We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: Take 2

It’s been over 1,060 days since I posted about our first adventures with the book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. You can read more about those adventures here:

https://learninggodsway.wordpress.com/2012/08/03/were-going-on-a-bear-hunt-74/

Our first bear hunt seems like it was just a few days ago. However, taller kids and a new family member who is already 14 months old remind me that it really has been three years since we first enjoyed this book as a family. We learned about the book from a homeschool curriculum titled Before Five in a Row. It’s a great little curriculum, and Jayla’s recent outbursts of boredom helped me to realize that she is so ready for more structured activities.  Structure doesn’t have to mean handing out worksheets or completing busy work to fill in time.  Structure for a three year-old in this house equals fun time with Mommy.

So, let’s go on a bear hunt (again)!

Jayla and James were so excited when I pulled the book off the shelf a few days ago. We hurried out to the huge maple tree and read. At first, Jayla wanted to read the book her way to her chickens and her baby brother. James and I patiently waited and slowly convinced her that it would be a lot of fun for Mommy to read the book so she could act out the story in the yard. She agreed, and as I read, James showed her neat ways to pretend like they were going through tall grass, a deep river, thick mud, a tall forest, a whirling snow storm, and a dark cave. I was so pleased as I watched James’s excitement build as he remembered the first time he acted out the story in our backyard three years ago with his brother, sister, and two friends.  He was the same age that Jayla is now.  Where does the time go?

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A few days later, Jayla and I decided to grab the book off the window ledge and complete some activities to go along with the story. She thought it would be lots of fun to make a paper plate bear. We mixed all kinds of dark colored paints together until she got a blackish color.  Then she decided to keep mixing until we had achieved a perfect brown color.  She painted while I read the book. Her painting was interrupted frequently as she hopped off the bench and acted out each and every scene. It was quite cute if you ask me.

image10While the paint dried, she headed outside to the fence rows with her favorite stuffed bear, a plastic bucket, and her baby brother. She was on a mission: a berry hunt. She decided that her bear would like to hunt for berries. I loved watching her point and say, “There’s one, Mommy. Let’s pick it!” After she found all the ripe ones within our reach, she brought her blackberries inside, washed them, and ate every last one of them.

image11 image8 image9 image7Then she checked to see if her brown plate was dry.  It wasn’t. However, it seemed as if a certain kitty might have checked out her project while we were hunting berries. She got a kick out of the paw print on her plate.

image6While it continued to dry, we read a nonfiction book about bears and watched a Bible story movie that had a teddy bear as the narrator.

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IMG_1239After a nap, she turned her brown paper plate into a bear. She added two big ears, one brown nose, two googly eyes, and a smile, of course! She loved it.

FullSizeRender (3)Then we made honey oatmeal bars.  She smiled as she pointed out that the honey bottle was shaped like a bear.

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IMG_1237Later in the evening, she played hide and seek with her paper bear and her stuffed bear.  The mama bear had to find her missing baby bear. She really enjoyed the game, and we added steps to it as we played. Eventually the bears were doing the things that they normally do in each season. She was so adorable as she pretended to eat and eat and eat in the fall, snore as she hibernated in the winter, and climb trees in the summer. But, she was even sweeter when she decided that her baby bear needed milk in the spring, and she proceeded to nurse her bear over her shirt. I giggled, and she didn’t hesitate to explain that baby bears have to get their milk that way. Silly Mommy!

image5Proverbs 56:3 – What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.

(Three years later, this verse still applies when talking about bear hunts)

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Happy 6th Birthday Sweet James

Dear James,

It doesn’t seem like you were 5 years old for 365 days! This past year has flown by. It seems like it was just yesterday when we celebrated your 5th birthday in Johnson City because your little brother was in the hospital.

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But, since last May, you faithfully counted down the days until you finally hit the 28th of May once again. Your counting reminded me that you are growing up a little more each day. You did some pretty amazing things while you were five.

You learned that reading is not so bad.

IMG_0825You figured out that problems that focus on the order of operations aren’t too difficult.IMG_0849You realized that riding your bike without training wheels gets you where you want to go at a faster rate.

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But, the most amazing thing happened on May 9th. You asked Jesus to come into your heart. May 9, 2015 is the day your name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Praise the Lord! I am so thankful that Daddy and I were chosen to lead you to the Lord. It is a time we will never forget. We are so proud of you sweet boy.

Even though we didn’t wake up in the same house for two birthdays in a row, I am certain you were super content with Mawmaw spoiling you once again.

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Little Jayla didn’t choose to have surgery on your birthday! As we have learned from experience, things don’t always go as we plan.

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My heart melted when I heard that even though you don’t care for them so much, you requested deviled eggs to be a part of the birthday lunch that Mawmaw made. Why did you make that request? Because you wanted to surprise your older sister and brother. You know that they love deviled eggs, and you wanted to make them feel special. You really are a sweet boy.

20150528_143015You prove your sweetness time and time again. I love to hear you say, “I love you Jaden,” “Jayla is my sweetie,” or “I love you so much my sweet mama!” Don’t ever outgrow those random acts of chivalry, buddy! It shows that you know how to be a true gentleman.  

And, you care about your daddy and brothers just as much.       I felt so much relief when Jayla’s surgery was over, and we knew she was going to be okay.  She was so ready to wish you a Happy Birthday in person, and so was I.  

That afternoon, we had a great celebration at your favorite restaurant. We over indulged on tacos and rice. It was so cute when you told the waitress that it was your birthday, but it was even cuter when you very politely asked her to please make sure you didn’t get a lot of ice cream rubbed on your face. The waiter listened for the most part.20150528_192329

I would call your birthday dinner a great success. But, your Junie B. Jones party that took place one day late was an even bigger hit! The party got off to a perfect start at the Barter Theatre. The play was great. That Junie B. Jones is something else.

 But, spending the afternoon at home with a few of your closest friends made it even better.  Junie B. would have loved the lemonade and sugar cookies!    

Thank you for so graciously sharing your party with two of your brothers and one of your sisters. That’s just how things happen when you have several brothers and sisters with birthdays somewhat close to yours.

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You don’t ever seem to care or complain. If I remember correctly, you are the one that prayed for twin siblings when you were four. ;) God answered your pray by giving you just one more brother! One more brother with a birthday very close to yours! He always knows what we need.

Keep shining for the Lord sweet boy! Keep shining for the Lord. Your whole family loves you more than you will ever know.

Love,

Your Mommy

I loved seeing your smile when you got your first library card. It’s one of the highlights of turning 6. I am sure all of the wild animal books will be checked out to your card multiple times. I look forward to learning more from them with you! 

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James’s Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 6

What is your favorite food? bananas, cherries, and strawberries

What do you hope you never have to eat again? deviled eggs – I don’t think I would like brussels sprouts either

What is your favorite thing to do? play outside in the water

What is your favorite animal? I love every animal.

What makes you happy? When people smile at me, and when Mommy gives me a hug and kiss.

What is the best memory from when you were 5? getting Christmas presents

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 6? play on the slip n slide and color

What would you like to be when you grow up? an animal rescuer

What is your favorite song? Thy Word is a Lamp Unto my Feet

Where is your favorite place to eat? The Mexican Restaurant and Subway

What are your favorite books? Peter Rabbit and Winnie the Pooh

Where would you like to go on vacation? to South America so I can see a jaguar

What would you like the world to know? I love animals.

Do you want to see how much James has changed? https://learninggodsway.wordpress.com/category/lets-reminisce-and-reflect/james/

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Happy 1st Birthday to our Littlest Miracle

Dear Jayce, 

It’s happened. A whole year has went by since your premature birth. On this day last year, you and I were both fighting for our lives. By God’s grace, we won the battle little guy. Praise the Lord!
 
