Wednesday, November 28, 2012

So much to be thankful for!

GIVING THANKS | Day 23: So very thankful that Mason was finally feeling better today!  He ate a little, and everything stayed down this time.  He even got rather chatty.  He was still very tired and weak, but he was feeling good enough to finally realize everything he was missing out on during his Thanksgiving break, and he got pretty upset about it.  Broke my heart.  The other part of the story is that I woke up with fever, chills and aching all over.  I spent the day in bed except for nursing Ellie.

GIVING THANKS | Day 24: So very thankful for God's grace and forgiveness!  I was feeling better today, but I had a really crummy attitude.  I was so very disappointed about how our Thanksgiving break turned out.  It took pretty much the whole day for me to have a happy heart (of course, being ONE GAME AWAY FROM MIAMI did help to lift the spirits a bit!).

GIVING THANKS | Day 25: Thankful for the white blanket of beautiful frost that covered the ground this morning.  Thankful for the beauty of the changing seasons, even the barrenness that marks winter's arrival.  And I loved seeing white stocking-ed legs and feet today as we bundled up to go to church.

GIVING THANKS | Day 26: Thankful for my girlfriends!  Ever since I was in kindergarten, God has always blessed me with the best!  Several of them blessed my socks off today, and they don't even know it!  But God knew I needed it.  Oh, and I'm also thankful for online shopping!

GIVING THANKS | Day 27: Thankful for answered prayer!  We've been praying for over two years now for our sweet friends in Mississippi who were on the waiting list to adopt a baby from Ethiopia.  Found out today that they have accepted a referral for a 4-month old baby boy!  Can't wait for him to come home to his forever family!

GIVING THANKS | Day 28: Thankful that Mason and Hannah Kate got so excited tonight about reading their Bible story and saying their prayers at bedtime.  So many priceless moments and conversations at bedtime.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Not as we planned

Sometimes we have days that don't exactly go as we planned.  This was one of those days.  As a matter of fact, this is one of those weeks.  Instead of turkey and dressing on this Thanksgiving Day, saltine crackers and sprite were on the menu.  My favorite boy is sick.  Very sick.  He spent the entire day on the sofa watching movies and napping.
Mason had been running a low grade fever off and on since Sunday.  He complained of a headache, but he didn't have any other symptoms.  He seemed fine Monday morning so he went fishing in Cocodrie with PawPaw.  On Tuesday he wasn't feeling good and laid down in the boat most of the morning so they came home that afternoon.  He was running fever again but wasn't complaining of anything else.  I could tell by looking at him that he was tired and definitely not feeling well.  He ate supper, went to bed and woke up seemingly fine yesterday morning.  He ate breakfast.  It was a lazy day in pajamas.  I spent most of the day in the kitchen preparing for today's meal.  After lunch, we noticed that things were really quiet upstairs.  Hannah Kate went to check on Mason and told me he was laying down in his bed.  At that point, I knew something was REALLY wrong.  He never does that!

So I went upstairs.  He was burning up hot and began crying and complaining of a stomach ache.  The last time he had these symptoms simultaneously, it was strep throat.  Knowing that's going around, that's what I suspected.  I nursed Ellie quickly and then took him to the urgent care clinic.  He was very weak and could not walk without my help.  Once inside, the nurse took him temperature. It had topped 104.  The doctor came in, asked a few questions and then told me he was going to test Mason for the flu.  The test was positive.  Because Mason had been running fever periodically since Sunday, we weren't sure when the virus actually started.  For tamiflu to be effective, it has to be taken within the first 48 hours, and we were probably outside that window.  The doctor didn't think it would do us much good, but he gave me a prescription for it anyway.  He also said we needed to monitor him closely to get the fever back down.

When we finally got home, I gave Mason his medicine and quickly began disinfecting everything with Lysol and Clorox, hoping and praying it wasn't too late.  Hoping and praying, too, that no one else, especially Ellie, gets this horrible sickness.  I also began pushing fluids to keep him hydrated.  I helped him into bed and checked on him periodically, but he was still complaining of a severe stomach ache.  He eventually was not able to keep any of the medication or fluids down.  Everything came up.  I have never seen him so sick, and it just broke my heart.

Our morning started out much like last night ended.  The medication and fluids just wouldn't stay down.  But his fever was down considerably so that was encouraging.  After talking with a couple of my nurse friends, I gave him a few sips of Sprite later in the morning.  That stayed down so we did it again.  And then again.  And then I gave him a couple of saltine crackers.  At day's end, he'd managed to keep down two cans of Sprite and half a sleeve of saltine crackers.  I could tell he was feeling better because he was getting rather chatty.  But he was still pretty pitiful.  

He came to me at 7:30 and said he was ready for bed.  I changed his sheets one more time and put him down, but his fever was going back up again.  Prior to that, I thought he was really on the mend, but now I'm not sure.

So, needless to say, he missed out on the Thanksgiving festivities at MawMaw's today.  Seth and Hannah Kate went while the rest of us stayed here.  I just hate so badly that this is how he's having to spend his Thanksgiving break.  I was so looking forward to this time, and it was so needed.  I'd almost rather him be sick during school and have to miss a few days than be sick during his break!  And he's missing out on fun times with Avery and Beau, too, and Abbie.

I guess this is a Thanksgiving I'll not soon forget!  Even though it definitely has not turned out like I'd envisioned, I have so very much to be thankful for!  Besides my favorite boy, here are my best girls this evening after bath time.
GIVING THANKS | Day 22: I am thankful for the blessing of good health.  I am thankful for the doctors and nurses who care for my children when they are sick, which is quite rare.  I am thankful I know the GREAT PHYSICIAN, and I am trusting him for completing healing and restoration of health, strength and energy for my Mason and quickly!  I am thankful for my family, my little family inside these "four walls" and my entended families.  While I sure did miss spending time with them today, I know that what I was doing was far more important.  The only thing I would change is that I sure wish it could've been me laying on that sofa all day instead of him!

Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the LORD, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with THANKSGIVING,
and into His courts with PRAISE.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
His mercy is everlasting,
and His truth endures to all generations.
~Psalm 100

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Catching Up

I know.  I'm behind.  Insert deep, gutteral sigh right here.  I've had my hands full the past few days.  Full of good things!
And, yes, before you ask, I did get my hair cut.  And, no, I wasn't growing it out to donate (Jennifer)!  It just happened because I never had time to get it cut and then couldn't decide what to do with it.  But, to me, my hair doesn't really look in this picture what it really looks like!  There are a lot of long layers, and it isn't all one length.  Maybe I'm seeing something else in the mirror.  I'm still figuring it out.  The hair thing, that is.  The day this picture was taken was the first day I fixed it myself.  I've got to figure out the side bangs thing and try to get rid of the wings.  I just couldn't do it that day because I didn't have time.  It was Sunday morning.  Enough said.

So today it's time to catch up.  I have so much to be thankful for!

GIVING THANKS | Day 14: This was another wonderful Wednesday at Bible study.  Afterwards I went grocery shopping and spent $275.  First of all, I haven't spent that much in one trip to the grocery store in a long time!  I bought two weeks worth of food, including what I needed for our Thanksgiving meal.  I also did not buy any meat this trip so it really could've been a lot more!  And second of all, I might be tempted to complain about the cost of our grocery bills lately.  But I am so thankful for the privilege of going to the grocery store and spending $275 to prepare healthy meals for my family.  I was even more thankful as I drove out of the grocery store parking lot and noticed a gentleman sitting on the curb with his face down in his hands.  It was quite obvious that he didn't have $275 to spend on groceries, probably didn't even have $5 to spend on groceries and probably hadn't had a good meal in a very long time.  We have truly been blessed with plenty!

GIVING THANKS | Day 15: I am thankful for the opportunity Hannah Kate has to take ballet and tap lessons.  I am thankful for Miss Machita and those she has mentored and trained to teach at her studio.  It was parent observation week so I got to sit in and watch Hannah Kate's class.  I was so very impressed!  Hannah Kate did an outstanding job!  The girls have come such a long way and learned so much.  Miss Courtney is really doing a super job.  They knew all of their positions and the name of each position.  They kept their balance so well.  And I noticed that Hannah Kate is becoming more graceful in her movements.  She loves loves LOVES her dance class, and I loved watching her!

GIVING THANKS | Day 16: Today was Ellie's 4 month birthday!  I'll do her post tomorrow.  But today I was especially thankful for a healthy baby and healthy children.  I am thankful that the Lord, in His perfect timing and His perfect way, brought Ellie into our family.  She is just . . . well, I can't find the right word right now!  Today I was full of thanks not only for Ellie but Mason and Hannah Kate as well.  I absolutely LOVE my little family and look forward to extra time with them during the holiday break.

GIVING THANKS | Day 17: I am thankful for football Saturdays.  I am thankful that Kansas State and Oregon lost today.  I know that's extremely shallow, but I'm loving being two games away from Miami!  For those of you not in the know, if Georgia beats GA Tech this week and then Alabama in the SEC Championship game, we are going to the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME!  Yes, I know.  But please just keep your thoughts to yourself.  Thank you.  I may possibly address this issue again at a later date, but right now I can not.  My husband is one of those LSU fans who thinks it's all a scam unless LSU is in the National Championship Game, who thinks LSU can and/or should beat everyone and who, frankly, thinks it's unbelievable that Georgia is so close and LSU is so far away (after all, Georgia didn't have to play them or Alabama or A&M in the west; they got off with the "easy" teams) . . . yet, if Alabama loses to Auburn and then Georgia loses to Alabama and then Florida loses to Florida State then LSU would be on their way to Miama, not to mention is Notre Dame really going to go undefeated, and do they really deserve to be at the top anyway since they haven't really played anyone, and the SEC could easily mop the floor with them any day.  Do you see what I mean?!?

GIVING THANKS | Day 18: I am thankful for my church!  We are just a little ole country church . . . not a whole lot of "programs" and things, definitely not the best worship leader, not the most contemporary of services.  But I felt such a sweet moving of the Holy Spirit on Sunday.  God was there!  No doubt!  The worship was especially meaningful to me.  Ellie woke up just before 5am to nurse.  I put her back down and normally would've slept another 30 minutes or so, but the Lord just started talking to me so I spent some extra time in His Word before everyone else got up to begin our Sunday morning routine.  And I have to share this verse that He gave me:

Blessed be the Lord,
the God of our salvation!
~Psalm 68:19

So that was already on my mind and in my heart as I went to church, and I just couldn't bless the Lord enough!

I also had such a great time with the four boys who were in my Sunday School class.  We studied Daniel and the lions' den.  For the review, I wrote the answers on two sets of cards and placed a set in a "den" I made with some chairs and tablecloths.  I divided the boys up into two teams, and they had to race to their den to find the right answer to each question.  It was just a lot of fun, and they really enjoyed it.

Sunday night was a wonderful time of praise and fellowship as we participated in the 26th annual Interfaith Thanksgiving service at another church in our community.  Choirs from all of the area churches get together the Sunday before Thanksgiving to sing and read Scripture.  It's something I look forward to every year.

