Thursday, December 31, 2009
You can head on over there to read it if you like: http://comehaveapeace.blogspot.com/
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Ethan loved opening presents on Christmas morning and even asked days later if we could open presents.
Here he is with the "read" he got from us. An ABC book of his second year of life. He also got a "need" of socks and shoes and a "want" of a work bench with wooden pegs like I used to have when I was a little girl. Probably his favorite toy was the hot wheels city that my uncle bought him. You can see him here playing with it, or on our shutterfly site in the Merry Christmas video.
Here is most of our presents spread across the whole living room:
The day after Christmas we headed to the Smokies for Ethan's first hike. He has been hiking before, but this was the first time he hiked with his own two feet. For a not too difficult hike with a spectacular goal we chose Laurel Falls. In retrospect it was probably the best choice because the trail is paved and that makes walking even easier for a 2.5 year old toddler.
Considering that this trail is moderately difficult I think he did a great job! He walked up the trail for at least a half of mile and then he spent some time on Auntie's back and then on Daddy's shoulders.
When we finally got to the falls I think Ethan was a little overwhelmed. He looked around for a little bit, but then he just buried his head into Auntie's shoulder. The water was higher than I had ever seen it, coming up and over the bridge and covering rock that I know is bone dry in the summer.
On the way down the trail I thought Ethan would fall asleep in someone's arms. Hiking up the trail really wore him out! The most impressive thing for me was that even though we didn't leave the trail till about 3, and even though Ethan hadn't gone to the bathroom since very early that morning, he was dry when we reached the visitor center that had bathrooms!
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Mowing the snow:
And of course, eating it:
He actually liked it so much that we had to tell him to stop. There are plenty more pictures here in the December album.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Today Philip and I had our first appointment with our High Risk OB Dr. Howard at UT. Some of my friends have asked why I'm having to go to a high risk OB, so here is a short (and long) explanation.
Immunology lesson (I'm a nerd)
This lesson may not be necessary, but it will be helpful to understand the rest of the story.
All the cells in your body are covered in many antigens. Some of these antigens do nothing but identify the cells as "self". Antigens are molecules that stick out of the cell membranes that can be detected by immune system cells like white blood cells. Just picture all of your cells waving flags that proclaim to be "you". This way when bacteria invade your body and they don't have any "self" flags they can be targeted for destruction.
Any foreign cells are targeted for destruction by using antibodies. Antibodies can be thought of as little "flags" that our body makes to identify something as foreign, or needing to be destroyed. When your immune cells see another cell with antibodies on them they know to kill it immediately. There are several different types of antibodies (called immunogobulins) and they each play a role in our ability to fight off foreign cells or substances. Allergies are just an immune response to a particle that is not "self"(some of us see dog hair and dandruff as a threat while others do not).
Two and a half years ago the day after Ethan made his dramatic entrance (emergency C-section due to a prolapsed cord) to the world the pediatrician noticed that his little body was covered in petechiae. After being admitted to the NICU we had a consultation with their hemotologist and we were informed that Ethan had neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia. All that really means is that my body made antibodies against little Ethan's platelets because we had a different type and once he was born he was in great danger of spontaneous bleeding because all of his platelets were being destroyed. The hemotologist also told us that it was a miracle that he was born via C-section because that saved him from having bleeding in his brain. You can read Philip's testament of Ethan's second day of life and how God truly blessed us here.
Two years ago Philip and I got our platelets "typed" to make sure that this was the issue, and to see what are chances were of having issues with future pregnancies. Well, Philip is homozygous dominant (1a1a) and I am homozygous recessive (1b1b). If you'll remember your high school biology for a moment and do a quick Punnent square all our our babies will be 1a1b. This means that all of our babies will have platelets that my body sees as foreign or "not self". This is bad because my body will make anti-bodies against the baby's platelets while in utero and the baby could possible have inter-cranial bleeding before he or she is even born.
After Ethan was born he was given treatments of IVIg (Intravenous Immunogobulin G) that helped his platelet count return to normal as fast as possible. It was explained to me that these extra antibodies would attach themselves to the my antibodies in his little body and stop them from marking his platelets for destruction. Our doctor today said that really doctors don't know how IVIg helps this issue, they just know that it does.
Here is our plan of action as outlined by Dr. Howard today:
- Beginning at 18 weeks of gestation (end of January) I will begin weekly IVIg treatments to lower the baby's chance of having low platelets and/or bleeding on the brain.
- We will have extra ultrasounds through out the pregnancy to check to make sure that the baby's brain is not bleeding. Even if this is the case there is not much we can do, but to increase the amount of IVIg I am taking or to add steroids to my drug regiment. Without IVIg treatment bleeding only occurs in 10% of patients and the numbers are not available for patients with treatment because this is such a rare problem, but Dr. Howard seemed optimistic that IVIg "takes care of the problem".
- At 32 weeks we will probably test the baby's platelet count by taking a sample of blood from the umbilical cord. If the platelets are really low the baby can actually be given a transfusion (although that only helps out for a couple of days) and again we will change my drug amounts and/or types.
- The weekly IVIg treatments take about an hour unless I have a reaction to them and I'll try to schedule them while Ethan is in Preschool (which will work until May or so).
- The baby (when born) will have to have his/her platelet count monitored and may have to be admitted to the NICU, but this time we are delivering in a hospital that has one down the hall instead of having our little one across town. UT even has "room-in" NICU rooms where parents can stay with their babies for long periods of time. I don't know if we would be eligible to stay in such a room, but they are available.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Here's what my menu looked like for the day:
Why we didn't take ANY pictures of the food or guests, I will never know! Maybe it was because we were too busy eating :)
Sunday, November 1, 2009
We also roasted the pumpkin seeds for the first time. Good old Mark Bittman gave us lots of options and we chose salt with olive oil, jerk seasoning with olive oil, and brown sugar with butter! The sweet ones were my favorite!
