Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Surviving the toddler years, enjoying the fireworks.

The husband and I decided to be brave, and take the children out in the big city for a fireworks display. Plan A.(state park) didn't work out, so we set out to down town Atlanta for plan B. Sure there were moments of looking over at each other, not saying a word, but giving that glance of "Are we nuts?". The only one that complained was the baby of the family. He was hot and tired, and well, he's the baby so it's kinda his job to be the center of attention. Amazingly enough, we didn't loose a child, or any belongings. And the fireworks were amazing.


Funny how, just five or so years ago, such an adventure would have been impossible without The Reinforcements (aka: Grandparents). They made every vacation, concert, museum trip, zoo trip, Fireworks, even doctors appointments possible. When you have four kids, in five years, it really does take a village to help you. We were blessed to live close to family during that season of babies and toddlers. And I don't know what we would have done without them.

Well, actually, I do. We would have done nothing. Ever. No vacations, no concerts, no museums, no zoo's, no fireworks and doctors appointments would have been impossible. Because life with four toddlers/babies is hard enough at home, all enclosed in a house. Much less out in the big world, where, they have to walk and hold your hand everywhere. (re: practically impossible in every way.)



So as we walked through a sea of people in a very big city, down town, July 4th Fireworks. I couldn't help but feel a sense of accomplishment. A "WE MADE IT". We actually have fun on outings now! We can really enjoy their company. I don't have to bring strollers and up teen bags of everything we own to keep them occupied. (Cue the Hallelujah chorus!)



THEY DON'T RUN AWAY FROM US ANYMORE! Seriously, I thought that day would never come when I was in the trenches of toddler hood.

By the time fireworks started...there was no green spaces left and that sidewalk was PACKED with people. It was nuts.

 A sweet cousin said to me not too long ago (She is in the trenches of toddler hood and might I say fighting the battle very well.)

"Don't you feel like discipline is sometimes harder on you than your kid? I mean, you are just making your life harder!"

To that I said and "ABSOLUTELY!"



It does make your life, much harder. If you say it, you have to follow through with it. I don't want to even tell you how many times I sat outside my toddlers door, because the toddler was in time out, and if I didn't sit and watch him, while in time out, he wouldn't have stayed, in timeout. (and I mean really, just getting to sit down was kind of a luxury, though I think most times I was nursing a baby too.) I had to do the same thing at nap time too. Sit. In front of their door, watching them fall asleep.

I think that is why it's so hard for us parents to stick with discipline consistently. Because it's exhausting, and makes our life hard.

We believe in teaching our kids how to be okay with loosing. I mean, Obviously.

But here's the thing. Because I stuck to my guns when they were two, I enjoy their company at ten. I can now have a conversation with my ten year old about his behavior, and he doesn't throw himself on the ground screaming and crying, because he learned self control, at two. THERE IS HOPE!!!!!!! Was it easy? Heck no. Did I cry probably more than my children? YES! Did I screw up? Of course.

~ Why yes...we did do the patriotic hair star. 'Merica ~

BUT I WENT TO FIREWORKS WITH FOUR KIDS AND A HUNDRED THOUSAND PEOPLE AND HAD FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So you may not particularly enjoy your toddlers company now, I mean you may have brief moments of bliss. Followed by many more moments of sheer terror. Everyone does.
He was hot, and thirsty, and refused to look at me. Whatev' because what he doesn't know, is I LOVE profile pictures.

But...one day, one day it will be all fireworks and ooo's and ahh's. Followed by your kids saying things like "This was the best day" and "I love being with you." and "I'm so glad you are my mom and dad"...okay and maybe a baby of the family that just says "Can I get my sonic slush now?" (But he didn't cry about it. Winning!)
Nothing says "Successful outing out with four kids" like having time to take pictures of your cute shoes while sitting in green grass. This would never have happened five years ago. I would have been too busy chasing many small children around.

One day your Children will rise up and call you blessed. Because you stayed the course, You rode out the storm, You loved them so much that you were willing to be not liked on most days, to one day, have them love you so much for it. I saw a glimmer of that hope on July 4th. And it was dazzling. The fireworks were just the icing on a pretty amazing cake.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Resting in Him...