GIVING THANKS | Day 19: I am thankful for Christian radio, Christian songs, the artists who've written the songs and hymns.  Some days, that's the most encouraging part of my day, and this was one of those days!

GIVING THANKS | Day 20: I am thankful for my father-in-law.  He took Mason fishing again in Cocodrie this week.  I am thankful for my mother-in-law.  She spent some girl time with Hannah Kate and Abbie this week.  Our children are blessed with wonderful grandparents on both sides!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Why am I surprised?!

In Acts 3, we read the story of a crippled beggar who was healed.  Everyday at the temple gate was a man who could not walk, and he would beg money from those going into the temple.  This man was over 40 years old (Acts 4:22) and had been crippled from birth.  So I imagine he'd been begging daily at that temple gate for a lot of years!  But one day his life was forever changed.  That was the day that Peter and John showed up at the temple to pray.  And like he'd done everyday for many years from every person who walked through that gate, this man asked Peter and John for money.  They didn't have any.  But they had something far better!

Even though they didn't have any money to give him, they had the Lord Jesus Christ.  In the name of Jesus, they commanded him to get up and walk.  And he did!  They helped him up, and not only did he walk, but he went walking and jumping and praising God through the temple courts (Acts 3:8).  Can you imagine?!  I wonder what it must've felt like that first time as he took his first steps as a 40-something year old man.  How in the world did he know what to do?  Did he at first stumble and fall, much like a child learning to take his first steps?  It didn't go unnoticed by the crowd either.

While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were ASTONISHED and came running to them in the place called Solomon's Colonnade.  When Peter saw this, he said to them: "Men of Israel, WHY DOES THIS SURPRISE YOU?  Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? . . . By FAITH in the name of JESUS, this man whom you see and know was MADE STRONG.  It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this COMPLETE HEALING to him, as you can all see.  ~Acts 3:11 

In other words, Peter is saying (in my own words!):  Really?!?  Are you kidding me?!?  We're talking about Jesus here.  You know . . . the King of kings and Lord of lords.  The man you accused and handed over to be killed.  The man who, three days later, was ALIVE AGAIN, overcoming death, hell and the grave!  So, yeah, that Jesus healed the man before you today.  How could you even be surprised?!

And so I ask myself that same question today.  Why am I surprised?!

You see, I've been praying about something for quite awhile now.  Over two years now.  And, in recent days, it seemed like the Lord was going to answer that prayer, only not in the way I'd asked Him to or not in the way I wanted Him to.  As a matter of fact, it seemed like He was going to answer that prayer in the very way I DID NOT want Him to.  So I began to continue to pray, but my prayer was a little different:  Not what I want, Jesus. But what YOU want.  And please help me to embrace your plan in this thing.

Several weeks ago, I shared about our recent challenges with school, particularly reading.  As the days wore on, I knew that we could not continue as things were and that, perhaps, there was something else going on, another explanation.  We needed to do something different, whether that was a change in instruction, a change in school.  Something.  I continued to pray.  Actually, BEGGING would be a more appropriate word.  As as I prayed (or begged), the Lord began to answer.  He was answering all along.  But this time, it became so obvious.

And, I'll be honest, it scared me.  But He told me what to do.  The first step was a conversation with my sister-in-law.  The second and third steps were another meeting with Mason's teacher and a phone call to our pediatrician.  Today was the meeting with Mason's teacher.

I wish I could tell you, word for word, what happened at that meeting today, but I can't do that yet.  Take my word for it.  DIVINE APPOINTMENT.  I'd done my research as best I could.  And, armed with that, I met with Mrs. M.  After ten minutes, the conversation took a turn that I did not see coming at all.  Finally, for lack of a better term, the veil was lifted, and everything began to fall into place.  That was followed by another 45 minutes of conversation that left me wanting to walk and jump and praise God down the halls of the Iberville Math, Science and Arts Academy!  I could hardly stand it.  I could hardly wait to get home to tell Seth.  And when I did, the biggest grin came over his face.  Now.  I know none of this makes sense to you.  But this is all I'm saying.  I've been so . . . speechless . . . overjoyed . . . EXCITED . . . ever since I got home.  Because God showed up BIG today, and He is doing some really BIG things.  And, yet, WHY SHOULD I BE SURPRISED?!?

Never doubt God's plan for you!  Never doubt God's faithfulness!  He is a GOOD God, and He is an ON TIME God!  Do NOT be surprised when He answers your prayers in even BIGGER ways than you asked, even BIGGER ways than you ever could've thought of yourself!  THAT'S WHO HE IS!

GIVING THANKS | Day 13:  I'm so very thankful for Mason's teacher.  I prayed all summer long that the Lord would give us the teacher that would be best for Mason, and He did!  I'm so very thankful for answered prayer . . . God is faithful to hear us EVERY TIME we pray and to answer EVERY TIME, regardless of whether or not it's how we wanted Him to or when we wanted Him to.  I'm so very thankful for the people that God continues to put in my path to encourage me and to help us along this journey, particularly as we enter unchartered territory.

And so here's my most favorite boy in the whole wide world!  When I got home, Seth was helping him with homework.  I walked in behind him, and he turned around and gave me the biggest smile ever . . . only now that smile is missing another tooth!  Man, I love this kid!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lazy Days and Comfy Pajamas

I needed today.  We needed today.  And it was WONDERFUL!

