Saturday, December 26, 2009

I Love My Family!

 Kyle woke up at 3:30 a.m. on christmas morning and asked me if it was mornin'time.
He was just so excited to open presents. 

I kept the wrapped presents in our bedroom away from the childrens curious little fingers.  However one day while I was doing some Christmas baking Kyle came into the kitchen and said, "Mom, I think a ghost opened one of your presents."  I said "Are you sure it was a ghost?".  With a very guilty face he replied, "yes, I think it must have been a ghost."   
When Caleb was given gifts to open he first decided that stacking the boxes like blocks would be more fun.  LOL!  We had to convince him to open them, but when he figured out what to do, he really got into tearing the paper.

We aren't doing the "Santa Clause Thing" with my kids.  Instead if we watch a santa movie or hear a santa story we tell them that Santa is just a fun story and not true.  However, they get inundated with the 'Santa is real' thing at school and Megan especially is getting mixed up.  A couple weeks ago Megan and I were on our way home from church and we saw a deer get hit by a snowplow truck.  Megan looked at me with questioning in her eyes and said "They are supposed to fly, mom?!".
I just had to post this great picture of my husband!  We've had such a wonderful Christmas this year!  I love him! :)

Friday, December 25, 2009

We Wish You A Merry Christmas!

Dear Family and Friends,                                        December 2009

    Merry Christmas!  The birth of Jesus is always an occasion to celebrate, but this year our celebration is especially joyful!  We are soaking in the moments with those we love, realizing that life is fleeting and every minute must be cherished.  We have been given the opportunity to glimpse what could have been lost, and so we have gained new appreciation for the presence of friends and family which is so easily taken for granted

    This past year has been life-changing for our little family.  In May  I  was diagnosed with liver failure and was blessed to receive a liver-transplant which has given me renewed energy and vigor.  Late this summer Thomas lost his job, but was able to find a new, better job just 3 weeks later.  We’ve been fortunate to experience God’s amazing peace and comfort through difficult times and our lives have been forever touched and changed by the love and kindness we were shown by friends, family, and even strangers. 

    But most importantly, the challenges we faced this past year have brought us closer in our relationship with our heavenly Father, who has been ever faithful through it all!  We have seen him answer prayer , experienced joy through our relationship with him when my very life seemed to be crumbling, received peace beyond understanding when things just didn’t seem to make sense, and we’ve seen him provide for our every need.  We can say with confidence that God is good and worthy of praise no matter what circumstances we may be facing.  So the birth of Christ is definitely something to celebrate, for it is because of his life and death on this earth that our family can go through what we have been through this last year and feel only grateful!

                                        Merry Christmas With Love!
                                                 Thomas & Melissa

    The skies don't seem to be as dark as usual
    The stars seem brighter then they've been before
    Deep within I feel my soul a stirring
    As though my hope has been restored
    The shepherds say they've heard the voice of angels
    Confirming rumors spread across the land
    That a child protected well from Herod's anger
    Is our Father's Son, and the son of man

    Love is raining down on the world tonight
    There's a presence here I can tell
    God is in us, God is for us, God is with us, Emmanuel
    He's the Savior we have been praying for
    In our humble hearts He will dwell
    God is in us, God is for us, God is with us, Emmanuel

    I feel compelled to tell all who will listen
    That peace on earth is not so out of reach
    If we can find grace, mercy and forgiveness
    He has come to save, He is all of these

    You're the Savior we have been praying for
    In our humble hearts You will dwell
    You are in us, You are for us, You are with us, Emmanuel
            ~God Is With Us, by Casting Crowns

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Time to Celebrate!

It's my birthday!  One more reason I love this time of year! 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thankful Thursday: Thankful for God's Provision!

I am thankful for God's provision!  My husband was able to shoot a small buck, which we butchered (well, Tom did the butchering) and we estimated that we got about 30 lbs of meat to fill our freezer. It would have been more, but we didn't use the front quarter of the deer because it had an old open wound and we weren't sure the meat would be safe to eat.   Tom ground about 3/4 of it, and we got several nice roasts.  God owns the cows on a thousand hills, and he owns the deer too!  So thankful he decided to give one to us this year! :)

Philippians 4:19-20 
 But my God shall supply all your need 
according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
 Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. 

To participate or read more Thankful thursday posts visit

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's Christmas Time In The City!

I've got Christmas carols playing on my CD player, my Christmas tree is set up and all aglow, my snowmen are out, and the lights are up on the porch.   I've got a stash of Christmas gifts under my bed waiting to be wrapped and all my baking supplies waiting to be made into delicious confections!  I've sent out my Christmas cards, and have started receiving them from friends and family.  I've got Christmas parties and the Christmas Contata, and Christmas services to attend.  Our schedule is plum filled up, and it is going to be so much fun!  Christmas has definitely arrived at our house and I LOVE it!!! I love this time of year!

