Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sticky Notes

During Joshua's years at the elementary school (here, here and here), he got in trouble a lot. Not bad trouble...just not following directions in his "regular" class.

I think it's Dr. Phil who says that every kid has their own "currency." Something that motivates them, something that matters to them...something they would not want taken away.

Joshua's currency was recess. He loved to play outside. I remember one of the first times I saw him playing outside...I had driven by the school during recess time and stopped like a stalker on the side of the road to watch him. If I did that today, my car would probably be surrounded by the SWAT team in minutes. And rightfully so...gotta keep the kids safe from the crazies.

But I would see him running around playing or swinging...and he was usually alone. It broke my heart that he didn't have any friends who would play with him. I would sit in the car and cry...and just plead with the Lord to send him some friends. But over time, I got to see that the other kids weren't necessarily excluding him...Joshua just liked to play alone. And he was perfectly content and happy to do so.

So, Joshua's motivation was to do the right thing in his "regular" class, and then he would get an afternoon recess. If he did not do well in his class, he had to stay inside with the teacher during recess and do WORK, and he would not be happy about that. AT ALL. And I would get a note about this nearly every day.

I really LOVED the days when I got the good notes.

Joshua's regular classroom teacher would write on a sticky note whether or not he had had a good day in her class...and she would send it with him as he walked to his special-ed class. He was supposed to give it to his special-ed teacher.

Well, Joshua wasn't born yesterday. He might have Down Syndrome...or just a "touch of it," but it didn't take him long to learn that most of the time...what was written on those sticky notes did not bode well for him having an afternoon recess. So, apparently, he started sticking the notes on the metal poles that held up the awning over the walkway...on the way from one of his classes to the next. Or on the walls, or on a random door or window. His teacher found them one day, after she noticed Joshua playing outside during his afternoon recess when he was supposed to be staying inside...10-15 sticky notes stuck on the poles and various other surfaces on the way. They said things like, "Joshua had a great day today!" (not many like that one!)...or "Joshua disobeyed in class. NO recess for him today."

Well, he showed them.

Until he was caught.

Oh, was good while it lasted!

" sure your sin will find you out." Numbers 32:23

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

2nd grade...Mrs. Faith

Once again, our lives were changed by the influence of a teacher. This time, it was Mrs. Faith, and she was Joshua's 2nd grade teacher.

By this time, Joshua had been at this school for 3 years...2 years of Kindergarten, and one year of 1st grade.

We were not "zoned" for this particular elementary school, altho it wasn't that far from our house. The elementary school that was in our zone was really close to our house. Holly had gone to Kindergarten at a private, Christian school, but we were planning to enroll her in 1st grade at the public school. She and Joshua are 2 years, 9 months apart, but because of how things worked out with Joshua...they ended up being one grade apart in school. So, it goes without saying that it would be wayyy more convenient for us to just tell Holly she was gonna go to the same school as Joshua, but we decided to include her in the decision-making process...and use it as a kind of "teachable moment" with her. We made it a matter of prayer for weeks. We always tried to take each child into consideration when making decisions that will be best for them individually...instead of just making blanket decisions for all 4 kids. Which, we have done that before, too. It's just case by case...and we live and learn, right? So, we prayed about it and when it came time to make the decision, Holly said that she would write it down on a piece of paper and give it to us. When she brought it to me, I was nervous opening it...because, let's be of her choices would make things trickier for me, and one would make things easier. And, honestly, most of her friends from Kindergarten and from church...were going to the other school...of course she would want to be with them. But, when I opened the paper, written in the middle of the page was the name of Joshua's school! So, both of them would be going together each morning to the same place. Thank you, Lord!

While requesting a teacher was not openly acknowledged as an option, we did request a teacher for our 3 younger kids...every year (you write a letter of request and list your top two or three teacher requests, and send it in to the office at the end of the spring semester for the next was not a guarantee by any means). We had requested the same 1st grade teacher for Holly that Joshua had. I figure if they are kind when it comes to Joshua...then sign me up again.

We did not know Mrs. Faith, but she was a teacher that Mrs. Thomas recommended for Joshua for 2nd grade. We were told that Mrs. Faith also requested that Joshua be in her class. I was immediately put at ease after one meeting with her. We found out that we had many connections...we knew her brother, and one of her nieces was the same age as Holly. Mrs. Faith had the sweetest spirit about her and we heard she was a faithful Christian....which we knew would be a bonus in figuring out the best plan for Joshua's situation.

Well, it was love at first sight. Seriously. For both Mrs. Faith and for Joshua. They formed a bond and to this day it is such a precious memory. It was during Joshua's 2nd grade year that I became pregnant with our 4th child...and it was not an easy pregnancy by any stretch of the imagination. When I had Clark in February...over 12 weeks before his May due-date...things were uncertain with him, and unsettled with our entire family. I was in the hospital for several days, and Jim shuttled back and forth between the hospital in Little our home an hour away. His Mom came to stay with the kids at home and she helped out so much. But even at an early age, Joshua was very sensitive. He knew things were serious. Mrs. Faith told us that she couldn't find him one day...he kind of just disappeared in the shuffle of kids coming back from a class. She thought he might have gone down to Mrs. Thomas' class, but he hadn't. Mrs. Faith ended up finding him in the bathroom...he was in there all alone, crying. He was worried about his baby brother, and he was missing his Mom. Joshua says Mrs. Faith said, "I'm not your Mom, but I'll hug you and take care of you while you're here at school."

Seriously. How sweet is that?


We had to leave the hospital without Clark. He had to stay in the NICU for 7 weeks, but when I was discharged we headed back home. But we didn't go straight home. We went straight to the school...and we checked out both of our kids, and went home to Mammaw Jack, who was staying with Logan. One of the sweetest sights was Joshua running up the hallway to see me.

The story of Joshua in the bathroom has stayed with me all these years. I am so thankful that God placed Joshua in Mrs. Faith's class and that He allowed her to be his teacher. She taught him...she taught us. She went on to become a wonderful friend to our family for many, many years.

A good teacher makes ALL the difference.

"...who knows if perhaps you were made...for such a time as this." Esther 4:14

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The "REGULAR" Grandparents: Mammaw Jack and Papaw Genie

I don't know where to start when it comes to my in-laws. They are completely different from my parents...not to say my family doesn't have it's own form of crazy. We do!

My in-laws are the oddest, strangest, most eccentric people I have EVER met.

They are also loyal, supportive, encouraging...and my mother-in-law loves me and my children unconditionally.

Like she loves just about everybody.

Most of what I learned about being a MOM...I learned from her.

She is mother-ish.

Just like I want to be.

My m-i-l welcomed me into their family with open arms. She tried to teach me how to cook, but I was young and uninterested at the time. But she taught me many other things...not with her words, but by her deeds. I watched how she lived her life, how she mothered her children...what kind of grandmother she is, what kind of friend she is.

She and my father-in-law? Polar opposites. Where she is quiet...he is LOUD; where she tries to smooth everything over...he lives to stir things up; where she is trusting...he is skeptical; where she is naturally generous...that comes harder to him. But both love us fiercely, and both are all about family.

They just go about it differently.

They go about EVERYTHING differently.

It took me a long time to get used to them. Truth be told, I'm still getting used to them. My family growing up...we were quiet, reserved and mannerly. We asked, "please pass the salt," and then said, "thank you." When we wanted pie, we cut a nice, neat piece, and put it on our plate. We did not wait until the pan was set on the table and then each grab whatever utensil we could find and just go at it...all together and at the same time. There was no such thing in my house as a "community fork." (ewww) We wore clothes around the house and never, EVER spit in the yard. My parents were polite to each other, complimentary even. My Dad, especially, always thought my Mom was beautiful, smart and talented, and told her so. And told everyone else SO. My father-in-law on the other hand...loves an audience, loves to put on a show and loves to stir things if we are around he will say to my m-i-l: "DON'T TALK WHILE I AM TALKIN', JACK," in his most gruff voice.

She will act all huffy, or completely ignore it.

It's a dance they've done for years.

I stood out to them as much as they stood out to me. In a family of loud, rowdy boys...I was the first girl.

My in-laws...each of them are just a MESS, but I can't imagine our lives without them.

"In everything set them an example by doing what is good..." Titus 2:7

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Tulsa Grandparents

Warning: extremely long post. Feel free to skip...

I was just thinking.

My Dad and Clara came this weekend. It was the first time they've been to see us since we moved here 15 months ago.

Which is sad...but he has not been in good health and you know, once you get older, it's just harder to get away.

He always said that he couldn't wait until he retired. They were going to travel. They were going to come see all the grandchildren. They were going to do this and that.

The "they" being him...and my mom.


