March 30, 2011

Things I've Learned from My Kids

Hello Brandon again!! Making another "cameo" to post this article I wrote recently for Ozarks Marriage Matters News & Notes/Operation Us.  I hope you like it:

Fathering is not always an easy job. I would never, EVER claim to have this thing we call ‘fatherhood’ perfected, as I am learning new tips and tools to use to make my life, and my kids’ lives, better every day. I have learned that my kids have taught me a few things about being a good Dad.

LITTLE THINGS MAKE THEM HAPPY – As much as we love playing video games and watching television, I have learned that my kids especially love it when I get off of the couch or computer and get down on the floor and just play with them. Whether it’s wrestling around with them, playing tag in the back yard, or hide-and-seek, they really enjoy that quality time with me. On occasion, I will pick up a few empty office supply boxes, whatever I can get my hands on from work and take them home. My son and I have a ball building whatever his imagination wants! He likes me to build a wall of boxes and crash through them like the Incredible Hulk!

When I go on business trips out of town, one of my favorite things to do is go to the library and check out TWO of the same book (and one set of two books for each day I am out of town). I give my son one of the books, and I take the other with me on the trip, and I read his bedtime story to him over the phone. He ABSOLUTELY loves this, and I think it helps him feel more secure even though I am not home…..yes sometimes my suitcase gets quite heavy from the extra books, but my son is worth it.

DON’T ASSUME – I have learned that it is not realistic to assume that my children know what I am feeling or thinking if I don’t voice it to them, such as saying I love you. We know our kids love us, but let them hear you say it to them. Confirm it to them, over and over again. If I as a parent do or say something wrong to my son or daughter, I make sure I apologize to them verbally. They likely won’t learn to be genuinely sorry for something if they don’t hear it from you. Just don’t assume, they need to know that it is ok to show and share those kinds of emotions and actions.

THEY WILL FOLLOW YOUR LEAD – I have learned that our children are watching our every move! Meaning that, they take on more of our habits, our disposition and temperament than we believe at times. I have learned that because my son hears me say “Yes Ma’am/Sir, No Ma’am/Sir” (I’m still a good ol’ southern gentleman at heart!) he has no problem saying the same to adults whether I am in his presence or not. My almost 2 year-old daughter hears me say thank you, and she has started saying thank you for everything! My son sees me open doors for everyone, so he now opens doors and holds them for people. He sees me being compassionate and giving, so he mirrors my actions and does the same……in his own way.

I am so thankful that my kids are learning manners, and developing a giving heart. Most importantly, they see me adoring my wife, and being a loving and supportive husband to her. I am hoping my marriage will be a great example for them to follow in the future and help them make good decisions on their future relationships. Whatever we, as parents, show them, whether it be good-natured, dysfunctional, or anything in-between, that is what they most likely will look for as adults because that is what they were exposed to as children. Give them positive examples to follow, and as best as you can, be proactive instead of reactive. It can make a difference.

Spring Break 2011 - Houston

Brandon's has family in Houston, so off we went!  Quite the tour of Texas this trip was!  One of my favorite things to do in Texas this time of year is have a crawfish boil!  Yum!  This year, both of our kids enjoyed it!  Marley wasn't quite sure how to eat it...too funny!  Blogger is giving me a hard time with uploading the pictures so check out facebook.

Brandon and his Mom had a special date night at a Rockets game.  They had great seats and some awesome Mother and Son time!

March 29, 2011

Spring Break 2011 - Corpus Christi

We always enjoy visiting Corpus Christi.  It is very special place for me and Brandon.  We met in Corpus, were married in Corpus and were baptized together at this very beach!  Miles and Marley loved getting to take a break from winter clothes and play in the sand.  This was Marley's first time at the beach.  At first, she was scared of sinking sand and the waves.  She warmed up to it pretty fast and didn't want to leave!
The most memorable part of our trip was the quality time the kids spent with Mimi and Gigi.  Being raised a Navy Brat, I know what if feels like to not really know your grandparents.  Fortunately, our kids are able to see their grandparents at least two times a year. 

March 28, 2011

Spring Break 2011

What a great Spring Break our family had this year!  We traveled to go see both sides of the family in Texas.  The grandparents and the kids really enjoyed each others company.  I will be posting pictures throughout the week.  We took a tour of Texas, so there are many many pictures! 