So if I'm a bit lax about blogging you can be sure it is because I'm busy celebrating this wonderful time of year with my family.  But don't worry, I'll be back! :)

Letter To My Donor Family

I am sitting on my living room couch, my house is quiet, my children and husband are in bed for the night, and with a grateful heart, I think of you, the family of my angel who gave me a second chance at life. On May 27th  while still in the hospital recovering from my transplant I was able to celebrate 7 years of marriage with my husband; on June 2nd  I was here at home to celebrate my daughter’s 5th birthday; on July 14th I was here to celebrate my baby’s 1st birthday and cheer him on as he took his first steps just a few weeks later; on September 9th  I was here to hug my daughter and see her off to her first day of Kindergarten; on October 26th  I was here to celebrate my son’s 4th birthday; on November 20th I was here to celebrate my husband’s 31st birthday; and in just a few days I look forward to celebrating my 29th birthday.  Each of these occasions  are a gift from my angel donor who gave me a new liver, and words cannot express the humble gratitude that I feel at being the recipient of such a gift.

My liver failed due to a genetic disease called Wilson’s Disease.  The last few years I had sunk deeper and deeper into a sea of exhaustion, but now with my angel’s liver I feel good, I have more energy than I’ve had in years.  I’m able to truly enjoy my family and cherish the precious moments of life with them instead of trudging through each day just trying to make it from one chore to the next.  The Holidays are especially joyful for my entire family  this year as we soak in the moments spent with those we love.  We have been given the opportunity to glimpse what could have been lost and we realize that each day with our family and friends is a gift beyond value. 

Being the recipient of such a donation has been personally life-changing as well.  I do not think a person can receive something of such great value, and at such great cost to the giver without being changed; without having the insatiable desire to give back somehow. . . someway. . .

Again I thank you for this gift and I pray that you will be blessed this year as much as I have been blessed by you.

Forever grateful,

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Completed Project

I've been working on knitting Megan a pair of mittens and a hat for a few weeks now.  Life has just gotten in the way and it has taken me a lot longer to finish than I thought it would.  But that's ok.  Thankfully the weather hasn't been too cold so I didn't feel too guilty about sending  her to school without hat or mittens.   I finally finished them yesterday!  I think they turned out so cute, and Megan is very pleased with them too!

Thankful Thursday

I've had a hard time coming up with something to write today.  Nothing specific came to mind as I was thinking about Thankful Thursday throughout the week.  Yet, I am thankful for so much. . . life, love, my family, my children.  Then I realized that I really do have something big to write about.  I am thankful for JOY!  God has given me so much joy recently.  For a while it seemed like I was living in a state of perpetual exhaustion and grumpiness. At the time I didn't know it, but now realize that it was because my body was sick.  It is hard to function and be happy when one isn't feeling well.  Not to make excuses for myself, I shouldn't have given into my grumpiness nearly as much as I did.  However, since recovering, I now have energy!  I feel good, and my mood has improved too!

But it's not just the fact that I have energy that I seem to be bubbling over with joy lately.  The whole transplant experience changed me.  I have experienced new life from someone else's death (for the second time in my life--the first time being that of Jesus's death giving me life through him).  I have experienced the incredible kindness, compassion, support and encouragement from fellow believers.  I have been blessed so much, and because of that blessing I feel so driven to somehow use my experience to be a blessing to others.  Whether it just be notes of encouragement to others who are going through a difficult time, or something bigger.  I am ready and willing to be used however the good Lord sees fit. 

So this thankfulness and renewed purpose in life that I feel has me filled with joy.  God is so good!  Being joyful is a wonderful thing!  It is so much better to live in a state of joy than in a state of grumpiness!  It's a whole lot nicer for the folks I come in contact with, and it just feels good too!

Psalm 4:7-8 
You have filled my heart with greater joy
       than when their grain and new wine abound.

  I will lie down and sleep in peace,
       for you alone, O LORD,
       make me dwell in safety.

To read more Thankful Thursday posts or participate in this meme visit  Iris at Grace Alone.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Amazing Grace

I have experienced the amazing grace of God over and over in my life, but never more than when, as a young child, I received God's gift of salvation provided by the death of his Son, Jesus, on the cross; and again this past spring when He provided me with a new liver and the gift of life and more time with my family.  God is good!  I am so thankful for his unending love and amazing grace!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Deceitful Comparisons

I have recently been convicted about making comparisons and judging others. Just this evening I found myself comparing by judging someone's "sins". Maybe not verbalizing it, but it my head comparing the two of us and giving myself the "I'm better" award. When the truth is, I am just as flawed. My heart deceives me into thinking I'm better because I do this, or I don't do that. Well, maybe not, but there are plenty of other things I do or don't do. I am by no means perfect, even though sometimes my pride-filled-self would like to think I am. Who am I to say (or think) that I am better than someone else. I (just like them) am  just  a sinner saved by grace.

James 4:6-12 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

Acts 15:5-11 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses."
The apostles and elders met to consider this question. After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: "Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe.God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are." 

