Tuesday, March 31, 2009

9:00 P.M. ~ Asking For Your Prayers

Faithful family & friends~I just have time to ask one thing of you right now & that is prayer! (the kids are fine....nothing has changed with Ashley...Kory and Megan are good) We, as a family, have been thrown a HUGE curve ball & really need your covering in prayer. I will post more about this later tonight or in the morning...but I'm just pleading with you to lift all five of us up in prayer and ask Our Heavenly Father to cup us in His wings as we endure another storm.

Thank you!
In His Grip,

Just Back from Dr. "B"

Hello faithful friends!! We just got back from our pediatrician's office with Ashley and she seems to be doing better. We are going to finish the five days of prednisone and continue the Xopenex when she struggles. I think just having him see her and say she looks okay put my mind at ease. So, she is looking on the up and up and we have a back up plan if she should stay this course. Still concerning...but much more at peace with it.

Of course Kory and Meg were all about the attention. It is DRAINING to take all three of them. It literally is like a circus. Praise God for a patient staff who really goes above and beyond to care for us! (Oh...check this out....my brother's best friend, Ryan, who lives in California...well, his brother in law is one of the pediatrician's at our clinic.....isn't that just awesome?!?! David Osteen, MD. Good people...he saw one of our kids for something last fall and seems like a great Dr.)

So....whew! God is good and faithful and I am just putting my trust in Him again that He will protect the kids from any harm. I've written a new song "I Breathe" and hope to post it up here tonight...odd title I know for what's been going on....but it just came...sort of God's word to me to just rest in Him...one moment at a time.....

In His Grip!

Happy Birthday Somer!!!

Sweet, sweet Somer!! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday sweet Somer!!! Happy birthday to you!!!
Somer, you are precious!! (as are your sisters!!) Today, today you turn 5!! I can hardly believe it! I remember still the day your daddy called to announce your arrival! Your name is so perfect for you! Somer ~ you have a spring in your step that is full of the joy that is in your heart! You have a heart so full of love. You are precious...you are beautiful both inside and out and I just wanted to take a minute to honor your special day and tell you just how much Aunt Kristi loves you!! Always remember that!! I miss you sweet girl and can't wait to see you again!!!

This & That... A Little Catchin' Up!

Good morning!! Just wanted to jump on here "quickly" while the girls were wrangled in their highchairs to give an update on Ashley....
She had a really tough night last night. Was up three times. She was started on Prednisone yesterday and they said that within 6 hours we would see a marked improvement...it's been over 12 hours and haven't seen anything as of yet. Will call Dr. "B" and go back in later today. For those of you who know what it's like to take three kids into the pediatrician's office by yourself.....it's just total craziness. You defiantly are not playing man on man defense and zone defense doesn't even work at times. Praise God that our pediatrician has a staff that loves us like family! They are amazing. So, we'll load up here in a bit and head over that way.
About two months ago, my mom and I (Nana Joyce) were talking about how much easier it is this year than it was a year ago. (Referring to the multiple getting up season at night which left us to about 3 to 4 hours of sleep at night between feeding the girls) I'm not sure if God was/is trying to humble me by getting up again at least two to three times at night or not or if it the enemy that is on the attack...but it's defiantly feeling a lot like it was a year ago. I want to say I am thankful that it's just one of them and not all three of them...but how can I say I am thankful for something like that? Having a child that struggles so much to breath is not in any way something to be thankful for...I do, however, feel thankful that we have discovered this issue within the confines of our home while we are together. My mind keeps going back to my nephew when she really starts to have trouble and I think I hit panic mode. It takes a conscience effort to redirect my thoughts to the situation at hand and not get lost in what he went through.
On a lighter note....the azalea's here in Tyler are blooming. Tyler is known for their historic azalea trail. Downtown the cobble brick streets and old historic homes are adorned with these gorgeous flowers. Their colors are so bright and vibrant. We are fortunate to have a few of these gorgeous flowers in our yard and I have taken the liberty of taking a few shots to share with you. Mind you though, the pictures do no justice whatsoever to the beauty of these flowers in full bloom! The rain we've recently had has also turned everything in the back yard into various shades of gorgeous greens. It's a beautiful time and just thought I would share a few pictures of that with ya'll.
That's it for now from the home front. Thank you again for your prayers for Ash and for us as a family! It means more than you know!

