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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas {2011}

Well, I don't have much to say except that it was really wonderful getting to visit both sides of our family during the Christmas holiday. We ate too much, the boys got too many toys, and I took way too many pictures. I wish that I could post them all on here but there is just a ridiculous amount! So, here's some of my favorites:

Jordan's Side:

My Side:








Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas {2011}

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

The Birth of Jesus (Luke 2:1-14)
1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered. 2 This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town.
4 And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, 5 to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough—because there was no room for them at the lodging place.

8 In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.10 But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people:11 Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. 12 This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”
13 Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:
14 Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people He favors!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Elijah Neal {9 months}

Dear Elijah,

Holy cow! I seriously do not know where this past month went! All I know is that I have a 9 month old now and I'm not so sure how it happened so fast. And to think that you will be walking soon! I'm in trouble...boy, am I in trouble!

Since last month's update, you have been letting go of whatever it is you are using to hold on to while standing up...and each day your balance gets better and you can stand on your own for longer periods of time. 

We have also put you on almond milk (with your doctor's approval) because it is so much healthier for you than formula.  You really love your almond milk, too! I know that you will despise this one day but I have taken to calling you my little "tub tub" because well, you are pretty tubby right now!

Oh, and I am happy to announce that once we made the transition from the pack-n-play to the crib, you started sleeping so much better at night.  Unfortunately, you haven't been sleeping that great this past week because we have been traveling for the holidays. I think that you are going to just be one of those kids who needs to be in their own bed for a good night's rest. 

Here's some other random tid bits:

You are really loving guacamole right now....and taquitos. We discovered your love for taquitios when you snuck one off of Josiah's plate and demolished it.  
You have 4 teeth...two on top and two on bottom.

You are still in a size 4 diaper.

You want to play with whatever Josiah is playing with.
You love watching Toy Story and Veggie Tales.
 You have the cutest smile.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Earth Declares His Glory

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims the work of His hands." (Psalm 19:1)

"For His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." (Romans 1:20)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Big Boy Beds

So this post is about two weeks late...but that's just how we've been rolling lately! Anyway,  a couple of weeks ago we decided to upgrade the boy's beds since we had been putting it off for awhile.  Not wanting to go buy any new furniture with an inevitable move in the near future, we moved the guest bed from upstairs to the boy's room. And Elijah is now sleeping in the crib that Josiah was sleeping in.  I must say that I really wish that we would have done this several months ago when Eli went from sleeping through the night to waking up every couple of hours.  He was sleeping in a pack-n-play and it turns out that he just wasn't comfortable anymore...I'm happy to say that moving him to the crib made all the difference in the world! However, the past week we have been traveling and with family for the holidays and he has taken to waking up a lot during the night again.  I'm almost 100% positive that this is because he doesn't have his own bed.  I guess he is just going to be one of those picky little sleepers!

Josiah LOVES his new bed too! At first, I thought the transition was going to be rough since there wasn't going to be anything stopping him from getting out of the bed.  Thankfully, there has only been a handfull of times that we have heard little feet running across the wooden floors after laying him down.  It's actually pretty hilarious to watch him run and jump back in bed as fast as he can when we catch him in the act! He loves his new bed so much that during the day he will gather up his toys and put them in his bed to play with. He even grabs me and Jordan by the hand and brings us to his bed to play with him on a regular basis now.

Here are some pics of them in their new beds:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Journey with Josiah {1}

I think I have touched on it in previous posts, but I will mention again that Josiah, who is now 28 months old, is still not talking.  He chatters incoherently but there has not been much of an attempt on his part to try to communicate much with us.  There are a few words that he says but not very consistently. And as far as understanding us goes, he seems to understand some of what we say and can follow very basic instructions but they usually have to have some kind of visual stimulant to go with them.  For example, if I tell him to go get in his eating chair, he won't do so unless I am holding his tray of food. 

