Friday, October 30, 2009

Christmas Convictions.

This is an odd place for this post but stick with me. A friend of mine asked how one can tone down gift giving on Christmas and still keep the magic alive? How do we as parents explain to our children that Santa will be cutting back this year? Some families need to cut back for financial reasons and others because they have several children and they just do not have room for more stuff. Why is it that our children can have a room full of toys and they come out and tell you that they have nothing to play with. I do not have all the answers to this question but I do have some strong convictions that God has placed on my heart. I will attempt to share my thoughts and convictions but please know that we continue to struggle with getting sucked into the world's idea of how one should celebrate Christmas.

First Christmas is my favorite holiday. For a portion of my life I grew up in Colorado. Nothing says Christmas like pine trees, a warm fire place and snow packed mountains. I love the lights, holiday baking and decorating. In some ways I wish that we could enjoy our Christmas tree for months instead of weeks. I have a beautiful nativity that I could enjoy year round. I love shopping in the crisp air and trying to find the perfect Christmas outfit for pictures. (By the way why do we take the majority of our family pictures at Christmas time. The pictures are usually in front of a Christmas tree and were all wearing red. The rest of the year you have a family picture hanging on your wall with a tree in it.) I also love to give gifts. If money were not an issue I would buy every one I know a gift. I would even buy their pet a gift. I know it sounds ridiculous but I love to shop and I could spend hours looking for that perfect gift. Then there is the wrapping. I love to see presents wrapped in beautiful paper, or even wrapped in a fun unique way. I know this does not sound like a post about cutting back but I'm getting there. I will admit that one of my greatest weaknesses is my children. We do not buy them a lot through the year and both are December babies so most of our gift giving is in the month of December. I am still seeking ways to cut back and focus more on Jesus than on things of this world. While we are still working on this we have come to some strong convictions that not everyone will share but has helped us as a family. We still have a long way to go but this is a start.

As a parent one of the things that you look forward to is the magic of Christmas. There is nothing like experiencing Christmas through the eyes of a child. I believe that this is a holiday created for the child in all of us. After all Christmas seems to bring out some of our best childhood memories. After we became parents we began to celebrate this holiday just like we did when we were children. James and I both brought our individual traditions as well as the big tradition of waiting for Santa to come. We told Kayla that if she was good then Santa would come and bring her a gift. We did the big Santa gift under the tree and of course there were always stockings. Some of our friends did not do Santa and we thought that was strange and unfair to their children. Everyone knows that Jesus is the reason for the season but Santa brings the big gift. A few years after Kayla went to school she started asking us really tough questions. One of the hardest question to answer was why Santa came to her house and left a present but he didn't leave a present for ____? Of course we stumbled to find an answer that would not spoil the magic of Christmas. But the questions kept coming. Why is Santa not bringing presents to ____'s house? We knew it was because there was no money due to a job loss. But Kayla wanted to know why Santa would bring her a gift but not be able to bring the poor children gifts. It was not a question of naughty or nice but a question of why would Santa leave out the poor ? Why does Santa come to our house but not her friend? Why do we need to buy for others when Santa will bring them presents? Kayla knew about Jesus and she knew that he was real so I had the answers I needed. But every time I tried to explain this jolly old guy in a red suit kept getting in the way. I have to say that I scrambled for answers and I found ways to get around the questions at hand. Then one day through reading God's word, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and Godly council I knew what God wanted us to do. She deserved the know the truth. The truth was an important part of her faith and it would strengthen ours as well. Over the next several years we made many transitions and began new traditions.

We began by telling her the real story of St Nick.( "The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships." St Nick choose to help people by giving to those that are less fortunate.") We explained that this is a season for us to focus on those that that are going through tough times and are less fortunate than us. To show them love as Christ has shown us. That it is better to give than to receive.

We continued to tell the story of Jesus and how he gave the best gift of all and that his will last forever. We explain that God's gift to us is available to everyone and is not based on being good or bad or how much money you have. Today's idea of Santa expresses that we have to be good to receive a gift and that not everyone will be good enough. How can I let my child think that she deserves gifts more than some one else? The idea of Santa causes us to think of ourselves and not others. So when my child receives that big gift on their list and their friend receives a very small gift (because that is what the family can afford) or no gift at all does that mean that my child was more deserving? We are all sinners and none of us deserve the things that we receive. If Santa were truly magic then we would not have children all over the world that have no gifts and no food on Christmas. Every child would receive that big gift that they have wanted all year.

We glorify the idea of a chubby jolly man that is able to see all and know all. He has the power to be in every part of the world in one evening which means that he is able to be every where at once. He chooses who has been good enough based on his ability to judge. Can you see where we lead our children to ask tough questions about their faith. This all seems so innocent when they are 3 and maybe 4 or 5. But we are all born to search for that which we are drawn to. We were meant to search for Christ. At our earliest age we are feed half truths and are mislead. No wonder we as a nation of believers are confused. We allow our desire to build up a fictional character to become more important than the truth. Is this really a big deal? It is to me. I want my children to know the difference between truth and fiction. The difference between pretend and real. There is only One that I know that is omniscient and omnipresent. Even Satan is unable to know all and be every where. That is why he has demons. It is important for us as parents to make sure our kids know that God is the only one that knows them inside out and is with them all the time. We take away two of God's attributes when we allow our children to believe otherwise. When we glorify anything other than Christ Him self we are dishonoring Him. I know this sounds harsh but I believe that my savior deserves all the Glory and credit for what our family is given. It is God alone that provides our needs and our desires, not a man, not Santa. I want my children to give thanks to the One and only and to seek Him when they have tough questions. He is the only one that has the right to judge and he is the only one that understands why some have much and some have little.

Our children are not missing out on the magic of Christmas instead they are experiencing the freedom that comes from knowing the truth. We have several holiday traditions that we hope they will carry with them when they have their own families. One of my favorite is pulling out the decorations from our childhood and theirs. It is heartwarming as well as difficult as you go through and remember the years that these ornaments represent. Many come from family that have since gone to be with Jesus. Some mark milestones while others are a painful reminder of years that included tragedy and even disobedience. We love to listen to music. We enjoy the classics as well as some newer songs. One of my favorites songs; Christmas is all in the Heart by SCC. There are always concerts and of course our favorite candle light service at church. We enjoy baking and shopping trips with friends. My sister and I love to look for items for stockings and filling them on Christmas eve. Spending time with family and catching up with friends that we haven't talked to in a year. Taking the kids to the square to see lights and an occasional trip to Branson. In the midst of all this it is hard not to get caught up in the fast pace hussle and bussel. But the one thing that we all look forward to that helps get us back on track is Christmas eve.

