Tuesday, December 28, 2010

christmas songs...

(Better late than never, eh?) Enjoy!

Monday, December 27, 2010

big girl room...

Wanna see my room?

Gone are the days of a nursery, and here's my new big girl bed! (my crib converted into this toddler bed) Found the cute comforter set on sale, and guess what the new paint color is called? Sweet Caroline. (with that name, it pretty much HAD to happen, whether it looked good or not.) :)

For a few bucks, we also found these puffy wall stickers, too! Fun, huh?

Nanny took a coordinating bed sheet (!) and sewed the curtain, the bench cushion, & two pillows to match. (it was much cheaper than buying fabric by the yard & it looks great) When it's time to get into bed, Mommy & Daddy slide the bench over toward the bed & turn it like a bed rail so I don't fall out!

(Mommy still wants to put something on the wall above the bed, so any decorating ideas are welcome!)

Daddy painted Mommy's old dresser white & with new knobs, it's like new!

And we're all about decorating cheap around here, so Mommy just found some coordinating scrapbook papers at a craft store, and for $2, we have wall "art." Waalah.

I loooove my new bed! I'm a big girl now!
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Saturday, December 25, 2010

merry (gluten-filled) christmas...

Merry Christmas 2010! Wanna catch a glimpse of what Christmas looks like for us each year in South Carolina with Daddy's family?

What made THIS Christmas unique was the number of gluten-free eaters now in our family! Since Marc's brother was diagnosed with celiac disease (aka gluten intolerance) 1 1/2 years ago, several members of the family have discovered their own various health issues being resolved & greatly improved from going gluten free! (it's crazy how it's helped everything from migraines to stomach pain to fatigue...are we spreading the gluten-free gospel or what?!? ha ha)

So here's the current gluten-free gang in our family. (We gluten eaters are quickly being outnumbered on Daddy's side of the family!!) Did you notice who's missing from this picture??

That's right. I'm not in there.

And that's because I'm back on GLUTEN. (gasp! shock!) More on this later, but for my scheduled endoscopy in February, I've got to be on a little gluten each day for at least a month until then. (more coming soon on this....)

So what always makes our Christmas SO fun in recent years is these guys! Though they've been around for the past 2 Christmases, my aunt & uncle now have permanent custody of 5 of these siblings, and they are a joy and delight to our family! (not to mention fun cousins for me to play with!)

So on Christmas Eve we all went to Nanny & Papa's church.

After the service we all go back to spend the night at Nanny's house, have lots of FUN, and eat, eat, EAT!

In the morning, all the family gathers upstairs for Nanny to read the Christmas story from the Bible, sing Christmas songs & "Happy Birthday" to Jesus, and pray together. And THEN... it's time to head down the stairs to open presents!!

THIS is the chaotic scene and we LOVE it! This year I was a big helper by helping to pass out the gifts to everybody.

And then, when it was finally time to open my presents, I LOVED it!

I carefully tore open the paper, and with each gift, I wanted to open it up and play with it first before I ever thought of opening another one. Mommy & Daddy were proud of me for savoring each gift, although it took so long that we didn't even get to finish opening them all!

Some things I got this year were: a bean bag chair, some games, lots of toy foods & pots/pans so I can cook like Mommy!, some stuffed animals, a book, a set of blocks, my first digital camera, a Little People nativity set, a set of musical instruments, a music player, and more. It'll take me all year just to enjoy it all, and can you believe I've got a birthday right around the corner?!

After presents came a delicious pancake breakfast made by Nanny. (who chose to make a gluten-free batch and a regular batch for everybody...) And not long after breakfast we had a delicious Christmas dinner: turkey, mashed potatoes, gluten-free mac-n-cheese, sweet potato souffle, squash casserole, peas, collared greens, a gluten-free pecan pie, a gluten-free red velvet cake, homemade fudge, and loooooots more. (you definitely don't have to go hungry when you're gluten free!!) It was SO delicious, Nanny. Thank you for all you do each year to make Christmas special for our family.

Hope y'all had a merry Christmas, too!
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Thursday, December 23, 2010

a preacher & a pastor...

There's a difference in my mind between a preacher and a pastor. Could I be so bold to suggest that most people don't have a pastor? Thanking God for the preachers and the pastors in my life!

A preacher's home is in the pulpit. A pastor's home is with his family.

A preacher might be more concerned with his performance.
A pastor hopes that you see Jesus as a little more beautiful than you did the day before.