So much has happened since moving to Atlanta. The other day, someone asked how long we had been here. I realized at that time it had only been three weeks. It felt much longer. Not because I know my way around (GPS is my BFF) or that we already feel so settled (Because we don't). But because so much has happened in such a short period of time. It's been a whirlwind. A very difficult, grief and loss filled whirlwind.
Photo taken about four years ago, Myself, my daughter, and my Grandmother at 86 years young


Just a few days after we moved my brave and beautiful grandmother became ill. After a short stay in the hospital, she went to be with Jesus. I am thankful I was able to talk to her on the phone, right after she was hospitalized. My Mom insisted that I say hello to her, I thought she probably needed to rest. I am forever grateful my Mom insisted. At that point we had no idea she wouldn't be going home from the hospital. I will forever hold that last conversation with her as a most precious memory. I told her I loved her, so much, and that we were praying for her. That I wished I could be there. I more than wished that, it was really really hard to not be there. With difficulty breathing, She told me she loved me so much, and thanked me for the prayers. Then, with bated breath asked "How are you honey? Are you okay?". I knew she would. She always did. No matter what she was going through, she wanted to know how you were. This woman, who I loved so incredibly much, never ever failed to ask that. My first thought was, "You are in the hospital and you are asking how I am?" Though her memory was failing, she always remembered her family. She remembered Elliott has Arthritis. She always asked about him. She always prayed for him. We are so grateful and blessed to be able to say, until her last days, she knew and loved her family.


In death, people tend to be immortalized as being super human. While my Grandmother certainly was a God fearing and loving woman. She wasn't perfect. She'd be the first to tell you that, and likely that you aren't either. She was a fire cracker. Many a times, before she came to visit, I remember my parent's telling me "Grammie doesn't know about Hunter's accident (my little brother who was CONSTANTLY getting hurt), so don't say anything to Grammie.". She was a worrier. She lived in Florida, we lived far away from her, and my parent's knew that she couldn't do anything about my brother's many accidents, so why worry her with it. She had an alarm system installed, before most people knew you could do that. She gave me mace on a key chain when I turned twelve, and I think almost every Christmas after that in my stocking I received something to help keep me safe. My Aunt shared in her eulogy that even when she was hospitalized, she would say to her girls when they were leaving "Be safe, Stay safe." She was a worrier.


I could relate to my Grandmother in that area of her life. Ever since I can remember I have struggled with fear and anxiety. I'm thankful my parents didn't make me feel like I was crazy, when I was a child, and would sneak into their room every night to sleep on the floor. I was terrified of the dark, and being far away from them. I hated spending the night with friends, because I couldn't be close to my parents, and my brothers. I had irrational fears of getting lost, or losing my family. I liked sharing a room with my brother, because I could check on him and make sure he was breathing (mind you I was probably five). I had a wonderful childhood. Amazing parents. I have no idea why I struggled with fear and anxiety like I did and at such a young age. I don't think they could figure it out either, but they never made me feel bad about it. Not kidding I would sneak into their room and sleep on the floor, on a pallet my mom made for me, every night, until I was about ten. When we moved from my childhood home in Kansas when I was nine, to an older home in Alabama, it was a ranch style house, and my parents room was across the hall from mine. So I could leave my door open, and see them, and feel safe. For the first time, I actually slept in my own room.

I can not remember a time when fear and anxiety wasn't a part of my life. Many people say they have a traumatic childhood experience that made them a very fearful person. I didn't. At all. I was a very creative child, and had a pretty amazing imagination. Maybe that is part of why I struggled with fear and anxiety. I don't know. But, when my Grammie came to visit, and put me to bed. She never made me feel bad for asking her to stay with me until I fell asleep. When we stayed at her house, and I would ask a million times "When are my parents coming back?" or "Are my brothers okay?" she would reassure me "Honey, the alarm is set. It's okay. We are safe. Your Mom and Dad will be back. It's okay." She never said to me "You are a child, and being completely irrational." I think she knew, without ever saying it, exactly how I felt.


