Monday, April 13, 2015

Jesus and Boats

The Anchored Cross, a symbol of hope.

It's the way of this world.  It happens to everyone.  No matter your age.  No matter your race.  No matter your gender.  No matter your location.  Storms will come.  When you are on the waves of the open seas, storms are all the more frightening.

I was reading the story of Jesus walking on the water to Audrey one night.  I saw something in the story I have never noticed before.  So the disciples are on the boat and they are fighting against a strong wind.  Jesus had sent them away while he climbed up a mountain for some quiet time. They had been in the boat most of the night, trying to get to the other side of the lake, but this wind is making it very difficult.  It must have seemed like all of the sudden, out of nowhere, Jesus is just strolling along the lake.  The disciples are terrified and cry out.  Jesus hears them and tells them to have courage.  You know the rest of the story.

To me, it seems like we are sometimes told by God to go do something really, really difficult.  And it may even seem like He isn't going to come with us on this mission.  So we go against the wind and we fight all night long.  We are tired and just want to give up.  But then, we look up.  We see a miracle happening before our eyes!  Jesus is with us, doing things we never thought possible!  Sometimes, our journey is hard so that we can see miracles unfold before us.  Sometimes, we feel alone, but God can show up in an instant.  Sometimes, we cry out in fear and God hears us and tells us to not be afraid.

And then, there is the story of Jesus calming the storm.  Again, Jesus leads us to a place of turmoil.  The disciples are afraid, and rightly so.  They have to WAKE JESUS UP!  He stands, "Quiet!  Be Still!"  And that was it.  This time, they know Jesus is right there.  This time, they go to him.  This time, they are wondering why he isn't acting.

This is my story most of the time.  I know God is there.  I go to Him in prayer.  I look around, wondering where the answers to my prayers could be.  Then God steps up, blows my mind, and asks if I have faith.  Um...sorry, Creator of the Universe.  I know it's all in your hands.  My bad.

And now, I see this little gem in Hebrews.  God is telling us that His word is solid.  He can not lie.  There is no one more powerful than He, so His oath is as good as it gets.  We can trust Him and the hope He has given us.
  Hebrew 6:19 "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."
It is a part of nature for our soul to get nervous, to question, to fear.  The winds and waves may be knocking us down.  We are beaten and bruised.  We may be desperately waiting for our miracle.

God reminds us that He has given us great hope.

He encourages us to keep the faith.  He knows that there will be storms in our lives that rock our boat.  He may have sent us out on that boat into that scary storm.  He created the wind and the waves that beat us down and He knows of their power.
 
God reminds us that He has given us great hope.

This hope is firm.  It isn't going anywhere.  It is secure.  It will not be broken.  The storm will pass and the boat will hold steady.

God reminds us that He has given us great hope.  Hallelujah!

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Julia and Nadia's Birthday Party

 The past few years, we have celebrated Julia's (and now Nadia's) birthday on the Saturday before Easter Sunday.  It is great because there are a bunch of cousins in town for Leadership Training for Christ.  Sometimes, all of the cousins can make it.  Other times, the timing of their competitions doesn't make it possible.  The younger ones are able to come party instead of hanging out at the hotel all day.  It works out pretty well.
  This year, we celebrated Julia turning five and Nadia turning two.  My parents, aunt, Michael's parents and all but one of his nieces were able to come.










