Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Kindness 4 Kai

We are celebrating Kai's birthday by doing a Random Act of Kindness in memory of him on January 31st. What better way to celebrate our little man than to show God's love to others!?!

We are inviting everyone (far and near) to find a special way to show kindness and love to someone on January 31st!  

We've typed up a small letter which briefly describes Kai's story and salvation. Please feel free to print it out and give it to the recipient of your Random Act of Kindness! You can find the letter here. Just copy and paste into a word document, to print.

Once you've done your Random Act of Kindness on January 31st, please tell us about it! We would love to see how God's love was shown to others!

If you are interested, join us on our Facebook group, Kindess 4 Kai.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! =)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Holiday in Review... Better Late than Never!

As I was going through my phone trying to delete some of the 1,897 pictures, it dawned on me that I had several Christmas pictures that I didn't want to get lost in the shuffle. I picked out some of my favorites to share. I ended up making a couple collages so that there wasn't 2 miles of pictures filling up our blog. Here are some of the highlights from our Christmas season...

Our annual gift-exchange shopping trip was fun! This is a yearly tradition that we all look forward to! The kids all put their names in a basket and then each draw a name. They are each given $10 to buy a gift for that person. Sometimes they use their own money and buy a little more. The shopping trip to buy the gifts is just as much a tradition as is the actual exchange. This year we went on a night with a winter-weather warning. We watched the roads and played it safe and ended up having a fantastic time! The stores were pretty empty! I think most people stayed home, worried that the roads were going to be bad. It was a fun evening!

We did A LOT of baking this holiday season! We enjoyed making sugar cookies SEVERAL times! The kids especially loved to ice and decorate them! We made several batches and gave them away to friends and family! Dave even got in on the cookie making! I love being in the kitchen with my family! It's one of my favorite things to do!

This is our kids' first year at First Baptist Christian School. They had a nice Christmas program. Nevin and Nolan particularly enjoyed dressing up "like business men". Our whole family enjoyed the program and the kids all did a wonderful job!

Our church did our first annual ALL-church caroling event. We had a great turn out! The adults and kids enjoyed going house to house singing carols to the shut-ins from our church. It was a blessing to see how much these (mostly) elderly folks enjoyed our visit! Afterwards, we went back to the church to have homemade cookies and hot chocolate! This is definitely something we will look forward to every year!

Our church always has an excellent children's Christmas program and this year was no exception! All of the kids did a great job! My kiddos all worked very hard on their individual part and they were so excited on the day of the program! Tucker was Joseph. (Rachel was Mary.. isn't it so stinkin' cute how little she is?! She is actually 2 months older than Tuck!)

Bryson was a shepherd boy. He had a lot of lines to memorize and he did an outstanding job!

The kids sang their little hearts out!

The teens did a great job too!

Every year for the past several years, we go to the Beef House for lunch on Christmas Eve day. This is one of my favorite traditions! This year, we invited both of our parents! I am so thankful that they made time to join us! I know it's a busy day of prepping at both of their houses since they host Christmas Day's festivities! This is also the day that the kids do their "gift exchange" with each other. It's a very special day and lots of fun memories are made!

Christmas morning is such a fun time with all the kids! I love the craziness of it! It's such fun to watch them open gifts! Our kids are so good at being thankful! We are very modest with our spending at Christmas time, so it does my heart good to see them have thankful hearts no matter what they get!

We spend Christmas Day at my parent's (for lunch) and Dave's parent's (for dinner). It is a hectic day, but we are so blessed to have so much family to spend time with! Here is a pic of my Grandpa and Grandma with our kids and my brother's kids! We didn't get a picture of them with ALL the grandkids this year. We will have to attempt that at Easter! =)

This year my sister, Susy and her kids, Megan and Michael came up for a few days after Christmas. I LOVE spending time with them! We always have a great time playing card (or dice) games and eating lots of good food! This year, the game of choice was Farkle. We played ALL afternoon and enjoyed lots of laughs!

I love decorating for Christmas! This year, we put our decorations up early and kept them up until mid-January. One of my favorite moments of the day was snuggling on the couch with my hubby and watching a movie at night. I love the glow of the Christmas lights and there's something just so relaxing about that calmness after a hectic day!

We have had several snow days this year! I can honestly say that I have enjoyed all the extra time that the kids have been home. I feel like life slowed waaaay down and we were able to have some quality family time together! All throughout the day, on and off, we just stood watching the beautiful snow covered outdoors.