So, he and Clara...they still want to do the same things, pretty much. I don't know if she cares if they travel, but she enjoys it if they do. She has a really full life with 4 out of her 5 children living close...and many of her grandchildren live close as well. She has 5 children, 16 grandchildren...and 16 GREAT-grandchildren. My Dad has 4 children and 20 grandchildren. So, they each have big families all on their own...but's like a village!

That would kind of be cool if we could all live in a village with our families.

Or, maybe not.

My Dad married Clara a few years after after my Mom moved to Our Father's House. Clara was my Mom's best friend. She had been a widow for over 40 years, and had raised her children alone. My parents were just 2 weeks shy of their 40th wedding anniversary when my Mom died. Clara had been a widow all that time.

I believe that is God plan and provision...preparing her heart for my Dad. God is in the details, and He ordains our days.

We are so thankful for her. She completes my Dad's life. She enhances it. He loves her. In their early days, it was hard to see him act silly around her. You know, those early dating/early married days. We didn't get to see that with him and my Mom, because...well...we weren't there!

But Clara has been a blessing.

So...what I was thinking about this morning is...she is really the only grandmother my children have known. I mean, on my side of the family. We ALL know about Jim's mother, Mammaw Jack, and what an incredible grandmother she is to our children. We are all so blessed to have her.

But Clara...

She's been in my kids' lives longer than my Mom was. I try to keep my Mom's memory alive for my children, and that is a good thing, I think. I just want to always be careful not to over-shadow Clara's role and influence, and I think that sometimes I have.

Because my Mom: She cast a pretty big shadow over our lives...

Pretty hard act to follow.

And Clara didn't want to follow anyone. She just wanted to be follow God's will for her life, and maybe have some extra happiness during her older years. She made it very clear from the beginning that she wasn't looking to my Dad as a savior of sorts from her life. She loved her life and loved her family. She was active and busy.

I didn't envy Clara...stepping into our family...into our grief and loss...into our memories and our lives.

But she did.

I saw where Holly and Clark each posted something on Twitter about their grandparents coming to visit, and I thought that was so sweet. I WANT them to think of Clara as their grandmother, and they DO. She's not my Mom and never can be...she doesn't want to be and I don't want that, either...but I don't want my feelings about that to ever keep my children from fully embracing her into their lives.

So very thankful for God's plan and provision in this area.

And in every area of my life.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us." Hebrews 12:1 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Weekend Update-Tulsa Grandparents

Tulsa Grandparents.

Anyone an "Everybody Loves Raymond" fan? We are. Remember the episode when Debra's parents come to visit, and Marie says something like, "oh, good. Connecticut grandparents and REGULAR grandparents." Hahaha. That's what my title makes me think of.

We've had a busy weekend...but a good one.

On Friday, my Dad and Clara came to visit us. They have not been to see us since we moved here 15 months ago. They are not good travelers...but then again, neither are we. We haven't been up to Tulsa in the past 15 months, either.

We have seen them quite a bit recently...for my family, anyway. We saw them at my nephew's graduation in June...and then again at my niece's wedding in July...and over Labor Day, which is a family tradition. But they haven't seen Clark play football in years.

And it's hard for them to travel. My Dad has not been in good health, and now he is pretty feeble. He moves very slow, and he has to be careful of steps or furniture that juts out or carpet that's turned up on the end. Things like that. His balance is not great. But he loves all of his grandchildren. Even tho he doesn't get to see them often, he wants to keep up with what they are doing, with what is going on in their lives. He and Clara pray for them every day. Doesn't get much better than that.

You know, with parents and grandparents...I've come to realize that each person or each "set" of grandparents...they can only do what they can do, whether it's by choice or necessity or outside factors. They might not be everything you and I want them to be...but they can do what they can do, and, if we can accept that and not stew over what we WISH things would be like...then that can be enough. My sister gave me the advice to "manage my expectations." Turns out that philosophy works for LOTS of things in life.

But, my Dad's feeling pretty good and his mind is sharp, so that's a blessing. Clara is amazing. At 81 years spry, she can run circles around most of us...most of the time. So she does the driving and he does the talking and the commenting...and a little navigating.

They got here mid-afternoon on Friday. Jim went and got Chinese food and we had an early dinner. Then loaded up and headed down to Little Rock to watch Clark's game. We were playing a team that wasn't too good, and we were predicted to win by 20-plus points. We were hopeful that Clark would get a lot of playing time.

For some reason, the game was being played on the field at Central High School. Yep...the old Central High that was in the news back in 1957, when the Governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, called out the National Guard to escort 9 Black students into an all-white school after segregated schools were declared unconstitutional.

Yeah. THAT school.

It is rich in history, and it's not all good.

Logan played there at least once during his high school career. He loved it because it was old, and walking into it, he thought it was kind of like a fortress. Where you buy your tickets has these little squares cut out of the stone or concrete where you can see the ticket sellers...he thought that looked like a good place for army men or snipers to be. I don't know...he's a boy. What can I say?

We had to be "wanded" before we walked into the stadium. I know that's pretty common-place now, but it's not where we live now...or at any of the schools my kids have attended. My Dad is the last one of our group through the gate. He is bundled up because he doesn't "do" cold. He has on his long-underwear, pants, shirt and a hoodie...and his leather jacket on top of that. He is wearing a cap from a cruise in 2012 that has "ALASKA" written on it. The lady wands him and asks, "do you have a pocket-knife?" He shakes his head and says, "no." Then he walks up the ramp and asks me, "what did she say?"

Oh yes he did.

He is EXTREMELY hard-of-hearing.

I said, "Dad, she asked if you had a pocket-knife." My Dad said, "WHAT?"

I said, "SHE ASKED YOU IF YOU HAD A POCKET-KNIFE!" He looked at me and very quietly said, "no, I don't have one of those."

Well, thank goodness, because you just told the lady you didn't have one.

We got them all bunded up in their seats and then we all had to stand for the pledge...but then we got settled and watched the game. We did end up winning by 35 points, but it was too close for comfort in the 1st and 2nd quarters. Clark got in on special teams, and then got in on defense in the 3rd and 4th quarters. I was very thankful Dad and Clara got to see him play. We got a cute picture of the two of them with Clark after the game. It was a good night.

Jim and Joshua got up very early on Saturday morning and headed down to Louisiana for MAN WEEKEND with Jim's Dad's family. It was already planned and so they went. Clark stayed home with me to entertain the grandparents (well, that's what he SAID. I'm sure it had nothing to do with his little "friend," Faith!). I was glad to have him here. I fixed breakfast and Clark made the coffee. We hung out here and just visited. Faith and Holly and Aaron came over around lunch. I warmed up the Chinese food from the night before and got out sandwich fixin's and cheese dip...and whoever was hungry ate whatever they wanted. Aaron likes to give tours of our town...when the big guys from his company come in, that's one of the things he try and entice them to do business here. So, late afternoon, Aaron and Holly took Dad and Clara on a tour of the city...and then we all met up over at Aaron and Holly's house. Dad and Clara loved seeing their house, and my Dad loved their little dog, Marley. Around 6, we took everyone to eat at David's Burgers and it was great!

We had such a great day. Dad said they wanted to go to our church with us, but with the weather being bad (it was raining), they decided to leave and head home. They wanted to drive the Talimena Highway home to Oklahoma. I hope it cleared off by the time they got there. The scenery and the view is supposed to be beautiful, especially this time of year with the leaves changing. NOTSOMUCH if it's pouring down rain.

Clark and I went to church...and came home for lunch. Jim and Joshua came in not too long after lunch. Now it's nap-time for everyone because we are all tired. TRIED, really.

So thankful for the role and influence of godly grandparents in the lives of my children.

"Older men are to be level-headed, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love and endurance." Titus 2:2

Saturday, October 26, 2013

My Mother-In-Law

They say when you marry someone, you marry the whole family. I couldn't agree more. In my case, my family was kind of like the Brady Bunch. Well...minus 2 of the kids, the stay-at-home mom part, the fact that ours was not a blended family...annnnnnnd the house-keeper. Yeah. Exactly like that!  NOT.
I married into an episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond"...ALREADY IN PROGRESS. I was a young girl from a military family. I had traveled the world, but pretty much always lived in cities where life was busy, and people didn't get too attached to their homes, neighbors or surroundings...b/c in a matter of months, we'd be moving and the process would start all over again. My family was quiet and reserved. If we HAD dirty laundry, we sure didn't air it out to everyone. It was kept private. ASITSHOULDBE.

