Monday, December 17, 2012

Excited for Christmas!

Things have been busy around the Talley house as we are gearing up for Christmas. Evan is so much fun to watch and listen to as he talks to his friends and others about Christmas. It brings me much joy to know that he really gets the reason we celebrate Christmas. Now, just as any four year old, he gets very excited to get up each morning and see what trouble McElfen (our Elf On A Shelf) has found himself in and he is looking forward to Santa coming.

I love it that James is so into the "magic" of Christmas. Before we had Evan, he always said that his children would not believe in Santa--however, he typed a letter to Evan from Santa yesterday. Funny how a baby changes everything. It brings me joy to watch James rediscover Christmas in a whole new way. I am thankful for Evan and the excitement of his little four year old self!

The start to our Christmas festivities is always Christmas On The Coosa. For those of you not from Elmore County, COTC events are so much fun! We enjoy our time together as a family, walking through the town and watching the Christmas parade. It was a fun-filled day--which ended with a shopping trip and dinner out at Mellow Mushroom (it was oh so good!). What a fun day!

Evan's Christmas program at church was 2 weeks ago and they did a great job! He sings with the "Tiny Tones" at church, our 3, 4 and 5 year olds. They acted out a live Nativity as the Christmas story was being read aloud. They then sang a couple of songs and led the congregation in some songs. They did such a good job and were so cute!

This past weekend was filled with a Sunday school family Christmas party and then our Christmas cantata at church. We had a great time fellowshipping with the families of our Sunday school class. We were able to get some great pictures of the kiddos, gathered around the manger (we managed to "dress" them to match the part-bath towels, kids belts and scarves go a long way!). So sweet. I must interject here a story about my Evan. When we all walked outside the Blackwells for the kids photo-op, Evan walked to the cross, stretched his arms out and said, "I am Jesus Christ. I'm on the cross--I died." We all stood there, looking at one another. It really put into perspective how much the little ones listen to and obtain. He got it right. I am so thankful that James and I made the decision as a couple to raise Evan in church and teach Him the ways of the Lord.

Our Christmas cantata was great! The music was simply beautiful. The Children's Choir sang, rand bells and read scripture. The Students sang an upbeat version of "Angels We Have Heard On High", there were a couple solos, congregational singing and the adult choir closed it out. I heard people saying we sounded great! It was a fun night of singing praises to our Lord!

We are looking forward to our first family Christmas gathering this weekend. We will celebrate with the Talleys. There is never a dull moment when we are all together, so I am sure it will be a blast! Too much food, a lot of laughter and good times!

I promise to post pics soon!!

Remember, you better watch out...SANTA is watching!!! ;O

Until next time...

Monday, November 12, 2012

You Want A What?!

Even though I own my own photography business, there are times when mommy just will not do. I wanted to have Evan's pics made with Santa, so I found out where our favorite Santa would be and made an appointment. James, Evan and I traveled to Helena to Gretchen B's studio Saturday evening to see the most amazing Santa ever!!

I had a long day of shoots in Centreville and Evan was with us for a good bit of the afternoon, so he missed his nap. He slept on the way so I figured he would be in a great mood when he woke up to find that we were there to see Santa. Nope. That was not the case. He was a little cranky. For those of you who know Evan well, will find this next statement a little hard to believe-he was acting so shy! He actually told Gretchen that he was in a bad mood.

It took a little work, but finally we got him over to Santa. He found himself in his lap and Santa asked the most important question you ask this time of year, "So Evan, what do you want for Christmas?" Without skipping a beat, he looks up with a sheepish grin on his face and said, "A baby! 2 girl babies at the same time!" Well, then...Evan's order is in with Santa, what's on your wish list?!

Until next time...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ready for a change!

It is a very humbling experience when you come to the point where you know that there is time for a change. So many times we shy away from change as if it is a bad thing. Sometimes change is necessary. There are times when things are going great, but you just know that if you changed one thing about your life, it could be even better! I have found that when I begin to feel this way,  there needs to be a difference made in my spiritual walk with the Lord. My flesh may be being fed, but there is a deep hunger that only Jesus can satisfy. Just because I am a Christian does not mean that my cup does not get low sometimes. That is no fault of Jesus, I am the one who fails to pull in and yell, "Fill'er up Lord!" I fall short on my end!

Lately, I have struggled with feelings of accomplishment and pride (if I am being completely honest). It is very easy to get caught up in the very routine day in and day out kinds of things and forget to recognize that you are special and worth something to somebody. Get up, get dressed, get E to pre-school, go to work, go home during lunch only to clean something up, get back to work, go home, laundry, cook, clean some more, bathe E, then collapse and try to catch a breath before sliding into bed- only to toss and turn thinking of the things that need to be done the next day! Whew! That makes me tired just typing it out!! In the middle of all this, we women, need social networking time (aka girlfriends, girl time!).

Now, I know that I can't be the only woman who feels as though she is pulled here and there and still is trying to act like she has it all together! My friends crack me up at some of their comments. I actually had a friend tell me that I have it all together! WHAT?! I sometimes feel like I am running around barely covering any ground. How can I do all of this "stuff" and be the wife and mother that God has created me to be? Better yet, how can I allow all of this "stuff" to get to me and be the wife and mother that God has called me to be? That is where Satan finds me and tells me that I am too busy to be doing any good! Is he right? Am I too busy? Where does all of this running to and fro get me? Am I building the Kingdom of God?

God is working in my life and urging me to be a stronger wife. I want to be the kind of wife who her husband knows is praying for him, who he trusts with all of his heart, who he cherishes and longs to see and love. I want to be a servant kind of wife (now, wait, I did not say a servant...not to be run over, talked down to or taken advantage of, but to love with a servants heart-there is a difference). James and I have celebrated seven years of marriage and I can honestly say that there are some times that I wish I could go back and have a "do-over." There are some conversations that were had that could have been handled with different tones and, if we are being extremely honest, different volumes. I want to change my response when situations arise. I want to be able to handle them with an open mind and heart. I am ready for a change!