We played a lot of games, mostly Farkle and Yahtzee. We set up a table with a big puzzle and worked on it too. We were also able to enjoy some lazy days, staying in our pajamas all day!

During the coldest of the days (around January 8th, I believe), we decided to do an experiment that we saw online. The temperature was around -36 with the wind-chill factor. So we ventured out to the back deck for a few minutes and threw a boiling pot of water into the air. It instantly turned to "dust".  That was pretty cool to see! The kids thought it was fun! We rushed back inside afterwards...WOW! It was a crazy kind of cold that I don't ever remember experiencing in my whole life!

The boys love to play "Sink or Float". They got all set up in the bathroom and would be good to go for a solid hour or so, seeing if different objects would sink or float. This was always one of Ashton's favorites when he was a little guy! Now, these 4 were begging to do it on those long, cold days that we were trapped in the house! Free entertainment! =)

New Years Eve was pretty low-key for us. Ashton spent the night at his friend, Austin's house. We went to church for a game night and then returned back home around 10:30. The kids played Wii games together and we all just hung out until midnight. It was a nice way to bring in the New Year. =)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sometimes it's The Simple Things...

This man make look ordinary... handsome, yet ordinary. But I am here to tell you that he is anything but ordinary.  He is filled with an extraordinary love for me and our kids and he pours it out on us every single day!

I appreciate all the things he does for our family, BIG and small! Here are some random things that I have been thankful for lately...

He puts my needs (and the kids' needs) in front of his every time. Period. No ands, ifs, or buts!

He is patient beyond all measure with the kids and teaches them things everyday, like how to pull weeds in the garden, how to fix a wobbly table leg, or how to fill the bird feeders.  He guides those small hands and uses his kind voice to encourage them in everything they do, even the little things.

He sends me texts throughout the day (especially when he knows my to-do list is overwhelming me) and tells me that he is praying for me.

He drops everything at 10:00 at night to run and get me that ice cream that "sure sounds good right now".

He works a job that he doesn't like and is very over-educated for, yet never mumbles a bit about it because it pays the bills and allows him to spend time with his family.

He gently strokes my hair or rubs my back every night when we fall asleep together, even though I am sure his arm is uncomfortable.

He lets me pick where to eat when we get to go on a date because he "doesn't care where we are as long he's with me".

He doesn't ask or even think of buying anything for himself, even though he provides 99% of our income. He's so unselfish and so giving... I wish I could be more like that.

He tells me I am beautiful every day - literally for the last 15 years, I don't think he's missed a single day.  He stares at me with no make-up on, crazy hair, over-weight, stretchmarks, bags under my eyes, flour all over my shirt and tells me that I am the most beautiful girl in the world. (That's love right there!)

He will text me from work and tell me that he misses me like crazy and that he can't wait to come home and wrap his arms around me.

He tells me all the time that he appreciates me. He will tell anyone he knows that I work harder than him any day of the week by staying home with our kids.

He points out tiny babies when we are in a store or at a restaurant and tells me that he wishes he could have babies with me forever. (He does however tell me that in reality, we HAVE to stop sometime! LOL)

He treats me like a lady by opening doors and treating me with respect like a gentlemen.  He is an amazing example to our kids of how a husband should treat a wife. I love him for that.

He is the one that puts God first, me second, and his kids third.  Anything outside of that gets pushed to the back of the line.  In this day and age, that seems rare to find in a guy. I am thankful I got a "rare" one.

This list could go on and on, but if you know Dave, you aren't surprised one bit by these things! He is an amazing husband and father, but he is also and amazing son, brother, or friend as well! To say I am blessed to have him is a complete understatement! I thank God for him every day and I can't imagine my life with out him! Thank you Dave, for 15 amazing years! I am looking forward to many, many more! I love you!!!


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Six Months...

I can not believe that six months have gone by since I've held my baby boy. Some days, out of the blue, the tears come.  I see something that makes me think of Kai and it makes me long to hold his little frail body.  Sometimes, from no where, my arms feel empty all of a sudden. I have to go to God's word to pull me out of it at times. Other times, what starts out as a cry, ends up with smiles and thinking back on sweet memories. Emotions can be funny things... all over the place - up, down, sideways, you name it! But my God is the SAME, always!  He has been there to give me strength every day! It was around this time last year, that my complete dependence on God began.  It was the first time in my life that I realized I was ENTIRELY dependent on Him. That has not changed. Not only with our situation with Kai, but with everyday life, I NEED him.  When I am willing to admit that, my life runs so much smoother. I am a stubborn one, so I believe it was some relief to God that I finally have figured that out after all these years!

