Thursday, October 2, 2014

Day 2 :: Made to Pour, Living a life of Blessing

I don't know about you but life doesn't always go the way that I want.

Shattered dreams, unwanted circumstances, miscarriage, death--life altering events that threaten to shake my soul.  I certainly didn't ask for these things to happen, but they do.  We live in a broken world that constantly affects us, sometimes in painful and discouraging ways.

But it isn't just the big life challenges that shake me.  The mundane, messy moments of day-to-day life seem to all too easily rob me of a steady soul.

Like the other night, when my 14 month old decided to act like a one week old baby and woke up every hour, wanting nothing to do with her bed and everything to do with being held by her mother.

And my four and five year old girls who bicker, quarrel, and speak unkind words to each other

Laundry piles up, sleep deprivation wears me thin, crumbs lie scattered on the floor regardless of how often I vacuum, the car won't work right, I get stuck in the rain with my four small children and no umbrella, people disappoint me, and what is my response?  I'd like to say that my soul follows that of the psalmist's:

"Bless the LORD, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name."  Psalm 103:1

But as I take inventory of my heart, I realize that my soul doesn't always respond to the Lord with blessing.

I want it to.

To bless the Lord.  With every part of me.  And do it over and over again.  No matter what.

So, I started asking myself some questions:
  • What does it mean to bless the Lord?  
  • How do I bless with all that is within me?  
  • Why should I bless the Lord?  
  • What if I don't feel like He is blessing me?  
  • What is hindering me from blessing Him?
  • Does blessing the Lord relate to blessing others, even my enemies?

Through the month of October I'm going to make an effort to answer some of these questions.   I won't pretend to be a biblical scholar; the idea of blessing in Scripture goes far beyond my theological understanding.  However, I do hope to uncover some of the ways my life can bless--the Lord and others.

God has filled me with blessings, yes (we'll talk about some of those), but in Christ, I've also been filled with His Spirit.  My soul has been filled, shouldn't it pour out of its fullness?

The dictionary definition of pour is:  to flow rapidly in a steady stream.

Maybe one of my jobs as a follower of Christ is to steadily and rapidly pour blessing upon God.

And, then to pour it out to others.

This month I'm inviting you to join me as I seek to answer what it looks like to live a life of blessing.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Exciting News and 31 Days Series

For the past few years I’ve participated in a blogging challenge, called write31 Days.  The Nester started this, and eventually invited other bloggers to join her in choosing a topic and writing on that topic every day each day during the month of October.  

Each year I enjoyed pushing myself to publish a post every day, and it was fun to be introduced to other blogs during that month who were doing the same thing.  My writing was challenged, I learned a lot through each series, and it stretched me to try and communicate what was in my heart.

But the biggest thing that I came away with from those series was a shift in why I was blogging.  My first series, 31 Days of Fall from the Kitchen, fell in line perfectly with the name of my blog.  In fact, I began blogging because I wanted to share recipes and projects around my home that we were doing ‘from scratch’.  I enjoyed finding new recipes, taking pictures and hitting publish on those posts.  

Then our son was born in 2012, and things changed.  God was working in my heart in ways that were hard, but good, and He was showing me the importance of my faith in Him as daily sustenance for facing the issues of life. My heart was full and it was out of this fullness that I felt the need to share how God was using Mason’s life to change me.  

I published this post on September 28, 2012, publicly sharing, for the first time, about Mason’s Down syndrome.  I knew I was going to spend the month of October following that post, writing about some of the things God had taught me during the first 6 months of his life.  

What I didn’t know was that my desire to blog would shift from cooking and home decor to sharing about God’s Word and the impact that having a relationship with Jesus had on my life.  

If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, most likely you’ve noticed this shift.  I even changed my profile “about” section to reflect that ‘Only From Scratch’ was not just about food, it was about many aspects of my life, but I still didn’t feel completely comfortable breaking away from recipes and projects.  I don’t always know who reads my posts and I wasn't sure why people were reading my blog, for the recipes or for the posts from my heart.

