Friday, August 30, 2013

Morning People

I think it was Albert Einstein who said that the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Of our 4 children, Joshua is the only one who is a "morning" person. The other three? Not so much.

But that doesn't keep me from trying!

Every morning, as my youngest leaves for school and I walk him out...I talk, ask questions about his day, and send him off with words of encouragement and hugs.

And every day? I get nuthin'.

Even on this morning, I stood in the driveway in my white robe with the blue and yellow stars on it and my green froggy slippers...and I spelled out TGIF with my body like the YMCA people.

No reaction from the student as he backed out. Not even a glance.


" our strength every morning..." Isaiah 33:2

Thursday, August 29, 2013


When Joshua was little, it was very hard to understand him when he talked. He had this little mouth and this big, ol' was just hard. From the time he was a few months old, we...Mrs. Martha, the therapists at the school and I...began to teach him some simple sign language along with working on his speech. Words like "more" (one of his favorites), "candy," "cookie," "juice." We would say the word and sign it at the same time...and he would do the same. So, he would say, "moh," for "more" and do the sign...and "dooooooosh" (I KNOW) for "juice" and do the sign.

One thing he started saying often was "eee-woh-tay." We had NO CLUE what it meant, and there was no "sign" that went along with it...but we would repeat it after him...just the way he said it.

Oh, we tried to figure out what it meant...we just never could.

Until one day.

Jim and I got new bedroom furniture when I was pregnant with Holly...right before she was born. She and Joshua are 2 years and 9 months apart, so he was pretty little. One of the things we bought was a 4-poster bed. Joshua came in our room one day and started climbing up one of the posts. He was a little monkey...always climbing on something. And he had NO FEAR whatsoever.

I was on my way over to get him down and I said, "Joshie, hold on tight!"

Joshua just smiled real big and said, "eee-woh-tay!"



After thinking about it, I realized that most of the times that I heard him say "eee-woh-tay," we were in the car...which may say something about my driving! Eeek!

This particular experience has stayed with me all these years...why? I guess because it was through things like this that I learned to listen. I mean, reallllly listen. I had to use all of my senses to figure out what Joshua was saying or needing, and that has helped me listen in other situations. So many times, God is telling me something and I just don't "get" it. Maybe I'm not listening. Or maybe I am, but just can't figure it out.

God used experiences like these to teach me how to listen for the words that aren't said. The hurt under the "I'm fine's," and the fear under the "whatever...I don't care."

I spent a lot of time getting to know Joshua...his moods, his fears, his speech...I watched his face, his eyes, his movements. I watched him breathe while he was sleeping. I could tell what he was thinking when he couldn't even say the words. I could tell if he was sick before I even took the thermometer out of the drawer. How? Because I KNEW him...

That's how it is when we love someone that much...that's how God loves me. He knows everything about me...He made me.

The goal is for me to know spend as much time getting to know Him, as I would spend getting to know my husband or my child or a dear friend...

And when I know Him like that, I will hear His voice...and I will know what He's saying.


"My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me." John 10:27

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Looking ahead

With Joshua's successful heart surgery behind us, we began to look ahead. How could we best help our boy?

Fortunately, and by God's plan and provision, our church had quite a few medical professionals who were more than willing to offer their insights and opinions. The first one was Mrs. Martha, a speech therapist. I didn't really know her that well before Joshua was born. I just knew of her as a Mom from our church. She was sweet and quiet. She came to visit us in our home and was such a sweet and calming influence for me.

Honestly, the minute you have a child with special needs, not only does your whole WORLD change...your language changes as well. You have papers and papers and papers containing medical diagnoses information and all kinds of things a normal, every day person would have difficulty understanding. You also have tons of information about programs and services and support groups and schools. Everyone talks about "early intervention" and how starting him early in these support programs would greatly benefit his life.

That was the last thing I wanted to hear. As a new Mom, I did NOT to be away from my put him in a "school" or a "program" where he was gone several hours of the day. Who would take care of him? Who ARE these people? He was so little. He had been through so much already. Couldn't I just keep him close with me? Couldn't I just do this on my own? I was convinced no one else could possibly ever have his best interests at heart but me.

But Mrs. Martha worked at one of these places, and so I went to check it out for myself. Not only would Joshua have the opportunity to be in a safe environment, he would be receiving speech, occupational and physical therapy each time from caring professionals. And he would be around other kids. So one day, when he was 5 months old, I took Baby Joshua to the Francis Allen School for Exceptional Children in Little Rock, Arkansas...and I left him there with total strangers...for several hours, two days a week. And I cried all the way home.

During the years that he went to that school, I met some of the sweetest, most caring, most selfless people I have ever known. And God changed my heart...and He showed me that I would need people in my life to help me along the way; that this was not something I could do on my own; that if I really wanted Joshua to be all that he could be, he would need this extra help. And so I began to listen to others more...and I asked for their help. I am in no way saying that I opened up the gate for whoever to work with Joshua, or that I followed every piece of advice given to me...even by people I trust. I was (am) still very skeptical and wary of people who work with my child. There are just a lot of unscrupulous people who prey on those who maybe cannot speak for themselves, so I am very watchful. And even people who have a wealth of knowledge in subjects that relate to our situation...well, they aren't IN our situation and they don't know OUR child. So, lots of prayer and discernment and common sense was needed. It's always needed.

We paid for Mrs. Martha to come to our home and work privately with Joshua on his "off" days from school...and she taught me what to do to reinforce what she was working on with him. She made therapy FUN. And the physical therapist from the school, Miss JoJo, also showed me exercises and "play" activities I could do at home to help strengthen Joshua's muscles, endurance and coordination.

You know, we all need people. In my case, I needed people to come in with all the technical/medical talk that I didn't understand. I needed people to come in and help me understand it because I NEEDED that information to help Joshua. I NEEDED for someone to say, "we've been there...try this." Even the times when I could barely breathe as I listened to someone tic off all the "he can't dos" on the list...I needed those objective observations because most of the time I was letting my emotions get in the way.

Now that my kids are, don't y'all just look back and wish you could tell them to do all the things you didn't? Help them avoid some of the mistakes you made? Listen to you? This is probably exactly what OUR parents thought about us! Ha!

One of the things I preach most to my older kids is for them to have a teachable matter how old they get. Too often, they don't want to listen...or they listen, but want to do their OWN thing...when we have been there and we know that their thing is not the best way. But, I don't always know the best thing, either. And sometimes my kids DO know the best thing...for them. I guess we all need to listen...MORE. And seek God...MORE.

And maybe we have to have a little life under our belt to see that we don't really know it ALL...and just like I pray for my kids to be willing to seek out and listen to wise counsel...I pray even more for myself to do that same thing.

"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." Deuteronomy 6:5

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Not those exact words...

Actually, the doctor didn't say those exact words, but the words he used meant the same thing (I just want to be sensitive to my son if he ever reads this).

I'm pretty sure that I studied about Down Syndrome in college. I mean, I got a minor in Psychology after all. I'm pretty sure it would've been covered in 4 years of studying about human behavior. But, I'm sure that in my dreams of the perfect life, I would've glossed over any topic like that...because none of that would EVER happen to me.