Our first big adventure was Sea World!   Almost all of us had on our Simply Love T-Shirts!

Then we got to visit with the Salyer's again!  Marley got so excited when she saw Ru.  Ru was in the same transition home in Ethiopia as Marley.  Luckily, Ru's mama and me are GREAT friends! Our families have become great friends as well! 

March 6, 2011

What Does Crazy Faith Look Like?

While I am not the picture of a person that has complete crazy faith, I do strive to grow in my faith.  This past month I vowed not to worry and to have complete faith that God would provide in an amazing way for my mission trip and to exceed my goal and be able to give like crazy.  And He has!
It all started last summer when Kari announced that she was going to be organizing two mission trips in 2011.  I knew that mission trips would play a part in my life, but didn't realize how much God wanted it to be as well.  I emailed Kari and told her that I was interested in possibly the February mission trip to Ethiopia.  Just a week later, I found out that I was pregnant with a due date in April.  That pregnancy was a huge surprise.  11 weeks later I miscarried and got very sick.  As I was grieving that loss and lying in a hospital bed, I emailed Kari back and told her that I wanted in on the June Uganda trip.  She quickly responded with kind words and a "we'd LOVE to have you on our team!"  I turned in my application and deposit back in September and kind of put it on the back burner because it seemed so far away. 
In late January, I received and email telling me that my money would be due by March 1.  The panic began to set in. Really?!  I needed to raise about $3500 in around five weeks?!  During one of our monthly Ethiopian Adoptive Family gatherings, I was talking to another family that has participated in several mission trips.  They were a huge encouragement to me.  We calculated that all I really needed was $100 a day until March 1.  Just $100 a day....I could do that, right?!

The following is how awesome God has been to me in the month of February:
  • January 30 - I blogged about my mission trip and vowed to not worry and have complete faith.
  • February 1 - I begin to write letters to my friends and family asking them to support my mission trip.  I was reluctant to send them out at first, fearing what people would think. I was reminded by a friend that this is not for me, it's for a mission trip.  I am going to serve, to love on orphans and to raise money to meet needs.  I prayed over every single letter, asking God to open the hearts of my friends and family, making them want to give. 
  • February 5-6 - I had my first bake sale at the Army and the Navy's drill weekend.  I prayed over every baked good, asking God to have people want to contribute.  I made around $300 this weekend!

    • February 6 - I received my first large check from one of Brandon's co-workers.  I didn't even expect anything like that.  She gave me $100 check and said, "isn't God good?!"  
    • February 15  11 a.m. - I was talking to a friend who was asking me about my progress.  I told her about the $900 I had raised.  I was excited until I realized that it was the 15th day.  According to my original goal, I should be at $1500.  I quickly put that fear and doubt out of my mind and trusted that the money would come in.
    • February 15  5 p.m. - I went to the mail box and discovered two checks totaling $600!  That put my total at $1500 raised on the 15th day of my fund raising!!! I was meeting my $100 a day goal!  
    • February 17 - Discussed the idea of a giveaway with two friends over lunch.  I was reluctant.  They convinced me that it was a fabulous idea and helped me work out all the details!

    • February 22 - TWO unexpected refund checks came in the mail ON THE SAME DAY!!! One check may have been a coincidence, two is definitely not!  One check was for something we "overpaid?" and the other was for an overpayment of Escrow on our house.  Seriously, TWO unexpected refund checks in one day totaling $800!

    • March 4 - It was the last day of my drawing for the iPad and Touch and we were having company over for dinner.  I decided since they are from Southern California and appreciate REAL Mexican food, that I would grill some fajitas.  I opened the sliding glass door to our back yard and the deck and found an envelope in between the door and the screen.  At first I thought it was a piece of paper Marley had been coloring on.  After I picked it up and saw Africa on the envelope, I squeezed it and thought it might be an adoption or mission t-shirt.  When I opened it, I about fell over!  I thought it was all ones and immediately called a waitress friend of mine accusing her of the generous gesture. She denied it.  After our dinner company left, Brandon was counting it as I was getting ready to end the drawing.  He told me I had been tricked, there were two $100 bills in the middle of all the ones.  Seriously!  Someone left me an anonymous gift of $328!

