Autopilot OFF

~ for the most astounding surprise I could never have imagined.  My DAD showed up on my doorstep!!!!  I was born and raised on a farm in Minnesota, and all my family still lives up in that region.  Life never ceases to be busy on both sides, we have constantly been adding more children, and then there was STUPID CANCER.  So although we regularly keep in touch, somehow it has been more than 12 years since I’ve seen my dad!!!!  That means he hadn’t even MET SIX OF HIS GRANDCHILDREN!  What a treasure to get to introduce my dad and stepmom, and to show them around our home and our city.  I’m so proud of my kids, they are so full of love and share it without hesitation.  They showed out and entertained, drew pictures and crawled in laps.  We had a wonderful concentrated visit, and then Dad and Jennifer were right back in their car for the 14 hour drive north.  I tried to talk them into staying, but it was just a whirlwind spur of the moment trip, and they had spring chores to get back to.  However surprising, however brief, I am so utterly amazed and thankful for the wonderful visit, and for such a special memory for my kids.  


~ for God’s mighty hand of protection, and those moments of gravity when we get a glimpse of how much worse things could have been without Him.  Thank You Lord for Your Mercy.  Carson Grace sang a wonderful song today for offering, “Remember,” by Lauren Daigle.  Hard times will inevitably come, but we have to take the time to remember all the ways He has shown himself faithful.  You can enjoy her song here. 

~ for our first trip to the library of the summer. I’m so thankful that my kids still enjoy it.  They love fun books and they LOVE the experience of so many choices at the library.  This time we came home with lots of superheroes, Barbie, American Girl, and backyard bird books. Now, to keep track of them all and return them on time….

Our new hummingbird feeder is just like the one in Sawyer’s library book!

~ for the toilet in our guest bathroom.  It has experienced multiple degrees of brokenness over the last several months, and it has been a real hassle.  This week, Josh fixed it – like FOR REAL fixed it.  You can now go in that bathroom and do what you need to do in there, with FULL CONFIDENCE that the commode will perform its intended purpose.  And I’m just absolutely thrilled about it!

~ for steady work for Giddy Up & Whoa.  We’ve done several signs for graduation and Mother’s Day, and even for a mortgage company as closing gifts.  I’ve been thankful to paint at least a little almost every day. 


~ for the brilliantly colored cardinal families that dwell in our backyard. They flit back and forth all day, and chatter to us every morning.  And for Sawyer’s enthusiasm for our new hummingbird feeder.  He read about hummingbirds in his new book, and helped mix up the nectar and hang the feeder.  Looking forward to birdwatching this summer!


~for a fun outing at the shooting range for Cooper. 


~ for a beautiful weekend spent in and by the pool. It’s getting hot…and the kids (and Bear) are LOVING the cool water.  We’ve worked so hard back there over the last year and a half….ripping out shrubs, hauling rocks, staining and repairing the fence, resurfacing the aged decking….it is such an amazing transformation.  It was nice before, but now it is truly an oasis.  Tatum K has gotten her first taste of the water, and she loves to (swim) “WEEM!  I weem, Mama!”  I can tell she will be a little water bug like the others.  Josh and I still cannot believe how blessed we are to live in this home, and look forward to sharing it with our kids and their friends for years to come.  

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It’s nice to have some lazy days.  Our schedule has been pretty open, few appointments or plans.  Especially after the breakneck pace at the end of school, it’s refreshing to have a reprieve.  Josh and I were reminded today how we don’t take “nothing days” for granted any more.   When you’ve spent any significant length of time in a hospital, or separated from the ones you love by trauma, there’s nothing more refreshing than a “normal” day at home.  But I can already tell it’s time to get into a routine.  Embracing our “normal” days doesn’t necessarily have to mean mindless coasting.  I remember when it dawned on me one time, you can’t coast anywhere but down.  You’ll never get better, stronger, or wiser on autopilot.  Growth takes effort.  And even if continued growth wasn’t the goal…you can’t even MAINTAIN status quo without effort!  Skillfully sculpted muscles atrophy, the sparkling blue pool turns murky green, the meticulously manicured lawn becomes a wilderness.  And I need to remind myself of the truth I want my kids to learn: WORK IS GOOD!   Of course, rest is good too, critically important in fact, but like anything else, it’s all about balance.  Body, mind, and spirit need training and exercise to stay sharp. Our family just needs a little structure to our day, some punctuation.  And as much as I hate to admit it, that extra hour of sleep in the morning doesn’t yield a more rested, more patient mama.  Getting up and investing that hour in the Word does.  And then in turn, investing that return into reading to my kids, swimming with my kids, LISTENING TO MY KIDS.  I can already tell a negative impact in our home from one week of unstructured cruise control.  Time to turn off auto pilot, set an alarm, dig into God’s Word, and launch into our days with purpose, instead of just letting the day run us over.  Of course we will have spontaneous days, days with unexpected detours.  Some days will be wildly successful and others will be a dismal failure.  But I know we will enjoy the journey more if we stay the course with a balance of consistency and flexibility.  So we will give it a go this week. 


