Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"If We Are The Body..."

We have lived in our new town for approximately 3 months. During this time, we have attended several community events. We have also visited 6 different churches. Do you know how many people have contacted us directly from the churches? Two. Maybe. Out of 6 churches. No one has visited us in our home, even tho we are new to town and checked the "I am interested in your church" box on their visitor's forms.

What is going on? 

I think we have decided that a form letter from a church that is signed by the pastor is an acceptable form of evangelism. It is not. One of the churches we visited sent us an email. personal, right? Now, Jim and I aren't sitting at home waiting on someone to come and meet us, and hold our hands as we walk thru life. Seriously, we aren't. And we already ARE Christians, so no one has to come and "evangelize" us. But, what if we weren't? What if we were new-to-town AND we weren't Believers?

We are failing, people.

Nearly every Thursday night, I go up to the field-house with some Football Moms. There are about 6-8 women who meet and make posters and fill up treat-bags for our boys. Our family has been to nearly every Varsity football game, but we've been to EVERY sophomore and JV game. The home games AND the away games. Do you know how many people from the Football Moms group or people at a football game have come up to meet our new-to-town family? None.

And, there are a lot of people at a Varsity football game...sometimes, it's even hard to find a seat. I get that. But at a JV game? A SOPHOMORE game? Give me a break. When we walk in, our family of 3...Jim, Joshua and's OBVIOUS that we are new. I mean, there is no one else that looks like Joshua in the stands. Obviously, we haven't been around before, right?

And yet all we get is stares.

What are the words in the Casting Crowns song, "if we are the body, why aren't His arms reaching?"

Because talk is cheap.

I bet if you took a poll from that any given high school football game in our town, 90% OR MORE would claim that they are Christians. Probably would say they attend church on a regular basis. Probably were there last Sunday. Might've even sat by you. Or by me.

Why? Why do we even bother to go?

Because this ain't workin'.

How can we expect to reach the world for Christ, when we won't even reach out to the ones in our own churches, schools, and neighborhoods?

I'm sure there are people who would say, "well, why don't you be the bigger person and go over to meet THEM..." and in certain situations, we have done that. It's just really hard to move to a new place and not know anyone. It can be such a lonely time. The last thing I want is the entire responsibility of meeting people. Work with me people. It's exhausting, moving. At times, I've felt invisible. It doesn't bother me so much at community events as it does when it happens in church.

Church is supposed to be the place you go where you feel safe and loved; where you hear God's word and sing His praises, and you are convicted and humbled and inspired. But all of the warm feelings of Christian fellowship and community aren't supposed to stay inside the building. We're supposed to take that Light out the door and down the street...and into the schools and work-places, and to the grocery and Target and the DMV and everywhere else that we go.

Because people are DYING. They are dying for someone to love them, yes...but they are also DYING and missing out on the blessing of Heaven because they don't know Jesus. Because maybe they heard about Him in church, but never really MET Him. Because maybe they never saw anyone being His hands and feet.

"The patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish..." (2 Peter 3:9)

I'm not meaning to point fingers, even tho I guess I am. I've been guilty of it, too. I've been too busy...been too comfortable in my own group of friends. It's just easier to see wrong in someone ELSE...or when the tables are turned and it affects ME. So I'm doing the whole 'remove the beam from your own eye' thing, and I pray that God will make me sensitive to the people around me.

"Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers..." (Hebrews 13:2)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Matt Turner

It's unnatural, the death of someone so young. I think we all hope for a long, healthy life. If not for ourselves, then for our loved ones and our friends.

In this case, he was a son...a brother...a husband...a young father...a friend to many.

A tragedy.

It's not right.

When my Mom died at age 59, my Grandmother was distraught. No amount of love or counsel from pastors, family or friends would comfort her.

She was no stranger to loss. She had lost a sister, her parents, two husbands...and countless friends.

This was different.

She said that parents should not outlive their children; that it was wrong no matter how old they were. She never got over it. She spent the remainder of her days grieving, her mind in turmoil. The "what-ifs" ate at her daily. On more than one occasion, she said she would gladly have given up her life in exchange for my Mom's.

But it doesn't work that way, does it?

God sees life differently. The Bible says it's a "vapor (James 4:14)," a "breath (Job 7:7, Ps 39:5)." That "better is one day in Your courts than thousands elsewhere (Ps 84:10)." That to be "absence from the body, is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:6)." In 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18, the Bible speaks of  "light and momentary affliction...that will produce for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison..."

Why does it hurt so bad?

Death is just hard...on the ones who remain. The husband? He is in Heaven. But his young wife, what is she to do? Even with her strong faith, how will she ever pick up the pieces of her life? Because it's more than the loss of's the loss of a companion, a soul-mate, a friend; the influence of a Godly husband and father; the plans of raising their daughter, growing a family...growing old. Together.

Now what?

I've been reading the book by Angie Smith entitled, "Mended." In it, she tells the story of shattering a vase, and then trying to glue it back together. It was a painstaking process, but of course, it didn't go back the way it was. It couldn't. She would argue it wasn't meant to. Some of the pieces never fit back right. It left cracks and scars. Places you could see through. Angie says she felt God telling her that the cracks were places where He could seep out of her life.

For those who knew Matt Turner, who know his wife, Julee and baby Preslee...this is a big crack in Julee's "vase." In her life. In the lives of his Mom, brother, co-workers and friends.

Big, big crack.

Use it, Lord...because our human eyes, it would seem like such a waste.

Comfort them as only You can.

And use us all in that process...

"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His godly ones." Psalm 116:15

Thursday, October 4, 2012

10th Grade

It was like 10th grade all over again, when I was the new kid...coming into class late on the first day.

My Dad was in the Air Force and we moved all the time. In fact, I think I counted up 16 moves before I graduated from high school. My 4th grade year, I went to 3 different schools. THREE. DIFFERENT. SCHOOLS.

Explains a lot, huh?

So, it was part of the routine. After the move, my Mom would take us up to the school to get registered. This was almost always AFTER the school year had already started. And, the administrators always walked us into our class AFTER it had already started...and we had to bust up in there right in the big middle of it.

My stomach hurts just thinking of it.

Ever watch the movie, "Mean Girls..." the part when Lindsay Lohan is walking through the cafeteria? that. Everyone stares. They look you up and down, whispering to their friend. You are sure it's about you.

In my case, it WAS about me. And here's why...

Our family had just moved to Oklahoma from Taiwan. I knew nothing about fashion, music or movie stars. I had lived on a rock for 2 years...give me a break! My mom had a lady who sewed for us while we were in Taiwan. My mom had such fun picking out patterns and material. The sewing lady was amazing! My sisters and I had lots of coordinating clothes (even now that makes me want to throw up a little in my mouth, because..10th grade). But while the things she made for us were great for Oklahoma? NOTSOMUCH. It's a thousand wonders I didn't get beat up on the first day.

In what I would call a major lack of judgment on my part (and my mom's for not knowing any better), I headed out to my first day wearing ORANGE pants and an ORANGE print shirt. To school. In Oklahoma. In the 10th grade. Add to the fact that we had been living in guest housing for 3 months before we actually moved, and had spent each and every day at the swimming pool. We were seriously tan...which probably only added to the serious brightness of the orange.

Oh the orange.

(And on another note: I had never worn a pair of jeans. EVER. Did not even own a pair. In 10th grade)

As Clark would say: "notthepoint..."

So, fast forward to this week. Our school's JV football team had an away game. We parked on the "home" side and walked in that gate. We had to walk across their side and down the infield side to get to our bleachers. It was a beautiful afternoon and we were just walking and talking and laughing the whole way, Joshua, Holly and me.

As we got to our side and started to climb up to find a seat, I was acutely aware that everyone was staring at us. It was mainly a group of women, all sitting together, who were staring at us up and down. I felt my face get flushed...was my hair messed up? did I have lettuce in my teeth? I sat down and looked at the 3 of us. We looked FINE. We all 3 had on our school looked good...teeth were white and shiny.


I am used to getting stares when I have Joshua, but this was ridiculous. Was it really just because of him? Or because we were "new?" I mean, we have been to every stinkin' game. I guess I will never know, but it infuriated me that people could be so rude. Especially those women.Were they talking about us? About Joshua? I was even more infuriated that I let it bother me. I am a mom...just like them. I love my husband and my kids...just like them.

Girls are just the worst, aren't they? If you have one, you know what I'm talking, church, boys...the drama never ends. Some of those mean girls grow up into mean women. I guess it's been that way since the beginning of time.

I realized again that I can't change anyone. I can only, with God's help, change ME. And I realized that changing ME, how I act and REact, might end up...some day...changing someone else. Everyone struggles with self-esteem and confidence issues. How we cover it up is that when we are little...we get in a "group," or we try to. That way, we feel stronger than we do when we are just alone. But guess what? Sometimes you have to stand alone.

That's what I've always told my kids...

It's a lesson I can never stop learning.

Lord, help them to see You in see You, not me...

"Together, we are His house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus Himself. We are carefully joined together in Him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord." Ephesians 2:20-21

Monday, October 1, 2012

The View

It's October 1!

This morning, since we didn't have any plans until after lunch...I decided, after Clark and Jim both left and Joshua had eaten crawl back into my bed. I took Jim's iPAD and turned on the tv and snuggled all up in the covers. Ahhh...