God is still doing an amazing work through Kai. That little guy has changed me forever and I pray that God continues to change me through him. It's a comforting thought that someone so tiny had such a HUGE positive impact on our lives.

We decided early on that we were not going to do the "what if's" or "would've been's" with Kai. At Easter, we didn't say "just think, this would've been Kai's first Easter".  On vacation, we didn't mumble "what if Kai didn't pass away? He could've been here with us".  It was never God's plan for Kai to live beyond those 4 hours and 33 minutes. God created Kai to be exactly who he was for the exact time that he was here. Kai was never meant to spend his first Easter on this earth, so why would we mourn that?  I am definitely not saying anything is wrong with doing the "what if's", I am just simply saying it is not right for our family in this situation. It has truly helped with the healing process. We want to feel like Kai added to our life, not took away from it! 

We do choose however to keep his sweet little picture up throughout our house and to talk about his perfect life every chance we get. Every time I walk by his picture or it pops up on my computer, it makes me smile so big.  (Didn't he have the cutest little face!?!?)

We visit his grave every now and then, but honestly, I don't feel a connection to him there. My connection with Kai takes place every morning when I talk to God. I know it sounds corny, but I feel so close to Kai during that time. Not a day has gone by that I do not thank God for Kai and the work that he has done through him, in me and in others.

We still have people approach us every now and then when we are out and about. It is a blessing!  Complete strangers have come up to us at the store saying, "You don't know me, but I followed your story about your little baby and it had such an impact on my life.".  And then some people say "You are awesome for the way you handled that situation!".  Those words just make me cringe though, because the truth is, I am not at all awesome. I am a weak, completely imperfect human that messes up daily, but I have a God who is awesome!  He uses my weakness to show His amazing power!  (2 Corinthians 12:9 "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness...") Who would've thought that God could bring such good out of a tragedy that I wouldn't wish on anybody?  Yet in the end, I wouldn't have traded it in for the world. The thought of NOT having Kai in my life, even if it was for just a short time, saddens me. God knew what was best. I didn't. I never would've chosen this for our family, but I am glad He did.

I hope that I can be better about blogging now.  I had this silly thought that once summer hit, I would have "extra" time to sit down and write! Ha!  We've had lots of excitement and great stuff happening in our family and I hope to add it to the blog soon! =)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Time for Healing

I can't believe how the time has flown these last (almost) 6 weeks.  The healing that is taking place is good.  I feel like God has my heart "bubble-wrapped" right now. I have been able to think of Kai and look at his sweet pictures and it brings happiness to my heart. It's still a necessity to pray daily and ask God for strength... Strength to focus on God's plan for my life, strength to focus on eternity and not earthly things, strength to be happy with what we have and not to ponder on what we "lost".

It's been nice to have people talk about our little Kai and what positive impact this situation has had on them.  Even though it can bring tears at times, we would so much rather talk about him and remember him, than to just not say anything just in case they hurt our feelings.

God is doing a work in my heart still. I love that He is still right here beside me. I love how He guides and directs my life to where it needs to be, from what book of the bible I am reading through to the people that He puts in our paths, just at the right place and the right time.

Thinking back, it's amazing to see how God has been preparing me for this trial months, if not years ago.  About 5 months before we got Kai's diagnosis of T18, one of my friends posted a prayer request on a private FB board. She asked us to pray for her baby girl that she was pregnant with. She had just found out that her baby had a very serious heart condition. The outlook was not good and much medical intervention would need to take place immediately once she was born. My heart absolutely broke for her. I cried as I prayed, I struggled with this so much.  I can remember saying to my husband, "I could never go through something like that. It would be just too hard, I am afraid I would just lose my mind."  I prayed for her and her precious little girl and the whole time she was going through her trial, she was such an excellent testimony for Christ. As I watched her go through the birth and eventually the death of her daughter, I was amazed that she could keep praising God.  It was something that I didn't understand, but it encouraged me to keep moving forward with my personal walk with Christ. I knew that it had to be God giving her this strength but I felt that if I was in that situation, I could never get through it, let alone praise God while going through it.

