Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Real Deal. . .

Donna Willbanks + Old Navy pj's = Fun times on Christmas Eve!! SANTA is coming TONIGHT?

If this guy doesn't make you believe there is a Santa, I don't know who will. I have had several times since we saw this guy in Southlake that I've thought, "Maybe Santa IS real!?" : )

Kids just make Christmas too much fun. Even at this age where they still don't REALLY get it.

I missed being with my family in Austin this year, but the Lord has blessed me---truly BLESSED me---with the greatest in-laws on the planet. I love being with Tra's family. I seriously feel like I belong with them as much as I belong to my own family. That's such a great feeling!

Next Christmas will be wild---instead of just Hayley we will add 3 more kiddos to the fam. Jack and his 2 cousins! We can't WAIT!!!!!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Welcome Home!

Early this morning while my grandma was sleeping and my granddad was dozed off holding her hand, the Lord came to take her home with Him. I just imagine the look on her face as she saw Jesus for the first time and it fills me with such joy! I imagine Him wrapping her up in his arms and saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant! Welcome home!" I imagine her seeing her own mother for the first time in so many years. I imagine the reunion with her brother who went to be with the Lord when she was a young girl. I imagine a huge banquet table set up with a feast to celebrate her arrival. I imagine her in her new body, free from the pain she has lived with for over a decade, dancing before the Lord. She always said that she prayed she would be asleep when the Lord took her home. Thank you, sweet Heavenly Father, for answering her prayer. Thank you for the tremendous blessing that you gave me by allowing Mae Margaret Hamill Baldwin (aka. Peggy) to be MY precious grandma for almost 30 years here on this earth. Continue to remind us all that our time here is temporary and that we will ALL be reunited before we know it! I love you with all of my heart---give grandma an extra hug from me!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Your will be done. . .

Well, it's Monday the 28th and my grandma has still not left the hospital. She had a feeding tube put in today because she's not awake enough to eat and get proper nutrients. Plus, it takes her literally an hour to eat something simple like a bowl of cream of wheat. My mom thinks she'll be in the hospital through at least this Wednesday. She was very excited about getting the feeding tube put in because she HATES having to eat. I think it's hard for her to chew and swallow and it is a battle with her and my granddad every mealtime. So this should be good for both of them. I don't really know what to pray for her anymore, so I've decided to just say to God, "Your will be done."

I got my flu shot today. I am nicer to the person giving me my shot than Hayley is to her nurse when she gets her shots. She says, "No No NO!!" to anything that hurts her---for example if she runs into the coffee table she'll tell it "No No NO!" So at her 12 month appointment when she got her flu shot, she cried and looked at the nurse and pointed at her, shaking her fist and saying, "No, No NO!" over and over. Too funny. She gets round 2 of her flu shot PLUS her vaccinations this Friday at her 15 month check up. I always dread the vaccination days, but they're never as bad as I'm afraid they'll be. It's hard to believe she is already 15 months! It's harder to believe that I'm 31 weeks along with Jack! It's like I'm nearing the top of the gigantic first hill on a big roller coaster. Hold on!!!!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Going Home. . .

My grandma is supposed to go home from the hospital tomorrow. She has a good month or so of recovery time, but the doctors seem to think she'll do okay. I talked to her on the phone for a minute today. She told me to "take care of those babies." : ) I love my grandma.

We put up our Christmas trees today! We haven't decorated them yet, but we got them put together. I'm sure Tra would love it that I'm saying "we" when it was actually just one of us. : ) I love Christmas time. I'm looking forward to doing more decorating tomorrow.

Hayley likes the Christmas trees. It will be fun to go through the Christmas season with her this year. She is such a hoot. She loves the song "Head, shoulders, knees and toes" and will randomly just grab her head and start shaking her hips and trying to sing it, but of course no legitimate words come out. But that's my cue to start singing and she'll get really excited, shake her hips even harder, and clap for herself after the song is over. Tra and I were talking tonight about how excited we are to have another one running around before too long. What a JOY these precious children are from God. (I need to come back to this entry to re-read when they hit adolescence to remind myself that they really ARE a joy!) How thankful I am to be "mama".

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving. . .

