Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Today was supposed to be Carson's last day with us, but due to sickness he wasn't able to come over to play today. Thankfully, he is going to stop by next week to have an official good-bye. Our world has forever changed now that Carson won't be Coralyn's daily playmate. I am not sure how Coralyn is going to adjust to this change. She has become pretty fond of Carson (as have I!) and will miss him dearly!

I started taking care of Carson when Coralyn was just under 2 months old, so she hasn't ever really known life without Carson. He has always been there, and through the past two years, he has become like a big brother to her. Whenever we go somewhere with Carson, people always assume they are siblings, and I have stopped trying to explain that I only "babysit" Carson. I don't mind claiming him as my own for just that short time. He's such a good kid. And has brought such joy to our lives. I could go on and on about how fantastic he is and how wonderful it has been for Coralyn to play with him every week day for the past 2 years, but instead I will just share some of my favorite pictures of Carson and Coralyn. It will be fun to look back and see how much both of them have grown since the day I started watching Carson back in 2009!

Carson and Virg when she came as a surprise Christmas present in Dec 09

Enjoying a nice spring day in March 2010

Coralyn at 7-8 months, May 2010
Carson doesn't look too thrilled about this picture though! :)

Carson looks like he had fun playing outside (and getting dirty)

The Gang, August 2010
Harper, Coralyn (10 months), Carson, Aaron, and Jayden

And so begins Coralyn's fascination with cars, September 2010

Sportin' the Shades, October 2010

Getting ready for Thanksgiving, November 2010

Who needs new toys when you can have a cool box?
Coralyn and the boys, December 2010

All bundled up, January 2011

What a good "big brother" February 2011

Tool belts...Can we fix it? Yes we can!
March 2011

King of the Mountain (or tree stump)
April 2011

Waiting for the Trash Man, May 2011

Feeding the baby goats at Deanna Rose Farm, June 2011

Playing with Coralyn's trucks, August 2011

Goofy Carson, September 2011

Pudding Paint, October 2011

Love the boots!
November 2011

As you can see, we have had a terrific time with Carson over the past two years! We will greatly miss that special boy (I'm sure that Coralyn will be asking about him every morning for days and days to come)! Even though he's not coming over every day, he is welcome to come visit any time he wants! And, of course, we will still have a special place in our heart for Carson forever and always!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Stop! Look! Listen!

Several times as Jesus is teaching the crowds of people, He tells them, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." Other times He warns not just to hear His words, but to truly listen to them, and then act on what He has said (what we heard).

Listening is pretty important. Twice as important as talking. After all, we do have two ears and only one mouth :) How many times have we heard that one before? Or used it on our kiddos to emphasize their need to listen to us?

This year for Thanksgiving, my sister-in-law Stephanie is having us do a fun project to help us focus on things for which we are thankful. Every year she comes up with something different and unique. Two years ago, she gave us each a number 4 and we filled it up with all the things we are thankful for. Last year, we each wrote out our bucket lists and shared how each person in our family is special to us. This year, Stephanie gave us each an eye and an ear. We are supposed to imagine that a person who has been blind and deaf his/her whole life has just received the gifts of sight and sound. Our job is to think of all the things we would want that person to see and hear for the very first time. I haven't actually written my ideas down on the eye and ear yet, but I thought I would get my brain thinking and at least blog about some of the ideas I have so far.

*Niagara Falls (or any waterfall for that matter), but I have personally see this one, and it's absolutely amazing!
*Field of wildflowers
*Mountains: I am thinking specifically of the Rockies and the Grand Tetons that Lawrence and I saw when I was pregnant with Coralyn and we took a vacation to Wyoming
*Sunrise (over the ocean or by water would be even better)
*Sunset (again, by the water somewhere)
*Full moon and a clear starry night
*Rainbow after a storm
*Fish, coral, and other marine life in the ocean
*Fog lifting from the mountains in the Ozarks of Arkansas (Ponca)
*Leaves in the fall (still on the trees)
*Snow falling
*Tulips and Gerber daisies (any flowers really, but these are my personal favorites)
*Words in a book
*Artwork...pictures, photographs, sculptures, etc. (by famous people but also things their children have made like finger paintings and clay coil pots)
*Newborn baby
*Sparkle in a child's eye

*Waterfall or running river (rushing water is one of my favorite sounds)
*Crunch of leaves as you walk through them
*Waves lapping/crashing on the beach
*Classical music (and Jazz, and any music really)
*Cry of a newborn baby
*A child's laugh/giggle
*The words, "I Love You"
*Car pulling into the driveway to signal that your loved one is home

I know there are so many more things I can add to my list. I am just having trouble thinking of them right now. If you have any ideas, please feel free to share them with me.

