Thursday, May 28, 2015

Resources to Enjoy 5.28.15

So it's been a while, and will probably be a while again before I post, but I just thought I would share a few things that the Lord has brought across my path. Verses that are impacting me, sermons I've recently heard and loved, some quotes that moved me and a few links to articles/blog posts that I found helpful and/or inspirational. 

Verses to Reflect On  

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12 

"I thank Him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He judged me faithful, appointing me to His service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecuted, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and the love that are in Christ Jesus. This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came in to the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life." 
1 Timothy 1:12-16 

"Behold children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate." Psalm 127:3-5 

Quotes to Ponder 

"When God gives us commands, He means to help us run the race to completion, not to slow us down.... The law is good because firmness is good. God cares enough to show us his ways and direct our paths. How awful it would be to inhabit this world, have some idea that there is a God, and yet not know what He desires from us." Kevin Deyoung in his book "The Hole in our Holiness" 

"We're not seeking God to get a sticker from Him or an attaboy. We're seeking Him to enjoy even greater intimacy with Him, to get even closer to His heart, to open more and more of those inner closets where we've tried to restrict access to Him thinking He wouldn't like what He sees, thinking He might reject us if He knew. The reason why we study His word, why we attack our sin, why we share generously from our resources, and why we serve people around us is not to persuade Him to love us. WE do these things because He already DOES love us.... and because He wants us to dig even deeper into the treasury of His blessing, into the joy and sweetness and abundant living His gospel unlocks for us." Matt Chandler in Recovering Redemption 

Sermons to Hear

From Heart to Home by Josh Patterson - (you can either listen to or read the transcript from this sermon) AWESOME, practical, biblical and real sermon regarding discipling our children based on Deut. 6 - I will be listening to this one again. 

Arrogance/Humility by Matt Chandler - I have enjoyed all of the sermons from his James series but this one has been my favorite (I think, maybe not, but it's the one that I've been thinking about the most recently.... they are all good so if you have time you really should listen to the entire series, but for now, you can just start with this one :)) 

Links to Share 

Priscilla Shirer "The Language of Privilege" - a blog about perspective and the beauty of obligation 

Into Iraq #2 by Ann Voskamp - a beautiful, heart changing, post regarding the ugly reality of sex-trafficking in Iraq and the women and girls affected by it. This is a MUST READ!! 

True Sin or False Guilt by the Village Church 

20 Quotes from the Explicit Gospel - I love this series from Desiring God. The book "Explicit Gospel" by Matt Chandler is one of my favorites! 

A Complete Classical Christian Reading List for Grades 1-8 An awesome resource from the Gospel Coalition that I will hopefully remember is here :) 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Perspective. It Changes Everything.

My kids are away this week. 
All of them. 
Visiting our beloved Mommer and Papa. 
And I'm at home. 
It's.... weird. 

I never realized my house was this quiet, and noisy at the same time. I'm hearing noises I've never heard before and our chickens (both hens) are actually quite loud in the morning. Who knew? 

And truthfully, that has nothing to do with what I'm posting about today, that was totally free of charge.  

**** segway **** 

The past several years, the Lord has made me aware a specific sin area in my life that I continue to consistently struggle with. I have bad seasons and better seasons, but rarely not-at-all seasons. I've prayed for the Lord to remove it, I've prayed for the strength to just overcome it all together.... and yet the temptation is still there. 

On one hand, I realize that my awareness of the temptation to this particular sin is hyper-sensitive (which I'm grateful for), I never "accidentally" fall into this sin. When I stumble, it's with awareness. 

The Bible tells me that I have the power to say no, to resist. So I find it frustrating that I not only fall back into the sin, but that I've been struggling with one particular temptation for such a long time. 

This morning I was reading in Psalms 44 where the people of Israel have just faced some sort of terrible defeat in battle. The first 8 verses are a recognition of God's provision and sovereignty to His people in establishing them as a nation (in the past). It's a beautifully written acknowledgment of God's faithfulness and power, if you have time, you should definitely read it. The last half of the chapter is a crying out of confusion. They're not sure of the "why" but they still acknowledge God's sovereignty. 
Verse 22 says "Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." 

