Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Family Picture

I know why photographers get the big bucks.

Not saying they don't deserve them, because a few hours ago, I was willing to pay any sum of money for please come and take our family picture for our Christmas card.

Why is that? It's a camera lens and lighting and a shutter and a button. How hard can it be?

But people listen to photographers. They know what looks good and how to hold your hands and head...and what to do with your legs and feet. They can get people to do things that no family member can...typically.

We headed to the park...10 of us. 8 of us in the family, and 2 we treat like family. 10 pairs of eyes. 10 different attitudes. About that many different personalities.

(Hahaha...see what I did there?)

All in all, I think it went pretty well...all things considering. Holly and Faith took a ton of pictures. Holly looked at them quickly while on the way to dinner. She said out of all of them...there were only 2 that would be suitable. OH DEAR! We might should've stayed at the park a little longer!

After the picture taking episode, we all went to dinner with Jim's parents at a local restaurant. Table for 12 anyone?

We had a good time. They sat us at a long table, so I didn't really get to interact with anyone at the other end. I was pretty much involved in the ones right in front of me: Joshua and Jenni.

I had called Jenni's mom to see if she could come with us. I mean, Holly has Aaron, Logan has Morgan, Clark has Faith...and that leaves Joshua without a "special person." They are all really good about including him, so I don't think he feels the "I'm not a couple" thing every time we go somewhere, but my mother-in-law thinks he does. And, you know, I guess if he feels it's one time too many. She is just very sensitive, sometimes overly sensitive, when it comes to him.

Jenni is a sweetie, but bringing her requires planning...because it's different. Just like when her parents invite Joshua to go with them. We know Joshua...and can usually predict what he will do...what he will like...what he can tolerate; how long he can go between potty breaks and meals; how much walking he will endure without complaining. We know what things set him off, what things make him happy. We can tell when he's full, when he's sick, when he can't hear. Bringing Jenni is...different.

And, we invite her and they invite him...and it doesn't always work out for them to be together.

But today it did!

Joshua and Jenni had a big time with us today. And even tho Jenni was not in our family picture, she had fun "helping" Faith and Holly taking them. And we took several of the two of them together...they are HAMS in front of the camera! But we knew that, of course.

Joshua and Jenni enjoyed coming to dinner with everyone, but NO ONE enjoyed it more than my mother-in-law. She grinned and watched them both like hawks. She tried to offer them more food every time we turned our backs and Jim had to shut that down because NO THANK YOU, Mammaw Jack. We have a 35 minute car trip ahead of us (taking Jenni home), and I am NOT wanting to get on that ride.

We all made it fine and had a great time! Didn't nobody die (name that movie) (Rush Hour) and no one got car-sick. AND, Jim and I may have permanently sealed our place in the WILL after tonight. His mom hugged me and said over and over, "you have just" (you know, by bringing Jenni for Joshua). She said, "I always love seeing EVERYONE, know..." and she nodded her head toward Joshua.

I said, "oh, I know..."

We ALL know.

"On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable..." 1 Corinthians 12:22

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Eye of a Soft Rabbit

In other news, I wrote about Joshua's Thankful November posts he's doing on Facebook. He is doing these all on his own. Let me just type exactly what he wrote yesterday about his GIRLFRIEND OF 8 YEARS, Jenni:

"I Am thankful that Jen is a nice sweet caring woman who has brown hair and eyes. Sweet natured young talented woman who is fearless. Who has a eye of a soft rabbit."


A(n) eye of a soft rabbit? What in the world? What about her other eye?

Oh, you can just bet that we've had a lot of laughs over this one. Not in front of Joshua, of course.

"In God we have boasted all day long, and we will give thanks to Your name forever." Psalm 44:8

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Not gonna lie, I thought today was going to be sad...but it hasn't been too bad.

It was quiet, laid-back, productive, restful. Just a little lonely...but not much.

My heart is full as I think back on my many blessings. I read this blog post this morning that really took me back to when Clark was born.

I could SO relate to this young mother. I remember being the same way with Clark. PRAYING he would stay inside my body for 3 more months. Or 40 more days. Or one more day. Thanking God for his birth, every breath, every milestone. Most people don't "get" why we are so excited over everything this child does...whether he excels at it or not. It's just the fact that he's HERE that is the miracle...and everything else is God blessing us far and beyond what we deserve.

Each of our children have been and are our greatest blessings, and we don't need one day a year to remember that. Our parents...the fact that they are still here...blessings to us. Jim's job was up in the air this year, and yet God has provided for us. There are many things on our prayer list regarding our children and their futures and all of that. We have seen this year that God leads us step-by-step. He doesn't show us the future...he doesn't tell us how things will all work out. He guides and strengthens us as we go.

I did some Christmas decorating today. For our Thanksgiving lunch, I warmed up Joshua's left-over chicken sandwich from our meal at Outback last night. I know, right? I made sausage balls...because they sounded good. I ate one of them and put the rest in a bag. They did not hit the spot. Then, I saw a partial bag of FROZEN mozzarella sticks that I sometimes fix for Clark after football practice. He comes in starving half to death and can't wait 10 minutes for I try to have something ready to soothe the beast. Anyway, there were 6 in the bag and I made them. Nope...they weren't what I wanted, either. I gave up and made myself some hot tea.

Jim never ate lunch. He was busy putting together furniture. We finally bought a kitchen table and chairs the other day. We have been using a table from Jim's mom...and my Grandma Ellen's chairs. Every one of the chairs is broken in some way. Jim's chair was missing the entire back. I couldn't find exactly what I thought I wanted anywhere. The other day, we found a table and chairs we liked at a furniture outlet place (we're classy like that) and Jim picked it up yesterday. It was all in boxes and needed to be put together. That's what he did ALL day. He was trying to get it done in time for dinner, so that we could eat at our new table...but it was taking so long and I finally served dinner at the bar. We sat on our new bar-stools that we bought at Target last week. I mean, there were just 3 of us sense being all fancy-like. I warmed up all the left-overs from the week, and, as Joshua says, "cleaned up the stuff in the frig."

I guess it wouldn't have been too good to have our first meal on our new table be frozen cheese sticks and sausage balls, right?

Oh, that sounds disgusting now.

It was a pretty good day. I've loved looking at everyone's pictures on social media....all gathered with family and friends for this holiday. Makes me happy to see.

Well, Clark just walked in and Logan is on his way home...then, Lord willing, all the bowies will be in the nest tonight. Holly and Aaron are still out-of-town.

So very thankful today.

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Yeah...about that...

Remember when I said I was soooo happy after our family Thanksgiving meal that it wouldn't bother me at all that no one was here on Thanksgiving day?

Lies...all lies.

Well, maybe not a wasn't an intentional lie, anyway. Maybe I was just being optimistic. Maybe it was the Tryptophan from the turkey. Yeah...that was probably it. Let's blame the turkey.

All I'm saying is that Holly and Aaron left this morning. Jim has taken Joshua and Logan to a movie, and then Logan is leaving after that. And Clark will be leaving after his morning's football practice and spending Thanksgiving day with his girlfriend's family.

That's 3 of our 4 children spending Thanksgiving day with other families.


But, after typing this all out and taking some time to think rationally...technically, when all is said and done, Joshua, Logan AND Clark will all be sleeping in their beds here tomorrow night. They will just have plans during the day.

That doesn't sound as bad.

I think I'm gonna be okay. :)

"...I will not forget you." Isaiah 49:15

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Well, Thanksgiving is in 2 days, but here at my house? It's already happened. We had our Thanksgiving meal on Sunday night, because that's when all the kids could be here.

But each day that goes by, I am overwhelmed by thankfulness. It's been so cold here and I sit here in my warm house, with my family, safe and snug...and my heart is full with our many blessings. And my heart is heavy for those who are cold and hungry and alone. And in fear.

This is an ordinary day funny Joshua story, no drama going on. Just real and every day life this week. Joshua is enjoying the break. Believe it or not, he is liking that we don't have a schedule. Now, he still wants to know what we are doing, and when, but so far he is having fun. He typically gets very out-of-sorts without a routine, but he's good for now!

Holly came over and helped me with a couple of our Christmas trees. I love using mesh, but I'm not very good at it. Holly is VERY good at it and she made everything look so pretty. She and Aaron are leaving tomorrow to head out-of-state for a few days...spending the holiday with Aaron's family.

It is great to have Logan home. You know, each child brings a different dynamic to our home. We are so thankful he is here. Things are definitely livelier when he's around!

Clark is having football practices every day. He was kind of grumbling about it the other day, and I told him that practicing and playing during Thanksgiving break means your team has made the play-offs...and that there are about 90 teams in our state who would LOVE to be in their position.

I just love this time of year. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow, so I plan on taking advantage of each day with my family! Love them all so much!

