Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Amy's Wedding Weekend Update 2

We worked ALL DAY LONG up at that church, after I finally got there! And also got up there early on Saturday morning and worked right up until the time of the wedding.

My sister, Leanne, had everything so organized. She had the vision and the plan...and the rest of us just waited for her to tell us what to do.

She had bought an arbor for the stage in the church, and we put a green garland on it, and then stuffed it full of peach and purple and white flowers. Along the back wall-ledge thingy that separated the choir loft from the stage, we put more garland and flowers, and placed tall candles in glass hurricanes up there. We put the green garland down the stair rails and it was really pretty. Leanne had rented two GORGEOUS candelabras and we placed tall candles on them. We used purple tulle fabric on the aisle chairs. Holly made bouquets of peach roses and attached them to the chairs that were on the center aisle. They looked so pretty! And Leanne had ordered a runner for the center aisle, and we put that down and attached it to the floor with some sticky dots. The runner had Amy and Andrew's names on it and their wedding date. The last thing we did was rope off the center aisle...so no one would walk on the runner until the bride came down the aisle.

The REAL work was going on in the fellowship hall. Leanne rented purple table cloths, and we had 20 tables to cover...plus a grandparent's table. We placed these white candelabras on them...they had these little sparkly things hanging on them, and once the candles were lit, it was so pretty! We placed the candelabras on these square mirrors  and then sprinkled crystals on them. So pretty! We also decorated the beverage bar with this silky purple fabric. Leanne had gotten 5 or 6 large beverage containers. On the day of the wedding, they were filled with tea, raspberry tea, lemonade and water. And then we had a coffee area. There was a cake table that had two purple cakes and a tall cupcake tower that my brother made. He made the tower, NOT the cupcakes! Ha! The next table had a popcorn bar...lots of popcorn and little bags to put it in...and several different flavors that you could shake on the popcorn. So fun! The next table was a candy bar...lots of peach/orange-ish and purple candies in large glass containers. So pretty! And the last table was a parfait bar...small containers of plain yogurt, and then tons of fun toppings like chocolate chips, different fruits, and home-made granola that the caterer lady made.

Leanne had also gotten these GIANT balloons and rented a helium tank. Robin and I blew up peach and purple balloons to use in the entry-way lining the fellowship hall...so that the bride and groom would be able to make a grand entrance. Amy also used the balloons in some of her pre-wedding pictures with her bridesmaids.

Everything turned out beautiful! I think the bride was pleased. (Updated here and here)

And Joshua's view on things? I leave you with his words: "not too bad for a wedding...15-20 minutes."

"...whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

Monday, July 29, 2013

Counting the Fish (post from Ann Voskamp)

This post...soooo good.

Amy's Wedding Weekend Update 1

I think I can mayyyybeeee put together a coherent series of sentences about our weekend. We'll see.

We had such a great weekend! Jim was able to get off work on Thursday and Friday, so we left to go down to Texas on Thursday morning.

First of all...there is just no fast way to get from central Arkansas to the DFW area.

We basically hung out on Thursday night after we got there, and my sister went over the plan for the next day.

On Friday morning, we got up and hit the ground running.We had much to do to get ready for my niece's wedding. My brother had already come by and loaded up most of the wedding stuff onto his trailer, but we still had to take 3 vehicles to the church...full of people and decorations!

The only frustrating funniest thing of the entire weekend happened as we were all preparing to leave for the church on Friday morning. We had driven in the night before on one tank of gas, so we needed gas in the Burb. Jim said he would go get gas and come back and pick us (Holly and I) up. Well, we waited...and waited...and waited. No Jim. We had already loaded our purses and everything into the car before Jim left, so there was no way to get in touch with Jim. Finally, Holly used Logan's phone and called Jim. When he answered, he was already almost to the church...over 30 minutes away.


He said that when he came back to the house after getting gas, my sister was already loaded up in her car, and my Dad was in his...and when they saw Jim pull around the corner, they took off. Jim ASSUMED that Holly and I had climbed into another vehicle for some reason...so he took off and followed the caravan, without checking to make sure we were in it.


*crickets chirping*

We are waiting...and waiting...and waiting...

This day, my birthday, was not starting off on a good note.

When they all got to the church and Holly and I did not get out of any vehicle...Jim felt bad, and my family all went nuts! Because in my family, we are nothing if not able to laugh at with each other! I'm so glad that everyone had fun at our expense. Except NOT! I feel sure this will be a story that is shared from now on and into infinity..."hey, we're all gonna go eat at On The Border...Jim, don't forget your wife!"

The rest of the day, whenever I would meet someone at the church...the wedding coordinator, the caterer, members of the wedding party, extended family members of the bride and groom...they all said, "oh, are you the one who got left behind?"

Yes, yes that would be me.

So thankful for my other sister...who came back and got us. (Updated here and here and here)

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

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Dark and Empty

Joshua: "I was reading Genesis 1:1-2...about when the earth was not formed and it was dark and empty.

I was thinking that that's how we are in our lives, without Jesus...dark and empty.

That's what I've been thinking about today."

"...I am the light of the world..." John 8:12

Friday, July 26, 2013


Just took a 7 hour trip yesterday. I spent some of it squished curled up in the back seat with Joshua.

Joshua (to me):  "Holly is tall and lean, but you are travel-sized...like ME!"

Thursday, July 25, 2013

On Death and Dying...

My niece, Amy, is getting married on Saturday. We are all so excited! My nephew, Tyler, had a private wedding...then we had Holly's wedding in 2011. Now it's Amy's turn! Weddings and babies...we love both events in our family!

In the midst of the wedding busyness...the excitement and joy and this time of blessing...came the news that Amy's grandfather, Sam, is dying.

Like, soon.

