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I am thankful:

~ for a truly remarkable week! This week has been so full of BIG blessings and the tangible presence of God, my heart is truly BURSTING.

~ for a victory! We moved to our rental back in May, and ever since school started in August, when we left the house each morning we noticed a young man sitting in a chair outside his house, presumably waiting for his ride. Wanting to be neighborly, we would all wave. Every morning, he would turn his head away. Every. Day. I told the kids I was not giving up. I said, “Before the school year is up, that boy is going to like us!” So we kept waving. Every school morning for 4 months. And this week – HE SMILED,, and EVEN WAVED BACK!!!! We all cheered with joy and a couple of us softies shed a tear! It was just the coolest thing, and the perfect opportunity to remind them to never give up being kind. EVERYONE longs for kindness. And the Lord moved on our hearts and the heart of our NEW FRIEND with the Love of Jesus. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

~ for another miracle milestone: Sawyer the Warrior turned 9! I just can’t wrap my mind around it. We never dared dream of NINE.

BUT GOD.

Sawyer continues to beat every odd and amaze us with his quick wit, tender heart, and sparkling eyes. Sawyer started his day with a tower of 9 donuts (don’t worry, he didn’t eat them all),

special lunch with Mom and Dad and Tatum K (Whataburger of course),

passed out birthday snacks to his classmates (lovingly made from scratch by my good friend, Little Debbie).

His menu of choice was lasagna, garlic bread, and chocolate cake with orange buttercream icing, and we celebrated at the farm! It was 50° so we bundled up and served out of crockpots and ran the gas heater and had a blast! Thank You Jesus for the gift of this miracle boy and 9 beautiful years.

~ for finally catching the Christmas spirit and getting the house decorated. I usually struggle a bit during the holidays, and all the changes we have experienced over the last year seemed to add to my emotional overload. So I pulled out a few boxes at a time, and gradually added festive sparkle to our little abode. We cranked up the carols and watched Frosty and Home Alone (again), and now the place finally feels like the Ruckers-at-Christmas.

~ Bear and Birdie caught the Christmas bug as well, sending the excitement and probably some familiar smells from the old house. They eagerly watched when I showed them “their” ornaments,

and stayed by my side and underfoot every moment I was decorating. Bear especially seems to be captivated by the festive atmosphere.

~ for an amazing blessing for Gold Network ETX HEROES from some generous new friends in the community. NobiliTea and Haute Totz partnered to sponsor a Christmas Extravaganza for our 12 and under kiddos and their siblings, as well as a group of local foster families. Hot cocoa, Santa and Mrs. Claus, live reindeer, and a shopping spree were provided for each of the children. It was such a blessing to see all these deserving families enjoying themselves, laughing and visiting and just getting to be kids. So incredibly grateful.

~ and for a surprise blessing that Josh and I will never forget. If you know my husband, you know he has an intense phobia of heights. So his obligatory role in holiday decorating is laced with fear and loathing: putting Christmas lights on the house. But if you know my husband you also know that he would never, EVER consider paying to have that done. So he faces it every year, knowing how much the lights mean to the kids (and to me). This year, in a smaller single story home, he was pretty optimistic, so that was his task for Saturday morning. After organizing the strands of lights and the clips and figuring out his approach, he climbed up on the roof. He did one side of the house with no problem, but when he began to begin the pitch of the garage, he started to shut down. He (not very gracefully) dismounted, and came inside to tell me it wasn’t happening. At least not from on top of the roof. He’d have to get the extension ladder from the farm and just move it around the edges. So we left the lights and headed to the farm with the kids for a day of projects. We finished up, loaded up the ladder, picked up some pizzas, and headed home so he could finish up the lights. When we rounded the corner of our street, we couldn’t believe our eyes. OUR HOUSE WAS FULLY DECORATED, WITH FLAWLESSLY INSTALLED LIGHTS!