I grew up in the church, my Dad was a youth pastor. But it wasn't until I was twelve at church camp, that I re-dedicated my life to Christ, when the fear and anxiety that I struggled with dissipated. Oh, it still reared it's ugly head. But I learned about renewing my thoughts, and learning scripture to quote to myself when I began to feel the anxiety bubble up within me. It's still something that I have to work on. I suppose everyone has different things they deal with, and that is mine. But, it doesn't paralyze me as much as it did when I was a child.

Until recently. I suppose losing my last living Grandparent, moving to a very big city, with none of my family close by. It's all been a huge anxiety trigger. It's one of those times where I know...my heart knows...
"With God, Any thing is possible."
"Cast all your cares on Me, for I care for you."
"Nothing is impossible with Christ."
"I will never leave you or foresake you"
"My mercies are new every morning."
"If God is for me, Who can be against me."
"In Christ, you are a new Creation. The old has passed, the New has come."

But my head. My darn head. He has done SO much for us. He has gone before us. Every time. My heart know's this. My head know's this. Getting them to agree at the same time. It's been difficult.

Can you relate?

Grief does strange things to us doesn't it. While we know and have the hope of heaven. Loosing those we love is just hard. Mourning doesn't end the day of the funeral. I am so happy for my Grandmother. I know she is free of pain, in the very presence of her Savior. That doesn't mean that my heart doesn't ache.

Yesterday at church, Pastor John Woodall gave a powerful message on just what I needed to hear.  Maybe you have come to a point in your life, where you feel your life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is lacking. Maybe it's like having a cloud over your heart, a heaviness, or sadness you can't pinpoint and won't go away. Maybe you need to do some soul excavation. I strongly encourage you to go listen to the message linked above.



I can't change that my early and formative years were filled with fear and anxiety. But I can change the internal message that I spoke to myself.
"I am not _(fill in the blank)__".

My fill in the blank words would have been, safe, or strong enough. Like I said, I never questioned my parents protection. They did a wonderful job of doing so. I really can't look back and pinpoint when my fear and anxiety started or why. I just know I was incredibly fearful. And so, I set about to do some soul excavating. Until it is filled with God's Truth.

Jesus said :

I have felt so much comfort over the last few weeks. I know God is with me. I know God has a purpose and a plan for our family in this season. I look back on my early life and the messages I spoke to myself, and I am working on replacing it with the Truth of God's promises. I am beginning to experience so much freedom.

The day of my Grandmother's memorial service, I looked one of my biggest fears in the face. I took a microphone and sang. For her. But, I think God prompted me to sing for her service that day, to speak to me. He is peeling back the layers of fear and anxiety that had been wrapped around my heart. To tell me, that I am enough. Just the way I am.


I miss my Grandmother, my family, and my friends. But I have an anchor for my soul. A hope that brings me peace and comfort. And wonderful memories of a beautiful childhood with her. I long for the day, when I too am resting with Him. Until then I rest in the Hope He gives.



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Great and mighty things....

I sit in the dark, shadow's of boxes are all around me. Signs that a big change and move is on the horizon. Much like a Kansas sun rises over a field of wheat, the glow coming before the sun...telling you to make way, the sun is coming. I spent my childhood in Kansas. I have wonderful memories of cheering on the jay hawks on weekends, listening to my Dad teach as the youth pastor of a flourishing church downtown, learning to ride a bike with my Grandfather holding on behind me, watching parades, playing in the fountains on the KU campus, spending the night with my parent's best friends in the KU couples dorms, watching my Dad graduate with his Master's from KU. Truly, I had a wonderful childhood in Kansas.

Then my Dad got a job in Alabama, SOUTH Alabama, back woods, Alabama. I would tell my friends in Kansas, where I was moving and immediately get a "Where?". No one had ever heard of it. And yet, in that small southern town, as a pre-teen, I made long lasting friendships. People who pointed me in the direction I would take my life. I have great memories, riding my bike to piggly wiggly to get a gallon of milk for my Mom. Sure, it was quite the culture shock. But, I can see God's hand, protecting me and shaping me in those years.