On Christmas eve we read the story about the birth of Christ. Every child likes to hear the story about how much they were wanted and how their story began. Jesus loves when we tell the story of his birth. When you decorate your tree talk to your kids about how you decorate for their birthday and that you are decorating for Jesus' birthday. Tell them that this is the month that has been set aside to celebrate Him. We always have a birthday cake. Some years I have had to buy one but we try to make it. It does not have to be beautiful but it is a good family activity. Let every one help. Even if it is just putting on a mound of sprinkles. Take pictures. It is neat to see how His cakes change. One of my favorites was when we made a manger out of graham crackers and laid a little plastic baby it it. We piped yellow frosting for hay. After reading His story, singing happy birthday and eating cake it is time for gifts. Gifts for Jesus. It is His birthday right? So what do you give the guy who owns cattle on a thousand hills. You give Him your self. That is what He wants from us and that is what we try to remember on that night. We each write one thing that we are going to do the next year to honor Jesus. We fold it up and place it in the nativity. On Christmas morning we open our papers and read them aloud (if one chooses) or we pray over them. This is our gift to Jesus. An example- one year my gift to Jesus was to be a mother of mercy. I was having trouble with letting things go when my children made wrong choices. I knew that God had been speaking to me about this so that was my gift to Him. It meant so much to be able to place it at his feet in the manger that I still remember writing it down and asking Him to help me be a mother of mercy that this day my Spirit is reminded and corrected when I do poorly on this.

The nativity is our reminder that God has given us the greatest gift of all and that no other gift is needed. After we pray over our gifts to Jesus and humbly ask that He accept then we begin our celebration. That's right. No rushing in thinking of ourselves first. This is very hard for kids but an important lesson. We start with the stockings. They are a reminder of St Nick and how he loved God, loved others, and gave to the poor. Then we open our gifts to each other. We try to open one at a time. We take turns so that we can enjoy gifts and think of those that gave them to us. Please know that it is not always smooth. The little ones are never patient and there are always things that you hurry through but each year we notice that the focus changes just a little. Noah still talks about Santa but when he does we simply remind him that he is pretend just like bat man. We talk about the real St Nick and about the real Jesus and how when you have Jesus in your heart you want to do good things.

We are slowly applying the real meaning of Christmas. We are far from where we need or want to be and each year I pray that God will help us understand and want to do the right thing. Our children are not missing the magic instead they are experiencing truth. We were not created to be entertained or to experience magic but to worship the One on Only. This was very difficult and very offensive to me several years ago. I felt that my children deserved to have that magical experience that their youth brought them. Why does that have to come form something pretend when the real thing is so much better.

Our daughter was disappointed at first but I do not regret telling her. We have told Noah from the beginning that Santa is pretend and even though he really does not fully understand it all we have been truthful from the beginning. There is no doubt in their mind that Jesus is real and we have not set them up for confusion. When a child is told that something is real and then it ends up being pretend how are they to believe that our God is real. When they desire something and God says no will they doubt Him? If God with holds some thing from them will they think that it is because they were not good enough and if they do better he will deliver. Will they understand that He is not always judging them but that he has something better for them. As a family we are not taking that chance.

Our children still receive a "special gift" that is wrapped and placed under the tree. It is not the first to be seen or opened. Sometimes it's the last. We love the suspense. Instead of Santa bringing the really cool gift it is a special gift from mom and dad because we love them. If we need to spend less that year we have the ability to talk to the older one and she understands. The little ones are not going to understand. But when you start out with a solid foundation you are able to teach them what it means to receive or give a gift. A true gift is given with no strings attached and is given out of love. There is nothing that you can do to earn it. This lays a foundation for their faith so that one day they can receive the ultimate gift. The gift of salvation.
At Christmas time we still bake cookies, decorate the house, go to parties and exchange gifts. The difference we ask God to remind us that the gifts under our tree are a provision from Him not a chubby guy in a red suit. We celebrate the birth of Christ our savior and we do our best to honor Him by reaching out to those we love. Weather we give three gifts like the Christ child received or we give many, the most important thing to me is that my children know not to put there hope and joy in anything that is fleeting. There is only one that will never forsake us and He is the ONLY reason for the season.

Every year there are things that I hope we will do better. This year I would like to see us enjoy family more and be less busy. Take time to make our prayer chain. (25 links with names of those we will be praying for over the next 25 days) You can also take time to pray for those that you receive a card from or pray over the cards you send out. I would like to take time this year and thank God for the gifts that we have received before we open them. Thanking Him for each of the people that He has placed in our lives. And the big one that is really hard for me is to only do 3 gifts. I would like to do more on their birthdays and less at Christmas but it all kinda runs together. My flesh is weak and I end up wanting to do more than we should.

Thanks for sticking with me on this long post. I hope that God will give each of us wisdom and discernment in the days ahead and that we would choose to be obedient no matter what He ask of us.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Out of the mouth of Noah

I have been keeping a list of things that Noah has said over the past 6 months. I finally decided it was time to post them and add to them as time goes or just start a new list. Either way it a good way to keep us with the great or not so great things your kids say.

Can you inside them out? (Can you turn them inside out?)

Can you turn it a little up? This is how he ask every single time. Once I tried to correct him and he was very confused.

If he is frustrated he tells what ever he is frustrated with "you're making me obnoxious!"

For days Noah kept telling people that he was a physic. We do not use that would and we could not figure out where he had heard that. One day we asked him if he was saying side kick. He replied " no, I'm a physic!" We told him that he did not even know what that word meant and that he needed to stop using it. His reply "Yes I do! See, WooHoo! I'm a physic! So now we know that Noah is excited.

Mommy, do I have a baby in my tummy? Mommy do you have a baby in your tummy? Mommy remember that I was born in your heart. Mommy, I sure wish I could live with the mommy who grew me in her tummy and you at the same time.