Let’s love on purpose this week!  Thanks for giving thanks with me!

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.”  Psalm 77:11-14

“Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.””  Joshua 4:4-7

Ready or not…

I should have expected it. Last week I boldly proclaimed to the world how thankful I am. How thankful I am for my lively mess of a family and the perfectly imperfect.  Why should it surprise me that Monday morning I’d be hit on all sides with utter chaos: squalling siblings, mouthy teens, and a maniacal 2 year old terrorist.  I was attacked full force from every direction.  And man, I fell right smack off my thankful mountain.  I know that’s real life: highs and lows and not-so-pretty-or-poetic emotions.  BUT GOD.  Oh how thankful I am that God doesn’t turn His back on me every time I fail.  And that His goodness is not contingent on my faithfulness.  WHAT A MIGHTY GOD WE SERVE!  

But when all is said and done, He gives me the grace to get back up when I fall on my face.  I get to tell my kids I’m sorry and we all get a do-over.   New mercies every morning.  And every week. 

I am thankful:

~ for more end of school fun.  Our final FINAL day of school was Wednesday!  It is surreal to see Sawyer completing his first year of school.  I don’t take these “firsts and lasts” for granted.  Every time he reaches another milestone, I never fail to see that frail, white little baby.  BUT GOD!  He knew this day was coming even when all we could see was death in every direction.  Thank you Jesus for the last five years!  And we will be thankful for all the rest you will give us!  I pray Sawyer lives to be a strong, healthy, old old man who never tires of telling the story of how Jesus healed-ed him. 

Our beloved Mrs. Youngblood


“Mama, what are the other ribbon colors?  I want to pray for God to heal ALL the people with cancer.”

~ for nail polish remover.  I used a whole bottle to clean up Tatum K and the carpet where she painted her “Pretty toes Mama!  I MESSY!”

~ for my 2 kiddos recognized for Perfect Attendance!  Way to go Kora and Gavin!


~for the remarkable kindness and generosity of friends.

~ for good news.  Our friend Mason got his port removed after completing leukemia treatment, Baby Lucas got wonderful news from his oncologist, and sweet Georgia is home from her latest stay in the hospital.  God, You are so good.  Thank you, faithful prayer warriors, for praying; please keep lifting up all these precious families. 

~ for at least a couple lazy days.  No alarms to set, no plans on the calendar. We enjoyed our walks, kids swam in the icy pool until their lips turn blue, and we laughed as Bear eagerly dove in after them, showing off his swimming skills. 


~for Carson Grace and the Cougars safe trip down to Houston for their next softball playoff game.  They battled through and played their best, but this time didn’t come away with the win.  But what a great season!

~ for the way all my kids love music.  They are always singing along with the radio behind me in the car, making up songs, or singing on their own at home.  This week a favorite came on, “I’m a Child of God,” and Sawyer said, “Mama!  I just love this song so much!  I just HAVE to Praise Him!”  I can only imagine how this blesses the Father’s heart. 

~ for the eagerly anticipated, fast and furious arrival of my latest BEAUTIFUL NIECE, Josey Dean! What a little sugar!!!