Reading this verse at first, it didn't sit well, and I don't think I was fully understanding it. And then I noticed that this verse was quoted by Paul in Romans 8:36 --- reading the verses surrounding Paul's quotation of it, brought me a bit more understanding and peace. 

Romans 8:32 
"He who did not spare his own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? 
Who shall bering any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died - more than that, who was raised - who is at the right hand of For, who indeed is interceding for us. 
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? 
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 
As it is written, (here's our verse)
"For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." 
No, in all these things, we are more than conquers through Him who loved us. For I am sure 
that neither death nor life, 
nor angels nor rulers, 
nor things present nor things to come, 
nor powers, 
nor height not depth, 
nor anything else in all creation 
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." 

I am certainly NOT saying that God is tempting me, however I am saying that God is sovereign and is fully aware of my temptation and my struggle. And ALL things that I am going through - regardless of the circumstance or struggle, whether it be temptation or trial, God is aware and He is there. Nothing can separate us from Him - even if (from our perspective) it can feel that way. He is not holding out on me. He has not ever, nor will he ever "let me down." 

While it's easier for me to acknowledge God's sovereignty and ability to save, it can be a whole different matter to acknowledge His goodness through it all. I know that in all things, God is good, but once my feet leave the coziness of the warm blanket in the morning and land on the hard reality of the day, that truth can be a little harder to sense. 

It would be "easier" to be set free from the long-term-temptation we struggle with, or to not serve in the capacity that the Lord has called us, or to only give 70% instead of 110; but it will never be better. 

Matt Chandler in his book "Recovering Redemption" wrote:
"... Christians are certainly not above experiencing the occasional face plant, sometimes one right after another. The difference, however, is that the son or daughter of God "rises again" (Prov. 24:16), even on scraped hands and scuffed knees. We may only be crawling by that point, barely getting back to our feet. But our eyes are pointing forward, and our intent is to press on, "looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith." (Heb 12:2) 
And the more consistently this happens - this again-and-again pursuit of Him - the more clearly the Spirit will bear witness "with our spirit" that we truly to belong to Him, that we are indeed the children of God."  
It changes everything. 

And it gets even better, because this is about more than just one temptation, or one day, or one hardship it's a truth that is intertwined throughout ALL of our life. The temptations, the struggles, the callings on our lives, the day-to-day perseverance, the sacrifices we're called to make, the trial we're meant to endure, the tragedies we face - all of it! All of it somehow falls under the banner of His goodness. 

Tim and I are currently going through a devotional by Paul Tripp together called "New Morning Mercies" (very good book) and I this morning I read: 
"When hardship comes your way, will you tell yourself it's a tool of God's grace and a sign of His love, or will you give in to doubting His goodness?" 
Hmm.... okay Lord, I get it. 
But of course He didn't stop there. Because He knows, even though I think I "get it" - I probably don't. (It's like He knows me) 
"If you are not on God's redemptive agenda page, you will end up doubting his goodness.... Here's the bottom line. Right here, right now, God isn't so much working to deliver to you your personal definition of happiness. He's not committed to give you a predictable schedule, happy relationships, or comfortable surrounds. He hasn't promised you a successful career, a nice place to live, and a community of people who appreciate you. What he has promised you is himself, and what he brings to you is the zeal of his transforming grace. No, he's not first working on your happiness; he's committed to your holiness. That doesn't mean he is offering you less than you've hoped for, but much, much more. In grace, he is intent on delivering you from your greatest, deepest, and most long-term problem: sin. He offers you gifts of grace that transcend the moment, that literally are of eternal value. He has not unleashed his power in your life only to delver to you things that quickly pass away and that have no capacity at all to satisfy your heart.... when you are tempted to thing that God is loving you less because your life is hard, he is actually loving you more.... these hard moments aren't in your life because God is distant and uncaring, but rather because He loves you so fully.
It isn't about what I'm feeling today.
It isn't about my comfort.
It isn't about my idea of happiness.

It's about more than just today.
It's about eternity.
It's about His glory and my good.

I'm sometimes tempted to think He couldn't possibly understand, when in reality, I'm the one who doesn't understand. 

