Thursday, January 16, 2014

Because he's here, we celebrate!

'I wait for The Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope.' Psalms 130:5

We hope, we wait, and we only find pleasure and contentment when we place our whole being in Christ our Savior and His blessed will.

It is incredible the difference a year can make. This time last year we were blissfully ignorant of the journey our God was about to reveal to us. A journey that initially left us winded and full of heartache, but has since brought more joy than one can imagine. 

In case you missed it, our journey with Elam started with this.

Then four days later, it turned into this. Praise God, it turned into this! 

This day, one year ago, I was unaware of what was to come. Unfamiliar with the details of spina bifida, never dreaming the child growing inside me would have it. 

We spent five months traveling from specialist to specialist. From Nashville to New Orleans. Month after month still uncertain what the diagnosis meant for our child. We knew a lot, but at the same time, we knew very little. 

With all that we knew, and all the more we didn't, we loved. We loved every little piece of our precious boy, and were thankful. 

Thankful for life. Thankful for hope. Thankful for spina bifida. 

You see, spina bifida doesn't just affect Elam. It is affecting me. My heart. My walk with God. And my drive to do something more. Something more than the selfish desires I get lost in. 

And I know, also, it is affecting others. Elam's life, Elam's story has reached beyond our living room, beyond our town, state and country. Lives all over have heard and prayed and have seen God move in ways only he can. And we are thankful. Thankful for the opportunity to be used as an instrument in God's perfect plan. 

This year, and every year from now on, our plan is to celebrate January 28. It's not Elam's birthday, but it is something equally as special.

It is the day we celebrate life and celebrate spina bifida. We celebrate the dark hole we were graciously pulled out of, and embrace the journey in which we were blessed. 

'For I know the plans I have for you, Elam, declares The Lord!' Jeremiah 29:11

Because he's here, we celebrate.

 Praise God, we celebrate!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

In lieu of a Christmas tree...

As the Christmas season begins, our hearts are overflowing with the blessings this past year has brought us.

This evening when Justin got home from work, we loaded the kids in the car and headed to the Christmas tree farm. One kid was throwing a hyperventilating fit because he's probably teething, and the other one was screaming because she was out of crackers - and because she's two. Apparently they have a saying about two year olds.

Everyone was in, buckled, and semi-contained when, about a mile down the road, we realized the Christmas Tree farm closed at 5. It was 5:15. We turned around and Ellery asked, "What you doing, mommy?"

"We're going back home," I said sorrowfully. 

Insert another tantrum here

All day we had talked about Christmas trees and how much fun we were going to have cutting one down when daddy got home. Now I tell her we aren't getting one today. 

When we got home with a very disappointed toddler asking for a Christmas tree, Justin went to the backyard and cut down something resembling a very large twig. He brought it inside and called it a Christmas tree. She didn't know the difference. To her, it was a Christmas tree.

He hurredly draped some colored lights on it and plugged it in. Ellery's face lit up with pure delight, and my heart melted. 

Innocence. I was reminded of innocence.

Each year, we usually spend about $50 on a Christmas tree. We spend money on decorations and festivities and unnecessary gifts. We find great joy in all of these things, yet we sometimes fail to let the true reason for the season envelope our hearts, inspiring us to think more about others than we do ourselves. 

As we stood in awe of how such a simple  branch could be transformed into something so incredible, we had an idea. 

An idea that I really love. 

We aren't going to buy a Christmas tree this year. Instead of spending that money on something that will pass away as quickly as it came, we want to donate it to a good cause. 

Our hearts have not been led in any particular way yet, as far as where our donation will be going, but we are prayerful that the right opportunity will be opened to us. 

Though it is no great sum of money that we are planning to give, we are excited about this opportunity the Lord has laid upon our hearts, an opportunity born of a very hectic afternoon. Perhaps in the simple act of comforting a disappointed toddler, the seeds have been sown for a new family tradition. Isn't our God good?

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Today I want to revisit thankfulness.

Thankfulness in the sense that, even when things are going wrong (for what seems like constantly), we remember how much we have already been given. 

I am human, I am just like you. I sometimes ask the question, "why" and maybe feel a little sorry for myself. My husband has even seen me throw a hyperventilating fit from time to time. 

That's me.

It's crazy how we can so easily get sucked into the "but that's not what I had planned" phenomenon and use that as an excuse to just sit and wallow in our own self pity. 

But you know what? That's the easy way out. That's the way for the cowardly!

And I choose not to be a coward. 

I choose to trust that my plans aren't the best for me anyway, and whatever God has in store for our family will be far more fulfilling than the uneventful, perfectly polished picture I once had of our future. 

Thankful. Today I am thankful.

I am thankful for my husband who lets me hyperventilate. 

I am thankful for my (very close to) two year old, and her spunky, independent personality. 

And I am thankful for Elam and how he continuously shows me how to see past imperfection, and teaches me to embrace it. 

