Wednesday, November 21, 2012

In the Begining...

~Our Story~ Part 1~

I was 17, he was 17. When on February 14th, valentines day. He asked me to "court him". Yes. You read that right. And no the year was not 1942. It was the year 2000. 

We were still in high school. Though I believe he was actually finished with his classes "at home", and was attending a local community college. I was about finished too. Perk of being home schooled, you can work at your own pace. We were both home schooled.

You can read more about what happened on that cold Valentines Day here. We "courted" for two years. I knew he was the one I was to marry. He did too. And hindsight. We should never have "courted" that young. But, we did.

Our courtship was tumultuous  There was quite a bit of legalism  and controlling. We didn't go "on dates" alone. Always someone was with us. We got together as families. My parents thought it rather odd, and would always ask things like "Are you sure this is what you want?". They loved Brandon, they were just concerned about a few red flags they saw. And rightly so. At one point Brandon and I were only allowed to write letters to each other. We  weren't supposed to speak to each other even at church. Hindsight, I can not believe I went along with that. But, I did. Because I really did love Brandon. Well, at that point I was "in like". Because the Love I have for him now, PALES in comparison to how I "loved" him then. Through it all, he followed along with what was asked of him. Of us. He fought hard to stay with me.

We did have fun together, and made great memories. But much of our "courtship" was wrought with heartache. Senselessly so. A works based faith, is not a freeing or peaceful place to be.

Upon graduating, I acquired a dance studio. And at the very tender and rather ignorant age of 18 opened my own business. I taught ballet, tap, and jazz. I also worked at a retail consignment shop, volunteered in the community, taught a after school bible program,Baby sat three days a week, all while taking professional dance lessons myself to further my "education". You name it. I did it.

 Just thinking about how busy my schedule was, makes my head spin.

My boy owned and operated his own business too. He began a lawn care business with his brothers while he was in high school. He worked long hard days through the summer and fall. And did school, and volunteered in the community.He was a busy guy too.

We grew up fast. We didn't party, or hang out with friends much. We shared ideas on how to grow a business, he helped me with computer spread sheets and accounting. I gave him ideas on cutting costs, and took him a cold drink when he was out working. Yes,we were so very romantic.

Looking back, we were probably the most boring 18 year olds ever. Ambitious. Naive. Hard working. Maybe too hard working. 
We were put on a pedestal we could not live up too. And very quickly,we teetered off of it. Fast. And the only people who put us on that pedestal were, in fact, ourselves. 

Yes. I was a classic case of an over achiever. A first born type A personality. My "god" was perfection. Doing it all, and yet never doing anything really well.

At the age of 19, we became an "us".

I got pregnant.

We came from conservative, highly respected families. And we broke our parent's hearts. It was by far the hardest thing I've had to confess. And confess we did. We shared at our rehearsal the Truth of our hurried wedding. In that moment I was so very proud of how my soon to be husband stood before our closest family and friends and made the announcement, that should be a joyous one, and instead left a room of loved ones in tears. Our immediate families already knew. But, sharing with our entire wedding party. That was rough. Friendships were damaged, some to never be restored. We also wrote a letter to our church to confess. And that, that made me want to run and hide. I didn't want to step a foot in the church. Feeling so judged and ashamed. Like I had a scarlet letter on my back, and everyone was whispering "There's the girl that got knocked up!".

My Man,(he transformed into one upon stepping up and taking responsibility, even though he was only 19)was determined to stick it out at our church. He dragged me back after our wedding. Why? Because, we knew a lot of teenagers had their eyes on us. He did not want to turn anyone away from Christ, because of our sin. We didn't want the teens to think we were "run off". We wanted to show them, you can make bad choices, but you don't have to run from God. He forgives. We weren't run off, but I can't say I felt a whole lot of love either. It was work to renew my mind, and remember who I was in Christ. To not let the slander of the truth of my sin, soak into my marrow and suck me dry.

 On July 11th 2003 we were married. In a park, with 250+ of our closest friends and family. Originally it was going to be a small affair. Then it grew, and the precious friends and family who lived far away, who we honestly thought wouldn't be able to come. Did come. That spoke volumes right to my heart.

I wasn't nervous at all on our wedding day. It was beautiful,and I had a peace that passes understanding. I knew I was marrying my  forever husband. There were tears, and tensions, and your average family drama. But, it was our day, and I basked in it.

The moment I saw my man, in his tux, and my eyes met his. The entire wedding party disappeared  In that moment I knew we were right where we were supposed to be. All three of us.

I learned a lot while pregnant and newly married. The people who chose to love and forget, were really not the people I would have expected to do so. While all of my friends were in their second year of college. I was in my second trimester of pregnancy.

My pregnancy went perfectly. I was never sick, I felt great. I remember thinking "Man, pregnancy isn't bad at all!". My pregnancy was a breeze (don't worry,God taught me that not all pregnancies are like your first.) 

 I want to stop and say this. We take full responsibility for our sin. And we sought to make it right. Do I still believe in waiting till after you are married to have sex? Yes. I do. And we plan to raise our kids, and be honest with them, telling them our story. The heartache involved. And how God's plan is much better than our fleshly desires. Brandon is the only guy I ever seriously "courted/dated". I refused to "date" anyone who didn't have the values I would want in a husband. That being said, I'm also not trying to beat anyone over the head. God forgives,and Loves! I'm so thankful and blessed that we both did not come into our relationship with any past romantic relationship baggage. Goodness knows we had enough baggage because of a poor choice we made, and God knew our bags were full just dealing with that!

And oh, did I have baggage. Guilt plagued me for a very.long.time. The days waiting for our baby to be born, went by very slowly. It was difficult for me to connect to "our baby" growing inside of me, because it just felt wrong. After we had been married for a few months, I realized I needed to get help. Thankfully God placed a few key people in my life, and I did a bible study "Lies Woman Believe and the Truth that sets them free." God used his Word, and re-affirming who I was in Him, to begin to transform my heart and renew my mind.

We didn't know what we were having. And in my ignorance I thought it was a girl. I laugh at that now. We had a few names, but I wanted to see him/her before we chose a name. 

