The truth as I know it:

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time & miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands. ~~~ Kristi Larson

Monday, September 28, 2009

A little of this, a little of that....

Lest you think my life is ALL about gloom, despair, and agony (remember that song from the 70s? What, you're not that old??? sigh) ... you should take a peak into this craziness I call motherhood...

Guess who left the crib this week? I mean, left it COLD TURKEY and never looked back. My other kids would crawl out of the crib once or twice, then stay in for a week or two, then sporadically get out until we finally gave in and took the crib down. Not this princess (with a tilted crown), she figured out how to get out and there was no keeping her in. She woke up every morning and popped right now, period, end of story. Sniff, sniff, I'm taking the crib down tomorrow for most likely the last time in my life. For the first time in ten years, I do not have a child in a crib, nor any prospects of anyone to fill it. Oh, the cold hard sound of a door slamming on my heart, sounds something like a jail cell.... sniff, sniff, sigh.

Look very closely, yes, the cat is indeed licking the cup while Connor drinks from it. When you have a leaky sippy cup of milk, turns out it's very handy to have a cat in the house!

Have you ever read the book, Amelia Bedelia? Meg has... she was "dusting" the furniture. And, um, her face, and the carpet, and her clothing, and ....
... mostly just her face though....
And she's just a gorgeous to me in the photo above as this precious one below.... here she is all ready for a day at school. Which she loves, by the way. Even on the days when she doesn't go, she asks to go. And all that worry and angst beforehand on my part was completely fruitless, as usual.
And after taking ALL FOUR kids to hubs office today for flu vaccinations, I was lauded by the staff as a brave woman. I can honestly say that it wasn't that bad, but it must have seemed like a bad idea to the folks there who all pretty much have fewer children than us. They all commented about how brave I was to bring four kids to an OFFICE in the middle of the afternoon to get vaccinated (hey, it was there idea to offer it in the office, not mine!) I was thinking of how brave my kids had been, but apparently, I seemed like some sort of hero in the eyes of these two-kid parents, so hey, I'm going with it. Some days you take it where you can get it, right? Just check out the sparkly band-aids though!

I had to run by Gwen's to pick up some stuff and precious Anna snapped this photo of us in our super duper soft shirts (which you should own if you don't already).... Seriously, this may be the softest shirt I've EVER owned. "It's like butta" folks! Gwen's shirt also has the 147 Million Orphan flower on it, but it's very subtle and distressed, so it's a cool shirt with a cause, but not quite so "in your face" so you could wear it for dressier occasions. And FINALLY the weather is getting cool enough for me to wear it without sweating. I've been wearing it anyway, but today there was the slightest little crisp in the air and it was fantastic.

The following photos are for Kristine. I took some inspiration from her and decided to make the house a little more festive. I thought maybe people would be so busy staring at my rockin' fall decor that they wouldn't notice all the animal hair and dirt on the floor. Sort of like black makes you look thinner, maybe orange Halloween lights make the house look straight? No, you say? Well, a girl can always hope! :)

Entry Hall
(The photo is of my great grandfather, I love it!)

This is the mantel in our den. I love the way it turned out, but realize I will have to get some dried flowers for those vases (which Gwen GAVE me at her yard sale because she thought they were junk... they were sherbert orange and I spray painted them and added the bows, then filled them with crepe myrtle clippings.) The little sign says "Boo Y'all."

The scarecrow family... I love this antique sugar mold. My friend, Keleah, does the cutest centerpieces with these things so I bought one not long ago. This usually sits on my table, but I put it up on the wine rack tonight to keep the cat out of the raffia. There are four little boy scarecrows and two girls, just like in our family! :)

One of my sweet friends hosted a fall wedding reception at her house (which happens to be on the historic registry) and she decorated all around the outside with white pumpkins. Her pumpkins were professionally monogrammed for the occasion, mine were just monogrammed with a Sharpie, but I like the way they turned out. Just ignore that green crayon! :) These orange lights are actually on most all the time, it looks really cute, but there was no good way to capture the lights on the fly, and I didn't feel like getting out the tripod so you're stuck using your imagination.

