Friday, February 27, 2009

A Clean Bill Of Health

In September I received a call from my aunt... "Amy, I have bad news.  Grandad has cancer."  I instantly felt shock wash over me.  I had never received a call like that.  I called my grandparents right away, and I could hear the concern in their voices... a sound like I had never heard before.  I was transported to my little-girl-self where all things were okay at all times with my parents and grandparents, and I was confused by the reality that was set before me.  A little later, I rose up.  I faithfully prayed for him and asked my friends to do the same.  Over the last few months, he and my grandma have worked hard at their fight against cancer.  They have faced it with courage and hopefulness and a sense of humor.  One of the first times I called Grandad and timidly asked, "How are you feeling?"  He responded, "Pretty good for a guy with cancer."  We laughed then and many times since then.  But the reality is that it is scary to have that word attached to the name of someone that you know.  Yesterday, that word was removed from my grandad's name.  He is not Max The Cancer Patient any longer... Miraculously, he was given a clean bill of health, and as of yesterday he is just Max.  My Grandad.  Praise the Lord!  

Unconditional Love

Yesterday I heard a story of unconditional love that rivals any that I have ever heard. It is real and it is true, and I am humbly honored to know the people that are the "characters" of this story. They are my family. My sister-in-law & brother-in-law. David & Roxann.

Many of you know that we lost a nephew in October. I have never discussed the details of his accident on my blog out of respect for his family. The pain and loss is real and intense no matter what the facts that surround that night are. Besides - I was not there. I don't know the ins and outs of what happened, and to be honest, it doesn't really matter. The fact is - a son, brother, uncle, grandson, nephew, and friend was lost the day that Gabe passed away.

There are details to the story that I do know, and if I had not received a message from my sister-in-law yesterday, I would continue to keep them private. But to add context to the story of love and mercy that I want to share today, I will share a little bit of where this story began in hopes that I can convey the amazing love that I have witnessed. I want to leave a record for my children of the family that they belong to and of the amazing example of their aunt and uncle that they can follow. In a day and time where most everyone is looking out for number one, and so many are quick to judge and sue and point fingers and hate, I was overwhelmed by this picture of what true unconditional love looks like in the lives of regular people - people like me. I want to share this snapshot in the life of my family that I believe is a kind of love and forgiveness that most people have never witnessed. I want to honor David & Roxann and the God that they have allowed to penetrate their hearts and work miraculously through them in a time where - most logically - they deserve to be the ones that are being shown mercy.

On October 19, 2008 our nephew Gabe was in a car that was being driven by a young man that was his friend. That friend was a person that had made some poor choices, like many people do every day. That night though, the poor choices that he made and the kids that were just having fun cost someone a future and cost a family a broken heart that will not be mended any time soon - probably not until they reach heaven and see their beloved Gabe again.

From the moment that I talked to Roxann on that horrible day in October, I never once sensed anger toward the boy that was driving the car. I have only ever heard loving forgiveness in her voice for him and his family. Within days of the accident he was welcomed into David & Roxann's home, he spoke at Gabe's memorial service, and David & Roxann have gone out of their way to show him that he is loved and forgiven by them. Words are nice and sentiment can be mustered up, but yesterday my brother-in-law stood before a court of law and showed love for this boy in real way. He put action to the words that he and Roxann have spoken for the last 4 1/2 months, and when I heard the words that he spoke to the judge, I was impacted.

I received an email from my sister-in-law while I was at a park with Cooper yesterday, and I literally could not stop crying when I read the record of what David had said in the courtroom just hours before. To see with my own two eyes my beloved family walk out the faith that we all cling to, to watch my little boy slide down the slide and remember my little nephew doing the same thing only "yesterday", to know the most ugly parts of my heart and the truth that I am not sure that I would have the strength or faith or love to do what they have done if someone was responsible for hurting my son... It was an emotional, spiritual, real moment.

All night, I could not "get away from it"... my thoughts about this situation. I asked Roxann if I could write about it, and with her permission I am attempting to share a piece of myself, my family with whom I am so proud to be related, and my sweet nephew Gabe.

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4:9

Your Honor,

We appreciate the place that the courts are placed in when something like this happens. However words whether spoken or written are very powerful things and Roxann and I respectfully and with humbleness disagree with the word homicide in this particular instance.

Roxann and my faith teaches us that our days are numbered and that there is a time for all of us to die. We wish with all of our hearts that Gabe’s time on this earth had been longer. We believe that this tragedy was the way that Gabe died but not why he died.

