won’t go to Hell.  I will go to Heaven because I am saved.  Are you saved?  How did you get saved?

Love,

Jaden

(Age 5)

7-29-12

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(She wrote: I got saved.)

 We are proud of you, Jaden!  We are excited to see what God is going to do in your life.  Love — Mommy and Daddy

Posted in Jaden, Let's Reminisce and Reflect! | 7 Comments

Mystery Solved

Some of our readers guessed what this scat was.  But, nobody guessed right.

http://learninggodsway.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/summer12-026.jpg?w=478&h=361

We found out that it is from Tomato Hornworms. It was under our tomato plants.

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They are Hawk Moth larvae.  Daddy caught two of them eating our tomato plants.

Jaden and I put them in two different glass jars.  We added soil, a stick, and tomato leaves to the jars.

We only put one drop of water.  They don’t need much water.  They ate and ate and ate.

They got big!  They dug in the dirt and have turned into a cocoon.

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Do you see the cocoon in the dirt?  They will stay like this until next spring.

We have to put them in the building this winter, so they will stay cool.

When they come out of their cocoons, they will look like this.

I can’t wait!  Isn’t it cool?

Jacob :)

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Who’s in the Garden?

Who’s in the garden?  What do you see?  Maybe it is rabbit scat?  Do you agree?

Image(Hint:  We found it under the tomato plants).

Who’s in the garden?  What do you see?  A bear?  A deer?  A goat?  Or a rabbit named Otis?  Whose tracks are these?

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Leave a comment below, and help us please!

~ Jacob ~

Posted in Jacob | 4 Comments

Summertime Fun!

Here is a quick recap in pictures of some fun times we have shared with family and friends so far this summer.

**We celebrated Father’s Day!  It is not technically in the summer, but it is close enough.:)

 The kids love to celebrate with Pawpaw David because soda and a Honey Bun is a tradition they started a few years back on his birthday.  Now it has carried over to Father’s Day!

 

Daddy giving a group hug after opening his present from the kids.

 **Our oldest two went to Camp Bethel at the end of June with their Daddy.  They all had an amazing time learning more about the Lord.

**On the 4th of July, the kids and I studied about the American Revolution.  We also enjoyed a cookout and some preaching at church.  Last but not least, the kids and Jamie played football while I rocked on the porch with some of the best friends anyone could ask for.  It was a fun day.   These pictures are courtesy of Jaden!  She actually did a pretty good job.

**We cooked Mamaw Neannie a meal and cake for her birthday on July 5th.  We invited some good friends who we have known for many years.  The homemade mashed potatoes, bread, and chocolate icing on the cake are three things that stand out in my mind!!  The macaroni Dana made was delicious, too!  All in all it was a wonderful meal with family and friends.  Jaden was a great help in the kitchen.

**A couple more activities that we have enjoyed: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who needs a pool when you have a tarp and sprinkler?

We have loved watching the baby chicks hatch.

Jacob has searched for all kinds of critters.

Isn’t life such a blessing?  I posted these same words as a facebook status a few days ago, but it is so true.  I can’t help but feel so blessed by the wonderful family, church, and friends the Lord has placed in our lives.  No, our life is not perfect, but it is a blessing.

Ephesians 1:3 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.

Posted in Let's Reminisce and Reflect! | 1 Comment

Sweet Sweet Baby Jayla

Dear Baby Jayla,

You came to us a little early, but you were such a fighter.  What a blessing it was to get to hold you before we were supposed to.  The Lord had a plan for you (for us).  He temporarily separated us from your brothers and sister so we could spend precious time with you in the NICU.  He made us realize how blessed we are to have children (to have you).  He taught us that life truly is a miracle.  He taught us patience.  He taught us how to listen to Him.  He taught us how to really trust Him.  He taught us how much others really care.  Oh, how I am so thankful for all that I have learned through Him (through you)!  Our loving savior knew exactly what he was doing when he brought you to us a little early.  He was molding us.  He was testing us.  Thank you Jesus for your love.  Thank you Jesus for molding us.  Thank you Jesus for our sweet Baby Jayla.

My love for you, Baby Jayla, is indescribable.  If I can love you this much, I can’t imagine how much Jesus loves you (loves us)!  We all love you.  How do I know?

(I was glad after you finally learned how to nurse!)

You are a miracle who has changed all of us!  We love you sweet baby, and we are so blessed because you are here.

Hugs and kisses!

Love,

~ MOMMY ~

(33 1/2 weeks gestation) 5 lbs 3 oz  17 1/2 inches long

1 day old (33 1/2 weeks)

10 days old ( 34 1/2 weeks)

3 weeks old ( 35 1/2 weeks)

2 months 5-27-12 (Your due date was May 10th.) You weighed 8 lbs 6 oz at your check-up!

