Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"When Evil Comes, We Morph!"

Warning: obnoxiously long post, but it's been a very long day! :)

Today, I took Joshua into Little Rock for his Therapeutic Recreation. He and his group of FRIENDS were staying at the Center and doing "team building" activities all day, so I didn't worry about getting him there on time, like I usually do.

I ran a couple of quick errands and met my friend, Ruth, for lunch. It's always such a sweet treat to visit with her. We talked non-stop for over 2 hours, and probably could've talked like that for at least 2 more. Such an easy, fun friendship. I really miss her. We live an hour apart. She has 5 kids, we have 4...things are busy.

I had planned on picking up Joshua early today, like around 2 p.m. Car tags were due on one of our vehicles, and I figured that it would be packed on the last day of the month. But I ran late with Ruth, which was fine...I just mentally prepared myself that when I got back to town, I might have to wait an hour or more at the "car tag place."

As soon as Joshua got in the car, he began to recount his day...moment-by-moment. He talked about the team-building exercises they had done. One activity they did was for each FRIEND to list...on a piece of paper...things about themselves that others might not know. Descriptive words or phrases. Then they put all the papers in a stack and mixed them up, and each person randomly chose one to read...while all the other FRIENDS tried to guess who they were describing.

Joshua said, "Jenni knew it was me from the beginning."
Me: "Oh, yeah? What did you put on your paper that described you?"
Joshua: "Natural born leader, peacemaker, Godly, wise and patient."

Alllllllllllllllllll...righty then.

And, he said that Jenni asked him to teach HER about being a leader.

Which, does anybody remember when he posted on Facebook about being the one and only spokesperson for his group of FRIENDS and how it almost started a holy war up at Therapeutic Recreation?

Joshua said, "I'm like Obi-Wan and she is like my Padawon learner, like from Star Wars."

The last activity they did before lunch was to be divided into two groups...and each group had to build a pyramid with cups and whoever finished first was the winner. They were not allowed to use their hands. The program leader, Mrs. Alanna, gave them shoe laces and rubber-bands.

The FRIENDS looked at her like she was crazy.

Joshua's group did not win, even tho Mrs. Alanna said that the winning group needed to listen to each other more.

Joshua said that they all encouraged each other and cheered for each other.

I'm really hoping all of this good-will lasts until tomorrow.

So, I had packed salmon, a baked potato, steamed broccoli and a brownie in Joshua's lunch. All left-overs from the night before. Joshua LOVES left-overs. He told me, "I ate so slowly that I couldn't finish my broccoli. But I ate my brownie."

Priorities.

We buzzed into town and I went straight to the "car tag place." I could not find my little renewal paper anywhere. UGH. I thought it was in my purse. So, the man asked me if I knew the car-tag number, and by the grace of God, I pulled it out of the air like a boss.

What WHAT?

Pretty amazing, considering we have 5 vehicles in our family. But even more amazing because it was on Holly's car. We agreed to keep the insurance and everything on it until she is out of nursing school in June. When we had to get new tags last time, I had Joshua with me...and an older (than me) lady was helping me. She looked at me...and looked at Joshua...and looked at me for a long time...which, not gonna lie, kind of unnerved me at the time. Then, she walked over to the stack of license plates and went through them one by one until she pulled one out. I won't tell you what she chose for us, but it is SIMPLE for me to remember.

Bless her.

So, when I told the guy the car number, he put it into the computer and it popped right up. We were in and out of the place in 3 minutes. TOPS.

We were almost to our house when we noticed something dead on the road. It looked like a coyote, and we both commented on it. Yuck. Joshua was right in the middle of telling me that we had a bunch of things to celebrate next May/June. Holly's graduation from nursing school, Clark's high school graduation, Morgan's graduation from college, mine and Jim's anniversary...and then he started listing all the birthdays. I told him that Morgan is graduating in December and he goes, "well, we'll celebrate it in May, anyway."

Oooooooooooookay.

He said that he was going to tell Jim to give me an anniversary present. I told him that if we could get Holly out of nursing school and settled in her new job...and Clark out and settled in college...and Logan accepeted into Occupational Therapy school...I would be such a happy camper and I wouldn't want anything else.

WHAT?

