Abigail’s Day

Doing church with kids

I’ve talked a little bit about what Brett and I do in our ministry as part of the No Place Left Network in past posts. I mean, who would have thought I could talk about lice and church  in the same blogpost?! If we’ve ever doubted my use of a segue then we can stop now.  But yes, we’ve been leading small churches for a few years now, mostly because we’ve learned that, according to shocking statistics, about 60% of Americans will not step foot in a traditional church, but they ARE willing to meet with someone and talk about Jesus! We’ve found that by sharing the gospel with anyone and everyone and then being willing to be flexible, by meeting in homes, coffee shops and even park picnic tables, we’ve been able to see people baptized and sharing Him with their own friends and family, and involved in close accountability and fellowship. It has been a really mind bending ride and anytime I’ve thought, “We’ve got this! I’ve got it figured out!” Then we’ve learned something giant and new and equally mind-blowing. For me, the keyword was “flexible.” If you know me at all, then you know that’s not a Abigail descriptor at ALL.

And yet, when I think back over the last 4 years, we’ve seriously had “church” change its shape countless times. Now, don’t get me wrong, surprisingly with every shift it still held to what is biblically defined as church ( as we see it defined for us in Acts and through Jesus’ ministry), and sometimes it maybe wasn’t as healthy as it should be, but we were always striving to follow the commands of Jesus: to Love God, love our neighbors and to follow the great commission.

And turns out there are a LOT of ways to do that!

One of the biggest ways that the Lord has taught me to be flexible and open to change has been through my children. In those four years our family has added another human and all three of our children have grown and changed and had different needs, so even if we had WANTED to keep things the same, life just kept changing them for us!

So, how have we incorporated our children into our ministry?!? Good question!!! And people just keep on asking me about it! ( and P.S. I keep on asking other people about it too!!) I think for us Mom’s its probably at the top of our list of priorities- as it should be!! We’ve done just about every possible thing to try to meet the needs of our children’s spiritual health and that of our own personal ministry. You name it, we’ve probably tried it.  I listened to this awesome little video from our dear friends Chuck and Deb who have been discipling us for years and I think they hit on just about all of the ways we’ve incorporated our kids into church the last few years:

But for the sake of my own personal history keeping, I wanted to share what it looks like for us right now (it’ll probably change next week! Ha!) :

We are currently doing church together in our home, rather than in other places or homes, 3 times a week. This has taken shape mostly because of the season of life we are in-with a baby and two smallish children. We have our church that meets on Wednesdays that we lead and then we have church on Thursdays that we are a part of-this one is where Brett and I learn a LOT from some of the most committed and incredible Laborers for Jesus we’ve ever met. Both of these churches have graciously allowed us to meet in our home since we put Justice to bed pretty early and we have lots of toys etc for any other children (often just our own). We also do church again on Sundays. This one we call “family church” because its usually just our family and anyone staying in our home at the time.

On Wednesdays church starts at 6:30pm, our older two kids participate in the first third^^^^of church. Prayer, worship and vision casting ( usually a 3 or 4 minute mini lesson about what church is all about.) I usually have to make a quick exit somewhere in that first part of church to put Justice down, which at this point thankfully doesn’t take long. Then the older two kids head off to another room to watch a video for the second part of church. I then put the kids to bed once church is over and they usually are only late by about 30 minutes past their usual bedtime.

On Thursdays starts at 7pm our older two kids ( Justice goes to bed pretty much as church is starting so thankfully he’s a minimal hassle) participate to some extend during the first part of church again and then they are expected to sit quietly or play quietly in the room until they’re normal bed time. Because of the timing of this church ( it starts later than our wednesday church), it usually means they are expected to remain “quiet” and good for about 30-45 minutes. Ive found this is about their capacity ( at 6 and 4) and I really want to teach them the self control of being quiet and considerate and I also want them to at least hear some good teaching and what we are doing.****

On Sundays we have church completely focused on our children and it starts whenever we want! haha- in the past we’ve done “children’s church as part of our wednesday church-but when the needs of the church as a whole changed, we shifted the priority and made it a part of our weekend. So on Sunday our teaching, our prayers, everything is at our kids level ( mostly aimed at the oldest, but trying hard to get the 4 year old involved too).

**** A few weeks ago I was sitting in our thursday church and I looked down to see Ransom had made a “nest” for himself smack dab in the middle of the room:

I almost started crying because memories came flooding back…In fact, one of my strongest memories from my early years-I was probably as young as 3 or 4, was laying on the living room floor, falling asleep to the sound of my parents and their best friends Steve and Billie talking about God. As the pastors of a church themselves, they were always talking about Jesus and the need for a revival, and even when I didn’t understand a word of it, my own heart was soaking it all in. Those memories are some of the coziest, most important memories I have and I know they are part of the important foundation I have in my relationship with the Lord to this day. And there was my own son, soaking it all in having a very similar experience. Sure, what church looks like for us is always evolving to the needs of others, and the needs of our family, sometimes it involves crying and spankings and babies that refuse to sleep or your kid flashing their underwear for the whole church to see ( let’s just say” “hypothetically”) or any other incredibly UN-spirital thing, but I’m learning more and more that this life of reaching people for Jesus- ALL of us our messy and challenging and if my kids are the ones that teach me that it won’t be perfect and that I’ll need to shift and change and be flexible, than great!