At the time, I had no clue what this doctor was even talking about. I had lived all over the United States and gone to 16 different schools before college, but I don't ever recall seeing any person who had Down Syndrome. Ever. At first, I thought Down Syndrome might be like cancer or something...but I didn't care.  This was OUR baby and I loved him, and sick or not...nobody was ever gonna hurt this kid.

I remember coming out of the anesthesia. I could hear whispering and voices full of emotion. I saw my friend, Carolyn, talking to Jim.

I think Jim is the one who told me...and I don't think either one of us was prepared for my reaction.

From that minute when he told me about Joshua, I can't even tell you what happened inside of me. A protective momma-bear rose up out of this quiet little mom like a volcano...right then and there. And instantly, I knew. I knew that God was in control. I knew this was in His plan. I knew that He was with me...and I knew what my ministry was going to be here on earth. This little little and innocent...and cute...was given a big diagnosis. So many many people who loved him...and so many people who were determined to love us through it all.

My new-found protectiveness is what made me aggressively seek out information on Down Syndrome. CURRENT information, not the out-dated stuff. It was not like cancer at all. It's not something he would ever "recover" from. This was going to be a day-in and day-out thing...for life.

It also made me more assertive when it came to his care. We had excellent care during this fact, we have had great doctors, nurses and therapists all of Joshua's life. We are blessed to have a large Children's hospital very close to us.

Joshua was pretty sick the first few months of his life...we were in and out of the hospital with him. We were told he needed heart surgery when he was strong enough. When he was 3 1/2 months old, the doctors said he was strong enough. He weighed a whopping 9 pounds. A team was assembled and we met with them in the days prior to the surgery. During a conversation about pre-birth testing, one resident suggested to me that "had we known in advance," we "could've done something about it," meaning that we could've terminated the pregnancy. I had her removed from Joshua's team immediately. I had to know that everyone was on the same page, focused on the same thing, believing that ALL life was of value...and fighting for Joshua's life.

Joshua had developed quite a following in his first few months of life. As young, first time parents, Jim and I didn't know what we were doing, but we took Joshua with us everywhere. We were pretty proud of him. And he was so stinkin' cute! Our friends from our Sunday School class at church...I mean, they were so wonderful. They lifted us up in prayer and they held us up in many, many ways.

On the day of Joshua's heart surgery, we showered Joshua with hugs and kisses and handed him over to a nurse. I spent the better part of 15 minutes sobbing in the hallway. They told us where the surgery waiting room was and we made our way there...and planned to settle in for a long day. Walking into the waiting room, we were immediately surrounded by family, friends and members of our church. I mean, seriously, y'all...they filled up the entire room.

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb." Psalm 139:13

Monday, August 26, 2013

Joshua and #644

It's a well-known fact around our family and close friends that Joshua loves to know about the weather. First thing in the morning, and the last thing at night...he is watching the news, checking out the forecast for the next day. He loves one of our local stations...the anchors, the sportscasters and especially the weather team.


When the kids were younger and came of a certain age...they each got a cell phone. Well, the two middle children, anyway. We didn't get Joshua one because we thought that it might be too complicated for him, and that it might open up a world to him that he wasn't ready to handle. He's just so innocent and trusting.

Enter: Mammaw Jack.

She didn't think it was FAIR that Joshua didn't have a phone, because he was the oldest child...and so she bustled in and just INSISTED in her Marie Barone (Everybody Loves Raymond) way to Jim, and presto! Joshua got a phone (she also got Clark a phone when he was just 10 years old because ALL of our other kids had one and that wasn't FAIR to him). Anyway, we got Joshua a red flip phone. He LOVED it. We programmed our numbers into it...mine and Jim's and Holly's. We cautioned him that he was ONLY to use it for emergencies. At the time, I don't think we even put the grandparents' numbers in there because we were afraid that he would be non-stop calling them.

We didn't get him a texting plan, because he didn't know anything about that.


Imagine my surprise one night...I was out with some girlfriends from church, and got a text from Joshua. A TEXT. Even more surprised when I found out that it was a PICTURE. Who taught him how to take pictures on his phone? Anyway, it was a picture of a blurry green blob, and with the picture he had written: "i ate a salad."

So later that week, Joshua got a texting plan (obviously!)...and there was no stopping him after that! Most of his texts are written like this: "leav.inghot.springs. .we will. behome.  soon.$"

But we get the general idea of them, and hey...not gonna lie...I am impressed he can do it!

I have a point to this post, I promise.

Technology is not wasted on Joshua. He will work at it and figure it out...and little Miss Jenni, his girlfriend, fills in the rest with what she knows. That girl is tech savvy! She taught him to take pictures and change his background, and she sent him ringtones. She also taught him to lock his phone with a password...which turned out terribly wrong when neither one of them could remember the word that they used and we had to go to the att place and get the whole thing taken care of.

Jim was NOT HAPPY.

I was actually surprised that he forgot the password. Joshua has a mind like a steel trap. He remembers everything. We would periodically go through his phone and delete numbers he had added...numbers of random people or casual acquaintances. He always noticed if some were missing, but he had them committed to memory and would just add them right back.

Last year, we got Joshua an i-phone. No, he doesn't need it. But this was a case where all of his friends had one so...

Wait. Making sure you caught that. ALL OF HIS FRIENDS HAVE ONE. Plus, he was 26 years old at the time...and I pick your battles, right?

Joshua is all over the iphone. Jim put music on there for him, and he has Instagram and knows how to use "Google..." which, that has actually been a problem. He can type in anything and find information on it. There are movies that we have not allowed him to watch, and he has figured out how to get on youtube and watch clips from them on his iphone...the little stinker.

So...the point of all of this.

He said that he used his Channel 7 weather app tonight, and saw that the time for the sunrise in Fayetteville (a town 2 1/2 hours away from us...WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?) will be at 6:44 in the morning.


He said, "and do you know what THAT reminds me of?"

Me: "no."

Joshua, "that was our number when we lived in Searcy, and wanted to order chicken strips at the country club pool."

We haven't lived there in 7 years...but yes, that was our number.

See what I mean?

"...a wise son makes a father glad..." Proverbs 10:1

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Football and the Weekend

On Friday night, we all went to a burger place for dinner...and then we went to get ice-cream. That's the perfect Friday night, right?

On Saturday, our high school had what is called the "Steak Out." It's a big kick-off festival type thing at the school for all the sports. There are booths where you can buy fan gear. There are raffles to enter, and lots of food.

But NOT STEAK, which, hello? Isn't it implied in the name "Steak Out" that you will get steak?

I think yes.

But no.

They also have a long time where they introduce all of the players from all the sports. OH MY WORD.

It was so stinkin' hot, so we just went up in the evening for the high school football game. It wasn't like a real game. The coaches didn't want to take any chances that the players might get hurt, but they got out there for about an hour and worked on plays, special teams, kicking, etc. It was pretty fun!

