Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Space Between

Okay, so I'm feeling really weird here. I know we are moving in 5 months. But in the next 5 months, life is still going on here. A growing piece of my heart is in Orlando, but most of my heart is still firmly here, surrounded by the activities of life and the people I love--my present reality. Part of me is excited and ready to get moved. But the rest of me wants to dig in my heels and hold on to the life I love in Arkansas. I know that the Master Gardener has begun to loosen my roots. I this what a plant feels like when it is being transplanted? It has to move to a bigger pot that is more suited for the needs of the plant, but each separating root fiber tears painfully away. That is how my heart feels right now, and I don't like the mix of emotions. I'm not quite sure sure how to process them. I cry some. I make the most of each opportunity to spend time with a friend, or do something cool and Arkansan. I savor each Sunday with our beloved church family. I look for special things to put in the kids' Arkansas memory books. I search real estate listings in Orlando. I cry some more. I tell friends about what God has called us to, and I get very excited. I go online and research the Orlando area. I get more excited. Then I talk to Karon or Steph and I cry all over again. And most of all, I pray. A Lot. And I cling to Jesus.

I am in Bible study on Thursday mornings with the most wonderful group of ladies in the world. Nuts girls, my eyes are watering! I am going to miss my Thursday girls so much. Anyhoo, this morning, my sweet friend Jac shared a verse with the group, and it really struck me. I memorized it this evening, and I am going to keep it present in my thoughts in the coming months. It will help; I know that.

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Romans 15:13

In the midst of the unheaval, and waiting, and uprooting, and anticipation, and tears, and excitement, my heart can hold fast to God's promises. I resolve to keep my focus on God, and He will fill me with His perfect peace, joy, and hope. How thankful I am that no matter what comes my way, I can count on God.

Okay. I feel better now. I think I had better bookmark this post...I'm sure I'll need lots of reminding!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I Love That Smell!


My whole house smells brand new. I love that smell!
The installation took 7 hours. The guys did a fantastic job, too. Even if you try, you can't find the seams! When Matt got home, he and I rearranged the furniture and packed up some more stuff. I scrubbed doorframes, and Snapper cleaned the baseboards. All that has to be done upstairs now is tiling the bathroom floors, painting the bathroom cabinets, and doing a few paint touch-ups on doors and trim. Everything else is staged and ready to go! Of course, the tile is going to be the biggest project.

Anyhoo, I just want to say thank you again to our wonderful friend Brad, who bought the carpet for us. He even paid the extra fee to have the installers move all our furniture, and to haul the old carpet and pad away. Brad, you and Amy have given us such a wonderful gift, and we are deeply grateful.

Sigh! I'm so happy!

On a totally different note, both my kids gave me a reality check today. When I was playing on the Wii this afternoon, Pepper said, "Wow, Mommy, you play like an old grandma!"
Then when Snapper was reading in the newly-staged office tonight, she told me I look like Mama Bear from the Berenstain Bears books.
When I questioned her about it, she realized how that sounded to me, and fumbled around trying to cover.
"Uh, uh, um...what I really meant was, ummmm, your eyes, uh, look like Mama Bear's eyes, you know, um, um, uh, when she closes her eyes, it looks like you when you close your eyes. Yeah! That's it!"
Nice try, kid! I'm not buying it.

What would the world be like if all people were as brutally honest as my children?

Monday, January 25, 2010

What's in A Name?

When Matt and I were choosing names for our children, we ran into an interesting dilemma. Many of the names we liked were instantly ruled out because one of us had a strong, negative association with the name. All it takes is one contrary person to forever ruin a name. For example, I have always loved the name Sara, but Matt had a bad childhood experience with a girl named Sara, so that name was out of the question. There are several names that were ruined for us by former students, too. Don't get me wrong--I loved each precious student. But there were a few whom God used to build character in my life. I'd rather not tempt fate by giving one of their names to my own child...ya know?

I have also noticed that certain names tend to project a certain image expectation on a person. I could never name my child Edna, Agnes, Marvin, or Harold because they sound old and frumpy to me. Kelly, Hillary, Jake, and Alex make me think sporty. Annie, Amy, Patrick, and Devon sound cheerful. Alyssa, Lauren, Tyler, and Nick make me think popular and trendy. You get the idea.


I am going to tell you 4 names. What sort of association do these names bring to your mind?

Love Bug

If I were on the blog reader side of this post, my first thought would be spoiled Persian cats, or fluffy, girly stuffed animals, or cute nicknames a daddy might have for his 4 little girls.

So why does this matter anyway?
Let me introduce you to 4 very important members of Pepper's family. He named them all by himself!

Princess (the big one), Precious (the yellow one), Baby (the brown and blue one), and Love Bug (the purple one).