"...I will give thanks to You forever." Psalm 30:12

Monday, November 25, 2013

The One Where Joshua Broke My Mom's Dishes...

We stayed at my parent's house one weekend when Joshua was little. Holly was a baby, so Joshua must've been around 3.

We typically set up a little port-a-crib for Joshua in my Dad's office, and then Jim and I would keep Holly in the guest room with us. The rooms were right next door to each other. We also had a baby monitor, just to be safe.

We were nothing if not responsible parents.

We woke up to a loud CRASH. Like a glass breaking type of crash. I didn't even think about it being a burglar...I ran out of the room to check on Joshua.

The office door was open.

We heard another loud crash and ran into the kitchen and turned on the light.

Sitting on the the middle of shattered glass...was Joshua. He was wearing these blue Carter's footie pajamas. He was sucking on the pacifier that was attached to his pajamas by a little clip. All around him were the remains of my Mom's beloved blue and white dishes. The little Houdini had climbed out of his port-a-crib and walked to the kitchen. Who knows what he was looking for...maybe a cereal bowl or something...or why (or HOW) he pulled a stack of heavy dishes out on the floor.


I remember my Dad standing in the kitchen, just staring at the mess...and shaking his head. He was probably thinking, like Jim, "what POSSESSED you to do that, Joshua?"

Yeah...well, welcome to my world...

We were so thankful he was okay. I mean, all that glass and he didn't have a single scratch! We did buy my parents another set of their dishes because we felt so bad!

Joshua was such a little stinker!

"Your name, God, like Your praise, reaches to the ends of the earth...." Psalm 48:10

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Our Family Thanksgiving

First of all, the Razorbacks.

Y''s so sad. They lost yesterday to Mississippi State, and it set a school record...for losses in a season.


I just HATE it for them. I'm not one of those fans who is gung-ho when they win and down on them when they lose. I love to win. It's great to have a winning team. But, now that I'm old enough to have kids in college, all I can think of when I hear the negative comments is..."that's someone's baby...someone's little boy."

Joshua, tho? NOT HAPPY with the Razorbacks. He said, "we (the Hogs) are fighting for pride and the respect of the nation...which 'pparently we have none of EACH."

Along with, "the worst team won." (no it didn't...the best team won. Trust me. Don't even try. You'll just get frustrated).

And, "this is a disgrace."

I'm sorry.

At least he didn't make any comments about Bielema's windbreaker this week.

They're just KIDS, people. Dr. Phil says that brains of boys don't really mature until they are 25-26 years old. Yet, they can drink, vote, marry, get a job, rent a car, go to war...all years before that. And we expect them to always do the right thing and to always win games.

In other news, the Arkansas State Red Wolves!

We also had our family Thanksgiving celebration tonight. And, as I'm writing this, it's the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

I'm realizing more and more that "flexibility" is the name of the game...especially as my children get older...and ESPECIALLY around the holidays.

Holly and Aaron are spending Thanksgiving with his family in Alabama. Logan will be with Morgan and her family. And Clark may go with his friend to her family's celebration. But they could ALL be here tonight it was!

I began mentally preparing last week. Two days ago, bought all the groceries. Yesterday, I began to prepare some of the food in advance. Last night, I set the table in the dining room for 9...we would be crowded, but for one meal it would be fine. This morning, I made a pecan pie before church.

*Side note* Every Sunday morning, without fail, I make cinnamon rolls for breakfast. My kids called them "Sunday Rolls" when they were little. This morning, our SS class was having breakfast there, so when Joshua came down I said, "no rolls today...just have a pop-tart." I know Mom of the Year, right? But Joshua just looked at me...and I heard crickets chirping, so I tried again, slowly. "Dad and I are having breakfast in our SS class, so I didn't make cinnamon rolls today...just have a pop-tart, okay?" Joshua muttered, "well, not a very good Sunday HERE."

When the pie came out, I put the turkey in the oven and we left for church.

Some friends of ours have a daughter who is in college here in our town. We saw her and her boyfriend in church this morning and invited them to eat with us tonight. She was appreciative of the invite and said she would let us know. At 6 o'clock, just as we were sitting down to eat, we were notified that they were coming. We started moving plates and getting more chairs and adding silverware and glasses, etc. We crammed 11 family members and friends around our table tonight. It was so fun! Holly said, "is your heart full?"

Yes. Yes it is.

I want our home to be a welcoming place for our family and their friends. It blessed my heart that they all stayed long after dinner to talk and hang out. I love my family and it's not gonna bother me at all when Thanksgiving day rolls around later on in the week...and no one's here.

I have been blessed beyond measure.

"...give thanks for everything..." Ephesians 5:20

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Football--Clark's 2nd Round Play-Off Game

So last night...OH MY WORD!

We had our 2nd round play-off game. We played Springdale Har-Ber, which is a school from NWA. Their record was 8-3 and ours was 8-2. I'm still trying to figure out how they've played one more game than we have...but...that's what the announcer said. Oh well.

It was the coldest night of the year so far. Annnnnnnd it was raining.

Beautiful, right?

Holly and Aaron graciously offered to take Joshua with them to eat and hang out...he does okay with some cold, but cold AND rainy? Ain't nobody got time for that. He had fun with them. They went out for pizza and then watched a movie at their house.

Jim and I went to eat before the game. Logan called and he had made it to town, but he was all the way on the other side. And it was 5 o'clock rush hour in our little burg. But he made it to the restaurant and got to eat real quick...and the 3 of us went to the game.

It was great to have Logan there. He and Jim enjoy visiting about football and they notice the same things during the game. As opposed to me, who yelled out at the beginning of a play, "IT'S A FLEA-FLICKER!" really loud. And Logan said, "'s a REVERSE."

Well, of course it is.

It was back and forth all night...we'd score, they'd score...but we WON! By 10 points! It's the first time his school has made it past the 2nd round since 2003! I was so thrilled for Clark to have this experience. The next game will be against Bentonville. We'll probably get our rears kicked, but it's been such a fun year so far! And so special that Logan got to be there.

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good..." Psalm 106:1

Friday, November 22, 2013

Joshua's Thanksgiving Celebration

Well, today was the day!

The day Joshua's Therapeutic Recreation (TR) group had their Thanksgiving celebration.

OH MY GOODNESS, they were all so excited! They had gone shopping. They had decorated. They had decided what they were each going to bring.

The Director, Mrs. Sherrie, let them sign up for the dish they wanted to make...and then they were responsible to bring everything they needed to make that dish. Before lunch. At the center. They were instructed not to bring a pre-made dish. Part of the fun today was learning to follow instructions and a recipe.

Joshua decided to make Brownie Delight.

Well, I don't know if he decided he'd bring it, or if Mrs. Sherrie and everyone ELSE decided he would bring it! He's brought it he past couple of years for Thanksgiving, and at various other times during the year. It's super easy. Brownies, pudding and Cool Whip layered in a glass trifle dish (repeat twice so there are 6's "more prettier" that way). Today, Joshua sprinkled the top with Halloween chocolate chips (brown and orange) and Health Bits.


I cooked the brownies last night because there is limited accessibility in the TR kitchen with just one oven and a bunch of people needing to use it. Joshua put the rest of it together himself. I saw a picture of the finished looked great! I typically post pictures on my Instagram account: MARTYTHEMOOSE. This year, we had to make it in a 13x9x2 dish, because I had made a dessert for a friend of mine and she hasn't given my trifle dish back to me yet! Oh well. It tastes the same either way...and it was actually easier for Joshua this way...just not as pretty.

They had expected around 35 people there for lunch, but Joshua said they just had 22. They usually invite some of the extra people who have helped them out during the year...the people from a local Camp, the Zumba lady, Mr. Lee the kick-boxing dude, and some former participants who, for whatever reason, no longer attend the program. Joshua said, "some didn't come today, like Rachel and Bossy Amy.

Which, I guess is a good thing, because most of them had already decided, THANKSGIVING SPIRIT OR NOT, Bossy Amy was not sitting by them.


Joshua said they went around the room and wrote down things they were thankful for on little leaves, kind of like the ones on our Thanksgiving Tree here at home. Joshua said he had 4 leaves and he wrote, God, Family, Heath, and Friends from TR on them. He said that he went back and added "Maggie" (our dog) and "Sassy" (our cat) and "Marley" (Holly's halfadog) on the leaf under "Family."

He said, "Jenni was upset that I didn't say I was thankful for HER, but I just didn't think about it."

I said, "really, Joshua? You thought about our ANIMALS and didn't think to add Jenni? I don't think she believes you, and I really don't either. I think maybe you left her off on purpose."

Joshua said, "uhhhh...I'm not talking about that."

That is his catch phrase. You will never get him to admit anything after he says that.

Later he said, "well, when I read off the things I was thankful for and didn't list her, she gave me the STINK EYE."

Ya think?

Joshua gave me the run-down when I picked him up...'no drama today."


