Thursday, February 27, 2014

Human Trafficking Day

Today is February 27...and there are 27 million people who are enslaved in our world today.

27 million.

Most are between the ages of 18-24 years old. This hits me like a ton of bricks, because of my 4 children, do you know how many of them fall in that age bracket? TWO.


Many are women...CHILDREN, even. The weak. The defenseless.

The innocent.

I hate it.

So, today the #enditmovement asked for people to raise awareness to end slavery by drawing a red X on their hands, taking a picture of it, and putting it on social media. And the hope is that it will spark conversations and maybe open some eyes to what many in our world are facing.

I read this quote and thought it was so good: "Nothing happens just because we are AWARE of modern-day slavery, but nothing will EVER happen until we are."

Because someone said that drawing a red X on your hand is not going to stop slavery...and they are right. But, if it sparks a conversation...or lights a fire...or inspires someone to DO or GIVE or GO...then that could potentially save lives.

Even if it saved ONE life.

Three people asked about my red X today.

So, Joshua saw my hand and saw pictures on Facebook, and on the way to his Therapeutic Recreation this morning, he asked me questions about it. And, not gonna lie, it was hard to find the words.

I tried to explain it in the most generic way possible, but how do you gloss over the ugly and ever make it okay to anyone, much less the innocents who should never, ever hear or know about these things?

Really, none of us should.

He looked at me and said, "before Christ, we were all in bondage, but Jesus died to set us all free."

And that, my friends, is from my little Downsy man.

And then I heard him tick-tick-tick-ing on his phone, and I'm gonna share the Facebook status he wrote...just the way he wrote it...because sometimes it really is this simple:

"I think that no one deserves to be a hostage or in bondage. The Lord has set us free by his blood he poured out on that cross on that Good Friday because he has brought us out of that bondage. I think we ought to disband it not just in our nation but in the other surrounding nations. The Lord will not allow this. It should not be allowed anywhere."

Shine a light on slavery.

In it to end it.

"If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed." John 8:36

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Joshua and The Rapture

My husband is a health nut. Me? Notsomuch.

I mean, I want to be healthy...exercise, eat nutritious foods, lower my stress. I have lived through losing my Mom to a heart-attack. I know the importance of a healthy lifestyle in reducing the risk of heart disease.

Then, explain my Dad. Please.

Eats healthy, exercises at least 3 times a week, low blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol.

He had a heart attack, and even his physician could not find a "risk group" to put him in.

One of my friends says that "life's a crap-shoot." That you can eat what you want and exercise...or not...none of it really matters.

Now, I don't believe that exactly. I do believe that God has ordained the number of our days on this Earth.

But, maybe we are predisposed to some things...or maybe there's really nothing we can do to prevent some diseases. Maybe the goal is to prolong the time until we get them? Maybe the goal is to reduce the side-effects of treatment or the recovery time after surgery?

I sure don't know.

What I do know: My husband works hard. He exercises several times every week. While I quit when I get tired or it's too much...he pushes himself harder. To do more.

And like clock-work, every morning, he's in the cabinet...taking his supplements. He takes a multi-vitamin every day. He also takes Vitamin D, Osteo Bi-Flex (Joshua says "Dad takes Bioflex") and Fish Oil. All things that are recommended by his physician. I'd like to take all of that stuff, too, but I forget about it. I take one prescription pill every morning, and I have to write it down when I do...otherwise, I can't remember if I need to take it, or I've already taken it.

Getting older is FUN!

On the way to Therapeutic Recreation this week, Joshua said, "I hope the Rapture comes when I am 50, because I am really not about dying here." He went on, "If the Rapture comes when I am 50, I will be married and have my children...but I won't have to deal with taking Bioflex and the Fish Oi-YUL every morning like Dad does.

I would rather just POOF to Heaven when I'm 50 and not have to take fish oi-yul."

I hear ya.

"Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord." 1 Thessalonians 4:17

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Maggie and the Pickles (for real this time)

I know I write about my in-laws a lot, but they are just so interesting.