And so our hearts are breaking for them...for this time in their lives. Two events, so many different emotions. Two lives beginning...one life ending.

Timing, right? It stinks.

Or does it?

I talked to my sister-in-law the other night. Her parents have recently moved back "home" after living several years in another state. So they are now back in an area with long-time friends and lots of family support that will be much needed in the days and weeks and months to come. All of the family is in for the wedding...everyone. And friends that are coming for the wedding...can also see a precious loved one before he moves to his Father's House.

The family is close...taking pictures, having conversations, hugging tighter, making memories, cherishing the moments...good and sad. They know...

That Sam's days were ordered before he was born.
That the end is near.
That they have to let him go.
That he is ready.

I don't know Sam that well...but I know that he has a good name. He has lived a "good" life.

I think that he would be the first to tell you that the "good" in his life is because of that one day when he recognized he could never be good enough...and gave his heart and life over to the One who makes all things new.

Now, I can't say for sure, because these are my observations from the outside-looking-in, but I would think that his greatest joy in life would be his role as a grandfather. He probably never in a million years thought that his two daughters would give him 16 grandchildren! That's unlikely, right? He has taken GREAT JOY in all of them. I love seeing pictures of him with his grand-kids...his bright blue eyes would be shining...and his face would be wrapped in a huge smile.

But, a disease has over-taken him. He struggles and is in pain and is nearing the end of his life...and he honestly cannot wait.

To be done.
To be free.
To be whole.
To be with Jesus.

Funny how when Heaven is near for someone we love...it gets more near, more real...to the rest of us.

"...Behold, I am making all things new." Revelation 21:5

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Baby Mason

At every stage of our lives, God has always gone before us to prepare the way.

Joshua's birth brought a lot of different emotions and some major insecurity about this path God had chosen for us.

I heard Jim on the phone, choking back tears, telling them not to come...but these precious, long-time friends? They ignored him and came anyway...to support us on that day.

They tell us they remember Jim saying, "I think he'll be able to hold a fishing pole."

So by God's plan, we...these friends of ours, and us...each eventually had daughters. And by God's provision, they ended up at the same college...and became best friends, roommates, and bridesmaids in each other's weddings.

This weekend 27 years after Joshua's birth, the circle of life continued for our families when one daughter brought baby Mason into the world...and the other daughter came to show support and share in the joy of that special day.

So blessed.

"The LORD is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will never leave you..." Deuteronomy 31:8

Monday, July 22, 2013

Just A Muffin

A couple of months ago, I went without sugar for 4 days. Don't worry. I didn't kill anyone.

It started out as a one day experiment. I had been feeling dizzy and was having headaches, and I was wondering if it might be some sort of sugar-related "ish-ah."

It probably had nothing to do with the 102 Rollo candies I had consumed in the matter of a few days.

They're just so leeeeeeetle.

Anyway, the first day wasn't too bad...the going-without-sugar thing...so I decided to stick with it and see if I could tell a difference after several days.

*DISCLAIMER* I'm sure in 4 days I had SOME sugar...like in my salad dressing, or in ketsup. I didn't give that stuff up, or even use the "sugar-free" or "lite" versions, because that's just crazy talk.

But I was doing pretty well...


I got invited to lunch at Mimi's. If you have one of those near you, then you already know where I'm going with this. If you don't, Mimi's is a great little lunch place. They have lots of salads, quiches and sandwiches, as well as some entree items. But the best part of lunch at Mimi's is...THE MUFFIN. Seriously. After you order and before your meal, they bring out a huge muffin (of your choice). And it's warm. And it's huge. BE.STILL.MY.HEART.

Warning...I digress...

I ate at Mimi's one day with my daughter. She ordered the chocolate mousse muffin...it's new. I had never heard of the chocolate mousse muffin, but I was afraid that much chocolate would do me IN (and this was even before I went on my no-sugar phase), so I got my regular stand-by: the Buttermilk Spice. Which is to die for. And anyway, the waiter set my muffin down and then set Holly's chocolate mousse muffin down beside it, and I swurh I heard angels singing.

It was so beautiful, I nearly cried.

But then Holly ate it.

But that was then and this was not...and I was back at Mimi's with my friend, Ruth, and we both order the quiche. Then, the waitress asks what kind of muffin we want, and I ordered the buttermilk spice, because...HELLO? Ruth asks her to list the choices and the waitress goes down the list. When she gets to the chocolate mousse muffin, I stop her...and I tell Ruth all about how it's NEW and how it's huge and how I heard the angels sing and all of that. I know Ruth is gonna order it because she loves chocolate as much as I do. But then I remembered and said (which this waitress conVENiently also forgot to mention)..."oh! This muffin is an extra 30 cents, and the guy last time didn't tell me that."

Not that it's a huge deal...they should just tell a person.

So, the waitress tells us...kind of under her breath...that if we want the chocolate mousse muffin, she'll get it for us at no charge.


I decide to stay with the buttermilk spice, but Ruth starts asking her all kinds of questions about the chocolate mousse muffin: was it white chocolate or dark chocolate or regular chocolate? Was there frosting or a glaze? Any sort of cream in the middle? Was there a topping? Our waitress answered all of her questions patiently, and then Ruth goes, "Ok, I'll take the carrot cake muffin."

And I fell out! Because...whaaaaat?

Anyway, when the muffin came, I had already decided I would just eat the top...the part that overflowed the cop and kind of hung over. I slowly picked it off. It was warm and soft and had sugar sprinkled on top.


And then I just let the rest of the muffin sit there, all alone, while we ate. I wanted to pick it up and push it into my face and just let it crumble into my mouth until it was gone. But I didn't. And I intended to leave what was left of it on my place when lunch was over...but I didn't. I rolled that bad boy up in a napkin, and stuffed it into my purse.