I can also remember the week we found out that Kai may have some problems. From the point we got the results back from the 1st test until we found out that he definitely had T18, there was about a 3 week waiting period. During those 3 weeks, God spoke to me in every way.  In the morning, I was reading in

 I sat in sermon after sermon, that spoke directly to me... "Cast all your cares upon God"

After our amnio, which was the final "test", we had a 3 day waiting period before we would receive the results.  During the sonogram that took place right before the amnio the doctors saw several red flags for T18. We left the office that day knowing in our hearts that He had it. After soaking it in for about 24 hours and doing a lot of praying, I told Dave that I really felt like we could handle this, we were going to be ok.  The one thing that I worried about though, was "how" to tell people? I knew it wasn't going to be a one time thing, it would have to be told and retold over and over again. It seems funny, now that we have been though it, but I just really felt like I wasn't sure "how" to deliver the news to people, time after time.  Would there be tears every time? Would we have to tell people in the middle of Walmart? What about strangers that ask about my pregnancy, do we tell them?  Are we going to sound depressing when we tell people?  Do we sound hopeful or do we tell them how grim the diagnosis is?

I honestly don't know how I would've made it through if my personal relationship with God wasn't as where it needed to be when this all started. The thought of not being prepared is such a scary thought to me.  I don't know how anyone can be prepared to say Goodbye to their baby, just shortly after they meet that baby. It's not humanly possible, but it's possible for God to do that preparation!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Through the Smiles and Tears...

It's been 3 weeks since Kai left our arms to be with his heavenly father.  For the most part, I can't believe how fast the time has gone by.  I really thought that the days would drag for a while, making me wish I could fast forward time.  It hasn't been like that at all and in a way, I feel sad that Kai's birthday is slipping farther away.  Sometimes, I worry that I will forget the details of that day or that maybe people will forget to pray for us as time goes on.  BUT I know the ONE that will never forget about us, the ONE that promises to be by our side and He knows each and every one of our sorrows.  He is the same ONE that created this complex universe (and maintains it!) and the same ONE that saves us from an eternal place called hell. He is mighty, powerful and sovereign, but He is also gentle, loving, forgiving, and capable of doing everything and anything for us!  Sometimes I need that reminder that I can cast ALL of my cares on Him!  Why do we tend to forget that our God who saved us from eternal damnation is the same God that can take care of our piddly worries of the day!?  He can handle it if we just give it to Him!

 Psalm 55:22 Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.

It's funny how our feelings can be so unpredictable at times. Most of the time, I can't help but smile when I think of beautiful little Kai, which is so very often.  I am so grateful for the many prayers that were answered and I feel like I am truly ok with the outcome of our journey, because of course, it was God's perfect plan.  But then there are times that I just wanna cry.  I want to just sit (and pout) and wish I could cuddle my baby boy up on my chest.  I wish he would wake me up in the middle of the night to feed him. I wish I could stare at his perfect little face while I stroke his soft cheek and grit my teeth, because the cuteness is just too much to take in. ( I do that with all my babies, my cheeks are always sore when I have newborns!)  I wish that I could dress him up in cute little outfits and take his picture. I wish we had to lug around a bulky car seat and heavy diaper bag as we run our errands and show off our new little baby.  I wish I could watch his brothers and sisters fight over who gets to hold him next.  I wish, I wish, I wish....

There are times that I need to just cry and "get it out", but it is always short-lived. I feel like God reels me back in. He gently reminds me that I need to dwell on what I DO have, not what I DON'T have. I have a sweet baby in Heaven that waits for me. He is perfectly healthy and in no pain. He was able to escape every evil part of this world.  I was blessed with him in the womb for 39 weeks and in our presence for 4 wonderful hours. I have gobs of pictures that help capture those memories forever! I also have a whole bunch of friends and family that took part in that day, whether it was in person or via Facebook, and they can help me relive those moments of love and celebration. I have several letters and messages from friends (and strangers) telling me how God has changed their life, through our precious little boy.

Even amidst the tears, God is still granting me peace. I am so glad that God's peace is different than the world's peace.  The world's peace is based on feelings and circumstances.  If all is good in life, then there's "peace", but what happens to that peace when conflict arises? What happens when God's plan isn't the same as our plan?  The world's peace easily drifts away, leaving us stressed and worried.  Only God can give true peace in the middle of our trials.  True peace comes from knowing that God is in control and submitting to His will for your life.  For me, it's my prayer EVERY day... "Lord, help me remember that YOU are in control.  Please make your will known to me and help me be submissive to it."

Philippians 4:6,7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

John 14:27  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.

