Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 2007: A December I Want To Remember...

Four years ago, I was a mom of three.  My youngest, Andrew, was just over a year old.  My days sort of went like this:  I woke up to a screaming Andrew somewhere between 6 & 6:30.  Every single morning he would do this!  I would be SO annoyed!  I'd get up, and very sleepily try to figure out (while not operating on all "cylinders") how in the world to get him out of his "funk."  I'd take him to bed with me... that'd make him madder. I'd try a drink... sometimes that would work.  Sometimes cheerios would work.  Sometimes something else.  I never knew what it was going to be, but long before he got un-grumpified, the change of hands occurred and I would go through the rest of the morning really, really GRUMPY!  I tried to spend time with the Lord when I could, but with three kids ages 6, 4, & 1... it was really hard!  There were always interruptions and not very often did I have very good quality time sitting at His feet.  I was trying to figure out how to school my 6 year old, and since we butted heads every day, I thought about how nice public school would be almost daily.  I had always wanted to homeschool!  I had envisioned myself doing that from the time I was a teenager.  But the reality of it was crushing my dream-world.  What was wrong??!!  Why couldn't I pull it together!?  I didn't want to be that grumpy mom I had become, but I didn't know what to do.

Now, the picture I'm painting seems pretty bleak... like I was really stressed out or something.  I was... but the only thing that kept me from really being the absolute, awful stressed out mom that you are envisioning, is that I happen to have a bit of a strong will myself.  I cannot tell you how many people told me during my pregnancy with Andrew that having three kids was going to be hard and stressful.  Sometimes I wanted to "HUMPH.." and say, "Thanks a lot... Joy-killer!"  I'm not sure why people think it is their obligation to tell you such things, but I'm not the only mom who has heard such comments... so I'm being real about them, in case you are that mom too.  The more people want to tell me things like that, the more I want to say, "Just watch me!"  So, I sort of held it together, especially in public... but even at home as much as I could, but I was horribly inconsistent.  Sound familiar?  How about this?  I was mostly operating in my own strength... NOW does it sound familiar?  You've been there too, I'm sure. I was virtually trying to figure out how to do "life" while only spending a few moments of interrupted non-quality time asking for wisdom.  

Proverbs 2:
"My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you, 
So that you incline your ear to wisdom, 
And apply your heart to understanding; 
Yes, if you cry out for discernment, 
And lift up your voice for understanding, 
If you seek her as silver, 
And search for her as for hidden treasures; 
Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, 
And find the knowledge of God. "

Was I seeking wisdom as silver and truly searching for hidden treasures in those moments of non-quality time?  He was faithful to me... So faithful to me that He remained the jealous God who wanted my whole heart... not just my gasping for spiritual air that I did when I couldn't take it anymore by myself ;)

There was a book I read that December called "Managers of their Homes" that is devoted to helping homeschool moms figure out how to schedule their days.  Though the book itself, is not what I want to share with you, it is what I was reading when I began to "get it."  Over and over in the book, other moms of way larger families than mine were saying, "You have to spend time with the Lord... and you've gotta do it alone."  Most of them chose, even though it can be hard, to put that time slot in the morning before their kids got up. I am a true advocate of morning time with the Lord, especially now that I've realized its benefit in my life.  I used to more often read the Bible and pray at night.  That's not a bad thing...  Any time with the Lord is better than none, but when I began to give Him the first-fruits of the morning on a regular basis, it was amazing how much better my day eventually went (more about that later ;).  My personal decision to do this in the morning meant that I would have to wake up at 5.  My primary goal at first (selfishly I suppose) was to not have such a grumpy day! I already knew how much better it was on those mornings I would get up early (4:45).  Many times I would fix breakfast for Whit before he went to work, but then I would go back to bed.  On rare occasion, however, I would stay up and was awake when Andrew woke up MAD. It was amazing how much better I was able to deal with him then!  It didn't seem to matter that I got so little sleep, because my day was so much better!

I wasn't a stranger to spending time with the Lord in the morning, but motherhood had changed things in that department for the-not-so-great.  So at first it was really, really hard... The very first day that I dedicated myself as a MOM, to wake up early to spend specific, on purpose, quantity AND quality time with the Lord... guess what happened?  Remember that third child I wrote about in the first paragraph?  Andrew woke up that early too... Mad as ever!  I dealt with other issues too every day for two weeks.  It was always something!  I can't even remember them all now.  I just know that every morning there was some crazy thing that happened that kept me from doing what I really believed God wanted me to commit to.  The straw that "broke the camel's back" happened two weeks after I tried to start this commitment:  My carbon monoxide detector went off two minutes before my alarm was supposed to!  Whit was working nights, and I, in disbelief did several things.  I took the alarm outside, and brought it back in.  It wouldn't stop beeping.  I thought, "Am I REALLY supposed to grab all of my sleeping children up and leave the house??  I mean REALLY?"  So, I called Whit.  He told me to do several different things to the detector, and all of the things still resulted in the same thing... it eventually went off again!  He finally told me, "Well I don't know what to say... The other day when the wind was blowing in the same direction, it went off too, but it didn't last this long.  Maybe everything will be fine."  MAYBE?  He basically had no advice for me and I was scared.  What I did after I hung up the phone, you might not agree with.  I mean HELLO carbon monoxide can KILL people!!!  You would have probably advised me to call 911 and scoop my babies up into the car and leave.  But there I was in my living room... after TWO SOLID WEEKS... TRYING to have time with God.  I knew in my Spirit what this was about.  So, as ridiculous as I felt, I spoke, OUT LOUD to that beeping carbon monoxide detector... I am NOT making this up... I remember exactly what I said.  "SATAN!  You are JUST trying to scare me!  You have been KEEPING me from doing what I KNOW I am supposed to do.  GET OUT OF MY HOUSE... in the NAME OF JESUS CHRIST!"  As soon as I finished speaking Jesus' name, that stupid detector shut up.  I laughed HYSTERICALLY, knelt down, and began to pray... An amazing thing began to happen over the next couple of months.  See, the more time you spend with the Lord, the more you want of Him... and the more He gives if you ask.  Andrew began waking up later and later and began waking up more and more pleasant, at that!  

Hebrews 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."  I'm a believer!  And if anything encouraged my belief in verses such as this one, it was this particular time in my life!

I have had my share of challenges over the last four years... and I've had my struggles with giving Him the morning, but I am forever changed and challenged.  I couldn't survive without His wisdom... and I sought Him this morning over something else entirely.  Needing to readjust... reprioritize... Needing to remember the impact of December 2007 and I'm desiring to encourage your December 2011...  I encourage you to seek Him in the morning too. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ready...Set... GO!!!!!

Last night I felt like I passed some sort of torch.It felt really strange for all kinds of reasons!
Isaac and Abigail went to TaeKwonDo class!!

It felt strange because it made me feel old.  It felt strange because I was sitting in those "parent" chairs, and was not out there in the thick middle of it.  Part of me wanted to jump up and help the poor white belts (my kids) and part of me loved the fact that they were learning from someone else for a change.  It thrilled me to watch my son actually pay attention.  It thrilled me to see that Abigail's kicks reminded me of her Mommy's, in an "untrained" sort of way.  They were having fun, and I was sitting there, not sure if my emotional status should allow me to cry or stand up and cheer, or both.  I did none of that, but I did take pictures!  
Abigail is wearing Isaac's old uniform from when he was 5 and tried a preschool Tae Kwon Do class .  
Bought a new one for Isaac after class last night.

I can't help but post this blurry picture, because it was a really good kick!

Ready... set.... GO!

Then I just did a lot of sitting there, feeling all those feelings, wondering and hoping that martial arts will benefit them the way it benefitted me, even though the benefits manifest themselves differently for every individual.

When I went to college, I remember at some point either just before I left or while I was there, that my dad apologized to me for not getting me the piano lessons I "needed."  He said something like, "I wish we would have spent money on piano lessons instead of Tae Kwon Do."  I remember charging back something rather quickly like, "I wouldn't be who I am today without Tae Kwon Do."  I said something to assure him that the art was way more important for me than I think piano would have been.  It's true.  I would venture to guess I wouldn't have even decided to be a music major, had it not been for what was instilled in me on the East side of the square in Snyder, TX.  My personality had always been quite timid and I don't think I would have ever even been brave enough to try singing even a simple solo, had TaeKwonDo not prefaced in me an ease in performing through the gift of confidence. It took baby-steps.  It took skill, shaping that skill, and learning the training ethics of my instructors, Greg and Donna Gafford.  They were very different in the way they taught.  Greg was a major encourager, ...possibly even to a fault, but I don't know if I really mean that.  He was a profound influence and example for me.  I remember him shouting to all of the "color belts" once, "Hey everyone!  Watch this WHITE-belt do it!"  I remember thinking, "UH-OH... He just told them I did something great.  I don't want to do it in front of everyone, but I better, and I better do it great again!!!"  I remember that there were plenty of other times, when I'd hear him say that about other white-belts.  It was such a two-fold thing.  It called more mature trainees back to striving for perfection, and encouraged the new kid he just picked on!  I could go on because there were so many important reasons God placed Greg in my life.  You could read the short version of my testimony here: if you want to know more, although the longer version of my testimony talks even more about Greg.  ...Then there was Donna.  I think her views on the talent I possessed caused her to pick on me a lot.  I think I remember actually going home offended by her nit-picking at times, not realizing until later that she was encouraging me in her own way.  Eventually I figured out that I needed HER to critique my forms before tournaments and not HIM.  (You know that's true Greg!)  He would just say, "BEAUTIFUL!".... She'd find what really needed fine-tuned.  I needed to get used to some nit-picking for my future endeavors.  -For times when I'd need to not take it so personally when someone corrected and needed to shape the singing talent I possessed.  Donna was just as important in developing training ethics in me as Greg was.  All I eventually had to do was copy what I learned there and at home, and paste it into not only my music world, but into what the rest of my life would eventually look like.  (Insert fierce determination despite adversity or challenges here... but those would be more stories)

I wonder what the martial art will be for my children.  None of that?  All of that?  More?  Come to think of it, I might actually continue to enjoy watching it unfold from those "parent-chairs."

Love from our family to you and yours...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's Not The Size Of The Tiger In The Fight....

"But Dr. Garcia, his Daddy and I aren't very big either."  Her reply?  "Yes, but even small babies grow, and he's not growing."

This a portion of a conversation I had with Isaac's pediatrician when he was 9 months old.  She tested him for hypo-thyroid.  Isaac was so small, the doctor ended up doing the blood-draw for the test herself.  I remember holding his little arms down... me... a fairly new parent, wincing at the fact that I was allowing her to "torture" him for no good reason (in my eyes).  After that doctor visit, we were referred to Dr. Bourgeois, a pediatric endocrinologist in Lubbock.  "Dr. B", we now affectionately call him, gathered information from us about our family members' statures, and I had to visit with a nutritionist.  I remember being offended at their suggestions.  I thought that I was doing all the "right" things for my baby.  Breast-feeding, making all his baby food myself, making sure he didn't eat sugary things or drink a lot of fruit juices, and singing him soft lullabies at night.  

"WHAT?!  You want me to feed him a bottle of formula a day?!  SACRILEGE!"  

Oh, no, I'm too nice... that's not what I said.  I politely listened to their suggestion to add MARGARINE to all of his baby foods and to feed him a 4 oz bottle a day (mixed at one scoop per oz of formula instead of one scoop for two oz), but I was thinking, "That is SO dumb!"  I had several friends with babies that were my baby's age.  Some of their moms didn't even feed solids until they were a year old.  Why wasn't MY baby growing?  Well, it'd have to be genetics, right?  I now understand that there can be lots of reasons why babies don't grow.  Isaac got tested for some of them eventually, but not at first.  I now know that the standard operating procedure when a baby comes in diagnosed "failure to thrive" is to tackle nutrition first.  And, since you can't measure calories in mama's milk, they want to increase fat in as many other ways as possible.  I still think it is dumb.  Dr. B said that day, "Well, it's not something I want him to do when he's 40."  I was so irritated and thought "If you give a 10 month old sugar and butter, they're gonna do it when they are 40!"  I also remember that even though the nutritionist and doctor didn't treat me in a belittling way... I still felt that way...  belittled.  I felt like they didn't know me, so they had to assume that I was somehow short-changing my kid's nutrition.... by feeding him what I thought was healthy...  

Fast forward.... At one year of age, Isaac was 15 pounds.  My other children also did not grow much their first year.  Abigail was 12 and a half pounds at one year.  Andrew was a big ol' whopping (wink) 16 pounds.  David was almost 13 pounds.  Luke is following in their "footsteps" and I'm guessing will be about 16 pounds at a year too.  His growth curve is doing the EXACT same thing the others' did.  I think that if they were all born at the same weight, that they would weigh the same at their birthday because there is plenty of variance in their birth-weights.  For instance Andrew was my biggest baby, and he was also the biggest at one year.  Luke is the second largest baby, thus my guess that he will be about 16 pounds at a year.  Eventually, Dr. B got to know our family very well, because Isaac had his diabetic onset just after he turned 3.  He sees Isaac every three months now and he has examined Isaac's growth closely ever since.  It is not typical for diabetic kids to be extra-small, and the two issues are not related at all.  Dr. B now no longer tests my itty-bitty Bradberries for anything (even though they ALL get referred to him at a year).  Oh, and he knows I feed them. ;o)  He eventually found that Isaac has growth hormone deficiency that probably is genetic.  (They couldn't see anything physically wrong with his pituitary gland on an MRI, but a long testing procedure did show that the gland does not secrete enough growth hormone.)  Abigail is growing pretty normally now and so is Andrew.  David is starting to pick up on his growth, and we'll see whether or not he will need growth hormone too.

We just saw Dr. B for a check-up on Isaac and David.  I sort of squirmed some questioning out of my mouth... I say squirmed, because I have a hard time really putting into words what my questions are about this.  I guess I just really want to know how many Bradberry kids it will take for doctors to decide to just leave us alone and let us be small!  I pointed out to Dr. B that Luke is 7 months old and looks just like the others for his age.  I asked, "Does he have to come to you at a year too?"  I told him that I finally gave up and did much earlier with Luke everything that they told me to do ten years ago with Isaac.  He gets more formula than any baby I've ever had.  It has not mattered.  I told Dr. B that I just wanted to make sure it wasn't my fault.  He admitted to me that they start with nutrition when babies have a "failure to thrive" diagnosis, because it is easy and doesn't require lots of testing.  He said he is a minimalist in his approach to endocrinology and the different studies that he could be doing.  He admitted that he has scratched his head about our family more than any other group of siblings he has ever seen.  He told me that other doctors would insist that we visit with a geneticist, and have some testing done.  He doesn't really see the point in that, since we might get some name for something, but it wouldn't really change anything.  For now, we agree.  There could be a whole lot of more terrible genetic problems to deal with than small stature.  He said that he doesn't start testing for growth hormone deficiency on any kid until they are 4 years old.  So, he basically "released" David and said that his growth is continuing to slowly curve back up.  If David is still having problems at 4 years old, we will do the test that Isaac had.  Isaac didn't get tested until he was 8.