Then my Dad got a job in NORTHERN Indiana. Amish Country to be exact. I was entering high school. I was really not happy about that move. I remember our Pastor's wife saying to me as we were saying our goodbye's at church "Maybe God is moving you to meet your future husband?". I thought she was crazy. But I did what all good southern girls do, and said a "Bless your heart" and hugged her neck. She was right. I can't say I particularly ever fit in, in Indiana during highschool. And I visited Alabama any and every chance I got. But, I did meet my Husband. And for that, I am so incredibly thankful.

And here we are, back in the south again. Won't lie, I love living in the south. I love the warm temperatures. I love hearing my children say "Yes, ma'am.". My youngest boys have picked up little southern drawls. And it's the cutest thing you ever did hear. My girl doesn't stick out wearing her big bow's to church, and my boys fit right in with their matching shirts. I was born in Florida, and you can take a girl out of the south, but you can't take the south out of a girl!

The time is fast approaching when we will be loading up the last box onto the truck, and moving to another city. I've done this many, many, times in my life. I believe this is move number 13 for me.

But one thing is for sure, in all of those moves, I have seen God's hand. He put me exactly where He wanted me. He will be faithful to do that again.

This move especially was completely unforeseen. It's been a huge step of faith for us.  I prayed Ephesians 3:20-21 over this move. Believing God would go before us. Believing He would provide just the house. Believing He could do Above and Beyond all we could ask or imagine. Boy did He!


Remember how I said I grew up in Kansas? Well wouldn't you know, a dear friend, who babysat me as a child, lives in the same town we are moving to! The church we attend, has a campus right up the road from our new house! Why do I tell you all of this?

Because, God's promises are true. His word is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He goes before us. When my anxiety and worry hit a fever pitch, I sat down, and wrote every anxiety on a 3x5 card. I literally tossed one at a time onto my desk saying "I choose to lay this at Your Feet. You paid it all, so I don't have to. I choose not to dwell on this a moment longer."

 I laid every little thing before the Lord. Giving it all over to Him.

AND HE DID ABOVE ALL I COULD IMAGINE!


Be encouraged friends. If you feel a silence right now, that is deafening. Looking for the music, trying to find a song. Maybe you've piled on expectations and lot's of blame, maybe it's been done to you. Maybe you did it to yourself. Maybe life has been so hard for so long, you can't remember a time when it wasn't painful.

This life is hard. I know this well. I am telling you right now, if I were to make a list of everything that has happened to us, some we did to ourselves, some done to us, it would read much like a ticking bomb. One tick away from exploding into a million pieces. And it should have.

But God. He restored what was taken away, He healed what was so hurt and scarred.When it felt like it would never end, He would bring us Hope. He spared us from sorrow upon sorrow. He has been so faithful. He will do the same for you.


I look at my little boys who beat the odds, my girl who persevered, my oldest boy who is a fierce protector, my loving and hard working husband, a new home that is more than we could have imagined. It all scream's of God's goodness. Blessing upon blessing. More than I could ever deserve. He promises to restore what the locust has taken. What they swarmed and devoured. His promises are true. His word doesn't change. 

"Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you Great and Mighty things, 
which you do not know." Jeremiah 3:33




Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Trust and Two Years...

Two years...Today.

Two years ago today, my husband was hundreds of miles away from me. In a job interview. We prayed before the interview that if it was what God wanted, that they would offer him the job, IN the interview. God did more.

They offered him the job, and then he got a call from another company in the area (as he was walking out of the first interview) who he had applied with months before, and they wanted to interview him. Immediately. And they offered him a job, IN the interview. Two job offers. In one day. Only God.

Meanwhile back in Indiana, we were scraping by. We had no steady income for two years. Only because of precious friends and family, were we not homeless. Only God.

 I woke up the day after mothers day, and our son Elliott had a very high fever. A fever that would not go down. Then he began to have a seizure. It was terrifying. Elliott was hospitalized while a myriad of tests were done, at one point I was told he could have bone cancer. Literally, it seemed as if every hour another diagnoses was thrown around the room. Then tests would come back, inconclusive. I do not know what I would have done without our Church family. I was rarely ever alone in that hospital room. My other three Children were loved and doted on and I never worried about their care. God showed me, that no matter where we were, HE would always be with us. And using His Body of Believers to help us in our time of need.


