A more recent photo of our family, from Will's graduation at The Little Light House, May 2010.

The Most Amazing Gift

We began attending First Assembly of God North Little Rock the first Sunday after we moved to town back in June. We had visited it twice before moving - once with just me and Will, and another time with the whole family, even my parents. I was so impressed by the beautiful children's building, the gigantic sanctuary, and all the technology. I was also impressed by how friendly everyone there seemed to be. They had this really awesome special needs kids ministry called COOL kids, so we thought we'd give it a shot. Plus, we kind of knew someone there (her uncle was a pastor at our church in Tulsa). Anyway, I had no idea when we went on our first Sunday six months ago how much this place would mean to us and how awesome it would really be. 
We've quickly made friends with several couples in our Sunday school class. Will absolutely loves COOL Kids and goes every Sunday and Wednesday. Cate has the best time at Sunday school "praisin' the Lord" and learning about Jesus. She also goes to Mother's Day Out two days a week and has made some wonderful little friends. The music is awesome! The pastor is a wonderful man of God who isn't afraid to preach God's word. I guess what I'm trying to say is, even though it was hard for us to leave Woodlake Church in Tulsa, God put us in the perfect place. We really feel like this is our church home and that these people are our family. 
As I said, we loved our time at Woodlake in Tulsa, and we treasure the friendships we made there. We wouldn't trade that time for anything. But, as God moves in our lives, we must too move on for the next part of His plan for our lives. 
Anyway, with the exception of my family, I've never felt like people cared so much about what we go through with Will as the people at First Assembly NLR do. They really care about him. They make time for him, talk to him like he's a normal kid, play with him, and include him. It's so nice to see him included. It doesn't usually happen. They care about us as a couple and a family. They make an effort to provide care for Will if there is something the church is having or to watch him for us so we can enjoy things too. 
Yesterday was Family Christmas at church. I have learned why everyone says it's their favorite service. Pastor Rod and the pastoral staff and their families read through the Christmas story. As they do, Pastor Rod stops the story to give gifts to individuals and families in the church. I'd heard about this. In years past, they've given away a car, tuition to Bible college, a high school diploma for an older lady who never got it, some pretty amazing things. Well, this Sunday we were sitting in the sanctuary enjoying the service, when all of the sudden we were called up on stage. Pastor Rod talked about our family, about how much it meant to us that Will had a place to belong at church. He even talked about what Angelman Syndrome is and how it affects our daily lives. Then, he gave it to us...an all-expense paid trip to San Antonio to Morgan's Wonderland, an amusement park just for special needs kids. It didn't stop there. He knows how much Will loves the water and how frightening it can be to take him to a public pool because he'd just jump in, and he doesn't know how to swim. Well, he told us that May 23, 2011, is going to be the first Will Saunders Day at Wild River Country, the local water park. It's going to be closed to the general public and open only to our family and other families with special needs children from around central Arkansas. And, it's free! Can you believe it?!? I've never felt so loved by people who we really don't even know that well yet. Will gets excluded from things a lot, and they made it their purpose to include him in this. It was all about him. It's never been all about him. This is amazing! Most parents take it for granted that they can take their kids to an amusement park or water park, but it's something I never thought we'd be able to do. Now, thanks to the generosity and love of our new church family, we will. 
I've known since we moved here that God put us here. He's directed our path the entire way and made for a wonderfully smooth transition. I just didn't expect this. It just goes to show that when you follow God's will for your life, every now and again you get the most amazing gifts!
Thank you First Assembly NLR! I'll never be able to say it enough...thank you!

Holy Roller(coaster)

I know it has been a long time since I last posted, and I'm sorry for that. Life has been insane lately. Sometimes it feels like I'm on a roller coaster and can't get off. Hence the name of this post. Let me tell you what I mean. 
For the first few months of my fellowship, things weren't that busy. I hadn't started having to write notes (which can take quite a while, especially for a new patient) or go to many meetings. I wasn't having lots of outside projects to work on, etc. Life was good. I worked my 7-8 hours and went home, spent time with my family, and enjoyed life. Now, I am writing notes, having presentations every few weeks, have a journal article to write, have to go on an overnight outreach clinic, have business meetings, and the list goes on and on. My days are no longer my own. Please don't get me wrong, I am still absolutely in love with my job. I wouldn't want to be doing anything else. I just wish I could have used all that free time I had a few months ago to do some of the stuff I have to do now. Too bad none of these things were around back then to work on. 
The first few months of my fellowship were like the part on the roller coaster right as you get to the top of the hill. Not too fast. Not too uncomfortable. Just pleasant and fun. These last two months have been like the downward plunge the car takes as you speed down the hill. Too fast. You can't take time to enjoy anything because life is rushing past you. Some people love that sensation, the rush of the speed. I, however, do not. God did not give me that kind of personality. And as I currently speed down the hill of the roller coaster, He reminds me that He is in control of it and that He will not allow me to get hurt. It's not some guy with a mullet, three teeth, and an "I LOVE MOM" tattoo handling the switch of the coaster; it's my almighty Father, who loves me more than I can ever imagine. At the bottom of the hill is the hardest part. You're down as low as you can get. Then you face the hard and tedious task of climbing back up to the top of the hill where you get that moment of peace, enjoyment, and splendor, just before life slings you back down to the valley. As I face these ups and downs, I must remind myself I'm not the only one. Everyone is on their own roller coaster. Some just get to spend more time at the top. I like to think that the times I'm spending in the valley right now are preparing me for a glorious day at the top very soon. 
Pastor Rod has been preaching a series on giants. Last week he asked us to write down the giant in our life. At first, I thought mine was food. I need to lose weight, and it seemed like an obvious thing to choose. But as I sit here and type this, it's becoming painfully obvious to me that I've been blind to my real giant all along. My giant is worry. I worry about everything. Just read what I typed above. I worry about work. Will I get my reports done? How am I going to get this presentation finished on time? I worry about money and my family. What's going to happen with Will? How will we pay for stuff the kids need? How am I going to pay all of the bills? How am I going to.....I've got to stop. I've got to face my giant. Pastor Rod said today, "There will never be a better day to face your giant than today." I think if I can face this giant and defeat it, that my life will be much more manageable and enjoyable. I worry so much about everyone and everything that I don't worry about me. I hope that learning to face this giant, to kick it's butt, will help me get my life back into the proper prospective so that I can be a better witness and do more for Him. 
Would pray that with me? Would you be willing to pray that I can face this giant of worry and kick it's sorry butt right into the ground? I'm going to stop worrying about where I am on this roller coaster of a life and try to enjoy the ride. I hope you will too. 