Roxann and I feel that if S’s punishment results in his future being destroyed that his life as well as Gabe’s will have been lost in this tragic occurrence. Gabe cannot speak for himself but we are quite certain he would not want S's future lost.

Again, our faith enables us to believe Gods word that says “…..the law is fulfilled in love for ones neighbor”. It also says that we shall forgive each other for our transgressions. If we as a Father and Mother the referred to victims, can forgive S certainly the court should show its utmost mercy. Our love for Gabe is without condition and we freely extend that love to S.


David and Roxann

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Snippet From Our Day

My nieces Skyler & Chloe are staying with us for a few days, and I took them and my kids to the park to meet my sister, Emily, and her daughter - another of my nieces, Claire, today.  It was so beautiful outside, and we enjoyed eating our picnic, feeding the ducks, and playing at the playground in the 80 degree weather.  There are many more pictures to share... but this having 2 extra kids thing is keeping me quite busy.  Maybe I'll post more when everyone is tucked into bed tonight... Maybe I will run with fury to my own bed once they are all asleep and worry about posting again in 2 days.  :)  We'll see.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

An Afternoon In Our Backyard

The weather has been so nice here.  Yesterday, Jack took his school work outside to work on it while Cooper played in the yard.  Allie - my vigilant family photographer - joined them outdoors to document the day.

~ self portraits ~

~ math ~

~ hot shot ~
For the record - my boys do own shirts... but it seems that most days at home they seem to disappear during the day.  That's okay.  Little boys wearing only blue jeans is one of my top 100 things on earth!  Oh!  And their hair - no excuse for that.  They avoid getting it brushed at all costs.  Some days, I just let them go with their bed-head hair all day.  I'm a nice mom, like that.  :)

Monday, February 23, 2009

a Conference, a Companion, a Concert, & a Church service

This past weekend I was blessed to be able to immerse my soul and be filled and inspired and motivated.

On Friday and Saturday I attended the annual Wholehearted Mother Conference & Retreat for the 3rd time. This is a conference that is hosted by an amazing woman and her family whose mission is to encourage mothers and strengthen families. And they do. Very well. It was created to support women that homeschool, but it is evolving into a ministry to all kinds of moms - working, single, homeschooling, public schooling, private schooling - all around the world. It truly is the most encouraging and focus-giving thing that I have been a part of in my 12 years of motherhood. I would highly suggest that anyone out there that is raising kiddos run to their local bookstore and get anything by Sally Clarkson or visit her website or her blog.

Every year that I have gone to this conference, I have had the privilege of going with one of my bosom buddies. The first year my sister, Sara, went at the last minute when the friend that I was planning on going with had to stay home with her sick child. Last year, my dear friend, Elizabeth, and I went to the conference together and had a wonderful time. This year my soul-sister and companion, Amanda, and I went together. We had a great time hanging out together and even got to squeeze in a garage sale, a movie, and a nap. 3 of both of our favorite things. :)

After Christmas Amanda called and told me about a gift that she had received that she wanted to share with Corey & me. She had received 4 tickets to the Chris Tomlin concert that happened to be on the Saturday night after the conference. So, after 2 days of learning how to be better mommies and wives, we met our husbands for dinner then we all 4 went to the concert. I had never been to one of Chris Tomlin's concerts, but I have to say I hope that I get to go to many more in the future. Oh my gosh! It was so good. Israel Houghton opened for him, and he was amazing. And Chris Tomlin... I can not say enough about him and his heart and his passion for God. Thanks James & Amanda for inviting us to join you.

Remember that book that I wrote about in this post? Well, Sunday morning I had the wonderful opportunity to see the authors of Same Kind Of Different As Me speak at a church that is not too far from where I live. The night after I read that book in a day, I got on the website... I was just so touched by it that I was not ready for it to end. I browsed around for a while and came across the authors' (Ron Hall & Denver Moore) speaking schedule. Though they live in Dallas - not far from where I live - and much of their story is set in Ft. Worth, they did not have many speaking engagements scheduled here. The ones that they did have were fund-raiser type things that were like $100 a plate. (I love them and their book, but that kind of thing is not in the budget.) So, I was so excited to see that they were speaking at a church near me... and they happened to be doing so the very next week (and not again any time soon). I thought that it was curious that they don't speak at more churches, but when Ron Hall was talking on Sunday he explained why --- He said that when their book became well known they started getting lots of emails asking them to come speak at people's churches and Bible studies. Denver, who had lived most of his life on a plantation, in a prison, and on the streets was curious, "What are these 'Bible Studies' that these white people have? It seems like they are doing a lot of Bible studyin' and not a lot of Bible doin'." Ron & Denver seem to be interested in speaking only at places that are putting some real-live work behind their words. This church that I visited Sunday morning is doing just that, and Ron & Denver agreed to come and speak to that congregation and their guests. It was amazing! I am honored that I got to see these two amazing men in person, that my kids got to see what a difference that one person can make in the life of another one, and what a huge change can come about when you surrender your life to God and the plan that He has for you!

