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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)

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)

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)

Pure Gold

I am thankful.

For God’s favor.

For kindness.

For people who are generous with their time, their gifts, and their resources.

For fellowship.

For new friends and old friends.

THANK YOU to everyone who came to Tyler Gold Run, who donated, who volunteered, who helped behind the scenes, and who prayed. You have truly made a difference by going gold.

September is almost over. Our mission is not.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Luke 10:2)

“David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.” (1 Chronicles 28:20)

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”(Hebrews 10:23-25)

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)

Too Short to Waste

I am thankful that this life is not all there is.

This week one of our brave and beautiful HEROES finished her battle and leapt with joy into the arms of Jesus.

Bristell, aka Bristell Brave, fought cancer not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES. Her parents and her doctors did everything they could, but her cancer was aggressive and devastating.

Today her family celebrated her short but inspiring, joy-filled life and laid her earthly body to rest. Family, friends, and her fiercely loyal Tribe of supporters wore orange (the ribbon color for leukemia) to honor the memory of the vivacious little princess that we had all fallen in love with.

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate cancer?

I look at my boy, with inextricably intertwined gratitude and guilt for his healing. I think of how many friends he has lost. Micah, Anna Luisa, Sophie, Ceely, Lucas, Noah, Harold, Brock, Luke…

But oh, how I love Jesus.

He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The ONLY door to life everlasting, where there are no more tears, no more sorrow, no more cancer.

Please pray for Bristell’s family. They know she’s whole and healed and dancing with Jesus. But there will always be a gaping Bristell-sized hole in their hearts until they are reunited one day.

Love your people well. This life is short. Too short to waste. Trust Jesus as your Savior before it’s too late.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

“Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.” (Psalms 119:49-50)

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”” (Revelation 21:1-4)

September is Coming…

I am thankful:

~ for the yummiest perfectly toasted cranberry Einstein Bagel.

~ for everyone (even me) settling in to the school routine. This little nugget is loving her class SO MUCH! She says she especially loves the naps and “a-spanish.”

~ for a super fun evening of fellowship with our church Women’s Ministry painting at Pinot’s Palette.

~ for NO MORE PUPPIES IN MY HOUSE!!! Pups #6, #7, and #8 found their families early this week.

#8 (aka Blue Boy, now named Rusty) was lone wolf for a few days until his new mama could drive in from Laredo, so he got some extra special treatment. This was a much more challenging litter, with the new smaller surroundings, brutal summer heat, and less than ideal timing during back to school. SO THANKFUL to have “been strong and courageous and done the work” and to now have it behind us!

~ for Josh’s Father’s Day gifts getting lots of use: his noise canceling headphones, equipped with Bluetooth AND AM/FM tuner, perfect for listening to Texas Rangers Baseball while he mows.

And his stackable scaffolding, which makes the continued process of building our barn possible. (Still not a fan of heights though!)

~ for our boys’ joy at finding creatures out at the farm.

MOST creatures anyway!

This little feller was NOT welcomed, and was met SWIFTLY with his demise!

~ for Kora’s very first Cross Country meet. We all got up at an ABSURD hour for a Saturday morning to have her an hour early for a meet an hour away! I’ve never even attended a Cross Country meet before! It was a great experience for all of us, and special to be there for Kora’s very first activity. I failed miserably at getting pictures, but she ran hard and did great. We are so proud of her!

~ for a fabulous treat, lunch at the world famous Dairy Palace in Canton on the way home.

~ for more hard work at the farm. I’m so worn out, my TIRED IS TIRED. Josh didn’t earn the nickname “Mr. Giddyup” for nothing. I’ve never been so thankful for Mondays in my life – because I get a break!

It’s a big week. Tuesday Gold Network of East TX will host our annual Go GOLD ETX event on the Downtown Square to kick off Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. It’s always such a special evening to honor our HEROES and cheer them on as they walk the gold carpet with their families. And a sobering one as we see the impactful display of all our kids on the ever-expanding Wall of HEROES, and when we release balloons for the friends we’ve lost along the way. Please join us if you are local: 6:30-8:30pm on the Tyler Downtown Square.

And then it’s September.

I can’t believe I’ve been blogging now for 8 years, since Sawyer’s cancer diagnosis turned our world upside down. I’ll never forget God telling me to thank Him while laying on that vinyl couch next to the hospital crib where my baby was receiving chemo.

THANK HIM? But I did. And it changed me. And I’ve been thanking Him ever since, sometimes freely and sometimes completely against my will. As much as I hate cancer and mourn all that Sawyer was forced to endure, I am grateful for the mission and ministry that was birthed from that excruciating season of suffering.

In 2015, we found 9 families in East TX that had faced childhood cancer. 7 years later, we have connected with more than 100. Which is simultaneously wonderful and devastating. BUT GOD.

Will you GO GOLD with us this year? Follow Gold Network of East Texas on social media to learn more about childhood cancer and how YOU can make a difference.

And thanks for giving thanks with me.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

““Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:3-4)

Keep Digging

I am thankful:

~ for lots of progress on the farm. I have to remind myself, slow progress is still progress.

So many people have asked, “so what exactly do you DO when you go out there?” And, “so what is the timeline on the house?” As much as Josh and I both wish we could blink and have everything completed, that’s just not the way it works. Does it work that way with ANYTHING?

This is a beautiful if maddening picture of the journey being even more important than the destination. We are side by side with our kids. They are working hard, getting sweaty, and learning new things every day.

They are playing in the dirt, chasing cats, and eating popsicles. We are literally framing a 4000 square foot barn one board at a time. We are learning, in a million different ways, what it actually means to be strong and courageous and DO THE WORK.

~ for the cutest puppies on the planet. Bear and Birdie’s miniature Goldendoodle pups are now 4 weeks old, and we love to love on them! We still have several available, so feel free to put the word out if you know of someone who needs a new snuggle buddy! You can find our G & W Goldendoodles Facebook page here.

~ for an incredible night of delicious food and fellowship at our quarterly Gold Network CONNECT Support Group. Although I stressed a bit about hosting at our new ever-so-SLIGHTLY-smaller home, the Lord didn’t let me shy away. AND WHAT A BLESSING! There is just nothing like gathering with people who understand the hardest parts of your life, and the opportunity to lift one another up! We laughed our heads off, ate until we could hardly breathe, and together we prayed heaven down. I could not be more grateful for the priceless gift and honor of loving on these families.

I was super encouraged by the message at church this morning. It was an exhortation to not give up. We can’t give up when things get hard. I know we all KNOW that, but don’t we sometimes need to be reminded? How many times have we found ourselves in a place we never wanted to be, certainly never THOUGHT we’d be, and just had the thought, “That’s it! I’ve had as much as I can take, and I’m just DONE!”

We don’t get to be done.

Wherever we find ourselves, that’s where God has us for now, and even if we can’t make ANY SENSE OF IT AT ALL, there’s purpose in it. In trial, in weakness, in suffering, in brokenness, in sickness…He is there with us, and as long as there is breath in us, we are here for His purposes.

And on the flip side, we MUST NOT GIVE UP WHEN THINGS ARE GOING GREAT! We pray and beg and plead for God to lift us out of the muck and the mire, and when He does, we thank him (hopefully) and then somehow we so often go back on cruise control. Until we find ourselves back in a ditch. We have to remain connected to our Father and His people in the good times and the bad. WE NEVER CEASE TO NEED OUR FATHER!

I was just so encouraged and convicted. We have to KEEP DIGGING. Digging into the Word. Digging deeper into an intimate relationship with God. Digging down through the rubble of apathy and laziness for fresh Living Water.

Sometimes life seems dry and too hard. Too many kids. Too many puppies. Too many fires to put out. Too many bills. Too many setbacks.

BUT GOD.

So I’m gonna keep on loving my babies and teach them Jesus the best I can. And every time I screw up, I’m going to try to do better the next day. I’m gonna hoist those boards and build that barn. I’m gonna get out of bed when I don’t feel like it and do the work. And keep digging.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.” (Luke 6:47-48)

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 1:6)

“David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.”(1Chronicles 28:20)

Light

I am thankful:

~ for Samantha having the most incredible opportunity to go and shadow her cousin, Emma, at her job at an equestrian facility.

Sam has had horse fever for a while now, and our plans for country living have amplified them BIG TIME. But we of course need to make sure she understands how much hard work, sacrifice, and commitment horses are before we get in over our heads. This was a great first opportunity for her to spend some real time with real horses. And let me just say…she is SMITTEN! So thankful for this wonderful opportunity. And Emma is a tremendously patient and gifted teacher!

~ for the unexpected blessing of a dinner date with my Love and Colton! Best steak ever, also!

~ for a fun, if WAY TOO SHORT, visit from sweet Grace.

~ for a great trip to the public library to get everyone set up for their school summer reading assignments

…and for the EXQUISITE hour each day when everyone is reading SILENTLY, and I get to spend time with my new hobby – grown up paint-by-numbers! My sweet friend wanted to make sure I had a creative outlet while we take our hiatus from Giddyup & Whoa, and this project has been just the ticket!

~ for tremendous progress on my latest farm project – clearing thorn-vine-choked crepe myrtles. These poor shrubs were completely smothered, and little by little, I have fought to set them free.

Before…

I’m pretty sure this thicket has been the main source of my poison ivy or oak, so I’m thankful to be almost done! I am also on my THIRD DOSE of steroids, and the worst of the rash is clearing up. I’m SO READY to be done with that!

~ for icy cold watermelon and hot gas station pizza!

~ for watching my husband be the best dad. He’s so intentional with both our boys and our girls, teaching them tips and skills. Our girls have helped frame the barn and tend the burn pile, and Gavin had a mowing lesson this week.

~ for three happy kids who got dropped off for a glorious week at Pine Cove Summer Camp. Cooper, Samantha, and Kora were so excited for this amazing opportunity, and it was a family affair to brave the sweltering Texas heatwave to get them set up with their cabins and bunk mates. I would say it will be a quiet week without them, but I know better! I know they will have a wonderful time, and I pray they press into all that the Lord has for them in this perfectly appointed setting.

~ for a most welcome surprise: a visit from our dear neighbor (from 2 neighborhoods ago) Mr. Stockton. We were sad many years ago when he moved to Houston, but have been glad to keep in touch every now and then. We got a call that he was in town and wanted to “see his kids,” and it just blessed us to pieces.

2016
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~ for the sweetest neighborhood friendships.

~ for country sunsets. I can’t get enough of them.

Friends, will you please join me in praying for our precious HERO friend, Bristell? At just 4 years old, she is facing her THIRD battle with cancer. News of her recent relapse devastated her family, and they were initially told they were out of options. BUT GOD. He opened a door for a clinical trial in Houston, and she was enrolled in 24 hours. Let’s lift up this incredible little girl and her family!

More reminded than ever this week that life is a gift. Relationships, connections, causal interactions, all have purpose. Split second turning points: choose to be curt or be kind. Or to be kind or be QUIET. For better or worse, we impact those around us in big and small ways. Are we building or tearing down? We always have the choice to be humbly grateful or grumbly hateful. And both postures are contagious. Let’s be Light in this dark world.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life…” (Philippians 2:12-16)

“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)