Living By Faith

I just finished reading my best friend's blog. She is one of the most amazing people I've ever known. You see, she and her family (husband and three daughters) are foreign missionaries. They are getting ready to head to the other side of the globe, live in the jungle, and sacrifice all of life's luxuries so that the tribal people there can know the Lord. It makes me wonder if I'd be willing to do the same thing. I like to think so, but when it really came down to it, would I be willing to leave my wonderful life here in the States and go live in a mud hut somewhere in order to bring the Gospel to a lost people? 
Then, like a ton of bricks, it hit me. I'm doing what she's doing. Well, not literally what she's doing, but what she's doing. God's will for her life is to serve Him as a foreign missionary. God's will for my life is being a doctor. I joke that I'm glad God's will for my life wasn't to move far far away and live in the jungle, but the truth is, this life isn't always easy either. God calls us to be life-long followers of Him, and that's not always easy. I think one of the many reasons for this is that it allows us to relate to people who don't know Him on a personal level. If being a life-long follower of Christ were super easy, how would we be able to say, "I understand what you're going through" or "I know how you feel."? The world would say, "No you don't! Your life is super easy!" Going through hard times allows us to  truly know what they're going through and use that as a way to minister and witness to them.
Living in the center of God's will also shows us the power of living by faith. That is certainly no easy task. I mean, think about it. Wouldn't it be much easier just to keep my tithe check and use that money to pay my bills? I'm sure a lot of people think, "She'd have plenty of money if she didn't give so much away. " Well, the truth is, I still wouldn't have enough even if I kept every penny. But, God didn't call me to make money and keep it all for myself. It isn't even truly my money. It's His. He deserves my willingness to give it back to Him, and that's what tithing is. There are also people who live on even less money than I do and could use it more than me. There are people in this world who don't have Bibles, and if I can go without one fast food dinner to provide them with one, then it's totally worth it (and my waistline will thank me!). 
Living by faith isn't only about money though. It's about all aspects of your life. It's about moving half-way across the country just a few months after you get married to go to medical school. It's about getting pregnant 9 months after you get married (when you certainly weren't trying to) and trusting Him that this is all in His plan. It's about staying in a city 12 hours from your family to do residency when you have two children, one with special needs. It's about Him putting us in that city in order to attend an awesome church with a priceless church family whom I miss every day and for Will to attend the greatest developmental preschool on the planet. It's about being given the honor of raising a special needs child so that I can minister to the hurting parents of other special needs children every day in my practice. It's about knowing that when my best friend moves far far away in a few months, that she'll be okay and that even though I'll miss her dearly, our friendship will not fail because we can't talk every day. It's about knowing that God puts each of us where we are for a specific purpose, a great purpose. 
I feel honored to know her. She ministers to me in ways she'll probably never know. Her example of living by faith helps me know that I can do it too. I hope that I can be half the witness and example she is and that my life will bless someone else the way she has blessed mine. I love you J!