This picture just cracks me up! When they get in trouble outside, they have to sit on the bottom step of the deck stairs...well, Kory spends a lot of time here, but never alone. Ashley will come sit with him to comfort him. They are two peas in a pod. People have asked why there are so many more pics of Meg than the other two...the truly only reason is that she moves slower than the other two and it's so much easier to capture a good shot of her! :0)
P.S. We are still lifting Stellan up in prayers. I have never met his family and only know of them through the JCrew blog and the Bring The Rain blog which you can link to through this blog. So, if by chance McMamma is reading this, we want to wrap our arms and prayers around your precious family!!!
P.S.S. I am working on Part II of the "Have a New Kid by Friday" blog...God is revealing some amazing things to me and I am so excited to share it with ya'll!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Oh Ashley!

Sweet baby girl! Took her into the Dr. today because her breathing has been so labored. Hold on...let me back up. About a month ago she came down with RSV...again. This is her 4th time to have it, being hospitalized for 3 of them. They wanted to admit her that day, but with Daren out of town and having Kory and Megan with me, I didn't know how in the world I would handle three kids in a hospital room. So, after giving her some IV fluids and her saturation levels went back up.... we came home. 6 hours in the ER...three kids...one sick...on cutting four of his 3 year molars...and the other wanting to say hi to everyone there...it was crazy.

She had been on antibiotics and finished them. The fever went away but she still wasn't herself. She started taking two naps a day again, was really irritable (more so than normal), wanted to be held all the time, pale, & dark circles under her eyes. I also noticed that would sweat really bad anytime she played with brother or sister and that she would retract when she would take a breath. I had a "hunch"...you know...that "mother's intuition"...that something just wasn't right. Took her in this morning to see the Dr.....Asthma. (which premature infants are prone to due to the lack of lung maturity at birth. She had the hardest of the two at birth and had to have lots of help with her breathing for the first few weeks.)

At rest, her pulse ox was steady at 91% today, and only went up to 96% twice. I hadn't given her any breathing treatments this morning so I attributed it to that. So, we go back on Monday for more tests (blood and another x-ray)...until then, breathing treatments every four hours and deep clean the house to avoid things that might trigger her symptoms. Please keep her in your prayers. We will know more Monday and will post something then.She isn't "sick" but has just struggled so much the last few weeks. Not trying to over react....but this is my baby girl...well, one of them...& it makes me kind of nervous... though I put my trust in Him, God Almighty!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Have A New Kid by Friday!"

Almost two weeks ago, I hit the breaking point with the kids. Kory was testing every part of my authority and I began to question exactly what it is that I am even doing. The girls were running 100 mph in two totally different directions. One was climbing over the back of the couch...the other was trying to get out of her crib and into her sisters and missed the mark. I was scattered, defeated, frustrated, tearful, worn out...and a myriad of other emotions that ran deep.

So, I got on the internet to find more out about this book. It was
exactly what I wanted to hear...."5 Days to a new kid"..."guaranteed to work"....regain order and leadership....I was out the door before you knew it and was on my way to get this magical piece of information that somehow I had missed on my journey in parenting. (I probably skipped that class..... :0)

In the car, it was silent. No children talking or crying or kicking the back of my seat. No "Nemo", "Cars", "Charlotte's Webb"...no nothing. Nada...it was quiet. My first thought was, "Yeah, I can listen to some 'grown up' music"....as my hand headed towards the dashboard, God totally spoke in a way that I will never forget.