But I'm not a big 'napper' type of person, and so that lasted about 10 minutes before I decided to pad into the kitchen and face the day. It was about 8:30. I knew I had some errands to run and a package to mail to Logan later, but last night I decided that I would make some cookies to send to him today as well. My kitchen was a WRECK from the night before when I decided to make homemade ice-cream and it took...ohhh...almost SIX HOURS to make...from start to finish.

Good times.

I was unloading the dishwasher when I heard the lock turn in the door. It about freaked me out, because I knew Jim had to go out-of-town today...and Clark was already at school. Eeek!

It was Jim.

He had forgotten his cell phone.

He rushed into the bedroom to get it and paused as he passed by the kitchen...and just stared...

Let me paint the picture: The kitchen is a wreck. My hair has not been combed and I am wearing NO make-up. I've got on pink flowered-y and bottom. I have on my short, white robe with the blue and yellow flowers on it. I've had this robe for at least 15 years. Maybe more. (I'm pretty sure my sister has pictures to prove this). When I got up early to pack Clark's lunch, my feet were cold, so I put on some white crew socks. So, the robe comes down to my knees. The pajama pants are capris and hit 2 inches below my knees. There's about 3 inches between the pajama pants and the top of the white socks...where you just see my lovely, dry skin. And to top off this ensemble...I am wearing my pink pig slippers.

A vision, I tell you.

Take it ALLLLLLL in big boy!

Happy Monday!

Monday, September 24, 2012


What a busy week!

Joshua got to speak at a United Way meeting in Heber Springs for ENTERGY. He did SUCH a good job and everyone was so nice to him. Jim and I were so proud of him...just thinking that this was the little kid that many people thought would never amount to anything (and, trust me, if he never spoke to anyone about anything, we would love him just as much!). This young man stood in front of at least 30 people and gave a short talk on what United Way has meant to him (you can designate UW funds to go to Special Olympics). He had everyone's attention. They clapped and cheered. One lady videoed it. One man took pictures. When he was done, he received what he called a "standing probation." He had to miss his group's outing on that day, and so he was a little bummed about that at first. Anytime one of the members of his Therapeutic Rec group have to miss for ANY reason, it causes a disturbance in the force some concern and lots of questions among the friends...but he got a good meal and a FREE t-shirt, so it was all good!

I took Clark to ACH for his annual oncology check-up. It was good to see Dr. Becton and the nurses. Clark and Dr. Becton spent most of the time chatting about football and all of that. We got the results of Clark's lab work on Thursday, and it all came back NORMAL! Praise the LORD! So thankful!

Holly and Aaron graciously offered for Joshua to spend the night with them on Tuesday. FIRST. TIME. EVER. Joshua was in ALL his glory! He had the best time with his sister and his brother-in-law...and his "furry nephew," Marley. Holly picked him up from the Center on Tuesday afternoon, and then took him back on Wednesday morning...saving me two trips! Snaps for Holly and Aaron!

My friend, Carolyn, invited me to have lunch at her house with a few of our "old" gang...from back a long time ago when we lived in LR. Our other friend, Karen, was in town for some speaking engagements. She travels a lot for conferences and things. I was thrilled to be able to spend some special time with her and the others. Carolyn is such a warm and welcoming person. Walking into her familiar house, I was taken back in time...back to when Jim and I were much younger, and in Carolyn and Earl's SS class. They were great mentors to us during our early years, and Carolyn pretty much taught me how to be a Mom. Karen taught me how to be deliberate in parenting my children toward Christ, and she was one of the first people who came to see Joshua at our home after he was born. I remember her sitting on the couch and holding him on her lap. She looked at me and said, "just love him."


Yeah...I could do that.

I absolutely LOVED spending the afternoon with those precious women.

On Thursday, after I dropped Joshua at the Center, I headed to Bryant. Holly and I painted the master bedroom. What a job! There was a section we couldn't do that was behind their bed, but the rest is done. I think it will all need a second coat...but that goes faster than the first coat, right? Right? :) On Thursday night, I met my friend, Amy, in LR and we went to hear Karen speak at First Baptist Church. I got to see several people from our past and that was so fun! the name of a potential new "hair-girl" for me and Holly to try! Karen spoke on having a spirit of gratitude...even when things go wrong, even when things don't go your way, even when things aren't GOOD, even when things aren't FAIR.


She gave several examples from her own life, some things I had not heard before. I felt really bad that I'd been complaining about this house. So it's not what I would've what? Maybe everything doesn't have to be about me. I know that GOD has provided a beautiful place to live. I know that GOD will honor my obedience if I have a grateful heart. I know that GOD is allowing our other house to be used by our children, for such a time as this, and I am beyond thrilled about that!

Friday night, we had a football game. Even tho Clark still cannot play, we made the drive to Russelville to cheer on the team. We got there on time, but there was a lonnnng line and the visitor's stand was FULL. We had to sit on the home side, but everyone around us was really nice. :)

On Saturday afternoon, we went down to Bryant and saw H/A for about an hour...then headed down to see the in-laws at the lakehouse. We had a great dinner, loaded up some groceries...and headed home.

On Sunday, we went back to Second Baptist Church. It was our 3rd visit. I really like the pastor, like the direction of the church, like that there is a corporate effort and focus to reach the lost in our community. I love that it's a church of missions...and lots of ministry opportunities. If someone will just reach out to Clark...(sigh) I am anxious to see how he fits into their youth department. And then there's Joshua...none of the churches we've visited have a place for him. Or, at least not that we know of! We serve a big and mighty God, and we are trusting that He's got this ALL under control. HIS control.

And today...huge praise. Clark had another appointment with his orthopedic doc who said Clark is doing MUCH better. Not 100% yet, but significantly better...and released him to do some lifting and exercising and running. Yay! Still "no contact," but getting stronger. :) So many people have been praying for him.

This week...looks really busy as well. I'm gonna try to make a concerted effort to be GRATEFUL and GRACIOUS in all things, even when I don't understand. Wish me luck!

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways!" Romans 11:33

Monday, September 17, 2012



That's how I am feeling. 

This house doesn't feel like "home" yet. Our other house is still on the market. I see people I don't know everywhere I, church, the grocery. It's gettin' old. 

(Hello, I don't believe we've met. I'm Wendy Whiner)

About 2 weeks ago, we had some "lookers" come to our house in Bryant. We were excited to find out that it was their 2nd time to view our house! After their visit, the realtor called Jim and gently suggested that we "update" that house.


Not really trying to put a lot of money into a house that we are trying to sell.

I see it, tho...what they are saying. About the house. It's plain...but isn't that okay? I mean, for the price? It's a huge house and we had a ton of happy memories there. It wasn't perfect when we moved in...but we were okay with it. We changed a few things, and I painted a lot...but for the most part, we left it the way it was. It was big and comfortable and homey...and there was room for everyone.

I don't think I would ever let a paint color determine whether or not we would buy a house. 

But that's just me.

One of the houses I looked at before we bought our Conway house...had a white wall with a GIANT Wampus Cat (Conway's mascot) head painted on it in BRIGHT, royal blue. The homeowner had placed a sticky-note on the wall that said they would be happy to recommend an artist that would paint anything we wanted on that wall.

(I just hope it wasn't the same person who painted it on there the first time, because Joshua Garland could have done a better job. I'm just sayin'.)

Now let me just say here and now that I'm a fan of the Wampus Cats...or, I'm slowly getting there. But I would have NO PROBLEM whatsoever slappin' a coat of paint over that Cat head. No ma'am. None at all.

This house we eventually bought in Conway, it's not perfect. I would not have chosen it, but Jim loved it and I wanted him to be happy. I know we will make great memories here, too. There is still work to be done here in this house, but it's had to be placed on the back-burner while we tend to things in Bryant. And things are MUCH BETTER since Leanne, Robin and Kevin worked their magic here.

So, I have been spending time working on the house in Bryant...updating the kitchen cabinets and painting in the master bedroom and bath. Holly has helped me a lot, and for that, I am grateful.

We are also very thankful that Holly and Aaron have been able to live in that house while it is still for sale...and oh my goodness...she has it decorated so cute! I think it helps to have someone living there. So while we are anxious to get the house sold, we definitely see God's timing at work.

I still feel unsettled, but, as my friend, Ruth says, "it's just a season."

On another note: Joshua asked me this week if Jim and I ever "square-danced" in our bed at night...and, if so, had we ever fallen out of bed. Eeek!

"...He is your constant source of stability..." (Isaiah 33:6a)

Monday, September 10, 2012



I can't believe it's been 7 weeks since I've written on this blog. Since I've written anything. Who knows what will come out of me.

I've been in a slump for sure.

So much has happened. I was nearing my breaking point with this move...with this house...when my 2 sisters and my brother-in-law came to my rescue. They came in like a storm...made a plan and began to execute it.

The plan: paint and glaze my kitchen cabinets, paint the built-ins in the family room from black, new ceiling fans and light fixtures, new blinds, curtains, rugs, accessories.

It took every bit of a weekend. We all worked until we dropped, but in the end...our house is more of a home. It's

I have a great family. I am overwhelmed with gratitude, and so, so blessed.