Clark didn't think he would get to play much, but he rotated in and out with another guy who plays his same position...and he did GREAT! I always get so nervous at football games. I LOVE football, but I've seen the injuries that can happen, and our younger two boys have both sustained injuries in football games. So, I pretty much hold my breath each game until it's over.

Clark plays Corner. When he made that first tackle of the night...not gonna lie...I could've gone home right then and been a happy, happy Mom. 

See, Clark was injured last year at the end of summer practice, and missed the whole season. The best part of last night was seeing Clark get his confidence back...making tackles and GETTING UP FROM THEM...and having fun. 

We went down after the game and caught up with him before he walked into the fieldhouse. He was grinning from ear to ear.

On second thought...THAT was the best part.

"He will once again fill your mouth with laughter..." Job 8:21

Friday, August 23, 2013

The One Where Joshua Killed A Wasp

I heard the loudest commotion from upstairs.

At first, I stopped to listen. Joshua often claps and dances to music. Some of his "dances" look and sound more like scenes from a karate match.

But then I heard another loud thud and the sounds of things falling. My heart sank.

I called up to Joshua, as I ran up the stairs. My heart was pounding when I got to his room. I just knew that his chest-of-drawers had fallen on top of him or something like that.

When I walked into his room, Joshua was in a semi-crouched position over by the window (think Karate Kid crain kick stance!). The room was disheveled. The blinds were all crooked. He was breathing heavy...and was dripping in sweat. One of his hands was up in the air like a baseball pitcher getting ready to throw...and the other hand? It was holding a shoe.

I said, "Joshua! What is going on up here? You scared me to death!"

He said, "I'"

Oh my goodness!

I looked, and saw a wasp on the window...the wasp was a little banged up, but very much alive.

Poor thing didn't know what hit him...again...and again...and again.

I took care of it. Death was a welcome relief for it. Trust me on this one. It had taken a beating!

I was sooo thankful that Joshua was okay...but after that adrenaline rush, I was wired for the rest of the day!

"A happy heart makes the face cheerful..." Proverbs 15:13

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Not Really Your Style

So, school is back in session, and it's just me and Joshua at home.

Just the way he likes it.

Oh, he loves it when all the kids are here...when both of his brothers are here, and his sister and her husband are here. What he DOESN'T love is the frenzy and excitement that happens at the end of the summer, when one brother is repacking and moving back to college...and the other brother is starting back to school. He is most definitely not a fan of that. So, when things calm down, even tho he misses his brothers being here all the time, he kind of likes the peace. And I believe I've written before on how much he loves his routine.

We headed out mid-morning to run some errands. First on the agenda: a hair-cut for him. His Therapeutic Recreation (TR) program starts back next week and he has to be ready! My Grandma Ellen, may she rest in peace, used to say, "pretty is as pretty does."

I'm pretty sure the same thing applies to being handsome.

Then we stopped by Old Navy. I had gotten a couple of shirts there before my California trip. They fit GREAT and held up well in the laundry. I wanted to get two more shirts just like them, only in different colors.

Lame, I know, but that's how I roll these days.

We walked by a table and I saw this black tank top with horizontal blue stripes...and the blue stripes were sparkly. I said, "well, THAT's cute..."

(Because I was thinking for for Clark's football games and stuff...)

(Not for me, because tank top? HORIZONTAL STRIPES? No thank YOU...)

Joshua put his hand on my arm and said, "well, that's not really your style anymore...MAYBE IF YOU WERE IN YOUR 20's...but now? No."

And that's how Joshua died.


"...and let her rejoice who gave birth to you." Proverbs 23:25

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Robin and Our Dad

My sister, Robin, and her husband, went to visit my Dad and his wife recently. Here is what she said:

"So blessed this weekend to listen to my 77 year old father, whose health is not great, tell us that he has been sharing God's plan of salvation with his mechanic, who is terminally ill."

A reminder that you can share your story wherever you are.

People need the Lord.

"...everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Acts 2:21

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cinderella Complex

I'm linking up today with Kelly over on her "Moms of Kids with Special Needs" post. My "kid" is my 29 year old son, Joshua, who was born with Down Syndrome. I wrote this post several years ago, but it kind of gives you a glimpse into my family and our life with Joshua. My blog is not about the facts and figures of Down Syndrome. You can look all of that up on The Google. I write about my husband and our 4 kids, but the blog is mainly about Joshua, and his antics. He is such a mess! I don't have any answers or any real advice for anyone. I can only share my story of how God has used the unexpected diagnosis of Down Syndrome...for our good and for His glory. 

The first time I heard the term "Cinderella Complex," you know...boy meets girl, they fall in love, live happily ever after in unrealistic bliss...I thought, "wow! that's me!"

Now, I didn't have a bad childhood...I didn't have a wicked step-mother or evil step-sisters. I had a mom and dad who loved each other, and 3 younger siblings. I would call it a "typical" American happy home. That's how I see it, anyway. We weren't rich, by any stretch of the imagination, but we had what we needed, and more. Even at an young age, I remember feeling really blessed.

My Dad was in the Air Force, and we lived all over the United States...and in two foreign countries. It was super hard, growing up and always, ALWAYS being the "new kid." Once I got to college, tho, I could really see how God used my upbringing to prepare me for being in situations where I didn't know a soul. And how to be okay with those times when I was alone. Or when I felt alone.

When Jim and I married, I thought everything was always going to be great...and it has been great.

Listen at me...lookin' at life all half-full and everything!

Of course, there were times during our first few years together when things were a little un-bliss-like as we got to know each other, and figured out boundaries and family and how we wanted to live our lives.

When I got pregnant after 5 years of marriage, we were so excited! I mean, that's what we had planned...graduate from college, get a job, buy a house, have a baby. It was all going according to our plans. We had no doubt that our baby would arrive right on schedule, and that God would give us the desires of our hearts. Because nature tells us that A + B= C, and we were doing A and a "good" life and trying to honor God in all that we did...and so God would naturally do C, which would be a perfectly healthy baby and a wonderfully blessed life.

That's how it works, right?

As the time grew near for the birth of our baby boy, we signed up for the childbirth classes. We were put in a class with 11 other couples. At the first meeting, the leader had us all fill out little ice-breaker questionnaires. One of the questions was "I hope my baby is _______" and we were supposed to fill in the blank. 23 people in the class put "normal."

I put "cute."

See what I"m talking about?

It never occurred to me that my baby would be anything other than healthy...and anything other than cute.

My first clue that Cinderella might have fallen out of her pumpkin carriage was the emergency c-section that we didn't have planned. And the 2nd and final clue were the words, "you have a boy...and he has Down Syndrome."

"For this boy I prayed; and the LORD has given me what I asked of him." 1 Samuel 1:27

Monday, August 19, 2013

The One When God is Knocking

At his cardiology appointment at Arkansas Children's Hospital:

Doctor: "Joshua, do you ever have pains in your chest?"

Joshua: "No, ma'am."

Doctor: "Do you ever feel any kind of pressure in your heart?"

Joshua: "Only when God is knocking on it."