Every Sunday it seems as though God confirms that First Assembly NLR is where He wants us to be. It's like Pastor Rod's sermons are written just for me and that I'm the only one in the sanctuary. Today he started a series called "Shipwrecked." Our worship leader does a great job pairing worship songs and hymns with the theme of the sermon. Today we sang a song called "In Christ Alone." It's one of my favorites and always gives me goosebumps. As we sang this morning, this lady kept coming into my thougts. It was the lady who has been assigned our case at social security regarding the supposed overpayment they made to us on Will's SSI. I spent three days this week talking with her, worrying about it all, and wondering "Why me?" I've been angry and fretful. I've felt abused by "the system" and frustrated with it all. But, this morning, God had it in His plans for me to see this situation in a completely different light. 
Just for a little background, I'll explain the situation with social security. Will started receiving SSI checks in 2006 because he is disabled and we were poor. At some point, social security overpaid us, but I didn't know this. I found out when we got a letter saying we owed something like $5600. Well, I applied for waiver based on financial hardship, and they waived $1999. They then proceeded to take another $675 out of his monthly checks until we stopped getting SSI in the spring (because I make "too much money" as a resident/fellow!). That left us with just over $2900 still to repay. Well, then we get another letter saying they'd overpaid us again. This time it was $3000. Social security is trying to say it's my fault, but I notified them of my pay increase. Anyway, now the total they're saying we have to repay is just over $6000. Now, back to the good stuff...
A particular line from the song caught my attention that hadn't ever before. "No power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand." Think about it. That means that no matter what kind of storm you're going through, no matter who is being hateful or how hateful they're being, no matter what - God has you in the palm of His hand. No one and nothing can touch you if you remain in Him. I just kept thinking about this situation with social security. He was telling me that it didn't matter. It doesn't matter how crapy our country's system is or how much money I may or may not have to pay back.  All that matters is that I'll be victorious through Him. 
Then He said something else. He said, "Isn't this lady's life worth $6000?" I was like, wow! I never thought about it like that. It never even crossed my mind that I might be going through this storm in order to reach a lost or needy soul for Him. All I could think about was me. How selfish is that? As followers of Christ we are called to be selfless and to follow Him, and here I was worrying about me. I don't know if this lady is saved or not. I don't know what she's going through. It could be something even more difficult than what I'm facing. I now know that whatever comes of this situation, what I say and how I act could affect her eternity. After thinking about this lady, I was able to anwer Him, "Yes. Her life is worth just as much as mine. And He paid the ultimate sacrifice for me." So, if I'm called to have to pay $6000 in order to reach someone for the kingdom, then so be it. 
Selfishly, I'm hoping that God will use me to reach her and that He'll allow social security to grant the waiver. But, no matter what, I'm praying that I can have a good attitude, speak lovingly, and make a difference in this lady's life. Please pray with me. Listen to this song (click the link below. It's a little hard to see.), and have an open heart for what He might be saying to you. 


Cate Vs. the Potty

Cate is going on three and a half years old, and she refuses to potty train. We've tried every method known to man: "Potty training in one day," letting her run around without pants on all weekend, scheduled potty sits, bribery, sticker charts...you name it and we've tried it. I have thought since the beginning of these efforts that her refusal had a lot to do with the fact that her older brother, whom she loves and looks up to, isn't potty trained either. She is still too young to really understand that her big brother isn't "normal" and that typically developing six year old children are potty trained. I've tried explaining that to her on a three year old level, but she just doesn't seem to get it. I've mentioned this to some of my friends in the psychology field, and they agree. They also say that she's the baby and may feel like this is her last baby thing to hold on to. Another suggested that she may feel like the time we spend changing Will is special time just for him and that she feels like she's getting robbed of special time by having to use the bathroom. 
It's very frustrating as a mom, and especially as a developmental pediatrician, not to be able to potty train your child. A lot of people look at your ability to potty train your child as an index of how good a parent you are and how smart your child is. I've come to believe that neither of these things are true. Some kids are easier than others to train. And some kids have extenuating circumstances that prolong their training - like having an older brother who is disabled and not trained. I guess I just want those moms (and dads and grandparents and...) who had kids who were super easy to train not to look down on moms who are still working with their kids after the expected age of training. (By the way, three and a half is still considered to be within normal limits for potty training.) Anyway, enough of my preaching and back to the story. 
Cate started preschool last week at our church. She's going two days a week and absolutely loves it. She is in the three year old room, so I'm hoping she's being exposed to lots of kids using the potty. They requested that we send her in pull-ups rather than diapers so she can practice pulling them up and down more easily. I thought, "Sure! I'll do just about anything if you'll help with potty training." So, we changed to pull-ups about two or three weeks ago. The last time we tried this Cate freaked out. This time it was a breeze. She especially likes them because they're pink and have Disney princesses on them. 
Anyway, since she tolerated that well, we've moved on to schedules potty sits. We started Monday with sitting on the potty every 45 minutes. She screamed and cried and screamed and cried! But, she did sit there. She never went in the potty that day, but by the end of the night, she had stopped crying! I give her one piece from a pack of fruit snacks for the initial sit, one piece half-way through (after about two and a half minutes) and a final piece at the end of five minutes. Then she stands up, flushes the potty, and washes her  hands. By the end of last night, she was pulling her pants down by herself! So, no actually going in the potty yet, but definite progress. I count this as potty 1, Cate 0! 
Please pray that she'll continue to progress and maybe even go in the potty soon. It would simplify our lives in more than one way, and any of you who have kids know that the simpler life is the better. I hope to have some more exciting news from the potty front soon!