Things haven't been necessarily easy for us lately, in regards to Elam's health. A few weeks ago tests showed we needed to start cathing him four times a day. We half expected this, but it still stung our hearts a little. 

Since then, he has had several reactions to several things, a UTI, and a strabismus diagnosis. All of which, in the big scheme of things, and a few years down the road, don't mean much, but in the here and now, it is a little stressful. 

Although life is chaotic, we've got it pretty good. I choose to remember that today, and not take this time for granted. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ellery says...

Ellery and I like to make the time for daily dance sessions in our living room. I am not sure if you can really call it dancing, since we just jump up and down with our hands above our head. But nevertheless, we dance and have fun.

Today, while Elam had some tummy time, and Ellery and I were giving him entertainment, Ellery loudly proclaims, "S-op! Kiss Eyum bwake (break)!" And runs over to him to kiss him on the head. And then returns to dancing. 

She is only slightly obsessed with her little brother. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Grace and second chances.

Last night, as I reached for the light switch to end the day, the anxious calling of Elam's wakefulness paused my intentions and guided me to his room.

As I stood over him, pondering the best course of action to help ease him back into sleep, a sense came over me urging me to cherish it - cherishing his need for me. 

So, in the soft glow of the nursery night light, my feet shuffled to keep rhythm with the sound machine and I let myself cherish our dance. The dance, as mothers, we are only given for a moment in time. 

As we swayed in the peacefulness, I was suddenly thankful for sleepless nights. Thankful for baby cries and their need for their mothers. 

My role as a mom is one I could never fully understand until I became one. The love and exhaustion that radiates from your every being is powerful. 

Powerful - and terrifying. Terrifying in a sense that this job of mothering is all about example. 

It is easy when toddlers are being angelic and infants are smiling - but when patience is all used up and grace ran out thirty minutes ago, my role becomes vital as little eyes are watching and copying every move. 

As time slips by, I am slowly learning to catch each moment that I can and enjoy the neediness. For in their need lies the opportunity to teach and to lead by example. 

As I teach Life to these sweet children, and strive to give grace and forgiveness, I am humbled by the example our Father set before us. Grace sufficient has been given to me, although I am far undeserving. Knowing that, shouldn't  I be able to see my own children's need for free and unmerited favor and fulfill it with patience and second chances?

It isn't always easy, but I believe it is something that is more important than my human brain can fully comprehend. Being able to lead my children with the example of gentleness and patience, giving them grace when there seems to be none left, is my prayer and the aching of my heart. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Potty time!

We have clapped and praised and fully supported the dinosaur sticker manufacturer this week.

And I think our big girl has officially outgrown her title of 'Little'. 

Since Sunday evening, Ellery has been using the potty all on her own, and has only used diapers for nighttime! 

To give credit where it is due, she pretty much potty trained herself. For when I took her diaper off on Sunday, she just started using the potty, and hasn't stopped. 

She likes to show me what she's done.  She likes to cheer, "Yay! Eh-rey did it!". And she likes Dinosaur stickers!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ellery says.

As Ellery and I were in the kitchen eating lunch today, Elam started to wake up from his nap (on the floor in the living room.)

Ellery, being the problem solver that she is, hurriedly got down from her chair, ran in and squated down beside him, "Feed Eyum!" she said, as she tried her best to pick him up.

I asked her, "You want me to feed Elam?" 

She responded:

"No! E-ry feed him!" And starts lifting up her shirt to point to her belly button. 

Oh, toddlers. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013


"In the midst of all the noise and chaos in our lives, we need to take the time to listen to the music. Sometimes we lose focus of what's important because we focus only on our problems." 

Today we chose to focus on baby smiles and eye contact.
Free legs and chubby feet. 
Cooing and laughing.
And lots of loving. 

And it's been perfect. 


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Finding Perspective

Each and every day I am reminded in all kinds of ways to be thankful for the man I married a little over three years ago. 

I am often thankful for the seemingly simple things: he loads the dishwasher. He mows the grass. He often lets me complain just for the sake of complaining. 

But today, I was reminded of all the ways God made this man just for me. 

The truth is, I have been struggling with finding the right perspective lately. Seeing joy in the small things, in the sleepless nights and the poopy diapers. I have been finding myself too focused on the future, and all of its uncertainty, to be able to truly stop and thank God for the blessings He has already provided. 

And sweet husband called me out on it. 

After giving me a big hug, leaving love notes around the house, and telling me to go on to bed - at 9 pm- he asked me one question: 

Is there ever going to be a time where you are just thankful for him?

I was left speechless, and winded, almost as if he had hit me with a ton of bricks. 

Initially I was angry at him for questioning the overwheing love I have for my sweet Elam. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized his question wasn't completely unfounded. 

I can write flowery words on a page and I can tell anyone who asks how blessed we are to have him, and I truly feel that way, but within the walls our home and my heart, my selfish soul gets worried. 