"Behold I stand at the door and knock..." Revelation 3:20

Uncle Dave in His Prime

We watched a medivac helicopter fly over our house the other day. It was flying low and we were able to watch it for several minutes.

Jim told the boys: "that's the kind of helicopter your Uncle Dave flew in the first Gulf War."

Joshua said, " his PRIME. But just look at him now...he doesn't fly helicopters anymore, but he's doing just fine. He doesn't have any hair, but he's doing just fine!"

"Shout joyfully to God, all the earth...make His praise glorious." Psalm 66:1

Sunday, August 18, 2013

15 Years...

Written August 17, 2013...

Today, my Mom has been gone from this earth for 15 years.

I miss her.

And I know I've written about it before, but I just wanted to acknowledge this day for my kids...if they read this one day. And to reassure them that God does indeed have a plan...He has all of our days numbered; that this world is not our home; that life does and MUST go on. And for us to be joyful and productive all the days of our lives. My Mom was. I believed she fulfilled the plan God had for her life and then she was done...and He brought her home.


I miss her every day.

A wise and dear woman told me yesterday that you never get over missing your Mom. No matter how old you matter how long they've been gone. She recounted a story of her own mother, who...just days before SHE died...asked for pen and paper to write a letter to her mother, who had been dead for over 40 years at this point. My friend said that over and over in the letter, her mom wrote, "I love you, Mama, and I miss you so much."

Over and over.

My friend still has the letter.

Is that not the sweetest and saddest thing you've ever heard?

My friend told me the story to encourage me...and it did. She said that my feelings are completely "normal," whatever that is.

15 years. She's missed a lot in 15 years.

Correction: We've missed her presence a lot during the past 15 years. She's in Heaven with no thoughts of this world. That's how I believe, anyway. The Bible says there's "no tears, no death, no sorrow, no pain," in Heaven (Revelation 21:4), so I have to believe that she's not "looking down on me and smiling," as some like to say. Because once you've seen the face of Jesus...and experienced Heaven in all of it's majesty and glory...and been reunited with family and friends who have gone before you...what is earth to you?

I miss you, Mom. See you soon...

"Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere..." Psalm 84:10

Friday, August 16, 2013

The One Where the Mattress Fell off the Trailer

*Updated to add that when I was telling this story to our friends, they were all dying laughing and not sympathetic at ALL...because, first, it's US...and this kind of stuff would happen to us. And secondly, they were laughing because they know JIM, who admits that he's wound up tighter than a drum most days...and they could just imagine how he was acting/reacting. Trust me, my friends, he did not disappoint. And, one of our former sweet friends thought this was so funny that she videoed her husband laughing his head off about the whole thing...and then she SENT THE VIDEO TO US. Their friendship is now dead to me (JUSSSST KIDDING!).

Just gonna go ahead and tell you now...start humming the theme from The Beverly Hillbillies...or maybe the one from the movie, "Deliverance."

Today was Logan's moving day, and we loaded up Logan's car, my Burb AND the trailer...and headed out.

It was seriously the most ghetto thing you have ever seen.

The only thing of value on the trailer was the sentiment of some of the items, mainly my grandmother's headboard and her chest-of-drawers. It might not seem like what you would send with a boy going off to college, but we thought, "hey...can't hurt it, right? It's already OLD."

We hadn't been on the road an hour when Jim, looking in the rear-view mirror, goes, "oh, noooo...someone just lost a mattress."


We quickly pulled to the side of the HIGHWAY, and Jim jumped out to check out the situation. I sat in the car with Joshua and silently prayed for Jim's safety.

Haven't y'all heard about people who get out to change a tire, or stop to check on someone on the side of the road...and then they are hit by a car that veers onto the shoulder?

I called Clark because he and Logan were several miles behind us. I told him that DAD said we were going to turn around and try to find that mattress (because, apparently, we are going to go back to find a mattress that fell off a TRAILER...and is lying in the ROAD or somewhere, we don't know...and we will put our lives in danger while we run out onto a state highway, to retrieve a beaten up, filthy dirty that our SON can sleep on it. Someone in my car is seriously crazy!)...but for them to just keep going and we would see them there. And then I hung up.

And then I LOOKED up...and driving past us, at 70-plus mph, is a lady with a mattress attached to the back of her car.

OUR mattress.

(paddle faster...I hear banjos...)

She sees us and quickly gets off the road in front of us (and this whole time cars are just whizzing by us and I am scared to death). Jim walks over to check on her and she said, "I just ran over a it yours?" And, Jim said (HE SAID THAT HE SAID THIS)... "it might be...I just lost a mattress off the back of my trailer."


It MIGHT be?

Because you know what is a problem on Arkansas highways? Deer.

Deer...and recliners. Not mattresses. word.

Well, Jim got the mattress cut out from under her car and she took off...but not before getting our name and number!

And we continued on our trip...figuring up that we will now only have approximately 1 1/2 hours with Logan when we get there, because Clark has to be back here for a late football practice.

And we need a!

Logan is sharing a house this year with his friend, Randy, from school. We got there and unloaded everything quickly. While the boys and I are unpacking and arranging and organizing...Jim takes off to a store and 30 minutes later, comes in with a mattress.

And all is well, and we got everything done in the time allotted. Not the amount of time with Logan that I wanted, but I was thankful that we did get everything done that we wanted to do.

It wasn't our most ratchet move ever...we've had our share...but it ranks right up there. Jim's family comes from a long line of people-who-lose-furniture-and-other-crap-off-of-trailers-or-out-of-the-back-of-pickups.

A long line.

Jim' family likes to say, "po' folks have po' ways..." Truer words were never spoken.

Jim also said that those items we took to Logan today? They are never to come back here...EVER. heart hurts, my head hurts and my back hurts...but I am so thankful for God's protection today for our family and those around us. We had some laughs and a few tears, but things could have been so much worse with our mattress deal...Mattress-gate 2013. We are very thankful it didn't cause an accident.

And all of the commotion of the morning did distract me from being quite as sad...because, we honestly drove in silence for over 30 minutes after it happened...and then we were all able to laugh about it.

School starts for Logan...AND Clark...on Monday.

"...spread Your protection over them, that all who love Your name may be filled with joy..." Proverbs 5:11

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Moving Back to College

My heart is sad.

My college moving back to college today.

I the big scheme of life, it's just a little Mommy Growing Pain.

I should be used to it, being that it's his 4th time to do this. But it never gets easier.

I'm going to miss him being here...playing basketball in the pool after work, being loud with everything he does, aggravating and hanging out with his sister...and his brothers.

Joshua, especially, will miss him so much.

I'm one of those moms who likes having all the chicks in the nest. I LOVE it when they are all home at the same time, and it's loud and wild and crazy. Each one of our kids is different and each one brings their own gifts and strengths into our family.

So today, he leaves...and he takes a little bit of the air out of our home as he goes. Not forever, just until we all adjust to him being gone.

And don't get me wrong...I would never want to take this opportunity away from him. He has done so well in college, and not just academically. He's made friends, and formed bonds with many people in the 3 years he's been there. He has really grown up into a fine young man. He and Morgan are actively involved in their church there...they both can't wait to get back.