Mommy, If God makes people how does he get their heads on?

Noah tells everyone that he is going to be a big brother when he grows up. He also wants to be chicken Elmo, a dentist so that he can fix cabinet knees, and a race car so that he can crash.

Returning home from picking Kayla up from school one day Noah said "Mom please don't crash. It might scare the wee out of me!"

Mom, I don't think I'm going to like being dead.

After telling Noah for the umpteen time that he is being demanding he tells me that he will try really hard not to be so amanding.

I'm so great he says about himself! He has no problems with his self esteem.

Mommy, what's that smell? Not the bad smell the good smell?

Noah's favorite restaurant is Chick-A-La

He loves to "text" people on his I pod. Or should we say his happy meal toy. Best part is no one in our family text.

The first thing out of his mouth when he meets a new face "Hi, I'm from Guatemala." It is so stinking cute. It almost sounds like he is in a recovery group.

"Mom when God makes it rain does he push a button?"

"Did Mr. Danny die on the cross like Jesus?"

"When I die how am I going to get to heaven? "- I told him that I did not know how we get from earth to heaven but that God does and he has it all worked out. Then Noah says " I think we fly like superman!" I told him that I thought that sounded like a great way to get there. Then he asked me, " Mom, when you die will you fly to heaven with me? I don't want to not be with you."

"Mom, when you and daddy die who's going to drive me to the orphanage?" I told him that he will not have to live in an orphanage if something happens to us because his family loves him and will help take care of him. "But I just want you to tell me who is going to drive me to the orphanage!" He told me that he wanted to live in an orphanage. I asked him why and he said "Because I never been there before."

One night while playing with his Bat Man toys I overheard him say " Dear Jesus give me the power to beat these bad guys! Love Bat Man. Amen"

One Wednesday evening after church Noah came to me with a very serious face. He said " Mom, I need you to pray for me." I said okay what do you want me to pray about? He overwhelmingly replied "I'm having trouble with the girls. They always want to hug me and it's getting me embarrassed." (He was referring to the teenage girls that his sissy hangs out with.)

"Mom you remember that I am dark and you are light." He has noticed his skin color and that we look different. He also points out to me every time he sees someone that has brown skin. He wants me to know that his skin is like theirs. He is very proud of the color of his skin and he is okay that we look different. He also points out things that make us the same. I hope that he will always cherish that God has made him special.

"Mom, I'm deciding that I'm not going to grow up. I just like being a little kid, okay!"

I'm sure that there are many more Noah moments. I will try to add them when they come to mind. I have been working on this list for awhile. Every time I go to post it he says something else that I want to capture as a memory. He loves to talk and ask questions. He is growing up so fast. I love watching him grow and figure things out. He is all boy and I am sure that the rest of my days with him will never be boring.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Arriving at Navarre Beach

View form Condo Dinning Room
View of the bay from the Condo Breeze Way. Our Condo over looked the bay and the ocean.
The fountain in front of the condo

The pier that led from our condo to the beach

We arrived at Navarre around 7 pm Thursday evening. We had hoped to be there sooner but with 5 children and 3 adults there were several potty stops along the way. We also got a latter start than we had anticipated. Wednesday we drove till 2 am then stopped for a few hours of sleep. We were up by 8am and out of the hotel by 9.

A friend of ours had suggested that we take the scenic route and drive along the coast. I am so glad that we chose to take their advice. It added some extra time but was worth every second. As soon as we hit the coast all we could see was the never ending ocean and what looked to be snow. Of course it was sand but it was hard to convince your mind otherwise. James and I had Noah and Philip with us and Amber had the 3 girls. We took walkie talkies so that we could communicate anytime we wanted. The kids faces were plastered to the windows and they were about to jump out of the vehicles. About 15 mins from the condo we let the kids out to play. The sun was going down and we had promised them that they would see the beach by the end of the day. We were so close; we were not about to let them down at this point. As soon as we parked they were off. I wish that I had captured better photos of that first night but I was having trouble with Danny's camera. He had it set on delay and we could not figure how to get it off. The kids just ran and ran. We did not tell them that they should not go in the water so the first thing they did was run in knee deep. This would not have been a problem except Olivia kept getting splashed and was soaked. She then went and laid in the sand and was covered from head to toe. There was no place to rinse off (except the ocean) and that only made things worse. In the end we stripped her down at the van and found some new clothes. This would only be the beginning to the mounds of sand in the vehicles.

The first night was amazing and one we will never forget. There was a full moon and the water was warm and beautiful. We were a little concerned that we saw so many dead jelly fish on the shore the first night, but we did not see any the rest of the trip.

The condo was beautiful and spacious. We had never stayed in a condo so we did not know what to expect. It was very well kept and had so much room for us to spread out. The kids loved it. We were a little worried the first night. There were lots of pretties and tow little boys that were wound up tight. They settled after the first night and thankfully we never broke anything. James and I had our own room with walk in shower, jacuzzi tub and separate balcony. Amber had a room with jacuzzi tub, balcony, kitchenette and washer dryer combo. The kids all shared a large room with two queen size beds and separate bath. Their bath tub was huge but did not have jets. One of our favorite things in the condo was the main balcony and the ice maker. The kitchen was great and the dinning room and living room were beautiful. There were views of the ocean from every room except the bathrooms. We also had an office area off the kitchen along with a laundry room. This came in handy so that we could have laundry going in both areas. That was a big plus when you are dealing with that much sand. The owners of the condo painted all the art work. They were beautiful pieces and I wish that we could have taken a few of them home. The pools were very clean, though the heated pool was not very warm. We did enjoy the hot tub a few times though. The kids did not care that the pool was chilly so that was all that mattered. Every thing at the resort was easy to get to and well cared for. They had carts so that you did not have to carry groceries or supplies up. The pier was beautiful and made for a very short walk to the beach.

We still have more stories to post and pictures to share. We have been so busy since we got home, but I will continue to add to the post so that we have these memories to look back on. Noah is ready to sell the house and move to Florida. My caliente boy is just too warm blooded for these Arkansas winters. I'm not sure he will ever adjust.

