Thursday, March 10, 2005


I am so thankful for my sisters! I have 2 of them. Angie just got married a couple of weeks ago and after a honeymoon in Acapulco with Adam, they made it to Los Angeles yesterday. It's still hard to believe they are actually living there. Ang and I are 2 years apart and we are as close at heart as we are in age. I love the following things about her: her soft, tender heart, her appreciation for music of all genres, her creative abilities in drawing and writing especially, her transparency and inability to tell a lie (or tell a lie for me---although I used to not love this quality), her sense of humor, the love she has for my daughter, her love for Starbucks, ice cream and I-Hop (we both love breakfast any time of day). I could go on with the list. I'm thankful for the blessing she has been to me throughout my life. She was by my side (literally) until I left for college, but we continue to remain close and share a precious friendship like none other. I think I'm in denial that she has moved so far away. I'm pretending that they are on a long vacation that will hopefully last no more than a few short years???? Hurry back, Angima!

And then there is Abby. She is actually the reason I decided to write about my sisters because 22 years ago today around 8:30am she entered this world. It's so funny because I can remember so many details of her actual birth day. I was 7 and in 1st grade. The night before she was born I was laying on the twin bed in her bedroom looking at the crib and listening to this stuffed animal that had a music box in it that played, "What the world needs now, is love sweet love. It's the only thing, that there's just too little of. . ." EVERY time since then when I hear that song my mind goes back to that place of laying there and being scared for my mom because she was in the hospital and the excited feeling inside at the same time of having my baby brother or sister the next day----finally!! Clayton Michael Brooks or Abigail Brooks. I thought it was weird that they didn't give her a middle name, but now I understand and it will be neat to keep her maiden name as her middle name when she is married one day. (on a side note, the man that ends up with her will have himself an absolute JEWEL) I adored that little baby girl. I was so excited to have another sister too. They're much more fun to dress up. : ) Angie and I went to stay with my grandparents for a week or so after Abby was born, and I remember the long 6 hour drive back home from their house and how I couldn't WAIT to hold her! I loved to hold her and play with her. I remember heating up bottles for her and changing diapers (my mom had to have been SOOOO patient with letting a 7 year old change a diaper!) We've always had a unique relationship. The age gap was wide enough that we didn't have the chance to fight about clothes or silly things that Angie and I fought over. In fact I can barely remember cross words between the two of us---except for the times she would sneak down the stairs and rip one in front of my boyfriends. : ) I remember coming home from college my freshman year at Christmas and Abby being the first one to the door and she was so tall!! It made me sad a little because I realized I was going to miss out on so much of her life. The most important years of her life at that. I did miss out on so much. If I could have a do over I would be more involved in her life throughout her teenage years and not so distant. In spite of the age gap and the distance between us, we still have a very special relationship. Things I love about Abby: when she was a tom boy in pre-k she didn't answer to anything but "Loois" (that's how she spelled it), she is the most genuine person I know---what you see is what you get, her personality is outgoing, she has wild, and I mean WILD stories : ) , she always finds the good in crummy situations, she admits her weaknesses, she encourages me, she is very athletic (more of an envy for me), she is so sensitive, as opposite as we are in many ways, we are eerily alike in so many ways, she also has such a love for my daughter, she is a phenomenal cook, she also loves Starbucks and good desserts and breakfast foods. Happy 22nd birthday Abs. I'm anticipating that this will be your best year yet!

Friday, March 04, 2005

Lesson learned

Okay, so maybe I won't always write about a person that I'm thankful for. Today I am thankful for stain sticks. Kind of shallow, but true. All you other new moms out there (and dads, grandparents, etc) put all white shirts in the back of your closet when your child starts eating green and orange vegetables. I grabbed my white sweatshirt earlier because I got a little chilly and sweet precious Hayley, after spitting up only one other time all day, got me with her green beans. I'm getting ready to go to bed and I was thinking about how I hadn't written what I was thankful for today as I was smearing stain stick all over my sweatshirt. So there you have it. It has saved many an outfit over the past several months especially.

Concerns for the day: My sweet little baby girl is extremely constipated. : ( I've read in the "What to expect the first year" book about what to do and there just isn't much to do about it. I'm going to get some different rice tomorrow for her---whole grain supposedly is better than plain rice. Hopefully that will help. It's so sad to watch her strain and strain and then scream in pain. I am terrible because as sad as it is, her face is just so cute and funny--- so I busted out the video camera at breakfast as she was straining so hard and at the same time had food dripping out of her mouth. She'll hate me for it one day for sure. : ) I'll gladly accept any suggestions from you moms, dads, or whoever about possible remedies. I've given her some sips of apple juice today (even though the pediatrician said not to give her fruit juice until 1 year) and tried some pears (so far she hates all fruits) and she ate a whole jar of green beans (half of which is now on my white sweatshirt).
Tra has rounded the corner today. We enjoyed spending time together all afternoon and evening. He's off all drugs now and back to his typical, humorous form. We're finished!!!! Praising God for HIS strength, comfort and blessings of some serious endurance. ALL things are possible with God. : )

Thursday, March 03, 2005

What does the "D" stand for??