The ladder and supplies were neatly stacked next to the house. WHO could have done this!!??? We had no idea. We thought MAYBE our next door neighbor, who is exceptionally kind (and who had joked with Josh while he was out there struggling that morning) could have done it. Nope. Wasn’t him. But our neighbor said, “I saw your boy up there…”

Our boy?

No way.

So Josh called Cooper on speaker phone, and asked him if he knew who had hung our lights.

“Yeah, it was me. I thought it would be kinda funny if you came home and all the lights were up.”

We stood there in shock, staring at the lights, while he continued.

“I had no idea what I was doing, and I almost quit because it was way harder than I thought it would be. But I psyched myself up and I figured it out. Took me about 3 hours. Dad, it’s pretty bad, I can see why you don’t like getting up there! But I was glad I could do it for you.”

We just stood in the yard and cried. You just don’t expect an 18 year old kid to be thoughtful and self motivated. Cooper is a terrific kid, but he’s never done anything like that before. And the very Cooper-esque fact that he was honest that he “thought it would be funny” instead of having an underlying self-serving motive to impress us with a grand gesture showed his genuineness and humility in a way that truly knocked our socks off. To say we were blessed and proud as parents is the greatest of understatements. And of course, IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. Wow. Just WOW.

So very thankful for big blessings. We should always be on the lookout, tuning our eyes and our hearts to see the little blessings that are everywhere. But when those BIG BLESSINGS come, the ones that sweep you off your feet; the ones where Light is created by a Word and the Red Sea parts…those moments can jolt us out of our sleepwalk and thunder, “Be still and know that I am God.”

He’s really there.

He really sees.

He really cares.

And He’s really good.

In the small and the big. HE IS.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”” (Psalms 46:10)

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”

(Psalms 126:3)

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.” (Psalms 40:3, 5)

It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect…

I am thankful:

~ for a glorious week of lazy mornings, endless cups of coffee, stirring and mixing and baking. We even enjoyed an outdoor movie night with friends complete with campfire and hot cocoa!

But ok, let’s be real – it wasn’t all glorious. Teenagers were teenagers, kids got on each other’s nerves, on my nerves, and the kitchen looked like a war zone. But it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

~ for a wonderful, memorable Thanksgiving. The food was delicious and plentiful, and the company was rowdy and loud and jolly. We paused to reflect on Thanksgivings past, and shared hilarious and heartfelt stories from years gone by. We chicken danced in our chicken hats. It wasn’t all refined and Norman Rockwell-esque. It rained all day, we had to drastically modify Pumpkin Olympics, some folks were late, and some couldn’t come at all. Someone locked the kids out of the playhouse, and there were no sweet potatoes. But it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

~ for an awesome post-Thanksgiving huddle at our house to stuff our faces a second time with leftovers while cheering on the Carthage Bulldogs to a playoff victory. We ate and munched on delicious fried turkey and succulent glazed ham, and even sweet potatoes made it to the party. Family and old and new friends filled our little home, and we all had a ball. Not quite everyone was able to make it, but it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

We started the swap from fall decor to Christmas today. Everything is different from years’ past, and we are figuring it out as we go along. We don’t have the space we used to have, or the ability to DIY or modify anything. I get kind of grumpy and overwhelmed when faced with the seemingly monumental tasks before me (but remain too much of a control freak to delegate). PTSD and anxiety love to creep in (or clobber) unexpectedly, and rob the joy from the simple pleasures like watching the kids overflow with excitement as familiar decorations emerge from their boxes.

But I’m thankful for the reminder that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. We miss our loved ones who are gone while we hold tight the ones who are here another year. We wipe up the spilled cocoa and add a few more marshmallows to the cup. We eat the burned cookies and ignore the clumpy icing. We run endless errands in violent traffic and spend more money than we should even when we promised we’d stick to the budget this year. We’ll get the wrong size sweater or forget to make a vegan side dish for Aunt Fran and forget the White Elephant gift for the party.

But Jesus still came.

He left His perfect home with His perfect Father to come down to this broken world.