Mason didn't have school today.  I have to admit I was a bit anxious when he woke me up at 3:30am screaming that his ear hurt.  I figured our "day off" would be spent at the pediatrician's office.  But it wasn't.  I calmed him down and got him back to sleep.  He slept late and didn't remember the early morning ear ache, nor did he complain with it anymore throughout the day.  I loved having a day that wasn't dictated by an alarm clock or school work.  I was fine to stay in pajamas all day, but the kids did change clothes because they wanted to play outside and thought it just impossible to play outside in pajamas.  I think they brushed their teeth, but I'm not sure that they combed their hair.  And you know what?  That's okay!

I spent the day catching up on laundry, cleaning and monogramming.  Now that's the life!  Really though, those things needed to be done, and I feel so good about how productive my day was.  That's rare these days.  My favorite part of the day though was being outside and jumping on the trampoline with Mason and Hannah Kate.  It was a gorgeous fall day!  The temperature was perfect!  And, according to Pat Shingleton, we won't see the 70s again until perhaps the weekend.  Love it!  It was breezy, and the leaves were falling.

Here they are at the end of the day . . . Mason with his chocolate ice cream moustache, Hannah Kate with her wind-blown hair and Ellie still in her pajamas.
The past two weeks have been so so busy for Mason and me.  In addition to his class president project, he also had a science project due.  I printed several different science project ideas and let him pick the one he wanted to do.  I was really hoping he would choose the one that involved M&Ms and survival of the fittest (mainly because I could've made an awesome display board with that theme!), but he didn't.  He wanted to grow crystals.  So that's what we did.  We grew crystals in three different temperature conditions (room temperature, refrigerator and ice water bath) to determine in which environment we could grow the purest, clearest crystals.  I have to admit I enjoyed doing this board, too!
GIVING THANKS | Day 12:  I'm thankful for lazy days and comfy pajamas.  I'm thankful for cool weather and falling leaves.  I'm thankful for the wind that blows.  I'm thankful that all three of my children were home all day with me.  I'm thankful for the smell of freshly laundered sheets.  I'm thankful for the priviledge of making house and home a warm, welcoming, cozy place to be. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

We packed our shoeboxes. Have you?!?

We packed our shoeboxes today!
This morning I hosted a Shoebox Packing Party for the kids at our church.  National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child begins on Monday.  And we are ready!  I absolutely L O V E the shoebox ministry!  Samaritan's Purse is my most favorite Christian relief and evangelism organization.  And we participate every year in Operation Christmas Child (OCC).  There are SO MANY reasons why I love OCC!

The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God's love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.  And they do this by delivering shoeboxes full of gifts . . . toys, candy, hygiene items, school supplies . . . to children in poverty stricken areas all over the world.  I can not even imagine what it might be like to have NOTHING, to never receive a gift for my birthday or Christmas.  I really can not even comprehend just how blessed I am!  But to these children . . . this shoebox full of gifts that many of us would probably push to the side is EVERYTHING!  I mean, can you imagine receiving a gift for the VERY FIRST TIME and how you might feel?!  But even better than that . . . every child who receives a gift also hears the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ!

OCC began in 1993.  I remember the very first time I packed a shoebox.  I was in high school.  And I thought it was just the coolest thing ever!  Almost 20 years later, I still think it's the coolest thing ever!  This is a big year for OCC.  Over 95 million shoebox gifts have been packed and delivered since 1993.  This year, we anticipate the 100 MILLIONTH shoebox will be delivered!  100 million boys and girls receive a gift!  100 million boys and girls hear the Gospel Message!  Now that's something to get excited about!

OCC is such an easy missions project to get kids involved in.  This has become a special event for my children, and we make a big deal of it.  I take them shopping, and they each get to select the gifts for their boxes.  If you ask them who the shoeboxes are for, they'll tell you "the boys and girls who don't have anything."  So even as young as three and four years old, my children got excited about giving to others.  Now it's something they look forward to all year long.

At our party today we wrote letters to include in our boxes, wrapped our boxes and filled them up with all kinds of gifts.  But, most importantly, there was a lot of love that went into each box!  Everyone had such a good time, and it just filled my heart up to overflowing as I watched the children excitedly pack their boxes. 
I just love this picture.  Sweet Lily was resting her head on her box.  I sure would love to see the recipient of her gift as she opens it.  To me this picture says LOVE. 
So if you haven't already, you still have time to pack your box!  Perhaps your church participates in OCC.  If not, you can go here to find out how to pack your box and then here to find a drop off location near you.  Maybe you don't have time to pack a box.  You can go here to "build a box" on line . . . you simply decide on whether your box is for a boy or a girl, the age and then you get to pick the items for your box from a list!  How easy is that?!

You may have noticed that Mason wasn't in any of the packing party pictures.  We were double booked today.  He had his Cub Scouts Space Derby today.  He built a rocket and then raced his rocket.  Obviously it's a rather complicated and intricate process.  He had to glue two pieces of wood together and then sand them down into the shape of a rocket.  But it had to be just so in order to fly . . . thin enough, light enough, yet still hold the wings and such.  And then somehow they were connected to a string, and rubber bands were used to fly them.  Just take my word for it.  This was our first time participating in the derby.  Mason didn't win, but his rocket did very well.  I'd heard horror stories about rockets that don't fly at all, and I didn't want that to happen to us.  And it didn't.  Seth and Mason did a great job with the rocket.  And Mason was so excited to wear his full Scout uniform today. 
GIVING THANKS | Day 10: I am thankful for Samaritan's Purse and the Operation Christmas Child shoebox ministry.  I am thankful for the plenty that I have been blessed with.  I am thankful for the opportunity to give a little back and teach my children along the way the importance of serving others and loving others like Jesus did.  I am thankful for all of the children who attended the party today.  I am thankful for my friends who came and helped us get all of the shoeboxes wrapped.