And on November 16th 2003, we welcomed a very healthy, bouncing baby boy. Who weighed in at 9lbs 11oz! After 56 hours of labor, I had an emergency c-section. I had planned a home birth. Yes. You read that right. How God loves to teach us that His ways are not our ways!

When I held our baby boy for the first time, it was so surreal. I felt this intense love for him, and at the same time, intense fear. It was the first time I really remember my anxiety issues coming to a major head. I'd always had a little bit of anxiety growing up. But when he was in my arms the reality of our choice hit me like a ton of bricks. He was beautiful, and perfect, and mine. And it was a lot to wrap my 19 year old mind around.

I loved him fiercely  And the mamma bear came out, and the thought crossed my mind "if anyone ever dares to tell him he "wasn't planned" or is "illegitimate" I'll make it the last words they speak." But, that was where my fear was rooted, in acceptance,and approval. Wrapped up in what others would say/think. I wanted to protect him from all of the judgement I was feeling. I'm not entirely sure it even existed outside of my mind.

 We decided to name him Jackson Lee. After Brandon's grandfather Jack, and Lee is Brandon's middle name and my father in law's middle name.

Jackson means:God has been Gracious, shown favor.

The meaning of his name was very important to us. Especially me. To declare that "God has been Gracious" and claiming "healing" in our life through Jackson's life.

I carried so much guilt, and while I still had plenty of baggage left. A weight was lifted, when he was born. He was a beautiful baby,every nurse and doctor said so. He was BORN with long dark eyelashes. Seriously looked like the kid had mascara on. The tensions between us and our parents eased, when they laid eyes on their Grand baby. And that re-leaved my heart ache a little, as I'd convinced myself they would never love him as much as any of their other Grandchildren in the future. That was a lie right from Satan himself. Because they did, and our church did too. Everyone would always say "He is the most beautiful boy ever!" Though I was partial. They were right. He was. And he was not only beautiful, but so happy. Such a sweet, happy go lucky, baby. 

We took our baby home to a tiny one bedroom apartment, where most nights he slept between us. We always reminisce about that first year of wedded bliss. We were so happy, and in love. And loved our baby boy so much.

But don't be fooled. I had so much baggage left. So many insecurities. We were babies ourselves, responsible for a little baby. 

Brandon got a job at an accounting firm, he sold his share of the lawn business to his brothers, and was buying and selling used cars on the side for extra cash. I closed the dance studio after Jackson was born. The building was being purchased by a developer, and it just worked out. I became a stay at home Mommy,and worked nights as a receptionist for a hotel. We lived on very little, but were very happy.

And then when Jackson was three months old. I found myself pregnant. Again.

But this time it was different. This time we could rejoice,even in the shock. Yes, I was on birth control. No, it wan't "planned". But, we learned the first time, that God's plans are way better than ours. I still struggled with anxiety, and was oddly so nervous to tell our parents. 

Fear has a way of robbing your joy. 

Next installment:Baby number 2 and more...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Taking it in...

So, It's 2:20am.

I've been up with two children.

And our two dogs.

And I'm beyond tired.

I feel a cold coming on.

Maybe it's from a lack of sleep.

Highly possible.

There are so many thought's in my head.

The last week has been surreal.

No. Really. It has been.

The Glory of God has been shown all around us.

And in many way's, I feel like I've just shown up in my own life.

God stripped away nearly all I had.

All I "thought" I was.

And revealed to me, just how off putting I had been.

How I truly have nothing, am nothing.

Without Jesus.

There have been so many way's to hide.

So many ways to not be real.

I've been inspired to share our story.

And what a story I have to tell you.

It's not of my own doing, truly, it's God's doing.

Before I share our story. I need a disclaimer.

*I am not sharing this, to discourage any of my friends or family who read this blog.*

I am simply sharing what God has done, because I want to ENCOURAGE you!

I want to give hope!

I want you to have the freedom to be real, and celebrate what God is doing in your life!

Because I don't want anyone but God to get the Glory for all of these things.

To find the Holy, in the common place.

I'm going back into the vault.

 I am choosing to start at the beginning.

 Because, that's the very best place to start.

(Said singing Maria VonTrapp style. Apologies if I quote too many musicals. I know many of them line for line, and can't help my self.)

To be honest, I've hesitated for a long time sharing our story on this blog.

Being brutifully honest. (It's a Monkee term, for Brutal+Beautiful)

It's not an easy thing to share from your past, and be real, and transparent, and yet God honoring.

And respectful to the people involved in it.

But I shall try.

Because as God has shown me this week, HE is in ALL OF IT!

And, as for me, I'm just taking it all in.

Part 1 coming soon...

(After seeing Twilight Breaking Dawn-part two, this weekend, I feel like we should now break away to a really moving song. And hey! If some particularly toned guys want to run across the screen without a shirt on, I'm cool with that.;))

Que Dramatic Music

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I know I've had many people locally visiting our blog. And I wanted to give a shout out to all of you! So glad to have you stop by! No doubt, you came here to read about our family.

 Likely prompted from a group of extraordinary women.

Tears are flowing as I type this. We have just been so overwhelmed with the love and care of so many. I really can't even put into words what a blessing all of this has been. If you came here today, to read our story, because you have helped, or wanted to.


We really had NO idea anything like this could happen, and never sought it. God in his grace and mercy is using all of you to meet our real needs. And ALL of you are going above and beyond!
To Stacey, Erin, Erin, Mitzie, Amy, Darla and Martie, (forgive me if I've forgotten anyone)
You all have hearts of gold. I will treasure our friendships for the rest of my life. You women have blessed me in so many ways. I just can't believe how God has weaved all of this together. I've said it before, I believe our lives resemble a tapestry. Each thread weaved by the hand of God himself.

Sometimes in trials, it's hard to think that it could all be connected, that everything is weaving together for our greater good. I feel like God has blessed me with a rare glimpse at a part of the big tapestry he has weaved. You women, I'm convinced will be the bright reds, purples, and golds in our tapestry. The colors that take your breath away, and are used to make so many other colors.

You are my steel magnolias.