Every time I look at this picture, I laugh until I can't breathe! Kids are SO cool!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A God-Sized Adventure!

*Disclaimer: This is a long post. Don't expect a quick read. But...I think it is worth reading, particularly if you know Matt and me! I think you'll be excited, too!

One week ago Matt and I pulled out of our driveway at 4:30 a.m. At 9:30 p.m. we rolled into the driveway of our friends' home in Orlando, Florida. Our drive took us through Arkansas, a few miles in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and finally, Florida. Can we say LONG day? Yes. But we enjoyed it! Matt and I always love road trips together because we can have uninterrupted conversations. We also love the freedom to just be quiet. The kiddos were safe and sound at home with Matt's mom, which freed us up to relax and focus.

This trip was a vision trip for us. We have known for some time that we are moving. What we didn't know was what our new job would look like, or what life is like in Orlando. We spent a full day driving around with a realtor, exploring the town and looking a houses. Obviously, we won't be buying anything we looked at on this trip, but it was comforting to get an idea of what we can afford...which in the depressed Orlando real estate market is a LOT of house! We will be able to increase the size of our home by 1000 sq. feet without increasing our mortgage! This will be the fulfillment of a dream for both of us. It's not that we desire a big house, because that's not it. In fact, my favorite home we've ever lived in was a 500 sq. foot, 1-bedroom cabin in the Santa Cruz mountains of California. The dream Matt and I have always shared is to have a home that allows us to welcome guests, love on them, and make them feel special. We have been able to do this to some degree where we are, but we will be able to do it better in a home where our guests can have their own room that is designed specifically for their comfort, and is not one of our kids' rooms. We are also planning on getting our foster care licensing, and having a larger home will allow our foster kids to have a special place of their own, too. So, needless to say, the real estate day was very encouraging, and very exciting! I feel bad for all the people who are trying to sell their homes, but I am glad we will benefit from the poor market.

The best part of the trip was the time we spent with our new managers, Brad and Kathy. We stayed with them, and had two full days just talking together. Normally I wouldn't reveal and identifying information on my blog, but the ministry we are going to is way too exciting not to share! Before we move, I'll tell you the name of the ministry we are leaving, and give you details. Because you're reading my blog, chances are you are either a woman, a parent, or a grandparent. Both of the ministries are fantastic, and I know you can benefit from what they offer.

We are transferring to the Bright Media Foundation, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ! Dr. Bill Bright and his wife, Vonette, founded Campus Crusade for Christ in 1951. Their original intent was to reach students for Christ on the UCLA campus. God saw the Brights' love for Him, and their passion to take the love of Christ to the world. God honored their dream, and today Campus Crusade is the largest interdenominational missions organization in the world. With 70+ ministries, and 26,000 staff worldwide, Campus Crusade is meeting the needs of all different kinds of people. The Bright Media Foundation came about several years ago, with the goal of keeping the writings of Dr. and Mrs. Bright readily available to the body of Christ. When Dr. Bright passed away in 2003, his son Brad, and daughter-in-law Kathy, assumed leadership of Bright Media. God has given Brad and Kathy a passion to help people to truly know God. Out of this passion, two projects have developed: Discover God, and Discover God for Kids. We will be working on the Discover God for Kids (DG4K) project. What a great privilege and honor for us! It is a perfect fit--God-designed, really--and you'll see why as you read on.

We have noticed a startling trend during our years in our current ministry, and through our past experiences with our families, and as school teachers. The majority of parents today do not know how to build spiritually strong foundations for their children. Because they don't know how, they are leaving their children's spiritual education up to the church and/or Christian school. This is sad because the most important factor in the growth of a child is the parents. Kids will learn far more from their parents than they ever will from any other source. The church and the school (I'm speaking in generalizations here, not saying this applies to every church or school) are not giving the children enough substance. The overwhelming outcome is a generation of children whose views of God are skewed because they have filled the gaps in the knowledge with their own ideas about God. So often, when the tough times come, this shallow understanding cannot bear the weight of pain or any challenge from the culture, and the person will abandon God altogether. This generation are the marriages, parents, families, and leaders of tomorrow. They are our future. Sobering thought, much?

This is where the Discover God and DG4K projects come in! They exist to resource people, in order that they might come to understand WHO God truly is, and WHY He matters. This understanding is the key to living a life of joy and peace--a life where Christianity is not a chore, a burden, or an impossible task. Knowing God--the true God, not a distorted view of God--is the most important thing in life. DG4K is a developing ministry. The team has spent the last several years building a framework for ministry to kids. Now we get to come in and help flesh it out! DG4K has a great website: It is home to Family Adventures, a wonderful FREE curriculum that parents can use to teach their children about the character of God. We have been adapting this curriculum for a larger group, and using it in our church's Awana program this year. Mommies, Daddies, and Grandparents, this is good stuff! The lessons will help you build those crucial foundations for your precious kids. When we get to Orlando, I will be spearheading the development of a blog to further help parents be intentional in their children's spiritual growth! Together, Matt and I will be working on building the Kids Zone. We want to include as many fun, interactive things there as possible to help develop connections with the kids, and to add truth to their understanding of God.