Friday, November 09, 2012

10,000 Reasons

I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in the LORD;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt His name together.
I sought the LORD, and He heard me,
and delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
and their faces were not ashamed.
This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him,
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him,
and delivers them.
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints!
There is no want to those who fear Him.
The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
But those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing.
Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
Who is the man who desires life,
and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil,
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous,
and His ears are open to their cry.
The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears,
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart,
and saves such as have a contrite spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
He guards all his bones;
Not one of them is broken.
Evil shall slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous shall be condemned.
The LORD redeems the soul of His servants,
and none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.
~Psalm 34

GIVING THANKS | Day 9: My heart is full tonight.  The Lord blessed me in a big way today.  I can not even begin to put words to the faithfulness of my God.  As David Crowder would say, I have 10,000 reasons to bless the Lord.  More actually.

I am thankful for my sister-in-law today.  She took nearly two hours out of her very busy day to listen to my concerns and walk me through some options to explore in addressing some of the challenges we have been facing lately.  For the first time in a long time, I think we just might be able to figure this thing out.  I am not sure where this new journey will take us, but I know the Lord is with us every step of the way, and He continues to place people in my path to, unknowingly, help us.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

I am who I am because of her.

Today is my Mama's birthday!  Happy Birthday, Mimi!

This is one of my favorite pictures of my Mama.  This was taken when my brother got married in 2006.  Mason was 15 months old.  He did not cooperate very well for pictures on this day, but isn't Mimi looking pretty?!  That's how I will always remember my Mama.
My mother has been many things to me over the years.  Of course, she is my MOM.  And now she is my children's Mimi.  And she is my bestest friend!  I've really missed her in these 12 1/2 years since I left home, and I wish I could see her more often or even talk to her more often.  It is only since I became a mother myself that I can truly appreciate my own mother, that I can recognize all of the many things she did for me that I'd never even noticed before.

The greatest thing she taught me was how to be a mom.  My very earliest memory of her is when I was four years old or maybe five.  Rob and I were outside riding our bikes in the driveway.  She was sitting in a chair at the edge of the carport watching us, cross stitch in hand.

She was a stay-at-home mom until I started kindergarten and then she went back to work.  As a working mother, she had a home cooked meal on our table EVERY NIGHT.  That is one of the greatest gifts she gave us.  And I, too, put a home cooked meal on our table every night as well.  She is the reason for that.

My dad worked 12-hour swing shifts and every other weekend.  So he would work night shift for two weeks and then day shift for two weeks.  He worked 8:00am-8:00pm and 8:00pm-8:00am.  She never complained on those nights he didn't get home until 8:30.  She made sure supper was cooked, our home was in order and Rob and I were cleaned up and ready for bed.  She never complained on the Sundays when she had to get Rob and me up and ready for church after Daddy had already gone to work and couldn't go with us.  We never missed a Sunday, a Sunday night or a Wednesday night.  I didn't know it at the time, but this would been one of the greatest testimonies to me as a mother and a wife.  On the days I'm tempted to complain when my husband is working out of town, I remember my mom and how she, day in and day out, took care of us and our home, and I want to be that kind of mom for my children as well.  I want to be that kind of wife for my husband.  I want our home to be that warm, comfortable, familiar, loving place.

Mama is a true southern belle.  She loves make-up, and she loves shoes.  She's always had a closet full of shoes as long as I can remember!  And my aunt always tells the story of how she came to visit us in the hospital right after I was born, and Mama was already sitting up in bed with her make-up on.  Growing up, I don't remember my Mama without make-up.  She never gossiped or talked ill of anyone.  She taught me to chew with my lips closed, always write thank you notes and make my bed every morning.  

My Mama is strong.  She handled a breast cancer diagnosis and surgery and treatment with dignity and grace.  I watched her care for my grandfather in his last days as he succumbed to the cancer that filled his body.  She now helps care for her 95-year old mother.  

Mama did a lot of things for me when I was growing up . . . bandaged my knees, French braided my hair, played with me in the middle of the floor . . . but one of the things I'm forever grateful for is that, week after week, she made sure I was at my piano lessons on time.  And she did this for ten years!  

I remember the day she took me shopping to pick out my Senior prom dress.  She let me get whatever dress I wanted no matter the cost.  And I did.  Looking back on it, that dress was really expensive.  But she didn't say a word.  She bought that dress for me, and I loved it!  I also remember the day we went shopping for my wedding dress.  And the day we picked it up.  And the day my dad AND MY MOM walked me down the aisle to meet my husband.

She came to Louisiana when Mason was born and sat in that waiting room for 14 hours.  She came to Mississippi after Hannah Kate was born and stayed up with that baby during the wee night hours so I could get some sleep.  She came to Louisiana after Ellie was born and played with my biggies, washed and folded my laundry and mopped my floors.  I'm so glad the Lord gave us Ellie so she could carry my mother's name.  
Mason and Hannah Kate (and Ellie) sure do love their Mimi.  I mean, who is going to buy a waterslide to keep at their house for their grandchildren who they see once a summer?  Mimi did!  And who is going to send them happies and presents in the mail?  Mimi does!  And who brings popsicles when she comes for a visit?  Mimi does!  And who makes room in her lap for more than one child clamoring for her attention?  Mimi does!  Hannah Kate in particular seems to have a special connection with Mimi.  Recently, she asks me on nearly a daily basis when we're going to Mimi's house again.

I wish I could tell you what my Mama means to me, but I just can't seem to find the right words.  They just aren't enough.  I just know I am who I am because of my Mama.  And if I'm even half the Mama to my children that she is to me, I'll be doing pretty good.