5 Years Later

  Saturday marked five years since I got Pemphigoid Gestationis.  You may remember that this is a pregnancy-related autoimmune disease I got just a few days after delivering Julia.  It is hormone-driven and your body attacks your skin, creating extremely itchy blisters and plaques all over your body.  It is insanely hard on you physically and emotionally.
  One thing that I remember about this time were the looks I received when I went out in public and I didn't cover up my arms and legs.  I longed for clear skin and swore I'd never be ungrateful for normal-looking skin ever again.  How quickly I forget!
  Body image is such a hard thing for us girls.  I have this gorgeous friend who is amazing.  After meeting her, my dad asked if she was as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.  My answer was, "Oh, yes!  If you can believe it!"  We were at dinner one day and we started discussing what we didn't like about ourselves.  I was floored!  She has insecurities just like me!  I truly believe Satan attacks women in this way.  We are beautiful creations of God.  It is time to stop believing the lies Satan spews at us. We are only going to grow older and gain more problem areas.  We must make a decision.  Will we be critical of each new wrinkle or added pound?  Or will we see ourselves as our Creator does?
  God loves us like crazy and wants us to love ourselves.  He also wants us to love others as ourselves.  That's hard to do when you are being critical of yourself.  May each of us cast our eyes off of ourselves, look on the One who loves us the most, and be on the lookout for ways to uplift the people around us.  Our insecurities may came off as silly, or even selfish, when we open our eyes to the world of abuse, trafficking, persecution, disease, or hunger.
  Today, my prayer is that I will embrace each new day and love myself fully, so that I can minister more effectively for the Kingdom.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Julia is FIVE!

  Julia turns five today!  She is my fun-loving, little stinker!  She is so caring and compassionate.  When I asked her what she wants to be when she grows up, she answered, "A helper!"  She also wants to design toys, which is right up her alley!  

  We have a tradition of going to the Cheesecake Factory to celebrate birthdays.  Since Michael's busiest day of the year will ALWAYS be on her birthday, we celebrated last night.  Julia wanted the strawberry shortcake (not very short!), but the candle was placed on the S'mores cheesecake, which she happily blew out.  Yeah...this food...not usually what I eat!



   This time last year, we were very concerned about Julia.  She got really sick.  We at first thought she had some type of stomach virus, but we don't think it was that now.  She was taking nausea medication and she still vomited for an entire week.  She ended up going to the hospital and was given a battery of tests.  We still don't know what was wrong, but we were very relieved when the worst was ruled out.  Michael has a hard time talking about this time in her life because he witnessed her being put through all of the tests.  She just wasn't our spunky Julia anymore and that was hard to see.

This was early on in her illness last year.  I just can't bring myself to post the picture of her on the day she went to the hospital.

This is Julia today!  We saw the doctor for her 5 year check-up.

   Last Sunday, we were able to attend a Daughter/Mother Tea held at our church.  It was really cute and we enjoyed hanging out, just the two of us.  I'm so glad that my fun-loving girl is doing great and I thank God for her!  
video
Julia being shy, but still having fun, at the tea.



Monday, March 16, 2015

Miss Nadia and Her New Braces



  This last week, we got ankle braces for Nadia.  She'll be turning 2 soon and isn't walking independently yet.  She has come a long way from where she was though!

  Delayed development isn't new territory for me.  Julia didn't walk until she was 21 months old.  Some of you may remember her walking on her knees for awhile.  One time, when Julia was wearing a dress that skimmed the floor while on her knees, I overheard some women talking about her being a midget!  That was funny to hear!  
  
  For some reason, I handled Julia's delayed development better than Nadia's.  I've often wondered, how come?  Is it because I knew in my heart that Julia was capable, but was being stubborn?  Is it because she never required physical therapy?  Is it because Julia was a happy kid?  I've determined that Julia dealt with having low muscle tone too.  Julia isn't double-jointed in her legs like Nadia, but she is in her fingers.  We've since learned that both Michael and I are double-jointed and have passed it down in different ways to our daughters.

  Nadia has to work harder because of the low muscle tone in combination with her knees being double-jointed.  I've read that she has to be twice as strong as your typical kid before she can manage her knees.  So why has her development bothered me?  I believe it is because we live in a new place.  We are still meeting new people all of the time.  We made a change in church recently and are meeting even more new people.  With Julia, everyone knew her and us from the beginning and the delays just became known.  With Nadia, I have to introduce her delays to people over and over again.  I believe that having to explain your child to someone is what wears on a parent.  I don't mind questions or curiosity, I just don't like having to EXPLAIN to someone I may never see again.  

