Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas 2013-The Gifts

We try not to go overboard on Christmas gifts with our kids, but let's be's hard. Even tho we only buy 3 gifts for each of our kids, it can be expensive. Especially as the kids get older.

I mean, gone are the days when you could get two fun toys and a cute outfit for not very much money. These days, it's technology, technology, technology.

And, instead of staying up late putting together a race-track or a bicycle...we are plugging in items to be charged so they can be enjoyed on Christmas morning.

Our kids know that we do a lot for them during the year, so it was pretty hard to get them to list a few items they would like for Christmas. Joshua wrote his list and it was so precious. He asked for sweat pants, socks, a planner, and a "wolf" calendar. The first 3 items I got at Wal-Mart in about 10 minutes...and I was able to find a calendar with a wolf on it at the mall. And I know that's 4 items...but...COME ON...

I try really hard to keep things kind of equal, but one of mine asked for a new phone "if his contract was up," and for the price of keep things equal...I could've bought Joshua a case of socks and sweat pants. Just sayin'. It is pretty easy to buy for Holly, since she's a girly-girl and I shop with her a lot. I know her and I know her taste...most of the time. Holly has a December birthday, so I was able to buy her some things that were unique to her on her special day. But for Christmas, I decided to buy all the girls in our family the exact same things, or, close to it. I think it worked out well.

Logan put three items on his list and helped me order them. Two of them came in time for of them has yet to arrive. But he's okay with it. I also bought him a DVD from the $5 bin at Wal-Mart to put in his stocking, and he was really happy with that.

The biggest surprise came from my husband. We do not exchange gifts with each other. It's a tradition we started a LONG time ago. He just never could think of what to get me, and I could think of a 100 things to get him...and so he felt bad, I felt bad....and we decided that we wouldn't do it anymore. Early in our marriage, we would wait until after Christmas and then use any money we got for Christmas to get a joint gift...or to get things for ourselves during the after-Christmas sales.

This year, my very frugal, very predictable husband did something very generous and very UNpredictable for our family. He called and asked Clark to clean out his truck and for us to meet him at a car we went there...and in 30 minutes we were driving home in a new vehicle. Well, new to us.

To say I was shocked was an understatement. My husband is the most thrifty man I have ever met. He is very thoughtful with our finances and does his best to save money and not make any unnecessary purchases. We have had a lot of unplanned things in our marriage...a child with life-long health and medical challenges, and another child who had health and medical issues for several years...that could've drained us financially, but because of Jim's saving and planning, we have been able to make it on one income all of these years.

As much as we have enjoyed giving gifts to our children, and to others, we know that Christmas is about the GREATEST GIFT, which is Jesus...and He came for all.

"But the gift is not like the trespass. For if by the one man's trespass the many died, how much more have the grace of God and the gift overflowed to the many by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ." Romans 5:15-17

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Joshua's Christmas Letters

So, on Christmas morning, after the presents were unwrapped, Joshua stood up. And, side note: this has nothing to do with the story, I just want to remember what he was wearing: a white t-shirt, warm-up pants, his navy blue robe (we call it his smoking jacket!)...and, on his feet, his ever present Crocs. In his hands, he held a stack of papers...notebook papers. The kind that you rip out of a spiral notebook...the kind that leaves the ripped edges.

He slowly walked over to Logan and gave him one of the papers. He says it's a "poem" for him. And then he gave him another paper. "For Morgan," he says.

Joshua loves to write. For the past year or so, he has been writing a story that he thinks would make a good movie. He likes to write songs/poems for people, and he always writes something for us on our birthdays.

We aren't surprised to get notes from him. They are always hand-written and very heart-felt. And they are usually always funny...not to Joshua, he is very sincere about them. It's just that sometimes the words he uses aren't in the proper context, and that makes it funny. Like the time he bought Jenni the birthday card with the giant dog on the front, and when you opened it the dog's long tongue came down. Joshua wrote on the tongue, "Happy Birthday Jenni! I want to lick you."

Yeah. Imagine that I'm slow blinking right now.

Joshua said he was writing it from the dog's perspective, but it was still hi-larry-us. I'm still surprised we didn't get a call from her parent's about that!

But we never let on to Joshua that his notes are funny, because we are all so thankful for his abilities, and for his sweet spirit.

So Joshua proceeded to pass out all the rest of his notes, In a minute, Holly said, "hey, where's Aaron's note?

Now, Aaron was sitting there grinning, because he had been watching and had already realized that Joshua had forgotten to write him one...and it was FINE. Aaron has such a kind heart when it comes to Joshua. Anyway, Joshua looked kind of startled...I could tell he was a little upset, but he tried to cover by saying, "uhhh...Aaron...I just did it for the biological family." And he did his little "air quotes" over the word, "family."

Yeah. I could see where this was heading and I was silently praying the other kids would just let it go.


At about the same time, Holly and Logan both piped up, "well, Morgan isn't our biological family, and SHE got one."

And, of course, they are all grinning and thinking it's great fun...and I'm watching Joshua to make sure he realized they were just playing with him. He does not typically "get" sarcasm and just makes him mad. And those two rat-finks were cracking up and messing with him, and Aaron was saying, "that's okay, Joshua, I know how you don't have to write me anything."

It's just pretty funny that he wrote one for Morgan...because OF COURSE HE DID. He adores Morgan, and kinda has a little not-creepy crush on her. I wouldn't be surprised if her poem wasn't the first one he wrote!

Later, we were cleaning everything up and something was said about Joshua. I said, "I bet he is upstairs writing a poem for Aaron." Holly said, "I bet he isn't." Well, he came down a little later carrying a piece of that notebook paper. He had not written Aaron a poem...he had written him a letter. In it, he talked about how honored and thankful he is that Aaron married his sister, and how he doesn't see Aaron just as a brother-in-law, but as a best friend.

Everybody say, "awwww."

Then, in Aaron's letter, Joshua said something along the lines of, "I really enjoy our bromance."

And we all tried not to fall out laughing, because he was so serious and so sweet.

The Christmas poem he wrote for me is entitled: "A Heart of a Mother Tiger," and talks about how a mother tiger guards her cubs from harm or danger. Jim's poem was something about him being a lion, a furious protector and the king of the jungle.

I am so thankful for Joshua's sensitive spirit, and that he desires to gift us with his words.

"Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances." Proverbs 25:11

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day 2013

Merry Christmas!

We were thrilled to have all 4 of our children with us today...and our son-in-law. Our son's fiance came and had dinner with us, and Clark's girlfriend came for a little while tonight.

A full, blessed day.

The best kind.

I made a breakfast casserole this morning, and I also made this cinnamon roll casserole thing that I saw on another blog. It.was.yummy. Jim fried ham that his mom had sent home with us...and I popped a few biscuits in the oven for those who just wanted to keep it simple.

After I got all of that cleaned up, Holly and Aaron came over and we were ready to open the presents. The very first thing we do every year is read the passage from Luke 2 out-loud. The kids all take a section and it doesn't matter what verses they read, but Joshua HAS to start. It just isn't Christmas without hearing him say, "when Qwi-REAR-ius was governor of Sy-REAR-ia..."

I think everyone liked their gifts. Some will have to be exchanged and some were duplicated...and we had two gifts that have yet to show up...but over-all, it was great! And, now that they are older, I know that if there wasn't one gift under our tree...just being together would be good enough for them.

I have been reminded this year of how quickly things can change. My sister-in-law's father passed away a couple of months ago, and there's a lady from a blog that I read who will soon be meeting Jesus.

If this is all there is, and it all falls apart...then what? Because if this season is all about the lights and the tree and the perfect gifts and all of the traditions our family holds dear, then it would be very sad if and when the time comes when things change and we can't do those anymore.

I am so thankful for the HOPE that we have in Christ...that this earth is not our home. Our eternal home is in Heaven with Jesus, and with family and friends who have gone on before us.

And I am so thankful for Jesus...that He saved me in spite of my sins; that He lives in me, and helps and teaches and guides me each and every day. Of everything and all that I have, I would be lost without Him.

"But the angel said to them, 'do not be afraid; for I bring you tidings of great joy which shall be for all people; for unto you today in the city of David, has been born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord./" (Luke 2:10-11)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

We've had such a good day. It's been sunny here, but COLD.


But doesn't the sun make cold days better?

I think there's a lesson I could make out of that last statement. Maybe another day.

I have wrapped and wrapped and wrapped today. We typically get our kids about 3 presents each. We started this practice a long time ago when they were little. Jim said that if it was good enough for was good enough for us.

Even tho each person just gets a few gifts, it's still a lot! Each of our children has their own special person...husband, fiance, that's presents for 8! Jim and I don't exchange gifts, but I usually get him a couple of things from the kids.

