Ella Rae Harper Ezell arrived exactly as expected on January 4, 2016. Eight pounds, 6 ounces and 20 inches of pure baby-sweetness. She. Is. Beautiful.
ethan and Liam were able to meet her at the hospital, and it was love at first sight for both of them.
Can you believe it is already well into December?! I had to go back and look at the last time I blogged, and I must admit, I am a bit ashamed of myself! I am sorry for not posting sooner! The incoming nice weather in Texas (finally) has motivated us to get the twins out and about quite a bit more, and now that I am working (and loving it) I find that I have less time than I did before!
So let me just begin by sharing what we have been up to lately:
We were fortunate enough to have several Halloween festivities to enjoy, and while most of the costumes didn't change, some of them did...
The purple minion transformed into captain America, Gru became the purple minion, and I just became a caped pregnant lady. 😄
The summer that I turned 12 years old, I attended a church camp in Siloam springs Arkansas. One of the counsellors that attended the camp with my group was also my neighbor. After one of the sermons, we talked about the message, and she asked me, "have you accepted Jesus? It feels like when you are really dirty, then you take a shower - you just feel so clean and different." She was shaking, either from nervousness, or excitement, I'm not sure which. I told her I had not, and she helped me through the process of becoming a believer.
Fast forward a few months. It was a Wednesday night at our church - there were only a few faithful attendees present, and our pastor began his sermon, as usual. But then he said, "Christ said, "you have heard that it has been said 'do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone that looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:27-29 NIV)." Then our pastor stated this, "if you don't think this applies to you, then just go ahead and rip that page out of your bible." And he ripped the page out of his bible, threw it on the floor, and continued. "The Bible says 'love your neighbor as yourself Mark 12:31. If you feel like you are better than other people, then this doesn't apply to you, so just rip it out of there. Obviously, Jesus didn't die for you." And he continued. One by one, the pages of fundamental Christian beliefs were ripped out of the Bible. Love the Lord your God with all your heart. Ripped out. Keep your oathes. Gone. Honor your parents. Respect your elders. Do not murder. Be slow to speak and quick to listen. Do not steal. Do not worry. Take care of orphans and widows. Do not judge... The pages that he tore out of his bible flew around him, and landed gently on the floor. And they began to pile up. As a brand new Christian, and being only 12 years old, I sat in wide-eyed shock for the next 30-45 minutes. And I didn't breathe.
Fast forward 21 years. I still vividly remember this sermon. It is one that will remain with me for the rest of my time on this earth. The message is so profound, even now. When I was 12, I could not believe that MY PASTOR was treating the BIBLE in such a disrespectful way. As Christians, we consider this book as something to be revered and respected. But we miss the mark. I miss the mark. It is not the book that holds the power and sanctity, it is the message and teachings within that we should take to heart and live by. And believe me, I am preaching to the choir. You know all those fruits? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? I struggle with every. Single. One. But lately, it is love that I am struggling to embrace. You might as well rip the "love your enemies" clean out of my Bible because it is HARD!! And I don't WANT to love my enemies! I want to Hate them! There is really only less than a handful that fall into this category. What frustrates me about one person in particular, though, is that no matter how nice or considerate I try to be, this person returns it with spite. And I can't change said person's attitude. I struggle with anger, hate, and too often self-control. I mean I really let my tongue loose.
The problem is not that this person exists- the REAL problem is that I refuse to embrace Christ's teachings and demonstrate patience, and understanding, and as much as I want to refuse it - love. Unfortunately, admitting my struggles doesn't make them any easier - they are still struggles, and even when I try to give up my hatred and anger, it seeps back in. I give them to God, and then I take it all back the next day. Day after day after day. I am so grateful that God does not reciprocate my own struggles.
As much as I dislike admitting just one of my MANY imperfections (a.k.a. sins), I know that I am not alone. We ALL have imperfections that we struggle with, whether they are obvious or covert. It's okay to be imperfect. But if we are truly seeking a heart like Jesus', we can't tear out the pages of our own Bible that we don't want to acknowledge while pointing a condemning finger at others, because then wouldn't we be saying "I am better than you," or "you are so sinful you don't deserve for Jesus to have died for you"? Both concepts are innately wrong. No one is holier than any other person. We have to recognize our own faults, allow God to deal with our own hearts, and look for ways to lift others up when they are overcome with struggles. Isn't life messy?
