Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jonathan's Three Year Old Pictures

What a wonderfully fun morning we had today. We took Jonathan's three year old pictures today with Danielle Davis. I know we are a few months late, but hey, better late than never. We heard about Danielle through a couple of friends at church. I figured if she could get all three of Tenille’s kiddos in one shot, surely she could get our one child right?!? Also, Danielle had taken such beautiful shots of Baby Kate as Jonathan calls her. They were just too precious, so we decided to give her a try.

We met Danielle downtown at the Clinton Presidential Center. They have some beautiful grounds outside. We had planned to go inside, but we never did! We got plenty of great shots outside, so we just didn’t bother going inside. Which means, of course, that we STILL have not gone inside the library. Sad, I know.

Anyway, we did a couple of fun and different things for this photo shoot that Danielle suggested. We got a huge bunch of balloons at Party City for Jonathan to pose with. Of course, in my head, I’m thinking, “we could put them behind him,” or “he can hold them in his hand.” Jonathan had much better ideas. As soon as we handed them to him, he stuck his head through the middle of the bunch and starts smiling away. Danielle immediately starts clicking away! It was just a perfect shot and so spontaneous and unscripted. Got to love when stuff like that happens!

I also bought a few pink balloons. I had been thinking of a way to remember our Gracie, and this just seemed to be the way. So we took a few pictures with our pink balloon, and then we let it go. Jonathan said that the balloon was going to Heaven to be with Gracie. What a thought right? Such a precious image to think of our little girl in Heaven holding her pink balloon. So those pictures were a little bittersweet, but I know that they will be some of my favorites as time goes on. And I’m oh so thankful that my Jonathan has such a beautiful, loving picture of Heaven and of his sister.

Jonathan has a sweater that I had bought a matching hat for. While we were in Branson over Christmas, he needed some gloves. Mark found the gloves and scarf that matched the hat and sweater. He just looks so cute wearing the hat. So, I brought them to see what Danielle could do with them. Unfortunately, the sweater is still waaayyy too big. So, we ended up just putting him in a long sleeve shirt with the hat and scarf. This may be my new favorite picture of Jonathan. I just love the expression that she caught on his face. I mean, I know he is cute, but these eyes! And you wonder why he is spoiled! I mean, seriously! Look at him!!

The other thing we brought was his bicycle. Of course, that was probably more work for her as she chased him all over the place, but I’m sure she got some good shots on there too. She didn’t send us a sneak peek of that, but they looked cute while she was taking them!

Danielle spent a good hour and a half with us snapping away. I can’t wait to see the rest of the shots. Check out her website at and See Feb. 9th for Baby Kate’s pics and Nov. 20th for the Rauls’ three kiddos.

After the photo shoot, we decided to eat downtown. We saw a new restaurant that we decided to try. The funny thing was, once we got inside, we realized that we knew this place! It is one of our favorite restaurants that used to be in Benton (suburb of LR). They had moved to downtown LR and changed their name a little. Pretty much the same menu though. They have the BEST chicken spaghetti, oh my goodness! I am just so Southern, I can’t help myself but order it every time we go. Mark got a feta and pesto burger that he said was delicious. We got Jonathan cheese ravioli with marinara sauce and told him it was spaghetti. If you tell that child that something is spaghetti and it has red sauce on it, he will eat it! He absolutely loves him some spaghetti. So, lasagna, ravioli, and anything else we can think of is spaghetti. But, of course, not chicken spaghetti, because that doesn’t have red sauce!!

We came home and had a great nap. Just got to love Saturdays like this. Tomorrow, we are going to church and then going to Katie’s 6th birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. Jonathan is very excited, 1 to be with Katie & Megan, and 2 to go to CEC. He LOVES to play all the games there. Could care less about eating and even less about the big mouse, but loves the games. He is just starting to realize that the tickets from the games = prizes (candy, toys) when we leave. So, we are excited to go play with our good friends tomorrow. Of course, it seems like just yesterday that Katie was born. We had just started going to Immanuel and to the Hooten Sunday School class when Cliff and Karen announced they were pregnant. And it was right after Katie was born that Karen and I started hanging out and shopping together. Here we are six years, and another two kids later! And what a blessing the McKinney’s have been to our family. There was many a day that I have hated living in LR. But good friends, Christian friends, like Karen and Cliff have helped make this our home. Funny how things work like that, isn't it!