And then there's the "stocking stuffers" for 8 stockings! I typically put things like body wash, toothpaste, perfume/cologne, gum, nail polish for the girls, etc in the stockings. For the past few years, I've put Crest Whitestrips in them. My kids like using those, but they are so stinkin' it's a treat for them. This year, they were ALL OUT of those at the store where I went, and I decided I wasn't going all over the Creation just to get those. I also always get the boys a new pair of boxers. I try to get some really fun or crazy patterns for Christmas. This year, I didn't do that, either.

I always wondered what my son-in-law thought about me getting him underwear!

In fact, I am totally re-thinking everything that I'm putting in their stockings. Now that I have a future daughter-in-law, and my other sons have girlfriends...if I give them soap or body wash...or toothpaste and shampoo...are they thinking that I think they are stinky? I don't! They aren't! And if I give them Crest Whitestrips, will they think that I think they have yellow teeth? I don't! They don't!

I'm worried that I'm turning into the mother-in-law that gets talked about..."well, you think THAT'S bad, you won't beLIEVE what MY mother-in-law/boyfriend's mom gave ME...SOAP and SHAMPOO. Seriously?"

I may be in BIG trouble.

Tonight, we had our Christmas Eve service at our church. It was a great time of worship with a children's story, lots of singing, and the Lord's supper. It was great to see all of the families there...little kids all the way up to great-grandparents. So blessed to be a part of a church family.

Tonight, for the first time in...FOREVER...I have no presents to wrap! I finished wrapping this afternoon, and so I might actually get to go to bed at a decent hour! It's a Christmas Eve miracle!

I am so excited to have my kids here tomorrow!

"Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased." Luke 2:14

Monday, December 23, 2013

Bless Us All

Clark is doing better. He slept well last night and slept LATE this morning. Bless his heart...he is so hungry. ALL.THE.TIME. He's had so many smoothies and milkshakes. The boy wants some substance, but he has to be careful. Yesterday at our "Christmas meal" with Jim's family...and against my advice...he decided to attempt eating a steak. He cut it up into tiny pieces, but no matter how much you cut up's not a milkshake. He said that even tho it made his mouth bleed, it was still the best thing he had eaten since Thursday night.

He has only had 1 pain pill so far today. I think maybe he is turning a corner. Hope so, anyway.

This afternoon, Holly and I ran some errands. Actually, I just needed to run to the grocery for milk and nanners. I almost met Jesus.


People be acting crazy.

I know this time of year can be so hard for many people. You only have to be out in public a short time to see people rushing around, racing through parking lots, being rude. You can see the stress on their faces, the sadness in their eyes.

What is the answer for hurting hearts?

I am reminded of the words of the song, "Bless Us All." It's from the Muppet Christmas Carol.

I know, right?

Who would've thought a song sung by a bunch of puppets would make me cry every time I hear it?

"Bless us all, that as we live, we always comfort and forgive. We have so much that we can share with those in need we see around us everywhere...Bless us all with playful years, with noisy games and joyful tears. We reach for You, and we stand tall, and in our prayers and dreams we ask You, bless us all."

Jesus. He is the answer for hurting hearts.

"I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world." John 16:33

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Bat Alarms

Today was the "Garland Family Christmas" with my in-laws. I wasn't sure Clark and I were going to get to go, but he woke up feeling okay and so off we went. He said he was wanting to get off the pain pills, so I gave him his dose at 10 before we left...and didn't bring the next dose with me.

Most of the family was already there when we arrived. There were about 18 of us all-together...from about age 78 down to age 4. We had our "Christmas meal" of steak, baked potatoes, corn, salad and rolls. I wasn't really hungry at the time. There's not really a lot of room where we eat and so everyone was stepping over everyone was kind of hectic. I got Joshua all situated with his food...everyone else took care of themselves.

Since I didn't eat, I stayed in the kitchen cleaning the dishes and loading the dishwasher until my mother-in-law said, "we are having Christmas...NOW."

Now, "having Christmas" has a different meaning at my in-laws house. Typically, my mother-in-law gives us all a large gift bag full of stuff. I call it my SOS..."sack of...stuff." Things I've gotten in my SOS are: random, decorative thumbtacks, pens, hammers, screwdrivers, a "throw blanket," devotion book, a net thing that you can put your PANTYHOSE in to wash them in the washing machine (whaaaat? 1978 called and wants your pantyhose back!), an x-acto knife, a turban towel, a tape measure, a spatula, and salt and pepper shakers.

That is just a sample platter of the contents of my gift bag throughout the years.

It's always a random mix of things that have nothing to do with each other...and we all 3 get them: me and my two sisters-in-law.

My mother-in-law typically buys these things on her annual trip to Branson. She goes with 10 other "lady friends" and they frequent all kinds of off-brand "dollar store" type of stores...places you can't ever find anywhere else if you wanted to take any of your gifts back. You can't. Don't even try. You just can't.

I already have approximately 11 "throw blankets" at my house. She says, "they are SO handy! Like when you have company come over and they get a little chill...or if you go on a never know when you might need a little "throw blanket" in the car...they are so handy!".

And I'm just sayin'...our car trips may or may not have involved 6 or 7 of us crammed into a Suburban, with all of our luggage, snacks and a guinea pig (and it's cage)...and if every person brings a handy "throw blanket," there is NO ROOM FOR ANYTHING ELSE.

You think I'm lying, but every person in my family except for Jim and a handy "throw blanket" TODAY. That's 8 "throw blankets" just today.

I can't figure out why I didn't get one. We have begged and begged my mother-in-law to just give us each a $10 gift card to WM. I would rather have that and buy something that I could use. She doesn't understand that. She wants everyone to have open. But this year, I got a gift-card (YAY)...and, just to keep it real...a set of 4 decorative cheese spreaders.

Because you can never have too many of those, am I right?

I love my in-laws but they are about the most eccentric people I have ever met. There is a tall bar-counter that separates the kitchen from the dining area. My mother-in-law has added shelves on top of the counter. If you are standing in the dining area, you really can't see into the kitchen...because of all the shelves and the stuff on the shelves. They are FULL of stuff. You can't even imagine. But today, on top of the shelves...on top of the stuff...there were three empty milk jugs. One was sitting up straight, and the other two were on their sides. When we asked my father-in-law about it, he said the jugs were "bat alarms," and that if a bat flew into the house, they would hit the empty milk jugs and knock them down...and that's how we would know there are bats in the house.

Seriously? This is a problem now? Bats in the house? That was a new one on me!

We've had a lot of interesting Christmases at my in-law's, crazy, stressful. Tonight was fun.

Clark was not feeling well after a couple of hours, so we came on home. It was great to see everyone, but it was also great to come home. I haven't gotten a lot of sleep since I've been sleeping in the living room with Clark, so I'm pretty tired.

You might even say I'm tried.

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

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Clark's Recovery

Today has been spent watching Clark.

I watched Clark sleep. I watched Clark eat. I watched Clark take his meds. I watched Clark walk to the bathroom. I watched Clark take a shower. Wait. NO, I most certainly did NOT do THAT. I did, however, listen the entire time he was in the shower...just in case he fainted or something.

Clark slept in the recliner in the living room last night. I slept on the couch right beside the chair.

I'm using the term "slept" lightly. Verrrry lightly.

I've been the cook today...made a grilled cheese at the crack of dawn, and cut it into tiny pieces, so that he would have food on his stomach when he took his meds. I made a milk-shake and a smoothie. I warmed up chicken 'n' dumplin's.

I've been the nurse today...monitoring Clark's fluid intake and any bleeding from his surgery. I'm keeping up with giving him 3 different meds at 3 different times...and making sure he's comfortable.

I've watched more movies since yesterday than I have all year. Not even joking.

And, you know what? I am happy to do it.

And, really, besides watching the movies, everything else is stuff I pretty much do every day for the rotten little rat-finks who live in my house.

If you're a mom and you have older know that they don't really NEED you for anything. I mean, they DO...they just don't think that they do. At this stage, they like to think they are independent and self-sufficient, even tho they still like for you to do things like...THEIR LAUNDRY...and fix their meals and occasionally give them gas money and buy them clothes and treats. You're just supposed to do it like a Seal Team 6...quickly, quietly and never seen.

I love each of my children to the moon and back. Today has been a good day. So thankful for Clark's recovery.

"I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me." Psalm 3:5-6

Friday, December 20, 2013


Good thing wisdom comes from God because Clark done got his all tooken out.