Laura brought Blaise over to help Ethan go trick or treating. This first video is flipped, but it is too cute not to post! This was the first stop on their neighborhood outing.
As you can see right at the end of the video Ethan thought we were going to Kristin's house to stay and "trick or treat". He actually cried when we left and it took a few houses for him to catch on to the concept of what trick or treating was all about. After 6 houses into it though he would proclaim, "Next house have more candy mommy?" as soon as the new candy would hit his bag. We then had to have a discussion about saying "Thank you" before moving on to the next house.
It drizzled off and on through out the trick or treating, but finally the rain got heavy enough that we headed home. Here are the boys showing off their skills:
Monday, October 19, 2009
This morning Ethan was in the study with me but playing behind me. He was playing with his little phone, but all of a sudden he started saying, "No, blue!" "No, blue!" "Not green, blue!" Apparently he was pushing the number three button (which happens to be blue) and the little phone was saying, "Three" which he misunderstood to be "Green". After I showed him that the phone is saying numbers (and not colors) he calmed down. Too funny!
Back in April when I was at the Women's retreat for our church Philip and Ethan had crackers, cheese, and little smokies for lunch. Philip tried to show Ethan how if you put a piece of cheese on a cracker it is really good. Ethan then placed a club cracker on a Triscit, took a bite, and exclaimed, "Yumm!!"
Monday, October 5, 2009
When I say "make", I mean (in true teacher style) I stole someone else's idea and made it better. I got the color match sheets from this GREAT website: Homeschool Creations. After I printed off the sheets I cut them up and made this lapbook from a manila folder for Ethan to sort the colors.
Ethan loved telling me which envelope each picture went into, and although he doesn't yet have the manual dexterity to do it himself (without ripping my construction paper envelopes) he will soon!
This is the first recipe that Ethan has helped me with from start to finish! We even had to pause at the end to run to the store for more M&Ms and more chocolate chips. He did really well, even if at least 1/3 of a cup of flour ended up on the floor and 1/3 cup of M&Ms ended up in his mouth.
The funny part was while we were eating the cookies I asked Ethan who made them and he replied (in catechism fashion), "God!"
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Oh well, now I'm busy busy busy uploading and sorting pictures on our site: http://cajunsgotolondon.shutterfly.com
Head over there and check them out!
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
I've made us a shutterfly site where we will be posting all of our videos, pictures, and journaling about our trip. You can see it here at: cajunsgotolondon.shutterfly.com
Here is a map of our journey:
View London, Baby! in a larger map
Monday, August 31, 2009
About half way through the morning I started feeling really sick. I went out in back where Philip was hanging drywall in the pool house with another group to let him know that I wasn't feeling well. He encouraged me to take a break and drink some water. When I returned to the main house MaryAnn asked me if I was feeling okay. Don't you hate it when people do that? Of course I started crying! I think the emotions of the night before, coupled with not being with my little one on his birthday, and possibly a touch of dehydration just sent me over the edge! After MaryAnn and the other women there hurried to find a fan for me to sit in front of, a bottle of Gatorade, and a bandanna to cool my neck off I felt much better.
For the rest of that day I took it easy. Jon Ragsdale was in our group the first summer we went down and so I played electrician's helper for the rest of the day. It was still hot and humid, but I wasn't bending over, or crawling on the floor so I felt a lot better.
The neatest part of this day was that while we were working, one of Charles's neighbors stopped by to talk to Charles. Charles wasn't there, but what the Slidell pastor had "warned" us about was true with this man. The pastor had said on the first night of orientation, "Everyone down here is sick of hearing about Katrina! They don't want to hear any more about the storm, no more storm stories.....but, if you have a few minutes, they would LOVE to tell you their story!" He proceeded to tell us how he had stayed for Katrina because he felt like he could be of help to anyone else who stayed behind. He was especially concerned about an elderly couple who had decided to stay who lived next door. To make a long story short: He and his wife ended up riding the storm out in his attic with those neighbors who probably would have died if he would not have been there.
Why did he stay?
One of the most enlightening topics he addressed was the difficulty in deciding when to ride out a storm, and when to leave. When questioned by a woman on my team he explained all of the preparations that have to go into deciding to leave your home. Just a few of them include: boarding up your windows, finding a place to go, taking off of work, moving your boat or cars,.... He estimated that it would cost him at least $1,000-$2,000 to decide to leave his home if another hurricane looked like it was headed for St. Bernard parish. The decision to leave or to stay is further complicated by the fact that there are usually 2 - 4 storms that come develop or come ashore in the Gulf each year. He went further to say that he probably would ride out future storms just so he could be of help to others who had to stay behind.
When Katrina (and then Rita) hit Louisiana and Philip and I were here, one of the most frustrating things for me was to talk to people who had never lived in Louisiana (or anywhere along the gulf coast) or never experienced a Hurricane. They would ask the same questions that my team members asked to Charles's neighbor. "Why doesn't everyone just leave?" I remember several times explaining the number of residents of New Orleans that probably don't own or have access to vehicles. Even if they had vehicles, most of them have no place to go, no extra gas money to get there, and no money to stay in a hotel if the shelters are full. Even if they had those things the path of a storm is never guaranteed and so you could pack up and leave all for nothing. It was so great to have a south Louisiana resident put it so clearly to people that have never had to live through a Hurricane. For the first time they had to put themselves in the storm victims' shoes and realize that the decision is not a simple one.