^^^^ We use the same “Three Thirds Process” in all three of our churches, we’ve found it helpful to make sure that all the elements of what Church should be are happening.  This totally delightful video made my some great students in the Philippines does a great job explaining it ( how awesome are they?!? Isn’t it encouraging to see what the Lord is doing ALL OVER THE WORLD?) :

The parting song of Edythe Calhoun

Brett’s grandmother passed away two weekends ago. When I tell people this, I try to quickly rush forward with the information that she was 103. I want people to know that we are celebrating her ( long!) life, and not mourning her passing. She is with Jesus and I know she is infinitely happier there with Him then being held captive by a body and mind that were past their time.

But as we remembered her this weekend at her memorial today and then as Brett prepares to travel to her funeral this week, I’ve been itching to get a few thoughts down on paper so I wouldn’t forget, that my children wouldn’t forget what a wonderful woman Edythe was for us.

The day before we left of her memorial Ransom had a piano lesson and on the way home he said he wanted to play a piece for Mimi. I was pretty distracted-we were hosting church that night, and I also needed to feed my kids and finish up packing, so I said something like, “That’s nice honey, she would love that.” And then I promptly forgot.
But the next day as we loaded up the car, I noticed Ransom’s piano bag sitting by the door. I began to chastise him about not putting his things away, when he interrupted to say that he just wanted to make sure it got packed. Even though I had forgotten, he hadn’t: he was very much ready to play a piece for Mimi. In fact, he play the very upbeat “Galloping Pony” at her memorial and it was probably my favorite part. My little son, sitting straight at the piano waiting for his queue and then playing with confidence his little piece…Edythe would have LOVED it, she had spent years teaching piano and playing herself. In fact, her piano is played almost daily at our house and I love that her music lives on in my kids and in our home.

I remember the first time I met her: The evening was already rife with nerves since I was attending a church fashion show ( right?) at the invite of my not-yet-boy-friend-but-definitely-special-friend’s mother. I was so anxious to make a good impression and my first conversations with his mother and aunt were already being overanalyzed in my head as the fashion show portion of the night began. I remembered little of the fashion or the models as I thought about whether or not I had talked too much ( a common problem) or maybe I had been to enthusiastic? Did I seem genuine enough?… however all my self-absorbed thoughts came to an abrupt halt as the finale of the show came through the doors… it was Brett’s little grandmother (a young 91 at the time) perched atop her walker as someone pushed her as though she were a princess on her sedan.  She was grinning from ear to ear and she positively glowed. I am not even kidding, light radiated from her. And as the years passed and I got to know her, I learned that the light was not her at all, it was most definitely Jesus.

Those first few years were a gift to me, she was still very healthy and mentally strong I got to sit and hear great stories from her childhood-I’ve always loved to hear stories from the past and she had some good ones!And I basked in her kind questions after my mother and my family. She would pray beautiful prayers and she would smile and smile and smile.

And as the years continued and dimentia set in, I was blessed by what was left of her. It was truly a testament of her heart that when her mind failed her,  that her Jesus didn’t. She was still as kind and gracious as ever, even when she was confused and even fearful. Even if she did not remember exactly who I was, she knew who Jesus was. When I think about it now, I am reminded of the verse, “Out of the heart the mouth speaks” and I see how true this really is.

If you’re lucky and you have parents who teach you “manners” than even when you’re nasty on the inside, you can at least pretend or keep that to yourself on the outside. However, when the mind goes, whether with age, or disease, or even because of something else ( too much to drink? a lot of laughing gas at the dentist?)…your heart begins to speak for you, and I shudder to think what my heart would say if it wasn’t for Jesus. It is at these times that it becomes too clear that we ALL have fallen short, no matter how good we try to be, how good we want to be, deep down we need help and Jesus was willing to be that Help for us.

Edythe was a beautiful testament to that, in her final days she was still exuding kindness to those around her. She was still exuding her Jesus who had died for her sins, who had risen from the dead so that she could have life. And now she lives with Him in heaven.

She truly lives!

As we said goodbye to her, I am challenged to give more of my heart to Jesus-there are always pieces to give-so that when all that is left of me is my heart, let it be Jesus. Thank you Mimi for reminding me of that this week. I look forward to seeing her again one day. I know she’s singing her heart out in the heavenly choir even now.

A Story

I am the slowest learner ever. Its unfortunate because it means I have to keep learning the same lessons, and boy, lessons are the HARDEST.

 You’d think I was a certain 3 year old who keeps ‘forgetting’ to flush the toliet….JUST FLUSH THE TOLIET FOR THE LOVE OF ALL, ITS NOT THAT HARD!!!!  *ahem*

Basically, I’m a little like that.

So, lets recap. I wrote a book. It took me years to write it and one of its major themes was:

“Look and see what the Lord can do when our own hands our tied and we can’t do anything!”

I’d written all kinds of cool stories illustrating just how this was true and so you’d THINK I would have it drilled through my little bitty brain by now that I really should be able to trust the Lord with what He has directed. That if He’s put something on my heart that I should probably go ahead and do it and trust that He will do exactly what He wants to do and nothing will get in the way of His plan.

But this week, I had to hit “Start” on my crowd funding project for my book. And I wanted to throw up. I really just wanted to beg God to let Brett and I do this ourselves, for the Lord to just magically fill up a Savings Account labeled “Book fund” or maybe just let me go the traditional publishing route and let some big publishing company foot the editing bill….but nope. That was not the Plan.

And so on Monday night I went “live” with my crowd funding and then I basically didn’t sleep for three days…. I felt so humbled, so helpless….

