Monday, February 7

Latest Whereabouts

Chris and I have been reading Purpose Driven Life.  I wrote about it briefly before, but basically it's a 40 day Christian study that we're doing together.  Everyday, once the kids are in bed for the night, we read a chapter and then discuss it. It has really been great. And, you know "when two or three come together in my name, there I am with them" Matthew 18:20 and "Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively.  If one of them falls down, the other can help him up . . . Two people can resist an attack that would defeat one person alone.  A rope made of three cords is hard to break"  Ecclesiastes 4:9. So, I encourage everyone to check out this awesome study; it will definitely change your life!
Bradley will be turning 5 in about a month, and his party is scheduled right before his birthday.  He wanted to go bowling like his buddy's party (a friend that plays on his soccer team). It should be fun.  He still has to decide what theme he wants for his cake. He goes back and forth between soccer, tractors, and a few of his favorite things.  Spring soccer practice starts this week.  We don't have the game schedule yet, but his first game should be the 20th.  Bradley is so excited, because the uniforms are yellow this season, his favorite color.  Bradley is very ready for warmer weather.  He misses our evenings and weekends outside, but I'm sure Spring will be here before we know it.  Bradley continues to be such a big help with his siblings as well as daily tasks.  I registered him for "Big School" last week.  Bradley will begin kindergarten in August at the new school, Meadow Glen Elementary.  It will be a huge adjustment for all of us, but we talk about it a lot and are trying to prepare him as much as possible.  We're also using his 5th birthday and Big School to get him eating more foods.  We've warned him for months that when he turns 5 that he will be eating the same things Mama and Daddy.  So, say some prayers for us in March as we hope to make a little easier with our pickiest eater of the bunch.  He may lose a little weight, but considering how big Bradley is he should be fine. 
Austin has been a little under the weather.  First, he had thrush which is caused by his steroid inhaler and then before he could totally recover from that he developed bronchitis.  Thankfully, bronchitis can be treated with antibiotics whereas a cold/virus can't.  So, we've been treating him at home with nebulizer treatments and his antibiotic.  It was a little rough and scary last weekend before we knew exactly what he had. I don't think he will ever be sick without us worrying we're going to lose him.  So, pray about that for us and him please.  He did lose some weight with the 2 illnesses, but his doctor wasn't too concerned since she knew he'd been sick.  She was very happy that he went 2.5 months without any illnesses.  She praised us and our efforts to keep him well.  I can't imagine parents doing anything different when you're told you child's life is in your hands.  Austin is doing well with his speech; we're seeing much improvement.  He is proud of himself too.  His daily 2 word phrases include "my turn" or "turn it"; "ready, set, go"; "come on"; "my go"; and "do it" to name a few. He saying more single words too.  He still has more work to do, but we're beyond pleased with his progress.  Austin eats much more variety than Bradley, but we're planning on giving him what eat too as well.  We'll add some fruit and maybe crackers to make sure there are enough calories on his plate.  He still drinks majority of his almond milk from a bottle, but until he starts growing better we can't force the cup as this is how he gets most of his calories since we supplement his milk.
Cameron went through a rough stage while Austin was sick.  The only thing we can guess is her teeth were bothering her, however the 1st tooth still hasn't broken through and she is close to 11 months!  Thank goodness she still does well eating, and dentists and doctors say it's best when they get their teeth later anyway.  She loves table food and has eaten everything from rice and gravy to most fruits and vegetables and loves macaroni and cheese.  She usually eats whatever Chris and I are eating.  It will be nice when she can have eggs, tomato products, peanut butter, etc at one.  That will open up a lot of options.  It's wonderful having a baby that can and will eat anything.  She may not eat much, but she will try whatever she is offered.  And, we don't have to worry about her size at all.  As of last week, she weighed one pound more than Austin and is only a couple of inches shorter at most.  Cameron is everywhere now and has been for more than a month.  She is crawling, pulling up, and cruising.  She can transition well from one to the next too.  She has taken one step here and there on her own, but I think we have awhile before she walks more than a few steps.  We shall see; it doesn't matter to us.  She is signing "more" and "done".  She feeds herself finger foods well and is drinking water from a sippy cup at meals.  She also take her bottle on her own unless it's time for bed. 
Chris and I are moving forward with plans to change the small downstairs bedroom into a mudroom/laundry room and make the sun room the kid's playroom. The next step is to get prices and meet with contractors.  If anyone knows of one that is experienced, does good work, and is efficient please send us his/her name.  Chris has been trying to finally finish the storage building.  He is building a deck and ramp off the front as well as finishing the garage area that he added on for his lawnmower.  Thank you God for giving me a husband that is smart and can do anything that needs to be done around here.  Chris provides so well for us, and I'm just so thankful for him in sooo many ways.  I love that man! We will be celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary in May! (Bradley will also have his preschool graduation on our anniversary- how sweet :-) )Time has flown, and this summer will mark 16 years that we've been a couple. I thank God for giving me Chris. We've been through so much;God knew when he linked our lives together what laid ahead and made sure we had a strong relationship.  I can't believe we will be welcoming our 6th child this summer.  Baby Wicker is doing well. I had an ultrasound last week; it was the first trimester screening and just amazing.  I think the technology has improved in just the last year since I was pregnant with Cameron.  The brilliant ultrasonographer was able to determine that the baby has normal nasal and facial bones (ruling out things such as cleft palate and charateristics of Downs, etc), kidneys, stomach filled fluid which is important as it shows the baby is swallowing properly, the fold on the back of the neck was in normal range, normal movements, and we even saw some practice breathing.  The heart rate was 157 which is not as fast as my girls, but not as slow as my boys. So, I guess we will all stay in suspense a little longer.  The baby measured 13 weeks putting the due date as August 11th which doesn't mean a whole lot for me, with my history, so expecting a late July or early August baby still.  My next ultrasound should be in about 5 weeks when we will be able to see if there needs to be any adjustments made to my cerclage.  That would be done quickly and right around my 31st birthday.  In March, I'll need to start limiting my activity even more as the baby starts to grow faster around 20 weeks and has a very fast growth spurt for 4-5 weeks and it's during that time that it's most likely that I could start to have complications with premature labor. So, I'll be doing as little as possible during that time as I follow doctor's orders.  I've already cut back a good bit on things, following doctor's orders, which is why there are more blog posts these days. I get off my feet every afternoon while the kids are napping- I've got to have something to do! :-) I was excited, because I haven't gained ANY weight and since I gain so much when I'm pregnant I thought it was great.  Well, my doctor asked if I need to go to a nutrionist/dietician. I'm eating, but I guess I'm so busy with the kids that I'm burning more calories- and at this point it's hard to eat that much at one time.  So, guess I better start finding some high calorie foods- which when my diabetes kicks in might be hard with carb counting but then there will be insulin and this issue will be history.  All of my other issues checked out fine.  There is one new thing- they found a new antibody in my blood. It's on the same scale- meaning if it gets to 1:16 the doctor will have to consider an in-utero blood transfusion.  It was actually at 1:8, so they're checking it again in another week or two and we'll go from there.  Just giving it all to God and praying for peace through everything. "Do not worry about anything, instead pray about everything" Philippians 4:6