Thanks, Kristine, for the inspiration! We're getting out all the ghosts and ghouls on Thursday.... can't believe it's almost October.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

A big thank you....

I just wanted to say a big thank you for all my friends who have added Hope's button to your blog, prayed, left comments for Melanie on her blog, and otherwise just lifted up this precious family. I talked to Melanie yesterday and each and every person who says they will pray is another drop of hope for her. Friends, this sweet mother shared with me that every time Hope has had an open heart surgery, the doctors have told these sweet parents to go ahead and plan for what they will do when she dies, because the odds are so against her. I can't even IMAGINE having that kind of discussion with a doctor. So many times when friends are sharing troubles with me, I say, "I can only imagine." But the truth is, I CAN'T even imagine. In my wildest dreams, I can't imagine the emotions and fear that would take up residence in my heart if I were being told to make plans to bury one of my children.

Melanie and Chappy are not making plans to bury Hope. They are making plans to live! They know that God may decide to take her home, but they are praying for rain and carrying an umbrella, as they say. They are fully expecting a miracle. And they know that His miraculous plan for Hope may involve her preceding them into heaven, but they appreciate every single prayer that is being lifted for this little one.

It certainly makes the minor troubles and inconveniences of my life seem pale in comparison. And I personally am humbled that God has chosen me to stand beside this precious friend as she walks this holy path. God brought us together and formed a friendship in a time when both our lives were vastly different. He has expanded both our hearts and He has seen fit to allow me to share the lives of this precious family and the blessing is completely mine. And I am completely blown away that He has given me an outlet where I could have friends in other countries that I commune with every day, who are also praying for this sweet child. I'm amazed at the Provisions to raise an army of praying warriors for the life of this child. He knew before the sun was formed that He would walk a treacherous road with His beloved Hope, and He knew that she would need voices lifted on her behalf. Every single one of you who have prayed, blogged, commented, ministered, and loved on Hope have played a specific role that the Father predestined before time began. He knew that you would be a player in this battle and I thank you from the bottom of my heart, truly, for joining this journey with the Hollis family. My heart is absolutely breaking for these friends, I'm hopeful and broken at the same time and I just wish so badly that every one of you could meet Hope and be touched by her because she is the most special and gorgeous child you can imagine. She reminds me of a little pixie, dancing around in her pigtails and glasses. For some reason, I always picture Hope in dogears and her little pink glasses with her pajamas on, dancing around in their living room. That is the way I think of Hope the most and it's probably a glimpse of how the angels spend their "spare" time.

If you will bare with me, I want to share with you a little bit about a conversation that had with a friend of mine yesterday. I shared this with Melanie too and she thought maybe it was correct, so I wanted to pass it on. I have a friend who has twins. According to the statistics on Melanie's blog, twins occur in nature about 1 in every 100 pregnancies (if you take out the fertility drug phenomenon and mortality rates, etc. etc.) They just naturally occur about every 100 conceptions. Guess what, SO DOES DOWN SYNDROME!!!! Stop for just a minute and think about this.... our culture celebrates twins. The parents of twins are considered to have been befallen by good fortune. Everyone knows at least one set of twins in their lives, too, I bet. Most people probably have a set of twins somewhere in their family, maybe not a close relative, but someone who shares your DNA structure probably has twins, statistically speaking anyway. But honestly, I feel incredibly humbled and privileged to know someone with Down Syndrome. Not many people have a close friend or family member with Down Syndrome. Why is that? Because Down Syndrome occurs at the same rate in nature as twins, so why wouldn't we all be as familiar with Down Syndrome as we are with twins? Because early pregnancy testing and abortion have made it possible to cut the incidence of Down's to 1 in every 750 births. That's right, there should be another 650 babies with Down's born for every 1 that is. But our culture and the Jerk (a.k.a. Satan) have tricked us into believing that Down Syndrome is a curse, a defect, something to be avoided, a difficulty, and a burden. And we bought into it, and we've perpetuated the fear by decreasing the number of children born with Down Syndrome so that none of us have the opportunity to love a child with Down's very often. We don't get the privilege to see the blessing that a child with Down Syndrome can be, so we continue to fear and consider it misfortune when someone is born with this "birth defect". Melanie told me that they would choose to take away Hope's heart trouble, but never to take away her Down Syndrome, because that would take away who Hope is. That's a powerful testament to the how precious these children can be in your life. Hope is not a burden to her family, but an unbelievable blessing!