There will be many other facets of our job, too. We will be writing 5th grade curriculum for a ministry that runs after-school programs in the public schools! We will get to work on developing partnerships with some other key children's ministries around the country, and with some other countries around the world (I can't reveal names yet, though the partnerships are already in progress)! We want to customize the curriculum for churches, for schools, and for homeschool families, too! I will also get to use my photography gifts to help illustrate a book written by Kathy Bright! These are just a few of the things DG4K is about. There is more I will talk about later, too. SQUEEEEEE! I am so excited! You'll be hearing more about this in the next several months. =)

The other cool things about the trip were getting to eat Cuban food, going on a tour of Campus Crusade's headquarters, and spending an evening with all the members of our new team. We broke up our drive home into two days. On the first day, we spent an hour at Daytona Beach, where found some beautiful seashells. We then drove through the heaviest rain I've ever seen in my life (went 25 mph on the interstate for about an hour!), had dinner in Chattanooga, and spent the night with our dear friends Brian and Carol in Murfreesboro, TN. The next day was an easy straight-through from Murfreesboro back home. After the long drive on the way down, 6 1/2 hours seemed like nothing!

So now we're home again. I am sick, and will be spending much of the next few days taking vitamins, drinking water and tea, and trying to get rested and well again. Matt is painting the dining room and kitchen today. The new upstairs carpet comes on Tuesday! All week long, Matt will be spending his evenings tiling the bathrooms and laundryroom. I get to spend the next week doing cleaning and touch-ups around the house, painting baseboards and trim, and making sure the house is ready to list. It goes up for sale next week! Over the next few months, we need to work hard at raising more support. We are under-funded right now, and we have to get back to full support before we can move. We also need to raise a bit more to cover the slightly increased cost of living in Orlando. The sale of the house and getting our support back up are the two things that have to happen before we go. We would like to move as soon as school is out. We have to be there by July 1st in order to get the 5th grade curriculum written for the 10/11 school year. Please pray for our family. There is so much to be done!

Wow...this ended up being longer that I thought. I hope I've managed to convey some of my excitement, and haven't bored you to death! =)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

On The Road Again

Tomorrow Matt and I are driving to Orlando for 5 days with our new team. Our trip will include staying with our new managers, a neighborhood drive-around with a realtor, a tour of our ministry's headquarters, a meeting with HR to work on transfer requirements, and time meeting with the new team. We are very excited!

Here's the kink in our plans. Snapper was up all night last night throwing up. And she has thrown up even more today. The doc says it is a 24-hour stomach virus, and I am praying he is right. Pepper has a nasty chest cold, but he is better today. My MIL is here, and having raised 8 kids, she doesn't mind that the kids are sick. I am so thankful for that! Please pray that Pepper would avoid the bug. Even more importantly, pray that Matt and I would stay healthy. We're doing everything we can to avoid getting sick, but only time will tell.

Christine, I went to the chiropractor earlier this week and had her check my foot. It turns out my second toe was dislocated. She put it back in place, and my foot is dramatically better. I still have the hematoma on the tendon, but that is improving too. Thanks for asking!

While we're on the road, I doubt I'll have time to blog. So until Friday, adios, friends. I covet your prayers.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The God Who Provides

Okay. So we're moving to Orlando this summer, and now is the best time of year to sell a home. So in December, we had our realtor come over to our house to make a list of us of what we need to do to get the house ready. Here's the list.

Replace upstairs carpet (900 square feet)
Put new baseboards in the living room and downstairs bathroom
Put in new doorknobs throughout the house (because half are broken)
Paint the kitchen
Paint the trim throughout the house
Tile the upstairs bathrooms and the laundryroom
Replace all the light switches, switchplates, outlets, and outlets covers in the house
Refinish the bathroom cabinets, and replace the hardware
Various other small repairs and touch-ups

We did some shopping around, and figured that the total cost of that list was around $2500. Do we have $2500 just lying around? HA HA HA...No. We figured we were going to have to wait to do any of the work until our tax return money arrives, which is the end of February at the earliest. That was a bit discouraging because we wanted to list the house February 15th. But we had no other choice. When the money isn't there, it just isn't there.