In the silence of my car, He spoke. He! God Almighty! The Creator! It was a voice I'll never forget in my heart...He gently tapped me on the shoulder and said that I needed a new ME by Friday....without even thinking, I spoke back. "God, I don't have time to change who I am until I get them to change"...Again, He reminded me that there are areas of my life that need to be corrected, strengthened, revived, polished, refined...I need to show more respect at home, I need to talk to my God more, I need to GIVE MY KIDS MY TIME! He said so sweetly that they need me. They need me where they are at. They didn't need a mom that was always "too busy with something else" to enjoy what they were discovering. I needed to put down the little things that I was juggling and never completing and just BE with them. Find out who THEY are....shape them by my presence and time with them and not by my yelling across the room "If I have to tell you to stop that one more time, you're getting the spoon!!!" (which I have found to be very ineffective...the yelling across the room part)

Kory is only 3 and at times I think I put too much on him to do and expect too much out of his behavior. His joy filled chatter about everything that he see's or touches or discovers for the first time...Can you imagine feeling something, knowing something deep inside of you, but not being able to express it and then all of a sudden you can? "Mommy! Look at the cars!" " Mommy! Look at the cars!". This precious boy says everything at least twice....AT LEAST! Last week I told him in a very week moment "Just stop talking! You don't need to say everything twice" Yes, my "Mother of the Year Award" is not going to be on the mantle this year. I cut Kory's spirit. I shut him down in a moment of joy in discovering this world in which God created. Shame on me!! No excuse for something like that! NONE! And I am completely aware of that.

Well, those are the things that God brought to light that evening as I sat in my car. Everything that "Have A New Kid By Friday" talks about, everything that is encouraged and taught, is in my opinion, something that we as mothers, fathers, and adults in general need to heed in our own behavior. How can we expect something so perfect out of our children if we are not willing to live in that same manner? I guess it all goes back to "Practice what you preach"...

I had a teachable moment with God that day that has forever changed my heart! First of all just in awe that He spoke to me. Second, he cares and loves me far more than I think I realized. With all that has happened in the last three years, I will admit, I began to wonder if He was aware of what all was happening.

Our life could truly have been a 'made for TV movie'. It was craziness. It was sorrow. It was loss. It was poor health. It was heart conditions...labor complications....kidney stones....premature birth of twin girls at 31 weeks...it was 9 more weeks in the NICU in Plano, TX(2 hours from Tyler) because we had no Level III NICU here in Tyler at the time (Now, there is...just opened...ahhhh!!). Kory was in Oklahoma bouncing around from my parents to Daren's mom. Daren had to return to work and came when he could as often as he could. I sat there, day after day after day, watching their monitors as alarms went off when their hearts would stop or they would have apnea episodes...it was my heart jumping out of my skin in fear that these lives that God had given me would not know the world outside this hospital. They would never know the love of their brother, who at that time was 18 months old. I would spend hours pleading with God that if I could "just get them out of here and home...I promise...." I'll save the rest of the story for another time, but I think that gives you a pretty good picture of how they arrived into our lives.

When they finally got home....Kory was anything but pleased....and during that season of our lives...I began to loose "me". The "who" I was in Christ...what my purpose was...I wasn't in the Word...I felt too busy and just assumed that God would understand. But along with the absence of His word...I stopped praying like I had...my relationship with my Heavenly Father was put on hold...by me! The bottom continued to fall out for the next year. (Multiple sinus reconstruction surgeries, Peri-Partum Cardiomyopathy, Laproscopy for adhesion's, Fiddle Back spider bite on my ear that almost took my entire ear...oh yea...and it just kept going)When I was at the bottom...the deepest point...the girls first birthday came (August 19), which is an honor to share with them. They arrived on my 35th birthday. Daren threw an amazing party for his girls. It was perfect. I put on the happy face...we all dressed in the same color...took lots of "happy pictures" (Thank you again Shawna for that most amazing gift. I'll always treasure those pictures!). We laughed, sang, blew out candles, ate cake, smiled some more....and then it was time to go home. The mask came off and life resumed it's "normal course of destruction" for the Cole family. I was still "too busy" to devote time to God. Surely He would understand... or so I thought.