And then he said that if he could just get his first BOOK published (stand in line, buddy) and MADE INTO A MOVIE by next May or June, he would be really happy...and went off talking about his next book about some "extra" Pow-Pow-Power Rangers, "The Adventures of the Charcoal Gray Ranger."

He said, "Holly doesn't like me to talk about it all the time."
Me: "Oh yeah?"
Joshua: "Yes, but like I told her (and at this point he puts one arm straight out, fingers spread...and the other arm out on top of it with the hand making a fist)...when evil comes, we morph."

So there you have it..."when evil comes, we morph."

"...O LORD, who can compare to You..." Psalm 35:10

Monday, September 29, 2014

College Visit #2 for Clark

I think I'm in denial.

I remember when Joshua was a Senior. I was worried and stressed and wondering what the future was going to hold for him after graduation.

With Holly and Logan, it was ACT scores, grade points and class rankings...and where were they going to go to college?

And now there is Clark. And he is a Senior.

Last weekend, we went up and helped Logan and Morgan move...again. I thought I had written about that before, but I couldn't find it to link. Here's the deal: When they moved into their campus apartment in the married housing "village," it was right when they got back from their honeymoon in June. We went up there and helped lug all of their stuff up to the 2nd floor. And we were happy to do it. A couple of weeks later, we went BACK up there and hauled a washer and dryer up those stairs, so they wouldn't have to go to the laundromat, and we were happy to do it. BUT THEN, the "powers that be" at their university said that they were renovating all first floor apartments, in order to make them handicapped accessible. And that even if you lived on the 2nd floor, you would have to move out because they would need to shut off the electricity to the building to do the construction. Logan and Morgan were not happy. So that's why we had to go BACK up there and move all of their things out of their 2nd story apartment...and into a new apartment (still in the "village"). And we were happy to do it, but we were not happy ABOUT it.

All of the things we moved from their first apartment to their new apartment...was stuff that they had gotten for wedding gifts just a few months ago. Logan and Morgan said that it was just so frustrating to be given this news after they had worked so hard to make their place a home. If they had known they would have to move in a couple of months, they would've just brought the bare bones necessities and waited until they were relocated to do all of the "homey" things.

Logan lived in a house with two other guys during his Senior year of college. And, being a typical boy, he still had not moved all of his stuff out of his room at the house. While we had the truck and trailer, we decided to go over there and get everything of Logan's out of that house. LIKE WE HAD ASKED LOGAN TO DO BEFORE THE WEDDING.

And, it's fine. And it's done. But Logan and Morgan kept bringing us stuff from that house saying, "we thought Clark might like this in his dorm room." This lamp, that picture, the TV stand.

Ummm...excuse me, but Clark is not going to college. Like, EVER. He is going to stay home with me, because he's my baby and babies don't go to college.

And I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine and he shall be my Squishy.

Thank you, Dory.

Anyway, it seems like I'm going to be out-voted on the college thing, so we have taken him on a couple of campus visits.

Jim took him on the first visit to a small, private college in the NW part of our state. It was one that Clark chose and one we never would've considered. Clark was excited, because he had done it all on his own. And he was excited because he was with his Dad and had a good time. Jim enjoyed it because it gave him the opportunity to see Clark in a setting outside of home. He was impressed with Clark's "people skills" when talking with professors, and he was impressed with how easily Clark talked with his peers...how he found a common interest with them, and then wound the conversation around to asking about their personal relationship with Jesus. Pretty bold for an 18 year old kid that can be kind of annoying around here at times.

I'm kidding.

It's just that sometimes we see the mess and the forgetfulness and the cluttered car and the SIX...count 'em, SIX...pairs of shoes strewn all over the living room, kitchen and up the stairs. And sometimes we forget that we are ALL works in progress, and God isn't finished with any of us yet.

On Saturday, we went on a college visit to the University of Central Arkansas here in our town. We have 3 colleges here: UCA, and two private colleges. It's not what I envision for Clark at this point...maybe later, for grad school...but the campus is just beautiful. And BIG. Nearly 12,000 students go there.

We went on a tour with a group, and I became BFF with one of our tour guides. I had to walk at the front of the group because #1...I was trying to show Clark that I have an open mind about UCA, and one way to do that is to act very enthusiastic and interested; and #2...let's face it...I had to have an audience. I was being my usual self...trying not to embarrass Clark, but also using some well-timed, under-my-breath zingers to lighten the mood.