We so often take our ability to see and hear for granted. I can't imagine life without sight or sound. And so I am thankful for this opportunity to take the time to appreciate these amazing gifts God has given me. My brother-in-law Russell is losing his vision. He has an extremely rare condition that causes holes to form in his retina, for no reason. These holes are irreversible. To stop more holes from happening, he has taken numerous pills and even had surgery on his eyes (where the doctor did something so that the steroids are now directly on his eyes and he can take less pills). So far these drastic measures have worked in that no new holes have formed recently. However, for some reason the pressure in his eyes is off the charts (at 30 when it's should be around 12 at the most). This extreme pressure can cause further vision loss! So right now he is considering having surgery to relieve the pressure in his eyes, but of course this is a risky procedure! I cannot imagine being Russell. To have the ability to see for all your life and then after almost 40 years to begin to lose your vision, and seriously face the reality that you might one day be completely blind...

Like I said, I am glad Stephanie has given us this assignment and "made" us stop to think about our ability to look and listen, to see and hear. As I work on my lists, I am more and more grateful for my sight and my hearing. This project has helped me stop and smell the roses, so to speak. I pray that I through this experience I will come to have eyes that see from God's perspective and ears that truly listen to what He is saying, so that I may fully appreciate these "simple" gifts He has given me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lappin' It All Up

Lately, Coralyn has been wanting to sit on my lap quite a bit....to read books, to eat her food, to sit in the rocking chair together. I really don't have much of a lap left, as I am just over 36 weeks pregnant! But, I try to make as much room as possible for Coralyn, reminding her to try not to sit on the baby or squish the baby or poke the baby (or my ribs). I may be a bit uncomfortable as Coralyn squirms and fidgets on my lap, or even when she sits completely still for that matter. But, I am loving it! I know that I won't get too many more moments like this, especially right after the baby is born. So I am lappin' it all up, treasuring every second and trying to lock away as many of these precious memories as I can, while I can.

This morning Coralyn again wanted to sit on my lap as she finished up her breakfast. Her hands were covered in yogurt and banana and peanut butter. I didn't really want her sticky, gooey fingers touching me. I didn't want to get all dirty, not that I was dressed up or anything...I just didn't want Coralyn to share her mess with me. But, of course, I welcomed her on my lap, doing my best to finish my own breakfast while she nibbled on her muffin and basically just rearranged her food and cups.

As I sat there trying to avoid her icky fingers, I thought about how God must feel about us sometimes. I can only imagine how sticky, gooey, and messy are fingers are in His mind. How messy we must be compared to His pristine holiness, glory, and majesty! Yet, He invites us to come and sit in His lap. In fact, He longs for us to do so...sticky fingers and all! God wants us to share those special times with Him, making precious memories as we fellowship with Him and dwell in His presence. He holds His arms out to us, ready to lift us up on His lap so we can sit with Him. And not only does He not mind our dirty fingers, but His lap always has enough room for one more of His dearly loved children.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Like Nothing I Have Ever Seen

Last night, after I got home from Bible study (a wonderful time where I got to fellowship with other women, learn from them, and grow in my relationship with the Lord), Lawrence and I watched a documentary on the country of North Korea. The lives of the people there couldn't be more different from what I had just experienced a few minutes earlier during Bible study!

The fact that the documentary was even made is remarkable, given the complete and total control the leader of North Korea has over the people of his country. No cell phones are allowed in the country. All television, newspapers, and any other sources of media are controlled by the government. The leader is a complete dictator, using fear to cripple his people and keep them loyal to him. Despite the people having no economy whatsoever (no imports are allowed) and many of their children facing starvation (malnutrition for sure!), they continue to worship this leader. They sing praises to him and believe he can do no wrong. Oh how saddened I was to see this. My heart just broke as they give their lives to this man who is robbing them of true joy and a full life. And I wondered how this would change. How would these people learn of Jesus?

The documentary was possible because of an amazing man who lives in Nepal. He is an eye surgeon and was allowed to enter North Korea to perform 1,000 eye surgeries in just 10 days! Through some special process 1,000 individuals were chosen by the Great Leader (as he is called) to have surgery to restore their sight in one or both eyes. And the crazy thing was that each one of these 1,000 people gave credit and praise to the Great Leader for their restored vision, not evening thinking to thank the man who had actually performed the surgery and risked his life to come to their country and provide this free service!

"Minders" or government officials followed the man's medical team, keeping a watchful eye over their every move. Because of this, the makers of the documentary weren't able to get a true picture of what life is like in North Korea, but what they did capture on film was absolutely amazing. Not in a good way, but in a way that makes your heart drop to your bowels. Your heart breaks into thousands of pieces as you watch, helpless to do anything. Getting out of North Korea is nearly impossible. The border between North and South Korea not only has the land mines (the most in the world) but barbed wire fencing that has high voltage electricity shooting through it 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And if you can manage to escape via the border of China, your family remaining in North Korea will be put in a concentration camp like those from World War II and Hitler's Nazi regime. Getting into North Korea (like you would want to) is practically impossible as well. No foreigners are allowed, except with special permission from the Great Leader.