And Saturday was the biggest day; a day of so much joy but also bittersweet tears. My girl, my Carson Grace, my heart.  How can my baby be graduating high school?  I remember picking out her first day of school clothes from the toddler department.  I remember the tiny wooden stool that her teacher had built for her because her little legs dangled from the desk and couldn’t reach the floor. I remember crying as she graduated from Kindergarten, then from 5th grade, then 8th.  I blinked. Tiny crocs and Mary Jane’s were replaced by Vans and impossibly high heels.  My memory hasn’t faded from her baby days, because all I have to do is look at Tatum K, her carbon copy. Saturday, my beautiful girl put on that cap and gown and proudly received her diploma.  She fought for it: high school wasn’t easy for her on any level.  But she did it, and we are so proud.  We even had the excitement of a tornado warning and mandatory evacuation in the middle of the ceremony, but she made it!  We ended the evening with burgers and watermelon and friends crowded in the kitchen, celebrating our girl.  


~ and then a wonderful baby shower for my precious friends Chris and Lindsay, as they prepare their hearts and home for their baby boy on the way.  They are such treasures, and I am so ready to watch them step into the role they were MADE FOR as Mama and Daddy!


As you may well imagine, it’s slightly terrifying to face being home with all these kiddos for the summer.  I’m so ridiculously outnumbered.  But thankfully they haven’t figured that out yet.  I am trying to find a balance between high hopes and realistic expectations for the upcoming weeks: lots of swimming, walks, trips to the library, and some good healthy brain exercise.  We’re gonna eat popsicles and ride bikes and Cooper’s going to teach me how to flip on the trampoline.  And I’m gonna love my babies the very best I can.  I’m gonna soak up these last precious weeks of having Carson Grace home before she leaves for college.  I’m going to press into Jesus.  I’m going to pray with my kids and play with my kids.  I’M GONNA FINISH SCRAPING THOSE BEAMS.  It’s going to be a glorious mess, but we are going to do it together. 

Thank you for giving thanks with me. 

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Psalm 90:1-2 

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble. May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children. May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.”  Psalm 90:14-17

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26 

A Blessed Mess of a Mama

Why do I start every Sunday gratitude with the sentence… “Wow! What a busy week!”????  With a family this size, I think we can rest confidently that it’s usually going to be busy.  I just need to accept that fact.  But whether you have one kid or 21, the end of school season can get wild. So buckle up, this post is about to make you tired…

I am thankful:

~ for 15 Giddyup & Whoa Mother’s Day orders. 


For “Graces Races,” our GCS end-of-school field day for each grade. Monday 1st grade, Tuesday – 3rd grade, Wednesday – 2nd grade, Thursday – 4th grade.  And I made it to each one.  Granted, a couple in time for the snowcone finale…  But at least my kiddos knew I was there.  They all had such a great time with their friends doing balloon and scooter and gunnysack relays.  The elementary children will have their last day of school this coming Wednesday.  Where did this school year go?


~ for great softball game/senior night for Carson Grace.  So proud to take the field with our beautiful girl and celebrate the end of her high school career.  Then the Cougar girls played a tremendous game and walked away with their first playoff win! 


~for a great birthday dinner celebrating Colton.  His schedule last week didn’t permit, but this week we had a tasty meal of his choice: crescent chicken, sweet potato fries, and yellow cake with chocolate icing. 

~for another great choir concert, this time for Cooper and the Junior High.  Such a talented group of students! 

~ Of course the highlight of this week was Wednesday, which was Sawyer‘s quarterly Oncology Clinic visit.  Bloodwork confirmed that he is CANCER FREE! Glory to God!  This was Sawyer‘s first visit on the ACE unit (After Cancer Experience), otherwise known as the Survivors Unit. This is truly a miraculous milestone we never dared dream we would see.  You can read my Caringbridge post with full details from the day here.

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~ I’m thankful for God’s protection on the drive, and I’m very thankful I didn’t know how dangerous the storms were until AFTER I was safely home!  I know I would have panicked.  My back hurt for 2 days from clutching the steering wheel. 

~ for Nurse Appreciation Week.  Our nurses are our family, and we love them passionately.  No amount of words or gifts can measure the impact they make on the lives they touch. We ❤️ Nurses!

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~ for Carson Grace’s Senior Awards Assembly.  How incredible to see 100% of her class has been accepted into various colleges, from Texas to Alabama to Illinois.  The Admissions Counselor from ETBU came from Marshall to present Carson Grace with her Academic and Christian Leadership Scholarships.  And that same day, she took her very last final, and is officially DONE WITH HIGH SCHOOL!  Just unreal.  It was a hard fought battle to get her to this point, and  she’s wrestled through a lot over the past couple years, but she made it, and we are SO PROUD!

