Friday, July 10, 2009

Independence Day Memorial

On July 4th, a dear friend, Barbie Cumberbatch, celebrated her Independence Day from this world and her welcome into Heaven. For two years, she fought breast cancer valiantly and with grace. She was a true example of courage and perseverance to us all.

The proud author at her book signing. How awesome!

During her final months, she was blessed to be able to publish a children's book, Blessings Come from Kindness, about a little boy who learns the power of being kind to others in spite of circumstances. That is a lesson Barbie definitely understood, and I am so glad she was able to share her story with others. She leaves it as a legacy for her two precious children, a loving husband, cherished family members, and many friends. 

My folks at the book signing. They considered Barbie to be their "other daughter."

I was honored  to attend her first and only book signing on June 6th, a week after Boo's birth, mere weeks before she went to be with Jesus. To think, she was concerned about me being out too soon and doing too much...

Barbie holding Boo and with me. I am soooo glad I was able to be there.

Barbie, we miss you already, but we are so comforted to know that you are with your Redeemer, Healer, and Abba Father in a place where there is no more cancer, no more pain, and no more tears. We are so blessed that we CAN rest secure in the knowledge that we will see you again someday, if we trust in Christ ourselves.

We will always love you, friend, and we will treasure the many sweet memories we have of you.

May God bless your family and bear them up during their time of greiving, and bring to them the help and care they need most.

With much love from us all.

Your family and friends

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bubba's Blessing Ceremony

Just before Bubba's 18th birthday, his father and I discovered the concept of having a Blessing Ceremony. Now, this is something that would usually be done when a young man was just entering his teen years, so not having been exposed to the idea previously, we were a bit behind the curve. However, we decided that the idea of using our prayers, words, hopes, and dreams to bless him as he embarks on his journey of manhood was a Biblically solid one and worthy of doing, even if a bit late. Here is the first of several pictures of our small ceremony, held at church, on his birthday. This picture shows Ma and the little kids (two are missing...hmmmm...where are they?) standing on one side of the garden to "send him off" to cross the bridge to stand with the men. I recalled some sweet memories of Buuba as a boy and spoke of the positive qualities he had then that have grown into God-given strengths: determination, conviction, intelligence, motivation, physical strength. Tex spoke a few words of his own that were heartfelt and sweet about how Bubba is a good older brother and that he hopes to do as good a job being one, too.

Here are the men, including the pastor, my dad and my hubby, and several family friends, who are waiting for Bubba to cross the bridge. The little kids gave him flowers and kisses before sending him off.

This shows Bubba listening to the wonderful comments, prayers, and blessings that others shared in honor of him. The Pastor gave a very nice devotional and a new Bible, my father reminisced about Bubba as a child, and his own dad praised him for being such an upstanding young man and gifted him with a cross made from hoseshoe nails (Bubba is a farrier). Other close friends prayed for him, passed on special gifts, and promised to walk alongside him on his journey.

Because we were in a large outdoor space, the family crossed the bridge shortly after Bubba did, so we could clearly hear the wonderful comments and prayers for him. This shows my mom going in for a hug of congratulations following the final prayer for Bubba's spiritual growth, safety, and success.

Here is a picture of our family following the ceremony, including Nanny and Poppy.

A proud Mom and Dad and their firstborn son.

What good is a ceremony without a celebration/potluck afterwards? Since we are in the South, we went for fried chicken and all the a cake and a lot of Sweet Tea (Bubba's favorite). Here he is opening a few gifts after showing off his album of cute (and sometimes embarassing) baby/childhood pictures. It was a real celebration of who he is and who he is becoming. (The Wild West decorations were courtesy of the Men's Father's Day Breakfast...they actually fit Bubba's personality to a "T!")

Our son. We are proud of you!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Counting my Blessings

Not every situation that is used for good by God is pleasant at the outset. I know we'd like things to be clear, and easy, but the reality is that blessings come wrapped in all different sorts of packages. Some are obvious and overt, while others are more subtle, or perhapes even disguised as difficulties.

Recently, our sixth child, Boo, was born a month early. This is one reason I have been so delayed in writing another post. For months I have felt poorly…you may recall that I mentioned I was on limited activity and using that time to write books with my children…Well, one reason for my being on limited activity was the unexplained contractions I kept having. Unfortunately, these never went away.