He came to a terrified teenager in a filthy barn, to a people who didn’t recognize or appreciate Him.

Yet He came.

He came and He stayed and He taught and He healed and He LOVED.

And then He willingly sacrificed Himself for our sins, the sins of then and the sins of now and all the sins yet to be.

Imperfect life.

Perfectly beautiful Savior.

Lord, give us eyes and hearts to see YOU in the midst of the mayhem we create.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.” (Ecclesiastes 5:19-20)

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” (Psalm 51:10-12)

A Full Week of Thanks

I am thankful:

~ for a lovely lunch with a dear friend and a beautiful salad. So very thankful for the incredible ways that God brings crucial people into our lives when we need them the most.

~ for progress on the farm! Love seeing Josh’s fence begin to stretch across the property.

~ for a husband who brings me tacos.

~ for wonderful neighbors. Although they are a little on the shy side, we get along great.

~ for the great privilege of having the freedom to cast my vote. And for my voting buddy.

~ for a new batch of hand painted Giddyup&Whoa woodburned ornaments headed to the Vintage & Co “Christmas in the Country” Sale this week. Grateful for the opportunity to get creative. I’ve missed it.

~ for an amazing evening representing Gold Network of East Texas at a benefit concert hosted by our friend, Derek Holland. His 60 Feet 6 Foundation is dedicated to helping military veterans and kids with cancer. I love how kind he is to Sawyer, and how clear it is that he really cares. Casey Donahew put on a fantastic show, and the kids had a blast. And pretty proud of Sawyer for bravely speaking to HUNDREDS of people from onstage!

~ for a special weekend celebrating our niece, Jackie, and her fiancé, Nick, at the most beautiful wedding shower. So grateful to be a part of such a fun and loving family, and for the godly heritage we are blessed with.

~ and to continue the LoveFest, later that same day we got to attend the wedding of a young couple from church. It was a lovely outdoor service, but SO SO COLD thanks to the abrupt Texas cold snap! Thankful for blankets and propane heaters and DANCING and lots and lots of laughter to keep us all warm.

~ for a warm and delicious pumpkin muffin that was my dinner tonight.

Thank You Lord for the big and the small gifts. Thank You for children who are actually listening more than you realize. Thank You for glimpses of fruit. Thank You for always showing up.

And to all of you who read each week, for whatever reason I never quite understand, thanks for caring about our family. It’s the season of giving thanks. If you’re not used to it, now’s a great time to start. Begin exercising your gratitude muscles, and you’ll be amazed by how quickly your perspective begins to change.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalms 23:6)

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them! Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (1 Chronicles 16:31-34)

Love Like Jesus

I am thankful:

~ I’m always thankful for November 1 for two reasons. #1) I am NOT a Halloween fan, so I’m thankful when the holiday and its decor and streaming video choices finally go back into hibernation. And for a favorite extended family tradition: The Thankful Game. Inaugurated by Susan K, aka Grandmommy, we share something we are thankful for each day via group email. Such a blessing to encourage one another to look for the blessings all around us! And I love how excited the kids are to participate.

~ for every quiet moment, however brief, that I get to spend just plain enjoying our farm. Usually we are hustling: cleaning, clearing, building, hauling. We are DOING THE WORK. But sometimes I sit with my coffee in the rocking chair. Or sometimes it’s a quick snuggle in the hammock with a kitty. But I just love to stare at the wide open sky and the massive trees and just breathe it all in.

~ for an exciting project started – the kids want goats, and we can’t have goats without a FENCE! With the right tools and a few hours of back breaking labor, Josh has made some good progress.

~ for a romantic date with my Love. A trip to Lowe’s and out to the farm to look at his fence at sunset. Not a joke.

~ for another very special tradition: GCS Jr.Kindergarten Noah’s Ark Parade and our tiger costume. The tiger costume was purchased for Cooper’s Noah’s Ark Parade back in 2008, and has since been worn by every subsequent Rucker Jr. Kindergartener. And it was finally Tatum K’s time to shine! Love those bright blue eyes shining on her special day with her class. Where did this big girl come from?