"Bear one another's burdens..." (Galatians 6:2)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

We're Here...But It Ain't Pretty

Yeah. We're here.

For some reason, Jim decided to schedule the majority of the move last week while Holly was here. Nevermind the fact that she came up so we could attend Miss Arkansas every night. Then, he decided to move the appliances (washer, dryer, frig) on the Friday that I had to be gone for 14 hours...driving up to Missouri to get Joshua from Camp Barnabas...AND BACK.


I love him half-to-death but men and women certainly do not think alike. AT ALL.

So, it's been an adventure. We still have lots of stuff at the old house. Well, not LOTS...but a LOT.


I am just really thankful for God's provision. Right now, we are all operating on fumes and just the strength that God gives us each day is what is getting us through. Don't get me wrong, this move has been SO SMOOTH (relatively speaking) there are really no complaints (unless you count the fact that Jim is making us move like gypsies...having family and friends pack all of our stuff in pick-ups and on trailers and making a thousand trips up and down the interstate at all hours of the day and night).

I am thankful for my family. God definitely knew what He was doing when He gave me 3 strong boys. They have been such a help to us in the past few weeks. Seriously. Strong, willing, protective. I love them.

And, God knew what He was doing by giving me a daughter. I love the times I get to spend with her. She is a HUGE help to me with Joshua...and with Clark. I love her so much, and let's face it...she's like a breath of fresh air in a room full of boy stink! It's amazing how each member of the family has a distinct role...and when they are here, things function one way...and when they are not, they function in a different way.

We are also very thankful for this new home. We are praying that our Bryant house will sell soon...and for the family who will occupy it one day.

So, for now, we get up and work hard here at home. Jim works hard at work and then works hard at home. We go back and forth to Bryant. We are constantly trying to find stuff. Is it here? Is it in Bryant? We are living out of boxes. We fall into bed at night and are instantly asleep. We wake up and start all over again.

"...He gives to His beloved even in his sleep." Psalm 127:2

Friday, July 6, 2012

Underwear on the Table...

A long week.

Every day, my schedule is basically the same...get up...while Jim and Clark get ready to leave for Conway, I wait for Logan to leave for work. We eat breakfast. I clean up my entire house. I try to get at least one load of laundry going. I pack and load boxes or furniture. We've been using a lot of towels at the new house...both after being in the pool, and for showers. And small dishtowels for cleaning. I've been loading them up when I leave Conway, and bringing them home to wash and dry...and taking them back each day. Joshua and I typically leave for Conway between 9:30-10 each morning. Jim has been picking Clark up from football and bringing him to the new house. I've had lunch ready for us every day. I have picked up food on the way into town, but mostly I fix things here and take there. We have Holly's old dorm frig in the kitchen, along with a large ice-chest for drinks. After we eat lunch, Jim usually rests a while before going back to work. Clark usually showers and tries to find a place to nap. Joshua hangs out with me and helps me unpack or he listens to music or spends time organizing his new room...while I paint.

And paint.

And paint.

And then we leave, come home, start dinner, pack boxes, load boxes, go to bed...and start all over again the next day.

I am so tired.

And a random thought about boys...


I know I've heard other moms say that clothes fall off their boys' bodies like the rapture has just happened, and I'm just sayin'. I can totally relate. Sometimes, the clothes fall off my boys all in one they literally jumped out of their clothes. Sometimes, it's like this past Christmas Eve...Logan took all of the clothes he found laying around...and made them look like people were sitting on the couch. FREAKED ME OUT on Christmas morning, when I was trying to creep in the living room in the dark to put more presents under the tree. Mostly, tho, clothes fall off my boys ALL OVER THE HOUSE. Here a shirt, there a cap, everywhere a are the worst! Logan, especially, has more shoes than the other two boys combined...and more shoes than Jim has ever owned in his whole life!

And they are everywhere.


Kitchen floor, living room floor, under the couch, in the bathroom, in the game-room...ugh. One day this week, I picked up 4 pairs of Logan's shoes and 3 pairs of Clark's shoes...just in random places in the house. Logan has caps and hats hung on hooks and doorknobs and on top of the counter. Found a belt on the floor in the living room.

This morning, tho, took the cake. I walked into the kitchen and there was a pair of underwear on the table. The KITCHEN table. Where we EAT. 

(I think I just threw up a little in my mouth)

At first I just looked at them. I mean, it's early...I'm tired...maybe I'm seeing things...because there's no way any boy of mine would leave their skivvies on the table, right? RIGHT? 

I did what any normal mom-of-boys would the kitchen tongs, picked up the underwear, and took them straight to the laundry.

My mother-in-law, however, probably would've sniffed them first to see if she could tell if they were clean...

Not me, man. No how, no way.

"Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." Psalm 90:14

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Gotta be honest. I don't really feel one bit like writing anything, but I do want to record...for later...what all is going on with us.

We now own two homes.

Let me rephrase that: our banks now own two homes. In our names.

Just reading that line makes me very tired.

If this sounds like I'm complaining, then it's coming across wrong. We are so blessed. I know many who've had to move out of their homes, due to the economic conditions and various financial set-backs...and many who have NEVER owned a home.

Okay...just so we're clear.

I'm just very tired.

So, this week, Joshua and I have been running back and forth to Conway. We've taken boxes to unpack, and also things like painting supplies. I specifically chose boxes that would keep Joshua occupied and make him feel productive as he that I could concentrate on painting. I really wanted to get Clark's room painted before he gets home from Beach Camp...and I finished it up yesterday. YAY! Joshua unloaded several boxes of his stuff into his closet, and also unpacked about 800 VHS tapes. WHY...I don't know. I guess because they were in the boxes I gave him.

We really need to get a machine that plays the VHS tapes...or we need to get rid of all of them.

Jim said we could "take them to Hot Springs." That is his solution for everything..."take it to Hot Springs." His poor parents have more stuff than they know what to do with NOW...they do not need anymore from US!

So, we decided to take the day off Wednesday and not go to Conway. I had a doctor's appointment, anyway. It was such a relief not to have to get up and get out of the house early. I cleaned the kitchen, my bedroom, did some laundry, vacuumed. This house really needed some attention! AND, they are wanting to have an Open House on Sunday...further motivation to get some things done early!

Holly and Aaron came in on Wednesday night. Aaron surprised Holly with tickets to the Lady Antebellum concert for their 1 year anniversary. They spent the night here, and then Aaron went back home this morning. He will be back after work on Friday. I am excited to have Holly here...she is a big help to me.

Today, Holly and I painted Joshua's room. I think we can get by with one coat on all the walls but one. One wall had chalkboard paint on it and that will probably take 2 coats. It was great to have Holly's help today. It's the first time she's seen the house. She agreed with me that there is a lot of potential there...which will require a lot of work. And money.

So...after painting nearly every room in THIS house...I will need to paint nearly every room in the NEW house. My arms are so tired!

I think Clark is having a good time at Beach Camp. I hope so, anyway. I have prayed over him daily. I can't wait to see him tomorrow night. They aren't allowed to use their phones except for 15 minutes at night. So far, the only text I've received is a "thumbs up" to a message I sent HIM. I hope and pray that God is doing a great work in all of their week is back to football in Conway for Clark, and maybe even staying some nights with Jim at the new house.

Change is hard. I am thankful for a GOD Who never changes.

"For I, the LORD, do not change..." (Malachi 3:6)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kanakuk Update

We picked Clark up from Kanakuk on Saturday. I was SO HAPPY to see that boy! A week is a long time. We had debated on bringing Joshua with us. He does travel well...but the roads to Kamp are pretty curvy and he does NOT do curvy well. Anyway, Holly was at her home in Fay and I didn't want to ask her to come down again and keep him (she had just been here the week before). I thought about taking him to stay with his grandparents for the day...but Clark was only gonna have about 24 hours at home, and I knew Joshua would want to see him. Plus, I didn't want to spend one minute of those 24 hours traveling down to get him. And Logan had plans so he couldn't keep him. So, we brought Joshua with us.

We had to get up a little after 3 on Saturday morning...opening ceremonies start at 7:30 a.m. Most NORMAL people will go up the night before and spend the night. Not the Garland's. No, ma'am. Not spending $89 on a motel room for 8 hours of sleep. Oh, no!  Thankfully, Joshua is a real trooper. It helps that he's a morning person! We decided to stop for breakfast on the road.


We finally found a McDonald's that was open around 5:30, and went thru the drive-thru. I decided to give Joshua a Dramamine. Or, as a younger Joshua called it, "drama-queen." I knew the curviest roads were ahead and so I didn't want him to feel bad. I even let him move up to the front seat for the rest of the trip.



Jim said, "NOTE TO SELF: drama queen doesn't work for everyone."

I get out the box and start reading the label. I tell says "take 1-2 every 4 hours." (of course, it also said, "MAY CAUSE MARKED DROWSINESS"...but THAT didn't seem to be true). At lunch, an hour from Kamp, I decide to give him another drama queen. I mean, it had been 2 hours at that point.


By the time we get to Kamp, Joshua is a zombie. A ZOM-BIE. Not even kidding. I am holding his hand as we walk, and we are walking SLOWLY. Jim keeps looking back at us. I am keeping pace with Joshua because of the terrain...and because his steps are unsteady. Joshua looks like a drunk.