When I finally got home, I took the muffin napkin out of my purse and set it on the end-table. And then I took it to the kitchen. And then I put it in the microwave. And then I dove into that thing like nobody's business.

And it was soooo good. But now I have have a headache...and I may or may not feel dizzy.

Because I told myself that I can begin again with the no-sugar thing anytime I want. Tomorrow. Or even tonight. And in this case, I can...because it's just a muffin.

But God uses simple things to teach my simple mind big life lessons, because sometimes this is my response to sin. Instead of using God's Word as my guide, I decide to create my own limits. Maybe a little. Maybe a little more. Instead of fleeing from sin, I keep it close and even wag it around with me. When I make the decision to sin, I tell myself that God will forgive, and that I can begin again. And He does. And I can.

But it's not always "just a muffin," and sometimes our actions affect others. Other times, it changes the course of our lives.

"Resist the devil and he will flee from you." James 4:7

Saturday, July 20, 2013


A recent conversation between Joshua and his grandmother:

Mammaw Jack: "Papaw and I had pancakes at IHOP this morning."

Joshua: "I had pancakes, too!"

Mammaw Jack: "Oh, did you go to IHOP?"

Joshua: "Nooooo! I went to I-MOM!"

"Grandchildren are the crown of the elderly..." Proverbs 17:6

Friday, July 19, 2013

One of Those Weeks...

Having one some of those days today this week.

Not that I actually want to run away. Oh, I've had those days for sure. Oh, yes I have.

This week, I just kind of want a re-do for the week in the "mom" department.

You know, I thought I did everything a "good mom" should do...you know, the right ways to feed and diaper...Christian pre-schools and church activities and Bible verses each week. I packed the lunches and wrote notes on the napkins (my kids called them "love na'kins). I volunteered in their classrooms and at their schools. I drove them everywhere. I opened up our home to their friends. I made posters and cheered from the sidelines and tried to be their biggest supporters.

But what is important in the big scheme of life?

Because if I look back...without editing so that all I remember are the good things...a lot of what I remember are the times I didn't act right, or nice, or appropriate; when I didn't show grace, or mercy, or love; when I didn't speak quietly, but instead spoke in anger; when I yelled "HURRY UP" about a million times, instead of stopping to take a deep breath...and slowing down.

And I can't get those times back...you know, to re-do them and make better choices...to make things right.

I've just been wondering, now that my time as a young, hands-on mom has gone...did I do enough of the most important things?

Do my kids know how much I love them? I mean, really, really love them? Like my-heart-is-about-to-burst-when-I-think-of-them kind of love. Do they know, really know, that we, their Dad and I, think the world of them...are so proud of them...expect much of them...and want the best for them?

Do they know how important my relationship to the Lord is? Or how important that theirs is for them? That it is THE important thing? That everything I did or said or am...or didn't do or say or what I am not...none of it matters if they didn't see the Lord in my life.

Because I know that they know that I'm not perfect...but do they see me try and fail and fall and get back up again? Do they see me show mercy and grace...and patience? And do they know that...if there are times that I do...it is all because of God? That HE is my Sustainer each day?

Do they know that even though I am so unworthy...Christ died for me, and has blessed me far beyond what I deserve?

Because me...without Him? There is nothing of any value or worth.

Okay, kids...when those "down days" come, just know that you are not alone...or powerless. Arm yourselves with the Word of God. Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). He will get into your head and tell you all matter of things that are not true. God is not the Author of confusion, but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33). Call on the name of Jesus. His name is mighty in power (Jeremiah 10:6) and you have life by the power of His name (John 20:31). And "at the name of Jesus every knee will bow... in heaven and on earth and under the earth" (Philippians 2:10).

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

Thursday, July 18, 2013

All Your Teeth

They were sitting at the counter talking. My Dad speaks very softly now, and has difficulty hearing...the same thing can be said about Joshua.

But, sitting there that morning...the two of them understood each other perfectly.

My Dad asked about him about Powerlifting, and Joshua lifted up the sleeve of his shirt, showing off his muscles. My Dad said, "I've lost all of my strength, Joshua," and held up his thin, little arm. Just when I thought I might have to turn away to hide my tears, Joshua leaned over and patted my Dad..."that's okay, Pawpaw. You still have all your teeth...and a good head of hair!"

"I will be the same until your old age, and I will bear you up when you turn gray. I have made you, and I will carry you..." Isaiah 46:4

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Dad

So my Dad has been having some tests run over the past several months, because there are some things that just aren't quite right. And my heart has been breaking for what may be ahead for him, and for the changes that will come in our family.

Change in an inevitable part of life that I'm not always quick to embrace.

On the phone with my Dad, I was determined to be an encourager, even through my tears. Instead, it was my Dad who said, "if my tests are normal? Well, then...I'll praise the Lord. And if they're not? Well, I'll praise the Lord anyway."

My Dad...walkin' the walk.

Read these words in Job 2:10: "...shall we accept only good from God and not adversity?" 

And this from Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: "in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Weekend Update

Boring post alert:

We had such a nice weekend. We missed Logan being here...he went down to stay with Morgan's family. Holly did not have class on Friday, so she spent the day hanging out with Joshua and I. It was so fun! We shopped and took Joshua to get a hair-cut and then met Jim for lunch. We didn't realize it was "cow appreciation day" at Chick-Fil-A until we got there, so we kind of got dinner AND a show. Except that it was lunch.

It was so fun to see the kids (and some strannnngggggeee looking adults) dress up like cows to get free food. I don't care what they were giving away, there is NO WAY we were gonna get Joshua to tape on some fake cow ears! Not even gonna try! After we got home, everyone got in the pool. By the time we decided to eat dinner, it was getting late. For us. Here at our home, if we aren't eating by 5:30 p.m. or, at the latest, 6 p.m., someone is "about to die" from hunger.