Work in my life Lord and create within me a fresh start! Help me to be the wife that you created me to be- a helpmate to my husband. A support for him. I know that without you I am nothing, Lord and can do nothing, but with you all things are possible. You can take this stubborn, strong-willed, "I can do anything!" attitude and mold me where you would have me be.

Until next time...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I love my little man!

Evan is growing so much and learning more than I could have dreamed! He picks up on everything and is able to retain it. That can be scary sometimes!! I have learned that when he tells me it is ok for me to take some pics, I better take him out for a photo shoot. A couple of weekends ago after church, he said, "Mommy, let's go take some pictures!" Needless to say I jumped right on that! We had a fun time together, just the two of us (James was home sick), exploring Prattville together and making memories that I know I will cherish forever! Here are a few of our end results:

 He does and says the funniest things. I love it that he will be in another room and run to me, just to tell me that he loves me. I hope that never goes away!! He is attached to this teddy bear who he lovingly refers to as "Peanut Bear" and when asked why, "Well, because he's the color of peanut butter!" Why of course! 

I don't think this little guy will ever know the love and joy he has brought to my heart, my soul or our home. I can't imagine what life would be like without him! Who would have thought that 10 little fingers and toes, two little hands and feet or one great big smile could change a life so much?! I love him to the moon and back!!

Until next time...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Thumbs Up from Dr. V!!

I am just a little behind in my blogging. Sorry! I am sure you all know how busy life can become. Back in July I had to make a quick trip to Birmingham because I was having some headaches that seemed to want to linger. Dr. V was not certain that they were associated with the psedutumor, but would not rule it out until he saw me. After an exam, he said that he felt as though I was just having migraines. He decided to treat me with Botox. Now, I must interject here that I do not know how women do this for cosmetic purposes. It hurt SO badly!! I almost passed out from the pain and I must say that I have built up quite a tolerance for pain. It did take about 3-4 days before it really kicked in, but I am happy to announce that I have not had any headaches since. I guess the temporary pain was worth it in the long run!

James, Evan and I traveled to Birmingham to meet with Dr. Vaphiades, September 10, for my re-check appointment. We had a great visit. Dr. V came in, did an eye exam and said that my optic nerve swelling is down!! Praise the Lord! He was so optimistic and pleased with everything. He did ask that I try to lose about 8 more pounds, so please join me in prayer that I will be able to do that.

With this said, he told us that I did not need to come back until January! YEA!!! I am over the moon excited about this one! It is so nice to know that God heard our petitions and has proven once again that He is the almighty! We never know the reason behind the trials. We never understand the outcomes, but praise the Lord that He loves us enough to listen and respond.

He talked with us about having more children. He laid out a great game plan as to what to do when I become pregnant. I am praying now, that when the time comes that God sees fit to bless our family with an addition, that there will be no side effects. If the side effects come, spinal taps will have to be our go-to during the first trimester, as I can not be on meds and be pregnant. It is safe to be on the meds the remainder of the pregnancy, but I know that MY GOD is way bigger than pseudotumor and he can make is so that there are no side effects from the weight gain at all!! I am claiming this even now!! I ask that you would place this request on your prayer list as well! His time is perfect! I think James knowing that Dr. V has a plan, helps his mind rest easier. I know that he worries about me- I love him so much for that!

Thank you so much for the continued prayers and concerns. There is not a day that goes by that someone does not call, see me or shoot an email or text and ask how I am feeling. It is so nice to know that people care and love you! Thank you for loving me and my family!

I feel like over the past year (it has been one year this month since I received a diagnosis and plan) I have asked for lots of prayer. Please let me know how I may pray for you. Prayer is the best gift I can give and it is my pleasure to petition the Lord on your behalf! Oh, how he loves us so!

Prayer Requests:
1. That I will be able to lost the remaining 8 pounds as requested by Dr. V.
2. That the side effects will remain at bay.
3. That I will continue to have opportunities to share my story of how God has lifted me up.
4. Please continue to pray for the staff at the Callahan Eye Foundation. They are a great group of people who care about their patients.

Until next time...

Friday, August 10, 2012

I Still Believe

It seems as though when you think you have it altogether, you have it all planned out, you know what is best and you know the direction to take...God sends a reminder that He is in control! You would think I would get a clue!! I like the saying, "Just when you think you have your plan together tell God and hear Him laugh." The Jeremy Camp song, "I Still Believe" is currently playing on my playlist and the words could not be more true!! "I still believe in your faithfulness! I still believe in your truth! I still believe in your Holy Word! Even when I don't see, I still believe!!"

Things medically have leveled back out. I am off my medications (again) and the Botox injections seem to have helped my headaches.Which by the way, is a HUGE prayer answered!! Headaches are the pits which cause a decrease in energy and just an all around bad mood just because you don't feel good. Thank you for those who have prayed and thank you Jesus for healing me of the pain. Let me just interject here that I must give a hats off to women who choose Botox for whatever reason...those shots hurt so bad! I almost passed out from the pain and I would say that since last summer I have built quite a high tolerance for pain. Whew! I hope the one set of injections is all I need. I did not care for them at all, but with that said, I have no wrinkles in my forehead! ha! When you see me, I may have turned 30 but my forehead is not a day older than 25!! ;)

The question of how we know we are doing what God has planned or what is our own selfishness desires has been on my mind for the past several weeks. I have prayed for understanding and clarity and last week while in Sunday school, one of the questions was just this. Another member of the class spoke up and said that if it is God's will, the desire and the nagging feeling to go ahead with it (whatever it may be) will not go away. I know that I knew that, but there seemed to be some resolution hearing someone else say it. Today while cleaning out my desk here at work, I ran across a scratch piece of paper that I had written on some time ago. It reads: "Rejoice always, praying continually, give thanks in ALL circumstances for this is God's will for you in Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. God's will is for me to walk closely with Him. Learning from Him, growing close to Him, loving Him, praising Him, serving Him and others. In all that I do, I should strive to be just like Him (knowing that is impossible, I should strive to be as close as I can be). When others have needs, I want them to know they can trust in me to be there for them. To love them and to pray with them. When Jesus lays a task before me, I want to do all that I can to complete the chore before me with a grateful heart. With a servants heart. Even though I can't always see what it is that I am "supposed" to do, I need to know and believe in Him that He will never lead me astray and that He will hold my hand each step of the way. He is never really far at all, He is right here beside me. When the days get tough and it seems as though my sight is clouded, I must believe in Christ Jesus to see me through.