At Josiah's two year check up, his pediatrician was concerned and sent in a referral for Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) to begin working with him.  Shortly after, a lady named Beka was sent to our house to do an evaluation on him to make sure he needed the therapy.  He passed the cognitive skills with flying colors but his social skills needed some improvement and obviously his speech/communication needed a lot of work. So now Josiah has a speech and developmental therapist (Sharla and Lacy) who come to work with him weekly.  I took the news kind of hard at first.  I was beside myself trying to figure out how this had happened.  I could not understand why my child, who I have given so much care, love and attention to, could be experiencing these problems.  I mean sure, I had seen and heard of children with those kinds of delays before but they usually came from parents who weren't fit to be parents and neglected their child/children. And that was not me or Jordan. So why was this happening to Josiah?

It was not until talking a lot with my sister in law that I eased up on myself. Her youngest child, Micah, who is one month older than Josiah, was experiencing the same delays plus others.  You can find her blog here. And a few months ago he was diagnosed with high functioning autism.  By the grace of God, they found this doctor who is working to turn his autism around without putting him on medication.  And so far, the improvements that they have seen in Micah are proof that they have chosen the best avenue for him.

So after talking with LouAnn and doing a lot of research, it became very clear to me that there are a lot more moms out there like me, who are experiencing the same speech delays with their toddlers.  And not only that, there seems to be a direct correlation between vaccinations and the rise in speech and other developmental delays and even autism.  Like Micah, I read countless stories of children who were thriving and developing normally until they recieved the MMR vaccination and turned into different children overnight.  The proof is in the pudding.  Now Josiah has not experienced this regression or reversal like these children, but I am still under the impression that his speech/communication delay is linked to him being vaccinated.  I have seen and read too much and I can no longer ignore all the signs, which is why we have chosen to stop vaccinations from here on out with our children.  Am I anti-vaccines? Absolutely not.  I think they are a good idea, but I also think it is time for a little reform in this area.  For example, I would like to see vaccines made safer. With all the knowledge and technology out there, why hasn't anyone created safer vaccines?- without the metals and foreign substances that our bodies are not meant to be injected with? And why do we give so many vaccines during our children's first year of life?- when their immune system isn't fully developed and their little bodies aren't ready for all that junk shooting through their little veins? Is this doing more harm than good? Maybe not in every child, but I have seen with my own eyes the damage it has done to many children.

Fortunately, if you can catch all of this early, the harm done can be reversed.  With the huge help of LouAnn, I found a doctor for my children like the one that Micah sees in our area. She does not administer vaccines and is committed to their overall health...and very holistic.  I had my first consultation with her yesterday and I am excited to get things rolling with her. Here is her link.  This week she is mailing me a kit for a hair analysis to do on Josiah to see if there are any traces of metal or any other harmful substance in his brain from the vaccines he has received that could be causing his communication delay.  From there, the plan is to detox his body of any harmul substance. I also have a phone consultation with her scheduled for this Friday on the best foods to be feeding my children. Oh, and since I mentioned food, that reminded me of Josiah's dairy allergy.  Here is a little history: When I switched Josiah from breastfeeding to formula when he was a baby, eczema showed up all over his body.  Of course, at the time, I didn't make the connection that the milk was causing the eczema.  So after two years of dealing with it, I finally figured it out. (I'm ashamed that it took me that long but even more ashamed of his doctor for prescribing him a topical steroid instead of getting down to the bottom of it...just another example of our medical field going to pot) Anyway, it wasn't until after doing some more research and more talking with LouAnn that I became convinced that it was a dairy allergy that was causing the eczema.  So I took him off of dairy and within three days his skin was beautifully clear! Why am I mentioning this? Because I found out that food allergies can also cause developmental delays including speech delays.  And since taking Josiah off dairy, we have seen some improvement in his behavior and even with him trying to talk a little more.  We are hoping for even more improvement after the detox.

As of right now, we have not had Josiah tested for Autism.  Josiah's speech therapist and I both agree that he does not appear to be autistic because the only area that he seems to have a problem in is his speech/communication.  But anytime you are dealing with a speech delay like this, there is always a concern about Autism and it is best to try and rule everything out. Plus, the Autism spectrum is very wide and some kids are very hard to diagnose whereas it is very obvious in other kids. So his therapist suggested that our next step be to have his hearing checked...and we will go from there.