Over all of it, I can look back and SEE God's hand. Protecting, guiding, comforting. He had to take us down that road, to make us realize that He would provide. That we didn't need everything we thought we did. That He can prompt complete strangers to step in and help you. Family can't and sometimes won't be able to help you, I learned to not put my faith in them. And to not hold them to that, it's okay.

I learned to put my entire trust and faith in God. Not people.


I get chills now looking back. I had NO IDEA what was going to happen after we got to Georgia. Thank goodness we don't know our futures. I have no doubt if I had known, I would have been paralyzed in fear, and never would have moved.

                                 (Riley in Intensive Care, a few months after we moved.)

Flash Forward to today, and we are scheduled to move again in two weeks to Atlanta. My husband has been offered a promotion through his employer. Something we never would have imagined or would have seen coming. All God.

 I have caught myself acting like an Israelite. Never heard of them? Well, they are God's chosen people, who God DID SO MUCH FOR! And they kept forgetting. Then worrying, and taking matter's into their own hands. Pretty much what I was doing last week. The anxious thought's of, "How will we ever find a house?", "How can I move again, to a place I am so unfamiliar with.", "How will I manage without family right next door?".....You name it, I've thought it. #lame.

And then I took these pictures, NONE of this stuff was our's two years ago! Sure, we had a few things we brought with us to Georgia. But, seriously. This living room, it was empty. This house, didn't look like this.














He lead us to a community that rallied around us, and helped us SO INCREDIBLY much! It's going to be so hard to say see you later to family and friends here. But I have a steadfast anchor of Hope for my family. 

Jesus has been with us through it all.

 In the dark lonely ER, in the ICU, in the empty house, in the church search, in the days and weeks of waiting for test results, in the diagnoses, in the treatment, HE has ALWAYS been faithful.

 He spared us from sorrow upon sorrow, we came so close to loosing our son, and then another son. And I can honestly say, had we tasted that bitter sorrow, we would still say "Blessed be the name of the Lord.".  I am so grateful we were spared that sorrow, but the truth remains, death will come one day. Loss will come one day. BUT IT IS NOT THE END! If you put your trust in Jesus, He will not leave you, and you will one day be with Him forever. In a BEAUTIFUL perfect home. How grateful I am for God's promises, I have claimed Isaiah 40 over these last few years of trials. And truly, can testify that He gives strength and hope, and restores what the locust has taken. I am just in awe of Him.


If you are struggling, 
and would like to hear a VERY encouraging message on overcoming darkness,
(He was guest speaking at this church.)
   
Do you not know?

     Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,

    the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He will not grow tired or weary,

    and his understanding no one can fathom.


He gives strength to the weary

    and increases the power of the weak.
 
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
 
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

             Isaiah 40:28-31


P.S. If you or someone you know is looking for a house to rent in Warner Robins Ga, feel free to contact me. This house will be available soon! I want my brother and sister in law to have awesome neighbors! :)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Balancing it all!

Candace Cameron Bure (Yep, the beloved big sister from Full House.) has a new book out entitled "Balancing it all." Candace does many things, and I look forward to reading her book. She is also hosting a giveaway over on pinterest.  Mind voting for me to win? Click onthat link then "like" my photo (The heart next to "pin" button) TTHANK-YOU SOOO MUCH!


So what do I balance?


I have been married ten years to my husband Brandon, we have four children.
Jackson-10,Clara-9, Elliott-7, and Riley-6.
And we have two dogs, yorkies named Ricky and Lucy.
We home school, and attend a home school co-op.
Our son Elliott has Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, and that means we are on the go to therapy and doctors appointments quite a bit.
I am a photographer, and write on this blog to keep friends and family up to date on our family and hopefully encourage other women that stop by too.
I am involved in a women's Bible Study at our church (working through Gideon by Priscilla Shirer right now! LOVE IT!)
I love cheering on the Kansas Jayhawks (Rock Chalk Jayhawk, GO KU!)
and I am working towards my new years resolution of living green and only buying our food locally.
I enjoy staying fit and healthy, by running and using natural remedies.
I am known for my roadside finds, that I clean up and paint, and thrifting is a passion. One of my favorite sayings is "I need a little bit of coffee, and a whole lot of Jesus."