With a jolt of reality when my nephew unexpectedly passed away from a very tragic accident at the nursery in church...I saw my ENTIRE family shaken to the core. To watch my brother endure every parents worst nightmare and yet at Major's funeral put one hand on that precious tiny casket and his other hand stretched out towards God, shared with everyone all the reasons in his heart that "God is Good". Wow! The way they raised their hands towards heaven during the songs that we sang with tears streaming down their faces. I could do no more. I realized that my relationship with the Lord was nowhere near that of my brother or his wife. If something like that were to happen at this point, I'm telling you....I haven't had that intimate relationship with God that would carry me through a valley of such darkness. The pain that I have carried in my heart since that dark November day is just too much for words right now. All I can say is that it is a great pain that has driven me right into the chest of God. I had nowhere else to go...no one that I could share all my feelings and questions with...I had no one there in the middle of the night when I woke with tears and anger towards God for allowing this to happen to someone I love so much.

Since I ran back into the shelter of the Almighty...my life has started to change. I know God...I mean...I know that I know that I know where I am going when this life has ended. He is active and living in my life. He continues to this day to remove that in me which is not of Him and refine those areas into a vessel that He can use for His glory and to share of His never ending love. It's a painful journey at times, and there are days where I feel like it's no use to do this.....but instead of sitting there in silence and just "feeling" those feelings, I am giving them to God. He takes those feelings and works with me through them. The progress at times comes out in poems or songs or just rants that consist of not even near the correct words to describe what He is doing in me. A lot like this post...it's jumbled up with so much...but these are things that I just can't leave out. It's all part of the story....His story...how He took the "perfect prodigal child" and transformed her into a child of God. This is HIS work, not my own.

My goal on Monday was to have a "New ME by Friday"...and today, it's Thursday. THURSDAY! Well, I'll fall tremendously short of that goal...but I am making an effort. I am attempting to show more patience towards the kids. With the patience that God has extended me over the years, I need to practice that very patience with them. I am giving them time. I am observing them so I can know them better. I realized that Ashley, though she doesn't have a huge vocabulary for 19 months old, she is very, very smart at putting things together and taking them apart..her fine motor skills amaze me. She is like a sponge...anything you show her or tell her she pretty much will remember. She REALLY likes to be held and part of ALL of your attention and time. Then, there is Meggie (aka...Megan...Little "M"...Slim....) that girl is just joy to the tips of her toes. She is happy! She has an infectious giggle to her that contains at least one large "snort". You can't help but smile. She likes to be funny...she is the dancer...the pretender...she is an entertainer...she doesn't need to be entertained. These are MY kids, whom I am BLESSED to get to be with 24/7....and these are things I just realized!! Realized by taking time...no, giving them the time they deserve as my children....it has been precious!

So, it's Thursday night, almost 11:00 p.m. Friday is here in one hour and I am not even close to a "new me"...but ya know what...I'm giving myself an "A" for effort. I am not ever going to be perfect....I'll fail...I'll fall short...I'll still say things that I probably shouldn't...but I am living in the Light of God...He is my Point of Reference...My Steady...My Rock...My Continual Friend.... I'll keep being me and He'll keep loving me....that just makes me want to try harder to bring Him glory!
We'll never be a perfect family...but in Him is where we rest.....

John 15:5 "I am the vine; you are the branches, if a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do NOTHING."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Praying for Stellan

Oh how close to home this hits and yet so different. Please, please, pray for this little baby boy. You can click on the picture below to read about his heart condition (SVT) that currently has him in the hospital where he is not doing well as of now. Pray for his mommy and daddy as well as his siblings.

Prayers for Stellan

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pigtails, Puppy Dog Tails, & The Little Red Wagon

Oh how I love this time of year!! For those of us forced to survive in East Texas after being uprooted from the promise land (Oklahoma)... this is a short, very short, season for us. Spring! Not too hot...not cold at all...tiny breeze...& sunshine abundant.Before long the 100 degree mark and 90+ humidity will hit and I retreat indoors. Well, we wasted NO time in getting out there this morning and enjoying this rare day. Ashley decided to wake before the dawn for some STILL unknown reason....and we were out romping around in the backyard before long. She tired out around noon, but Megan was still running strong! (Translates to ~ don't put them down together or Megan will stir the pot until someone comes back in to get her, which usually turns into Ashley seeing you...and well...it just spirals from there....)