Please pray that clarity will be given and peace of mind will be restored. Decisions are tough and trying to get more than one person on board with the same idea sometimes seems almost impossible.God is so good and His blessings are bountiful. At this point in my life I really do strive to walk in harmony with God's plan. To know that I am doing what He has planned for me and that I am not taking advantage of or neglecting His goodness. I want to be the best mommy to Evan, a wife that James is proud of, a daughter who my parents are pleased with and know will take care of them, a supportive sister who my brother knows would bend over backwards for him, a granddaughter who shows her thankfulness and love, a niece and cousin who is there when needed-a friend, a daughter-in-law who can be counted on to do what is needed, a dependable employee and a friend who others know will love and pray over them. I love Jesus and I want that love to shine. I know that He loves me so.

Until next time...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Smack-Dab In The Middle Of It All!

From the Journey devotional (thank you Mrs. Jean for thinking of me and sharing):
"The difficult circumstances of our lives aren't always caused by blatant sin. In fact, difficulties and hard times can be ordained by God. Sometimes He puts certain people through a crash course of faith using hard circumstances because He has great things for them to do based on the growth they gain from their trials.
We want God to be really smooth and easy, and we want obedience to always lead to a calm, trouble-free life. But that's not the way life works. Our faithfulness isn't directly proportional to how easy our lives will be.
Our idea that God isn't at work in a situation unless it's calm is not a biblical perspective. The Apostle Paul wrote, 'We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed' (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
If you are going through hard times, don't automatically assume that you must be doing something wrong or that God is disciplining you. Seek Him out. Walk with Him and know that He will accomplish His purpose in the middle of your circumstances whether or not you eve know what that purpose it. Take heart: God is working through your circumstances. He will never let His children endure pain without a purpose, and we'll never go through it alone."

In late June, early July, the symptoms of my Pseudotumor had returned. I knew I was due an appointment with Dr. Holman (my Ophthalmologist in Montgomery), so I did not see any reason to call Dr. Vaphiades (my Neurosurgeon in Birmingham). When I went to see her, she examined me and told me the optic nerves were swelling again and she thought it was best that I go back on the Diamox. Now remember, I have just come off of this in May. So, needless to say, my bubble had been busted and I felt like we were starting over at square one. I went ahead and called Dr. V to tell him what she had found and he agreed that going back on the low dose was the best thing to do. To say that I was not happy would be an understatement.

James and I were traveling to Birmingham that day for a dear friend's funeral, so I had a bit of a ride to think about and try to make sense of it all. You know, it has been easy for me to sing God's praises when it seemed like we were turning pages in the right direction and things were going well. Now, my faith was really to be put to the test. Would I be strong enough to sing His praises, even in this storm? I found myself feeling a little guilty for having a bit of a pity party (if you know me, you know what I say about pity parties; no one is there but you and the devil) over my news, seeing how we were going to say goodbye to a friend who was leaving her husband, 2 sweet children and parents behind. Where did I even have the right to upset with the fact that I was "just having to go back on meds"? I was then reminded that even though it may not be such a 'big deal' to others, it was to me and because it is to me, it is to my God. He cares when I am hurting, when I am upset, when I don't understand and when I am frustrated. He cares enough to listen and to console. He cares enough to help me see the there is light at the end of the tunnel, if only I trust Him to get me there.

As we sat at Jamie's funeral and I saw picture after picture of this sweet face scroll through a slide show, I was reminded that God is good-all of the time! He placed a smile on her face and in her heart, even when I am sure she did not feel like smiling. She sent words of encouragement to so many others, when I am sure her heart was breaking-she never let you know it, though. Friend after friend spoke about how Jamie met this disease with grace and fought it like a true champion. I decided then that I was going to "put on my big girl panties, and deal with it!"

Funny how God works. My foot had to be put in a cast (nothing serious, we are just trying to avoid surgery) so that has kinda put a little stumbling stone in my path- only because I let it, I suppose. But one positive thing it has made me do-slow down and take time to focus on my spiritual walk and prayer life. Within about an eight week span, I was taken off of my Diamox (a high), my daddy became sick and was placed in the hospital (which ended up being about a 25 day stay) (a low), my friend Jamie died (a low), my foot had to be placed in a cast (another low), headaches began (ugh...), had to go back on the Diamox (the valley), daddy was released from the hospital (yea!!! a mountain top) and a couple of friends were going through difficult times in their lives (the pits),  several days of bad headaches (yuck) and got to come back off of the meds (Yippie!!) just this week. Needless to say, it has been an emotional roller coaster! Through all of this, God has reminded He is good by sending little rays of sunshine here and there to provide happiness along the way. Conversations with dear friends (adopted grandparents) who remind us that He is good-ALL of the time, a witty comment from my sweet Evan, a hug around the legs and an 'I Wuv You' at just the right time, a hand squeeze from my hubby or just the assurance that everything was going to be ok. No matter how big or small those moments may have been to the other person, they were huge for me during this chapter of my life. God knows just what we need when we need it!

That is why I can say, without a doubt, that I KNOW the words of this devotion are true. God walks through all of life's storms with us. Without Him, it would be impossible. If He were not there, smack-dab in the middle of it all, we would just throw our hands up in the air and make a huge mess of it. He is the one that holds us together. He provides those little rays of sunshine-even when we can't see that is what it is at the time. Each and every situation He gives us is an opportunity to allow Him to do a great work in our lives. We have to be willing to let Him shine. We are just the vessels. He loves us when we are not lovable. He listens when all we want to do is scream. He understands when we are angered. He calms the storms and provides smoother sails.