So, I know I skipped a good two months between Christmas and my last post about Jonathan’s doctor’s appointment. Then continued to move forward with this one! I promise that I will try to go back and write something about January and early February. This year just seemed to have FLOWN by already and I am waaayyy behind with just about everything already.

This week has been hard, very hard, so we are just so thankful for a happy weekend. A nice time to just relax some and spend time together doing something different, something fun, something happy. A time to remember the most wonderful gifts that God has given us and to say thank you.

Thanks for checking in on us! May God bless you and your family now and always.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Jonathan’s Check-Up and Mr. Jones Funeral

What a busy week we have had, and it is only Wednesday! This has been a week of ups and downs, highs and lows, questions and answers.

We left Sunday afternoon for Oklahoma City. Jonathan had the three month check-up from his last surgery. Each and every time we go is just a horribly stressful experience. We think he is doing well, but you just never know what they will see or find that we don’t know about. You just know that your life could change in a sentence, a statement that would change everything…again. Mark and I have come to hate the entire state of Oklahoma. We just don’t have a lot of good memories there or happy thoughts in going there. So each trip is just hard and just not fun. I spent a LONG time Sunday night sitting on the floor of the hotel room, praying and talking to God. I just could not go to sleep and go into his appointment feeling the way that I was feeling and thinking these scary thoughts. I finally was able to give my worry to the Lord and find some peace with the situation. Seems like giving it back to God is a reoccurring instance in my life and probably will continue to be for me. I am going to keep trying, though, and keeping praying for God to help me.

Anyway, on to the visit. Mark had enough points from his business trips for us to have a free night at the Embassy Suites. We really like that hotel as we have a little room to spread out. Jonathan can go to bed and we can still stay up and watch a little TV. They also have the best breakfast which is always fun! Of course, we were running late and just barely got to the hospital by our 8:30 a.m. appointment time. Mark drops us off at the door and I go tearing in with Jonathan. I sign us in and say hello to the receptionist to make sure she notices us and gets us registered. Twenty to thirty minutes later I go up to the counter to “check” with the receptionist to make sure she has us in order. She has been doing pretty much nothing since we got there. She gives me the “I’m in charge and you’re not look” and tells me that she will get to me in a minute. Another fifteen minutes later, she calls me up to the counter. She then proceeds to tell me that they have moved ultrasound and we are in the wrong place! I am fuming, and trying very, very hard to be a loving person. So, I ask her where it is, turn around, and walk out the door before I say something not so nice. Of course, she gave us horrible directions and it takes us forever to actually find where we are supposed to be. I apologize profusely for being 45 minutes late for our appointment and explain to the new (and much nicer) receptionist what has happened. She got us in and out of the ultrasound in less than ten minutes. Seriously. I mean, seriously. But, that’s ok, I don’t have to deal with that woman anymore!

We go upstairs for our appointment with the urologist after the ultrasound. We ended up actually being early for the appointment. The fun thing was that there was a group of Physician Assistant students doing volunteer work in the hospital. They had set up art groups outside several of the clinics to entertain the kids. There was actually one set up outside of ultrasound and outside the urology clinic. Jonathan was in hog heaven. He loves all art projects and loved all the attention from the students. After a few minutes, he looked up at me sitting nearby, and told me that I could go sit by his Daddy. It was hilarious. He obviously did NOT need me!

We finally got in to the room and saw the doctor. Oh, and they weighed Jonathan. He weighs 35.8 pounds. Boy is growing! Anyway, the doctor looked at his ultrasounds and said that they pretty much looked “normal.” Trust me, normal is not a word that we have heard very much in regards to Jonathan’s kidneys and bladder. I almost started crying right then and there. Jonathan also agreed to perform his tricks for the doctor and pee in the potty. The doctor was VERY excited at how well he was doing and how good he is doing with potty training. It was just amazing.

I cannot even begin to express how overjoyed we are with this good news. God is so good, no great, no awesome, and we are so very, very, very thankful. So many, many prayers have been offered up for our little boy and we thank you for each one of them. Please know how much that your prayers mean to us. We know and truly believe that God is answering our prayers. God IS healing my little boy. Thank you Lord, thank you Lord, thank you.

We also learned at the appointment that the little boy who was born the day after Jonathan with nearly identical problems, and had surgery the day after Jonathan, is not doing as well. He has unfortunately had several of the complications that the doctors had told us were possible with this condition. This just broke our hearts for this little boy and for his family. We have thought about him over the past three years, but we know that we have not prayed for him as often as we should have. We will do our best to lift him up in prayer and ask God to heal his body. And for help and understanding for his parents as they do their best to care for their son.

We do not have to go back to OKC for an entire year!!!! I just hugged the doctor when he told us we did not have to come back for a year. It will be so nice to not have to make that drive and live with that worry for an entire year. Oh my, it is just overwhelming. Thank you Lord for healing my Jonathan.

The other part of this post is not as happy, in fact it is quite sad. Yet, even this story has many praises.

My very dear friend here in Little Rock, Karen, called me late Thursday night. Her Daddy was working in Louisiana last Thursday night. He was driving home to Texas when he lost control of his truck on the ice and snow. He was killed in the accident. I cannot begin to describe the unbelievable sadness that hit me for her and her family. My family had the utmost pleasure in meeting and getting to know Mr. Jones. He was a kind, loving, generous man, a wonderful father, and extraordinary grandfather. He had bought a piece of land in NE Arkansas to hunt on and spend time with Karen and her family. They had very graciously asked Mark if he would like to hunt with them. What a blessing that area has been to Mark and to all of us. We have made several trips up there and we always have such a nice time. In fact, we were at the cabin when I realized that we were probably pregnant with Gracie. So many good memories.

Karen has just been an awesome friend to me over the years. She is always here for me whenever I need her. She has been here through each and every problem with Jonathan and has been such a strength to me with the loss of our sweet baby girl. The Lord has truly blessed me with such a good friend, such a Christian friend.

Mark and I were able to go to Tyler today for the funeral. It was overwhelmingly amazing to see how many people were there to celebrate his life. Mr. Jones had touched so many people and was obviously very strong in his faith and walk with the Lord. I learned so much more about him than I had known, and I am so thankful that I was able to get to know him. I think that we could all strive to be a little more like him in our lives. He was a generous man, generous of so much. He gave without any thought of compensation and without strings. He gave with a joyful heart and only hoped to serve the Lord. I can only hope that people would have such things to say about me. Definitely gives you something to think about and to work towards. I know it will be on my heart for sure.

Please pray for Karen and her family. This was obviously so unexpected. I know that there will be many hard times to come for them. But knowing that he is with the Lord is a comfort.

On a personal note, this was the third funeral I have been to in three months. First Gracie, then a little girl in Jonathan’s preschool class, and now Mr. Jones. It is suffocating sometimes. The loss, the heart ache, the true pain, the questions…unanswered, the emptiness. It seems so unnecessary and just why? Why him? Why my little girl? Yet those questions will not be answered, not on this Earth. The preacher said something today that I really liked though. He said that it is hard to understand why good people die and others do not. He said that maybe those people had accomplished what God had in store for them and their lives. He was giving the other people a little more time to turn their lives around, to turn their hearts towards Jesus, to find God in this world. It’s a good thought, a peaceful thought. My new favorite song is from the new Steven Curtis Chapman cd.

This is not how it should be
This is not how it could be
This is how it is
And our God is in control

This is not how it will be
When we finally will see
We'll see with our own eyes
He was always in control

And we'll sing holy, holy, holy is our God
And we will finally really understand what it means
So we'll sing holy, holy, holy is our God
While we're waiting for that day

This is not where we planned to be
When we started this journey
But this is where we are
And our God is in control

Though this first taste is bitter
There will be sweetness forever
When we finally taste and see
That our God is in control

And we'll sing holy, holy, holy is our God
And we will finally really understand what it means
So we'll sing holy, holy, holy is our God
While we're waiting for that day

We're waiting for that day
We'll keep on waiting for that day
And we will rise
Our God is in control

(Holy, holy, holy) x2
Our God is in control
(Holy, holy, holy)
Our God is in control
(Holy, holy, holy)

What an awesome thought. God is in control. We do not get it, I don’t anyway. But God is in control. God hears our prayers, he sees each tear that falls, he feels our pain. God is always with us, He is holding us, He will never leave us. These are the thoughts that I am clinging to right now. Music is just so powerful to me right now. So many songs are just speaking to my heart. Another song is Casting Crowns, “I’ll praise you in this storm.”

I was sure by now, God, that You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it's still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.

