Tag Archives: family

thankfulness :: my family

I’ve been reading through Titus with a group of women over at She Reads Truth. It’s been such a fulfilling study on unity in the body and what we do with discipleship and love for each other. 

Titus 2:1-8 says 

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

My spiritual mothers have always played a huge role in my life. God seems to bring an older lady into my life just at the right time. The great thing about these mentors is that they’re also some of my greatest friends. They’re women that see me where I am and want to be a part of my life. These women are not all from the same path of life. One has 10 kids, two of them have 2 children, and one of them has only spiritual children. I also see where Titus exhorted the church to just do life together. My life has been filled with a mom who loves The Lord, and with a sister who loves God more than her next breath, and who happens to be my best friend. 

Because of all of this encouragement, I have a desire to share that with younger girls, who I also get to do life with. Some of these girls are moms now as well and we get to share in the joys and sorrows of motherhood. Others are well on their way, and I get to see them love on my family like they will one day love on their family. 

God created us to be together. To encourage each other. To share in the joys and the sorrows. To be real with each other. If I didn’t have mentors in my life, I’m not sure where I would be today. Several years ago, my friend and mentor Kathy, told me she would never stop learning from older women. At the time, her husband was the pastor of a very small southern baptist church with the main demographic being senior citizens. Kathy had already been mentoring younger girls and could have seen her life as not needing those older women to encourage her. However, she saw it has the opposite. She wanted to learn from them and embrace their knowledge  because they really did have so much more wisdom than she did. I hope I never grow tired of learning from older women and from sharing in community with my sisters in Christ. We need each other and we need to embrace each other in our strengths and weaknesses to sour each other on for the gospel’s sake. 

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A year without Christian

It’s June 10, and we are at the beach. Our family of 5 instead of 7. That’s a really sad way to start. We are having a great time. However, it’s a sad day. Today, last year, I was preparing for Christian’s funeral. I was trying on my sister’s dresses to see which one looked ok in my post-pardum body. I was hoping I wouldn’t be where I was. This year, I’m at the beach, and yesterday was the best day. I rode the skim board, I rode the waves with Isaac and I got sunburned. Everyone had a great day. Then I woke up this morning, and I remembered it was June 10. “It’s just another day. Enjoy it.” I kept telling myself. But it’s not just another day. Because I have 2 little boys that should be here with us. And I miss them terribly. I don’t just want them to know their brothers. I’m sad because they’re never going to know their grandparents, aunts, or uncles, much less their cousins, who are all amazing. I’m sad because they won’t know Mr. Brian and Ms. Cindy. I’m sad because this side of heaven, they are missing out on the abundant life God has given me.
Isn’t that so strange? That I go from being sad and missing half my family, to realizing that I have the abundant life in Christ. That’s why we named Christian what we did. It was all we could do to speak the name of Christ over him. Elias means “Yahweh is my God.” As parents, all we want for our children is for them to know Christ like we do. To love Him more than anything else in this world. And it does help me to know that Christian Elias is already worshipping Christ for all eternity.
At times, I’m very jealous of Christian, and at times, I just want him here. That’s what today has been. I want to see him and his brothers play in the sand. I want to see who his friends would be. I miss him so much. I just re-read the letter I wrote to him to be read at the funeral. I thought I would include it, just so people know it’s ok good to grieve and all at the same time, you can point to Christ and say you don’t understand why. I never will know why God chose Christian’s days to be short. And I will never apologize for talking about him or for grieving the way that I see fit. But. I will say I trust God and that I know He has given me 5 precious boys. And I don’t take any of them for granted.

Sweet Christian boy,
When your daddy and I found out you were going to be a part of our family, we were ecstatic. We told your brothers and we were all pretty convinced you were a girl. Little did we know that our family is just made to have boys, and as your momma, I couldn’t be happier about that. 
When daddy and I found out we were only going to have a little time with you, I had a million thoughts go through my head. I didn’t understand why we would have such little time, why I couldn’t rock you, sing to you, watch you grow up with your brothers, and I would never know what color hair you have. Then, I reminded myself that God’s plans are better than mine. That sometimes I don’t have to understand His plans, but as scripture says, we make our plans and God directs our paths. In the past few days the path God has chosen for our family has been hard. It’s been filled with moments of deep sorrow, of grief, and pain, and it’s also been filled with joy. 
The day we found out that God had already called you to His side, I was lead to psalm 116:15. “Precious in the sight of The Lord is the death of His saints.” You are precious, and thats exactly what i told you the first time i held you. You’re not only precious to your family but to Christ. I know that. That gives me more joy than I’ve ever known. It will continue to give me joy as long as I’m living, and I’m so grateful for that. I’m so grateful I had time with you to count your fingers and toes, to rock you and sing to you. I’m so glad and proud that you are my little boy. Thank you for being a part of our family and for being a part of my discipleship. You’ve brought me closer to Christ, and that is something I don’t take lightly. You’ve allowed me to feel Christ’s love through His body more than I ever have before. You, my son, are a gift. I love you so much. You are my sunshine, and always will be. 
Love, mommy.