In fact, things started worsening, in spite of my cooperation with the guidance to stay put at home as much as possible. While my headaches improved for a brief time during the middle of the pregnancy, suddenly one set in that was so unrelenting, I could barely function. I was finding it painful to breathe, and was actually having to hold onto the wall to walk at times as it hurt to straighten up and even to move. I woke up every hour at night in discomfort and was in general miserable, struggling to be a good mom to my five kids and to wrap up the school year quickly. At my last OB visit, I asked why things had gotten so painful and why I would feel so poorly when I never had felt this way before, and they told me that since I was older, of course the pregnancy would be harder…I am VERY OLD at the age of 41, after all. Argh!

Anyway, one morning after I spent an extremely restless and painful night having regular contractions, along with a horrible headache, anxiety, and difficulty even breathing comfortably, I finally had enough and tried to call my OB to tell them I wanted to come in to be seen. I knew something wasn’t right. They had confirmed I was already beginning to dilate at my last appointment, and I have a history of rapid deliveries, so I was genuinely concerned about something happening while I was alone...well, not alone, but at home with five kids for company and no adults nearby! After waiting for hours, and trying two more times, I finally figured out that they had no intention of calling me back, even though the message was tagged as URGENT.

Blessings abound in mysterious ways…I finally got fed up with my OB and called my dad and oldest son (who was visiting my folks an hour away) and asked them to meet me at the hospital near my parents’ house to pick up the little kids, so I could be seen at the ER there…and thankfully they did. I felt I really needed to be seen. I am pretty tough since I am used to living with migraines, but things had escalated beyond my ability to cope gracefully. I really had just enough left in me to make the drive to the hospital and hand the car keys to my son. I also called my husband at work and he met us there, and thankfully they admitted me immediately.
The kindest doctor saw right away that there was a REAL problem and hastened to run some tests, discovering that I had a very bad kidney infection AND a migraine AND I was in true labor. They administered medication to relieve my pain and other symptoms (hallelujiah! pain free for the first time in weeks!) and hoped labor would stop once I felt better, but no luck. It turns out a bad infection can trigger labor and that is what happened. I recalled that there were multiple indicators over the last several weeks, maybe months, that should have alerted my own OB to a kidney problem, but it was all attributed to my "advanced maternal AGE." Argh again!! What is it with doctors these days thinking the early forties are OLD? But God was there with me and even though labor progressed to delivery, which was a month early, Boo came out a quite well developed 8 lbs1 oz…I can’t imagine him being any larger and me still managing
to deliver him! My heart goes out to women who have 10 lb+ babies!!

Welcome to baby Boo, born May 30, 2009...We love you!

Wait though…here is another miracle…for some odd reason, though I was ready by most standards to deliver…fully dilated, wanting to push, Boo did not descend fully like all my others have…until the LAST minute when he came all at once. God knew he had that cord twisted tightly around his little neck several times and couldn’t withstand much time with it that way. If Boo had spent much time that way lower and tighter, he would not be with us today. I now understand why the nurses were concerned and why he was seemingly in stress from time to time in the later stages of labor.

Wasn’t the Lord wonderful to have used my horrible illness for such good?!! If I hadn’t been in the hospital already and the doctors hadn’t been so attentive and they hadn’t already treated me for my illness and they hadn’t decided to go ahead and deliver me THAT day, the ending might have been a different one. I can’t be upset about the time I spent in pain with such a blessed ending. I can’t even be mad (well, not too mad) at my personal OB (whom I have not seen again) since going to the other hospital turned out to be such a blessing. In fact, I’m REALLY glad my OB never called back, because the hospital I wound up delivering in was MUCH nicer than the one I was supposed to go to. That was a nice little bonus, don’t you think? ;-)

Through all of this I have learned that no matter what is going on, we should remember to praise God for His mercies each and every day. You can’t possibly imagine what He has planned, but it is bound to be amazing.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Last night we had a sweet surprise. My husband called while he was on the road home from work and warned us that if it wasn’t raining where we were, it soon would be, so we all hustled to pick up things in the yard and feed the animals before the rain hit. My middle son was out feeding the dogs when I felt the first drop of rain and I hollered at him to hurry in before he got soaked. He started running immediately and it seemed he was actually running just in front of the rain. I have never seen him run so fast! We laughingly ran up on the deck and through the sliding door into the kitchen just as the heavens broke loose. The three little ones joined us and we all stood at the door watching the rain pound the deck boards, glad that we had managed to get everything done and could now just enjoy the rainstorm. With dinner smelling so delicious in the crockpot, the prospect of a rainy evening was not half bad. The kids always love to use rain as an excuse to make a fort, or play a board game, or both.