More later...must get to bed.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Just a teaser

There is more to come but we are trying to get back into a routine. There is laundry to do and suitcases to unpack. At least I made it to Walmart tonight to do our monthly grocery shopping. We also need to get the kids to bed early and get caught up on sleep ourselves. I will try to get the rest of the pics downloaded so that we can post more soon. Until then here is a picture of our little beach bum! He was in HEAVEN!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bitter sweet vacation.

One week form tonight we will be driving to our vacation destination. We are so ready! While this is meant to be a fun relaxing get away there is still the reality that one of the main reasons for going is for Amber and the kids to get away. There are so many blessings that surround the family but there is still a lot of pain and sorrow as well. Danny is gone yet life continues on for those he left behind. Philip is getting so big and looks like his daddy. He talks better than most kids twice his age. Hanna is making huge strides and seems to be handling most of life's issues better than before. Olivia is starting to struggle with dad being gone. She said the words "I miss my daddy" for the first time since Danny's death. That was hard to swallow for all those that know her. She is bonding with us more and more. She even asked to talk to me while she was away visiting her grandmother. This was a huge step for her since she is so close to grandma. The kids have really connected to James. It is still hard to hear Philip call James "daddy". We try not to make it a big deal and remind him that he is uncle James. Amber is taking classes and working full time. She has so much on her plate. Some days I think it helps that she is busy other times I think that it is just too much. Either way it is hard to come to terms with the fact that this is real and that it is not ever going to be the same again. Please pray for her and the kids as the Lord brings them to mind. There is still a long road ahead of them. Please pray for our trip and the 2nd anniversary of this tragic day. Remember that day is also Amber's birthday so it packs a powerful punch of emotions. Can't wait to post pics of our trip together.

When Noah grows up...

Noah has this new fascination with the dentist. He actually has never been but has his first appointment in September. So now Noah tells us that he wants to be a dentist when he grows up. When you ask him why he wants to be a dentist his reply is "so I can help people with their cabinets."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

This is where I want to be!

And in just 20 long agonizing days this is exactly where we will be headed. We are so excited that we are barley able to keep focused on any thing else. It took us a while to decide that we would make the trip but it is now official. We have only told a few people but it is getting harder to not say anything. At this point you will not see us Face Booking about it and we will continue to keep it that way. Eventually we will be able to post about it but for now there are a few people that we have not told and we do not want them to find out through FB.

We are going to leave after school on Wednesday and then drive part way. Thursday we will drive the rest of the way and then stay till mid day Sunday. We will make part of the dive on Sunday then the rest on Monday. We will have to take the kids out of school for two days but I do not think it will be a huge deal. It is not as long of a trip as we would all like but we are so blessed to be able to get away.

The reason that we are going that week is because it will be the two year anniversary of Danny's death and it is also Amber's birthday. Last year we went to Great Wolf Lodge for the Anniversary and for her birthday. This year we decided to really get away. It will always be difficult that Danny's death and her birthday fall on the same day but we will try to make that day special for her as long as we can. It is a huge blessing for our families to be able to spend this time together and we are looking forward to new memories.

Our children and Philip have never been to the beach so this is a very exciting time for us. I can not wait to see their faces when they see the ocean and feel the sand. Amber picked the place that we are going to. We scouted several locations but in the end she choose Navarre Beach in Florida. We have friends that are from that area and they said that it is one of the nicest beaches that you can go to with out a passport. It is very secluded and very clean. We can not wait to take this all in for ourselves.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Still Here

We have had many people ask if we are okay because I have not posted in a long time. We are still out here and we are holding tight as we make our way through this crazy life. I have several post that I really hope to catch up on this week.

This last week was a big week for our family as we celebrated our third gotcha day with our little man. I still wish that this precious day could stand alone and that it would not have to compete with such sad memories. Three years ago today we landed in the US with a brown eyed bundle of energy that would forever change our lives. We entered the airport in Houston and gave a huge sigh of relief because in just a few hours we would be united with our family and friends and we would finally be together as a family. We had waited for this day for 8 years. Our dreams of growing our family were coming true. We would hold our son and hug our daughter at the same time. We would all be together and this crazy roller coaster of a rid was about to let us off. The ecstasy lasted as we walked through the double doors that led us to the waiting area for our next flight. As we took our seats and held our new bundle of joy tightly in our arms we received a phone call that would shatter our excitement. I will never forget that call. It haunts me to this day. I remember James asking the person on the other line if A was okay? At that moment I assumed that they had lost the the new baby. My heart sank. How could this be? She was only three weeks old and it just wasn't fair. James hung up the phone and as he turned to me he spoke the words that I still to this day can not truly believe. "Erik is dead! He was hit form behind and killed." I do not know how long I sat there in disbelief. I remember saying over and over to myself; "not Erik!" I tried to pull myself together for the sake of the new baby that was resting in my arms. I needed him to fell safe and protected but all I could do was hug him tight and sob. How could one family be complete and another family be torn apart. This was not supposed to be happening. Our babies were going to play outside together and we were going to have a big Bar B Que when we returned home. We had just exchanged stories in the front yard the night before we left for Guatemala. I was so excited for him to meet our son. Erik spent hours telling me what to expect on my first flight and how I must live life to the fullest and never be afraid. I was so excited to tell him how brave I was on my first flight and how I had made it 5 days in a foreign country with a new baby and only one carry on. ( I usually pack the kitchen sink where ever I go)