So how do I balance the husband, and children, homeschooling, cleaning, cooking, shopping, doctors, hospitals, tests, therapy, co-op, Bible study, dogs, reaching out to others, keeping in touch with friends, and making time for myself?

With a whole lot of Jesus, and a little bit of coffee.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

God whispers...

I wrote this post a few months ago. I have many posts that haven't been shared. But thought I should share this one. I do hope you all have a Very Merry Christmas! And Happy New Year!
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Whew, what a week we have had. As I sit here, it is late. And I am exhausted. But, God (I love that don't you) He has been so abundantly faithful in the smallest of details in our lives.

Nope, it's not been picturesque. Actually, today, I am fairly certain, my neighbors (good thing they are family!) Could hear my children, one at a time. Crying. Homeschooling is hard. I am often told when I say "We homeschool"..."WOW! You  must be REALLY patient. I could never do that."

Let me set the record strait. Patient. I am not.
As a precious homeschool mom wrote on her instagram. "If patience is a vegetable, I'm a twinkie."

Homeschooling has a way of holding a mirror up to your life. 24/7. This quote hit me. So. True.


If you do not have children yet, you are likely a very patient person. I think I was before I had children. Add children and a husband, and throw in homeschooling for good measure. And you have a perfect combination for making you the least patient person. Ever.

It has been an emotional day. And it was not until tonight when I began piecing our week together, that I sat back, got chills, and thought "Wow, Lord! What are you up to?"

As we battled colds and sickness, God kept the children that could be greatly affected by an upper respiratory infection well. While they were sick for about 48 hrs, it was simply remnants of the terrible virus I had. I am so thankful God spared them the misery.

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As many of you know, we have had quite the wild ride over the last year. But, really, our lives have always been a wild ride.

And because of that wild ride we have been on, God has given me a very tender heart towards other people on perhaps a "wilder ride" than others. The people who are hurting, and lonely, and desperate. I can relate to those people. I've been one.

A dear friend was on her own, very unexpectedly, and on a tumultuous ride. She needed help, and after me offering, she agreed. And this week God showed up. He moved mountains (okay, so boxes) and I am pretty sure He extended her vehicle, and we sent her off to a much better and safer place to be. In turn, she blessed me. She is strong in her faith and in our God. And for the first time in weeks, we were able to laugh, a lot, together. God is so good.

And as I sit here, in the dark, late in the evening, looking and observing what is around me, I can hear God whisper.

My cabinets are full of food:
He whispers: "I provide"
My babies are well... "I heal"
My home is just that, home.... "I give"
My friend is safe... "I protect"
My day of lost patience... "My Mercies are new Every Morning"

And a flash flood of Love overcomes me as I hear him whisper "I AM Love!".

How have you heard God Whisper to you this week?


Saturday, November 16, 2013

He made me a Momma...

Born November 16th 2003

Psalm 116:5 
"The Lord is Gracious and Righteous. Our God is full of Compassion."



I really can't believe it has been ten years. If I could go back and tell myself anything, I would tell myself that this baby, would forever change me, and that it will be better than I could have ever imagined.  Out of heartache and a rushed wedding, a season of cold and hurt, Jackson was born, and with him came spring. New growth, change and most of all healing

My boy is ten years old today. This birthday is such a big deal. I remember being ten. It's quite surreal to have children turning ages, you remember being.


And while his birth was so difficult, and the process leading up to it. A weight was lifted when he arrived. Literally as he was 9lbs 11oz!!!! But figuratively too. I can clearly remember being so overwhelmed with a fierce love for him.  Yet, at the same time, a gripping fear.

"Will I be enough? Can we overcome this? Will the last year of pain and trials ever fade? Will I wear the scarlet letter forever? Will people really love him? The way he deserves to be loved? If anyone hurts him, ever, I will die, or kill them in the process. He is so perfect."

See, Jackson wasn't "planned" or "expected". It rocked our families. It left a lot of hurt and devastation. It wasn't the way it "should be". We didn't do things by the book. The earthquake of telling everyone we were pregnant left so much destruction, and the aftershock was felt for months, even years after his birth.

And yet, he was beautiful and perfect. And ours. God was Gracious to us, God showed us His favor through Jackson's life. And we believed God would heal in His time.