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It's so hard to believe another year has gone by since last Thanksgiving. Our family Thanksgiving tradition growing up was to load up after school got out on Wednesday (before they actually took the whole week off) and drive to Lamesa, TX (south of Lubbock about 40 miles) and spend the weekend at my grandma and granddad's house. I can remember being so excited about getting to go see my grandparents. They have a small house, but it was filled with so much love. I spent pretty much every Thanksgiving out there (except the year we went to Steak and Ale when my grandma had open heart surgery and we couldn't go to Lamesa----still a good year, but we really missed my grandparents). After Tra and I got married we also went out for the first few years for at least part of the weekend.

My grandma had a pretty severe stroke 2 years ago and we even went out that year. She surprised all the doctors and had a fairly decent recovery when they all thought she should have died. She was severly affected by it though, and although she had her mind still in tact, she was physically too weak to do much of anything. She could walk with her walker for a little bit around the house, but no more cooking, cleaning, running errands, serving others----which is what she lived for. My sweet granddad so willingly accepted the role reversal and did EVERYTHING for her. We have been so blessed to have her around since then---even in such a weak physical state. Something happened to her this past weekend and she has been in the hospital since then undergoing several tests so that the doctors can figure out what the problem is. She's pretty much unconscious most of the time and my mom has prepared us that it doesn't look good. She and my granddad are having the hard talks of what they will do in the worse case scenario. Both of my mom's brothers and their families are in Alaska, so that leaves the 2 of them to do most of the hard stuff.

I have such mixed emotions---which is normal I'm sure. I'm so sad to think of my life without her---even though the REAL her has been gone for 2 years. I could still call her and talk to her and hear her say, "Oh Shelma! How's my baby girl?" (meaning me) and then follow up with, "How's my other baby girl?" (meaning Hayley) She has been such a huge part of shaping my life. But then at the same time, I'm praying that God will take her to spare her from any more discomfort or pain in this life. She used to take me with her to visit the nursing home and she would say to me, "I PRAY I never have to live this way. If I get to the point where I can't do anything for myself, I'd rather be with Jesus." She loves the Lord so deeply and she has been ready to go "home" ever since her stroke. I was laying in her hospital bed with her listening to a cd of hymns when she was in the hospital after the stroke and I asked her if she was scared at all and her response was, "Oh, no honey!" I know she'll be in such a glorious place, and I get so excited thinking about her seeing Jesus for the first time---like a bride seeing her groom on her wedding day. It's just really hard to think about saying goodbye here for now.

I'm almost 30 years old and this will be my first grandparent to pass away. Tra hasn't lost any of his yet either. That in itself is such a huge blessing. I guess the bottom line is that it is just hard to lose those who fill such a large space in your heart---even if you know they will be in heaven. And we'll all grieve the loss, but with hope of reuniting one day. It kills me how people say things like, "Well, at least you've had these extra two years with her," or "At least she got to see Hayley," or "At least you know she's in a better place." As if it is not okay to be sad about the thought of losing her. Jesus wept at the loss of Lazarus. It's OKAY to be sad and grieve over loved ones. I say all of this and she is still alive in a hospital bed. And only the Lord knows when He will come for her. I may have written all of this and she might still be here next Thanksgiving. We'll see.

I am so thankful for the time I've had with her and my granddad. I'm thankful for the example of a Christian marriage they have given me to model. I'm thankful for the example of loving their kids and grandkids so much it literally hurt us sometimes (with the big hugs). I'm thankful for so many mornings at their breakfast table listening as my granddad read their daily devotionals as my grandma handed them over, one after another. I'm thankful for walks in the alley, trips to the park, afternoons in the kitchen baking sugar cookies or making taffy, camping trips to the mountains, roasting marshmellows, trips to the little store around the corner in the summer for push up ice cream pops, Thanksgivings, Christmases, uncomfortable fold out sofas, sourdough pancakes, chocolate pies, Sunday roasts, trips to Baldwin's store, trips to the Savings and Loan to see Santa in the basement, and for the hundreds of other memories I will always carry with me of both of my grandparents.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Good Report. . .