They live in a 3 story house on a lake, and, if I was a bettin' woman, I would bet you that in your WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE you have never seen a house like theirs.

To quote Taylor Swift, "like, ever."

The outside of the house looks normal. like a nice family might live there...maybe with a dog. As you get closer, though, you can see that this is no ordinary house.

It doesn't matter if it's December or July, there are GIANT, plastic Easter eggs lining one side of the driveway. As the drive continues up the hill, you'll see bed sheets laid out on top of some shrubs, and bed sheets UNDER others...on the ground. Walking around the side of the house, you will see a small paddle boat, half-buried in the ground. It looks like it might have started out as a really unique planter, but now it's just a catch-all for all matter of buckets, gravel and plastic pots.

Or, maybe it's the remains of a wayward 3 hour tour!

If you continue around that side of the house, you will hear music coming from the radio on the back porch. It stays on all day, every day. On full blast.

At the top of the hill, in a flower bed around the base of a what we call the "bicycle graveyard." It's where old, broken down bicycles go to die. On one of the last times I was there, I counted 13 bikes. Some missing seats...some missing was missing the handle-bars. None of them were usable. And rain, sleet, burning hot sun...they stay there...under that tree...where my father-in-law put them.

If you go around to the carport, you are in for a treat! Old furniture stacked nearly up to the ceiling. In one corner, there are plastic flower the kind you put on graves? Yeah. My mother-in-law has them grouped by season and occasion. She said that when she dies, we'll never have to buy flowers for her grave. Eeek!

Everywhere you look, there are packages of paper-towels, toilet paper...and cases of soda and washing powder. You know what she does with all of the extra supplies? She shares. Whenever we go down to their house...or whenever any of our kids go down to visit...she is right there in that carport, hobbling from one side to another..."you need any Tide? You need any toilet tish-ah?"

They have several refrigerators too, and they are all FULL. Oh, you just have no idea. But you know who DOES have an idea? The saw-ham thief.

And every member of our family.

Every time we leave their house, it's with sacks and sacks of groceries and supplies. She has groceries in the kitchen, in the u-til-tee (utility) room, in the corner of the living room, and the front bedroom...also known as "Mammaw Irene's room." May she rest in peace.

The u-til-tee room has shelves full of cereal...all different kinds. Jim likes Honey Nut Cheerios, so she really stocks up on that. And by "stocks up" I mean, she buys about 10 boxes at a time! Seriously. She also uses her coupons to get Lucky Charms and Corn Flakes and some sort of S'Mores flavored cereal that she ended up giving to Logan. She's got boxes of every kind of cracker, and bags and bags of assorted chips. TONS of peanut butter, jelly, ketsup, oatmeal...and canned goods out the wha-zoo. And every size of ziploc bags. She also has toiletries...soap, deodorant, shampoo, etc. I'm not even kidding. It is unreal. And she gives it all away to her 3 sons and their families...if she can.

She is the most generous person I know.

She will not let us leave until we have packed up some groceries. While she is loading us up, my father-in-law is putting on a show. "JACK...quit giving them all the new stuff. Give them some of the old stuff." Then to me, "she has 10 boxes of cereal in there and she keeps buying more. She gives Y'ALL all the good cereal and leaves me with the old cereal full of bugs."

And she goes, "GENE...stop."

And he goes, "I gare-ron-tee I will NOT stop. It's the TRUTH. Mahhh-tha (that's what he calls me), do you like eating cereal with BUGS in it?"

He gets louder and LOUDER, and she keeps packing us up.

They do love each other, I promise.

Their refrigerators are crammed full of food. Except it's mostly left-over food. They save EVERYTHING. If it's scraps, it goes to the dogs...but if it's good enough for human consumption, it goes in a plastic butter tub, sour cream tub or cottage cheese tub. You get the drift.

It works for them...until we all come home and then there 's no room for anything in the frig and things that have needed to be thrown out for a WHILE...have to be thrown out.

I don't really know how or why the jar of pickles was marked for disposal, I just know that Jim's mom went outside and threw them down the hill toward the lake..."for the squirrels," she said. And then she rinsed out the jar and the lid, set them aside to be used another day.