However, the rain did not last very long. Only about ten minutes, maybe. There was still plenty of light outside once it was over. In the spring, summer, and fall, any shred of daylight means that my kids will want to be outside, and the prospect of fresh puddles of water to splash in certainly makes that sound even more appealing! Don’t you just love (generic) crocs and galoshes? They are so easy to clean up that you can feel free to let the kids just be kids without worrying about the mess you have to clean up later on! Anyway, as we gathered their shoes back up to put them on, my oldest daughter noticed that there was a rainbow forming over the neighbor’s cornfield, stretching over our house and pastures and ending in the woods beyond. My goodness, it was BIG and beautiful. Absolutely brilliant.

What is even neater is that just last week, after I was put on orders by my OB to "limit your activities, etc.," I decided to use my extended hours sitting in my bedroom at the computer to start working on our dream of writing children’s books. We started by writing one for the littlest child, then the next oldest, and so on. We had worked our way up to the third youngest and you can guess what her story is about from the title of this post…a rainbow! And not just any rainbow, but a rainbow specifically over our house, Blessing Farm! How much fun is that!? It was like a little present from God. Just a reminder that like that quote, "Yesterday’s history, tomorrow’s a mystery, but today is a gift…that’s why we call it the present" so eloquently, yet simply states…we need to appreciate each day for what it is. A gift from God.

In any case, the kids did not hesitate to jump into the moment and start appreciating things. All three little ones immediately ran outside in their bare feet to jump in the tiny puddles on the deck, oohing and ahhing over the rainbow. My middle one, ever helpful, ran in search of my elusive camera so we could capture the moment with a photo for the book. While he was looking in the car for the camera, a second, not as bountiful, rainbow formed right under the first and we were awestruck. We stood there, reveling in the impressive display. After a few moments, and quite a few snapshots, we noticed that the second rainbow had faded, and that a small section of the larger one had begun to disappear. It was the oddest thing to see bold and clear colors arcing over the forest, and another leg of colors arcing from the farmland, then this crystal clear gap in the center. Within another minute or so, the whole thing was gone and we decided to go back inside since it had started to lightly rain again.

What the whole thing made me think of this morning was how God used the rainbow to promise Noah that he would never destroy the earth and its creatures again using a flood of waters. The rainbow is a symbol of God’s promises. Then it crossed my mind that like the rainbow over our house, the rainbows, or the blessings in our lives, sometimes come in bountiful spleandor, with clear, vivid colors. Sometimes you even get more than one at a time…What a miracle that is! Other times you get one with a few holes in it, and that is harder for us to deal with, but still worth appreciating. Even more often, you see nothing at all, and that is when we falter. But what we need to remember is that even when we don’t have visible evidence through a beautiful rainbow, the colors are still there. They don’t go away just because we don’t see them in that way. God’s promises to us are always there, too, even when the way seems hard. He loves us and is with us and wants us to be with Him for eternity, so we need to rejoice in those things He gives us, even when times are tough and the rainbows, or blessings, are unclear.

The funny thing about the way God works is that He often uses those rainstorms to bring out the rainbows in our lives. I think that is what I need to remember for today. Instead of focusing on the storm, focus on the rainbows ahead, and enjoy the gift of the day. Enjoy your day…it’s time I went to enjoy mine!

Friday, May 1, 2009


It has been over a year since we bought our little blue house and fifteen acres way out here in the country, but less than a year since we moved in. The old farmhouse required a lot of renovating…and still does. We had to completely redo many of the walls and ceilings downstairs, reconstruct the rotting bathroom on the first floor, and add a bathroom upstairs for the children to share. We knocked out a window in the very small kitchen and added a sliding door and a deck to give us more least during the temperate months. A friend and my oldest son helped tear out rotting kitchen cabinets, resize and remount the usable ones, and paint them. Every room needed a fresh coat or two of paint. Most of the fixtures needed replacing.