Our time here in Montgomery has come to an end. We arrived on Thursday evening and had dinner at our favorite Montgomery restaurant, El Rey. The food was delicious, and the company was even better. Friday we went to the hospital to visit my great aunt who is in her mid-nineties and "at the end of life." We then had a delicious dinner at home with my family and my best friend Melanie and her husband Joe. Saturday we went shopping and then went to Aunt Sue's house to swim and cook out. It was really nice seeing everyone and spending time together. Will and Cate had a wonderful time in the pool. They both were able to tread water completely unassisted for the first time. Will walked all over the shallow end by himself too. It was really neat to see. Today we went to church and had lunch with my parents. Then we went to Jeremiah's dad and step-mom's house for a visit. We had a good time. The kids loved watching the chickens. We came back home, dropped off the kids, went and did a little more shopping, had dinner with Melanie and Joe, and then had frozen yogurt with Melanie, Joe, Catherine, and Jessie. It has been a very fun and exhausting day.
I love coming home and seeing everyone. I try my best to visit with everyone who wants to see us (mainly they want to see the kids). It's really hard to get that done in such a short trip. If we'd had anyone else to visit with I'm not sure we could have fit it in. While I love visiting, it is very tiring . We haven't been able to sleep in at all and we go non-stop everyday. I wouldn't have it any other way, unless I could add hours to the day during which I could rest. We'll be heading home again for Thanksgiving and then for Christmas. While I don't have any more vacation time now then I did last year, it's easier to get home and I can take my vacation whenever I want it. I like that! This weekend has been all I was hoping it would be. I hope things are this good when we get back here in November.

God Knew

Thursday we will be heading home to Montgomery for the first time since last Thanksgiving. A lot has happened since then. I've finished residency and started fellowship. We've moved from Oklahoma to Arkansas - slowly making our way back east of the Mighty Mississippi. My beautiful sister has had a baby - the second cutest little boy in the entire world, second only to my Will. Friends are getting married and having babies. Life is definitely happening, whether I want it to or not. 
I can't help but look back and think, "Have I really done all of this?" You see, the last time I actually lived in Montgomery, I had just gotten married and was still in the process of applying to medical school. I had always wanted to be a doctor, and I knew it was God's will for my life. But, it wasn't until after the wedding that He decided to let me in on the plan as to where I would go. I certainly didn't think I'd be moving half-way across the country. I had no idea why we ended up in Tulsa. God knew. Then, surprise! Here comes little Will. I had no idea why we were having a baby so early in our marriage and my medical school career. God knew. I survived medical school and had to decide where to do my residency. I decided to stay in Tulsa only to find out I could have had a spot back in Alabama. Why? God knew.
Will got in to the Little Light House the same summer I started my residency. It was there that Will was able to reach his full potential. Had I not listened to Him, Will would have never had that opportunity. Who know what he would or would not be able to do if he hadn't been able to spend three wonderful years there. God definitely knew.
Then the decision came to do a fellowship. Oklahoma City or Little Rock? (Okay, that was an easy one!) Why couldn't I find a good private school for special needs kids for Will? Why did I have to send him to public school, where I had heard bad things about the special education system? God knew. He blessed me with a smooth IEP process and wonderful people to work with. He blessed Will with an amazing teacher who has personal experience with Angelman Syndrome. He's blessed us with support that we wouldn't otherwise have had. God knew. 
Now, we're heading home for a little rest and relaxation. We're heading home to some things that are happening and I don't know why. But, God knows. He is in control of every situation. I'm praying for a peaceful time with our family - time to catch up and enjoy each other. God knows my heart, and I have a feeling that this is going to be a very special weekend.

Totally a God Thing!

We moved to Little Rock just about two months ago. We had come to town over spring break to look for a house. It seemed like we weren't going to find anything we could remotely afford that would meet our minimum needs. Then, the evening before we left town, we found a house in North Little Rock - a house that we thought had just been rented. We later came to find out that we are ONE street inside North Little Rock and one street away from Sherwood. What this means for us is that we are in the North Little Rock school district, which has a better reputation than the Pulaski County Special school district (the schools that serve Sherwood). I kept hearing good things about Will's school, Indian Hills Elementary. This got me a little excited. But, even though the IEP process had gone smoothly thus far, I was still worried about how this all was going to go. You see, we came from The Little Light House in Tulsa. It's what I like to call "heaven on earth for special needs kids." If you meet anyone who has a child there, they'll tell you, they dread the day that their child has to graduate. 
What I knew before tonight was that Will would be in the self-contained special education class. He would have six total students in his room with one special education teacher and two paraprofessionals. This student to teacher/para ratio thrilled me. Indian Hills is also the only elementary school in the district with a full-time nurse, and they have the district's lead speech and occupational therapists. I definitely liked all of this. But would the teacher be as nice as his had been at The Little Light House? Would they be as understanding? Would they let him have a snack (the boy likes to eat!)? Question after question filled my mind. Finally, I sat down and prayed - novel idea, huh? I told God that this was my son, my child who I had dedicated to Him and I know has a devine purpose on this earth. I want the best for Will and desired that all his needs be met at school without too much difficulty on my part. 
Tonight was back to school night. We went up to the school and met Will's teacher, therapists, and principal. It was AMAZING! His teacher is fresh out of college and has such a fire for life and passion for our special kids. When we walked into the room she said, "You're Will. I am sooo excited to meet you! I had a dream about y'all last night. " At first I thought, well that's kind of weird. Then she went on to tell us that she has a niece who is five years old and also has Angelman Syndrome. She even spent a year and a half living with her and taking care of her. God put this wonderful young woman in place at this moment just for Will. She seemed so honestly interested in him, what he can do (which she was amazed by), and what his needs are. If he's hungry, she'll let him eat. If he's tired, he can lay down. Need help eating? No problem. Every time I asked her what I needed to do in regards to things like diapers or sippy cups, she would say, "Whatever is easiest for you. " She even plans on sending home daily notes with progress reports, etc. I couldn't ask for more. His therapists all came into the classroom to meet him, find out more about him, and see what our goals for Will were. Finally, when we met the new principal, we found out that she got her start as a self-contained special education teacher. She said to us, "Well, isn't it a coincidence that his teacher has a niece with the same condition and that I taught special ed?" I know it's no coincidence. It's totally a God thing!
I don't know why I'm so amazed by this. He promises in His Word that He'll supply all of our needs. He also promises that He will give us the desires of our hearts. 