(Clark got his wisdom teeth taken out today)

He was so nervous and worried about it. Bless his heart. I was kinda dreading it, too, not gonna lie. Where most people might have a question or two for the doctor, Clark had ten. He started reading up on side-effects, drug reactions, and things like "dry socket." I just knew that if anyone was going to have some kind of weird thing happen with would be him.

Jim and I have both had our wisdom teeth out, and so has Holly...with NO complications.

I know. We've been so blessed.

So Clark was really nervous, but ready. We all got to go back with him to a pre-waiting room area, but when it was time for his IV...they took him to surgery by himself. Hello, people. What are you thinking? He's just a baby!

Jim and I, Clark and Faith-the-girlfriend, joined hands to pray before he left. And I cried. And Clark walked out real fast.

I mean, the last time we handed him off to a nurse was 15 years ago. He had just been diagnosed with cancer, and they were doing surgery to remove the malignant tumor...and part of his liver. I know this is not the same as that at ALL...but I couldn't help but get a little emotional.

When they told us he was ready to go home, we drove around to the surgery pick-up at the back and a big, male nurse walked him out. Clark was as pale as a sheet. Before he even got to the car, he threw up at least twice. I felt so bad for him. They gave him a little, plastic basin thing for the ride home. When Clark asked for it, we couldn't really understand him because his mouth was all numb and full of when he said, "bowl," it sounded like he said, "boat." So now we call it his "boat."

Which, side note: he was so out-of-it that he didn't realize what the "boat" was for and at one point was acting like he was gonna use it for something else! Talk about AWK!

He did fine on the way home, and we got him out and walked him into the house. We were trying to get him all settled in the recliner when he leaned over the side like he was gonna throw up on the floor.


Doesn't everyone want to come to my house now?

Oh, dear. We gave him his boat to use instead. Bless his heart. Faith-the-girlfriend was wiping his mouth and Logan was just staring at Clark with big, wide eyes. Marley (Holly's halfadog) was so terrified over the situation, he ran and hid.

I didn't think he would be this pitiful or feel this bad, but I think he turned a corner at around 8:30 tonight. I woke him up to give him his meds, and he asked for the rest of the milkshake his sister brought him. And then he ate the chicken 'n' dumplin's that I made especially for him...and he drank lots of water. And then he changed out his own gauze.

That is huge...because earlier, it took Holly and I both coaching and helping him because he was so out-of-it.

I am thankful for my family. Joshua has been praying for Clark. Logan did laundry while the rest of us were at the surgery center. Holly took Joshua to get a hair-cut...and then when we came home with Clark, has taken good care of him. This is the same girl who was so squeamish and nearly fainted at the sight of blood, fluids, syringes or anything even remotely related to anything medical for the first 20 something years of her life...and here she was with her drooling and bleeding brother, telling me to go on out and she would clean up everything.


Just kidding. She's gonna be an awesome RN!

I am feeling so thankful and blessed tonight.

"But true wisdom and power are found in God..." Job 12:13

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever #2

It's heeeerrrrre! The day we've been looking forward to for weeks. It's the day of the big Christmas play!

I got up early this morning. Holly and I took Joshua to Little Rock to meet up with his group. We did a little shopping, and then met up with Jim and the rest of the family...and Jim's parents...for lunch before the program. Joshua's group was doing a "dress rehearsal" type of performance right after lunch. We invited Jim's parents to come to that. It's just better when they don't have to drive at night.

After the program, we all came home for a couple of hours to re-charge and rest...and then headed back down to Little Rock for the 2nd show. Where the friends were dressed casually for the early performance this afternoon, they were all gussied up in their Christmas best for the night show.

Both times, the friends did a GREAT job! There was quite a bit of nervousness with all of them before the evening performance. Joshua said that he had everyone hold hands while he led a prayer before they started...and he said it helped calm everyone down.

Not trying to brag or anything, but he is so sweet!

Joshua started off the program by reading the true Christmas story from Luke 2. He did a great job...he was loud enough and used some animation in his voice. I was very proud of him. Two of the friends then did some narrating of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Of course, they had to shorten it quite a bit. Joshua played Bob Crachit. Jenni played his wife. OH HOW CONVENIENT. How else could they get to hug in front of everyone. I mean, it would be totally expected and acceptable for them to show affection if they were playing actors who were married, right? That was their thought process, anyway!

And, side note: Jenni tried to write in a kissing scene for them, and just not tell anyone about it until the middle of the performance, but the leaders found out about it and said an emphatic, "NO!"

There was no talking in the play, other than the narrators. The friends acted out the story as it was being read.

I continue to be impressed with this group of friends...all different levels of physical and mental abilities...but they all worked together, using their strengths for a common goal. One minute, a friend would be telling another friend in no uncertain terms what he/she was supposed to be doing. The next minute, one friend would take the hand of another calm their nerves, or to lead them where they were supposed to go...or to steady a friend who just needed a little extra help for balance.

There were two narrators: one had periods where she was totally overwhelmed and someone else had to take over; the other one is in a wheelchair...the lower half of her body doesn't work. They both read very well. Two other friends recited "The Night Before Christmas" poem, and one friend read the story of the candy cane. There was enthusiastic singing and dancing. My man-child...he has moves that would make Elvis blush! I'm not even kidding. I don't know where he learned them, but he put on quite a show during the songs. They all did.

Breakin' it down to the "First Noel." Hahaha!

The Grinch showed up at the end of the program, and, like last year, stole the entire show! She was awesome! You just have to know this girl. She is typically one of the more quiet friends in this group...not usually involved in any of the drama...AND THERE IS ALWAYS SOME DRAMA. To see her get so into this performance was just hysterical. Not only was she very angry acting and dramatic as she stomped around on stage, and "stole" the presents and decorations...she also used this maniacal laugh. She would periodically throw her head back and go, "MWAHAHAHAHAHA." HI-LARRY-US. Just sayin'.

I didn't know if this year could possibly measure up to the Christmas program from last year, but it did! It was such a sweet and precious time. I am so thankful for people who can see past a person's physical or mental abilities...who can see inside their hearts and work to bring out their best. That's what the workers of this program do each and every day.

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

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ordinary Day

Spent today running around.

OH MY GOODNESS! I don't even know what all I did.

Laundry, made cookies, addressed more Christmas cards...stragglers.

Holly and I went to WM for a couple of things on Joshua's Christmas list, then went to Kroger for some groceries and to get prescriptions filled...and to the post office to get stamps for her Christmas cards. The prescriptions I was getting were for Clark, and they told me they would be ready in 40 minutes, if I wanted to shop until they were ready.


I had already shopped and it took me 20 minutes, not 40. Come ON, people. Even when I have a large list, I am like a Navy Seal going thru that store. I know where everything is. Do not get in my way.

Plus, I had ice-cream. I'm not waiting. Ain't nobody got time for that.

So, about an hour after we got home, I went back to pick up the meds. THEY WERE NOT READY. In fact, the little guy couldn't find them at first, and then said, "he's not in the system," talking about Clark. I said, "well, he may not be in the system, but I DID drop off the Rx over an hour ago."  After a few minutes, he came back and said that they found the prescriptions, and that they would be ready in 20 minutes. ARGH. So, I said I would wait.

And I waited.

And waited.

And, after 40 minutes, I got BACK in line and waited my turn and when I got to the window...I told the girl what I was waiting for and she goes, "oh, yes...they are ready."


So I finally got the meds and then went to get gas in Logan's car and then came home.

On the way home, the sky was so pretty. It was streaked with pink and blue. I made a conscious effort to look at it and take it in...the sky, the field, the trees. I don't want to rush through these days.

After Jim got in from work, we all went out to eat...Aaron is out-of-town and Holly is staying with us. FUN times!

I love ordinary days.

"May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience..." Colossians 1:11

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Christmas Memory

A couple of years ago, I was asked to write about a special Christmas memory, and this is one of the stories that came to my mind... 

I remember a Christmas in Virginia. I was 7 years old. My Dad was in the Air Force, and by the age of 7...I think I had already moved 5 times. When we got the news that my Dad would be going to Vietnam for a year, my parents had to make a decision to either stay where we were, or move somewhere closer to "family." Even though we hadn't been in our current location very long, my Mom said we had become involved in school and church activities. We were getting settled in, making friends. 

My parents met in high school in Charlottesville, Virginia. My Dad had gone to the University of Virginia. They had a lot of friends there, as well as most of my Mom's family. Everyone begged my Mom, "move homeso we can take care of you and the kids while Skip is gone." At the time, my parents had 3 young children. My Dad thought it would be good for my Mom to have a strong support system while he was gone, so after much thought and prayer, they packed us all up and we moved back "home." 

To Virginia. 

My parents found a little house to rent that was right across the street from the elementary school I would attend. And then my Dad left, and my Mom was home alone with 3 kids for a year. Of the family and friends who begged my Mom to move home...not one person ever came by. 



