Prayer

I am thankful:

~ for reaching 3 1/2 weeks with the puppies. 3 1/2 weeks means I get to move from the floor next to the puppy pen BACK INTO MY BED! The pups can nurse on schedule instead of on demand, and they are finally large enough for the larger puppy pen in the garage. I now just set an alarm to get up and let them nurse twice during the night instead of all night long. Yahoo! I treasure these precious hours in my comfy bed! Just a few more weeks and I’ll be able to sleep through the night again!

3 1/2 weeks also means the pups move to Stage 1 of sold food training. It’s messy and adorable. So fun to watch these sweet babies grow up.

~ for fresh flowers on my table.

~ and the reason for the fresh flowers; our Gold Network CONNECT support group. These courageous moms and dads are battle-worn and weary. But there’s something so special that sparks when shared trauma knits hearts together. People trust the others within the group with their big hurts. With their secret pain. We ate great food and laughed and cried together. It never ceases to amaze and inspire me that these couples go to the trouble of getting a babysitter for the evening and choose to use that evening of freedom to come to CONNECT. Some of them drive over an hour. Because the connection and fellowship and support really matter to them. Thank You Jesus for the ministry of Gold Network ETX, and the beauty You have brought from the ashes of so much pain.

I come tonight to ask for prayers for two of our precious families.

Our friend Trenn is 16, and he’s been in the hospital with severe cancer-related complications since November.

He is currently in the ICU literally battling for his life. Will you please pray for a miracle for Trenn? You can follow his journey and receive updates on his progress here; https://www.facebook.com/groups/424861166077314/permalink/661204522442976/?mibextid=re2LRg

And our friend Liam, a happy, handsome 9 year old cancer survivor, is facing a test that would overwhelm the mightiest of warriors.

The surgery that removed his cancer and saved his life back in 2017 left him with permanent nerve damage which has resulted in additional surgeries, leg braces, muscles atrophy, and excruciating sores.

The doctors and family have together agreed that the best option to improve Liam’s quality of life is to amputate his foot. When I first heard the news from Liam’s mama, I felt like the wind had been knocked from my body. BUT GOD. Instead of being scared and devastated, LIAM IS EXCITED! He is ready to finally be pain-free and can’t wait until he can get his prosthetic SO HE CAN PLAY FOOTBALL! Isn’t that the most incredible miracle?! But even with their faith deeply anchored and their inspirational attitudes, there is a long and challenging road ahead for this family. Will you please lift them in prayer? You can follow Liam’s story here: https://www.facebook.com/liamwilmeth?mibextid=LQQJ4d

I’m so grateful for this space, for the opportunity to share my heart and for your faithful support and encouragement. God is ever faithful. He is big enough for our fears, our doubts, and our questions.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”” (John 6:68-69)

“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”” (Mark 9:24)

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalms 56:3-4)

Peace

I am thankful:

~ for so many kind words, messages, and prayers after last week’s blog post. I know I’m not alone in dealing with anxiety, especially during the holidays. The range of emotions and the breakneck pace are a volatile combination. But God is so good.

~ for grace during the Christmas CRUNCH! Last minute shopping, searching frantically for the gifts I KNOW I BOUGHT but somehow can’t find (because I tucked them somewhere SO SAFE), the returns of the duplicates I bought to replace the gifts I couldn’t find (but then found🤪)…traffic that makes me need extra Jesus, and 10,364,292 Christmas activities/events/parties that are all scheduled back to back to back.

Kora’s Christmas Choir Concert
After Sawyer’s Christmas Play
Tatum K’s Christmas Pajama Party
Sawyer’s Christmas Pajama Party
AWESOME Annual Christmas with Strangers Concert
My sentiments exactly

~ for a fun road trip to celebrate Grandmommy’s birthday! Which also is the annual kickoff day for a favorite tradition: the 12 Days of Christmas! Grandmommy is so thoughtful and creative to come up with 12 gifts for our family, and we all have a blast singing the song each night and opening a new surprise! So grateful for such a special tradition.

Loved receiving this special window cling nativity, as it brought back a memory of years ago…
It had also been given as a 12 Days gift when Sawyer spent his first Christmas in the hospital during his cancer treatment
Hooray for pickles and okra!

~ for the incredible opportunity to make a special trip to Dallas representing Gold Network of East Texas for a long-awaited, IN PERSON check presentation. Each year we donate toward ongoing pediatric cancer research projects at Children’s Health/UTSouthwestern. The past two years we have helped fund research being conducted by one of Sawyer’s most beloved oncologists, Dr. Sam John, but hospital pandemic precaution protocols prevented us from donating in person. A virtual check presentation just isn’t the same. So it was priceless to actually make the trip to Dallas and reunite Sawyer the Warrior with Dr. John, look him in the eyes, and thank him for the important work he is doing.

2014
2016
2018
2020

And we always love the Hero’s Welcome Sawyer receives when he walks his old halls. These doctors and nurses are so very dear to us.

~ for a great trip for Josh and Cooper to watch the Carthage Bulldogs claim their 9th State Football Championship. The kids and I watched and cheered from home. Way to go, Bulldogs!

~ for lots of good progress and backbreaking hard work going on in and around the casita. Septic went in this week! Looking forward to a REAL POTTY soon!

~ for beautiful encouragement from our Father. It’s so easy to let “the season” sweep us away from the Truth. To get off track, lose heart, lose faith in people (and yourself), and see the ever-darkening darkness creeping in around us.

BUT GOD.

He was and is and always will be the Light of the World. He’s STILL HERE. There’s always HOPE. We will always have questions, but HE IS THE ANSWER. And not just in heaven, when this broken world has been made new. He is the answer RIGHT NOW. As long as we are breathing, we have work to do here: repentance to own, people to encourage, the gospel to share. He has peace and FULLNESS OF JOY for us on this earth, when we take His Hand and offer Him His rightful, Righteous place. Emmanuel, God with us.

May we seek Him.

May we find Him.

May we share Him.

I’m so grateful for you, friends.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).” (Matthew 1:21-23)

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

And in despair I bowed my head; “There is no peace on earth,” I said; “For hate is strong, And mocks the song Of peace on earth, good-will to men!” Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men.” (Christmas Bells, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Big

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)

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)

Hammock

I am thankful.

Are you in a busy season? So many of us are. Life’s pace can be relentless, and our calendars get overwhelmingly full.

Our family seems to be perpetually locked in the busy cycle.

Full of good things: Jr. High drama productions…

Jr. High fall choir concerts…

Barn building of course…

A certain handsome young man turning 18…

Busy isn’t bad. A work is good. But so is REST. How long has it been since you’ve been truly REFRESHED?

Rest and refreshing and restoration usually end up last on the list, or cut out completely when the pace heats up.

But what if we made it a priority?

What if rest came FIRST? Resting in our Father, being refreshed from the fellowship of His people, being restored in the wonder of His creation?

I’m preaching to myself here. Josh and I are the world’s WORST at taking on too much, pushing our bodies past their limits, and I personally barely sleep at all.

But we hosted the quarterly Gold Network ETX support group in our home this weekend, and experienced deep, life-giving connections as people opened up about their struggles on the childhood cancer journey. It filled up our hearts with refreshing.

I spent a morning with a friend, curled up on the couch with our cups of coffee, just catching up on each other’s lives. No agenda, nothing accomplished except the sharing of lives and encouragement.

And I bought a hammock.

I’ve always loved a hammock. I used to swing in one in Grandma Grace’s beautifully wooded backyard in rural Southeast Minnesota. I’m a sucker for any hammock I see, especially at the beach.

We had a hammock at our last house, but it did not survive the move. So our frame has stood empty.

We put the new one up at the farm today, and from the moment it was hung, it was NEVER UNOCCUPIED for the next 7 hours when we headed home. It was such a sweet sight to see the kids enjoying it.

There’s just something about a hammock. You can’t DO ANYTHING in a hammock but REST.

Maybe that’s why we are so drawn to them. Like rest itself, a hammock takes a little effort and BALANCE to get into it, (not to mention STAYING in it) but once you do… it’s SO WORTH IT.

Where will you find your rest this week? May it be found in the presence of Jesus Himself, whatever our circumstances.

I’m looking forward to MY TURN in the hammock.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”” (Matthew 11:28-30)

“The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”” (Exodus 33:14)

“The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”(Psalms 116:5-9)

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)

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)

Ready or Not

I am thankful:

~ for a great first week of school under all our belts. We did all the things. Shoes✔️ Backpacks✔️ Haircuts✔️ Supplies✔️

Teachers were met. Desks and lockers were stocked with crisp new paper, pencils, markers, and folders.

Honoring our beloved Mrs. Youngblood. All 5 kids had her for Jr.K, and she had been so excited to finally have Tatum K in her class this year. Bittersweet.

Everyone was raring to go. It’s been a different kind of summer for us. We left our awesome house with our awesome pool and our awesome neighborhood friends. We’ve certainly made great memories working out at the farm, but here at the rent house it’s been a little lonely and a lot HOT. All 7 kids were ready for some structure and variety. AWAY FROM MOM.

Miss Tatum K counted down the minutes leading up to school. But it did take a few attempts to actually coax her out of her bed.

But a few blueberry muffins later, and she and the rest of the Tribe were ready to go! 12th grade, 8th grade, 7th grade, 6th grade, 5th grade, 3rd grade, and JrK, HERE THEY COME!

Did I cry? Yes, but I made it back to the car first. Did I go back to bed? No, my wonderful husband insisted on taking me to breakfast. Did I shove my face full of donuts? Why yes, yes I most certainly did. Ain’t no shame in my game. I eat my feelings.

I didn’t like the quiet. My house felt oh so empty. But I had plenty to do. It’s almost September, so my Gold Network ETX to-do list is full. And puppies of course.

But 3 o’clock couldn’t come soon enough. We celebrated with our tasty first day of school tradition – Shivers snow cones.

I wish I had a recording of the simultaneous overlapping words and phrases coming from every seat behind me in the car on the way home. “Mom, I need a red folder with brads but you gave me a blue one with no brads and I need one with brads. But red.” “Mom my PE uniform didn’t fit.” “Mom, we HAVE to get new shoelaces. TODAY. Like RIGHT NOW!” “Mama my shoes are itchy.” “Mom, you need to sign these 16 forms by tomorrow morning or I can’t go to Bible class. They said I can’t even GO to class if I don’t bring them.” “Mom, what box is my locker shelf in? What box is my calculator in? What box are my volleyball knee pads in?”

I must have made a face. Because Samantha looked at me and turned to the others and said, “Hey guys… lets give mom a minute before we all attack her at once. Breathe Mom.” (Thanks Sam).

I’m thankful for all my ducks, even if I can’t keep them in a row. I just know this is going to be a big year in a lot of ways. Tatum K’s first, Cooper’s last, and everyone and everything in between that will unfold for our family.

Lord, help me actually embrace each day instead of skipping ahead or looking to the next. Give me grace for the messiness and the unplanned. Let me be a grace-giver. Give me courage. Courage to face the hurts that will come that I can’t fix with a bandaid and a kiss. Courage to say “no” even when it makes them hate me. Courage to say “yes” even when it terrifies me. Give me eyes to see that today, today with the cramped house full of stinky puppies and stinky, moody teens and pre-teens will be gone before I know it. And that one day I will miss 3 loads of laundry a day and 87 forms to sign. My hands and my heart and my plate are full, full of people that I love. Don’t let me wish these days away.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”” (Joshua 1:9)

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Galatians 6:9-10)