Worried about his mental state. Worried about who he is going to be. Worried if he'll be happy. And worried if we will be happy. 

And the answer is:

Elam is going to be exactly who he is going to be. He will develop in his own way. He will do his own things. But he will only be happy, if we are happy. 

"Before I formed you in your mother's womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I chose you." Jeremiah 1:5

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares The Lord." Jeremiah 29:11

God has a plan for us, for Elam. He always has, and it is in all things we are to give thanks. As we choose not to forget all of the times we have seen His face ever so clearly and felt his arms wrap us in strength, let us be thankful. Thankful for this precious gift of life. For the sleepless nights and the poopy diapers. For these are signs of answered prayers. 

And it was Justin who helped me remember. 

So, here's to the man who takes crying babies from this frustrated momma. To a man who washes cloth diapers and remembers to hang dry the covers. He does Ellery's bedtime every. single. night.  and has never once complained about it. 

But more importantly, here's to a husband who isn't afraid to punch me in the gut (figuratively, of course) from time to time for the benefit of our family and our relationship with Christ. 

New Orleans and Us.

As we settle back into our routine, this week has been a whirlwind. I have been meaning to update the blog, but it has been one thing after another, making it hard to know where to start.

Sunday our family of four made our way to New Orleans. We went to church early and then took a couple hours to nap before taking our sweet Ellery to experience the aquarium for the first time. 

She called everything a goldfish and wanted to go "schwimmminnn" in every fish tank, so overall, I think she had a blast!

We spent the night at the Mizell's, the same precious place we stayed while we were waiting to bring our special little boy home from the hospital. 

Staying there brought back so many strong memories, as I took a few moments and relived some of the emotions I experienced in the early days. I became even more thankful for the time I have now with our Elam. Time to kiss him, and hold him as long as I like the night before surgery. 

We woke up at 5 AM to get ready to take our sweet boy for his third surgery. We applied lidocaine to his heels and ankles around 5:30 so the area would be numb before his tendon release procedure. 

The nurse came and took him from us right at 7 AM. They gave Ellery a paper castle and some stickers to decorate it with while we waited. Ellery entertained herself while watching Mickey Mouse, while I paced around the waiting area. 

Elam was only given local anesthesia, which was the lidocaine that we applied ourselves, for this I was thankful, but I also worried about him getting hungry, or crying his hysterical cry, the one where he forgets to breathe, on the operating table, and me not being there to comfort him. 

The nurse came out at 8, smiling and telling me he was in recovery and I could now go back to see him. 

His casts were red (to match his hair) and he was asleep. They said he did perfect through the surgery, and I kissed him as in quickly picked him up to hold him. We had to stay 30 minutes in recovery before we were allowed to leave. 

We spent the rest of the morning looking for bikes around New Orleans on Craigslist and taking Ellery to play at City Park. 

We made it home around 3 PM thankful that our next orthopedics appointment was scheduled for three weeks from now. 

Unfortunately, Wednesday morning I noticed Elam's little cast had started to slip already. The doctor had informed us that if it started to slip, even in the smallest amount, he needed to redo them, because the tendon would heal incorrectly.

So off to New Orleans I went for the second time in three days, to see doctors who know us well enough to be able schedule appointments around Elam's feeding schedule, while taking into account our 2 hour drive. This is awesome and unfortunate at the same time. It means we have been to see them far to many times in the past two months. 

Alas, we are back and praying his casts stay on for another 2 and a half weeks!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Heart of Life is Good.

  As we journey through this life we are learning how little stuff actually matters and how much love does. Mothers, fathers, babies, sisters, brothers - and the love shared between - is what keeps us going, striving, and dwelling on the joy of life.
 As we love on our sweet babies today, we are remembering that the heart of life is good. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Clubbed Feet.

(Progress after just two weeks of casts.)

I realized yesterday, as we were headed home from our 3rd visit with Ochsner's pediatric orthopedic department, that I haven't talked much about Elam's clubbed feet and the process it is going to take to correct them. 

Elam's little legs have been in the smallest of casts for the last two weeks, and had his third pair put on yesterday. They really don't seem to bother him, but it sure does make him appreciate the couple minutes he gets each week when the doctors take them off. 

The cutest movement you have ever seen comes from Elam's left leg as he wiggles it with pure excitement when it is freed from his cast. This makes my heart happy. 

The doctors have estimated around 6-8 weekly cast changes will be needed, as with each casts they are able to straighten the foot out a little more.

 After the weekly round of casts get the feet straight and flexible enough for the doctor's liking, Elam will undergo a small surgery to further loosen the tendons in the back of his feet. He will then be put back in casts for a month. 

After the month of casts, at this point I am not sure if there will then be more casting, or if then he will go straight to braces (that he will wear 24/7 for three or so months, and then at night for 4-5 years).  

It is really amazing to us to be able to see such improvement in just two weeks!
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