On Friday I worked back at Carpenter's House with Jon and Philip trying to install an exhaust fan in the "blazing hot" kitchen. It was considered a holiday that day so Charles wanted us out of town as soon as we could be. Other team members helped serve lunch and then we packed up to go on a tour of the lower 9th ward.
The first year we were there was the summer after the storm, so not even 11 months had gone by. Philip did take a tour of the lower 9 then and had said that it was terrible. There were no cars or people anywhere. Just destroyed house after destroyed house. Still standing, but unlivable. This trip was different in a lot of ways. In the lower 9th ward there are some new houses, some cars, and some construction crews, but mostly there are blank foundations and over-grown lots. It was good to see that some progress is still being made, but most of all it was sad to think that each square of concrete that is bare represents a family....
One of my family members commented after we were back in Knoxville that she was proud of us for giving up our time to go down and help out in New Orleans. My reply was an honest one. I am not proud of us for giving up our time! Our time is God's time. Whoever sold us the lie that success at a career is success in life had a good line going, but it just isn't so. This life is God's gift to me and I need to use it as he desires! Philip and I (because of this trip and because of Crazy Love) have recommitted to supporting more missionaries financially, but also supporting God's work with our time and energy. Since we have gotten back to Knoxville Philip has already gotten to help out a local church with his dry-walling skills. I don't say this to brag, but to emphasize that God has places to serve all over this country and we are going to continue to serve wherever we see the opportunity.
I think that is all for now. If I think of anything else I want to share (that Philip hasn't shared already) I will post it later!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The Sunday before my birthday I made a black forest cake for our Sunday School lunch. It must have been good because I didn't go home with any! On my actual birthday I made our family pancakes and sausages for breakfast which is a rare treat. Then Ethan and I went to Panera to meet Carmen and Jonathan Baba, Nancy Mathisrud, Hedy and Max Collins and Kristin VanderSluis. It was so fun that some of us went out to icecream afterward.
Tonight we are having dinner at one of my favorite restaurants: Crown and Goose with some of my favorite people. I can't wait! Then this weekend I'm having a party at Ben and Jerry's complete with a CareBears cake!
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Thanks to Shane for helping Philip do this while I was on retreat! After tearing the deck up we realized that we have standing water under our sun room because over half of the back yard drains to the lowest spot, which happens to be under the sun room. Our friend Curt is a water resources engineer and he came over and helped Philip plan a french drain, which is really just a gigantic ditch with a corrugated tube and gravel in it.....
Special thanks to Curt, Justin, Shane, and Tony for helping us dig this ditch! Also, thanks to Sara for delivering lunch! All in all we had one physicist, one water resources engineer, one biomedical engineer, and two electrical engineers working to dig a ditch! We may have had overqualified help, but we payed them in gumbo, so I think it worked out.
Now as the backyard drains towards the house hopefully the ditch will stop the water from getting to us. Instead it will pipe the water all the way around the sun room and out the other side of the house down the hill!
After two half days of hauling 2.88 tons of gravel to the back yard in buckets (thanks Tony and Ann!) we have a finished project:
Now, to put the deck back together....
If you want to see more detailed pictures you can look here. Also, I wanted to add that I am so grateful to have a husband that is willing to work this hard to make sure our home is a safe place to live! Thanks Philip!!
Thursday, August 6, 2009
If you haven't seen the Fireproof movie, please do! It was made by the same church that made Facing the Giants, but it is a much better movie! Kirk Cameron plays the main character who is a fireman. Kirk Cameron, if you don't know, is a Christian and has several ministries that he is involved in, including Way of the Master.
Here are my notes from the conference:
How to Fireproof your Marriage:
- The heart of the problem is a problem of the heart. "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9 (The condition of your heart is really the foundation of all of your other problems.) Your second birth is as radical as your first. Before you were born, you weren't there and then you were! Before being saved, your spiritual life is nonexistent, then it is there!
- Singing Sinatra or Surrendering Self The hymn sung in Hell is "I did it my way." Be on alert for separateness between you and your spouse and constantly remember to put your spouse's needs above your own.
- Burning Bridges and Building Altars Once a dog finds a feeding ground he will continue to come back to that feeding ground again and again to feed. You can burn the bridges to the feeding ground, but the dog will find another way to get there. We are just like dogs when it comes to temptation. We can burn bridges to the temptations that we face, but if we don't build an altar where the feeding ground was, we will continue to return there. We have to replace our temptation for sin with a love of God!
"Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered." 1 Peter 3:7 (KJV)
Kirk dissected the above verse in this way:
"Dwell with them" - spend time with your wife
- 15 min/day - sit and converse with your wife everyday (free of other distractions)
- 1 evening/week - Date Night!
- 1 day/month - Spend the whole day together
- 1 weekend/year - Get away from the house, the kids, the jobs, etc.
- "Nothing" doesn't mean nothing!
- Romance comes from sacrifice and planning not convenience
- Genuine compliments are never wasted
- A little help goes a long way
"as to the weaker vessel (body)" - Protection - Protect your wife - be patient with your wife when she desires safety and manage your anger.
"heirs together of the grace (blessings) of life" Open up and share with your wife
"so that your prayers may not be hindered" Pray together
Men are responsible to God for the condition of their marriage!
Also, while we are there Warren Barfield played and he was amazing to see! He wrote the song that became theme song of the Fireproof movie. He was really funny and his acoustic version of "Love is not a Fight" gave me goosebumps. Here is the normal video with scenes from the movie. If you don't have time to watch the video, the lyrics speak volumes so here they are (I LOVE the last stanza - it makes me cry):
Love is not a place
To come and go as we please
It's a house we enter in
Then commit to never leave
So lock the door behind you
Throw away the key
We'll work it out together
Let it bring us to our knees
Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it's something worth fighting for
To some, love is a word
That they can fall into
But when they're falling out
Keeping that word is hard to do
Love will come to save us
If we'll only call
He will ask nothing from us
But demand we give our all
I will fight for you
Would you fight for me?