It really does change everything. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Road Trip to Georgia August 2014

A few weeks ago, Tim and I took a couples trip down to Georgia to hang out with some good friends of ours. We decided to drive and made a few stops along the way. This was a big trip for us, in the sense that it is the longest we have left all of our kids, for a total of 6 days. My amazing mother-in-law (and father-in-law) watched the kids the entire time we were gone. Yes, I know how blessed I am :)

The first stop was in Indiana where we stopped at a casino to play a few rounds of roulette and black jack…. we lost $32 :( 

For lunch we ate in Florence Kentucky at this place called "Mai Thai" (thanks to trip advisor) and while we were a little rushed because we got there at like 2:45 (15 minutes before they close for the afternoon), it was fantastic - if you like Thai and sushi. We go to Cincinnati every year and I look forward to going there again. 

The next stop was Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, TN where we took in a show at the Smoky Mountain Opry. The show was good. We had wanted to do the dinner show about the Hattfield and McCoy's but the line was way long and we knew we wouldn't make it to the show on time. So for being our second choice I was not disappointed in the opry show.  We loved the variety, and mostly we loved the juggler and the gospel music portion. So good! I love that our country still has a few spots where this type of things still happens. IMG 3908

We also ate lunch at this little spot called "Wild Plum Tea Room" it was rated #1 on trip advisor. It was off the beaten path and was a very unique experience. 


Their regular menu was very small, and to be honest I was a little disappointed when we first sat down until the waiter came over and told us all of the daily specials. We both ended up ordering a special, as well as their famous tea (which was delicious btw). My only complaint is that I would have preferred for the specials to be written somewhere only because it's easier for me to process things I see rather than things I hear, and there was a lot so it was hard for me to keep up. 

While in the art district we stopped at a few shops, primarily to look at the pottery. I did purchase a little pottery mug for my morning coffee…. it's so cute and authentic!! 


From there we drove through the mountains - including the Smoky Mountain National Park - to Elijay, Georgia. The drive was gorgeous!!


Unbelievably beautiful, i could not take enough pictures!!


It was a great time and something I will never forget.  


And there is no one in the world I would have rather experienced it with!! 


Once we got to Elijay, we stayed at a cabin in the deep mountains (I say deep because it took 15 minutes to get 2 miles with all of the curves to get to the actual cabin) although I would not describe it at as remote, I would describe it as "a ways out" thanks to the curves. There were 8 of us staying there, and I think after the three days only 2 of us had not gotten car sick. But it was a beautiful cabin with lots of room for us and the three outer couples we were staying with. 

While there, we enjoyed some of the amenities on site: the outdoor pool (which was so warm it was like getting into bath water). I personally decided it wasn't worth getting my hair wet and just kept my legs dangled over the side. :) We did a round of mini golf, basketball and tennis (or at least the others did the basketball and tennis…. way too warm for me to be working that hard). 

Our second day there we decided to do whitewater rafting. I was very nervous at first. And by very nervous I mean, for a few moments I considered not getting into the raft.


We went with the Rolling Thunder River Company - our group of 8 was divided into two groups. Tim and I's group was with Morgan (we called her "Captain Morgan") and it was AWESOME!! As scary as it was, it was memorable and exciting. I truthfully can't wait to go again sometime and while I want to take all of the kids, I particularly can't wait to take Treyton - I know he would love it!! 

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It took about and hour and half and when we were done, all I could think was that I wanted to do more, but the next morning my arms were a little sore, so I think, in the end, it was just enough. 


Side Note: we technically were in Tennessee for the whitewater rafting. 





Our last day there we decided to go for a hike before we headed out (Tim and I left a day before everyone else), after losing our way a bit we ended up hiking The Approach to the Appalachian Trail to the Amicalola Falls. It was probably the most intense hiking we had ever done, but was well worth it once we saw the falls. It wasn't too far either, mostly just steep - both up and down. I'm very glad we went - even if Tim and I had sore legs the next day. :) 






It was an amazing trip - my favorite part aside from seeing our friends and participating in the world's most amazing dance party - was the great food and the whitewater rafting and the scenery…. okay I guess i loved it all! 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Grateful for Weakness

This morning during my quiet time I was really encouraged by 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 which says: 
"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
I am weak. Really weak. Weak in many areas, really. And for the sake of your sanity, I won't bore you with the details of it all, but I even struggle with the idea of being weak. 
I don't want to be weak. 
I want to be able to do everything on my own. 
In my time. 
My way. 
Any time, all the time. 