This morning I woke up thinking about the people of North Korea. How fitting that today is Veterans' Day and we can celebrate living in a free country. Yes, many men and women have sacrificed to make this freedom possible. And today more than ever, I am so very thankful for them, and the freedom we have in the United States as a result of their faithful service. I am even more thankful for the life and freedom I have in Christ. I am child of the King, cherished in God's sight, and dearly loved by the Creator of the universe. And so today more than ever, I am also thankful for Jesus Christ and the salvation that is possible through Him.

I pray that one day, SOON, the people of North Korea will be able to experience both political and spiritual freedom, that their lives will be completely and forever changed so that they too can enjoy true life, peace, and joy that comes through Jesus Christ!

Monday, November 7, 2011

It's the Little Things

God continues to use Coralyn to remind me of important, yet simple, truths. Like on Sunday...

We are grocery shopping and have already made stops at Aldi and Wal-Mart. Coralyn asks if we are going home next. I tell her we have to go to Hy-Vee first. Rather than being disappointed, she is quite excited, as she knows Hy-Vee means two things: a car cart and cheese! The girl seriously knows her grocery stores, and Hy-Vee is by far her favorite because of these two things, not to mention free samples on almost every visit :)

We pull into the parking lot, and Coralyn is basically bouncing up and down in her seat at the thought of riding in the car cart. Other kids must do the same thing, because these car carts are few and far between. We always try to tell her that the car carts might be all gone and other people are using them. And that we can be okay riding in a normal cart. Coralyn, however, is determined to get a car cart this trip. As we are looking for a parking spot, she eyes a car cart in one of the cart corals and yells, "I see it! There it is! Car cart! Red one!" Not wanting to assume there are other car carts actually in the store, Lawrence goes off to get the beloved car cart as I get Coralyn out of her car seat. Lawrence pulls up with the car cart and Coralyn is jumping up and down with glee, the biggest smile ever on her face. He lifts her in so she can "drive" and she sings, "Car cart, car cart" the whole way into the store. This is the highlight of her day, entire weekend really!

Then we get inside...immediately, she asks for a slice of cheese (that would be the cherry on top for her). Since there is a long line at the deli counter, we do our other shopping first. After each item is placed in the cart, Coralyn wants to know if cheese is next. It must have seemed like forever for her as we had to get milk, eggs, cereal, peanut butter, etc. first. But oh the wait was totally worth it! We finally arrive at the deli counter to get our ham and turkey. The whole time the person is getting our order ready, she is almost shouting, "Cheese! Cheese! Cheese, please! Orange cheese!" I kindly ask the deli worker if he would get a piece of cheese for my daughter. The second that piece of cheese was in Coralyn's hand, the world was perfect and complete (in her mind at least). I was proud of her too, as she said, "Thank you," without any reminders from Lawrence or me. Once again the smile on her face was from ear to ear. "Yummy, Mommy!"

It's the little things in life...car carts and cheese. As an adult with grown-up responsibilities, I think I often let the busyness and stress of life consume me. I forget to slow down and enjoy the "little things." And so God has put Coralyn in my life to help me remember...

*the beauty of the moon every night (as she points out any and every time she sees the moon)
*the brilliant colors of fall as the leaves change colors (as Coralyn announces every time we drive anywhere there are trees)
*the niftiness of pockets (as she loves to put her hands in her pockets, along with other treasures we find the next time we go to put on the jacket)
*the wonder of a bubble floating through the air and catching it on your finger (as Coralyn rushes to show me a bubble she has "caught" at storytime)
*the thrill of hearing a train or seeing an airplane flying through the sky (Coralyn shouts, "Choo! Choo!" every time she hears a train, and I swear she has the ears of a bat because she hears even the faintest train whistle)
*the joy of reading and the far off lands books can take you to (the other day we read books for 45 minutes without stopping and only then did we take a break because we had read every book we had checked out from the library, a few multiple times)
*the fun you can create with just a little imagination (turning a box into a puppet, a table into a tent where you can hide from the rain or the mouse that is coming, a blanket into a horsey)

I am sure I could think of many, many, many more examples of how Coralyn reminds me how precious the "little things" in life really are. I love the simplicity of her life, the sparkle in her eye, the bounce in her step, and the joy that overflows from her. I want to be just like her when I grow up! ;)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Precious Moments

Yesterday, I realized yet again that Coralyn is growing up. And I can't stop this process. Nor do I want to. Not really...

Though I do wish that time could stand still so I could soak up more of the precious moments that take place every day.