Kory, Megan, and I took the little red wagon out to the drive way to give it a much needed bath. It was a ball! Megan enjoyed the water, especially after she realized she could drink from the hose....so, I ran in, got the camera and here you'll see the results. Another "big" event today was that Megan's hair finally fit in appropriate pigtails! Too cute! She loved the feeling of them moving around on her head when she shook it...so she was extra animated today in every way.

Now, it's late, and I'm tired, and if I am ever going to get myself and three kids off to church in the morning...I had better post these pictures and call it good for the night. Love to everyone!

She is crazy fun to be around!

And then here are a few "random" pictures from the rest of the day. And yes, that's my kid wearing the ski hat when it's 80 degrees outside and yes, that is her sister upside down in the left upper corner...don't ask....

The End (of this chapter...sorry for the pictures being all over the page...I am just too tired to make it "perfect" right now...and well, that's just me! ha ha!)

In His Grip

Friday, March 20, 2009

Backyard Sleeding ~ Who Knew?

Okay, so I've always told myself that I would never expect my children to try or do something that I myself wasn't willing to do or try (within reason of course) and well, today was my first challenge.

This is Kory's Dump truck...a few weeks ago Daddy got the brilliant idea to put him in it and push him down the slope of our backyard into the leaves and pine needles (and poison ivy and poison oak and probably a lot of other "P" things). He LOVES to do this!!

So, after about 30 minutes of up and down the backyard hearing that precious giggle from sheer delight. He yells out "MOMMY!! Your turn!!!" Now the first and most obvious of "issues" that came to mind was, how am I ever going to get my rear into the back of that thing....and second was do I really, really, need to keep that promise to myself? Well, for the first time in a long time...I turned the voice of reason off and just yelled back "OKAY!!!"

I did it! I don't even care how silly it looks and even the fact that you can almost hear the poor axle on that thing as it attempts to carry me down the hill. Every moment of it was worth it and one that I'll never forget! After the heaviness of my heart this morning...God poured out three amazing rays of sunshine in my little one's that I am so truly, truly thankful for! We played outside all day and they had a ball! It's crazy how much they change in such a short time and even crazier how independent they've become. Oh just "Let Me Hold You Longer!" (Fiction by Karen Kingsbury). This is the moment. I have this right now and I am learning to be thankful in many ways for it and learning also to let go of that which doesn't matter. My kids need me...as I need them. And I can promise you they'll have a ton of memories to tell their kids about the crazy things grandma would do when they were growing up!

God, thank You that You love me so much that You lifted me out of where I was today. Even if for just a few hours. You filled my heart with a renewed strength and I am so blessed for that, and for all that You continue to do in my life. Thank You for these little treasures you have entrusted me to. May who they become in life bring glory and honor to Your Name. Protect them and guide them in all their ways. Show me where as a Mommy I can improve and Lord, help me to let go of the "I can't do this" attitude. Your strength is all I need and You have already given that to me ~ and now, I must move into that promise and walk out Your will. Lord, I love you. Thank You for loving me for all these years and for the patience you lent to me during my walk in the wilderness. Help me to have that same patience with my children as they explore and find out who they are in this life & help me to show them the error of "my way". Make me transparent before them and use it for Your good.

In Jesus Most Precious Name,

Here are a "few" more pictures from our time outside today. May they bring a smile to your face and a joy to your heart.

Still Trying to Accept....