Yea---my doctor's visit was very postive. Apparantly Jack doesn't have much of a chance at all of getting out in the next few weeks at least. We got to have a sonogram too, and he is getting so big! It made me more excited than I've been so far to see his cute little profile and to hear that he is already a little over 3 pounds. I've been off my medication for 24 hours now and I've had no contractions. I'm not allowed to travel out of town, but other than that no bed rest! I'm SUPER bummed that I will miss Christmas with my family in Austin. Everyone is going to be there---Angie and Adam will be in from California. Maybe they'll get a wild hair and come down here for a day or 2 after Christmas or something? If not, I know there will be other Christmases. It just stinks for now.

I finally figured out how to upload pictures to my blog! It's amazing what you can learn when you read directions! Here is a picture of my 2 favorite people in the world! Hayley LOVES her dada!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

7 months and counting. . .

Well I am now in my 29th week of pregnancy, and I started it out in the hospital having pre-term labor. Thankfully my contractions that were coming every 3 minutes or so were stopped after 3 shots of what feels like 1,000mg of caffeine and I only had to spend one night in the hospital. With Hayley I had NOTHING until 41 weeks. No dilating, effacing---nothing. And it's not like I wasn't under stress with that pregnancy. Maybe that's the problem with this one. It's like my body is saying, "Ok---we'd really like to get through a pregnancy without major stress so COOL IT!!" We ended up moving from Grapevine to Keller a few weeks ago and I know that had something to do with my early contractions. It's hard to get much rest with a 14 month old---period. Add moving to the equation and the word rest flies out of the vocabulary. I'm on temporary (hopefully) bedrest for now and I'm going to my doctor tomorrow. I'm hoping he'll just say to take it easy, but that I don't have to be down 24/7. I definitely want to take care of myself because the thought of having Jack so early scares me to death. I know it happens all the time, but I can't imagine having to leave him behind in the hospital. : ( Thankfully I have WONDERFUL friends who are bringing dinner over every night this week and who have offered to keep Hayley if I need them to. I have a hard time being on the receiving end---I would much rather be the one bringing the dinner over or keeping the kids. God obviously knows that and my guess is that He is using this time to work on my heart and teach me how to be a gracious receiver. Not only that, but He is STILL teaching me how to ask for help. : ) Why is that such a hard thing to do??? It's interesting to me to see that I wasn't making it up when I felt like God was telling me to slow down this year and clear my schedule so that included as little as possible so that I could focus on being a wife and a mom and get my house in order. That's basically what has taken up all of my time over the past 7 months and if I had one more thing I was trying to do right now (like BSF---which was hard to give up) I wouldn't be able to keep it up and I would have even more stress on me. I love to look back over my life and see that, as usual, God knows what He is doing and it works best for me to follow HIS will and not my own. How very thankful I am for my precious friends (and family, of course) who have been MORE than supportive over the past year with all we have been through. I pray that God blesses each of you 10 times more than you've blessed me!

Monday, September 19, 2005

It's a BOY!!!

This past Friday we had our sonogram that revealed very clearly that we will be having a baby boy this January. : ) We are both soooo excited! His name is John D Willbanks IV and he will go by Jack. It's so hard to believe that we are really having our second child. It's becoming easier to believe with each passing day as my stomach grows bigger and bigger.

Tra and I have planned a trip to the Bahamas for the end of the month. We are scheduled to leave next Wednesday morning and return that Sunday evening. Hayley will not be joining us. She is staying here with my mom Wed.-Sat. morning and with Tra's parents Sat. night until we get back. I will admit, I'm not quite ready deep down for this step yet. It seems like and eternity to leave her when I've only been away from her one night in her entire life so far. (That would be 1 year) I know she will be fine and in the best hands aside from my own, but there is a part of me that worries about her. I just don't want her to feel really sad. She'll probably have a great time with Nana, Poppy and Mimi and hardly realize I'm gone and I"LL be the one who is sad. : ) I'm praying that God will grant me peace in the depths of my heart when I leave and that I'll be able to truly enjoy this precious time with Tra all by myself. We have only been on 3 trips by ourselves since we've been married 4 years ago. Our honeymoon, a weekend in Vegas, and a weekend in Austin. We've gone on some bigger trips with our friends Cody and Chesley that have been a blast and we LOVE traveling with them. So I'm looking forward to getting to be just the 2 of us. That hurricane is right over the Bahamas right now and they said more are in store, so that makes me slightly nervous as well. Maybe hurricane season wasn't the best time to plan this trip. : ) I'm also praying that God will reveal to us before we go if we should cancel the trip for any reason---like a hurricane. I'm hoping once I get past this step of leaving her for the first time for several days, that it will be easier in the future if we do this again. Although I'm not sure even the grandparents will be up for keeping TWO at a time until they are both potty trained and able to pick up after themselves. : ) We'll see.