Oh, they called her or visited with her when they saw her at church or school activities, but that was it. 

My memory of Christmas that year was of my Mom taking us to get our Christmas tree. She somehow got the tree...and all 3 of us...home in one piece in the stay-wag. The tree was magnificent. And huge. That whole "go big or go home" was my Mom's motto way before it became well-known in the sports realm. In fact, the tree was so big that the trunk wouldn't fit into the tree stand no matter how hard my Mom tried. She was doing her best to whittle away at the trunk of the tree with a STEAK KNIFE FROM THE KITCHEN, while the 3 of us pulled decorations out of the boxes as fast as we could. I mean, you can just imagine the chaos. 

It was only after she put us to bed that I heard her crying. The weight of the family, the loneliness, the frustration...all became too much that night, and the tears began to fall. I didn't know what to do...but I stayed in bed like I was told and eventually fell asleep. I don't know how long she stayed up, but by morning that tree stood tall and proud, stuffed into the tree stand by forces only a Mom with a mission (and a steak knife!) could understand. It was the most beautiful tree I had ever seen! 

My Mom was always strong and determined when it came to getting things done. She was used to taking care of things because my Dad wasn't always able to be there, because of his job. I guess that's one reason why this memory has stayed with me all of these years. She just didn't let much get her down...and yet, as strong as she was, even she had those hard moments. 

I am thankful for my godly Mom. Even more, I am thankful for a God who sees us in our weakness, and is tender toward us in our times of need. I'm thankful for His help and provision when we are at the end of our ropes. 

What this particular Christmas taught me is that mere words aren't enough. How many times do we say, "I'll be praying for you." Or, "let me know if you need anything!" Most of us have really good intentions, but our lives just get busy. OUR lives get busy. We need to look around. There are many people, even in our churches, who just need some help. Prayer is good, but maybe what someone really needs is food. Or a gift card. Or new tires. Or help putting up a beautiful Christmas tree that won't fit in the tree stand. 

"And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith." Galatians 6:9-10

Monday, December 16, 2013

Like a Dog With a Bone

No one would ever accuse my husband of being a giver-upper.

He is persistent and diligent...about pretty much everything.

It can be a little annoying.


Just last Monday, he rolled our recycling bin to the curb before he went to work. For whatever reason, it was still there when he came home. FULL.

And it was there every day after that.

Everyone else in our neighborhood...for as far as you could see on either side of us...put their recycling cans back in their garages on Monday night, after it became apparent that the truck was not going to run. Not us. The cheese stands alone. We've had that thing sitting at the end of our driveway...dodging it with our vehicles...for 7 days.


Oh, I realize that, at about Day 3, it had gone from being a symbol of persistence and just plain, ol' PROVING A POINT.

And today, a full week later, they finally came back and picked up the recycling...and we put the recycling can back in the garage.

I love this quality about Jim. He doesn't mind doing the hard work, figuring things out, holding others accountable. It can be frustrating at times (for me), but he definitely balances me.

We have been fighting with our insurance company for over a year...over a roof we had to replace at our old house before we moved. We actually have two insurance companies fighting about it. We never went without coverage and our premiums were always paid, and paid on time. Both say there is hail damage but both say it's the other one's responsibility to reimburse us. We ended up paying for the entire thing, because the sale of our home was contingent on the new roof. We want our money back...I mean, that's why you have insurance in the first place, am I right?

Well, Jim has talked to people and followed all of the appropriate steps. They recommended that he file a complaint with the insurance commission in our state, and he did. He's done everything they've asked him to do. On Wednesday, he goes to a mediation hearing. It's the last step before legal action, and I'm telling you...Jim is not above hiring a lawyer if that's what it takes. We've never done anything like this before, but we're talking about a lot of money.

Jim is like a dog with a bone. I'm really proud of him. I would've given up a long time ago, because they have certainly made things difficult. I think that's what some big companies hope...that they will make everything so hard and ask you to jump through so many hoops...most people would get frustrated and give up and move on.

I hope our kids will develop this quality in their lives. It's hard, and I haven't been very good at it myself...except when it has involved them or their care. But in this life, there are many things we need to figure out and have to WORK AT to figure out...and there are some things that are worth fighting for.

I'm just glad the recycling can is back in the garage. I just knew one of us was going to back into it and knock everything out into the street. And on trash day, we had the recycling can on one side of the driveway, and the trash can on the other side. It was, like, thread the needle.

I wasn't good at that in bowling, either.

" not grown weary of doing good." 2 Thessalonians 3:13

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The One Where the Christmas Angel Goes Rogue

Today was the Christmas program at our church.

I don't really know what I expected. We have a great church and a wonderful music minister. You can tell the thought and prayer he puts into the music every Sunday because of how everything flows. And he uses different people in the praise team each week. I like that.

Jim and I have seen some awesome Christmas programs in our married years. I LOVE going to them. It's one of my most favorite things to do during the Christmas season. In fact, I told Jim this morning that if we went to our early service...and then went to hear another church's Christmas program during the 11 o'clock time-slot...I'd be down with that.

We have also participated in some amazing Christmas programs. Our church in Little Rock always had a huge production...choir, soloists, drama, live animals...and a living Christmas tree.


I sang in the choir and loved every minute of climbing up into that huge metal frame. Even Jim got involved in it...they asked him to be a centurion or something. He had to wear a little white "dress" and Jesus sandals. After I had Joshua, I didn't sing in the Living Christmas Tree anymore. Instead, I helped behind the scenes with hospitality...feeding the choir, cast and production members before/between the performances. I LOVED that, too.

The Christmas program there was an event...not gonna lie. It took a lot of time AND money. It lasted several days. I felt like it was God-honoring in every way. Eventually, they stopped doing it. I don't remember why. We had already moved away by that point.

We've been in several different churches since that time...none quite as large, tho. And we've seen lots of different musical programs.

Nothing really prepared me for today.

There was no "set." Just choir members dressed in red and black clothing of their own choosing. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I was just trying to figure out the "theme" of the musical. They started off singing a Christmas carol that we all know, and they invited us to sing along. During the 2nd song, I noticed people turning around to look toward the back of the sanctuary. Two teen-aged boys were walking down the aisle. They were angels. No, really. They were wearing white shirts and white jeans. They were also wearing white, feathery wings reminiscent of Victoria Secret ads. One boy was wearing a black belt with his white pants. He looked uncomfortable. The other boy was the opposite of uncomfortable. He was enthusiastically doing all the arm motions as the choir sang, and seemed to be embracing his role as an angel. Black-belt angel stood there stoically, arms crossed, almost daring anyone to, as the song the choir was singing said, "come and worship, come and worship...worship Christ the newborn King."

And I'm calling them "boys," but they are 17 and 18 years old. Young men. With white angel wings.

And, side note, either the black-belt angel's cell phone went off during part of the performance or he was being filled with the Light of the Holy Spirit...because there was a small, rectangle-ish area around his back pocket that was glowing.

Just sayin.

Not distracting at all.

After about the 3rd song, I realized they were telling the Christmas story using the Christmas carols or "hymns" that we all know and love. Along with the songs, we had drama...and sign-language (which I loved)...and a very moving personal testimony from a family in our church.

But the best part came at the end. I can't even remember now what song they were singing, but they ended up having alllll of the actors come up one-by-one or in their groups...and they also added a group of little kids who helped sing at the end of the song. So the angels, shepherds, Mary, Joseph and the plastic Baby Jesus, and the testimony family and the little kids...everyone else who had a part...all up on the stage. It was really crowded with people by the end of the song.

But anyway (that's not even the point of this whole thing)...when they were on about the 2nd verse of this song, one of the angels went rogue. He started dancing and clapping. I mean, ENTHUSIASTICALLY dancing and clapping. The only thing I can really think to compare it to was that scene in the first Sister Act when Whoopie Goldberg, as Sister Mary Clarence, directs the choir as they sing "Oh Maria." Like the last half of the song when she's got her arms waving and she does a spin.


The first clue that the rogue angel's act wasn't planned was the look on black-belt angel's face. It was priceless. Totally worth the price of admission.

Which...was NOTHING. But whatever.

It's like he saw the movement out of his peripheral vision...and then looked...and then Logan said that he must be the "fallen" angel. And we all got tickled. We were all sitting on the same row. You know, you kind of expect kids to act up in church programs. Little kids, not teenagers! Wait. What? I must be getting rusty, because I have 3 boys! I expect the unexpected at all times!