I want people to see that through it all, I glorified Him. Through the good days and the bad, when my heart was happy and when it ached, when I saw the clear path and when I was walking by faith alone. I want others to see Him living in me. He wants the best for me and I know that. He has a perfect plan for me and I know this because I know that He loves me so.

No matter what may come, no matter the storm clouds that may be waiting just ahead, I will praise my Savior! He gives me the good days and I know He will guide me through the bad.

Until next time...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sometimes I Just Wonder

The definition of wonder: One that arouses awe, astonishment, surprise, or admiration; a marvel.

Do you ever sit back and just wonder? Get caught in a thought or idea and truly wonder? The past couple of weeks have caused me to do just that. We have done a lot of driving back and forth to the hospital in Tuscaloosa with my dad (he is home, by the way, and doing much better), so while riding or driving I have done some wondering. I have wondered about serious things and some sillly things. For example: I have wondered how in the world a form of strep can get into a wound and cause something so serious. I have wondered why in the world my daddy's blood pressure and blood sugar could not be controlled in the hospital when they seemed to be ok at home. I have wondered why in the world they provide such cheap blankets for the patients and families-see, I told you some of the things were silly. Then, as we celebrated my 30th birthday in the very hospital in which I was born, I wondered how in the world did I get so lucky to have such an amazing family!

Let's start with my parents since, well, that is really where I began in the first place. My mama has shown such love and devotion to me my entire life-but there has been a different side of her that has shown through since my daddy has been sick. I have truly seen "in sickness or in health." She never left his side the entire first week he was in the hospital. It actually was more like the first week and a half. I think she thought no one could care for him the way she She prayed over him. She took care of his needs. She loved him--through it all! Even when they were on one another's last nerve, she knew that by his side was where she needed to be.

Then there is my daddy. What can I say? I am a daddy's girl! Still, at the age of 30! Did I really just say that? 30?! YIKES! He has such a gentle spirit about him. Even though he is "Big Daddy" he is the biggest teddy bear you will ever meet. He loves people and truly cares for their feelings and well being. He wants everyone to know Jesus and he never minds giving the shirt off of his back, even if that meant he would be left with nothing. That's my daddy! He appreciates all that has been done for him in order to make sure he has gotten better.

They both have loved me when I was not so loveable and held my hand and cried with me when I have been faced with new diagnosis.

My little (big) brother, Heath. Heath is one Jesus loving, kind-hearted big kid. Wherever there is fun, you are sure to find Heath right in the middle of it. He cares for others in such a way that it brings a tear to my eye-he gets that from our daddy. He would give you anything that he has. He has a heart for missions and for serving the Lord. He desires to be in God's will and will not stop until he knows he is following the path that God has for him. He is motivated to do what is right, even when it may not be the "cool" thing to do. He is a huge ham for the camera and big kid at heart.

My Nanny is so much fun. It is nice when you can call your grandmother your friend. I know that I can call her at any time and she will do whatever she can do to help meet my needs. She loves me dearly and I know she worries about me. I know that she prays for me and that she wants me to be happy. I love it that she loves shoes (we wear the same size) and that when she tires of them she passes them down. I love that she wants to know what is going on in my life. I love her cooking and that she wants me to know how to do it too. She always was such a great role model when it came to showing me how to care for my husband. She took such great care of my Paw-Paw. Always listening and doing, never asking for a lot in return. I'd be lost without her.

My Aunt Pam, Madison, Maci and Uncle Tim. The Brent Crew! Aunt Pam has always been one of my biggest fans and she is one of my best friends. I know without a doubt that she will listen when I call and will try to help me find a solution. I love her to pieces. Madison is my mini-me! Ha! We fight sometimes but it is just because we are so much a like! Maci is such a joy. She and Heath are a lot alike. She is so caring and has a soft gentle way about her, but do not be mistaken, this girl can hold her own! She knows who she is and she is not afraid of that and I love that about her! I love these girls as though they are my own!! I hope they know that if they ever need anything, I am just a phone call away and I will come to them as quickly as I can. My sweet Uncle Tim! He would still rock me to sleep even now if I wouldn't break his legs...ha! I know that if I ever called and said we were moving back home, he would be the first to come with a trailor attached to his truck! I love him and I know he loves me!

When I married, I gained a great new family. Mrs. Marian and Mr. Joe always want what is best for James, Evan and me. I know that when they say they are praying for me, they are. They belive that God will restore my health and I know they are claiming that! I feel blessed to have gained such wonderful in-laws and brothers and sisters--and of course, nieces and nephews!!

My sweet Evan! He holds my heart and makes it melt all at the same time. He is so much fun--teaching me new things each and every day. He loves people and he loves to learn. It makes me become a puddle knowing that he loves to go to church and learn (and sing) about Jesus. He never meets a stranger and becomes friends the moment they meet. From the day he was born I promised to love him forever and I look forward to the many years ahead of love, hugs and kisses!!

The love of my life, James. I can honestly say I would be lost without him. Even when we are pushing one another's buttons, I can't imagine doing even that with anyone else. I know without a doubt that he is there for me 100%. He will defend me, love me, protect me, honor me, respect me and cherrish me-all the days of my life. I have learned with James, over these past 9 years, that it is not always so much about telling people that you love them, but showing them. There is truth to actions speak louder than words. I am anxious for the next years of my life, taking time to "show" James (and tell him too) how much I deeply love him. I am so thankful that God saw fit to make sure that our paths crossed. He is such a blessing to me and oh how I love him so!

I can't close this post without mentioning my friends. I am so blessed to have the most amazing friends a girl could ask for. There are some that I see on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, there are some who we have to stay in touch through phone calls, text messages or emails and then there are some who without Facebook, we would be lost! Whatever way works best for us, I am glad that we have it and I am so thankful to have each of you. Friends help lighten the load sometimes even when you didn't realize how heavy it even was!