I was mainly cracking myself up...because, let's face it...we've been there, done that. You can pick out the "first-timer" college parents from the ones who have been down this road before. We are older, for sure...and wiser. We are checking things out with a realistic eye, and reading between the lines. "Free this" and "free that" sounds really good, but we know it's included in tuition...which is NOT free. Unless you have a full-ride. Which, Clark might have, at this school...but that little caveat was not mentioned. We are also way more relaxed about things because we've seen things work out for kids despite the odds...and we've seen things not work when circumstances are perfect.

And, you know, we are praying about all of it. Maybe GOD wants him there, whether we "see" it for Clark or not. And it's close...5 minutes away. If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know I am all over that!

Later this week, we are going on a college visit to Ouachita Baptist University. This is where I went for my first two years of college and I just loved it (I transferred to Henderson State University, right across the street, after Jim and I got married...and we both graduated from there). Our daughter, Holly, spent her 4 years at OBU and loved every minute of it. I can just see Clark there, but we are trying not to influence him in any way.

But, GO TIGERS.

I'm so excited for this visit.

We are just praying that GOD will make His will crystal clear.

"For everything there is a season,  a time for every activity under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1

Sunday, September 28, 2014

That Time I Almost Killed Clark

I don't talk a whole lot about Clark on here, because BOY.

And, because he is a Senior.

And because, in typical Clark fashion, he is on my list this week.

On Wednesday night, he came in from church and from seeing his girlfriend...and laid a piece of paper on the arm of the chair where I was sitting...and he said, "good-night, I'm going up," and went up to bed. It was about 10 p.m. The room was dark, except for the TV, so I turned on the light on my phone to see what the paper was. It was nothing important...just the form for the Senior Ads (that go in the yearbook...you know...with a special picture/pictures, a Bible verse, a touching message from the family)...IT WAS DUE THE NEXT DAY.

I do not receive that.

Because, I had to be in Little Rock with Joshua all the next day.

And that's how Marty died.

But then she resurrected herself and lunged at her son...and that's how CLARK died.

I'M KIDDING.

It was at this point that I did what any self-respecting mother would do: I called in reinforcements: Faith-the-girlfriend. I remembered that she only had one class on Thursday. She said she worked on the yearbook staff for 2 years in high school, and she knew how to do the Senior Ads.

Score.

I went to Little Rock and a couple of hours later, Faith-the-girlfriend called and said, "I'm sitting at your house...at your kitchen table...(no one else was home) and I've got yours and Mr. Jim's lap-tops up and running, and I just have a few questions..."

Um. Yes, please.

Any privacy issues I might have had were lost by this point, and I even had her digging through the desk in the kitchen to find a CD with photos on it.

No pride...no pride at all.

But she did it and it was turned in by the end of the day. Amen and amen.

And Clark? He came bee-boppin' in from school at 3:30...without a care in the world.

"God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy." Matthew 5:7

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Losing Our Minds

Is it me, or does it seem like the world is going crazy? Shootings, beheadings, kidnappings...

Just this week, a local Realtor went to show a house to an unknown man, and now she has disappeared without a trace.

And just this week, a woman was assaulted IN THE BROAD DAYLIGHT in the parking lot of a local mall. What in the world?

My husband is a huge news junkie, but it's gotten to where watching it literally hurts my stomach.

All of it has about made me want to get my concealed (handgun) carry license. Not even kidding. And this is my blog and my thoughts, so please no ugly comments. I'm not saying that I AM or am NOT. I am just thinking it all through out-loud.

I just want to keep my family safe.

I have Joshua with me every day, and almost every time I go out...and I love it that way and I plan it that way. Part of my whole purpose with how I've raised Joshua is education. I want people to see us interacting as a family and realize that people with Down Syndrome have soooo much to offer. And so much to teach us. So one of my goals is to connect with people as we are out and about. Joshua opens many doors and opportunities to share about God's faithfulness.

I pray that I am always aware of this.

Clark's girlfriend works in the coffee shop at her college. They had a big safety meeting one day right before school started. One of the scenarios was on what to do if an intruder came into one of the buildings. They were told to RUN if they could...or HIDE if they couldn't. And they were not to be confrontational.

I told Jim that if I have Joshua with me...running anywhere fast is going to be an issue, because I'm gonna be dragging 120 pounds of WHATISGOINGONMOM with me.