Each year I have high hopes that this will be the year for complete healing. This year we were reminded of the tragedy that took his life. We have been looking for a home in Bentonville. We usually do a drive by before we see it with the Realtor. One of the homes that we went to see was in the subdivision where he was working when his life was tragicly taken. At first we thought that it might not be the same place but as we drove through the entrence it hit us like a ton of bricks. It was in that very place that his life was taken and this was the first time that we had come to that place. Then today we sang the song in church that his wife sang at his funeral. It seems that there are still memories that are filled with pain that remind us of what we have lost. It gets easier but the facts remain the same. We miss him. I wish that he was here living life to the fullest with his two beautiful daughters and their mother. I wish that they were still our neighbors and that our kids were playing in the yard. I wish that he knew Noah in person instead of just pictures. Most of all I wish that we were still surrounded daily by his love for life and people. His energy and his smile was contagious. His passion for family and life made you want to love deeper and live life with more excitement. In the midst of the painful memories there are so many happy memoreis that remind me why it is that we invest in the lives around us. We could have skipped the pain if we had never been neighbors and had never met him and his beautiful family. If we had never taken the time to invest in them or allowed them to invest in us we would not know what it feels like to miss him. I know that I am rambling but my point is this; Sometimes I want to for go any new relationships. Our family has been through many losses in the last several years. Each loss is more and more difficult to get through. I struggle with giving my heart to anyone new for fear that it will break completly if anything else happens. When Danny died I actually sked God to "get it over with, to take everyone he needed to take right then so that I could heal completly and not have to go through this again. I know that sounds aweful. I did not want him to take anyone else but I just did not know how I could bear the pain over and over again. So how does one move forward and how does one learn to invest when you know that it comes with risk? I am still searching for the answer. For now I am trying to remember that each loss was only a loss becasue at some point there was a gain. A gain of love and friend ship, a gain of memories and experiences. For now I am not ready to give up the gains so I am trying to learn how to deal with the losses. Please know that I am not living in a depressed state of mind every day. I am just trying to learn how to let people in again. I am trying to remember how it feels to love deeply with out a daily fear of loss. Please pray for me as I seek God's grace and mercy for complete healing.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Processing a Bad Day

I usually try not to post if I am having a bad attitude because that is not what I want to remember when I look back on our journey. I am going to post anyway because I just need to vent and because I know that one day I will look back and see how God always has his hand on even the smallest things that cause us strife and grief.

I am finally feeling better from the stomach bug. I actually ate my first meal in a week last night that did not result in any type of stomach pain. We are still trying to get things done around the house so that we can put it on the market. We still have a lot to do and all the rain is not helping. We have looked at so many homes and each one is a bust. I did not know that this part would be so difficult. I really thought that it would be fun. We are still trying to decide if we can afford to use a Realtor. With the market being in a slump we have lost thousands of dollars in equity so it is hard to squeeze out the extra to pay a Realtor. On the other hand it is also hard to sale any home right now so we may need the advantage. We have been told by two Realtors that our house will go quickly. It is hard to know which way to go. Our big delima is that if our house sells fast we have not found anything else and we would have no place to live. We have also been so torn on where to look. James needs to be near the by pass because of traffic and his commute to work. We want to stay close to our church even though it is relocating. Finally we needed to be close to the School that we thought Kayla would be attending next year.

Fast forward to Monday. I was having some quiet time and trying to focus on the fact that maybe we are pushing the move and that it is simply not time. We keep hitting a dead end and it is really beginning to take an emotional and physical toll on me. I was trying to reassure myself that we were okay where we are and that it is probably a better idea for us to stay put for now. This location keeps us closer to James work and our church. It also keeps us closer to the School that we want to put Kayla in next year. I had just felt a big burden lifted when I realized that it was May and that we should be hearing about her school anytime. I decided to call and see if they were still working on enrollment or if they had finished. I tried several times to log onto the web site and it kept telling me the system was down. I finally called and was able to talk to someone who informed me that all the positions were filled and that if we had not already received a call then her name had not been drawn. I really tried to keep it together and did till I called James. I refused to tell Kayla because I was so upset and I knew how much she wanted this.

We finished up more school work and during lunch I told Kayla about not getting into the school. She was disappointed but actually took it better than I did. We talked about what this meant for next year and how we needed to proceed. I feel very STRONGLY that I do not want my children in Rogers schools. I know this might offend some but I have my reasons and I stand firm on them. At this point our other options are to home school another year, drive every day and put her in private, or try to relocate to Bentonville and put her in school there. Homeschooling next year is not where our family feels led. Private is expensive and Bentoville puts James further from work. So I am overwhelmed with what to do next.

In the midst of the emotional let down I still needed to pay bills. I had not accessed any of our files since we got our computer back but I have noticed that things are not where they where before. I tried to locate a file that I needed to pay bills and could not find it anywhere. I decided to take a break and pull up some pics of our house so that we could get them ready in case we still decide to list the house. That is when I knew that we had a problem. There was only one picture folder and it was empty. I tried not to panic and kept looking for them in other places. Still no luck. I finally called James (for the second time that day) in a panic. He reassured me that everything was transferred before they wiped the computer clean. After what seemed like an eternity it was obvious that they were not on our computer. James had our backup disk at work and checked to see if they were on the back up disk. Not there! They failed to transfer ANY of our shared documents. That was everything that I needed them to save! All my pictures ( 5 years worth) and all my saved documents. Wiped clean, gone forever, could have and should have been avoided! This is were the breakdown came in. I had already been crying and in a mini panic but now it is full blown. I proceeded to cry for the next four hours. Noah actually kept hugging me asking me to stop crying because it was making him so sad. I just could not stop. I do not have a huge fancy house, we do not own expensive furniture or drive new cars, I wear the same outfits every week. I say all this because we do not invest a lot of our money in fancy things that can perish. We by used when ever we can and we never pay full price for anything. I have always joked that if we have a natural disaster then James is supposed to grab the kids and I will grab the pictures. If you spend anytime in our home or if you know me very well you will see that my passion is my pictures. I value people and my loved ones far above these pictures but I value photos far above any material possession. We have lost too many loved ones to not understand the value of those memories. One day all we will have of our loved ones are the memories. My memories are wrapped up in my pictures. Not that I can not remember them with out the pics but one day Noah will want to see his young life and it is gone. Birthdays, Christmas, Anniversary's, pictures with loved ones that are no longer with us. They are all gone. It felt like some one took the most personal and most meaningful material possession that I had and burnt them right there. There was nothing I could do to stop it or get it back. I think I am going to have to stop writing about this or I am going to loose it again. Please pray that God will give me a peace about this. I am not upset, I am devastated. I know that sounds ridiculous but I am really struggling with this and I am overwhelmed with hurt right now.

To end my day I received a phone call that my nephew is back in the hospital. He has lost feeling in his leg and his speech is getting worse. They are still doing test and he is supposed to be having an EEG done. They are not sure if he had minigitus or not since they can not test for it now. It could be what made him ill in the first place but they do not believe that is what is happening now. The neurologist said that you do not go into the hospital walking and talking and come out not able to walk or talk unless something has happened. They believe that the doctors who did is surgery is covering something up and that he lost enough oxygen during surgery that it left him brain damaged. They have been advised not to talk to any of those doctors and to only talk to their lawyers.