(You have started grinning at us now! I hope to capture a picture of your cute smile soon!)

a day before 3 months — Your love is contagious!

Psalm 127:3 — Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

Posted in Jayla, Let's Reminisce and Reflect! | 4 Comments

Laughable Conversations!

Since I posted last, we have had Father’s Day, church camp, and a day at the library.  We have also started reading a new book (Grandpa’s Box by Starr Meade), and I have been searching for curriculum to use with the kids this fall.  There have been a lot of posts that have been going through my mind, but I just haven’t took the time to take them from my head to the computer screen.  But, instead of writing about any of the above topics, today, I am going to do a short post on some laughable conversations that I have had with the kids over the past few weeks.

** The kids and I will play fast fact games while we are in the car.  Here is a laughable conversation between Jaden and me during one of those games.

Me:  What type of clouds are those, Jaden?

Jaden:  Umm..white ones!

Me:  Jaden what type of tree is a Christmas tree?

Jaden:  A pineapple one?

(She was trying to think of pine cone).

**Another funny moment in the kitchen:

Jaden:  Chocolate is not really that good for you.

Me:  It’s not?

Jaden:  That’s why I only eat one piece a day.

**Jaden and James are always bringing me flowers that they have picked.  Here is a laughable conversation that I had with Jaden yesterday.

Jaden:  Mommy, look I picked you some pretty flowers.  And, I even left the roots on them, so they won’t die.

Me:  Oh, those are beautiful because those are the Marigolds Daddy planted! :)

Jaden:  Well, I found them over near the woods.

** I always like to strike conversations with James just to see what he will come up with.  He is too cute not to talk to.

Me:  What do you want to be when you grow up?

James:  You have to be big to do that.  I don’t want to be big like Daddy.

**One day last week when the older two and Daddy were at camp:

Me:  What do you want to do tomorrow James?

James: Ummm…I want to have my birthday.

**And one from last night before going to sleep:

Me:  I love you, Jamesy.

James:  I’m James!

Me:  I love you, James!

**Here is one more funny moment that happened on Father’s Day between Jacob and James as we were frantically trying to visit all of the grandpa’s.

Jacob:  When I am sixteen, I will be a teenager.

James:  And, I will be a Power Ranger.

(I am glad that Jacob has not realized that he will actually be a teenager when he is 13.  Shhh…don’t tell him!)

Thank you Lord for these precious moments that I have had with my sweet blessings.  They are so precious to me.  Amen!

What are some cute things your kids have said to you lately?

Matthew 18:10  — Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

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Treasures Abound!

We had a great time at a sweet friend’s birthday party this past Saturday.  It felt good to chat with our friends while the kids ran around playing with one another.  The kids really enjoyed the huge bouncy slide and eating the cotton candy.  But, the part they seemed to love the most was the pinata.

You could see the anticipation on their faces as they waited to see what treasures were going to pour out.  Even though they had no idea what was going to come tumbling to the ground, you could tell that they knew it was going to be something awesome.  They had their bags ready and waited patiently for their treasures to hit the ground.

As I stood there watching their anticipation and then watched their anticipation turn to excitement as they were in awe at the amount of candy hitting the ground, I couldn’t help but think about the treasures that we as born again Christians have waiting on us in Heaven.  Although we can’t see them or know what they are going to be, we know they are going to be awesome.  How do we know?  In John 14 verses 2-3, Jesus says, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” If that is not an amazing promise, then I don’t know what is.  Spending eternity with our Heavenly Father is more than enough for me, but I also know that He is preparing an unbelievable place for us who believe.

Just like all treasures on Earth, the kids’ candy will soon fade away, but isn’t it great to know that our treasures in Heaven will never disappear.  As we await Christ’s return, will you join me in thanking Him for preparing treasures in Heaven for us?

Happy Birthday, Mirabella!  We love you.

Matthew 6:20 — But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal…

Posted in Let's Reminisce and Reflect! | 1 Comment

Trusting Him

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understandings.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.  Proverbs 3:5-6

Earlier this year, I memorized these verses with my two oldest kids.  James says as much as he can remember, but Jacob and Jaden have them down pat.  These past few months I have been thankful that I hid these words in my heart.  To say the past couple of months have been a walk in the park would be a huge lie.  Don’t get me wrong, I feel so blessed with the addition of a healthy new bundle of joy.  But having a baby born prematurely and in the NICU not to mention an emergency c-section has been financially draining for our family.

I am not talking the kind of draining of I wish we could go on vacation or take the kids to the movies (although those thoughts have crossed my mind a few times).  I am talking about the kind of draining of I hope we will have enough money for groceries this month or keeping my breath held on the way home from the doctor because the gas hand is in the red. Sometimes I feel very stressed and can get short tempered with my family because I worry about all the doctor bills coming in.  Every doctor’s office I talk to always throws in there that they take Visa or MasterCard.  And, then I have to explain that we don’t rely on credit cards to pay our debts.  They always make me feel half nuts because every grown adult owns a credit card right?