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."  - Psalm 37:4

This happens over and over again. I think it goes back to the whole fear thing. I'm afraid things won't go the way I want them to or that I'll be disappointed. God shows me over and over again that there is no reason to be afraid or worry. The best place in the world that you can be is in the center of His will. When you dedicate yourself to Him and "delight yourself" in Him, He really will give you the desires of your heart. The key is, when you're fully delighted in Him, your desires become His desires. Give it a whirl sometime. You'll be amazed at all the "God things" that happen in your life.

Fear Not !

This world can be a very scary place. Scary things happen to everyone - even good people. I know that I often look for some sort of reason why these things have happened. Let me give you a few examples. My nephew Gage was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Then they found some chromosomal abnormalities. As if this wasn't enough, he was recently diagnosed with Fanconi anemia, a disease that has the potential to be devastating. Just when I thought, why in the world did this great kid and his wonderful parents have to be dealt this hand, the hand got worse. They just found out their younger child, Stella, also has Fanconi anemia. This is a very scary situation. You have the tendency to think, "Why them? They're good people." I have another friend from college who is serving the Lord with her husband and three daughters in India. One of her daughters has been very ill and may possibly have a genetic condition. It seems like if anyone would be blessed, it would be missionaries, right? My best friend's daughter is plagued with frequent UTIs. This may not seem as big of a deal in comparison to the others, but it caused them pain and worry, and it's a big deal to them. Our son is disabled and can't do most things a person always dreams their son will do. It seems like there is nothing but badness and scary-ness (if that's a word) everywhere you turn. It doesn't seem fair, but, as my dad told me as a little girl, "Life isn't fair. It's a magazine." (Let's see how long it takes some of you to get that one!) It seems like all of these families are fighting in the battle of their lives. 

"Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident."  - Psalm 27:2-4

Every time you turn on the TV, radio, or computer it seems like all you hear about is financial ruin,  the terrible economy, and the unemployment rate. Good people (and bad) have lost their jobs, their home, their cars, and even some, their families. My family is not currently in the greatest financial situation. Being a fellow, my salary is basically the same as that of a resident. For those of you who don't know what that means, it means I'm payed pennies on the dollar for what an attending physician would get. Part of my "pay" is getting to learn, which I am very grateful for but does not pay our bills. We currently do not receive medicaid or SSI even though Will is disabled and have a lot of out of pocket medical expenses. Plus, everything here in Little Rock costs more than it did in Tulsa. Pastor Rod has been preaching a sermon series on fear (check out the sermons at www.firstnlr.com) over the past month. It feels like he's preaching directly to me and that I'm the only one there. Last week he talked about being financially faithful to God. He talked about people who don't tithe and give offerings to God for the fear that they will not be able to pay their bills and provide for their family. I am ashamed to say that I have been that person once or twice in the past, but I am proud to say that I have been faithful in my giving for several years now. I do, unfortunately, still sometimes wonder, "What if I still had that money? I could pay this bill and that bill with it." Then I get a gentle kick in the pants from the Lord (lately in the form of Pastor Rod's sermons!) saying, "Don't worry! I will take care of you!" And He always does.  It hasn't been in the form of a check in the mail, but we have never done without life's necessities. 

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."  - Matthew 6:25-35

I guess what I'm trying to say is that bad times are going to come. Scary things are going to happen. It's our human nature to be afraid. But, God doesn't want us to be afraid. He promises He will ALWAYS be with us, NEVER leave us or forsake us, and that He has a plan for our lives. We may not always understand His plan or know the next step, but that's where our faith comes in. We have to trust Him. We have to believe His promises. It's not always easy to do - I'm the first person to admit that - but as I spend more time with Him, I'm learning to trust Him more and to slowly but surely put aside my fears and find the joy He wants me to have. While the situations I've written about are anything but joyful, I truly believe that no matter the outcome, God will bring joy out of it. His plan is not necessarily always to heal or provide a check, but the blessings will come...if we let them. I know it's hard to have faith when you're afraid - that's why we have to stop being afraid. I hope that whatever your fear is, you can learn to "Fear not!" Put all your trust in Him, let Him lead you, and your fear will be replaced with abundant joy. 

"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song."  - Psalm 28:7

"Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you..."  - 1 Chronicles 28:20

My Wish List

I'm not really sure why I'm writing about or posting this other than the fact than it's been on my mind for a few days now. There are several things (many small, but some more expensive) that I want (do not need, but would be nice to have and some would make my life a little easier). I guess it's just kind of an FYI. Anyway, here it is:
1. 2-drawer filing cabinet
2. 2011 day planner
3. New dining room table and chairs
4. Curtains for my bedroom
5. A night out with my husband (and no children)
6. An "m" button for my laptop that works (and is attached to the keyboard)
7. The new Mercy Me CD ("The Generous Mr. Lovewell")
Not sure what you're wishing for, but I hope you get it - at least some of it. Everyone ought to get something they're wishing for every once in a while.