On that note I am only growing more and more angry so I think I am going to end this post. Still trying to process all the frustration and hurt that I am feeling.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Out Of The Mouth Of A Preschooler

Tonight Noah was eating dinner when he said that he needed to go poop. We are really trying to teach him not to blurt that out but we are still working on it; obviously.

Anyway I asked him to finish dinner since he was almost done. Plus he's more likely to finish supper quickly. He finished up and I sent him on his way while I cleaned up his plate. He went to the bath room and then I hear "MOM, I frew up!" I quickly make my way to the bathroom but do not see where he threw up. I asked him "are you sure you threw up?" Noah said "Yes, I frew up with my BUTT! See it in the potty!" I then proceeded to explain the difference between throwing up and diarrhea. It is never a dull moment with Noah.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Difficult Day, Difficult News

I'm not sure where to start and I'm not sure that I have the energy to tell the whole story so I am going to be brief as I can. This story is longer and more complicated than I am about to share.

When we went to my sisters house in December for Christmas we became aware that one of my nephews was ill. He had been sick for some time and the doctors were not able to give them any diagnosis. The doctor actually told the family that they believed that my nephew was faking it and that he was depressed. This did not make sense because he had been running a fervor for an extended period of time. He had many other symptoms and all were too real to be considered fake. While we were in LA for Christmas they almost put my nephew in the hospital. Instead they sent him home and said he should see his regular doctor at home. That Monday they returned to KY where he had a scheduled procedure done. After this procedure he became even more ill. The doctor said that it was normal and then sent him home. He continued to go down hill and came to a point where he was not able to eat at all and was loosing a lot of weight. He even began to loos muscle mass. Eventually he was sent to Children's Hospital where he spent almost a month. At the time he was admitted he could not walk or stand on his own. When he returned home they thought that he was doing better. They soon began to see that he was still not able to use his right leg and that he was delayed in speech and response. Over the last few weeks he has continued to go down hill again. At one point they believed that he had suffered a stroke.

Fast forward to the last couple of days; It is now believed that our 10 year old nephew had undiagnosed viral minigitus. He presented with all the symptoms but no spinal tap was ever performed. He now presents with all but one symptoms of post viral minigitus complications. Translated this means that because he went undiagnosed that he has developed complications from the minigutis. Some of the complications that they have found are brain damage, loss of speech, loss of full mobility and loss of eye tracking. He is unable to make eye contact and he has lost some of the use of his leg and arm. He continues to loss strength weekly and they have not been able to determine the extent of all the damage. He went through more diagnostics testing today and next Wednesday he will see a neurologist to see how much damage has been caused to the brain. Until then we will not know if any of these things are correctable.

We serve a mighty God and our hope is in him. We know that God can preform miracles in this little boys life but it was a difficult day and we are deeply filled with sorrow. Please pray for Austin and for his family. The past 8 months has been a difficult journey and it has only begun. He is very frightened by doctors and has already been through so much. Our family is discouraged and angry and trying to process this news. Please pray for answers, for comfort, and for peace.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Life With A 3 Year Old

Easter 2009
"Doing School Work"

Yea, Army Men!
My Clean Boy
My Sleepy Boy"Look Mom! I Have Sprinkles On My Hands!" (also known as wrinkles)
Helping Dad
If you click on the picture and look closely you will see that his pants are on backwards!
Ridding On The Tractor

It has been a while since I have stopped to post. I spend most of my time keeping up with friends on Face Book now. I have needed to post so that I would have these memories preserved. I love looking back and remembering things that I tend to forget. Lately I've just been enjoying my little man. Here are a few things worth remembering.

One morning Noah asked for a pop tart for breakfast. I asked him to sit at the table and went to help him get into his chair. I had the pop tart in my hand while I was helping him. He made it very clear that his first thought was that I was going to give it to him straight out of the package as he quickly and very firmly stated "You need to iron it first!" (obviously he is used to having his pop tarts toasted)

A couple of Saturdays ago we spent the whole day working out side. Noah played and helped us with a lot of out side chores. One of the chores was to put new tires on the"new to us ridding lawn mower". After they got the new tires on the mower Noah got his first ride on the "tractor" which he really enjoyed. At some point Noah and I came inside to make lunch. I heard the mower stop but did not think much about it. Then I heard Noah scream out the back door "hey dad why you sleeping on the tractor?" This got my attention and I admit that my first thought was that maybe he had had a heart attack. Yea I know I'm such an optimist. Thankfully I heard James respond with "I'm not sleeping!" I went to the door to see James laying under the mower. Little man thought that dad had curled up under the mower to take a quick nap.

At the end of the day I brought Noah in for a bath. We cleaned his nails and the things growing behind his ears. I guess when you give little ones showers instead of baths the ears tend to be neglected. He was spic and span clean by the end. He then wrapped up in a blankie since he was cold and I made him some juice. I went outside to ask if James was ready for some dinner. It was about 7pm at that point. By the time I came in Noah was asleep on the love seat. I would have put him to bed but he had not had dinner. After I had some dinner together I woke him up so that he could eat. That is when I discovered that he had peed all over the new love seat. Thankfully it is micro suede and it cleaned up really well.

Monday evening Noah reported to dad as he walked in the door from work "Mom burnt the pamonies and then it went beep beep and we had to touch the lotter stick and the big fan made all the smoke go away and I cried!"

Any guesses as to how that really translates? Here's what he really meant to say. Since mom burnt the peperoni the smoke alarm went off. We had to go outside and meet at the seasonal water stick. After we talked about it we came inside and I showed Noah the smoke and we turned on the attic fan. I showed him that it was safe but he was still scared and started to cry. The good news is that our fire drills have paid off and when he heard the smoke alarm he knew exactly what to do. The bad news is mom can't burn lunch with out getting narked on.