It's no coincidence his name means just that. Jackson Lee. God is Gracious, Shows Favor, Healer. It's also no coincidence he was born on 11/16 after 55 hours of labor. That verse up there? Psalm 116:5. Proof that God delights in every little detail. I discovered that verse before Jackson was born, because I loved the meaning of Jackson's name.

Through Jackson's life, over and over again. God has shown Himself Gracious. Jackson loves people, he is very sensitive. His friends, are his best friends. All of them. The best.

He is willing to help, and ask's me all the time "How can I help you today Mom?".

He love's to talk about Heaven, and God. Almost every night when praying together, he will say "Mom, just think, ___________ (got hurt, sinned, messed up,etc) wouldn't have happened today, in Heaven." "Life will be perfect there Mom." "Mom, I climbed the tree today, and I could see everywhere, is that like what God sees?" "Mom, we need to pray for ___________ they were sad and hurting today. They need to feel loved, let's pray they feel loved tonight." He has a very tender heart. His tender heart has opened my eyes and often leaves me so humbled.

When he was just shy of his fourth Birthday, he prayed with me before bed to accept Jesus as his savior. Might seem so young, be he knew. He still talks about it. A little boy we knew, passed away so unexpectedly. A little boy Jackson called friend, and played with.  It opened the door to talk to Jackson about Jesus and Eternity. I will never forget him saying "I want to be with Jesus and Keegan someday too Mommy.".

His memory is uncanny. He remembers everything. I am amazed by this. And it's humbling.

He is so forgiving, and quick to say "It's okay Mom, I forgive you."

Everything I cook for him is always "The best food I've ever eaten.". So much so, he couldn't tell me what to make for his birthday dinner, because "Everything is my favorite".

He is a watcher, he takes things in, and draws the most amazing pictures from what he has observed.

I am being completely honest, I can not even remember the last time I had to discipline Jackson. Seriously. I don't say this to brag, because it's soooo not because of me. It's his personality. He just seeks to please, always has. He convicts himself, and many times I can recall him coming to me saying things like "Mom, I did  ___________ and I feel horrible about it. Please forgive me."  (We have to talk a lot about how we aren't here to please people, and how much God loves us. Reminding him God is full of compassion!)

He is the ultimate big brother. He is always looking out for his siblings. He is so protective over all of them, especially Elliott. Jackson has always been aware that life is harder for Elliott. He will use his own money to buy a special present for Elliott while we are out. He is quick to prop Elliott up or help him cut his food. He hates to see his siblings in pain or hurting. He tells Clara all the time "Remember you are living with Mom and Dad forever. Right?" He says to Riley "Ry, you always love everything, and I love that."





Ten years later, I can say I have healed in ways I didn't know I needed healing. God has used Jackson's life to impact eternity and most of all me. I am blessed to be his Mom. I don't deserve to be his Mom. I hug him daily and tell him "I am SO happy to be your Mom." And it's the honest truth. He makes us laugh, a lot. He is completely uniquely gifted. I know God has plans for Jackson, and I am so blessed to be a piece of Jackson's tapestry of life. I love that as he gets older a friendship is blooming, that we can have conversations about God and the Bible and life and Jackson want's to talk about it with me. That he asks "Mom, when can just you and me go on a date?". Oh, that melts me. He wants my undivided attention. And I relish his. I pray it never changes.

If you are reading this and are living through a dark time, maybe life has thrown you some big unexpected curves. Maybe you brought it on yourself. Maybe it was brought onto you. Please be encouraged. Healing will come. Spring is Coming. I won't ever forget that season in my life, but the memory is seen in warm rose colored tones now, and not in dark cold lonely tones. It is not the end, it is the beginning of a beautiful season. Out of the pain, and bad choices, and hurt feelings, and disappointment, God will be Gracious. He will show you His Favor. Healing will come.

My husband made this video for our Ten year Anniversary back in July. I thought I would share it now...So many memories over these last ten years.

Happy Birthday to our Jackson Lee! We love you more than you could ever imagine! And yet, no where near as much as God Loves you! You will forever and always be my baby boy! I am SO proud of you! And honored to be your mom.
 Love you for always~ Momma