I often wonder why Jesus loved us so much that He would die for us. I don't know that I have that answer, or that I ever will, but I am so thankful for his act of love. I know without a shadow of a doubt that He watches over me and oh how He loves me!

Until next time...

Friday, June 29, 2012

Loving Life and All That Comes With It

I just realized that this blog entry was never posted. It was written the first week of June, you go!

Today I have been thinking of this crazy life of mine and all I can say is "Thank You!" I have so much to be thankful for and it seems like so many times, it goes unnoticed. James, Evan and I just got back from a great trip to Callaway Gardens in Georgia and what a fun time the three of us had. It was so good to get away and just have a couple of days laugh and enjoy life as a family of three!

My 30th birthday is soon approaching and I have really been thinking about what it means to be 30! Some days, it makes me feel like I am getting SO old. Some days I think about all that I have done and accomplished in these 30 years. Some days it just makes me tired to think about being 30. Some days it makes me grateful that I have lived and loved for 30 years. Some days it makes me look back on cherrished memories and smile. Some days it makes me think about all the things that I could have done a little differently. And today, it makes me think about all the great things that are in store for the next 30 years! God blessed me with a fantastic family, college education, wonderful friends, my great husband, sweet, sweet Evan, great jobs and opportunities, and chances to be looked at as opportunities to grow spiritually in my 20's. The 30's can only get better!!

With all the craziness that this life brings, I am excited to say that I have finally learned to roll with the punches (well, maybe I am still learning to do that). Instead of being strung so tightly, I am learning that God really does want to handle all of those "things" for us, so why should I worry? My sweet friend Jenn has such a laid back way about her and I love that. I feel confident that is one of the reasons God has her in my life-to teach me a few things. So, today I am loving life and all that comes with it. I know that "all that stuff" are ways I can grow!

I am attaching some pics for you to enjoy. Evan is growing so much!

Until next time...

Friday, May 25, 2012

One Happy Girl!

Man! What a great day we had yesterday!!!!

I caught myself rather emotional in the car on the way to Birmingham for my check-up visit with Dr. Vaphiadies. My mind was all over the place and there was a huge knot in my stomach. As tears filled my eyes (don't ask me why this was happening), I closed them and began to talk to Jesus. I needed that 3 minute talk, just Him and me and it was as though nothing else in the world mattered. Ever had one of those moments, when you knew the radio was on, but there were no sounds all around? Just your own voice crying out to the Lord? Well, that was me! It is probably a good thing I was talking (praying) quietly, James would have thought I was crazy. Even though I knew there was no reason to feel anxious, I couldn't help but be.

We got to the appointment on time and waited for them to call me back. I knew the scales would be our first stop. I knew according to my scales at home I had lost more weight, but you know those doctor's scales are never the same as ours at home. I stepped on (not before sliding off my shoes, you women know that every ounce counts! haha) and sure enough! I had lost 6 more pounds since my last visit. She even commented, "He is going to be proud of that!"

We were escorted to another waiting area and then to the room where we waited for what seemed like forever on Dr. V. He came in, looked at the weight loss and then looked at me and smiled! YAY! A smile!! He commented on the weight loss (even took a moment to tell me that I look thinner--what girl doesn't like to hear that!!) and began to ask if I have had any trouble. He went through my medication list and then moved on to my eye exam. I began to pray...

He looked at my right eye and said that it looked good. He moved over to the left eye and said, "This is great! There is NO swelling of the optic nerves. They are normal!!" Did you hear that, NORMAL, my optic nerves are NORMAL!!!! God is so good. This was something that I have longed to hear since October. Finally, they appear as they should! Thank you Jesus for answering our prayers!

He scooted back and looked at me and smiled once again. He then asked if I wanted to come off of my medication. Heck yes!! He agreed we could try going without the Diamox, but stay on the 10 mg migraine pill each night. He wants me to continue with the weight loss and he will do another field vision test is 14 weeks (in September). He told us that he was so proud to have a success story to share with the other physicians and clients. What a happy girl I am! A success story!! Back in October, we were not sure what we were facing and now I am a success story! Praise the Lord!

As I have mentioned before, I feel as though God placed me with these staff members and this physician for a reason. He has looked after me and I know has my best at heart. He truly cares for his patients and I am so thankful I am one of those. I am still not really sure why God saw fit to place pseudotumor cerebri in my path, but I do know that I have learned a lot in the past few months. I have learned about my strength. I am a lot stronger of a person than I ever dreamed I was. I have learned that my faith in Jesus is strong-could it be even stronger, yes, but I KNOW that I can handle whatever comes my way with Him guiding my path. I have learned what an amazing husband I have. Now, I have always known how lucky I am to have him, but since October, his "for better or worse, in sickness and health" has really been put to the test and boy has he exceeded all expectations. I have learned that no matter how old you are, your parents are your parents and their concern for you continues to grow. They hurt when you hurt and worry even in times when you don't. I have learned how fortunate I am to have such loving friends and church family. I COULD NOT have made it through without the prayers and support from all of you. The kind words, cards in the mail, sweet emails, facebook comments, or simply asking about me when you see my family. They have all been cherrished. My life is greater for having you all be part of it. Most importantly, I have learned that prayer can touch and heal places you didn't even know were broken. Time with the Lord is so important and having others petition for you is so important. Where two or more are gathered, that is where HE will be. So, thank you for continuing to lift me and my family up in your prayers. They have not gone unnoticed.

Prayer Requests:
1) Please continue to pray for healthy food choices. My taste buds should return to normal, so please pray that I am able to have self control and stay away from the things that are bad for me (i.e. Mt. Dew--Jenn, just continue to tell me how bad they taste!!).
2) Please pray that James and I will know without a doubt when the Lord plans for us to expand our family. I know that as badly as I want another baby, my health must come first. We need to wait to see how my body will respond without the meds before we move forward with having another child.
3) Please join me in praying that when September comes, more weight will be gone and the field vision test will be passed with flying colors. I want to continue to be one of Dr. V's "success stories."
4) Please pray that God will lead me to others that I may share with them how He has worked in my life. May my life always be a testimony to how great He is. I am nothing without Him.