So, it was after 7 when we all got cleaned up and ready to go. And, as you might predict, we had to wait 20 minutes or so at a local restaurant for our group of 7. But it was fine..."didn't nobody die" (Rush Hour quote) and it was a great, relaxing dinner.

On Saturday, Clark had some friends over from the town where we used to live...the twins, Mark and John. They only stayed a few hours, but it was so good to have them here. I told their mom that I have been praying for God to send a "Mark and John" here for Clark. I told God that He didn't have to send twins this time...just a couple of solid, grounded, Christian young men. Ha!

They played in the pool, and hung out upstairs. We didn't see a whole lot of them, unless they were downstairs eating, but Clark sure was glad to see them!

Holly and Aaron came over and everyone played in the pool until dinner. The weather was unseasonably comfortable this weekend. We ordered pizza and it was just a great, relaxing night. We also got the wonderful news that some of our very dear friends had their first grand-baby last night. This couple were dear friends of ours when we were early, young married folks...and we have stayed friends throughout the years. By God's grace and provision, their daughter and Holly went to college and became best friends...even roommates for a time...and they were in each other's weddings. They are now "couple friends" together with their husbands...and this baby boy's birth continues the circle of life for our families. How precious and sweet God is to allow us to enjoy the blessing of the friendship of our families.

This morning, we went to SS and church...and then we came home to chill out the rest of the day. I guess you could say it's been a "boring" weekend, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I love having my family here. I love that they want to spend time together. After hearing so many stories about families who cannot get along, I feel even more thankful that we can and we do.

We are blessed with family and friends...so thankful for them all. I want my kids to always know how important family is. And to know how precious it is to have a network of Christian friends who can walk with them through life...who will share their good times and sad times and everything in between. I want that for them so much.

Thankful for ordinary days.

"Above all things, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." Colossians 3:14

Monday, July 15, 2013

Joshua and His Stickin' Up Hair

Holly and I took Joshua to get his hair cut on Friday.

*Back story* Both of the other boys have been growing their hair out, and it had gotten LONG. The day I drove Clark to Kanakuk, Logan took a wild hair (no pun intended) and went to get his hair cut...fairly short. Short on the sides and longer on top. It looks great! I had a picture of him on my phone and Clark looked at it when we were driving home from Kamp. He said it looked "tight" but that was it.

Well, one day last week, he didn't come home from football at the normal time. I thought they must be running late...working extra hard or something. Clark calmly walked in 2 hours later than usual and his hair...his shoulder-length blonde hair...was GONE! He had gone all by himself to get it cut! I was never so shocked in all my life! Actually, truth be told, I burst into tears. I didn't think he would cut his hair this summer...and I certainly never thought he would get it cut SO SHORT! It's been probably 10 years since he's had short hair. His long, blonde locks have kind of been his signature thing...we've always been able to pick him out of a crowd because his hair made him stand out. In fact, last summer on football picture day...in our new town...at his new school...I was there and watched him walk down the track and up to the bleachers. As he passed by a large section of football players, I heard a few of them call him "Sunshine!" (like, from the "Remember the Titans" movie) Last year, Clark was injured most of the season. I remembered that at OBU, the football players shave the head of the freshmen. My first thought was that this is what had happened. I remember saying, "Clark, who did this to you?"

He was never more proud of himself than at that moment!

Since then, Joshua has been talking about getting his hair cut like theirs. I was wondering how it would work, because Joshua's hair is very wirey. He has worn it basically the exact same way for his whole life. He doesn't really have the head shape to have a "buzz-cuz" (what my boys used to call a buzz hair-cut). AND, his hair is "retreating" (receding)...I just didn't know how it was going to look really short on the sides and then kind of spiked up on top.

But we took him and discreetly explained the situation to a girl who had never cut his hair before. She did a GREAT job. She used some sort of "product" to spike up the front a little and he thinks he is SOMETHING ELSE!

He couldn't wait to show Logan his new "stickin' up hair" when he got home yesterday!

In other news...if he doesn't use the gel stuff on it, it falls naturally the way it has always been before. Guess you can't teach old hair new tricks!

"...old things are passed away; behold, all things become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17

Friday, July 12, 2013

You're Gonna Make It After All...

So, the other day I was at my local Wal-Marks.

I know.

And unlike the other WM stores where we used to live, I still haven't been able to get in the groove here...haven't made friends with any of the checkers...and things seem backwards or turned around somehow. And, the verdict is still on our WM, anyway, because The Krogers has smaller buggies, which Joshua LOVES because they are easier to handle...and their bananas are "more bigger." (another Joshua-ism)

But...gotta eat. Gotta have deodorant. Am I right?

So, on one of the aisles, I noticed a woman pushing a buggy full of kids. You know how sometimes you notice parents because they are yelling at their kids or talking to them in a way that makes you sad? Well, this wasn't like that. I noticed her because she was talking and interacting with her kids in a positive way. And I noticed her because things were quite active down there where she was shopping.

I had to smile. I looked down at the end of the aisle and she looked like she had 3 boys...and I thought, "oh, I remember those days!" Except I had 4 kids.

Granted, I didn't always take all 4 kids with me to WM. I tried to take advantage of Mother's Day out programs or ball practice or DADDY'S HOME! times to go to the grocery...just so it wouldn't be so wild.

But there were times. Lots.of.times. Times when I was the one getting the stares and the eye-rolling and the "why didn't she leave all those kids with someone?" glares.

And I don't know how we all got so high and mighty about kids in public places acting up...or acting...like KIDS. I mean, seriously.

Haven't we all been there?