My mother-in-law brought me into her family from DAY ONE. It was quite a culture shock. They lived in the country. Counnnnnnnntryyyyy. They were loud...yelling all the time. Not necessarily at each other, but just yelling. All the time. "PASS THE SALT!!!!" Stuff like that. And all those boys! Freaked me out at first, but now that I have my own family and my own 3 boys...all I can say when I look back is "bless her heart." I don't know how she did it. At least I have a daughter that I can be girly with. My husband, 3 boys. Bless her heart. The house was usually a mess--the boys were NO HELP at all--and people were constantly coming and going. The door was always open, food was always on the table and coffee was always brewing. It was where everyone wanted to be. 

It still is.

I have the best mother-in-law...and I will fight anyone who disagrees with me. We are still very different, but, after over 30 years, I've learned to appreciate most of those differences. She taught me the importance of boundaries...and she started that from the day of our wedding. She didn't hound us with phone calls on our honeymoon, or in those early days and months as we established our own home and routine. She stepped down from her role as my husband's mommy, and let me be a wife. She had done her part, and now she was letting me do mine. She taught me the importance of a home; of making a matter if the home was a "trailer house," apartment, or 3 story lake-house; of creating a place where my husband and children can come in and close the door and know that they are safe and loved; where my family and friends feel cozy. She never criticized my cooking skills or slipped me recipes of her son's favorite foods. She let me come to that all on my own, realizing that maybe her son would learn to eat new and different foods now that he was married, and that he was a big boy and probably wouldn't starve to death no matter what I fixed!  And that I would eventually learn to cook those things he loved.  She never criticized my housekeeping skills. In fact, she commiserated with me on how hard it was for her to keep a clean house, and fussed at Jim for not helping me more. She didn't try to arrange things in my home or decorate my house for me.  She didn't try to name our children for us, suggesting names that have been in the family for 100 years. She didn't invite herself over, or stop by unannounced...but if we called for any reason, she would drop everything to come. She didn't pressure us to be with them on birthdays or holidays. We celebrated whenever we could...even if it wasn't on the exact day. She taught me how to be a to love unconditionally...and to look for and expect the best in other people. She taught me to overlook the flaws in others and to keep my head up in difficult circumstances. She taught me the importance of generosity. She drew me in by being real and letting me open up to her on my terms, not hers...not by trying to manufacture a relationship that SHE wanted. I am honored to be a part of her family. Altho she didn't agree with everything we did in our lives, she has always supported us and she has always taken my side. ALWAYS. TAKEN. MY. SIDE.

If it sounds like she's perfect...well, she's not. She ran over and killed both of our dogs when she was watching them for us while we were on vacation. Thaaaaaaaaaaaaat's right. One week, two dogs, killed them both. 

You can't teach that. It's a gift.  :)

But I think her boys would say that she's been a great mom. Her grandchildren will say she is a wonderful role-model in their lives. Her friends would call her "priceless."

Not too shabby of a legacy.

"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised." Proverbs 31:30

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Joshua the Party Animal

I don't remember if it was Joshua's first birthday...or his 2nd...but our friends, George and Dinah, brought him a balloon that had the words, "party animal" written on it.

I loved it.

I guess there's some benefit to being young and clueless. We knew Joshua had Down Syndrome. We knew he had challenges and would have even more challenges ahead. I mean, that's what we were told...what we read. But it's hard to know what you don't know, am I right?

And looking back will most likely give us all the answers we wished we'd had back in the day.

All we knew is that we loved this baby. We took him everywhere with us...we didn't know any better.


He was just so easy. And so good. He was the best traveler...long distances or short trips. Up early or late. Eating in or out or on the run. Seriously, it could not have been easier.

I remember when my grandfather died. My parents, along with my sister, Leanne, ...and me...and Joshua...took off on a road trip to Arizona. Long days of driving. Long days of riding in his car seat. He was an angel. Pretty much happy all the time. I had memorized a few of the Dr. Seuss' books...both Cat in the Hats and One Fish, Two Fish...can't remember the other ones. When it got dark on the drive...good news! I could still recite the books to Joshua from memory!

I'm sure that was super fun for the rest of the people in our car.

Not much has changed in this regard. Joshua is still a great traveler.

Unless we are going on curvy roads...

And as long as we make sure that lunch is at 12 and dinner is at 6.

Otherwise...we're good!

"...You have been a defense for the helpless..." Isaiah 25:4

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Kindergarten, Take 2

Another post from my drafts on Joshua's educational experiences:

After 2 weeks in Kindergarten at one school...Joshua was "moved" to a kindergarten class in another elementary school in town. And I was about to throw up. But at one of our "meetings," Mrs. Thomas, a teacher from the other elementary school, met with us, along with all of the therapists who would be working with Joshua.  I was immediately calmed by Mrs. Thomas' demeanor and her knowledge of children with Special Needs. Turns out, she had taught in a regular class previously, but, for the past few years, she had taught in a Special Needs class. We decided to give it a try.

Joshua didn't seem to be traumatized by the move to a new school AT ALL. The Kindergarten teacher they chose for him at the new school was not the most ideal choice for him, but...whatcha gonna do? She basically tolerated Joshua in her class, and had him in there the minimum amount of time required on his IEP. But, knowing the majority of his day would be spent with Mrs. Thomas, I felt okay about it.

It was a long, hard year...not gonna lie. But, every week we saw improvement and learning. Mrs. Thomas really encouraged us with Joshua's progress. At the end of the year, we met again with allllll of the professionals and administration at the school who were even remotely involved with Joshua's education. And even some who were not. Seriously, how one little guy could be upsetting the apple-cart all over town was beyond me.  The consensus of the group was for Joshua to have another year of Kindergarten, and we agreed.

And leave it to Mrs. Thomas...she had found the perfect teacher for Joshua...and the teacher WANTED Joshua to be in her class. I just about cried.

No, I'm sure I did cry.

That Fall, Joshua started Kindergarten again with Kim Rupard. Ms. Rupard was a sweet, sweet young teacher...very loving and fun, but also firm (altho she says that she found it really hard to be too firm with Joshua, because he just loved her so much!). Joshua was scheduled to only be in her class for certain things, and for as long as he could handle the structure. The rest of the time, he would be receiving instruction in Mrs. Thomas' class. But, Ms. Rupard...she had a heart for Joshua and anytime her class was doing something extra recess...a birthday party...or if someone brought a puppy...she would send for him and he would come from Mrs. Thomas' class and get to be a part of the fun stuff.

This was also the year that he met Lindsey Walker. Lindsey Walker was the daughter of one of the other teachers, and she was one of the kids in Ms. Rupard's class. Lindsey Walker became Joshua's friend, confidant, protector and helper. She tried to be his boss (and Heaven knows he needed a lot of help), but he fought that tooth and nail. He's pretty stubborn. But she stuck around anyway. It's just really rare to find a Kindergartner with enough maturity and sensitivity to take a kid who is "different" under their wing...but Lindsey Walker did. She loved him, helped him and fought for him. She even fought with him when she had to! They stayed friends all the way through school...until graduation.

I am so thankful for the efforts and influence of teachers in Joshua's life. The school years that were great for Joshua...were the years that he had really great teachers. Teachers make ALL the difference.

"...whatever you did for one of the least of did for Me." Matthew 25:4

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I don't know about you, but my son is 22...

Today is my Logan's birthday. He is 22 (ooo-ooo-ooo). And he is at college and not here on his birthday. I miss him so much!

I know we just saw him for a few hours on Saturday, but it's his BIRTHDAY.

And it doesn't matter if they're young or old, near or far, living or dead...if you've born a child, carried a child, adopted a child, rescued a child, helped a child, loved a child, buried a child...your heart is tied to theirs and there are just gonna be days when you will miss them even more.

And for all of you out there who can't even imagine a day when you won't be there to celebrate your child's special day, get ready. Your day is coming...unless you're really fortunate.

So...I thought about it on Sunday. And I thought about it a little more on Monday. I plotted my escape plan for today.

But then last night happened.

We had an away JV game, and it was cold and windy and RAINING. I know that I've posted how much I love away games, and I do...but you know what's fun about being cold and wet and LOSING? Nothing. Nothing at all.

Well, I take that back. Our friends, Jerry, Stacy and Tori...who I WARNED about the weather and STRONGLY ENCOURAGED not to come...those ding-dongs came anyway. What great friends! It was fun seeing them again...and it kind of took the sting out of the we were watching.

But the best part happened after the game when our car wouldn't start. Yeah. That's special. And the jumper cables were in my Burb. And we were in the Camry. But Stacy found a maintenance man at the school, and he brought us some jumper cables...and the car started and we made it home safely.