How incredibly thankful I am for John D Willbanks, III. Otherwise known as Tra (pronounced "Trey" not Ira or Tra--as in Tra-La-La-La-La) I prayed for him for sooo many years. I have journal after journal with stories of dates and guys I liked, etc. and all throughout each story in my mind I thought about my future husband and how I LONGED to know who he was. I was blessed with him in late December of 2000. I saw him at church before Christmas and he told me I should try out the single's class at RHCC because there was a lot of fun people there. I remember thinking for the first time (I had seen him and talked to him several times that fall at the young adults BSF class) I'd like to get to know him better. Long story short, he called me after searching high and low for my phone number b/c I also have a nickname that is not in the phone directories and we went on our first date on Dec. 30, 2000. That was the beginning of the rest of our lives together. We talked from the time he picked me up until 3-4 in the morning. The next time we went out, the same thing happened. Although that time the first kiss followed, which we will both attest was really awkward and weird. : ) It was almost a deal breaker---but we got it worked out the third date. : ) The following list is in no particular order:

I am thankful for his sense of humor. He makes me laugh like no one else can. I'm thankful for his love for the Lord and how he does strive to know him more. I'm thankful for his knowledge of scripture---most of the time. Sometimes I'll be like, "Did you know about this story in the Bible that's about. . ." and before I get finished with my sentence, he'll finish telling me what the story was about. Just once I'd like to tell him a Bible story he doesn't already know! : ) I'm thankful for the love his parents showered him with as he was growing up and the love they continue to give so abundantly to him and me and Hayley. (She gets the most, by the way.) I am thankful for his willingness to help out around the house. He cleans the kitchen every time I cook (almost) and always says, "Sit down---let me do it!" That was hard for me at first for some reason---I've adjusted quickly though. : ) I love that he loves to travel as much as I do. I'm thankful he hasn't been to Italy yet either so that the first time we go will be together. I'm thankful for the wonderful dad he is to our daughter. He is the first one to make her laugh, which was no surprise to me. He also LOVES to go get her up in the morning and see her smiling little chubby face. I'm thankful for his friendship. He's by far the best friend I've ever had. He challenges me in so many areas, and he tells me I do the same for him. I love the way we are able to communicate with each other and I am so thankful he doesn't put up with my defensiveness or silent treatments. He calls me out on them every time and I need someone like that. I'm thankful for his sensitivity, even though it is really bugging him that he is becoming more sensitive. He has let me into his heart and shared his hopes, fears, and dreams with me. I'm thankful for ALL that we have in common: love to travel, love to fish, both have nicknames, both love the same tv. shows, love good movies, we love eating out, love our families, love spending time with our friends, love reading, playing gin together, love the Great Wall of Chocolate and the Dessert Rosa, we love snorkeling---especially in calm waters where the current is not pulling me out to sea and drowning me (great honeymoon memory), we both have sisters named Abby, we aren't fans of cats (one of the first questions he asked me), we like small dogs---especially Toto and Sam, and last (although I could continue much longer) we both like to hear his comedy routine material. : )

How thankful I am for this precious, most wonderful man that the Lord has blessed me with for the rest of my life. His positive attitude and upbeat spirit throughout the past several months as he has triumphantly battled cancer and chemo have astounded me. I always knew he was good, but his greatness has come through over the last several months. He attests all of the positives in him are from the Lord, and I do too. I'm so thankful that in a couple of days he'll be up and around and back to himself and he'll (if the Lord wills) be chemo. free and cancer free!!

Concerns for the day: I'm worried about going to BSF in the morning and Hayley waking up early and fussing with Tra under the influence of some serious drugs. I know God will work it out as he has each week of chemo. this year and I know I shouldn't stress about it. Praise God it's the last time to have to deal with this particular worry!

Oh yeah---the D stands for D. Just the letter D. : )

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Be the best you can be and LIDGTTFTATIM!

As I am thinking this morning of what to list that I am thankful for, I thought I might just pick a person each day and say why I am thankful for them. Since I started with mom, it's only right that I would pick my dad today. I have been blessed with a father on this earth who has given me such a good picture of what our Heavenly Father is like. The following are examples of the qualities I am thankful for in my dad because some of them have been passed on to me!

One I wish I had more of was his patience. A perfect example of how patient my dad is (besides the fact he lived under the same roof as 4 women for 20+ years and he never lost his sanity): My sister Angie got married this past Saturday in Dallas. My dad called down at the hotel for the valet to get his car when he was ready to drive back to Austin Sunday afternoon and they said, "We don't have your keys or you car here." After a few phone calls he realized that his car was at the church still and his keys were in my sister's purse in Acapulco, Mexico! Although inside he was very frustrated (understatement) when he called me to try to figure things out his voice was so calm and he would chuckle every now and then as we were problem solving.
He also used to take my sisters and me fishing when we were younger. We got to take turns going by ourselves with dad in the boat early in the morning before the sun came up. We lost count of the number of lures that ended up in Lake Bob Sandlin in East Texas. "Dad, I think I'm hung up on something?!" How many times he heard that as he finally got himself situated and was about to cast his first cast of the morning after messing with our fishing rods first and getting us situated. He never lost his temper---he would just tie on a new one for us. I could go on and on about situations where he was so patient, but I want to list a few more.