  

          

  

      

It is hard to believe that you really are a year old! Just in the last couple of months, you have learned to sit up, crawl, and pull-up. You babble like it’s nobody’s business, and you have two shiny bottom teeth. Yes, you have decided it’s time to get the show on the road. You have shown us that it’s time for you to catch up!

This past year has been filled with so many different emotions. I am so thankful that the Lord choose you to help heal your mama’s broken heart. The day you were released from the hospital last June, you decided to find a permanent residence in my arms, on my back, or attached to my hip. And, I am perfectly okay with that! We are pretty much inseparable.

      


Your smile is breathtaking. Your laughter has healing power. And, I absolutely love how tight you snuggle me every single night. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

     

    

  

     

You have come so far in a year. You bring so much joy to our lives. You are precious. Please stay little for a long time sweet boy. Please stay little for a long time….   

                

            

I know the Lord has a special plan for both of us. I can’t wait to teach you more about Him. I can’t wait to tell you how He saved our lives. But most of all, I can’t wait to teach you about our Savior’s love. I pray it will be evident in both of our lives. His love is all that matters.  

Happy 1st Birthday sweet baby boy! Thank you for all the kisses and hugs. They mean so much to us. We all love you more than you will ever know.

  

              

  

      

Love Always,
Mommy
 
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There is Joy in the Morning

If I remember correctly, Thursday May 1, 2014 was a day that began an event that changed my life forever. That is the last night I was able to attend the jail ministry my husband and I served in together. That night I felt the Lord leading me to talk to the girls in class about my insecurities that had rose due to pregnancy complications that I had been experiencing with my fifth pregnancy. It is the night that I spoke of hemorrhaging and pre-term labor and how it would be His will if it happened.

It did happen. It happened that very night. I ended up in the hospital that same night for an uncontrollable hemorrhage. And, just five days later, Jayce Bryant was born.

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I have written all about it before, and I still believe that Jayce’s traumatic birth is for God’s glory. However, there are times when my flesh wants me to be very upset about the details. Upset with myself more than anything else. Upset with some choices that I made along the way.

It has been over a year since all of the complications started, and I still think about the events that took place leading up to Jayce’s birth. I still think about the events that took place during his birth. And, I still think about the events that have taken place after his birth. All of those days, hours, and even minutes will be engrained in my mind forever. I think way too much. I need to pray about my insecurities more often. I need to learn how important it is to continue to cast my cares upon Jesus because He cares for me.

That is what I want more than anything. I want to give this hurt inside of me to the Lord, and I do not want to pick it back up one more time. I do not want to have to feel the need to hold my breath each time I think about never holding a newborn baby again. This past year, the tears and pain and hurtful words have set up residence more often then I’d like to mention.

One Sunday, our wonderful Pastor shared a message that has stuck with me for at least three or four years now. It was a message on Christians finding our joy in Christ. “If you could just have one more baby, you would be happy…” I can hear him saying those words just like it was yesterday. I didn’t understand them at the time. I was still able to have babies then. I even remember thinking what is wrong with wanting to have another baby? Children are a blessing. However, I just didn’t have the wisdom to understand what the Lord was having him preach. I understood more of the words on wanting more material possessions and how they could never bring happiness.

But, I understand the other words clearly now because I can’t have another child. That is not where my joy should have been coming from. Our circumstances and our own plans cannot determine our contentment in Christ. We are not supposed to be living a defeated Christian life. And, time and time again, I have even expressed that this bump in the road is not going to steal my joy.

It has been 364 days since I was hospitalized and delivered a 29 weeker. You think I’d just get over it all. As Jaden says, “Too many pity parties go on around here.” (I love that little girl!)

Seriously though, I have thanked God for doing what He saw was best. I have prayed for peace. And, many times, I have felt peace. But, I am just ready to feel normal again. I am ready to stop longing for something that can NEVER happen. I am ready to accept God’s will once and for all. There have been times that I thought I had accepted His will.

I have given testimonies on how great it is to be alive! And, I have meant every word in those testimonies. I am so thankful! The devil is the only one who wants me to feel defeated. He will not win this battle!

So, what’s the solution to all of this? Prayer, a complete change in my perspective, and continuing to praise His name. I believe that those things are the only things that will get me through this difficult time. You may be thinking that these prayers are selfish. Don’t worry. They feel selfish to me, too.

Why? Because I am blessed. I have five children for crying out loud. The Lord saved my life. He saved Jayce’s life. I am washed in His blood. He has never forsaken me!

He has given me a godly husband that does more for me than I ever deserve. The Lord has forgiven me time and time and time again for my foolish words, outbursts, and temper tantrums. I pray that you all have forgiven me, too. I can have such a crippling critical spirit at times. It is not of Him. It is something that He is working on.

Not only has He forgiven me, but He has also provided me with a warm home, and He gives abundantly at each and every meal. He allows me to homeschool my children. The same children that love me despite my shortcomings. He has placed me in a caring church family. A church family that loves me no matter what I am going through. God loves me the same way. My earthly mind won’t ever fully comprehend it, but I am thankful.

None of this is His fault. It is for my own good. I know that. I understand that everything happens for a reason. And, if all of this pain will bring just one person as well as myself closer to God then it will all be worth it. I want to step out of the way and allow that to happen. I love the Lord with all my heart, soul, and mind. I want others to see Christ when they look at me. Unfortunately, I do not do my part much of the time.

That’s why I still cry at times.  That’s why I still hurt. That’s why sleep doesn’t always come like it should. That’s why I still have a very strong desire to feel a new baby turning flips in my tummy.

So, I am humbly asking you to pray for me to have complete contentment in God’s perfect plan. I am asking that you pray that I completely change my perspective.

I need to follow Leah’s lead. Her circumstances weren’t going to change. Her dream and God’s plan were different. Same here. But, she learned to praise the Lord despite her circumstances. She found joy in Him! Thanks for this timely message Brother David.

Verbally praising the Lord for all He did for Jayce and me on May 6, 2014 has began to help so much. If it weren’t for Jesus and my praying friends, I’d be lost. So, thanks for your prayers. I know they are going to continue to work. I’m ready to chuck this pity party out of the window once and for all. I just want to get my focus back. The only focus that matters: sharing Jesus with others. Much love to you all.

Your Sister in Christ,

Amanda

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There is joy in the morning. I can’t wait to celebrate Jayce’s 1st birthday tomorrow!!

Psalm 30:5 – For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

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Happy 11th Birthday to an Awesome Boy

Dear Jacob,

It has happened again. You have gotten a year older. The double digit saga continues. You have broken us in well. I am sure you will agree that this past year wasn’t so bad.

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Being 10 didn’t slow you down one bit. As a matter of fact, you will be taller than your mama very soon. And, your last tennis shoe purchase was a good day for both of us. I can finally borrow your shoes! Thanks for letting me wear them to the park on Easter when I forgot mine. That was very sweet of you. But you letting me ride your brand new mountain bike the very same day showed your character.

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Your generosity didn’t come as a surprise though. You demonstrate your selflessness each day as you share your candy with your younger siblings, as you ask if I want seconds before you refill your plate, as you beg to buy a good friend a gift because he is moving, or when you surprise me by making me lunch. Yes, all of those acts of kindness are great. But, when we were on vacation recently, I breathed a sigh of relief the moment you stretched out your arm and gave your siblings a hand. Things like that mean a lot to me. I am sure that I don’t say thank you nearly enough, but the small ways that you show love make me a proud Mama.