I'm a finisher. I'm a type-a personality. I love getting things done. I am goal-oriented. My mood is usually an indication of how much (or little) I feel as though I have accomplished that day. 

I, unlike Paul, have not quite learned the art of being content in my weakness. 

But He's working on it. 


I'm realizing (slowly) that I don't want to be able to do it all on my own, even when I think I do. If I were somehow able to do it all on my own, I know that I would never stop to rely on Him. If I were somehow under the illusion that I had this whole thing figured out, I would be focused on all the wrong things. 

Like myself, and my finite "awesomeness". 

Rather than being focused on Him and His infinite awesomeness. 

He never runs out of energy. His health never fails. He never has doubts. He never makes mistakes. He sees all things, knows all things, and can do all things. 

When I focus on Him, and His greatness and limitlessness - I find myself becoming more grateful for my own limits and weaknesses. 

When my focus shifts from what I am unable to do, to what He is able to do, my whole perspective changes. 

I begin to feel grateful rather than frustrated. 
To feel humble rather than proud. 
Worshipful rather than entitled. 

To be content in weakness…. I never would have thought.

But He did. :)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Interviews with the Kids

I know it's been for ever and this could hardly qualify as a blog entry, but after hearing my friend talk about interviewing her kids recently, I was reminded to do it again with my kids. The following is the interview questions and answers I did with the kids this morning. 
Too Funny :) 

1. When are you (or have you been) the most afraid?
Audrey: mouse
Alexa: When a monster is coming to get me and my mom and dad aren’t here, or when a car is trying to get me…. Yeah do the car, because a monster isn’t real. Yeah, when you’re not here, that’s when I am most afraid.
Treyton: Alone in the dark, when I was young
2. What was the happiest day of your life?
Audrey: birthday
Alexa: Happiest? That’s like totally the opposite, when it’s my birthday.
Treyton: I guess when I got born…. Six Flags!!!! And then my birthday when I was 8
3. If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?
Audrey: no answer  
Alexa: Um, I don’t know, bees
Treyton: Sin
4. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
Audrey: Five, I be five, Alexa five
Alexa: (Closes her eyes, sighs), biting people “Do you bite people?” No, being mad at people, fiting with people and stuff.
Treyton: Becoming an NFL player
5. What is one thing you couldn’t live without?
Alexa: God
Treyton: Food
6. What is your favorite movie?
Audrey: Minnie Mouse
Alexa: Frozen
Treyton: Ugh…. You knew I was not going to be good at this… Three Musketeers
7. What one cartoon character would you be?
Audrey: Elsa
Alexa: Holly Shiftwell
Treyton: Spiderman
8. Describe your perfect day.
Audrey: No answer
Alexa: Mom being the best mom in the world. “What would that look like?” She having a happy heart and a happy smile on her face the whole day. We would play games and go swimming in the swimming pool, hug each other and clean out the garden (she was looking out the window toward the garden), and eating the goodest dinner I’ve ever had. And the last thing, would be Dad and Mom would tuck me in, the best tucking in ever and they let me read.
Treyton: It would be a lot of sports, we could eat whenever we want, and we could go wherever we want, and we can act crazy
9. What job would you like to have when you grow up?
Audrey: Ballet
Alexa: Piano Teacher
Treyton: That’s easy, can I do three or one? Basketball, Baseball and Football
10. Who are your best friends and why?
Audrey: Anna (from Frozen), Eb –a – ee (Evaleigh)
Alexa: Amelya, Breigh, Caitlyn, Dustin, Evaleigh and Fletcher…. And why? Because they play with me.
Treyton: Lewis, because he’s exactly like me and he likes to have fun, and he’s fair.
11. What is the best thing about being ___ years old?
Audrey: I don’t know
Alexa: You’re half to 10!!
Treyton: You get to start making your own decisions.
12. What is the worst thing about being ____ years old?
Audrey: Sick
Alexa: I don’t know
Treyton: Nothing, well, um…. It might be nothing, having sisters that follow me around all the time of my life.
13. If you could change your name what would you change it to?
Audrey: Bee-Ba (Lisa? I asked) Yes
Alexa: (thinking for a long time) Lily, no, lizzy, no, madeline, no, I don’t want to copy cat, maybe I will but…. Maybe Rebecca
Treyton: Michael “Why Michael?” I like how you say it MIKE-al… or James
14. What’s your favorite color?
Audrey: Purple…. Pink
Alexa: Purple
Treyton: Green