Which, I am working on a post telling what my father-in-law does with squirrels on the property...he hates them with a passion, so let's just say that I thought it was funny that my mother-in-law said she was feeding the squirrels.

The next thing I knew, our black Lab, Maggie, was chowing down on those pickles. Jim is the dog person, so when he and the kids and the dog all went back in the house later, I remember saying, "I don't think you should let Maggie in the house after eating those pickles."

And they basically blew me off.

When will they listen to me?

All I know is that less than an hour later, my kids were running over each other to get out of the house.

Maggie had thrown up. In the living room.

Now, I'm not the smartest bulb in the bunch, but I saw this coming. I watched Maggie eat all of those pickles...and I noticed her stomach was getting larger by the minute. And watching her lay out on the porch, I could see her stomach moving and rumbling. I imagined all of those rotten pickles fermenting in her belly.

It was just a matter of time.

I sat outside while Jim cleaned up the mess inside. I felt a little bad about not going in there, you know...being that I'm the help-meet God made from a man's rib and all...BUT I TOLD HIM NOT TO LET HER IN THE HOUSE IN THE FIRST PLACE. puke and the smell.

So, what have we learned?

*things aren't always what they seem, until they are.
*my in-laws...I don't even...
*don't let dogs eat rotten pickles

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom..." Psalm 111:10

Monday, February 24, 2014

Weekend Update (Yawn)

We have had a pretty boring quiet weekend.

Jim, Joshua and I went out for dinner on Friday night. Woo-hoo. Big night at the Slim Chickens.

On Saturday, Jim, Joshua and Clark...and Aaron-the-son-in-law, went over to help a friend move a large hot-tub. The friend had two other people with him , and they needed every single person. Jim had said he didn't think the hot tub would be all THAT heavy. weighed 850 pounds!

After they got it loaded on the 4-wheeler trailer and then in the back of the moving van...Jim and Clark drove up to Russellville to help unload it.

While they were gone, Holly and I went to Sherwin-Williams to get some paint...and to Target.

Hello? Hello? You still there?

We were wanting to get Clark a Keurig for his birthday. I wasn't sure which one to get, and since Holly has one, she went with me. We came back home and she got it all set up while Aaron and Joshua watched the Razorback basketball game. Then she and Aaron went to meet friends for dinner, and Jim, Joshua, Clark, Faith and I all went to eat here in town.

Yesterday was church and I already wrote about that...but what I didn't write about was that we had a prayer walk at the new building last night, and that was really neat. We move into our new building in about 5 weeks!

It was a really quiet weekend...which is good. The only thing even remotely exciting was that I was almost run over in The Krogers (as my mother-in-law calls it) by a lady pushing a buggy WITH HER ELBOWS because she was texting.


She was wearing pajammies, so clearly she had a lot going on.

And then when I got in line to pay, I noticed that the lady who was two people ahead of me looked EXACTLY like Beth Moore. Well, from the back, and anyway I got so excited!

It never occurred to me that it was highly improbable that Beth Moore would be at the Kroger in my small town in Central Arkansas...but you just never know when a person might need something. My mother-in-law says you can find "everything, just everything" at The Krogers.

And, on another note, I am always surprised at the number of people who think wearing pajammies OUT IN PUBLIC is okay. Not gonna lie...I have worn my pjs longer some mornings than others. I have worn them in my car when taking my kids to school. But trolling down an aisle at the grocery store...or, say, looking at paint samples at Sherwin-Williams...really? I'm struck between being appalled...and JEALOUS!

But leaning more toward appalled.

And the other thing that happened was that I almost choked to death on Motrin.

I was heading back down to Little Rock to pick up Joshua, and I had the worst headache. When I got in the car and didn't have any other distractions...except, you know, other people driving like maniacs around me and trying to keep my own car on the road...I remembered that I had a bottle of Motrin in my purse. So while I drove down the highway through the construction zones, I dug around in my purse until I found the bottle of Motrin. Then, WHILE KEEPING MY EYES ON THE ROAD mind you, I poured out 2 Motrin into my hand and put the top back on...and dropped the bottle back down in my purse.