But what I learned in those three days is that I have beautiful, and generous people in my life. Friends shared the link, they gave from their hearts and they sent me kind words and I heard beautiful stories of generosity and sacrifice that made me bawl my eyes out and within three days we got past the 60 percent funded mark! The coolest part is that even if I had imagined who was going to give, or how much the book would raise in the first three days, it would NOT have looked like that!

It was TRULY incredible! And for the briefest of moments I learned the lesson. I was confident in the Lord! I thought YES! THIS BOOK IS GOING TO BE PUBLISHED HOORAY!!!! I was singing God’s praises! YESSSSSS!!! THIS IS HAPPENING!!!! YAY GOD!!!!

And then two days went by and I didn’t get a single supporter.

Hehehehehe….

Are you laughing yet?!

Because you already probably know the punch line, right?!

That Abigail is back doubting.

But really how can I?!? How can I doubt that the rest of the money we need for this book to hit shelves will somehow come, and not just arrive, but it’ll probably arrive from unlooked for source? I’ll have more sweet stories to share of how this book went from being, “my baby” to the baby of a whole bunch of people who believed in it and loved it too. People who identified with our story, who knew that it could bring hope and help to others who find themselves in hard times. In fact, every time, I look at the stationary ( but really BIG NUMBER) on my Indiegogo site, I hear this almost audible whisper.

This book is bigger than you. 

And in reality not only is this book bigger than me, this story is bigger than me! All of this: the truth about who Jesus is- what He did for all of us- it was written before we even drew breath and its being written over and over again in all our lives. I put down on paper just one of those stories, but as I have thought about the sweet souls who have supported my book this past week, I see that same story written and reflected in their lives too.

In fact, I believe this so very much, that I can only think about the story of those 3 guys in the Old Testament who were about to be thrown into a fiery furnace and they said that they believed their God could save them, but even if He doesn’t…..
I feel that even if this book DOESN’T get all the way funded, that somehow, someway, I will be able to see this book come to life- and I will be able to honor all those who have already given and we will all be able to celebrate this story of miracles together.

So, if you haven’t already, head on over to our books site and watch a miracle happen!! Won’t you watch with me, to see how in some mysterious and miraculous ways, this book reaches print?!?

(and if you haven’t already supported this project- even if its just sharing it with your own social media network- pleeeeeeease give us a shout out, won’t you?!)

https://www.indiegogo.com/project/the-day-between-a-memoir-of-miracles-book-jesus/embedded

I’ve got good news and bad news ( and more bad news).

Last month I took a break from Facebook. Social media had reached this point where I wanted to give everyone a stern talking to, send them to their room and then, in some cases, there was a need for at least one or two spankings.  But since I ( sadly, thankfully-whichever) wasn’t anyone’s mom- I  left the conversation.

But, I would HATE for you to miss out on what happened to our family during the next month while everyone was fighting over politics. I would never do that to you. I would not want you to miss hearing about the time the Wilson’s NEARLY DIED OF THE PLAGUE.

First off, the major downfall of public school!?! Ransom is like a walking petri dish. First he brought home this insane stomach bug that messed with his gut for DAYS and DAYS. The craziest part is that he would seem better, have a good day at home ( driving the rest of the family batty) and then he’d throw up in his bed that night assuring another day home from school! By day 4 I was losing my mind, and I was starting to worry that there was more going on. My already-skinny-little boy was wasting away and he didn’t seem to be getting any better. As he lay on the couch staring into space I called the pediatrician to make an appointment…. As I talked to the receptionist I casually stroked my sweet little 6-year-old’s head like any motherly-mother would do….

Wait. My hand froze in mid-stroke.

What was that?!?!

I finished up making my appointment and then got closer to Ransom’s head to make sure…..

YES! There was a little bug crawling on his forehead!!!

I picked it up and took it into the kitchen to get a better look…I then furiously googled images on my phone to confirm.

Yes, Ransom had LICE.

And friends, I am not ashamed to say that I nearly LOST MY MIND.

If I had had a paper bag I would have blown into it. Instead, I did the next best, verbal-processor-thing-to-do: I called my sister, got her out of her weekly bible study and hysterically cried into the phone.

But it wasn’t just myself I was thinking about- or even my other two kids, or Brett- who was on his third week of nightshifts…nope, I was also thinking about my friend- M.
M’s husband had just deployed and the week after he left- their house flooded. Leaving her not just alone, 6 months pregnant, with a two year old- but now houseless.

It had been our PLEASURE to invite them to stay, but now as we looked down the already 4 days of stomach bug running rampant in our house, but also a possible LICE INFESTATION. I felt like we’d invited her out of the frying pan and straight into the house of FIRE.

The worst part?!?! When I told her we had lice and she mentioned ( as any sane person would) leaving and going to stay with another friend, I had to basically tell her she COULDN’T leave! Not until we’d checked her and her daughter for lice! She now was not only living in the cesspool of the Wilsons, but she ran the risk of being another carrier if she tried to leave it.

It was truly mortifying.

Thankfully when I googled, “What to do about lice” one of the first things that popped up was, “Don’t freak out.” followed by “Don’t scare your children.”
So I was able to quickly pull myself together and make what followed into a twisted and insane “game”. It clearly worked. My kids probably think treating your head with tea tree oil and getting a random headshave is just par for the course with me as their mom….