I cannot even articulate right now what the culmination of all of these events had on me this weekend. I, like many others, have been broken. I have been hurting. The constant encouragement that I received this weekend was like a salve to my soul. I would never have planned it this way - 3 big events in one weekend. But God knew. There are no coincidences in life. God is sovereign and weaves all things together to accomplish His plan. He knew when I signed up for the conference months ago that Amanda was going to get those tickets for Christmas - even though Amanda didn't even know. He knew that the conference that was planned months ago would have an emphasis on joy & faith - two things that I have been lacking recently and have been wholeheartedly desiring. He knew that I would be so down one day last week that I would spend most of the day in bed, that Elizabeth would have just loaned me that particular book, and that I would pick it up and read it just days before I would have a chance to solidify the authors' message to me in their own words, in person. I feel like this weekend He hunted me down and overcame me with His enormous love for me. He reminded me that He made me to do great things. The greatest of those things happens to be raising my children. Three little souls that he gave to imperfect me to mold in a way that I see fit. What an opportunity I have to teach them about His love and grace as I am shown both of those things each day by the God of the universe, himself. He knew my shortcomings before I was ever even created, and he still gave me life... and a Savior... and more blessings than I could ever deserve.


When I asked him what he had thought about when he blew the dandelion,
 he said, "I wished-ed that I was a knight."

Monday, February 16, 2009

2 Cowboys & A Princess

Yesterday we went on a drive to our family's land... the place that we call The Place.  Corey had some work to do, so we decided to take the kids and make a day of it.  Jack has been learning to be a big help to his dad over the last few years as they have done work at The Place in preparation for hunting seasons and other things.  He jumped out of the van and got right to work, and Cooper was anxious to be just as helpful.  Allie was not quite sure why she needed to be there.  :)  I was pretty much along for the ride to spend time with the family and to take pictures of my kids out in nature... I proved quite quickly that I am not a great ranch hand.  We all ended up enjoying our afternoon at The Place, and I was pleased with the time that we all got to spend together and the photos from the day.  (You can't go wrong with little boys in "cowboy clothes", as Cooper called them.)

Corey built the corral several years ago.  I had forgotten about the cross that is above the gate.  I love it!

~ Workin' Boy ~
I can't believe how big my little boy looks when he is doing big-boy work!
It was a windy day for wearing a cowboy hat.
Cooper was so cute walking around with his hands on his hips looking for something to help with.
~ walking away from a great day at The Place ~

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Book That I Read In One Day

I don't think that I have ever read a book in a day.  Ever.  Is that embarrassing to say?  I'm not sure...  I am admittedly a slow reader and a busy lady, so that is my excuse.  Anyway, Friday I was not feeling very well, and I picked up a book that I had heard about a few months ago and had really wanted to read and had recently borrowed from a friend.  My kids happened to have some cancellations in their day Friday, and I happened to feel like a train had run over me, so I spent much of my day laying in bed reading.  I think that that was a first.  That night I could not go to sleep without finishing the book that had captured me. 

This book was amazing.  I almost hate to say that because I don't want to build it up so much that it is a disappointment to you if you read it, but I think that it is true... it was great!  The story is about a very poor, homeless black man and a very rich white man and how their lives intersect.  It is true, and it takes place right here in my area.  Mostly in Ft. Worth, TX.  