I'm thankful for his gift of encouraging others. He always encouraged me to be the best I could be. Each morning before school for years he would shout out after me as I got out of the car to go to school, "Be the best you can be and LIDGTTFTATIM!" You pronounce that lig-da-fat-im. At least that's how he pronounced it. We had this up on our refrigerator for as long as I can remember and it stands for, "Lord I Do Give Thee Thanks For The Abundance That Is Mine." He was always proud of me, but always encouraged me to try even harder. For example in second grade when I was on the Unicorns soccer team (how did we come up with that name?) and I would accidentally kick someone and he would hear me say, "OH I'm so sorry!!!" I can't imagine how that would just grate on him, as a guy. He would say after the game,"You did good babe, but you need to be more aggressive!" So he'd practice with me in our backyard and repeat the same conversation the next week. Needless to say, I was not the athletic one of the bunch.

I'm thankful for the example of a godly husband he was to me. I didn't settle until I found someone who was as crazy about me as he was about my mom. He would say to us so often, "Girls, isn't your mom beautiful??"

I'm also thankful for his genuinness. He has opened himself up and been more vulnerable than anyone I've ever known. He read me a list one time that he made of areas in his life throughout his life that he has sinned or struggled and we both cried all the way through it. He read the same list to his small group from their church. He rests in the saving grace of our Lord and doesn't try to pretend he did anything to earn his salvation. He hasn't ever pretended to be perfect, and he doesn't know what a load that has taken off of me, as I tend to think I have to be perfect most of the time.

I'll end with one more because I'm realizing my list has turned into a chapter : ) ---he is so generous. I've watched him continue tithing during many different years of job searching. He would always overdo our Christmases and family vacations, even when things were tight. He always left generous tips at restaurants to waiters and waitresses (whom he always called by their names). Even to the guy who spilled hot sauce all over his white button down shirt at Chili's. : ) The biggest thing though was how he so freely gave me the ability to have the wedding I always dreamed of. (my sister too!) He gives from the bottom of his heart and it's obvious to everyone that he loves it. A principle I recently heard on giving was "When you have an overflow in your heart of God's grace, you can't help but want to give generously." So true for my dad.

I love my dad from the depths of my heart and I am eternally grateful for the qualities listed above and hundreds more that he has taught me over the past 29 years.

As for concerns I am having today---none! I'm overflowing with joy and love and in an hour and a half, Tra is going to be unhooked from his last dose of chemo!!!! Thank you, sweet Heavenly Father, for the peace you have given me in my heart today!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Rejoicing in Today

I was recently challenged to journal several days a week beginning each entry with things I am thankful for and closing with things I am concerned or worried about. I have been struggling with feelings of sadness and feeling overwhelmed with things going on in my life lately. I thought this was a great idea---the journaling of things I am thankful for.

Today I am thankful for my mom. I am thankful that I was blessed to have her as the one who carried me those long nine months and who raised me to know the Lord, to love cookie dough and chocolate, to have a love for Christian music, to sacrifice my wants for others' needs, to have a love for reading, to have a compassionate heart for others who are hurting, to see the importance of eating healthy and exercising (treating my body as a temple), to begin each day with the Lord in His word and in prayer (I'm still working on that), and to learn the importance of communicating with others (my husband specifically). I'm also thankful for the fact that she never expected me to be perfect. All she expected is for me to be the best I could be. She had my sisters and me memorize Ephesians 6 "The Armor of God" and we put it on every day on the way to school and acted it out in our seats as we said each verse. She taught me how to be a good listener as she sat up night after night with me (and still does) as I talk about things going on in my life. This list could go on and on and on.

I am sitting here typing this and listening to her in the background reading to my daughter and singing her to sleep as she is rocking her in the rocking chair. My heart overflows with joy as I ponder on the fact that my Hayley gets to have my mom as her grandmother!!! I am so thankful for my mom.

Now for concerns I have today. Tra's last chemo. treatment is this afternoon. Yesterday he had an allergic reaction to one of the drugs and he got very very sick. He told me at 4am this morning that he seriously thought he was going to die yesterday as his body reacted so violently to the drug. Praise God for Benadryl and his precious nurses who moved so quickly!!!! I am concerned that although today is the last day of the longest 6 months of our lives, that he might have to go thorough it all over again sometime in the future. My heart is heavy as I think about that possibility. But I am going to choose today to fight against this "stronghold" of worry in my life. Last night at BSF we studied 2 Corinthians 8-13 and I discovered 2 verses that I want to memorize and recite each time my heart is burdened with this worry.

"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have the divine power to DEMOLISH strongholds. We demolish arguements and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive EVERY THOUGHT to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Cor. 10:4-5

And to close for today, the words of our sweet Savior. . ."My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Cor. 12:9