And how quickly we forget.

Anyway, I was kicking myself for not saying something to that mom...some encouraging words or something...because I was feeling prompted by God. I determined that if I ran into her again before I checked-out, I would.

Well, I was busy unloading my groceries onto the belt and checking out when I heard the commotion behind me. Yep. It was her. And something I hadn't noticed before...a little blond-haired, pony-tailed girl sitting in the buggy. I guess I had over-looked her, what with all the activity going on with the boys. Reminded me of my Holly Bear and her three active brothers. These boys weren't being unruly or anything...they weren't throwing fits or whining. They were just being boys...LOUD and laughing and swinging off the buggy on both sides.

And I smiled. I hear you, Lord.

So I turned around and said to her, "I just want to tell you that your children are precious...they are all yours, right?" She smiled back and let out a big sigh, 'yes, they're all mine." I said, "well, when I saw you, it reminded me so much of myself...I have 3 boys and 1 girl, too, and I remember the days." She said, "oh, thank you...I'm having kind of a rough day today."

Kind of a rough day today.

And oh my word, Marty, you have just turned into one of those older women who smile knowingly and nod their heads at you...or pat on everything. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? Because I still feel like I am just like this young mom. UGH. 

And please don't think that I am some super Christian who runs around doing good all day. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are many times...most times, even...when I am so absorbed in what I am thinking and doing that I don't notice anyone around me.

But that day? I left her with some encouraging words...I hope. I told her she was doing a good job and that she was gonna make it.

Because sometimes we just need a little pick-me-up, and it's amazing how a few words can change the tone of a day.

"Anxiety in the heart of a man weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad." Proverbs 12:25

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Not Much Of A Church

We've been members of our new church for several months now. Actually, in the fall, it will be a year.


When we joined, the church had already started a building program. It had been prayed for, planned for and voted on. Typically, a church in the middle of all of that would have gotten a check in the negative column from us...because you just never know what all has gone on to get to that point, and the (potential) controversy it has caused...not really ever been anxious to jump into a situation like that.

But God...

So, Joshua has been very interested in the building program at our church. We typically drive by our "West Campus" (site of our new building) several times a week to look for signs of progress that can be seen from the road.

Joshua has Down Syndrome, but don't anyone think he doesn't know exactly what is going on. He does. He is on top of things. He has some trouble hearing, but he takes meticulous sermon notes each Sunday. He likes order, so he likes it when the sermon has points that can be easily followed, one right after the other. He does not like sermons on a "topic" where there are no set notes...or when you are supposed to jot down thoughts that jump out and speak to you personally from the message. He is all about taking notes, but any more than one or two words?

Ain't nobody got time for that!

In fact, one time the "answer" for one of the blanks was "enthusiasm." Joshua wrote "enu," and crossed it out. He wrote "enthi" and crossed it out. Jim was just about ready to help him when Joshua carefully wrote, "j-o-y" in the blank, and looked up at us SO PROUD of himself.

I nearly busted out laughing...in church. In fact, I may or may not have snorted.

Joshua reads the bulletin and will often point out events that are scheduled for our church. He points out "Men's Ministry" events to Jim and says, "we should go to that." He also has NO problem saying what's on his mind. Example: "I like Bro. Mark the best...this guy (guest speaker or other staff minister) talks too fast and I can't keep up."

So, Joshua likes to stay up on things at church. Even so, when it comes to the West Campus construction, people can talk "preparing the foundation," and "laying pipes" all day long...but when we drove by the other day and could not see any visible progress...this is what he said:

 "not much of a church...just a big pile of dirt."

"There is an appointed time for everything...a time to tear down and a time to build up." Ecclesiastes 3:1,3

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Morgan's Wedding Dress

Several weeks ago, Logan's fiance, Morgan, invited me to come with her to shop for her wedding dress. I wasn't sure if I was going to go, but I was thrilled that she included me.

Morgan has a very close family. She has a mom, sister, cousin and aunt who all love her very much and who all know a thing or two about fashion. I, however, do not.

I'm sorry.

I have no idea what my contribution to the gene pool of her future children will be.

Anyway, I didn't think it was my place to voice my opinion, if asked, in that situation...because her family knows her and her tastes way better than I do.

I had totally forgotten when the appointment was, but when her mom called last week to remind me and I was home alone with no plans...I thought it sounded fun!

I was so excited to go back to the same place where my sister and I took Holly to buy her wedding dress just a few years ago!

It was such a fun day! Morgan has very different tastes from Holly, but this place had dresses for just about everyone. I loved sitting on a bench while we waited for Morgan to come out to show us a dress...and watching all of the other brides-to-be come out wearing their dresses. I loved seeing their reactions, and the reactions of their family and friends. I decided I want to be a bridal commenter when I grow up. You know, hang around in the bridal shop all day, and just comment on every one..."I like the other one better," or "oh, NO, girl, you canNOT wear that!"

I don't understand why that job is not in more demand.

There were brides there with their bridal parties and close friends. There were brides there with their families. One bride just had her Dad with her...and it was so sweet, but it also made me very sad thinking of the circumstances that would involve a bride only bringing her dad to pick out a wedding dress (because my own Dad would be CLUELESS). I totally made up several stories about it in my head. I know...I'm turning into my mother-in-law.

But one family there took the cake in the drama department. I must have had my "please tell me all your family issues" sign out because two sisters sidled up to me and said, "it's kinda hard to be happy for your sister when you HATE the guy she's marrying." Eeek! And they both unloaded on me about their sister and this guy...and then the mother came over and started saying the same thing.

UGH. They went on and on...and listening to it made me so sad.

But then Morgan walked out in what would end up being THE dress. And she was just beaming. And her Mom and I cried. And I thought, how blessed am I?