That girl in the grocery store was SO distracted.

That's when I realized that I didn't have anything to wash down the Motrin. My head was pounding, so I figured I could swallow them one at a time just using my "dub."

"Dub" is what Joshua used to call his spit, or saliva. He may still call it that for all I know because we don't have a lot of times that we use the word, "saliva."

So I tried to make as much dub as I could, and then I put one Motrin in my mouth. And you know what is hard? Trying to swallow a pill when you don't have a drink...and you are DRIVING...and you don't have enough dub. Hello? Not gonna lie...had to choke the first one down. But I was determined, so I put the other one in my mouth. Big problem: I hadn't had enough time to make more dub, and that Motrin tablet got lodged in the back of my throat and WOULD.NOT.MOVE. And I started to panic...and my throat started to close up.

And that's how I died.


I don't recommend this system at all.

Interesting how we...and by 'we' I mean I...can easily point out the bad behavior and poor choices of others...but am quick to justify my own bad behavior and poor choices by thinking what I'm doing is necessary...or that I'm being safe, even when clearly I am distracted.

Because, hit by distracted lady with a buggy at the grocery? Cuts, bruises, stern words, embarrassment.

Hit someone with my car because I'm searching for Motrin in my purse? Death.

Just sayin'.

I finally was able to find a peppermint in the bottom of my purse and that helped with the saliva/dub situation...and by the time I got to LR, I wasn't feeling like I was choking to death anymore.

So...that's my exciting weekend. It's good to have some "down" time every once in a while.

"...God gives rest to His loved ones." Psalm 127:2

Sunday, February 23, 2014

When Living in God's Will is Hard

When we moved here a year and a half ago, our first priority was to find a church. In our minds, I think each of my family...had things we hoped we would find in a church home. I know I did.

Isn't it funny how we all look for the "perfect" church that will meet all of our needs?

For Jim and I, it wasn't anything like, "oh, I hope they have pews instead of chairs," or "I hope they have deacons instead of elders." Or the other way around. 

Granted, we were hoping for a vibrant and growing youth group for Clark, but our main hope was to find a place for Joshua.

In the town where my kids kind of grew up...where we lived for 15 years...Joshua was able to go through the ranks and be in Sunday School and various groups with the kids from his grade every year. They knew him...most of them loved him. Well, you know, except for that one lady who told me Joshua "ruined" the video she took of her daughter during the children's choir program. AT CHURCH.

When he graduated from High School, our church started a class for Special Needs individuals. It was taught by one of Joshua's former school teachers. Joshua took the roll, and helped out his teacher in the class with "those Special Needs people." HIS words.

Notice he didn't include himself in that statement. He was the teacher's helper...her assistant, if you will.

So funny.

But, you know, he's no different from the rest of us. He wants a place to serve as well.

After a year, tho, we moved...and he hasn't had a Sunday School class that is actually where he needs to be since then. Jim and I taught the college class at our next church. Holly was in there...and so Joshua would come in there with us and it was okay. Then Logan graduated from high school, and he was also in our class, and it was still okay.

And then we moved where we are now.

In the first 7 weeks we were here, we visited 6 churches. NONE of them had a class for people like Joshua.


But we felt God leading us to this church and so, in obedience, we joined. Even tho we didn't understand, we knew that God loves Joshua more than we ever could, and He wants the very best for him. Clark loves the church. We are trying to find our way and we really like it here...but, still, there is no place for Joshua.

Right now, he is going to a "career singles" class of young adults in their 20's. He likes it okay, but it's awkward for him. They are very "mingly" and talk about their lives and dating and their jobs and all of that. It's really not where he needs to be.

We've been here a year and I haven't said anything to anyone about it...until today. I guess I thought...I hoped...someone would take notice and the problem would somehow be magically solved. We, our church, are moving to our new building at our new location in about 5 weeks, so all of our lessons have been from...guess what book of the Bible? NEHEMIAH. DUH. Part of our lesson this week asked us to long we had been members, what brought us here, what thing stands out in our minds since we have been here...and in what areas would we want to see the church grow and develop. I almost let it go...but my heart was pounding and I felt God's Spirit prompting me to speak. I wanted to say, "God, are you SURE I should say something? I still haven't quite recovered from last time!" Ha!