Like yesterday, when Coralyn stopped playing and looked up at the new family pictures I had put in the frames. All but three of them are of just her, so she announces, "That's me. Pumpkin patch." I had never heard her say pumpkin patch before, except maybe right after we had left Carolyn's Country Cousins Pumpkin Patch several weekends ago (where the pictures were taken).

I love that smile!

Things like this are happening more and more...she is saying words, phrases, and sentences that are new. She is putting thoughts together and expressing them quite well. I continue to be amazed and impressed. I love seeing her learn and grow. I get excited with all the new things she can say and do. And I look forward to all that is yet to come.

But then I realize that I will never be able to go back in time. She will just keep growing and learning, and getting bigger and older. We will never have this specific time again. She will never say "pumpkin patch" for the first time again. And so I sometimes want time to freeze. Because these moments, while so common and ordinary, are so very precious to me. I want to soak them all up. In a very small way, I am doing what Mary did when she "treasured all these things in her heart."

Well, enough time on the computer. Time to go enjoy some more precious moments with my little girl who won't be little for long...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Praise the Lord!

The Bible repeatedly tells us to praise the Lord, and more often than not singing is involved in the process. I am not a singer, or a musician in any way. God did not bless me with those gifts. Thankfully, Lawrence has musical talent, so there is hope for our children to have some aptitude in that area. Not that God requires you to sing on pitch when you praise Him, or to play in beat for that matter. Just making a joyful noise is enough...good news for me.

Even though I am not musically inclined, I do like to listen to music and enjoy worshiping through song (whether I am listening to someone else sing or play or I am attempting to sing myself). I want to expose Coralyn to kids' praise music...I remember growing up watching Salty and Praise Kids music videos. Ironically enough, as a result, I know more kids' songs than Lawrence. I have been playing several different CDs while the kiddos play in the living room, and the other day Coralyn actually joined in! Throughout the week she has been singing more and more of the songs: "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," "This Little Light of Mine," and "Jesus Loves Me" to name a few. I am so thrilled.

First, she is singing. Second, she is singing praise songs. Third, she is having fun doing it. Sounds like worship to me! It was definitely music to my ears! :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Trick or Treat

Growing up, I never went trick-or-treating, so last night I lived vicariously through my daughter. This was her first official time trick-or-treating (last year we went to a Trunk or Treat thing at a nearby church), actually going door-to-door and getting candy from the neighbors.

At breakfast I explained how we would knock on people's doors and then say, "Trick or Treat." We practiced, and she was super cute trying to knock on the door hard enough to make a noise. She got "Trick or Treat" down pretty fast though!

For storytime at the library the kids could dress up in their costumes, so Carson came as Bob the Builder (we got his toolbelt all decked out with a hammer, saw, screwdriver, and more) and Coralyn dressed up in her Mizzou cheerleading costume (which we borrowed from Carson's foster sister). Both of them were absolutely adorable!

After reading the story and doing all the usual stuff at the library, the ladies passed out candy to the kiddos. This got Coralyn very excited about trick-or-treating and the idea that people would just give you candy, lots of it!

She was quite thrilled to get dressed up again after supper and visit the neighbors to get even more candy! I must say her little, "Trick or Treat" melted my heart, every time. I was also happy to hear her say, "Thank you," each time someone dropped candy in her bag or she got to pick a piece of candy out of a bowl.

The hard part was getting Coralyn to understand that she didn't need to eat all of her candy at that very moment! Thankfully, she can't quite count yet and won't notice that Daddy took over half of her candy to school to use as sweet treats for his students when they earn 50 stars :)

We started out in our neighborhood and visited all the people we know. Then we headed over to see some friends who mentioned they had 102 full size candy bars waiting for Trick-or-Treaters. Next, we drove to Kellybrook area, where Lawrence teaches, to see some more friends. They weren't actually home (out trick-or-treating themselves) so we just walked up and down a street, collecting enough candy to last a lifetime. We did end up running into our friends and finished the block out with their Ninja boys. Thankfully, Coralyn didn't get scared by any of the people we saw, even the ones who had masks as part of their costumes. This is a good step...
Before going home, we stopped by one last friend's house, more to say hi than add to our stockpile of candy. I think Coralyn was having so much fun playing with their 3 girls that she forgot all about her candy...at least until we got to the car, when she asked for the 100th time if she could eat her candy NOW.

All in all we had a wonderful time trick-or-treating, and I am glad I got the chance to experience the joy of watching my daughter have so much fun (even if she got the idea that being cute means people will give her candy).

Surprisingly, Coralyn hasn't asked for any of her candy yet today (knock on wood). And I won't be giving her any until she does, because once she remembers there is candy in the house, she will be all over that. Then we will deal with the not-so-cute little girl who cries when I tell her she can't have more than 1 piece at a time. :)