We, our family, LOVE Morgan. She is the perfect mate for Logan. And Morgan's family? They LOVE Logan. They took him in and enveloped him into their lives and their family almost immediately.

So excited for the days ahead.

"The LORD has done great things for us and we are filled with joy." Psalm 126:3

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Jenni and Bullying

Something happened last week that we didn't expect.

Jenni, Joshua's girlfriend was cyber-bullied. And it broke our hearts.

It happened on Instagram.

You have to know a little about Jenni. She never meets a stranger. Never. And, after she meets you, she usually wants to add you on Facebook or Instagram. If she has your cell phone number, be prepared...she probably will call or text you at some point.

The girl is tech savvy.

And innocent.

And pretty much loves everyone she meets.

So, no one expected that a total stranger would get on her Instagram account and make horrible, nasty comments on some of her pictures.

Who DOES that?

Jenni has Down Syndrome, just like my Joshua. She has great parents. She has a supportive older sister and brother. She has an aunt and a cousin and tons of great friends. As parents, we try to monitor our children's social media sites...but when they are 25 years old and they want to be like everyone else...and they already feel like they are limited in many ways...and they want a little bit of independence...we try to back off and give it when we can.

Because we trust that most people are good, because they are; that most people have good intents and purposes, because they do; and that most people would not prey on or hurt an innocent because they would never in a million years do something like that.

But people have and people do. It happens every day.

So we step back and pull away and change settings to keep things safe.

And the person was reported.

But trust is lost and a heart is broken...and the negative thoughts come out. The thoughts that every girl and boy and woman and man have about themselves...the ones that we fight; the ones that we push to the back; the ones that roll around in our heads and come out when we look in the mirror or try on clothes or walk into the school cafeteria or try out for a team or interview for a job...

The thoughts that tell you:

"You're ugly..."
"You're fat..."
"You'll never make it..."
"You can't do this..."
"You don't deserve to live..."
"You deserve to be treated this way..."
"God could never love you"

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves..." Proverbs 31:8a

Monday, July 8, 2013

July 4th and Weekend Update

Warning: if you are lookin' to read a funny story about Joshua, get ready to be bored, because this post is not really about him. Unless...teaser...you count that one story at the very end...

We've had a great week and weekend.

Jim and a couple of the boys went down to his parent's house for a couple of days. Jim's Dad is like a real-life Fred Sanford! Jim's parents have a trailer house mobile home on some land that they are trying to sell. They also have several "buildings" on that property that are FULL of junk. Some good stuff, like lumber...but mostly junk. So, they have spent the better part of a month tearing down the buildings and transporting the stuff they want to keep to where they live. Our boys have been a big help, because Jim's.Dad.saves.everything.

It's a job not for the faint-hearted. Logan stepped on a nail. Jim had a board with a nail in it fall on his arm. They've seen snakes, rats...and tons and tons of wasps and hornets. One day, Jim pulled up a board and saw a snake! He was going to kill it, but my father-in-law yelled, "don't kill my snakes! THEY ARE MY PETS. They eat the rats."


They aren't really "pet" snakes, like normal people who want a pet snake would go get from a pet store. These are just snakes that he's allowed to live in all of his junk...because they eat the rats. He has two. Snakes. that is.

While they were having all THAT fun, I stayed home and did some painting and organizing. We've lived in this house nearly a year, and things are still not how we want them. Jim decided to give our bedroom furniture to Logan when we moved here, so we set it up in his room (never mind the fact that Logan is in college 9 months out of the year). And that left us with no furniture in our bedroom at all...except for the bed frame, mattress, box springs...and the entertainment center. Jim put a chest for his clothes in the closet, but all of my clothes have been in 8 Rubbermaid tubs lined up against the wall in our room. For a year.

But not any more!

Our new bedroom furniture came in last week. We are so excited to have it! We bought a headboard, two nightstands and a dresser. I think we are going to go ahead and order the chest-of-drawers. Don't really need it, but we could use it...and it will be good to have everything that matches if and when we ever move from this house. We aren't fancy people, but, not gonna lie...sure is nice to get my things out of the tubs! The only other time we ever bought bedroom furniture was when I was pregnant with Holly, and she will be 25 this year!

So, I'm gonna paint the bedroom walls, and probably paint the walls and the cabinets in the master bathroom as well.

Anyway, I was home for a couple of days all by myself. Early Saturday morning, I went with my sweet future daughter-in-law, Morgan, and her mom and sister...to her appointment at the bridal place. I'll write a post on that later. Jim and the boys came home on Saturday afternoon, and we all went to dinner last night. Holly and her husband joined us...and Morgan. I was so surprised when Logan said Morgan was coming here on Saturday night...but thrilled! She stayed last night, and we all went to church this morning...and had lunch. Holly and Aaron came over and everyone played in the pool all afternoon. Jim grilled burgers and hot dogs for dinner, and it was such a fun, relaxing day.

Feeling very blessed tonight.

Oh! Almost forgot the Joshua story!

We were in the car on the way home from church...5 of us. Someone started singing the "Let's Get Down to Business" song from Mulan. You know, "once you find your cen-ter, you are sure...to win." Tell me we aren't the only weird family who can start a song...or a quote from one of our favorite shows or movies...and the whole rest of the family will join in. Because that's how we roll. ANYway, we pretty much decided that we would watch Mulan after lunch when everyone is usually taking a rest or watching tv. So, we get home, and everyone goes to change clothes...and we hear Joshua BELLOWING out the tune to the Mulan song upstairs...but something made me stop dead in my tracks. As I walked over to the bottom of the stairs to listen closer, I heard it CLEAR AS DAY..."once you find your butt-hole, you are sure...to win."

Don't judge.