I guess just knowing that this is his last summer "home" makes it a little more significant to my heart, now that it's time for him to move back. Next summer, Lord willing, he will become a married man...and embark on new adventures as he and Morgan become their own family.

For now, they will start their senior year of college...and I could not be more proud of them.

So, I've washed and dried. I've folded. I've searched and found and put into boxes. I've bought supplies and groceries and gift-cards to get them through the first few days. I've talked with him as I've walked and worked and cooked and packed...trying to give him that last bit of encouragement and instruction before he goes. He's packed and ready...and we're about to head that way.

So...the tears are right there...but I am doing my best to hold them back.

Because it's about that time...

"Cast your burden on the LORD, and He will sustain you..." Psalm 55:22

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Parenting Stages

I've been thinking a lot about the stages of parenting. Not the ones that you typically hear know, the ones that depend on the stage or age of your child.

I'm talking about parenting stages from the PARENT'S side of things.

Here you go, kids...these are my totally unscientific observations as a Mom of 4:

First, there's the stage where your kids hang on your every word. They adore and idolize you, and you love it because they think you are so smart. We had the sweetest little family. In this stage, our kids got along with each other most of the time. They sang "Christian" songs in the car and at home. They knew their AWANA verses. They acknowledged God as the giver of every good thing, and life was sweet and lovely and good. This stage is when you'll hear things like, "I love you more than ANYTHING, Mommy, " or "my Dad is bigger than your Dad." You may think, "I've got this parenting thing down!" WARNING! Don't get used to this stage!

Secondly, there's the stage when they go from being really loving and lots of fun one just being exasperated with you. These are typically the tween-ish years. This gets annoying. This is when you'll hear, "But, MOMMMMMMMMMM!" I got lots of notes during this stage, usually from my daughter, stating all of her reasons why she should get to go somewhere/do/ buy something...when we had originally said "no."

Third, there's the stage when they think you are dumber than wood. They make fun of you behind your back to their know they do...and it makes you so mad because you are JUST TRYING TO HELP THEM and MAKE THEIR LIVES BETTER. This is when you typically won't hear how lame you are, but you know they are thinking it...and you know they are telling their friends. It's hard not to take things personally and we do always want there to be respect from all parties. But we have to realize that YES, they are just kids...and NO, they have no idea how much braces cost...and we have to understand that the reason they are so crabby at home after school is because they have been bombarded all day and they feel SO MUCH PRESSURE from others, and they are just tired of being nice (this was a direct quote from one of mine whose name shall not be mentioned but it rhymes with 'Polly'). And because sometimes they need a safe place to just...BE.

There's the stage when they are sooooo much smarter than you, and they'll make fun of you right to your face. If you're like me, this will make you sad. I got my feelings hurt a LOT. This isn't always done in a smart-mouth way, altho I'm sure it could be. My experience was that they talked down to me. You'll here things like, "I know you said to do it this way, but I did it like this instead." And, "I'm pretty sure JESUS wouldn't care what I wear to church." In this stage, I really had to search my heart a lot...because sometimes things ARE different and sometimes our kids DO know more than we give them credit for and sometimes we CAN say yes and I never want to be one of those parents who shut down their kids without even listening to what they have to say...that whole two-ears-one-mouth thing (listen twice as much as you speak). So, pray...think...pray some more. Apologize if you need to.

The next stage is when YOU know that THEY know that you MIGHT know a tiny bit of what you're talking about. Oh, you still think they make fun of you, but you aren't 100% sure...and it kind of bothers you a little that they would. Stubborn. Just like me and you. Just take a deep breath and be patient. They are finding their way as young we all did. And we are slowly having to back off in our parenting role as we have always known it.

Finally, there's the point where they acknowledge you were right about many things (not that any parent is right 100% of the time), or that you knew what you were talking about, or that your idea was a good one, or that they see that you really did have their best interests at heart...and they thank you for how you raised them. They will come to you during this time with questions or ask for your opinions or advice. Your parenting role has changed to that of more of a mentor and friend. You're pretty sure they, along with their rat-fink siblings, still make fun of you...behind your back AND in front of you...but you don't really care because it's usually done in a fun-loving way.

This last stage can last a long time, but don't get too used to it, either...about the time you think your kids have really gotten the big picture of everything you've tried to teach them all these die.

"Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it." Proverbs 22:6

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lost in Translation: Joshua and Math

Joshua: Jenni is mad at me.

Me: Why?

Joshua: Because I told her that, basically, I am only 3% wrong in our arguments...the other 80% is on her.

"A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare." Proverbs. 15:1

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Golden Child

Do you have a "favorite" child?

I don't...but my kids say I do. They call that child the "Golden Child," and it infuriates me to no end.

I think hope they say this because they're kids...and kids are nothing if not resourceful in knowing all the ways to totally get under their parents' skins. Because there is NO WAY that I would EVER want any of my children to seriously believe that I favor one of them above another.

I wrote this post tonight after a friend of mine informed me that it was "Middle Child Day." Whoopsie! I either didn't know that, or over-looked it. My middle child would say, "typical."

(slow blink)

My first child...oh, how I love him. He was much anticipated and prayed for. Within minutes of his birth, he was given a diagnosis that totally changed the direction of his life...and of ours. He has Down Syndrome. We had to let some of our hopes and dreams order to fully embrace the new hopes and dreams that God gave us along the way. And while each day, especially in the beginning, has contained struggles all its own, I wouldn't change a thing. God knew what He was us this precious child. He's my man-child now, at the ripe old age of 27. We are living in what I like to call the "years of blessing." After 20+ years of pushing and prodding and therapy and fighting and insisting and "including" and crying...we are in a time of complete joy and peace where he is concerned. He is constantly on my mind. I know his thoughts and dreams. I know his struggles. I think about him, plan for him, plan around him, watch out for him and protect him with everything in my being. I pray for him, and I pray for myself...for wisdom and discernment for the future. I know these days will not last...that harder days are ahead. I mean, they have to be, right? For now, I soak up the goodness and blessings of God that I see in this gentle one. I love him, but not more than the others.

My second child...oh, how I love her. She was a surprise...not her birth, but her sex. She was the first girl on my husband's side in 86 years or so. And I loved every inch of, curly blonde hair, sweet smelling skin. Each day, as I looked at my daughter, I marveled at the wonder and goodness of God. She was so easy and pleasant. She was a natural teacher and caretaker with her older brother. She danced and sang and played. I watched her struggle at times as she was growing up..with many of the emotions that the teenage years bring: coming face-to-face with right vs her friends, and maybe even in herself; making choices; accepting consequences. At times, she was embarrassed by her older brother...having that internal fight between knowing what was RIGHT and just wanting to be a "normal" kid with a "normal" family who didn't stick out every place we went. She pretty much sees things in black and gray areas. As she has become a young adult, I've seen her embrace the compassionate side that I always knew she had. I pray for her to hold tight to her convictions, but to see others through the eyes of Christ. I've watched her be a successful college student and now a dedicated nursing student. She is very smart and loyal. She is a faithful wife, and has worked hard to make a "home" for herself and her husband. I have seen her embrace her role as SISTER to all 3 of her brothers. They are all different and unique, and she meets them where they are. She is a wonderful daughter and I love how our relationship has changed. I am just so proud of her and I love her so much...but not more than the others.