I think that sometimes we can miss the true meaning of Christmas in the "big-ness" of our productions. It doesn't have to be that way...but sometimes it is. What I appreciated about this morning was how so many different groups in our church were included in the program...choir, musicians, drama team, sign-language team, children. And I appreciated how simple it was...not a lot of bells and whistles...because that's really how it is, the simple message of Christ:

The the the the the barn.

The Son...on the cross...all alone...paid the price...for you and me.

The King...defeated the grave...rose again...forever victory.

"There is no power in hell, or any who can stand, before the power and the presence of the great I AM." (Phillips, Craig and Dean).

"...and He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Panties and Rat Poison

We've had a quiet Saturday. I have loved being at home with my family...having our college boy home. Such a great day with all 4 of our kids and our son-in-law. These are perfect days for me.

I had some things that I wanted to write about, but then I heard this...and all of my brains fell out on the floor.

My mother-in-law told me that she went to Wal-Mart and bought 4 things:

a new phone, panties, rat poison...and cookies.

Just let that sink in a minute.

I mean...I don't even know what to say...

"...and He will be the stability of your times..." Isaiah 33:6

Friday, December 13, 2013

Happy 25th Birthday, Holly

Today is our daughter's 25th birthday. It seems like such a big milestone, and it is.

But it seems like yesterday when she was born.

I remember being pregnant with her. After Joshua's birth surprised us all (the fact that he had Down Syndrome), my doctor monitored me carefully. I had requested not to have any prenatal testing beyond the simple blood tests. But I had several ultrasounds...measuring and looking. Down Syndrome is kind of hard to find on a typical, normal ultrasound.

Or, it was back 27 years ago.

But, at one of our appointments, we did find out we were having a GIRL! We could not believe it! I thought for sure I would have all boys. Jim's family has boys. His grandfather had two sons. Between them, they had 5 sons. NO GIRLS. In fact, the youngest girl in that family was over 80 years old. Eeek! As Joshua would say, "she was ODE."

We scheduled a C-section for December 16...two weeks before her due date of Christmas. It was a Friday. Actually, Jim said she could come anytime in December. Anytime but the 13th. He had big, big meetings that day with the big, big bosses of his company. Any other day would be fine.

When I started having contractions, I thought it was false labor. When I got to the hospital in full-blown labor in the middle of the night, I had to laugh. And when she was born early that morning, I could almost hear GOD laugh. It was December 13.

And Jim did have meetings all day, but was in and out at the hospital. My friend, Sherri stayed in the room with me all day. She was such a sweetheart to do that...and she got to hold Holly before anyone else in our family, or any of our other friends. And she got to hold her most of the day. Good practice for her, because 6 months later, she welcomed her own baby girl.

Wow, how the time has flown. I love that God gave us a girl. Especially now that she's married and has a life of her own, I am loving that Jim and I can be a part of it. It's something I didn't really have with my own Mom, because she lived in another state. And now that she's in Heaven...well, there's just a lot I missed, and there's a lot I miss.

So, I was trying to think of the perfect gift. 25 years is pretty special. I thought of jewelry...I mean, can't go wrong there, am I right? But then I figured out the perfect thing for her. She wanted a Kitchen-Aid Mixer when she got married 2 years ago, but she didn't get one. I knew it would be something she would LOVE...and I thought that it would be something she would always remember she got on her 25th birthday.

I couldn't decide on a color. I went back and forth. I thought I would get red. She loves red. They were out of red. At Christmastime. Whaaaaat?

They had a turquoise-y blue color. I knew she would like that. And the yellow...well, it's about her favorite color. But Morgan got a yellow one, so Holly might want to get a different color. The coral color...I know she likes that. Her watchband is coral...and her stethoscope is coral. Someone at her nursing school asked her if she planned to match her watchband and stethoscope. She said, "'s just coincidence."

In the end, I bought her one in a color called "icy glaze." It's a light mint-ish blue-ish green-ish. I knew she'd love it. I just don't know if you want to get a "fun" color, or if you want to get a mixer that is the color of everything in your kitchen. If I had done that, my mixer would've been an earth-tone color, because that was what everyone did back in my day. Now? YUCK.

The young guy that was helping me was so nice. He was really friendly and accommodating. He even checked for a red one "in the back" with the new freight, but couldn't find one. He told me that Holly could exchange her mixer for a different color if she wanted to.

As I was paying, he asked me if I had a mixer like that. I said that I did not...that I had been married 33 years and had made it just fine with a hand-mixer (or three). He asked if this new mixer was a Christmas gift for someone. I told him it was my daughter's birthday, and that I wanted to get her something she would remember getting when she turned 25. He looked up at me and very quietly said, "wow. She must really be special. No one has ever spent this much money on me in my entire life."

Not gonna lie...I had to fight back the tears. I was so thankful for my daughter, and even though I was thrilled to buy this gift for her, it in no way measured my love for her. I loved her the same amount before and after I bought her the present.

And this young man who helped me...I prayed that he felt loved and valued in his life, no matter what (if any) gifts had been given to him.

"So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him." Luke 11:13

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Heavy Heart

Is it just me, or does it seem like there's a LOT of sadness going on right now?

What is up with that? It's Christmas...the time of happiness and light and fun, right?

Maybe it's just my age.

I told Jim the other day that I realize where they coined the term "middle aged." I said it was because even though people aren't quite done raising their kids, they start having issues with or caring for their parents at the same time. They're in the middle. 

To which Jim, ever the ray of sunshine, said, "I hate to tell you, but we passed middle age a lonnnng time ago...unless you think we're gonna live til we're 100."

He needs to shutty.

But I'm not even kidding. Every morning when I wake up, I pick up my phone to check the time. And every morning, there is message after message from people with prayer requests and needs. I can feel my heart drop before I even start reading them. Most of them are from people I know in my real life. But now that I've started blogging, there is this whole other world out there with people I've never met. People who share their hearts with complete strangers. 

There are a lot of problems with social's over-use and potential abuse...but to me, it is like one big prayer chain.

Or, it can be.

Fifteen years ago, when Clark was sick with his cancer, social media was not as big as it is now. Email was the big thing. I remember friends telling me that they sent our prayer request for Clark out in an email to their family and friends...and some of them passed it on...and some of THEM passed it on. And, as Joshua would say, "and so on and so FOR."

"They" say there is 6 degrees of separation between any given person and any other given person. My husband likes to say that, in Arkansas, it's about 2 degrees. I remember people telling me that Clark was on the prayer list at their parent's church...or their cousin's church...or at their best friend's sister's baby-sitter's mother's Bible Study.

I love that!

Friends would tell me that people in Europe...or Japan...were praying for Clark. SO cool! The elderly man who lived across our street said he couldn't remember Clark's name, but when he prayed, he asked God to heal and protect "the little blond-haired boy from across the street...GOD knows," he would tell me. And one man stopped my father-in-law at the gas station and told him he was praying for his grandson. 

But now I am able to get prayer requests from people I don't even know. That's part of what I love about the body of Christ. We don't have to know someone or their situation personally in order to pray for them. And so many have prayed for our's a blessing and a privilege to pray for others.

So, my best friend's mom has just been diagnosed with colon cancer...she's in the hospital. Another friend's mom had a stroke this week. Another friend's mom fell and is having surgery right now. Several friends have asked for prayer for their children. And the list goes on and on.

Tonight, my heart is heavy for this sweet lady. I don't know her, but found her blog about a year ago via a prayer request. Would you pray for her and her family?

When things seem out-of-control, I know the One who is the Source of peace.

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

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Turning Fat Into Muscle

Today, I spent the day in Little Rock after I dropped Joshua off with his group.

He doesn't normally go on Wednesdays, but his group is preparing for their 2nd annual Very, Merry Christmas program...and they are practicing every day. Joshua is playing "Bob Cratchit."

Except that he calls him Bob CRACK-IT.

And, Jenni is playing his wife.


She has written in a kissing scene for them. Of course.

The Directors said, "NO."

I would not be one bit surprised if they don't at least attempt a smooch during the play. Their characters are married, after all.

And their son, "Tiny Tim?" That part is being played by one of the female friends who would make two of Joshua. Joshua watched the movie where Tiny Tim rides around on his Dad's (Bob Cratchit) shoulders. Joshua said, "uhh...NOT gonna happen."

I just can't tell you how much I am looking forward to this program. Last year's was...well, exceptional. And I'm not making was seriously hilarious.

But I don't think they meant it to be hilarious.

You just have to know the friends. That's what made it so funny. The Director, Mrs. Sherrie, let the friends write it themselves, so while it was supposed to be along the lines of "The Gift of the Magi," Joshua started off the program by reading the true Christmas story from Luke 2, and it was really sweet. But then somewhere in the middle of one of the scenes in "The Gift of the Magi," the Grinch stomped on stage and took all the presents and everything else that was on the stage.