I promise we don't talk like that around here. I have never ever heard Joshua say anything even remotely close to that. I called up to him and he came to the top of the stairs. I lifted up my hands and said, "WHAT?" And he grinned and said, "uhhh...sorry." I said, "that is NOT funny," and he said, "hee, hee, hee...I know...hee, hee."

I gave him my best stern face, and when I came in the family room and told everyone what he said, we all fell out laughing.

"...the LORD is good..." Psalm 100:5a

Saturday, July 6, 2013


I eat my words...a LOT.

Just the other day, my family was watching Nik Wallenda walk over the Little Colorado River Gorge on that little wire...no tether, no safety net. I had to leave the room...I couldn't watch.

I mean, seriously, how irresponsible can one man be? He has a wife...children...friends and other family members. I don't get it. If he fell, his kids would have to see the video of their dad's death...forver.

But I've watched the interviews. It's a tradition in his family...no safety nets. It's their "claim to fame."

Nik Wallenda feels like he is called to do this, and he views it almost like a ministry. Throughout the 22 minute walk, he called out to God and thanked Him for His help, and praised His name many times. And, in subsequent interviews, he speaks of his training...how he is prepared and equipped for this type of stunt. He said that God doesn't keep him on that wire...his training does.

But God calms him on that wire.

And so I thought, "who am I to judge him?"

And I ate my words.

I still don't get it...the whole not-wearing-a-safety-harness thing...but I admire his tenacity, and the bold and confident way he is sharing his faith.

Making much of Christ.

And I think maybe, since we have also been called and equipped, we could do the same...on our own little tightropes of life.

"...the one whose walk is blameless will minister to me." Psalm 101:6

Friday, July 5, 2013

Mrs. Deb

I spend a lot of time in Wal-Mart. Not gonna lie...kinda like it.

Most days, anyway.

Before we moved here, we lived reallllly close to Wal-Mart. Joshua loved to go and so we went several times a week. He would get upset if I went without him.

Grocery shopping with Joshua is a lot different from the way it used to be...you know, run in...run out. These days, we take it slow. He likes to push the buggy, and we go at his pace...and it's a blessing and a privilege.

He talks to everyone and reminds me of the things I forgot to put on our list. He makes friends with some of the checkers. The nice ones? We try to get in their lines every time.

There was one, Mrs. Deb. She was special. She was friendly to everyone...but she was REALLY friendly to Joshua. Not "fake friendly," but really, really genuinely sweet and interested in him. Joshua would start looking for her as soon as we walked in the door. He would make a mental note of where she was...and we would look for her lane after we were done shopping.

Sometimes, she was in the "express" line. Well, with 6 people in our family, THAT ain't happenin' very often. Just sayin'.

But if she saw him, she would speak and hug him. She got to know all about our family, and we got to know a little bit about hers. Joshua would tell her about Special Olympics and she would always say that she wanted to come. She never did...but she would remember to ask him about it, and he would bring in his medals for her to see.

Mrs. Deb was older...older than me, and I feel like the Ancient of Days around here. She was married and had a family...and grandchildren. She loved fishing...loved the beach...loved her mom. She talked about her mom getting cancer and how she took care of her in their home. She told us how they kept a small Christmas tree up all year in her Mom's room...and how, even after her Mom died, the kids and grandkids would pick up little ornaments and knick-nacks to put on the tree. She called it the Angel Tree. Joshua chose an angel ornament for it and we took it to Mrs. Deb the Christmas after her Mom passed away.

She loved spending time at the lake or the beach with her grandchildren...teaching them to fish, watching them swim and play. One year, she went to Gulf Shores and brought a cap back for Joshua. He still wears it and it still makes him sad.

Happy and sad...but mostly sad.

Joshua told her about Holly getting married and we invited her to come because she acted so interested. We would've loved it. But she didn't come. I don't blame her...I still looked for her tho...even with all the people there.

But something happened with Mrs. Deb. She fell. Hard. I can't remember how...but she never could get to feeling better. She tried to come back to work, but it was too soon. She took more time off. We saw her one day before she left...we were in the line at customer service. Returning something.

I can't remember what.

She came up and we talked. It was obvious that she did not feel well at all, and was in a lot of pain. This was a lady who was ALWAYS happy. She said she was leaving right then...to go home.

We missed her for a week or two after that. We got busy, like people do. I heard about a WM employee dying. We knew her, too.

But one day, I ran to WM real quick without Joshua. Logan was home because it was summer and I just let them both stay there. Morgan, Logan's girlfriend, was coming over for lunch and I just needed to get a few things.

I noticed that Mrs. Deb wasn't there...I kind of figured that she might be on her lunch break. The young girl checking me out casually mentioned what a hard week it had been. I asked her about it and she told me about Mrs. Anna passing away. And then she mentioned something about Mrs. Deb. I said, "she's okay, right?" The girl looked down and shook her head.

I can't even remember exactly what she said after that. Something about a massive heart-attack, and how her husband found her unresponsive. I couldn't breathe. I felt like I was going to be sick. Too close to home.

How am I supposed to tell Joshua? What am I supposed to say to his sweet face?

By this time the time I got home, Morgan was there with Logan. I went back to my room and tried to get control of myself. And then I went to tell Joshua...and we both cried. And Logan and Morgan came back to ask about it.

A profoundly sad day.

I pray that Mrs. Deb knew Jesus. I believe that she did. We talked often about our faith. Joshua is never shy about sharing about the Lord.

A couple of things I learned from this is, first...time is short. Don't waste an opportunity. Of course, there are many times when you will get the opportunity to cultivate a relationship with someone, but there will be other times when you just have a minute. A minute to listen...a minute to pray. Make it count.