Thank you God, for the blessing of Tra and that he wants to spend this time with me, and that he is healthy feeling so good! Thank you also for the precious gift of our sweet Hayley who you love even more than we do, and for our precious son that you are knitting together in my womb this very second. I'm overwhelmed by your goodness and faithfulness, but most of all by your LOVE. How were you able to go through with it??? Thank you for the sacrifice of YOUR ONLY son so that my sins are wiped clear away and I may rest in you for eternity. I love you---

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Happy Birthday. . .

Oh my goodness, where has the time gone?? My sweet Hayley is one year old today. This time last year I had just finished being stitched up for about 45 minutes (I did not have a c-section) and my 9 pound baby girl had begun to captivate our hearts. I never imagined my heart would be able to love a little thing as much as I do my Hayley. I am amazed as I look back over the year and see all of the changes in her. She keeps getting taller and taller (close to the 100th percentile in height) and her personality is the greatest. She keeps us laughing with the funny things she'll say or do. I love how she said, "Gotta go" before she said mommy. As many have commented, "What a typical 21st century baby!" : ) She has an incredible independent streak which I love (one of the only things about her that reminds me of me---she's all Tra otherwise, except for her chubby cheeks---that's me too). I love how when she gets tired of doing animal sounds over and over, we'll ask her what a cow says and she'll say, "Moo, roar!" As if to say, "I know they're about to ask me what a lion says too, so I'll just remind them that I KNOW IT!!!" I really love to go check on her after she has been napping for awhile and catch her sitting up in her bed flipping through books with that pacifier in her mouth and little silk blankie close by.

Hayley Brooke, you have brought more joy into this home that you can ever imagine. The only time you'll truly understand is when you bring your first child home one day and experience this incredible gift from God. I love you more than words could ever express. I am so thankful for the gift of you at the perfect time in our lives. God is so good. As much as I love you, He loves you so much more. What an honor that He chose daddy and me to be able to have you during our short time on this earth. What a joy to think about spending eternity with you! Daddy and I and so many others have prayed that the Lord would draw you to Himself and reveal to you that he is the son of the Almighty God. We pray that you will not only accept him as your Lord and Savior, but that you will be blessed abundantly by His love, strength, joy and peace during your lifetime. I love that your name means "Courageous". I don't know what plans God has for you, but I have a feeling that courage might play a significant role in your life. When I begin thinking about your future and wishing I knew what lay ahead of you so I could protect you in every way possible, I think about the verse that is painted on your wall that we read so many mornings, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
He holds you in the palm of His mighty hand. He's ALWAYS there---when I fail you, when daddy fails you, when friends fail you----He is ALWAYS right beside you. And if He isn't beside you, He is carrying you. Never forget that, sweet angel. You are precious, sweet baby girl. What a fun year we have ahead! What a JOY it is to be your mommy! I love you to the moon, and back. . .

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Whisperings of the Spirit

Ever since I've been blessed with my precious daughter Hayley I have had some revelations from the Lord regarding the way He must feel about His children. I was thinking about some this morning and thought I should write them down before I forget what I belive the Lord has revealed to me.