~ for God’s protection during a crazy scary storm. The lightning strikes were intense and CLOSE, and a number of tornadoes were all over East Texas, but thankfully we experienced no damage. Prayers for all those who did not fare so well.

~ for a perfect fall day for a Gold Network ETX HERO Hangout. These quarterly outings are for childhood cancer kids, siblings, and parents; just a carefree day that has nothing to do with cancer. We took a group of 46 to Yesterland Farm, the most charming and festive local theme park. Kids and parents alike screamed on rollercoasters, launched apple cannons, rode ponies, and navigated a corn maze. Watching smiles of joy on these faces is indescribable. It was a perfect day. So thankful for the mission and ministry of Gold Network, and these incredible warrior families.

~ for hot, salty sweet fresh popped kettlecorn.

~ for a great evening at the farm for a tasty dinner and good football. Succulent BBQ chicken sliders and the most delicious buttery apple crisp with vanilla ice cream and homemade salted caramel sauce. The perfect combination.

Definitely focusing my heart on gratefulness this season. When things are hard, I’m trying to take a deep breath and ask the Lord for my part to play. Am I being patient? Gracious? Am I loving like Jesus? Did I take the initiative to speak the kind word? Did my tendency toward iron justice overshadow an opportunity to show Christ’s mercy? I feel like I fail every single time.

BUT GOD.

I’m so thankful for His mercy toward me. I know who I was, who I am without Him.

I’m thankful that although I’m a million miles from perfect, I’m being perfected day by day. I’m thankful that even though my capacity to love falls short time after time, the God who is Love personified LIVES IN ME.

He’s just so good, y’all. Right where I’m at.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.” (1 John 4:15-17)

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:10-12)

See the Good.

I am thankful:

~ for sweet smiles from this sweet girl. She did this puzzle all by herself!

~ for a deliciously ooey-gooey grilled fried-green-tomato-pimento-cheese sandwich on buttery sourdough.

~ for an exciting surprise in the mail for Sawyer. He received an official championship ring from Derek Holland and his friends from the Celebrity Softball Classic that we attended back in June. Watching his gleeful amazement was priceless!

~ for a new baby calf next door.

~ for a fun Homecoming week for Cooper. He had the honor of being asked to emcee the Homecoming Pep Rally, and did a FANTASTIC JOB. He is so in his element on a microphone in front of an audience! And then he had a great time in the pouring down rain cheering Cougars to a Friday night victory and then a great night with his friends at the Homecoming Dance on Saturday. How is this his Senior Year???

~ for the most delicious homemade tamales with fresh salsa.

~ for new growth. Last weekend we spread grass seed and wildflower seed: Texas bluebonnets, red poppies, black-eyed Susan’s, crimson clover, and other assorted native wildflowers. 7 days later, we have sprouts!

~ for a fun night hosting our church youth at the farm. Two-touch football + volleyball + a bonfire + hot dog and marshmallow roasting made for a lively evening with a terrific group of kids. So special to be able to share our Happy Place. I can only imagine how many gatherings we’ll get to host. Thank You Jesus for this ever-unfolding-dream-coming-true.

I’m thankful for the discipline of Sunday Gratitude, and the accountability to meet here each week to count my blessings. Y’all, sometimes it’s not easy. The world weighs. Irritations mount. Another fire flares up as soon as I put one out.

This week felt more yucky than good.

I was having a long talk with one of my kiddos who was having a hard time. I shared about starting Sunday Gratitude 8 years ago, when I realized I needed to look past the insurmountable trials that were all around me and focus instead on whatever blessings I could thank Jesus for, however small or insignificant they might seem. To transform my self-focused lowly attitude (however justified it might have been) to one of humble gratitude in the midst. I told my child, I could write about (insert current trial) and (insert current irritation) and (insert current disappointment). I could write about sickness and building delays and gas prices and politics. AND ALL THOSE THINGS ARE TRUE.

