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)

Quietly Grateful

I am thankful:

~ for quite possibly the greatest milestone and the most breathtaking upgrade to our property to date:

A POTTY!

We have experienced varying degrees of ROUGHING IT over the last 8 months, and I could not be more grateful for this glorious convenience!

~ for the sweetest puppy eyes! They are growing every day.

~ for a special 15th birthday for our special Sam girl.

Samantha is such a joy. My right hand around the house, die-hard Cowboys fan with her Dad (boo for tonight’s game!), a sucker for EVERY Hallmark Channel romance, and in love with all things horse/country/cowgirl. It is incredible seeing her growing into the bright and beautiful young woman God has ordained her to be. She enjoyed her homemade cranberry orange muffin breakfast, Whataburger lunch, and crescent chicken, sweet potato fries with homemade ranch, and baked her own birthday cake: classic yellow with chocolate icing. Where did our little Stinky Girl go?

~ for another successful puzzle completion, this one a gift from Colton!

~ for a great opportunity for Cooper, sharing with middle schoolers during chapel as a part of his senior year internship.

~ for a really cool project underway with my wonderful husband. It’s been a long time since we’ve had the opportunity to work with our stash of gorgeous reclaimed wood, so I’m totally in love. And my sweetheart is so patient with me, and so talented at bringing my unconventional ideas and imaginings into reality. He’s amazing. I drive him nuts.

Just feeling quietly grateful these days. So thankful for this season. We are busy. We work hard. Our hands and our hearts are full. God is so good.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.” (Psalms 5:11)

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” (Psalms 5:3)

Never Stop

I am thankful:

~ for one good week completed with Birdie’s sweet pups. If you’ve been here a while, you know puppy season is an intense one for me. It means round the clock observation, making sure everyone gets nursed and cleaned, and no one gets accidentally crushed. Birdie is a great mama, but she needs a little help with 10 pups! I sleep on the floor beside them for a full three weeks to make sure we don’t have any accidents. They are precious, but the commitment is no joke!

~ for Elsa noodle soup when my little missy was not feeling good. It was just what she needed! Who knew!?

~ for lots of laughs as I have gone round and round with some (nameless) members of my family who claim that I completely made up the concept of a colorful cake with a plastic baby baked in it. Sorry fam, I DID NOT concoct the tradition of the Mardi Gras King Cake! It’s really a thing!

~ for an awesome, HIGHLY ANTICIPATED, and LOOOONG AWAITED addition to the barn: a back door! So excited as this giant project continues to take shape.

~ for my sweet and thoughtful husband who SURPRISED ME by calling in dinner for me when he had to be out of town for work.

~ for Sawyer’s first basketball game. What a hoot! It’s his first time to play (as well as most of his teammates) and they are all learning as they go. So fun to watch him skipping up and down that court, playing his heart out. It never ceases to blow my mind to see Sawyer living a full and normal life after all he has been through and all the obstacles he has overcome. BUT GOD! God is so good. I will never stop praising Him for his mercy and protection; and I never stop testifying of the miracles I have witnessed with my own eyes.

It’s been a good week to count my blessings and rest in His goodness.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” (Psalms 143:8)

“Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalms 106:1)

Present

I am thankful.

Like truly thankful.

I heard such an encouraging message this morning at church that both challenged and inspired me about living IN THE PRESENT.

Not looking back with longing or regret at what was or what might have been.

Not looking forward with qualifiers and unrealistic expectations that we keep hoping will finally fill the unfillable holes in us.

But loving and serving and living and obeying right where God has us today.

Releasing a past that we cannot change to a merciful, redemptive Father. And trusting a future that we cannot control to a lovingly sovereign Savior.

What if we really lived that way? What if we didn’t allow ourselves to be crippled by looking back or paralyzed by imagining what’s around the corner?

So I give thanks…

~ for 10 healthy puppies.

~ for a successfully conquered new family puzzle.

~ for a beautiful wedding.

~ for sweet moments when the kids are enjoying each other.

~ for a delicious chicken salad.

~ for a silly little girl who always makes me laugh.

~ for a beautiful clear afternoon for building a fence with my love.

~ for a full quiver of children, a Christ-centered marriage, for the ability to dream and to work hard, and that we have everything we need (and then some).

The present is a beautiful place to be. Don’t miss it.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

(Want to listen to the sermon? https://youtube.com/channel/UCZiHTpRl7KvcXVpA8IUieHg)

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:27, 33-34)

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:4-8)

Present

I am thankful.

Like truly thankful.

I heard such an encouraging message this morning at church that both challenged and inspired me about living IN THE PRESENT.

Not looking back with longing or regret at what was or what might have been.

Not looking forward with qualifiers and unrealistic expectations that we keep hoping will finally fill the unfillable holes in us.

But loving and serving and living and obeying right where God has us today.

Releasing a past that we cannot change to a merciful, redemptive Father. And trusting a future that we cannot control to a lovingly sovereign Savior.

What if we really lived that way? What if we didn’t allow ourselves to be crippled by looking back or paralyzed by imagining what’s around the corner?

So I give thanks…

~ for 10 healthy puppies.

~ for a successfully conquered new family puzzle.

~ for a beautiful wedding.

~ for sweet moments when the kids are enjoying each other.

~ for a delicious chicken salad.

~ for a silly little girl who always makes me laugh.

~ for a beautiful clear afternoon for building a fence with my love.