So, this morning, I couldn't take Joshua to his Therapeutic Recreation outing in Little Rock. He was a little sad, but not too bad. Jim said he would go to work and then take a half-a-day of vacation, come home after lunch, and take the battery to be tested and get a new battery if necessary. Seriously?

I wasn't getting to go to see my college boy...on his birthday...but Jim was going to take vacation to fix the car? Seriously? He always ends up having lots of vacation days that he needs to use at the end of the year, and here is something I really wanted to do, and it's not even a thought in his mind. Argh. I was MAD.

Now, in Jim's defense, he did not know about my plans to go see Logan. I hadn't brought it up or even asked him about it...he had no idea. I never even thought he might want to take a day off and go with me up there, but here he was offering to take a day off to fix the car. I think he thought I'd be so happy, but I was fuming.

Anyone else ever do this?

Didn't think so.

But, really, it's not like he's new here. either.

So I mumbled something under my breath like, "no I do NOT want you to take a day off to fix the car. If you're gonna take a day off, I WANT to go see my son on his birthday..."


I went back to my bedroom to pray about my attitude and calm myself down. In a couple of minutes, Jim came back and asked me to call Logan and see if he was free for lunch...and if he was, we could go up to see him and just get the car fixed later.

It was wrong of me to get upset about something I had planned in my head, but never shared with Jim. And I know my husband. He is a planner. He doesn't like for me (or anyone else) to spring things on him. If I had brought it up and let it sit with him for a day or three, he'd probably have been happy to work it out for us to go...even with the car battery issue.

Well, I talked to Logan and he wasn't free. He had to go with his group from class...during the lunch interview a person for a group project.

All that frettin' for nothin'.

And we normally would've just gone up there for dinner, but the Arkansas State Red Wolves are playing UL Lafayette ON TV right now...and there's no way Logan will miss a game.

I wish I could've seen my boy today...that's just a Mommy thing, I guess. I have certainly missed some of his birthdays since he's been in college. I just think most Mommies want to see their kids on their birthdays, if possible. I remember when Holly and Aaron lived 3 hours away...two years ago. On her birthday, I got Clark to school, and then Joshua and I headed out. We drove 3 hours to get to her house. Then we stayed 3 hours with her...took her to eat and a quick shopping trip. I remember I bought her a big coat because the weather up there was so cold. And then we drove 3 hours home. A 9 hour day, and I didn't mind it at all.

Best 3 hours ever, seeing my girl on her birthday.

I am thankful for family and friends who are making this day special for him. They are texting, calling and messaging him today. I still miss him, but I know that HE knows how much we love him. We were able to celebrate his birthday this past weekend, and we are happy to have had that time.

I'm very thankful for the blonde-haired, bouncing boy who came into our lives 22 years ago. He's brought so much joy to our family.

"I prayed for this boy..." 1 Samuel 1:27

Monday, October 21, 2013

Kindergarten, Take 1

Posting again from my drafts on Joshua's educational experiences. This post was written a while ago and is mainly for my own memory, and for my children's insight. However, if it helps even one person, then that is a blessing. (After I re-read this post, it sounded kind of depressing...but things do get better eventually!)

After 2 1/2 years in that town, Jim's job moved us about 45 minutes away to a new place. And we loved it immediately. Very family oriented town...lots of kids.

Logan was born before we moved, so we were now a family of 5. We found a house and a church and a pediatrician...and connected with some "old" friends from college. We put Joshua and Holly in a Mother's Day Out at our church, but Joshua was turning 5 and it would soon be time to start him in Kindergarten.

Our town had a "school" for children and adults with Special Needs. I visited there, but I just knew that was not where Joshua was supposed to be at this point in his life. So, we met with the local elementary school that was closest to our house, and, reluctantly (on their part) a plan was put into place. You have no idea of all the paper-work and logistics involved in having a child with Special Needs. And I think Joshua was the first child with Down Syndrome to enroll in the public school it was a BIG DEAL to everyone.

Part-way through the summer, we were contacted by a very sweet lady who taught at the elementary school. She had found out about Joshua and had asked for him to be placed in her Kindergarten class. We were blown away by her kindness. She told us how much she had prayed about it and all the things she had planned for the year. Of course, not for a minute did we ever think we were going to just drop Joshua off and say, "he's yours for 7 hours...good luck." No! We knew it would require effort on our part to make the teacher's job easier. Joshua was not a "regular" kid. Fortunately, we were all on the same page and wanted the best for Joshua, and wanted to set it up so that he would have success.

As the days got closer for school to begin, I became more and more anxious. Joshua was a very sweet and loving child, but very unpredictable. He was as fast as lightning and could climb like a monkey...and while he could pick out an apple from a basket of plastic of fruit when asked, or point to the color red...he definitely didn't have the connection between actions and consequences.

But school started and we all made it okay for the first few days. It was a big adjustment for us all. I stayed in contact with the teacher and tried to help her as much as I could. It became apparent after the first week that the teacher was extremely overwhelmed. We were "summoned" to the school by the administration and had a little conference about Joshua. I sat there with my head down most of the time. I mean, like it's not hard enough already...all of these professionals were saying, "he can't do this..." or "he can't do that..." or "we can't be expected to watch him constantly..."

There was a window in the hallway where we could see into Joshua's classroom, so they took us down there to observe. The teacher was having story-time. All of the kids were sitting in a circle, listening to the story. All but Joshua. He was having free reign of the class room. He was into the books, in and out of the closet, over in the art supplies, etc. I was, like, "what is he doing?" and "why isn't he sitting with the group?"

Turns out that the teacher, what with her kindness and prayers and sweet spirit and all...she had no clue about children with Special Needs. She was WILLING to help. She WANTED to help. But she was not equipped for the situation. Her philosophy was that she couldn't expect him to participate like the other children, because she didn't think he really knew what he was doing. So while she was making the other children follow the rules...she was letting Joshua run wild. She thought he was precious, but she didn't enforce her class rules when it came to him AT ALL. It was just so anti-everything we were doing in our own home. We had other kids...and I expected them ALL to listen and obey and follow directions. I certainly didn't let Joshua have the run of the land, while making the other ones tow the line.

BUT, in her defense, she had 20 other children in her class with needs and issues all their own. And she had a curriculum to teach and a schedule to follow, and she was just doing the best she could...but it was not the best for her...OR Joshua.

So...what I learned: A LOT. I learned I was stronger than I thought. I learned that my gut instinct was usually right. I learned to fight for my child, but to always listen to others...And that sometimes, even if it's not the outcome you want...even if it's not the best scenario...if it's all you can get, then that's where you have to start. And I learned that you can want to do something really can pray about it and talk about it and be excited about it...but until you are actually IN the situation, you can't truly know. Because how things look on paper, and how you feel about it in your heart...can be very different from how things look and feel and real life.

"...I am He who will sustain you..." Isaiah 46:4

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Weekend Update

We have had a good weekend.

Had a great win on Friday night!

On Saturday morning, we got up and headed down for a football game at OBU (We love football...can you tell?). They were playing Harding University and it's always a big game. They call it the "Bible Bowl," because both are Christian colleges.

We lost. :( But it was a beautiful day! We got to see some "old" friends. We had such a fun time! We had almost the whole crew with us. All 4 of our kids and our son-in-law...and Clark's friend. We missed Morgan being with us...she stayed home with her sister, Bailee. Morgan has been about to die to get home and take care of her. We were so thankful she and Logan came home this weekend. Even tho Logan stayed with her family an hour from here, we were able to pick him up and he got to spend most of the day with us.

I LOVED having all 4 of the kids together. Each one of them brings something different to our family...and they bring out the best (and sometimes the worst) in each other. Today it was only the best! They pretty much entertained themselves the entire day with a rousing game of "let's-make-fun-of-mom," which, gotta say, I personally always love. Except not. To quote Roseanne Barr, from back in the day, "now I know why some species eat their young."


But hey...I did catch a t-shirt that the cheerleaders threw into the stands, so there's that.

After the game, we went to see Jim's parents. They like to celebrate birthdays with their grand-kids if at all possible, and Logan is turning 22 this week! So we all went to dinner and it was a lot of fun. We came back to their house and loaded up some groceries (long story) (it's like her "thing") (she buys tons of groceries on senior citizens day at "The Krogers" and then she makes all the kids take stuff from her house when you come) and came home.

I will have to write a post (or three) about them because they are just about the most eccentric and generous people I have ever met.

We dropped Logan off at Morgan's parent's house, and didn't see him again before they left to head back to school earlier today.

Makes me sad.