  This idea has been such a lightbulb moment for me.  I have friends and family that probably have to "explain" their child every day and it is a more serious explanation.  Nadia will walk one day and we will quickly forget these days.  For others, this will be a life-long ordeal that require much more than therapy every now and then and a pair of braces.  The invisible differences can be just as hard as the visible differences.  If you know someone that deals with this, say a pray for them.  Parenting is hard, y'all!  

  Let me show you Nadia's ankle braces.  Why the ankles?  She rolls her ankles some and braces will fix that.  The braces will align everything from ankles to knees to hips.  Once she is able to focus on only what her knees are doing, walking should come quickly.  We'll have to wean her off of the braces, but I don't anticipate that being too difficult.  So there you have it!


Aren't they cute?
           

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Visiting Reunion Tower


  Michael and I surprised the girls with a trip to the Reunion Tower!  On the way to see family in Dallas on Saturday, Audrey told me how badly she wanted to eat at the restaurant that turns as you look out onto the city.  I knew Michael was going to take a day off this week to do something fun with us, so I researched to see if this would be fun for our family.  It turns out that the GeoDeck was having the Dallas Zoo come out with a few animals on exhibit on Tuesday and Thursday.  They also had face-painters and balloon artists there.  If the deck didn't impress them, surely those things would be fun!  Cloud 9 Cafe would also be open.  We decided to do lunch before going to the tower and just do dessert at the Tower.  I'm glad we did!  It was quite crowded.

Michael and Nadia waiting to get on the elevator

  The zoo animals were going to be on display at 1:00.  We got there ten minutes early and I thought we would be good to go.  There were so many people that we didn't get to the GeoDeck until 1:25.  We also had to leave behind Nadia's umbrella stroller.  That meant I had to carry Nadia, my camera and bag (which I never used since I was holding Nadia and it was so crowded), and my heavy diaper bag.  When we got off the elevator, we were overwhelmed by the craziness inside the GeoDeck, but we dealt with it.  The zoo had just a few more animals left to show and Michael and I held Audrey, Julia, and Nadia so that they could see.  We got to see a chinchilla, snake, alligator, and armadillo.





  It was pretty warm inside the GeoDeck with all of the people inside, but you could walk around outside and see the city.  The cool weather felt great!  You could look through the viewers, but they weren't very clear.

  We decided to go get dessert upstairs at Cloud 9 Cafe.  This place was already crowded and there was a birthday party also occurring there.  Michael stood in line while I walked around in circles, trying to find an empty table.  We didn't get a table until 30 minutes later, after Michael had stood in a long line to order.  We finally sat down and got to enjoy the rotating restaurant.  The girls loved sitting by the windows and then run back to the table as the table moved away from them.





Nadia is ready for some food already!

Then our dessert came!
Can you tell that they are Reunion Towers?

  The desserts were really good, but very difficult to eat with plastic forks.  The cafe really made the trip.  The girls loved it and will remember this day for a long time.  It was much more crowded than I was anticipating, but you just deal with long waits and crowds.  I really wished I could have had our stroller with us.  Nadia loves that thing and it was going to carry all of my stuff for me.  I didn't really enjoy having to carry 50 pounds for hours, but maybe I needed the workout.  We also had to deal with a broken machine that opens the gate in the parking lot.  If you go, use the one on the right side so that you won't have to ask everyone behind you to back up.  :)

  We decided to that our trip was at first overwhelming, but worth it for the fun our girls had.  We ended our day by trying out a new restaurant in Southlake called Bolo.  Oh my!  This place is really so very good!  It's like and Italian Chipotle.  They are also mindful about how they get their ingredients like Chipotle is.  You could just taste the freshness!  Michael even noted that their tea was really good.  What is a bolo?  It's Italian food in a wrap and looks like a burrito.


  Do you see the cup behind the bolo?  That's an artichoke dip that is served with the softest chips ever!  SO GOOD!  You can customize your bolo, pasta, or bowl how you like it.  If you take a picture of your food and put it on Instagram, you can get a free tiramisu for dessert!  Michael and I are so happy to have found this place and will be back often!



Monday, March 09, 2015

Trying for a Comeback!



Hello long-lost friends!  I am trying to peck my way back into the blogging world.  I feel like we may need a catch-up party.