If you’re still with me, are you tired yet?  Oh no, we’re not done yet. Not even close!

~ thankful for Cooper’s 8th Grade Year End Assembly.  The students heard from each of their amazing teachers (there really is a unique and passionate breed of teacher who chooses to minister to Jr. High students).  They reminded the kids how loved they are by the Lord, and that they are so valuable to the Kingdom.  The teachers, coaches, and faculty spoke with so much enthusiasm and heart, it was incredibly moving, and I’m freshly reminded how grateful I am that Cooper has been loved so well by this faculty.  I pray for him as he steps into High School next fall, that he will walk confidently in who he is, and stay the bright, one-of-a-kind individual he’s always been.  Oh, and he is THRILLED to be done with school for the year. 

~ for 2 fun end of year parties done.  5 to go.  From trampoline parks to the rock gym, they have a blast with their friends. 

~ for a whirlwind Saturday: Carson Grace traveled with her team to Rockwall for Softball Playoff game, Cougars DOMINATED for another victory, and then turned around and rushed back to Tyler in the rain so the girls could get ready for PROM!  Seriously!!??  What a day!  Thankfully there was just enough time, and Carson Grace transformed in her room from a softball champion, emerging as a stunning vision in her ballgown.  At the country club where the dance was held, the Senior class and their dates gathered to take a group photo, and the emotions got really real.  It seemed like yesterday that all these kids were posing for class pictures on the playground.  Or on a fire truck. Gone are the pigtails and missing teeth and skinned up knees with Disney bandaids.  Instead they were beautiful grown young men and ladies.  They were poised and stunning and were arrayed in their finest. And they took my breath away.  Somebody please stop time.


And now that I’ve survived this marathon week of mayhem, it’s Mother’s Day.   I’ve earned some stripes this week for sure.  Mother’s Day can stir up such varied emotions for different people:  longing-to-be mothers, first-time mothers, children who have lost their mothers and mothers who have lost their children, mamas with strained relationships, and those who have chosen not to be mothers.   Not everybody gets breakfast in bed and a new candle.  

At this moment at my house, there’s marinated fajita steak on the grill, and ALL MY KIDS ARE HOME.  There are saturated towels, clothes, and shoes strewn all over the patio and three dripping mermaid tails hanging on the fence.  Yelling kids on the trampoline, yelling kids chasing a soggy mess of a dog, kids staring at their phones, kids cracking up over Snapchat filters.  My legs need shaving, my grey needs colored, my floor needs mopped, and my bed’s not made.  And I will be 100% honest and say I usually don’t fully appreciate my life.  I am short-tempered  and impatient and overwhelmed.  Too many questions, too much laundry, too many squabbles and the sippy cup is always lost.  But today.  Today I have been so thankful.  Yes, my plate is full, but I see my cup that overflows with blessing.  My house is a mess, but it’s bursting at the seams with the people I love.  I have no idea why God has given me so many hearts to be responsible for, and most days the task completely terrifies me.  I am VASTLY UNQUALIFIED. But I know that the confidence in myself that is lacking is ECLIPSED by the confidence I have in Him.  He gave me all these babies.  I don’t know why I am so blessed, but all I can do is thank Him and do my best every day.  And when my best isn’t good enough, His grace will meet me there.  I’m pretty much the most blessed mama on the planet.


Oh, and today I got to take a nap in my hammock.

Thank you for giving thanks with me. 

“All your children shall be taught by the LORD, And great shall be the peace of your children.”  Isaiah 54:13


I am thankful that even though the beginning of this week started off ROUGH, it got better and ended GLORIOUS!

Happy Easter from the Rucker Tribe!