I am thankful that these past few weeks have held so many more smiles than I could've ever imagined. We have spent time together as a family, laughing and enjoying being together. The kids love to reflect back on Kai's birthday. They often want to talk about certain things we love about Kai.  Just tonight, Nevin said, "I love how Kai's head was so little and round, just like it could fit perfectly in my hand".  We've talked about so many things, like his perfect little body, his long typical Harris feet, his frail long fingers and his perfect lips that looked as if they were "drawn on".  I am so glad that God granted us enough time to make these memories of him.

Thank you so much for keeping us in your prayers. I know I say it all the time, but we feel so blessed and loved by all of our friends and family!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Knowing God...

We have been busy getting back to our family routine and just lovin' on each other as we begin our journey to healing. It's definitely not going to be fast or easy, but I know what God wants for us and it's NOT for us to sit around being sad and depressed. Thank you God for promising a plan of hope!

Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

All of our friends, family, and even some complete strangers have been such an important part of this journey and I want you to know how much you have meant to us!  God has filled my heart with more love in the past 6 months than I would have ever thought possible! The love that has been shown to us from all of you has been an amazing support! I don't know if we could have gone through this with such positivity if it wasn't for you, your constant prayers, and messages of encouragement!

One thing (the most important thing!) that I want our friends and family to know for sure is that you KNOW God the way that we do! If you have not excepted Christ as your Savior, it is so important that you do so!  God tells us that we are all born sinners (Romans 3:23) and because of that sin, we are destined to an eternity in Hell (Romans 6:23a). But He also tells us that because He loves us, He sent his son to die on the cross to take away our sin (Romans 5:8)!  If we confess our sin and accept Him as our Savior, we will live eternally with God in Heaven one day (Romans 9: 9,10)!!!  It's easy and free, but we must RECEIVE God's gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23b)!  We must put ALL of our faith in Christ dying on the cross and His resurrection, and that my friend, promises us an eternity with God!  ETERNITY!!!

I think of how short Kai's little life was and also think of how short our life on this earth really is when we compare it to eternity!  In James, we learn that our life is "like a vapor that appears for a short time and then vanishes".  I hope that all of our friends and family know where they will spend eternity because we never know when our last day on this earth will be! Please feel free to message me if you ever have any questions about your salvation. I would be more than happy to talk with you!

For those of you that are Christians, I want to encourage you to pursue your personal relationship with God if you are not already. It can make an AMAZING difference in your life! I have been a Christian for almost 30 years and it wasn't until the last few years that I really got my personal relationship with God on track!  I've sat through umpteen church services and many bible classes where I learned so much about the bible, but that information rarely prompted BIG changes in my life. Don't get me wrong, it was beneficial and I am sure it kept me on the right path, but it wasn't until I made my personal relationship with God a priority, that He has changed me from the inside out!  Now that my personal relationship with God is going where it needs to be, my heart is open to so much more when I am sitting in those church services or listening to gospel messages on the radio!  I feel like I am constantly learning and growing! It's so exciting!

The biggest difference for me, was when I started taking time early in the morning (before the kids get up - which was HARD for me because I am NOT a morning person!) and truly listening to God and getting to know Him.  Just me, my bible, my coffee and God.  I swear I can feel His presence right there in the room with me.  I pray first, thanking God for who He is and asking Him to show me exactly what I need for that day.  Then I read a chapter of the bible and finish by praying and bringing requests to God.

Believe me, it's not always easy and I have a lot of spiritual growing left to do!  Some days I have to practically drag myself to the table to open my bible and other days, I sit for hours reading God's word and praying. But no matter what my attitude is in the beginning, I always walk away feeling totally blessed and ready to take on the day. 

I am definitely not wanting to come off like I am perfect or like I've got it all figured out. I am simply encouraging you to take that same step that I did towards improving your relationship with God.  I know if I didn't take that first step, I never would've been prepared for what God had in store for us!  God is so much wiser than I am and it's His power and grace that enables us to keep on moving forward!  I am thankful that He doesn't give up on me, even when I have been stubborn and hard-headed! God is good like that!

Anyways, I have so much on my mind and in my heart that I want to share on this blog!  I have started a long list of blog posts that I want to write, everything from details of sweet baby Kai's birthday to lessons that God has taught me through Kai.  I technically don't even "like" writing, but it provides such a wonderful outlet of healing for me, so God has pointed me in this direction for right now.

Please continue to praise God with us for all the prayers He has answered in the past weeks. Also, please continue to pray for our family and the healing that is taking place.  Some moments are harder than others, but God continues to comfort and surround us with His never-ending love!