Wowzer. I feel like I could go on for hours about this subject.  But I'll refrain.  I would like to extend a huge thank you to all the people who have been supportive of this journey that we have embarked on with Josiah. I wish that everyone had been as encouraging. We have heard many comments like "well you just need to leave it in God's hands and realize that He will talk when he is ready" or "I think you are taking this out of proportion and should just lay off."  All I have to so say to that is, "Shame on you!" Though I am always open to advice, please try to understand that we do not need any discouragement in this area.  You are free to have your own opinion but keep it to yourself if it's not encouraging.  The truth of the matter is, I know my child better than anyone, seeing as how I am with him all day and everyday, and I know that there is something going on here...something more than "he will talk when he is ready".  And as far at leaving it in God's hands goes, that is exactly what we have been doing.  I cover Josiah in prayer on this matter day in and day out.  I know that God is in control! I also know that if God decides to never have Josiah talk, then that is for the best.  His will is always best even when we don't understand. But just because I have placed my full faith in God concerning this, does not mean that I can shed my responsibility as Josiah's mother to be proactive and seek help for my son.  The Lord has not called me to laziness as he does not call anyone to laziness! So, let's keep the advice and comments encouraging please!

As always, thank you for reading.  It must not have been easy making it this far in this post with all it's randomness, so thank you! I will be updating on our progress with Josiah as we go along.

Oh, and follow this link to watch a very good video from Jenny McCarthy on some of the things that I have touched on in this post.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Laying Down My Guns and Eucharisteo

It's no secret that our short time in ministry has been difficult that these past three years might as well of been ten. And no, I'm not writing this blog to vent, cast judgement or ridicule anyone. They will have to answer to God for what they have done one day and until then, they will have to live with themselves.  That is punishment enough.

No, one of  the  points of this post is in, laying them down.  This has been a constant struggle and learning process for me.  When my husband or children are attacked-be it physical or verbal-my first instinct is to attack back...and it is usually with my words.  I have been told that I am good with words but I have also been told that I can kill someone with my words. And I hate to admit that I have tried.  Is this a fleshly response? Absolutely.  It is an area that the Lord has been working to refine in me. 

So this time around has been different...this time around I have bit my tongue so hard that it is a wonder that there aren't any holes in it.  Oh, how hard it is to humbly surrender and not take it upon myself to seek revenge.  So what has stopped me? Mainly this verse:

"Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." Romans 12:19

I have been clinging to this verse with all my being.  It has kept me quiet when my lungs have threatened to burst and my fist has wanted to punch through a wall (or someone's face for that matter).

The Lord says that vengeance is His.  There is something comforting about that.  I guess it is the fact that he loves and cares for us so much that he will do the dirty work for us...that he will bring justice without us ever having to lift a finger or suffer the consequences that often come when we try to seek justice ourselves. 

So how do I find joy in all of this surrendering? this humble submission? all this uncertainty? That is what I have been dealing with.  My quiet times lately have been on the topic of thanksgiving (Eucharisteo) and I have found that thanksgiving is at the heart of joy...or is it that joy is at the heart of thanksgiving? You see, they go hand in hand. Inevitably, where there is thanksgiving, there is matter the circumstance, trial, or hardship. 

So this is the hard Eucharisteo...Eucahristeo when  there is no job right before birthdays and Christmas? Eucharisteo when you have to put the house you love on the market with little chance of breaking even?  Eucharisteo when you can count on both hands how many time you have moved in the past four years? Eucharisteo when you feel betrayed? Eucharisteo when you feel beaten? yes, yes, yes, yes and YES!

As Ann Voskamp puts it:

True saints know that the place where all joy comes from is far deeper than that of feelings; joy comes from the place of the very presence of transcends all other emotions.  Though my marriage tree may not bud and though my crop of children may fail and my work produce little yield, though there is no money in the bank and no dream left in the heart, though others may choose different ways to live their one life, till my last heaving breath, I will fight to the death for this: "I will take joy." (Habakkuk 3:18) I will struggle to heed this until I am not more: "Dear brothers and sisters, when trouble come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy." (James 1:2)

So yes, I can have joy when I have no idea what tomorrow brings. I can have joy.  I can have joy!...for my joy is in Christ. My joy is in Him!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving {2011}

"Eucharisteo means "to give thanks," and give is a verb, something that we do.  God calls me to do thanks.  To give the thanks away.  That thanks-giving might literally become thanks-living.  That our lives become the very blessings we have received." (from One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp)

May this holiday season find you well and may you live out thanks everyday, not just on Thanksgiving. 