Our own early Christmas miracle.

"In everything give thanks..." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thursday, November 21, 2013

My Dad's Heart-Attack

My Dad had a heart attack. It was 3 years ago today.

He's okay now, but it scared us all to death...because my Mom had a heart attack 15 years ago.

She lives with Jesus now.

But my Dad? We could not believe it. The doctors said they couldn't even find a category to put him in. He didn't smoke or drink. Worked out 3 times a week. Good cholesterol, low blood-pressure, low heart-rate.

Every year in November, my Dad's Sunday School class gathers together to send boxes of gifts to the troops overseas. It's a ministry close to my Dad's heart, because we are a 4 generation military family. My grandfather was career Air Force, and my Dad was career Air Force. My brother was in the Army, and two of my nephews presently serve in the military.

So on this Dad's class stays after church and they have a potluck lunch. They make sure the boxes are filled and wrapped and ready to go...and then they pray over them...and pray for the ones who will receive them.

I can just picture the scene. Most all of the men, and some of the women, in this class are veterans. They love God and their country. They're older now, but memories of the time they served is still fresh on most of their minds. They tell stories of their service and their families...what they saw, what they missed.

They said that my Dad had just led the prayer, and he went to sit down while everyone else lined up to fill their plates. He wasn't feeling well. At some point, he left the table...unnoticed...and one by one, everyone got their food and sat down to eat.

They found my Dad in the kitchen...on the floor. Alone.

That part breaks my heart.

But he wasn't alone. Not really. God was with him. My Dad was talking to Him...and he wasn't scared at all. He said, "God, if this is it...I'm ready."

Confident in his eternal destination.

By God's plan and provision, there was a nurse or two in the group. They shooed everyone out and went to work to make Dad comfortable. Someone called 911. The rest of the group gathered in the other room...held hands and prayed.

What a picture.

By the time my sisters and I got to the hospital the next morning, my Dad had had stints put in and was in recovery. When we walked in, he was sitting up like a bird in his hospital bed...drinking juice and watching tv. He had asked for breakfast about 50-11 times, according to that pretty much showed us he was back to normal.

But he's not back to normal...and probably never will be. He's gone from being fairly mobile and being weak, unbalanced and slow-moving. He's gone from taking absolutely NO medicine for the first 74 years of his taking 6-8...even 10...meds per day. He's so frustrated. He wants his strength back more than anything.

Last year, he was tentatively diagnosed with Parkinson's. So far, his mind is sharp...and that is a blessing. We pray he'll have strength for all of his days.

I am so thankful for a godly father. I am thankful that God spared his life that day 3 years ago...altho, I don't think it's as much He spared his it just wasn't his time.

"...all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ahhh...the drama...

This is a good week.

I took Joshua to Little Rock yesterday to be with his group. They went shopping and CLOTHES shopping.

One of the group's favorite things is the Thanksgiving Potluck they have each year. Some of the friends don't come every day, but EVERYONE comes on Thanksgiving Potluck day. So there are things that will be needed...paper products and decorations, and those are some of the items they went to the store to get yesterday.

Also, last year, it became apparent that people have very different views on what is appropriate when it comes to how-to-dress. Some have never been taught what is appropriate...and some have never given it a thought at all! So when the director would say, "we are going to the dinner theater, please dress appropriately," the friends might show up in outfits ranging from a prom a DUCK DYNASTY t-shirt and shorts.

So they had a little session on fashion and what styles looked good on different body clothes should FIT and cover the areas that need to be covered...and how, especially on the days when they are out in the community, they not only want to put their best selves forward, they are also representing the Therapeutic Recreation program. This is what led to Joshua wanting the "more mature" clothes.

After their discussion session, they piled in the van and went to a local Good-Will type store...each armed with $10-20 dollars. They chose items they liked and tried them on for fit and approval from their peers. This is Joshua's re-cap from yesterday:

"I walked in and saw some $6 blue pants. They were "around" my same size (he did the "air quotes" with his hands on the word: "around" So funny). I went to the dressing room to try on the pants. They fit "just fine." I didn't want to come out and model them in front of everyone. I got in line and bought the pants, and some dress socks. And then I sat down."


Is he a man or what?

Joshua said, "Jenni said, 'I don't want to shop today...I'm not getting anything...I don't want to go...' over and over."

He said he turned around and Jenni had an ARM FULL of clothes to try on.

He loves to tell us all the drama...what everyone ELSE did. Everyone else but HIM. Who got upset with who...all of that. It's just exhausting. My mother-in-law, blessherheart, she takes it all soooo seriously. In the beginning, so did I. But I've's like...kind of like...I don't know how to describe it. You know how when kids try to get in all kinds of relationship drama and they are too young for it...and every little thing stirs everybody up? It's kind of like that. Kind of like a cross between a young child and a pre-teen. And, since most of the friends are intellectually challenged to some degree, they don't always understand all the complexities involved in relationships. Some of them try to repeat what they see on TV or in the movies...all of that teen movie stuff.

That never goes well.

And someone will cry...and someone will stomp off...and someone will say unkind words...and then, when you are exhausted and your emotions have been on a rollercoaster and you have used every skill you've ever been taught and all the logic you have trying to explain and mediate...they will shrug their shoulders, forgive each other, and have a big ol' hug.  And it's all so sweet.

Until tomorrow.

"Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, You forgive them all." Psalm 65:3

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

As Your Family Grows

Been working on and mulling over this post for a while...trying to get it to come together. Usually, when God lays something on my heart, it's a jumbled mess as I try to work through it and figure out the lessons He wants me to learn. I don't have all the answers...or any answers, really. Just some observations, because we are only just starting out in this stage...tripping up, stumbling, navigating our way.

I always wanted a large family, and while most people would agree that 4 children is MORE THAN ENOUGH...I wanted two more.

But God always knows what He's doing, and after my terrifying and traumatic experience with Clark...and the fact that my brain cells and my patience rapidly decreased with each birth, it was probably a blessing that things worked out the way they did.

But even when our 4 children were really young, I was already dreaming of the days when they would marry and start their families...and our home would be filled with lots of love and laughter. It never occurred to me that there would be friction...even tho sometimes, even in families, there is friction. Sometimes lots of it.


We have been very blessed in both of our families to have very little stress involved when we get together with everyone, but I would be lying if I said there wasn't ANY. And doesn't it always seem like there's just that one person...?

This week in Sunday School, aspects of the "family gatherings" seemed to be the top topic of conversation. Even in our small, little class...I was surprised at the number of people who were going into this holiday holding their breaths...hoping that SHE wouldn't be there, or that HE wouldn't bring HER, or trying to figure out how they can go for just the meal and not have to stay the night. One girl commented, "if I wanted to see my family more...I would see my family more."

How sad is that?

As our family grows...adding new members by marriage, we have to stretch and adapt and, when we do, there is growth. It doesn't mean things are perfect...but love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8), and love is the perfect bond of unity (Colossians 3:14). While we have been blessed with the choices our children have made (and are making) in their choice of mates so far, even the best fit for them might bring stress to your family. Because anytime you add a person (or take one away), it changes things. If you have more than one child, you can see this even when your kids are young. When one child is at a sleep-over, or at the grandparents or at camp...your family is changed. You might do different activities. You might talk more. You might talk less. You see things differently because of the child who is away...or because of the child who is at home.

The same type of thing happens when one of your children marries. The assumption is that because they have chosen this person as their mate...they will automatically fit perfectly into your family. I'm here to say that even the most perfect person will require an adjustment by everyone because the family dynamics will change. Your daughter is now someone's wife. Your son is now someone's husband. They have their own lives, own views, own ways of thinking...and it may not be the way you taught them or even the way you wish things would be. Doesn't mean you can't get along.

Now, I'm not Dr. Phil, but I will agree with him that just because you're family doesn't mean you have to like each other...doesn't even mean you have to allow those people into your lives. Some people have endured unspeakable abuse from the hands of their families, and of course you want to break free from anything even resembling that. And, maybe you adopt the philosophy that's written on the plaque that my BFF Stacy gave me: "Friends are the family you choose for yourself."

She gave that to me because I've never lived close to my I've made my friends my family. That's just something some of us have to do.

And I want to be clear...I have a great family! They just all live in different states.

I want my home to be open and welcoming to the new people we bring into our family. And just like we would go out of our way to welcome a STRANGER, we need to go out of our way to welcome the new family members and make them feel comfortable. If you know anything about them, what they like, then you can try to engage them in conversation...but you have to be careful. You don't want them to feel like they're in a game of 20 questions with no way out. AWK!

My parents liked Jim from the beginning, but how my Dad ever agreed to our marriage in the first place, I will never know. We married between our sophomore and junior years in college and didn't have two cents to our names. My Mom loved Jim. She would send him funny jokes and emails at work, and she loved shopping for him. Jim's parents welcomed me into their family as well. I had ten glorious years when I was the only daughter-in-law!