I was also reminded that God can use us if we are willing. We don't have to be a preacher or a missionary. We don't have to be a doctor, judge, lawyer or someone the world perceives as "influential." We might be a mom dropping off our kids at pre-school...or we might be a pre-school teacher. Or we might work at Wal-Mart...and it might be EXACTLY where God wants us...where we can be His hands and feet to a hurting world. Because everyone has to eat, right? Most everyone has to get gas in their cars. We go shopping or to a park. Many of us go to church....or to the doctor. We all need new tags on our cars each year.

How long is the line at YOUR DMV?

I'm just sayin'.

And I"m sayin' it to me.

Because, sometimes, I just wanna run in and get bread and milk...and get back to my day...my house...my family.

We think that with our busy schedules we don't have time to invest in other people lives...but we do.

As Christians, especially, we need to seize the moments in each day. You might not be able to make it to Tuesday Night visitation at the church, but you can reach people right where you are. Sometimes people just want to talk...sometimes they want to listen; sometimes they need a hug; sometimes you'll have the opportunity to pray with them...or for them.

I think it's important to be intentional in how we spend our days...to look for those people who are hurting...to look for those opportunities to be a witness.

I'm not sure Mrs. Deb ever realized the impact she had on others...on us. But here I am, 2 years later, and I'm still talking about her...and I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat when I remember her kindness to my son.

"...when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!" (Matthew 25:40)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Singing All The Way..

*This is posting on July 4, and even tho this post has nothing to do with the freedom that American men and women have fought and died for...I want to say how thankful and blessed I feel to live in this great country*


It's pretty much a proven fact that I can sing for hours on a car trip.

Just sayin'.

The thing is...I like all kinds of music. I'm refined like that. Ha! That being said, there are some genres I like more than others, but, in our family, it's "driver's choice" when we are in the car.

I think I mentioned that we left early, early last Saturday morning to go pick up Clark from Kamp.

Note: most normal parents will go the night before and stay in a hotel, so they don't have the early morning drive. 

Not us. No way, no how.

And there is nothing going on at 4 in the morning. NOTHING. Very little traffic and nothing is open. Just dark and quiet and headlights...and the radio.


And so I sing. I don't sing WELL...but I love to sing. I grew up in a home where my Mom sang constantly, so I guess that's where I get it. After about an hour, I began to notice a pattern. Just when I was really getting into a song, Jim would change the channel. Wha-whaaaaaat? At first, I thought it was because it was getting all static-y (that usually doesn't bother me too much, because even if I just hear bits and pieces of a song, I can still belt it out).

But then...it started to seem like my sweet and loving husband was trying to silence my joyful noise.

And to that I say, "hit me with your best shot..."

"Oldies?" I AM old.
"70's?" Please (amateur).
"80's?" WhaCHU talkin' about?
"90's til today?" What I don't know, I'll make up for with enthusiasm.
"Country?" Bring it. 
"K-Love?" I know every word (plus harmonies) (you're welcome).

But turning it to talk radio? That's just cruel, man.

Well played, Driver...well played.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Lost in Translation

Joshua has an amazing vocabulary. He really does. And it's such a blessing.

I am convinced it's due to his love of reading.

From the time he was born, Joshua loved books. In fact, you know how many books for toddlers and little kids are made out of thick cardboard? Well, Joshua went through a lonnnnng phase where he literally ate those books. He would start on one corner and gnaw on them.

Talk about eating your words!

When he was little, one of my biggest prayers was that he would learn to read. He seemed to love books so much and I thought what a blessing it would be if he could read. Thankfully, he did learn, and his love of reading and for books continues to be a source of great joy for him.

I love that he can read the Bible. On Sunday mornings, when the preacher announces the sermon text, Joshua can turn to it all by himself and follow along with everyone else. One of his favorite places to visit is a Library or bookstore. And now, with closed-captioning on tv and movies...he can read and keep up even if he can't hear the words. All of this has only served to broaden his vocabulary.

That doesn't mean that he always gets the correct meaning of the words.


Joshua may or may not have told his entire "group" last week that his cousin is getting married in July (she is)...and that his recently engaged brother, Logan, and his fiance, Morgan, are getting "knocked up" after that.

(they aren't)


"May the words of my mouth...be acceptable in Your sight..." (Psalm 19:14)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Words We Regret...

What if someone asked you about something you did in your past? Or something you said? Something really bad. Something that hurt someone else.

Something that, if it came out, might hurt a bunch more people today.

I think we could probably all think of something.

Not excusing it, by any means...

It's just that we think differently as we grow and age...and learn.

What if, when you were asked about it, you admitted it...and sincerely apologized?

When is an apology not enough?

Or is it enough?

"There is none righteous, no, not one." (Romans 3:10)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mom...

Today is my Mom's birthday. She would've been 74 years old.

She would've hated it...the getting old part. But I have confidence in the fact that she would've handled it, publicly, at least, with much grace.

Today, like the 14 previous years, she is spending her birthday in Heaven.

And I miss her every day.

I miss her place in our family. Even tho I didn't get to see her that often, I miss her presence. More than my Dad, she was the one who called, wrote letters...kept in touch. She was the glue in our family. I miss her sense of humor...so thankful that she passed that on to us. I miss that she was the connection to my past for me and my children...so much I wish I would've asked about. I miss that she wasn't here for everything the past 15 years...the births, illnesses, moves, accomplishments, graduations, deployments, vacations, kids moving to college, engagements and weddings.

And all of the regular days.

But I the things I miss the most are the things that lie ahead; things that we, our family, will have to go through...or things that we'll enjoy...without her.

She left us, and our family is not the same. It can never be the same. Oh, we have healed or are healing, and we have moved on...but there will be an empty spot in our lives until we get to Heaven and see her again.

And we will see her again. I believe that with all of my heart.

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