Over the last year or so, I have prayed about where to go with my blog.  I don’t earn an income, and other than the occasional review I might do for a book or product, there are no financial benefits for me.  I simply write because I enjoy it, it’s an online journal for our family, and it’s helpful for me to process the things that God is doing in my heart.

Because it’s not for profit, I’ve often wondered if I should keep it up. If this little corner of the Internet ever produces an income, I’d be very grateful.  But, I’m not actively pursuing that.  

I also struggle with continuing to blog when I compare myself with other bloggers.  The number of followers, the amount of likes on a post or picture on Instagram, the number of times something was pinned on Pinterest, comments--all these things that I see other people getting in mass volumes can be discouraging.  Social media is a wonderful tool, but it can also be handled wrongly, and I struggle to maintain a proper balance. When I compare myself to others, I rob myself of the joy that blogging has been for me.  

When I reach these points of discouragement, I often say to Bradley, “I’m going to quit my blog.  What’s the point of this?”  And, then, when I’m down and having a silly pity party for myself, I receive an email or a comment or a Facebook message from someone who says that what I shared was an encouragement, or that they could totally relate to what I had written that day, and ‘thank you’.  Bradley gently reminds me that even if the numbers aren’t enormous, being able to encourage just one person is worth it.   

Knowing that God is using what I share to encourage others is certainly a blessing, but in the last few months, specifically, I have discovered that writing about my walk with the Lord energizes me. That might sound strange to some of you, but I'm finding that this is how God has wired me. I've been journalling for the past 18 years. I process what He's teaching me by writing it out.  Yes, I like to cook and decorate our home.  But I love Jesus.  I love studying God’s Word, and I love to write out how God’s truth powerfully affects every aspect of my life.   If you had asked me a year ago what I liked to do when I had time alone, it would usually be to go run errands alone, sew, work on a project around the house, or try to take a nap. Now, when Bradley offers to watch the kids for me, I get excited because that means I will have an opportunity to write out some of the thoughts that have been swirling around in my head.  I may browse a store or two, but then I'll end up at a coffee shop with my Bible, laptop, journal, and some books.

What's the exciting news?

Bradley and I have been working for the past few months on creating a new blog.  A new look, a new name, a’s pretty exciting.  We're working with a designer, and I'll be switching blogging platforms, so it's been a lot of work, and there is much more to do! I seriously underestimated what it would take to launch a new website. But we're in the final stages (I think) of development, and once I get things organized on the new site I'll let you know.

While I’m excited about the new name and face lift for my blog, I’m most excited because I’ll have a space where I can write about things for which I’m most passionate. 

There may be an occasional recipe or project thrown in, because those are also elements of my life, but the majority of what I’ll write will come from how God’s Word is shaping every moment of my life.

As for the 31 Days series, I have gone back and forth about whether or not to participate this year.  I'd love to challenge myself to try and write and publish a post every day this month, but I don't know if it's going to happen.  I realize that sounds like 'breaking the rules' (read some of the tips on write31days), but I'm just trying to be realistic.  

Tomorrow I'll be back with my first post, but for now, here's my topic:

This post has ended up being a lot longer than I had anticipated, so if you've hung in this long:

THANK YOU!  Thank you, for reading, for commenting, for praying for our family, and for sharing in the exciting things that God has been doing in the life of my family over the years.  

And, thank you to the Nester, for starting write31days, and for inspiring me to push myself in my writing.  God used that little nudge to uncover something in my soul.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Books I've Visited Lately

Some women buy shoes or purses; I buy books.  Bradley and I were laughing the other night because when we got married he read all.the.time.  Like, we would finish dinner and then he would disappear, only to be found in the bathroom, with yet another book.  (Some day I'll share more about that season of life...).  Anyway, now I read way more than he does, just not in the bathroom :).

When he started teasing me a few months ago about how many books I was buying, I decided to try and reign that in a little.  I've been trying to read books we already have before buying new ones.  (Although, as I looked at this list, four of them are ones I purchased this summer...maybe I haven't done such a good job of reigning it in...)

This summer was challenging in many ways for me.  One of the things that has been helpful to me during this season has been to discipline myself to read.  Reading has always been a hobby of mine, and somehow I let motherhood rob me of this pleasure.  Instead of reading at night, or in my spare moments, I would turn to other means of 'checking out'--Netflix, a good movie, Pinterest, etc.  There is nothing wrong with those things, but I recognized an imbalance in my life, and so I've been working to have a better balance with my downtime.  By carving out time for reading I've been encouraged, convicted, and pointed to Jesus through what others have written.

Nothing compares to the Bible, no doubt!  And, if I'm not spending time in God's Word, then I shouldn't be consumed with reading books or blogs, no matter how excellent they are and how much they might point me to Jesus.  God's Word is central, and must be the primary source of  nourishment for my soul.  A friend posted a quote on Facebook that I loved:

"Visit good books, live in the Bible." -C.H. Spurgeon

I've been visiting some great books over the past few months, some of the best I've read in a long time.  I'll try to be brief in my descriptions, but I would highly recommend each of these.

Stepping Heavenward
, Elizabeth Prentiss
This is not your typical "Christian living" book, but it is full of wonderful principles by which women should live.  It's fiction, written in a journal style, but the author incorporated much of what she had learned and experienced in her own life as a young woman, wife, and mother.  Reading another woman write about her struggles and passion for Jesus was refreshing.  This is a classic book that I think every mother needs to read, and re-read.  It would make a great gift for a mom-to-be.

Women of the Word, Jen Wilkin
I had never heard about this book until I added a book to my cart on Amazon, and a little notice came up saying, "others who purchased this book also bought..." and then there were several books listed.  This one intrigued me.  I love to study the Bible.  In fact, I have a degree in Bible, but over the years I've become lazy in my deep study of the Word.  The times that I do dig and study like I did in college are my favorite, and often the times that I am transformed the most.  Jen does a wonderful job of expressing the importance of God's Word, the main theme of the Bible (the progress of Redemption), and why everyone should seek to be a student of it.  She gives the '5 P's' for studying:  Purpose, Perspective, Patience, Process and Prayer.  This book is encouraging and practical for anyone who wants to study God's Word and come away transformed.

Good News for Weary Women, Elyse Fitzpatrick
Women, if you are tired--at any level--this book will refresh your spirit.  The gospel is beautifully woven throughout, speaking to the specific issues that women are facing.  We have lists of things that we require of ourselves, or that we feel others may have placed on us, and instead of truly seeking to live in light of the grace that God has granted to us in Christ, we fight either pride because we think we're following all the 'right rules' or despair because we aren't measuring up to the 'right rules'.  Elyse says, "Our highest calling is to believe in and love the gospel and then to live our lives in the light of all Jesus has already done for us."

And the Word Came With Power, Joanne Shelter
When we lived in Georgia, Bradley would often buy books that our Pastor referenced from the pulpit.  I wouldn't know until Tuesday when a random book would come in the mail.  Apparently Charlie used something from this book, and I'm glad Bradley bought it.  Missionary biographies are some of my favorite!  I love reading about how God has worked to bring the gospel to people who had never heard.  Joanne Shelter was a single missionary who worked to translate the Bible on an island in the Philippines.  Her story shows how powerfully God's Word goes forth to transform people's lives.

The Best Yes, Lysa Terkeurst
Lysa is funny, transparent, and her words are practical for every day living.  We are bombarded with all kinds of options on how to live our lives.  Choices lie before us each day, and the temptation is to say "YES!" to everything, only to later possibly regret it because we've said that a few too many times, and our souls are tired.  Lysa gives some great advice on how to make wise choices, saving room for those things which God has truly wired us to do.

A Million Little Ways, Emily Freeman
I've been wanting to read this book ever since it came out last fall.  I finally found a used copy online and finished reading it last weekend.  I'm so thankful that I waited!  God has been uncovering things in my heart over the last few months, and reading this book was such a help to me.  I could write an entire post on all of the ways I love this book, but I'll save that for maybe a later time.

The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller
By far, the best book I've ever read on marriage.  He collaborated with his wife to write this one, and they did an excellent job.  The first chapter is a little bit tough--lots of statistics on marriage--but it wasn't long until I couldn't put it down.  One of the things I loved most was that I wasn't just challenged in my marriage.  The gospel is woven throughout this book, and I was convicted about areas in my heart that needed reminding and changing, yes in relation to my marriage, but also in relation to my walk with the Lord.  We are given the power for our marriages by the Holy Spirit; the love we have received from God pushes us to selflessly love our spouse; we commit to each other's holiness.  One of my favorite quotes:

"The rest of the world sees us wrinkling up, but using marriage's powers in the grace of Jesus, we see each other become more and more spiritually gorgeous.  We are clothing, washing, adorning each other.  And someday the whole universes will see what God sees in us." (169)

Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis
I shared on Instagram back in August how I somehow made it through a classical Christian education and four years of Bible college without ever reading any of C.S. Lewis's books (the exception being the Chronicles of Narnia).  I've taken it upon myself to remedy this, and started with the first book in a four-book collection we have.  I'll admit, it was a tough read.  But I'm glad to have read it and I learned things about C.S.Lewis I never knew.  I plan to go back and read the other ones in this collection, but I needed a break from deeper reading.

What books have you read lately?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Getting a Little Messy

In first grade I had a friend named Sarah.  We would play on the playground during recess, chasing one another and I would push her on the swing.  I went to her house to play, I think on more than one occasion, and attended her teddy bear tea birthday party.  There isn't much else I remember about her; I just know we had fun together.

My relationship with Sarah was my first exposure to someone with Down syndrome.  She was my six year old friend who played, went to school, and shared a life similar to mine.  Sure, she looked a little bit different, but that didn't matter; I just needed a playmate and I had one in her.

When Mason was born and we found out he had Down syndrome, it quickly became obvious that I had no clue the implications this had on one's entire life.  The low muscle tone--often requiring multiple types and years of therapy--, susceptibility to certain diseases, delay in development, shorter life-span.....all of these things were new to us and it took awhile to digest.

At six months of age, Mason began physical therapy, and at that point we felt this was most important for him so that he could learn to roll over, sit up and crawl.  We added speech therapy at 15 months, feeling he was ready to push forward in other areas of development.

Now that he's reached several milestones, we've decided to add Occupational Therapy to his weekly schedule.  Along with speech, this is his most significant area of delay right now.

Occupational therapy is something I never really understood.  In short, I guess you could say it's therapy to help people function properly in their jobs.  What is the job of a toddler?  One therapist said it this way:  to play, eat, get dressed, and go to the bathroom.

Mason won't begin these therapy sessions until the beginning of October, but we've started working on a few things now that we know need to be developed.

Eating.  I'll be honest here.  I've put this off because I didn't want to deal with the mess.  Now, I wish I had started it in GA where our kitchen table was on top of a vinyl floor.  We have carpet in this house, and I can guarantee that they will need to replace it when we move out.  Getting his spoon (or fork) into his mouth comes easily, but we're working on actually scooping or stabbing his food.  He would much prefer to stab the table or throw his utensils across the table.  Meal time typically consists of him trying to get food on his utensil, then he pushes his bowl/plate to me, I get the food on for him, push it back, and he gets it into his mouth.  And then he claps and smiles.  And I try not to think about the bits of food that are getting smeared into my beautifully refinished tabletop.

The mess is only bigger because Jennavieve is at the same developmental stage.  They cheer for each other when food ends up in their mouths, and laugh when it gets spilled on the floor.  If one of them has a fork, the other one needs one too. Even though it's getting messy, I have to remind myself that the mess is really not that big of a deal; the important thing is that these two are learning and growing and they are doing it together.

Appropriate Play.  Physical therapy focuses more on the gross motor skills (walking, climbing, jumping, running) and Occupational therapy helps with fine motor skills.  Manipulating toys, putting puzzles together, coloring, pretending to feed a baby doll--these are all the sorts of things that I try to have Mason do during the day.  He doesn't know that it's intentional, but I try to provide a variety of toys that will require him to work on coordination and grasping small objects.  As much a I dislike having pots and pans on my kitchen floor, I'm glad that he pretends to stir things in my bowls.  This shows that he's understanding how to use objects appropriately.

Dressing.  While Mason is still a little young to be doing this, I'm trying to take a little bit of extra time when I dress and undress him to show him how to pull up his pants, or stick his arms in the armholes.  The other day I gave him his pants just to see what he would do.  He knew they were supposed to go on his legs, but when he couldn't do it, they ended up on top of his head and we played peek-a-boo.  I'm learning to just smile and enjoy his playful spirit rather than become frustrated with his inabilities.

Sleeping in a bed.  This came somewhat out of necessity right now.  Jennavieve does not like sleeping in a pack and play.  When we moved to Florida we just brought one crib, so for a couple of months we had them taking turns in the crib and pack and play.  Mason is getting too big for a portable crib, so we finally put a mattress on the floor and he's been doing great.  Some days I have to lie down with him during nap time so he'll stay in his bed and go to sleep, but for the most part he just crawls in and goes  right to sleep.  It's really nice when he wakes up in the middle of the night and instead of sitting in the rocking chair to soothe him, I can just slip into his bed and snuggle with him until he calms down.  Extra bonus:  he looks super cute and like such a big boy laying on a pillow and under the covers!

Going to the bathroom....let's just say I'm going to let the therapist give me LOTS of advice on this one!  I've been encouraged, though, because Mason seems to know when he has a dirty diaper.  I see that as a really good sign, and we'll just cross that bridge when we come to it.

I've learned in all of these things that I can only take one day at a time.  If I look too far ahead, I grow fearful and anxious.  And then I lose sight of what Mason can do.  He is growing and changing every day, and we are so very privileged to be able to participate with him in each step.  Bradley said it well  to me one night:  "We are so spoiled to have Mason for a son."

Yes.  Spoiled, blessed, loved, changed.  God is merciful and compassionate, and ever-so-good!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Our Weekend

Weekends have increased in value since Isabella started school.  I don't remember being this excited for Friday night since I was in high school!  We turn off the alarm, let the kids watch morning cartoons, nap, and try to find something fun to do around town.

This past weekend found us hosting our first overnight guest.  As we were cooking breakfast on Saturday morning, sipping coffee, and catching up on the past few years with our friend, Bradley leaned over to me and said, "I forgot how much fun it was to have company."  

We made our way to the weekly downtown market, purchased some cinnamon rolls from a local farmer and his wife, and then grabbed some coffee from a local coffee shop.  Bradley convinced me to try their vanilla lattes--I was not disappointed--and one Saturday morning, I'm going back to sit outside of this place, drink coffee, eat a chocolate croissant, and people watch.

The weather couldn't have been more perfect for a community day in the park.  The girls got their Zumba on with a group of ladies and had fun playing some of the games that were set up throughout the park.

Mason tried making friends with everyone he saw.  His delight in people, even strangers, makes me smile.  We enjoyed dinner out on Saturday night, complete with sitting outside in the chilly air.  The summer in Florida has been hot and humid, so being outside without sweating and feeling the need for a sweater was a treat.

We have decided on a church to attend while we're here, and while it's a bit of a drive, and the kids are sleepy on the way home, we have been challenged and encouraged through the preaching and worship there each week.  Sundays are our day of rest, so we come home from church, eat, and spend the rest of the day relaxing at home and being together as a family.

The slightly chilly air and football season being in full swing has me wanting soup.  We've been making weekly trips to the seafood market, trying various kinds of fish, so this week we picked up some steamed shrimp and made gumbo.  With fall officially beginning tomorrow, I plan to grab some mums and spruce up our front porch.  The canned pumpkin is already in the pantry just waiting to be made into yummy bread and muffins.

Living here has been a challenge for me in many ways, but I can honestly say that I'm beginning to enjoy it.  I suppose that's what happens once you feel settled in a place. It's taken a few months for me, but now that we're halfway through our stint in Florida, I think I might miss it when we leave.  The beach, the seafood, the rhythm we have's becoming normal and pleasant and comfortable.  

Happy Monday, friends!  Enjoy your day.

Rejoice.  Walk in the Spirit.  Honor God.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Monkey See, Monkey Do, Monkey Speak?

When we moved to Florida one of the challenges I knew we would face would be finding new therapists for Mason.  There's a process:  see your Primary Care Physician and request a referral, wait for the referral, schedule an appointment with the referred therapist, have an evaluation of child's development, schedule regular therapy sessions, begin therapy.

It's pretty straightforward, but this always exhausts me.  Yes, bringing all of my children to an appointment is a challenge, and that in itself can be tiring.  But, the evaluations with therapists are what I most dread.  For thirty minutes to an hour, I'm forced to think on all the ways that my child is not like other children his age.  Questions are asked like, "Does he distinguish between objects in a group?"  "How many words can he say?"  "When he plays with toys does he use them appropriately?"

Then, we move onto the observation of Mason's behavior.  Inwardly I try to will Mason to point to the right picture when asked to find the cookie or the ball.  I know he knows what these things are, but to point to it?  We're not there yet.  Instead, he finds the baby on the page and gives it a big wet tongue kiss.  (Insert very proud Mommy moment here because this obviously shows how much Mason loves people!)

The evaluation ends, and even though I know what the therapist is going to say hearing the words, "So, the test results show that there is a severe delay in his development," still hurts.

In that moment I have a choice to make:  dwell on the delay or think of how far he's come and keep pushing forward to help him.  I'll be honest.  Some days I dwell on the delays.  Maybe this will always be a struggle.  But, can I just tell you that God has been so good!  He is making it easier and easier for me to rejoice and move forward.  The psychologists would probably call this acceptance; I'm going to call it grace.  And I'm ever so grateful for the strength God gives.

Last week was Mason's second speech evaluation since we arrived here.  The first clinic had a waiting list of 4-6 weeks.  Since we're only living her until December, I didn't want to wait that long to get him started.  I was able to find another clinic, very close to Isabella's school, and he starts speech therapy there this morning.  I instantly liked his therapist when I saw that we had the same sandals.  The evaluation process and her way with Mason really sealed the deal for me; I think she's going to be great.

Yesterday I shared about Mason's physical developments over the summer.  Up today:

Speech Developments

Comprehension.  Mason understands so much!  I can tell him to go get his shoes and he does.  He starts heading for the stairs when I tell him it's nap time.  Just in the past few days when I ask if he's stinky, he'll point to his diaper.  (And I even think he said diaper a few times).  He may not respond with words when asked a question, but his facial expressions communicate his excitement, his disagreement, and his confusion.

Body Parts.  We've been working on these for months.  This summer, he's finally gotten some down.  He can now point to his belly, head, nose (or my nose) and mouth.  Occasionally he does hands, and I'm really trying to work with him on feet.  It helps that Jennavieve is almost on the same level now, so we can work on these things together.  She keeps pushing him to learn more.

Animal Sounds.  There's still some confusion as to what is and is not an elephant, but Mason can definitely tell you what a dog says, sometimes an elephant--complete with trunk raised and all--, and last night he said 'moo' for the first time.  Even though they aren't words, it's part of the speech development process and we cheer and jump up and down when he acquires something new.  Many times our animal sessions end with a dance party to 'What does the fox say' (per the request of my two oldest children).