John 8:2-9 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
"I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve."

Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

It is way too easy for me to walk around from day to day thinking I'm just fine and dandy. I am humbled, but grateful that God brought this to my attention today. Please God, help me not to be a judgmental--prideful--blind to my own sins--person.  Keep me humble in my relationships.  Show me my true heart, and shine Your light so that sin cannot hide there.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Yesterday I found a wonderful surprise in my mailbox. A kind couple sent me a little note letting me know that they are still praying for me, and with the note they included a gift card to The Texas Roadhouse. My heart is filled with gratitude for their prayers and their sweet gift! Wow! The outpouring of love and kindness that we have received from others has so challenged me to do the same when I know of someone with a need. . .But that is another post for another day.

I am so thankful for their thoughtfulness. Tom and I are hopeful to squeeze not one, but TWO dates out of the gift card! LOL! Date nights for us are much too few and far between. You just can't imagine how excited it makes me to get to look forward to two of them!!!!

To read more Thankful Thursday posts visit Iris at Grace Alone.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

We're Off To See The Wizard. . .

I really get excited about dressing my kids up to go trick or treating.  I think it is such a fun activity!  The kids love it too!  I try to come up with a theme each year for my little ones.  We've done cowboy & indian, candy corn, bride and groom, and this year my mother-in-law sewed beautiful costumes from the Wizard of Oz.  Megan was the prettiest Dorothy you ever did see, Kyle was the cutest little scarecrow, and Caleb was an adorable cowardly lion (though we bought his costume).

Notice my cowardly lion was really getting into character! LOL!

 Kyle had a fun little school party.  When we got home he dumped out he goody bag and just looked and looked at it.  He was so proud of all his loot!

Daddy got into the fun and wore this crazy hat which he borrowed from my sister. I wore a parrot hat, but it wasn't near as fun as the hat Tom wore.  And since I was behind the camera I don't have any pictures of me.

Look!  I did manage to catch a couple smiles with his little lion hat on.  That was really the problem.  Once the hat came off he was as happy as a clam.

Notice that once someone let go of his hands, he gives a mischievous grin (pictured above) and then throws off his hat and takes off down the street away from it (pictured below).

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My First Bloggy Award!

Thank you to Kalyn at A Quiet Strength for awarding me the "Honest Scrap" Award! Yea!!! I am totally giddy over it! LOL!  If you get a moment check out her blog.  She has some very thoughtful posts, as well as some funny and creative stuff too. 

Here are the rules for the award:

1. Must thank the person who gave you the award and list their blog and link it.
2. Share "10 Honest things" about yourself.
3. Present this award to 7 others whose blogs you find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged you.
4. Tell those 7 people they've been awarded HONEST SCRAP and inform them of these guidelines in receiving the award.

Ten honest things about myself.
1. I have a horrible sweet tooth, and no will-power. I have to keep junk food out of my house or I'll eat it all myself.  Seriously, it is bad.  I've not been good at that lately either.  I need to do some cupboard purging. 

2. I used to think I was an animal-lover.  But since having kids I realize that though I like animals, I really prefer it when they belong to someone else.  I do however still love my two kitties and wish they wouldn't pee in the house and could be indoor instead of out.  At the same time, I do enjoy not having to vacuum the cat hair every single day.

3.  I get very uptight when my house is messy.  I can't sit down and relax in the evening until things are picked up and neatened.  Sometimes I have to make myself  stop cleaning or cooking in order to spend time with my family. 

4.  Generally speaking, I am a very positive person.  I don't spend my day worrying about my health or complaining about my circumstances, whatever they may be.  I am a 'glass half full' kind of person.  I see the positive things even in 'bad' circumstances.  And frankly, I don't really understand people who tend towards pessimism.

5. I am not the most patient of people.  Especially when it comes to waiting in line, or driving, or other people being late.  A few weeks ago I was waiting in line at AT&T.  There was a sign-in sheet at the front of the store, so I didn't bother actually waiting in a line.  I browsed the store while I waited.  A woman came in after me and signed in on the sheet.  We looked at each other and made eye contact, so it was obvious that I was there before her, not to mention her name was the last one on the list.  Well, as soon as the person ahead of me got done at the desk she hopped right up there as quick as she could.  The clerk didn't even bother checking the sign-in sheet.  I have to say that I was pretty darn annoyed. Not just at her, but at the clerk who didn't check the sheet.  Seriously, what IS the point of a sign-in sheet if you aren't going to check it?  See. . . I'm getting worked up again just thinking about it.  Patience is something I definitely need to work on!

6.  I love water activities in the summer.  Swimming, boating, water-skiing, fishing--though I won't actually touch the fish and do freak out a little bit if they get too close to me when they are caught. 

7.  When I read a book I get so caught up in the story that I tune out the rest of life.  My husband could talk at me until he is blue in the face and I wouldn't hear a thing he says.  He actually has to physically get my attention and I have to physically set the book down and concentrate on what he is saying or I'll go right back to reading and even though i tried to listen, I won't remember a thing he said.

