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One day!

I have found myself thinking of my dad a lot lately. He spent my entire life broken over the loss of his son, my brother Brook. I can’t begin to understand the grief his passing caused my parents. My brothers death puts my entire childhood in perspective. When going through my dads things he had a box with Jays name written on it. I opened it to find a bunch of toy cars. They were cars my brother played with almost 39 years ago. My dad wants to give them to Jay. For obvious reasons, I offered them to my mom who in return encouraged me to keep them because she knows I would do something sentimental with them. For now they sit in this tall vase. I’ve been spending a lot of time dreaming up ways to display these cars. I know I’ll come up with the perfect display. Brook is the brother I never met. Brook is the brother who left this world all too soon. He’s the brother I’ll meet for the first time in heaven one day. He’s the brother I oddly find myself missing. Brook was the first child born 5 years before me. Brook passed away 1 week before he should have turned 1. Almost 39 years later my dad still cries when he talks about him. There is hope for my dad knowing he will hold is son again in heaven when the time comes. I can only imagine how beautiful their reuniting will be. One day my dad will be with Jesus, he will be with Brook and he will finally be free.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:4 NLT

Hide!

You can run from God but you can’t hide. Let’s be real, Jonah tried to hide from God by sailing away on a ship. However, running from God only caused him to be thrown over the boat, swallowed by a big fish and vomited on to dry land. In the end, Jonah listened to God and went to Nineveh to tell the people about Him. In preschool this week the kids told the story of Jonah using our water table. We filled the water table with a boat, Jonah and lots of little fish. Our preschoolers used our “big fish” to catch little fish and ultimately Jonah. They also threw Jonah over the boat and used the “big fish” to spit Jonah on to dry land. My favorite part was hearing the kids have Jonah cry out to God from inside the big fish. ❤️

“From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God…” Jonah 2:1

Upside down faith!

We did a fun activity this past weekend to help us understand what it means to trust like Noah did. Each kid filled a cup part way with water. They then placed an index card over the opening of the cup and pressed down to create a suction causing the cup to hold tight to the card. When they tipped the cup over, the water remained in the cup because the air pressure pressing upwards is stronger then the gravity pressing downwards. Can you see the air pressure? No! But you know it’s working. We can’t see God but we know He is there working in our lives. Noah had the pressure of the world telling him he was silly to build an ark. No one saw a storm coming. However, Noah’s trust in God was stronger then the pressure of those around him. He knew he could trust God even when what he was being asked to do didn’t make sense. We can trust God. You can’t see Him but God is there working in your life.

A song that gets me excited about Jesus is Waymaker by Michael W. Smith. The part…

“Even when I don’t see it, You’re working

Even when I can’t feel it, You’re working

You never stop, You never stop working

You never stop, You never stop working”

This part gets me pumped because regardless of what we can see or feel God never stops working in our life.

Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” John20:29 NLT

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 NIV

Pizza and a Prayer!

When I was 10 my dad became angered over a pair of lost car keys. We had another set but for some reason he was still furious. He came in the apartment and with the power in both arms and in one quick swoop, he threw everything on the table across the room covering us in soda. We took off running. No shoes on my feet. My mom walked toward us as we yelled for her to run too. We dove into the car and my mom started driving away. My dad threw his entire body across the front of the car leaving his hand print plastered on the window as he yelled for my mom to open the door. She didn’t. We drove off. We hung out with friends for a few hours. We swam in their pool but I mostly shook in fear. After a few hours passed we met my dad for pizza. We ate like that entire scene never took place.

While I have these memories that still leave me shaking my heart has been changed toward my dad. A heart that was once filled with fear is now filled with love and forgiveness. Yet, I’m also filled with continuous grief because mental illness can feel like a never ending battle.

I’m not sure if it’s right for me to share a story so personal. I’m not in the business of hurting those I love. However, not sharing is like failing to tell the world how God can do the impossible. God truly has changed my dad. I believe that with my whole heart. He’s not perfect but he’s not the same dad I grew up afraid of. He’s struggling at this moment because bipolar schizophrenia and Lewy body dementia don’t work well together. I want to make one thing very clear. My dad’s mental disorder does not change his salvation in Jesus. He will be in heaven not because he does everything right, but because he put his faith in Christ Five years ago. He’s going to heaven because Jesus lives in His heart. I’m proud of my dad and I want nothing but a happy ending for him. I’m not ashamed of him. I’m very much proud of who he has worked to be and devastated that mental illness and dementia is hitting him this hard.

A few days ago my dad packed up everything in his room at the nursing home and sent it home with my aunt because in his mind a resident was trying to rob him. He sent his dentures in the bucket too. He is walking around with no teeth in his mouth because the voices in his head tell him that someone will take them.

This is just a glimpse of what mental illness looks like.

I can’t forget what has happened in the past. I still remember the gun pointed at my moms head. I still remember the dozens of cops in and out of our apartment. I definitely remember being threatened with eviction if we had to call the cops on my dad again. I can’t forget the fear and torment of my childhood because I literally feel it in the shaking of my bones. Still, I want to be sure to be loud about the good God has done and is still doing. I want to be loud about who my dad is in Christ today because up until five years ago he had no faith

We ironically ate pizza with my dad while visiting him the other day. It was the perfect visit. Far better than 23 years ago when we ate pizza together after running from him in fear for our lives. It was as if it were meant to be. It was an hour that made up for the years of fear. He was fully alert and calm. He was excited to see the kids. At the end of our visit he asked us to pray for him. Growing up we couldn’t talk about God without him getting so angry we would hide. Now he’s requesting prayer. Unfortunately a few hours after our visit his paranoia got the best of him and one thing led to another and he was sent to a psych ward. I don’t know what happens from here. I’m filled with an overwhelming numbness. I know we serve a good God who loves my dad. I’m at peace. My heart aches for my dad but still there is peace that I can’t quite understand. I know that God is working all things out for His good. I just can’t see it yet.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 NLT

High Five!

High Five!

I’ve been giving this girl high fives all month. We are so proud of her positive attitude since covid hit the month of her 4th birthday. Now she is turning five. Ellie has grown to love being at home, lounging in her footie pajamas, eating pancakes, chugging chocolate milk, watching Adley on YouTube, playing barbies or dancing for Jay to kids bop.

Her favorite songs are Waymaker and Yes I Will. Ellie has truly learned to worship Jesus in rain or shine and that’s a win in our book. Recently, she saw an ambulance and fire truck at a wreck and immediately she said “mom we should pray for them.” I love her heart for Jesus and others. While watching a movie Ellie asked why the girl in the movie was sitting alone. She kept asking if someone was going to sit with her. She noticed the character was sad and waited to see if someone would help her. I pray she never loses her compassion for others. I pray when given the opportunity she will be the one who sits with the broken and lonely.

Ellie is filled with such joy and loves to laugh. She loves to make others laugh too. She is our snuggle buddy and personal hand warmer and the best big sister. Ellie loves to make videos and put on shows. When she grows up she wants to be a mommy and blogger. Ellie loves wrestling dad and giving Jay kisses. She will give you the best hug ever and yawn really big when nervous. I truly don’t know what I did to deserve a little girl like her. Ellie made me a mommy five years ago and I have never been the same. Happy birthday Ellie. Have a high five birthday.

This past year Ellie has taught me to be content in every circumstance. Her joy has not Changed. She was filled with joy before Covid. Her joy continued as the world shut down. Her joy remained the same when I was too sick to play!

This is why my verse for her this next year is…

Philippians 4:11NLT

“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.”

Ellie! Always love Jesus! Always share Jesus with others! Keep being His light. Lastly, continue to always make every day a high five day no!!!

Show up!

Thankful for this guy! There are so many reasons to love him. This week I love him because he has always shown up. I can always count on him. On Wednesday my stepdad will be heaven for 11 years. Jessie and I were dating when Mike got sick. He drove me all the way to Livingston Texas to see Michael (my stepdad) and then back again once he passed away. Jessie carried my stepdads casket at his funeral and when I grieved for two long years he showed up at my door to make sure I was eating even though I broke up with him because my heart couldn’t handle the thought of loosing him too. He has always shown up even before we were married. He has continued to show up not just for me, but for our kids, our family, our church and so many others. Most importantly he always shows up in the way he worships Jesus. Blessed to call him my husband and forever best friend. Jessie Rayos

Thanks Mark Hootman for the wonderful picture.

Another Smile!

When I was little my dad convinced me that he could make the car fly. I was in the back seat and very gullible. “Make it fly” I shouted with my hands in the air. He put his hand on the clutch and I screamed out, “No! It’s too scary” He took his hand away and smiled this huge smile that I have sketched in my memory. Again, I shouted “Ok! I’m ready! Make it fly!” He put his hand on the clutch again and looked at me through the rear-view mirror and OF COURSE I chickened out. I never got to see him fly the car that day but for the longest time I believed he could.

My dad gave Jay a toy car for almost everyday of the year this past Christmas. Looking at the cars, I’m reminded of the car I never let him show me how to fly. I’ve been dreaming up ways we can showcase these toy cars in our home. For him the toy cars mean so much more. Once upon a time he had a son named Brook who he bought toy cars for. Brook passed away a week before he turned one and now my dad buys cars for Jay. I believe its a way of emotional healing for my dad. My dad is currently in the hospital… AGAIN! He’s been sick for too long but every time we think it’s the end he pulls through. I’m praying he pulls through again but ultimately I just want him to smile like he smiled that day in the car. The way he smiled the day he found out about Ellie. I could hear his smile through the phone that day. I want him to smile like the day he smiled when he held Ellie for the first time. The way he smiled when he met Jay this past November. I’m praying for Gods will not mine. His way not mine. His time not mine. ultimately my dad belongs to Jesus so I’m putting him in His hands.

This is what I know. From the time my dad heard about Ellie I have watched God completely change him. He is far from perfect but he tries. I’ll never forget hearing “I don’t want Ellie to see the same things you girls saw!” I can’t forget when he said “I need to put my faith in Jesus again!” And He did.

We sang, It Is Well With My Soul in church this Sunday. I didn’t know how much I needed that song till now. Because my dad knows Jesus, it truly is well with my soul. No matter what happens IT IS well with my soul. I’m saying Gods plan is well with my soul. The only way I’ll ever see my dad smile again even if not on earth is through Gods plan for my dad. Not my desires. Not what I want. Not the story I want to tell but His story for my dad. If my dad pulls through I’ll celebrate. If he doesn’t I’ll still celebrate because with Gods plan my dad WILL smile again. It’s just a matter of where.

“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Like 22:42 NLT

This time last year…

Not an announcement! 🎉🎉🎉 This time last year we had a secret we couldn’t wait to share. This time last year, Jay being born seemed like a life time away. This time last year, we didn’t even know if we were having a boy or girl. This time last year when we weren’t suppose to be excited because it was still so early but how do you contain your excitement with a life already so real to you? This time last year when morning sickness hit fast and hard. This time last year our lives changed in the most beautiful way. This is a picture of the moment after we found out Jesus gave us Jay. This is a moment I’ll never forget. After having a miscarriage and struggling to become pregnant January hit and I told God “I give up! It must not be meant to be!” I’m so thankful God is not a God who gives up. If you are in the middle of your storm know that there is a sunny moment just around the corner. Don’t give up just yet. God is always working in His time not ours. 🎉❤️

Ruby Strong!

We were at the library the other day looking for books to read to Ellie for Black History month. While looking, I realized we were there because I didn’t have any books that related to black history month at home in our collection of over 100 children books. Sure, we have many books that show different cultures but none that discuss the hardships that our black friends have suffered. That didn’t feel right to me! I want my kids to grow up knowing black history. I want them to see how far we have come but to recognize that racism still happens today.

I want them to be aware so that they can be understanding toward their black friends today who are still facing injustices because of the color of their skin.

One lady I am deeply inspired by is Ruby Bridges. Ruby was one of four little girls to first emerge into an all white school. Everyday as she walked up to William Frantz Elementary School she was faced with an angry mob of individuals screaming and taunting her. They would threaten to kill her by use of poison until she choked to death. Yet, Ruby showed strength and courage as she never turned back or ran away. Do you know what she did? She prayed for the people screaming the disgusting slurs at her.

“Please, God, try to forgive these people.

Because even if they say those bad things,

They don’t know what they’re doing.

So you could forgive them,

Just like you did those folks a long time ago when they said terrible things about you.”

Wow! Could we have responded in that way?

Ruby had no classmates and only one teacher who was willing to teach her. She went through all this and still she didn’t even miss one day of school. Ruby was strong in Jesus.

Owning and reading more books on black history is one way I’m trying to do better. Reading to my children is one way I’m trying to teach them about black history. It’s important!

I want to be Ruby strong. The kind of Christian, wife, mother and friend who never gives up, never turns back and never lets the words of others keep me from everything God has called me to. More importantly, I want to be the kind of woman who prays for those who hurt me. During this black history month who is someone you look up to?

#blackhistorymonth

We ordered The Story Of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles and Illustrated by George Ford

This is our very first book on black history but we want more. What are your book suggestions for children 5 and under?

Fizzing Hearts ❤️

Our preschoolers enjoyed a fun heart experiment this past weekend that opened up our lesson on Gods love. Gods love is big. Much bigger then the baking soda hearts. Gods love is exciting like watching the fizzing of the hearts. Our Preschoolers used medicine droppers to drop vinegar onto frozen baking soda hearts. It was exciting to see the hearts fizz. The experiment left us all in awe and wonder.

The kids were full of awe and wonder as they watched the hearts fizz. In the same way, Gods love should fill us with awe and wonder. He sent his only son to die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. That’s some big love. His love is enough to make us stand in awe.

God loved us and sent his son. 1 John 4:9

This activity was done in very small groups to help make sure our little ones did not drink or eat any of the ingredients.

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