Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving, Elvis Style

Hello Memphis. The Brasfield Nation has invaded your city. We have all our kids together including our daughter in law and grandson. We are quite a force.

We drove most all day Wednesday then went out to eat with some of my kin. Asher and Levi asked about a million questions while I played an audio book by Cal Ripkin Jr. It all made the drive easier.

Today is thanksgiving and we went to my moms house. We got to see more family there including one of my brothers from Arkansas. We ate too much, as always. Now the leftovers are on the stove.

I took the youngsters down the street to the school playground and took some pictures. It's great to see little cousins getting acquainted and playing together. When we got back it was time for the annual exchange of Christmas tree ornaments. I got my first Grandpa ornament.

I have so much to be thankful for:

• I am thankful for God's grace and mercy. Grace is getting what I don't deserve. Mercy is not getting what I actually deserve.
• I am thankful for my amazingly talented, uniquely passionate, selflessly compassionate, terrifically beautiful and great smelling wife. Seriously.
• I am thankful for my children and my grandson. They are gifts from God. My quiver is full.
• I am thankful for all my friends and business associates. So many of you have come to my rescue in times of sorrow or need.
• I could go on and on. I am truly blessed.

We will be in Memphis for a few days to enjoy our family. Maybe I'll see some of y'all while we are here. Others I will see back in Knoxville or on the other side.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Saturday, October 15, 2011

First in. First out.

I was kinda surprised at the boys for getting up early on Saturday morning to go to the tire store with me. Last night I told them I planned to get the tires rotated and balanced on the van because we are driving to Nashville today to meet up with my sister.

After my brother in law's accident, he was in the hospital and rehab. The doctors expected him to be there for a month so we took my nephew for a couple weeks. Jill home-schooled him along with our kids. My BIL went home this week, thank the Lord. Today, we are taking my nephew back to his mom who will meet us in Nashville.

Right now, I'm sitting at this old tire store in Lenoir City. It's a family owned, second generation business where everybody seems to know each other, and if they don't, they act like they do anyway. They know what they are doing and provide good service and value. My tradition has been to come here as early as possible on Saturday because they get backed up pretty quickly. First in first out.

Bringing the boys with me is cool. This place is really manly, but I would have brought the girls too, if they had been up. It obviously hasn't been updated or remodeled in many years. it's the kind of thing they will remember. I hope they will take good care of their vehicles when they grow up.

God bless,

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Brasfield Nation at the Cornmaze

I just wanted to share with y'all about the great time we had on Saturday.  We went to the Cornmaze at Oakes Farm in Corryton.  They take Tradebank;  Yay!

It was a good time.  Watch the video; you'll see.

All the kids got pumpkins, so we carved them last night.  The kids baked the pumpkin seeds.  Yum.

God bless,

Sunday, October 09, 2011

How to pull a tooth, gently.

When I was a just starting out a s a dad, I didn't know the various methods for pulling teeth. The only one I knew was tying a string to a door knob, which sounded terribly risky. Now I know a better way.

Items needed for this project:

  1. A dry washcloth.
  2. A kid with a loose tooth.

Watch the video to learn a gentle method for pulling teeth.

God bless,
Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Two Pictures. Seven Years.

This weekend, we went to Pigeon Forge, TN and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. That's a mouthful. All the kids were with us, except Sean. He had to work. My mom and dad met us there. Daniel and his wife, Kelli, brought Drake, out six month old grandson. It was a good weekend.

My mom and dad's car over heated Friday evening, so we located a local repair shop and dropped off the car Saturday morning. They were scheduled to attend a wedding in Gatlinburg on Saturday and caught a ride with others of the wedding party.

Jill and I took everybody else up to Newfound Gap for pictures. We wanted to have a picture of the kids there because we have one taken there about seven years ago. It was a cool idea to have pictures of the kids at the same location from different times. It was cold up there. Brrrr. In the main picture - the ONLY one with everybody looking in the camera's direction - we had several kids doing their own thing. We like that.

Along the way, we stopped in Gatlinburg so some of the kids could buy UGLY hats. We saw Santa Claus sitting on a bench, decked out in a Santa themed Hawaiian shirt. So we took a picture with him.

You'll see a lot these pictures in the video below.

It was a great weekend, rolling with the flow, as usual. Never a dull moment. What a blessing.

God bless,

Friday, September 30, 2011

Day 40 of #40Days - Life, as it Happens.

Wow! Forty days is gone already?!?!  It went by so quickly.  I want to close the series by reviewing and summarizing a few things about my Forty Day Project.  I will point out something I learned, my favorite posts and yours, based on site traffic stats.  Then, I will compare the finished project with the goal or vision I had at the beginning.  That all sounds so analytic, but hopefully it will be fun.

Day 38 blew me away.  I was speechless because of the sweet things Jilly said in her second guest post of the series.  There's no doubt that our marriage is special and was ordained in Heaven.  If I had it to do all over again, I would.  My Jilly is amazingly awesome and I love her more than words can say.

Day 30 was a video blog entry or vlog.  I recorded it on the way to work one morning after Jill and I had been talking about childhood influences.  Ted Stolpe edited it for me and his work was wonderful.  I just asked to have something on the front and back of the video to ease it in and out.  Ted went way beyond that.  Thanks again, Ted.

After Day 1, which I linked to each daily post, Day 18 got the most hits.

The purpose of this series was to satisfy the calling I felt God was giving me to blog daily for forty days.  At this point, I feel it was completed, but it was certainly more than just writing forty posts.  Facing my fears of transparency and judgement has shown me that people are interested in what we've experienced; many of you said so.  Additionally, I learned that trying to do this or anything worthwhile by myself will lead to mistakes and to poor quality work.  When I asked for help, the result was way better than expected.  Jill helped me a lot with honest and constructive proofing and editing.