Happy 60th Birthday, Mama!  I love you!

GIVING THANKS | Day 8:  I'm thankful for my Mama!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Word

I am exhausted.  It is 11:25PM, and I am trying to finish Mason's science fair project display board.  I got only four hours of sleep last night (nothing to do with Ellie . . . again, trying to finish the science fair project!) and had a very busy day today.  But I am thankful for another WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY.

GIVING THANKS | Day 7:  I am thankful for my Bible study group.  I am thankful for my group leader who calls me every Tuesday afternoon to ask how I'm doing, to ask a prayer need she can specifically pray for during the next week.  I am thankful for God's Word, the Holy Bible.  Oh, how I am thankful for His living Word!  It is the balm that soothes my soul on this weary day.  It is the joy that fills my heart during the deepest of valley times.  It is the peace that covers my mind and my heart in the midst of uncertainty and fear and worry.  It brings healing to this sin sick soul.  It is waves of refreshment for the parched and thirsty.  It is the promise of a covenant God whose love never fails, whose mercies are made new each and every day, who has a plan for my life that is good, who is with me always all the time, who is faithful to keep all of His promises, who is the Great Physician, King of kings, Lord of lords, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, the Great I AM.

I am so very thankful for the written Word and the living Word.  

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.  ~John 1:1-3, 14 

What about you?  Have you spent time IN the Word today?  Have you spent time WITH the Word today?   

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

I'm Proud

Wow.  What a day.  Election Day 2012.  I've been looking forward to this day for quite some time and for so many reasons.  I voted today, and I took all three of the children with me.  This was especially meaningful to me, and I hope to Mason also, since he was introduced to the voting process and the structure of our government in his recent Social Studies unit.  So as I was in that voting booth with them, I explained step-by-step what I was doing and who I was voting for and why.  And then I let Mason cast my ballot:
I did not have to stand in line to vote today.  This is Bayou Blue, after all.  But I can say I'm so disappointed that my precinct didn't give out I voted! stickers.  I mean, that was going to be the highlight of my day . . . I was going to get a sticker for all three of the children and take their picture for my blog.  But there were no stickers to be had out here in Bayou Blue.  So I told the poll workers that I wanted stickers next time.  I'm fairly certain they thought I was crazy.

While I won't share my political views with you or even discuss my reaction to the election results as they're being reported right now, here's what I can say with absolute certainty:

My hope does not rest in the outcome of this election nor in either of the two political candidates seeing the Presidency.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.  ~Psalm 20:7

Neither of the presidential candidates have the answers for our country.  The only hope for our country is the Lord Jesus Christ.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  ~2 Chronicles 7:14

And while so many things in our nation grieve my heart, and while I am concerned about the moral and spiritual decay that's rampant in our country, I am proud to be an American!  I was proud to cast my vote today!  We have freedoms that those in other parts of the world do not have.  I truly believe we do not even understand the breadth of the freedoms and liberties we have in this country as compared to other places.

And, yall, I'm proud of something else today.  My cousin Brian Strickland was elected to the STATE HOUSE (District 111 in Henry County) in GEORGIA today!  Brian is my youngest cousin on my dad's side.  His mom is my dad's sister.  As a matter of fact, his mom is my Aunt Lynne, who I'm middle-named after.  Brian recieved his Juris Doctor from Florida Coastal School of Law in 2009 and returned to his beloved Henry County to practice law.  I always knew he would enter politics but didn't know it would come this soon.  And I am so stinkin proud!

It must've been cold in Georgia today!  Here he is with his two precious nieces, Sydney and Rylynne (his sister / my cousin Ashley's daughters).  The whole family was out today waving signs.
And here is a screen shot of the official results as reported on Atlanta's local FOX affiliate station:
One day . . . maybe even sooner than I think . . . I'm going to be voting Brian Strickland for PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!

GIVING THANKS | Day 6:  I am thankful to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  I am thankful for the right to vote.  I am thankful that I can rest at peace because my hope is found in my LORD JESUS CHRIST. 

Monday, November 05, 2012

Right At My Fingertips

GIVING THANKS | Day 5:  Today I am thankful for my "smart" phone.  Yes, I am being serious.  I knew when my husband landed in Denver this morning for his connecting flight to Wyoming because he sent me a text.  I knew immediately when he landed safely in Casper because he sent me a text.  He even sent me a couple of pictures so I could see what he's seeing.  I have to admit that I really don't like it when he's that far away from us, but it makes him seem not-so-far-away when I can quickly receive or send him a message.  So that is the main reason I am thankful for my phone!

I love "talking" to my friends both near and very far away throughout the day.  We don't always have time or opportunity for a phone call so texting allows us to keep in touch until we do have time for a live chat.  I love sending and receiving encouraging Bible verses, requesting and sending prayers.

I love that I can quickly check Facebook for quick updates from friends and family.  And even though I'm separated from many of them by a lot of miles, I can still watch their children grow and, in a way, be a part of their lives.

I love that I can catch up on the latest current events and news stories at the touch of a button, especially since I do not have time to sit down and watch the news on television.

I love that I can pull up a recipe in the middle of the grocery store because I left my grocery list at home or just didn't bother to write one out.

And I haven't even mentioned Pinterest yet!

I don't tweet so I won't mention Twitter.

I remember the day when we didn't even have cell phones, much less smart phones.  And now I have no idea how in the world I ever got by without one (not to mention it was only this past January that I even got my first-ever smart phone)!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Happy 10 Years Old!