So, what I said to Melanie was that I think we have gotten it wrong. I think when we get to heaven, God will hang his head in sorrow and tell us that Down Syndrome was meant to be a blessing. It was a special gift bestowed on a few angels that He intended to set among us to remind us of how it is supposed to look. I think He is gravely disappointed that we have rejected these special ones who were to stand as our road guides and our reminders. What does Hope remind me of, you might ask? She's only four and she can't speak a word. She reminds me that you should greet each person on their own merit, regardless of skin color, social standing, economic status, or belief. (Hope never met a stranger, not ever an enemy.) She reminds me to laugh and smile when I'm happy, cry when I'm hurt, and not hold on to it for too long... move on! She reminds me that when we see someone who is different from us, we shouldn't ignore them and look away, but we shouldn't gawk either. We should treat them with dignity and respect and a genuine interest in knowing them as a sister or brother, not as voyeurs into their lives or as a carnival side show. All the things that Hope reminds me of are just things that our Lord wanted from us all along. So I think He sent the little angels with Down Syndrome as examples to us and reminders of what we were supposed to learn from Him, but couldn't seem to grasp. And we've treated this anomaly much like we treat other Commandments He has given us, we've ignored, we've shunned, we've disregarded, and we've generally wiped our hands of it.

I'm sorry, this post did not set out to be a lecture or a sermon. I truly only set out to thank each of you for praying for my friend and tell you that each and every person who has commented on her blog or offered to pray has truly been another grain of hope for her. But I get so angry when I hear the way they have had to fight for Hope, not just for her life, but for her dignity and respect as well. I'm screaming out to the Father not to ask my friend to give her up after such a valiant fight. I'm aching for my friend in the hurt she has endured at the hands of so many "well meaning" Christians. I'm ashamed of the hurt I've inflicted, unbeknownst, when I thought I was doing good, which I undoubtedly have said some really ridiculous things to others over the years! But most of all, I'm rejoicing in knowing Hope and I'm marveling at the grace and beauty with which her family has embraced this journey.

Thanks for listening to me complain and ramble. I love you for it, I truly do!

I don't have a Bible verse to share with you today as much as I have a verse I have turned into a prayer. I am praying this verse from Isaiah for all of us.

from Isaiah 50:4
"Sovereign Lord, give me an instructed tongue, give me words to sustain the weary. Awaken me each morning with ears to listen like a student to his Master."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Favorite Photo Friday

This is a photo of Brian's sister and me kissing my father-in-law at the wedding last weekend. I love this photo because it captures his cute personality and what a charmer he is! :)

This photo is of me (obviously), Brian's cousin, Eilleen (from Ireland) and his other cousin, Catherine (also from Ireland), his baby sister Ashley, and his mom, Jean.

Brian's sisters (Wendi and Ashley), Me, and Brian's mom at the Bridesmaids Luncheon

Okay, for some reason, I had a spacey moment and could upload photos from last weekend. Duh! Seriously, when I went back and realized that it was because I hadn't checked an agreement box I wanted to smack myself! :)

Liam said the funniest thing this morning when he was leaving for school. Obama was on the cover our of news paper and he grabbed it and kissed the photo and said "Barack Obama!" (maybe a flashback from his soviet days, kissing the picture of our leader???) and then he smacked the picture, turned to us and said, "Can we move somewhere where he's not in charge of us?" What? Where did that come from? Uh, maybe Brian and I should stop romanticizing about moving to Ireland for the next four years in ear shot of the kids! :)

I really wish every single one of you had the book, Jesus Calling. Every morning when I read it, I am sure that it was really written just for me and I bet next year when I read through it again, the pages will be rearranged to fit my days exactly. It's amazing. I was having a conversation this morning with my MIL (because I thought today was her birthday, but it was really yesterday, oops) and she was saying that if we all laid our problems out in a big pile, we would look at what everyone else is dealing with and pick our own problems back up and go home with them again. Because each of us have lives designed specifically for us. I tell my sons all the time that God created them to do one very specific job. If they don't do it, no one will do it. It won't get done and God will have to figure out a way to work around that gap because he created them for one absolute purpose. I think this is what my MIL was saying this morning , that God had designed each of us to carry the specific load we have. Another persons load (though on the surface, maybe lighter) would not feel natural to us and we are not equipped to carry certain other loads.

So, imagine my surprise when I read Jesus Calling and this is what it says, "Each of my children has a unique blend of temperament, giftedness, and life experiences. Something that is a baby step for you may be a giant step for another person, and vice versa." It goes on to say alot more beautiful things about the way God has orchestrated each of our journeys for us personally, but it just surprises me that this could be so specific to the way I started my day. I know, why I am constantly surprised by God's provision and guidance is a bit ridiculous, but I'm dense! :)

Okay, I think maybe I better run on and eat my breakfast and try to be productive with my day. I hope you all have a really great Friday and a fantastic weekend!

Proverbs 29:25
"Fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Not Me Monday

Well, I haven't done a Not Me post in a very long time, but I needed some inspiration to get me going so I thought this would be a good way to get the writers block packing it's bags!

If you aren't familiar with Not Me Monday, you have to head over the MckMama's little corner of the web and check out what all the other bloggers are not doing today! :)

So, I did not have a great week last week, spending time with Brian's family who are in from Ireland. They were not totally fun to hang out with and I did not totally enjoy spending three days with them here in the 'ville.

I have no idea WHY my awesome fun photos from this great time won't upload... double grrr... I want you to see what sweethearts they are and you can tell how precious they are just from the sweet smiles on their faces. Oh well, you'll have to take my word for it.

They were not in town for a family wedding. I did not have a weekend of fun with family from far and near attending this wedding where I did NOT get in bed before 1 AM either night. Don't you love family weddings?

Anyway, that's pretty much what I haven't been up to... except for praying for all my friends and my own family members who are in difficult situations right now. Thank you to everyone who is joining me in prayer for Hope!

Love you all!

Psalm 5:1-3

"Listen God! Please, pay attention! Can you make sense of these ramblings, my groans and cries? King-God, I need your help. Every monring you'll hear me at it again. Every monring I lay out the pieces of my life on your altar and watch for fire to descend."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Just need to lighten the load

Well, there is so much sadness and desperation and pain going on with the people I love in this world that I needed to take a moment to lighten the load. In praying continually for Hope, praying for Gwen who is waiting for a court date to bring home Joseph and Daisy, praying for sweet friends who got some devastating news about their daughter, and praying for another friend who is going through a very trying domestic adoption, I needed to just stop and laugh about some of the random craziness in my very ordinary, very blessed, very "easy" life.

Do you know what these are? Well I do. I've been opening my cabinets in spite of them for 9 years! But no more! These are the child safety locks that USED TO BE on my kitchen cabinets and drawers! :) There are a few really good things about your children getting older... not many, but some!

And what about this? Do you know what this is?

No, it's not a marble. It's a bouncy ball. And do you know where I found it? In my garbage disposal. I think I will start a whole separate blog to commemorate all the random things I find in household appliances that don't actually belong there. Remember this guy from the drier?

Need I say more?

Oh yeah, and guess what came in the mail today? Connor's first issue of ZooBooks! FINALLY!!!! Yippeee! He is so excited. He's waited on these suckers for over 6 months (so if any of you think of giving these as a gift, order now because it takes a LONG time for these to start coming.) Poor Connor, he asked me to order them based on the commercial he saw every day on TV during Tom and Jerry. So I went to the computer and when I clicked order, he immediately ran to the window and started watching. He thought someone was going to drive up any minute and hand him his book (sort of like the pizza man.) Then when he finally grasped that it would be coming with the mail, he checked the mail 3 times daily for the next several weeks. Just Friday he said to me that he thought they had forgotten to send them or else I went to the wrong dot com place because he never did get those books. Sweet boy!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hope's Blog

Friends, I am so excited to share with you that my friend, Melanie (Hope's mom) has started a blog.... finally (I've been begging her to start a blog for over a year!) Anyway, you have got to bookmark it and visit along with me for the next 30 days! You can join us right now, on day 2 of their journey to celebrate Hope's life and ask God to spare her! Also, the button on my sidebar now goes directly to Hope's blog so please please grab the button and add it to your own blog!

The 30 Day Journey for Hope is a 30 day journal of life with Hope as this precious family marches toward her surgery date on October 12th. Please mark your calendar for October 12th and write Hope's name on your hand that day so that you can cover her family and her in prayer on that day. Please bookmark her site and visit each day and join this family in pleading for healing from the Great Physician!

Joshua 6:2
Then the Lord said to Joshua, "See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with it's king and it's fighting men."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thank you for continued prayers

Thank you so much for all who prayed and all who followed up and asked me about Hope's surgery. She did not have the news her family was hoping for. The doctors found an aneurism which will require an open heart surgery within 30 days to give Hope the best chance of survival.

The Hollis family has absolutely battled for the life of this child and could really use your prayers during this very difficult time. Please add her to all prayer lists at your churches, etc. Her 4th birthday is on September 14, which is a day I would ask you to keep her in your prayers, particularly. She is just truly a very special and precious child. I wish you could all meet her and see the light in her little spirit. The world is a better place with Hope!

Thank you so much, dear friends.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Big Big Prayers Needed ASAP

I want to share a message I got from my precious friend, Melanie, tonight. Her gorgeous daughter, Hope, is the cutie on my sidebar. Please take a look at this angel and say a prayer. And read this heart-felt and brutally honest plea from her precious mama!