We ended up doing the deepest house clean of our lives, shaving Ransom’s head down to the scalp and banishing all the rugs, stuffed animals and dress up clothes to the garage for 2 weeks…the lice HAD to be gone!

I’ll now spare you the details of the next 2 weeks when Justice and I both got the stomach bug, followed by back to back colds. Or when Justice missed his own 1st birthday because he was too busy barfing on his “My first birthday” onesie. Instead, I’ll skip on ahead, when after another fitful night sleep ( I would find out in a few weeks time that Justice had a double ear infection. hooray.)  when I woke up scratching my head….

And then later in the morning, as I was scratching my head, I pulled my hand out holding a little critter between my finger nails, I knew I COULD NOT HANDLE THIS ALONE.

But this time, with Thankgiving, more visitors and most importantly of all- My Birthday Purple Hair Dye Job fast approaching, I did not take matters into my own hands. Instead I told Brett that if it was anything under $300 ( a randomly large number that I pulled out of thin air to assure that I got what I wanted, haha) I was going to call those “Lice Doctor” people you find on the internet to come take care of this problem. Sometimes you have to give up and throw money at problems. And if you don’t have enough money, then you sell your house and use that money. Which turns into a two birds, one stone situation because you’ve gotten to sell your lice-house to the next unsuspecting person.

But, thankfully it was under my dollar limit ( whew!) and the very next day a nice little hair dresser, turned lice catcher arrived at our door ( in an unmarked car! hahaha!) to inspect all our heads! Turns out, I was the only one with lice, some little licE from Ransom must have bailed ship onto me hung out in my lush locks, and then not seen fit to transfer to any of the other members of our family because, why leave the super long thick hair, unless you have to, right?!? RIGHT?!?! And so we should be, thankful for my long thick hair?!?!?! THANKFUL?!!

But now, according to the Lice Doctor Guarantee our house and heads were finally “safe”.

However, honestly things had been SO BAD for a solid month at that point I absolutely  HAD to turn the situation around, so I borrowed from my friend Deb, who had used a line on a unsuspecting plumber months before, and told the Lice Doctor that while she was telling me bad news- that I had lice- that I had some GOOD NEWS for her!

Because, friends, did you know you can share the Good news of Jesus with someone in just one minute? 56 seconds in my case? And I KNOW you can do it, because I’m a girl of many words and I’ve been able to do it over and over again! The great part of this particularly short version of the gospel is that it almost ALWAYS sparks good conversation with whoever you’re sharing with! And it did in our case. The Lice Doctor and I got to have a really good heart to heart about her thoughts on religion in general and I got to share with her my thoughts on a relationship-a Relationship with Jesus. It wasn’t scary, no one got hurt ( other than the 3 lice she found on my head *crying emojis forever* , and this chick got some of the most important information she’ll ever hear.

Thankfully this round of the plague is officially over, here at the Wilson’s House. Brett and I got to help lead a training for No Place Left* here in San Antonio and also receive some great encouragement from all those who attended.  And some  other cool things have been happening. Brett got to baptize an A/C repair man who had come to our street a few days ago, and who walked away with something so much greater. I got purple hair.

You know, all good things, all good things.

* Brett and I have been a part of this movement for a while, mostly when we found out that there is a startling MAJORITY of people in the United States who have no desire to go into a traditional church, but who ARE willing to learn more about Jesus!  We’ve been trying to focus on reaching these unchurched people, meeting with them in our home, their homes and any coffee shop that’ll have us! We share the Good News of Jesus in an accessible, reproducible, teachable way based on the principles we see laid out in the Great Commission ( found in Matt 28:18-20)  so that those who are hearing about Him can easily share it with their own friends and family.  In this way we would like to see No Place (or people group) Left where the Gospel has not been shared. If you’re interested in more information about what we’re doing, do not hesitate to private message me!

the twilight zone of Justice Tirian

This is a picture of Justice just moments after loosing his lunch all over his bib and side……crazy, right?! 

Justice turned 11 months yesterday. And when I was thinking over the month-what he’d learned, what his milestones were- it was all heavily overshadowed by one all consuming fact. Justice barfs. And not just a little bit of spit up, oh no. He goes hardcore exorcist on everything around him. I think we probably perpetually smell like puke. I have started putting a thick blanket down under his crib because his carpet was getting so stained from all the throw up from his nearly nightly barfing episodes. He would calmly go to sleep and then about 2 or 3 hours later he’d wake up, fuss a little bit and then start loosing his cookies all over everything ( and everyone, if you were the lucky parent who tried to pick him up and calm him down). I started making notes in my phone and he probably throws up about 7 to 10 times in a week on average. I’ve learned a few tricks to help him from barfing EVERYTHING up….you know, make it a “small barfing event” rather than a cataclysmic “now we need to clean the whole house and do three loads of laundry” type thing, but so far I have yet to find a reason or a pattern for the actual throwing up.  He’s had blood work done to see if he’s allergic to anything. Nothing.
I’ve taken things out of his diet that he seemed to throw up a lot. But nothing seems to make a difference. I’ve waited longer after giving him milk before putting him to bed at night and I have learned to never ever push food or drink on him-even if it means that he hasn’t had more than a few ounces of milk or water in a whole day!* If I DO try to get him to drink or eat when he pushes it away, then I am most DEFINITELY in for it… It seems to be worse when he has a cold. Then he’ll up his barfing to a whole new level. And maybe the fact that he’s teething right now? its not like he’s snotty or anything….but maybe?! Maybe…maybe….every day I’m considering another possible theory. And yet the the barfing continues. Night and day. The longest stretch we’ve gone without him throwing up in the past few months has been three days. Randomly at a meal, while playing, after going to bed, while getting his diaper changed…sitting, standing, laying down….You never know when he might let loose.