It's worth fighting for
I hope you enjoyed these notes and lyrics! Pass these on to anyone who is married!
Update: I just read that feedyourfaith.org will be releasing copies of the conference for sale sometime this week. Check their website or FB for more info.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Dear Lord, I praise your holy name, you the creator of the heavens and the earth, you are our wonderful counselor, our redeemer, you are God, and you are my God. I thank you for your promise to be our help, our shield and our strength. Please speak through me today as your words are perfect and mine are not. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Before I start giving an account of our week in New Orleans, I would like to begin with some scripture to lay the foundation of a biblical principle: God provides for our needs when we are doing his will.
When God gave instructions to Moses to build the tabernacle he appointed certain people for certain tasks. In Exodus 35:30-35 we see how God calls people to his service and then equips them with skill and knowledge.
“Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe o Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts – to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver, and bronze.” (Ex 35:30-32)
In Psalms David repeatedly states that God helps, protects and gives strength.
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him and I am helped.” Ps 28:7
The word “trust” in the Psalms passage is a loaded word and we will discuss this more later.
The last piece of scripture I would like to discuss is the parable of the talents in Matthew Chapter 25. In this parable we see a man who entrusts talents to his servants while he is away. Two of the servants increase the talents entrusted to them, but the other man buries his talent. When the master gets back he sees that two of the men have gained more talents and replied “Well done good and faithful servant, you have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” But the man who came back with one talent gets rebuked by his master – “You wicked, lazy servant…Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten talents.” The master goes on to say “For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Although the parable talks of money (talents), this can be interpreted as anything that is given to us by the Lord, which is EVERYTHING. From ability, to money, to time, God wants us to use his gifts and blessings (which again is everything) for service to him for his glory. If we use his gifts and blessings for his service he will multiply them, if we do not he will take them away.
We arrived at Slidell, LA on the night of Sunday, June 28. We stayed at Faith Bible Church, where their main ministry is helping to rebuild damaged homes from Katrina. Slidell is completely rebuilt, so now the church is helping families in need around Slidell by providing free labor for many different things. However, there are still 66,000 homes that have not been rebuilt. So the church is teaming up with the Carpenter’s House in the lower ninth ward of New Orleans to help rebuild. The first two days of the week we spent in Slidell working, and the rest of the week we spent in the ninth ward.
On Monday, my team, which included John, Joey and Katlin, Mary-Ann, Julia, Jo-el and I, went to a single mother’s house in Slidell who needed her shed torn down, some logs hauled off and a new aerator installed in her septic tank. By late morning the heat was already getting to us. When we would take a water break, just five or ten minutes later we would start dragging again. I prayed for rain, the sky looked like it was threatening to rain, but that has been happening a lot recently. After I prayed I had an overwhelming feeling that God was going to answer my prayer. About an hour after lunch it began to rain. We picked up the job site and ran to the cars and waited out the rain. It lasted about 20 or 30 minutes and after we got out of the truck the temperature had dropped 10 or 20 degrees, it was actually comfortable outside!
With our new found God given strength, we worked on getting the trailer full of logs off of our truck and jacked up high enough for the other truck (which had a higher hitch) that was coming to pick it up. This would require us to put a 4x4 block under the trailer jack. The following was a sight to see.
The first idea was to put some bricks under the back tires and we could back over them so the back of the truck and hitch would be higher and hence the trailer jack. We tried this and the bricks broke apart and the tires sent them flying up under and to the front of the truck. The second idea was to bounce on the bed of the truck and hopefully get the hitch high enough for the 4x4 to be slipped under. This also did not work well and we actually bent the foot of the trailer jack.
At this point the next door neighbor and his wife came out and they asked, “What in the world are you trying to do?” We explain and he asks us if we want to use his jack (in our defense we had already checked the truck and there was no jack). He comes over with a heavy duty floor jack and we get the trailer jacked up in no time with the 4x4 underneath the trailer’s jack. They ask us what we are doing, and we tell them why we are here, a testimony to God’s love!
On Tuesday, our same team went to another single mother’s house who was just moving from overseas, where she was a missionary, to Slidell. We pulled up her flooring down to the concrete slab. In the living room and hall there were three layers of flooring: carpet and pad, linoleum flooring and then vinyl tile flooring. In the kitchen there were two layers of linoleum flooring and then vinyl. In the bedrooms it was just carpet. We also helped her paint two rooms. Her parents, who also live in Slidell, own the house and were using it to store old computers, which is her dad’s hobby. He worked for NASA and designed a part on the space shuttle. The whole house was full of old computers. Most of it had already been cleaned out when we got there but there was a lot of stuff out in the yard for the garbage men to pick up. When the garbage men got there we gave them cold water and Gatorade (Joey’s idea) and we threw everything into the truck for them. It was a lot of fun to watch the garbage truck compact computers, crush desks and even a dishwasher (which we found out later wasn’t actually to throw away, but to give to a guy who recycles all the metal from appliances)!
On Wednesday we started out at the Carpenter’s House in the lower ninth ward of New Orleans. Charles and Judy run the Carpenter’s House and live in a camper behind Faith Bible Church in Slidell. They run an amazing ministry with the focus of showing God’s love and making disciples of men. They do this by first meeting the physical needs of people by helping rebuild damaged houses from Katrina and also build houses from the ground up on lots that have been bulldozed in the ninth ward area. They also have a store front in the ninth ward full of clothes and toys; they are all donated and are free for those living around the store. Any day they can come in and pick five items from the store. They also feed the poor 3 days a week and feed the homeless on Wednesday nights at the “wall” which is the sea wall along the Mississippi river close to the French Quarter.