I would like to ask each of you to pray for our little Hope tomorrow. She is having some heart issues again, and will be having a heart cath in the morning from 7:30am until 10:30am CST. She will be kept overnight. Specifically, we are asking the Father to open her aortic valve. Please join us in this prayer.
Chappy and I have prayed for God to do a miracle in Hope's life since we learned of her condition at an ultrasound in my 16th week of pregnancy. She'll be 4 on September 14th, so we've been praying for that miracle for a long time. Imagine getting up every morning to touch your baby girl's heart......expecting a miracle.....only to find it hasn't happened yet. Imagine wanting a miracle so badly, you can feel it in every fiber of your body all of the time.....a little round-faced angel being a constant reminder. Imagine holding your little one so tightly, hoping the love from your heart will flow into her little 36 inch, 29lb. body and make everything better. Imagine knowing God can and wondering why He's doesn't. This has been our lives. Praying. Expecting. Faithing. Hoping.
This journey continues to rock our world. Many times we stop to wonder if God is really real, because if He is real, why isn't He moving mountains for Hope like scripture promises those who have faith? During these moments of doubt (mixed with anger and frustration), the Father always seems to meet us. Sometimes in the strangest ways. For instance, this summer during one of those seasons of doubt, our yard became over-run with bag worms. They are nasty critters. The bagworms disguise themselves as part of the evergreen tree and completely suck the life from the tree within a matter of days. As I was picking off my 1500th bagworm (since we hesitate to spray chemicals that might harm Hope and Charlie) I began to really think about God and Evolution:
The local nursery told me the bagworm wears his disguise to protect himself from birds that would like to eat him. The ONLY purpose for the disguise is to trick the birds. It is a very clever disguise; in fact, until the tree is dying, he goes completely unnoticed. If I follow the evolution theory, the bagworm had to learn at some point that he needed to be protected from being eaten by a bird in order to "discover" the need for the disguise. However, going with that reason, the very first bagworm that ever "evolved" would've been eaten by a bird and would never have had the opportunity to learn he needed to evolve, because he would've died before getting the chance to disguise himself. Therefore, the bagworm must have been created with his peculiar disguise. This may not make sense to anyone but me.....but I was able to thank God for the bagworm and find faith again.
I don't know about you, but I want to audibly HEAR the voice of the Father. This would make things so much simpler. He spoke to Moses, Abraham, and Jacob......why did He stop speaking out loud to people? Then I am brought back to the verb: FAITH. It is not seeing or hearing, but choosing to believe in spite of the silence. That is where we are. We are choosing to believe through the silence......and the silence is, once again, screaming at us!
We have spent the last 4 years falling head over heels in love with our Hope. Many of you know her, but for those who don't, she is precious. She can't speak, but she says volumes in her own prissy way. She has huge eyes that become even more enormous with her thick glasses that are rimmed in green, gold and pink. She charms the socks off of everyone she meets and giggles to keep herself out of trouble when she knows she has done something really bad. She tries her very best to keep up with other children her age and hasn't a clue she is any different. Her chubby fingers wrap around mine and tug a bit when she wants to take me somewhere, and she squeals with delight when Barney sings the "I Love You" song on her favorite video.
Before Hope, to be perfectly honest, I didn't know if it would be possible to love Hope as much as I love my "normal" kids. Oh my, have I learned something about myself. My heart grew a million sizes when she entered my life.....and it continues to grow. Our entire family feels this way. She has brought a tenderness to our hearts we never had before. She melts us.
So, through alot of tears this evening, I write to ask you to pray for a miracle for our Hopey. I think it is time for one. Tomorrow, it is our prayer, the doctor's report will be she will NOT need a third open heart surgery afterall. This is our most heartfelt prayer, and we'd like for you to join us. Ultimately, we have learned through some pretty hard knocks, we are not in control. We have tried desperately to be in control for 4 years, and it hasn't worked for us. So, if the report again comes back negative for our little angel, I will remember that old bagworm and still believe.
Thank you in advance for your prayers! Please share our request with any prayer warriors you know who would want the opportunity to pray......Loads of Love from:
Melanie, Chappy, Caleb, Lydia, Natalie, Hope, and Charlie Hollis

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Something Worth Watching

I found this today on another blog. I thought it was worth sharing!

And if you can still breathe...
and have a heart of steel....
then you can watch this one too.

Confession.... I couldn't get through the second one.

"I will not leave you as orphans," declares the Lord!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Who goes out for donuts and comes home with......

Well, I do... of course! :)

See, Connor wanted a bunny. We've had a bunny before. She met with a very untimely demise at the hands of some vicious serial killers (a.k.a. the neighbors dogs.... who also killed our first cat, but that's another story.) Anyway, in an effort to convince Connor that bunnies are not really great pets for a five year old, that they are alot of work, don't like to be carted around, scratch, chew, etc. I took him to the shelter to visit with a bunny. He was not convinced that he didn't want one, but he didn't cry when I said we couldn't get him. He was probably convinced, but didn't want to admit it. Anyway, on the way out, the "nice" lady behind the desk offered to let Meg and Connor hold the teddybear hamster that was up for adoption. Um... okay! And $10 later I'm headed home with a hamster, cage, water bottle, wheel, tiny hamster bed, feeding dish and tube. Okay, I'm off to the tattoo parlor for my giant "Sucker" sign to be permanently engraved in my forehead. How many people can say they "rescued" a hamster? :)

I know somewhere in Leviticus it says we should take care of the animals! I know it's in there!