Clark had a great time during the week. Right before the teepee awards, a Dad came up to me and introduced himself. He said he had "been told by others" that Clark was a special friend and great encourager to his son. He told me that his son has Autism...and how much he appreciated Clark looking out for him and being his friend. When he saw Joshua with us, he said, "well, now it's obvious why Clark has such a compassionate heart." That blessed me so much because when all 3 of the boys are home, it's not exactly a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting. There's yelling and rough-housing and and lots of LOUDNESS and stink. And sometimes, I just don't think they "get" much I want them to all love each other and all of that (or, as Joshua says, "allvadat"). But then...God sends me a little reminder, thru the comments of this Dad...that maybe things ARE getting into those thick heads of theirs. Love me some God.

Clark was also awarded the "I AM THIRD" award during Base Kamp, and I couldn't be more proud of him for that. It was named after a pilot who sacrificed his own life in a plane crash. Instead of bailing out and saving himself...ensuring that the plane would crash in a neighborhood, likely killing many...he chose to crash-land his plane in the only vacant spot around. He did not survive, but there were no other casualties. He valued other lives as more important than his own. "I AM THIRD."

In the end, there are some "surprises" from Joshua that I don't want to even put in the blog. I don't think I'll ever forget. Eeek! But Joshua was SO excited to see Clark and I am glad we brought him...but, next year...might see if there's another option. I wish there was a straight road to get to the kamp.

We ended up meeting the ALL the Sanders' for dinner at US Pizza in NLR on Saturday night. It was so great to see them. I love them all so much.

"Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man." (Proverbs 3:3-4)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A long week...'s been one long week...and it's only Wednesday. 

Jim and I took Clark to Kanakuk on Saturday. It's his 9th year to go and he loves it. He was SO hoping to get into Super Deal this year, but he was back in teepee 13. He was a little sad b/c the guys in there seem a little on the young side...but he will be fine. I'm sure he would've preferred being around the guys who were his age and a little older...he really likes hanging out with Logan and his friends. But I told Jim that I believe God had a purpose in putting Clark in that exact teepee again this year. One of his counselors is a "first year," and when Clark said it was his 9th year to go, the counselor goes, "well, hello ASSISTANT COUNSELOR!" Ha! Not really, but Jim and I talked about it on the way home. Clark has expressed a desire to help with youth and middle-school youth as he goes thru high school and college, if he's able. We think this week will be good for him in many ways...not only giving him that little booster-shot-in-the-arm we sometimes need in our spiritual lives...but also helping to hone the skills he will need to mentor others. 

(Of course, that was just our interpretation of how WE THINK the week COULD go, based on what we observed...and after talking about specific things we had prayed for for Clark this week)

(And seeing him in some pictures on-line...he looks SO HAPPY! So things must be good!) 

(His spiritual growth is more important to us than anything else!)

One of the Bible passages I have prayed for over Clark this week (especially verse 3): "and he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither, and in whatever he does, he prospers." Psalms 1:1-3 (soli deo gloria)

Can't wait to see what Clark learned and experienced.

I sure miss him. SOOOO much.

Then, I talked to my friend, Stacy. Her daughter, Sarah Grace, is spending a month working in an orphanage in Haiti. A MONTH. Sarah has been very sick, but is getting better, thank God. It doesn't matter how old your kids are...when they are sick, you want to be there. My child is in another state. If I need to, I can be by his side in less than 5 hours. My friend's daughter is in another country...where travel is difficult...and medical facilities are less than ideal for something serious.

THE SAME GOD is watching over Clark in Missouri...and Sarah Grace in Haiti.

Clark will stay at Kanakuk all week. We go to pick him up early on Saturday morning...and then on Sunday, he is leaving for 5 days at Beach Camp in Alabama. 

Not gonna's gonna be reallllly hard to let him go on Sunday.

On another's been a long week. Maybe I said that already. My mind is in a constant state of motion, but I can't seem to get my body to follow. SO much to do with preparing for the move...but I just want to curl up in a ball until it's over.

We closed on the new house on Monday. We went early and did a walk-thru of the house with the homeowners. It was the first time I had been in the house since we made the offer...and that was, like, for 10 minutes. I wasn't sure Jim would feel the same way about it, but he seems just as thrilled. Joshua was with us. I took him thru the home and pointed out the 3 available bedrooms...and told him he could have the first pick. As expected, he picked the one I thought he would pick. I asked him if he was excited about it, and he looked at me very seriously and said, "how fast can you paint?"

(Did I mention the room is PINK?)

Yeah...lots of work here...and then lots of work THERE...before we even move in.

"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!" Isaiah 26:3

Friday, June 15, 2012

More Than A Brother...

I thought I'd better write about what has gone on with Joshua the last couples of that the one or two people who read this blog don't think it's all fun and games all the time around here. It's real life, people. Joshua has the same moods that we all have. What he may lack is the communication skills to tell us what is wrong or how he's feeling. I'm thinking even HE doesn't really know, at times.

(Of course, I have 3 other children who have great communication skills, but don't always choose to use them when it comes to me...and I guess I do the same. We all pick and choose the ones we share our deepest, truest emotions with)


(Okay, now I'm thinking of that "Raymond" episode when Ray is giving a speech to the school board and he tries not to end a sentence with a preposition)

Anyway, notthepoint...

We have loved having Logan home this summer. And we love having Holly and Aaron here when they come home...but any variance in the dynamics of our home affects Joshua in one way or another. I know it...I think we all know it. (I believe I've mentioned a time or three that Joshua is a fan of routine. HIS routine)

Logan has been home since the first part of May. His job didn't start until June 11, so that has given him plenty of time to rest or see his friends or hang out here at home with the boys. I guess Joshua had gotten used to him being here. So, Monday came and Logan went to work, and we went to Conway to pick up Clark. Logan came home that evening...and all was well.

Tuesday...same thing. Logan left, we went to go get Clark and we came home. Logan came in after work and saw Joshua sitting outside.

They kind of have a "thing" where anytime Logan goes out there and sits beside him...they will have a heart-to-heart talk. Meaning Joshua talks, and Logan listens. This day, Logan went out there, ready to sit down and visit...and Joshua GLARED at him, mumbled under his breath, got up and came inside.


Logan tried to ask him what was wrong, and Joshua said he didn't want to talk about it. None of us had a clue what happened. It was obvious that Joshua was mad, and it was obvious that he was mad at Logan.

We didn't know if it was abandonment issues, upset that Logan has left (him) and gone to work...or if he was jealous b/c HE was not the one going to work...or WHAT. He was sitting outside with Clark when Logan first came out there, and so maybe he thought Logan was intruding on his "bruh (brother) time" with Clark.

We'll probably never know.

All I DO know is that a lot of things that happen with Joshua..his actions and his reactions...are not logical. To most people. And so trying to solve the problem, or talk to him...using logic...ain't gonna work.

Example: Jim takes Joshua to the gym probably 3 or 4 times a week. Joshua runs on the treadmill, uses the elliptical or the bike...and then uses the weight machines. He also uses some free weights and does bench press and dead lift with Jim as his spotter. He's done this every week in the 5 years that we've lived here. This week, Jim said he noticed some people around him looking down in Joshua's general direction. Jim looked and Joshua had gotten off the treadmill, taken off his shoes and socks, and was running on the treadmill with his bare feet. BARE FEET. In 5 years, that has never happened. EVER. Jim walked over and told Joshua that being barefoot on the treadmill wasn't allowed, and Joshua goes, "okay," and puts his socks and shoes back on. Later, when Jim asked Joshua why he did that, Joshua said, "I just wanted to see what it felt like."

Logical? Not so much.

And today, Joshua said something about "Dad's not too thrilled with me at the gym right now," and something about "running 80 miles an hour" and "trying to walk backwards." I have NO idea what that's about.

I tried talking to Joshua about the Logan thing, and he started bringing up everything and their Mommas...stuff from the past, stuff he makes up, etc. He brings people into the conversation that have NO BEARING WHATSOEVER on the issue. It's really hard to keep him focused. I'm usually pretty good about getting to the root of things...I have to go thru the backdoor and weave my way around all the added "stuff" he's talking try and get to the bottom of it. 

This issue is not a huge deal in the big scheme of life. Logan is older and understands more than he did when he was younger. He tried not to take it personally, but, not gonna IS unsettling for Joshua to be so upset, and not be able to put a finger on why. Perhaps the uncertain nature of our lives right now...with the move and so many things keeping him more agitated than any of us realize.

It's not for the faint-hearted...parenting, that is. It's tough, in many different ways. In this case, with Joshua, there are things that we may never know, or understand, or figure out...this side of Heaven...but we just do our best with God's help to try and work through them. It takes lots of prayer...because there are situations, like this one, that may require some sort of discipline. Joshua is a man, a 26 year old a man's body...with a child-like mind. What am I gonna do? Spank him? Put him in time-out? It's tough...and when you are the parent of a child with special-needs, you will be met with a ton of resistance from well-meaning family and friends when it comes to disciplining your child. "Aww...he doesn't know what he's doing..." or "he didn't mean it" are two that I have gotten a LOT.

So, yeah.