    • March 5 - I drew the names for the drawing and announced that I had exceeded my goal by $1700!  
     If anyone has doubt that God exists, I wish you could have spent the last month in my shoes.  He has grown me so much this past month...I am in awe!  I haven't even left yet, but KNOW that I am supposed to go.  I don't even know how He is going to use me and I KNOW He is going to use me in great ways!  

    I hope to continue raising money and items to make an even bigger impact!  I truly believe God is teaching me that if I just have COMPLETE CRAZY FAITH that He will be alive in my life! 

      It Couldn't Have Gone to a Better Person!

       As you all know, Dawn was the winner of the iPad.  After I posted the video of the drawing, I was still attempting to get a hold of Dawn. She had no clue! Several people were messaging her at work and she finally called me.  She couldn't believe it!  This is the message I got from her late last night!

      Ok. So Im finally home. And have had the chance to let this extremely exciting news sink in! I just want to let you know how amazing I think you are. God is using you in incredible ways. Your famiy is beautiful, you are incredibly blessed! And you have shared those blessings with everyone around you.
      I may have won the iPad, but I just wanted to share something with you, and how much this means to me (not the iPad itself, but the life lesson all of this has taught me)
      Im sure you know that I am not the richest person in the world. Im a struggling single mom of 2. I wouldnt trade my life for anything, but its definately not easy. Ive also had a lot going on lately with other things, and its hard to kind of "keep the faith" when everything is so turned upside down. But I try.
      Ive followed your blog since you started your journey with Marley...thanks to Cafemom! And when i read about your mission trip, and your giveaway, I was so excited for you!
      Money has been really tight lately, Ive missed work here and there because either me or one of the girls have been sick. But I was lucky enough to get some overtime last week, so my paycheck was a little better than usual. I am faithful in tithing. And usually do 10% of whatever my check is, but I wanted to donate my "extra" for your trip. I had to wait til the very last minute (seriously, I got it in about 15 minutes before it ended), and I knew the giveaway had been going on for a while, and lots of people had multiple entries in, so I wasnt donating to try and win either one. I was simply donating to have a small helping hand in your mission trip journey.
      God has tested me before with my finances and trust. (I struggle with this too) And He definately did not let me down. I was laid off from my job over the summer (6 months total) and ONLY by the grace of God did we make it by.
      So, through all the hurdles that I have to overcome, and all the difficulties I face, I am once again reminded that God is watching out for me, and is paying attention to what Im going though, and takes care of whatever it is. And, sometimes He may even surprise me with an extra little bonus (aka the iPad!)
      Thanks again Elisa. :)

      God is so good!  It's so amazing how he orchestrated everything and a little thing like winning an iPad can help renew someone and grow them in their faith!  I am so thankful for everyone who gave, I'm sure there are other stories out there.  I just had to share this one!


      March 4, 2011


      Get your entries in by 10:00 p.m. CST in order to be in the drawing for a BRAND NEW iPad and iPod Touch!  I will draw the names tomorrow and it will be videotaped and the winners will be posted sometime on Saturday! 
      I am raising money for my mission trip to Uganda.  I leave June 1 and all the details of my trip is right here

      How to Enter:

      • To enter in the drawing for the iPad, just make a $20 donation to the right using the safe Paypal link. 
      • To enter in the drawing for the iPod Touch, just make a $10 donation to the right.  
      • You do not have to have a Paypal account.  Just use any debit or credit card. 
      How to Earn Additional Entries:
      • You will receive an additional entry for posting about my Great iPad & iPod Touch Giveaway on Facebook and linking it to this page (one extra entry for every day you post!)
      • You will receive another additional entry for posting an entry on your blog about my Great iPad & iPod Touch Giveaway linking it back to this page
      • You will also receive another additional entry if you Tweet about my Great iPad & iPod Touch Giveaway on Twitter and link it back to this page (one extra entry for every day you post!)
      • After you have made a donation for either or both drawings, I will automatically have your information for the drawing (well whatever name and email address you have listed for paypal). If you want additional entries, please post a comment here on this blog post telling me where you posted. It may look like this:
      "Hey Beautiful Lady! I'm so excited to have the opportunity to win some AWESOME stuff, and am even more excited to be helping out such a great person on her mission trip! BTW, I made a donation! I also posted your link on my FB, on my blog and on Twitter! That's 3 more entries for me!"