I have never laughed so hard in my life.

So, you can imagine how excited I am. I seriously cannot wait.

They are all working very hard to do their very best.

I spent the day with Holly. We went to a pre-birthday lunch and then did some shopping. Her birthday is this week, and they are going to be out-of-town. I wanted to take advantage of this day to hang out with her.

Tonight, Jim grilled steaks and Holly and Aaron came over and ate with us. We had baked potatoes...I made a sweet potato for Jim...steamed broccoli, spinach salad and rolls. Everything was really good. I did not make a dessert. I figure we will do a cake or something this weekend.

Joshua was eating his food and said, "mmm...I love the fat on this steak. I'm gonna turn it into muscle."

First of all, there was no fat on the steaks. They were little filets with bacon around them that I bought at our grocery. Sheesh.

Secondly...turn it into muscle? I'm sure he would've flexed his muscles at the table, but he would've had to put down his fork.  He was CHOWING DOWN on his steak.

I love my funny little man.

"And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." Colossians 3:17

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The One Where Joshua Drove My Car...

We talk about it to this day...that time Joshua drove my car.

We were living in a small Arkansas town. Joshua was about 3...and Holly was a baby.

On my way to church one Wednesday night, I had stopped "real quick" to return a movie at the movie rental place.

I thought I was a really responsible mother. I never left my children unattended. I kept them buckled up, strapped in...held their hands when they crossed the street. I kept the medicines put up in a high cabinet, and I had protective devices on all of the cabinet and drawers. I was diligent...watchful.

I was in a hurry that day...but even at that, I knew not to ever leave children in the car. And isn't it like us to think that we know better than what everyone says...because it won't happen to us, right? I was just going to jump out "real quick" and run in...and put the movie in the little slot. I mean, by the time I got the kids unbuckled, I could be it was really going to be a waste of time to get them out, haul them in with me.

Because I was just so fast.

And smarter than the a-ver-age bear.


The next thing I know, the movie man said, "uhhhh" and pointed out the window.

In the short time it had taken me to jump out and run into the movie store, Joshua had somehow slithered out of his car-seat and had gotten in my seat. At the time, I drove an ISUZU Trooper that was standard shift. Joshua had accidentally (or on purpose...who even knows?) knocked the gear into neutral. Since I had parked on an incline, the truck was rolling backwards. Joshua was standing up in the drivers seat, both hands clasped tightly on the steering wheel...BIG, HUGE GRIN on his face. Holly was strapped in her car-seat in the back-seat. She was sucking on her pacifier, staring at me. I could see her clearly because she was in the middle of the back-seat.

I guess I should've known. Joshua was a little wild man, a Houdini. I needed extra eyes, hands and feet to keep up with him! I got pretty good at reading him...assessing the situation when we were out...predicting and preventing some of his behavior. But it took time to hone that skill, and I'm only one woman. I can't do it all...and this was when Joshua was really young. I got lost in those almond-shaped eyes and all common sense and reason just fell out of my head.

I was able to run out and stop the vehicle. I'm sure everyone in the movie store got a good laugh out of it. I learned my lesson and never, ever, EVER left my kids in the car again, even for even the quickest of errands.

"Let everything that has breath praise the LORD..." Psalm 150:6

Monday, December 9, 2013

Ice Storm Day 4-School Starts Back Tomorrow

Day 4 hasn't been too bad.

School was out again, but Jim had to go in and work this morning. I decided last night that today was gonna be Paint My Bedroom Day.

It was already half-way painted...BLUE. Which was supposed to be green...which is the color I wanted, and the color it showed on the little sample card. But it was definitely BLUE after I got it on the walls. So, I left it that way...half blue, half the gold-y color that was on there to begin with. I just wasn't motivated to finish the job when I wasn't thrilled with the color.

It's been that way for a couple of months.

I finally went back to the paint store a couple of weeks ago and talked to one of the technicians there and explained what I wanted. I took home 2 samples, and painted swatches of each color on several walls. I still wasn't feeling too confident, since the LAST green color I chose turned out to be blue...but I finally bit the bullet last week and ordered 2 gallons of one of the green colors. I just knew Jim wasn't happy with the blue...he loves green...and I figured, hey, it couldn't be worse.

I guess you can tell I move pretty slow on home-improvement jobs around here, but this morning, I dragged everything out and got started.

And guess what?

I love it.

It's just what I wanted, and with another full coat, it will be perfect!


Annnnnnnd...I'm now half-way done. Again. Maybe I can finish most of the first coat tomorrow while Joshua is with his group. I'm excited to get it done now!

Clark had an appointment this afternoon with the doctor who will be taking out his wisdom teeth over the Christmas break. I was kind of nervous about driving in by myself because of the road conditions, but Jim surprised me by saying he was going to take a half-day of vacation, and we could all go...and then go out to dinner after the appointment! Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

And this whole wisdom tooth could be bad...REAL bad. I don't know. I had mine out with NO problems. Holly had hers the same oral surgeon...NO problems. But Clark? I can just tell how he's gonna be...and I hope I'm wrong. He was taking everything all the side-effects, all the bad things that could happen: dry socket, infection, allergic reactions...DEATH. I'm pretty sure he will have several unusual things happen to him and several others that he will imagine in his head.

Oh, I hope I'm wrong.

So, the doctor is giving us all the instructions and he says, "okay, Clark. You will need someone to bring you to this appointment, and someone to drive you home...and someone who can stay with you, and watch you, and take care of you intentionally...making sure you eat and drink and take your meds on a regular basis, and closely monitor your recovery for 2 or 3 days after your surgery."

And then he looked at me.

And I said, "so, basically, my days won't change..."

"...God gives His people peace." Psalm 29:11

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ice Storm Day 3...I Be Freeze

When Joshua was little and he was cold, he would say, "I be freeze." Isn't that the cutest thing ever? So, of course, that is what we started saying and still say even now when we are cold..."I be freeze."

I'm not really cold. We have power and it's toasty warm in our home. I was outside shoveling a path from our garage to one of the vehicles...and I guess I got cold down to my bones. Can't get warm now.

We've had a good day. We did not go to church, altho they had one service this morning. We have basically been holed up here all day. And just got word that schools are closed again tomorrow. I think that's the right call, but I sure don't like making up the snow days later.

One of my children, who shall remain nameless, but his name rhymes with "Park," may or may not be being a crab because he doesn't like being "stuck in the house." Never mind the fact that he has been at his girlfriend's house most of the day...which I made the mistake of telling him after he made his "stuck in the house" remark. He looked at me and said, "I mean, have you ever heard of cabin fever?"

Angels hold me back.

Because what I wanted to say was, "have you ever heard of childbirth? Or being "stuck" for days on end in a hospital room with a child when you don't know if they will live or die? Yeah. Or four children under the age of 10 at the grocery store...or, better yet, "stuck" in a car for 16 hours so we can take y'all to flippin' Disney World?"

You wanna talk "cabin fever?"


But I took a deep breath and said, "yes, I've heard of it."

I don't usually get cabin fever. I don't know if God just made me that way, or if I've learned because of my circumstances (with Joshua) that I can't always get out and go and do like other people...but I'm pretty content at home if we have power. And food.

I guess it's like I said the other day...that someone's best snow day ever is someone else's hardest work day ever.

And someone's cozy day at home is someone else's "cabin fever."

"If we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content." 1 Timothy 6:8

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ice Storm Morning

I heard him leave.

Truthfully, I hear him leave every morning, even if I'm not up.

He gets up at 5 to run, or he gets up at 6 for work.

He is loud, even tho he doesn't mean to be.

I can tell exactly what he's doing. I hear him in the pantry getting cereal. I hear him get out a bowl and spoon. I hear him rattle his bottles of vitamins and fish oil and whatever else it is that he takes. He drinks Metamucil mixed with a small amount of orange juice. His doctor says it's good for him. It's thick and I hear him say, "UGH" every morning as he swallows it, and then clanks his glass down on the ceramic counter-top. I hear him go out front and get the newspaper. I hear him turn on the tv. I hear him go into the garage to get dog food. If the cat is in there, she runs into the house. I hear him say, "Kitty...get back here."

She does it every it's not like it's a shocker.

But these last two mornings...they are ice-storm mornings. They are different. We get to sleep in because everything in town is, school, church. Roads are closed. Shops are closed. If you have power, and we do, it's a nice and cozy day at home.

My husband...he got up early and left early the past two mornings. I usually walk him out. He will say, "don't get up." I get up anyway. Usually. This morning, I did not. I kinda heard him moving around, but I didn't fully wake up when he left. He called me later on. He said he couldn't get out of our neighborhood the usual way. He tried twice and kept sliding. He finally turned around and went the back way to the main road.