Sawyer woke up Monday morning feeling bad.  Really bad.  His first words were, “Mama…my lungs hurt when I ‘breave.’”  Well I surely didn’t like the sound of that!  I laid hands on him and prayed over him right away, observed that he didn’t have fever, and encouraged him to eat some breakfast and drink some milk.  I knew he had coughed a lot over the night, and hoped he would feel better with some warm oatmeal in his throat.  But after just one bite, he laid his little curls down on the counter and said quietly, “Mama, I don’t sink I should go to school.”   That is completely out of character for Sawyer.  He absolutely LOVES school, and never wants to stay home.  So I tucked him back in bed.  He immediately fell fast asleep, and I immediately called for a pediatrician appointment, fearing a recurrence of pneumonia.  At his appointment, all appeared normal.  Still no fever, no breath sounds indicating pneumonia… but with every breath, Sawyer clutched his chest.  Even when Dr. Everett would distract him and get him giggling, he would double over and grab his chest, right over his heart.  This was enough concern to the doctor that he felt a chest X-ray was warranted to rule out pneumonia or pneumothorax (collapsed lung).  So from the pediatrician to the imaging facility we went.  That in itself was stressful enough, not to mention dragging a cranky five-year-old and an even crankier two-year-old from one waiting room to another, with no pre-prepared keep-busy activities or snacks….we were all stretched PRETTY THIN after 2 1/2 hours.  But the receptionist was very kind and brought out clipboards with paper and pens, and that got my grumpy loves over the hump until Sawyer got called back.  The X-ray itself was quick and easy, Sawyer had no anxiety at all, and it was a far more peaceful experience than his last X-ray years ago (having to be strapped down as a toddler).  Then came the agonizing WAIT for results.  BUT GOD.  We finally got a call after 5pm that the X-ray was clear (HALLELUJAH!) of pneumonia and pneumothorax, but that there was some irritation on the lung lining (pleurisy) in the area corresponding to his pain.  Long, stressful day, but so very thankful for excellent care and good news.  (And Sawyer is now feeling great!  Thank You Jesus for protection and speedy healing!)

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~ for a fun but far-too-short visit from “Cousin” Jen (dear friend who has crossed the threshold and become family).  She came all the way from Dallas to watch Cooper and Carson Grace’s games this week!  So fun cramming in a visit and catching one another up on life. 


~ for an emotionally charged morning celebrating the GCS Senior class.  The Seniors walked the halls of the elementary school in their caps and gowns, with the young students lined up giving them all high-fives.  I can imagine how big and grown up the Seniors looked to the little kids, but to all the parents looking on, those were our babies.  Only yesterday, Carson Grace was in her kindergarten class, with a little custom stool under her tiny feet because she couldn’t reach the floor.  Now she is graduating in a few short weeks.  


~ for Gavin’s character quality award, Enthusiasm.   Such a fitting award, as G-Man is exactly that: bright, creative and overflowing with enthusiasm.  He is always questioning, always creating, always learning.  The Lord has an incredible future for this boy. 


~ that I intercepted the less-than-flattering time-lapse video that my darling Tatum K filmed of me in the dressing room at Old Navy before she texted it to someone!!!!!  

~ for a hopping week for Giddyup & Whoa!  Finished 2 custom orders and 7 more pieces for the Gresham Barn Sale!  Vintage & Co. even featured us on their page!  Busy sign week means not much progress on the beams…but I know they’re waiting for me, a project literally hanging over my head….


~ for a fun and tasty lunch with a friend.  So grateful for sisters to lean on and to do life with. 

~ that every bad day comes to an end.  Some days just stink.  Not life-or-death cancer days…just run of the mill, cranky, overtired kids + cranky, overwhelmed mama + a to-do list a mile long = YUCK.  You know when you park the car and each of the children exit the vehicle with an, “I’m sorry Mama,” that it’s been a rough day.  But thank You Lord for new mercies every morning!

~ for a fun-packed Easter weekend: school holiday, sleepovers, ice-cold swimming, a much-needed date night, yard work, egg hunts, Easter baskets, Resurrection rolls for breakfast, powerful worship service and message, lunch with all the cousins, cake! and pie! and WAAAAY too much candy! I am thankful for every single time I get to be with all our children together…even if it wasn’t until the very end of the day (Colton had to work).  I don’t take it for granted any more. 


~ most of all, I’m so thankful for the miracle of Easter.  That Jesus, pure and sinless, willingly chose the Cross for my sin and for yours.  Friday and Saturday we grieve for all He endured.  But Sunday.  Sunday!  Sunday morning is what it’s all about!  The stone is rolled away, the tomb is empty, and JESUS IS ALIVE!   Death couldn’t hold our Savior, and thanks to Him, it can’t hold me!   No matter what we endure on this earth, if we chose Jesus, we are promised to live in eternity with Him!  There is no day more worthy of celebrating, flipping over backwards with all-surpassing JOY than today!  HE IS RISEN!  HE IS RISEN INDEED!!