My third child...oh, how I love him. Such an easy pregnancy and delivery. Such an fun and playful child. He bounced and skipped everywhere he went. He told stories in endless detail and with such animation in his voice. He made every day interesting...he still does. He has brought much joy and laughter into our home. I don't think I've ever asked him how he feels about being the "middle" child. I'm sure he would have something to say about it! I have tried not to favor him because of it. This child, like the ones before him, is different and unique. He is really smart, but he thinks differently than the others. Even at a very young age, he was extremely gifted athletically and could play any sport well...still can...and he had a competitive streak in him that the two before him didn't really have. I think Jim hoped he would be more like him...driven, focused, determined...and he was...just not in the same way or for the same things. This third child is relaxed and laid-back...unless he's playing a sport, and then WATCH OUT. He is rarely in a hurry. He does things and they look "fine" to him. He is not concerned with sweeping up every blade of grass after mowing, because "the wind is just going to blow it all back, anyway." He is not big on talking on the phone and letting me know what is going on with him...but he will call to tell me that he just saw a giant bunny...or the cutest dog...or send me a picture of his fiance's baby cousin doing something cute. He has such a big heart...I pray for him to seek God in all things and ask for God to honor his obedience. He is lovable and sweet and very, very LOUD when paired with #2, but especially when paired with #4. I love him so much...but not more than I love the others.

The baby...oh, how I love him. And not just because he's the baby. Such a difficult pregnancy and delivery. I was very, very sick...and he was dangerously early. But God spared our lives and I am thankful every, single day. Such a difficult beginning...from being 12 weeks a cancer diagnosis at 2 years of the surgery and the hospital and the chemo. The baby has always been in, a thinker...not impulsive at all. He thinks about what he does before he does it. He loves to learn. He asks a million questions about everything and wants to know how everything works...and how things came to be. He loves his Dad. If Jim is outside...rain, sleet, burning hot...he is out there with him. This child shares many passions with his Dad...not just a love for learning, but they also enjoy biking, hiking and running. If he has any faults, it's that he is frequently frustrated with his inability to perform at a peak level in all things and at all times. He is really smart and strong-willed and competitive. He seems to be a natural leader, and well-liked...people naturally gravitate to him. I pray constantly for God's favor on him, and that he will use his gifts for His service. And I pray that the grace this one shows to others, he will have for himself. This one is compassionate toward others, and, like his brother just before him, and their sister, seem to have a knack for attracting those who just need a little "extra." I love him so much...but not any more than I love the others.

I am thankful for 4 very different children. I DO NOT HAVE A FAVORITE CHILD!

If I asked you to choose the one my kids call the "Golden Child," which one would you pick?

(wait...don't answer that!)

"...children are a gift of the LORD..." Psalm 127:3

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Lost in Translation: Skin Deep

Let's face it. We don't always get it right. Joshua is no different, but he tries...blesshisheart.

Here he was, just trying to be comforting and encouraging to his girlfriend, Jenni...

"Don't worry, Jenni, your beauty is only skin deep."

Happy Monday!

"...for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

Saturday, August 10, 2013

California Trip-Day 4 (San Diego-Zoo, Seaport, Hotel del Coronado)

You know what's annoying? Reading long, boring blog posts day after day about other people's vacations. Especially if you don't know them. I'm just sayin'. If you feel this way, skip this post. No offense. My blog is mainly to keep up with stuff for my family. 

We spent the last day of our vacation in San Diego. Aunt Leanne drove us down there and the drive was really nice. We went straight to the zoo.

Now, I've been to some zoos in my life. I have 4 kids after all.

But NOTHING is like the San Diego Zoo!

The first thing we did was ride the bus around the inside of the park.

Because Leanne said.

And she was right! We rode on the top level of a double-decker bus. It went all around the zoo, and the driver was very knowledgeable in pointing out animals along the way and giving us helpful information. It really helped speed things up for us later, because we didn't have to go back to visit those areas that didn't appeal to us, like the snakes...or the birds...or even the koalas. Originally, I really wanted to go see the koala bears. I was excited about it. But our bus drove by their area, and there were about 6 koala bears and they were all up in a tree. Like, 6 bears up in 6 different trees. SOUND ASLEEP.

Ain't nobody got time for that.

So after the bus tour, we plotted out our course and took off walking. The San Diego Zoo has different levels, and you get to them by using those moving walkways. Thank goodness, because walking straight uphill? To see a gorilla? No thank YOU.

The animals that we did see were very active. We got to see the zebras RUNNING around their area...and we LOVED seeing the pandas.

After we left there, we headed to Seaport and walked along the boardwalk looking at all the boats and ships. There was a huge aircraft carrier there, and tons of other military boats. There were lots of fancy yachts...and lots and LOTS of sailboats. It was so pretty!

I think now would be a good time to rave about the weather in Southern California. What the heck? It was so awesome! I could live there forever if it wasn't...well...California.

(no offense...I just love Arkansas)

After Seaport, we headed to Coronado Island and Hotel del Coranado. It was beautiful there. I've seen pictures of this hotel and I knew that movies had been shot there, but was breath-taking. It was almost like going back in time, because I could just see John F. Kennedy hanging out there.

Now, I have no clue if John F. Kennedy ever went there...I'm just being like Mammaw Jack and making up a story in my head about how it LOOKED like a place they would hang out.

After walking on the beach and taking pictures, we sat and had dinner on the Sun Deck Grill at the Hotel del Coronado...and watched the sun set. There were a couple of guys playing live music and families were everywhere. Many of the dining areas on this deck had fire-pits in the middle of them, so you could lounge and eat (two of my most favorite things)...and still stay warm after the sun went down. It was gorgeous. So peaceful.

I was really glad to have this time away with my sister, and my daughter. Leanne is very travel savvy, so I am always glad for Holly to get to travel with that she can learn from the master how to plan and how to pack and what to do when things happen and plans change and all of that.

By the time we headed back to Anaheim, it was heart was full. This was SUCH a fun trip!

"When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and stars, which You have ordained...what is man, that You are mindful of him...?" Psalm 8:3

Friday, August 9, 2013

California Trip-Day 3 (Disneyland)

This morning, we got up at 6 a.m.

I'll wait a minute to let that sink in.

We SET OUR ALARM...while on we could get up at 6 a.m.

The gates at Disneyland were opening at 7 a.m., and we wanted to be there to beat the crazies...and ride a few of the popular rides first.

First problem: Leanne said it looked like they were letting EVERYONE in at 7 a.m.

Second problem: Not all of the rides were open at 7 a.m....



Oh, hellooo-crazy-people-with-the-same-idea.

But we were so happy and excited to be there! Leanne knows Disneyland about as well as she knows Disney World. I mean, let's face it...she's a pro. She knows what time is what and what rides are good and where the best place is to see the parade. Or the fireworks. Or the light-show. Or Tinkerbell.