And so I did. I shared our hope for a place for Joshua, and people like him. And you know what? They all just stared at me...shocked. Of all the talk about the new building and the new teachers needed and the shared space and the fact that our new campus is going to be right across from the University and the 64 nations that are represented on that campus...NO ONE has thought about individuals with Special Needs.

I a town our size, there has GOT to be more people like Joshua. He loves God, and he loves church so breaks my heart that our church doesn't have a place for him. I know that I am more sensitive because I am his Mom. I get that. It's just sad to think he's not an after-thought...he's not even a FIRST thought.

So, one of the men in our class said, "well, if you feel there's a need..." and I thought, "DON'T YOU EVEN GO THERE WITH ME"...but I didn't say anything...and he finished about how "someone" should get that on their heart and "someone" should view that as a ministry. I knew what he was trying to say. When a friend of mine suggested a Special Needs class at her church for her daughter, she was told, "since you think it's a need, why don't you teach that class?" Her thought is that if she's going to need to teach her own child...she could just stay home. Jim and I could teach a Special Needs class at our church...we really could. But, like I told the other people in our class, "We want what you have. We want to be able to bring our WHOLE family to the same church, and be able to relax and study and worship...and, for 45 minutes to an hour, KNOW THAT OUR ADULT CHILD IS SAFE and well-cared-for...and that he's learning about Jesus to the best of his ability."

Is that too much to ask?

And then one guy looked at me and said, "well, finding someone to do that is the problem. IT'S JUST TOO HARD."

And then I went OFF on him and said, "TOO HARD? It's TOO HARD for someone to be in an room with my adult child...and others like him...for 45 minutes? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

It's TOO HARD to try to communicate with a person who is different from you, but who would probably grow to love you with all of their hearts...someone YOU would grow to love with all of YOUR heart?

TOO HARD to reach someone who would teach you how wide and how deep the Father's love is for all of us?

TOO HARD to accept people who don't see the differences in each other, who don't see's just how they are...who don't care what color you are...or if you showered that day...or if you are wearing the latest style?

TOO HARD to experience one of God's greatest gifts...someone who would bless you way more than you could ever bless him or her?

These are people, created by God, just trying to find a place where they are accepted and loved.

If not at church...then where?


Welcome to my world. This whole life that God has chosen for Jim and I is hard, but you don't hear me complaining that I can't do it. Because I can't...but God in me CAN.

And, I'm just kidding. 

I totally didn't go "off" on anyone or say any of all that "too hard" stuff to my SS class. What would that have accomplished? I have found that the conviction of the Holy Spirit is better than any type of righteous indignation I can muster up on my own. And, who knows what God's plan is for Joshua in this church?

I've always been told that the best place to be is in the center of God's will...but no one ever said it would be easy. This life that we are all called to's difficult at times, am I right? There are Believers who live with unspeakable pain and suffering every day...or in harm's way every day...or far away from their families every day...or under persecution every day because of their faith. Some deal with great loss every day. Why does doing God's will have to be hard sometimes?

And please don't think I am comparing my life to the life of a missionary or someone in a foreign country who is being persecuted or imprisoned because of their faith. I'm not.

It's not just the intellectually challenged that don't have a place in our churches. To quote Robin Roberts of Good Morning America, "everybody's got somethin'." There are many weak and broken people who are falling through the cracks in our churches. Honestly, if we look at our own lives, we are all weak and broken in one way or another. The body of Christ cannot function properly until we all learn to work together and appreciate the different gifts and abilities God has given us, and until we care for every one of His creations.

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

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Letting Go of a Dream

I think we all have dreams, whether we realize it or not. Dreams for our lives, our children's lives...for our world.

I have written on here before about my Cinderella Complex, which I may or may not still have. Even today.