 I am a blessed woman to know each of you. Some just via phone/email. But, that's going to change soon. I will meet each and every one of you. To hug your neck and likely bawl my eyes out. You are changing our world, one loving deed after another. To think I did not know any of you last week, and now I feel like your sisters. Best Friends, I never knew I had.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

 For loving fiercely  For reaching out of your comfort zone. For asking the hard questions.
 For rallying others, and knocking down doors.
You are dearly loved. ((hugs))


I will be sharing exactly what is going on, and what these amazing women have been up to in the next few weeks. I want to say to my blog followers. If you are facing trials. If you feel alone.

Your not. God hears. He knows.

And more than that. He want's to help.

I've seen it myself this week. It's been nothing short of a Miracle.

Something you can only step back and say...


If He can do it for  me, and my family. He can, He WILL do it for you!

"Cast All your cares on Him, for He cares for you!" He says!

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to give you a HOPE and a FUTURE!"

"Look at the Birds of the sky! They do not plant, or harvest, or gather food into barns. And yet your heavenly father feeds them. You are More Valuable Then Them, aren't you?!"

I hope through all of this going on in our lives, it will do everything this song talks about.

Let's lay down our arms.

Let's quiet our Hearts for a little while.

Let's feel what we can not feel. Know what we can not know. Heal where we could not heal.

Because Love, Love is a Miracle.

Let's be a Miracle for someone.

That is my Miracle, What is yours?

What I love about this music video? How all you see is Love. It's stories from all over the world.

That are all intertwined by one thing. Love.

Friday, November 9, 2012

That Moment.

Ever have moments in time you want to remember forever?

 So, as not to forget it in the future?

I am a visual person. I see life in snapshots. Maybe that's why I love photography so much.

It's how I remember my life.

I have had quite a few moments today that I don't want to forget.

I woke up early this morning. I made my man breakfast before work.

Yes, round of applause, Thank-You! Thank-you!

Now for the confession. I NEVER wake up that early and make him breakfast. Okay, so maybe I did the first week we were married. Then reality set in, and I about died waking up that early. And my husband noticed I wasn't very nice. And let me off the hook. Yep, wife of the year. Not me.

 But, today I did it!

( Applause may resume.)

After the Mr. left for work. I sat down to work on a slide show of pictures of our baby girl.

I said I'd post that. And eventually I will.

I was reminded how quickly time goes by.

I was reminded of so many moments in time, that forever "stand still" because of a picture.

I was reminded of our many friends far away, and how much I miss them.

As I sipped my cappuccino I said to the Lord.

"Lord, I really miss my friends."

and a...

"Lord, life is really hard right now. I just don't think I can cope with all of this you have put on my plate."

And like only He can do. He provided.

A precious friend called me, who I'd not caught up with since we moved.

We talked for hours, and it made her not seem so far away.( Love you, Michelle!)

This morning I was feeling down, and needed a "life lift". (You know, like a face lift, tummy tuck, and botox all in one, and for what it's worth, a boob job thrown in.)

No, I've not had plastic surgery. But, I've heard it can do wonders. Or was it make people wonder?


A stranger left me the sweetest, most encouraging, comment on my blog (Hi Molly!).

God did it. He showed me in a real way, that He know's, He cares.

Then to ice the cake. He did more.

He is providing for us in a very real and tangible way. And we are just so.very.grateful! (Hi Erin!)

I want to be able to look back. And remember this moment.

The time will come when I can say to my Children...

"Remember THAT moment, when God showed up, in a VERY real way!?

(a handful of some of my favorite pictures of our Clara girl. Still can't believe she is EIGHT years old!)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Life as we know it

Life has been pretty busy as of late.

On Monday Morning Elliott had a sleep deprived EEG.

Those are never fun. We stayed up all night Sunday night, took Daddy to work.
Then went for Elliott's EEG. Elliott was SO tired. He couldn't stay awake,
and that was exactly what we needed him to do.

We don't have the results from it yet. This was his fifth EEG since last year.
We've kinda become pro's at them. The reason for the EEG is because
the inflammation in his little body.

Ya see, Systemic JIA causes fevers, and in Elliott's case, seizures too.
We need to make sure he is not having consistent seizure activity.

Being that Elliott has had a rough few weeks of sleep, or the lack thereof.
I won't be surprised if the EEG comes back that he is having seizures at night.

That would mean we would need to go back on the seizure medications. Blah.
They are not fun. Pray for a miracle.

After the EEG we came home and crashed for a few hours. Or tried to.

I worked on school work with Jackson and Clara...and made the little boys lay down.

Then we loaded up in the van to drive an hour north, well, it *should* have taken
30 minutes. But thanks to the lovely traffic we encountered. It took an hour.

All of the children passed out in the van, and slept the whole way. I played loud music
and had the ac hitting me in the face to stay awake!

Elliott was measured and fitted for a special adapted stroller. (a fancy one at that)
We have decided to call it "Elliott's Cadillac". He was so exhausted, and not having a good day
 pain management wise, so I carried his little noodle body into the pediatric mobility office.

The front desk secretary looked at me and
said "Do you carry him everywhere like that?"
I said "Um, yes, Most days."
She says "Does your back hurt?"
I say "Um, yes, Most Days."
She says "Well, it won't pretty soon!"

Music to my tired ears.

Elliott had outgrown a typical stroller  and the one we were using hurt him.
(little to no padding,etc) The people at Pediatric Mobility could not have been nicer. I seriously could have cried. They were SO compassionate. We LOVED our friends at Midwest Orthotics in Indiana (our other kids wear foot braces,and Elliott has a compression garment from them). They were like a second family to us.

 I was SO blessed that Pediatric Mobility, knew of Midwest (small world!) and had the same family like atmosphere.

When your child is in and out of cold doctors offices, being in a homey welcoming office just makes a world of difference.

Of course there was a mound of paper work to collect. They were straight with me and said it can take weeks to compile all of the doctors/therapists letters, submit it to insurance, and get it approved.

IE: You could have your adapted stroller in...3 months.

Except, we could really use it, like yesterday.

After the fitting appointment we went up to Macon Children's Hospital.