This Easter Sunday marked a first in my life. I found myself telling my son the Easter story in a way I have never told it before. I reminded Noah that he would hear people talk about the Easter bunny and that the Easter bunny is pretend. I told him that Jesus is real and that even though we we can't see Jesus we know he is real. We told Noah that Easter is special to us because it was the day that Jesus got to go to Heaven. He asked if Jesus was dead and we said that some bad guys killed him and then three days later he got to go to Heaven. Of course we had to talk more about the bad guys and the Easter bunny being pretend. When I looked at Noah and said "you know the Easter bunny is pretend just like batman is pretend." Noah got this very disturbed look on his face and said "what?" Then I asked him "who else is pretend?" He responded with a huge sigh "spider man!"

I'm sure there are so many more stories. Life with Noah is always exciting. He is always getting hurt because he thinks he can fly. So far he has had to learn the hard way that he is just not equipped for such transportation. He loves to pray. He prays every day "help mommy to play with daddy." The other day he thanked God for mommy playing with daddy. I think that James is slipping the little guy extra dessert so that he will continue to pray for this. Yesterday Noah prayed that we would give him a bird and then he prayed "help mommy not be afraid of sissy." We are not sure where these things come from but we spend a lot of time snickering behind his back. Today while we were at the park he was making some bad choices. I talked to him about his behavior and explained to him how he was acting and that I did not like it. He simply responded with "your welcome."

Here are a few pictures of our Noah man. He sure is growing up fast. He even knows all of his colors; including extended colors like pink and purple. He working on his letters and he loves to sing.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Too Tired For Words

Today was filled with many emotions and a whole lot of fatigue. It was such a busy week and we did not have many opportunities for sleep. Then you add in so many different emotions and it all adds up to extreme exhaustion.

I am looking forward to catching up on our weekend with the girls but it will have to wait until I can get my thoughts together. I wanted to at least post a picture of the kids together from Friday. They are amazing girls and I can not begin to tell you how much we are missing them right now.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Houston We Have A Problem

I have many pictures to post from our exciting day but I am going to post them later. It has been a very long day and we are fixing to watch a movie so this is a quick post. (We are just waiting on the pop corn).

Okay so here is our problem; Noah freaks out when the girls leave. I mean screaming and crying when they say goodbye or leave for a short time. We are only wrapping up day two and still have two days to go. He would not let go of them so that they could hug a team member goodnight. So I think that we already have a problem and it will be worse by Sunday. I have seen him throw a fit but this is sincere. He is attached to them at the hip, leg, neck or face. What ever he can wrap his little body around.

That's all for tonight. Our movie and pop corn are ready. We'll post more latter.

PS Happy Birthday Yeshoda. We love you so much and you have blessed us in such a big way!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Our First Night With Our New Friends

We arrived at the Church at 5:30 to meet our new friends. Noah has been so excited and when we told him it was time to go pick up Rose and Yeshoda he was running and jumping and screaming "YEA!"

Rose warmed up to us right away. She was answering our questions and chattering with us about all sorts of things. It took a little while for Yeshoda to come out of her shell. Rose and Noah were buddies right away. It's kinda funny because he was excited about both girls but he would always talk about Rose. I think it is because he could say her name easily and he could remember it.

After we left the church we met our ABF class and our missionaries at a local Mexican restaurant for dinner. It was a fun night but very crazy. I do not believe that there is any way we could have tipped them enough for all the noise and craziness that they dealt with. It was a family event so you can imagine what it must have been like to have that many kids at dinner in one place. I believe that there were 30 of us. They were awesome.

The girls love to play cards. So far Kayla and I have not won a single hand against them. I told Rose that I was going to practice tomorrow while she is preforming. She said that was cheating. I reminded her that she has been playing for a long time and that I am just learning. Noah and the girls played trains when we got home. Noah was so excited to show them his trains and they actually got excited with him. It was too cute. Rose has decided to call Noah "Train". It is her little nick name for him. Did I say that Noah and Rose have hit it off really well. They are both so full of energy and feed off each other non stop. I promise that I will be one worn out mommy/auntie by the end of this weekend.

The girls call us Auntie and Uncle. They both speak good English but have very strong accents. I am having a very difficult time understanding them. I like to have never figured out hot. We played cards tonight, read stories and had lots of tickle wars. They really like to tickle and they like to see if they can keep from laughing while you tickle them. We are having a really good time and I can already tell that it is going to be hard to say goodbye. I never imagined that Naoh would be so excited to be with them. They think that it is really neat that he use to live in Guatemala and they keep asking him how he got here.

Tomorrow is Yeshoda's birthday. I asked her what she wanted for breakfast but she said it didn't matter. I think that we finally settled on pancakes. We have to have them back at the church by 11am so that they can get ready for a performance at a school. Rose asked if Noah could go with her. I reassured her that we would see them at dinner and then we could see them sing tomorrow night and Sunday. We have all day with them on Saturday as well.

I better get to bed. The girls have strict schedules so I need to get some sleep.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Noah Moments

Saturday morning James had a work event at U of A that he had to attend. Kayla was spending the night with a friend and Noah and I were getting ready to do errands in Fayetteville. I called for Noah and asked him to come put his clothes on. He did not come. I asked again still he did not come. Then I heard him say "I am trying to put up the muffin." I told him to leave it alone and come here. Again he responds "I'm trying to put the muffin away. I can't reach the muffin; it's too high!" So I am wondering what muffin he is talking about but did not take time to find out. We were supposed to be meeting up with Amber and the kids so I was trying to stay focused. After getting him dressed I heard James in the kitchen getting ready to leave and I went to say goodbye. I noticed that our mop was laying in the floor (it is usually hanging up in the pantry) and leaned over to pick it up. That is when Noah said with a very frustrated voice "Mommy I tried to put the muffin away but it was too high!" After a good chuckle we explained to Noah that it is a mop not a muffin. He is very eager to point out that he now knows the difference between a mop and a muffin.

Sunday evening I made chicken Alfredo for dinner. We were almost finished with dinner when Noah asked if he could have more chicken. I quickly glanced at his plate and saw that he had not eaten his broccoli. I told him that I would give him more chicken when he ate all of his broccoli (he had about three small pieces on his plate). So with a big sigh and a puppy dog face he said "okay" as he reached into his highchair and pulled out a hand full of cauliflower. He put the "broccoli" on his plate and began to eat it. All I could do was leave and go into the kitchen. I could not stop giggling. I guess his little conscious got the best of him. The best part was that I had no idea he was storing cauliflower in the highchair. I just wanted him to eat the broccoli on his plate.