Speaking of a messy life, we have gone through some pretty huge adjustments this past month that deserves some mention. As you are all aware, Dave lost his job mid-September. We knew that God had other plans for our family, but finding that plan has been kind of messy and a big struggle. Losing a consistent income has hit us hard for the past couple of weeks, but God has provided me with a full-time job in the Dallas school district. And ya'll, over the past few years, I have forgotten how much I love my career. God knew what He was doing when He designed this crazy plan, and Dave and I are both at peace with the outcome. Dave is getting to learn how to manage the intricacies of our household (which is an interesting process to be a part of), and I am learning to let go of controlling the intricacies of the household. I'm not sure who has the harder job! Lol
Ella Rae Harper is growing by the day, and is expected to arrive in early January, the twins are recovering from a minor cold and tracheal infection (and by minor, I mean that Owen had to spend a few days in the hospital, meanwhile Emmett stayed at home on antibiotics!). Ethan and Liam are as ornery as ever, and life goes on.
3 good things:
1.) my mom is turning another year wiser tomorrow!! Happy birthday, mom!
2.) God has provided for our family, again, in our greatest time of need.
3.) coming home after work to a cacauphony of boys who are all loudly glad to see me.
4.) (bonus) being asked to write as a guest blogger. It's such an honor! More details to come soon.
Well, friends, there have been some pretty incredible life changes going on in the Ezell household. I will start with Ethan's news - last week, he accepted Jesus as his Savior. I am so proud of him, because that is the one, single, most important decision a person can EVER make. So important, in fact, that it completely changes the course of the individual's eternity. Ethan has chosen an eternity of life, rather than suffering. Praise. The. Lord.
The second life changing event is that Dave was laid off. While this came as a surprise, we are approaching it as a blessing, and looking for God to lead us through. Times of great difficulty forges great faith. All we are asked to do is believe that God has our path planned, and He will provide. This doesn't mean that I don't wake up at night worrying about our finances, or about Ella's arrival in a few short months. These are all very human reactions. Faith comes in when I give it all the Creator of the universe, and ask Him for guidance, which He gives freely if we pay attention.
So, you may be asking, what are you going to do?! Well, I will tell you. Currently, Dave and I both believe that I should go back to work while he takes up the home duties and child-rearing efforts. During this time, Dave is looking into different careers options, and he will possibly be returning to school. We are both at peace with this decision, AND when I return to work after maternity leave, Ella will be in some pretty capable hands. (Not to mention father-daughter bonding time! 😊) I am looking forward to getting back into Speech-Language Pathology, I have missed it! It's both therapeutic, and a creative outlet for me, AND it's a way for me to provide for my family during our transition to God's path for us! If you ask me, that's a win-win situation.
In the meantime, we had a visit from a blind cyclops...
Oh, he cracked me up. He walked around in this state for a good ten minutes. Until it turned into this...
I promise, I put the patch over ONE eye, and he maneuvered it into these positions!
I have also been busy planting a few plants around the house and just trying to make it a bit more home-ified. I cleaned up the back porch and spray painted a few items. It is now one of my favorite places to just go and sit, mainly because there isn't anything in sight that HAS to be done!
I also worked on the outdoor entry space in the front, and I must say that I am pleased with it. There is still some TLC that needs to happen, but for now, it is an improvement.
Well, my friends, there's not too much going on, but there is enough. Blessings to you all.
3 good things:
1.) getting some additional quality family time
2.) feeling God's peace in the middle of it all
3.) Halloween wigs
I hope you all had a magnificent long weekend filled with fun, family, friends, and some relaxation! Our family certainly had some new experiences, and overall an excellent time filled to the brim with greatness.
The drive to Arkansas is typically a 5-5.5 hour drive, but with all the kiddos in tow, and the extra stops we made, it turned into a 7 hour drive. Our pit stops were a welcome diversion, and the boys were able to stretch and goof off for a little over an hour.
Emmett and Owen were absolute angels in the car, much to my surprise. They didn't cry or fuss; they were content just sitting and watching DVDs. The older boys, on the other hand, were a bit of a handful, though once we were about 2 hours into the trip, they FINALLY settled into it. We made a stop in Texarkana to eat and play.
"Silence is golden, unless you have children - then silence is suspicious." - Anonymous
IT'S A GIRL!!! (In case you missed it)
We are thrilled, but even if the baby were a boy, we would have been thrilled. There is just something about babies that makes us that way.
And she will be called Ella Rae Harper.
Before Dave and I became pregnant, we discussed extensively the idea of expanding our family. During this time-time-of-discussion, some days we felt that we wanted to, other days we were worried that it might be too much with the twins medical care, and the increasingly busy social schedule with the two older boys. However, the more I thought about, the more it became very clear to me: Couples regret not having more children. Couples NEVER regret having a child. I want to live a life that I will never regret.
* * * *
With the beginning of the school year comes new routines, and new struggles. It seems that every year, one of our biggest struggles is wisdom in knowing how to manage "technology time" (screen time, computer time, iPad time, etc.). I have been contemplating creating a rubric for homework and responsibilities that makes the child be responsible for his own time and activities. So, in my head the rubric looks something like this:
1.) homework - completed = 10 min
- neat the first time = 5 add'l min
- answers double checked (>2mistakes) = 5 min.
- completed homework put away = 5 min
2.) bed made - 7 min
3.) lunchbox in kitchen without being asked - 5 min
I'm not sure if this will work. What do you all do? How do you motivate your kids to take responsibility, and teach them work before play? I am taking any advice right now! I want this year's school work to be positive and rewarding!
This coming week, I will be undertaking a huge endeavor with the boys - we will be traveling to Arkansas with all four boys, just the six of us. As you can imagine, I am a bit nervous because of the nighttime duties that have to be performed, as well as all the daytime duties. I believe, though, that the memories will be worth the work. On Thursday, the twins will be making an appearance at a Harding University embryology lecture performed by their Papa Dean. And then on Sunday, Dave has been asked to say a few words about our journey of faith and family at Sylvan Hills Church of Christ in Sherwood. If you live in the Sherwood area (or surrounding area), and would like to join us in worship, the address is 117 W. Maryland Ave., Sherwood, AR, 72120. I am absolutely giddy about being able to visit with so many individuals and families who have prayed for the twins and our family!
For now, that is the latest edition of our news, but I would like to put out a request: Dave is looking for work in the DFW area. If anyone knows of a job or listings related to geology, environmental field, or anything else that you think might be similar please, please, please send it our way. We would appreciate all the help we can get, and as our God says, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets." -Matthew 7:7-12
We are diligently asking and seeking and knocking, and we will accept any help that comes our way!
3 good things:
1.) double doozies. I mean, yummy!!
2.) Good books to read
3.) Being given another day to live.
Don't forget to post your ideas about keeping screen time to a minimum and responsibility awareness to a maximum! Not only for me, but for the other readers. 😉
Follow me on Twitter @JeniusEzell
Follow Dave on Twitter @EzellDave
Today is the day that we find out if we are having another boy, or if we are breaking the mold with a girl! So what do you all think?
Is it a boy or a girl?
If you want to know sooner, I will be tweeting the results tonight! Follow me @JeniusEzell!!
By the way, Liam was my photographer, and he also needed to have his picture taken, too.
In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.
Two years ago today:
Just looking at these photos brings tears to my eyes - remembering the fear of 'what if this is the last time I see my babies alive,' the anxiety of 'how much longer will they be in surgery,' and 'is everything going ok?' And the helplessness of being able to do nothing while a team of doctors and nurses worked to give our babies a new life, and our babies hung on to the support that they were getting FOR their lives. This day, two years ago, God taught me to find comfort when there was none to be found. He taught me to trust Him when I was helpless. He taught me to believe that no matter the outcome, that His way was truly the best way. I cling to these truths even now, and I will never forget. I will never let go of these truths. God's truths are eternal. And today, in celebration of these two short years on earth, I took my babies out for a "window shopping" trip.
Well, the twins have reached their terrible twos, but so far, it hasn't been too terrible. Their birthday party was such fun, and perfect for two-olds - bubbles and balloons!!
I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to Erika Bridges for making the boys birthday cake again this year! She went above what I was looking for and added artistry and perfection. Ya'll, she is AMAZING. Check out her website confectionsincake.com. Each cake is gorgeous, and delicious, and, well, art.
Our family has settled into a new routine at our new house, and I must say, I LOVE our new house. There is always a project to piddle around with, and a pool to swim in with the kids, and a ginormous yard to walk around in. Initially, we were getting eaten alive by ants, but I have begun treating the yard, and ants are not as big of an issue as they were.
For those of you who have been reading the blog since the beginning, you might remember that in 2013 when we moved to Plano, a moving van rolled down the street and smashed into an apartment building...
And apparently I didn't blog about it because I felt it was rather inconsequential, but days after we moved into our house in Grand Prairie (back in April of 2014) there was an incident that involved a young man driving his family's van into a neighbor's front entryway. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of it.
Well, not to be outdone, we have a story to add to the mix. Just a week or so after our move to Arlington, our back fence became the next victim in the stream of moving-related accidents. At 2am, a driver drove his car through our fence into our backyard, and then continued driving out the other side of our fence.
No one was hurt, not even the driver, though there is evidence that he ramped his car over a hillock just before entering our fence. The police said he was not intoxicated, but there may have been marijuana involved. Who knows. Thank the Lord he or she was not injured.
And so, the Ezell's have arrived in Arlington.
I have even more big news, and it is breaking, as I am typing: OWEN'S TRACH IS GONE!!
If nothing else is true in this world, God is ALWAYS good! Even if Owen had to keep his trach, this statement would still be true: God is good.
3 good things:
1. God's timing is perfect, though it hurts at times. I could not have handled this move without the help of my mom (who is THE Suerwoman, in case you didn't know). And she would not have been able to help if God had not called my grandmother home. While her passing makes my heart hurt, it was all in God's time, and I know that she is celebrating in heaven, and maybe even holding the baby that Dave and I lost in January. She LOVES her grand babies.
2.) Experiencing the good hurt of aching muscles from attempting to weed one of the flower beds in our backyard. I have flower beds! And I get to weed them! That, my friends is a blessing.
3.) God loves even me. And that is enough.
Bless you all, my friends.
I know you have all been anxiously awaiting to hear about the trach situation, and I am pleased to inform you that Emmett has been successfully living trach free for almost two weeks, now!
Unfortunately, Owen was not ready for his to come out; he has too severe bronchi malasia, but hopefully by the end of summer, he will either have grown a bit and strengthened his windpipe, and/or he will be able to function as-is. I am confident that this will be the case, and all it takes is a mustard-seed of faith. I'm kind of relying on God for His healing on this one.
Since then, we have been enjoying the warm weather, and spending as much time outside before it gets to hot in the mornings, or in the sprinkler in the afternoons.
I can't think of anything better than four handsome boys, having fun on a long summer day. Especially when they are rockin' some pretty sweet suits!!
In other news, Dave and I are VERY excited to be buying a house here in the DFW area! I guess that means we are going to be staying for a good long while. I'm a-ok with raising my boys as Texans. Their is a network of some pretty special people here that we are not ready to say goodbye to. With that being said, if anybody knows anybody with spare boxes, I could certainly use some! And if anyone just HAPPENS to want to volunteer to help us move, we would not turn away the offer. Haha!! We are just really excited to have the opportunity to once again have our own place. God has been very good to us, and we can not deny it. Not ever.
The house will be big enough for our growing family for years to come. And by growing, I do mean that we are expecting a new little one in January of 2016. For those of you who are excited as we are, thank you!! For those who are thinking to yourselves, "do they NOT know what causes that?" My response is, yes we do!! It's called LOVE, and we've got lots of it!! Haha!! At any rate, we had a miscarriage this past January that was completely unexpected. We were not trying for a baby, and when we lost that little baby, we both felt empty, and that our family was missing just one more little one. It took me several months before I was ready to admit it, and on top of that, we were absolutely terrified of the "what-ifs," as our last pregnancy was a very difficult one with so many unknowns, and tears, and worries, and fears, we really didn't know if we could do it all again. But God is faithful, and so far Baby E is looking perfectly healthy.
Prayers, though are much appreciated once again. I feel as if I am expecting bad news any day now. God has a plan, though. And we are all a part of it.
As life is a part of the plan, so too is the end of life. My grandma, who has stuck with us through thick and thin, who has ALWAYS volunteered to watch her grandchildren when needed (or just for the fun of it) has been sent home on hospice, and it absolutely breaks my heart. All we can do is pray for her comfort and peace, and watch her slip away. It is humbling and infuriating at the same time - there is no amount of fighting for life that will save her life. God's timing is perfect, and I will never deny that. It just doesn't make losing her any easier.
We will celebrate her as long as we have her, and celebrate her life and spunk and devotion to her family when she is gone.
3 good things:
1. Spending time with Dave and Liam at the AirHogs game. What a fun night!!
2. Getting some 1-on-1 time with this handsome guy
3. Celebrating life.