First of all, regarding the "once saved, always saved" doctrine that I've had a hard time coming to grips with. Many in my church believe it is possible to fall from grace. My problem with that has been where do you draw the line of being "bad enough"? We would live in a constant state of fear (the bad kind) if we thought we could do something so bad it would make God say, "Never mind--you're out." Although Hayley is only 1 year old (or will be in 3 days---which is another blog entry in itself) as I imagine what she could ever do to sever my love for her I can think of absolutely nothing that she could do to make me stop loving her. Even if she declares one day that she despises me and never wants to speak to me or see me again, I would let her know that our door is always open to her if she ever changes her mind. Even if she chose terrible friends, got mixed up in the wrong crowds, drank herself into oblivion, etc, etc, I would pray every day that the Lord would bring her back to me. And just as the father of the prodigal son ran to his son as he watched him approaching his home, I would do the same for her. So how much MORE does our Father in Heaven love us??? We are mere humans and have such love for our children. Through Hayley, God has shown me that once we belong to His family and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we're there for good. I described it to my Sunday School class of 3rd graders as cookie dough. I held a chunk of cookie dough in my hand and asked if anyone would volunteer to separate the flour from the dough. They were like, "You can't---there's no way you can take the flour out after you've mixed it." Exactly! That's just how our relationship with God is---once we become His child we are like a lump of cookie dough and NOTHING can separate us from His love. Even if we "reject" Him, we may stray but He holds us in the palm of His mighty hand and He is our FATHER who will never let us go. I love Him for that.

Secondly, and lastly for now, regarding the ritual of daily quiet time. I had an example growing up of a mom who it seemed most mornings when I got up and came downstairs she was kneeling at the couch with her Bible open and most of the time was praying (although there were a few times she had fallen back to sleep). : ) I have a mother-in-law who is much the same way. These women begin their days in God's word and in prayer. I have tried for a good 10 years if not more to make that a part of my morning ritual and don't think I've ever even had a solid week where it worked out. I have beat myself up about it for a long time and tried to figure out what it is in me that won't commit to that ritual. Am I less of a Christian? Do I love God less? So lately He has revealed to me that He knows how much I love him and He doesn't tell me anywhere in His word that I have to start my morning with a certain amount of time reading the Bible or praying. Just as I would still adore Hayley if I went a few days without hearing from her, He is the same with His children. And after a few days of not talking, when we did talk I would be so excited to hear from her! My relationship with God is in my view solid and strong. I talk to Him throughout my day as if He were right next to me at all times. So it's not like I go days and days without thinking about Him or speaking to Him. I just don't have set, daily quiet times. My husband and I have talked a lot about his lately. He made the point of saying that we are the ones who miss out on getting to know Him in a deeper, more intimate way when we don't spend time alone with Him---which was a great way to put it. Thinking of it that way makes me want to spend quiet times with Him. I'm a huge fan of intimate relationships and knowing the depths of others' souls. But now I will want to do it because I just want to, not because I feel like I should. I bet that makes a big difference.

I know I have so many more lessons to learn and look forward to my next "whispering."

Friday, June 03, 2005

Update. . .

It has been awhile since I've written. I wish I would do this at least every other day. Hayley is now 9 months old and crawling everywhere. The other day I actually had to go look for her after leaving her for less than 2 minutes. Kind of scary how fast these little boogers can get away from you. Tra is doing so well, feeling good, gaining weight and has his hair back. So far his reports are perfect. This time last year we were getting ready to go to Hawaii for a week, I was mongo pregnant with Hayley, Tra was about to find out he had cancer (in July), and not even a year later we have a precious baby girl, Tra has been through major surgery and 7 months of chemo, and we have just found out we are expecting our second sweet baby!! Not much more could go on in a year. I don't think. I hope.

I am still in some shock about being pregnant again. I am so thankful for this huge blessing in our lives and I know God has a plan in place and has known from the beginning of time that I would be pregnant right now. I have a part of my heart that is broken though. I have a list of EIGHT girls that I have been praying a long time for that God would allow them to conceive a child. My name was not on that list. Out of that list, one girl has become pregnant. (praise GOD!!!) I've been praying for her for over a year. One of the girls recently lost triplets, another dear friend gave birth to a precious son only to give him back to the Lord immediately after his birth. Another friend has a one year old and just went through her second miscarriage. The list goes on and on. It's so hard to understand why God works like He does. This just shows me again that He is SOVEREIGN. He can and will give and take away whenever he chooses so that HE will be glorified. I also know that he wants me to rejoice in this precious gift of life that He has given Tra, Hayley and me. He does not want me to spend the next several months pondering on the fact that He decided to give me a baby and not my friends desperately wanting their own. So I will rejoice in the Lord and what He is doing in my life, as well as the lives of my friends and trust that His timing is perfect.