I call those "The Happy Years."


Then, Jim's two brothers married in the same month, and all of a sudden there were TWO OTHER GIRLS horning in on my good thing. Ha! My mother-in-law has done a GREAT job of bringing us all together and keeping us all together. I'm sure it is exhausting for her, but she works really hard to keep the harmony between everyone in the family. I'm just now getting a taste of the time she spends planning (and praying) before each family event.

Because it IS stressful...or it CAN be. Anytime you bring a lot of people with a lot of personalities into one run the risk that there could be problems. Some jockey for their place...some sit quietly and feel unaccepted. I can't stand that. I never want anyone to feel that way in our home.

Like I said in the beginning, I don't have any answers. I just have awareness...and sensitivity...and a desire to live together with love and respect between each member of our family. Not that anyone should be a doormat; not that we shouldn't expect for everyone in our home to treat each other with basic civility, at the very least.

But just like each part of the body has a different function and place, each member of a family has a different function and place...and all are necessary.

"Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mr. Miyagi

We were eating as a family at a local burger place the other night.

I looked up and there was a guy coming in the door who looked just like Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid! Is it Karate Kid, or THE Karate Kid? I forget. ANYWAY, I pointed him out to Jim and he agreed that he bore an uncanny resemblance to Pat Morita.

I said, "Joshua, LOOK! That guy looks just like Mr. Miyagi."

Joshua looked up from his burger and said, "mmm...mmmmm," and then, "I bet I know what he would say."

Me: "What?"

Joshua, "Wax on...wax off."

And he did the hand motions.

(this only makes sense if you've seen the movie)

"Let heaven and earth praise Him, the seas and everything that moves in them." Psalm 69:34

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Weekend Update

We've had a good weekend. Joshua had his dance on Friday...I wrote about that here.

On Saturday, we had planned on going to the HSU vs OBU game. This is a huge rivalry, and we have friends on the OBU football team, and friends at both schools. The weather was uncertain, so at some point in the morning, we made the decision not to go.


Turned out to be THE game of all games...and we missed it. Ugh.

We did all pile in the Burb and meet my in-laws for dinner. That is always an adventure!

This morning, we went to SS...and then while the guys stayed for church, Holly and I drove 2 1/2 hours to attend a Christmas-themed wedding shower for Morgan and Logan. Isn't that such a cute idea? They aren't getting married until May, but Morgan loves Christmas more than anyone I it was really precious that her friends from their church honored them in this way.

She got a lot of really fun things! It was great to meet her friends. We got to see Logan for a few minutes. During the shower, he took Morgan's little brother to see a movie. All of the girls at the shower talked about how much their little kids loooooovvvvve Logan. He does love babies and little kids...and he's really good with them. Both of them are.

We left town this morning at 11, and pulled back up in my driveway at 7:30 tonight. So tired, but what a fun day!

I cannot wait for Thanksgiving break next week. Logan and Morgan...and Clark...and Holly...are all out of school all week!

"Good news from far away is like cold water to the thirsty." Proverbs 25:25

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Little House on the Prairie

Well, it's been a wild few weeks! I like to keep things positive here on the blog, but you know...stuff happens. And God is always faithful.

During the past few weeks:

*Jim has had a job issue...his position changed a little, but he got to keep his job and we don't have to move again (Praise the LORD).
*We had a water pump issue outside.
*Our master bathroom toilet had a leak...Jim put a little cereal bowl on the floor to catch the water that is leaking from the back. I know. (breakfast, anyone?) And he turned off the water. He told me that, after flushing, we would need to turn the water on, let the toilet bowl fill up, and then turn the water off. Every.time. It's like I'm Caroline Ingalls or something.
*One of our vehicles has several problems...2 were fixed this week (yay!).
*The dishwasher is leaking.
*The fireplace insert wasn't working.
*Annnnnd the dryer vent to the outside was clogged.

I am very aware that these are 1st world problems. YOU...have a...CAR? An indoor TOILET?

I know.

I just want my kids to know 1) things are gonna go wrong; 2) God is always faithful; And 3) their dad can fix almost anything.


On that last one, I hit the jackpot. We did have to take the vehicle to the shop, but everything else? It was Jim to the rescue. Our family is so blessed to have him.

My Dad...bless his heart. I love him so much, and has taught me many things...and has been a great servant and leader for our family. But he couldn't blow up a balloon without a pump...even if his life depended on it. He could not fix a flat or change the oil or do most types of household maintenance. In fact, when I was about 10 years old, he bought me a sah-weeeet Schwinn bicycle that I still have to this day. But when the air went down in the tires, he took the bike to "the shop." Now, I didn't know where "the shop" was...but a lot of our things went there to be fixed! But Jim? There is very little he can't do...handyman-wise. And we are so thankful. Just the things he has fixed this Dad would've had to call a repairman...and pay them a lot of money.

True story: When my Dad turned 50, my Mom wanted to have a surprise party for she planned it and we all drove in to surprise him. She had invited a lot of their friends from church, and it was being held at a place that was close to their home. To get him there, she called to say that she'd had car problems, but had managed to make it to the parking lot of this place. My Dad shows up in a trench coat...carrying a flashlight...and a HAMMER.


To fix a CAR.

I love him, but as we say in the South: bless his heart.

Now, I've never studied love languages or read the book, but I'm pretty sure mine must have to do with security. I don't know anything about what makes stuff work, so it freaks me out if a light comes on in the car, or if something is leaking or creaking or making a funny noise. I must've inherited that from my Dad. I like knowing that everything is taken care of...and it usually is.

I just want my kids to know that even when things go wrong, or break, or when life seems unfair...God is always faithful.

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

Friday, November 15, 2013

ACCESS Fall Ball

Well, tonight was a BIG NIGHT for our Joshua.

There is a school in Little Rock called ACCESS and it's for kids with special needs. Joshua didn't go there, but his girlfriend, Jenni, did. Now that they are out of school...and adults...they are invited to the adult programs offered at the school.

Joshua kept calling it a "prom," but it was really just a dance. Well, dinner and a dance.

Well, barbeque ...and a dance.

Joshua and Jenni love to dance.

So, Joshua was after me all week to take him to get a haircut...which I did today, thank YOU very much. I had gotten him a new shirt to wear in our Christmas pictures, and I told him he could wear it tonight. What else? Oh yes...I took him to the flower shop, and he picked out flowers and some BLING to go on a little wrist corsage for Jenni. He looked so cute when we left...all dressed up and carrying the box containing the corsage.

We just met Jenni there, since we were coming from two different directions...and since they were eating there at the dance. We had a Suburban full...Jim and I, Joshua, Holly and Clark and his friend, Faith. Aaron, our son-in-law, met us there...and then we ALLLLLLL went in to see Joshua and Jenni and take pictures. They definitely had the largest fan club there!

After we dropped them off, we headed to Carino's to eat...and we made a pact that NO ONE TELLS JOSHUA where we ate.

The dance only lasted 2 hours, so by the time we gas...and ran by the was time to head back. OF COURSE, the first thing Joshua asked was where we ate dinner.

**crickets chirping**

Clark whispered..."what do I SAYYYYYY?" I told him to tell the truth, and then let him know that we saved leftovers for him. Which, we did. And it was all good.

Joshua and Jenni had a great time. Two hours doesn't seem like a lot, but for's just about the perfect amount of time. As we were walking out, Jenni asked her sitter if they could "have a moment." The sitter looked at me and said, "CAN they have a moment? Because I never know what to's so AWKWARD for me!"

Welcome to my world.

So, we let them walk a little ahead of the car. They walked around to the other side, where they thought we couldn't see them. Of course, Holly and Aaron had parked right on the other side, so they got the full view. Holly said Joshua was "gettin' his mack on."


When Joshua got in the car, he said, "Jenni was upset. She said that we wanted a moment, but then she said, 'they are TIMING our moment.' I told her to calm down and that I would call her Sunday night, and she got in the car and slammed the door."

Well, that's just the sign of a good date, isn't it?

"...where morning dawns and evening fades, you inspire shouts of joy." Psalm 65:8

Thursday, November 14, 2013

For the Love of the Wal-Marks

This was written a couple of years ago as a Facebook "Note." I'm re-posting it on my blog:

Some people view going to Wal-Mart as a drudgery. I'll admit it...I've had those days. But I get over it real fast. 

My motivation: two beady brown eyes staring at me, so excited to go! 

It's not that I don't like going to the grocery. I am thankful we have the means to buy food and other items that we need for our family. I know there are starving children in other parts of the world, and there are needy even in my own community. I've read how missionary families home on furlough are OVERWHELMED at the all options we have for simple items, like our choice of breakfast cereal. I know I am very blessed. My beef is with the savvy marketing team that put the toothpaste and the milk on the total opposite sides of the store!  Because Momma's got things to DO.