So yesterday I mentioned that I really enjoyed some time in the kitchen with Mason and Hannah Kate.  We made a strawberry cake for a special birthday girl.  But first of all, here's our cake:
I can't say it was made from scratch, but I can say it's semi-homemade.  And it was pretty good.  It wasn't my favorite bakery strawberry cake, but I might make it again.

And as for the birthday girl . . . my most favorite niece in the whole wide world is TEN YEARS OLD today!
I just can not believe she is 10!  I remember the day she was born . . . it took awhile for her to get here.  I was at work, and I was sure I was going to miss it so Seth and I planned to go to the hospital after we got home to see her.  When we got there, she had just been born, and we had to wait awhile to see her, thinking they would already be settled into a room.  There were SO MANY friends and family crammed into that tiny hallway.  I should've counted, but I didn't.  I wouldn't be surprised if there were nearly 50 of us.  I think the thing I remember most is the grin on Ashley's face.  She'd waited many years for the arrival of this baby.  And now, to think she's no longer a baby!  Well, to Barry and Ashley she still is and always will be.
So here's to 10 years, my favorite niece and my children's most favorite girl cousin!
GIVING THANKS | Day 4: I'm thankful for birthdays!  I love celebrating friends and family on their special day.  I'm thankful for Abbie.  She is such a wonderful big cousin to Mason, Hannah Kate and Ellie, and they love her so.  They'll do anything for her!  This morning Mason left his Bible at home, even though I specifically told him to grab his Bible before getting in the truck to go to church.  Later in the day at MawMaw's house, I heard Mason apologize to Abbie for leaving his blue binder (Their favorite thing to do is play school.  Several months back, Abbie made a binder for Mason and one for Hannah Kate.  They are to have it with them every time they play school!) at home, saying he didn't have time to grab it before he left to go to church.  Really?!?  When I questioned him about his Bible, he didn't apologize for leaving it at home!  He will toe the line for Abbie.  But my line is rather crooked!  Abbie loves my children, and she is such a big helper.

I'm also thankful for my nephews.  Beau celebrated his 10th birthday last week.  I wish we could see Avery and Beau more often, but they live in Houston.  Their last trip here was Labor Day weekend.  School had just started.  I was asking Beau about his class and his teacher.  And this is what he tells me:  "Well. I am at a HUGE disadvantage this year."  Conversations with Beau are PRICELESS!  I can't wait to see what he is going to be when he grows up!  I think perhaps a politician (in a good way!) or a lobbiest.  Maybe even a lawyer.

Avery will celebrate his 14th birthday next week!  It has been a joy watching him grow up.  He was six months old when I came to Louisiana as a summer missionary and first met the Bayham family.  And now he's almost driving!  Mason especially thinks the world of Avery.

And my two littliest nephews live in Georgia.  I love to hear my Mama tell stories about Jones.  He is one of the calmest, mild-mannered, laid back little boys I've ever met!  Mason and Hannah Kate are very protective of him (even though we don't see him that often).  Right now they're very concerned because Jones hasn't met Ellie yet!  And Judd will soon be a year old in January.  We've seen him only once since he was born, and that does make me kind of sad.  I saw a picture of him the other day, and I honestly wouldn't have known it was him had not Jones been in the picture with him!  That made me really sad.  He's grown and changed so much, and we'll be celebrating his birthday before I know it.

Yes, this is one Auntie who's really blessed!

Saturday, November 03, 2012


Whereas yesterday my heart wasn't really bent towards thankfulness even though I was surrounded by blessings, today I was completely overwhelmed by all I have to be thankful for.  It was a really fun day.  And I am thankful for fun!

The day began early for Mason.  He and Seth went to a Boy Scouts space derby workshop so Mason could make his rocket for the upcoming space derby.  And as soon as I understand what that is, I'll let you know!  After that I took the kids to a birthday party at a gym.  They absolutely loved it!  They had the best time.  I knew what was going to happen.  As soon as we left, Hannah Kate told me she wanted to have her birthday party at the gym.  So I explained to her that she'd already decided to have a painting party and that mommy was already planning that party so perhaps the gym will wait until next year.  And while it was a really fun place, I have to be totally honest and tell you that I wouldn't let either of the biggies touch Ellie until they had a bath and were totally de-germed!  Oh the smell of sweat and dirty socks . . . Ick!

And while I'm on the subject, I do realize that I am a totally uncool mom.  Hannah Kate has NEVER played on the playground at Chic-fil-A!  Gasp!  There's just one word that comes to mind.  Germy.  And I just can't take it.  Mason has played on the playground at Chic-fil-A a time or two, but there just isn't enough germ-x in the world for that!  But anyway.

Despite the smell and the germs, the gym was a great place for a party.  The kids got to play on an indoor playground of sorts and then went into the gym for excercise, tumbling, trampolines and a jump into the foam pit.
When we got home, Mason, Hannah Kate and I made a strawberry cake for a certain someone's birthday tomorrow.  This is a really special someone.  I don't bake.  And when I do, I certainly don't do cakes.  Except that time I found what I thought was a great strawberry cake recipe and spent all afternoon in the kitchen only to have the thing fall apart and slip and slide all over the place.  I was so aggravated that the only thing that saved that cake from the garbage was my husband.  It was an ugly cake, and it wasn't very good either.  So I decided right then and there that it was just worth it to purchase the expensive strawberry cake from my favorite bakery because it's just that good!  But for this occasion, I didn't have time to go to the bakery.  I'm just really not an "out of the box" kind of girl either.  I prefer to do things from scratch.  So I decided to give it another try.  Besides, I didn't really have a choice in the matter.  This someone wants a strawberry cake for her birthday so a strawberry cake she'll have.  I basically combined two different strawberry cake recipes to come up with something that I hope . . . and I really think . . . is going to be good tomorrow!  But the best part was having my two helpers in the kitchen with me. 
And here is the cake right before it went into the oven.  I'm happy to report it actually made it into the oven, and I didn't drop anything today!
I just finished putting the layers together with the filling and icing, and I have to admit that it came out even better than I thought it would!  This is the first cake I've ever baked that my layers are smooth and flat on top.  I have no idea how that happened, but it did.  You'll get to see the finished cake and the birthday girl tomorrow.

