Saturday, November 15, 2014

Family Beach Photos

Last month we went to the beach with Nathan's parents and sister.  My father-in-law also told the girls they could each invite a friend.  I must say, Abby and Serena were the two perfect friends to invite.  They were so sweet and respectful ... and fun!

Sara and Abby were only able to stay with a for just a few days.  Their Fall Break was only a couple of days, so they came for an extended weekend trip.  Abby has started doing photography, so she asked if she could do our pictures while there.  I am a bit obsessed with pictures, so I was all about having Abby take them.

We were Abby's first family shoot, and I think she did a great job.  I just wanted to share a sampling of what she did for us.

 Oh, how I love these girls!

 Oh, SARA!

 The perfect jump shot!

 We have laughed so much at this picture!

 Hannah is always goofing off.  Ginger, our friend who normally does our family photos, can tell you how long a photo shoot takes with us because the girls can not be serious for very long.

 Boyd and Lynn will be celebrating their 43rd wedding anniversary next month!

 I love sunset pictures at the beach!  Such a beautiful reminder of God's faithfulness.

Brenon hates having her picture made, but we made her anyway.

 Serena is so, so funny.  She kept us laughing all week.  She is such a precious girl.
 I had a random lady on the beach take a group shot of all of us.

 Love, love these girls!

 My three favorite people in the entire world!

 I am so incredibly grateful Sara and Hannah have a daddy who loves them unconditionally.  A daddy who they can trust and depend upon.  A daddy who points them to Jesus, and gives them such a wonderful example of how their Heavenly Father loves them.  He's a great daddy.

 Abby is such a sweetheart, and I love Sara and Abby's friendship.  In so many ways they are so different, but they celebrate those difference in each other.  And the sass these two can dish!  It's always so fun to spend time with these two.

 I have hundreds of random goofy pictures of these two I took during the week.

This was my first trip to the beach since I became sick.  Walking in sand with CIDP is so hard!  There were several times I almost fell, and by the time I made it to our chairs every day I was completely exhausted.  But it was so worth it.  I love the beach.  If I wasn't sitting on the beach, I was sitting on the balcony looking at the beach.  I am praying I don't have to wait so long before going back again.

Abby has a website she has started.  Be sure to check her out at  

Thank you so much, Abby, for taking our photos.  You did a fabulous job!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Draw Me Near Lord

I've made it no secret the past several months have been incredibly hard.  There are some hard, life-altering things happening in my life.  Other than Nathan, there are only a couple of really close friends who know everything, but I promise, if you knew all you would wonder how I'm even sane.

It's only because of Jesus, and His grace and mercy I am able to put one foot in front of the other ... figuratively and literally.

Actually, I'm learning there are people who believe I'm not.  Seems there are some who have a lot to say, but instead of saying it to me they've chosen to say it to others.  It just adds to the heartbreak.

I have taught my girls their identity is in Christ.  The One who died for their sins.  It's not wrapped up in what others say or believe about you.  I've taught them that, and yet, I'm discovering I'm having to really search my heart to find out if I truly believe what I have taught them.

I do.

But it's so hard not to buy into the "I need to be liked and loved by everyone" syndrome.  The reality is, it's not possible to be liked and loved by everyone.

And it really only matters that we are loved by Jesus.

Loved unconditionally.  A love that never, ever let's go.

I have found myself at a point many times over the past couple of weeks of not even knowing how to pray.  I"m tired, and formulating words is hard at times.

The past couple of weeks this song has been playing over and over in my heart and my head.  Sometimes when I lie down I play it on repeat.

"Draw Me Nearer"

For your nearness Lord I hunger
For your nearness Lord I wait
Hold me ever closer Father
Such a love I can't escape

For your nearness I am hoping
For your nearness Lord I long
Have no need of any other

I have found where I belong
Yes, I have found where I belong

So draw me nearer Lord
Never let me go
Closer to your heart

Draw me nearer Lord
Draw me nearer Lord
In your nearness there is healing
What was broken now made whole
Restoration in it's fullness
Lasting hope for all who come
In your nearness I take shelter
Where you are is where I'm home
I have need of only one thing
To be here before your throne
To be here before you throne
So draw me nearer Lord
Never let me go
Closer to your heart

Draw me nearer Lord

So draw me nearer Lord
Never let me go
Closer to your heart
Draw me nearer Lord
Draw me nearer Lord

And keep me here, keep me here
There's nowhere else I rather be

So keep me here, keep me here
There's nowhere else I rather be
There's nowhere else I rather be
So draw me nearer Lord
Never let me go
Closer to your heart

Draw me nearer Lord
Draw me nearer Lord
Draw me nearer my Lord

I don't understand everything that is happening.  I hate most of it.  But I know God is sovereign even over the darkest of days.  I know nothing happens in my life without Him having a purpose for it.

And that does bring me comfort.  I just have to keep being reminded of truth.

Friday is my Mom's birthday.  She's been on my heart a lot more than usual this week, and she's never far from my thoughts.  This will be the third birthday she's spent in Heaven.  I'm grateful I know she's with Jesus.  I cannot even express what a comfort it is to know that.

But it still hurts not having her with me.  I miss my daily phone call ... sometimes multiple calls in one day.  I miss her unsolicited advice, and her asking me every day if my laundry is caught up.

No, it's not.  Not even close.

I just keep wondering, "When does this get easier?"

And then I have to remind myself she is as near to the Lord as you can get.

One of the things I long for is the day I can climb up in Jesus' lap and Him hold me close.  When I think of what is the most comforting thing to me, sitting in the lap of Jesus would be my happy spot.

Physically, I can't do that yet, but spiritually I have the opportunity to stay there.  I never have to climb down and let someone else have their turn.  I can stay there and here Him say to me,

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

I could really use your prayers this week.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Happy 19th Birthday, Sara!!