1. Something mom always says to you?
Audrey: Speech Class
Alexa: Ohhh… that’s hard…. Can you kiss me? Do your chores.
Treyton: I love you
2. What makes mom happy?
Audrey: Speech Class
Alexa: When it’s her birthday, ewwww… when dad set up the video game, when she gets flowers, Easter.
Treyton: Notes (letters), when I write her notes 
3. What makes mom sad?
Audrey: My baby naughty
Alexa: When you get a bee stung
Treyton: Like not mad at me? Just sad? When I don’t listen.
4. How does mom make you laugh? 
Audrey: Tickle Me
Alexa: Can I say about Dad making you laugh? When he tickles you!! (She thought I asked what makes mom laugh, so I asked her again) When you say jokes.
Treyton: Talking funny…. You talk funny sometimes
5. What was mom like as a child?
Audrey: Anna
Alexa: I don’t even know when you were a child!! I don’t even know who you were!! What do you think I was like? Playing the toys, playing the DS, playing the Wii, smelling flowers outside
Treyton: Did you make up these questions? Very active I would say, I’ve heard a lot of active out of you.
6. How old is your mom?
Audrey: Umm, Umm, 4
Alexa: 30
Treyton: 30
7. How tall is mom?
Audrey: Little, tiny, tiny, tiny
Alexa: What?!!? 10 feet tall
Treyton: 0 feet and 1 inch, I’m just kidding!! 5 feet and 5 inches
8. What is mom’s favorite thing to do?
Audrey: Cuddle
Alexa: Crochet, go to JoAnns, get new yarn, go to stores – I know you don’t like going to stores
Treyton: Crochet
9. What does mom do when you’re not around?
Audrey: Tickle me (I don’t think she understood the question)
Alexa: I don’t even see you, in the morning she does her Bible when we’re eating breakfast.
Treyton: Everything!! (LOL) watches TV and does yarn
10. If mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
Alexa: Cause you won a race car competition, you got $102
Treyton: Talking, not sermons, but out loud talking – or crocheting famous
11.  What is mom really good at?
Audrey: I don’t know, speech class
Alexa: Crocheting
Treyton: Crocheting, cleaning up, at the computer
12. What is mom not very good at?
Audrey: Naughty at me
Alexa: Knitting
Treyton: Nothing…. well, it could be sports, you’re not totally good at that.
13. What does mom do for her job?
Audrey: Up above a little star (Yeah, I didn’t get it either, but she repeated it over and over every time I asked)
Alexa: Crochet, crochet, crochet 
Treyton: Homeschools
14. What is mom’s favorite food?
Audrey: Pizza
Alexa: Now that’s hard, Steak or salmon
Treyton: (giggle) chocolate
15. What makes you proud of mom?
Audrey: Play outside
Alexa: Um, that she crochets very fast, and that I grow up to be a very fast one.
Treyton: Everything
16. What cartoon character would mom be?
Audrey: Naughty
Alexa: Um…. Aurora
Treyton: Anna
17. What do you and mom do together?
Audrey: paint fingernails
Alexa: crochet together, like when we’re watching a T and a V… TV
Treyton: Do school, talk, have fun
18. How are you and mom the same?  
Audrey: (she would only dance)
Alexa: we’re twins!! (she calls us twins because we’re both second borns)…. We’re not really twins mama, I don’t have glasses, our hair color is different mins is a little lighter, your hair is shorter, our clothes aren’t the same, our feet are not the same size.
Treyton: We’re the same height, we think alike
19. How are you and mom different?
Audrey: we’re naughty people
Alexa: I just said that
Treyton: You have glasses and I don’t, she has long hair and I don’t
20. How do you know mom loves you?
Audrey: tickle me, tell me
Alexa: cause I was born so sweet. Kisses me, that’s when I feel like my mom loves me. Flowers and when you hug me.
Treyton: Because she made me and takes care of me, protects me
21. Where is mom’s favorite place to go?
Alexa: Texas Roadhouse
Treyton: You don’t really like shopping that much. Texas Roadhouse?
(interestingly enough, Texas Roadhouse, though I like it is not even my favorite restaurant) 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Random Thoughts for February