And then there's this sweet thing.  She loved the party, too!  Her favorite part was watching all the boys and girls.  But then she got tired and fell asleep in my arms.  Oh how I just love holding this baby girl! 
GIVING THANKS | Day 3:  I am thankful for the sound of child laughter.  I am thankful for the excited squeals and giggles of my children that accompany a day of fun.  I am thankful for the child chatter coming from the upstairs playroom.  I am thankful for FUN.

And I am also thankful that I get an extra hour of sleep tonight!

Friday, November 02, 2012

One of THOSE Days

So this is how my day started out.  The pan of blueberry muffins that I was baking for breakfast never made it into the oven.  I dropped the pan on the floor, and blueberry muffin batter went everywhere.
Yes, it was one of THOSE days.  You know what kind of day I'm talking about.  Yesterday was one of THOSE days, too.  As a matter of fact, as I was cleaning blueberry muffin batter off of my kitchen floor, I was grumbling about how bad of a day this was going to be.  Never mind the day had barely begun.  And isn't that just great (the grumbling, I mean) since this is November and Thanksgiving and all, and I'm trying to live daily a life of thankfulness and gratitude and do the whole thirty days of thanks thing.

So, yes, I was thankful for the baby who was really fussy today.  And the loads of laundry that I washed, folded and put away.  And the dirty floors that were in desperate need of mopping.  And the supper that didn't quite turn out the way I wanted it to because I took a shortcut and shouldn't have.  And the science fair project that I really don't have time to do right now but started working on this afternoon anyway.  But all the while I was thinking that I just really wanted a do-over of the past two days!  So is that really thanksgiving?  Is that really living a life of gratitude?

By evening I was absolutely beside myself.  So I decided to mop tonight after the kitchen was cleaned up and the children were bathed.  And as I mopped, a verse came to mind that I cling to on THOSE kinds of days.

This is the day the LORD has made;
I will rejoice and be glad in it.
~Psalm 118:24

In that moment, I began to experience the JOY of THANKFULNESS.  Even though this was one of THOSE days, I was reminded that God created this day for me to enjoy.  He created this day with a purpose in mind.  He created this day to bless me.  I'm afraid I miss many of His blessings sometimes.

GIVING THANKS | Day 2:  I am thankful for days like today that remind me of my overwhelming need to rest in the sufficiency of Christ and to rejoice over spilled blueberry muffin batter.  Because there is joy in that!  I almost missed it.  And it took me all day to get there.  And if all of this sounds crazy and strange to you, I'd encourage you to drop a muffin pan of batter on your kitchen floor!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Mason for President

To coincide with the national election, the second grade classes at Mason's school studied a unit on our country and our country's government during the month of October.  It all culminated with a social studies project that we've spent the last two weeks or so working on.  Each class is holding a mock election for Class President and Class Vice President.  The project included creating a campaign poster, writing a campaign, delivering the speech, a primary election, a debate between the top two candidates for each position and the final election.  Yes.  Second grade.

Mason was chosen as a Class President candidate for his class.  And here he was this morning all dressed up and ready to go to school to deliver his speech.  I may or may not have shed a few tears as I watched him climb the steps to the bus!  
He we I decided he needed a campaign slogan so that's what he we I included on his campaign poster (because . . . let's just keep it real here . . . this project was really nothing more than a bunch of busy work for the parents!).  Mason loves rhyming words so we came up with several words that rhyme with Mason and then used those for his slogan:

Second to NONE
A ton of FUN
The only ONE

He then decorated his poster with hunting, fishing and baseball stickers.  Here he is on Monday morning before taking his poster to school.
I'll just go ahead and cut to the chase here and let you know that I wrote his speech pretty much in its entirety.  He practiced for several days.  Mrs. Miller mentioned that the kids could "dress up" to deliver their speeches.  Well, I'm all about dressing up!  But Mason has outgrown all of his "dress" clothes, and I've been slowly trying to add to his wardrobe.  Besides, his dress clothes consisted of button down shirts and polos, which, in my opinion, is not dressing up.  And then I remember that a good friend of mine had given me a suit a few weeks back that her son had outgrown.   So I pulled it out, and Mason tried it on, and it fit!  All I had to do was get a tie and a pair of dress shoes.  And, yall, Mason was so excited to dress up!  Is this not the most stunning Class President candidate you've ever seen?!  
This afternoon Hannah Kate, Ellie and I went to school and listened to 125 speeches!  I'm not exaggerating.  There are 125 second graders, and they each gave their speeches in the gym this afternoon.  I was so very proud of Mason!  He did such an awesome job and didn't miss a beat on his speech.  I recorded it, too, but I'm much too tired to fool with posting it tonight, but here is a picture of him delivering his speech.
I have never been more proud!

GIVING THANKS | Day 1:  I love the way my heart feels as I watch my children learn, grow and explore their world.  I love the way my heart felt today as I watched and listened to Mason give his speech.  I love the way he offers me unconditional love, even when I mess up and have to ask his forgiveness sometimes.  And I love the way my HEAVENLY FATHER offers me unconditional love and forgiveness all the time!

Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him."  ~Lamentations 3:22-24