Charles was telling us a few days ago about how he used to feed the homeless hot dogs. Then as he was reading the Bible the following passage changed this.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you? He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46)
Notice verse 40 “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” After reading this Charles thought “Would I feed Jesus a hot dog or a steak dinner?” From then on he has made the homeless hot meals on Wednesday nights. Tonight it was redfish and shrimp courtbouillon which Bridgette helped make, green beans, a drink, and a small piece of cake. Another thing that Charles told us is that he didn’t want us to just serve the food and then leave but to serve the food and then talk to the homeless men and women and encourage them and just carry on a conversation – to love them. This made me nervous because I am not good at striking up conversation, so I prayed that God would give me something big to do, and give me the strength to do it.
Our team went to Charles house, which he bought after God lowered the price so he could afford it. It had to be gutted and but is now almost finished. A few from our team laid tile and John did some electrical work. My part of the team did drywall work in his converted garage. He is going to use this garage for housing long term missionaries that are visiting him. It has a small bedroom, a bathroom, a washroom, and a great room. Tom, Sydney, Katlin, Hannah and I hung drywall and tapped and mudded in the great room. When we were done for the day we headed back down to the Carpenter’s House to get ready to go feed the homeless at the wall. We loaded up the food in Charles’s truck and then he started giving us tasks. Me and two others guys, Allen and Jim, were to hand out drinks from the back of Charles’s truck.
As we were handing out drinks a homeless man came up to the back of the truck and asked, “Do you happen to have any socks, I don’t have any and my feet are badly blistered?”
Right then I knew I needed to give him my socks, but I just sat there. Allen told him to go see Charles. Charles sent the man to Judy and she rummaged through the cab of the truck. I heard her say that she couldn’t find any, and the homeless man responded, “That’s okay.”
I jumped out of the back of the truck and walked up to the man.
“I want to give you my socks.”
“Oh, I can’t take your socks.”
“Brother, You need them more than I do.” I never call people “Brother.”
I bent down and started taking my shoes off. As I was taking my socks off I started crying. I tried to brush the grass off my socks and handed them to the man. He hugged me and I hugged him back tightly. He thanked me again and said “God bless you” and I started to walk away. Immediately Joey came up and hugged me and told me “That was awesome.” Judy did the same. As I walked back to the truck bed Jim leaned over from the bed of the truck and hugged me and said “That is what it is all about.” There were no more drinks left to hand out so I walked back over to where the man was and saw Joey cleaning his feet. He was wiping them with alcohol to clean them, and then he applied some antibiotic cream to his feet. When I saw this all I could think about was when Jesus washed his disciple’s feet.
“After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." "Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!" Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:5-17)
It is very important to understand that I am not bragging. This account is to give glory to God. He answered my prayer. He gave me something big to do and he gave me the strength to do it. If I were working under my own strength I would not have left the bed of that truck. He even gave me words to say. I rarely ever call someone brother. But I did. “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matt 25:40)
On Thursday we continued our work at Charles’s house hanging drywall. Today Julia worked with me; she is 14 years old and was so much fun to work with. I had worked with her earlier in the week but now it was just me and her hanging drywall. Her sense of humor was priceless and I had a blast. She had never done this before and she was having a hard time using the power drill. After she tried a few times she said “That was an epic failure.” (Later I noticed in the Carpenter’s House painted on the wall these words Life - Jesus = Epic Failure) Later in the day after taking a water break we were walking back to the garage and she was saying how she wasn’t doing so well; I tried to encourage her and then said “Besides you haven’t even hurt yourself yet.” At that she lifted up her little finger and there was a small cut across it. We both could not stop laughing. Later she was on a ladder and almost fell; I had my hands behind her ready to catch her. Then she said “I am really clumsy, but I have cat-like reflexes.”
On Friday, John, Bridgette, and I worked at the Carpenter’s House and started installing an exhaust fan in the kitchen. We stopped working a little early because Charles said it would get crazy down there because of people celebrating the fourth of July. Charles took us on a tour of the ninth ward. There were a lot of open spaces where houses had been bulldozed. Although a lot of progress has been made since the first summer after the hurricane, there are still a lot of houses that have an X on them. 66,000 left…..
We got back to Faith Bible late Friday afternoon and started unloading our car. As we were unloading another team from Pennsylvania was backing their van and trailer into the parking lot. All the sudden Bridgette started screaming “Stop, Stop!” but it was too late, they backed into the front driver’s side fender of our car. Bridgette started crying and went inside. After the van was parked I met the driver, Steve, inside. He was very apologetic, and said that he wanted to pay to get our car repaired out of his own pocket. I asked if his church had insurance (since it was a church van) and if they could cover it. He said he wanted to pay and proceeded to write down his address and phone number for me. He again apologized and we parted ways.
A couple of hours later I was playing washers and Steve came up to me and pulled me aside. He gave me some cash.
“This is all I could get at the moment.”
“Are you sure you want to do this?” I asked
“Yes, I don’t want you have to pay a lot out of your pocket when you get the bill. If the damages cost more to fix then send me a bill for the difference.”
I walked away with a sinking feeling. His words of “This is all I could get at the moment” made me think that this was putting his family in a financial hardship. I told Bridgette what had happened. We decided that the car did not need to be repaired, that it would not at all affect eternity, the headlights still worked so it was still legal to drive. We decided to give the money back to Steve. Bridgette suggested that we give the money to Charles if Steve would not take the money back.
I talked to Steve a little later.
“My wife and I decided that we don’t want to repair our fender, so we want to give you the money back.” I said.
“No, it was my fault and I want to pay to repair the car, if the money more than pays for it then use the rest to go out for dinner or something.”