I haven't been able to post until now about my little nephew, Major Hezekiah Rhodes, who went back into the arms of the Lord at only 15 months old. His glorious return to heaven caught every single one of us off guard. I never, ever would have thought that something like this would happen to our family. Since November of last year when this tragic event shook our lives, questions have flooded my heart. How could a loving God give this precious child to my brother and his wife, only to take him back so unexpectedly and so tragically. How could God put a family throug such pain when their faith and love for Him alone is the cornerstone of their life...why them? The silence thatfollows these questions we pray every day, is deafening. At least for me it is. Though this is not my child, I love him (as I do his three sisters) as if he was my own. The journey through grief seems so long. I'm not even sure if you ever reach the "end" of the grieving process. All I know is that our faith, though shaken and tested, must rest and find some sort of peace in God's will ~ The will in which we do NOT understand. If we never know, this side of heaven, God's reason for allowing this, I pray His peace will fill our hearts and lives so that our days left here on earth will be tolerable at least. I post this now after such a long time for a number of reasons. 1) I don't want the body of Christ to forget this loss and the effect it's had and continues to have on my brother and his family 2) For me, though none of this is about me, it's a way to express my feelings. Feelings that when left inside tend to pull me into a darkness in which I choose to not return. 3) My brother and his wife are expecting baby #5 in the next few months. Please pray for this precious new life as well as the daughters that they already have. I have never felt so inadequate in being able to comfort and love someone through such a deep valley. I am sure I've said things that weren't the "right" things to say. I'm sure that there are times, when being silent would have been best. I love my brother. I stand in awe and respect at the man of God he is and though this has cut to the core of his heart, I want him to know that there isn't a day where my heart doesn't feel for him....there isn't a day where I cry out to God that He will touch the five of them and hold them close to Him now, more than ever. Below, is a slide show that in the days following Major's death, my brother was able to put together. The song will always penetrate my heart. And the pictures, they will always bring a mixture of great joy as well as tears. Dave, if by chance you read this posting...I just want you to know in your heart how much I love you. I want you to know that I am here...today, tomorrow, forever.... 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You are never alone. Again, I love you so much and I miss you!! This is a precious life!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Desperate Dependence

Desperate dependence upon God. That is where I find myself today. It's probably where I should be every day...but today, I am desperate for Him. I need God's presence and peace in my soul. It's just been a hard day. My heart is heavy...not only for some of my own battles, but for the battles I know others that I love find themselves in. God...we are desperately dependant upon You...please just show us something....big or small...we don't care...we just need to see YOU! Please don't allow our hearts to harden towards You, but have mercy on us. Take the anger and the questions that fill our minds and replace them with understanding and if not with that, just Your peace that surpasses all understanding. Abba Father!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It's the Little Things That Help.....

Whew!! It is with a great sigh of relief that I am writing to announce that our noses and sanity has been saved! The Osh Kosh in Terrel, Texas called yesterday and the girl went through the stock room boxes and found me two of these little critters! Wow!!! I couldn't believe that she did that for us. I guess she had told her sister that night about my call. She said that when she was telling her sister my "desperation" in looking for this, she didn't really understand and thought I was being a little over the top in trying to find the same stuffed animal instead of just finding another one that Ashley would like. Her sister, who has two little children of her own, broke down for her why it meant a lot to Ashley and to me, her mommy. I am just so thankful that she went the extra mile the next day to look for Plopper and send them to me.

To me, this goes to show me, that God cares even about the smallest most insignificant things of this world. I am thankful to Him for that and it is a reminder to me that if He cares about Ashley's bubbie, how much more does He care for our great needs. So, instead of paying $50 for one of these, He blessed us with two for only $10!!!

In His Grip~

Monday, March 16, 2009

In Desperate Need....Attention All Mommies!!


We have an issue, that only you mother's would understand!! Our family ~ including our immediate family as well as my brother's family ~ have children who have special blankets or animals that we refer to as Bubbies... Ashley, over the past two months, has become intensely attached to her puppy "pup pup". It's adorable, sweet, and heart warming, until you can't find it or need to wash it because of that nasty smell that comes from continual chewing and stuffing its ears in her mouth. My problem, my "emergency", it has been retired. I've found them on the web for $50!!!!!! Outrageous, especially when I paid $5 for it at the OshKosh Outlet in Terrell, just west of us. My plea.... if any of you have an OshKosh Outlet store in your area and happen to be by it one day....could you look for this most important precious being? His official Ty name is Plopper. He is cream colored with a tan nose. I can call them and they'll mail them, but I have had ZERO success here in Texas and I just can't, won't, shouldn't pay $50 for a stuffed animal.

In advance, thank you for any leads you might run across concerning this dog....and my sanity for total melt down mode!!

Love to all!