In this case, I took away his phone and ipod. As Dr. Phil says, that's his "currency." It's what he loves, and what he likes to do. Unfortunately, it's also his connection to the all family and friends. Now, he got them both back last night, after he made things right with Logan, but don't kid's all gonna HIT THE FAN when he tells his grandparents that his Mom took his phone away...just sayin'...

It won't be the first time...

In the end, Joshua's conscience got the better of I knew that it would. It typically takes him a day or two to come out of it, once he gets in a funk. After Logan got home from work, Joshua asked him to come talk in his bedroom. They were in there for a long time. Logan said Joshua apologized, and...of course, he forgave him. Then he asked Joshua, "why were you mad at me?" Joshua never could really say. I don't think he knows...but the words he left Logan with were precious and deep...

"You're more than my brother,'re my best friend."

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!" Psalms 133:1

Monday, June 11, 2012



It's not much I ever thought about until a few years ago, when we had to uproot our family and move to a different city. Then, there was a new church, new grocery store, new people. New everything.

It was HARD.

We had lived in the same community for 15 years. We pretty much raised our children's the only "home" they remember. We loved our friends, our house, our church. I loved how I saw people I knew or recognized everywhere I went. Even at our local "Wal-Marks," I would see people I didn't really know...but they were familiar-looking. Even the crazy people (you know what I'm talking about) was like I had seen them before. I felt comfortable. And safe. With all my crazy people.

I didn't realize how set in my ways much I loved the continuity of my days until we had to move and everything changed. I found out real quick that I LIKE THE PREDICTABLE. When you have a bunch of kids, surprises are not your friend. I had things down to a science...dash here, pick up this child, drop this one here, run home, start dinner, etc. I had friends who had kids in the same activities, and we tried to help each other out by carpooling, but was a balance. A del-i-cate balance. Much like the guy at the circus who balances all those sticks with the spinning plates on top of them, it works...even works well. And, to the outside world, it might even LOOK well, but like with the plates, one wrong move or unexpected event will send the whole thing crashing down. 

Even in our church...we had our 'place,' you know? Pre-school choir leader? Did it. AWANA leader? Check. Sunday School teacher? You know it! 

But churches are the worst about change, or they can be. They either never want to change ANYTHING, and so they become stagnant...OR, they want to change everything, which gives the appearance that they are still trying to "find" themselves.  

We've been in both types of churches. 

And it's not the "church" that resists's the people IN the church. Them. Us. ME.

When Jim and I first married and went to our very first Sunday School class, we were put into the "Young Adult I" Department. TWENTY-FIVE YEARS LATER, we were STILL in that same Department. When it came time to "promote" to the next class, guess what? No one would move! The Minister of Education would come to our department a couple of times each year, and would talk to us about the purpose of Sunday School; about his vision of forming small groups of people who would get to know each other, and show God's love by caring for each other...and for others. The purpose of mixing the groups to contain 'different' people, who weren't all naturally best friends, was to bring new people into the group...and grow the group...and eventually to separate into two smaller groups. Like a cell. And by doing this over and over, year after would grow your church...because studies have shown people are more likely to connect through a Sunday School (well, now we call them LIFE-GROUPS) class, because there are fewer people. You could have activities in your home, and the "non-churched" people, or the new people in town...would feel more comfortable coming to your home...or to the park, or the bowling alley, for a fun night with a few people they didn't know...than maybe they would if they had to go into a church filled with lots of people they didn't know. 

It went over like a lead-balloon. No one wanted to leave their class and their group of friends no matter HOW many new people it would bring in to the church. Of course, no one actually SAID those words...but our actions sure showed it! So, since no one would move, they changed the name to "Adult I." And then "Adult 1-A." And, as Joshua would say, "and-so-on-and-so-FOR."

And we kept the EXACT. SAME. PEOPLE...more or less. Year after year.


Well, I have to say...the view is a lot clearer now that I can look back, and isn't that usually the case with most things in life? Don't we become so much wiser with time? I didn't realize until AFTER we boring and complacent and lazy I'd become, not only in my life-life...but in my spiritual life. Before that? I thought things were GREAT!

When we moved here, it's like I had a complete systems crash! I felt like I was having to re-learn everything.  Getting around in town, or going to places that I had been my whole married life...I was suddenly having a brain-freeze on how to get there. I lost hair started falling out. I was a mess! I'm trying to make light of it, but it was realllllllly hard...for a long time.

Since the church community is a big part of our lives, as soon as we moved here, we made it a priority to find a church we could call "home."


And by saying "well," you can imagine that there is MUCH to this story that Jim and I cannot share with anyone, but you can just know that THINGS WERE NOT AT ALL WELL.


This church was different. Not at all what we were used wasn't a bad-different, just different. But God led us to that church and it didn't take long until I began to see that I was the one who was different. And NOT in a good way. I realized that I had held judgments or expectations about people based on who they were, where they worked, how they dressed or talked, or how long I'd known them.


And all of this was coming from the one who BRISTLES when people hold judgment or have expectations for my child who has Special Needs...when people don't take the time to look past his appearance or speech or get to know the beautiful, wonderful young man he is on the inside.


Moving away from my comfortable life, where everything was this new place, where everything was definitely NOT familiar...opened my eyes to how I want to live from here on out. I want to see others through the eyes of Christ, because that's how I want others to see ME. If they just see the me without seeing the ONE who rescued me from me...and my sin...depressed, discouraged, distressed...well, that's not a pretty sight. Once I let go of my preconceived ideas, and stripped away all the other nonsense that was going around in my head...I will have to say the past 3 years have been some of the most spiritually fruitful of my entire life. I have learned so much, and have met some AMAZING people here.

Sometimes you just have to get out of your own way.

Or maybe that's just me.

Things just can't stay the same.

Now...disclaimer: JESUS CHRIST IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY and FOREVER (Hebrews 13:8). He never changes. He is...I AM. That's not at all what I'm talking about. 

I'm just saying that, no matter how much we want to, I don't think God wants us to become comfortable...or our earthly circumstances. I think He wants us to be constantly changing, growing, on the alert. When I could handle multiple things in my busy family on my own, then God, and my relationship with Him, took a back-seat. I'd get to THAT when I had more time. Even tho being independent is a valuable trait in our culture, in a Christian's life, just the opposite is needed. We need to be DEPENDENT...on God...for every need, for every struggle, every care. It sounds like it should be easy. Why do we fight it so much?

Or maybe that's just me.

All I know is that now that the thing which shall not be mentioned is happening to our family again...I'm not nearly as afraid as I was before. I'm sad about leaving here, don't get me wrong...but I am EXCITED for the new adventure that GOD has placed in front of us. I have seen God's faithfulness to our family, and I know He is going before us, preparing our way.

Help me, Lord, not to run ahead of you.

Deuteronomy 1:30 "The LORD your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you..."

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Special Olympics (Part 2)

Joshua was competing on Friday afternoon, so we left here around give ourselves plenty of time. His weigh-in was at noon. We ate at Lenny'. Joshua really wanted a Sprite with his sandwich, but since he had a weigh-in coming up, he ordered water. After lunch, we headed to the field-house. Joshua weighed in at a whopping 119 lbs! I remarked to my family that it was amazing that Joshua and I weighed the EXACT SAME...and Jim rolled his eyes back into his head. Sheesh. Don't be a hater.

(and had we known Joshua only weighed 119#, he could've had that Sprite...and a cookie, too!)

As the bench press started, Joshua was excited to see friends who had come to watch. Cindy Scallion, Carla and AK (AK had just won her first GOLD medal in her wheelchair race and came straight over to watch Joshua). Dan Wilbourn. Holly and Aaron, Logan and Clark. Stacy, Aaron and Tori. Jenni Ann Hayes. Tonya and Peyton Wright. Mammaw Jack and Aunt June. I know I am forgetting someone. Each person blessed us so much.

It was so stinkin' hot in that fieldhouse. They had a couple of large box fans, but it's still a contained building and it was very hot. It didn't seem to bother the athletes. The main ones complaining were the "watchers," not the participants.

Joshua did GREAT...bench-pressed 185# and dead-lifted 205#. The best part...well, one of the best parts... besides seeing all the friends...was the jump he did after making the 205# weight. He randomly jumped up 5 feet in the air, kicked one leg out like a 'herky' and then nailed the landing. It was hilarious!

One of the other best parts was watching Joshua with Anna Katherine. He sat ON THE FLOOR right beside her wheelchair. We looked up to see Anna's hand resting on his shoulder...and we all took a picture. It was the sweetest thing. Everyone kept trying to get Joshua to sit in a chair. They had some metal chairs for the athletes. He would not leave Anna. I was really proud of him.

Another "proud Mom" moment happened during the awards ceremony. Joshua had one other boy in his weight class, but Joshua had lifted more in each event. When it came time for the medals, they gave Joshua a GOLD...and then a SILVER...and then another GOLD. I was so proud of Joshua. He knew it was wrong. He knew he was supposed to get 3 gold medals, but he accepted the silver medal graciously, and congratulated his friend, Wesley. Eventually, it was worked out, and Joshua came home with his 3 gold medals. I was really proud of him. Proud of him for his accomplishments, of course, but even more proud that he valued a friend and his feelings...more than an award.

I love Special Olympics! I love that it makes my child feel special. I love that each effort is rewarded.