Until next time...

Friday, March 16, 2012

How do you eat an elephant?!?!

Man! Ever felt like there was SO much you wanted to do and SO little time to do it? I am not talking about the every day, run of the mill type things (I do have a lot of those, too). I am talking about "LIFE" things, things that will make a difference. God has given us all the same amount of time in a day, but there are some whose "I'll get to it one day" just never happens (for whatever reason). I have been keeping a mental list of things that I want to get around to. Maybe if I actually write them down, it will make it a little easier to make it happen. Some of these things seem rather ambitious, maybe that is why I feel the need to blog about them. I know my prayer warriors are reading and you can help hold me accountable!

Ready for Heather's Now or Never List??
*This may be one of the most ambitious...I would love to write and publish a women's devotional book. To some of you this may come as a surprise- but to others you know I love to write. I took a chance a couple of months ago and wrote the devotions for our Women's Retreat. No one there knew I had written the literature, so when I heard a few talking about how much they enjoyed it, it made my heart smile. I feel like this is a project God has laid on my heart and I should just obey...right?! It may be now or never!!

I LOVE being a Child Life Specialist and miss being able to use my skills to work as one. I struggle with the fact that I live in an area where there are no opportunities for my field. That needs to change! Maybe I need to be that change agent! I should not be afraid to put myself out there and share what I have learned about the field to help others grow. It may be now or never!!

I would like to work more diligently with my photography business. God has made a way for me to work as a photographer part time and has blessed my business beyond belief this year. There has to more opportunity for growth. It may be now or never!!

My heart's desire is to make a difference no matter what it is that I am doing. I want to be a positive light in a dark world. I am constantly searching for opportunities to serve and do the greater good. When opportunities present themselves, I can't be afraid of what it may cost. It may be now or never!!

When I look into the eyes of my little man, I want to be the greatest mom he could ever imagine. I want him to know that God is the center of my life because he sees me living a life that is pleasing to Him. I want to take the time to know all of the things that make Evan giggle and be filled with joy. I want to love on him now so that he will understand the importance of loving others later. I want to invest time and energy in him that we will never get back, something that will make a stamp on his life forever! It may be now or never!!

I (still) want to be the daughter that brings joy to my parents (family). I want them to be proud of the woman that they helped shape me to be. I want them to look at me and know that they have done a great job. I want to never forget how special family is and take the time to share with them my happiness and frustrations. It may be now or never!!

I want to be the woman that James wants to love forever. In a society where turning and running away from one another when times get rough seems to be answer, I want us to always run to one another and cling to one another. Our friendship and love is a gift and I NEVER want to take that for granted. I want to be open enough to share with him the things that make me happy and sad, my loves, my passions and my mistakes. I want him to know without a doubt that he can trust in me to love him forever! It may be now or never!!

So, how can I do all of these things? Impossible, you say?! Nah! Just as you eat an elephant one bite at a time, I too can do all of these things. I must remember to trust in God to take care of the small things, even as I trust Him to handle the big things in my life. Please join me in prayer that I will be the God-fearing woman that He has called me to be. It all starts by making positive changes in your (my) life. I need to learn to sit and listen and not feel like I have to do all of the talking when it comes to my conversations with God. He has an opinion, too!! :)

What are the things on your "Now or Never" list? Maybe you need to jot them down to keep them fresh on your mind or share them with others so they may be bathed in prayer. God grants our hearts desires and He loves to fulfill them. I understand that it is in His timing when all things are made perfect. Take a look back over the things in your life that may have worked out differently had you had all the say so...I will leave that one for another post! :)

On a side note, some have asked about a medical update. Things are going well. There have been no headaches for some time. As a matter of fact, I have lost count of how many weeks I have been headache free! Praise the Lord!! I go back to see Dr. V in May and am anxious to see what he has to say. I still have not been able to have a Mt. Dew (some days that is so hard)- we are talking since OCTOBER!!! I think I would go into shock if I were to have one, now! Some of my tastes for my favorite things have returned, however most have not. My taste buds have changed drastically, but it has helped to keep the weight off. I seem to be continuing to lose, but I do ask that you continue to pray that I can withstand the temptations to over eat. Keeping this weight off is a must!! There are some days when I when I just want to be angry about this whole situation and not being able to move forward with expanding our family, but then I look back on how God has moved within my life. There has been more growth over these 5 months than I have had in a long time. I have seen the power of Jesus work strongly in my life and in others around me. When I take the time for this reflection, I can't help but smile and know that "all things work together for good, for those who love the Lord." He has a plan and I am so thankful that He has allowed me to be part of it. I may not see the full picture, but the bits and pieces are looking good so far!!

When things seem to be getting the best of me, I just try to remember that he loves me so!

Until next time...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Life is full of uncertainty!

Our Sunday school lesson this past Sunday was on trusting Jesus when you don't know the outcome and praising Him even when things don't turn out the way you think they should. That one kinda hits you in the gut!

Life is full of uncertain times. Situations change and people come and go. The one thing I have found for sure is that my God is ALWAYS there! He never leaves us and always has our best at heart. He only wants for us success and happiness. Now, does that success mean that we will all be owners of fortune 500 companies and make more money that we ever dreamed possible? No, but does that really measure success? I don't think so.

There are people in my life who are currently in the "holding circle," waiting to see what is going to happen next. As hard as I know it is, they must trust that God is in control. We talked yesterday about how you truly know if you are following God's plan or just going the way you want it to go. I have found that when I pray and ask for God's direction, if I follow His will, He provides a peace that cannot be measured. It is easier to sleep at night and I just feel at ease. When the thoughts of doubt cloud my mind, I feel like that is God telling me that I may need to take a second look at my approach. Maybe it is not the right time, maybe I should wait, maybe that is not His plan.