But here’s the thing. Justice is a pretty chill and laid back baby. He can be a little fussy before he actually throws up, but rarely. He’s always suuuuper happy after the fact. And yes, he’s small for his age ( he was in the tenth percentile at his 9 month appointment, and since things have not gotten better, and have possibly gotten worse since then-I can only imagine where he is now, and I doubt its very high), and when I weighed him today after about 2 weeks, he’d actually LOST weight from the previous two weeks. So yes. He’s small, but he’s still got cute chubby cheeks and squeezable thighs…

*So you can imagine how his lack of eating and drinking also stresses me out! He keeps loosing weight! He completely cut me off breast feeding about half way through the past month, but he refuses all bottles and everything but a regular straw for drinking. So its not like he went from breast feeding to getting his milk in some other fashion! Oh no, this kid drinks like my 6 year old, just a little here and there- in fact, now that I think about it, my 6 year old may drink more then he does!

I feel like people are just so chill about his barfing when we’re around others or when I tell people about it. No one else seems to be worried. And most of the time I’m not worried either. And then he throws up again.
I feel like I’m living in a twilight zone. Where most of the time it looks like I live with a totally normal 11 month old, but on the side I live with a weirdly sick child. And I don’t have the answer. And its driving me crazy.

 
I saw this print on Instagram from one of my favorite artists Ruth Simons and it immediately struck a cord. This is how I feel just about every single day. And right now it is the only thing I can cling to when I’m giving my kid his third bath of the day and doing yet another puke covered load of laundry. 

"How was your day?!"

This week marks Ransom’s third week of school and Tabitha’s first week of school ( using the word “week” loosely there because she only goes Tues/Thurs). It seems like the perfect time to give a “little ” ( and by little I most definitely mean super long, so buckle up.) update on how we are all feeling regarding the new schedule, our decisions to send our kids off to various schooling systems this year etc.

First off, let’s start with Justice. Poor dude. His little routine has taken a major hit, we’ve pushed and shoved naps into various different spots in order to accommodate his siblings ( hashtag third child problems). The bottom line is that while at first I was sad that Tabitha had to wait two WHOLE WEEKS to start her own little school program ( more on this in a minute), it turned out to be a major blessing. We were able to adjust a little bit at a time regarding Justice’s napping  ( I often have to wake him up from his second nap to pick Ransom up from school and that kills me just a little each time I have to do it.)  as well as adjusting to having less fun and exciting children around to play with/observe/try to ruin their fun.  Bottomline, the jury is out on whether Justice will ever really like having his siblings in school. He would much rather nap when he wants and have two people who are ALWAYS entertaining to follow around all day.

As I alluded to early, Tabitha definitely struggled with sending Ransom off to school. Firstly she wanted to go to school too! She’s showing more and more of her extrovertedness these days and as soon as she discovered that it was “school time” she was asking very few minutes when she might leave for school too! It was also hard visiting her school, for family night, two weeks before she actually began. She learned both her teachers names immediately and began to talk about school constantly. She also became a tad more demanding at home “by herself” with Justice and I, and is constantly wanting me to play with her. Turns out she misses having Ransom as a play mate far more than I thought she would! Let’s just say everyone was relieved when she had her first day on Tuesday! 

The fun thing was, Ransom was almost as excited for Tabitha as she was, and the first thing he asked when we picked him up from school that day was how her day went. And as for her day, it went great. In a lot of ways I think we will learn more about Tabitha’s school days then we ever did about Ransoms. When we picked her up on the first day, we learned more before we had even left the building then I think we had all year when Ransom was in Prek3! ( in case you are interested, she played doctor in Little Town, did a parachute dance-though they didn’t have balls in it like they do at the library!-had apples and cheese for snack, she made a friend who did not like cheese, and they read a book about a dog.) My favorite part of the first day was the confident “Bye Mom.” and the quick hug before she ran off to play with magnet blocks. This girl was MADE for preschool! 

My next favorite part is walking through the quiet and clean children’s museum an hour before they open as we drop Tabitha off. Its so cool that the museum is their own private play place for a whole hour before it opens! And knowing how they take EVER. SINGLE. detachable playing toy and sanitize it at the end of the day makes me kind of happy too. The one sad thing about the class is that there is only ONE other girl in the class! I mean, Tabitha is no stranger to playing with boys-she’s been doing it for years with Ransom and his friends-but I was hoping for more girl friends for her this year. Thankfully she and the other little girl ( aka the girl who doesn’t like cheese) in the class are already getting along great.

And now for Ransom. We knew going into this year that Kindergarten was going to be an adjustment. But thankfully it was not as rough as I thought it would be! Not by a long shot! Ransom was genuinely excited about going and was a ball of  happy nerves and excitement on the first day! I’ve learned from these short first three weeks that our home as exactly one “morning person” in it, and his name is Ransom. The rest of the family, including Tabitha, speak in monosyllables for a solid hour while Ransom is almost immediately wide awake and ready to discuss which one of his cool t-shirts he is going to wear that day. The 7am alarm is far harder on me and probably Tabitha then anyone else. When we went to meet his teacher the Friday before school started, I instantly liked her. And my instincts seemed to hold, when on the first day of school she was insistent upon letting us know about an incident with another kindergarten teacher who had yelled at Ransom and made him cry followed with a description of all that she had done to make Ransom feel better. Honestly, Brett and I were more worried about whether Ransom had DESERVED to be yelled at ( probably), rather than our son crying. But she was so sweet and sensitive and obviously upset with the other teacher and their actions, that I knew my uber-sensitive son was in the right class. 