But GOD.

Because all the blessings are true too.

So where should I focus my gaze, focus my energy?

If we become what we consume, do I want to fill myself with grumbling and self-pity; or rather with praise and thanksgiving?

My faith is small, but my God is BIG.

I am weary, but He is FAITHFUL.

Whatever you are facing, friend, hold fast. You do not walk alone, and better days are coming. See the good. It’s there, if you only look.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.” (Psalms 30:5)

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31)

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” (I Chronicles 16:34)

FALL-ing in Love

I am thankful.

This week was Fall Break at school, and I’ve had a dream cooking for QUITE A WHILE.

LET’S CAMP AT THE FARM!!!

Josh wasn’t too sure. Our bed at home is very comfy. He likes air conditioning. And a toilet.

But he loves me and has become quite accustomed to my crazy ideas.

So we camped Thursday – Saturday. 1 tent + Mom + Dad + 8 kids + 2 dogs. Sounds like a fiasco? WE HAD A BLAST!!!!

And of course we got a few projects done…

We enjoyed the crisp temperatures in the mornings and evenings and marveled at how much better food tastes when cooked and eaten out in the fresh air.

Everyone MOSTLY got along. And no one ever asked to play on a phone or an ipad.

There was something really special about waking up on our farm. Knowing it was OUR FARM. And even if it was just for a couple days, I feel like new roots went down deep this weekend.

Even if we came home craving showers and our real beds…and even if I have done 43 loads of stinky, smoky laundry and still have 86 more to do. Even if we had to do head to toe tick checks and bathe the dogs 4 times…

I think we all fell in love.

Every muddy shoe and stinky armpit teenager was absolutely worth it. This is investment in their future. So thankful for our Tribe, for our farm, and for every adventure yet to come. So grateful to the Lord for His plan for our family that we never saw coming.

Thankful for the opportunity to appreciate a slower pace and the gift of simplicity. Amazing how near the Lord’s Presence seems to be when we tear ourselves away from the manic pace we train ourselves to crave. I know farm life won’t always be beautiful and relaxing and picturesque. But I truly count this weekend as a memorable gift that I will always treasure. We didn’t have to travel far to go somewhere GRAND.

Time to get back to the laundry pile, and the real world that is waiting. But I go with a heart bursting with gratitude.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night,” (Psalms‬ ‭92‬:‭1‬-‭2‬)

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.”
‭‭(Psalms‬ ‭96‬:‭11‬-‭12‬)

Small

I am thankful:

~ for a much needed lunch with a friend. It may not have gone exactly (or ANYTHING for that matter) like we had planned, but we knew it was exactly what the Lord had for us that day. And my avocado BLT was DELICIOUS.

~ for Tatum K’s very first Character Quality Award at school. She received a certificate for demonstrating the quality of “Orderliness.” I must admit that this particular award came as rather a mystery to those of us who share a home with Tatum… she’s quite distinctly known for being a tornado, and leaves a wake of princess dresses, miniature doll limbs, and mismatched shoes in her wake. But since receiving her award, she has clearly been inspired to rise to the expectation. She has been picking up after herself, announcing, “Mama, I’m being ‘orderliness.’” Love that sweet girl.

~ for an awesome night of great food, fellowship, and testimonies at church. And thanks so much Miss Ruth, for sending me home with the tastiest pasta salad EVER!

~ for a perfect evening out at our friends’ farm. What a joy to share a meal in the fresh air and watch all our kids running and enjoying one another. My loves are chomping at the bit to get their own chickens ASAP!

~ for beautiful moments. That is my favorite part of being out on the farm. It’s just so refreshing to breathe deeply real fresh air and look out at God’s Creation.

To listen. And to feel really small.

There’s something…I don’t know, it’s so hard to describe. But it seems like there’s something…IMPORTANT…to having eyes to see what God alone has made, from the most majestic to the minute.