I just see things through a different glass. I don't know that that's wrong or's just different, I guess. I'm a definite optimist, and maybe a little unrealistic when it comes to how I see things. I think it's my bent...definitely part of how God made me.

So when it came to having children, it was the same way. I was shocked when our first child, Joshua, was born with Down Syndrome...because it never entered my mind that my children would be anything other than healthy. And cute.

As time went on, we naturally had dreams for each of our children. We still do.

I remember a conversation with my Mom. She told me, "I always thought that our family would be different. That our family would be the one that changed the world."

We weren't different.

We haven't changed the world.

Realistically, how could that even happen? I mean, we aren't the Kennedy's...or the Bush's. We weren't born into a political dynasty where everything you did, said...or wore...conveyed some sort of message or inspired a trend. How could we possibly change the world?

My Mom had a pretty big circle of influence. She was kind of a big deal to those around her, and she was good about using her talents. She worked hard each day at her job, and the rest of the time was spent crafting a life. She had a marriage, children, grandchildren, friends...choir and her ladies ensemble and all kinds of different opportunities to use her voice to praise God and bless others. Did she change the world? No. She died.

But she changed one life. One life. At a time.

Through her life...with her voice and by her testimony.

God in her.

He changed her.

And in turn, she changed a life.

And isn't that what we are taught in our evangelism conferences...each one reach one?

She changed my Dad's life. He became a Christian after they married...and that changed my life and the lives of my siblings, because my parents took us to church and taught us the way to live and gave us opportunities to know and learn more about God. My Mom changed her Mom's life, because my Grandmother's faith was strengthened by the way my Mother lived her life and raised her family. And so the 4 of us, my sisters and brother...we all have children of our own. How we raise them will make a their lives, and maybe even in the world. Some of them may be on Broadway. Some may be business moguls. Some may teach, preach or work in ministry. Some may be doctors or nurses or therapists. Some may serve and protect our country. Some may be Special Olympians. ;) Some may be moms and dads.

Will our family be the one that changes the world? I don't know. I DO know that one person sold out for Christ...a fisherman, physician, political leader, tax collector, shepherd, mother, king...can do mighty works in His name.

"...whoever turns a sinner from the error of his ways will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins." James 5:20

Friday, February 21, 2014

One By One

He unloads the dishwasher for me almost every morning.



I watched him take out a bowl. A small, glass, for cereal. And he carefully carried it over to the cabinet and put it away.

And then he went back to the dishwasher and got another bowl...and walked over to the cabinet, and put it away.

One by one.

His little feet inside his little Crocs quietly walking across the floor from the dishwasher to the cabinet...and back again. Croc...Croc...Croc...

I've often wondered why he does it that way. Me? I get out a stack of dishes and try to carry as much stuff as I can to the I can make fewer trips.

But, either way...the slow way or the fast still gets done, right?

He does the same thing when he clears the table at night. He takes his fork to the sink...and then comes back for his plate...and then comes back for his cup.

I don't know if it's a balance thing or what. Probably. I've also watched as he fills his cup with orange juice in the mornings. He fills it about that he can carry it to the table and not spill it. When we eat at a fast-food place, he will ask if he can get me more drink. And he will come back with my cup half-full.

But he didn't spill any of it on the way!

It's kind of cool...the way he's adapted his behavior. He knows what he wants to do and what he feels comfortable doing...and he's made adjustments to make it happen. All on his own.

I had a Sunday School teacher years ago who said, "the journey is as important as the destination."

I believe that. My husband, however, does not embrace that philosophy. Especially since we have 4 kids. His mantra is "the quickest way between point A and point B is a straight line." And, he would add, "without stopping." He wants to finish what he started and mark it off the list before he begins something else. That's the way he does things at work, and for his job...that is realistic. When you work for the largest electric company in Arkansas, you can't really push things to the other side of the desk until later. An industry or business...someone's livelihood or life...depends on you taking care of tasks and problems in a timely manner.

At home, that doesn't really work. Or maybe it's just me and my home. I couldn't have "pick up toys" on my to-do list, and cross it off after I did it...because 15 minutes later, my kids would've dragged out more toys and DIDN'T I JUST PUT THOSE UP?

And, take laundry for another example. I'm a stay-at-home mom, but I've never really had a specific laundry DAY set aside each week like my Grandma did. I have typically done at least one load of laundry every day of my life. Not really, but it seems that way. Just the other day, I walked into my laundry room and the door opened and went all the way back to the wall.

Anyone know what I'm talking about?

Nothing on the floor and nothing BEHIND the door to prevent the door from opening all the way. I could see the floor. But I knew better than to bask in the glow of an empty laundry basket. This ain't my first rodeo. And, sure enough, later that night, one of mine came down the stairs carrying clothes and towels piled up over his head. He actually had to lean against the railing for balance as he came down, because he couldn't see in front of him.

As Type A as Jim is, I'm Type Z. I want to flit from here to there, depending on how I'm feeling that day. He wants to barrel through life at break-neck speed, going from one thing to the next quickly. Like it's a contest. Or a race. I want to places, with people. We aggravate compliment each other for sure.

Joshua is a mix of both of us. He likes his routine, like his Dad...but he also goes at a slower pace, like me. He notices details that I miss, tho, because I get bogged down in the task. He studies faces and can decipher your emotions based on your facial expressions.

These days with him, I am making more of an effort to slow down. Sometimes we have to hurry, but not always.

I'm kept Joshua home from Therapeutic Recreation (TR) today. He wasn't sad about it at all. The friends are just hanging out at the Center, so it's not like he is missing an outing. Yesterday, they stayed at the Center and cleaned up everything from the Valentine Ball. They put all the decorations away, and got things back in order. They also had some craft time and made some cool bracelets!

And, shocker...there was some drama. wasn't between Joshua and Jenni. It was between Michael and Melissa. M/M have been a "couple" for a while. Apparently, yesterday when they were sitting outside, Michael broke up with Melissa, and Melissa was in tears. Michael and Melissa are older friends...Melissa is almost 40!  Even so, the relationships that the friends at TR have are still very much on an innocent and child-like level.

With moments of teenage hormones thrown in just to keep e'erbody on their toes!

Joshua said that he and Jenni told Michael, "we are NOT HAVING any of that," and he used his fingers for emphasis, as he showed me how he pointed right at Michael. I guess it worked, because Michael went outside and got back together with Melissa.

So, see? Sometimes all you need is the voice of reason.

Thursday is fitness day at TR and Joshua will be there! They are going out for lunch, and there's nothing that all of the friends like better than going out for lunch!

Unless it's...


There's nothing they like better!

"How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity!" Psalm 133:1

Thursday, February 20, 2014

We All Look Back (Let Me Win)

We all look back and wonder.

I do. Do you?


I think it's human nature.

This morning, on the way to his Therapeutic Recreation, Joshua was talking about the past. He does that sometimes. He said, "I wish I had done some things differently in High School." I was curious, so I said, "like what?" He said, "I wish I had tried out for the basketball team, instead of just being the manager."

Now, we have never tried to limit ANY of our children, but there comes a time when reality hits you right in the face and the best thing to do is to just state the obvious. Joshua is 4'10". We tell him that he's 5 feet tall...don't judge. He just doesn't want any part of being in the 4 feet range...he just doesn't.

At least he's taller than Jenni!

I told Joshua that God made each of us different...with different strengths and abilities. I explained that we...all of us...are not "cookie cutter" people. He thought that was so funny.

I told him that God made some people tall, but He made us "travel-sized." I told him that we can sit in the back-seat of the car and not complain about the lack of leg room.

This struck a chord with him because that was the complaint of one of our family members this weekend.

Joshua said he wished he was tall like Clark. I told him I understood...I wish I was taller, too...but we can't change that. We talked about the boys on his High School basketball team...about how tall they were. I told him that we can gain weight, lose weight and get stronger...but we CANNOT make ourselves grow taller. We just can't.

I told him that Clark probably wished that he had his (Joshua's) muscles. Joshua said, "well, he IS stronger than me, but I have more definition."