 And speaking of crying. My goal for the first two weeks was to go two days in a row without Ransom having a random melt-down when he got home from school. And by random, I mean random. One day he lost it in a ball of tears about spilling some ranch dressing on his water bottle while eating his afternoon snack. Yeah. His tears came from seemingly no where and were always very intense and lasted a while. One day he cried over remembering an incident that had happened earlier in the day when he’d hurt his chin on a hand railing. Believe me when I say, it was hard for this non-feeler mother to have the right amount of sympathy for these outbursts. But I did know they were more a symptom of Ransom holding in all his “strong emotions” all day at school. They were symptom of him having to be around lots and lots of people and peers for hours and hours. For a little introvert, it was very hard work. So, it wasn’t that I wanted the crying fits every day to end because they were inconvenient, but because it would show me that he was learning to adjust. Thankfully now, in week three, he’s already done sooooo much better, and I can tell he’s starting to level out a bit. Maybe learning to pace himself emotionally throughout the day when it comes to his socializing? But, his coping skills do seem to be maturing. HOORAY! My favorite thing about school for Ransom so far is how much I miss him, I know that sounds strange, but I have so much more emotional capacity for his outburst ( when he has them) now that he’s at school! My second favorite thing is seeing how much he really does love school! He’s already reading more-something he knew how to do at the end of last year but had zero interest in doing-but something about “being in school” has made him embrace his already known abilities. He talks about his friends a lot and tells us about their electives -gym, music and library ( definitely his favorite part of the day) and while we don’t get as much information as we do from, say, Tabitha- if we’re patient he does give us pieces of information throughout the afternoon and evening. He loves picking a book out at the library. He likes dancing in gym class and he loves to run errands for his teacher. He also loooooves getting to eat from the cafeteria one day a week  (it costs $2.20 so we read the months calendar and then circle one day a week that he particularly likes- you would think that they were a 5 star restaurant the way he raves about their “star shaped cheese sandwiches! hah! But, really, I think he just likes getting to make his own choices about all the different sides and drink etc.)  My least favorite part about school is how LONG it is! This would also be Ransom’s least favorite part too. If given a choice I don’t think he’d want to stop going, but he WOULD want to shorten his day! He often prays that school would be shorter during his nightly prayers, and I too wish that kindergarten was still a half day thing. Sigh.
Thankfully, I feel that with more “practice” at this whole “school business”- God will answer his prayers, by making the day “seem” shorter.

Get out of Jail free Card

Yesterday was not my best day. I let my kids watch “bonus” screen time while I cried over my kitchen sink. After two weeks of me calling and badgering them after I realized that a SIGNIFICANT portion of our photos and videos were inexplicably missing from our cloud drive, an Amazon representative spent and hour on the phone with me “letting me down easy” that I would never, ever see all the pictures and videos from October 2015-May 2016 again. Sure, it would have taken me hitting the delete button like 10 different times to delete a solid 700 pictures, but apparently it had to be me ( or someone else who has access to our pictures), and not Amazon, because they just don’t do that.

Bottomline: Hilary should take note, if she wants to store top-secret secure documents and then delete them so that NO ONE CAN GET THEM BACK then she should be using the Amazon Cloud. *eye roll*

This left me crying into my pillow and eating the biggest bowl of Two Cookies Bluebell ( new favorite! Why hasn’t someone combined cookies n’ cream and cookie dough ice-cream before?!!) because this is not my favorite week anyway…this is the week when we look back and shake are heads that its really been 4 years since we were fighting for Tabitha and Priscilla’s lives….August 25 2012 is the day we lost Priscilla. Today is hard for me even now.  Sure, four years distance has made it easier, but its still a little weighty. And I think it would be easy to just wallow a bit. I think that’s fair, right?!

But I read something this morning,in Acts 16:25, that really reminded me what an opportunity these moments bring, it says:

” At midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing praises to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” 

Paul and Silas had been thrown in prison, without trial, after preaching the gospel, they really didn’t know what was going to happen to them and yet there they were praising God, and the other prisoners were listening.  
I so often take advantage of my “midnight” moments and get a good wallow in ( see: facebook status from last night), but I’m missing opportunities there, sure its not wrong for me to cry about things that are hard, but what an incredible testimony of Paul and Silas! What an audience they had there in the prison as all the other prisoners listened. Because, they were not alone in the prison!!!! I think, so often, when I’m having my cry-over-the-kitchen-sink moments,  I feel so very very alone, but in reality I can’t tell you how many people have told me similar stories of losing all their pictures, all their journal entries from a certain important period, their Journaling Bible with their letters to their unborn and new babies….story after story! The truth is, NONE of us are alone in our struggles, we are SURROUNDED by people struggling. 
And then there are the harder things, like losing a child, that seem almost insurmountable, but we can be assured that we aren’t alone in those heart aches either! Maybe the heart ache looks different, or has a different story, but the bottom-line is that NONE of us are alone at midnight. NONE of us are alone in prison. 
The difference is that I have the Hope of Jesus in my midnight moments. I have the Hope of Jesus in my prison moments. I should not keep that to myself! 
I am sorry for being a bit on the “woe is me” side yesterday, but today I want to share my story, my struggle ( because it is still a struggle! Its not all roses!), but most importantly I want to share my HOPE and my God. Because there are other prisoners in here with me. 