It was a lot of fun to look through old photos and videos.  Our kids looked at them too and asked a lot of questions about who what when and where.  It was great remembering some of the blessings I had forgotten and talking with Jill about stuff we've been through.

Thank you for participating by reading.  If you commented here, on Facebook, or on Twitter, thank you.  The encouragement was motivating.

This ends the intentional daily blogging, at least for a while.  Be on the lookout for life as it happens in The Brasfield Nation, here on Dadofmykids Blog.

God Bless,

This is # 40 of Forty Days, the last post of the series. Learn more here.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 39 of #40Days - The Chase

There for a while, phone calls from our birth mom were fairly common. Jill said she had given birth to our kids instead of having abortions, so she wanted to share pictures and keep in contact. At first, I didn't quite understand it, but now I see it as an example of Jill's compassion. She is the most compassionate person I've ever known.

Kaymie, one month old, courtesy of birth mom.
When Kaymie was born, the state didn't take her immediately; it was the same as Asher. It is confusing, since they took Riley at the hospital when he was newborn, but we heard that the new baby girl was born and staying with birth mom. We were concerned for Kaymie's health and safety based on the previous experiences. We prayed for her and wondered how she was doing.

After a few months, birth mom called and said she was having troubles with her marriage or something like that and asked us to take Kaymie for adoption. So we went to meet her at a Walmart parking lot. She never showed. We went looking for her, having a general idea of which neighborhood she lived in, we asked people to point us her way, but we didn't find her. We went home, without Kaymie.

This situation repeated itself one more time. We received the phone call asking us to take the baby girl. We went to get her, but no show. This time, the strangest thing happened. We were waiting at Walmart. I was standing outside the store; it was night time. Then birth mom walked directly by me to get a paper out of the paper box beside me, as if she didn't see me or know who I was. But I saw her and the chase was on.

After I said her name, she jumped back in the car her husband was driving and they took off. Jill and I followed. We hoped they would lead us to the baby, whom we didn't see in the car. They soon realized we were following and turned down some back roads increasing in speed. We gave chase thinking this could end badly, like something you'd see on tv, so we slowed down and found our way back to the highway. Again, we wondered where was the baby girl and was she ok.

It was then that Jill and I agreed that we would not go back there again unless it was official. A caseworker would have to call us, not the birth mom. The next call we got came from the birth dad. He was taking Kaymie to the Dept. of Human Services to hand her over. He and the birth mom had been arguing again, so he said he thought this was best for the baby. Still, we waited for the official call which indeed came. Our case worker asked us to drive up there, about an hour from our home, to pick up the baby.

On such short notice, Jill and I couldn't both go this time, so Jill went. When they got home, Kaymie was crying. She had cried all the way home and continued crying till bed time. At seven months old, she didn't recognize any of us. She must have been scared, and probably tired too.

The next morning, when Kaymie woke up, she was in a good mood, not crying. She looked like a different child. Jill had her decked out in a pink sleeper and Kaymie was so cute. I took her picture and printed a few to send with the kids to school so they could show their teachers and friends their baby sister.

Kaymie is a charmer; everybody likes her. She is a kind, helpful, beautiful, smart and athletic girl. We are very proud of her.

God Bless,

This is # 39 of Forty Days. Tomorrow is the last post of the series. Learn more here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 38 of #40Days - Letter From Jill

In the final days of this series, Jilly asked me to let her post this:

Dear Andy,

I want you to know how proud and thankful I am to be your wife. You and I have been through a lot together, but it has only made us stronger as individuals, and as a couple. I have so many memories during our dark days that remind me just how much you love me:
  • Sleeping on a cold, tile hospital floor while I was having a miscarriage.
  • Standing by Dad's bedside with me as he was dying.
  • Allowing me to spend so much time with Greg in his final few weeks of life.
  • Lying awake countless nights with me while I cried over our precious Georgia Rose.
  • Conspiring with Steven to make Christmas '09 one that I would never forget. And I could go on and on.....

When I was a little girl, all I really wanted to do when I grew up was to marry a really hot, awesome man and have lots of kids. That dream has come true! You are everything I hoped for in a husband and so much more. The world would be a better place if every man was as committed to their wife and kids as you are.

My daddy used to say, "I could have looked the world over and would have never found any man I liked any better to marry my baby." You are the only boyfriend I ever had who met Dad because you were the only one I felt was worthy. I knew he would love you and you and your accomplishments made him SO proud.

So, thank you for loving me despite my many, many screw-ups. Thank you for always being a rock I can lean on and for being my very best friend. Thank you for your commitment to your family. Words can't express my love for you. I am so thankful God chose you to be MINE!

I love you,

This is # 38 of Forty Days.  Learn more here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day 37 of #40Days - Happy All the Time.

Intentionally blogging every day forces me to come up with something to write.  Today, I feel kind of strange.  I sat down here with two or three ideas to choose from and prayed that God would guide me.  As I started to write about the time when God turned my head like a magnet to steel, I felt a "No".  I could tell you about the multiple trips we took to get Kaymie from her birth mom only to be let down, but "No", or about my neice Falon who suffered life changing injuries at the age of three, but "No".

If you've been following my forty day project, then you know about my brother in law who was injured.  He is scheduled to have surgery this morning.  With his situation still fresh on our family, my step sister was admitted to the hospital in very bleak condition.  Both are sad situations which are probably influencing my mood.

I prefer to be positive and up beat most of the time, but sometimes that isn't reality.  Being real is part of the goal or process of this blog series.  I want you to know that if you are feeling less than "super-dee-duper" then you don't have feel guilty about it.

Some people, especially Christians, either act like or actually say that if you aren't full of joy unspeakable then you should repent.  This idea of being "happy all the time" (isn't that a line from a kids Sunday school song?) puts a requirement on people to act happy even when they aren't.  You may not think anything about revealing yourself to others, or being transparent, but that doesn't come easy for me. I am a genuinely happy and positive person, but have bad days too.

Having a bad day or going through a rough spell, which we used to call a "trial", is normal and expected.  Abnormal is the one who pretends everything is all right.  Am I making any sense here?

I'll get out of this funk in a few minutes, probably.

I love you all.

God bless,

This is post # 37 of Forty Days.  Learn more here.

PS.  That's just a random video I found of the Sunday school song referenced above.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 36 of #40Days - Highly Favored.

As I type these words, Tucker and Riley are watching our home video from Christmas 2004.  They are glued to the screen, laughing and commenting how little they were and how high pitched their voices were.  As I listen and see their reactions, it makes me happy that we have it.

I had a new camera at the time and enjoyed playing around with it.  As a result, I put together this way-too-long video.  Today, I serve it up as entry number 36.  A special prize goes to anyone who actually watches the whole thing.

The enormous amount of presents and toys may have been a sign of the turbulent times we were having.  Daniel was attending private school in Memphis that year.  Jill was faithful to visit him there and made it possible for him to have Christmas at home in spite of the bad weather conditions.  As I look back on this video, I feel that we may have been trying to somehow make it up to the kids.  We have scaled back since then.

I am thankful that we found so much joy anyway.  It was only by the grace of God.

Have I told you lately what an amazingly awesome wife I have?  She is able to not only care for our kids with so much love, but she does it often in face of the enemy, doing spiritual battle with one hand and teaching home-schoolers with the other.  Then she finds time to treat me like a king and make me feel like I am the one who hung the moon and stars.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing
and obtains favor from the LORD.

Thanks for tuning in.

God bless,

This is post # 36 of Forty Days.  Learn more here.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day 35 of #40Days - prison babies.

A pregnant relative went to prison. She would be in prison when the baby was born, so she would have to find someone to take the baby or he would be placed into foster care by the state.

She asked us to take him and we did. We went to the hospital shortly after the baby was born and picked him up. It was a joyful occasion that was marred by the situation. But she was scheduled for release in a few months and her baby won't ever remember going home with us.

Jill met another young lady while taking the baby for visits with his mom at the prison. She was pregnant too. She had no one who could take care of her baby. So, for the second time, we brought home a prison baby.

Prison mom number two didn't do as well as the first one. After holding down a job for a few weeks, she returned to the lifestyle that got her in trouble. And she took her baby with her.

While we had him, some of our friends got attached to him. When his mom couldn't continue to care for him, she asked them to take him. Eventually, she allowed them to adopt him.

He is pictured above with our kids and a neighbor.

This true story shows how God can put people in the right place to minister to others. I am proud of how Jilly was willing to foster these two babies so God put one back with his birth mom and the other with his adoptive family.

God bless,

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day 34 of #40Days - Prayer Request

I called my mom this morning and learned that my brother in law was injured earlier this morning.  Details are sketchy right now, but it sounds like he may have fallen and hit his head.  Last report I heard was he is in the emergency room and can't move his legs.

Johnny is a good man who takes care of his family and works hard to provide for them.  A serious injury could disrupt his ability to do that.  Additionally, it would be hard on everyone around him.

I am asking you to pray for him right now.

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so God can heal you. When a believing person prays, great things happen.

Pray with me:
Dear Lord, you know what Johnny needs right now.  We ask that you touch him immediately with healing mercy.  We ask for complete recovery.  This is not something that people can accomplish.  But you can do it by simply saying so.  Thank you.  Amen.

The picture of Johnny above was the day he out-fished all of us.  One to nothing.

God bless,

This is post # 34 of Forty Days.  Learn more here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Day 33 of #40Days - Once a Brasfield...

We weren't looking to adopt another child.  We were busy with five kids already when we were invited to an adoption fair.  As experienced adoptive parents, perhaps we could offer encouragement to others.  Hoping that we could help, we accepted the invitation.

The adoption fair was a cookout or picnic event where adoptable foster kids and prospective adoptive parents were brought together in a casual atmosphere.  It was very well attended with maybe a couple hundred people.

There were all kinds of kids there, many hoping to to be matched with a forever family.  Several kids we encountered sounded like sales people telling us about themselves.  It was obvious they wanted to be selected.  It is kind of sad to remember them.

We were introduced to some adoption hopefuls too.  These were adults who were interested in adoption and perhaps unsure if it was for them.  They asked us about our experience, often intrigued with how we came to adopt such young children.  It seems that most people want to adopt a baby.  The older children are often left out because younger children are preferred.

With no intention to meet any children for ourselves, both Jill and I found ourselves drawn to a teenage boy with an energetic outgoing personality.  He didn't try to sell us on himself.  Suddenly, we found ourselves curious about him.  His name was Johnny.

We asked our case worker about Johnny and got as much info as we could.  Then, after praying about it, we expressed interest in meeting him.  We were interested in the possibility of adopting Johnny.

Eventually, this led to overnight visits where Johnny came to our home and met our kids.  We had him over a few weekends and took him camping.  It seemed like a fit, so we started talking adoption.

Johnny agreed to the adoption.  Everything looked like it was a "go".  The weekend came and I went to pick up Johnny at his foster home.  On the way to our house, I told Johnny, "Once a Brasfield, always a Brasfield."  That means when we didn't want to go into this with the idea that we were some kind of extended foster home.  I told him we didn't mind if he re-connected with his birth family after he turned eighteen, but he would be a part of our family for life.  The talk was intentional.

After that talk, Johnny revealed that he was not interested in such a life-long commitment.  He planned to re-unite with his birth family and didn't want to be adopted.

Through this, we learned that each child has their own needs.  Communication, especially with teenage foster kids, is very important.

There are many avenues to pursue adoption.  Our adoptions were all through the Tn Dept of Children's Services.  Jill and I wish that all foster kids could find a forever family.  If you are interested in adoption but don't know where to start, then look here:

The young man, Nathan, pictured above, is one of the many foster kids who want to be adopted.

Feel free to contact us, too.  We love to help.

God bless,

This is post # 33 of Forty Days.  Learn more here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day 32 of #40Days - Altered State of Consciousness.

Less than a year after Georgia died, Levi got sick with a stomach bug.  Most every parent has seen this in their children, right?  Jill and I did all the usual things to treat him, including increased fluids and a trip to the doctor.

However, he got worse.  He awoke the next morning very lethargic.  He wouldn't drink anything and seemed distant.  Jill said, "something's wrong," and took him back to the doctor who sent them straight to Children's Hospital.

The hospital staff determined that he was dehydrated and eventually gave him some apple juice, which he drank.  Then he got worse suddenly.  Jill called me to come up there.  I left the kids with Mickey, my mother in law.

I remember calling my mom and our pastor.  I told them both how scary this was for me, especially because of Georgia.  The pain from her death was still so strong.  It hurts to even type this paragraph.

Jill and Levi were in the emergency department when I got there.  Nurses swarmed around him.  One of them was explaining that Levi was in an altered state of consciousness.  He was limp and unable to communicate or make eye contact.  They didn't know why.

They took blood samples and found that his blood sugar level was dangerously low.  They gave him what looked like a shot of Karo Syrup and he immediately raised up.  It took a couple days for him to come out of it, but he made a full recovery.  The doctor told us that Levi came close to dying.

The picture above is Levi shortly after this.  I took it as a sign that he was okay.  Thank God.

 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.

God bless,

This is post # 32 of Forty Days.  Learn more here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 31 of #40Days - Guest Post by Jilly.

I am excited to present a guest post by my beautiful wife, Jill:

It was Christmas Day 2009, and the kids had just finished opening their gifts when Andy looked at me and said, “I don't have your present today, we have to drive to Nashville tomorrow to get it.”

I thought that was odd, but I didn't give it much thought. I assumed it was tickets to a show or dinner somewhere nice. In all honesty, I didn't care. Christmas 2009 was the worst Christmas of my life. Just one month earlier, I had laid in my daddy's hospital bed with him and watched him die. All I really wanted was for the whole holiday to just be over.

Steven and Jill.

Elvis, I mean Steven, at Sun Studios, Memphis TN.
The next day arrived and we got the kids ready and loaded up in Heapy (our huge, ugly, BROWN fifteen passenger van) and off we went. I will admit, my attitude was bad. WHY did we have to keep celebrating when I was just ready for it to be over (pity parties were a daily occurrence for a while)?

As we rolled on down the road, I spent time checking my social networking sites. I noticed that my “little brother” was very quiet and that was REALLY odd. Side note: I am an only child, but I have a few friends that I claim as my siblings. Steven, an online friend from Seattle, is the one I had chosen to be the little brother I always wanted, but never had.

Steven had shown great concern for Dad when he was sick, and has shown genuine compassion and love for us when Dad died. Unbeknownst to me, he and Andy had been plotting and planning a huge surprise for me.

As we got closer to Nashville, Steven's quietness on Facebook and Twitter began to make me wonder if we were going to Nashville to pick him up at the airport. I finally asked Andy, and he confirmed that we were. He began to tell me how this came to be. He said that Steven had been concerned about me after Dad's death and had decided to make a surprise trip to visit me hoping it would lift my spirits. I. WAS. FLOORED.! My first thoughts were how sweet it was for someone to do this for ME. I honestly couldn't remember if I had ever had anyone go to such lengths to just be able to love on me and minister to me. My next thought was OMG! I'd never met Steven in person; we had only spoken on the phone a time or two, and the rest of our communication had been online. Would it be weird? Would it be a week filled with awkward silence? All of a sudden, I became VERY nervous!

After a couple of delays, Steven's flight finally arrived. I was EXTREMELY excited and a little nervous as we watched and waited for him. Finally, there he was.......wearing his UT orange. I can honestly say there wasn't a single second of awkwardness. It was truly like we had known each other all of our lives!

We began talking non-stop almost immediately and it didn't seem like we stopped for nearly a week. We spent the week laughing, touring Memphis (Steven does a heck of an Elvis impersonation) and talking. It was a week without sadness and one that I will never forget.

Thank you, Steven, for giving so much of yourself to come all this way to support and love on me. I made memories that week that I will cherish for the rest of my life! I love you and I'm incredibly thankful that you're my little brother.

Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times.......”

God bless,

This is post # 31 of Forty Days.  Learn more here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day 30 of #40Days - Snatched

Today's post is a video blog, or vlog.

No animals were harmed in the making of this video.

A great big THANK YOU to Ted Stolpe for editing.

God Bless,

This is post # 30 of Forty Days.  Learn more here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day 29 of #40Days - The Chair

My grandpa thought I would be his last and youngest grandchild so he called me to his bedside to give me a chair. He was sick with Parkinson's disease and was bedridden.

Tucker in The Chair.
He gave me a child sized chair that his dad made for him. He instructed me to never paint it although I may oil it occasionally with an appropriate product. I could replace the seat which was made of woven cane. He emphasized, "never paint it."

My grandpa, Ozbond Taylor, was born in the year 1900. I assume his dad, Luther Taylor, made the chair the same or following year. It is a small chair, big enough for a toddler up to a kindergartner. This is an old chair.

We took it home and I used it. I can remember sitting in the chair in front of the Tv. As I grew I squeezed myself into it. Eventually I got too big. My little brother, Jeff, sat in it too.

Then, for decades, it served as a magazine rack. But when we had kids, the magazines had to find a new home. We used it for a booster seat at the table for Daniel, Laken, Brooklyn, Tucker, Sean, Riley, Tilley, Asher, Kaymie and Levi. That's a lot of use.

Somewhere around the hundred year mark, I replaced the seat. Instead of using cane, I weaved white nylon rope tightly. It worked very well. The chair still looked good and was sturdy.

A couple years ago, maybe 2009, Levi threw the chair off our second story porch. When it hit the concrete below, it busted to pieces. I tried to fix it, but no luck. Now the pieces are in my closet. Some day, I hope to find someone handy to fix it.

I would like to see Drake sitting in it when he gets old enough.

"Stop storing up treasures for yourselves on earth, 
where moths and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal. 
Instead, store up treasures for yourselves in heaven, 
where moths and rust don’t destroy and thieves don’t break in and steal. 
Your heart will be where your treasure is."  

God bless,

This is post # 29 of Forty Days. Learn more here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day 28 of #40Days - Little miracles.

"Somebody must be dead", Jill said, because the phone was ringing at 6:00 am.  Then she looked at the caller ID on the phone.  The call was from a pay phone in the town where our kids' birth mom lived.

Asher loves ice cream.
She was calling to tell us that our Asher, five months old, had been taken into DCS custody the previous day.  She told Jill when the case would be before the judge and was nearly begging for us to come and see if DCS would place him with us.  Jill assured her that we would be there, and that we would start making phone calls to our caseworker to see if she could help.

The little things about Asher being placed in our home were most miraculous.  Our home study had expired because we hadn't fostered any more kids since we had a houseful.  We didn't plan on getting more kids either.  But our beloved caseworker went to bat for us, appearing in court and recommending the judge to send Asher home with us.  The lawyer for our region of DCS made a special trip to be there, too.

Asher's caseworker was not the same as our caseworker.  She had made it clear that there was no way we were taking him home that day.  "No way."  But she was wrong.  The judge agreed with those who were there for us.  He said Asher should be with his siblings right away to begin bonding. 

At the campground.
We met his foster parents in the mall parking lot.  That's where we got Asher, at the mall.  He was so sweet and innocent. We were in my pick up truck.  Jill got in the back seat with Asher.  She changed his clothes and buttered him up with lotion because our church was in revival and we planned to be there with him that evening.  Jill's cousin took our other five kids to church and we met them there.  The first time they saw Asher was at church.

About a year later or so, we were camping by the lake.  Somehow, Asher got one of the fishing lures hooked in his lip.  The hook went all the way through the inside of his lip.  I used a pair of pliers to crimp the barb on the hook.  I thought I could then slide it out backwards, but it wouldn't go.  Then I cut the end off the hook with wire cutters.  Thankfully, it wasn't as serious as it first looked.

God bless,

This is post # 28 of Forty Days.  Learn more here.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Day 27 of #40Days - "I want bawoooony and keppup."

When we arrived at the neighborhood entrance, we saw a little boy playing outside one of the houses in the distance and wondered if it was Sean.  We were on our way to meet him for the very first time at his foster home where he lived most of his first four years.  Sure enough, that was him.

His foster mother told him we were coming to meet him.  When he realized we were there, he hid in the hayfield adjacent the back yard.  I don't blame him one bit.  Can you imagine at the age of four years hearing that you're going to meet your mom and dad for the first time?  

We quickly learned that Sean would have lived on a diet of bologna and ketchup sandwiches and milk, if we let him.  When we asked Sean what kind of sandwich he wanted, he almost always said, "bawoooony and keppup."  This picture of Sean was taken at kindergarten.  No doubt there was a bologna and ketchup sandwich in his lunch that day.

And what a handsome little boy he was; he is a handsome young man.  He was shy at first.  He quickly took to his new large family.  Later, Sean and Levi became really attached; Levi looks up to Sean because he is such an awesome big brother.

We are very proud of Sean.  He graduated high school this year and is living out on his own.  He is a hard worker and very responsible.
God Bless,

This is post # 27 of Forty Days.  Learn more here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day 26 of #40Days - Where is her face?!?!

We left Riley with a friend while we went to the hospital for Tilley's arrival.  I admit, it was kinda weird dropping off our little baby so we could go birth another one.

Tilley, first birthday.
Everything went well with Tilley's delivery.  From my perspective, it did.  Jill's epidural didn't work, so she felt the whole thing.

However something kinda strange happened while Jill was pushing.  Tilley's head was crowning.  Then she started to come out.  Her head was far enough out that I started looking for her face, but couldn't find it.  After a minute or so, I began to worry that she didn't have a face at all.  I mean what looked like plenty of hairline to me was out already.  Where is her face?!?!  Suddenly baby Tilley was out entirely, and yes, she had a face now.  Whew! 

After they cleaned Tilley up and gave her to Jill, I called my mom.  She asked me what Tilley looked like.  I said, "She looks like us."  She was a perfect blend of Jill and me, and our families.

Tilley was a crier from the start.  She cried nearly all night that first night in the hospital.  We got no rest at all.  She cried a lot.  For three months she cried and cried and cried.  Then, the day she turned three months old, she stopped crying, unless she had a good reason.  She was a different baby, a happy baby.

It's kinda strange, but colicky babies usually grow out of the frustrating behavior at three months of age.  If your baby is one of these, hang in there.  Be sure your pediatrician knows about all the crying.  You don't want to ignore it, in case something is hurting.  Then, be patient.  That is easy for me to say now.  But do your best to be patient.  In the scheme of things, three months isn't very long.

Later that year, Jill's gynecologist told me that Tilley was a miracle baby.  He said he had seen inside Jill's body during surgeries, and there was no way she could have carried a baby to term.

Jesus looked straight at them and said, 
"There are some things that people cannot do, 
but God can do anything."

God bless,

This is post # 26 of Forty Days.  Learn more here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day 25 of #40Days - "Wonder Boy"

First birthday.
When we went to hospital to pick up Riley, the first thing the nurse did was show us his full head of hair. He was three days old, a beautiful and healthy baby boy. The state of TN had taken custody of Riley right away after his birth.  We went into the newborn nursery to get him.

We didn't know Tucker's birth mom was pregnant. So Riley came as a complete surprise. The state tries to keep siblings together; so it was natural for them to call us.

Here we were planning for one baby; then one became two.  Tilley was due in a couple weeks. That's why people looked at Jill so funny when she carried Riley out of the hospital; she was waddling.  People were looking, no, staring. We knew they were thinking, "Didn't she take care of that while she was here."

Riley was a good baby.  I nick-named him "Wonder Boy".  He only cried when he was hungry or something like that, slept well.  Everybody wanted to hold him.

I put a blue balloon on the mailbox with a sign that said, "It's a boy."

Babies are truly a gift from the Lord.

God bless,

This is post # 25 of Forty Days.  Learn more here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day 24 of #40Days - Right on time.

Have you ever heard the song, "He's an on time God"?

Jill told me about a house she saw for sale. She said it was in a nice neighborhood but was probably out of our price range. We had been talking about buying or building a house but agreed it would be better after the baby was born. I guess we thought moving would be easier or safer then.

We decided on "Tilley" and started calling her by her name pretty early. Most people refer to an unborn baby as "the baby". Then after it is born, they give it a name.  Tilley was Jill's maiden name.

It wouldn't hurt, we figured, to look at some houses just to have an idea of what we wanted. So I call the agent who listed the house Jill saw and set up to view a few houses.  The second house we viewed was the one that would be out of our price range.  We only looked at it to get ideas for when we might get serious about buying.  As we finished touring the house, we stepped out the front door.  That's when Jill said something I'll never forget:

"Whatever it takes, get me this house."

There is only one way to answer a statement like that.  "Okay."

Jill has a knack for hearing God when I don't.  I liked the house and all, but was content with the plan as it was.  I didn't know what God had in mind for us and why it was so urgent that we up-size before baby Tilley was born.  Of course, Jill didn't either.  But she was so impressed with the house; she could see us raising our kids there.

The real estate agent was very pleased with herself when we told her we wanted to make an offer.  But our house wasn't even on the market, and we were not able to afford two mortgage payments.  So the purchase of this house was contingent upon the sale of our old house.  As the Lord's timing is perfect, we had recently completed some upgrades and remodeling.  

Once we had a solid contract in place, we listed our house with the same agent, with an exception; my business partner had expressed interest in buying our house as an investment.  She put the "For Sale" sign in the yard.

Then the sellers received another offer which put us in the position of either backing down and letting the house go to another buyer or removing the contingency of selling our house.  We had 24 hours to make our move.  By this point, we were emotionally invested in the new home.  We were able to list all the reasons why we should move, not the least of which was the fact that our house was on a very busy four lane road.

I was frantically trying to figure this out, but as I look back on it, I realize that God was driving this thing: not me.  My partner bought our house right away, and we were back in the saddle.

Moving day was April 12, 1997.  Jill was 8 1/2 moths pregnant with legs swollen so big she could barely walk.  Family and friends came together to help us.  The whole weekend was full of unpacking and trying to find everything.  It was a crazy time for sure.

Then came Monday, and another phone call:

"We know you have your hands full, 
but we have to call you because 
Tucker has a new baby brother."

That's right.  Riley was born, unknown to us, the day after we moved in to the new house.  

This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; 
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

God bless,

This is post # 24 of Forty Days.  Learn more here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Day 23 of #40Days - "WE'RE HAVING A BABY!"

Jill asked me if I thought the pregnancy would be good.  I told her I had a positive feeling about it.  I am no psychic; but I felt good about this one.

I lost track of how many miscarriages we'd had.  I know she was afraid this could end the same way.  But this time was different.  Our baby itch was already being scratched by Tucker.  I hear a lot of people have a baby after adopting one.  Although Tucker's adoption hadn't been filed in court, we were satisfied that it would happen in time.

We used a high risk obstetrician and the pregnancy progressed pretty much as it should.  Jill watched everything she ate; took care to avoid smoke or other toxins; and didn't even take an aspirin.  She really took care of the baby. 

And let me tell you a thing or two about taking care of an in utero child.  I am a man, unable to speak from a woman's perspective, but listen up.  If your wife or girlfriend gets pregnant, encourage her to see her doctor asap and often.  Take her.  Support her in eating healthy foods.  Support her emotionally by providing a decent, calm, loving environment.  Take care of your woman.  Talk to your baby through her belly. 

The consequences of in utero alcohol or drug abuse, physical or emotional abuse, or simply not seeing a doctor, last for a lifetime.  You want your kids to grow up smart, well behaved and fiscally responsible, don't you?  Well, it really  starts at conception. 

*End of rant about pre-natal care.*

Once we got past the first trimester, we breathed a sigh of relief.  We'd never been that far before.  And, we were having a girl.