But we really enjoyed seeing him yesterday. :)

Today, we had SS and church. After we got in from lunch, my friend, Stacy, called. She and her daughter, Tori, were in town and coming by to visit. I was SO excited! They came and stayed all afternoon, and we were able to visit and catch up. It's just so nice to have friends who know you well enough that you can just be yourself. With Stacy, she pretty much knows what I'm thinking, what I'm feeling...and WHY I'm feeling that way. She loves my husband...loves my children. I can tell her anything and she will love me anyway. I can tell her anything about my family...and she will love THEM anyway. She is honest to a fault, and her encouragement has gotten me through many tough times. Her prayers have sustained me. I love her so much.

I'm so thankful for her friendship.

I was feeling kind of low the past few weeks...not bad, just a little. It hasn't been hard to meet people here in our new's just been hard to connect with them. We haven't found our friend group...haven't found our niche. So I've been thinking and praying about it a lot...and God is so gracious. On Friday night at our ballgame, I was able to reconnect with someone I knew years ago...and so that was nice. On Saturday, we saw several "old" and dear friends at the OBU game. And then today, I got to see one of my besties. It's like God is saying, "I know, child, I know...I hear your prayers."

"...your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask Him!" Matthew 6:8

Friday, October 18, 2013

This Week

We've had a good, low-key week. Needed it after last week.

Of course, nothing could top Clark's interception in Monday's football game!

On Tuesday, Joshua's group was supposed to go to the Arkansas State Fair. They ended up changing that because of the weather, and they went bowling and then out for pizza. On Wednesday, they were supposed to go to Garvan Gardens in Hot Springs, but...again...THE RAIN.

While bad weather is not as fun for most people on an outing, it can turn dangerous when you have individuals with balance issues, poor motor skills or equipment they need to be mobile.

Plus the fact that they'd all be grumpy.

On Thursdays, they do fitness. I have written about Joshua's experiences with kick-boxing and yoga and boot camp. Yesterday, the instructors at the gym taught them a routine to Michael Jackson's Thriller.


Gotta admit...I was more excited about this than I should've been, because I could just imagine...

And I really wanted to be a fly on the wall...

And please, somebody, take pictures...

I think they had a great time. I only saw one picture, and it didn't do it justice I'M SURE.

I was able to have lunch with my friend, Amy, and it was a great time of refreshment for both of us.

Tonight, we had a football game and we WON!

"a joyful heart makes a cheerful face..." Proverbs 15:13

Thursday, October 17, 2013

JV game vs Cabot (Clark)

So, I just had to write a quick update about last Monday night.

We played Cabot at home...the Varsity team had lost to them a couple of weeks ago, so we realllly wanted to win.

And we did win...but the best thing was that Clark caught an interception! And then had about a 30 yard run! :)

I was so happy for him. I knew it would happen...he's been so close on several different occasions. Last night was his time.

I just wanted to record this for my memory. I decided to leave my camera in the trunk of the car because it was RAINING...and then the rain stopped and Clark made this great play and I have no video evidence. RATS.

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

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Joshua and Coach Morgan (7th grade)

When Joshua was in 7th grade, he was asked if he wanted to help with the football team as one of their football managers.

Or, as he put it when he wrote it down, "football MANGER."

His best friend, Lindsey Walker, was one of the football managers, and I think everyone understood that she would be carrying the bulk of the job, because...well...ya know.

And she did. And Joshua enjoyed helping with the team...most of the time. He did not really like having to be at practice before school, but he was typically up at the crack o'dawn anyway, and Jim could take him most days on his way to work.

But one day, it was a bad day. Joshua tells it like it was yesterday. I mean, seriously, his memory is awesome. He says it was the day he thought he would be fired from being the football manger. Searcy lost to Alma 24-0 that night. Joshua thought that was the worst, most embarrassing thing EVER, and proceeded to throw the biggest fit (I don't remember any of this, or know where it all took place). He was so mad! The Coach says he kicked a sign, and was using every Downsy-boy bad word he knew....AND MORE.


The Coach let it go for a minute, and then told Joshua to go change clothes...and "let's try this again."

We remember this story, and I'm telling it on here now, because this young coach, husband, father...will soon be leaving this earth. He's on Hospice care now, and while his suffering will end soon and he will be in Heaven with's sad for his wife and children who will have to live without him.

We don't live in Searcy anymore, but I wanted him (and his wife) to know this story, and to know that he made a difference in Joshua's life, and in ours. So when our friends said they were going to visit him yesterday, I gave them permission to share this with him, if the timing was right.

His family said he was sleeping a lot. And that he was having trouble remembering things.

But when our friends brought up this particular story, they said he grinned and said, "oh we ALL remember that day."

I was just so thankful he got to know that we remember him...that he made a difference...that he touched a life.

"...encourage one another and build each other up..." 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Joshua and Yoga

So, one of the things they do at Therapeutic Recreation is Yoga. I'm talking they have a legit Yoga teacher come in and lead them. She brings the yoga mats and everything. Joshua loves it. Not as much as kick-boxing or zumba, tho! He said the balance part is hard for him.

I get that.

The first time the Yoga lady came, Joshua said that they had "5 minutes at the end to sleep."

Whaaaat? That doesn't sound right!

I asked the Director, and she said the last 5 minutes was relaxation and meditation. was the best part: during this time, the Yoga teacher went to every person and RUBBED THEIR HEADS.

Oh, MAN...sign me UP!

I said, "Joshua, did the Yoga lady rub your head?"
Joshua: "Yes, ma'am."
Me: "I bet that felt good."
Joshua: "it DID!"

And, if anyone needed further proof that he is Jim-the-germ-freak's son, he said, "all I could think of was...'I hope you washed your hands before you touched my head.'"

"...I meditate on You during the night watches." Psalm 63:6

Monday, October 14, 2013

Away Games

Around here, we love our athletics.

Right now, it's football, baby.

We support our teams...well, most of us do. We traveled to a large town last Friday night...large enough that it had TWO high schools. They had a great turf field and nice facilities. But, they had very little fan support. Even the section where the seats are "reserved" was nearly empty. Seriously? Because people pay for those seats...typically those seats are in the section on the 50 yard line. The booster club will "sell" those seats as a fundraiser, and you can sit in those seats for Varsity home games all year.

The visitor stands, on the other hand...PACKED.

And we had to drive over 2 hours to get there.

Not gonna lie...I love away games. We spend the week planning when we will leave and what we'll need to wear (because of the weather). Do we need blankets? Rain gear? Snacks? (that's always a YES!)

There's a camaraderie out there on the drive. I was thinking about it Friday night. We would pass cars and look to see if they were wearing our school colors..."they're going to the game!" Or, when cars would pass us, we'd look to see if they had a sticker in the window. If they did, we'd nod or wave. It was exciting, seeing everyone heading in the same direction...for the same reason. Of course, some of the parents might have been going to support cheerleaders or band members...I totally get that. You're talking to someone who went to every home and away football game but one last year...and Clark was injured and stood on the sidelines the majority of the season.

But he got to travel with the team...and so we went to support him.

We stopped for gas on the way home after the game. It was late, but the station was buzzing with activity. No matter what colors you're wearing or which team you support, there's a sense of community at the gas stations and restaurants after a game. I mean, gotta have gas...gotta I right? You might just look and smile...or nod. If they look friendly, you might say, "how'd y'all do?" My husband would say that. He knows just about everyone (or it seems that way!), and no matter where we are or what prompts the conversation, it's pretty likely that he will find a common connection or know someone that they know.

Weird, huh?

That's the South.

After we got gas and went through a drive-thru, I told Jim I would drive home. I really didn't mind. It was a clear night. Jim and Joshua ate, and then Jim promptly fell asleep. Joshua was looking up game scores on his phone. I could see him in my rear-view mirror. The reflection on his face from the light on his phone made him look like an alien. Or, as my kids used to say, "alient."

His face looked like an alient.

But I drove in silence for the most part. I passed passed me. We all knew why we were out there, and we all knew where we were going...HOME.

I thought a lot about the events of the week...about Bailee, and how thankful I am that she will be okay; About my own kids...and how I couldn't WAIT to see my college boy and give him a big hug; How life, just like the road that was in front of me, has twists and turns and bumps along the way...some of our own choosing, and some that just pop up out of nowhere; How God sees what is ahead before we do; And about really how small we humans are in the big scheme of things; How the moon and stars go on forever, and yet God named them all. Yes, He named them all...but He loved us all, and sent His Son to DIE for us (John 3:16).

Feeling very thankful tonight.

"He counts the stars and calls them all by name." Psalm 147:4

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Weekend Update

All in all, we've had a good weekend. A lonnnng weekend. I'm tired. TRIED, really. Jim and I aren't used to late nights! I would say it's because we're OLD, but honestly, we've always been this way.

Got home around 12:30 a.m. on Saturday morning from our away football game on Friday night in the NW part of Arkansas. Left at noon on Saturday for a football game in the NE part of Arkansas.