WHAT NOW?!?!

This past weekend we headed to Nacogdoches for Ransom’s birthday celebration with family. While we were there, I sat down for coffee with my friend Esther who had taken on the job of doing a grammar edit of my book. Essentially I had given it to her in a hot mess of runon sentences and an over use of ALL CAPS and she had returned it to me covered in a sea of green ink (so kind of her not to use red. It might have killed me.)

As it turned out, I do not really write with punctuation in mind at all. I know this doesn’t surprise you in the least since you all read this blog and it is never well edited either. But, I was an English Major and I DO ( see?!?! I can’t stop it!!!) actually know how to write a proper sentence. The thing is, every time I tried to edit my book for myself I would get caught up in the weeds of making some sentence sound better. It was horrible. I could NOT get it done. NOT EVEN A LITTLE. Besides, it took another person doing an intervention to make me take out all those ALL CAPS. Because apparently I like to YELL AT PEOPLE in written form.

IT’S MY THING, OK!?!

Annnnyway, so there we sat, and as I passed her a big ol’ fat check it really hit me that this can not just be a trifle that I’m doing as a cute little hobby in my spare time any more. For one thing, you just don’t invest this much time or now-money, without it holding a little bit more weight than that.

It’s an awful feeling, because now its starting to hit that once again I’ve gotten myself into one of those “rejection” type situations. You know, like apply for college or deciding to cast all caution to the wind and date that cute boy with good hair, or submit your resume for that job you really want- all those things are now happily in my past. Right where I want them to be, because I do not enjoy rejection. It didn’t help that at that moment when I realized how serious this was all becoming- Esther asked me casually “Just what made you decide to write this book, anyway?!”

In that moment I wanted to run away, crying “I don’t knoooooooowwww!” But instead I think I smiled and said, “Because God told me to!” -which is entirely true…I never would have started this endeavor if I hadn’t heard it quite so clearly. And yet. And yet, now that I’m here, 3 years in…wondering where I’m going to go once I put all these corrections into my digital copy. Thinking that the response I get from second person (other than myself) to read it through is “Why did you write this!?”- well…sigh….isn’t probably a great start.
I have a feeling this whole “book business” is going to be a Personal Growth Endeavor. Which I hate.  

So, the bottom-line is: This fall I should be ready to start looking for a book agent and that is a nightmare of a thought.

Daughter Date

At the beginning of the summer I had a Mommy/Daughter date planned for Tabitha and I, but due to the craziness of life and Brett being out of town I had to cancel it last minute.

Thankfully this past week I received a text from my sweet friend Katie inviting Tabitha and I to join her and her daughter for a play at the local children’s theatre. I jumped at the chance and I think it was a grand success ( even though the play itself was decidedly awful*)

If you don’t mind I’m going to document our little date here so that one day I can look back and smile ( read: bawl my eyes out)

We started our date in good girl fashion by picking out our outfits and getting ready. I let Tabitha wear whatever she wanted and when she heard the name of the play we were going to see was “La Cinderella” she made her choice very quickly!  She then went on to pick my outfit for me and also the accessories that we both wore.  She was also very much insistent that she and I wore the same lipstick and then she made sure to pack her lip smackers “lip stick” in her puppy purse for the much needed re-application later in the night.

We then took “prom style” pictures by the front door while Daddy and brothers fawned over her. ( Seriously, Ransom’s compliments and kisses for his sister were so sweet! Sure, he was mostly excited just to get his “guys night” started with Daddy…but he also accomplished making his sister feel special, which was great.

Then off we went in the car by ourselves. Tabitha tends to really like going on little trips alone with me , I know this because she always starts telling me how much she loves me every few minutes. Tabitha’s love language: Quality Time.

I asked Tabitha what music she wanted to listen to and she asked for the “dust to diamonds” song. Luckily, we listen to enough Christian Radio that I was able to narrow down which song she meant pretty quickly, and found it on demand on the Amazon Prime Music App.

After listening to her song several times in a row followed by a few listens of “Let it Go” and “Move it, Move it” and her letting me know that her REAL favorite songs were Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and the ABCs song, she then admired the clouds and the beautiful sky- finally arrived at dinner with our friends.

We had a tasty dinner at a wonderful cafe called Cafe Lorraine downtown at The Pearl and my only regret is that we were a little rushed and didn’t get to “savor” our time there as much as I would have liked! It’s kind of a dreamy spot for a little ( or big) girl on a date complete with a green lawn, twinkle lights and tasty food… we definitely got a lot of stares from admiring “fans” as we paraded back to our cars to head to the theatre….little girls in frilly dresses and crowns will do that.

We carpooled to the theatre, and my friend and I enjoyed listening to Tabitha and her friend chat in the backseat, overheard:
“It’s important to obey your Mommy and Daddy!”
“Oh yes, and to be sweet and kind…AND PATIENT”
“YES! Patience is very very important. And to be loving and share….”

Haha!  Honestly I wish I had recorded more of their little chatter!

The Magik Theatre is super cute and decorated with a child’s eye in mind and I think Tabitha and her little friend were kind of overwhelmed with the stage and the seating. We ate jelly beans ( that had been conveniently packed in Tabitha’s puppy purse) and the girls “read” their programs. Sadly the play itself was a bit too “old” for our girls, and yet, because of some of the crude jokes and crass choices, I’m honestly glad our girls were too young and hopefully didn’t notice or get most of what was happening. My friend and I were definitely bummed that Children’s theatre has clearly lost its innocence and that we now have to “preview” theatre as well as movies…but such is life! And we ended our night playing in the WONDERFUL Hemisphere Park: Yanaguana Garden. I had read about it opening a while ago, but had totally forgotten that it was open! Anyway, the girls ended up playing for a while and enjoying the “late night” ( it was already an hour past their bedtimes!).

Tabitha was verrrry sleepy when she got home, but was met at the door by here very excited brother who had clearly had a great night too!

Life hacking

Who else can believe that July is almost over?!?! Who else is ready for fall to just come already?!? Is it just me, here suffering in the South?!  I know my daughter, for one, is ready….she heard my friend talking about Pumpkin Patches the other day and has asked to go every day since. She even resorted to some mind tricks by praying about it during her nightly prayers, “..and thank you for letting us go to the pumpkin patch soon.” …well played, daughter but sadly even Jesus isn’t gonna conjure up a pumpkin patch for you in 112 degree heat.

Anyway, as the summer has rolled on and we’ve dealt with the hubs being gone for business several times, plus fussy babies, and hot hot hotness….I’ve collected a few “life hacks” that have helped me survive. Here they are:

Hack #1: Smuckers PBJ Uncrustables.  Sure, its not hard to make a PBJ and I make at least 3 of them basically 350 days out of the year- because that’s all my children ever want to eat for lunch, ever. HOWEVER, there is something truly magical about dropping a few dollars at Costco to get the 18 pack of these puppies and then come lunch time just throwing them on a plate next to the Manna from Heaven that is Pirates Booty and a giant pickle and calling it “lunch”. It will take approximately 65 seconds after walking in the house from swimming lessons for lunch to be on the table. This is very important because that is also 65 seconds TOO LONG for a certain hungry baby who wants to be nursed. Now. Basically whether its Uncrustables or some other food that you’ve found to be fast and “mildly” nutritious, I’m telling you to just GO WITH IT. Not ever meal has to be filled with the food pyramid. Sometimes something’s gotta give…so cut yourself a big fat break ( or a piece of zucchini bread made from all those zucchinis that are in season, I bet if you cut yourself some of that too…life will be better, guaranteed)

Hack #2: Swimming lessons. If you spend money on ONE THING this summer, let it be swimming lessons…but if you DON’T want to spend money on this, did you know that MOST cities provide FREE swimming lessons!?! Look it up! Because, in our house, if Daddy is going to be gone then we’re gonna need something to do every single day. This is important for many reasons. Tiring out children. Also it is a ready answer for when Ransom asks me “what are we going to do today?” for the trillionth time.-swim lessons are at the top of the list for ALL summer lists, and if you haven’t done yours yet, you need to RECTIFY. Also, I suppose its icing on the cake if my children actually learn to swim. The jury is out on that one. As a former lifeguard going to the pool can by highly stressful. I mostly want to spend the whole time scanning the pool for drowners and yelling at children who aren’t my own to “stop running”. That said, it is VERY important to me that my children are able to swim without floaties- because, turns out, my kids don’t actually wear floaties 24/7 in the off chance that they are near a body of water. How many kids have I saved who fell in the pool when their families were either just arriving or just leaving the pool!?! Yup. A lot.

Hack #3: Baths. I’ve trained my older two children to “go take a bath” without any oversight at all. This is wonderful for lazy me, but maybe not so wonderful when you’re trying to get “clean children” out of the deal. But I gave up on that a long time ago so we’ll just settle for “wet children”. And, if you play your cards right- it can take up a whole 20 minutes of your day. That’s gold.

Hack #4: CD player. I wrote a whole post on this. So I’ll save my breath here. But let me just say, this puppy is getting a work out, and I’m loving it.

Hack #5: grocery shopping help. This summer, due to the insane heat and also me being me and therefore excessively lazy- I’ve hated going grocery shopping MORE THAN EVER. This is when I’ve started incorporating two different services into my life. One, Walmart Pick up , (ps if you use the code here, than you get $10 off! ) is AMAZING. Sure, they don’t have TONS of locations yet, but I suggest you at least clicking on that link and putting in your zip code, because you never know-there might be one close by, and also if their isn’t I have a feeling that if we all put our zip codes in over and over maybe they’ll get a clue and put in more locations ( this is just a theory and not at all confirmed. Abigail Wishful Thinking, if you will). People have asked, and yes, I have gotten produce this way and I was actually surprised at the selection. I feel like in some cases they had a better apple selection then when I had picked them out myself.

Anyway, there is NO FEE for using the service ( only a $30 minimum) and you literally shop online and then drive up and PICK UP YOUR GROCERIES FROM YOUR CAR at the assigned time. Um. That’s basically God’s gift to me. We live in the golden age, people. GOLDEN AGE.

Two, I’ve used Amazon Prime’s NOW which guarantee’s to deliver certain items within two hours. This is a much more expensive endeavor, and I save it for “emergencies”.  But I have used it to have Butter brought to my door when I had forgotten it and just could not face the 100 degree afternoon heat with my 3 children. A girls gotta do….

So, enough from me! What are your current Summer hacks?!? I’ve got another month of summer to get through, so I’m gonna need all that you’ve got! Let’s get through this together…