8.  I learned to play the clarinet when I was in elementary and high school.  I haven't picked it up in years.  It is sitting in my closet.  I also took piano lessons in high school.  I have an electric keyboard which is sitting in my attic. Regularly I think to myself, "I need to get those out and start playing again."  I do enjoy music!  I enjoy singing most of all!  I even love to do solos.  Which reminds me, I need to pick out a song for this Sunday evening!  I better do that tonight!

9.  I'm losing my hair.  I have always had incredibly thick hair.  The kind of thick that doesn't fit into some ponytail holders, or barrets.  Well, the transplant medication I'm on has a side affect of hair loss.  Most people can't tell that I've probably  lost about half of my thickness of hair, but it was so thick before that now it's 'normal'.  At the same time it is rather disturbing to see that much hair coming out in the shower and clogging the drain each morning.  They say it will stop falling out so much as they lower the medication.  I hope so!

10.  I can't smell skunk. It could be so strong that it is making my husband's eyes water and I still wouldn't be able to smell it at all.  My older two brothers can't smell it either. 

Seven blogs that have encouraged me or I find brilliant in content or design.

1. Tiffany at A Moment Cherished has such a sweet blog. She has already received this award, but I'm awarding it to her again.  I love reading her new posts and seeing her great pictures!

2. Janna at The Adventure of Motherhood has such a wonderful blog!  She is reading through the book "Shepherding a Child's Heart" and has some great things to say about it. I really need to pull out my copy and read through it again.

3. Gracie at Grace is in my Kitchen has an amazing cooking blog.  She takes great photos  the 'process' and the finished product.  She's inspiring!  And I can't read her blog without my mouth watering and wanting a snack afterwards!

4. Karen at Hallelujah Anyhow has such an encouraging blog.  With all that our little family has been through the last few months, I can really relate to her posts and find them to be such a blessing.

5. Heather at Not a DIY Life has a delightful blog!  She blogs about her life with her 'ladybug'.  I really enjoy reading her thoughts from day to day.

6. Erica at Amazing Adventures Await has a fun little blog about life with her two girls. I discovered her blog through my participation in the Thankful Thursday meme.  Her blog is upbeat and fun and makes me smile. 

7.  Melissa at Hidden Valley Simplicity has a great blog with lots of good information.  She also is part owner of which is another great blog for moms. Both blogs are worth mentioning.  I enjoy and follow each of them!  Melissa is doing a new series on natural/healthy living which I am looking forward to reading. 

So if you get a chance, head on over to these blogs and check them out, and say "hi" from me while you are there!

Just Do It!

James 4:13-17 Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.

This passage has popped into my mind quite a bit lately.  Specifically verse 17.   Today I decided to look up the whole passage so I could read the verse in context and get a better understanding of it's meaning.  I am always amazed and excited when God brings such applicable passages to my current situation and experiences. 

I really don't know what will happen from one month to the next, or one day to the next.  This past spring, I was fairly healthy one month (at least healthy enough to function, take care of my family, etc), and just a few weeks later I was quite literally just days away from death.  Life is fragile.  I don't know what will happen from one day to the next. It is so important to do the good things I know I should be doing right NOW!  I can't wait to teach my children about Jesus, because who knows if I'll be here 3 weeks from now, or even tomorrow.  I need to do it NOW!  I need to show my neighbor Christ's love TODAY!  The present is all the time I am assured of having.  Likewise, I need to show my husband I love him, and be a servant to him NOW, and always, because I am never assured of my next  moments with him.  Something could happen to either of us, and how horrible would it be if he or I were to be in a terrible accident and our last moments together were moments of strife instead of love?  Honestly, it makes me very emotional just contemplating it, and it makes me never want to utter a harsh word to my husband or children again. 

Earlier this morning I was reading some of my favorite blogs.  The girls of "At the Well," posted a great blog yesterday about Christian hospitality, and I was challenged in this area as well.  I find it so easy to make excuses to not have people in my home and to put it off until later.
"My house isn't big enough."
"I don't know what we'll talk about."
"I'm too busy."
"It is too hard with three little ones running around."
"I'll do it another time."
 My list of excuses could be longer I'm sure.  Again, it is one of those good things that I know I should be doing, but haven't been. 

Today is all I have to share Christ, to love my family, to forgive my enemies, to encourage fellow Christians, to comfort the hurting, and to mend broken relationships.  The ever popular Nike slogan comes to mind.  JUST DO IT!  Stop putting it off, JUST DO IT!  Stop making excuses, JUST DO IT! 

Well, I'm off to put some action to my thoughts.  I'm going to get out the cubby book and spend some time helping my little one learn his verse and use it as a time to talk about God and his love for us.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Showcase: Balloon Creations

Last week my sister-in-law and I had a girls night out.  We had a wonderful time together, visiting, and browsing a few local shops.  We went to Barnes & Noble and browsed the book selection, and on the way out spotted some neat little how-to kits.  I picked up one about balloon creations and immediately decided to buy it.  It may may seem like a crazy spur of the moment shopping purchase, but really, balloon creations are something I've been interested in learning for a while.  Anytime I see someone making them I think, "that doesn't look to hard, I really want to learn how. . ."  I'm just finally following through with it. 