We should know by now not to forget God in the equation. After all these years of trusting Him, you'd think we would have learned. But No. It never occurred to me that God might provide another way for us. And of course, He showed us!

On Tuesday night, we got a call from our dear friend Brad, who has also been a faithful supporter of our ministry for 5 years. Brad is from Wyoming, and was flying to Atlanta on Wednesday to pick up a car he had bought online. He wanted to spend Wednesday night with us on his way back to Wyoming. Of course we were thrilled! We haven't seen Brad in 2 1/2 years. He arrived at 2:00 Thursday morning. When we all got up around 9, he told us to get creative and scrap our plans for the day. He was taking us to Home Depot to buy everything we need to get the house ready to sell...up to $2500!!!

Can we say WOW???

In a complete daze, we went to Home Depot with Brad yesterday afternoon. We ordered carpet for our upstairs. And we purchased everything on our list, except the paint, which has to come from Lowe's. The carpet installers are coming today to measure, and he carpet will go in next week. Every other supply is in our garage, just waiting for us! We will be able to list our house on February 15th. And all we have to buy is a few cans of paint.

Can we say AMAZING GOD???

I'm still blown away. So thankful for our generous friend. So thankful for a loving God who sees our needs and cares for us, even when we forget to put Him in the equation.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Sweetest Privilege

When I was a child, I got to go to Awana at a local church. If you don't know, Awana is a program for kids ages 3 years old thru 12th grade, designed to teach the fundamentals of Christianity. This is done through interactive teaching times, Bible memory, fun awards, and exciting games. I loved being in Awana from 1st grade-8th grade, and now I work in Awana. In fact, this year I am the commander in charge of our church's whole club. I volunteer with Awana beause it made such a big impact on me when I was growing up. I learned how to memorize Scripture, and have a large bank of verses in my memory. My kids are in Awana because of the experience I had, and I work in Awana because I want to be part of making a difference for Christ in the life of a child.

Tonight, I got to sit down with a 2nd grade girl and talk with her about Jesus. She asked me some really thoughful questions, and I gave her some answers. Then I asked her some questions, and she gave me some answers. The final question I asked her was if she wanted to give her life to Jesus, and ask Him to be her forever friend. She did! Once I was sure she understood, we prayed together, and then her little face lit up the room. I gave her a special Bible study book and a new Bible. Before I sent her back to her activities, I read her a special verse and marked it in her new Bible. I pray she never forgets, and will hold onto this promise for the rest of her life.

"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

This is what I love! Does life get any better than this?

Update on Bev

Thanks everyone for praying for Bev. She is still in the hospital with viral pneumonia. She is also being treated for a fungal infection in her lungs, and a possible blood clot. The treatments are finally working, and they anticipate being able to send her home tomorrow or Friday. Please continue to pray for her. She is worn out and weak. But her husband says she is finally sleeping better, and she is fiesty when she is awake--both good signs. Again, thanks for praying, and keep the prayers coming.


I love my chiropractor. I think she saved my life today...
Not really...
But seriously, I am so thankful for her! As you know, I have been faithfully swimming, and it is paying off! The scale this morning said I am 3 pounds lighter than I was at this time last week! Can I get a what-what?! But swimming has also done me in. Yesterday I bravely (or stupidly) completed four agonizing laps of butterfly. And my back has spent all day today cursing and screaming at me. By the time I rolled out of bed, made the bed, and fed my son, I was done for the day. I spent the rest of the day, until 2:00, flat on my back in total pain. So, I went to see my chiropractor, who performed her slightly agonizing magic on my spine, and voila...I can walk again! I'm still sore, but I am functioning.
Here's the coolest thing, though. I asked her to look at my poor foot, which is still sore and hematoma-stricken. She poked it, and prodded, it, and stretched it, and SNAP CRRRRACK! And I sat there, giggling hysterically in pain. She calmly informed me that my second toe had been dislocated, but she had just moved it back into place. Within 30 seconds, my big toe and second toe--which have been numb since I dropped the chair on them 3 weeks ago--started to tingle! Here I am, 8 hours later, and I have full feeling in my toes, and I can walk without limping! Granted, my foot is bruised again. But I will take some bruising over the former pain any day! I think my foot will finally heal.
Thank you SO much, Dr. Melissa!
Do you have a good chiropractor? Find one. You will have a new best friend.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pure Satisfaction

Seriously, is there anything more satisfying than getting your personal life in order? I really don't think so. I feel so good after this highly productive weekend that I just have to write. Put the overflow down on paper...or on blog...whatever!

I spent all day yesterday purging Snapper's and Pepper's rooms. Each child helped me work through their rooms. I am pretty strict about not letting too much stuff accumulate. We absolutely do not keep toys that are not regularly played with, so the kids' rooms were already manageable. But since Matt and I have decided that the theme of our life right now is Simplify, we needed to scale back even more with the kids.