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I am proud of who you have become. You bring joy to my life each and every day. I know we have had a few squabbles over silly things like math or how you should style your hair. And sometimes I have said things that have been unnecessary, but you have proven you understand Christ’s love by always being so forgiving.

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Today I want to take the time to say thank you for all the things you do to keep things running smoothly. Even the simplest things like taking out the trash, doing the dishes, or holding Jayce help me more than you will ever know. I am sure you get so tired of hearing me say your name over and over again. But, I am truly grateful for all you do.

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I love you more than you will ever know. I can’t explain how special you are to me. Just a few days ago, I was thinking about how excited I was when I first found out that I was going to be a Mommy for the first time. You were an only child for 2 years. I know that is hard to believe! But it’s true. I enjoyed taking care of you those first two years. You were such a happy little guy. You hardly ever cried. And, you loved to snuggle. You didn’t make your way to your own bed until you were at least 6 or maybe even 7.  God knew I needed you to be our oldest.

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When your first two siblings came along, you graciously shared my bed with them. But by the time the last two came along, you decided your own bed was your best bet. Although, you still ask to sleep at the bottom of our bed at times, you have made room in your heart for all your brothers and sisters. You have cared for them and loved them. You have taught them more about our Savior. You have played your guitar so they can sing about Jesus’s love. You downloaded the Kid’s Bible app so they can hide God’s word in their hearts. You teach them about the book of Revelation (your favorite). You even take time to help James with his Wednesday night church paper.

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You have a boldness for Christ that I don’t want to ever fade. God has given you a desire to help those that don’t trust in Him. That’s why you go places that help you learn more about the Lord like Crown College and Illinois. That’s why you helped make breakfast for the adult RU Sunday School Class. That’s why you are taking the soul winning class at church. That’s why you knock on doors. That’s why you write letters to those who have lost their way. That’s why you ask to go to Seedline Ministry and you hold up signs at the RU car wash. That’s why I see the same names written in your prayer journal time and time again. You have a burden for them to be saved or to be healed. All of those things show that you care. All of those things show that you serve a risen Savior.

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Don’t ever change, buddy. We all love you very much. Thank you for caring. Thank you for all your help. Thank you for being there for me after Jayce’s birth.

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Happy 11th birthday sweet boy. Hopefully everyone will be well very soon, so we can throw that birthday party you planned!

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Love you,

Mommy

Your Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 11

What is your favorite food? chicken noodle soup

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

What is your favorite thing to do? playing sports

What is your favorite animal? rabbit

What makes you happy? Jayce smiling

What is the best memory from when you were 10? going to the park

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 11? go to Carowinds

What would you like to be when you grow up? I want to work at the Credit Union.

What is your favorite song? God’s Not Dead

Where is your favorite place to eat? Japanese Steak House

What is your favorite book? The Adventures of Arty Anderson

Where would you like to go on vacation? Gatlinburg

What would you like the world to know? about Jesus

Jeremiah 8:20The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.

(This is a verse Jacob learned this year. It displays an important message.)

Want to see how much Jacob has changed?

https://learninggodsway.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/double-digits-oh-my/

https://learninggodsway.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/happy-9th-birthday-to-our-first-born/

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Happy 3rd Birthday to our Spunky Little Girl

Dear Jayla,

Wow! It has already been a week since your 3rd birthday. I wish I could say that it has been a week full of smiles and laughter, but unfortunately it hasn’t been. You have been very sick. I am glad we got to celebrate the day before you came down with RSV because you spent half of your birthday in the ER!

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Thankfully, you were a trouper. You did so well. While you were getting an ultrasound, you helped the technician move her magic wand around on your tummy. You looked at me with a sweet grin and said, “I’m growing up.” And when I didn’t understand what you said at first, you took your little hand and stretched it over your head and said, “I’m getting taller.”

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Yes, precious girl, you are getting taller. You are growing up. It seems like you are following in the footsteps of your older brothers and sister. I remember having the same conversation with James when he was in the ER on his 4th birthday. He was just as proud as you are about growing up and getting taller.

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Your mama is not quite as thrilled about the whole situation. However, I love to watch you grow. I love it when you belt out, “I don’t want to go back to the world. There’s nothing in this world for me.” And a few minutes later, I hear you singing, “Oh, how I love, Jesus. Oh, how I love Jesus because He first loved me.” It absolutely warms my heart when you sing those songs, but my heart skips a beat when I hear your little voice singing the same song James sang around your age. The same song that got me through your little brother’s birth and the surgery that followed. James has taught you well.

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As much as you love to sing, it was no surprise when you asked for a little banjo for your birthday. (You finally decided that a ukulele would do.) However, you didn’t just want any old ukulele. You wanted a pink one. Of course, your Daddy made sure he found you a pink one. Your excitement was catching as we watched you pull your very own pink ukulele from its pink case. I can’t wait until you learn how to play. I just know you will be able to master the chords.

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As a spunky little girl, you have tugged on our heart strings. You reel us in a little more each day. Especially the day you called your older brothers and sister your kids. Or, when you stared at Jayce as he slept in my arms and you looked at me and said, “I love your baby.”

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You have not only reeled us in, but you have captured a lot of other people’s hearts, too. I will never forget the day you decided to sit beside the pastor after you collected camp offering. Everyone clapped, so you informed me that you had done a good thing. You definitely keep me on my toes. I never really know what you are going to say or do.

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But, that’s what I love about you. You make life interesting. You are not only an active little girl, but you have the right balance of sweetness. All day long, I love hearing you say, “I sorry. I not mean to do that. That not matter.” Or, “You probably need me to help you with Jayce.” I look forward to your snuggles every single night. No matter how hectic my day has been, you know how to make it all better by saying a few simple words…”I love you so much Mommy. I really really love you. I just love you all the time.” Then you lean over and kiss my shoulder.

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Yea, you melt my heart little one! Don’t ever stop being who God made you to be. You keep being that spunky little girl we have ALL grown to love.

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I hope you feel better very soon. It breaks my heart to see you so sick. I will always love you!!

Love,

Mommy

Your Birthday Interview:

How old are you? I am 6. Me: You are six? Jayla: Yea! Me: How old are you? Jayla: Um, 5! Me: You are 3.

What is your favorite food? strawberries

What do you hope you never have to eat again? rotten bananas

What is your favorite thing to do? playing with my babies

What is your favorite animal? horses

What makes you happy? cats

What is the best memory from when you were 2? going to the playground

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 3? stay home

What would you like to be when you grow up? I want to work at Neannie’s house.

What is your favorite song? Jesus Loves Me

Where is your favorite place to eat? the pizza place

What is your favorite book? Anne of Green Gables

Where would you like to go on vacation? the beach

What would you like the world to know? I like to build sand castles.