Please hold dear Georgia and the Crim family in your prayers.  She had her first brain surgery a few weeks ago, and she will begin her first round of chemotherapy this Tuesday.  

Thank You Jesus for New Life.  Thank You that the Light will ALWAYS overcome the darkness. 

And thank you all for giving thanks with me. 

“They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.  In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.”  Luke 24:5-8

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.””  Matthew 28:18-20


I am thankful:

~ for every shade of electric green after the rain. The spring landscape is so vibrant.

~ for my sweet and spicy Tatum K turning 2!  Even though she didn’t really understand, Tatum knew there was something special going on.  Over and over she cheerily chirped, “Tay Tay Happy day!  Happy day!“  Of course we celebrated with CAKE AND PIE (homemade chocolate meringue pie and a white chocolate raspberry from Nothing Bundt Cakes).  Even chicken pot PIE for dinner.  She was captivated by being the center of attention…delighted by the singing of Happy Birthday and blowing out the candles, requesting it to be repeated several times.  I don’t think she ever would have stopped!  She opened her gifts and her favorite things to carry around for the rest of the evening were two birthday cards, one with monkeys and the other with a dog.  Oh, for the simplicity of those carefree days.


~ for the things I hear around my table.   While eating chicken pot pie, I ask, “Which of these vegetables is your favorite?”  Child#1 instantly replies, “the chicken!”  Child#2 replies condescendingly with much distain at their foolish sibling’s lack of culinary knowledge, “Chicken is NOT a vegetable. It’s a REPTILE!”

~ for an unexpected treat: Colton invited Josh and I to lunch.  Like, for no reason.  Just…to eat lunch.  Just because.  I’m so thankful for growth in our relationship, and to be at the point where he would actually desire to spend time with his parents when he doesn’t HAVE to.  It’s good for this mama‘s heart.


~ for my kids’ creativity.  They are all constantly drawing, building, inventing. 


~ for great news: a precious cancer mama called me one day this week.  We haven’t spoken in a long time, and it is very unusual for her to call me, so I was immediately concerned.  She was really struggling and in need of prayer.  Her son has been sick repeatedly and dealing with chronic unexplained fevers, and both she and the doctors were concerned of the possibility of relapsed leukemia.  That day, her son had a lung biopsy and bone marrow biopsy.  We prayed together on the phone.  Friday afternoon I missed a call from her.  I had a busy day so I didn’t call her back immediately.  Then she called me two more times…  When I finally answered, the joy in her voice was undeniable, “He is cancer free!” she cried, “The doctor say he doesn’t have it! Thank you for praying!”  We rejoiced together.  GLORY TO GOD!!!

~ for fresh tulips and lilies on my table. 


~ for blankets kept in the back of my car, and for sweatshirts scrounged out of the lost-and-found when the weather unexpectedly dropped 15 degrees at Carson Grace’s softball game!  It wasn’t actually that cold, but we had come dressed for a hot afternoon!   That was a rough one.  We all froze to death, and Sawyer took a really bad fall off a retaining wall.  We were a motley looking bunch of shivery, bloody kids and a shaggy mop dog.  But Carson Grace and her team played a great game and came out victorious, so I’m really thankful we got to be there!


~ for the children having a wonderful day at school for grandparents/special friends day.  Even though many of our dear grandparents live far away, we are so blessed that God has also provided our kids devoted local grandparents.  The elementary children are so proud of their school, and they reveled in showing off their artwork and their classrooms and sharing songs and scripture recitations.  I am so grateful they are so loved.


~ for iron that sharpens iron. So thankful for brothers and sisters who stretch us and encourage us to stretch.

~ for a super productive Giddyup and Whoa week.  I got 2 custom orders done, 3 pieces made and delivered for the Vintage and Co barn sale, and 9 more underway.  I guess spring is sign season!


~ for conquering my Everest this week. I was halfway done with that wretched 3rd beam last week, and it took everything I had to get the other half done.  It was brutal, and I look like I lost a game of bloody knuckles, (I guess I kind of did, actually) but I was victorious in the end!  6 more to go!  (And Tatum K is thankful for her headphones when Mama is being LOUD.)

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~ speaking of victories, I’m so proud of Carson Grace and her GCS classmates for the capture of their 8th consecutive title of Texas State Championship Choir this weekend!  What an accomplishment!  So very proud! 