Well, the Lord has been gently reminding me of how He takes care of us. How He is here for us. How He provides our basic needs.  One way He has been doing this is through the song “I’d Rather Have Jesus.”  It was playing in the vehicle on the way to the dentist the other morning.  After wondering where in the world I was going to come up with $400 to pay for the bill, I felt so much peace and happiness listening to this song.  Oh how it reminds me how much I’d rather have Him than anything.  He loves us and has blessed us beyond measure.  He has not let us go hungry one day.  He has kept a roof over our head.  We have shoes on our feet and clothes on our backs.  He has provided our every need.  He has unexpectedly sent family and friends to help us out numerous times.  He has sent food, diapers, clothes, and even money for doctor visits.  We are so grateful for everything that He has done for us.

I have also heard the Holy Spirit asking me, “Why didn’t you ask me to help you with the dentist bill?  Why aren’t you on your knees asking for my help?  Why are you trying to pay these doctor bills on your own?  Why are you trying to hide from me and not listen to me?  I blessed you with these children, I will help you take care of them.  You have accepted my will for your life, so now you have to trust Me.”  So from this day forward, I give all of these financial worries over to the Lord.  And, I mean I really give them to Him.  I will not only hide Proverbs 3:5-6 in my heart, but I will live by it. He is able. I am not.  His gentle reminders this week have opened my eyes and showed me what stress and worry can make you miss. Sweet moments like this…

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I’d Rather Have Jesus

  1. I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
    I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
    I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
    I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

    • Than to be the king of a vast domain
      And be held in sin’s dread sway;
      I’d rather have Jesus than anything
      This world affords today.
  2. I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
    I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
    I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;
    I’d rather be true to His holy name
  3. He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
    He’s sweeter than honey from out of the comb;
    He’s all that my hungering spirit needs;
    I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead
Posted in Let's Reminisce and Reflect! | 11 Comments

Thank You, Jacob!

Jacob this one is for you!  :)  I want you to know how much I appreciate everything you do for us.  God knew I needed you!

Thank you for making breakfast on busy mornings or lunch on busy afternoons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for cleaning up messes, doing dishes, or helping on the farm just because.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for helping your little brother and sisters when they need a little boost.

Thank you for spending time with Jesus or doing tons of school work before I make it out of bed!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for loving others and praying for them so faithfully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for your smile when I’m having a rough day.

Jacob,Thank You!  Thank you for being you!  You make me so proud.  Keep your light shining strong for the Lord, buddy!  I love you with all my heart.

John 12:26 — While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.

Posted in Jacob | 6 Comments

If You Give a Kid a Camera

My kids and I love books by Laura Numeroff.  Two of the titles that come to mind are If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and If You Give a Pig a Pancake.  Throughout these books, Laura has the main animal character do something that then makes them think of something else that they would want to do and so on.  It is like a domino effect.

Well, the other day, I discovered that Jaden had taken my camera outside to take pictures.  I was so busy making James’s cake that I didn’t notice her going out of the house with it.  Anyway, when I uploaded the pictures from the SD card, I couldn’t help but giggle at all the things she had captured.  As I scanned through all of them, the Laura Numeroff domino effect came to mind.  So, to create the fictitious thought process that my sweet five year old could have had, I decided to write my own version of a Laura Numeroff book using Jaden’s pictures.

If You Give a Kid a Camera

If you give a kid a camera, she is going to take pictures.  First, she will take a picture of her face.

And, after she takes a picture of her face, she will think that people might want to see what her toes look like, too.  So, she will take a picture them.

After she takes a picture of her toes, she will notice that the grass is tickling her feet and wonder where her shoes are.  When she finds her shoes, she will decide that it would be best to take a picture of them, too.

The monkey on her shoe will remind her that monkeys love bananas, so she will go to the garden to hunt for bananas. When she can’t find any bananas, she will stop hunting and take a picture instead.  Or, two or three…

Spending time in the garden will make her think about what the crops will look like when they are ready to eat.  So, she will run to her playroom and take a picture of the food in her fridge.

The food in her fridge will remind her of her growling tummy, so she will run to the kitchen to grab a snack.  When she gets to the kitchen, she will find her little brother who is already enjoying a snack.  So, she might as well take a picture of that, too! ;)

The End

We love you, J.J!  Your pictures are awesome, and they brightened up my day.

Psalm 139:1-3 — O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.  Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

Posted in Jaden, Let's Reminisce and Reflect! | 3 Comments

Happy Birthday Baby James!