"A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight. When pride comes, then comes dishonor; but with the humble is wisdom." (Prov 11:1-2)

Monday, June 4, 2012

"you can forget all here now..."

They left at 6:15 this morning...Jim and Clark. Clark started summer football practice with his new team today. I was about sick just thinking about it. I know Clark was nervous, even tho he said that he wasn't.

I had asked several people to pray for him. I had been up since around 5, praying. As much as I want to spare him from that sick-at-your-stomach feeling that comes from being the "new kid," I don't think there's really anything I can do besides pray. 

And, really, that is enough. Or, it should be.

But they left. Jim assured me that he would "get him settled" and stay around to make sure things were okay.

Yeah. About that...

Jim called to say, "well, I dropped him off!"


He said that a Black kid came up to Clark first thing and said, "where you from, mane?" Clark said, "Bryant." The kid said, "well, you can forget all here now."

Jim said that one of the coaches saw them walking in and came up to them, too. He remembered meeting Clark at a track meet in Fayetteville. Jim signed a form, turned in some papers...and LEFT.


He said, "Moose, what did you expect me to do? Stay there all morning and follow him around?"

Yes, that would be nice. Do that, please.

Jim said, "he did look a little lost as I was leaving." 

I could've gone all day without hearing that.

Special Olympics 2012 (Part 1)

It was that time of year again...Special Olympics. Joshua looks forward to it all year! Opening Ceremonies is always on the Thursday night before the competition, and so I brought Joshua and Clark with me up to Searcy. For the past 17 years, Special Olympics has been held at Harding University. It is a beautiful campus, and the community, and the town of Searcy, are always so welcoming to the athletes and their families. Clark took off with the Sanders' first thing, and I took Joshua to find his group.

How it works is that the state is divided up into "Areas." Each area has a leader/director of Special O, and each group has matching shirts and whatever other kinds of decorations they want to match their "theme." Each Area is announced over the speaker and the whole group walks behind their banner around the entire track. They start on the far side, but the best part is when they walk in front of the bleachers where the crowd is waving and cheering. I love it.

So, while we are on the way to Searcy, in the car, Joshua informs me that he does not want to walk with our Area. He wants to walk with Area 6, which is Searcy...where we used to live...the group he used to walk with when he was in school and we lived there. (sigh) Nothing against our Area...he has friends and he cheers for them. Who knows why he gets these things in his mind. He said, "I have more friends in Area 6." I said, ", you don't! Not anymore. Everyone has graduated and moved on...who are you going to walk with?" He said, "Anna Katherine and Carla."

Well, there ya go.

I asked Sally Paine, the director of the Area 6 Special O., if he could walk in with their group. She said, "well, I don't know...I don't have a shirt for him." I said, "OH...he doesn't have to have a shirt...he will be fine in what he has on." She said, "No, he won't. He has to have a shirt. I have made a HUGE deal about all the athletes having matching shirts, because so many people want their siblings or other family members or friends to walk in with them on the track, and it's just not fair to the athletes on THEIR special day."

Not gonna lie. I was disappointed...but I totally understood. I talked to Joshua and he said he would be fine to go sit in the stands and watch them all walk in.


We walked allllllll the way back around and were just getting ready to walk up into the stands when Carla called and said, "get Joshua back over here...Sally has a shirt for him!"

WOW! Thank you, Lord!

Joshua was in ALL his glory. He loved walked with AK and Carla. He gets such a rush from the crowd. I'm convinced he thinks all the cheering is for him. :)

I watched him as he walked around the track. He is so cute. Cute little walk...big, ol' smile...his hat falling down on his little Downsy ears. Sometimes I think my heart is going to burst when I look at him. I love him so much. I love all my kids so much.

He saw Mr. Bob standing on the far side. I saw Joshua wave at him. As they rounded the turn and headed to the front of the stands, I watched him. His face was grinning from ear to ear. He had his hat off...waving. Periodically, he would do the "sign" for "I love you" or he would pump his right fist up in the air.

It was a great night. They played some great songs and I love seeing all the athletes dancing and happy. The motorcycles came in and it was amazing to see...over 400 bikes, lights on and engines revved to support the athletes. So cool! My favorite part is the torch run, and they did such a great job this year, celebrating 25 years of Special O in Arkansas. Loved seeing some friends. Got to see Bob White...Joshua just loves him half-to-death. And got to visit with the Featherston's and Carla, and that is always fun. Jerry, Stacy, Aaron and Tori were there...they are always so sweet to support Joshua. He was thrilled to see them.

And to quote Jim Garland, "A good time was had by all..."

"Do not let kindness and truth leave you..." (Proverbs 3:3a)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Special Olympics (The Man)

He was one of the first people I really saw.

There were hundreds, maybe thousands, of people at the Opening Ceremonies for Special Olympics. Most had visible challenges of one sort or another, but even among them...he stood out.

His motions were jerky, and he was unbalanced as he walked. I even commented to Clark, "that man looks like he is going to fall over." As I watched him walk, I was amazed that he could even stand up, much less walk...but he did.

When it came time for the athletes to parade around the track, there he was again. I was thinking, "why are they making him walk ALL the way around the track?"


But I looked at his face...really looked at it. He looked older. Every step he took made the lump in my throat grow larger. "How in the world can that poor man even walk?" I don't know if he could talk, but he was making sounds...and his face was swallowed up in a HUGE grin as his group came right in front of the stands. Everyone was waving and cheering. And then I got it. This was HIS TIME. His time to shine. 

We came back the next afternoon...our whole family. Joshua was competing in Powerlifting, something he fell in love with at the age of 16. He's small, but he's strong (I like to say, "small and mighty!). I watched the athletes listen for their names to be called, walk up to the front and attempt their lifts. One by one, they lifted what they could...and then sat down to cheers and applause. That's when I saw him...that same man! They called his name and he went up to wait his turn. His legs were were his arms. From the looks of it, only one of his hands even remotely worked, like, to grasp the bar. I watched the coach carefully place the man's hands on the bar in just the right position. The coach was speaking to him quietly before he stepped away. I heard the man make 3 sounds...the bar was placed in his hands.and he took it down to his chest...and waited. I heard the word, "PRESS" from the official. Slowly, and in one motion, he began to lift the bar...I could NOT believe it. He made all 3 of his bench presses.

Then, it was time for the dead-lift. This is where you have to bend over from a standing position and pick up the bar from the floor. NO WAY he can do this...he can barely even stand! The man was near the end of the group...he walked up and stood behind the bar. Once again, his coach was there to help him get set. The spotter stood behind him, ready...his hand up and legs braced, just in case. I was sure the man would not be able to do this. Even if he could manage to somehow lift the bar...he could never hold it steady.

Oh realllllly?

Because he did. Oh yes, he did! He dead-lifted about 300 pounds like it was nobody's business!

I'll never forget it.

"And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked Him, saying, 'Teacher, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?' Jesus answered, 'it was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents, but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.' " (John 9:1-3)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Hello there, blog.

I nearly forgot about ye.

Just kidding. Things are moving and changing so much around here...honestly, I have things whirling around in my head but I just can't concentrate. ON ANYTHING. Ugh. It is so frustrating. But I know if I don't MAKE myself sit down and write a few thoughts, they will be gone forever.

I know, right? What a great loss.

So, Joshua had his last outing for the summer. He will really miss his routine...and miss seeing his friends. I will have to make an effort to get together with them over the summer. Let's see, what else...OH! Logan moved home and OH.MY.WORD. the stuff that child brought into this house. How in the world did it all fit into a small dorm room? It SURE doesn't fit into his bedroom. I wish I had taken a picture of all of it. He piled it up on top of the ping-pong table. Stacks everywhere. And some on the floor.

Did I mention we are trying to keep the house neat for any prospective buyers?

And,'s really hard to figure that kid out. My heart aches for him...I know he is really sad about the move. I am, so I'm sure it's even harder for him. It has just been hanging over our heads for so long...since November...and now that it's time, we are all ready to just GO already. I mean, it's inevitable, right?

We've been able to see Holly and Aaron several times lately, which I always love. Sure wish they lived closer. Jim says I would like it if they lived in the backyard, and to that I say "nuh-uhhhh." 

We've had lots of kids we know getting married, and more to come. We've had high school and college graduations (and more to come). We've had a couple in our SS class get engaged! Yay for weddings! I think it's that time of year. We've celebrated family birthdays and anniversaries...and have more of them to come this summer! Such fun times!

We found a house we like in our new town and now have a contract on it. We've listed our home here with a realtor. Things are moving along. It is really hard for it to be SUMMER time and to have THREE boys here and to keep the house neat and clean. I don't think "boys" and "neat" go together, but maybe that's just me. And maybe that's just my boys. Because clothes drop off their bodies at various times of the day and in various, shirts...MORE SHOES. It's like the rapture has just happened.

(seriously, they have no room to say a WORD about their sister having lots of shoes).

I have to get up and get ready early now. No more padding around in my robe and pig slippers until mid-morning. I've got to clean house and pick up and make things look nice. You know, make the "fake house?" Yeah. Like anyone could ever truly live like that. I can do ALL the laundry so that you can actually SEE THE FLOOR in the laundry room (I can almost hear the angels singing). Just as I am about to get a sense of pride and accomplishment, I can 'round the corner into the kitchen sign of a human anywhere, mind you...but there will be 3 pairs of shoes on the floor, a cap hung on a chair, and food left out on the table. Wha...what? I can literally trace their steps...what they did, what they ate, where they made it, etc. Because they LEAVE A TRAIL. And then...POOF! They're gone!