Where does the time go? I had really good intentions to blog more regularly…. and you all see how far the "good intentions" have gotten me. 

Busy as it is, life is good here. 

It's actually a lot more settled down now that the holidays are through and we've gotten through the new year. 

Thanks to the so-far-below-freezing-no-one-should-be-outside temperatures, we've spent more time than usual at home, which has been nice. I am working on more crafts than ever (because I have the time at home) and am beginning to bring the kids in on as many as I can. In the last months they've made bath bombs, embroidery, scrabble tile signs, paper beads, crocheting and more. It's so much fun to work on crafts together. They really get into it, and they want very badly to do well. 

In general the family is doing well, I hate to even say this but we've even been virus free for over a month!! No colds or anything. Again, I think this is due to the fact that we've been out and about so much less, but whatever the reason we will enjoy it while we can. 



Treyton is currently in basketball (once a week) and loving it. No big surprise there. He loves any and all sports, and basketball happens to be one of his favorites. He is really looking forward to playing during the high school basketball game this coming up Friday (which is now, today). 

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He has lost like a million teeth now, for those of you that are technical, I think the actual number is 6 but either way, a lot is a lot. He loves pulling his teeth, which is a good thing, because it's a job that while I don't hate it, I'm comfortable passing it by. 

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School is going well. It continues to take a lot of effort on his part, but when he is trying, he does very very well. He is super smart and has such an "intellectual" way of looking at things. My favorite part of doing school with Treyton is the discussion. He always asks insightful questions and is an extremely curious child which caries over into everything he does. Even if it's a commercial on TV, if he doesn't get it, he wants to and will ask lots of questions until he understands. 

A thorough thinker, he keeps us on the straight and narrow and focused on the things that matter. 



Alexa had her dance recital last week. I'll be honest, I shed a tear or two when she was out on that stage, dancing her little heart out. She is such a passionate little creature and it all shows whenever you turn the music on. I love that about her. 

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She loves piano and reading and doing tie blankets, which her Aunt Toni helped her start doing. She is very crafty and could work on crafts almost as much as I do, if I let her. Though her weakness is cleanliness and organization, so working with her takes a little more patience on my part. She's the kind of crafter who just gets in and gets going and doesn't care where she sets something down….. I on the other hand work with everything having it's place…. we are good for each other. 

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She is doing very well in school. I am keeping her in her current reading program, although she really doesn't need it. She is such an intuitive reader that she just catches on to most new words she comes in contact with. She reads much like she lives her life, generally within the boundary of the rules, but having no real idea or concern for what the rules actually are. :) 

A carefree soul, she is always making us laugh and slow down to appreciate the smaller things. 



Audrey continues to do speech therapy at the school two times a week. Because of the weather and a scheduled day off, It had been 2 weeks between visits with her speech pathologists, when he finally did see her, he was amazed!! He can't believe how quickly Audrey is flying through the program, though he says it's not surprise considering the amount of time she is able to commit to it. She is a very unique 3 year old, we hear that ALL the time. She is very smart and wise and although she can't communicate it, she does know what's going on, and hardly misses anything. IMG 1362

I have started doing more structured preschool with her (Before Five in a Row, namely) and she is LOVING it!! She already know 4 or 5 colors, and can count to 10 fairly well, so we are adding to all of that obviously and reading lots of stories. This week we are also learning about hibernation. Her favorite part is the crafts, which I'm trying to incorporate daily. 

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A determined should she has taught us so much about character building and how the easy-way is most certainly not always the best way. 