So far I can make (fairly well) a flower, sword, doggy, bear, and giraffe.  I'm working on a poodle and a frog, and there are a few more difficult creations in the book that I am going to try to conquer once I get the hang of the easier ones.

I can think of so many ways this could be a blessing to others.  Making balloon creatures for children in the hospital, or making them and handing them out at the fair booth that our church does each year, or making them for a special activity at Megan's or Kyle's schools.   And well, my kids have already received tons of enjoyment out of my new little hobby.  That in itself is worth it!  Ok, so maybe I'm justifying a totally frivolous purchase, but honestly, I've had quite a bit of fun with it too!  I'm glad I bought it!

To participate in this meme or view other Friday Showcases visit

Mama Buzz

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thankful Thursday! I'm Thankful for the Transplant Clinic!


I'm sitting in the transplant clinic waiting to be seen by my wonderful transplant team members.   They are such a great group of people.  So very caring, helpful, and they take great care of me!  They are always kind and cheerful, even when they've been up all weekend with other transplant emergencies. I know them on a first name basis and can't wait to share pictures of my kids when I come back for visits.  It really almost feels like an extended family.  I'm 5 1/2 months post transplant and feeling so good these days!  I'm looking forward to a good update today!

I'm also thankful that they have wireless internet access so I can blog while I wait!  Such a wonderful thing to keep me occupied when the wait gets long, which it often does.  They don't just treat healthy post-transplant people, they also treat very sick people who are waiting for their transplant, and people whose own transplant just didn't go so well.  So they've got their hands full and there is no sense getting upset when they can't get me in on time.  If I were in the other patients' shoes I wouldn't want them to be rushed while seeing me.  So it keeps me happy to type and they can take as long as they need.

 I am thankful for other transplant patients.  I have found that other transplant recipients love to share their story with each other. . . people who will understand and have gone through it themselves. I know that I do.  Today in the waiting room I met another nice young lady (younger than myself) who received a liver transplant 2 years ago.  It is always encouraging to see people who are further out from their surgery and are very healthy and happy.  Anyway, we got to chatting and discovered that we both had experienced liver failure from the same genetic disease, Wilson's disease.  We were so excited! LOL!  A strange thing to be excited about, but it's a rare disease so it isn't every day that you meet someone from another family who has gone through the same thing.  She also has a younger sister with the disease (I have 2 older brothers with the disease).  I gave her my blog address.  I'd love for her family to get in contact with my family.  They could be a big support to each other I think.   After all, I'm sure her mom and my mom have a lot of the same worries and concerns.

I am again thankful for the gift of life!  I got the chance to celebrate Kyle's 4th birthday this week!  I love my children and am so grateful for these opportunities that were almost lost. 

And though I am thankful for all these earthly things, I am most thankful for my God, the maker of heaven and earth, who graciously spared my life and gives me hope no matter the circumstances I may face!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My View and Our Pumpkin

I have such a lovely view from my kitchen window each fall!  We have two beautiful big maple trees in our back yard.  They offer shade on hot days during the summer, and are so full of cheerful color in the fall.  Not to mention all the fun the kids have playing swords with their sticks, and then of course the leaf-pile jumping.  No matter how much work it is to rake the leaves, I am very thankful for our big trees!

Megan stayed home from school the last couple of days due to a fever.  Yesterday she was getting bored just laying on the couch so we came up with a very fun sick-day activity.  We decided to carve our pumpkin.  The kids enjoyed it and it kept us all entertained for a little while.  Kyle got to choose the shape of the eyes, and I chose the shape of the nose, and Megan chose the shape of his mouth.   It is now gracing front yard with a couple of mums. It looks very festive!  I saved the seeds and roasted them with some butter and salt for a nice little snack.


Busy at Home

I am very good at keeping myself occupied at home.  I bake, clean, do laundry, cook meals, pay bills, take care of my children, knit, make cards, garden, and I've recently decided to learn to make balloon animals.  The list could go on and on with all the things that I do to keep myself busy.  Staying busy is a good thing.  I am happier when I'm busy, serving a purpose as mom and housewife and accomplishing things around our home.  I have also noticed that my children  and husband are happier and keep themselves better occupied when I am contented in my busy-ness.  I think it is true that the mom's attitude sets the tone for the whole household.  I know it is true in our case anyway.

However, though I may be a good example to my kids of staying busy and not being lazy, sometimes I think I'm teaching them to stay busy with the wrong things.  Instead of being an example of sitting at the feet of Jesus, I'm an example of doing dishes, laundry or mopping the floor.  I can fill up my time with so much doing that I forgot to also fill up my time with what really matters--mine, and my family's relationship with our loving heavenly Father.