When I go by myself, I can set a record. Seriously. Sometimes I don't even need a buggy. I can get nearly 18 items in one of those little blue baskets...and can carry two more items in my empty hand.  I know where everything is and I have my not get in my way. 

But my Joshua? Oh, how he loves to go to Wal-Mart. He starts by asking the night before, "we going to Wal-Mart in the morning?" And then in the morning, after he wakes up, he starts again, "what time we going to Wal-Mart?" And, let me tell you, you'd better know the time and you'd better STICK to the time. My man-child loves routine. 

It starts in the parking lot. A good parking place is important. We like for it to be near the door, of course, but it's even more important that we park close to the buggy stall. THAT is crucial because after we unload the groceries into the car, he is the one who takes the buggy back to where it belongs! 

But when we get inside the store, we have to use one of the wipie sheets on the buggy. Otherwise, my little germ freak refuses to push it!  He knows exactly where to go for the items he needs...body wash, deodorant, and the must-have mouth spray. I wait at the end of the aisle and let him pick those things out. He says "excuse me" to people and lets them go in front of him.

We head over to the grocery side. He is pushing the cart like a pro. "I'll get the get the paper plates" he tells me.  "Yes, sir!" He knows what we need...sometimes reminding me..."we need cinnamon rolls for Sunday." There are certain things he loves to pick out, like his yogurt. I just stand back and watch. His face lights up as he looks at all of the choices in front of him. He will carefully choose 4 different flavors. No more, no less. I don't know why. He does the same thing when we get to the frozen orange juice. He chooses 3 cans. No more, no less. One loaf of french bread, one tub of cheese dip, and he will say "we need nanners" as we pass through the produce section.

He has at least 4 checkers that he likes and we always try to get in their lines if we can. One lady brings him presents...and he does the same for her.  He helps me unload the groceries onto the conveyor belt...they have to be in a specific order. Once the cart is empty. he hurries to load all the bags back into it. Occasionally, an extra, empty bag will attach itself to one of our bags that is full...and Joshua smiles so big. He'll whisper, "we got an extra bag...hee, hee, hee." 

Finding joy in the simple things.

Where we came from, everyone knew Joshua. He grew up there. He was at school. He was at church. He was at every sporting event. He was a favorite at the local Sonic. :) Then, we moved...and all of a sudden, we don't know anyone and no one knows him. We are different, and we get a lot of stares...something I had kind of forgotten about, after being in one place for 15 years. But...MOST PEOPLE MEAN WELL...that's something I tell myself on a near-daily basis now...and it's true. And helps. 

But I see Joshua as a gift...and I want everyone else to see him that way as well. That's why I take him with me most of the time. It's good for us to realize our blessings; it's good for us to see that we are not all the same; it's good for us look past how someone looks on the outside and get to know the person that is inside; it's good for us to realize that we all have disabilities...we might call them struggles or difficulties or trials...but we all have them.

When I go to Wal-Mart by myself, I am in a hurry. I'm ashamed to say that sometimes I try not to make eye-contact with people I don't know. I want to get what I need and get home.  When I go to Wal-Mart with Joshua, we take our time...shorter legs move slower! He notices people. He helps people. On a visit last week, a WM employee dropped a case of canned items and they rolled across the floor. Before I knew it, Joshua was on his hands and knees, helping to pick them all up.  

He notices changes in the store. "Ooooo..."Hornet" (our school's mascot) cakes...we should get one for Clark." 

I had breezed right by the bakery and didn't even notice. 

Or, "do you know who would like those pretty flowers today? Mrs. Laryssa would, that's who!"

So today was our Wal-Mart day, but my man-child woke up sick. I was taking care of him, giving him meds and fluids...and tucking him in bed with a movie. Mid-morning, I look up and there is Joshua...pale as a sheet but fully dressed. He gave me a weak smile and said, "sooo when we going to Wal-Mart?"

"In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary." 1 Corinthians 12:22

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Joshua and The Fatherless

I think I've mentioned before that I take Joshua to Little Rock 2-3 days a week. It's about a 35 minute drive from our the Therapeutic Recreation center.

Joshua typically talks the whole way.


Sometimes he sings.

If he is talking, I turn the radio completely off, or just have it on really low. He doesn't hear well, so most of the time when it's on...he can't hear it.

But sometimes he can. And if he can...and if he likes the song, he will reach over and turn up the volume. And sinnnnnng! :)

Most of the time, he will talk (and talk and talk). Usually about his schedule, his plans, his lunch, his story that he's writing, going to the gym with his Dad...but every now and then, things get serious. And very random.

He asked about his friend and former coach...Coach Morgan. He asks about him every day, now that he knows he's sick. Coach Morgan is on hospice care now, but Joshua doesn't really understand that. So I told him that Coach Morgan needs prayer for comfort, and that his family will need lots of prayer in the days to come. We talked about praying for someone to come and "stand in the gap" for his kids, since they are young; Someone to be that male influence in their uncle, grandfather, a friend.

This led to him saying, "that is one of the biggest problems in our world."
Me: "what's that, Joshua?"
Joshua: "fatherless children."
Joshua: "...and children with fathers who have let go of the wheel." (I think this is a Fireproof or Courageous reference)
Joshua: "First, there is Robert's dad who set a bad example and ended up in jail...and look what happened to Robert. And there was the guy in the white truck who ran into me and Dad, and then drove off before the police got there. And, last, Bobby Petrino."
Me: "Bobby Petrino?"
Joshua: "yes. I read an article in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette (daily newspaper) that said Bobby Petrino was a good coach, but he was not a good leader of men."

Yes, folks. This is my Downsy man-child...knowing the importance of being a "good leader of men."

Here is his Facebook post of his "Thankful Days of November." When I saw it first thing this morning, I about cried. Reading it, you might think it was written by a child...I doubt that you would think the author was a 27 year old man with Down Syndrome. Sometimes his insights amaze me. Again, this is just as he wrote it:

Day 13 today I will say I'm thankful for coach Bryan Morgan when I was a manger Searcy lost to Alma 24-to nothing when I threw a fit he pulled me aside he told go change cause it will be okay. He is a great coach and a teacher of life. So, today. I am thankful for his leadership he has he has the heart and leadership and passion of not just only football but for his family. I think of him as a courageous and brave father and husband to his wife. Thank you for telling me to go change and we will try again. I'm thankful for his example but his legacy will always be remembered forever.

"I am thankful for his example but his legacy will always be remembered forever."


"...You (God) are a helper of the fatherless." Psalm 10:14

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mr. Wood and Joshua's Time in Elementary School

The time Joshua spent at the elementary school was precious. It was HARD, don't get me wrong...but Joshua was a trailblazer...and a charmer.

There were a few times that he was called to the principal's office. And a few more times that I was called there as well, making the walk of shame from the parking lot into the school!  :) Times when discipline was required, as stated in the school's handbook.

Fortunately and by God's plan and provision, we had the best principal. Mr. Wood was a kind man with a HUGE heart for kids. He was married with 3 boys of his own. Joshua loved Mr. Wood, and Mr. Wood loved Joshua.

But there are rules...and Joshua was breaking some of them. And while he knew exactly what he was doing when he did it, he did not quite have the whole consequences thing down. So there were a few times that he had to be paddled at school, and because we signed the form saying we wanted to be contacted FIRST, before any corporal punishment was administered...we had to go to the office at the school. And by "we," I mean ME...because Jim was usually at work.

And it was just so sad. In all of my years in school, I was never called to the principal's office. Not even once. If I had been, I wouldn't be writing this blog post about it now, because I would've died right then and there...right on the spot. But I went to the school to meet up with the principal. He talked to me friends...and he never made Jim and I feel like we weren't doing a good job with Joshua.

We were never in the room when Joshua was paddled, but Mr. Wood would tell us about it later. He told of how he talked to Joshua about his behavior...whatever it was that he'd done wrong...and then explained that he was going to have to get a "lick."  (a "lick" is what they called paddling at this school. We're from Arkansas, y'all). Most of the time it was one lick, but sometimes two.

Mr. Wood said that Joshua would just listen to him so carefully...Joshua's brown eyes watching the emotion on his face. Joshua always watches the emotions on faces. Mr. Wood said that he could hardly bring himself to paddle Joshua...sometimes he did, but sometimes they just talked. And sometimes they cried.

Both of them.

Like discipline grieves the heart of a grieved Mr. Wood's heart as well.

We need more people like Mr. Wood in our our churches, in our world.

"To discipline a child produces wisdom..." Proverbs 29:15

Monday, November 11, 2013

Joshua and His Thankful Days of November

Joshua has been participating in the thankful days of November by posting on Facebook something for which he is thankful each day (please notice the awesomeness of the grammar in that sentence) (don't get used it). We didn't talk to him about this. I don't know if he saw others doing it on Facebook or what. He is doing this all on his own, and it's been really sweet. 