These are the things that make me crazy right now...and the things that I miss when it's Fall and the house is quiet again.

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for He gives to His beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD..." Psalm 127:2-3

Monday, May 7, 2012

Weekend update...

We had a great weekend. On Friday, after school, the 4 of us jumped in the car and headed down to watch Tori compete in the 6A State Track Meet. It was held at Lake Hamilton High School, and they have a great track there. Tori did GREAT! She tied for 2nd place in the 800...IN THE STATE...and she's just in 9th grade. Watch out! After dinner, we went to eat at Chili's with the Sanders' and Jerry's folks. It was such a fun evening. Lots of talking and laughing. I love to laugh.

Clark had soccer at 10:30 on Saturday morning in NLR, so we were up and out of the house early. Jim had left even earlier to run in a 5k here in Bryant...and then he had to go to Conway and work a Rotary breakfast. Clark's team lost their first game. We were shocked, b/c we haven't really lost much at all...but we won the 2nd game. Stacy, Aaron and Tori came for the 2nd game, and then Tori came home with us. She hung out with us here, and then we went to eat at Zaxby's for dinner. I took her and Clark to Orange Leaf before going to meet her mom. I lost approximately 2 years out of my life, just waiting for them to choose if they EACH wanted ice-cream or they were going to share...what flavor(s) they wanted...and then which toppings. Argh.

Note to self: never take them to the 31 Flavors place...

We had soccer again on Sunday. We don't like playing soccer on Sundays, and we usually don't have to...but this was a tournament. Jim got someone to teach our college SS class, so we all could go to the game. We won! Yay! Don't really know what all that means...I mean, it's the last game of the season. There were no play-off games or! We had planned on going up to help Logan move some stuff out of his dorm room after the game, but he called and told us he thought he could get everything in his we didn't go. Instead, we decided to go to Conway and eat lunch. We drove by a few houses just to look around, and then came home. We were all so tired! Jim and Clark mowed the yard and I went to the grocery...

I also cleaned out the filter in the vacuum cleaner, washed 5 loads of laundry and killed a spider.

Real nail-biter of a weekend....

Leanne and kids spent the weekend in Fay for a campus visit for Max. I was sad we couldn't go up there to see everyone, but it was also good for Holly and Aaron to get to be the hosts...they all had a great time! Watched the Hogs play baseball, saw the campus and the town...and H/A's home, and ate out! So fun! Not really sure what all Logan did this weekend, but he had his last test this morning...and his sophomore year is in the books. I just hope it's a GOOD book! ;) He is coming home tomorrow...yay!

Entertaining angels...

I love Pinterest! When I first heard about it, I didn't really know much about it at addicting it could be, or how WONDERFUL.

Because, OH THE IDEAS!

(I'm sure it will come as no surprise to know that I have about 9,000 recipes on my "food" board. Ha!)

When I first started on Pinterest, I got a message from a dear friend. She was concerned about Pinterest and how it was affecting...or could affect...young women. ALL women, but mainly the younger ones who are just starting out in life and marriage. You're all excited about having a new place, or your new place with your new husband...and you have wedding gifts to use. You want to fix everything up!

Gotta admit...I didn't really think about it like that. My main concern up to that point was that Pinterest could be a HUGE time-sucker for me if I let it. Now that I have the (used) iPHONE, I can lay on the couch...or in bed...and just look and "pin" away! It's so fun! I'm, like, "oooo" and "ahhh" and "why didn't I think of that?" It never occurred to me that it could be a stumbling block for someone, but after listening to her concerns, I understood.

I'm a pretty content person. I don't care much about fashion, altho I do like to look cute! I'm not obsessed with having something new for myself or my home each week. I am perfectly content to go to the mall and just walk around and not buy a thing. I think it comes from how I was raised. When I was a teenager, going to the mall was a regular, social experience I had with my Mom and sisters. I remember on Saturday or Sunday afternoons...that was THE thing to do. I feel a sense of calm when I'm walking around a mall...maybe because everything is familiar...the stores, the decorations, the "mall sounds." Even the food! We would always get pretzels with cheese. YUM!  And Christmas time is the BEST! As long as I'm not feeling pressured to buy gifts, I love to go to the mall during the Christmas season! I don't mind the hustle and bustle and all the people. I love the decorations...and the music...ahhh...

But I digress...

Or, as Clark would say..."notthepoint..."

My friend said she was connected with lots of young women at church and in Bible Study who feel pressure to be the "perfect" wife or mom. Even in churches, you have those groups who seem to compete with each other. Oh, yes, we do. The stay-at-home Moms vs the "working" Moms...the Moms who are barely making it through each day vs those Moms. You know the ones. Whether they home-school their kids or put them in school...they seem to have it all together. Their kids knew PASSAGES of Scripture, while mine were trying to memorize "Jesus wept" in the car on the way to AWANA. They do all the cute crafts, have coordinated clothes for their kids, make the healthiest lunches, throw the coolest play-dates for Moms and kids. Sigh.

Why are women so competitive with each other? Why do we attack the ones we think have it all together? Really, no one has it ALL together. They can't. They just present a good front (this is what I tell myself and the only way I've gotten thru the past 26 years of parenting, so please don't tell me any different!). Seriously, it's like Jr. High all over again. We get into "packs" with like-minded women, and snicker at other women. Or maybe we are quieter and sneakier about it...and adopt an air of pride as we look down on them.

Now throw in Pinterest with the party ideas and crafts and fashion and ways you can work out in your own home and how to do your hair like the pros...and this pushes some women over the edge. When faced with suggestions on how to do it all...many women become frustrated and depressed because they feel "less than" in some way. Or in many ways. This is not to say that "young" women are the only ones susceptible to these feelings...OH NO, MA'AM. Not at all. I think that we all put a lot on our plates. We want to be the best wives and moms and sisters and friends we can be. We see pictures of what we think our lives COULD be like...what the world tells us our lives SHOULD be like. It's exhausting, really.

This is not a post against Pinterest. I love it! I just think that we, as women, need to be sure we are finding our value and worth in GOD...who sent His only Son to die on the cross for OUR sin. It was because of HIS love and HIS mercy...and not because of anything we have or anything we are. There is nothing wrong with creating a beautiful and tasteful home...but we can balance it with what we actually NEED, and can afford. That's one reason why I love Pinterest. Besides the recipes (which, DOH), there are so many ideas on refurbishing "old" great is THAT? Not just for young women starting out, but for all of us!

Today I read this post and was totally convicted...everything I just said about being content and not needing things...when I compare myself to this mom and her's all a big lie. I DO care about my appearance, my home, and what people think...and about serving just the right things to my guests. I looked at the pictures of this Tanzanian beautiful, so open, so full of JOY as she welcomed guests into her home. Sharing the love of Christ and being thankful for the blessings He's given her.

I want to be like that.

"Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it." (Hebrews 13:1-2)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

"What would you do...?"

So, as expected, it wasn't long before we had a little "ish-ah" with Joshua-and-the-unsupervised-Facebooking.

Joshua has a friend from school that contacted him through Facebook. We grew up knowing this young man. He and Joshua were friends from Kindergarten until graduation, and he is...troubled. And even tho the circumstances he was born into were not his fault, we still had to be very careful.

Because Joshua is innocent.

We tried to talk to Joshua about limiting contact. Not totally cutting things off with the friend, but just about being careful...about not giving out any personal information. This boy, his friend, was abandoned as a child. He's dealt with rejection and abuse. He is sweet and childlike. He has also been violent. We just couldn't take any chances.

Joshua didn't understand. "WHY won't you let me be friends with him?"  Argh!!!. It's so hard to know what to do, and talking logic to Joshua does not work...he doesn't think like that. Innocent. Pure in heart. What is it the Bible says about that? "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." (Matt 5:8)

Well, that's Joshua.

He said, "I think I can be a witness to him...because his family abandoned him and he doesn't have anyone else. I might be his only friend. I might be his only hope."

It finally got to be too much...the contact between Joshua and his friend. It was just over the phone and Facebook, but it had to end. So, we told him we couldn't allow him to talk to his friend anymore, and we were very sad about it, but that was our decision. And we prayed about it, and we prayed for his friend.

One night, Clark and I were out with friends and someone sent me a text saying, "aww...that is so sweet what Joshua put on Facebook!" And then I started getting several texts about it...about how sweet it was and how Joshua must sure love his Dad.

Ruh-roh, Raggy.

When I got home, I asked Jim about it. He has a flair for the dramatic at times and goes, "oh...YOU missed it!"

Joshua cannot hide the truth. He tries, blesshisheart, but he just can't. The boy loves to talk...and, given enough time, will tell you everything...and rat himself out. So, it was just the two of them at home, and apparently Joshua started talking about his friend (this was after he was told not to have contact with him)...and he and Jim had words over it that ended with Joshua stomping to his room, muttering under his breath the whole way. Jim said he gave Joshua some time to cool down, but then went in to talk to him. He found Joshua, iPOD in hand, carefully and seriously typing out a Facebook status, letter by letter...