It's something I think about more often these days.

I feel like we...as a society...are losing our minds. George Clooney is getting married today and the news is reporting that his wedding cost upwards of 13 million dollars.

13 MILLION DOLLARS.

I'm all for people doing what they want when it comes to their own wedding...if they can afford it, what should any of us even say? I'm just having a hard time imagining what in the world costs THAT MUCH. And when they wake up in the morning, all the food and drinks will have been consumed, the flowers will have wilted, the pictures will have all been taken, the tablecloths will be balled up for the cleaners, the band will have gone home, the chairs will have been put up, the tuxes returned, the dress will never be worn again. And you're THIRTEEN MILLION DOLLARS poorer. It sounds like the dumbest thing in the world to me.

Whatever.

And another thing...the Duggers' have 19 children. If it's gonna be newsworthy every time one of them gets married, or pregnant...if we have to see pictures of their growing "baby bumps" on our news-feeds every minute of every day...then I seriously don't know how anything in this world will ever get done. I love the Duggers', and I know they are on TV...but LEAVE THEM ALONE.

I just feel like we will all be better off if we maybe spend as much OR MORE time investing in our marriages than on our weddings...if we don't model our behavior or our fashion after the Kardashians...if we don't get our theology from Oprah, or take parenting advice from Whoopie Goldberg.

No offense to any of them, but GOD GAVE US BRAINS, PEOPLE.

"Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength." Deuteronomy 6:4

Friday, September 26, 2014

The One Where Joshua Hates Restaurant Napkins

Joshua is a great kid. A great man. He is pretty much like most other people you meet on a daily basis...he just has Down Syndrome.

He has some weird things that he likes and weird things he doesn't like, just like you and I...it's just that sometimes the reasoning behind it makes no sense.

Take paper napkins from restaurants.

When we bring food home, like from Chick-Fil-A or Zaxby's or any place like that, they typically put their restaurant's paper napkins in the bag with your food. Joshua HATES them...like seriously hates them with a passion. He won't use them if we are at home. He will go and get one of OUR paper napkins and use it instead.

If it's left up to him, he will pitch them all in the trash.

In fact, just the other day, Jim said, "where are all of the napkins I had on the table?" I said, "what napkins are you talking about...do you need a napkin?" He said, "I had a stack of napkins that we got at Subway the other night, and I've been saving them on the table...to use when we eat."

He said, "Joshua, have you seen them?"

Joshua: (blank stare)

Jim, his voice a little louder: "Joshua, did you throw away my Subway napkins?"

Joshua: (blank stare)

Jim: "I HAVE BEEN SAVING THOSE NAPKINS, SON...DID YOU THROW THEM AWAY?"

Joshua: "I don't like them."

Jim: " THAT IS NO REASON TO THROW THEM AWAY. THAT IS WASTEFUL. I WAS GOING TO USE THEM."

Joshua: (crickets chirping)

Jim: "DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I AM SAYING?"

Joshua: (blank stare)

Jim: "FOR FUTURE REFERENCE, DO NOT THROW AWAY ANY NAPKINS THAT I HAVE BEEN SAVING."

Joshua: (shrugs shoulders and keeps on eating)

And this whole time, I'm trying to keep from dying laughing, because...seriously? I see Jim's point, but let me cross-stitch this on a pillow for your bed: LOGIC WILL NOT WORK WITH JOSHUA.

And Logan says, "you know we have sunk to a new low when Dad starts hollering about napkins."

Joshua got his feelings hurt, because he wants more than anything to be just like Jim. He hates to disappoint him. And Jim probably should've let it go with the first comment and just asked Joshua to please not throw the napkins away...but he sometimes goes overboard because he is a Type A person and doesn't understand what goes through Joshua's mind. His favorite phrase, when Joshua and the other kids were younger, was, "What POSSESSED you to do that?" Joshua would just look at him.

We can't have Joshua throwing stuff away just because he doesn't like it.

So, Joshua quietly cleared his plate off the table and went upstairs...he did not ask for dessert or anything. I looked at Jim and said, "you hurt his feelings, and now you're in trouble." Jim said, "I know...he's probably calling my mother as we speak, telling her that I yelled at him." And I said, "yep...and the next time we meet up with her, I guarantee you she will have at least 10 packages of paper napkins for you!"

"But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ." Ephesians 4:15