The Rogers' Family

Monday, November 28, 2011

Elijah Neal {8 months}

Our sweet Elijah turned 8 months last Wednesday.  It’s funny how some days just seem to drag on but 8 months have flown by in a blink. This past month, Eli’s crawl has evolved into an even faster crawl and he is now pulling up on everything.  He is trying his best to catch up with big brother.  And he absolutely loves it when Josiah pays him attention…and he especially loves it when Josiah allows him to play with him…or destroy the house.

Did I mention that Eli has become a HUGE mama’s boy?  He wants to be where I am at just about all times and he wants my attention at all times.  It’s incredibly hard to get anything accomplished but also pretty sweet because I know that this will not always be the case.

Oh, and for some reason, Eli has stopped sleeping through the night. (insert a very sad face) At first, I thought it was because he wasn’t getting enough solid food during the day so I increased his intake….didn’t work.  Then I thought that maybe he was teething…no new teeth. I’ve brainstormed and done a ton of research and I'm beginning to think that he may have a milk allergy like big brother because "night waking" is one of the symptoms along with a few other syptoms that are starting to pop up.  Plus, Eli started sleeping through the night at 5 months.  Shortly after that, he weaned himself from breastfeeding...wanted nothing to do with it.  So we put him on a milk based formula and that is when he started waking up several times at night. It's been hard and it has taken me three months to try and figure it all out and I'm still not sure if that is it.   The only way to find out is to change his diet so that is what I am going to do.  I'll post updates.

On a brighter note, Eli has also turned into a little chatter box. He even mimics sounds that we make.  I’m pretty impressed…he might just start talking before Josiah…maybe just maybe that would give Josiah the motivation that he needs.  Who knows…

Here’s some other stuff about our little man:

He loves saltine crackers…and sweet peas...and applesauce.
He has leveled off a bit at about 21 lbs.
He is in a size 4 diaper.
His hair is starting to turn auburn.
He loves bath time.
He will only sit in his exersaucer when he is outside.
He is starting to really like Veggie Tales.
And he is just one happy little guy (when mommy's close anyway)...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Eucharisteo {1}

So I've been reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, and let me just say that she has totally knocked my socks off. She is now my new favorite author. (besides God, of course) If you haven't read this book yet, you must.  Go to Amazon and order a copy. Like right now.  You won't regret it!

I've been posting bits and pieces of her book all over facebook, but in case you have missed out, let me enlighten you:

"It was a dare, like a love dare of sorts, and I take it one clear November morning, not at all unlike that long ago November morning that her blood soaked the ground and I can never forget.  It is the beginning of list season.  Lists of holiday menus, lists of handmade projects, lists of have-to buys.  They're scattered and stacked across the counter, around my desk, when a friend's dashed-off digital line blinks up on the my screen.  She dares me, and I don't even blink.  Could I write a list of a thousand things I love? I read her line again.  As in, begin another list? To name one thousand blessings-one thousand gifts-is that what she means? Sure whatever.

It's not like I thought that this is the carving, the flying, the healing of my wounds.  Sometimes you don't know when you're taking the first step through a door until you're already inside.

I grab a scrap paper....Across the backside, on a whim, a dare, I scratch it down: Gift List.  I begin the list.  Not of gifts I want but of gifts I already have.

1. Morning shadows across the old floors
2. Jam piled high on the toast.
3. Cry of blue jay from high in the spruce

That is the beginning and I smile.  I can't believe how I smile.  I mean, they are just the common things and maybe I don't even know they are gifts really until I write them down and that is really what they look like.  Gifts He bestows.  This writing down-it is sort of like...unwrapping love."

After reading this and more from this amazing book, I decided to start my own list...a list of things that I am thankful Eucharisteo. I just had to see what all the fuss was about.  I mean, come on. How can writing these things down make someone as joyous and satisfied as it seemed to make this talented author in her book?