Pepper put every piece of clothing he owns into two laundry baskets for me to sort through and put away. He also helped me sort toys into piles based on where in the room they belong. Then we went through each toy together, and decided what to do with it--keep it, throw it away, or give it away. He really surprised me with his generosity, and his willingness to throw away things that were broken or missing pieces. I was pretty surprised when he chose to give his big firetruck "to a little boy who doesn't have one." He also gave away several stuffed animals, some of his cars, and a few other toys. I cleaned out his closet, and packed his baby bedding into Rubbermaid totes. He stripped the sheets off his bed and dusted everywhere he could reach. I took care of the rest, and vacuumed. Then it was on to Snapper's room.

Snapper, being older and interested in more things, has more stuff in her room. She also has more toys with small parts. And her room was a big, fat mess. She is usually really good about cleaning up. This week, though, she has been lazy, and I haven't checked up on her. Nothing was in its proper place, and everything was stuffed somewhere. While Snapper put all of her clothes on her bed, I went through and pulled out every toy she owns and made a big pile in the center of the room. We completed the same process as I did with Pepper, of sorting toys for keep, give away, and throw away. Apparently she has been watching me around the house this week because she was ruthless! After the toys were done (she cut them back by half!), I helped her clean out her desk and her closet. Then we went through all her clothes together, and talked about dirty vs. clean. She has been very conscious of the environment recently, so we talked about how doing unnecessary laundry wastes water, electricity, gas, and Mommy's time. She really seemed to get it, but we'll have to watch her laundry output this week for proof. While I folded her laundry (I did it because there was so much), she dusted her room, made her bed, and picked up all the bits of trash around the room. I vacuumed, and it was done.

Everything that came out of the kids' bedrooms clogged the hallway--five ginormous bags of trash, and 8 large boxes of clothing, blankets, toys, and stuffed animals to give away. The rooms look beautiful, and the kids are so happy! It will be easy for them to manage their rooms. Even better, it will be easy for me to do last-minute clean-up when we are showing our house.

Today Matt and I tackled our room, the bathrooms, and the hall closet. Again, we have been pretty good about keeping most of the clutter out, and staying organized. But when you are thinking about moving 900 miles away, you get a lot tougher on yourself. With each item I picked up, I asked myself, "do I want to move this to Orlando with me?" It was so helpful, because more often than not, I decided to say goodbye to the item. Our room produced three huge trash bags and two large boxes to give away. We packed up our books and many framed photos and decorative items into Rubbermaid totes. By the way, Walmart has 18-gallon Rubbermaid totes on sale for $3.25 right now. We are packing most of our stuff into those totes rather than cardboard boxes for a few reasons. First, they are much more sturdy than cardboard. Second, they only cost a little bit more than purchasing boxes from U-Haul. Third, they are much easier to organize and load onto a truck because they are all the same size. Fourth, we will use them again and again. Fifth, once they are empty, they all stack and store easily, without taking up much space.

So I am very happy right now. Apart from the laundry and regular cleaning chores, there is very little left to do to maintain the home. All the clutter is gone. Everything that is packed is stuff we regularly use. It fills maybe 1/6 of the garage. Packing the rest of the house will be so easy, likely do-able in a single day. Snapper's toys will easily fit in two totes, and so will Pepper's. Matt's and my remaining bedroom items will fit in one tote. Then there will be the towels and cleaning supplies from the bathrooms, and our one, small, linen closet. Downstairs, all that's left are a few photos, scrapbooks, laundry gear, and the kitchen items. Nice! I am SO happy!

Other areas of my life are coming into order as well, but that is enough for this post. Maybe I'll elaborate more tomorrow, between the 10 loads of laundry that are piled in the laundryroom. I love doing laundry, so tomorrow will be another good day!
TTFN! I'm off to go play Monopoly with my hubs and my girl.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Lord of the Flame

Cats are said to have 9 lives. They need them, because the old saying is true: "Curiosity killed the cat." Or almost killed the cat in our case!
Pixie, our 9-month-old kitten, decided she was cold this morning. Or maybe she was being her regular, curious, nosy self, and decided to explore the fireplace. Whatever her reason for climing into the fireplace, it almost cost her all 9 lives at once. We have gas logs in our fireplace. They are on a thermostat, and turn on and off as the temperature of the living room fluxuates. Pixie's exploration obviously began when the gas logs were off. But they fired up while Pixie was still in the fireplace. Lucky for her, she has cat-like (ha ha) reflexes, and is an excellent jummper. She escaped the fireplace alive, but the end of her tail was on fire! The fire burned out quickly, leaving the tip of her tail looking pathetically singed, and smelling horrific. Umm, UMM! Nothing like the smell of burned hair on a frigid, winter morning! Yes, frigid. The wind chill this morning was 8 degrees below zero. Freakin! Cold! Anyhoo, other than that, Pixie suffered no damage. We are thankful she is okay.
Right after this incident happened, a quote from Ice Age instantly popped into my head:
"Hey, Lord of the Flame, your tail's on fire!"
Pixie has a new name--Lord of the Flame!
I certainly hope she learned her lesson, and that the remaining 8 lives stay fully intact for a long time.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Update on Bev