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Titus, Titus, Titus…. what can I say? He's hit the age of 50% adorable, 50% trouble :) He is a go-getter. Praise God he is a good napper, and is still napping twice a day, and sleeping 12 hours at night, so we get some break-time, because that kid has some energy. He's not naughty by any means. In fact, for his age, I think he listens rather well. He's just in to everything and wants to be a part of anything and wants to eat constantly!!! 

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He is soooo funny, and is quite the little character. He loves hiding under blankets and walking around, which his parents find oddly hilarious. He loves peek-a-boo and music. He's a cute little dancer and when he really wants food he will do squats - it's adorable!! 

He does not like loud vibrating noises (such as a whoopee cushion, or loud engines). He does love our inflatable house thingy and can spend large chunks of time just letting his older siblings bounce him around in it. 

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He is not speaking much, which considering our past experiences, I am trying very hard not to be concerned about. Truth is, he is a boy and the 4th child, it's okay that he's not saying a lot. (or at least that's what I'm trying to convince myself). He at one point said "mama" but he doesn't really say that anymore. He says "DaDa" "Tay-ta" (Treyton) and "yes" ---- i know how weird is that? Especially considering typically, developmentally the /y/ sound does not show up until 2 1/2. (Sad that I know that….. anyway…..) 

He is an adventurous little soul that keeps us on our toes and helps us to remember that we're not as young as we once were. 


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Friday, January 31, 2014

Peace in all Circumstances

(DISCLAIMER: Below is an extremely raw and real story about the final weeks of my uncle's life, if this makes you uncomfortable, I would ask that you not read it, I'm writing this, for me and for my family, these are moments I will never forget, nor do I want to forget because they changed me, and God is using these moments in a big way in my life. However, I understand it may not be for everyone to read) 


Over the past several weeks, my uncle, who I am very close with began to face the downhill part of his two-year battle with lung cancer. Two weeks ago I received a phone call on Sunday morning, telling me to come to Baraboo to see him, for probably the last time. He was in the hospital with pneumonia, and while the day before I had heard he was doing really well and expected to come home in the next couple of days, he had taken a sudden turn for the worse over night and they weren't really sure what to expect. 

I got there at about 10 in the morning. I walked in, and while he acknowledged my presence and told me he was glad I came, there was very little acknowledgement on his part throughout the day. He was tired and struggling.  

We had found out that morning, that despite the third round of chemo that he was currently on, the tumor had grown and was now wrapped around some blood vessels. His hemoglobin had dropped two points over night, and they were not sure if the vessels had been compromised or not. 

That day our entire family sat by his side as we watched him struggling to maintain his oxygen levels. He was scared and anxious. They gave him some medication to help, but we could tell he wasn't ready. I decided that I would stay the night that night with him while he was in the hospital so that he wasn't alone. I live two-and-a-half hours away and I wasn't willing to leave and drive home, knowing how sick he was. 

The nurses explained to me that often times patients would get worse during the night. But he didn't - he actually started doing better. At about 3am he had even sat up on the side of the bed and we got his blood ox up to 99!! Uncle T and I both started checking wires…. we were sure the machine was malfunctioning!! :) 

The next morning social workers, doctors and nurses were coming in as we started to discuss the possibility of hospice. Todd was not willing to take the steps towards hospice quiet yet. He knew he wasn't ready to go home to my mom's house (he was still not able to get out of bed or take care of his own basic needs), but he wasn't ready to stop fighting either. 

The hardest part for Todd during all of this was his inability to communicate easily. Around Thanksgiving he had lost his voice, most likely from the tumor pressing on a nerve, and he was difficult to understand without an oxygen mask on his face. 

It was decided that he would go to a nursing home under rehabilitation. With the hope that they would help him get stronger and at least get out of bed on his own, and then he would go back home. He got moved in on Tuesday. He worked really hard at his rehab and was doing better. Though he didn't feel like he would be ready to go home in the two-weeks time they were hoping for, with help he was getting out of bed and eating in the cafeteria with other patients. During the next couple of days, Todd became more at peace with his diagnosis and, I think began to realize there was not anything, medically that could be done for him.

He had made his peace. 

My mom and older sister, Skye had gone to visit Uncle T on Saturday morning. They found him sitting up in his wheel chair with his feet propped up on the side of his hospital bed making a list of things he wanted them to pull out of his house before the estate sale. 