I made blueberry muffins this morning. I promised Joshua last night that I would. I said, "if we still have power in the morning, I will make blueberry muffins for breakfast." I heard Joshua come downstairs pretty early. The boy does NOT sleep late. I imagined him looking around and sniffing. Seeing no muffins and no MOM...he went back upstairs. Croc...croc...croc. I smiled as I got up out of bed.

The other day, Jim asked me if we had a certain item in our pantry. I can't remember now what it was. I told him I didn't know. One of the kids said, "why are you asking Mom?" Jim said, "well, because she runs our home." And the kids fell out laughing...because they all know Dad is DAD. But, I know what he means. I try to keep things going around here, so that Jim doesn't have to worry about us while he's at work. Especially on an ice-storm day.

I'm no housekeeper, not by a long-shot, but I like for it to be homey in here...for it to feel cozy and smell good, like something is baking. I've always wanted our home to be a safe and welcoming place. That when our kids come home from a rough day at school or work or practice, or Jim comes in from work...they can shut the door and walk inside and feel those burdens lift from their shoulders. Even if for a little while.

When Jim came in last night, the house was clean. It's decorated for Christmas with trees and lots of little twinkling lights. He hadn't had dinner, and I sat at the table with him as he ate. It's stressful days during ice-storms. The longer people go without power, the more irate they get...the more dangerous it gets for utility workers. Last year, they had security at his office because there had been threats. It's not the first time. Restoration is never fast enough for anyone, and people are cold and hungry.

But this night? There was home. And chili, and crackers that had been warmed in the oven...and chocolate pie. He got a call from a guy at work. That guy always has a story to tell. You never know what he is going to say. Tonight it was something funny, and, as tired as Jim was, and as frustrating as his day had been, he threw back his head and laughed and laughed, just listening to his friend.

I am so thankful for a godly, hard-working husband. He not only does his best for our family, he does his best for others.


"...He who watches over you will not slumber." Psalm 121:3

Friday, December 6, 2013

The First Day of the First Big Ice Storm

Well, it's the first day of the Big Ice Storm of 2013, and do you know how many crafts I've done?


We are all home. Well, Jim is at work, of course, but Joshua is here and Clark is out of school today. Holly and Aaron are at their house. Logan and Morgan are at their college, even tho it closed today because of the weather.

And Logan was supposed to have two FINALS today. Urgh. The finals have been rescheduled for next instead of coming home this weekend, he won't be able to come home until some time late next week. Which, I mean, they couldn't really GET home anyway, what with the weather and the roads. Thankfully, they are safe. Logan lives in a house with another guy...Morgan lives in the dorm. I sure hope they don't lose power.

We didn't get snow here...we got sleet. The schools are canceled today, but it's not like we got this awesome snow to play in. Still, some of the kids in our neighborhood were out on a sled in the street. Which, oh to be young again...I about brained myself just walking out to get the mail.

What I have done...folded LAUNDRY. Everything was already clean...sheets and towels and clothes. I always get all that stuff done before a storm. But I've been running around this week and haven't had time to fold all of it. It's all piled up on Logan's empty bed. I've about got it all done!

Let's see, what else. Oh, I talked to my Dad. He and Clara live in the Tulsa area. They have power and are doing okay. My Dad is not a fan of cold weather. He is so funny. When he answered the phone, he said, "hey...wanna go to the mall?" And then he laughed and laughed. He thought that was so funny.

What else? Oh yeah...I've cleaned bathrooms, put up a few more Christmas decorations, made 2 meals and a chocolate pie.

I've made several trips up to the attic, and I am convinced that we have a critter living up there. Didn't see anything or any signs of's just that in two separate areas, things that used to be piled up, as recently as last week...boxes, etc...were knocked down.

I know.

Have we had a small earthquake or something around here? I didn't feel it, but I would feel BETTER if we had. Because thinking an earthquake knocked down some boxes is a lot better than thinking anything else knocked them down.

Just sayin.

Our house feels so cozy today, but we miss Jim being here. As great as we have it right now...we still have power...I am mindful that someone's best snow day is someone else's hardest work day. Police, firefighters, medical personnel, utility workers...we expect them to be there when we need them no matter what. As a matter of fact, my best friend, Stacy...her mom had an unplanned but necessary surgery this morning. I am very thankful for the surgeons and medical staff who came in to work spite of the weather.

I know there are families missing their daddies and mommies, grandfathers and grandmothers, today because they are out working.

Bless them all.

"For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, and His faithfulness to all generations." Psalm 100:5

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Milk and Bread and Crafts

Well, the temps are dropping and the rain is falling...just waiting on the freezing part to start.

Sure wish Jim was home safe and sound. He is in LR with a bunch of the other managers from his work, getting things ready and staged...and doing a lot of answering questions and waiting. You can be as prepared as possible, but you can't prevent weather...and you can't fix what it messes up until after it happens. People are gonna lose's already happening in some parts of our state.

I wish he was here, but he works for the largest electric utility company in our state. He packed a bag, just in case he isn't able to come home.

I spent part of the day in LR with Holly. We dropped Joshua off with his group for a few hours. It's the last day of their fitness class of this year, and he didn't want to miss it. PLUS, his group was going to Panera Bread for lunch, and, not gonna lie...there hasn't been a storm, disaster or weather warning yet that will make any of the friends want to miss an outing to a restaurant.

Just sayin'.

Holly had a hair appointment, so I went with her. She got a bunch of hair cut off...5-6 inches, probably. And her hair is STILL longer than mine.

The girl has some hair. Her new style looks so cute!

I was fit-to-be-tied about the weather, like, the whole time we were there. Can't help it. I didn't really think it was the smartest idea ever to go into LR on a day when freezing rain had been predicted anyway...I just didn't want Holly to go by herself. I spent nearly the whole time at the salon checking the radar. Holly said I was about out of control...that I may or may not have been a little rude...and loud. She said I was loud.


She basically said I get all out-of-sorts like the people in the Snickers commercials who are "just not themselves" until they have a Snicker bar...and she gave everyone an "Exhibit A" example from yesterday when the crowds and shopping at Target were about to PUSH ME OVER THE EDGE. She left me in the line to pay and she walked over to the Starbuck's that's in the Target store to get coffee and a treat...and then basically fed me pieces of lemon pound cake while I drove home. She said I was back to my happy self in 10 minutes.

She's probably going to have to start keeping cookies and crackers in her purse for when I get this way, and feed them to me at the proper keep me on my best behavior. Like I used to do for her and her brothers when they were younger.


ANYWAY, I was getting super antsy and the hair-dresser lady could not get done fast enough for me. I could feel my head starting to pound, so I choked down two Motrin with just the saliva in my mouth, SO AS NOT TO MAKE A SCENE OR ANYTHING.

God forbid.

But the bad thing about taking pills without a drink is that they sometimes get stuck in your throat...or neck...or wherever. I don't know if they were, or if I imagined it...but it was not a good feeling and I kept thinking that if I could just swallow a bunch of times, that feeling would go away.

Thankfully, the people at the salon gave me a drink and we got out of there as quickly as possible.

Holly offered to drive home...which I appreciated because she is a good driver...but just the thought of being a passenger in my own car on potentially wet or icy roads would be enough to turn me into one of those Garfield car window things with the suction cups on the paws. I would be stuck on the window and trying to get out!  I said the only way I was letting her drive was 1) if I was dead, or 2) if I was dying, or 3) completely knocked out.

At which point she offered to run by the pharmacy to see if she could get a one-time dose of something really strong that would konk me out in the backseat.

I'm a joy, I know.

But we made it to Panera Bread and picked up Joshua. Holly got a to-go order of soup and half of a sandwich and we took off. I gobbled down half of her half-a-sandwich and immediately felt better. And, 35 minutes later, we pulled into our town, and the freezing rain hadn't started yet (thankfully). I was feeling MUCH better, so we did what other normal people would do in a similar situation: we went to Hobby Lobby.

Because, the crafts.

They were calling me.

And you know what you need when you are stuck at home in an ice-storm besides milk and bread, milk and bread, milk and bread? Crafts.

Altho, I don't know how it's gonna feel doing crafts in the dark...but maybe it won't come to that.

"He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth,' and to the rain shower, 'Be a mighty downpour.'" Job 37:6

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Winter Weather

We are supposed to get some winter weather here tomorrow and Friday...and then have the coldest temps we've had in YEARS at the early part of next week.


And you can just feel it in the air.

Not the cold...the anticipation of the cold.

Because it's been warm here all week. But people are hurrying the grocery, at the gas station...everywhere.