You might have to drive quite a way or listen online to your preacher, but a pastor lives in your midst.

A preacher speaks to the masses, but it's a pastor that sits across the table with you alone at breakfast.

A preacher holds your attention and draws you towards him. A pastor understands your heart and draws you toward Christ. (and away from himself)

Around a preacher, you'd be tempted to straighten up your hair and home. Around a pastor, you both don't have to pretend.

You feel the need to force a fake smile around your preacher.
You can weep with your pastor.

Your preacher thinks everything's okay with your family.
Your pastor knows everything's not okay with your family.

Make sure you don't talk about ____ when the preacher's around.
You want to talk about ___ with a pastor.

A preacher can lead you to believe he has it figured out, but a pastor doesn't hesitate to share his own struggles.

People may flock to hear the words of a preacher AND a pastor on Sunday.
But it's the words of the pastor that reach the darkest & most painful places in your heart Monday through Saturday.

A preacher speaks, but a pastor listens, too.

A preacher knows you (maybe even well), but it's a pastor that knows exactly what is keeping you up at night.

You will probably call a preacher when someone in your family dies.
A pastor is one that you'd call even when the car dies.

You see a preacher in church.
You see a pastor in his home. And yours.

A preacher is faithful to speak the truth of Scripture.
A pastor is also faithful to speak the truth of Scripture, but a pastor knows he is not faithful in living out the truth of the Scripture and needs God's grace.

A preacher can be consumed with his church kingdom.
A pastor is consumed with a larger Kingdom.

A preacher can fill the room, but a pastor speaks faithfully to whatever number the Lord brings his way.

A preacher may give off the impression that he knows and loves the Lord well. A pastor is one who knows it's the Lord who knows and loves him well.

The Lord has used both preachers and pastors to minister to me.
But it was the faithful ministry of ordinary pastors that have forever changed my life.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

a christmas carnival...

carnival in Carolina.

with cool cousins.

cautious caress.

Come on!

Carousel cuddle.

Classic cups.


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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

lessons & carols...

This past Sunday, our church, Mercy Presbyterian, had a traditional Lessons & Carols service, where there are 9 scripture readings telling the Christmas story throughout scripture (the "lessons") each followed by a corresponding Christmas carol.

Can I just say it was AWESOME!?! (Here's the bulletin.) Walking thru the story of how the plan of the Gospel was promised in Genesis (Gen. 3:15), how Christ's birth was foretold in the Old Testament, and how Christ's birth was THE hope for all of creation was so powerful and worshipful. It was wonderful to see so many of our church members participate in various ways-- either as readers of the lessons or as musicians leading the congregation.

As the worship team leader of such a small, new church plant, (we probably have between 100-120 a week?? Just a guess...) I am SO impressed at all the musical talent in our midst! It was quite the labor of love to write out all the string quartet parts to each song and then arrange it all together with the rest of the instruments, but all of the hours of work were sooo rewarding in the end!

And you just thought I only played violin & viola.... :)

I love my team! (made up of some of our RUF students & church members) More than just great musicians, they're like family. I am so blessed to be able to worship alongside them. They are a wonderful group of people and I couldn't be more proud! Can't wait to do it again next Christmas!
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Friday, December 17, 2010

let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!...

Well, leave it to a couple of inches of snow to make your toddler's dreams come true!

This is really the first year that I am ALL about the snow! (last year I liked it, but if I fell down in it, I was ready to go inside... no WAY will I ask to go inside this year!) When Mommy prayed with me, I told her we needed to thank God for snow. And you bet we did. :)

I'm making snow angels... (yes, in cowboy boots, because even after 2 1/2 years, we Texans haven't quite made the transition to Virginia enough to actually purchase some SNOW BOOTS! ha!)

...and riding in the sled...

...but really, all I wanna do is to make footprints everywhere. THAT'S my favorite. :)

Let's say Daddy's snowball "fight" wasn't exactly all that fierce...

And our snowman was a little comical...

...but I sure do love the SNOW!
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

decisions, decisions...

I hate making decisions.

Our follow-up appointment with the pediatric gastroenterologist (GI doc) at Duke was this week, and it was pretty much what we expected: bloodwork looks good & doesn't seem to show any malabsorption or deficiency problems, Caroline is still growing, gaining weight, & thriving, the hair loss may not be connected to the foul, loose stools, etc. etc. While it is reassuring to hear she's checking out as healthy and we're doing everything right, it gets us no closer to answering all of our questions.