Well, sweet with a little bit of funny thrown in. I just want to remember some of them, and they are listed exactly how he wrote them:

Day 1: Today I'm thankful for my dad who taught me how to be a honorable a naturally born leader. And to be a courageous man. To defend and protect and provide. Trust and boldness can go a long way.

Day 3: I'm bless to have learned the values of loyalty love and bring courageous from my mom. And I'm thankful, for that.

Day 5: I'm thankful that I have my sister Holly. She's head strong. She taught me how to make things right in a lovingly way. I'm so holy thrilled that she is a christmas angel. To me. She is to me strong independent and very caring and loving. I love her with all my heart.

Day 6: I'm thankful to have my younger brother Logan. With his love and devotion to be the leader of men. I'm the proudest oldest child to have him as a brother. And I truly love him. I really admire his devotion and courage to Morgan. He is the bravest godly brother I wanted. We grew up through the good and the bad times. But. Still he's more than a brother to me. He is also my best friend.

Day 7: today I'm thankful to have a learned loyalty and kindness and determination from Clark. I'm so proud of the man and leader he has become. I'm honored to have my baby brother Clark. I really, really love him. I also learned persistence from Clark. I have a deep Christ like love for him. I'm proud that he is Grown he is a miracle brother to me. Oh. I love Clark. My man bro.

Day 8: I'm thankful for my brother in law Aaron who made me his groom's men 2 years ago when he married my all loving and tender sister Holly. I'm grateful he was nice to me to make me the member of his groom's men. By the way thank you Aaron for making me your groom's men. You are the best bro in law and I love you. And the little furry dog. Marlo my furry nephew.

All of these posts make my heart smile.  If you have read any of the Alex Kendrick books (Facing the Giants, Fireproof, Courageous, etc), you can definitely see his influence in Joshua's posts. Joshua is all about being a godly man, a godly leader, not leaving your mate, standing firm, being courageous, etc. He once called Jim a "furious protector" of our family.

So sweet. 

But the funny parts are the ones I didn't post here...the ones about his Therapeutic Recreation group. This sweet and thankful form of recognition has turned into a competition of sorts for a couple of the friends...and so when one friend posts something, it's just a matter of time until it's met with an equally moving post or tribute! 

I always tell people how there are more similarities between people who have Down Syndrome and people who don't...and things like this just prove my point. Do you know people who try to constantly one-up others? The difference is that people with Down Syndrome are usually so obvious about it, because their hearts really are pure...but the rest of us? We are pretty good at being sneaky about hiding our motives when we do things like that.

Am I right?

I love it when my children feel thankful, whether or not they post it on social media.

"...I will give thanks to You forever." Psalm 30:12

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Weekend Update

We have had such a great weekend!

I already wrote about Clark's team winning on Thursday night, and Logan and Morgan having their engagement pictures made on Friday. And then yesterday was the whole windbreaker debacle with Joshua.

Logan and Morgan came back to our house on Saturday night around 9. Holly and Aaron were here, too, so it was a full house! I loved it!

We all got up and went to SS and church. We just about filled up a whole row at church. Made my heart so happy! I love my family!

Part of our sermon was about the fact that people in the age-group of my children...only 4% of them know Jesus as their Savior.

That's F-O-U-R percent, people.

We are not doing our job as Christians. We are the first to tell our friends the exciting news that we're engaged...or we're pregnant...or we just got a new house. Girlfriends will always call or text each other about a big sale at their favorite store. Why are we so timid about sharing with others the BEST news of all...the life-changing, life-altering, life-SAVING news that Jesus Christ loved us enough to die for us (John 3:16) (Romans 5:8). And that He rose again, victorious over sin and the grave...all so that we can have a relationship with HIM...and so we can know that we will live forever in Heaven with him after we die.

F-O-U-R percent.

He made a point about not everyone being like us, and not every town or city being like ours. There's a whole big, ol' world out there...with people and cultures and values vastly different from our own. It's something I'll admit I don't always think of as I PACK MY PEW WITH MY OWN FAMILY.


It's easy to get complacent, isn't it? Or maybe that's just me.

After church, everyone came over for lunch...that's our 4 kids, plus Aaron and Morgan, and then we invited a college girl from church to come over, too. It was so fun! Loud, crazy, people everywhere, lots of talking...FUN. I loved it!

This weekend has given me a window of insight into my mother-in-law. In the beginning, I thought she was the BEST listener. She gave me a ton of her undivided attention and seemed to genuinely be interested in what was going on in my life. And then, all of a sudden, she wasn't.

I mean, of course she was still interested in our lives...but one day, I just noticed that she was not like she used to be. She seemed preoccupied and flustered, most of the time.

Of course, by the time I noticed this, both of Jim's brothers had gotten married, adding two more people to our family. When we all started having kids, things got busy for everyone, especially when all of our families came to her home at the same time, like on holidays. Not that she would want it any other way.

Having the kids here this weekend, I get it now. And I feel bad that I thought anything negative about her.

I have the sweetest mother-in-law, and she loves all of her children and grandchildren equally. Except Joshua. We all know she loves him more. ;)

Just kidding.

Except not.

Anyway, this weekend, I felt like I couldn't devote enough time to each person/couple. I am interested in each of them...what they're doing, thinking, dreaming...all of that. But just as soon as I would start with one person, something would come up...and I would get distracted, and then that moment was gone.

Time has a way of teaching us many lessons, because, looking back...things are always clear, right? What we did, what someone else did. Could'a, would'a, should'a doesn't matter. It's what we actually DID and we can't change that.

But we can learn from it.

And try to do better.


I am relating more and more to my mother-in-law during this stage of our lives. I'm ashamed to say that, in the past, I judged her by my perception of what she was doing, and why. Instead, I should've remembered her heart...because I know it...and I should've given her what I hope my children will give me: GRACE.

"...we have all received grace after grace from His fullness." John 1:16

Saturday, November 9, 2013

That Nut-Job Windbreaker

Well, I think I've documented Joshua's love/hate relationship with the Arkansas Razorback's head coach's windbreaker.

It's exhausting, really.

And something no amount of explanation can change.

Today, we played Ole Miss in Oxford...and we lost. And Joshua went NUTS about the windbreaker.

I was feeling good I had a good strong mental constitution going on...and I had a little time to kill, so I thought I might explore Joshua's reasoning on the whole windbreaker thing.

I asked Joshua how a piece of clothing could make any difference in a game, one way or another, and he said "do you SEE the offense? Or the defense? Or the "lag" thereof?"

Me: (again) "I SEE it, Joshua, but how does a piece of clothing cause any of that?"

Joshua: "It's because of that nut-job windbreaker that we're losing."

Me: "A windbreaker can't cause a win or a loss."

Joshua: "Well, that's how I see it."

Me: "Okay...but HOW?"

Joshua: "I'm not talking about that right now."

And this is why logic never works with a Fred.

"If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." Romans 12:18

Friday, November 8, 2013

Thursday Night's Game and Friday

So I wrote this lonnnng post and accidentally pressed a button and POOF! Gone.

And I tried to get it back, but I couldn't...and it was late last night and I didn't feel like retyping the whole, entire thing, so I did what any normal, tired Mom would and went to bed. Which is why this post is titled Thursday Night's Game...AND Friday.

I had to add the "and Friday," because it's FRIDAY now.

But this post was supposed to be about Thursday...and our game on Thursday night. Whatever.

On Thursday, Holly and I took Joshua to Little Rock to meet up with his group...and then she and I spent the day together. Had lunch, went shopping. It was SUCH a fun day. Joshua and his group went to an art studio place to paint Christmas ornaments. As usual, there was drama between some of the friends. He always gives us a blow-by-blow in the car on the way home. And he is never involved in any of it! Ha, ha!

Except for things like what happened on Tuesday, when he wrote on a piece of paper "I am a single bachelor," and Jenni, HIS GIRLFRIEND OF TEN YEARS saw it and all hell broke loose. His defense? "Well...I didn't know she would SEE it." And when we would ask him why he wrote that in the first place, the answer we got...the answer we ALWAYS get..."uhhh...I'm not talking about that..."

Back to Thursday night...we had our last football game of the regular season. It was a perfect fall football, crisp and clear. Joshua breathed out and said, "AHHHH...I can see my bref." :) We thought we might romp over this particular team, but we didn't...and I about had a heart attack before it was all said and done from the stress of it.

Well, that, and from trying to keep Joshua in check. If you've ever talked to people with Down Syndrome, they typically have a certain sound to their voices...raspy, deep, monotone sounding...even when they are very excited. So he was yelling, "put Clark in!" And when he got frustrated with the defense, he said, "put in the JV team...put in the sophomore team...put in the babies." Yeah. It seemed like he always yelled when it was quiet, so you could really hear him. I kept telling him to "shhh..." and then he would just mutter under his bref. I mean, breath.