I've got groceries...most of them. I think there's a couple of things I could run by and get...just to have. I mean, I pretty much have a menu of things I can make for the next several days...chili, soup, chicken and dumplins...and no one wants to buy too much. If you lose power and it's days before it's fixed, you could lose a lot of that food. Because as cold as it could be in your house, it's probably not gonna be cold enough to keep meat completely frozen...or milk completely cold...or ice-cream from melting.

And, it's when we have weather like this that I like to tell people my #1 tip for if/when the power goes out...well, the first thing I do BEFORE the power goes out...BEFORE the bad to get all the laundry caught up. I'm talking TOWELS AND SHEETS...because you never know who might be at your house. You might have family or friends who need a warm place to stay, and you for sure want to have clean sheets and towels, am I right?

Prepare your home for company.

But, the most important tip I have for if/when the power goes out is...EAT THE ICE CREAM FIRST!

"...The LORD Himself watches over you!" Psalm 121:5

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What We Need

You family is perfect. Not even the best ones.

Not even yours.

Not even mine.

If you get to know people long enough...and are able to talk to them about their families, it will explain a LOT about why they are the way they are.

I've written about my family...about how my parents were raised, and how they raised us. I feel like I am far removed from both ways. I'm not nearly as reserved as my Dad's side...but I'm also not as open as my Mom's side. And Jim's mom and dad were raised differently as well, but family is important to all of us.

We don't get to pick our families. We know that. And sometimes in some families things are hard...even unbearable. It makes my heart hurt to hear of these situations.

But, more often than not, we are raised fairly normally, whatever that is. Yet even our "normal" families can have their share of problems.

I think you really see it after you have kids of your own. You think about how you were raised and how you want things to be different. Or that you want things to be the same. And you hear about your friends' parents taking their entire families to Disney World or on a ski trip...and how their holidays are right out of a Hallmark commercial, complete with hot chocolate and football in the backyard and everyone smiling at dinner...and MAN, you wish YOUR family did things like that.

Or maybe your friends have parents who keep their kids on a regular basis. Or occasionally so you can have a date night, or go on a weekend trip. And yours don't...or won't...or can't...or they live too far away.

I think it's easy to look at other families and wish you had the relationships they have.

The relationships you THINK they have.

The ones they portray to the world.

But, you know, some people are selfish....they were that way as kids, they were that way as parents...don't expect things to be different when they have grandchildren. Maybe they don't think they are being selfish at all. Maybe they may feel like they've worked hard and now is their "me" time. They love their family in their own way, and will fit you in when they can...and they are fine with that. They would be hurt if they knew how you really felt. Maybe it's the way their family does things. Maybe it's the only way they know.


They can be a real buzz killer.

But I think that people can only do what they can do...what they WANT to do. And fretting and stewing over it and wishing things were only going to hurt YOU. You can't make people be a certain way, any more than they could change YOU if they wanted to. It's just not going to happen.

Now, YOU can change YOU...with God's help. But even that won't change your past...I wish I had been a better daughter, sister and friend...but it can change your future. HE can change your future.

There may always be things that bug you about your family, or certain family members...or maybe you are one of those where everything is perfect! Or maybe you are one of those where family equals all manner of horror. I don't think you owe anyone "family time" in those types of situations. Our number one priority as parents is to protect our children from harm, in as much as it depends on us...and so if there is a history of any type of abuse, I say, "run Forrest run."

We were talking with friends recently...Godly and God-fearing and God-honoring friends...and their family is so messed up! How in the world those two came out of that mess I will never know.

Oh, wait...GRACE. God's grace.


That's how we all come out of the mess that is our lives...

These friends are frustrated with the level of support they get from their parents...especially when it comes to them as grandparents. I just suggested that they are going to have to accept that it is what it is. No more, no less. And for the most part, they have. They have (wisely) made a genuine effort to find friends of different ages to be their "family." They have several couples who are older...who can be sources of wisdom and encouragement in their lives when they aren't getting that from their own families.

My best friend, Stacy, gave me a sign that I have in my kitchen. It says, "friends are the family we choose for ourselves." I have a good family that I love, but they all live far our friends have stepped in and stood in the gap for us many, many family.

In those times, it's just what we need.

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

Monday, December 2, 2013

3rd Round Play-Off Game

So Friday was the big day. The day we had waited for all season. Clark's football team had made it to the 3rd round of play-offs and we were headed up to NWA (northwest Arkansas) for the game.

Jim had to work a few hours that morning, but Clark had to be at the field-house by 9:30 for the team breakfast...and a movie...and all the gettin' ready stuff that boys and teams do before a big game. They were going to leave at 12:30, but the families were invited to come up at 12:15 and line the streets around the Jim and I headed up there. I was thankful to see so many come out and support our boys.

The boys got a police escort as the buses left the school...and a firetruck was there as well, lights on and sirens screaming. It was pretty cool.

Jim, Joshua and I left town around 3. We picked up Clark's friend, Faith, on the way up the road a bit. We stopped to eat before we got to the game. At the restaurant, there was a little, old couple. They had already caught my attention because of how they were dressed. Not was just pretty pitiful. Actually, the woman looked okay. The man? Not so much.

I watched them for a while and breathed a little prayer for them...mindful of my many blessings and of that old saying, "there but for the grace of God go I." Or something like that. I was trying hard not to make up a story about them in my head like Jim's mother does, but I couldn't help but wonder what...why? As they finished their meal, the woman sneezed several times as they cleared their trash off the table. She walked to the bathroom and the man waited for her at the table.

She came out just about the time we were finishing up our meal...she walked over to the man and announced, "well, I just threw all that up."


Not gonna lie...I felt my throat tighten, and I had to fight the urge to hack my food up as well.


Jim, who was oblivious to all of this said, "hey, do you need to use the restroom before we go?"

Eeeek! I told him real quick that there was no way I was going in there. I mean, I would rather "go" on the road beside the car than to set one foot into that bathroom.

Well, that should've been a sign that the rest of the night would not go well.

Just kidding.

Really, our team played HARD. Our opponents were used to rolling over pretty much every other team. We were predicted to lose by 18. We lost by a touchdown in the last quarter. We beat ourselves, but we also made them work for the win.

It was such a great season. So thankful Clark had the opportunity to play this year.

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father." Colossians 3:17

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Small Feet Wearing Crocs...

I hear him come down the stairs.

It's the same every day.

Step, pause...step, pause...

The sound of little feet wearing Crocs.

He is careful coming downstairs. His balance and his vision are not good. He knows that.

I've been up a while. I've seen Jim off to work and Clark off to school. On the days Joshua and I don't have to go into LR, I will come back to my my bed...and post up with a cup of coffee, my Bible and my lap-top.

A little quiet time.

I hear him in the kitchen. He's trying hard to be quiet. Honestly, if I was asleep...he would not have woken me up.

But I can hear him walk. Croc...croc...croc.

On Saturdays, when we make a big family breakfast, he will "croc" down the stairs half-way...just til he can bend his head down and peer into the living room/kitchen area. He just wants to survey the situation. If he sees me cooking, he goes back up. No sense coming all the way down. He'll just check again later.

But this morning, I hear him put his pop-tarts in the toaster. I struggle with whether to go in there with him or not. Most of the time, I do...sometimes, in the mornings...because I know his routine, I just let him be.

I can hear him get his juice. He loves him some orange juice. I can hear him quietly pull the chair away from the table. I can picture him now. It's the same every day.

I've already been up, so the blinds are open. He will sit at the table...he will not turn on the light. He thinks everyone should "learn to enjoy the sunlight." He looks out the window while he eats...and he checks his phone for messages and updates.

When he's done, I hear him lift the lid on the trashcan. He rinses out his cup and puts it on the counter. He will use the same cup all day. He thinks it's wasteful to do otherwise.

I hear him on the carpet runner that's in the hallway. I know he's coming to check on me. The door is barely cracked. I can hear him breathing. His hand is on the door...opening it ever so slightly. And then I see his head. He peers in and smiles..."you up?"

His hair is disheveled. His almond-shaped eyes are crinkled up with his smile.

He asks me how I slept. He always asks me how I slept. Sometimes he comes in and gives me a hug. Sometimes he eases out the same way he came in.

After a few minutes, I hear him go up the stairs. Stomp, stomp, stomp.

It's easier for him to go upstairs.

Later, when I come into the living room...all of the "couch blankets" are folded neatly and piled on the couch. There are at least 3 of them...sometimes more. He stacks them up on the couch. He always folds them. I don't ask him to...he just does.

No one else ever does.

I love this sweet, funny, sincere, caring, sensitive man-child. So thankful for him.

" beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news." Romans 10:15