Sometimes it’s just necessary to realign our perspective. God is God. I am not. I may pray to him dozens of times throughout the day, and talk to Him intimately as a Father and a friend.

But He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. And He spoke life from nothingness with a WORD.

It’s good that we remember Who we are talking to.

And it’s good to feel small.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalms 8:1, 3-4, 9)

Welcome Fall

I am thankful:

~ for another fun week of volleyball and cross country for our girls. The season is nearing its end, and it’s been a great experience for both Kora and Samantha. So fun to watch them enjoying their teammates and doing their best.

~ for glorious cool mornings. So it may still end up in the 90s by lunch, but I’m digging the sweatshirt for an hour in the morning!

~ for an unexpectedly dramatic milestone at the farm. We realized we needed to create a more definite driveway on our dirt path, so we ordered a couple dump truck loads of crushed rock. The whole process of expertly applying the rock along the path took MINUTES, but INSTANTLY transformed a pasture to a driveway! It was the coolest thing!

I’ve not been very good at updating our progress, but we’ve come a long way! Now that I’ve made it through September, I’ll try to do a better job!

From April to October
Our first baby watermelon!

This week was concrete-busting and shelf-building. Love these adventures with our Tribe.

~ for Bear and Birdie’s first trip to the farm. They are city slickers like us FOR SURE, but I think they’re going to love the country!

~ for a great evening of Friday Night Lights watching another Carthage Bulldog victory!

~ for a wonderful day of great food and fellowship at our church Friends Day. One of our favorite long-standing TCF traditions, a church-wide potluck picnic on the grounds, complete with Chili cook off and volleyball. The East Texas fall weather was absolutely perfect, and we had the best afternoon with old friends and new.

~ and most of all, completely thankful for an uneventful trip with Sawyer to Dallas for his biannual oncology appointment. And I’m happy to report with great joy, Sawyer remains CANCER FREE! Glory to the Lord!

Sawyer had a great, full day with lots of favorites.

•Favorite stop for favorite breakfast and CANDY (Buc-ee’s).

•Favorite co-pilot and snack-master extraordinaire (Aunt Gina)

•Favorite strange hobby (drawing his own blood)

•Favorite people (got to see 8 of his nurses from his cancer team as well as beloved Dr. Winick. I love hearing how encouraged they are after seeing him. They walked us through his terrifying darkest days. To see him thriving brings them so much joy.)

•Favorite use of his gifts (got to chat with four other East Texas HEROES that were also at the hospital today.

•Favorite thing to do on the way home (EAT! This time we tried out In-N-Out Burger for the first time)

Sawyer had a perfect oncology visit and will return in 6 months. He was due for a heart echo (to monitor his heart’s function and watch for any long term damage caused by several of his chemotherapy drugs). Results were NORMAL! Glory to God!!!

And the most incredible, mind-blowing thing I witnessed today happened when we saw 2 of his former nurses who had heard about the recent Gold Network ETX nurse training we did a few weeks ago. One nurse (who is now a nurse educator) wanted to show me another option of a simulator. Sawyer started asking questions, and before I knew it, she was teaching him HOW TO ACCESS A PORT! AND HE GOT IT ON HIS FIRST TRY!!!! Even flushed it and got blood return.

Watching my miracle boy, the one no one thought would live, who has overcome every obstacle that has come his way his whole little life…watching him do the unfathomable, from SPRINTING the 1 mile Gold Run and coming in 2nd place overall on Saturday,

to successfully performing a complex medical procedure that many adults cannot successfully master, one that he endured himself as an infant and toddler more times than we can count (and while still wearing his own hospital bracelet, mind you)….

There are just no words.

Thank You Jesus.

Thank you for continuing to lift Sawyer and our family in prayer as we continue this walk that never ends. We never take the good news for granted. Every day is a gift.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” (Psalms 126:3)

“I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.” (Psalms 9:1-2)

All Systems GOLD

I am thankful:

~ for a delicious traditional gyro smothered in tzatziki sauce.