He was in good spirits and visited with them for a while before they left to go work on the house. 

Sunday morning, my mom was at home and had tried to call Todd several times to let him know she was probably not going to visit that morning. She had been visiting him every day for the last two weeks, and with the cold weather she had wanted to stay home that day. Todd had not answered her several phone calls. I was on the phone with her at 12:30 when she got another call from a number she didn't know. I said "It's probably Todd calling you back, answer it and call me when you can." 

She called back minutes later and said "It was the nursing home, they think Todd is dying and wanted to know if I wanted them to send him to the hospital. I'm walking out the door now, I'll call you when I know more. Call your sisters for me." 

I hung up and called my sisters. 

I called Tim who was dropping Treyton off at basketball. He said he would come and pick up the other kids so I could head out. 

I got to Baraboo around 3:30. 

I walked into Todd's room…. it was very calm and peaceful. I came around his bed, kissed him and told him I was there, and that I loved him. He opened his eyes and told me he loved me too. 

It was my mom, my step-dad, Luke, and my sister, Skye. 

Todd was at the nursing home, they had decided not to send him to the hospital, because there was nothing the hospital could do for him as far as actually healing/helping him. We were in the stages of making him a comfortable as we could. 

Todd's blood oxygen was now in the 70s and we could not really get it to come up. His body was going to begin to shut down. When my mom had gotten there Todd was pretty anxious, but mostly because he felt like he couldn't breath. He was tossing and turning and unable to get comfortable. They gave him some medication and he was now calm, and resting. 

My mom was able to talk with him when she had first gotten to his room and asked him if he needed anything. He said "no", she asked him if he was scared he said "no", she asked him if he wanted her to leave him alone he said "yes". She stood up from sitting on the said of his bed. He said "hey" she looked back at him and he said "I love you, good night." 

He was finally at peace. 

He rested all throughout the day. 

At one point, around 7 at night, Todd had "sat up" and opened his eyes, he was slightly agitated at which point they gave him more medication. We each got a chance in those few brief moments to tell him we were there and that we loved him. He acknowledged each of us. 

After this, he didn't respond as much, though he would still move occasionally to get more comfortable. 

The nurse had told us that he could live days like this. My sister and I decided to stay that night to give my mom a break, because we would have to be going home on Monday. My mom left the hospital around 10. My mom kissed him and said her goodbyes. 

My sister and I cuddled up on a cot next to Todd's bed and rested when we could. The nurses and aids came in every couple of hours to turn him and give him more medication.

The night nurses were not well received by my older, very protective sister and the aids were attempting to handle Todd more than she was comfortable with. So after 1am, Skye was sitting next to Todd watching him (and anyone else who may have attempted to enter his domain) very carefully. I was laying on the cot. We were watching him breath. 

He was very peaceful. Though looking back, there had been a change in the last couple of hours. 

At 1am when the nurse came in to give him medication. His respiration was at 20 a minute. By 1:30 he was at about 13 respirations per minute. At about 1:45 he had started breathing more sporadically, before long I told Skye "we should call mom" She agreed but said, lets count for a minute and see where he's at. 

We started counting. It took 15 seconds for one breath. I said "Call Mom!!" She did. 

I leaned over my uncle, kissed his head and said "We're right here, uncle, you're doing so good." 

He took another breath. 

Skye was talking to my step-dad. 

He took another, very small breath. 

And he was gone. 

There was no struggling, there was no gasping. It was very peaceful. 

We sat by his bed holding his hands until my mom got there about 10 minutes later. 


Yesterday was his funeral. 

I can't really explain to you the emotions we've all been going through. We are at peace, truly. My uncle's ugly battle with cancer and emphysema is finally over. And he is completely healed! My uncle had a very strong faith, perhaps the strongest faith I've ever seen, and we have no doubt where he is today. 

We are sad, because we will miss him, but we are joyful for him. 


I wrote something in honor of my uncle which I then read at the funeral. For those that know me, I do NOT speak publicly but I knew this was something I really wanted to do. I'm sure the presentation wasn't perfect (I had to read the entire thing) but I know the message was received and that's what matters: