Deuteronomy 6:5-9

"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

God is gracious!

This weekend is one of so many emotions.

So much good, so much sad.

God is gracious.

Last year, Thursday, June 13, 2013, I was sitting in Essentials training, in Cary. Martie was at Jason's Deli, meeting with a pastor. Taylor was at home with the children. It was around 2:00 and I got the text.."Martie needs to get here, it's not going to be long..."

Rainey, one of Martie's best friends, had been battling cancer for almost one year. He was then at the hospice center in Durham. A week earlier, we celebrated Rainey and his life. The hospice center was nice enough to let his church family and friends come and have an amazing time of worship. It was an evening that I'll never forget.

But now that day, Thursday, June 13 Rainey was in his final hours on this earth. Our heart literally broke. I called Martie, and he immediately left his meeting. After being in the car for about 2 minutes, he received a call. It was Deidre, our social worker. She had already told us about the girls and we had agreed to get them on Friday for the weekend. She wanted to know if she could bring them early, like in 2 hours. Because his mind was in a billion places, he stuttered, mumbled, said a few ums and ahs, and then said, "Of course!"

Martie calls me, I panic, and then I call home. I left my training in Cary and raced home. On the way, my mind was all over the place. My husbands heart was breaking, Rainey's other friends and family members hearts were breaking, and we were about to meet two girls that could possibly become our daughters!

My good friend Stephanie beat me to my house and played a game with the children. Everytime they cleaned something, they got a little plastic duck. It worked people! My house was spotless in about an hour! I started dinner and the wait began.

Because it was Thursday night, my dad, step mom, and step sister were all coming over for dinner. I debated whether or not to cancel but I couldn't decide. So, I didn't. We had our regurally scheduled "Wright night." It was pouring raining that night. The wind was horrific. My mind went from Martie to the girls. I paced and panicked for what seemed forever.

Martie finally got home, and before the girls arrived. They were running late. God's providence. Martie and I talked for a minute or so, and on went his game face. Somehow through all his pain, he was able that night to totally mask it all and press on.

The girls finally got here. They were grinning from ear to ear. Taylor showed them around the house as we got some instructions from Deidre. We ate dinner and then had smoothies for dessert. Everyone left and we started to tuck the children in bed. Dasiyer (Aaliyah) and Shyana (Naomi) shared a room that first night. Tabitha also slept with them. It was so nice tucking the girls in and praying with them.

Then it was quite. For the next several hours, my husband, the strong one, just broke. I hated that night. I hated seeing him hurt. I hated the fact that Rainey was dying. I hated knowing Laura, his wife, was hurting. I hated the pain, the sickness, the sadness...

Rainey passed that next day, Friday June 14th.

That also happened to be Father's Day weekend. My brother and his family surprised my dad with a visit from New Mexico. We had a big celebration at my mom's house because we were certain it would be my granddaddy's last Father's Day.

Because of God's providence, that weekend my girls got to meet my brother and his family. They also got to meet my grandaddy. That weekend was a whirlwind of emotions.

But God...

He is so good, He is so faithful, only He can truly comfort, only He can pick us up...

Wasn't it so cool and so like God to take a very sad and horrible weekend and bless us with 2 beautiful smiles to help us smile? Wasn't it like God to plan for my brother to be there the same weekend the girls were coming for a visit? Wasn't it like God to have my grandaddy meet and spend time with the girls before he passed?

Last year, Martie and I had to say, "See you later," to two very important people, my grandaddy and Rainey. Last year, God also gifted us with two very important people to love on for the rest of their lives.

God is so so gracious! To Him alone be the glory!




Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas from the Mangum family

2013
Merry Christmas!                                                                                                                                                  
We hope this letter finds you full of joy as we look forward to the coming of our Lord. 2013 is quickly coming to an end. This year has been full of many emotions for the Mangum family. We welcomed a new nephew to the family, lost a friend due to cancer, adopted our girls, and lost our grandfather. Through all of this, our God has remained faithful.

The most exciting news, our adoption has been finalized! Aaliyah and Naomi have been decreed by the courts, “Adopted for Life.” This has been an amazing process and God’s presence has been constant. The girls have been issued new birth certificates, which only add to that sense of permanency. We are reminded of the scriptures and the entire reason for Christ’s coming. To adopt us into the family of God. Our sin, which once separated us from God, has been washed away. We’ve been bought by the precious blood of our Savior. Just the same, our girls are now in our family. They have been rescued from a life that was not ideal for a child. By God’s grace, they will grow up to know Him and have an opportunity to follow Him.

Martie is still pastoring Parkwood Baptist Church. This is our eighth year.  Life at PBC has had its challenges, but we are hopeful God will build His Church. Martie started back hunting, but has not had any success. Most of all he enjoys the time alone with God & His creation, but desperately would like to bring home a deer to his eager children. Every time he returns home the children run to the door or windows to see if he has a deer.

Heather stays home with the children each day teaching them about the Lord and the world He has made. Along with the normal chores of daily life, Heather also directs our homeschool community. Classical Conversations has been a blessing to our family for 7 years now.  Heather is desperately missing our garden and has talked about cutting several trees down so we could have another one.

Taylor turned 16 this November and is in the 10th grade. She is excelling in school and loves attending her Challenge II class each week. Thankfully, she is motivated and self-driven. She swims with a swim team weekly, and most recently started serving as a prosecuting attorney with Teen Court in Durham. Taylor has grown into a beautiful and responsible young lady. We praise God for her love and relationship with Him. She is also an excellent big sister. Each sibling loves taking turns riding in her car, helping her in the kitchen, and camping out on the floor in her bedroom.

Aaliyah is 10 and in the 5th grade. She is a bright and loving young lady. She loves to care for her younger siblings, play games with the others, and help Taylor cook. She and Taylor also like to sing and dance while cleaning the kitchen. We are learning lots about Aaliyah. She has a condition called, Marfan syndrome. Thankfully, with medicine and a watchful lifestyle she’ll be okay.  Marfan is the reason she is tall, needs glasses, and has an enlarged aorta. She can’t participate in competitive sports. However, this sweet and full of energy girl hasn’t let anything stop her. She swims weekly with Blue Dophins Aquatics. She also loves going to her Foundations and Essentials class weekly at Classical Conversations. She is zipping through her academics and is proving to be self-motivated also. She’s probably most excited about learning to write in cursive this year.

Ethan will be turning 9 on December 28th and is in the 3rd grade. Ethan is a natural leader. He will be the one organizing the games and letting everyone know their place. He loves playing spy, reading history, and aggravating his sisters. He likes things organized and always has a plan. During school he wants to get his notebook and books and get his work done. He understands the quicker you get your work finished, you can move on to more fun things. He loves camouflage and wears it almost daily. He also loves to pick out Seth’s outfits each morning.

Naomi is 7 and in the 2nd grade. She has a huge smile that lights up her whole face. She loves fashion, hair, and anything girly. Tabitha and Naomi share a room and are truly inseparable. Recently they traded beds and closet space. Naomi has made huge progress with her school work. Excitedly she now exclaims, “I can read!” We’re starting to slow down a bit as we’re seeing some areas she needs to keep working. Naomi’s giggle is contagious. Heather takes all the kids, except Taylor, to watch Naomi practice gymnastics each week. We are pretty sure she likes the attention.

Andrew is 7 and in the 2nd grade. He is basically Martie’s little clone. This boy loves to be outside admiring God’s creation, chasing squirrels, climbing trees… He is completely content playing by himself and is easy to get along with. School is a bit more challenging for all the above reasons. Heather has taken him outside to do work some, but then he gets distracted. We are thankful to be able to keep him home and encourage him through his studies. Although his nickname is Bam Bam, he is super gentle. Each morning he has to have cuddle time.

Tabitha is 5 and in kindergarten. Smart, silly, girly, giggly, and mature! Tabitha has always been very driven when it comes to academics. She can also hang with her older siblings in any fun creative game. She is learning to read, add, and subtract. Most often she is working alongside of Andrew and Naomi. Tabitha is self-proclaimed, “Taylor’s girl,” although there’s an ongoing battle to steal her away. Tabitha loves attending ballet each Wednesday with Ms. Jessica. She’s often been caught twirling around the house in her own little world.

Carissa is 3 and participating wherever she can in school. Carissa is Andrew’s sidekick and has been given the nickname, Pebbles. She likes to try and call the shots, which is why she still is not potty trained. She is also very content playing in her room with dolls and other toys right by herself.

Seth will be 2 on January 5th. This boy is into everything! He has to be the most loved on baby, ever. By Tabitha and Carissa you might hear him called, “Sethy.” He pretty much sticks close to Heather throughout the day. You might find him, rummaging through the kitchen cabinets, grabbing books off the book shelf, or playing with many toys. Because of Carissa, he now loves Dora the Explorer.  He is also being potty trained, and surprisingly excited about it! His favorite songs are, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Bringing Home My Baby Bumblebee, Ten little Indians, and Jesus Loves Me.

During this season we are focusing on the “Good news of great joy which is for all people” as declared by the angel to be the Savior who was born and is both Lord and Christ. We hope that you too will spend time reflecting on Jesus who came to “Save His people from their sins.” He is our life and hope. We are looking back on 2013 and giving thanks to Him for all He has done while looking forward knowing He is still at work completing the good work He started in each of our hearts.

May God fill you all with Grace and Peace,
  
The Mangum Family

(Martie, Heather, Taylor, Aaliyah, Ethan, Naomi, Andrew, Tabitha, Carissa, and Seth)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Taylor's sweet 16 party!

A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated Taylor's sweet 16 birthday. It was a fun night filled with food, games, music, pictures at the "photo booth," and cake. Below are just some of the many many pictures that I haven't even attempted to go through and edit yet. We had her party at Hotel Indigo in RTP. It was a wonderful experience.
The candy bar!

Photo Booth props

Photo Booth Backdrop

Her theme was vintage. I did coke and root beer in the bottles and I fancied up some water bottles . 

Gift table


The BEAUTIFUL cake. 

Cake table

The amazing birthday girl. 

The other kids had quite the time too. 






My sister aka Pinterest partner



Taylor and Alley painted this bow. It was the signing board for all her friends.

Some of her friends

Aaliyah and Rachel


Me and my cousin Alisha getting in on the fun!
Taylor and a friend that she's had since elementry school.

Musical chairs! Yes, you can get a bunch of teenagers together and play a "friendly" game of musical chairs. 

More of her friends
So thankful to everyone who helped out with the planning, decorating, and cleaning up. For now I am
DONE with party planning and Pinterest. It's a good thing you're only 16 once! 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sweet 16!!!!

Sweet! Sweet? Sweet.

My Taylor Alise 16 years old. What, how, when....

You know what that means? All the baby pictures I have of you are in print, which means they're not in digital form, which means I can't post many on here. We'll save those pictures for the big party. ;) It also means you're "that old!"

There are so many things I could say about you. You're smart, driven, artistic, determined, funny, responsible, loving, kind, passionate, organized. You are a great cook, a beautiful singer, a self learner, you like fashion, you will spend 2 hours just...to...curl...your...hair... :) You have matured into a God fearing young lady. I love watching and hearing how you encourage others towards Christ. You're honest. I am so proud of you. God has been so gracious to you.

Your life has not been easy. But it's been a breathtaking journey. Our Father has protected us, led us, healed us, and kept us. You have a testimony, and I'm sure He will use it for His glory.

I am so proud of you. Unlike many teens today you are not afraid to stand apart, to be different. That is not always comfortable. It can often times feel lonely. But you know that you are walking with your Lord. You have learned how to discern when to be "in" the crowd and when to "exit" the crowd. Hopefully He will use that attribute to draw others to Himself. It is difficult to be in the world and not of it. This will be a lifetime struggle. But you MUST cling to Him and the Word, which are His Words. Whenever you have questions I hope you go straight to that Truth.

When we started homeschooling you in the 2nd grade, I didn't have a clue. I don't have much of one now. I questioned how will we ever do this? Will she thrive? Taylor, you have just blossomed in these high school years. To be honest, I can't keep up with you. I praise God that you are so driven and you desire knowledge. It is a gift from Him. You are not quick to believe anything that is thrown your way. You question for yourself, research, hold things against the Word, and then figure out your opinions. You can defend your faith.

People are always so quick to say to me, "Oh, but you have Taylor to help you." Yes, I do have you to help me. It is true that you can cook, bake, clean better than most adults. It is also true that I trust our children with you more than I do others. You're responsible and you love your brothers and sisters. I have tried hard to balance giving you responsibilities and letting you be a child. I can honestly say that I feel you are prepared for life and you've also had fun along the way.
Taylor and Rainey at mine and Martie's wedding.






















Taylor and Grandaddy
  

 


Got her permit.



 














So, 16! Yes, it's true I'm scared to death. You are my baby, my first born, my little girl. It is also true that I trust you and I have faith in our Sovereign Lord. This is just another chapter in your life. (A very exciting one) Another sign to me that you are growing up. Another opportunity for me to offer you back to God. He is your Father. He loves you far more than Daddy or I could ever love you. So I hope you have the happiest of birthdays yet! 

Lord, 
Please keep Taylor safe. Protect her mind, guard her steps. Guide her on the straight path. Help her to love and trust you more and more. Use her and her testimony to save others. Continue to give her discernment and conviction. Help her make much of You! Help her understand what it means to die to self and live for You. God, please help Martie and I. Help us know when and what to say, how to say it. It's true, we don't know what we're doing. But we trust You. You know what You're doing. We will follow. Help us follow. Thank you for giving me that precious baby 16 years ago. Again, You knew EXACTLY what You were doing. She is a blessing. I offer that blessing back to You. She is Yours. Take her, mold her, do with her what you will. I will trust You. 
In tears~Amen