I think there needs to be a balance. I shouldn't just sit on the couch reading devotionals all day and neglect the duties of my home and family, but I also shouldn't be doing all  the duties of my home and family all day to the neglect of our relationship with God.  I could definitely be better at combining the two: praying, worshiping, and teaching my children about God while I'm going about my daily activities.   Having a God ward focus throughout the day is something that I want to strive more at accomplishing! 

Titus 2:4-5 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Proverbs 31:27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 

Luke 10:38-42  As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Haggai 1:5-9  Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it."This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored," says the LORD. "You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?" declares the LORD Almighty. "Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.

Deuteronomy 6:5-7  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Proverbs 31:30   Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Showcase: Homemade Pies and Birthday Cake

I know I've mentioned before that I really enjoy baking. Well, this week I've had lots of bonding time with my oven! On Wednesday I made 4 pies. Two pumpkin, one shoefly, and one crunchy caramel apple pie. I was able to bake them and then give them away which is even better so I'm not tempted to eat them all myself. I have a sweet tooth that I have trouble ignoring when delicious confections are sitting around my house.

Here is the recipe for the Crunchy Caramel Apple Pie.  It is quite literally the BEST apple pie ever!

I used Libby's Classic Pumpkin Pie recipe here. Which is very easy, and my personal favorite as far as pumpkin pie recipes go.

And this is the recipe that I used for the Shoefly.  It's a recipe that my mom has made since I was just a little girl.  I think it is absolutely wonderful, but I do believe shoefly is one of those pies that you either like or you don't.  If you like molasses desserts you'll probably like this pie.

Shoefly Pie
Crumb mixture
1/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar

Liquid mixture
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup hot water
3/4 cup molasses
pinch of ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.

In unbaked piecrust layer liquid and crumb alternately starting with liquid layer and ending with crumb layer.  Bake for 15 minutes at 450 and 20 minutes at 350.  Makes one 9" pie.

Tomorrow we are have a little party with Tom's family, so today I baked and decorated Kyle's birthday cake.    I just used a boxed cake mix and icing.  I always like to decorate a special cake for my kids birthdays.  I'm not the greatest decorater.  They definitely don't look professional, but I really enjoy planning what I'm going to do and then trying to do it.  Kyle requested the monster truck birthday cake decal thing that he had seen in a birthday party catalog a while back, so I ordered it and just added some fun blue icing to make it a little more festive.  I think it turned out cute.  Kyle LOVES it, and Megan keeps saying "That's so cool!" So I think it was a success. :)

To participate in this meme or view other Friday Showcases visit

Mama Buzz

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Check out Tiffany's lovely  blog post on thankfulness, grumbling, and how our hearts deceive us into twisting blessings into curses.  After reading it last night it got me thinking about complaining.  Complaining is really living in a state of unthankfulness.  It's easy to make a list of blessings once a week, and I'm going to keep doing so, but the true test of my thankful heart is how I live from day to day.  

Philippians 2:14-16 Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life...

Colossians 3:1 5-16 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

~I'm thankful for my husband's new job.  God, please don't let my heart be deceived into thinking it's a curse when he's working late.
~I'm thankful for my husband's mechanical ability.  God, please don't let my heart be deceived into thinking it's a curse when he has to spend his evening outside fixing our vehicle instead of helping me with the kids.
~I'm thankful for my 3 beautiful children.  God, please don't let my heart be deceived into thinking they are a curse when I have to pick up the same mess for the 15th time today.
~I'm thankful for my cozy little home.  God, please don't let my heart be deceived into thinking it is a curse when I've got company coming and no matter if I've just mopped the old kitchen floor or not, it doesn't look clean.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Today's Mayhem

Oh my goodness, it has been a day full of mayhem!  Let's see. . . It started out at 4 a.m. when Kyle wet his bed.  I'll admit, I changed him and then had him crawl into bed with us.  I just wasn't in the mood to change sheets at 4 a.m., and I certainly didn't want to run the risk of waking up the other two.

I managed to bake 4 delicious pies for my mom. This sounds like hard work, but I used store bought pie crusts so it really wasn't anymore than just throwing the ingredients together and pouring them into the pie crust.   While doing so I managed to spill half a box of baking soda on the floor, and one of my pies overflowed in the oven and made my house smell like burnt food. The clean-up took more time than the time it took me to mix the ingredients and put them in the oven.  But, by golly, mom is going to have some yummy pie to share!  (my husband is pretty jealous that I didn't make one for him.)