Colossians 3:14 – And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

Want to see how much Jayla has grown?

https://learninggodsway.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/look-whos-two/

https://learninggodsway.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/happy-1st-birthday-to-our-fourth-miracle/

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Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

The stillness of the night used to be my favorite time. I loved to curl up under the covers and just think. Think about how the day went. Think about how things could be improved upon. Think about how blessed I am to have five kids, a husband, and a little Chinese Crested all sleeping so soundly. image I loved to listen to Jayla and Jayce breathing simultaneously. I still love to hear them breathe so deeply as they sleep. But, something is different about the stillness now. It doesn’t feel exactly the same. The stillness gives me time to ponder on the news we recently received. The news that leaves a pit in my stomach. Believe me, in Jesus’s name, I have prayed that the results of our littlest guy’s cranial ultrasound are false. But, the what ifs are still there. What if the results are true? What if this happens? What if that happens? What if the fluid increases? What if…image Yea. I don’t like the quietness as much tonight as I did a few nights ago. But, I know the solution. I know the answer. It is God’s love and power. The what ifs really shouldn’t matter so much. But, as a mommy of a preemie (x2), the what ifs are so real. And unfortunately, they can go either way. Since Jayla was released from the hospital, almost 3 years ago, she has not had one hiccup due to her prematurity. We did have a scare of a genetic disorder not long after her birth, but that had nothing to do with her being born early. Jayce on the other hand has a whole different story. But, it’s okay. Really. It is. His story shows what a fighter he is. He is fearfully and wonderfully made. God loves him. image This morning, when I woke up feeling more tired then before I went to bed, God showed me unconfessed sin in my life. Sin that I didn’t even realize was lurking behind me. He has shown me how important it is to live out the words that I type. He has used this for my good and His already. I am thankful for what I have already learned. I am thankful for what I am going to learn. But, I am concerned for my little Jayce. I am concerned for what his future holds. I am concerned for my other 4 children. I have seen the unsettled looks on their little faces. image My heart is heavy tonight. It was heavy last night. It may be heavy for awhile. But, Jesus heals the broken hearted. And, he also heals the sick. So, Jayce and I have a lot of hope tonight and every night after this one. We have a lot to look forward to. Jayce is special in every single way. Nearly perfect if you ask me. image Psalm 139:13-14 (KJV) 13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

— I wrote this post over a week ago. The Wednesday after I wrote it, I went to the altar and prayed and cried.  The Lord has given me so much peace since that night. Jayce will go to a neurologist soon. As of right now, considering his adjusted age, everything seems to be fine with Jayce’s development. But, because of Jayce’s prematurity, I know what the extra fluid can possibly do as he gets older. Please pray that the extra fluid will be gone at his next ultrasound appointment.

Much love,

Amanda

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Happy 8th Birthday to our Oldest Daughter!

Dear Jaden,

What a wonderful day we had on your birthday. It all started as you opened up the gift from your Daddy and me.  You were so excited when you pulled out an Anne of Green Gables Doll from the birthday bag! We snapped a few pictures and rushed to get ready for the Barter Theatre.  What did we see?  Anne of Green Gables…of course!

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The play was great. My favorite part was when Matthew picked Anne up from the train station. That girl can talk! I hope you will always remember chatting with the cast.

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They really loved your Anne doll. Can you believe how quickly the play was over? It took us months to read the book. I guess they had to leave a few parts out, or we would have been there all day! We had a tea party to get to.

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I will always remember the excitement in your eyes and sweet little voice as we drove to your Anne of Green Gables tea party. Wasn’t it great celebrating with a bunch of giggly girls? What were the rules? The only boys allowed were the ones with sisters! Boys aren’t really into tea parties. But we needed at least one Gilbert Blythe. Right? And, your 3 brothers weren’t so bad either.

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It took a little coaxing to get your two oldest brothers to attend.  They were almost too embarrassed to have tea with a bunch of girls, but I think they had a pretty good time. And, I believe Jacob would bend over backwards for you. He proves it by spoiling you with gifts!

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The menu we planned went over well: potato soup, turkey and ham sandwiches on homemade bread, and chips.  Don’t forget the sweet tea. We almost did.  Remember? Your cake and brownies were delicious, too. Thanks for helping me make them. I am so blessed to have you. I know Marilla Cuthbert would approve!

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You have grown so much in the Lord recently. You dedicated your life to Jesus not so long ago, and it really shows! Your sweet little spirit shines through as you help me bake goodies for Reformers Unanimous each week and as you give to those in need. Your prayer time is always such a blessing as well. It melts my heart when you ask me how to spell certain names as you record them in your prayer journal. Thanks for always showing unconditional love.

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Thanks for sharing your special day with me! Wasn’t it fun celebrating Anne of Green Gables’ style? I can’t believe you are already 8 years old. I still see you as the little 2 year old who twirled my hair so you could fall asleep. How did 6 years go by so quickly? I. Do. Not. Know! There is one thing I know for certain: you get sweeter each year. And, I am very grateful.

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Maybe one day we can visit Prince Edward Island together. Would you go to Anne’s old stomping ground with me? We would have a blast! I love you little lady!

Love Always,

Mommy

XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO

Your Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 8

What is your favorite food? Pizza

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

What is your favorite thing to do? Cartwheels and handstands

What is your favorite animal? A kitten

What makes you happiest? A baby Kitten

What is the best memory from when you were 7? The day I ate that donut that Neannie bought me.

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 8? Have a kitten

What would you like to be when you grow up? A pet shop owner

What is your favorite song? I Wonder How it Felt

Where is your favorite place to eat? Home :)

What is your favorite book? Fancy Nancy

Where would you like to go on vacation? Pigeon Forge

What would you like the world to know? God is here.

Psalm 32:8 – I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

Want to see how much Jaden has changed the past two years?

Click here –

https://learninggodsway.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/happy-7th-birthday-to-our-precious-girl/

and

here – https://learninggodsway.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/look-who-is-six/?preview=true&preview_id=1334&preview_nonce=35735cda50&post_format=standard

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Happy 1/2 a Year to Our Littlest Guy

Who knew six months could fly by so quickly? Another six months has passed.  Another six months that cannot be relived. All the events and words spoken these past six months will linger behind us forever.

A lot of changes have occurred in my life these past six months. Some days held trials, pain, and suffering.  Others were filled with tears, humility, and growth. But, all of them were filled with hope and joy.10448811_774445872599646_7274358852443410819_nSix months ago, my life changed forever.  It was a moment in time that the Lord allowed me to endure for His glory.  He has allowed me to hold my 5th child so close.  I really haven’t put him down very often.  It’s a choice I have made.  I don’t want to miss one single moment with him.  He is my last child, and I have loved every minute with him. The past six months has taught me that each day is a gift.10491259_791282160916017_5316584843971414558_nI often think about how quickly my other four children have grown.  Did I snuggle them as much as I do Jayce?  Did I take in each moment, or did I wish some stages away? It’s something to ponder, but it can’t be changed.  I like to think that I held them as much as they wanted.  I like to think I took in every smile that crossed their little faces.  But, I probably didn’t.  Something very different occurs when you know there will not be any more babies to care for and love.  Something inside me wants time to stop this very second.  I would be absolutely content if I could be 34 for the rest of my life.  Even though I have failed at being a mother more times than I ever care to mention, I absolutely love taking care of my little family.

Of course there are times when I see all the messes around and I feel like I might go insane. There are times when anxiety creeps in because there is just so much that needs to be done. But, the Lord uses those times to remind me that not so long ago I really missed those messes. He reminds me that the ones behind the messes have a soul worth protecting.  The Lord also uses those messes to show me how ugly my heart really is. Those messes continue to teach me how important it is to love others like Jesus loves them.  Those messes scream to love others no matter what.  Each word matters.10485986_809245025786397_1332555857560439004_oI have processed a lot these past six months.  Three months ago I wrote that contentment in God’s plan is always the best answer.  I wrote that we should thank God for every single thing that He brings us.  And, all of that is still true.  But, I would be lying if I said every day since I typed those words has been smooth sailing. There have been days that I have cried and felt the achiness that I felt right after Jayce’s birth. There have been days where I have felt uneasy with God’s decision.  There have been days where it has hurt to see pregnant friends. (I really dislike that feeling. It shows how easily envy can sneak in. It shows that I am human.  It shows that Christians have feelings.  But, it also shows my sinfulness, which I hate most of all.)  The Lord continues to humble me and burden my heart for the pregnant ladies around me. I really do want them to know how much I care, and deep down I am so excited for them. New life is a precious gift from God. It is an honor to pray for them and those wanting children of their own.10499385_826369270740639_1060623626742245499_oIt is probably not hard to figure out that these past six months held days where I almost felt defeated.  But, God is faithful. His peace, hope, and joy are always present.  He does not bring us trials and tell us no to defeat us.  He wants His children to prosper.  He continues to show me how much each second matters.  He continues to show me how real He is as He places certain people and verses in front of me.  He shows me how much He loves me by helping me understand that His plan for me is very different then His plans for those around me. And, that is a good thing.  He shows me that life is not all about what I want. Life is about helping others.10250114_846988595345373_2323815715067873003_n

Today I want to focus on His grace and mercy. Today I want to show others how much they mean to me.  I am over filled with joy. It is obvious that time will never stand still.  Things keep turning in this beautiful life we live.  That’s why these past six months have went by so quickly.  That’s why it is already time to say Happy Six Months to our Baby Jayce. Can you believe it?  He really is six months old!! I love every single thing about him.  He will always be the baby!