Bev had her bronchoscopy this morning. The good news is that her lungs look normal, apart from the pneumonia! There is nothing suspicious there. As for the test results, I haven't heard anything. At this point we're just waiting to see what kind of pneumonia she has, and how it will be treated. Keep the prayers going--she is not out of the woods yet.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Achy Heart

Throughout the last year and a half I have been walking the hard road of leukemia with my sweet friend Bev.If you don't know her story, read this post first, and then this post. Those two will summarize my history with Bev, and her battle with leukemia.

Since Bev got her second bone marrow transplant in December of 2008, her life has been a slow journey of ups and downs. Three steps forward, two steps back. The amazing praise is that she has passed the 1-year mark, and has beaten tremendous odds just to survive. The hard part is what she has dealt with along the way. Graft versus Host Disease (GvHD) has caused all sorts of intestinal problems and skin rashes. She has had to remain on steroids to keep the GvHD under control. The steroids, however, caused avascular necrosis (bone death) in both of her hips. This condition is excruciating. The doctors were left with no choice but to do total hip replacements. The first hip was done a few months ago, and it went great. It brought such relief for Bev. The second hip was done on December 14th, and that has been a different story.

The surgery itself went great, but when Bev came out of the anesthesia, she had horrific pain that no pain medications were managing. She just had to live with that awful pain. Only a few days after she returned home, her surgery site became red, swollen, and oozy. When she spiked a fever, she had to return to the hospital. Antibiotics did not clear up the infection, so they had to go back in and do the surgery over. Once again, the pain was unmanageable. Bev was relieved just to get home again.

But that home stay was not for long. A few days ago Bev's fever returned, and she was experiencing significant shortage of breath. She is back in the hospital again. The diagnosis: pneumonia. Her GvHD has also flared up, covering her whole body with a bright red, itchy rash. Last night her fever went up to 103.7, which is considered very dangerous for cancer patients. Bev is having a bronchoscopy tomorrow to determine whether this is just pneumonia, or if it is something worse, possibly GvHD or cancer-related. There is also a panel of bloodwork being processed right now to check for other diseases. One of the doctor's concerns is that Bev may be fighting H1N1. Whatever the case, she is very, very ill right now.

Please take a few minutes today to pray for Bev.
And please pray for her husband, Joe. He is exhausted, and I know he is scared, too.
Thanks, friends.

By the way, have I mentioned that I hate cancer?

Monday, January 4, 2010

I Am SO Excited...

On January 14th (that's 9 days away) my mother-in-law is coming to visit us!!! The purpose of her trip is to take care of the kiddos so Matt and I can go to Orlando for a few days. Before you get too excited about our tropical vacation, you must know that this trip is for business, not pleasure. Of course, it will be a pleasure to have 2 very long days alone in the car with my hubby. And it will be a pleasure getting to see the area where we're moving. And it will be a pleasure to meet with our new managers to find out more about what we'll be doing in our new job. So it is a pleasure just doesn't include Disney or Universal or the beach this time. But I don't care! I am so excited! When we get back from Florida, we'll still get 3 days with MIL before she heads home. And the last day of her visit happens to fall on Matt's 35th birthday! What a cool birthday treat for him! Anyhoo, I know this is my second post today, but you don't mind, do you? I was just too excited to wait until tomorrow! Oh, and we get to drive through Talladega, Alabama on the way. FYI, one of NASCAR's most famous tracks is Talladega. Maybe that will be where we stop for lunch! Woot!

Top 12 of 2009: Family Edition

I had a wonderful time with my favorite kiddos pictures post! Now here are my favorite daily life photos of 2009. They are a sampling of pictures I love because of the photography, and pictures that are dear to me because of the memories they capture.

1. This is the family photo that went in our Christmas card this year. I chose one of my favorite places in Arkansas for the setting. This park has a lake and a gazebo, and some very obliging swans that love to swim over and pose for the pictures. It is my favorite location for photo shoots. Since it's our last Christmas photo in Arkansas, we did this one right, and I love it!