The boys and I enjoyed a yummy lunch of turkey and cheese on bagel sandwiches with homemade applesauce.  You other mom's can relate to the whole toddler learning to feed themselves stage.  Caleb is right in the thick of it and he decided to use the applesauce as hair gel. I did try to wash it out with a washcloth.  That didn't really work, but it actually looks pretty all gelled and curly, even if it's a bit sticky! :)

Then, for the cherry on top, Megan's bus driver didn't have a good report to give me when he dropped Megan off after school today.  We've had issues with her riding the bus from the very beginning of the school year.   She wants to jump up and down and run from seat to seat.  I can tell her bus driver has had it up to his eyeballs with her.  And well, frankly, so have I.  I'm tired of having to discipline her right when she comes home so often.  I so want her coming home from school to be a happy time.  I think I may have to make a phone call to the school.  According to her IEP (individual education program) she was supposed to be on a bus with a monitor and seat belted in, but for some reason that didn't happen. I thought we'd see if the regular bus would work out, but it really hasn't worked out.

Thank goodness it's Wednesday!  Megan and Kyle are at Awana for a couple of hours, and Tom is keeping Caleb occupied so I have a few minutes to recuperate from my crazy day.  Now I'm going to go soothe my frazzled self by working on the hat I'm knitting for Kyle. 

Cereal for Dinner Moments

Sometimes I think I can be rather unapproachable as a woman and mom, and other mom's see  me (or maybe read my blog) and are intimidated and think "wow, she's always got it all together." (I know I've thought this about other women)  Well, let me be honest here.  I am good at putting on the super-mom face out in public, and on my blog I tend to write positive and godly things (which isn't a bad thing).  I don't tend to share a lot of my personal struggles with others because that makes me vulnerable, which is a very insecure thing for me.  But believe me, I have plenty of "cereal for dinner moments."  Those moments when things are just a bit out of my control and all I can manage to get on the table for dinner are boxes of cereal and a gallon of milk.  I'll admit, there are times when Tom and I have been arguing in the car on the way to church, but as soon as we get there we have smiles on our faces and when asked how we are, our response with a smile is "We're doing great". . .  yes, just peachy.

The Bible says to pray for one another, and bear each others burdens.   Which, I believe, also includes my own honesty and transparency before others so they can do the same for me.

James 5:13-16  Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Galatians 6:1-3  Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each others' burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

I pray that God will help me be humble and transparent before others so I can have those kind of edifying relationships with other believers that allow me to share from my heart who I really am; including my struggles, fears, joys and triumphs, and allows others to feel comfortable to do the same.  This Casting Crowns song reflects my own feelings on this subject so well.

Stained Glass Masquerade
Artist: Casting Crowns

Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small

Cause when I take a look around
Everybody seems so strong
I know they’ll soon discover
That I don’t belong

So I tuck it all away, like everything’s okay
If I make them all believe it, maybe I’ll believe it too
So with a painted grin, I play the part again
So everyone will see me the way that I see them

Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain
But if the invitation’s open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

Is there anyone who’s been there
Are there any hands to raise
Am I the only one who’s traded
In the altar for a stage

The performance is CONVINCING
And we know every line by heart
Only when no one is watching
Can we really fall apart

But would it set me free
If I dared to let you see
The truth behind the person
That you imagine me to be

Would your arms be open
Or would you walk away
Would the love of Jesus
Be enough to make you stay

Chorus x2

Well if the invitation’s open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Comfort Others Also

1 Corinthians 1:3-4  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

I have experienced the amazing compassion and comfort of God over and over in my life through experiences big and small.  However, there are 2  in my life that I have experienced God goodness and faithfulness like no other time.

At 32 weeks in my pregnancy with Megan I had a routine ultrasound, when the tech was finished she asked me to wait in the waiting room until she was able to talk to a doctor about the results.  I knew then that something wasn't right, after a long fretful wait the tech came out and told us that I was being admitted into the labor and delivery unit.  On the L&D floor there was a whirlwind of activity.  I was hooked up to monitors which showed I was having regular contractions, so I was then given IV medications to stop the contractions.  I was kept awake all night with being poked, prodded and tested, and all this time the doctors had yet to explain what was going on.  Finally in the early morning a doctor came into my room with a very grim expression.  He proceeded to tell me that the ultrasound had shown some abnormalities in my baby and they were concerned about her heart, her brain, and a herniated diaphragm.  If the results were accurate they said that she would only have a 50/50 chance of survival once she was born.  In those few statements my hopes and dreams and love which was so wrapped up in my little bundle growing inside me came crashing down.  Yet, despite my breaking heart, I had incredible peace knowing that God was in control of this situation.

Psalm 139:13-17

  For you created my inmost being;
       you knit me together in my mother's womb.

  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
       your works are wonderful,
       I know that full well.

  My frame was not hidden from you
       when I was made in the secret place.
       When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

 your eyes saw my unformed body.
       All the days ordained for me
       were written in your book
       before one of them came to be.

 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
       How vast is the sum of them! 

I was transferred to a more specialized hospital where I spent 10 days in limbo, receiving test after test on my baby, finally to be told some amazing news.  They were wrong about the heart and herniated diaphragm, and her brain abnormality was not as severe as they had thought.  No surgery would be needed, and she would most-likely grow up perfectly 'normal'.   My little Megan was born with Dysgenesis of the Corpus Callosum.  We deal with delays in learning and some extreme distractability and hyper-activity, but for the most part she IS a normal little girl who is my miracle baby and the answer to many prayers!  God was so gracious to allow me to be her mommy!