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two years ago

i still can’t believe it’s been two years. TWO years. our first angel baby has been gone for two years.

we never did name this baby, so we affectionately call him Baby, or our first Baby. i have learned so much since we lost him (even though i’m not certain he was a boy…i’m just assuming). i feel as though i’ve learned more since we lost christian about how i really felt about our first miscarriage than i did in the year between the two. i’ve read a few blogs, talked to a few women who have experienced the same thing, and through it all, all i can think is how much it hurts, but more importantly, that this is my story. this is the path that God has laid out for me. this is my discipleship. my boys that are living are getting bigger. they are enjoying sports, friends, and i’m enjoying having a little more freedom, honestly. however, i would trade all of that for having him here. it’s just what the Lord has given me. my faith is stronger than it was, and our loss of Baby gives me more compassion on anyone who is hurting. it’s amazing how much i use my grief daily. it impacts me to listen instead of solve, to just say “i’m so sorry it’s like this.” instead of trying to make them feel better. or just to hug someone who is hurting. and for that, i am extremely thankful.

but. i do miss my baby. i miss not being able to see him grow up and get a personality. i wonder who he looks like, or how much hair he would’ve had. i wonder if he would’ve slept through the night early like his oldest brother or if he wouldn’t have slept at all. i wonder how differently our life would look, and i wonder what our future holds.

however, today i’m choosing joy in the midst of sorrow. i’m choosing to love others even when it hurts so badly. i’m choosing to try and not dwell on him (as much as i want to sometimes) but also realize that one day, we’ll be reunited. one day, he will rise with Christ into the heavenlies, along with his brother, christian, and Lord willing his other brothers, and us. and i’m choosing to realize that i can do life in happiness and joy even in my sadness. i don’t have to live in the past, because i have a wonderful life as it is. could it have been better with him? probably. would it still be joyful? i can almost say a for sure 110% yes. but is my life wonderful? YES! it is so good. and i’m so thankful my baby is a part of my story.

19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.[a] 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 

-Philippians 1:19-20

 

 

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Repost :: thankful

I posted this last thanksgiving, but thought someone might want to do the thankful tree as well. I have a lot of work to so today 😉

this past week was thanksgiving. it has been a full, busy week. my husband works for a magazine in memphis, and they were in their busy time, but my family was in from out of town, so it kinda made everything better and easier. the cousins got to play together and everyone knows that my mom’s cookin is the best! 

last thanksgiving, we began the tradition of the thankful tree. about 2 weeks before halloween, my oldest started asking about the thankful tree and if we were going to do it again. that made me so happy and i hope to do this every year. usually we write down whatever it is the boys say, which makes it pretty fun to read through, because you have things like “hawks” and “the elmo basket” and “medicine”. ha! all i did was find some sticks that looked good together, cut out leaves and punched holes in them (from scrapbook paper), and gathered lots of little pumpkins for my vase. then, each night, we all took a turn saying what we were thankful for. i think daddy won the prize of people being thankful for him the most. i know i am!!

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i also got to help out at the boys school with their thanksgiving party. this party is so cute because they sing a few songs and dress up like pilgrims and indians. i was in charge of pumpkins, the thankful tree, and a take home treat. i ended up making these cornucopias for all the kids (tutorial coming up next!). then, i found some printables that said “gobble till you wobble” which i thought was hilarious.  Image

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the table scape for the party. we had popcorn, pilgrim’s hats with apples in them, chex mix, pumpkin muffins, donut hole acorns, cheese cubes, and cute little orange water that looked like pumpkins.Image

one mom made this paper bag turkey that was so fun, then we used our thankful tree and various pumpkins.Image

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2012 has definitely had it’s moments, but i couldn’t be more thankful for these three amazing kids and their amazing husband. life is good.