And if you know the Down Syndrome "face" where the jaw is set and the lip is was like that.

But we did win, and we were very thankful. The play-offs start next week, and I think we will have a "bye."

Logan and Morgan came home to her parent's house late Thursday night. He called and asked me to meet him at the mall and "help" him get some clothes to wear for their engagement pictures...WHICH ARE THIS AFTERNOON. Argh. I told him that I am ALWAYS willing to help whenever...but I am not a last minute kind of girl. He has had 2-3 weeks to take care of this, but didn't. Morgan tried to help him, bless her heart. She already has her outfits all figured out. They went shopping for him one day last week. She said he got overwhelmed and frustrated, and they ended up not getting anything.

I know how he is about shopping. He's been this way FOR-EV-ER. But, not gonna lie, I got more than a little frustrated when he told me he got overwhelmed in the GAP, because...hello? I've given birth 4 times and so I'M JUST SAYIN'.

But we went and I was as patient as I try to be with Joshua when he tells me the same thing 50 times a day, or with any of the other kids when they try my patience in one way or the other. We're all different, am I right? And our kids are all different.

You know how when you are dating and you get married, you spend a lot of time getting to know the other person...and finding out what makes them tick. If you work at it, it really helps you understand the other person, and prepares you for being a parent, because your kids? Probably not gonna be just like you. I'm sure Jim thought that at least ONE of our 4 would be like him and none of them are. They are a mix of the two of us, and some from the ones who have gone before...and a little bit of stuff God threw in there just for fun. And it's our job as parents to try and figure out the best way to encourage, motivate and teach our children.

Now, I love Logan more than life itself, more than my own life...but shopping with him makes me want to gouge out my own eyes. Seriously. It is not for the faint of heart. I may need a nerve pill. ;)

BUT, we ended up getting 2 pairs of khakis, 1 pair of jeans and 2 shirts...and "didn't nobody die."

(What's that quote from? RUSH HOUR. The first one, I think!)

It was a pretty quick shopping trip. We ate lunch at the food court, and then I came home and he went to Morgan's parent's house to get ready. I seriously did enjoy every minute with him, because times with just the two of us are very rare.

I can't believe we are having another WEDDING! I love Morgan very much. I am so thankful that she is going to be Logan's wife and partner for life! We are excited to have her in our family. I told her that I hope she has about 4 little boys just like Logan!

It was a beautiful afternoon, and Logan and Morgan looked so cute! I just know the photographer got some GREAT pictures! I can't wait to see them!

"Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens; Your faithfulness to the skies." Psalm 36:5

Thursday, November 7, 2013

No Desk for Joshua-4th grade

Another post on Joshua's educational experiences. :)

We had a good 3rd grade year and a sweet teacher, Mrs. Webb. We went to church with Mrs. Webb and her family. She loved Joshua and he loved her. I don't really remember much about that year...probably at because I was knee-deep in 4 kids at the time! I do remember that Mrs. Webb's husband was a coach at the Jr High. Joshua had PE in the 7th grade, and Coach Webb was in the gym talking to one of the other coaches.

Back story: Coach Webb was a good man, but Joshua gave him fits...because, like most coaches, he liked order and rule and kids following directions.

And then there was Joshua. :)

Joshua tells the story of how, after PE one day...everyone was filing out the door, and heading back to their classes. You just never know what goes through Joshua's mind...Jim's favorite phrase when the kids were little was, "what POSSESSED you to do that?" Joshua would just look at him. I mean, seriously? What answer was he expecting?

Anyway, all the kids are walking out from PE and Joshua spies the light-switch on the wall. I don't know if he had seen it before, or if he thought about it longer than 1 second before he did it...but he flipped off ALL the lights on the way out, and then took off running, laughing all the way. I don' know if you've ever been in an old gym with the lights off. PITCH BLACK. And Coach Webb was in the gym IN THE DARK and he was MAD...fumbling to the door and determined to get to Joshua. Joshua later said, "but he couldn't catch ME!"

Oh, he was finally caught and he was in big school and at home.

But just so you know that the offense was not quickly forgotten by the perpetrator, the other day, we were looking thru one of Joshua's old yearbooks. On the "faculty" page, there was a picture of Coach Webb...and Joshua had written beside it in red pen, "I do not like you Coach Tom Webb."


But 4th grade. Ugh. Not a great year. The school typically had an open house before school started. You got to meet the teacher, see your classroom...and meet some of the kids in the class. There's usually a Mom who designates herself as the Home Room Mom, or someone asks her to do it...and we all sign up to help for different parties and field-trips, etc.  So, we got the invitation...we found out the name of the teacher...and we went, Jim, Joshua and I. When we got in there, the room was full of parents and kids. The teacher was greeting each family as they came in the door, while the kids spent time finding their desks and seeing their friends.

After introducing Joshua to his teacher, he took off to explore the room. He came up to me and said, "where's my desk, Mom...where's my desk?" I figured he just wasn't looking closely enough, so I told him to keep on looking. Again, he came up to me and touched my hand, "where's my desk, Mom?" Over and over and over. I stopped what I was doing and began to scan the room. The desks were all arranged neatly...each desk had a large piece of paper with that child's name printed on it. But there was no desk for Joshua.


I felt tears well up in my eyes. I could feel my face getting really red. Where could I go?


But I'm a Mom. I can't just run out and leave because something isn't going my way, but I also did not want to make a scene. I asked Jim to take Joshua out to the playground. I stayed in the class with the other parents and listened to the teacher talk about her plans for the year. While the other parents sat at their child's desk, I sat in a chair in the back of the room.

I never addressed the desk issue with this teacher. I mean, I was just so hurt...I couldn't. I did talk to Mrs. Thomas about it. She was as appalled as I was, but it was done and there was no making it right. You know, the very least anyone can do is to value the life of a child. ANY child. Having a desk for Joshua in this class room would've made him feel like a part of the class and would have required very little effort. It would have given him a sense of confidence in starting out the year, and would've gone a long way in helping the other kids in the class accept him as one of their own. In the end, she did fix a little place for the time Joshua was in the class...altho he was not in there one second longer than was indicated on his IEP. It was a hard year.

This story has stayed with me all of these years. It's the one story that people who have heard me speak about it...always request that I tell it again. It always brings the emotion of that day right back to the front of my mind, because there are places of my heart that are still tender from this memory.

Although I did not harbor ill will toward this teacher...I requested her for Holly the next year and it was fine...I will never be at peace with how anyone could be so insensitive to a child.

"...I have called you by your name; you are Mine." Isaiah 43:1

(You can read about Joshua's earlier experiences at school
here, here, here and here)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Thanksgiving Tree

Speaking of weird things we do in our family (yesterday's post)'s not all about favorite forks, signs on the door and cinnamon rolls every Sunday. We also have lots of little things we do over the holidays...places we go, stuff we eat...that are unique to our family.

Today, as I am typing this, it's the first day of November, and the first day we put up our "Thanksgiving Tree" every year. This is a family tradition that we started when the kids were little, after I read about the idea in a magazine.

Or maybe my friend, Paula, read about it and told me...not sure. Can't remember.

Ours is just a brown construction paper "trunk," taped on the wall...and multi-colored construction paper leaves that I cut out...I just used a random leaf from our yard as the pattern. When the kids were little, we would let them write (or have us write for them) at least one thing each day they were thankful for on a leaf, and we would tape them to the wall...and by Thanksgiving, the wall is full of reminders of God's blessings in our lives.

The Thanksgiving Tree.

Of course, I will have to add that now that the kids are bigger, my attempts to be serious and thankful sometimes get overshadowed by 3 of the 4 kids trying to out-do each other...and one of the ways they do that is with our Thanksgiving Tree. Each child has a "leaf" with their name on it...I wrote it on there because I am thankful for each of them. Well, the kids are constantly removing each other's leaves, or putting their own leaf at the top and their siblings leaves at the bottom...or even UNDER the Thanksgiving Tree. Last year, I came in and Clark had moved Logan's leaf to a complete other wall.

And along with things like "Heaven" and "my church," they will put things on the Thanksgiving Tree like "dragon heart strings" and "deez nuts" (sorry, I have 3 boys) and various other things that gross boys will say to get laughter out of their brothers and Dad...or a huge reaction out of their sister and MOM.

Just keepin' it real.

This year, I am using The Big Board in my kitchen for our Thanksgiving Tree. The Big Board is something Jim made for me several years ago. I don't remember where the actual frame came from, but he framed cork instead of glass. It is home to all of the photo cards we get at Christmas. We keep the pictures up on it until November 1st every year, and then I take them down and file them away...and get The Big Board ready for the new crop of cards we will get this year! When Clark came home yesterday, he said, "cool, the Thanksgiving Tree is up." And then he proceeded to move a leaf with the words "the Bible" on the very top.