5-28-12

Dear James,

Today was such a special day.  You are a big three year old now.  You stole my heart the first time I saw you, and you continue to tug on it a little more each day.  Actually, your sweet personality has captured a lot of people’s hearts.  So today, I want to make sure you know how much I love you.

I love you because while helping me make your Aztec birthday cake today, you said, “I’m the best cooker, Mommy!”

I love you because you say, “I’ll hold her, Mommy.” And then, you hold your baby sister and give her a hundred Eskimo kisses.  Or, when she whimpers or cries, you’ll say, “Mommy, Baby Jayla needs you.” I love you because you always remind me how much you love your older brother and sister by saying, “J.J.’s my buddy.” or “Jacob’s my buddy.”

I love you because you make me feel special when you tell other people, “Mommy didn’t say so.” or “Yes, Mommy said so.” I love you because you give me sweet kisses with those big “Elvis” lips as you say, “I love you, too, Mommy” or “I missed you so much, Mommy.”

I love you because even when you are sick on a church day you say, “But Mommy, I want to go to church.  I want to go in J.J.’s class.”  I love you because you take time to admire God’s wonderful creations by saying, “Look Mommy the moon!” or “Aww, new baby chicks, Mommy.”

I love you because you pick me dandelions, buttercups, red clover, and even maple leaves, and you say, “Here you go, Mommy.”  or “These are for your birfday!” I love you because without even asking you to, you say, “Thank you so much.” or “No, thank you.” I love you because when I explain something to you, you say, “Oh, right!”

I love you because as you play with your horses you are so cute when you say, “Eeeeee…”

I love you because even though I still call you Baby James, you remind me that you are not a baby anymore by saying, “Mommy, I’m a big boy now like Jacob.”  But, you will always be my Baby James.   There are so many reasons why I love you!  Keep stealing people’s hearts Little Buddy. I love you so much.

Love Always,

Mommy

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17

Thank you Jesus for our Sweet Baby James!

Posted in James, Let's Reminisce and Reflect! | Leave a comment

Be Still and Listen

Have you ever tried to be a bird watcher?  Jacob loves to watch for birds, so I promised him we would be bird watchers this morning.  We crawled out of bed, had quiet time with God, and with our bird guide, binoculars, camera, and a little brother and sister in hand, we headed out the door.  I had been listening to the birds chirp and sing all morning, so I thought this will be a piece of cake.  I just knew we were going to get tons of great pictures and be identifying all different types of birds.  Boy, was I wrong.

As we walked through the pasture their chirps, songs, and tweets were beautiful, but we didn’t see one single bird right away.  They were hiding way up in the tops of the trees.  As we patiently listened and watched, I couldn’t help but think about how we can’t see our amazing Lord, but if we listen, we can hear Him.  He will speak to us!

He speaks to us through His word and the Holy Spirit nudges us gently every day.  No, we can’t see our God, but through faith and by listening to his cues, we know He is here.  He is directing us, guiding us, helping us to take the right path.  So, this morning the birds were a great reminder that I cannot hide from God.  I choose to continue trusting and obeying Him!  I choose to continue seeking His will for my life and for my children’s lives.

Through faith, we have to take the time and listen to Him.  If we listen and pray long enough, we will no longer be scared.  We will realize that we can’t hide from Him just like the birds finally realized they couldn’t hide from us!  Will you join me in stepping out and accepting God’s will for your life?

Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

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Look Who’s Two

Dear Jayla,

March 27th was your special day, but two years ago today, we nervously carried you from that Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. As I have watched you grow these past two years, the NICU moments and uncertainties have been pushed further and further to the back of my mind.

467459_371038289607075_1577736680_o467459_371038269607077_563792296_oWhy? Because you have met every milestone right on time or ahead of schedule especially the mischievous, I need to explore everything around me, one. ;) You definitely keep all of us on our toes! But, we wouldn’t want it any other way. You are so full of life!

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We would be lost without your sweet little high pitched “WUV” you. It melts our hearts. You have all of us wrapped around your little finger. You depend on your “JJ” to wait on you hand and foot. And, you laugh and giggle as Jacob bounces you through the house as he takes you for a horsey ride. You guys have fun hiding in clothes hampers, too. James kisses and hugs you a hundred times a day and calls you his precious Jayla time and time again. You love going places with Daddy. “I go with Daddy. I go with Daddy,” you say.  He has you spoiled rotten. I am so grateful! As for me, I absolutely adore those special words you say over and over each day, “I hold you, Mommy.” They never grow old!

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Thank you sweet girl for bringing smiles to our faces every single day. You light up our world. And, although you were a little under the weather on your birthday, you didn’t let it get you down. We still had a lot of fun celebrating your second birthday with you. We love you Baby Jayla and look forward to watching you grow more and more each year! I praise the Lord and thank Him for helping you come so far!

Love Always,

Mommy :)

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I Chronicles 29:13 – Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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