2. In the beginning of 2009 we went to California. While we were there we spent an afternoon at Seabright Beach. This is the beach I grew up playing at. As a child we went there with a group of friends at least once a week in the summer, and frequently during the winter to see the huge waves produced by Pacific storms. When I started driving, it was my favorite spot to go to think. When I was in college I would often take my lunch and my Bible down to this beach. I have laughed here, cried here, and made some very important decisions here. The beach ends at the harbor, and a fabulous jetty with a lighthouse separates the beach from the harbor. I have spent countless hours at the beach and on the jetty. These 2 photos are super special to me because they are snapshots of the 3 people I love the most in a place that holds so many lifelong memories for me. Priceless!

3. As a baby Pepper was very attached to me. I think Matt felt a bit rejected by his son. This year all that has changed, and now Pepper is a Daddy's boy all the way. This sweet photo warms my heart because it shows the bond between my husband and our son.

4. This is the perfect camping memories photo! It was the hottest weekend of the entire year, and we spent it camping with friends. Due to the extreme heat, most of our weekend happened in the comfort of the cool lake water. Sweet times together.

5. The core of our ministry is the Weekend to Remember marriage conferences our organization puts on. Matt frequently travels to work at these conferences. It is always special for me and more fun for him when I get to travel with him and work alongside him. This photo was taken at the Phoenix conference in June. I chose this photo because it shows us working as a team doing something we are passionate about.

6. Favorite nature photo of spring/summer. It was taken in my neighbor's front yard, and I'm still in love with it!

7. This is my Granny. I spent half a day with her when I went to California by myself in August. Granny is 92 and is my last surviving grandparent. Granny is responsible for connecting my parents with the doctor who was looking for an adoptive family for me!  I am extra special to her, and we have always been very close. I chose this photo as a favorite because Granny has Parkinson's and she is aging rapidly. I don't know how many more photos like this I will get to have. It is a definite treasure.

8. Ah, sweet August day, the first day both of my children went to school. This photo made the cut because it captures a milestone for our family...and because the kids are just so darn cute.

9. This is my favorite photo of me because it was taken at the NASCAR race we went to for my 30th birthday in September. I LOVE NASCAR and I am a HUGE Jimmie Johnson fan, so this was the perfect birthday present for me. This photo was taken in front of his hauler. Eeeek! Love it!

10. Favorite nature photo of fall/winter, taken right in my own back yard! I don't think they have cardinals in Florida. *sniff*

11. This is my man. Matt and I celebrated 8 years of marriage in June. I love him more every day, and I am SO thankful God saw fit to give him to me. Yup, he's mine and I am c-r-a-z-y about him!

12. Need I even comment on this one? Surely you'll understand why this is my very favorite photo of the entire year! Then again, not everybody is artsy-fartsy like me. This is my favorite because it is not your typical family picture. It is artsy-fartsy, and it is fun. And I don't have any other picture like this one. Love it!

That wraps up my Top 12 of 2009! I look forward to coming back next year and reviewing it. I'm sure I'll marvel at how we've all changed in a year. Coolness!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My Beautiful Children: Best of '09

Last year I did a wonderful photo post, a review of 2008 in photos. Actually, it was my top 12 photos of 2008. I had forgotten about it until I went back and did my Blog Recap post a few days ago. I had such fun looking back through the highlights pictures of 2008 that I had to do it again for 2009. However, when I went back through my files today, I found way too many pictures for one post. So, I've decided to break them into two posts: one of my favorites of the kiddos, and one of daily life favorites. This post is the kiddo post. I am really excited to put up these pictures, because my kids have been my (mostly) cooperative and patient practice models for my photography, and I am thrilled with the results. So without further ado, here are my Top 6 Photos of Snapper, Top 6 Photos of Pepper, and #1 Favorite of them together.


6-turned-7 in 2009
Frustrated 1st grader
Enthusiastic 2nd grader
Energetic and talkative
Avid reader, developing writer, math whiz
Playful and oh, so ticklish
Compassionate and kind
Not so great at listening
Budding swimming superstar (at least, she's a superstar to us!)
Bossy big sister
Attentive and concerned big sister
Welcoming and friendly
Growing daily in her love for Jesus, and desiring to dedicate her life to serving Him
Our precious girl


2-turned 3 in 2009
Homebody cuddlebug
Contented preschooler
Curious and mischievous
Spiderman wannabe and Buzz Lightyear fan
Imaginative and focused
Family-oriented and shy
Not so good at first-time obedience
Attentive to detail and very particular
Pesky little brother
Adoring little brother
Generous and loving
Methodical and persistent
Increasingly interested in Jesus and the Bible
Our priceless delight

Snapper and Pepper are our gifts from the Lord. Every day I cherish and adore these amazing, wonderful children.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Hopes, Dreams, and Prayers