The only way to KNOW something for sure in the GI world is to do an upper endoscopy & colonoscopy (under full anesthesia). It would be a definitive answer as to whether she has celiac disease (people with alopecia have a much higher likelihood of having celiac genetically), as well as show other intestinal conditions/problems such as carbohydrate malabsorption syndromes, for example. It's a relatively quick, easy, & safe procedure-- the whole procedure is less than an hour long & she won't be in any pain afterwards, but still. No parent wants to make the decision for their 2 yr. old to "go under" when it is not absolutely necessary. I can't imagine watching my daughter being rolled away sedated on a hospital bed! (If this thought makes me immediately sick to my stomach, I wonder how the God of all the universe watched as His Son was killed?) The doc said she's on the fence about whether she would recommend we do this or not. So basically it is up to us. (I just wish things were a little more clear-cut sometimes! Would someone please just tell me what to do & I'll do it!)

The last time we were given the option to do this endoscopy (with a different gastro doc), we opted to go the gluten free route to see if that would resolve some of the problems. It did, at least some of them. The frequency became normal (before it had been 3+ times a day), but the "quality" only improved for a week before things turned south again. Instead of subjecting her to an invasive procedure at that time, we felt much better about actually doing something to try to treat the problem.

And here we are. 9 months later. And Lord knows, I've tried everything. I thought I knew what was happening in her body. But now I'm waving the white flag. I give up. I don't know. I don't know if the hairloss is ONLY alopecia (an autoimmune condition where the body randomly decides to attack its own hair follicles & regrowth is totally unpredictable for every individual, but they are otherwise completely healthy) or if it's alopecia CAUSED by something else-- a deficiency or something like celiac disease, for example.

It's said that the worst thing about alopecia is the acceptance of it. That can't be more true. As a parent, I am tortured with the "why did this happen?" question almost non-stop. Is there something underlying that I'm missing??? And while there are more options to exhaust, I feel I need to exhaust them. THEN, once other medical possibilities are ruled out, I know our pain will take on a whole different kind of grieving to just STOP. And cry. And know that I've done everything I can possibly do for my child.

But now is not that time. I'm still in battle mode for my kid.

I mentioned the Mayo possibility to you guys last time, and for several various reasons, right now we are looking to work through our options with Duke (both gastroenterology & dermatology) before we reconsider that option.

And in the midst of this battle, the Lord continues to shower us with grace and provisions. My worship team bought me a gift certificate to a SPA! (never been to one, but oh, I can't think of anything better...) Our Lynchburg RUF students secretly collected Christmas money for our family and gave us a check of almost $300 towards our expenses!!! (COLLEGE students, can ya believe it?? he he) We know there are so many people praying for us near and afar, and we are so grateful. He has not abandoned us in the least. As we have struggled along the path, He has given us just what we need when we need it. Plus more. Grace, grace.

So we've got this decision to make. Pray that He'll continue to lead us. We'll keep you posted.

Monday, December 13, 2010

ostrich vs. toddler...

Y'all want to come on a safari with me?? Last week in Texas, my Mamie took me to Fossil Rim!

You know, it's one of those drive-thru safari places where you can feed the animals from your car, and this one had TONS of animals! (I think they said there were over 1,100 of 'em in the park!) This was the scene as we started off our drive-- it was like the documentary Planet Earth seeing all of these animals running and roaming! Wow!

But things quickly turned from an animal documentary to a good ole fashioned Western showdown...

between me (a little taken aback, as you can see) and the ostrich. It was a stare-down to the death. (okay, not really...) He spotted my food and wasn't going to budge. Let's just say Mommy had a slight freak-out as she envisioned this ostrich sticking its head in the window any farther, so here was the scene at the end of the showdown: Mamie laughing hysterically, Mommy's blood pressure a little on the high side, me asking, "why did that ostrich stick his head in the window?" and the ostrich was left with NO food. :) (I guess Mamie was the winner???)

But it didn't take me long to figure out the drill as the animals would walk up to the car and I would dump my cup of food for them to eat! It was great fun!

So we weren't QUITE as taken aback at this guy...

or this guy.

There was even a little children's place to stop at halfway through the safari, so after a few quick pats on the billy goats, it was OFF to find more animals again!!!

My favorite animal was seeing the giraffe!

Thanks, Mamie, for a great trip! And you better believe I'm still talking about that ostrich sticking his head in the car.... :)
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