Well, she explains that too.  To summarize, you must live by this motto: "Wherever you are, be all there."(Jim Elliot) And by taking the time to truly stop and think about what you are thankful for, you force yourself to "be all there".  While giving the babies a bath, instead of rushing through, you stop to take snap shots in your mind of the dimples and rolls and cheeky grins, and toothless smiles....all things that you are thankful for. And you can't help but to have joy.  You are "all there". And then you repeat this process with each task or duty that you face all day, everyday.  You will be surprised at what all you are thankful for but never really slowed down to realize this much.  And what joy this brings!

So this is a glimpse at what has brought me joy today:

1. chubby baby cheeks
2. little hands tugging on mommy's leg
3. fresh air blowing through open windows
4. the still, quiet of nap time
5. how the trees dance and sing of His glory
6. the way the boys warm the bed
7. Josiah's nap head
8. the twinkle in Elijah's eyes
9. the changing of seasons
10. "I love you" whispered in darkness
11. The husband's strong embrace
12. Hot chocolate with milk
13. Amazing Grace
14. songs of worship to the One worthy of all honor and praise

Monday, October 31, 2011

Labor Not in Vain

Every year around this time, my heart begins to long (even more so than it already does) for my East Texas trips with my mom, the smell of her creme brulee lit candles, my nana's Thanksgiving dinner and her good company...hearing the Sallee boys' hunting stories and seeing the excitement in their rides with no destination in mind, just the chance to catch up with the best of decorations from my childhood...and the leaves.  Oh, the leaves. A plethora of trees display a sea of autumn foliage. Oh, how I miss I want my boys to experience some of these same be able to see their grandparents whenever their little hearts' desire.

This is when ministry gets tough.  But not just ministry. I think of all the vocations that God calls people into and the answer of obedience that takes them far and wide and out of their comfort zone.  I am reminded of Luke 14:26 : "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple." Obviously Jesus isn't saying that we should hate our parents, children or siblings. He is making the point that His followers must be willing to place His will for their lives above even the people and things most precious to them. This is where "bloom where you are planted" takes on a whole new meaning. Let's just be honest: we don't always like the season, or the weather, or the dirt in which we are planted.  We especially do not enjoy some of the weeds growing around us that threaten to choke the life out of us. But let this verse serve as a reminder that we should persevere: "...but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles;they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31) doesn't say "shall run and not be weary if circumstances are favorable". 

So how do we "run and not be weary" when all hope seems lost? I know for myself that it helps immensely to cling to this verse: "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."( 1 Corinthians 15:58)...IN THE LORD YOUR LABOR IS NOT IN VAIN! This should be the cry of our hearts amidst dark hours and troubled times, when anxiety, loneliness, and fear cloud out all hope...that the Lord is sovereign in ALL things. And who knows how He is using our trials to display His glory and advance His kingdom? Often we can't see this until we are through the valley and on top of the hill.  But one thing I do know and can always see is that God is love and He is with me.  And I can always find joy in Him and His ever present blessings that surround me.  Blessings that come in the form of two precious grins and one handsome soul mate. And when I look into the eye's of my blessings, I am reminded of the importance to make sweet memories right where I am.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Elijah Neal {7 months}

Our Eli (knuckles) turned 7 months on Sunday.  Yes, I realize that I am a few days late on this post but I have a good excuse.  About two weeks ago, Eli's army crawl evolved into a full-fledge crawl.  He is everywhere! And not only is he crawling, he is also pulling up on everything. EVERYTHING! This was not suppose do happen this fast.  I am amazed at just how much having an older sibling has advanced him. It's monkey-see-monkey-do around here now.  Eli wants to be right where Josiah is and doing what Josiah is doing and playing with the toy that Josiah is playing with. Mommy is a little overwhelmed. But I must add that Josiah has started to embrace the big brother role a little more than he was.  I witnessed Josiah putting his pacifier in Eli's mouth just the other day...melted my heart! He has even started snuggling more...and it's not the rough snuggle or the "kiss Eli then hit him on the head to prove that he's still tough"'s actually a sweet snuggle. But don't get me wrong, he still has his "moments".

Here are some more milestones that Eli has reached this month:

1. His first two bottom teeth broke through
2. He started saying "mamamamamama'' and "bubbababubba"
3. He is doing much much better with baby food now
4. He weighs 21 pounds! yes, you read that right!
5. He is in a size 4 diaper
6. And now that he is very mobile, don't even think about putting him in the exersaucer!

Here's some pics: