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A Young Mom Blossoms at Lifehouse Houston

 Blossom and Kimori, charcoal on paper

Blossom and Kimori, charcoal on paper

Recently I was approached by a friend to help raise money for Lifehouse, a Christian ministry in Houston that helps moms in crisis by providing housing for them and their unborn child. Many of the young women at Lifehouse have been victims of abuse and sex trafficing.

This October Lifehouse is celebrating thirty years and I’m excited to be a part of it. When my friend asked me to donate a portrait, I told her I actually don’t donate my work. It wouldn’t be fair to the collectors who’ve paid full-price. I would, however, love to honor one of the moms at Lifehouse with a portrait to raise awareness for this great cause.

That mom’s name is Blossom and her daughter is Kimori. Blossom is the first college graduate from Lifehouse who has a salaried job and is saving for her first car.

Blossom says Lifehouse has helped equip her to be a great mom. The work they do “helps make a big difference in the life of a struggling mom and innocent baby.”

If you’d like to donate to Lifehouse and help moms like blossom, go here.

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A Daughter is Remembered Through the Gift of Time

 Emily and her daughter, Helen James

Emily and her daughter, Helen James

Emily lost her newborn daughter, Helen James, when she was 38 weeks pregnant. Although Emily’s pregnancy was normal, she noticed one night when Helen James wasn’t kicking like usual. She tried eating chocolate and drinking juice, but still nothing happened. Her husband Joel took her to the hospital where the doctors gave her an ultrasound, confirming the worst: Helen’s heart had stopped beating.

Emily delivered Helen through a c-section and was able to spend several days with her in the hospital through a Cuddle Cot, a device that cools and preserves the body for up to five days. A family donated it the previous year to the hospital.

 

Although Emily and her family had never heard of a Cuddle Cot, the device became a lifeline between her and her daughter by providing precious time they would not have had otherwise. Because of the Cuddle Cot, friends and family traveled from across the country to visit, hold, and meet Helen James.

Because of the gift the Cuddle Cot provided, Emily and Joel and thier friends started a fundraiser to purchase additional devices and replacement kits. In just two weeks time, they raised over $20,000 and have been able to donate six Cuddle Cots to hospitals in Memphis and Nashville.

“Our goal is to help build awareness around Cuddle Cots and the importance of them. Most grieving parents only get a few hours with their babies when they are born not living which is incredibly difficult,” says Emily.

 

Saint Thomas Midtown in Nashville, where Helen James was born, is receiving two Cuddle Cots. They hold a ceremony for each new piece of equipment they receive, and Emily and Joel have been invited to attend.

 

Each Cuddle Cot has an inscription dedicated to Helen.

 

Helen James, named after Emily’s vivacious, sports-loving grandmother, is cherished and missed every day by her parents. A verse that sums up Emily’s journey, found in Corinthians 13, describes love as unending. “Although Helen is not physically here with us,” Emily says, “the love we have for her has no end. It feels as strong as it did from the moment the Lord chose us to be her parents.”

 

If you’d like to make a contribution to a Cuddle Cot in Helen James’ honor, you can go to https://stthomas.ejoinme.org/cuddlecot

 

 

 

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Top Three Lessons You Learn as a Mom

 Francis Martin, Age 5, Oil on canvas   

Francis Martin, Age 5, Oil on canvas

 

Over the course of my career as a portrait painter of children, I've interviewed the moms I work with about the greatest lessons they've learned as parents. Some are new moms, some are on their third child, but all have the same desires and hopes for their kids. They all strive to be great moms every day. 

 

1. Being a mom isn't a competitive sport. 

Anyone up for a little "mom-petition?" We all know the mom who seems perfect at everything and manages to look great doing it. But there's no perfect way to be a mom, and every child has different needs. One mom says to embrace help when it's offered so you can slow down and enjoy every moment with your kids.

 

2. Give your kids the best of you. 

It's important to take some "me" time. Whether it's a tennis lesson, an hour with a good book, or date night with your husband, happy moms make for happy kids and husbands. You owe it to yourself and your kids to be at the top of your game.

 

3. Stop and enjoy as many moments as you can with them. 

One mom told me how sometimes her kids' thoughts and words can be so powerful, and in that moment she is truly grateful for the precious gifts God gave her. If you're constantly busy or distracted, you'll miss those moments. Everyone says it but they grow up too fast. Savor it. 

 

What's the greatest lesson you've learned as a mom? How has it affect your relationship with your child?

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Three Ways Reading Aloud to Your Kids Helps Them Do Better in School

 Henry Bush, Age 5, Oil on canvas

Henry Bush, Age 5, Oil on canvas

A recent Huffington Post article said that reading aloud to your kids, more than anything else, is the greatest predictor of high academic achievement and test scores. Not flash cards, workbooks, fancy preschools, or technology, but Mom and Dad taking the time to sit and read with their kids every day.

Wow!

According to Rasmussen, the benefits of reading to children start in the womb. Babies can hear the mother's voice and absorb language before they're even born!

Here are three other ways reading aloud to your kids is beneficial to them:

1. Reading aloud increases their vocabulary. 

The more you read to your kids, the more their vocabularies will grow. Kids absorb and learn so much from a young age. Spending time reading with them helps improve their language and memory skills, which sets them up to do better in school. Studies show that kids who are read to regularly consistently perform better in school. 

2. Reading aloud teaches empathy. 

According to Dr. Alan Mendelsohn, a pediatric professor at NYU, children who are read to "learn to use words to describe feelings that are otherwise difficult and this enables them to better control their behavior when they have challenging feelings like anger or sadness.”

Reading teaches introduces them to new characters and people who aren't like themselves. When they encounter new situations in school, they are better able to cope with their peers and understand different sides of a situation.

3. Reading aloud is a great way to bond with your child.

Cuddling up together with a good book is a fantastic way to spend time with your child. You'll explore new worlds together. Some of my favorite memories growing are when my Dad would read to us after dinner. Books like Watership Down, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Legend of Little Tree – they're some of my favorite books to this day, and we read them together as a family.

Parents, never underestimate the benefits of taking the time to do something as simple as reading to your kids! It sets them up to better in school and life. 

I'd love to know, what are your favorite books to read to your children? 

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