We were out shopping one weekend.  Actually, Jill was shopping.  I was taxiing her from store to store, probably driving Tucker around while he napped in the car seat.  Jill got in the van with a shopping bag and said she had bought the first  dress for our baby.  When she pulled it out to show me the cute little red and white gingham dress with apples on the front, it hit me: 


It was like my ah-ha moment.  Suddenly, I could visualize having a baby girl.

God bless,

This is post # 23 of Forty Days.  Learn more here.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day 22 of #40Days - Can we love them?

I remember; I was at work when it started. Someone said, "A plane flew into one of the WTC towers in NYC."

There was a small tv in the production area. We gathered around it just in time to see another plane hit the other tower. I didn't know if this was real or some kind of staged thing, and certainly didn't know it was an attack on our nation.

Then the towers fell.

Unreal. How could this happen?

I called home to see if Jill was watching it and make sure she and the kids were okay.

For the next couple of days or so, everything slowed down; almost stopped. The major tv networks didn't show commercials or regular scheduled programs. We received few orders. It was like people weren't sure what to do.

I called my oldest brother, Scott. He was in Texas. He told me he was ready to put on his old National Guard uniform and defend our country, if needed. I know he meant it.

People started coming together in spirit. Churches opened up for prayer. I remember some of us from work went to a large church up the street during lunch to pray. There were lots of people there doing the same. The whole nation, it seemed, was pulling together like I had never seen.

May this date bring us together, stronger than ever.

But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! (Matthew 5:44 NLT)

God bless the victims and the survivors; and God bless America.


This is # 22 of 40 Days. Learn more here.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Day 21 of #40Days - It turned pink.

We were a family of four: Me, Jill, Daniel and Tucker.  And, we were content.

Somehow, Sharon convinced us that Tucker wasn't going anywhere.  Maybe she did it by taking us to the court hearings regarding Tucker's foster placement.  That's where we first met his birth mom.  It seemed the judge knew her pretty well from previous cases.  Her family was not in a position to petition the court for Tucker like Nathan's family had done.

We were happy.

There was a convention for my industry in Vegas that year.  Mickey kept Daniel while Jill, Tucker and I went to it.  We were driving to the airport when Jill said she was late; I don't mean late for work.

What should we doShouldn't we go to the drug store?

I suggested we wait till we get back from Vegas.  We could take a test after the trip, if nothing changed while we were gone.  Jill agreed.

(This is where you, the reader, imagine the plane taking off in Knoxville and then landing back in Knoxville four days later.)

And, nothing changed.

We stopped by the drug store.

Back home, the test strip turned pink.


We've kept that test strip fourteen years now.

God bless,

This is # 21 of Forty Days.  Learn more here.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Day 20 of #40Days - He remembers how bad it tasted.

In June of 2001, we pulled our camper to Disney World for a week at Fort Wilderness.  Tucker was five years old.

My mother-in-law, "Mickey", went with us.  (No relation to the mouse.)  We had a great campsite location; we took in all the activities they offered, including Chip'n Dale's Campfire Sing-a-long, and Mickey's Backyard BBQ.  That's where Tucker had his first taste of beer!

As the name implies, Mickey's Backyard BBQ is a cook-out style dinner event complete with Mickey Mouse and his friends.  Drinks were served in clear plastic cups.  I think the drink choices were iced tea and beer.  Have you ever noticed how close tea and beer are in color and appearance?  But not taste.

Tucker had a bad habit at home of picking up any drink whether or not it was his.  This time, his habit backfired.  He picked up a drink from a nearby table and before we could stop him, took a big swallow.  You should have seen his face.  His eyes got wide and he set the beer down as fast as he could.

We have remembered this story and retold it many times over the years.  Tucker doesn't remember it as well as we do, although he says he remembers how bad it tasted.

Every living creature is in the hands of God.
We hear with our ears, taste with our tongues,
and gain some wisdom from those who have lived a long time.
Job 12:10-12

God bless,

This is # 20 of 40 Days.  Learn more here.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Day 19 of #40Days - God smiled on us.

Did you ever own an answering machine?

Tucker.  Photo by Donna Weeks.
We had one.  Every time we would come home, we'd check the machine for messages.  Like today's email, we got a few "spam" callers, or telemarketers.  Bill collectors were either super sweet or downright nasty with their messages.  Only about 1/4 to 1/3 of the messages were really from people we wanted to hear.

Then there was the message from Sharon Smallwood, the caseworker who had listened to us gripe about losing Nathan.  "Jill, this is Sharon.  Give me a call."  It was Thursday before Good Friday.  So we couldn't return Sharon's call till Monday, because the DCS office would be closed for Easter.

We didn't know what she wanted.  But we were NOT expecting this; a baby boy, foster-to-adopt.

Could it be real this time?  Or, was this just another case worker pulling our chain?

The process of picking up a child from foster care can be very surreal.  We picked up Sharon and drove to the TN DCS office in Maynardville.  It was about an hour drive from home.  We had never been there.  So Sharon was giving directions.  Finally, she said, "There it is", pointing to the location.

Inside this little old building was a foster mother who was holding a baby boy that was to be ours.  We were led to a room in the back where they handed him over to Jill; five and a half weeks old, and beautiful.

I asked Sharon how she came to call us for Tucker.  "Isn't there some kind of waiting list?"  We hadn't been waiting very long, in my opinion.

Sharon said, "You were the first ones I thought of when I heard about him."  She told us how she'd told all the other case workers not to make any phone calls because she had a place for him.  I knew then that God had smiled on us.

Smile on me, your servant.
Have pity and rescue me.
Psalm 31:16

God bless,

This is day 19 of Forty Days.  Learn more here.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Day 18 of #40Days - "Where'd you get that? Morristown?"

It was no April fool's joke.

Our caseworker called needing an emergency placement for a little four-year-old boy on April 1, 1993.

"We're not asking you to take him long term," she said.  "Just for the weekend."

Laken and Daniel, less than a week after his arrival.
Daniel arrived at our house with his clothes and toys in a garbage bag.  He had been removed from his foster home without notice.  There had been a "disruption", so there was not much time.  I don't think he left much stuff behind.  That was probably all he had.

He was wearing a Mickey Mouse hoodie, pulled over his face, and cowboy boots.  He wore those cowboy boots till his toes hung out the front.  And his blue bird stuffed toy; we managed to hang on to it for many years.  But I haven't seen it lately.

Just for the weekend?  No way.  Not for us.  We fell in love with that pudgy face right away.  Monday came and we told his case worker she need not look elsewhere.  He could stay with us.

Our foster training had been for therapeutic placements.  In other words, we had been prepared for foster kids with severe behavior problems.  But this little boy didn't seem to fit.  They call that the honeymoon period.  And we were indeed honeymooning.

He amused us with some of his trademark antics, like "Where'd you get that? Morristown?"  When we asked him what kind of sandwich he liked, he said "Butter-n-jelly."  He meant, we learned, peanut-butter and jelly.  He never rode a bike with training wheels, at least not after he came to us.  Always busy.  Always talking, except when he was on that blasted ADHD medication.

Minutes after Daniel was baptized.
We committed ourselves to Daniel.  He tested us.  But we stood firm.  Over the years, he got in trouble but he was also a very good, loyal and loving member of our family.  He usually speaks his mind, which I like.  You don't have to wonder what he's thinking. 

It wasn't long ago that Daniel recalled for me how we used to go fishing every Saturday with Papaw Tilley, Jill's dad.  Papaw would pick us up at 5:30 AM on Saturdays.  I would wake Daniel around 5:15 AM and help him get dressed while he was still groggy, hardly awake at all.  We'd get to the dam as the sun was about to rise.  Just in time for the fish to "eat breakfast".  Good memories.

Over the years, we've had many highs and lows with Daniel.  And they aren't over.  We still have good days and bad days.  And we love him.

Daniel was our first foster.  He became our first son.  Our very first child. 

Teach your children right from wrong,
and when they are grown they will still do right.
Proverbs 22:6

God bless,

This is day 18 of Forty Days.  Learn more here.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Day 17 of #40Days - The Days Ahead

"The child deserves legal representation, Your Honor."

"You're asking me to spend more tax dollars without good cause."

The judge told me the home study was flawless.  Then, he ruled that Nathan would be turned over to his grandparents.

Outside the courtroom, I tried to tell Nathan's grandparents about their eleven-month-old grandson.  How we fed him, when he slept, and that he loved the backpack.  I could hardly speak because my emotions were getting in the way.

Nathan was our foster son.  We were bonded with this baby boy.  Soon after we got him, our case worker told us that we would be able to adopt him.  We had him since he was about one month old.  Now, our dreams were crushed.  We were crushed.

Jill stayed home with Daniel and Nathan that day while I went to court to ask the judge to assign a guardian ad litem.  It seemed only fair that he should have an attorney who was looking out for his best interest.  It was a conflict, in my opinion, to allow either the state's attorney or the family's attorney to represent him.  And all the judge had for me was, "spend more tax dollars."

I drove home to tell Jill.  Cell phones and text messaging weren't popular yet, and I didn't want to give her the bad news by phone anyway.

We were hurt, and not sure that we even wanted to continue fostering kids.

A few weeks later, another case worker, Sharon Smallwood, came by to check on us.  We unloaded on her.  We told her how we'd been lied to about adopting Nathan, and how the judge was unfair, how hurt we were.  But, she was sweet and took it all in.  She said she didn't blame us for feeling that way.  It helped a little.

We had no way of seeing where this painful experience would lead.  We weren't expecting it to lead any where at all.  But it did; it lead to Tucker.

In the days ahead, I hope to share with you how this painful experience marked the beginning of The Brasfield Nation.

Stay tuned to the 40 Day Project.

God Bless,

P.S.  By the way.  Nathan turned out okay, too.  Thank God.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Day 16 of #40Days - "Silent Night, Deadly Night"

"Are you warm yet?"

"I'm okay", she answered.

I thought it was getting hot in my little Dodge Colt.  But I didn't want Jill to be cold.  It was, after all, only our first date.  November 2, 1986.

Our friend Nick Roberts was having some people over to his house after the Sunday evening service.  I asked Jill if she would "do me the honor of accompanying me".

Since the weather was cold, the car took a few minutes to heat up.  So, I asked again, "Are you warm yet?"

"I'm okay", again.

She must be cold-natured.

Nick asked us to help pick out a movie at the rental store.  Having no idea what to pick, we somehow decided on "Silent Night, Deadly Night".  Jill said she liked horror films.  It was rated R.  We assumed the rating was due to violence.  No big deal.

Beginning to sweat in the car, again I asked, "Are you warm yet?"

Jill, secretly sweating, "I'm okay."

Dang, this girl has some serious issues with being cold.

When it got to the point that I had a hard time breathing because it was SOOOO HOTTTT in the car, I finally turned the fan down to low.  Later, like after we'd been dating a while, I learned she was just trying to be polite, too.  We almost "polited" ourselves into heat stroke.

At the party, Nick put in the movie.  Picture a room full of holiness kids, watching a horror flick, with the lights dimmed.  FLASH! Boobs on the TV.

"Uh! Oh!"

"She picked out this movie!"

"We didn't know this would happen!"

As you can see, it was a first date that would never be forgotten.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.

God bless,

This is post # 16 of 40 Days.  Learn more here.

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