Words.  Most of Mason's words are just grunts.  This is tiring.  And now Jennavieve has picked up on it.  We're working hard with both of them to replace the grunting with something else, whether sign language or an actual word.  Mason can sign 'please' and 'more', and he says 'Daddy' distinctly.  When he starts calling me Mommy we're going on vacation, or something.  I can't wait to hear him say my name.  I can't tell for sure, but I think he calls Jennavieve 'Dede'.  This week I've been trying to have him distinguish between eat and drink.  It's pretty obvious when he stands at the fridge grunting, that he wants a drink, but now he's actually signing it and making the 'd' sound.

Mason has a long way to go before he's using words appropriately.  But you know what?  I know he gets it.  He knows what's happening around him.  He understands us.  He tries to tell me things, and even though he doesn't use the right sounds, he communicates with me.  While I look forward to the day when he can say words and speak in sentences, there's also something special about this secret language he and I have.  It's rewarding when he grunts, I translate, he smiles and waves his arms, and I know that we've understood one another.

I love this little monkey.  I love him just the way he is.  Even if he never says my name, he knows I'm his Mommy.  And I pray that he will always feel how much he is loved and how proud we are to have him as our son.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

He's Come so Far

There were days when I thought Mason would never walk.  I had prayed for him to be walking by his second birthday; his birthday came and while he could walk behind a cart or holding onto both of my hands, he refused to let go.

This summer was a summer of growth in many areas of Mason's development.  When I look back over the past three months I stand in awe at what God has accomplished through this little boy, and I can't help but smile at how far he's come.

Over the next few days I'll be sharing some of the specific ways that Mason has developed recently.  It's encouraging to me to recount, and I hope that those of you who have prayed for Mason will be encouraged as well!

Physical Developments

Wednesday morning Mason has physical therapy for 30 minutes.  We have been going to the clinic for the past few weeks and we've enjoyed getting to know his new therapist, and experiencing the fun things that she has in her room, like this cool jungle gym!

In Georgia we were privileged to have in-home therapy, which was wonderful!  The situation here is a bit different, and that has been an adjustment for me, but I'm thankful that Mason has something to look forward to by being in a new environment for his therapy sessions.

I shared in this post that Mason and Jennavieve were both taking their first steps.  That was about a month ago, and now Mason is walking all over the place!  He has definitely made the transition from crawler to walker.  Sometimes when I see him toddling around I still cry at what a blessing this is!  If he falls, which he still does from time to time--balance is still a bit tricky for him--he finds the closest thing and pulls up again to keep walking.

Over the last two weeks he has been able to bend over and pick up toys, stand back up and continue walking.  We're working now on getting him to stand up on his own without help, and walk up and down stairs.

One of the biggest shifts in this area of development has been Mason's desire.  Now he wants to walk.  In fact, when we head for the car, he refuses to hold my hand.  I have to figure on a few extra minutes each time we're going somewhere, because he still moves at a pretty slow pace.

When we pick Isabella up from school we have to walk inside to get her.  Most days I try to let Mason and Jennavieve take turns walking in, the other rides in the stroller.  Mason looks like such a big boy walking down the sidewalk to get his big sister.

Last week at the end of his therapy session, his therapist let him ride the tricycle.  Oh my goodness, I thought I was going to burst!  She had straps on the pedals to keep his feet in place, but other than those and a gentle guiding on the back he was riding that bike by himself!!

When we reached the waiting room to sign out he did not want to get off of that bike.  We literally had to pull him off and he fought me all the way to the car.  I love that he is enjoying all of these new experiences.

My heart is full of gratitude to the Lord for giving us these blessings.  I struggled to learn patience while we waited for Mason to get to this point.  There were tears, anger, and discouragement for sure.  God used all of those things, though, to teach me to trust Him.

Thank you to those who have prayed!  And thank you to those of you who read these updates and celebrate with us!