This sweet baby girl is 19 today.


I remember people telling me to savor every moment warning me time would go by in the blink of an eye.  They weren't kidding.

It seems like yesterday she was born.  It's hard to believe how many "firsts" we have experienced with her.  She was our first born.  I remember the first time I saw her over the curtain in the operating room.  Four hours later I finally was able to hold her for the first time.  I remember the first time I fed her and changed her diaper.  Her first bath when she pooped on me for revenge when I lifted her out of the water.  The first time she slept through the night I felt like a new person.  Her first smile made my heart leap, and her first laugh out loud made tear up.  There was the first time she rolled over, the first time she sat alone and the first day she crawled.  The first morning I walked into her room to find her standing in her crib all smiles and giggles.  Her first word was a delight to our ears.  Her first steps we cheered.  Her first birthday came all too soon.

Before we knew it, she was experiencing her first day of preschool.  And the first day of kindergarten where I embarrassed her because I cried.  Her first day of high school I was more fearful than she was, but not near as fearful as her first day of college.

So, now we enter the first day of the last year of her teenage years, and I'm finding myself full of mixed emotions.  Mostly, I'm grateful.  Grateful she's my daughter, but mostly grateful she's a daughter of the King.

This past year we have watched Sara mature way beyond her years.  Our little girl has become a precious young woman.  We've watched her compassion for others grow, and the love for her Savior become deeper.

And we are grateful.

Sara is now a sophomore in college.  She was just hired a few weeks ago to work on staff at Cookeville Pregnancy Clinic where she is surrounded by Christian women of all ages.  She was asked this year to join the ministry team for RUF (Reformed University Fellowship).

And we are incredibly grateful.  Grateful the Lord holds her close and continues to soften her heart toward others.  Grateful that she deeply desires for those around her to know Jesus, and for her own love and knowledge of Him to increase.

We are so blessed to have her in our lives.  I could write a book about how much I love Sara and how proud I am of her, but Hannah and I thought it might be fun to do something a bit different.  We sat down and I asked Hannah nineteen questions about her big sister.  I'm still laughing at her answers, and still teary over how sweet and precious some of her answers were.

So, I asked Hannah ....

1.  Describe Sara to me.  She is a true blonde at heart, efficient, compassionate, a protector and photogenic (a.k.a. a camera hog).

2.  Describe your sisterhood.  For Sara it's what yours is mine, and what's mine is MINE.

3.  What is your favorite thing about Sara?  She provides me with many opportunities for new jokes.

4.  What is your biggest pet peeve about Sara?  Refer to my answer in number 2.

5.  What is the greatest thing Sara has ever done for you?  She always puts me first, and she's overprotective of me.

6.  What do you think is Sara's favorite thing to do is?  Plan her future marriage to Judah Akers from Judah and the Lion.

7.  What does Sara want to be when she grows up?  Well, if she marries someone poor and she has to work, she wants to be some sort of social worker.  If she marries someone rich then she'll be a shopaholic.

8.  What would you say Sara's motto is?  Work hard, play hard, nap hard.

9.  What is the funniest thing Sara has ever said?  "If you put too much salt in the water it will dry it up."

10.  What is the craziest thing she's ever done?  She tried to put me in the dryer when I was a baby and tried kill me.  (For the record, Hannah had the colic 24/7 the first 4 months of her life.  Sara overheard someone telling me to put her on the dryer because the vibration might help soothe her.  Sara thought they said in the dryer, so I walked in the room while Sara had Hannah around the neck trying to put her in the dryer because Hannah was making her ears hurt.  I was literally out of the room less than 2 minutes when this happened.)

11.  What is your favorite Sara quote?  "My family should really count their blessings.  I've cooked dinner two nights in a row and I've not caused anyone to die yet."

12.  What is your best memory of her?  Anytime we have sister time.

13.  Is she a good sister?  Depends on her mood.

14.  Are you ready for her to move out?  YES!!  Will you miss her?  She'll be back when she's hungry.

15.  Will she make someone a good wife one day?  I pray her future spouse can go days without eating or is rich enough to afford eating out every day.

16.  People are always asking both of you who is the oldest.  How does this make you feel?  She must act pretty childish, huh?

17.  Is there anything about Sara you would change?  No, because I wouldn't want her to become the favorite daughter.

18.  What is the sweetest thing Sara has ever said to you?  "When I move out will you move out with me?  I can't live without you."

19.  As the oldest, Sara is supposed to be setting an example for you.  How do you think she's doing?  I would love to be just like her.

From the moment Hannah was born, Sara referred to her as her baby.  Another child tried to touch Hannah while we were still in the hospital, and that was the beginning of Sara being protective of her little sister.  Don't get me wrong.  They fight like cats and dogs sometimes.  They've hit each other, scream at one another and call each other names.  They are sisters, after all.

But I have loved watching them grow into being friends as they get older.  I tell them I am praying that they would just at least like each other when they get older.  I'm actually praying they are best friends as adults.  I pray they are all always close.

Hannah may have answered these questions like a true little sister, but I've watched Hannah plan for weeks what she was going to buy Sara for her birthday.  The saved money she earned from babysitting jobs and the time and effort she put into Sara's gift was so precious.  Sara was super excited about everything in her bag, and when she had time to stop and think about what all her sister had done, her sister's efforts meant more than the contents of the bag.

Those Judah and the Lion tickets are a close second though.

Happy Birthday, Sara Bear!  I'm in disbelief you are nineteen today.  I know we tease you ... a lot, but we are so proud of you.  I pray this coming year you grow deeper in your love for Jesus and you learn to show that love to others even more than you already do.

You are so very loved.