Well, we did move to the Fort Worth side of town.  I did have a third baby girl, which I'm pretty sure I blogged about. :)  She is the reason I have not blogged.  Oh man, that girl has been my toughest child during the first two years!  Let's talk about her, shall we?

Nadia, my lovely Nadia.  She is almost two years old now.  She has only now, in the last few months, become a happy child.  She cried a lot.  Not just cry-cry, but wail-cry.  Like all the live-long day cry.  Have mercy.  She has low muscle tone and double-jointed knees which has significantly delayed her in her gross-motor skills.  The girl can grip a crayon like none other though!  She has been in therapy, which has helped.  She is so close to walking now!  She will be receiving ankle braces in a few days. I'm planning on big things afterwards!  (Shout out to the awesomeness that is Cook Childrens!  They have been amazing for all three of my kids!)

Julia has been accepted into Audrey's school for next year.  She'll be a schoolgirl!  I can't believe my babies are growing up.  Julia turns FIVE in a few weeks.  If you live in or near FW and are looking for the greatest school ever, ask me where I send my kids.  I hope to teach there when all three are attending.  

Audrey is wrapping up her first grade year.  Things have been going quite well with her in school.  She's beginning to have asthma issues almost daily the past month.  We have watched what she's eating, but it is still happening.  I'm hoping to have her see a chiropractor during spring break this week.  Praying that it can resolve her issue.

We got a dog!  Her name is Lindy.  Julia lovingly refers to her as Lin or Lindy-Lou.  She has been another crazy addition into the family.  She has a trainer come once a week.  I'm afraid she was a bit crazier than what the trainer had planned for when he gave us an estimated bid before meeting her.  She has accepted Michael as the Alpha and I'm heading up the ranks too.  The girls love her.  It took Julia two months to lose her fear of her, but now she loves being with her.  She is a Cavapoo, part King Charles Cavalier, part poodle (toy poodle in her case).



We have something fun planned for tomorrow.  Michael and I are surprising the girls with it.  I will be back with the details and pictures!







Thursday, January 08, 2015

How to Get Rid of a Cavity Naturally

Wouldn't it be nice to skip getting a filling for a cavity and heal a cavity naturally?  I was able to get rid of my cavity without a trip to the dentist, safely and naturally!

I'm sure that with the help of my dental hygienist mother, I never had to get a filling until after I became a mother.  I get so very sick during pregnancy and it was hard on my teeth.  I have gotten cavities with each one.  At a visit to the dentist during my last pregnancy, they were watching a tooth and had plans for that tooth after I delivered Nadia.  Add moving towns to also having a newborn, I did not find a new dentist immediately.

One day, I noticed a black spot on my tooth.  I took a picture of it on my phone and texted it to my mom.  I was really hoping she would say it was not a cavity.  She said that it looked like a cavity and she could check it out with her explorer when I came over for Thanksgiving. :(   She did check it out and her tool hung on my cavity.  I had just started buying oils from Young Living and decided I should try out their toothpaste since my natural toothpaste wasn't getting the job done, apparently.  I saw improvement immediately!  I kept showing my ever-decreasing cavity to Michael, which I'm sure he loved!  :)  I kind of forgot about it and just kept brushing the with Thieves Aromabright toothpaste.  I recently took a look at the tooth and I couldn't see it anymore!  I had my mom check it out on Christmas day and she confirmed that the cavity was gone!  It took about a year to see it fully close, but it's healed!  Take a look at that picture below!


This is a before and after picture of my tooth before Thieves Aromabright Toothpaste and after brushing with Thieves Aromabright Toothpaste for only 2 weeks.  


The picture below shows the difference a year makes when you are using 
toothpaste that works for you!

That's impressive, folks!  A little gross, but a lot amazing!  I can't believe I simply switched toothpaste to achieve this!  If you want to try this toothpaste for yourself, you can follow this link to get some.  https://www.youngliving.org/ashbrooker  You can order there or sign up to become a member and get it at the wholesale price by clicking on the Sign Up Here tab on the left side of the webpage.  Here's to healthier teeth!