Same Kind Of Different As Me challenged what I think about homeless people and about being used by God in their lives and in my life in general.  It clarified and solidified things that I have come to believe about Him and about the things that He does to accomplish his purposes.  It is interestingly written and emotionally intense.  It touched me.  I hope that I am forever changed.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

An Itch That I Can't Scratch

Lately, feeling the need to write has been my itch that I just can't scratch.  Every day I look at my blog and stare at it.  I think... I miss writing.  I miss contemplating out-loud.  I miss expressing myself.  There are so many things swirling in my head, but I cannot catch a single thought long enough to process it.   I am busy, but that is not the total reason that I can't focus long enough to write... I have definitely had times in my life that have been busier than this.  Hopefully, I will have the clarity of thought - and a few bloggable thoughts - soon.  Because I miss it, this bloggy thing that I love so much.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Friendship Soup

Last week my very thoughtful friend gave me this beautifully packaged gift.  It was the dry ingredients for what she called Friendship Soup.  I love the pretty jar that she put them in, and the soup was delicious when I made it up.  I don't think that she'll ever see this post, but just in case... thank you, sweet friend.  

Friday, February 6, 2009

My First Born

My sister, Emily, sent this to me.  It is fun and quick survey about your first-born child.  If you want to join the fun, just copy and paste it in a new post for yourself!  Let's see how much you remember!

1. WAS YOUR FIRST-BORN PLANNED? Yes.  However, I was still shocked when I got the positive pregnancy test.

2. WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION? I was VERY excited!  Corey & I set up a video camera to video ourselves looking at the pregnancy test after it had had time to process.  When I saw the "positive", I jumped up and down, ended up on Corey's toe, and hurt him.


4. HOW DID YOU FIND OUT YOU WERE PREGNANT? We were on a trip, and I was feeling really gross.  I thought I might be pregnant, and I planned to take a test to confirm when I got home.  It was late at night when we arrived back at our house, and I had read that first-morning-urine was best to use for the test, so I got up at like 4am and took a test.  :)

5. WHO DID YOU TELL FIRST? Corey was with me when we saw the test.  Then, we drove to my brother's apartment and woke him up to tell him (remember it was early morning).  He was terrified when he finally got the door unlocked & opened and saw us standing there, but he was excited once he woke up enough to realize what we were saying.  That night the 3 of us drove to Waco to tell my family.


7. DUE DATE? I think that it was November 2nd.

8. DID YOU HAVE MORNING SICKNESS? Yes - except that it was all-the-time sickness.  Saltines were my best friend for months!

9. WHAT DID YOU CRAVE? Jolly Ranchers and Strawberry milkshakes.

10. WHO/WHAT IRRITATED YOU THE MOST? McDonald's - when they put pickles on my cheeseburger after I had ordered it with no pickles.  It was only once, but it was my most notable pregnancy-fit.  And thankfully it was in our car with only Corey as a witness.


12. DID YOU WISH YOU HAD THE OPPOSITE SEX OF WHAT YOU WERE GETTING? Absolutely not.  I kind of thought that we would have a boy first, but I was instantly, 100% in love with the idea of having a girl.



15. WAS IT A SURPRISE OR DID YOU KNOW? I knew about it. 

16. DID YOU HAVE ANY COMPLICATIONS DURING YOUR PREGNANCY? Yes, my blood pressure was very high, and I was on bed-rest for a few weeks.

17. HOW MANY HOURS WERE YOU IN LABOR? 18 very long hours.

18. WHO DROVE YOU TO THE HOSPITAL? Corey.  And he drove fast, with his hazard lights on.

19. WHO WATCHED YOU GIVE BIRTH? Corey, my doctor, and a couple of nurses.


21. DID YOU TAKE MEDICINE TO EASE THE PAIN? Yes.  I was nervous to get the epidural and waited "as long as I could" before I got it.  With subsequent deliveries, I requested it the moment I walked through the hospital door.  I love me some epidural!


23. WHEN WAS YOUR CHILD ACTUALLY BORN ? 6:18pm on October 31st

24. WHAT DID YOU NAME HIM/HER? Allie Jill (Corey's dad's name is Allee and Corey's name was going to be Jill if he had been a girl when he was born. Also, her initials are AJP, like mine, and my initials were like my mom's when I still had my maiden-name.)

25. HOW OLD IS YOUR FIRST BORN TODAY? 12 years, 3 months, 6 days

I don't have any of our older photos on my computer, so I took pictures of some of Allie's baby pictures in her baby book to show you how absolutely adorable she was.  :)

~ hospital photo ~
~ 5 months ~
When I think about Allie as a baby, this is the way that she looks.  She always had a big bow on her head, and her eyes were breathtaking to me.
~ 11 1/2 years ~
My first-born.  My beautiful girl.

A Letter To Jack


I have thought for 3 days about what I want to say to you this year for your birthday.  There are so many things that come to mind, yet they are all the same things that I have told you so many times before... just multiplied and more intense.  