Wednesday, February 2

Moments with HIM

I get daily information, encouragements, and devotionals from several different websites, and lately I've been signing up for more that focus audience consists of  wives and mothers specifically.  After all, I feel as though God spent my whole life molding me for this moment, this season I'm blessed to be in RIGHT now, and I must make the most of it.  One site sent out information encouraging stay at home moms to start blogging devotionals.  Let me share with you some of the information this 14 page letter held:  "Some devotional blogs are simply spiritual blogs recording an individual persons walk and growth with the Lord. Devotional blogs have become very popular because they help the individual share their story and therefore providing a testimony to an audience . . .  Having a devotional blog is a great way to share our thoughts on what our daily Bible readings have done to our hearts. It also helps to unravel it's mysteries too. Writing is good for the brain, it helps clear the mind so we can have “room” to think about more stuff and learn more too! . . .  A lot of Christian Moms have also started a devotional/spiritual blog to minister to other Christian Moms and/or the non-believer. I believe blogs can be used as a powerful ministry tool by busy moms who simply feel the need or desire to do “something more” and share their faith with others. A lot of times writing in a devotional/spiritual blog is often the only way moms know how to share their faith because it can be too intimidating to actually talk to other people."  So, after reading all of that I thought, "OK" perhaps God is leading me that way, perhaps His plan is for me to share a little more. I pray this encourages you and strengthens your relationship with God!  It's truly awesome walking hand-in-hand with God through life, and I want all of you to experience it as well.

I have my quiet time with God when the house is quiet either during the kid's afternoon nap or at night after the kids have gone to bed.  Sometimes, I read from my Women's Devotional Bible or other times I read from Bible Gateway. I don't have a certain reading plan set up currently, but would love to follow one of the plans to read through the entire Bible in a year. Sometimes I'm led to read a certain book or chapter by something going on in my life that day, what I may need to draw strength from the Lord in regards to . . . other times it's a conversation with the kids, friend, or Chris that leads me . . . and sometimes I just somehow end up reading something which I have no doubt is definitely God led.  Lately, I keep ending up submerged in the books of Luke and Matthew which have a lot of similarities.  I'm not sure I ever realized that before.  The books include many great words to live by.  I've never hidden the fact that I'm not perfect and have much to learn- AND what better way to learn and improve myself then by following the word of God.  Plus, what better way to teach your children THE word then recite things to them over and over.  Life can be hard for the little guys, and I've definitely seen how God's word has helped Bradley when he is having normal life issues.  So, this means I of course need to keep reading and learning to help teach them as best as I can.
So, I wanted to share with you one of the excerpts from Luke.  This same topic is discussed in Matthew as well as other places throughout the Bible and I keep coming across it - so I thought "OKAY God, I read you loud and clear." This is something I obviously need encouragement in and should work on.

Luke 6:  27-36
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.  Do to others as you would have them do to you.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

My perception of this is that I must love everyone.  It doesn't matter how I'm treated, good or bad, I must LOVE all.  We are commanded, by God, to "Love each other as He has loved us" in other areas of the Bible.  By loving that one person, you could bring him/her through a difficult time in their lives and lead them to God.  How incredible is that?!?! You could save their soul, free it from an eternity in Hell! It may be hard to love everyone continuously, and something we have to continually pray about, but I believe that through Christ we can improve ourselves and love others no matter what the circumstance. 
So, I end this with a prayer:
Dear God,
Thank you for being our Heavenly Father, for always being there for us in good and bad times.  Ultimately, it's you that we're living for- it's your purpose that we need to live for. 
I pray that this touches someones heart today. May this devotional reach out to to someone as if it was written specifically for them. I believe it was, that YOU directed my mind and heart and allowed my fingers to write your desires for us.  I pray that we're all reminded to live following your word and continue to submerge ourselves in it.  Please remind me of these words, on a daily basis, so that I may serve you in the best possible way and lead others to know your love and ultimately accept you into their heart.  I pray that we read this with an open mind, feel motivated, and become all that YOU have created us to be. In your name I pray, Amen.