I Love Fellowship!

So far so good! Fellowship is quite a change from residency. I'm lucky in that my fellowship is much lower in stress and hours worked each week than my residency was. Not all fellows are that lucky - it totally depends on your specialty. Developmental/behavioral pediatrics is a very laid-back specialty that so far has allowed me to get home everyday before 5:00. Can you believe it? I really don't know what to do with myself. I've gone from working an average of 65 hours a week (some weeks as much as 80 hours) to working about 40 hours a week. I told Jeremiah he may get tired of me! I am looking into moonlighting - not because I want to, but because I have to. My health insurance here is costing me five times as much as I paid in Tulsa. Our rent and several other bills are also more than they were in Tulsa, so I really don't have a choice. At least my work hours are low enough that I can moonlight and still not work as much as I was just a few months ago. I'm looking into an opportunity in the fast-track pod of the ER at ACH. It's more like an after hours clinic with lower acuity than the main ER. The pay is good too. I'm just waiting to find out if they'll pay my malpractice insurance. That will be a big part of whether or not actually do it.
Jeremiah and the kids are doing well. They've totally adjusted to life here. I think the only thing Jeremiah is having a hard time adjusting to is getting up to be at church my 8:30. That's an hour earlier than we had to go in Tulsa. We didn't plan on going to the first service, but Will's class (Cool Kids for special needs kids) only meets during the first and second services. Our Sunday school class meets during the second service, so we're trying to make it to the first service. The third service would be nice though because we wouldn't have to get to church until 10:00. Oh well. I definitely think it's worth it for Will to be able to be in his class during church and Sunday school.
Will starts school in about 6 weeks. I'm nervous about it, but I am happy with the way his IEP has turned out so far. We're still waiting to meet with PT and OT because they weren't there for the initial IEP meeting, but everything else is awesome. He's getting 90 minutes per week of speech therapy and 60 minutes per week each of physical and occupational therapy. He's going to be in a self-contained class with 5 other children, one special ed teach, and two paraprofessionals. I think it's a pretty good student to staff ratio. He will also have the school district's lead ST and OT and the only full-time school nurse in the district. The Lord is definitely answering prayers in that area.
I do have one major prayer request that I need you all to be in prayer about. Will was receiving SSI payments until April when they were discontinued. About a year ago, the Social Security office said they'd overpaid us and that we were required to pay them back around $5000. Well, the waived around $1000 and collected some more from his checks (until we stopped getting them a few months ago). Now they're saying they overpaid us again. I've done everything they've asked as far as providing information, participating in phone and person-to-person interviews, etc. but they're still actually saying we now owe just over $6000. Please pray that my application for waiver and/or appeal will be granted. We obviously don't have that kind of money, and besides, I didn't deceive them to get the money. It was their mistake, and I'm praying they will own up to that fact. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers. I feel them everyday. You guys are the best!

Hello Little Rock!

We have arrived in Little Rock (North Little Rock to be precise). We got to town on the 16th, and with the help of my amazing parents, got the house in reasonable shape before they left on Sunday. We loaded the truck ourselves, with the help of two friends (each for about 2 hours), and we had movers unload us in North Little Rock. Trust me when I say this - get the movers! It was totally worth the money. It took them one fifth the time it took us. Anyway, Dad and Uncle Walt had been here the week before working on the house, and it looks awesome! They painted, had flooring replaced, and did yard work. While this house is a little smaller than our old house, I think it's going to be good. It has a nice back yard that the kids can play in, and the front yard has much more curb appeal.
Our first night in the house was also Cate's first night in her "big girl bed." She did really well. She stayed in her bed the entire night and called for us in the morning when she woke up. I don't think she knew she could get down by herself (we have a rail up to prevent her from falling out). Unfortunately, she figured out she could get out on her own on Saturday night around 1:45 am, and then couldn't get back to her bedroom. She has adjusted beautifully thus far. She did well at Sunday school after a few minutes of warming up to the new class. She has been asking for Stephy (her speech therapist in Tulsa) all day today though. I told her we were going to get her a new Stephy, and she replied, "I don't want a new Stephy!" Hopefully she'll adjust to that well too. Her preschool doesn't start until after Labor Day, so it could be a long summer.
Will seems to be doing well too. He doesn't have quite the space he had in Tulsa to run around in the den, but he is still having a large time (that's a saying of my dad's). His room is decorated with animal wall decals, which he seems to like. He woke up making his monkey noises the morning after I put them up. He also had a good time at church on Sunday. They have a special needs ministry as part of their children's ministry at First Assmebly NLR, and the teachers said he did well on his first day. We go Friday for his testing for school and for me to fill out all of the paper work to get his IEP started. So far, this whole special education thing is going well (knock on wood!). The special services director for the district is so nice and very willing to help.
Jeremiah has been doing pretty well considering he didn't have TV or internet for 6 days and had to watch Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella like 1000 times during that time period. He hasn't killed either kid or himself, so I'd say that's an accomplishment. I know he'll be ready for Will to start school though. This is the first summer since 2007 that Will will be home all summer. Say a little prayer for both of them.
We're slowly getting the house in order, and when I get everything the way I want it, I'll post before and after pictures. I'm in the middle of resident/fellow orientation at UAMS and ACH this week. Not too exciting, but I guess that's a good thing. The most exciting thing on our horizon is that Catherine and baby Hanan are coming to visit July 4th weekend. Can't wait to see them!!!
Hope this update finds you all well. More to come from NLR....

