Amazon Smile

Amazon Smile Logo

Guys! My super duper technologically savvy friend just introduced me to Amazon Smile. Located at smile.amazon.com, Amazon Smile is Amazon.com amped up to help consumers support their favorite charities and ministries. With every purchase that is eligible for the Amazon Smile donation, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the total purchase, before tax and shipping, to one of over a million registered charities.

The International Mission Board is one of the charities among the multitude available to donate to through Amazon Smile! Also included are the Wounded Warrior Project, New Tribes Missions, North American Mission Board, Reaching and Teaching International Ministries, Desiring God, Ligonier Ministries, and Memphis Union Mission.

... smile.amazon.com/ and search for the International Mission Board of

If you use Amazon.com to shop for gifts, please consider going instead to smile.amazon.com and purchase through that site. Your sign-in and wish list are exactly the same as on Amazon; the bonus to using Amazon Smile is that your favorite charity or ministry benefits while you shop! Upon your first visit to smile.amazon.com, you can select to which ministry or charity Amazon Smile will donate 0.5% of your purchase. You can change the charity at any time.

Tiny little side note: While this is a very sweet opportunity where our online shopping can impact our favorite charity or ministry, it is important to note that we shouldn’t allow this to substitute regular donations to charities and mission offerings throughout the year. But go and shop – don’t wait! smile.amazon.com.  It’s such a cool thing.

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Praying and Giving

We mustn’t turn a deaf ear to the needs of Believers and non-Believers needing physical aid and the Gospel of Jesus proclaimed. When we hear Ann Voskamp urging Believers to pray and give to the refugees in Syria, we must pray and ask the Lord how we might give. When a missionary comes to church to speak of his or her calling to international or local missions, we must pray. Maybe he or she is from Wycliffe, Reaching and Teaching, New Tribes, the North American Mission Board, or the International Mission Board. Whatever his or her affiliation, the need for support is urgent and real. When the International Mission Board’s president speaks humbly and boldly about the dire need for funding for the advancement of the Gospel, we cannot look away.

My family and I fully encourage anyone contemplating supporting a missionary from ANY missions organization to pray and ask God to give him or her direction. It is far better to give than to receive. Millions still must hear the Gospel. God has chosen many from the foundation of the earth to be His children. Believers must go and spread the Good News of new life in Jesus Christ. They also must be supported by us through ongoing prayer and monetary giving.

With that being said, I am a bit torn in my passion for the International Mission Board because I have immediate family in Papua New Guinea through New Tribes Missions and a church family headed to Ecuador through Reaching and Teaching. Both families are or will be fully funded through one local church, individual donors from various churches, and other local churches across the U.S. Missionaries, like my family and friends, in other mission organizations have spent months and months traveling from church to church spreading their message and sharing their God-given calling. And God has been so kind to fully fund one family (and on-going funding for another) to go to the farthest reached places in the world.

So, I am not completely sure why God has laid it on my heart to advocate for the IMB and their Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, but I said yes and will obey! By God’s design, I am at home with these four crazy, beautiful children. My mission field is right here in Fayette County and in this home. But, our bestest of best friends are in Germany with the IMB. Of course, there is nothing superior about the IMB above any mission organization in regards to who should be supported over another, but the funding it receives comes DIRECTLY through ONE offering which is collected every winter in Southern Baptist Churches across the United States. This offering is called the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

Missionaries with the IMB are called, trained, and sent, just like any other missionary in any other missions organization. However, their salary, house or apartment note, car note, school supplies and fees, travel expenses, medical expenses, and more are funded and supplied by the Board which receives its monies mainly from LOTTIE MOON CHRISTMAS OFFERING. Check out this video below to learn a little more about the offering.

Because of Who He Is

If there is a question of whether one SHOULD give to missions, the answer is always PRAY and then a big fat YES! To support missionaries sent through the IMB, visit their website at http://www.imb.org. There are links embedded in the first part of this post for Wycliffe Bible Translators, New Tribes Missions, Reaching and Teaching, and the North American Mission Board.

CLEAR

By God’s sweet kindness, Carter’s test yesterday was clear of anything abnormal. His doctor said that his brain looked perfect. We all know Who did that!! We are praising God and thanking those who were so kind to pray with us and for us.

Anesthesia is a bit scary to me, but Carter handled it well. A little grouchy upon waking, Carter calmed down a bit during his four hour recovery at LeBonheur with the help of some good medicine. It was really enjoyable and interesting to watch Brandon, who was once the patient, take care of Carter while he got his blood drawn and recovered from the test.

Brandon’s mom was there with us when Carter woke up, and she and I were trying to make sure Carter was comfortable. Standing by his side, we were talking to Brandon who was sitting beside Carter in a chair. Brandon said, “Just leave him alone; he’s fine.” I said, “We’re just trying to make sure he’s good. We’re not bothering him.” And Carter looked at Brandon and said, “They are bothering me!” We just laughed and realized he was still waking up from the anesthesia and was pretty upset his legs were restrained a little to keep them straight for his four hour recovery.

The patient turned caregiver has been a precious story to watch unfold. Just seeing Brandon comfort and sympathize with Carter made me love that man more. I laughed just watching Brandon calmly look on and KNOW that Carter was okay and know when he needed a little extra pain reliever. Not really ever seeing a father figure tend to a sick or recovering child, I was extremely encouraged and taken aback watching my husband love and care for his son.

Learning that little ones are very fearful of things unknown has helped us see how we must not let these times pass in frustration or hastiness. But we must be diligent to speak of who God is in the pain, joy, and mundane and read His Word and trust in Him who created all things and holds all things together. It was a sweet and hard time all at once. Precious Words that keep our minds in check is from Colossians 1:15-17

“Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities, all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

Thanks for praying, again!

CB

In July 2010, our oldest, who was 22 months at the time, had a stroke because of a malformed artery that ruptured, resulting in a baseball-size blood mass. After 9 days at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, God used a Nurse Practitioner to change the course of Carter’s care. For days we were trying to get his brain scans sent to Memphis but with no success. This precious lady walks in, we tell her we need to get Carter’s scans to Memphis so we can see this certain neurologist, and she says she will be directly back. About thirty minutes to an hour later she comes back and says, “A helicopter from LeBonheur is on its way to pick up Carter. Dr. Boop wants him in his care immediately.” That was on a Monday. By Thursday he had his first brain surgery. After a night in ICU and another scan, we learned he would need another surgery that following Monday.

God’s sustaining hand held Carter through his second and final surgery on that Monday. By Thursday we were being discharged. Although he wasn’t able to walk when we got home, God sped up his healing, and he walked by his second birthday, three weeks later. Many do not survive this type of rupture. Many are intebated, and the outcomes are not what we have seen. God, in His mysterious and wonderful kindness, has granted Carter physical healing and life. We PRAISE HIM FOR THAT!

Before surgery #2 and a neurosurgeon's hair cut

CB after first brain surgery, July 2010

So, tomorrow morning, we will go to LeBonheur for an out-patient procedure to make sure all things are well in Carter’s brain. His last test was in 2011, so the doctors need another look since it has been four years. I don’t know the possibility of regrowth of the AVM, and there is not a whole lot of information about children who are survivors of AVM ruptures. So, by God’s kindness, we GET to be rechecked because Carter has done so extremely well.There have been ZERO residual effects of the stroke, brain bleed, and brain surgeries thus far, praise the Lord!

After surgery #2, new

After his second surgery, 5 days later, July 2010

“God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Psalm 46: 1-3, 10-11

One thing we know for sure from these past sufferings: God is our strength and help and refuge. He keeps us through the fiery trials of this life. Though He may not grant physical healing to some, He keeps us and never lets us go.

“You keep him in perfect peace
    whose mind is stayed on you,
    because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

“Your name and renown
    are the desire of our soul.”

Isaiah 26: 3-4, 8

His name is made great when others see His extraordinary power in upholding the souls of His children. When all is falling to shambles, the hope of the Christian is in the unchanging God because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” Hebrews 13:8.

Please pray for Carter and his anxiety over an IV, that he would know the peace that God gives and feel it! Pray also that God will protect him as he is given general anesthesia, that God will guide the neurologists hands as he performs the test, and that Carter would fair the anesthesia well. He will lie flat for at least four hours during recovery, so pray for us as we make him comfortable during that time!

This job

Oh, some days are heavy and long and overwhelming. The pressures of work, the caring for children, the demands of housework, the meals to cook, the homework to help complete, the endless serving and going and working and moving can all mound on top of every ounce of us and crush us.

Maybe it’s not just some days. Maybe it’s some weeks, some months, some YEARS. Yes, I just said years.

Our oldest at 18 months old

Our oldest at 18 months old

I have had this crystal clear realization this past week. I allowed the crazy of life to muddle my heart and mind, and I haven’t really looked at our children and enjoyed them and cherished them and loved them as I should. Have you ever realized that you have seen someone but not really LOOKED at them, like studied them and enjoyed them? Wow.

CB now 7!

CB now 7!

Here’s what happened: Recently, I watched some videos of our oldest child when he was a little over a year old. Then I looked at his seven-year-old self, and I saw that little one-year-old all over again, and I really saw him and saw who he was and who he was becoming. And I loved him more in that moment than I can remember loving him.

Our little, little girl

Our little, little girl

This precious girl, you heard about her last week. I struggle through training her well and not wanting to crush this feisty and fiery spirit God has given her. Then I look at pictures and videos of her first learning to walk and that smile and sparkle in those precious eyes. There she is, all 50 pounds and 5 years of her, and she’s something special.

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Sister, the fashionista

Our youngest two are still in this age that I want to really cherish and remember because it passes by all too quickly. What a gift that oftentimes gets overlooked – by ME!

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Crazy, sweet middle boy

Littlest boy

Littlest boy

My prayer must continue to be: Give me Wisdom, O God! I will not and cannot do this parenting thing apart from HIM. What a calling. What a job. We are training and disciplining and shaping and parenting the next generation. Here, in our own homes, are future fathers and mothers and leaders and workers. No, this isn’t some revolutionary idea, but it has changed the way I see our children and see the mundane and importance of our calling as parents.

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We are: Generation shapers. Gospel proclaimers. Little people cuddlers and lovers. Smilers. Encouragers. Dreamers. Doers. We gotta do it! We GET to do it! And, with God’s merciful help, we can. Fight for joy. Fight for our children. Love them big. The days are long, but the years are way too short.

Recipe of the Week: Veggie Wraps

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Okay, so I realize Veggie Wraps doesn’t really sound like the most decadent, mouth-watering meal you could imagine. But the truth is, we need some vitamins and minerals through the food we eat! I am the first person to say, “Give me a Huey’s burger and a sweet tea, and I am good.” However, this husband of mine, he’s on a kick, a good kick, and a lasting kick, I think. He’s in a race against his best self to get healthy and to take care of his body.

So I pinned this easy recipe on Pinterest the other day, and sometimes Brandon and I look at my “Cooking” page together, most of the time when we’re both hungry. And, he noticed this recipe called “Veggie Burritos” and said that it looked delicious. So, we’ve made our own rendition of that recipe suited to our tastes and what was in our refrigerator at the time. We loved it, so much so that he kind of ate two for lunch on Sunday! Enjoy!

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Veggie Wraps (for 2 wraps)

  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 cup lettuce
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup carrot, julienned or diced
  • 1 cup cucumber, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sriracha mayonnaise*
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (not pictured above)
  • 2 tortillas (we used whole wheat)
  • salt and pepper to taste

First, chop all the vegetables. Next, mix 1/4 cup regular mayonnaise with 1 tsp sriracha chili sauce to make the sriracha mayonnaise Then, spoon half the sriracha mayonnaise on each tortilla, load the tortilla with vegetables, and salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Notes: Seriously, the key components to this wrap are the red onion and cilantro. You cannot leave these out. I never thought red onion was sweet, but it is, and it compliments this meal so well. Also, you can use whatever tomato you have on hand.

Unusual kindness

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Our daughter is one-of-a-kind, as is every single child God has made! Her hair is wild. Her eyes smile when she does. She is one step ahead of the person in charge with an action plan. She’s a stellar runner. And she is a sweet sister to her three brothers. This girl, though, she’s a grandma’s girl. Someone asked me the other day if she was a Momma’s or Daddy’s girl, and I replied, “She’s a grandma’s girl.” As a young infant, she gravitated to any grandma. She would willingly wave only to those of “grandma age.” We often wonder why this came to be! When she was four months old, Carter Brown got sick and was hospitalized for 17 days. She was solely with my mom for those days. We think this time in her life solidified her allegiance to grandmas everywhere, especially her own grandmas!

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Caroline and her Sissy, who came to help during a non-serious ER visit

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Caroline and Carter with their Gigi

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Caroline and her Ma

As I have been afforded some sweet time to begin writing again, I am now looking back on many of the blog posts from years past and am overwhelmed at God’s nearness and how He obviously strengthened our souls during dark physical affliction. One thing that keeps recurring in my mind as I read these posts is my lack of gratefulness to my family. We were verbally thankful for our church family and family friends, but did I ever just say thank you to my sister and niece and nephews and father-in-laws and mother-in-law and mom and cousins and other family members who came and supported and encouraged every step of the way? I am not so sure.

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First night at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, July 2010

Sometimes I feel like I was in such tunnel vision during the first two years of our marriage that I completely left out those who served us so directly and so closely. God gave us two children, a bone marrow transplant, and two brain surgeries in the first two-and-a-half years of our marriage. Needless to say our normal wasn’t so normal, yet we were kept and strengthened by the Creator and Savior of the World by His kindness. Because of His great design, He uses people to come alongside and encourage and love and serve His children. We must be sure to keep our eyes open to be grateful and watchful for His workings through others.

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So thank you family who came to Nashville and served us. Thank you family who came to Little Rock and Memphis to love us. Thank you friends who sent your family to care for and encourage us during some of the most uncertain times in our physical lives.