~ for a wonderful evening of fellowship at our Gold Network CONNECT support group.  I so look forward to this quarterly get-together.  We call it a “support group” because it’s intended to be a safe place for cancer parents to support one another, but that label is so incomplete.  We share a meal together (this time it was a delicious Italian spread from Oliveto).  We meet new friends.  We talk about our families.  We talk about our cancer kids.  Some are on treatment, some off, some doing well, some are struggling, some have gone to be with Jesus.  We pray for one another.  And we exchange phone numbers so we can keep in touch.  It’s so much more than a support group.  I’m so thankful for the opportunity to gather these uniquely special families together, for a safe place to let it all hang out with others who understand, with the hope that it takes a little weight off each one of us if we all come alongside one another under the burdens, shoulder to shoulder.  And then it was fun to let each couple choose from an assortment of date night gift cards.  Really special evening. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about peacemaking lately.  My kids are constantly at war.  Over little stuff.  Who gets to pick the show.  Who’s fault it is.  Who has 6 grapes and who has 7.  MY KIDS ARGUE OVER WHO GETS TO PRAY!!!!  It’s not hard to get sucked into the egregious role of referee, constantly blowing the whistle and calling penalties and time outs.  But I know they have to learn.  Because they are always going to face circumstances in their lives where they have to choose: war or peace?  And the “stuff,” like the kids, is not going to stay small.  So I try to model peacemaking.  A softer tone.  Mercy over the battle axe.  I fail a lot, because I tend to lean on the harsher side of “high structure parenting” vs. the softer, “high nurture parenting” style.  I’m still learning, just like they are.  God’s still refining me, and I see it more and more clearly that He is using my children to do His refining work in my life and on my heart.  It forces me to see how impatient I am when I try to teach my kids to be patient.  I hear the tone of my voice, and I’m reminded of how many times I ask them to moderate their tone.  Do I really practice what I preach?  Do I look and sound anything like the Jesus I tell them about?   Oh Father, make me a peacemaker when war looks inevitable.  Or just looks easier.  And help me raise up a Tribe of peacemakers who will stand up for You, and lay their lives down to love their brother.  

Please keep praying for our friend Jase.  He has been in and out of Tyler and Dallas ERs with fever and GI issues more than half a dozen times in the past 2 weeks.  His family is so weary.  They need a healing touch from the Savior.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16 NIV

“Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith. You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:2-4 NIV

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”  Matthew 5:9 NIV

April Tuesday

I am thankful:

~for the most fun “April Tuesday” ever! Sawyer has talked about his plans for “jokes” for weeks now. And on last Sunday, on March 31, he was so excited he couldn’t even sleep.  He kept getting out of bed telling me another funny idea he had.  I got so tickled.  So even though we’ve never done anything for April Fools’ Day before, I knew I had to step up my game.  I did a little prep work that night…actually staying up until 1 in the morning, hiding a pickle slice in each of their pb&j sandwiches. The kids were greeted at breakfast with their bowls of cereal…only to dig in and discovered that it was FROZEN in the milk. Their puzzled faces were priceless!  Sawyer’s dream came true of delivering a special “cake” for his teacher, and had him giggling all the way to school.  I do fear that his class did not appreciate the humor. They were pretty stoked about eating cake, and mighty disappointed to find out it was actually a frosted cardboard cereal box. Thankfully, Mrs. Youngblood saved the day by allowing them to drag their fingers through the icing, so Sawyer didn’t lose all his friends that day.


~ for a great baseball/softball/track week.   Enjoyed the sunshine with Bear and the kids, eating popcorn, making daisy chains, and cheering on the Cougars. 


~for lunch with a friend. There is something so special about sitting down and breaking bread together.  Even when sometimes the conversation is heavy, or the topic isn’t fun, the sharing of hearts side by side is priceless.  What a blessing to have brothers and sisters in Christ to love us through all seasons, and to pray for one another as we seek God’s best for our families. 

~ for teachers who really love my kids. And are willing to come along side so that they can reach their potential.

~for the bright, cheerful azaleas displaying their finery across our city.

~ for a call I have been waiting for almost as long as I can remember.  A call to tell me that my sweet friends are going to have a baby!  Born not of her tummy, but born in her heart, this precious couple has been chosen by a birth mom to be the parents of a baby boy due in June.  They traveled many hours to meet birth mom this weekend, and they are asking for prayers for God’s grace over every step of this journey: for a healthy remainder of the pregnancy, and most of all prayer for this birth mom who is giving the most unselfish gift of love to this baby.  Father God has seen my friends, has seen this birth mom, and has collected every silent tear they have cried in the dark.  And His timing is always right on time.  Oh the joy that can’t be contained!!!!  GLORY TO THE LORD!

~for the blessing of attending chapel, the very last time Carson Grace will lead worship with her peers in high school. All these “lasts“ are so bittersweet. I’m so proud of her, and so excited for all that lies ahead, but it’s so hard to let go.  Later in the week, she had the amazing honor of presenting the National Anthem at the 28th Annual Tyler Firefighters Awards Banquet.  It was a wonderful program, with moments of storytelling and laughter between comrades while handing out awards and door prizes, and weighted somber moments of as we were reminded of the life and death experiences they face almost every day.  So thankful for the dedication and bravery of these true American heroes. 


~ for new friendships.  This week Josh and I got to visit with Phil and Kathy Jimerson, fellow Carthagites, and former classmates of Susan K.  Kathy has recently published a book, a personal memoir written by an encourager and storyteller over the last 2 decades of her life.  And she gifted us a copy!  Over coffee we chatted about cancer and writing, about remodeling and about Jesus.  Our kindred hearts quickly knit.  You can find Kathy’s book here. I’m so excited to read it!

~ for Cooper having an awesome weekend on the Grace Student Miniseries Overdrive Retreat.  

~ for a cool photo shoot with Carson Grace at our local vintage record store. 


40 years ago on this day, God made a man for me. He put a loving, fighting heart into this young man and wrote a love story on his heart. God made this man for a purpose… He made him for me. He made him for a tribe of young warriors who would watch and learn from him. He made him for countless individuals who would be strengthened and encouraged by a relationship and friendship with him. He put in him a work ethic second to none. He made him a true man’s man, but gave him a heart tender enough not to hide his tears. I love this man with all the fierceness my heart can hold. I love Josh’s birthday because it was the day he was made for me.  We had a great day celebrating, starting with 40 Martha White blueberry muffins for breakfast, 40 Home Depot gift cards, then dinner with the family: delicious grilled burgers and 40 cupcakes with candles of course!  It was special to have all our kids together, and they all shared “40 Things We Love About Dad.”  Love that man of mine. 

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Such a busy week for us, tons of Giddyup & Whoa signs in the works, delivered a couple of pieces, a few more custom orders going out this week, and an exciting new opportunity: I’ve been invited to participate at the Vintage & Co Semi-Annual Gresham Barn Sale!  Anyone in East Texas knows that the Gresham Barn Sale is one of the very best antique and vintage markets in our area.  I’m so honored to be a part, and hoping that it is a great partnership for both businesses!   Excited to get lots of painting done this week.  Check out Vintage & Co. on Instagram and Facebook.  Spring sale is coming up April 24-27.


Busy sign week meant not a lot of progress on the beams….still not giving up.  Slow progress is still progress.


This week was an emotionally wrung-out week.  Just a lot going on, both out in public with the kids and then wrestling through the personal stuff that’s held in our hearts.  Trusting God is a full-time job.  We have to actively trust: daily re-aligning our hearts to seek after His. It’s so easy to get in my head and overthink and just give myself over to the anxiety that is always waiting for me.  Thank You Lord for Your steadfast love.  Even when I am freaking out, You wait for me…Your Word is truly a Lamp unto my feet and a Light unto my path, and I know I’m never alone.  And I know Your Plan is good.  A lot better than mine.  

Big prayers needed for Baby Lucas.  He is scheduled for a sedated MRI tomorrow, and another chemo infusion.  We are praying for shrinkage/no new disease.  Please Jesus, heal this baby boy!  And please pray comfort and peace over his family as well.  And our dear friend, Jase, now 5 years old and in his 2nd year of treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, has been plagued with unexplained fevers and GI complaints for weeks, bouncing in and out of local and Dallas ERs….will you join us in healing prayers for the Curtis family?

Whatever you are facing this week friends, don’t lose heart.  Be brave.  Step up.  Step out.  The sidelines will always be full of onlookers…maybe today it’s your turn to lead.

Thank you for giving thanks with me. 

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.”  Isaiah 26:3-4 NIV