I need to write more often so I don't write such long entries every time I write. : )

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

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Looking forward. . .

I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to start this entry and I realized I don't have to think so hard. I just need to start writing as if it was in my own journal and nobody else would read it. So here we go. I am embarking on the end of a stage of my life in the next few weeks. My amazing husband is finishing up what will end up being 6 months of grueling chemotherapy. The past 6 months have been the best and worst of my life. Our precious Hayley was born to us the week after his first treatment and I have never experienced more love in my heart. Looking back is such a great feeling---much better than where we were in July and looking forward. My life has been a series of looking forward to's. I'm looking forward to going to kindergarten, then to 1st grade when I could go to school all day and not just a half day. I looked forward in 1st grade to my newborn sister to get big enough to play jump rope with my other sister and me so we didn't have to tie one end to a pole. I looked forward to learning how to write in cursive in 3rd grade, to having the pretty, nice teacher in 4th grade, to being the oldest in the school in 6th grade, to going to jr. high in 7th grade, to going to high school in 10th, to being able to drive on my own, to graduating and going to college, to teaching after college, to meeting the man of my dreams, to having children of my own and the list stopped there. I have realized lately that everything I've looked forward to my entire life has either passed by or I'm living it. I'm not even 30 years old and I'm done with my looking forward to's. (the major ones anyway) One thing I've thought about as I've pondered on this is it is possible to waste some precious time looking forward to next stages of my life. I've never looked forward to anything more than Tra finishing chemotherapy so we can begin somewhat of a "normal" life with raising our daughter. But when I really think about it, I know in my heart that God has placed us in this situation at this stage of our lives for a greater purpose than we are aware of. Now that this stage is almost over, I am very convicted to look hard for the purpose of this trial and suffering in our lives. I don't want it to be wasted. I want to make sure to remember every day for the rest of my life how difficult this time has been and not forget it and how I didn't make it through taking care of Tra and raising Hayley practically without him for 3 months of her life by myself. Almighty God, Everlasting Father, My Rock, My Comforter, My Consoler, The Lifter of My Head, My Prince of Peace, My Strength, Lover of My Soul, Giver of ALL Things, Holy One, My Jesus has carried me through every step of the way. I want to live the rest of my life making others aware of the power of God in my life and that they too can be blessed with His power in their lives. Although I have depended on the Lord to carry me through this time, it hasn't made it miraculously easy. I have known people who say things like, "I'm doing great---the Lord is getting me through." They seem as though they are untouched emotionally and not hurting as if they would be "weak Christians" if they were. I do not pretend to be untouched by this trial in my life. Like I said earlier, it has been the hardest time of my life watching my best friend, my soul mate, the love of my life have to live this nightmare of a disease and even worse nightmare of treating it. I understand the words, "And the two shall become one flesh." When he hurts, I hurt---and I don't get the drugs to numb it like he does! : ) So in the midst of the deepest hurt in my life so far, I have also experienced extreme joy. I have come to know the Lord and lean on Him like never before. I have actually experienced the power of prayer. It's wild to get cards from people we don't even know telling us they are praying for Tra, Hayley and me. Tra and I have a connection that goes deeper than I ever imagined it could after only 3 and a half years of marriage. And of course the joy of my baby girl smiling up at me every morning and watching her grow daily----my cup overflows. I wouldn't ever choose this path again, but I sure wouldn't change it now. I look back to the morning of July 14, 2004 before the colonoscopy and think, "Who was that woman?" I have been refined by the Spirit's fire and forever changed. After going through this experience (and surviving it) I have begun a list of more Looking forward to's. But this time it's a little different. I'm not so much looking forward to stages like when I was younger, but to what tomorrow will bring. I look forward to seeing how God will continue to use this time in my life for the rest of my life.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

First entry

I don't know much about these blog spots yet. I am experimenting and looking forward to learning more about them. Thank you to Summer for informing me of this new way of communication!