I was going to say that I love you 9 times more than I loved you 9 years ago when they placed you in my arms, but that is not the truth.  I think that I love you 9-million times more.  I was going to say that I am 9 times more thankful for you than that early morning 9 years ago when the doctor rescued you from your dangerous birth, but I don't think that is adequate.   I am at least 9-million times more thankful.  I was going to tell you that I am 9 times more proud of you than I was on February 4, 2000, but that is not the case.  I am 9-million times more honored that I am a mother to a son as wonderful as you!  

Jack, you are an amazing, wonderful, caring, loving, tender-hearted, all-boy, honest, obedient, hard-working, fun, hilarious little boy.  I have loved every second of the last 9 years with you, and I am looking forward to seeing what this next year of your life produces in you and for you.  I love you, Buddy. 

Always & Forever, 

Jack's Big Day

Wednesday was Jack's actual birthday.  He woke up with big plans for pancakes, some family time, a trip to the city, a trolly ride, and lots of video game playing.  I think that all of his birthday wishes came true - plus some.

I made Jack a special pancake for his birthday breakfast.

Jack chose to divide his birthday gifts up through the day and open some at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  After his breakfast, he got his "big gift" - an air soft gun.  He was VERY excited about it! 

After a morning of festivities and work for Daddy & homework for the rest of us (yes - it is a necessary bummer to do homework on some birthdays), we all headed into the city to have a special lunch and ride the trolley.  Lunch at Bread Winners was delicious and the trolley ride was very fun... and free.  :)

On our way home from Dallas, I asked Jack what he wanted for dinner.  His answer - "Steak".  That's it.  No baked potato?  "No, that made me want to puke last time I tried it."  Try to think of some vegetable that you want to eat... "Cucumbers."  That's it?  Steak & cucumbers?  "And carrots."  So, that was his if-he-could-have-anything-he-wanted birthday dinner.
Steak, Cucumbers, & Carrots
After dinner he got a set of drum sticks that plug into his iPod that he can drum along to songs with, and he and Allie had fun playing together with those.  Also, Allie gave him a gift that she had seen a few weeks ago and thought was perfect.  (and it is)  It is a t-shirt that says, "Just one more level.  Just one more level. Just one more level." Etc., etc., etc.  He and Cooper are very good at saying that phrase on a daily basis when they are asked to stop playing video games.  :)
Corey is always so sweet to take a good portion of our birthdays off, so we can do special things as a family.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cooper's Valentine Party

Cooper & I have been very blessed to be a part of a playgroup made up of wonderful mommy-friends for me and toddler-friends for him.  These 6 little buddies have gotten together at least every other week for a year and a half and are truly becoming each other's little friends.  Most times that we meet we get together at someone's house and play or go somewhere toddler-friendly together.  Tuesday we had a Valentine party since we will not meet again until after the real holiday.  This was our 2nd Annual Valentine Party, and it was hosted at the home of Luke & Lila (by their mommy, Randi).  

~ 2009 ~
Lila * Cooper * Claire * Jonathan * Joshua * Luke
~ A Year Ago in 2008 ~
I told Randi that she was now committed to keeping this couch and hosting the Valentine party for the next 16 years (We've decided that we are going to have Playgroup at least until the kids are out of highs chool. ), so we can get this same picture each year.  :)

Jonathan * Claire * Lila * Luke * Cooper * Joshua
(J & J could be mixed up.  They are identical twins, so I am always confused about who is whom unless they are color coded.  :)  L & L are twins too, but they are much easier to keep straight.  :) )
~ ready to exchange valentine cards ~
(Thanks for the cute basket Mrs. Randi!)
~ giving Claire a valentine ~
~ Cooper after the card exchange ~
I love it that my sister and my niece have been able to become such a part of our everyday lives.  Cooper & Claire are best buds, and they love to play together!  If a few days goes by without seeing Claire, Cooper is asking for her.  When they finally see each other they get so excited!

Even though there is a big age difference, some of Allie's clothes have been handed down to the cousins, and I love it when I see them wearing the things that I have sentimental memories of my own little girl in.  The dress that Claire is wearing is one of those things.  Allie wore it to my grandparents' 50th anniversary party.  I thought that she was the prettiest thing that I had ever seen when I put it on her.  I love seeing Cute Claire in it too!
Every party has sancks!  Here is Cooper eating Mrs. Cheryl's yummy jello.

Related Posts with Thumbnails