Jim asked to see what Joshua was writing and this is what he had typed:

"what would you do if your parents wouldn't let you witness to someone who needs Jesus?"


Well, Jim FLIPPED. OUT. (dramatic, I told you). He told Joshua in no uncertain terms that if he posted that status, he would take his phone and iPOD away, and he would never, ever, EVER see Facebook again.

Which led to more words...and more time to think...

And an hour later, Joshua came in to apologize, and to show Jim the new status he had written:

"My Dad and I are great friends. I understand that he is a furious protector. I know that we don't always get along, but I know he does love me."

Ahhh. Forgiveness and reconciliation are always the goals after discipline...

"My son, obey your father's commands, and do not neglect the teaching of your mother; keep their words always in your heart; tie them around your neck. When you walk, their counsel will lead you; when you sleep, they will watch over and protect you; and when you wake up, they will advise you. For their command is a lamp, and their instruction a light; and their corrective discipline is the way to life..." Proverbs 6:20-23

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Weekend Update: Conference Track Meet

We had a good week/weekend. We did end up making it to watch Tori play soccer at LR HALL on Tuesday (Searcy won!), and also to her Jr. High Conference meet in Vilonia on Thursday. Travelin' Arkansas for that girl! Ha! She did very well in her track meet. Clark is a sprinter and it's so fun to watch him run with quick bursts of speed...but then Tori is mainly a distance runner, and we are amazed at her endurance and speed for the longer runs. 

Joshua went to the Zoo with his group on Tuesday. He said, "We ate at the 'caf' at the Zoo. I ordered a cheeseburger for sounded good. I took one bite of the chips and they were 'ode.' I was going to give them to Jenni, but even she wouldn't like 'ode' chips."  When we got home, he gave me the change left-over from his meal. He looked over his receipt. He said, "I got water to drink. They added an extra charge for the souvenir cup." I asked him, "oh, cool! Where is the souvenir cup?" Joshua: "I threw it away."


On Thursday, they had their Zumba class. Oh, how I want to watch this class! Joshua's status on Facebook after he got home: "Jenni laid it all out. She broke it all the way down. I am 'zumbud' out. Jenni has all the moves."


He said, "I twisted my knee in Zumba." He has a knee that tends to pop out of socket if he's not careful, so I said, "Joshua, you need to pay attention and watch what you're doing." He said, "well, we do have a big mirror, but I couldn't watch ME...I was watching JENNI!" 

(because, you know, she has all the moves!)

On Friday night, we ate at Carino's...Clark was "carbo-loading" for his conference track meet on Saturday! We ended up at the restaurant at around 5:30, and the waiter told us it was "happy hour" for several items on the menu. Our whole meal for the 4 of us was around $20! Jim was ecstatic! Holly and Aaron came by briefly on Friday afternoon...dropped off Marley, and headed to the wedding rehearsal for Aaron's friend. Holly stayed the night with us...and he stayed with the other grooms-men.

We got up early on Saturday because Clark had to ride the bus to the conference meet in Benton. I thought it was ridiculous that he had to be on the bus at 9:30 in the morning, when the running events didn't start until 1:30. He told me it was AAA rules. WHATever. Then, I ran around with Holly, looking for yellow paint to use on an old piece of furniture we had given her...and then it was time for her to get ready for the wedding...and time for the rest of us to get ready for Clark's track meet! Stacy dropped Tori off at our house and then we headed to Benton. After worrying about a chance of rain, God showed out because it was a BEAUTIFUL day. Jim's parents and his brother, Joel, came to the meet as well. They stayed to watch Clark run 2 races, and then they left. He ran 4 races in all, and had at least two personal best times.

Clark placed 7th over-all in the 100 meter dash (12.18), 3rd in the 200 meter dash (24.92), 2nd in the 4x100 meter relay and 2nd in the 4x400 relay. There was a bad hand-off between the 1st and 2nd runner in the 100 meter relay, pushing them back to about 6th place, but the 2nd and 3rd guys ran ALL OUT to make up the time. Clark ran his heart out at anchor, too...making up enough time and distance to place 2nd. They would've easily won that event because they were so far ahead at the first turn. Oh, well. These things happen. Clark ran the 3rd leg in the 400 and was AWESOME! All this while dealing with severe shin-splints. So proud. :) Bryant Boys won the conference meet! This team will do so well in the next 3 years, if they can all stay healthy and injury-free. Sure wish Clark could be a part of it...

After the meet, we decided to run to the lakehouse and have a quick dinner with Jim's we did that. Clark was exhausted, and Tori and Joshua were drained from being in the sun all day...but we had fun eating with them and then came home.

Sunday was SS and church. I "resigned" from hand-bells this week. I hated to do it, and will miss playing, but I felt like it was time. The next few weeks are going to be really busy for our family. NOW, we are praying for a couple to come to us with a desire to take over our college class. It's such a great class, and we have met some amazing young adults through this ministry.

Holly and Aaron went home Sunday afternoon. Their dog, Marley, had his 6th birthday yesterday. We always miss seeing Logan and Morgan. We tell the college kids to "finish strong." It's a hard time of year for them. We have many prayer requests regarding our children...for character and strength; for school, further education, job opportunities, future mates, etc. We know God is in control. 

"He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:29-31

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


We've been very busy, but not with anything too spectacular. I just wanted to remember a few things. 

First, we have been so blessed to have Holly and Aaron home for a few weekends. They usually split their time between our home and Aaron's parent's home (but we always get to keep the grand-dog!).  They are at the age when a lot of their friends are getting married, and so they've been home several weekends for weddings or wedding festivities. We've enjoyed seeing them!

And Logan actually came home for the Easter weekend, and that was fun, too! I loved having them all here for one night! We went to the lakehouse and had a belated birthday celebration for Joshua. It was so much fun...and something that he has looked forward to for over a week! The only sad thing was that Morgan, Logan's girlfriend, couldn't be there...and Joshua LOVES Morgan. :) He loves Aaron, too!

We have been able to enjoy some sweet times with some precious, precious friends. Stacy is one of those friends who popped into my life when I needed her the most...and it's like she's always been there. I cannot imagine my life w/o her in it! We weren't really close friends before we moved here, but after we moved, our friendship has grown more and more...which is a good thing, since our kids have been friends since the 2nd grade. We try to get them together often b/c we both think it's important to have Christian friends you can talk to, encourage (and be encouraged by), and who will keep you accountable. And we want them to see that you can have friends of the opposite sex...and you don't have to "date" each other. You can just be best friends. We have gone to watch Tori play basketball, soccer and run track, and she has come to watch Clark play football, soccer and run track. Her friendship was invaluable to Clark when we moved here nearly 5 years ago, and I know that it will be the same way when we move from here next month and he is in a town and at a school where he doesn't know anyone.  

Last weekend, Tori's parents took the two of them out for a combined birthday dinner (their birthdays are a month apart). I just thought this story was precious...they went to see the Titanic in 3D (Clark was thrilled with their choice of movies...not!). Stacy had not seen Titanic before, but Jerry had seen it on tv. He remembered there was a part when the girl sits naked so she can be painted, and before that part came up, he leaned over and told Stacy, "tell Clark that he and Tori need to go to the concession stand and the restroom now," and so, they got up and left...not knowing why...and Stacy went to get them when that scene was over. Is that not the sweetest thing? I love that someone is watching out for my child, even tho he is 16 years old...and I love that Tori honors her parents, and Clark respects them....and when they asked them to do something, they did! Even when they didn't know the big picture! SO REFRESHING! It's so fun for us to watch them grow up together. So thankful for their family, and for friendships that stand the test of time.

And Clark ended up liking the movie after all. :)

Last night was Clark's last track meet of the season. He has done SO WELL. I am really sad to see this season end. He has worked really, really hard and I am so proud of him. His football coach was talking to Jim about Clark's foot-work and speed, and I know that is the result from the combination of soccer and track. 

So, last night, he placed 7th over-all in the 100 meter dash. I was really surprised, b/c that is typically his best event. He had been complaining about shin-splints all last week, and on Sunday afternoon/evening, he was on the couch with ice on both legs. Not really inspiring confidence since the meet was the next day! We saw him stretching and stretching before his first race, and while the boys in the heat before him were lined up to run...we looked and Clark was laying flat on the ground. Eeek! But he warmed up after that, I guess. He ended up placing FIRST in the 4x100 relay and the 4x400 relay...and 2nd in the 200 meter dash and 400 meter dash. YAY!

This Saturday is the conference meet. It will be interesting to see what events he will run in and how he does. I'm excited to watch him run, and very thankful that the meet is in Benton.

Not too much else on the agenda this week. Gotta get the carpet cleaned and the Terminix man out here...and I'm sure I am talking to myself by now b/c as riveting as this all is...who wants to know that someone is having their carpet cleaned and the Terminix man out? 

Seriously, how boring is your life?

But then we will be ready to list this house and start that ball rolling. Tori plays soccer in LR tonight, but I don't know if we can make that...and she has HER conference meet on Thursday night in Vilonia. It all depends on what time Clark gets out of football...if we will be able to make it to see her run. I really want to! Holly and Aaron will be back in town this weekend for another wedding. Yay!

We'll miss Logan. 

"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win." 1 Corinthians 9:24