“Are you sure, is this putting financial hardship on your family?”
“No, I want to pay for the repair.”
“OK, well if the money more than pays for the repair then I will send you back the difference.”
“Oh no, if there is some left over send it to Charles.”
“OK, I will. Thanks again.”
I found Bridgette and we decided to give the cash to Charles because his ministry counts for eternity, body damage on our car is only a vapor or mist (James 4:14). I wanted Bridgette to give the money to Charles.
“Hey Charles, I’ve got something for you,” said Bridgette.
“Here.” Bridgette handed Charles the money.
“You can’t do that.” See Charles and Steve are good friends so Charles knew what was going on between us.
“Yes I can,” said Bridgette.
“Well at least let me give you a receipt.”
“If it makes you fell better.”
So they walked back to the church office and Charles gave Bridgette a receipt.
“You know sometimes you just know that the money wasn’t even yours to begin with,” said Bridgette.
“I know exactly,” said Charles.
Again, it is important to understand that I am not bragging. How can we brag about giving something away if it isn't even ours. Everything is God's and everything we have are blessings from Him. Just as with the talents, if we are good stewards of what he has given us then we will entrust us with more.
In closing I would like to share another biblical principal that I have learned and present a few challenges. The principal is this: as Christians we can have faith that God will answer our prayers when we are doing his will because as Jesus said “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
“Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered. When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?" they asked. Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matt 21:18-22)
This is a pretty awesome promise, but the word “believe” in the last verse is another loaded word similar to the word “trust” that we talked about earlier. The word “believe” means that we have a faith and confidence and trust that God will hear and answer our prayers. But this belief and trust is not unfounded, it is validated because of the knowledge we can have that we are in his will. This knowledge comes from both God’s word and the Holy Spirit.
Now for the challenge, let’s read a passage from James.
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. (James 2:14-25)
Many people like to say that no one but God can know a man’s heart and if he is truly a Christian. While this is of course true, that God knows your heart even better than you do, Jesus also said “you will know them by their fruits.” The actions that we take as Christians are the evidence of our faith, it is the outpouring of love from ourselves to others that is not of ourselves but is of God. If you believe that you have faith but do not act in serving God, then please take a closer look at your faith. I direct you to the first few chapters of 1st John where John says “This is how we know we are in him…” and continues to describe what evidences we should see in our lives of true faith in God. Remember that the type of belief a Christian has (whosoever believes in me should not perish but have eternal life John 3:16) is a different belief than the demons have (You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder). The difference is that even though a Christian and a demon both believe that there is one God, a Christian calls God “my God,” who is obeyed, served and loved.
Keep up with Carpenter’s House
Thursday, July 9, 2009
So we just got back late Wednesday night from Louisiana. We went there for a mission trip and then we stayed at Philip's mom's house for Ethan's 2nd birthday party.
This mission trip was sort of a repeat of one we did three summers ago. The first summer after Katrina our church sent two teams down to Slidell, LA to help with the reconstruction. That summer Philip and I went down together and actually met my sister Danielle there and the three of us served for a week doing basic construction on houses destroyed by the storm. I learned a lot that summer including to always except gifts from others with grace. The last day we were there my team received gifts from the homeowner who's house we were working on. If we would have refused these gifts we would have been showing her that we thought too much of ourselves to accept gifts from her. Not only would we have been showing our own pride, but it would have been a terrible put down for the homeowner. This was not the only thing I learned that summer, but I have been reminded of it often.
Every year since that first summer some folks from that very first trip have gone down to continue to help with reconstruction. Slidell is now completely rebuilt and because of the ministry that was started at Faith Bible Church for the Katrina relief the chruch is now able to continue to help those in need. During the last two summers our church group has also partnered with another ministry called Carpenter's House. Carpenter's House is a community center located in the lower 9th ward of New Orleans that seeks to shed light in a place of much darkness. Charles and his wife Judy serve free lunches four days a week from the Carpenter's House and the also serve dinner once a week down at "the Wall" near the French Quarter. They also give away free clothes, toys, and books anyone who comes in. What is so neat about thier place is that every inch of wall space is practically covered in scripture. Thier attitude of sharing God's love with those who need it is amazing.
Now my week this summer started with doing some drywall mudding at a man's house in Lacombe, LA. During the first day Tim showed us how to mud the drywall, but during the work I began to be filled with doubt. I don't know how to mud drywall! Tim was very nice, and never said I was doing bad work, but I could tell that my work and his were not the same at all! I also started to doubt that what I was doing was very important, or helping out anyone very much. I was "only" doing mudding, not anything really "important". Then somewhere during the afternoon I thought, "I'm doing this only for Jesus, not for me, not for my glory, but for His!" It occured to me that I couldn't remember the last time I had done anything for Jesus only. For the rest of that day and the next when I thought I wasn't doing much good, I just reminded myself that I was doing it all for Jesus, and he would take my work and use it for his glory.
On the second day of work we got to meet the homeowner and hear his story. It was neat to hear him recount how amazed his friends were that people from out of town had been travelling down to Louisiana to work on this house for free. Even amazing to him was that volunteers would tell him thank you at the end of a long week. It was neat to hear him praise God for sending workers to help him get moved back into his house.
The next day I was on the kitchen crew for the Carpenter's house making a redfish and shrimp court bouillion (pronounced "cou-beeon"), rice and green beans. I worked with some other ladies and the chef there (Lewis), peeling shrimp, chopping vegetables and making rice. We had to bake cakes for the dinner that night too, and Carpenter's house doesn't have A/C, so the kitchen was screamin' hot! Just to walk outside for a while felt good. After Lewis left for the day to run some errands Charles came in and informed me that we would need twice as much court bouillion as Lewis had made and probably three times as much rice! Lewis had kind of left me in charge since Philip has made a court bouillion before and I knew what it was suppose to taste like. That being said, I didn't know how to double the recipe that Lewis had made! He hadn't used a cook book, he had just thrown things together to make a wonderful tasting stew.