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A Time For Everything

In this life, there is a time for everything. And, On May 6, 2014, the time came that ended my chances of bringing another baby into this world. I asked the Lord to decide our family’s size. He answered that prayer. Yes, on Tuesday, May 6th, a child was taken from my womb for the very last time. For it was that day that my womb was also taken from my body.

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That day was clearly full of joy.  But, after reality set in, it also brought so much disappointment. I realized that my plan was really not His. There was a time in my life when I didn’t think that we could have more than two. At that time, we were okay with that. Jamie was really okay with it. But, when it is God’s will, He is bigger than any medical complications. Praise the Lord. He knew exactly what we needed! He knew exactly how to pull on our heartstrings when He sent us number three.
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Yes, God softened our hearts. He began to show us from His word how each bundle of joy brings new blessings. And, He continues to show us how He provides. I suppose I thought that the surrendering of one’s womb meant more. So, despite the warnings and complications that came about with this last pregnancy, I really hadn’t fathomed that it would be our last.  I clearly understood that there was a chance. There was a chance that I might not survive the birth.  There was a chance that Jayce might not survive.

So on May 6th, I prayed for God’s will.  I prayed for Him to save my life only if I could be the woman that He needs me to be. (He’s still working on me). I prayed for my unborn baby.  A few days earlier, I told my doctor that it was okay if my womb had to go. I didn’t want to leave my babies behind. Although I was scared, I had found a great peace going into surgery- a peace that only God himself can give. I wanted to survive, but I knew that this was out of my hands! I wanted a chance to be the wife and mother that He needs me to be. I wasn’t ready to let go. But in the end, I knew God was the ultimate decision maker. His will was done in that operating room. He chose my life. He chose Jayce’s life.  But, He also chose to take my womb.

Just a few days later, tears began pouring from my eyes. The whole experience seemed too painful to bear. I grieved over more things than I have ever cared to. My body ached to the deepest parts of my bones. I can’t even begin to explain it.

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I grieved over the fact that I had such a traumatic birth experience.  I had survived! Jayce was alive!! I was so grateful! But, I still felt hurt and sad. That can happen when we try to understand…

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I grieved over the death of my sweet grandmother. I couldn’t even attend her funeral. I was in a hospital bed separated from my newly born baby and the rest of my family.

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I grieved because Jayce was born so early…was it my fault? I believe more times than not a mom always wonders if it is her fault when her baby is born prematurely.

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I grieved over my womb being gone. The very thing that brought my children into this world was taken from me. It will never sustain another life. It. is. gone. This has to be for His glory.

I grieved for my unborn children. We still had two options for a little girl’s name: Jayne or Jayma. I just knew our next would be a little girl. God has given us a pattern…boy, girl, boy, girl, boy…

Yes! I have grieved over that little girl (or boy) who will never be welcomed into our family. My older kids have grieved, too. Jacob and I cried as we sat in that motel room the night I was released from the hospital. It finally hit him that he would not have any more brothers or sisters. He told me that God can give me a new womb because He performs miracles. And, one afternoon not long after Jayce’s birth, Jaden told me that she was sad because I can’t have any more babies. Yeah, that broke my heart into a million more pieces. My kids really do love each other. They have their squabbles, but their love for one another amazes me. And the way the older ones nurture the younger ones paints a beautiful picture.

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With all that grieving and the emptiness I felt, my two-week postpartum appointment brought more sorrow. Life seemed hard and a little unfair. I hadn’t got what I wanted. I wanted easier pregnancies.  I wanted full term crying babies and stress free births. I wanted short hospital stays. I wanted more children. The Lord was carrying me through, but I hadn’t fully come to terms with the molding that was taking place. So, walking back in that doctor’s office was painful. The doctor that delivered our youngest three was going to deliver our 6th. I planned that out a few days before Jayce’s birth as I sat in that hospital bed with hemorrhaging and preterm labor. The word VBAC had even been thrown around. At that time, I refused to dwell on a placenta accreta, increta, or percreta.

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So, as I sat in that examining room, I couldn’t help but focus on the heartbeat of my sixth child that would never be heard. I broke down and cried. Through my tears, my doctor put things into perspective. He said, “I am just happy you are alive.” He would have saved my womb if he could have. He has six kids. Trust me. He would have saved it. I agree with my doctor. I have to keep reminding myself that it was my womb or my life. What good is a womb in a corpse?

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Since that appointment, time hasn’t stood still and my contentment has slowly came. Each passing day, God’s words revealed what I needed to hear. Don’t they always? I did much better when I went for my six-week checkup. The one that said, “You are good to go. You are all healed up.” And I echoed back, “This is the end.” Those words cemented the fact that those examining rooms are not just for listening to the calming sound of a new life.  They are also there to say, “Sorry you will not have any more children or sorry your baby is gone or sorry you will never have a baby.” I wonder how many broken-hearted women have walked out of that place?

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I realize I am not alone. There are many women who have wished for just one more baby. There are many women who have heard a heartbeat only to have it disappear. There are many women who have been told that they will never be able to carry a child (my heart aches for you). Even though I came close to losing our last two babies, I will never fall into the last two categories. But, if you do, I will pray for you!

Three months have passed since Jayce’s birth, and I am feeling better. He is a miracle. I am truly blessed. I see God’s love and mercy in all 5 of my children. I see it in my life. I realize that trusting God doesn’t always mean more. Trusting God means that your life is His to do as He sees fit. He gives us what we need and sometimes that doesn’t include what we want or what we thought He wanted.  And, in the end it’s for our own good.

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I have finally packed up Jayla’s baby clothes.  I am ready to hand them to a glowing pregnant mama. I am happy for her. I will not let envy enter my body. I am moving forward.  Slowly, moving forward.

Moving forward heals.  Moving forward is right.  It doesn’t eliminate the enemy. And there are still times when he tries to remind me that:

I will never again see two pink lines.

I will never tell Jamie that we are expecting for the sixth time.

Our sixth child’s heartbeat will not be heard.

The hand of a little one will never again push on this Mama’s abdomen.

We will not have another chance to say, “It’s a boy, or It’s a girl!” No, the first cry of our 6th child will not be heard. That brand new baby will not latch and nurse after his or her birth. What an indescribable moment in any mama’s life….

The list could go on and on and on…

But, I vow to stop focusing on what the enemy wants. I refuse to gaze at the things that can never happen. From this day forward, I will find joy in each passing moment. I have to! It is impossible for me to carry another child. God isn’t going to change my circumstances. It is clear that God has different plans. Better plans. It is finished. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

God said, “Five is the perfect number.” I trust Him.  I would do it all over again. I would have number six. He is the one that put that desire in me. He knew my heart. So, I am glad He is the one that decided that number six will not enter our family.