But the bones are good and the property is BEAUTIFUL. There is a peace people feel when they turn onto our long, winding, tree-shaded road and drive leisurely out into the countryside past country estates, horse farms, and old homes. Green grass, shady trees, bright flowers, singing birds, dancing butterflies, orderly crops, waving neighbors...all the nice things you find way out here in the boonies. I felt it the moment we turned down that road for the first time and started praying right away that THIS would be the home we'd been praying for. A peace settled on me that lasted even through the tour of the too small, too run down, too-much-work-needed place.

I'd like to tell you that the peace stayed no matter what. We bought the house knowing that life would be tough for a while, while we got things ready to move in, and even past that, but more came at us than what we foresaw, from unexpected places, and it threw me for a loop. I'd like to say I got through it gracefully, but even though I think I did all right, I do think there were things I could have improved. The one thing I wish I could change is the way those hardships have affected my percption of this beautiful place. I sometimes now feel it is a trial rather than a treasure. As a mistake instead of a blessing. How sad. I am ever so grateful for it, but aware of what transpired that did not go so well and that sometimes colors everything.

I suppose we moved in too quickly. We had been staying in my parents’ home for some time…all seven of us, plus our three dogs, two cats, three horses, one pony, and two potbellied pigs! They were very gracious to allow us to stay for so long while we searched for the house God wanted for us, but we all felt it was time to get the "new life" we planned out in the country started, and we were anxious to see what that new life would bring. Now I look back and see where we are and wonder if it might not have been better to stay put and get more done before moving in. Hindsight is 20/20, I guess. At the time, the pressures were real, and the choice to move seemed clear. I feel more strongly now that waiting to start will give you a better start, and I think that understanding will benefit my kids, if I can teach them that lesson. It's just that I was eager to get started on what we all felt God had for us, that the idea of any more delays than necessary seemed ridiculous (mind you, this was after spending a year with Navy hubby gone, having a baby six-weeks early the day after our move, thankfully selling a house in a sluggish market the day of the birth, and even more craziness too tedious to list).

The funny thing is that in spite of my eagerness to begin "living the dream," I often feel we still haven’t quite started yet. It seems there is so much to do and so little time in every day…or at least there is limited energy (Well, on my part, anyway. Maybe not on the part of the kids!). It frustrates me when I work all day, yet feel I have not accomplished enough because there is still so much to do. I heard a sermon the other day that said if you reach the end of the day feeling like you did not get done what you had to do, then maybe you are not doing what GOD wants you to do because God always gives you enough time to execute HIS plans. Hmmmm. That makes me think this morning.

I woke early and lay in bed thinking about: "When will I get the garden put in and the flower beds built? Where will we put the new baby (who is due in June)? How will I get all these things organized to make room for everything a new baby requires (especially with me being on limited activity for the next month to avoid an early delivery)? When will we get a chicken tractor and coop built to house the 37 chicks living in a brooder on our front porch? When will I get the kids together to go on that field trip I promised (so I can feel like we are homeschooling properly)? When will I get our homeschooling, chores, kitchen, closets, drawers, bookshelves, garage, barn, etc. organized enough that I don’t feel like I am failing in some way all the time?"

I realize I need to get past this impulse to achieve what I in my flesh see as "good enough" and just focus on what God has for me to do at this time…namely loving God, loving my kids and my husband and my family, homeschooling, and making a healthy and happy home. These other things I find to focus on may indeed be a part of that picture, but on God’s timing, not mine. That control is the most difficult thing to relenquish.

I will have to trust that the Lord will give us time to accomplish the important things…at least, the parts that HE thinks are important…and that is what has to matter. The rest, well, I need to give it to Him and He will provide, or we will discover that it wasn’t something we really needed after all.



Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wordless Wednesday---April Fool's Day 2009

 No foolin', I think these guys love each other...
Go love on someone wherever you are and have a Happy April Fool's Day!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...