And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
and raised me up again
my strength is almost gone how can I carry on
if I can't find You
and as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away


I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth
I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth


Well that is probably enough for one night. I have poured out my heart to ya’ll enough for one day/night! I need to get to bed as the rest of this week will be busy as well. Mark’s Dad came up to keep Jonathan for us while we went to Tyler. He is going to stay until Friday which will be fun for Jonathan. Since he will be able to pick up Jonathan at preschool, I am going to be making up some time and working til 5pm Tuesday and Thursday and til 3pm on Friday. I haven’t done this since before Jonathan was born, so it will definitely be a long day! I normally work til 3pm M-Th and til 12 on Friday. My work has really been great to let me make up some of the time as I really do not have much sick or vacation time left. I used almost all of it up after Gracie and then we have had several illnesses and ice days that have eaten up the rest of it. Mark and I are really hoping that I can build some up so we could take a fun trip somewhere this year.

Thank you for being a part of our family and for being our friends. Each of you mean so very much to us and we thank God for each of you. Please do continue to remember our family as we move through the grief and loss that is still so much a part of our lives. Join us in praising God for healing Jonathan and continue to seek his healing power for Jonathan as he grows. Also, please remember Karen and her family with the loss of her Daddy. And lastly, we ask that you say a prayer for the little boy who was with Jonathan in the hospital, that God will heal him.

One closing prayer: Thank you Lord for all our many blessings. Thank you Lord for hearing our prayers and for healing our little man. Please Lord direct our path. Guide us to Your path for our lives and help us to trust You in each and every storm. Thank you Lord for the people you have placed in our lives. Please help us to be a blessing to them as they have blessed us. Please forgive us where we fail you. Thank you for our Jonathan, our family, our friends. I love you Jesus. Amen.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Merry Christmas 2009!

Wow! Hard to believe that it is February already! Where is the time going! I am, obviously, two months behind in blogging world, but I do so want to say a little about our Christmas.

Jonathan was very in to the whole idea of Christmas this year. It was so much fun to see everything through his eyes and truly experience the magic and wonder of Christmas. For the very first time, he was EXCITED to see Santa Claus. We took him to McCain Mall in NLR as that is where Santa likes to hang out. When it was his turn, Jonathan walked right up to Santa and told him what he wanted for Christmas. Santa talked to him for a few minutes and then asked Jonathan if he wanted to sit on his lap. Jonathan looked at him, thought about it for a minute, and said, “Yes, I will.” He climbed up there, turned around, and promptly smiled and posed for the camera. Hilarious! Such a ham! I, of course, am frantically snapping the camera as fast as it will go. We HAD to buy a picture since he finally consented to see Santa.

We left the mall and spent some time looking at lights in Sherwood. They have the best community drive-through lights display and also one of the best neighborhoods that goes all out decorating. We also found THE tackiest Christmas house you have ever seen. It was completely full from the road to the house and from one property line to the other with Christmas decorations. Most of them were the blow-up powered ones. There was also all kind of things hanging from the trees. It was so great that we had to drive by it three times to take it all in.

Jonathan was a big helper in putting up the tree this year and helping to decorate it. He did a really good job too. Stacey Clayton made a new Christmas ornament for our Gracie for us. She is such a good friend and such a talented artist. She is the one who painted the step stool, clothes tree, and small toy box for Jonathan when he was born.

Jonathan and I also spent some of our time at home doing “art projects.” He absolutely LOVES to do anything art-wise. He works very hard at it and it usually turns out really well. Here is one of our examples of the reindeer ornaments that we made and put on everyone’s Christmas presents.

We put out cookies and milk for Santa. Jonathan was very excited to see that they were all gone the next morning. He did tell me, though, that Santa made a mess and left a lot of crumbs. He said that Santa did not like crumbs. Too funny, seeing as how I left the crumbs on purpose!!

As you can tell, we had quite a few Christmas presents under our tree. It was a blast as usual and I think everyone had a great time. As usual, it took us several hours to open all the presents. We were so glad that MaMa Deb, Grandad, Grandma, Paw Paw, and Aunt Kim were able to come and spend Christmas with us.

Jonathan and Aunt Kim had a great time playing. They were pretending that Jonathan was putting Aunt Kim to bed. He covered her up, read her a story out of the Bible, prayed, and went to sit by the door and sing her a night-night song. It was so precious, and exactly how we put him to bed. He could recite the Bible story pretty accurately as well, which was really neat to hear.

Melinda, Mark’s boss, sent Jonathan a bunch of fun Nativity art projects home. He has had so much fun playing with all of them. He is truly starting to understand more of the Christmas story and we have had so much fun sharing it with him and telling it over and over and over. He also loves all Christmas music and we have sung our way through the month of December.