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One day in that lonely NICU room, I thanked God for taking my womb. I had asked Him to take it if it was His will. Thanking God for the unchangeable became my healing power. That’s when I finally saw how He was using this trial to bring me closer to Him. That’s when I understood why I need to endure this trial.  The creator of all things knows best. These last three months of grieving have taught me that I don’t have to understand. Obedience and trusting are what make the difference. No matter what circumstances arise, He wants me to thank Him for them. He wants me to thank Him for the unchangeable each and every time. He knows why things happen, and that’s all that matters. He knows what will work together for His good and ours.

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The grieving stage is fading. The same peace I felt right after giving birth is slowly filling me once again. I have struggled. But, turning my focus back to how good God is has really helped. I will praise Him in this valley because He is showing me that I am really on the mountain top.  I am His child. He just blessed us with a child! A child that I wondered if I would ever have! He saved my life! Yes, God is love.

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His love is the only way to keep things going in the right direction. Our whole family is moving on. We are moving forward. We are going in a direction that says yes to what God wants from us.  Since Jayce’s birth being who He wants me to be has not always been easy. There have been times when I have stumbled. There have been times when harsh words have been thrown at one another.  A lot of times we have all felt broken.  And, often times we have failed to show love. But, we have listened to the warnings. I know the Lord saved my life for His purpose. In His strength, we are moving forward. Our Father’s love shows us that He wants what’s best. This trial is no different from the rest. He has always seen us through. God’s ways are the definition of good.  His plans bring forth the best in us. Always…

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(When Baby Jayce is almost two, gently remind me that Jesus has already healed my broken heart. Just say, “Be content.” Sometimes we all need loving reminders along the way. Our family would never make it without the Lord and our Christian friends.)

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (The Lord sent this verse to me over and over again during my pregnancy and after Jayce’s birth. He loves His children).

A song that has helped me through this time:

Blessings

by: Laura Story

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
As long as we have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

A book that helped me understand the importance of thanking God for the things that we cannot change: Growing Up Duggar: It’s All About Relationships.

 

 

 

 

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Just Wait

These past five weeks have been difficult to say the least. Don’t worry though. God is seeing us through. Really! He is. He always does when we sit back and put our trust in Him. Just ask Job. He will tell ya exactly how these trials are won. Just praise the Lord.

Through these trials, I have been pondering on quite a few things. There’s not a lot to do in this hospital room. So, I just sit and think. I think about the things I miss. So, in no particular order here are a few of the things I long for…

Popsicles dripping on the floor

Overflowing laundry hampers blocking the mudroom door

Dishes piled high in the kitchen sink

Sticky fingerprints that blur our view

Floors to mop

Showers to clean

Dust bunnies underneath the beds

Bread to bake and lunch to make

Toys scattered through every room

Homeschool assignments that need to be done

Home cooked meals and fussing over who will sit next to Daddy every. single. afternoonimage imageimageimage I am missing things that seem unmissable. You would think that I would be through. But, there are a few more things this farm girl misses:

Fresh cut grass

Mountain views

Garden planting

Bird watching

Sheep grazing

Our long gravel driveway and opening the gate

The smell of Cash’s mane

The cat sitting outside the door just waiting to dash in

Coyotes howling and our dogs barking

Dudley snorting when he thinks I have another bite of food – silly pig

image imageimageimageimageimage Yes, the farm girl in me misses those things the most. But I’m still not through. Because my Christian heart misses some very important things, too…

Bible verses quoted as we’re heading to church

Fire and brimstone preaching

Children’s choir singing for the Lord

Hugs, handshakes, and “How are you?”

Glowing smiles from across the room

Altar call and kneeling to pray with the man I love

Second talk on Thursday nights

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imageimageimageI miss all those things. I really do! And yes, I am almost through. The next things hurt a little or maybe a little more than a little. But just remember, God has prepared me for these cloudy days. He says it’s okay to hurt a little more than a little – as long as I keep my focus on Him. The hurt is exactly what I need. It brings me so much closer to becoming who He wants me to be. My mommy heart misses these next things more than you can ever imagine…

Singing to Jayla during her midday nap

Stealing kisses from my 5 year old boy and hearing him say, “You are a sweet sweet sweet Mommy!”

Watching my oldest push his sister in her bright blue swing

All the kids squealing, “Daddy’s home” and feeling me breathe a sigh of relief

Jaden sneaking downstairs to give one last hug

Snuggling up and reading books and James asking, “Just a few more Mommy?”

Jayla squeaking in her cute little voice, “I’m your miracle Mommy!”

Jaden’s kind heart as she waits on her little sister

Jacob’s strong hugs, and his cute little grin.

Sweet notes from my handsome husband that show me just how much he cares image image   imageimageimageimage image image image I could go on and on. Really, I could. I miss it all. I miss my husband and our kids. I miss the good times and the ones that can seem like a hassle. Who would have thought I would miss the dishes, cleaning, and the laundry? But, I miss all those things, too. I am ready to have all of it back. I just want to be a joyful wife and mommy who pleases the Lord. I am ready to recognize the blessings in every. single. situation. image But I have to wait. This is out of my control. “Not yet,” the Holy Spirit keeps whispering. “It’s not time for you to go home just yet. Wait for me and you will see how great your life can be.” So, I will continue missing. How can I not? But, I will take this time to learn more about Him. I will praise His name and thank Him for this separation. And, one day, one day soon, He will say, “Okay, you’re through. These trials are over. You have learned to stop complaining and you know acting out of frustration just won’t do. Be still and do what I’ve called you to do. Kiss them and hug them. Discipline with love. And don’t forget to always take time to teach them about Me.” I can’t wait to be together as a family once more. I get so excited just dreaming about it. But for now, I will take care of our precious Jayce, and I will wait… image image Isaiah 40:31 – But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as Eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint

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Happy 5th Birthday Little Spider-Man

Dear James,

I can’t believe your 5th birthday has come and gone! Are you really five? You waited in anticipation for months. You asked again and again, “How many days until my birthday, Mommy?” For me, all those months of asking went by so quickly. Can’t I hold time still for just a little? Handsome boy, you are growing up way too fast.

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But, the Lord knows what’s best, so he blessed you with birthday number 5! Thank you for traveling so far just to spend time with me. You were too cute as we celebrated all afternoon. The pizza place you picked was absolutely delicious! We all loved it. Your kisses and bear hugs made our dinner date absolutely perfect. How did you get so sweet little buddy?

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After dinner, you made it clear that Toys R Us was exactly where you wanted to be. I believe your older brother and sisters were just as excited as you. They watched as you browsed through all the toys and took part in your search by asking, “Do you want this James? Do you like that one? Or, how about these?” And your thoughtful reply? “No thanks.” How precious you are when you use your manners! It was no surprise when you made your final decision: a little stuffed Spider-Man and a kit filled with all different kinds of dinosaurs. Of course! Those are your favorites!!

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The best part of the entire evening was when we stopped to get slushies. Daddy had a great idea! Didn’t he? You and Jacob were so excited when you read the flavors and Spider-Man was listed on that wooden sign.

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Last but not least, on May 28th, Jayce looked so cute in his dinosaur sleeper. His first real outfit from home. You are breaking him right in. You are teaching him the ropes. Thanks for already loving him and being such a great big brother.

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You definitely have all of our hearts. And like you always tell me, you are a sweet sweet human. Keep singing for the Lord “Baby” James!! We love you more than you will ever know.

Hugs and Kisses,

Mommy :)

 

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We had a great time at your Spider-Man party just a few days later! It was a blast celebrating at Wallabies with some of your closest friends!

Your Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 5

What is your favorite food? Mac and Cheese

What do you never want to eat again? Tomatoes

What is your favorite thing to do? Watch movies

What is your favorite animal? Saber Tooth Tiger

What makes you happiest? Seeing Jayce

What is your best memory from when you were 4? Going to the beach

What is one thing you want to do when you are 5? Play with my animals

What do you want to be when you grow up? A farmer

What is your favorite song? Jesus Loves the Little Children

What is your favorite place to eat? McDonalds

What is your favorite book? Noah’s Ark

Where do you want to go on vacation when you are 5? South America or maybe Richmond to see Heather. I don’t really know anyone in South America.

What would you like the world to know? Monkeys swing around in the jungle. Tigers hunt and scare plant eaters like deer and koalas. Gorillas eat mangoes. Bumble bees swarm around flowers to get their nectar. Black snakes like to eat eggs.

(I believe we may have a little zoologist on our hands. He takes after his Mommy! ;))

John 15:12 – This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.

Want to see how much he has changed? Click on his birthday posts under his name on the right.

 

 

 

 

 

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Do you know Jesus?

Just minutes (maybe even seconds) after Jamie and I heard Jayce’s first cries, one of my greatest fears came true. My placenta had grown through my uterus. My doctor quickly informed me that it must go. How long will it take? I wanted to know. “About 30 or 45 minutes,” he said. Almost instantly I looked at the anesthesiologist and asked to be put to sleep. I knew I couldn’t be awake and endure the surgery. And, I felt like I was going to pass out. Honestly I was just plain scared. Would I be okay? Was I going to bleed to death? Only Jesus held that answer.

The last thing I remember before getting my sleepy medicine was someone asking Jamie to leave. He was scared, too. I saw it in his eyes when he first entered the operating room. As he put his head next to mine, a tear trickled down his face. Yes, he was scared, too. He was scared for Jayce. He was scared for me. He had heard all the warnings just a few days before. Would he become a single dad? Oh how we both were trying to rest in Jesus.

After the medicine was given, I was pretty much out of it! Thank you Lord! However, I do recall a few things that happened during or maybe it was after I was waking up from surgery. One thing I remember is thanking everyone in the operating room for taking such good care of me. I also remember telling them that my grandma had died. But, most importantly, Jesus’s name flowed from my lips. Do you know Jesus? I wanted to know if the team members in that operating room knew Jesus. I had a boldness that I have never had before. Maybe it was the medicine or maybe His presence was so strong that I had to share His greatness with those precious ones around me. One team member said yes. He said that he knew Jesus. I have no idea who he was. All I know is he was near my face. Was he another doctor, a nurse, an anesthesiologist? I really don’t know. But, I pray he was serious. Eternity is forever.

Getting to share Christ when I was walking through the valley of the shadow of death is something I will never forget. Maybe all of those around me didn’t take me serious, but His name is powerful. I might not ever know this side of Heaven what all was happening in that sterile operating room. But, I am just glad I knew who was taking care of me. And, I hope all of those sweet souls that Christ used to save my life could see who was guiding their hands, too. I pray that if they don’t already know Him then they will come to Him! I thank God for each of them. Jesus – there is just something about that name.

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

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Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O, raise your head, for love is passing by
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live!

Now your burden’s lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain, so
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live!

And like a newborn baby
Don’t be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk
Sometimes we fall…so
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live!

Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live!

O, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can’t contain your joy inside, then
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live!

And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory’s side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!
By: Chris Rice

( I don’t know much about this songwriter, but I have been having a few weary days here lately. And all I can think about is going to Jesus and resting in Him. The words to this song remind me that Jesus is all I need.)

If you want to read the first part of Jayce’s birth story, click on Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

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Blessed be the Name of the Lord

These past two weeks have been a roller coaster ride of emotions. We’ve had highs and lows, death and new life, and tears and smiles. As I entered the hospital last Tuesday, I never imagined our fifth and last biological child would make his entrance into this beautiful somewhat chaotic world. It all happened so quickly. Just the same, I wasn’t prepared for the death of my sweet, precious grandma just minutes before I was rushed to the operating room. How was all of this happening at the same time? I really didn’t have time to process it all. I do believe I felt peace knowing that if I didn’t make it out of surgery, my grandma and I would meet Jesus and enter the pearly gates of Heaven the exact same day. grandma y and kids

I was hemorrhaging, and my doctor had warned me that my placenta may be through my uterus and even my bladder. I believe it was the nurse that reassured me that they had blood ready. And, some of the last words I remember hearing from her were, “The Lord sent you here for a reason.” Oh, how I loved to hear that reminder. She was sent straight from Heaven. The Lord knew that I needed her. Tammy is her name, and I will never forget it. She is such a precious soul. As they quickly rolled me to the operating room, I remember praying to The Lord and asking him to please spare my life if He knew I could be the wife and mother that He needed me to be. The next thing I felt was Jamie being taken from me.  All of a sudden, I was being prepped for surgery. As the nurses counted surgical instruments, the anesthesiologist was telling me to arch my back. I felt a huge pop, and the numbing had taken effect. Suddenly I was lying there unable to move the lower half of my body. I was trying my best to rest in the peace of our Savior and not let my claustrophobic tendencies take over. I started humming. I hummed a song that little James sings as he plays all through the house. He informed me after my surgery that my version and his version are a little different. But, that is okay because it reminded me of him and helped me stay focused on the Lord. Jamie had entered the room by this time, and I am sure he noticed my constant humming. It was like I was in a totally different place. “I love you Lord. I love you Lord for what you did on Calvary.” Pretty simple, huh? Well, I hummed that over and over and over again. Then I heard the most precious sound: Baby Jayce’s first cries. I looked at Jamie in disbelief. My little 29 weeker was crying. Our last two did not cry right when they were born. So, I was in total shock that little Jayce had let out his first cries. 20140514-215731.jpg Time of birth: 3:34 p.m – 3 lbs 12 oz – 15 inches long Job 1:21 – And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. The Lord took my grandma May 6, 2014, but He also gave me sweet Jayce Bryant. To be continued….

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Double Digits! Oh My!!

Dear Jacob,

How did it happen so quickly? Are you really ten? I can’t believe how fast time is flying by. Your sweet smile and quirky personality make our world go round. You keep us laughing with all your funny jokes and magic tricks that you try again and again. You have really buried your shyness this past year. Dramatic reading, a presentation on how to make ooey gooey slime, a letter to the parents at church, a magic show during the missions conference, and Revelation read at a good ol’ Bible believing church in the Grove prove that you are not a shy one anymore.

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Yes! You are growing into a brave, handsome young man. Yet, you are still one of the most kind, caring, helpful boys we know. You go out of your way to make sure Jayla is happy and cared for. You share your toys with James, and you graciously let Jaden invade your room each night. And for that, we are all very grateful. You help around the house any time you are asked! But, I can always tell you are much more excited when you get to help Daddy on the farm. I don’t blame you for that! What an excellent sheep wrangler you have become.

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All of these things show us that you are growing up. You are growing up!  We already see at the age of ten that you have the potential to prosper. Why? Because you seek God’s wisdom and guidance each and every day. You make it obvious that Proverbs has taught you so much. You know the books of the Bible and many verses have been learned and meditated on. You bow your head in prayer and thank your Father for the things that He has done. You see His blessings! You have a desire to show the fruit of the spirit. You lift up others when you see they are hurting. And, you ask God who He wants you to encourage in His name. You are already praying for your future wife. We know the Lord will take you far. Never stop seeking Him, son. Keep on His full armor! Your Heavenly Father loves you. And, so do we! Thank you for being who God has created you to be – a loving son, brother, grandson, friend, and nephew!