Yeah, I know...we're world travelers!

Logan's church tail-gating before the football game, and the college pastor had invited the parents to come up and meet the staff...and other parents. We also wanted to have some extra time to go to the hospital to see Bailee before all of that.

We weren't able to stay long at the hospital...she had visitors when we got there, and was having visitors come in while we were there. Of course, she was sleeping through it all...bless her heart. If you saw her laying in the bed, you wouldn't know anything had happened. She has NO facial injuries at all, except for a thin line above her right eye-brow. That's where she was pinned in the car...her face was all the way up to the ceiling, and the floor-board was up to the level of the dashboard. She was literally pinned in. They had to use the Jaws of Life to get her out.

Her mom said that Bailee told her she was so scared...that's the first thing she heard when she "came to" was that loud sound. And she was all alone. And scared. Bailee's mom cried when she told me that story. It broke her heart to think of how scared she was. We know that the Bible tells us there's nowhere we can go away from His Spirit. He tells us that even in the darkness, He is there. I heard Rick Warren talk about Psalm 23, "even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, You are with me." He said that if there's a shadow...there has to be a sun...some sort of light. We know that in that Bailee's shadow of death...she was not alone. Jesus was right there with her. The SON. The Light of the world.

So thankful for God's protection, and praying His healing hand will be on her during the weeks and months to come. She has a long recovery process ahead of her.

After we left there, we headed to the stadium. Logan wanted us to meet his college pastor and his wife...and some of the leaders at their church. We were able to meet his "adoptive parents" and they are the sweetest things you've ever seen! They've been doing this program for 10 years, so they have quite a few kids that they've mentored. She said it was so neat to meet up with them in their travels. All of the people we met have played such an important role in Logan and Morgan's lives. It's just a blessing to have people like that to help you along the way...people who love your kids and love the Lord and are willing to take the time to invest in the lives of people they aren't even related to.

We went to the Arkansas State Homecoming game and it was a lot of fun. Saw a few friends there. The weather was great! We left at half-time because Logan was wanting to get back to the hospital to be with Morgan and her sister.

Bailee was discharged to home late this afternoon via ambulance (it's a 2 1/2 drive). Hopefully they can make her comfortable and start figuring out all of her therapy and doctor visits and surgeries.

I was so tired this morning. As we sat in our SS class waiting for it to start, I asked Jim if it was bad that I was already thinking about my after-lunch nap. Ha! I never got the nap, but I also never really exerted myself at all.  It's been a relaxing day. Clark informed us on Friday that he doesn't have school on Monday. Whaaaat?

You know, with my first child, I would've highlighted that on my calendar back in August, so that I would know every holiday, every school function, etc.

With Clark being my 4th child...can't say I even know where the school calendar IS.

It's been a busy, full weekend. I've been reminded how things can change in an instant. Feeling thankful tonight.

"You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me." Psalm 139:5

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Life is a Vapor...Bailee

It's been a week.

We had a JV football game on Monday, and Clark had a GREAT game! Jim's parents got to be there and everything.

Seems like I've already written this before.

I let Joshua go to his Therapeutic Recreation all 3 days this week...he usually only goes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, bc...oh the driving. But, with Mrs. Sherrie's mom passing away and the group being all tenderhearted in that regard..they all wanted to be together, so I took him all 3 days.

We have an away football game on Friday night, and then planned to go to Homecoming at Arkansas State University on Saturday. Logan and Morgan's church is hosting a tail-gate at the church before the game, so that families can meet each other. We even talked about spending the night, because their church is having a special thing for the parents of the college kids on Sunday.

Their church has an "adoptive parents/grandparents" program for the college kids, where older couples "adopt" a couple of college guys or girls, and hang out with them during the week...or once a month...whatever they all agree is best for them. Logan's "parents" have been so kind to Logan and his roommate. They found out that they liked football, so their regular night to meet in the fall is Mondays...and they watch Monday Night Football with the "Dad," and the "Mom" cooks for them. I mean, seriously? Those boys are in Heaven! We've never met this couple, and were looking forward to connecting with them this weekend.

But then we got the call Wednesday night...and everything changed in an instant.

I guess we all have our worst-nightmare scenarios in our heads...and they probably change as we go through life. When I was younger, I thought how awful it would be if something happened to my parents. When I married, I couldn't imagine losing Jim. When I became a parent, I hoped that nothing would ever happen to one of my children.

There are all kinds of thoughts that run through your mind once your kids leave for college. I mean, you can't be there with them all the time (not that your presence can prevent everything)...and your worst nightmare would be to get a call that something has happened to one of them. You couldn't get to them fast enough, am I right?

Morgan's sister, Bailee, was in a terrible car accident on Wednesday night. Someone crossed over the center line and hit her vehicle head-on. It did not look good. Morgan's mom called to tell me that she was on her way there. Honestly, I could barely understand her. She was so gripped with emotion. I was so thankful her sister was driving for her. It's about a 2 1/2 hour drive.

They had to use the jaws of life to get Bailee out of her car. When she "came to," that's what she saw...and heard. She told her Mom she was so scared. The paramedics asked if there was someone they could call, and she mentioned a the friend came to the scene to see how serious it was before she called Bailee's mom in a panic. The next person she called was Morgan, and she raced to the hospital. Logan met her there. Morgan's dad drives a truck. On any given day, he could be anywhere in the United States. On this day? He "just so happened" to be in a town just 45 minutes away from the accident. A God thing.

Someone called the college pastor, and word began to spread through the college ministry. Bailee's "adoptive parents" heard about it and went straight to the hospital to be with her (and Morgan and Logan) until the parents could get there. Seriously, how sweet is that? Even typing it now...even tho she's not my child...tears are streaming down my face at the compassion of these sweet people. If it WAS my child, and I was on my way...nothing would bless me more than to have someone there for them that cared for them...who was connected to them...who was praying for them and supporting them and waiting with them until I could get there.  I don't know. I am just amazed by it. If you have a college in your town, then you probably have a college ministry at your church. And if you do, you should really consider this whole adoptive parent thing. We thought it was mainly older couples...and it is. But there are also younger couples who have also stepped up. Logan's "Mom" told me that they have more willing parents than they have college kids signed up to participate!

Bailee has a long road ahead. She will likely have to withdraw from college for this semester...maybe the next. But her injuries, while extensive and severe, are not life-threatening.

So thankful for God's hand of protection on her because it could've been a LOT worse.

I am reminded of the quote from Corrie ten Boom that says, "hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open." We think that applies to our material possessions...never do we want to think that it might also apply to our children. But they came from God...and He can most certainly allow many things into our lives that accomplish His purpose and bring Him glory; things that to our human minds seem so hard; things that seem so...WRONG or unnatural or uncaring.

But He loves us more than anything. He loves our children more than we ever could. He sees the big picture. He knows the plan. Our life here is a mist...a vapor...and He has so much more in store for us than what we can know or see.

" do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." James 4;14

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Strong Side

Overwhelmed by the events of last night...cannot get my thoughts together to post, but will try tomorrow.

Today, I took Joshua in to Little Rock to meet up with his group.

At one point, I felt him grab my hand as I drove. I looked over at him. He was smiling. I heard him softly say, "left side," as he squeezed my hand. I looked back at him and he was smiling and was my turn.

I squeezed it back and said, "strong side."

(Shout out to "Remember the Titans")

"The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe." Proverbs 18:10

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Dealing With Loss-Sherrie's Mom

On the National Down Syndrome Page, there was an article called, "If People With Down Syndrome Ruled the World." It was written back in 2005, but I pull it up and read it every once in a while. Some of the things listed make us laugh out loud...and some of them just give us a sense of, "oh! Joshua does that!"

For example: "If people with Down Syndrome ruled the world: affection, hugging and caring for others would make a big comeback..." And, "in our world, too often people with Down Syndrome are "done for" by others, when, in fact, they are great givers. If they ran the world, their ability to minister to others would not be wasted." (Dennis McGuire, PhD, Adult Down Syndrome Center of Lutheran General Hospital, Park Ridge, Illinois)

If you know people who have Down Syndrome, you know that they typically are not shy about showing affection. In fact, it's usually one of the things on their IEP (individual education plan) in school that the professionals "work on" to change...because, in our society, you can't just go up to the greeter at WM and wrap her in a bear hug because she gave you a smiley face sticker.

Unless you know her.

This week at Joshua's Therapeutic Recreation Center...all the friends are sad. Their director, Mrs. Sherrie, lost her Mom over the weekend, and the group just can't wrap their heads around it. Mrs. Sherrie hasn't been there all week, and oh how they want to see her! They are so worried about her. They love her so much. They spent yesterday "brain-storming" about what they could do to minister to make things better for her.