~ for a crisp, fresh new candle.

~ for my new diffuser running nonstop with eucalyptus oil.

~ for new Tyler Gold Run shirts! Always exciting to open the boxes and see the latest design. And it doesn’t hurt that I have the cutest models in all the land!

~ for a week of all things GOLD: hours of putting out Tyler Gold Run signs, Run Committee meeting, radio interview, speaking to 3rd graders about Gold Network and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month,

and for the arrival of my long-awaited custom GOLD glitter chucks!

~ for the conquering of an IMPOSSIBLE SATURDAY. Talk about a day when we needed a few clones! We had one sister with a cross country meet in Longview at 8am. One sister with a volleyball tournament in Gladewater at 8:15am.

And mom had Tyler Gold Run swag bag filling in Tyler at 9am.

SuperDad expertly shuttled the girls where they needed to be, and the rest of the Tribe helped me. Then we headed to the barn to hang sheet metal for 9 hours! Days like that harshly remind me of my age. But God!

My sentiments exactly. #relatable

~ for wonderful fellowship with dear friends at church and afterwards. What an awesome gift.

We are all systems GOLD this week. Speaking to schools, several interviews, last minute details, coordinating volunteers, and every big and small detail leading up to our 8th Annual Tyler Gold Run 5K. I can’t believe it’s been 8 years! What a ride!

2015
2017
2018
2021

We’ve learned so much and met the most incredible people along the way. I will never understand why Sawyer got cancer, but I will never stop thanking God for the undeniable beauty He brought from those painful ashes. You can learn more about Gold Network of East Texas or register for the run here. Local or not, runner or not, you can make a donation at any time via our website. Do it for Sawyer. Do it for Bristell. Do it for Sophie. Do it for all the children around the world who need someone to stand up and say that kids with cancer need better care and more funding. Together we can make a difference.

Hope to see lots of you Saturday!

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

23

I am thankful.

I am thankful for this man. This man who came into my life so unexpectedly. Who pursued me so relentlessly no matter how hard I tried to discourage him.

I’m so thankful he wouldn’t give up on us.

I’m thankful we grew up together in almost every way. We simultaneously became best friends, parents, spouses, Christ followers, and started a completely new course for our lives almost overnight. And we never looked back.

I’m thankful that he taught me a love like I had never seen before. I’m thankful for the amazing dad he became overnight, and the way he has learned and grown and outdone himself over and over through the years. I’m thankful that he boldly and courageously leads our family to honor Jesus.

I’m thankful that the words “Giddyup and Whoa” were spoken over us two decades ago, and that they have consistently remained true, almost comically so. Sometimes we are so opposite we drive each other crazy, but we know we need the balance the Lord built into our relationship. Can’t drive without BOTH a gas pedal and the brakes.

I’m thankful we learned how to communicate, how to extend grace, and to forgive. I’m thankful that even though we learned a lot of things the hard way, that at least we did learn. And we are still learning. I’m thankful that God knit us together so tightly in preparation for the trials we didn’t know were ahead. We clung tightly to Him and to one another through darker days than we could have imagined.

I’m thankful for laughter and adventures, for Mexico, for the everyday grind, for back-breaking labor, impossible projects, and working side by side. He’s seen me at my worst. He knows all my details, and he still sticks around.

Today we celebrated 23 years of marriage. We served a luncheon at church, hung metal out at the barn all afternoon, and ate gas station pizza with the kids for dinner.

For better, for worse.

In sickness, in health.

For richer, for poorer.

Thank You Jesus, we are so very rich indeed.

I’m thankful we’ve never stopped dreaming. And that we will continue to be strong and courageous and DO THE WORK.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“I’m gonna live where the green grass grows

Watch my corn pop up in rows

Every night be tucked in close to you

Raise our kids where the good Lord’s blessed

Point our rocking chairs toward the west

Plant our dreams where the peaceful river flows

Where the green grass grows.” (Tim McGraw)

“Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)