So when she said, "let's go here" or "let's ride this first" we did. No questions asked.

We walked and waited and rode and laughed and took pictures. Lather, rinse, repeat.

About mid-afternoon, we decided to let 'em all have it for a while and went back to the room for a well-deserved nap. Actually, I got Holly to go with me to one of the shops to pick up some treats for everyone...and when we got back to the room, Leanne was halfway to sleepy-town.

After naps, we went back to Downtown Disney for dinner at a little Mexican restaurant, and then went back into the park for the rest of the night. We got to see the World of Color light show they have each night at Disney's California Adventure Park. It. was. awesome.

As soon as it was over...I'm talkin' last note and last firework POP of the grand finale...we took off running (and by running, I mean that we walked really fast) because there was a ride or two that we really wanted to ride.

We finished up the night with Leanne getting a cream cheese pretzel, and Holly and I getting Mickey ice-cream bars.

Mmmmm..mmmmm...thaaaaaaaaat's right.

It was such a fun day!

"I will bless the LORD at all times..." Psalm 34:1

Joshua and the Holy Spirit

Joshua: "The breeze today is like the Holy Spirit...we can't see Him, but we can feel His presence. Like we can't see the breeze, but we can feel it in our hair and on our faces.

We can't see the Holy Spirit or the breeze, but we can feel the effects."

Got some preconceived ideas about people who have Down Syndrome...or other challenges?

Yeah...about that.

(not judgin'. I've been there, too)

"...the LORD is about to pass by! Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks...but the LORD was not in the wind...the LORD was not in the earthquake...the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire came a gentle whisper." 1 Kings 19:11-12

Thursday, August 8, 2013

California Trip-Day 2 (Beverly Hills, Roh-DAY-oh Drive, Hollywood)

I sacked OUT that first night. Like, I was the first one in the shower, first one in bed. I don't even remember Holly coming to bed. I DO, however, remember Holly getting up in the morning and announcing that it was 9:20 a.m. And that THAT meant it was 11:20 in Arkansas time.


At that point, I seriously could've slept two more hours. At least.

But we got up and got all dressed and ready...and headed to Hollywood! We had lunch reservations at The Ivy!

The Ivy is a restaurant known for celebrity sightings and paparazzi. It has an outside dining area that faces the street so you can see everyone who goes by. All of the tables have these white umbrellas over them. There are beautiful flowers on the tables. The whole front of the restaurant has a white picket fence around it, separating the the patio/dining area from the street. I'm sure it is beautiful in the evenings. We could see Christmas lights strung on the fence and the trees around the property. There are also several inside dining rooms that are decorated so beautifully with lots of color and flowers. The tables are covered with crisp, white linens. Our dishes were a beautiful pattern of flowers.

We each ordered salads and they were soooo yummy! Holly just got water, but Leanne and I ordered iced tea. Our glasses came with tea (of course), but were garnished with mint leaves, a lemon and a piece of sugar cane.

It was all so awesome.

And now, apparently, I have turned into my grandmother...who, no matter where she was or who she was meeting or what kind of exciting sights she was seeing...only remembered the food.

After our lunch, we drove down to Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive. We did get out and walk around, but we didn't buy anything. It was fun to see, but honestly...not any of our styles. It was very pretty and fancy and all of that. I'm glad we went. After an interesting drive through an area with lots of rainbow flags, we made it back to Hollywood and got out to walk around. There were a few stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that we wanted to see...Walt Disney (DUH), Ronald Reagan, Winnie-the-Pooh (who knew?). We walked and walked and walked. We were trying to find Ellen Degeneres' star for Morgan...she loves Ellen. We did find it and took a picture of it. I also took Holly's picture beside Reece Witherspoon's star. Legally Blonde...HOLLA!

We found a little Disney soda fountain along the way, and it was great to sit down and be refreshed. Leanne got iced-tea, but Holly and I shared what I called the "eye ball" ice-cream. It was mint chocolate chip ice-cream in a dish, garnished with cashews (for horns) and a cookie (like an eye-ball)...made to look like a Monsters Inc character. It was yummy.

Helloooo, Grandma (see what I mean about the food?).

We then took a drive up to the legendary HOLLYWOOD sign. Leanne had directions to an area just past a dog park where there was a look-out off we went. I think it goes without saying that Suri (Siri) was our best friend on the driving portions of our trip. Seriously. We wound up through neighborhoods, one-way streets, etc...and tah-DAHHHH...there was the dog park...and then, tah-DAHHHH...there was the look-out place!

We got out and took a bunch of pictures. The few looking down was amazing...and the view looking up at the sign was really cool as well.

We drove back to our Home Base and spent the rest of the evening in the California Adventure Park of Disneyland.

At this point, I would like to mention the fact that we saw the corn-dog place when we first got there, but figured there would be another one somewhere else in the park (there wasn't)...walked around the ENTIRE park...and then came back to the corn-dog stand. YUM.

Just sayin'.

Such a fun day! Tomorrow, we are spending the day at Disneyworld. Leanne is making us get up at 6 a.m. so we can use our early passes to get in at 7 a.m.! So excited!

"I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart..." Psalm 9:1

Joshua and Golf

Joshua: "Tomorrow, my "group" (he uses air quotes and it's hilarious) is going to play golf."

Me: "Well don't be upset, Joshua, if your plans change...there's a 60% chance of rain and storms."

Joshua: "Well, God might say, 'THOU SHALT NOT BE NO MORE RAIN!'"

"Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised..." Psalm 48:1

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

California Trip-Day 1 (getting there)

Jim's grandmother, Mamaw Irene, used to say, "I'll think about it all later," whenever she'd had a big if she'd been on a trip, or she'd had lots of company. She'd have to wait a day or three until everything settled down and she could fully process everything. I can SO relate to that after the whirlwind week we had.

So Aunt Leanne, asked Holly and I if we wanted to go on a little "girl's trip" the week after Amy's wedding. It took us both about 1.2 seconds to say, "ummm...yeah!"

She gave us several places to choose from but I really didn't care where we went...I thought Holly might want to go somewhere she had never been. They chose Southern California.


Leanne said we would stay in Anaheim. She is a Disney Club member, so we were going to stay at the premier hotel on the Disneyland property. We would make that our "home base."

First...we had to get there.

Leanne made flight arrangements for Holly and I to leave out of Little Rock, and then meet up with her at DFW...and then we would all three fly together to California.


We were so excited, Holly and I. We were taking pictures of each other and texting people. Our flight was supposed to leave at 11:20 a.m. Right as they were calling the first people to board, they came back with an announcement about a "maintenance issue." That turned into an hour delay...which turned into a several hour delay...which turned into everyone running to get into a LONNNNNGGG line to re-book flights because ain't nobody got time for THAT...which turned into a 7 hour flight delay (for us...because we didn't stay around to get on that broken plane when it was fixed 11 hours later!)...which made Leanne have to change her flight to still be able to meet up with us...which made us have to fly into a totally different airport in a totally different city...which made us have to change the rental car situation...and we were not able to all 3 sit together on the flight out there, which was half the point of flying out there together...but, desperate times and all of that...