So, yesterday, and today, there has been a lot of crying. One thing you have to know about people with Down Syndrome (this has been our experience with this particular group) that when one person is hurting...they all hurt. And when one person cries...they will all cry. And eventually, you will have lost control of the day because they are huddled together, comforting each other.

That's how it was when I got there to pick up Joshua. Normally, there's a lot of talking going, it was quiet. Joshua was sitting out on the patio with Jenni. She was in tears. Some of the others saw me walk in, and eventually gravitated outside to where we were. They're just lost...worried...confused...sad. Some of them are scared. One girl said, "how are you supposed to live without your Mom?"

Good question, Crystal...good question.

"...the dead in Christ will rise first...then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words." 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Mr. Rollo

A lonnng time ago, after Joshua had been in kindergarten a while, it became apparent that the teacher he could use a little help.

Enter: Mr. Rollo

Mr. Rollo had been in the business world for a long time, and he had been retired a long time. He was, he had to be 80. I believe he was a widower and he had grown children our parents' age...and grandchildren our age. 

Mr. Rollo wanted to give back to the community...wanted something meaningful to fill his he signed up to be a mentor/helper in Joshua's special-ed class.

Note: We call Joshua "Fred" as a nick-name, and so the first time we said "special-ed," he thought we were saying, "special-FRED." So, you know my family...we ran with it. And that's what we call it now.

There were 3 boys in the special-fred class who were all about the same age: Robert, Matthew and Joshua. Don't even get me started on how kids with intellectual challenges are put in the same group as kids with severe behavioral issues...but in this small school, they were all lumped together, and these three were thick as thieves. And one (or three) of them may have even been a thief. Just sayin'.

And one of them may or may not have gotten in BIG TUB-OH for bringing a wooden rubber band gun to school that his parents bought him in Branson. Rumor has it.

Also let me just say right now that what one didn't think of...and trust me, they thought of a LOT...the other 2 would. And did.

Mr. Rollo had no idea what he was getting himself in to. I told Jim that by the end of the school year, Mr. Rollo would probably be kicking himself and saying, "WHY. OH WHY didn't I just play golf...because it would be SO much easier!" 

But Mr. Rollo would come in and help the boys with their reading and some writing and generally just try to keep up with them all. Bless his heart. He was always dressed immaculately. Such a fine, sweet man. He tried so hard. I don't know if he ever truly knew the impact he had on Joshua, and on our family.

Mr. Rollo was about the age of Jim's grandfather. I remember after we had Joshua, Jim's grandfather had a hard time with it. He told me that he knew of someone who "had a child like that" and that they "kept him in the back room." In his day, where he was from, children with Down Syndrome were an embarrassment, a shame. Kept in the back room.

If Mr. Rollo ever thought that way before he started volunteering at the school...I didn't know. He didn't seem apprehensive, but maybe he was. He told me he was amazed at how much Joshua was like his own kids. And Joshua adored Mr. Rollo.

Our family became very friendly with Mr. Rollo. He was dating a woman from our church who had been widowed, so we saw him quite often on Sundays. He had some money, and he even donated a piano to our church. Now, I didn't know where he was in his spiritual journey, I'll just tell you what he told me...

Joshua changed him.

You see, with Joshua, even at an early age...things were black and white. You love Jesus...or you love Jesus. Those were your two choices. I think I've written before how Joshua doesn't have a problem saying what is on his mind. For example, here and here and here.

But, Joshua touched a part of Mr. Rollo's heart, and God went to work. I guess He was always at work. During that year, Mr. Rollo was saved and baptized in our church, and it was a beautiful thing. A beautiful thing.

Do you think you are too insignificant...too weak...too small? Too old? Too young? Not good enough? Not smart enough? That you've made a mess of your life? That you don't have all the answers? That you have too many questions?. Do you think God can't use you because of your past? Because of your present? 

I'm here to tell you, GOD CAN. If you are willing, God can.

Well, it wasn't long after Mr. Rollo's salvation that he died, and went home to be with the Lord. Even with his age, it was sudden and unexpected. Joshua was distraught. He blamed himself. He apparently had called Mr. Rollo a "bird-brain" one day at school, and that's all he could think of that would've caused Mr. Rollo's untimely death.

I's kind of funny.

He used to say, "I called Mr. Rollo a bird-brain and he died."

It was a long time before Joshua came to terms with the loss of his friend, Mr. Rollo.

Now, though, he knows more about life. He has learned more about death. He believes more about Heaven.

We'll see Mr. Rollo there.

"...whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me." Matthew 25:40

Monday, October 7, 2013

Monday Update

We had such a great night tonight!

Our JV had an away game. We played a team that we lost to last month. Jim, Joshua and I headed down there this was about a 45 minute drive. Jim's parents were meeting us there. We left wayyyy too early, and got to the stadium wayyyy too early. Should you think I'm joking...we were the first people in the stadium ON EITHER SIDE for about 25 minutes.

Where to sit...where to sit...?

We saw our bus pull into the parking lot, and Jim's Dad walked over to see Clark as the team came onto the field. It was so sweet. I could hear him say, "you do good now, boy...ya hear?" He is so funny. And then Jim's Mom told me that she went to Wal-Mart today for 4 things: a new phone (land-line), panties, rat poison...and cookies. She said the checker "looked at her funny."

Ya think?

It was a hard fought game and we won. Clark played his best game of the year so far. Stopped two touchdowns from happening. I was so proud of him!

Their bus broke down and he still isn't home...AND he has a paper due tomorrow. Ugh. One day he'll learn about not waiting til the last minute...just not today.

I was really thankful that Jim's parents could come watch Clark play. Just don't know how many more of these days we will have. It meant so much to them, and I think Clark was happy they came. They thought he did great!

I'm so thankful for the influence of grandparents in the lives of our children.

" the young men to live disciplined lives." Titus 2:6

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Weekend Update

We have had another good weekend.

We had a win on Friday night! On Saturday, Jim, Clark and a friend all ran in a 5k here in our town. Joshua and I cheered them on and took pictures. The skies were cloudy and dark, and it was soooo muggy! Jim and Clark made it to the finish line without running in the rain, but the other member of their group got soaked! We had lunch after the race and then hung out here at home the rest of the day. I made a big pot of chili and all the fixin's for dinner. It was a great, relaxing day. Of course, a HOG win would've made the day better...

Today, we had SS and church and then spent time at home today as a family. Holly and Aaron came over and we all went to dinner together. Everyone is getting ready for the week ahead. I hope and pray it's a good week.

Does it seem like the world is getting worse and worse...or is it just me?

I mean, I guess it's not going to get better until Jesus comes, but I am weary with all the bad stuff on the news. It's gotten to where I can't even watch it anymore. I do want to keep up with things, but it stresses me out to hear about the violence and crime...and people doing the most inconceivable things to the innocents. I can't stand it.

I know I can't be the only one. Nearly every morning when I wake up, someone has texted or called or emailed me with these words, "please pray."

Life has much joy, but it can also be very hard. I'm so thankful to know the One who has me in His hands. I'm thankful for the HOPE that we have in Christ Jesus.

I'll sign off with some lyrics that have meant so much to my extended family during a very difficult time...

"There is strength within the sorrow. 
There is beauty in our tears. 
You meet us in our mourning with a love that casts out fear. 
You are working in our waiting, sanctifying us. 
When beyond our understanding, You're teaching us to trust. 
Your plans are still to prosper. 
You have not forgotten us. 
You're with us in the fire and the flood. 
Faithful forever, perfect in love, You are sovereign over us."
Aaron Keyes, "Sovereign Over Us."

"For You have been my hope, Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth." Psalm 71:5

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Years of Blessing

I started this blog mainly to record my "Joshua stories." (Even tho my other kids tell me, "YOU HAVE OTHER CHILDREN!")

Correction, my sister started this blog for me to record my "Joshua stories."

Because there are just some things about our with Joshua right now...that are just so fun, and so funny. Over the past few years, he has turned into our resident Jay Leno. Most of the time, he doesn't realize how funny he is.

But sometimes he does. 

Now that he is out of school, things are easier in many ways. We don't have to wonder every day how he's doing...about the kids in his class...if he's able to keep up with the work. We don't have homework and notes sent home and professionals telling us what we should and should not do.

But I's still hard.

