Monday, June 22, 2009

Sweet Baby Grace

"For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. (Psalm 91:11-12)"

It was really just a regular Saturday. Two birthday parties...plans to go Father's Day idea what I was making for dinner...messy house...laundry...the normal Saturday stuff. We had finished one Star Wars birthday and moved onto the second Star Wars birthday party. The boys were in heaven! And then the most normal thing occurred, a little boy accidentally ran over Grace. You have to know that this really is the most normal thing at The Hooks House. Grace gets run over on an almost daily basis by Jacob and Jude. At the party she bumped her head, and she hit it HARD, and she cried, and then she seemed ok. She's always ok...toughest little lady I have ever seen. We played for another hour maybe. And that is the end of a story about a "normal" Saturday.

When it was time to do cake and ice cream, Grace didn't look so good. She looked sick. We made it to the bathroom just in time for her to begin vommitting. I took her outside to call her doctor and waited for the on call nurse to call back, making the decision with Corey to head toward the Cooks Childrens Urgent Care Clinic. As we spoke with the on call nurse, Grace lost conciousness and was unresponsive to shaking, poking, jabbing or a screaming panicking mommy. We were instructed to pull over and call 911. My heart was being wripped out of my body and I could not regain control or explain things to the 911 dispatcher or do anything for that matter. Seconds were taking an eternity and she was still unresponsive.

We would race to Care Now when we realized an ambulance had not been dispatched and get doctors to help us get an ambulance for our sweet baby who was so so quiet. When the ambulance arrived EMTs gave Grace an IV, put a back board on her, a neck brace, poked her and moved her all around and she still did not respond. They loaded my baby into an ambulance and I watched her precious little feet as the doors closed behind her...and she had not made a sound. I was ushered into the front seat of the ambulance and waited for the voice that yells down the hallway every morning, "Mommy! Grace awake!" During the ambulance ride, Grace would come in and out of conciousness. In the end we would go from an ambulance ride, to screaming sirens breaking through the most silent time in my life with Grace.

I made a call for prayers on the way...have no idea what I said. I spoke to the EMTs and have no idea what I said to them...I apologized alot...for what, I don't know. I closed my eyes and I could feel my baby's back, her tummy, her chubby little legs, her precious crooked feet, her sweet baby curls...every inch of her. She baby. And I prayed. I begged. I pleaded...don't change her. Don't take her. Don't make this Saturday, the day that my whole life fell apart. Let it just be a normal Saturday.

After reaching the hospital and getting a cat scan there was a moment where Grace just turned back on, and said the sweetest words a mommy could have hoped for, "Where's my bow?" And then she fell asleep. Grace slept curled up on my lap on a hospital gurney for over an hour. And I was so so so happy. We would walk out of the hospital that day, hand in hand, with Grace telling me all the colors she saw on the floor. It is still so surreal. From normal to trauma to normal all in one Saturday afternoon. It was an emotional overload.

We believe it was the power of prayer and God's sweet angels that brought our baby back around unharmed. What a beautiful sight it must have been from heaven to see Princess Grace in the hands of angels. It's nearly impossible to imagine as you are living in a storm, but it is true. His angels are there...holding us...holding our children. This is the daily miracle that we take for granted and every so often we are reminded how miraculous our lives truly are and how vulnerable we are and how blessed we are to live lives with little princesses that are cradled by angels.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Time to be Humbled

"...for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." (Philippians 2:13)

The last week of my life has been crazy...Last Saturday I took my first solo roadtrip with our three kids to Nashville. It's a 12 hour drive and worth every minute to get to Grandad and Grandmo's house, and hang with Aunt Dycee too. However, my two younger children, Jude and Grace, get carsick and we had four vomit fests before stopping at a Walgreen's in Texarkana for some dramamede. It works wonders...lots of sleeping kiddos.

Our time in Nashville was incredible and on Wednesday we loaded up to head home. Dramamede was given to Jude and Grace and the ride went super smooth this time...until we got to Texas and realized that we were heading straight for hail, torrential rains and tornadoes. Oh what fun with three kids. We ended up hunkering down in a Wal Mart in Rockwall with other weary travellers as tornado sirens blared, lights went out and I pretended to be on the most fun and exciting adventure (as any good mom would, knowing the effects of mommy panic on kids).

This weekend has been a whirlwind too. I worked on Thursday and Friday, shuttling the kids to my moms and Mother's Day Out. Saturday we bought a $20 pool from Wal Mart (I had noticed it while browsing during the tornadoes) and swam all afternoon in the backyard. We awoke early this Sunday morning to do what the Hooks family always does...the "church-a-thon". Jacob and I are greeters before the 8am service, worship (in which we took Jude for the first time to get a taste of what is to went pretty well), Sunday School, the new 20somethings department that Corey and I are directing (makes me feel old to type that), and a swim party afterwards. Wow. All of this chaos creates a little bit of child mayhem. Grace can sure turn on a tantrum here and there and tell you, "No" a million times over. Jude pooped in the pool twice today, threw up once because he drank too much water, urniated all over our hosts' sidewalk and then we had just plain overstayed our welcome at that point. I have been a less than wonderful mommy...snapping easily....feeling the pressure...throwing prayers for strength to God every chance I get...wondering what will get thrown at me next...some quicksand???? I'm already in it up to my eyeballs.

It is right about this meltdown dragging kids out of pool moment as I jump in my car and decide to never return to that house that I look in the backseat: Grace is in the midst of a tantrum because she wants a doughnut (where did that come from?) and Jude is eating a leftover french fry (I don't even want to know where that came from) and hitting Grace because she put her foot on him that I see Jacob. He is sitting there. Quiet. Smiling. Helping. Being himself in the midst of this loud loud family.

I don't know if God gave you a kid like Jacob. God sure blessed us with our Jacob. He is the kid that you can tell to put shoes on his little sister or clean her face in the backseat because she has thrown up again. He is the brother who will always make sure Jude holds a hand crossing the parking lot. Jacob always brushes his teeth twice a day, he gets dressed easily, he gets out of a pool that he is totally enjoying without a tearshed. He is your five year old "rock" on a solo roadtrip and the wingman during Wal Mart filled tornadoes. He is not perfect, but he is perfectly willing to help out and pitch in at a moments notice. It was his idea to be a greeter at church because he wanted a "job at church". He is the kid who has good manners, is not a picky eater and will clean up his plate or his room without hesitation on most days. He is, in this loud and chaotic family, the kid whose good deeds and attitude go so unnoticed that I fail to see it until a week of my five year old being amazing goes by and God taps me on the shoulder and says, "Acknowledge Jacob." God is at work in all my all of us too. But the way that God is at work in Jacob will probably get overlooked alot. Jacob may not ever have the wild and crazy stories the rest of the Hooks family has, and he may not hear how God has changed him, but oh how God is IN him. Oh how God works in this amazingly sweet, compliant, good hearted little boy. I may never remember to say it at the right time, but I hope I say it enough after the daily rollercoaster rides are over, "Jacob, God is at work in you willing you to act according to His good purpose and it is a blessing all over my life".

Friday, June 5, 2009

Saint Jude

"Every good and perfect gift is from above..." (James 1:17)

So, I received the letter today that every church going parent fears. To quote, "What an exciting and challenging time to be a parent as you anticipate your little one going to the Worship Service soon!" Wow. Did I just read that right? This means that in August, just before I package my oldest, Jacob, up for kindergarden, I will spend a Sunday wrestling TWO little boys in "Big Church". Jude will be four, and when your child turns four at our church they begin to attend the worship service with their family. I called my husband and told him the news of our future church excperience. He sounded as shocked as I felt and I settled into a moment in the kitchen to imagine Corey and I taking turns dragging boys down the aisles of First Baptist.

It was in that same moment that I was reminded of another heart stopping moment in our surprise blessing of Jude. Not many parents plan to get pregnant when their first child is a mere 6 months old, and having children as close together as we do was certainly not in the plans...Jude was a shock, a reminder that the plans of men and women can fall apart so quickly and life takes a turn that you never expected and you are thrown into a place where you are available (and vulnerable enough) to experience one of God's many surprise blessings. And Jude has been every bit blessing!

Jude was sick for just about the first 2 1/2 years of his life. He was tested for everything from parasites to cancer, from celiac disease to cystic fibrosis. It was an emotional rollercoaster that took me to places in my faith that I was scared to ever walk and have no desire to walk again, but I got to know my savior more deeply than I would have ever planned, and I hugged and kissed Jude more because of it. Jude is a bottle rocket of energy that surprises most everyone he encounters, but Jude has been more non-stop fun than most people could ever plan on becoming. Jude is extremely small for his age and in that tiny package you will find the loudest most contagious laughther, joy and smile. He is the child that makes you hold your breath at the Spring Choir performance and in the end will shout the lyrics to most of the songs, get in the car afterward and tell you, "Mommy I was so excited!" He is. Jude is just excited to be alive, and he honestly makes me more excited than I would be if God had not suprised us with him.

So I have decided to joyously anticipate this August when two boys will sit with their mom and dad in big church. I know that God will surprise me again, and make me laugh some too, as Jude will teach us something new and exciting about worship. I have a feeling Jude might have a new take on when to stand, sit or clap. He might have volume control "issues" if he gets too excited, or give honest answers to rhetorical questions. I may even feel a touch embarrassed here and there, but in the end, I have this feeling that God will be sitting on His throne smiling at one of His children so unbelievably taken with and taken away by the chance to worhip Jesus that he just cannot contain himself. And we will all be better for it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Grace Takes Center Stage

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect..."(1 Corinthians 15:10)

So much has happened since I last posted. Computers have crashed, broken, fallen apart. Obviously, we have a new computer and have for some time, but I have delayed posting. I have had to relearn how to download pictures and it became a nemesis of mine. I could post for pages on all the great things God has done since November, but it's better to just jump back in feet first...apologize to the family that has been annoyed by my lack of entries...and start from the recent events in our lives....Here goes:

Two weeks ago, our precious Grace had her first dance recital. The fanfare surrounding the event was tremendous. There was makeup to be applied (by my sweet friend, Joyce), hair to be done, tights, costumes...All for the sweetest little princess this family has ever seen. Grace was excited. We all were. I was a bit anxious to tell you the truth because no one can predict what a two year old is going to do at her first recital...especially a two year old like Grace. Grace was in two numbers. A frilly, fluffy, pink teddy bear tap routine with the 8 other little girls in her tap/ballet class. She was also in the grand finale Daddy/daughter dance with Corey. It was to "YMCA" and they both had some great 70's costumes that kept making us laugh and smile.

The first number, the girly number, went off so well. Grace actually danced and knew the choreography. She looked perfect and adorable. I was happy. Pleased. Proud. I could have gone home at that moment a Mama beaming with "way to go-ness". However, there was more to be had, and we would wait well over an hour to see the grand finale dance. As it neared, Corey took Grace and they got into costume. Now, let me explain something here...almost all the dancers in the whole company are in the Daddy/Daughter dance. There are the older girls that dance first and then they leave the stage to let the little girls (about 30 of them) dance with their daddies. It's so hard to find your duo in that chaotic crazy dancing. I was worried that I wouldn't see Grace at all...let alone see her dancing. Corey said that at every rehearsal, Grace would just stand there watching.

Lights go down...70's music blares...older girls do their thing...up run the littlest dancers and their daddies. Each row of daddies and daughters get a chance to be front and center. They then dance their way to the back so that others can be in the spotlight. It didn't take long for us to spot Grace and Corey. Grace was actually dancing her little heart out...doing some serious moves. I found myself laughing and crying almost instantly. They move to the front and then Corey begins to move to the back...but Grace stays put...and then makes her break from the pack. She ran for center stage and stepped down to a smaller stage out in front and proceeded to dance and shake and boogie and just plain get down to the music! I was standing...screaming...clapping...crying...with a crowd of strangers all applauding Grace who had taken center stage and wowed us all!!! It is one of the happiest moments I have ever made the top 5 for sure!

Since that night I have been reminded over and over that God's grace is exactly the same. Just when you think you have it all figured out...the lights go down and the chaos begins. Your nervous...don't know what to expect and then grace, His grace, takes center stage...steps away from everything else life has to offer...and wows us. A little grace can unexpectedly shake things up and turn an ordinary moment into one of the greatest ever. A little grace can dance its way into your life and you will never be the same. A little grace out of nowhere and you find yourself standing and cheering...maybe even crying...thanking the God of the Universe for loving us so much that He gives us grace when we least expect it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Almost Thanksgiving!!!!

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Psalm 107:1)"

It is almost Thanksgiving which in our house (as in most houses) means that we are right around the corner from super busy. This year we have actually noticed and celebrated Thanksgiving. Usually we just eat some food and cram in some extended family and move on to the good stuff...Christmas. This year, however, Thanksgiving seems to be getting it's full share of pause. Maybe it is because we had a "Pow Wow" at the kids' school the other week, or because we are sending food this week for their classroom feasts. Maybe it's because the local radio station has committed to keeping the "thanks in Thanksgiving" (corny, but I like it). Maybe it's because our Bible Study has adopted some families to bring Thanksgiving dinner too. Maybe it's because we helped organize the food pantry for Thanksgiving today. Or maybe...most is because the Hooks House has so much to be thankful for this year. God has been so unbelievably gracious with us. In the midst of financial turmoil, He has shown us what an amazing provider He truly is. He has not missed a beat. I don't think I could begin to list all the ways that God has revealed Himself to the Hooks family. It has become a daily journey of miraculous events. We are thankful this season. We are blessed beyond measure. We are still standing, and feel as if we are living proof that when God calls you to insane and somewhat crazy adventures...just go and do...He will be right there making sure you have all that you need. He will.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

One Blessing After Another...

"From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. (John 1:16)"

God's grace has been amazing in our life these past few years...those blessings that just keep coming. Where do you even begin? I think for me, sometimes, it is the "hugeness" of the day to day. The things that God does on a daily basis because He can and He is God and then mixes them in with the ordinary so that the ordinary day has some amazing grace all over it. Here is my favorite example lately:

We have a great trick or treating neighborhood. It smacks of those scenes from "E.T." or "Mr. Mom"...from 80's movies where kids really trick or treated until after dark in mass, in their own neighborhoods, with gaggles of parents trailing behind them. We look so forward to Halloween in our neighborhood. It really gets done up around here, and our neighbors go crazy with blow up items and pumpkins and candy and what not...a kid could explode!!! Needless to say, it is such a fun night. This year, we were so lucky. We went trick or treating with our neighbors who have two boys and a girl (just like us). It was great. Our children think their children are "so awesome" and we get along with them like we have known them forever...because we have. You see, when we bought our house a couple of years ago, Corey kept saying that he felt like God wanted us to buy this house in particular. It was overwhelming to him. He couldn't shake it, and even in pretty crummy circumstances we bought this house...pretty much because he felt God calling us here. Then God blessed us with something unbelievable. Corey's brother, Cameron, who passed away 11 years ago had a wonderful friend named, Matt. Matt and his family are the family that we trick or treated with...our wonderful friends with two boys and a girl. When we realized that they lived down the street two years ago we felt God calling us to pray for them. And we did. We prayed for them every time we passed by their house and said "Hi" every time we saw them outside. After a year and a half we felt God calling us to invite them to the couples Bible study we have at our house on Thursdays. They came...they were looking for something...they found Jesus. Now they go to our church and belong to our Sunday school class and we see them all the time. Would God really make people buy a house so He could speak truth into another family's life? Would God really intertwine two families with the loss of a brother and friend, and then bring them to the same street at the same time to share in Jesus together? Yes. God has a plan for us that includes one blessing after another everyday. It was as I was marvelling at my Halloween obsessed neighborhood, and my beautiful kiddos, and my fabulous friends that I realized the enormity of the plan that had been enacted here on our street. The personal, perfect grace filled plan delivering one blessing after another everyday.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What Amazing Thing is God Going to do Today?

"...I praise you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. (Matthew 11:25)"

I love to hear my kiddos pray in the morning. We pray when we get in the car each morning because I am the parent that gets in a rush and forgets to pray before meals or bedtime. We have gotten better about bedtime prayers lately (more because of Jacob and Jude reminding us), but we now have a tradition of praying in the car. The other morning after prayers, I asked the boys, "What amazing thing do you think God is going to do today?". Before the question left my mouth, I had a list a mile long of all the amazing things I needed God to do that day. I had some pretty tall and interesting orders for Him before the day had truly begun. But when the boys started to answer I was a bit taken aback. My true expectation was that they would each talk about school or Transformers or movies...I was, as I so often am, way off base.

Jacob, "God is going to make the plants grow, and the trees, and the grass."

Jude, "God is going to open up the flowers and the colors.

Yep. He sure is. He is going to do those things today and tomorrow and yesterday and next month and next year...He is going to keep on doing AMAZING things whether I take notice of them or not. There are amazing things going on around us all the name a few...Jacob, Jude and Grace and their precious car ride wisdom. Amazing.