The second time in my life that I have been the recipient of God's amazing comfort occurred less than 6 months ago.  I suffered from acute liver failure due to Wilson's disease and subsequently, received a liver transplant.   (Read my liver transplant story here.)  I was faced with the possibility of never again celebrating my babies birthdays, and not seeing my little Caleb's first steps, or sending my little ones to their first day of school.  I'm their mommy, they NEED me!  But again, God gave me peace.

Isaiah 43:1-3
  But now, this is what the LORD says—
       he who created you, O Jacob,
       he who formed you, O Israel:
       "Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
       I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

 When you pass through the waters,
       I will be with you;
       and when you pass through the rivers,
       they will not sweep over you.
       When you walk through the fire,
       you will not be burned;
       the flames will not set you ablaze.

 For I am the LORD, your God,
       the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; 

Jeremiah 29:11
 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, 
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Common verses, yes, but through this experience they took on new meaning and were a balm to my soul.  It was a huge comfort to be reminded that God was in control of my situation, and that he was there, walking me through it.  And once again, I saw the prayers of many answered with the incredible timing in receiving my transplant, and my amazing recovery.  To look at me, or my blood test results, no one-not even a doctor would know without being told that less than 6 months ago I received a live-saving liver transplant. 

These experiences are not something I would have chosen, but I have been amazingly blessed through them. I have seen and felt God's love and protection first hand. I definitely feel that God allowed these experiences in my life for a reason and I desire to use what I have learned and experienced to somehow help others and tell them about God and how much he loves us and how good he is ALL the time no matter what our circumstances!  Yes, I still deal with after-affects of the transplant, and there are unique challenges of raising an amazing little girl with a brain defect, however God gives me strength and grace to deal with things as they come each day.  And I still believe that God is GOOD!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Revisiting Yesterday's Bible Study.

It has been a very busy Monday! After I got Megan on the bus, and dropped Kyle off at preschool, Caleb and I headed to the hospital to get my weekly blood draw. I stayed up late last night making my grocery list and getting my coupons in order so after my lab work we headed right to the grocery store. I'm trying out a new local store to see if I can save a little more money since they double coupons and offer a gas savings program. My shopping took a little longer than normal because I am unfamiliar with the store. However, I saved just over $67.00 on my grocery bill; received $6.00 in oyno (On Your Next Order) coupons, several other good product-specific coupons and now have .20 cents credit on my gas savings program. Which means next time I fill up at select stations, I scan my grocery card and will receive .20 off per gallon on a full tank of gas!!!!

I've also checked off several other chores off my list, including washing dishes, sweeping and mopping floors, and I've started the laundry. Now that I've got the boys in bed and Megan is entertained I am going to take a few minutes to review our Bible Study lesson from yesterday.

Tom and I are a part of the young couples Bible Study class at our church. It includes anyone who has been married for 10 years or less. Yesterday's study was focused on parenting, and specifically discipline. I'm sure I'm not the only mother who struggles with disciplining her children. After all, the world's idea of discipline and God's idea of discipline aren't exactly similar. I do believe that spanking is Biblical. In fact, the Bible has some pretty strong things to say about those who 'spare the rod'. Modern day parenting experts say spanking isn't loving, or spanking just teaches violence, but what does the Bible say? I know many Christians who say they believe that the Bible is the Word of God and His authority for our lives, yet don't 'believe' in spanking their children. Well, in that instance they are contradicting themselves. Here are a collection of verses that deal specifically with parenting and discipline.

Deuteronomy 6:4-7 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! you shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. and these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

Proverbs 13:24 He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.

Proverbs 22:8 He who sows iniquity will reap sorrow, and the rod of his anger will fail.

Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.

Proverbs 23:13-14 Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you spank him with a rod, he will not die. You shall spank him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell.

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

Proverbs 19:18 Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his crying.

Proverbs 29:17 Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Ephesians 6:1-4 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth. And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

Being a mother is the hardest job that I've ever committed to. There are black and white and gray areas to wade through, and not just for the sake of raising children that act right, but for the sake of raising children who know and love God. There is heartache and joy; challenges and triumphs. And I can think of no other job that has shown me my own shortcomings so clearly and pushed me in my own relationship with Christ. I know without Him I am nothing, but through Christ all things are possible, including this amazingly difficult job of raising my children!

Psalm 127:1-5 (The Message Bible)
1-2 If God doesn't build the house, the builders only build shacks.
If God doesn't guard the city,
the night watchman might as well nap.
It's useless to rise early and go to bed late,
and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don't you know he enjoys
giving rest to those he loves?

3-5 Don't you see that children are God's best gift?
the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Like a warrior's fistful of arrows
are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents,
with your quivers full of children!
Your enemies don't stand a chance against you;
you'll sweep them right off your doorstep.