I told someone the other day that I haven't had a carefree breath in 27 years. That's something I rarely say in public...and I have only, up to this point, said to just a handful of people. I'm no martyr...and I'm no victim. Just stating a fact. Joshua is constantly on my mind. That has not changed. And while I no longer have to worry about kids in his class, I worry more now about the world...people in the world who might take advantage of him or harm him in some way. I can hardly let my mind go there. I never want him to experience fear. I think about how he will be as he ages. I think about how he will feel when his grandparents die...or if Jim or I die before he does. I think about who will take care of him...we have planned for that, but I don't want anyone, even a family member, to ever feel like he's a burden. We have the best families...and they could not be more supportive, but, no one on this earth can love and care for Joshua like Jim and I...because we've loved him from the beginning. But you know, it might come to that.

Constantly on my mind.

But right now? I call these years the Years of Blessing. God has been so gracious to allow us these fun years with Joshua...sandwiched in between the hard times he had in the hard times that are sure to come later. We are loving experiencing life with him. He is happy every day. He is caring and kind (usually). He sees the good in others. He speaks his mind no matter who is around to hear it! He is sensitive and insightful. He is excited with the little things.

It's not all funny...not all fun and games...but mostly, that's what I write about. I had someone say one time, "oh, I love your stories...I would just love a child with Down Syndrome!...I have always said that if I had to have a child with a disability, I would pick Down Syndrome." 



I love writing about the fun stuff, but if you read around on my blog, you will see that I write about some of the difficult stuff, too. I just want people to feel know that Down Syndrome is not a death sentence for your life, your child's life, or for your family. It's a different path for sure. Difficult for sure. Uncertain, scary, frustrating, sad...blessed, joyful, rewarding and happy. 

But guess what? We have 3 other kids and some of the same emotions could (and have) be said about them. 

I am so very thankful for this man-child. He makes my day every day. He's for sure made me a better mom. In the beginning, I questioned whether God should've given Joshua to us...we sure didn't want to mess him up. We feel so unworthy.

And so blessed.

"For this boy I prayed, and He has granted my request. So I have dedicated him to the LORD; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the LORD..." 1 Samuel 1:27-28

Friday, October 4, 2013


I ticked off Siri.

Well, first of all...I call her Suri. I don't know why other than that's what I thought she was called, back in the very beginning of Siri...I just never changed her name in my mind after I found out otherwise.

Well, one day last week, Jim sent me a text just minutes after he had left the house.

I texted him back, "no texting and driving," expecting that he would read it after he got to his office. Instead, I got another text almost immediately that read, "Siri." So I responded with, "tell Siri to shutty."

(or something like that!)

Well, when Jim got to his office, he was going to respond back to me...but guess what little Miss Annoying Siri did? She completely erased my contact information from Jim's phone!


I never did like her.

"Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth..." Ephesians 4:29

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Long Week of Waiting

This has been the longest week.

Maybe it's just me.

Actually, it's been a long two months.

My husband works for a large utility company here in Arkansas. Every few years, they go through a big reorganization...people are moved around, departments are down-sized or eliminated, some people lose their jobs. That's where we are now. Waiting.

Announcements began in late August, starting with the highest levels in the Company. Tomorrow, Jim will find out his fate. We aren't worried sick or anything, but it is very stressful.


On another note, Joshua had a good day today. They did "hip-hop" as their fitness challenge. I can only imagine what Mr. Lee thought about it all!

While Joshua was with his group, Holly and I spent the day together. We have been wanting a new bed for Joshua. He has one of the smallest bedrooms in our house. I gave him first choice of the rooms when we moved in. He chose the one with the built-in desk. I knew he would.

So, once we put a full-sized bed in there, and a dresser, AND a chest-of-drawers...there wasn't much room at all. And, since the whole mattress-falling-off-the-trailer debacle...Joshua has been sleeping in Logan's empty room since Logan's away at college. But we want Joshua to have his nest all fixed back up.

Joshua was kind of wanting a day-bed. I was VERY "iffy" on that for him, for several reasons...the main one being that it was hard finding one manly enough for him. Not a huge market for day-beds for 27 year old men.

But, on Tuesday, we found a possibility. On Wednesday, we brought Joshua to the store to check it out. Today, we bought that sucker...and tomorrow, we get it here at the house and will set it all up! Today, Holly and I bought a rug, some bedding...and some extra "throw" pillows to go along the side of the day-bed that will be up against the wall. Holly also found a decorative shield with a cross in the middle of it at Hobby Lobby. We are going to hang it on Joshua's wall. He will LOVE it. We also bought a large canvas and Holly is going to paint something on it and hang it over Joshua's bed.

Can't wait to get Joshua's room all together tomorrow. After Jim hears about his job, he is coming straight matter how things end up. And we will spend the rest of the day at home as a family, and then we'll go support Clark in his football game tomorrow night.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Joshua and His Stories

Joshua loves to write. It's kind of his "thing."

A lot of kids with Down Syndrome (this is only from my observation) have a certain thing that they kind of get obsessed with. Joshua's girlfriend, Jenni? She writes baby names. Like, names that she likes for babies. And she finds names the credits from movies, on signs, football rosters, graduation programs. She writes them down and pairs them with various middle names. She probably has 100 notebooks FULL of baby names. It's her "thing." It keeps her focused. It keeps her occupied. It keeps her calm in anxious situations.

Joshua writes.

Sometimes he writes what he calls "songs" or "poems." Lately, tho, he has been writing stories.

He gets obsessed with certain books or movies and will read/watch them over and over. Back in the day, it was Beauty and the Beast. He had a love/hate relationship with that movie. He loved it, but parts of it terrified him. He knew every scene, every song, and most of the movie word-for-word. More recently, it's been Star Wars, Harry Potter, the whole Alex Kendrick Flywheel-Facing the Giants-Fireproof-Courageous movies. Fireproof affected him so much because of his relationship with Jenni. He got the Love Dare book and tried to do it every day, even tho Jenni had no clue what in the world he was talking about. When they would have a squabble he would say, "I'm trying to do the Love Dare on her, but it's not WORKING!"

The most recent thing he has gotten obsessed with is the Twilight series. I know. We weren't really "sold" on this series, but everyone was jumping on this bandwagon...including most of his friends. I read the first book and let him watch the first couple of movies...and I didn't get the big deal of why it was so good, but he watched it over and over. And then, even tho we did not let him watch the other movies OR get the other books, he would ask his grandmother for them...and she would buy them for him...and he would sneak them up to his room.

The little rat.

His whole group of friends, especially the girls, are all OBSESSED with the Twilight series (and the actors). When he started writing his stories and would tell me about it...they sounded very similar to the Twilight series. I reminded him that he couldn't copy someone else's idea, and so he changed a few things.

Well, now he's decided that he's writing a book. And he's on Book 2. I know that I need to go get all of his writings, and try to decipher it...and type it into a manuscript form for him. I just don't have the energy yet. It's a tedious job...trying to make out some of his writing...but I'm going to do that for him one day. A few years ago, I took some of his "songs" and typed them all out for him on nice paper, and put them in a binder thing so they would stay all nice. I thought he would be so proud, and he was...for about 5 minutes! The next time I saw that binder, he had taken a RED INK PEN and gone all over what he had already written...making "corrections" and "additions" and writing things like "chorus x2" and things like that. And that "nice paper" looked like it had been crumpled up under his bed.

He doesn't talk about his stories a lot...mainly because when he does, it's all so outrageous and it all makes no's really hard to follow. But when he finds someone who is genuinely interested, he gets very excited and animated. He gets this far-away look in his eyes, and he is totally immersed into his story. The other night, on the way back from Clark's football game, he literally talked about it for 35 minutes to Clark's friend in the backseat...and yesterday, on our drive to Little Rock, he talked and talked about some parts of his story. I had heard most of it the night before in the car, so I would interject things like, "I think it might rain tomorrow," trying to get him off that subject (I know...I'm a terrible mom). He would say, "I'll check my weather app," and pull out his phone. Then, he said, "no. no rain til Saturday," and went right back to where he was in his story without missing a beat!

I am very thankful for the abilities God has given Joshua. I am thankful for the professionals and teachers who have worked hard with him, and with us, to get Joshua to this place.

"Before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, LORD." Psalm 139:4

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

On Being Love-birds...

The other day, Joshua's group went on an was the day they went to the Heifer International Headquarters in downtown LR. They stayed outside a lot, and it was HOT that day.

And I should tell you that there are 3 sets of "couples" in Joshua's group.

On our way home in the car, Joshua said, "wellllll, there were 2 couples being love-birds today." I said, "TWO couples?" He said, "yes, Crystal and Brandon...and Michael and Melissa."

I said, "what about Joshua and Jenni?"

He said, "I tried earlier in the day, but it was so hot. Sometimes it's just too hot to be love-birds."

Is it bad that I totally get that?

"Above all, put on love..." Colossians 3:14