Nevertheless we had over 100 homeless people to feed that night and Charles knew that what we had so far was not going to cut it. The ladies and I started chopping more vegetables and opening all the cans of tomatoes that we could find. Charles poured what we had so far into a pot that was at least three times as big and we started adding everything in. We added more redfish and brought the stew up to a simmer again. Well, after a call to my Mawmaw and a little bit of corn starch we had something that was still tasty and would definitely be a good hot meal for anyone who needed one.
Our experience down by the sea wall was one that I will never forget. I had asked another volunteer at the Carpenter's house earlier that day if there would be any children coming that night for dinner. She replied that in the three years they had been feeding the homeless that there had never been any children and only a few woman. After that comment I was taken aback at the end of the evening when a mom with a stroller and a toddler walked up to the truck where we were handing out dinner. After making sure that Charles and Judy knew she was there I walked off to the wall to have a good cry. It is easy to forget how easy we have it in life, and to only focus on the negative. Jessica and her boys drastically shifted my focus and I was reminded how truly grateful I should be for just having a roof over my heads and clothes on my back.
After I composed myself I headed back over to talk to Jessica and her boys. They are 2 and 1 years old and so cute! Judy made sure to get her information and Charles told us on Friday that they had already found a place for them to stay. I think of her and her boys and pray for her often.
To be continued....
Monday, July 6, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
First I'd like to say that I have a child who is eager to please (most of the time) and gets excited about three mini-m&ms. Also Lightening McQueen (aka "Kye") is like Kryptonite for this kid and he will do about anything to get a sticker with Cars on it.
Like I mentioned in an earlier post, potty training occurs at different times in different cultures and this timing is more likely based on the culture and not the child! Ethan and I talked about potty training for two whole months before spending a whole day in underwear. At the very beginning he got three m&ms for just sitting on the potty (clothed or not) and that lasted about a week or so. Then if he sat on the potty that would be good, but he only got m&ms if he peed in the potty. A couple of times a week I would put him underwear for an afternoon so that he could feel what it was to be wet. When he went I would not fuss at him or make a big deal we would just talk about the wetness and that our goal was to keep Wall-e, "Kye", or Elmo dry!
Finally when the big day came to start training I put him in underwear and made him sit on the potty every 40 minutes. The key to this plan is to always have liquids available. I didn't really force him to drink, but I did offer plenty of salty foods. I also added a sticker chart in the bathroom and he got a sticker every 40 minutes when his underwear were dry and another one if he could "go" on the potty. Of course m&ms were still part of the system and I would be sure to bring a canister of them wherever we went. Rewarding for dry underwear was my friend Betsy's idea and I really think it has contributed to our success. Ethan even says now when he is in the bathroom, "Kye dry!"
If you read past posts you'll also see that we did use diapers at night and pull-ups only for nursery and VBS. These are only used when an accident would require major clean up (sheets, pillows, stuffed animals, softees, etc.) or would uneedly inconvience someone else. They do have little pictures on the front so I can tell if he stays dry and reward him as such.
To all you moms out there who are considering potty training, go for it! What's the worst that could happen? If you have any questions please feel free to post them. Betsy did post descriptions of the "phases" of potty training over on Tarnished Teapots and it is great!
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Well, one last day of VBS and then I will try to post a summation of my Potty Training method here since so many of my mom friends have asked. Betsy did quite a good job over on Tarnished Teapots, so if you are desperate for help head on over there.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
When I was six or so my mom began bringing my sister and I to church. I remember her faithfulness in bringing us to church almost every Sunday through out the rest of my childhood and into my teenage years. I went to confirmation classes in middle school, but I really didn't experience the Christian faith until I was in High School.
Let me clarify what I mean by experience. In church I was taught that God was the creator of the Earth and everything in it, Jesus was the only true son of God and that he came here to die for our sins. We also learned that belief in Jesus was the key to eternal life. John 14:6 says, "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." It wasn't until a youth retreat in Baton Rouge (when I was a sophomore in high school) that I had someone challenge me with what it truly meant to be a Christian. He explained that believing in God and Jesus was not enough. James 2:19 says, "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder."
Our belief in God does not save us from our sins. We must accept God's forgiveness through his Son and this true acceptance leads to a change in our life. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17
That weekend, when I accepted Christ as my Savior, I made a choice to make him first in my life. I started living for him and I was truly a new creation. I remember feeling this joy in my life that I had never felt before. I started serving Christ any way that I could by teaching and leading the youth in my own church. Of course I still sinned, but for those sins I truly felt remorse and then forgiveness.
God has seen me through some real trials in my life. Periods of extreme selfishness and/or pride, holding on to past sins, and the hospitalization of my newborn boy. How faithful he was during these times! I have felt His gentle (and not so gentle) prodding to change and be more like Christ. I have experienced His grace and His peace and I've seen His sovereignty be evident in my life over and over again.
Now I live my life knowing everyday that God is watching over me and that if I died I would meet him in heaven. Instead of rightfully being convicted of my sins and sent to hell, Jesus would stand in my place and cover all of my transgressions. I will spend the rest of eternity with Him!
Would you live any differently if you knew this week was your last? What has God done in your life that you need to share with others? Do you know where your soul will spend eternity (heaven or hell)? Have you surrendered your life to Christ?