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:: our boy ::

over the past 2 weeks, i have had a range of emotion come over me. emotion that I don’t understand, that i can’t put my finger on, and emotion that i can’t explain. see a trend? i’ll try and explain some of my thoughts here.

first of all, christian elias was delivered on june 7, friday, at 10:10 pm. he was so precious. he always will be precious. that’s the only way i know to explain him. from the second ben and i found out about christian, that we didn’t have much time left with him, and that this was going to be the hardest thing we’ve ever gone through, we have relied so heavily on our community, our families, and our friends, but more so we’ve relied on each other and on the Lord. i’ve shared this with many of you that read this blog, but our family has never felt the love of Christ the way that we have over the past 2 weeks. i understand now why Christ created His bride, His body, the Church…it’s to be a body when you need an actual person to minister to you. this happens all the time, and on a regular basis in our lives, but i never fully understood what that meant. from our pastor praying and crying with us in his office, to my mom, dad, mother in law, and sister being with us all through labor and delivery, to meals being brought to us, and a circle of women surrounding me at church the following sunday, crying with me, and the same said women bringing food for the meal after Christian’s service on monday. y’all, it’s overwhelming. and it’s so refreshing. and it hurts. and i don’t understand it. and even with all of the wonderful things, ben and i miss our little boy. we want to see him grow up with his brothers, and we’ll never have that opportunity for him. i want to see what color hair he has, and i won’t see that here on earth. i miss him.

i know this is not the most uplifting post ever, but i pray that it will lift someone up. that it will be encouraging to that first time mom that is going through the same thing we’ve been through twice now. all i can say is that the Lord is faithful. He hasn’t left us once, and ben and i both feel incredibly close to him. i’m so thankful for His body, for our marriage, and for the family that God has chosen to give us. i don’t know what the future holds for us, but i know the only thing i can do is trust in Him, the One who gives me every good and perfect thing, and the One who truly knows what i am bearing now, since He bore it on the cross. 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Praise Him all creatures here below.

Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts.

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Amen.

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::thoughts:: duck dynasty

so, if you haven’t heard, duck dynasty is a pretty popular show right now. my husband and i have only watched a few minutes of it together, however, i watched a marathon with some friends one night while ben was out of town.

i’m still kind of trying to wrap my brain around what is duck dynasty. being raised in the south, and only leaving for one year of my adult life, hearing about guys huntin is second nature to me. my family wasn’t necessarily an “outdoorsy” family. we played sports, did girl scouts and boy scouts, my brother went huntin with friends or my uncle, and we did have one family vacation to fall creek falls. that was an adventure, actually. so, a bunch of guys sitting out in a field talking to their dogs and making fun of each other, just seems like status quo.

as i sat and watched duck dynasty, i thought, “man, this is really hitting close to home!” my mom makes the best rolls in the world, and my sisters and i try and learn from her. all of us have pretty modest houses. we hang out for big family dinners on sunday afternoons for a big lunch after church. we watch football, basketball, baseball, hockey, basically whatever sport is on. and i’m getting more and more southern the older i get.

i say all of this because i think duck dynasty has finally captured what southern life is. i don’t feel like it makes fun of southerners. i think that every man, woman, and child who has ever been huntin, had a sibling who goes huntin, or is the child of a hunter can relate to the duckmen and all the women in their life. there are always going to be things that any family can make fun of. every family has that crazy family member like si. and every family has one sibling who seems to be a little more successful or smart, and one that has a better personality that is a little more social.

although i don’t watch duck dynasty anymore, i can say that i thought it was funny simply because it made me thankful for my family and for the family i’m raising. what if my kids grow up and go huntin with their friends or uncles, and they start a family business, or take over their dad’s business? i would be the proudest mother in the world, as i’m sure miss kay is of her family. so, here’s to wholesome, sometimes funny tv, and one that i sure would be proud of if it were my family.

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Something exciting

We have some exciting news to share!!

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I’m due in early November, and are beyond excited.

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how to fit 3 boys in one room, comfortably

our 3 boys are all within 3 years of each other. yes, we are the crazy ones who had 3 kids within 3 years. but we love it. when we first got married, we lived in this wonderful historic home that only had 2 bedrooms and a loft. so, when baby #3 was coming along, we knew we needed more room. even though we have more room now, we like our space and our kids like to be together. so, all three boys are in one room!

my husband’s step dad (dave, aka pawpaw) is an amazing carpenter. for Christmas this year, we asked him to build the boys’ beds. i was inspired by this room and sent the picture to dave.  he said “oh yeah. we can do this.” he had amazing walnut which is a beautiful wood, un-stained. he chose to stain to make them look a little more boy-y though, and i’m extremely happy with how they turned out. 

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the side view of the beds. there’s a ladder on both sides, but we have one pushed up against the wall, so we use them as shelves for the boys’ “friends”, aka stuffed animals.Image

the two platform beds. these bedspreads are from target, about 2 years ago. they have similar colors now, but not the same ones.Image

the top bedspread is from target as well, which of course i can’t find now online. but i did just buy it this year. Image

this is the top post of the loft bed. i love the detailing.Image

these are from ikea. better curtain rod to come hopefully next week.Image

my husband’s step mom (aka granny) made some pretty cool canvases for the boys. these are the first edition comic book covers of spiderman, batman, and superman. pretty great for a superhero room!

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my awesome friend made these for my boys after she read this post. they’re hanging above the boys costumes of more superheroes.Imageand the best picture i can get of all three beds. the best thing, all three of these are detachable and can be moved wherever we need. i’m in love.

 

 

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books i’m loving right now

one of my favorite blogs, emily at jones design co., had book week this past week with a linky party. i feel like she and i would be friends if we lived in the same city.

for awhile now, i’ve wanted to do a post on some of my favorite children’s bibles, as well as some of my favorite parenting/mothering books. this might be funny, because i don’t like to read. some people LOVE it, and just drift into lala land while they’re reading. me? i need to be doing something. i have the hardest time just sitting there reading, unless i’m on the beach. then, i’ll read an entire novel in a week, when it’s hard for me to read a 150 page book in 4 weeks at home. go figure.

anyway, our bedtime routine is a pretty important part of our day. the boys love for us to lay down with them (when we can, which is most nights) and sing “my maker”, “bless the Lord”, and “Jesus loves me” (or “bible” as s calls it), and we also pray together and read the bible.

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our favorite and most loved children’s bible is “the Jesus storybook bible” every story in this bible points to Christ, and that’s just how we do church. no matter what text our pastor is preaching on, it always points to Christ. so, obviously, we were on board with this one. this bible is good for 18 month olds-6 year olds. we’ve used it from day 1 with our boys, and right now, all of them still love it, even though we’ve read through multiple times.

we also love “the beginning reader’s bible“. this bible is scripture, plus it has a “pray God’s word” section, a “remember God’s word” section, and a “do God’s word” section. so, it’s great to memorize scripture together, and sometimes do the activity the next day and be able to talk about the story we read the night before. we like this one for 3-8 year olds. since it’s straight scripture, sometimes it’s hard for the little ones to maintain their attention through the whole story. the pictures in it are wonderful, though. good illustrations are really important to us in any book we get for our kids.

the last one that we love, and that i hope we do from time to time, is “sammy and his shepherd“. this book is a fictional story that is based on psalm 23. we learned psalm 23 as a family while doing this. it was so great to see the lightbulbs go off in our kids’ heads while we were asking them questions about the story to relate it to everyday life. this book is good for 4-12 year olds. it’s a chapter book, but the chapters are only a couple pages long. however, there’s not a lot of pictures, so it’s harder to hold the littler kids attention. also, the discussion questions are pretty advanced, but can be asked in easier ways for younger kids.

i think i’ll do a different post with my favorite mothering/parenting books. this one is full enough! what do you do for bible reading time with your family? is there a certain routine you follow, or scripture reading plan? let us know in the comments!

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hi, my name is janie, and my son has epilepsy

almost a year ago, ben and i started noticing that our middle son would drop his head randomly. his eyes would roll back to the right, and then he would come back to, maybe have to be reminded of what we were talking about, and continue on. in june, we noticed that they were getting worse. he would also have random nose bleeds, but all kids get nose bleeds. we didn’t want to jump to conclusions, but we knew that something just didn’t seem right. in august, we were at ben’s mom’s house. while we were leaving, his sister said “bye, izi bear! i love you!” he turned around, dropped his head, and just looked at her. he didn’t know what she had said. i said “did you hear her? aunt hopi said she loves you.” he said “i wuv you, too!” and out the door he went. we started counting these “drops” he was having, and would count up to 50 a day. about a week and a half later, he had the worst nose bleed he’s ever had. so, i called our pediatrician. the nurse got us in the next day. thankfully, that morning, we were able to catch about 3-4 “drops” on video while i was cutting his nails. our pediatrician ordered an EEG. during the EEG, i saw about 10-12 “drops” and we knew that something wasn’t right. ben could see the waves on the test going crazy every time he would have a “drop”. we left not feeling very encouraged, and didn’t know what was about to change in our life. about a week later, i got a call from our pediatrician. “the EEG indicates that he has what’s called Childhood Absence Epilepsy, or CAE.” what? my son has epilepsy? how can this be? he’s the most joyful 3 year old i know. ok, ok. so what do we do? the orders were to start him on a seizure med and we would try to get him into vanderbilt to see a pediatric neurologist there. before our doctor’s nurse even called us back, vanderbilt had already called to see if we could come in 2 weeks. yes, of course. we’ll be there.

we started a medicine called keppra on izi. i didn’t notice much of a change in his seizures, and as we told family members and friends, they would say “they must be so little. i’ve never seen him have one.” it was such a mind boggling thing, to have to try and explain that our child has epilepsy, but not the type of seizure that everyone thinks about. honestly, this is the best type of epilepsy he could be diagnosed with. since we’ve started the keppra, it has been increased as much as it can be. he is still having seizures, and our doctor at vanderbilt wasn’t pleased with that. over Christmas break, i talked with our doctor and he said “i want to get izi an overnight EEG here at vanderbilt. could you come as soon as we called you?” mercy. “of course i can come. we’ll do whatever we need to do.” well, a week went by, we increased his meds one more time, and he was still having seizures. the epilepsy center at vanderbilt called on monday at 12:30 and said “y’all are coming from jackson, so how quickly can you be here?”

“no earlier than 4:00.”

“ok, come on, and we’ll get started whenever you get here.”

ok, call ben (who was in memphis for work), call mom, call brenda. who can stay with dillon and sammy? what do i need to pack. ok, mom is coming to stay with the other 2, pjs are packed, a change of clothes, huggie, giraffe, leapster, dvds, what else do i need? my mom got here and immediately asked if i had everything? “do you have your pajamas? do you have a clean shirt? do you have money? a credit card?” it was a whirlwind.

we got to vanderbilt, and i didn’t know where to go. so, we went to our neurologist’s office, and they told us that we were being admitted to the hospital. what? no one told me that. ok, here we go. we find admitting, get checked in, and taken upstairs. izi is on cloud 9. he has momma all to himself, and vanderbilt children’s hospital really is amazing. we get to his room and immediately doctors and nurses come in and start asking us questions. he’s such a champ. finally, a lady comes in to start putting his “wires” on him. she got through most everything without izi crying at all, until the end. but he pulled through, and was so brave. so, we sat and watched movies, and every time he had a seizure, i pushed a button. the nurses would run in and make sure everything was ok. he slept like a baby. then, it was morning, and izi was ready to go. he wanted to leave so badly, but he couldn’t. we had to stay in the room. the doctor came in and said “he has classic absence epilepsy. his EEG indicates that he had a seizure every 20 minutes, even through the night. in order to help him more, we are going to put him on another medication, and keep him on the keppra. and we’ll see you back in 6-8 weeks for another EEG.” every 20 minutes? my baby was having a seizure every 20 minutes. oh my goodness. that’s so much more than we thought!

through all of this, we’ve learned that God knows better than we do. none of this is a surprise to the Lord. he knew before the beginning of time that izi was going to be diagnosed with epilepsy. i have to trust in Him. He knows better than i do, and He wants good for me, for izi, for our whole family. all we can do now is take life one day at a time. we will constantly be watching our son, changing dosages of medication, going for more EEGs, and trying to love everyone a little more, and help other families that are going through this. it could be much worse, but for now, this is our life. our hope is that izi’s seizure activity level will come down to 0, that he’ll be able to follow directions well, and that he’ll eventually be weened off of all his medications. we WILL figure out our new normal, we WILL figure out his meds, and we WILL live our abundant life that Christ has given us.

for more info about vanderbilt pediatric epilepsy, you can go here. thanks be to God for He is doing wonderful things.

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