Goodbye T-Town!

Well, tomorrow we pack our U-Haul. We're staying the night with our Sunday school teachers, and dear friends, so this is our last night in the Tulsa house. It's been a good house. We moved here in July of 2004. We brought both of our children home to this house, and we've made a lot of memories here. I will miss it a lot, but I'm glad to be moving on to the next chapter of our lives.
Leaving Woodlake Church on Sunday was definitely one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. We have been members there for seven years, and they have been our family here in Tulsa. I never imagined when we started going there so many years ago that I'd have made such dear friends who mean so much to me. The service was wonderful and Spirit-filled, and the fellowship time at the church's land yesterday evening was great. Good food, good friends, and good memories. We'll definitely be making a trip or two back to Tulsa to visit.
Tonight is the last time I'll have internet for a while, so it may be a week or two before I can post an update about the move. If you want to call me, feel free (if you know my cell number). If you don't have it, you can FB message my mom or siblings, and they can share it with you (I just don't want to post the number online.). I can't wait for you to see the before and after pictures of our new house.
Update from Little Rock to come...

Almost done

It's hard to believe, but our time here in Tulsa has almost come to an end. I didn't think that when Jeremiah and I moved out here seven years ago that we'd be here seven years. I also didn't think that we would have two kids while in Oklahoma. But, we did. Pretty much, our entire married life has been spent here. So far, life has been good. There has definitely been bad stuff that has happened, but overall I think the good outweighs the bad. We will be moving to North Little Rock three weeks from today to start the next chapter of our lives. I will be starting my developmental/behavioral pediatrics fellowship at Arkansas Children's Hospital. Jeremiah will be staying at home (at least for the present time). Cate will start preschool two days a week at First Assembly of God North Little Rock in September, and Will will start public school special education kindergarten in August. We still don't know what school he will attend because we haven't had his IEP meeting, but the director of special services for the school district said that they are starting a self-contained kindergarten through second grade class for non-verbal children, so I'm hopeful that it will be the right program for Will. I have a feeling it's going to be a long summer for Jeremiah at home with both kids, so say a little prayer for him. We have been blessed beyond measure by our church home here in Tulsa, Woodlake Church. The people there have truly treated us like we are their family. We have been supported, lifted up, prayed for, and blessed by them. The recent changes that have occurred in the church over the last year have been a huge blessing to us as well, and we are really going to miss everyone at Woodlake. I have a feeling we will be coming back to Tulsa every now and then to visit. The Little Light House has allowed Will to blossom beyond anything I thought he would ever be capable of. The staff there is the most amazing bunch of people on the planet. They care for our special children like I didn't think anyone was capable of, and they help the kids achieve "milestones and miracles" that can only be a gift from God. I will miss The Little Light House more than I can express in words. While I have enjoyed my time at OSU during medical school and residency, I am excited to start this new phase of my life. I am a little nervous about learning a whole new hospital, computer system, etc. I am nervous about making new friends at work and at church. But, I know this is where God is directing my life. He has been the ultimate tour guide in my life so far, directing me exactly where He wants me. God has put us where we are supposed to be in order to provide our needs and the needs of our children. I was so scared when we moved to Tulsa in July of 2003. I thought it would be the longest four years of my life. Well, it's turned out to be a very quick seven years, and I look forward to what is yet to come.


Our trip to Little Rock this week was a huge success! It started with Will's psychoeducational testing. The results weren't surprising, but it just made it so real to actually hear the results. Sometimes it seems like he really is that "intelectually disabled (the new term for mentally retarded)," but sometimes he seems so much smarter than that. I guess the good thing about the results is that he should get more help at school that way. We then tried to find houses to look at. We weren't having much luck with getting people to call us back. We finally looked at one, and it was a "maybe" but we wanted to keep looking. No one would call us back. We were getting kind of sad and thought we might go home without a house. There was a man who I had called before we left Tulsa, but he was having an open house the weekend before we were to arrive, so he didn't think it would still be available. Then, I called him again on Monday morning to see if he had rented the house. He said he thought he had a renter, but the man had to talk to his wife. He would call me Tuesday if they didn't take the house, but he was sure they would. We looked at two houses on Tueday that were just too small. Another lady was supposed to call us but never did. Then the man called us and said the renters had backed out and we could look at the house. We were so excited! It just seemed like God had worked it out for us to see this house. It could have been rented several times before but it wasn't! We got there, and the neighborhood seemed nice. The house had good curb appeal, and even had a two car garage! (Now my car doesn't have to sit out in the driveway!) Inside were two living areas, a dining room, a kitchen, three bedrooms, and two full bathrooms. The laundry hook-ups were inside (our's right now are in the garage). It needs a face lift, but it seemed perfect for us. It's about the same size we have now. The back yard is much better for playing than the one we have now. The man didn't want to have any pets in the home. He also wanted to rent it as quickly as possible, and we aren't moving until June. Well, my sweet Daddy talked with him, and Tuesday night at 8:30 I got a phone call that the house was ours!!! The elementary school we're zoned for is top three in the city and has a good special education program for Will. The crazy thing is that we are one street from being in a different town where we would be zoned for county schools (which aren't good). God was looking out for us for sure and provided this great house. We also have been connected with an amazing church in North Little Rock. It's very big (three services each Sunday with about 1200-1500 people at each service), but because it is so big, they offer a lot of great things that are good for a young family. Their children's pastor is well-known across Assemblies of God churches and even writes curriculum that is taught all over the country. They have a preschool that Cate can go to. And, I saved the best thing for last...they have a ministry within their children's ministry just for special needs kids! It's called COOL Kids, and Will loved the room. While we are very sad to leave Tulsa and our friends and family and The Little Light House and Woodlake Church, it really seems as though God has gone before us to Little Rock and paved the way for our move. He has been in every step of this process and provided every need. As I learned this weekend at the Woodlake Women's retreat, when you "let go and let God" things work out for you (even though it may take a lot longer than you want).