"MOM, it's the WORD OF GOD. It should go at the top...sheesh."

Then, when Holly and Aaron came over this morning, SHE added some things to the tree...and then moved the leaf that had Clark's name on it wayyyyyy down to the bottom.

See what I mean?

And when Clark came in and saw what she had done, he took his leaf and put it OVER her you can't even see her name.


So it's on like Donkey Kong...

It will only get worse when Logan comes home from college for Thanksgiving break.

I can't wait!

"Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good..." 1 Chronicles 16: 34

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Our pastor has been doing a sermon series on Heaven for the past few weeks. It's been really good, and I've learned a lot.

Gotta be honest...I've never been that curious about Heaven. Like, the details of Heaven. For me, Jesus, my Mom and my Grandmother are there. That's pretty much all I need to know.

I asked Jesus to be my Savior when I was a child, and so my eternal destiny is sealed. I'm not one bit afraid of dying.

Check that. I'm not afraid of death. The dying in HOW I will die? Not a fan of that. I've seen how hard it is on everyone when a person suffers for a long time before their death. And I've LIVED how hard it is when someone dies suddenly and without warning. Guess it's good that God knows best and I don't get a say in any of it.

I want everyone to know Jesus, to enjoy a life with His help and guidance...and to have assurance that they, too, will live in eternity in Heaven when they die. But the biggest draw for having a relationship with Jesus, for me, is not what will be in the future, as great as that is going to be. It's the constant presence of God's Spirit in my life RIGHT NOW. Like, every minute of every day.

I need Him so much.

All the time.

The things we have gone through with Joshua...and still deal with on a daily basis with him; Clark's birth and cancer; And pretty much every single day of our ordinary lives...I CANNOT IMAGINE handling difficulties and trials without God's help.

So, yeah...Heaven. The Bible says there will be no tears, no death, no sorrow, no pain in Heaven. SIGN ME UP. As far as a description of Heaven...mansions, pearly gates and streets of gold pretty much sum up the extent of what I know.

But even with limited knowledge and information about Heaven, I long for it. I really do. I know I don't deserve it at all. Maybe that's why I have never focused much on all the "extras" waiting for me there, because just getting there...getting to see Jesus and my Mom and my Grandmother, and a host of other family and enough, and far above anything I could ever imagine.

I have really enjoyed learning more about Heaven. Our pastor has done a great job making things easy to understand. He told us not to speculate about things the Bible doesn't tell us about Heaven. He did tell us that we could imagine what it will be like based on what we DO know. He also spent a little time shooting down popular myths about Heaven. He made things very clear.

Even for Joshua.

I think I've written that Joshua's hearing is not that good, but he does appear to listen to the sermon. I wonder what he is able to actually hear from the pastor. He is able to keep up with the sermon notes, because those are put on the big screen.

On one of our drives to Little Rock last week, he randomly said, "do you know what I like best about Heaven?" I was so interested to hear what he had to say. I figured it would be about seeing his Grandmother again. I was not prepared for his response.

He said, "no down."

No moles? Didn't really get that, but we have a lot of moles in our family. I'm guessing he thought his moles made his skin imperfect, and the pastor said we will have a new and perfect body in Heaven.

No down? This broke my heart, because he meant no "down." As in DOWN SYNDROME.

I just wanted to cry. I mean, of course he's right. I mean, I guess he is.

But I'm not gonna lie...nothing would tickle me more than if, when we get to Heaven, our "perfect" bodies that God gives us are small and "travel-sized," and we all have little tiny ears. Just sayin. :)

I guess I thought that we had made it okay for him. Yes, he has Down Syndrome, but we have always believed...and taught our kids...that God created Joshua just the way he is. All 47 chromosomes. Especially the extra one. I believe that with all of my heart. If God created him that way, why would Joshua need to change in Heaven to be "perfect?"

It broke my heart that he realizes how different he is...because we like to think that we have made this really great life for him and that he is awesome and that there's nothing wrong with him just the way he is.

Then someone sent this to me today, and I cried my eyes out.

When Joshua was dedicated to the Lord in front of our church, as a 3 month old baby, I remember our very high-brow pastor holding him in front of the congregation (kind of like a "Lion King" moment, when Rafiki held Simba up to show the people) (ha), and emphatically saying, "God don't make no junk."

And He doesn't. And He is good. And OF COURSE I want Joshua to enjoy being perfect and whole in every way.

It's just hard to realize that what Joshua is most excited about when he thinks about Heaven is... "no down."

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever." Revelations 21:4

Monday, November 4, 2013

What We Threw Away...(from Mom's house)

My Mom died suddenly. She was 59.

She hadn't been feeling well. When she wasn't better after 2 weeks, she went to see the doctor. He ran some lab work, and told her she probably had a stomach bug. Her lab results came in the mail the following Monday...all tests were "normal."

She died that night.

Fifteen years ago.

In the days and weeks after her death, our family came together to support my dad. And each other.

One of the most daunting tasks was going through all of my Mom's stuff. She was not only a wife and mother, she was a grandmother, daughter, friend, employee, choir member. My Dad was the director of their Sunday School department, and she helped him with that...and she had formed a women's ensemble that sang at various churches and events throughout the year. She.Was.Busy.

And larger than life.

She lit up a room everywhere she went. She didn't intend to ever be late, but she also didn't seem too long as people were waiting on HER, and not the other way around. Her philosophy seemed to be "it'll start when I get there."

It was obvious from what was left behind that she had no intention of ever slowing down. She had plans. Her schedule was full.

But you know what matters? None of that.

So we slowly began to go through my Mom's things. Her clothes were fairly easy to part with. All of us kids live out-of-state, and so we didn't really have any memories of her in certain outfits...memories that would make it hard to part with her things. She had a TON of jewelry, tho. Mainly costume jewelry. If you ever saw my Mom, she was put-together from head to toe.

The things in her home were a different story for us. We didn't want to completely empty the house, because my Dad was still living there...but the presence of her touch in the home was undeniable. Every vase, picture, book, lamp, statue...was placed in her home, in that exact spot...BY HER.

And the house smelled like her. Every room, every closet, even the garage. From the moment you walked through the door, it smelled like her...smelled like home.

I wonder if it still does?

After a couple of years, my Dad began to date a nice lady and they made plans to marry. He put the house on the market to sell. We went through and cleaned out everything...every sign of her. 

What we threw/gave, shoes, purses, broken necklaces, old medications (down the toilet), cosmetics.

What I kept: eye-lashes, fingernails and deodorant.

Thaaaaaaaat's right.

Got your attention?

For as long as I can remember, my Mom wore false eye-lashes. She always said that she didn't have any lashes to speak of (She also said that she only had 3 strands of hair on her head, and the beautician just had to tease them up to make it look like she had hair). In one of her drawers, she had a new pair of eye-lashes. I don't know. I just couldn't throw them away.

The other thing I kept is one of my Mom's fingernails. I know. SICK, right? Weird, at the very least. It wasn't her ACTUAL fingernail, people. That would be even sicker and weirder. My Mom wore acrylic nails...every day. And they were always the same color...a deep orange-y red. Right after my Mom died and we had just started the cleaning out process...we found my Mom's fingernails everywhere: in her bathroom drawers, in the bottom of her her CAR. We even found some out on the street curb. I think those may have fallen out when the sanitation workers were emptying the garbage. We laughed about it, because they were literally everywhere. And I'm pretty sure those things are not biodegradable. A century from now, in a land-fill somewhere, you'll probably find some charred orange-y red acrylic nails.

Just a little forget-me-not from Betty Jane.

I wanted to save one of the acrylic nails for Holly, because she loved getting into my Mom's jewelry and make up and nail polish and all things girlie...and I wanted her to remember about my Mom's nails.

The deodorant? I don't know what to tell ya. That's even weird to ME. It was one of those small "travel-sized" products. I didn't USE it. I just wanted to have it. I can't explain why.

I will tell you that I didn't throw it away until I was packing up to move here...13 years after her death.

What I learned...things are just that: THINGS. They can be replaced, broken, fought over, given away...or put in the trash. You can love your things, and stress over buying them and where you want to place them in your home. Your things can have sentimental meaning to you. But after you are gone, someone else determines their value. They put their evaluation on something that may have had tremendous meaning to you, and they decide, based on their wants, needs or preferences...what to do with all of those items. Even if it's something as intimate as a prayer journal or Bible...someone else decides if it's worth saving, or if it's clutter that belongs in the trash.

It's sad, really.

I struggled with that...with my Mom's things. I wanted to keep everything just the way it was...or, at the very least, in boxes that I could open anytime I wanted...just to remember her. And our lives with her.

In the end, we threw a lot away...or gave things away. But the memories you keep in your heart, those are treasures that no one can take from you.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy..." Matthew 6:19-20