I've had 5 children and you'd think that I wouldn't be sensitive at all anymore when people gasp at my small babies who don't grow much their first year.  I suppose some things about this have gotten easier for me... the parent.  ;o)  I'm somewhat more relaxed, in that I'm less likely to take offense on account of my tiny baby.  Depending on my emotional state that day ;o) I don't normally feel like I have to shrink anymore when people ask me in the grocery store how old my baby is.  Sometimes I just say, "Older than you think."  Other times I tell them and then just let them do that GAAASP when I answer, and then I let them ask that dumb question (sorry if you've been one to ask... it really is kinda silly) "WAS he PREMATURE???!!!!!!!"  I just say, "No he wasn't.  And NONE of my babies grow much their first year."  That is one advantage to having so many other small siblings to refer to! :o)

I love and adore my children.  I absolutely love and adore their Daddy, who has had to put up with other people's assumptions about his size nearly his whole life.  He can do the work of two stout men (brag) and I'm sure his sons will be no different.  Yes, I know, I have a daughter.  It's just that our society doesn't mind if girls are petite.  (plus her growth is no longer a concern) All of my beautiful children are learning the work ethics of their father.  They are developing Spiritual muscles through God's Word, strength in their character (I PRAY), and I hope they learn where real strength comes from.  And it comes from trusting in a really big God.  His mighty strength is all we ever need!  Should their stature be a challenge later in life, I pray that their character is found in that same God who can help them accomplish anything they set their minds and bodies to do!

Afterall, to finish the statement of this post's title..... It's the size of the fight in the tiger!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Abigail's Birthday Party

What a lady! Abigail is wearing her apron because she helped make her own birthday pie.  She wouldn't have it any other way, of course!  Unlike her mom, she is always the perfect hostess and knows how to make everything pretty.
I think God made HER pretty, don't you?!
She is such a blessing!

I had purchased pink paper-goods for this party since that is her favorite color, but at the last minute I thought to ask, "Abigail, would you rather use the china instead?"  Why did I even ask?
I can't believe I forgot to take a picture, but for supper we actually had hamburgers on real, fine china!
Make a wish!!!

The accordion from O'ma & O'pa

Playing along with Daddy!

Love from our family to you and yours!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


A word to the wise, from someone who feels more wise than she did several months ago.  -Don't plan a surprise birthday party for your spouse if you aren't comfortable lying rather regularly.  I do not lie.  It is just not the sin that so "easily besets me."  People who really know me, know I'm an open book.  Although I'm a secret-keeper, I rarely have secrets about myself.  I'm not even just bad at lying....I just honestly would rather be, well, honest!  Honest about my struggles, honest about my past, honest about my concerns today and for the future.  Honest about who I am... and how I think the Lord worked in me to get me to today.

When I initially began planning a surprise party for my husband, I thought it would just be a great way to bless the person he is.  He likes surprises, and he loves being social, and telling lots of stories.  I knew I was risking things:  I really don't like surprises that much, I'm not the greatest social-bug on the planet, and HE is the one who is a great host!  (I'm not that great at being hostess!)  This could be a total disaster!  Despite all of the lack of those traits in me, I had no idea how difficult and how often I would have to tell at least little "white - lies."  I had hoped that maybe some family members or friends who live far away might take the "bite" and come for this 40th birthday surprise party.  I was giddy at thinking about hiding people he wouldn't expect to be there.  That didn't happen, but it was something that initially got me excited about planning the party.

He wasn't easy.  I didn't realize how much he watched my every move until now.  I teased to some of my friends, "What a controlling husband I have!! I didn't even realize he was one!" (snicker, snicker)  In all actuality, I think it is sweet that he watches my every move.  Well, why shouldn't he?  He thinks I'm gorgeous, you know! ;)  I had to spend money on food that wasn't on the food budget.  I used the personal bank account that I have. Yes, he gives me an automatic deposit from his check to that account that I'm free to do non-budget things with. It's also where I put money I make from voice teaching.  But in case he looked at statements, and realized I was spending all of it at the grocery store, I decided I would draw out money just so he wouldn't know what I was spending it on.  Wonderful volunteers made/brought items to the party that I just couldn't get away at being sneaky with.  I mean, you can only hide so many bags of tortilla chips.  And what if I cooked 5 lbs of beans all day and then they disappeared.  I couldn't hide that!  He LOVES beans!  He would see that big pot and think, "Amazing! I get to eat beans for weeks!!!"

I could tell so many stories, but my brain landed on this one:  One day he had gone out to run some errands and I thought he'd be gone quite a while.  I grabbed my stash of invitations and started addressing them in my kitchen.  Some I put stamps on, and some I stowed away to hand out to folks I knew I'd see.  I had just finished the last address, and I heard him come through the front door.  Thankfully, I can get from my kitchen to my bedroom without going near the entrance of our house.  I grabbed them up, but they ALL crashed to the FLOOR!  I very quickly gathered them and rushed to my bedroom.  Once I got to the bedroom though, I could hear him go into the kitchen (looking for me, you know).  Again, thankfully, I can get from my bedroom and out the front door without him seeing me from the kitchen, so I decided to do just that.  I deposited them into the van, but came back in the house with just the keys.  He was waiting for me in the living room (what a "controlling/needy" husband, huh?).  I barely got through the door, and he asked, "Whatcha lookin' for?"  Frustrated, but not showing that on my face, all I could say was, "Nothin.'"  Don't you think I could have come up with something ELSE to say?!

awesome invite designed by Jaci Johnson at

Another time he was gone, he came home and wasn't in the door 5 minutes and realized his guitar was missing.  I meant to cover up the spot that it normally is!  Honest I did!!!

This was a place where pictures were taken. We brought in his saddle later. (notice the guitar that he later entertained with, of course!)

In the end, the kids eventually gave it all away. I had to let them in on it though, because that's part of all the fun.  Years from now, they probably won't even dwell on the fact that they helped reveal the surprise a little earlier than intended (they had a conversation too loudly on the way to the "Sunday School" party...that's what I told him he was going to) But they will remember how much fun it was for Daddy to be surprised!

Praying before the meal.

Later, he told me he was at least confused, though not entirely surprised.  Just in case it was all really his party, he brought some of his favorite cowboy poetry (SEE! I TOLD you HE is such a HOST!)

Whit standing and reading poetry to the guests (58 of us in all).

The silly Chicken Song :)

Jeff & Laurie Reed

Glenn, Megan, Blake, Brody, & Kellan Lewis

 Kyle, Stacy, Olivia, & Will Haley

 Arlie & Barbara Eicke

 Taylor, Alesha, Glory, Levi, Dan, & Nathanael Hollingsworth

 Auntie Amber & Abigail

 Kinney and Ronda Robinson

 "It wasn't me... surely it was one of them!"

 "I know how to spit!  Wanna see?!"

 Mac & Barbara Ashby

 Ray & Gloria Myers

 O'ma & O'pa

 Edward & Patsy Jones

Joe & Betty Wirsching 

My mom was THE decorating committee!  She did a fabulous job, and none of it would have looked as fun without her help!!  Here are some of her center-pieces, all made from his pictures, his stuff I snuck out, and odds & ends she found to use:

Love from our family to you and yours!

Monday, September 12, 2011

8 Years of Abigail

Abigail Ruth Bradberry
Was born on September 12, 2003 at 2:39 p.m. weighing 6 lbs 9 oz
Here are just a few ;) snapshots of her sweet life so far!!  What a blessing she is to us!

Pretty In Pink!

Uh-huh... GORGEOUS :)

With her first, best-bud!

Getting her fixed up for an MRI she had.

Abigail with her sweet thumb, lamb & O'ma making her feel better! 

Abigail & Andrew when he was born

With Uncle Richard!

And Uncle Justin!

Sweet Artist!

On the church-nursery slide!

Playing tea-party with the set Nana gave her on her 4th birthday.

Abigail and one of the best dogs ever, Winston.

Caught one so big, her brother could barely help her hold it! 

-And another successful catch!  She loves fishing with Daddy!

Abigail and Andrew!

Painting her room PINK! (Oh & look at that missing tooth!)

Riding "Nacho"

"All I want for Christmas is...." 

Playing violin with Nana

Yummy watermelon!

Bathing her newest little buddy, Luke!

Great shot from our friends at

Abigail celebrating her new birth this year!

And celebrating her old one too!