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Happy 10th birthday, sweet boy!

Love Always,

Your Mommy ;)

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Revelation 22:13 – I Am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Your Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 10

What is your favorite food? Blueberries

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

What is your favorite thing to do? Play Outside

What is your favorite animal? Wolf

What makes you happiest? When Aunt Heather visits

What is the best memory from when you were 9? Going to church camp

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 10? Visit Aunt Heather in Richmond

What would you like to be when you grow up? Fireman

What is your favorite song? The Poochie Lip Disease

What is your favorite place to eat? Sonic

What is your favorite book? Box Car Children

Where would you like to go on vacation? Clearwater Beach, FL

What would you like the world to know? About Jesus

**Want to see how much Jacob has changed in a year? https://learninggodsway.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/happy-9th-birthday-to-our-first-born/

 

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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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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 traveled 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.

20131116-185232.jpg 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?

20131116-191714.jpg 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. 1394003_661246400586261_2065927496_n 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. 20131116-185453.jpg20131116-190233.jpg 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

Where 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 20131116-185156.jpg Do you want to see her birthday interview from last year? https://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, being 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!

ImageWhat has your humble walk with the Lord taught not only me but so many others?

  • 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? Wolf

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?

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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.

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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

Where 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…..

Posted in Let's Reminisce and Reflect!, To The One I Love | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

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!

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

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?).

Image

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!

Image

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.

Posted in Let's Reminisce and Reflect! | Tagged , | 2 Comments

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.

Posted in Let's Reminisce and Reflect! | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

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.

Posted in Let's Reminisce and Reflect! | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

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.

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

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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Our Father – The Merciful Teacher

Some days the walls seem to get a little closer to one another. Some days seem to go on and on and on. Some days things get blown out of proportion for no good reason at all. Some days our flesh gets the best of us, and we become hateful, rude, and slightly cranky. Some days we feel like we are spinning our wheels or always in a hurry. Some days it seems like nothing ever gets done the way we intended. Have you ever had one of those days?

God knows when we are having one of those days. He knows all about our ungratefulness and fleshly desires. He definitely doesn’t want us to keep having those days. Those days where we overlook the fact that we truly have nothing to complain about.

He wants to teach us that every day matters to Him. He wants to show us exactly what is important. We just have to be willing to learn. We have to be students who care what the teacher is teaching.

For me, today was one of those days. One of those days that God pointed out my sinfulness, ugliness, and pettiness. One of those days that He showed me how loving He really is. It is hard to even fathom how much He loves me. Today He should have corrected me in a negative way.

But, He chose to teach me in a kind way instead. He is so good at being merciful. He used what He has blessed me with to show me how much He cares.

He used the giant sunflowers almost ready to bloom. The tiny green tomatoes peeking out from under each leaf. The cute little watermelon resting on the vines. The plump blackberries in the fence rows ready to be eaten.


He used the chatter and excitement of four kids playing tag and a game of cards in the barn as Mommy, Daddy, and Baby Jayce worked on the farm.

He used Black-Eyed Susans and Indian Blankets stretched out from the kindest eleven-year-old’s hands. He used a slightly younger eight-year-old offering a Queen Annes Lace because she was prompted by her older brother’s random act of kindness.


He used those oldest two and the middle one’s awe over the beautifully pink tinted clouds and the crescent moon as we walked down the long gravel drive searching out more ripened blackberries.

He used the sweetest 14 month old falling asleep in his backpack carrier as his daddy checked on his big sister’s scrapes and scratches from a sudden slip down the hill.

 He used that sleeping 14 month old as he snuggled into my arms, his smiling big brother, and the hurt sister climbing into the backpack carrier that rested on her daddy’s back. How peaceful it was to watch.


He used bats swooping down to catch moths and a talk about echolocation with the eight-year-old girl that had held the Queens Annes Lace. I could have listened to her talk for hours. She is so smart. 

He also used that adorable girl and her older brother taking time to lend some attention to a few of their best friends.   

He used a curious little six-year-old searching for the North Star because not so long ago we read about a Native American named Kaya who used the North Star to find her way home. The trees ultimately blocked his view, but as we cimbed back up the gravel road, he quickly recognized the western side of the farm as I pointed out the setting sun in the distance. 

 

Minutes before the six-year-old boy noticed the sun going to bed for the night,  God used the precious girl with the scratches and scrapes puckering up for a kiss. And, He used her sweet little whisper of, “I love you Mommy. I love Daddy, too. I love all of you.”

 Yes. God is good. I don’t have one reason to complain. I am so blessed.

Psalm 136:1 – O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

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A True Dad

Dear Jamie,

The past two years, due to uncontrollable circumstances, you were not honored like you should have been on Father’s Day. Last year, we had just brought Jayce home after a long NICU stay, which was a great thing. But, I was exhausted. I slept the whole day while you packed bags for church camp. Thank you for letting me sleep that day. The year before, you cleaned up vomit. Nice. I know. However, it’s the truth. We were all sick except you. You handled it like a champ. I don’t remember you complaining one time. That shows your character. That day showed us how far Christ has brought you.



You do more for us then we ever deserve. Each thing does not go unnoticed. We appreciate every load of clothes that is washed and folded, every appliance that is repaired, each light bulb that is changed, every window that is washed, each meal that is prepared, and every floor that is vacuumed and mopped. You are so willing to help out around here, and it shows just how much you really care. You know that I can’t run this household alone.

  
Not only do you help inside the house, but you also mow and bush-hog, and you build greenhouses, barns, chicken coops, and tree houses. You plant vegetable gardens and flowers. You take care of horses and sheep. You bring comfort when kids are sick or hurt.            That’s not all.  You work a full-time job and humbly direct the RU Ministry. To top it off, you always make time for your family. You take kids to karate,  guitar, and ukulele practices.  You never hesitate when you are asked to pick up books at the library, and you don’t make a fuss when the kids want to stay at the science museum, the park, or the playground just a little bit longer. You make slip-n-slides and join in on a good game of kick ball.  And you are the best birthday party decorator around.

            Most importantly you take all of us to church. You understand that our spiritual needs matter. I do not know how you do it all. But you do!      It is evident that you don’t do these things for yourself. You do them for the Lord, for us, and for others. And, you do it all with so much love and grace.  That’s what stands out the most. Your mama and daddy taught you well.       The kids and I always know how much you love us. Your actions and words make it clear. Thank you for loving us so much! We are truly blessed and grateful for everything you do! We couldn’t possibly keep things going around here without you.       You really know how to show true love. The kind of love that keeps on giving. The kind of love that doesn’t expect anything in return. The kind of love that shows Christ to our little ones that are watching. You handle life’s ups and downs so much better than I do. I have learned a lot from the example that you have become. The Lord has blessed me with a godly husband and you are a wonderful dad to our five amazing kids.     What more could a girl want? I can’t think of a single thing. Thanks for everything you do. Thanks for making us feel special. Thanks for listening to the Lord’s promptings and putting Him first.


   As James always says, “We love you sweet Dada.” And from the lips of our little Jayla, “We really really love you!”

Love Always,

Amanda

☀️How do you know Daddy loves you?

Jacob – He lets me help him build the barn.

Jaden – He takes us places.

James – He takes me to see Mawmaw.

Jayla – He takes me to feed the ducks. I like to give him kisses.

Jayce – He watches me so Mommy can take the big kids to the Barter. (Mama knows what the little guy would say. 😘)

Psalm 127:3-5 – Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

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