If you have a blog I would LOVE to read your testimony! If you post it please leave a link here in the comment section:
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Yesterday we spent the morning at Walmart and then iHop. I was so proud of Ethan because he had no accidents for the whole morning. He even went on the big scary toilets at both Walmart and iHop. When we got home I was changing him for nap time (when he has been doing all his #2s) and I told him that if he went #2 on the potty he would get an easter egg. Well it worked! Until 7 o' clock last night he had an accident free day!
Talking to my friend Betsy made me realize that I do need to change my tactics a bit. Our goal should not be that Ethan is accident free, but that he is self-sufficient in this area. Along these lines, I'm doing things a little bit differently today. Instead of timing Ethan and making him go every 40 minutes I'm putting the ball in his court! I'll ask occasionally if he needs to go and he will still get rewards and such, but I'm going to wait for him to decide if he needs to go. I'll also encourage him to just go on his own or tell me if he needs to go. Next week we will be at VBS so he will need to be able to tell his teachers that he needs to go.
All in all today may be a day of more accidents but in the long run I'm sure it will be worth it.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
We have really taken kind of a break this weekend because of other obligations that we already had. Saturday night at 6:30 we went to a friend's birthday party and although he went in a diaper, he had only had one accident up until then since he woke up Saturday morning. Today he went in a diaper to Nursery and then we were at a luncheon until three. After he woke up from his nap today he went back into underwear and has only had one accident (both of us were outside when he did it, and he did come looking for me after the fact). Even just now he told Philip he had to peepee and he had barely wet his underwear but then he went on the potty! Tomorrow is another busy day, but then things settle down for a while until we go to the zoo on Thursday.
The good news is that I will have to make him new potty charts tomorrow because we are running out of space! I'm also planning on keeping a tube of mini M&Ms in my purse for when we are out and about!
Saturday, May 30, 2009
We are on day two of full blown potty training! So far I have to say I am satisfied with the results. Yesterday I had no plans, so I decided to start our PT week off early. In the morning I put Ethan in big boy pants and we talked about the potty etc. About 10-20 minutes after I had him in underwear he had his first accident and it didn't even phase him. He was just walking around wet. Betsy had suggested focusing on keeping underwear dry just as much, if not more than going to peepee in the potty. As I changed Ethan I talked to him about keeping Wall-E dry and I even hung up a piece of paper to reward him for having dry underwear. Taking my friend Heather's advice I started taking him every 30-45 minutes weather he wanted to go or not. I would ask every 20 minutes or so if he was dry and that would earn him a small star sticker on the chart.
That worked until lunch time (I'd heard that meal time is hard) when he had another accident. The good thing about this accident was he yelled, "PeePee!" as soon as it happened. That gave me hope that he was aware of the fact that he had wet himself. I put him in a g-diaper for naptime and then after nap I put him back in under wear. Everything was going great until I was on the phone with a friend. Ethan said, "m&ms?" "Not unless you peepee in the potty." I replied. "PeePee?" Well, before I could get off the phone he had gone. That one was totally my fault! It taught me a good lesson though, and phone callers be warned: I may hang up on you with no warning if we are on the phone in the next couple of days/weeks.
After that last accident he went back into underwear and stayed dry for the next couple of hours. He then went into a diaper because Philip and I were going on a date night and Ethan was off to church. This morning we began again and at noon he has had no accidents! He hasn't asked to go, but he has kept his under wear dry and I consider that an accomplishment. Here are our award charts:
In addition to stickers he also gets three M&M's for number 1 in the potty and an "Easter Egg" for number 2 in the potty. He has yet to earn an Easter Egg, but he asks about them, so I'm sure it will happen eventually. I'll keep you all posted as we continue down this new journey!
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Our summer really started last week because Ethan's last day of preschool was Thursday. But because he was running a bizarre and unexplained 103-4 fever most of the day, he didn't get to go. The fever had no accompanying symptoms and only lasted 24 hours. I did learn some interesting things about fevers in that time and also paid a visit to the pediatrician. Dr. Brice referred to Ethan's condition as "Spring Fever" which I thought was funny. Several people at church on Sunday said their 18mon. - 3yr olds also had the same thing in the last week or two. Philip stayed home with him on Friday so I could go to an important school meeting concerning our website (which I will be working on next year). Then we spent the weekend at company picnics, mission planning dinners, and ice cream get togethers! Also of course on Monday I sewed my now famous purse!
Tuesday we hung out at home for a bit while Ethan took an early nap and then we went to a puppet workshop at the library. For those of you out there who made Activity bags with me at MOPS or through Betsy's exchange, I'm going to be putting together instructions on making a finger puppet activity bag that I think our kids will really enjoy.
Wednesday we became members of the Knoxville Zoo and enjoyed Kid's Cove and a bird show with Betsy and her kids.
Today we also went with Betsy and her kiddos to the Bounce House and Ethan and the kids had a blast! If you've never been the Bounce House is a collection of inflatable toys in a huge gym like facility. Lots of fun! At first Ethan would only go down the slides (even the HUGE ones), but he didn't want to get into the plain bouncy room one. Well, I know his Mawmaw is renting a inflatable monster truck for his birthday so I brought him in with me and that made him really mad. He got out crying and went back to the slide. Wouldn't you know though that less than five minutes later he was in the bounce room jumping and laughing and spent most of the rest of our time there! He doesn't know how to jump yet so it is really funny to see him just run around and then fall down.
Another accomplishment in our house is that Ethan is progressing with his Catechism questions. Just watch:
We are still set to begin potty training next week so I'm sure I'll have lots to write about then.
If you want some free stuff (and you know I do) head on over to simplemom.net this week. She has a ton of free giveaways posted on her blog and the only thing you have to do to enter is leave a comment! She puts up new ones every couple of hours and the link above is to the first giveaway so you can move through them one by one. I've also added her to my list of links for "Moms and Families" on the right =>