Long time no see

Well, I officially suck at blogging. I have no time, and when I do have time, I don't feel like spending it online. I don't know how many people actually read this, so I'm not sure how many of you I may have disappointed...so, please forgive my forgetfulness and enjoy this update on the Saunders family.
Will recently returned to Little Rock for a repeat MRI of his spine to see if the cyst on his spinal cord had grown. We got a great report that it hadn't changed at all. In fact, the neuroradiologist who read the MRI said it may not even be a cyst but a natural widening of his spinal cord at that area. That would be awesome! His neurosurgeon seemed pleased and said we could wait a whole year before we repeat the MRI. Hooray! Will was also tested at school for his exit examination, and his cognitive function is at 24 months. (He is 66 months old.) He goes back to Little Rock on Monday for formal cognitive testing. We recently changed up some of his medications in hopes of improving his aggression, and it seems to be helping some. We are still having a fair amount of hair pulling at home, which isn't much fun, so please pray that he continues to "chill out!"
Cate is doing well. Her speech is totally normal as far as number of words and sentences. She is even speaking in full sentences at school now! Hooray again! We're still working on more words at church, but she's really coming along. She is still totally into Minnie Mouse and is starting to really like the Disney Princesses too. She wants a Minnie birthday, so that's what she'll have. I just cannot believe that she will be three next month. I don't know where the time has gone.
We are going to Little Rock on Sunday afternoon for spring break. I know what you're thinking...woohoo, party! Well, as I said before, Will is getting tested on Monday morning. And, we hope to look at some houses and visit with some of the special education people at the schools. I'm also going to take the family to see the church we plan on attending, First Assembly of God North Little Rock. Will and I visited it in February, and it's amazing. The people are so friendly and willing to help. Their kids ministry is wonderful and even has a ministry just for special needs kids. I have heard great things about their children's pastor too. I can't wait to get involved there, but I am going to miss Woodlake terribly. It has been our home for the past six and a half years, and the people there are our family.
Anyway, as always, I have prayer requests. First, please pray that we are able to find some good houses to look at and that we find one that meets our needs and is in our budget. Next, pray that Will's testing goes well and that the results are helpful to us. Pray that we have good meetings with the school people and that we're able to get the ball rolling soon on his IEP. Pray for safety in our travel, and for safety for my parents as they drive out to meet us. Pray for provision for the medical bills we're accumulating because our insurance isn't paying for his visits to Little Rock anymore. I guess that's it. That's enough to pray for.
Thank you all for being who you are and for being part of our lives. We love each of you with all of our hearts, and our lives wouldn't be the same without you.

Only 5 more months...

Well, Christmas has come and gone. We had a pretty good day. Will was sick with a tummy bug on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Then Cate started throwing up on Christmas Eve. Jeremiah got sick early on Christmas morning, and I was nauseated all day on the 26th. I was also on call the 21, 23, 25, and 27. We managed to survive the blizzard and the tummy bug and salvage a nice evening of opening presents with the kids. We did not, however, get to eat our Christmas dinner.
It's hard to believe that the new year is here and that in only 5 months, we will be moving to Little Rock. It seems like each year time moves faster and faster. Will and Cate are in their final semesters at their schools, and graduation is quickly approaching. Will graduates from The Little Light House on May 20, and I have residency graduation on May 22. I also take my general pediatrics board exam on May 15. There just seems to be so much stuff coming up that it's a little overwhelming. We're looking for a house but haven't had much success. We thought we'd found the perfect house, but we finally decided it was too good to be true. It's a good thing because I'm 99% sure it was a scam. I know God has always put us exactly where we are supposed to be, and I just need to "let go and let God." My new daily devotional book had a statement in it that I'm trying to make my new motto, because as most of you know, I'm very much a planner and don't like it when I can't control things. The statement is, "You will find great joy when you realize that God's agenda is greater than your own."
So, in the next five months, I am believing in the Lord that He will provide a house for us, a school for Will, a preschool for Cate, and a church for our family. Feel free to lift all of these things up in prayer the next time you go to the Father.