~ for a full quiver of children, a Christ-centered marriage, for the ability to dream and to work hard, and that we have everything we need (and then some).

The present is a beautiful place to be. Don’t miss it.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

(Want to listen to the sermon? https://youtube.com/channel/UCZiHTpRl7KvcXVpA8IUieHg)

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:27, 33-34)

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:4-8)

New

I am thankful:

~ for a wonderful Christmas break, celebrating Jesus and enjoying our family traditions.

~ for a first-time-ever Christmas trip! We surprised the kids with a trip to a cabin in Branson, Missouri right after Christmas. We had never been before, so it was brand new for all of us. Sadly, our two oldest were not able to join us (growing up is tough!). And even though it was a 9 hour-one-way drive, we made incredible memories all along the way!

~ and to safely make it back home BEFORE Birdie has her pups (yep! Expecting ANY DAY NOW!)

We also made it back JUST IN TIME to host a dozen or so teenagers for New Year’s Eve out at the farm.

It’s been a good year.

A year of radical change.

A year of listening to the Lord and trusting where He is leading our family. A year of letting go of the expected and waiting expectantly for a new chapter to unfold.

A year of literally building a new life.

And now we stand upon a path laid out before us, and we say “YES!”

Yes, Lord, we will go. Yes, Lord, we trust You. Yes, Lord, we will lay down our plans, desires, dreams, and expectations and submit ourselves to YOUR PLAN ALONE.

This is not “our year.”

It’s His.

May we love like Him; forgive like Him; serve like Him. May we look more like Him at the close of 2023 than we do today.

Happy New Year, friends.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

““Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“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)

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)

Where Did it Go?

I am thankful:

~ for a few, very few, lazy days left of summer.

~ for a fresh and yummy mini date with my Love at Salsaritas.

~ for the joy of finding Fur-ever homes for our puppies! Thank you so much to everyone who has shared my posts or spread the word! Only 3 little boys left!

~ for Whataburger malts to celebrate August Tonight, a very special day to remember and honor a very special man.

As for many others, our “summer” will officially come to a close this week as the kids go back to school. The mountains of supplies have been assembled, sorted, and labeled. Shiny new shoes sit waiting in their boxes – HUGE boxes of HUGE SHOES!!! WHO ARE THESE GIANT-FOOTED CREATURES AND WHAT HAVE THEY DONE WITH MY CHILDREN!? Backpacks and lunch boxes are at the ready. I can’t believe we’re here already.

It seems like yesterday that we were packing up the moving trucks.

And telling the kids about our dream of a farm…

Where did it go?

It’s been a very different summer. But in a good way. It’s been a sifting summer, a refining summer. A season of dreaming and reflecting and shifting and regrouping. Some parts I would choose, and some parts make me want to get back in my bed.

As if that was an option.

Time marches on. My babies aren’t babies anymore.

Now this little nugget is finally going off to school. (Pretty much against my will.)

She couldn’t be more excited. She asks me every 20 minutes how many days until school starts. She pats my hand and says, “You’ll be ok, Mama. You have Bear and Birdie.”

I haven’t been alone in 23 years. This year my BABY baby is starting school, and my 3rd oldest baby will graduate from high school.

I am not ok. I have planned my schedule meticulously.

• drop kids off at school

• return home

• cry

• eat donuts in bed

• repeat

It’s fine. I’m fine. Everything is fine.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:16-18‬)

Board by Board

I am thankful:

~ for a fun-filled birthday for our Zoe! This sweet brown-eyed girl turned 11 with quite the special day. She started with Z-shaped pancakes, then to the mall for EARS PIERCED!!!

Lunch was an obvious choice: Zoe’s Kitchen, of course, followed by frozen yogurt for dessert.

Her requested dinner menu: tacos, beans and rice, and a fancy homemade chocolate cake topped with Oreos. She proclaimed it the best birthday ever.

~ for our first farm “crop” doing well. We laugh when we look back at our very strategic planting technique.

Back in June

~ for these puppies! They literally get cuter EVERY DAY! It’s so fun watching their little personalities emerge. They are now 5 weeks old, and soon to be ready for their forever families. We still have several available, message me if you’re interested. And if you’re not, please spread the word!

Summer is winding down, and the days are counting down until the kids go back to school. They are all excited to see their friends and meet their teachers, if not for the actual “school” element itself. But the #1 MOST EXCITED is Miss Tatum K. She has her backpack and lunch box and new cup and crayons, and she is RARING TO GO!

What am I going to do without my little spunky sidekick??? (I’ve already told her that I’m going to cry on the floor and eat donuts all day. So if I’m not answering my phone…)

We are truly enjoying our time out at the farm. We are out there working nearly every day, board by board. It’s a slow process, but more and more I think it’s supposed to be.

As much as I would like to ding-it-all-done overnight, I really do like the slower pace.

I like watching my kids learn from their dad.

I like working with them side by side, and knowing that they will forever remember that they built this barn with their own hands. I can imagine them showing the barn to their own kids one day, pointing at the nail they shot or the board they cut.

I loved hosting dinner out in the fresh air (ok, it was still 95°) for the first time tonight. Grilled pork chops and potato salad just taste better outside, with friends, and after a hard days work.

I know that along with every board we hang as we build this barn, God is building me, building each one of them. I may not be able to move tomorrow, but tonight my heart is full.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17)

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17)