And the whole thing made us lose, like, 7 or 8 hours of our afternoon/evening.

But we kept our good attitudes, and finally made it to our destination. We dropped our luggage off in our room, and headed out to Downtown Disney to get our Mickey on, and to get excited for the week! We finally got in our room and got a few hours of sleep.

We have a lunch reservation at The Ivy tomorrow! I'm so excited!

I am thankful to be here, and thankful for God's protection all the way.

(P.S. Leanne got a notification on her phone that our first flight...the delayed one? It finally left Little Rock at 10:45 at night!)

"...Thou, O LORD, are a shield about me..." Psalm 3:3

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My Birthday

In the middle of all the wedding chaos...was my birthday, and I really wasn't wanting to celebrate.

Honestly, being with my family was so wonderful, and I wanted the weekend to be all about Amy, Andrew and the wedding.

When you have a great family, but you don't live close to them...every time you get together is precious. That's how I feel anyway. I had a blast getting to be with everyone. Even tho we were working hard, and we were hot, sweaty and irritable (at times), we laughed our heads off and just enjoyed being together.

When we got back to Leanne's on Friday night, we were all exhausted. I mean, beyond exhausted. My sister ordered Babe's Chicken for all of us...Babe's is seriously the best stuff EVER. Most of the family had left the church and come home, but I stayed back with my sister doing a few extra things. Macy and Holly went to pick up the food and had it all set up by the time we got there.

I was so tired I could barely eat. I knew that my son-in-law was on his way there. He was going to be the last one to arrive. Holly said he should get in by 11 p.m. I wanted to stay up, I really did, but I was just so tired and had another FULL day ahead of me with the wedding happening in just a few hours.

I thought about going back to take a shower. I was hot, sweaty and yucky. I wondered if my family would think it was rude if I went ahead and got ready for bed. But when I got back to the bedroom, I remembered that I needed a fresh pair of socks to wear on the ride home on Sunday, so I gathered up a small load of clothes to wash. On my way back through the kitchen, I remembered that we needed to load the frig with water bottles so that we'd have cold water the next day.

That's where I was, bent over in the pantry with a partial carton of water bottles in my hand when I heard a commotion behind me and looked up. My niece and nephew were coming in the door holding a birthday cake and everyone yelled "surprise!"

And I was. Totally!

And then I was so glad I hadn't put on my jammies!

We all ate cake and it was WONDERFUL! My kids were thrilled they had kept it all secret!

I have the best family EVER!

I had the best day!

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

Monday, August 5, 2013

Air Guitar

I hope y'all understand when I say that I haven't had a carefree breath in over 28 years.

Not trying to be overly dramatic. I'm like most moms. Like some moms more than others.

It's just that I always have him on my mind...what is he doing...where is he okay? How can I help him? Does he need me? Should I back off? Should I rush in?

I never want him to be scared.

Or hurt.

Or mistreated.

Sometimes my heart hurts just thinking about him.

Hurts in a good way. Like it might burst...because oh how I love that man-child. And hurts because of the weight of the life we've been entrusted.

Find us worthy, Lord.

Help us, Lord.

Without You, we are lost.

But today, my heart is full. As I glanced over at the Special Blessing in my passenger seat...singing at the top of his lungs and playing his "air guitar" to a Taylor Swift song...I am moved beyond words at the goodness and provision of God.

"Are not 5 sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by are worth more than many sparrows." Luke 12:6-7

Amy's Wedding Weekend Update 4 (Sam)

Just wanted to write a note about my sister-in-law's Dad, Sam (Kids, this is Aunt Shelley's Dad).

I think everyone was concerned...and wondering if he would be able to make it to the wedding celebration (previous updates here and here and here).

Well, he did!

He kind of rallied a little on Friday. I think he enjoyed all the activity going on at the house...lots of grandchildren, lots of FLOWERS, lots of activities. Shelley said he was able to move around a little, and interacted with everyone. God is so good!

The next day, the wedding day, he was understandably exhausted. Most days, it takes all of his energy to move his legs from a sitting position to a laying down position.

But he came! He and his wife, Jan, sat at the back of the church, instead of at the front with the family. It was better that way. Jan was able to talk to him and point things out...they were able to see every person who passed by before the service. He was able to enjoy the bride and the bridal party...I was so happy and thankful that the family got to enjoy him and have this special memory.

Sam was even able to attend the reception for a little while.

AND, the family had a little "after-party" for the immediate family, and he was able to attend that for a couple of hours.

I was talking to my Shelley about it the other day. I think if we're honest...we have all had times in our lives when we've asked "WHY, Lord?" Or, "how much longer, LORD?"

Because, Sam is a Christian. He is ready for Heaven...ready for HOME. He has lived a life of service and generosity. He has been a good husband and godly father. He is leaving a legacy of faith for his children and grandchildren. So, WHY? Why the prolonged illness? Why the intense pain? Why the suffering?

What we know: Our days are numbered before we are even created (Psalm 139:16). God is in control of life and death. God has a plan (Jeremiah 29:11). And, mostly, we know that God isn't finished with Sam. Sam may be ready...but GOD isn't ready for Sam .

I looked back at them during the wedding. Sam, Jan and the care-giver. And God showed me this...Sam has reached many for Christ during his earthly life. But Sam is also reaching people even through this illness. In the past few years, he has had countless technicians, nurses, doctors, therapists and caregivers...all now being witness to the life of this humble man of God. The caregiver at the wedding this weekend had NO IDEA of the blessing and impact of Sam's life, and of the witness and example being set by his family.

I just know there's a reason why Sam is still here. We've all heard the phrase, "God works in mysterious ways." It's true. His ways are not our ways. And when Sam is done...and God calls...Sam is ready.

''...I bring death and I give life..." Deuteronomy 32:39

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Amy's Wedding Weekend Update 3

Went on a little trip last week, and I want to post about it...but first have to finish up the posts on Amy's wedding!

Periodically while we were decorating, Jim would come up to me and say, "do you know how long it's gonna take us to tear all this down and clean up?"

There was a time constraint, because two of my nieces were in a play on Saturday night...and the wedding was Saturday afternoon. Yikes!

So, we...and by "we" I mean...every available family member...started cleaning up as soon as the last person walked out of the sanctuary. It was all hands on deck.

Or, as my boys like to say, "all hands on deck, Granger!" (That's a quote from a Harry Potter movie)

The sanctuary clean-up did not take that long. The reception clean up? That was another story!

Everyone wanted to stay and stay and stay...which was good! But, we still had things we needed to do and places we needed to be! The wedding coordinator said that the bride wanted to be out of there by 4 to attend an after-reception family that's when we started the clean-up.

And it was fast and furious.

I'm not even kidding.

Everyone helped. Even my thin and feeble. He took the "supply room," where we had placed lots of boxes and things to be out-of-sight...and he worked in there. Slowly...quietly...methodically.

I just love working like that with my family...all working together for a common goal. It was a beautiful thing!

" beautiful when brothers and sisters get along..." Psalm 133:1