I think that I am slowly beginning to understand this little man. I am learning ways to speak his love language (it has been much harder for me than I expected) and he in return is speaking mine. I still struggle with the amount of energy it takes to parent this bundle of energy and some days I just sit and scratch my head wondering what is going through his mind. We are having more good days (discipline wise) than bad. That really helps. He is at that fun age where he is soaking up so much but also at that age where there are thousands of questions. I am looking forward to this summer. He is a great age for so many new activities and he loves to be outside. There is so much more that I could share about our life with our little man but he is patiently waiting to get out of bed so off I go.

PS I told Noah that he could get up and before I publish this I am happy to report that the first thing I received this morning was a huge "sweet" hug. This is a big step for us. He is starting to hug us more and more. Don't get me wrong he is a very affectionate little boy. He just usually chooses his affection to be more like tackle football. This has been difficult for me. I love to play with him but every now and then a mommy just needs a sweet hug. I am starting to get more of them and they are so sweet. I still get tackled several times a day but at this point it looks like both our love tanks are getting fuel. I love my little man so much!

Monday, February 23, 2009


The little boy that reminds us of Noah. We took this picture when he was here a few years ago. It is my understanding that he is not returning this year.
Yeshoda from Nepal.
Rose from Uganda
The Central Team Choir

Almost 6 years ago our family had the opportunity to see worship at it finest. In October of Kayla's second grade year our church held it's first Global Impact Celebration "GIC". This was an amazing experience for our family and it was a huge milestone in the life of our church. Hundreds of people came forward and surrendered their hearts and lives to the mission field.

James and I were one of the many that went forward that night confirming that during the next two years we would seek God's direction concerning missions. We pledged that we would allow God to send us on the field for either a short term mission trip or full time missions. We left that evening so excited yet nervous wondering what God had in store for us.

That evening our children's choir preformed for the missionaries that had come for GIC. The children selected a country that they wanted to represent and then dressed accordingly. Kayla choose China, so the search began. We were able to find a precious outfit and even had her hair done in these braids that were wrapped in fabric and then tied up in circles. After the kids sang they were taken upstairs to play until the rest of the service was over. After the service I wanted to get a picture of Kayla with the Chinese flag. I waited and waited for James to bring her back down and began to get a little frustrated because he was taking so long. I decided to hunt him down and see what was taking so long. When I found him he said that Kayla had hurt her thumb and was upset. I asked some questions and tried to look at it while James went to get the car. It was late and she had school the next day. While I was waiting for him Kayla kept crying so I looked at her thumb again and tried to have her move it. At that point I knew we had a problem. I felt the thumb move in and out of the socket. We went directly to the ER (in full Chinese dress) where her injuries were confirmed. She had dislocated the thumb, hyper extended it and broke the growth plate. They were now calling in a surgeon. We were told to expect emergency surgery. Thankfully after the surgeon reviewed the ex rays he was able to determine that the thumb was properly set and that we could return home with a splint. We could then see him the next day at his office where they would cast it. Needless to say we returned home with only a glimpse of the mission field on our minds.

The story actually starts the night before when our plumbing burst and flooded our house. We actually returned home to carpets pulled up and huge fans drying our floors and walls. We were spending every night at the church and our days at the orthopedists and working with our insurance adjuster.

So back to the reason I started this post. The Children of the World Choir preformed at our First GIC. They also returned to preform at our last GIC a few years ago. We were so blessed by these amazing children. The second time we saw them preform we had just brought Noah home from Guatemala. One of the little boys that preformed reminded us so much of Noah. Several people in the church picked up on this. At the time Noah was the only young child that attended our church that had been adopted internationally so he was well known. While this little boy gave his testimony I just wept. It was such a privilege to experience the worship that these precious children gave so freely and it was humbling to see them through an adoptive parents eyes. God had rescued our son and had placed him into our family. He had spared him the hardships that these young children had already gone through. I thanked God so much for what he had already done in Noah's life. Since that night I have wanted to be a host family to these children. I had hoped that our church would be able to have them back and that some how we could get on the list to host them.

So....the Children of the World are returning to our church and will be preforming at our GIC in March. We had our first host family meeting and we received the names of the two girls that will be staying with us. I am so excited. One of the little girls is from Uganda and the other is form Nepal. Noah is very excited and Kayla has chosen not to attend the youth weekend so that she can be with the girls. Did I say that I am so excited! I am so giddy that one might think that we are going to keep them forever. Maybe not forever but I have no doubt that the few days we have to spend with them will be eternally rewarding. We are so privileged to have this opportunity and can't wait to meet them in person.

PS We did end up going on the mission field just not as soon as we had thought. While traveling to Guatemala was not a "mission trip " it was life changing for our family and it paved the way for us to spend 17 days in Thailand. While we were in Guatemala we were able to share what God had done in our family and we were able to reach out to our Lawyer and to Noah's foster mom. So in a way we were on the mission field.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ice Storm 2009

Cleanup is over till spring
This entire area was piled high with limbs after the storm

I woke up to this truck picking up limbs in our front yard

Kayla and I were a little jealous that this claw picked up this pile in 30 minuets when it took so many people days to put it there.
Bon Fire any one?

The picture does not even begin to show how big this pile was. When the red truck above arrived at our house it was empty. They filled the truck and continued to smash down the pile of branches in the truck and still had to go dump before they started the next yard.
Our favorite maple tree. We will not know if it will survive until Spring. It will possibly have to come down because it does not have enough support.
The tops are gone out of these trees. They were so thick that you could not see between them. Now they are so bare and top less.
This is our favorite tree in the yard. The blooms arepurple in the spring.
Not sure what will come of this one. The picture right below is of our neighbors tree that we see out our front window. The entire top of the tree fell to the ground. The tree is aprox 60-80 feet tall (at least it use to be)

These are a few pictures taken during and after the storm. It was very difficult to capture what it was really like. I wish that I had taken video but we were not able to get out of our car unless we were in our driveway due to power lines that were down. We are planning to wait till spring and see what recovers and what still needs attention. We are still loosing limbs when the wind kicks up. We are also going to have to repair the end of our drive as we now have a lake. Even our road is starting to buckle because of all the moisture.

I am looking forward to things drying out a little bit and looking forward to the warmer days ahead.