Another new year. Even though it really is just another day, I love New Year's Day because it feels like a fresh start. Being a list maker, a goal setter, and a task-oriented person, January 1st is a satisfying day for me. Yesterday morning Matt and I lounged in bed until 10. Snapper and Pepper got cereal on their own, and contentedly played together so Mommy and Daddy could sleep. Sweet! Anyhoo, as we were stretched out on our bed in our cozy jammies, we talked together about our hopes for 2010. Even though they are a bit personal, I'll still post them here. That way in the future, I can look back and remember. It will also be fun to see how God fulfills these hopes and dreams. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Purge our home so we are freed up to live more simply and to focus on what's important. We have agreed to be ruthless as we go through every room of the house and the garage. I am so excited to get cleaned out and organized! When I finish here, Matt and I are tackling the garage. Obviously it won't be finished today. But we can make a dent!

2. Drop 2 more pants sizes. I dropped 2 in 2009, and would like to do that again. Then I will be at a body size that is healthy, and doesn't hinder me from doing anything. Right now I'm just heavy enough that strenuous activities (things that I have always loved) are difficult, and often painful for me. I hate that. I'm so over that. This one is not a hope or a dream; it is an essential.

3. Carefully shepherd our children in a few, key, character areas.
Oh, before I forget, Snapper said something hilarious on Christmas Eve as she was talking to Bradley the Bear puppet.  "Bradley, these are shepherds. Shep means sheep, and Erd means guarder. So Shep-Erd means sheep-guarder." Her logic was perfect, wasn't it? Ha ha! I'm still chuckling over that one!
But seriously, we do want to focus on character growth. For Snapper is will be learning to set self aside and focus first on the needs of others. It is also working on listening skills. So often she will ask a question, and then not pay attention to the answer. So she'll ask again...and again...and again until she finally decides to listen. That has to change. For Pepper sharing is a high priority. Even as I'm typing this, he is screaming at the neighbor friend of Snapper's who is touching one of his toys. We'll be working on sharing, as well as on first-time obedience, and not whining.

4. This one is definitely a hope and a prayer--that our home will sell quickly and that our move to Orlando would happen in a timely manner. Entirely up to God.

5. We would like to purchase a home in Florida that allows us to accomodate visitors well. I don't want to put our guests in one of the kids' bedrooms. I want our home to be a place where we can serve others, and where they can feel completey relaxed, loved, and at home. I'll have to do another post about my dream home.

6. Add to our family. Whether this means having a baby of our own, or beginning the adoption process, or becoming foster parents for babies (huge need all over the place, by the way), we would love another child. Again, this one is entirely up to God. We're trusting Him to show us His plan for our family.

7. Grow in my faith and in my relationship with God. This one is dangerous. Obviously it has been in my mind for a long time. But somehow, putting it into words is a bit scary. After all, growing in faith usually involves growing pains. In order to grow in faith, you have to let God have complete control. For this organizer/planner/ducks-in-a-row mama, that is never easy. I just have to stay focused on Jeremiah 29:11-12 which tells me that God's plans for me are good, and that I need to pursue His plans. That is what I will do.

8. Move to Florida fully supported. Within just a few months of moving here to Arkansas, our support began to slowly fall off. We have worked on building it up. In fact, it is never far from our minds, and is a regular part of life for us. There have been times of incredible financial blessings from the Lord through sacrificial giving of others. Oh, the stories I can tell of God's provision that is nothing short of miraculous! But there have also been times of drought, where we have gone for several weeks only receiving partial paychecks because giving is so low. We're going to be in that place again very soon, and that scares me. So anyway, we need to identify more people to partner with us financially in our ministry. That is a wonderful, exciting, and fun process that involves sharing our heart and passion with others, and giving them the opportunity to invest in something with eternal value. I can hardly wait to get started, and I look forward to seeing who God has called to join our team. I am looking forward to being able to pay the bills without wondering if I will have enough left over to buy gas and groceries. Yes, it will be good to be at full support again.

9. I really, really want to make a trip to Spokane to visit Matt's family, mainly the nieces and nephews. We have two nephews and a niece that I haven't seen in two years. And we have two baby nieces that I haven't even met yet! I am dying to hold them, kiss them, play with them, and tell them in person how much I love them. If my dream for the trip comes true, it will include a week in Portland visiting my dad's family. I have a wonderful auntie and a whole brood of cousins there that I also haven't seen in two years. I love them dearly, and I really, really want to go spend some time with them.

Well, I think that pretty much sums it up. Lots of hopes, lots of dreams, lots of prayers. Welcome, 2010! I don't have any idea what you are going to look like, but God knows! Bring it on!