I'm learning my way around town...all based around where the hospitals/therapists/pediatrician's offices are.
We have been collecting cell phone chargers for the Children's Hospital. When parents drop everything and take their children to the hospital, usually the last thing they think to grab is their cell phone charger. It's also one of the first things you really need, as most families travel from quite a distance, and need to make long distance calls. (Something you can't do on in room phones) Wouldn't you know the nurse at the nurses station was the nurse who took care of Riley. Such a nice guy. And he was shocked at how many chargers we'd collected! The kids really liked being able to help, and Riley liked introducing them to the PICU team that took care of him.

By this time it was about 6pm. Daddy didn't have to be picked up from work until 8pm. So we headed over to Mercer University Park. I pushed all four of my babies on the swings, and basked in the glory of how thankful I am for them.

It's so humbling to walk into a PICU, and walk OUT with ALL of your children.

I don't take it for granted.

By the time we picked up Daddy from work...I could barely keep my eyes open. And we still had to head home, make dinner, do baths, and put kids to bed.
On Tuesday Morning I contacted Elliott's doctors to follow up and ask if they had sent in the paper work  needed for Elliott's adapted stroller. (I had contacted them a week before,hoping it would already be in the mobility offices hands for our appointment. But yea. It wasn't.)
 They informed me:
"We sent it a few minutes ago"

I called the Mobility office,
She inform's me:
"We got everything we needed...TODAY!"
"We can order his stroller...TODAY!"

Praising the LORD!!!!

Brandon took Tuesday off. It was so nice to have him home!
We took all the kids with us Tuesday to vote. That was so fun! No really, it was!

Georgia is high tech too! All digital ballots. Fancy!

To top if off they gave all of us "I'm a Georgia voter" sticker with peaches on them, of course!

We talked to the kids about the election process.

I asked Clara who she would vote for and her answer?

"Well, I'm not too sure. I mean, President Obama, is uh, our President. And we are supposed to respect and honor him. Because God tells us to. But, I know when we watched Mr.Mitt that he had a lot of good things to say. But why can't they both be nice to each other? I think I'd like to vote for a girl. Is there a girl to vote for Mom? Cause girls are nice."

I feel the same way baby girl. Why can't we all just be nice to each other? And, yes, I think a Woman would make a great President! Clara 2016!

Tomorrow is our Clara girls 8th Birthday. I really can't believe it. I'll put together a little video of her and post it tomorrow.

If your still reading...well...your a true friend.

For pictures of our life over the past few days follow me on instagram!

So. That is Life. As we know it.

And, to be honest I was so bummed to hear this duo has called it quits. For now.
I *might* have been more bummed about that, than the Elections. Just kidding.
Kind of.
Really hope it's not the end of the Civil Wars as we know them to be.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Thank you SO much to all of you who have contacted me about sending cards to the Rose Family. I am putting together a master spread sheet today, and hope to have everyone's dates emailed this week.

Thank you to all of you who want to be a blessing. To reach out and do for others. I have heard from people all over the globe. Your sweet emails of encouragement and love have blessed me. What a beautiful image of how much our God cares for us. From the bottom of our hearts, Thank-You!

Please know, that this song is my prayer. Not for my glory, but to Glorify our God. To seek to serve Christ.

May you be Blessed Richly by our Lord for seeking to serve His Body.

For those of you who have been praying for our Elliott. We went to Emory University Children's Hospital in Atlanta yesterday. Elliott has been officially diagnosed with Systemic Onset Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. We are thankful we have finally put a diagnoses on all of his symptoms. To have answers, is a huge blessing, though no parent ever wants their child to be diagnosed with a life long illness. Systemic JIA is the most rare form of JIA. For anyone who wants to read more about it, here are a few links I found that seem to describe it best.

The realities of this diagnoses are grim. And we covet your prayers right now. Elliott's current scripts are not effectively keeping inflammation at bay. His Doctor has increased his dose, in hopes that works. If not, Elliott could have to go on a steroid medication, given either by shots or IV weekly. Not something we want to put him through at all. Also, his vision is being affected. We will be seeing an eye specialist soon. We are praying his prescription that he was just given in June is still good. But, because the inflammation in his body, it is very likely that his eyes are getting worse too.

Though I had done my research and reading, seeing other children sitting in the waiting room at the doctors office with very real, visible disabilities from the same disease my son has been diagnosed with, shook me
up. That is our reality now. And it can be very scary. I am so thankful that our Hope is in Christ. He has given me so much peace.

Elliott turned six years old last week. He has been through SO much for being just six. After our doctors appointment, I decided we needed to have fun. So we spent the day hanging out in Atlanta. It was the first time I've driven there by myself with all four of my children.

I didn't get lost, we made it on time, and I didn't loose any of my children!

Miracles DO happen!

At the end of the day, as the sun was setting and the sky was bright orange,we piled in the van to head home. I was talking to the children about how much fun I had with them. I hear Clara say from the back seat, "You know what was the most fun for us today Mom?", I looked in the rear view mirror, and see her holding Elliott's hand. I smile and say "What?". Her and Elliott say together "Being with YOU!".

I don't deserve them.With a very real diagnoses. With the reality of what we could be facing in the days and years to come. All of it faded with the sun. And my heart warmed up with the reality of how blessed I am to just be with them.

I am so humbled today. Thankful for the opportunities to serve others and serve our Lord.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


First let me just say a huge Thank-You to Kelly Stamps from Kelly's Korner Blog.
I contacted her, and she so sweetly (and quickly) posted a link to my blog about the card drive
for the Rose Family. Kelly, you are so sweet, and such a blessing to SO many.
Thank you for using your blog to minister to others and not just for personal gain or fame!
I truly appreciate you being so genuine and transparent. That is why your blog means so much
to so many. Because you give, and help, and share.

And a HUGE Thank you to all of you who have contacted me about participating in the Card Drive.
We are on our way to having enough people to send them a card a day for the next year. We still
have plenty of room, so by all means, if you want to join in just send me an email!

Onsby and his boys Thank-You. He has been so encouraged and overwhelmed knowing so many people are praying for his family. He asks you continue to pray about his job situation. His current employment is not conducive to being a single parent. He needs to be able to be a Father to his boys. He has a possible job opportunity  and it is his dream job, and would afford him time to be with his boys. Would you pray God would move in that situation, and that he would be offered the job? Thank you so much.

Julie's Memorial Services are coming up at the end of this week. Pray for strength for her husband and boys as they mourn their loss. Pray God's Peace and Presence would be felt for all who attend.
Thank-you dear ones!

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." 
Romans 8:28

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Card a Day

I shared about a dear family The Rose Family here. Julie passed away unexpectedly last week. She always made time for others, when our son was in the hospital she made a beautiful card for him, and a note for me. It meant so much to me. In an effort to encourage her boys and share stories of their mom,
 I decided to do what she did best. Encourage through a written card or note.

I am organizing a card a day for the Rose Family. I hope to get enough people to send them a card a day for the next year. If you knew Julie you could share a story, perhaps send a picture. Everyday I would like her boys and husband to receive a special card/letter about Julie. If you did not know Julie personally, just sending a card to let them know you are praying for them, and how much they are loved, would mean ever so much. Let's shower this family with special cards and notes for the next year.

Also would you commit to pray for the Rose Family on your assigned "Card Day?". I want Onsby
(her husband) to know that everyday for the next year, they are being prayed for.

I am putting together a master list, all you have to do is email me that you would like be a part of this at:

bethanyhartman31 at

In the Subject line simply put "A Card a Day".

I will send you an email back as soon as I compile everyone's requests.

Please share this with your friends, this blogging community has been such a blessing to our family.
I hope to be able to bless the Rose Family through it.

*Edited to Add:
 A Trust Fund has been set up for her boys.
It is through Bank of America. You can go into any Bank of America, and simply state you want to make a deposit to Onsby C.Rose

Or you can make a donation via Paypal. All you need is his email address, posted below.

Here is a link to Julie's obituary.

Thank you friends!

Friday, October 19, 2012

"I am your comfort"

Do you ever look ahead in your daily devotions? I remember doing so last week. I saw the Title's of  the coming week's devotions:

"I am your Comfort", "You are valuable", "The Good Shepherd", "Be real", "Tell it to me",
and "Joy in your Hardest Day".

The thought washed over me. "Whoa, Lord, prepare me for what I'm going to face next week, because these devotions always end up speaking directly to me, and next week looks like it could be rough."

Maybe that seems a little extreme  But, the in the past, every time we open our devotions book that I read with the Children, I am always amazed at how it's like God is speaking right to me.

In the matter of a minute, a very dear families life changed yesterday. I was sitting in the hospital with Ry, frustrated that we had been waiting for three hours, and had yet to see a doctor. My Dad called me, and I hit ignore, there was a huge sign that said "No cell phones!".

But, when he called right back, I knew something was up. Considering I'd been waiting forever, I decided to act like I didn't see the bright orange bold print sign, and answered the phone.

I could not believe what he was telling me.Our sweet friends, with four darling boys, close in age to our four children. Who we spent days playing together in the back yard, had them over for bonfires, sat together at concerts, toted each others kids to church. Never knowing that in just a few months, life for them would change forever.

 I could not catch my breath as my Dad informed me that, "Julie (their Mamma)  passed away". I hung up the phone, fighting tears, my heart breaking for those precious boys, and their Dad, Julie's husband.

 Please be praying for Julie's husband Onsby, and her four boys, Aidan (9) Timothy (7), Elijah (3) and Collin (14 months). This blogging community has been such a blessing to us, lifting us up in prayer. May I ask you to do the same for our friends.

"I am Your Comfort"

"The Father is a merciful God, who always gives us comfort. He comforts us when we are in trouble, so that we can share that same comfort with other in trouble"-2 Corinthians 1:3-4

"This world is tough. Some days your spirit can really take a beating. Some days you just need to be comforted.

Because I am always with you, it takes only the slightest glance in My direction-the softest whisper-to connect you with Me and My comfort. I wrap you up in My arms so that you are protected from the kicks and punches of this world.

I comfort you, and then I bless you with the ability to comfort others. You see, I am the God who can bring good  out of all things. Out of your hurts, I give you understanding-an understanding of how others are hurting-and an ability to comfort them."

~Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
    he saved him out of all his troubles. Psalm 34:4-6

Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always. Psalm 105:4

 If I get any more details on tangible ways to help them I will pass it along. 
Thank you dear blogging friends.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Running thoughts...

I really enjoy running. It's one thing that I can do by myself, I can think, pray, and enjoy nature around me. (A practically impossible task if you have four little's around you all day long.)

I don't run everyday, and I don't obsess over it. When I get the chance, I run. I've had many thoughts lately while running. Sometimes just pouring out to God my heart ache. I think about how I can share that with others. There is such a fine line between sharing openly and honestly about what God is doing in your life, and not distracting from just that. 

 A dear friend shared with me how she would like to be honest about her past experiences on her blog, and I could so relate. It's hard to share honestly, and openly. Without upsetting those close to you, because, lets face it. Not all things "Honest" are pretty. But, God can and does make them beautiful in time. And it's when you have that perspective that you really want to share it with others, to give them hope. I have seen God take ugly situations, down right evil things, and use them for His Glory. I believe that is what can give others hope. It gives me hope! 

The past few years have been So.Hard. Just the other day, I broke down. Again. Tears would not stop.

I literally walked outside to take the trash out,turned around and ran. I ran hard, and long.(Don't worry, Daddy was home with the children)

I had thoughts running through my mind. And the one lie that Satan often likes to feed me is:

"Why does EVERYTHING have to be SO HARD!". 

It's easy to compare your life to others, and think about how it seems like other people just have life so easy. Or so it appears. But, the more I ran through that thought (no pun intended), I realized what a huge lie from Satan that really is.

Why should it not be hard? I mean, the good things in life, are worth fighting for. And these trials, just give me a small glimpse of the suffering Christ went through on the cross, for me. It also makes me more aware of other people's suffering. Makes me love others, and have more compassion.

I won't lie and say that everything after that run was rainbows and unicorns, or I'd found the pot'o'gold and life was magical. 

It's still hard.

It's daily, hourly, minute by minute renewing my mind. Putting off the bad thoughts, and renewing my thoughts.

With these Truth's:

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 

Abide: To wait for
To endure without yielding
To bear patiently
To accept without objection
To remain stable or fixed in a state
To continue in a place
Synonyms: Stay, continue, bear

Why should we abide? What is God's promise?

11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

He will bring joy. Out of our suffering. Joy will come. And not just a little, but FULL! 

Later in the verse he talks about loving others. Interesting that producing fruit, bearing and abiding, goes hand in hand with loving others. It's when we focus on others, that our needs and problems don't seem so big. 

While in the PICU with our son I was made very aware of how our community is suffering. No one wants their child to be in the PICU. No one is prepared for their child to be there. I saw pain and suffering, in third world countries, and had no idea that it could exist in the same way in my own local Children's Hospital PICU. My heart aches, and broke for so many other Mamma's who are waiting by their babies bed sides. Wearing the same clothes for days,one mother had her child's vomit all over her shirt, for three days I saw this woman. No clothes to change into, no family close by, no car as they had traveled hours via ambulance. No phone charger, and no way to make a long distance call. No money for food,who thinks to grab your wallet in an emergency? As I talked to nurses, this is not an uncommon occurrence. Actually, it happens every day. I am working now to make changes. I'd appreciate your prayers as I work to raise awareness, and rally the community to make a difference for others, in their time of need. I would so appreciate your prayers as I take on this project.

And there is a few of my Running Thoughts lately.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." 
John 15:12

Monday, October 8, 2012


Note: I wrote this before Riley's accident. I had planned to publish it Friday night. So here, finally, is a post about our memorable vacation. ;)

So. We have recovered from our "Vacation".

 I've debated, "Do I share the nitty gritty details of our trip?"
(no pun intended, but holy batman, we had sand in our teeth on the drive home...very nitty gritty.)

Or "Should I leave out the bad parts?"(Ever seen a four year old have a panic attack? NOT pretty!)

Or "should I just pretend like everything was rainbows and unicorns and post a slideshow of pictures?"


I suppose in life we could focus on the crappy stuff. But everyone has to deal with that. I've learned through these struggles we've been through, that everyone is dealing with something.

 I can focus on the hard stuff.

Or I can say, forget it. And treasure the good moments.

We did have good moments of our vacation.

We might of fled to the pristine beaches with full abandon.

 Because the campsite only made it seem like a hellish experience.

And like only those beautiful beaches can do, they washed away all the ugly.

The waves brought peace. And in those moments life was magical.

At one point I said. "Who needs a campsite, lets just sleep out here!?". I realize I was only saying that because I knew as soon as we returned to the campsite, mosquitoes, tears, arguing, dogs barking, and raccoon's (oh,the raccoon's!)  would reign down their terror and I'd be begging to hang a white flag and say
 "We give up!", pack our van and get the heck out of dodge.

But, we stuck it out. Sand storm, raccoon's, billions of mosquitoes, sunburns and swollen eyes, panic attacks and all.

 And the only way we were able to is because of this:

Yes. It was this glorious. It looked as though the ocean was fed right from the heavens. 

A few of my favorite memories of our trip were watching our children play sweetly together. Riley always wanting to hold my hand as we walked out onto the beach. Hearing their delight as yet another big wave came that they could ride to the shore. Elliott seeing his name written in the sand (by Clara) He looked at me and said: "Who wrote this?"...I said very seriously: "Oh, I don't know, it was here when we got here, I think someone is in love with you Elliott". He looked at me in shock, completely believed me, and ran to everyone to tell them "GUYS! You won't believe it! Someone is in LOVE with ME!". We laughed so hard. Watching Jackson body surf for the first time, and catching on like a pro. Me almost stepping on a pretty good size sand crab. Reading bible stories by flashlight. Hearing the waves hit the shore, and my four little's snoring, was music to my ears. A branch fell out of a tree (like 60 feet up) and landed RIGHT on Brandon's foot. Elliott was inches away. If it had hit him in the head, surely we would have ended up in the ER. We were SO thankful...and had a good laugh after the fact. Only on our camping trip.I told you the campsite was evil. Thankfully his foot was fine. And we fled to the beach asap before another branch fell and impaled someone.

So here you go, a slideshow of pictures! Yes, I am choosing to forget the not so lovely parts of our vacation and highlight the beautifully magical times. 

Thank you for your prayers for our Riley. He is still on pain medication, and has labs tomorrow 
(Tuesday at 10am to be exact). Keep praying his hemoglobin numbers are up! Baby boy lost quite a bit of his own blood, and it's taking longer than expected for his numbers to come up. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


We are home now from the hospital. Thank you for the prayers!

I've had people ask what happened so I thought I would post the entire story here.

On Friday night, I put the boys to bed, and headed to bed myself. At 10:15 pm, I heard a "thud" followed by a scream. I met Riley in the hallway, he had fallen from the top bunk. (no, he is not supposed to be up there, but he crawled up to sleep with Jackson.) He was screaming, and holding is stomach. I picked him up, and headed to our bedroom, laid him on our bed, and got his inhaler (he was wheezing from crying/screaming) and the motrin. Gave him both, and looked over him well. He had no bruising, but we could not get him to settle down. He kept saying his tummy hurt. I called the pediatrician, they told me a list of symptoms to look for, and he had none of them. They suggested to just bring him into the office in the morning (they are open on Saturday mornings). But, if I felt like he needed to be seen asap, to take him to the ER. I hung up the phone, he had drifted off to sleep, but was whimpering in his sleep. His color was strange, a white/grey/green. I decided to take him to the ER. I just did not have a good feeling.

When we arrived at the ER, there were five police cars in the parking lot, and a man on the ground in handcuffs. It was about 10:45pm. I didn't want to get out of the van, for fear that a crazy person could be loose in the parking lot! There was a nurse outside on the sidewalk watching it all go down, and he came out to the van and helped us inside. I got to the front desk and told them "My son is having difficulty breathing,he has asthma, and fell out of his bed, he says his tummy hurts too." I know that was God that had me say it exactly like that. Because, if I had just said "He fell out of his bed, his tummy hurts". We would of been told to take a seat,would have waited hours to be seen, and the outcome could have been horrific.

The same nurse who walked us in, took his vitals.

His blood pressure was high, but everything else was fine. The nurse said it's not uncommon when you are in pain to have high blood pressure. Typically at this point they send you back to the waiting room to wait for a triage space to open. This nurse looked at me, looked him over and said "His color is off. I'm taking you right back."

We got back to a room, and Riley was dozing in and out of sleep, his vitals were okay, blood pressure was still high. He kept complaining he was hurting, then he started to cry again. I went and found his nurse (His name was Brandon, God knew I'd need to remember his name.) he came in, and literally ran for the doctor.

The doctor came right in, she looked him over, felt his tummy, and said he needed a lab draw. From that she said she would know if he would need a CT scan. I honestly thought the lab draw would come back fine. And we would head home with a "He fell, and has a bad bruised rib" diagnoses.

His labs came back, his liver enzymes were high. They quickly took him back for a CT scan. What I thought was strange was that Riley slept through it ALL. He was totally lifeless. And so pale. Hindsight, I should have asked them to take his blood pressure. They finished his CT scan, he stayed asleep through it, we went back to his room. The doctor came in not five minutes later and said "Mom, I need to talk to you in the hall." At the same time about eight nurses came into the room, carrying all kinds of things. They took his blood pressure, and I heard someone yell "Unstable!". I stood in the hall while the doctor told me he had a category 4 lacerated liver, he was bleeding internally, and would be transported via ambulance (lights and sirens) to the Children's Hospital in Macon (45 mins away). That he would likely need surgery upon arrival.

I walked back into his room, he was still so peacefull and sleeping. I called Brandon, in shock. Attempted to tell him what was going on. Unlike so many other times, I had not called/texted any family members. I mean, I really thought he would be just fine. And did not want to worry them if it was just a bump/bruise. Brandon contacted family, and I watched a crew of nurses/EMT's prepare to transfer my "Unstable" baby.

By that point his blood pressure and heart rate were all over the place. They decided that Brandon the nurse, would go with us in the ambulance. They had two IV's in him. Why? Because, Brandon actually worked at the children's hospital on the trauma team. He just "happened" to be in Warner Robins Friday night to pick up some extra hours. He knew they would need to put two iv's and pump him with fluids to keep him stable, and prepared for surgery.

Upon arriving at Children's we were met by a team of 9 surgeons. They were waiting for us. Riley was dozing in and out of sleep. The doctors were all on their computers/phones consulting with other doctors and looking at the CT scan over and over. Trying to decide what to do. He was stable after getting so many fluids. They told me the many risks of doing surgery, and the chance that he might stop bleeding and not require surgery at all. We decided it best to wait 24 hours. In the meantime, they put him in intensive care. Did labs every two hours, and checked his blood pressure regularly. He was on blood pressure medications, Morphine for pain, and vitamin K. Oh, and he could eat and drink nothing for at least 48 hours.

By the time we got to Intensive Care it was about 5am. We were both exhausted. He slept most of the day Saturday. Giving us more than a few scares with his blood pressure/heart rate. I could not sleep a wink. Every time the monitor went off, my heart sunk. By Sunday he seemed to be rounding a corner. Though labs were not better, they weren't worse. He was still very tired, and dozing in and out of sleep all day.On Sunday night we were moved to progressive ICU. They put us in the biggest room on the floor because the charge nurse really thought we'd only be there one night. Riley's labs showed his hemoglobin was still very low, and taking a while to come up. So they kept him till Tuesday afternoon.

We are SO thankful to be home. He is on strict activity for 8 weeks (Ie: can't do ANY physical activities) We go to the doctor tomorrow morning, for more labs to make sure he is getting better. And we follow up at Children's Hospital in two weeks for another CT scan to make sure it's healing properly. Pray he does not do anything to rupture it again.  Life is so fragile and a gift, and though I've always known that, this past weekend I learned it first hand.

When the doctors came to discharge us, the doctor looked at me and said "Mrs. Hartman, you are a very lucky Mom. Had you made the choice to just let him go back to sleep, you would of had a very different week."  I then listened as he and the students talked about the "What if's".

The doctor said lets play devils advocate for a moment: "What if she had just had a glass of wine, she had friends over, she heard her son goofing off and fell out of the bed, she called the pediatrician, he was ticked she woke him up at 11pm, he told her to bring him into the office in the morning. She put him back to bed, went on with her party of friends."

 A student piped up. "His blood pressure would of continued to drop."

 Another student "He would of kept bleeding internally,while his organs shut down"

Another "He would not have woken up, and been in septic shock."

Another "By the time the mother woke up, her son could of been gone for hours."

At that moment the pediatrician looked at me and said:

"Mrs. Hartman, we are glad you are taking your son home today. You were right, remember this :"The pediatrician did not give birth to your son, you did. Always follow your intuition.".He shook my hand, patted my shoulder, and left the room.

That my friends will make any mother weep. I had not let myself think of the "What if's".

I know that none of the "happened to be's" were accidents. God had his hand on our boy.
 And we are just so thankful he is home, on the road to being healthy again.

Edited to add:
If your a mom, reading this, please, always go with your gut (no pun intended.). Ask God for wisdom and discernment, and then do whatever you have to do. I had a doctor tell me, "If you take your child to the ER, and they dismiss you, go to another ER!". I honestly don't think I would have ever thought of that. But, now, I know. If you think the ER you are at does not know how to handle a pediatric emergency  request a transfer to a children's hospital. If you live close to a children's hospital, don't waste your time with a local ER, drive to the children's hospital and go through their ER! Riley let the doctors push all over his little tummy, and told them it didn't hurt. But I could see him holding back tears. He just didn't want them to poke him more, and was scared, and is SO SHY! As soon as they left the room, he burst into tears saying how bad they hurt him. That is when I walked out of his room and found his nurse, and told him how much pain Riley was in, and in a sudden moment everything changed.
You know your child, you know when they are hurting, don't let anyone that does not know your child tell you differently. You are their advocate and voice when they can't speak up for themselves.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


For those of you who follow this blog. Our youngest son had anaccident Friday night. Hefellout of thetop bunk bed.He lacerated his liver and has been in the hospital, initially in critical care. We have been moved to progressive care.He is on the mend but still has a few hurdles. Prayers are coveted. Thankyou!

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Yesterday we headed to Atlanta to Emory Children's Health Center. We encountered very little traffic,and found Emory fairly easily. That alone was a miracle.

Elliott's appointment went really well. The doctor we saw had already reviewed Elliott's file, and had consulted with other doctors. After meeting with us,and thoroughly evaluating Elliott, he believe's he knows what Elliott has.

Elliott has been unofficially diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. There are different classifications, Elliott's would be the systemic arthritis. I say "unofficially" because we are giving him a trial medication for 2 weeks. If it helps, (will know not just by him feeling better but also by having labs to check his WBC and inflammation) then we will know that in fact is what he has. We are thankful for answers, and that the pediatrician, oncologist, neurologist, infectious disease doctor, gastroenterologist and rheumotologist agree that his symptoms match this diagnoses, and not a few other things that had been considered. We might have to add a cardiologist to that list in the near future to make sure he does not have any inflammation in his heart.

If the medications work, we won't have to go back to Emory until October. We are praying this is the answer for Elliott. He has been in so much pain and discomfort, we'd really like for him to have some relief.
Thank you for your prayers, love and encouragement. We are so blessed to have a community of family and friends who have done so much for our family.

For those of you who have just gotten to know Elliott, here are some of our favorite pictures of him. Please continue to pray that this is the answer we have been searching for, and that the anti-inflammatory medications will help him.

I'm off to pack! We ARE going on vacation to the beautiful South Carolina beaches of Hunting Island. We are so excited, and thankful to have some much needed time away as a family!
Be prepared to see a lot of this....on this blog next weekend!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hurry up and wait.

Nothing has really changed for Elliott. We head to Atlanta to Emory Children's Hospital on Friday. It can't come soon enough, as he has been pretty miserable. The Rash gets worse, then will get better,usually dictated by what his temperature is. He complains his bones hurt. Last night I heard him whimpering in his sleep. When you ask him what hurts he points to his joints, like knees, elbows,etc or says his head hurts (then I know it's a fever). Tylenol, Motrin and Benadryl at night keep him comfortable. I've let myself research, and study up on what we could be facing. I need time to process, I like to be educated before I'm asked to make decisions. We were told to write out all of our questions. I've been working on that.
Basically, it's the whole "Hurry up, and wait."

Like hurry and get all of his medical documents to Atlanta, yes. Every document ever, they needed it. That took a few days.

Then the "Call us right back" message....and when you do your put on hold for forever.

It's been rough. We are ready for answers. I've accepted the reality of our situation, and am ready to tackle it head on.
In the meantime, we are staying busy with anything we can think of. The weather has been soooooo beautiful here. I'm loving that it's September and still 80+ degrees. This southern girl missed the warmth. We've been on walks or bike rides every day. Elliott usually opts to ride in the stroller or wagon. He gets tired easily. He tried to ride his bike yesterday, made it about a block, and couldn't do it. That was sad, he loves riding usually. Thankfully we had my sister in law with us, and she had the wagon.

We've made marshmallow people with toothpicks. They all loved that.
 (If  you want to see pictures, I have Instagram my name is bnyhle31...follow me there!)

Of course we've done school, and special projects with that.

Daddy brought home huge boxes from work last night, since our living room is empty, I decided to make the kids a huge box fort. He is bringing home more tonight. My sister in law and I have been planning up some sweet designs. It will be a magical box fort, with Christmas lights,and her amazing art work gracing the walls. Hey, when your stuck at home, you gotta do SOMETHING!
(What I'm thinking)
We are going to have the most rockin' box fort ever. It takes me back to my childhood. My dear friends Dad made them box forts in their basement. But, they were not your average box fort. Oh no! He designed amazing castles with drawbridge doors,and our own little rooms, with door knobs. Or a two story box maze. They were fabulous. We dressed up in petty coats and were princess' one minute, and the next we were secret spies. I want to create that for my children, and can't wait to get started on the design tonight!
We visited a church down the road on Sunday. It was nice, the kids liked it. The pastor preached a great message. One of those where you sit there thinking "Am I the only one in here, cause I think your talking right to me". I thought for sure I'd start crying when I heard the intro to the last praise and worship song. But I didn't. I was surprised by that. I'd say my emotional state as of late has been "numb". Too raw to cry. I'm thankful I didn't loose it, as we had all the kids sitting with us in the pew. We slipped out the church, not too many people stopping to talk to us. That's a hard reality. We are the new people, and it makes you miss your  church family. People hugging and laughing together, it's not that they weren't friendly. They were, but they have their friends, and wanted to catch up with them. And it makes you miss your friends that were your "pew buddies".

 It will happen, I know that. But, it's exhausting to "put yourself out there". I mean, due to our current state, (you know the  rather unbelievable reality) you don't want to put yourself out there to meet new people, because small talk just seems so dumb.Kind of like this:
And you don't want to dive into the realities of your life and tell them everything, cause your pretty sure they'd think you've got the plague and run. I mean, I probably would.

Well, I would have before.

 I am not the same person I was before all of these trials. I hope no one would hesitate to tell me whats really going on in their life, and know that I would not find it unbelievable, or jump to judgment.

I hope I'd say a: "Oh girlfriend, can I pray with you?". Hug their neck and just be there.

 I hope one day I can be that for someone in similar circumstances. Because when your in the trenches, you don't need people saying "they've been there", or "you'll survive", or "well if you would have done this, that wouldn't be happening".

You need someone to come along side, say a "Oh girlfriend" give you a hug and say "Let's pray together". Because really, only God can help. Friends are just there to point you to Him when it's so hard to see His hand, and love you through it. I mean, aren't we supposed to do that for them through life? So, if your reading this, and hurting, and life is hard, please know I want to say "Oh girl friend!". Throw my arms around your neck and ask if I can pray with you. And I want to LOVE you through it. Because we will get through it.
And then, I'd crank this up, and we'd dance till our bodies ached. Because this is the good life, and if we really think about it, what do we have to complain about?!?!