I felt led to share this because I think we all struggle with this from time to time and just maybe I needed a little "extra" dose of it today. One thing I know for sure, when I can't be certain of anything else, is God's love for me is amazing! He loves me so much and oh how He loves you too.

Until next time...

Monday, January 30, 2012

When God Moves

Ever been standing in a room and felt the spirit of the Lord move all around you? Well, I did this past weekend as we had our Women's Retreat, "Clinging To God's Promises," and what a great time we had! God moved and needs were met. Our praise and worship was led by Matt Treherne from New Life Baptist Church in Brent, Alabama and it was amazing. It is so funny how God works. I had not shared with Matt the theme for the weekend, however God led him to the songs that went just perfect with our theme. The words that we sang were never more true than they were this weekend.

Our first speaker, Ginger Jacks from Montgomery, had an amazing testimony how God can and will get you through some of the darkest days you could ever image going through. She lost her daughter to a car accident at the young age of 18 years old. Her daughter, Virginia, was so full of life and in love with Jesus. She shared some things Virginia had written just weeks before her passing. They were so inspiring to others and such comfort to this grieving mother. One thing I remember Ginger sharing was when they had to tell their youngest son that Virginia had been killed. She said that he looked at her and asked, "When Virginia was born, did God know then when she would die?" WOW! Our Lord and Savior knows everything about us. I think it is amazing that He allows us the opportunity to live here on this earth and all He really asks is that we be a witness for Him. Is your light shining?

I put my friend Alison Cottingham on the spot and asked her to share her testimony of how God had moved in her life. At the age of 3, Alison's little girl, Carys was diagnosed with a Wilms Tumor. She talked about how God had been preparing her for that diagnosis and the road they would travel as a family for a long time. I can't help but wonder what He is preparing me for? How does God want to use me? Will I be ready? Praise God! He healed Carys and she is now a healthy 7 year old...a sassy 7 year old if you ask her mama. It is amazing to see prayers be answered. Some are the way we want, some are not. You see, Alison, lost her father to cancer at the early age of 40. She has been on both sides of this disease. She has seen God heal and restore and she has seen Him call his children home. Lessons were learned when she lost her dad that helped her face Carys's illness. Lessons were learned throughout Carys's illness and treatment that she will carry with her forever.

Our last speaker of Saturday was my amazing friend Jamie Cagle. Jamie is 34 years old and is fighting a very aggressive form of cancer. She has 8 tumors in her liver and her options are few. Throughout Jamie's testimony, she shared how God had planted "special people" in her life to help her through this trying time. You never know whose life you have been placed in to be a guiding stone from time to time...whether it be a listening ear, a car rider for a medical trip, a hand holder or a prayer warrior. Are you asking for God to show you where He wants to use you to help others? Her message to us was not to take one moment for granted. To live each moment for the moment because you don't know what the next holds. Jamie is a fighter and I have no doubt that God was smiling down on her this past weekend. She gives Him the glory for each day. Please join me in praying for this dear friend. She is fighting a battle where the odds are stacked against her, however she BELIEVES that God will heal! She is praying for a miracle! Will you join us in this petition?

Hearing women cry out to Jesus to meet their needs, physical, emotional and spiritual is like nothing else. To be in a room where you are able to feel vulnerable enough share your hurts, your hearts desires and your tears is a powerful thing. The prayers of God fearing women is amazing. To know that you have sisters in Christ lifting you up is an overwhelming feeling. God has called us to lift one another up, to love one another and just simply be there for one another. This weekend, new relationships were formed and I know there were some mighty prayer warriors praying. God has heard our cries and I can not wait to see how we choose to move. No matter where you are, no matter what you are going through, He is a God of forever. He designed and created you to be you...just the way you are. He wants to be the one you turn to, He wants to dry your tears and take away your hurt. Oh how He loves you!

Until next time...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

When life hands you lemons...Give them to Jesus!

Man! What a roller coaster ride it has been over the past 2 weeks. The headaches returned and medication had to be adjusted and adjusted again. I was rather saddened over the increase in the Diamox for I know that coming off of that is the only way James and I can move forward with having another baby. God knows what He is doing...we just have to trust in Him. I guess my heart was not fully doing that since the headaches began after being taken off of one and reducing the other medication. Knowing and doing are two different things. Maybe we are entitled to be 'upset' for a day or two until we can come to grips with the fact that there are worse things out there. I am sure God understands.

This past weekend was really tough. I had a headache the entire weekend and nothing was a remedy. It would be nice if these pesky things were like normal headaches and an Aleve, some chocolate or a nap would fix it, but nothing does. The pain behind my eye was so bad on Saturday, I told James it would feel better just to pop my eyeball out with a fork...sorry for the details! That sounds pretty gross doesn't it?!

Sunday came and as my eyes opened, I remember thinking, "Is it there?" YEP! The headache was there! Most of the day it was just a dull pain behind my eyes. These headaches this past weekend were different than the others, they lasted pretty much all day. Typically, they would be gone by lunchtime. I had too much to do to have a lasting headache! An awesome day of Sanctity of Life at church that I did not want to miss, an interview for a summer babysitter (she is awesome by the way!), meetings and then a seminar. Too much to do to be down with a headache. God gave me the strength to get up and get going! Life can't stop because of a pain- no matter how much we want it to for a while-we must carry on!

Yesterday morning James reminded me to call Dr. V and let him know that the increase in Diamox and no migraine medication was not working. I called and spoke with Dr. V (may I just interject that I LOVE it that when I call, I speak to him...not his nurse, not an assistant, but HIM! God knew that I needed for this man to treat this disorder. He had a plan!) and he was on board with us decreasing the Diamox to 250 mg/day and adding the migraine medication again. This was a medication combination that we have not tried yet and guess who woke up this morning WITHOUT a headache...that's right! I did! I am not going to put too many eggs in my basket just yet, but this may be the right dose for me for now. Thank you Lord!

I am so thankful that I have a doctor who will listen when I call and say something has to change, for a staff who makes sure that he knows I have called and works to get him to the phone as soon as possible, for this medication and even though we have to play with it from time to time, it works, for my family who cares enough to pray for me daily, for my church family who loves me and wants to see me healed and medicine free and for James who puts up with me when I don't feel good and somehow knows when to call "just to check on me." God is so good and He never ceases to amaze me! My new motto is going to be "When life hands you lemons (and you know everyone's does) GIVE THEM TO JESUS!" He wants them. He knows what we need way better than we do! He wants to see us happy and pain free and oh how he loves us!

Until next time...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Even if but for a short while...

Isaiah 40:31 "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint."

I've had to go back, read my last post and pray over the words that flowed from my heart. A couple of hours after I posted yesterday, my medication dose was increased back to 500mg/day due to headaches. I had put off calling the dr. thinking that the headaches were just my body trying to adjust...wishful thinking! When I spoke with Dr. V he told me I had two choices. 1)Go back to the migraine pill at night (which made me grumpy) or 2)Increase the Diamox back to 500 mg each night. I feel like I can tell a difference in my mood since coming off of the migraine medication, so I chose the Diamox (not happy about it, though!).

I am sad to report that I woke up with a headache again this morning. Maybe the increased Diamox is not what I need...who knows?! This is all a trial and error case I guess and we have to play with it until we have the right combination.

Everyone is telling me that it could be worse and I know that in my heart-these small setbacks just don't make me a happy girl!

I guess today's prayer request is that I will be able to see the bigger picture and stop focusing on the here and now. God has a plan, I just must be patient enough to allow it to unfold. I have to remember that He holds me in His hand and oh how He loves me!

Until next time...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

There is always a silver lining...

Sorry it has been so long since I've updated. Last Tuesday, James and I traveled to Birmingham to meet with Dr. Vaphiades for my first re-check since being placed on my medication. For some reason, I was very nervous about this visit! I don't know if it was because I was afraid the scales would not give me credit for losing the weight (15 lbs!!), if it was because it was my first visit back or if secretly I really wanted good news-like getting to come off my medication! Before we left, I had already decided that at least a decrease in the meds would be a good thing!

They called us in and asked some questions, then off to the scales we went. The first scales gave me a number I was not so pleased with, so the nurse took me to the set where I had first weighed back in October! Much to my pleasing, those scales read much better!! We then were off to see Dr. V! He came in and gave me a good look over and said that my eyes looked good. He noted that the swelling of my optic nerves has gone down!! YEA!!!! He commented on my weight and told me to keep up the good work! He then looked at me and asked: "Would you like to come off some of your medication?" Well, hello! That is a no brainer! This girl wants a baby and needs to be off the meds for that to happen! With a huge, I mean HUGE smile on my face, I said "Yes, Sir!"

We talked about the migraine medication I was taking at night and I told him I thought I could do without it. I really feel like it had changed my mood for the worst and it may be best that we not continue with that. He agreed and told me he was comfortable with me decreasing my Diamox to 250 mg at night (from 500 mg). This made for one happy girl! I don't know how much I heard after this point! I do not have to go back until May. What a relief! I have 4 more months to get more of this weight off and pray over these optic nerves!! God will continue to move and work-in His time!

Sweet James treated me to dinner afterwards and then to Target! Fun date time with the hubs!

It is so hard NOT to see how God has had His hand in all of this from the beginning. He allows little curves in our paths to deter us from time to time. Maybe we need to gain sight of His plan and realize that our way is not the best way. Little bumps in the road only heighten our dependency on Him. They cause us to grow in ways that we may never had before. He pulls us closer to Him and teaches us to lean on Him for all of our needs. Then, He helps us to see the people He has placed here on earth just for us! I must say He has blessed me with the most amazing family, friends and prayer warriors ever! All because He loves me so! Oh how He loves me. He continues to show His love for me every day. I don't always stop to realize it, but the love is always there. My God is amazing and His mercies are new every day. My prayer is that everyone is able to see the silver lining in their situations and circumstances. That silver lining is Jesus. He is the good when there seems to be no good. He is the love that helps us endure. He is the everlasting protector that has our best interest at heart.

Our Women's Ministry is preparing for our annual Women's Retreat. This year, the theme is "Clinging To God's Promises." We must do that each and every day. Cling to his promise of love and mercy! Cling to Him!

Prayer Requests:
1. Please remember my friend Jamie Cagle. She is fighting cancer and needs a lift from the Lord daily. She is in her 30s and facing tough decisions. Her faith is strong and she knows that God is still working miracles. She is waiting patiently for hers. Her husband Brandon is a rock, but I can't imagine the toll this has taken on him. She has 2 girls who she adores and her parents still she her as "their little girl." Please lift them up with me!
2. Please continue to pray that the weight will come off. This seems to be the trick to "fixing my head!" haha If that is even possible!! :) My appetite is better some days than others, however my taste buds have not returned to normal. This could be a good thing. Since my favorite things don't taste as good as they once did, it makes it a lot easier not to eat the things that are not so good for me. I still have not had a soda since October. Some days (most days) a Mt. Dew sure would taste good!! I am learning to adjust!
3. Please continue to pray that the headaches, as mild as they may be some days, will stay away. It is frustrating to have these pesky things that will not seem to go away some days-no matter the amount of Aleve that I take and I don't want to have to call the Dr. Going back to an increased amount of medication is not what we want. I am learning that what we want may not always be what God sees that we need.
4. Please join me in praying for our Women's Retreat. God is all over this and He has prepared a wonderful weekend of spiritual renewing for us! He is ready to meet us. Please pray that our hearts and minds will be ready to receive him. Please pray for our speakers and for those who will be attending. Let's cover this weekend in prayer together. We will join together January 27-28. I can't wait to share with you what took place!

Until next time...