He said, "Well, I was very good at track and field in Special Olympics." And he was...when he was younger. But he has a certain gait about him...and, at a certain age, his peers were towering over him. When you have long legs, you are probably going to be faster than someone with shorter legs...generally speaking.

I remember the last time Joshua competed in track and field for Special O. He was running for all he was worth, but boys his age were FLYING by him. Even in Special O., not all things are created equal! Everyone is different. I just remember standing down by the track so that I could cheer for Joshua as he ran by. He had the maddest look on his face and he was muttering every Downsy bad word he knew, as the other athletes ran past him.

I only hope they didn't hear him!

Do you know the Special Olympics motto? You don't? It goes like this:

"Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

You may be more familiar with Joshua's version:

"Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be TICKED."

Joshua now competes in Powerlifting for Special O., and has had great success.

I don't really spend a lot of time looking back. Like I told Joshua, you can't change history, and if you spend too much time looking'll fail to see what is right in front of you. The main reason I look back is to remember God's faithfulness to me and to my family. THAT is a great reason to look back. God wants us to remember where we were and how far we've come with His help and guidance. He wants us to tell others, and to TELL OUR CHILDREN.

Deuteronomy 6: 6-7, 20-21 (really, this whole chapter!) "And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your the future your children will ask you...then you must tell them..."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Clark's Late Birthday Lunch 2014

Well, I don't know when this will post, but I'm writing it the day after...because I want it to all be very fresh in my mind.

My in-laws always want to celebrate our kids' birthdays with a special lunch or dinner out with the whole family, if possible. We decided to meet them for lunch on Sunday of Clark's birthday week. We were gonna meet at this restaurant called "Logan's Roadhouse." We meet there often, because it's about a 45 minute drive for each of us.

So, we got up and went to early church, and to SS...and then headed South. Clark kinda mentioned that he would like to eat at this hibachi place instead of the other place. Jim and I were both hesitant about it...we were gonna have about 10 people...after in-laws had never been there...would they like it? Ugh.

BUT, we decided to meet there and we were all able to sit around one grill.

It ended up being the BEST DAY EVER. Kind of made up for some of the yuck of the days earlier in the week.

Our chef...OH MY WORD! He.was.hilarious! We had heard people singing the happy birthday song to someone in another room in the restaurant, and Clark had said, "NO ONE TELLS THEM it's my birthday." But, he's been kind of a toot all week, so that was the first thing I did. And then the chef put on a show for the Birthday Boy. It was a lot of fun. He asked Clark if Faith was his girlfriend, and teased with her a bit, too.

Then, he asked Holly if Aaron was her husband, and she said, "yes." He asked how long they had been married, and Holly said, "nearly 3 years." He said, "you have babies?" Holly said, "no, not yet." Then he asked Aaron, "you fight a lot?" Aaron said, "no, we don't." The chef said, "there you problem. You fight, make up, make babies. No fight, no make babies." It was so funny.

Even funnier was that my father-in-law, who is hard-of-hearing sitting on the farthest seat away and cannot hear any of this, so Logan is relaying it to him. And he says, "WHAT?" over and over. Logan repeats it, and then he laughs real loud.

The chef moved on to Logan. He asks if he's married, and Logan says, "I'm engaged." Chef says, "you buy diamond for you princess?" Logan says, "yes." The Chef says, "WONG. BIG MISTAKE." Logan asks why. Chef says, "they say diamond girl's best friend...but I want be MY girl's best friend. Not diamond."

"PLUS," he says, "you buy diamond, what she buy you? CHEE-WAH-WAH. You buy diamond, she buy dog. You get divorced, she take diamond...she leave dog. All you have left is CHEE-WAH-WAH...NO BUY DIAMOND."

He also said some things to Joshua that Joshua didn't really "get," but they were funny to the rest of us.

The whole time he's talking, he is putting on a show. Flipping bowls into his hat and egg shells into the bowls. Every time he misses or drops something, he says, "oops! Too much Saki last night." When my mother-in-law finally catches his eye, she starts trying to tell him her life story, about her 3 sons and how long she and my father-in-law have been married...and how long Jim and I have been married...and pointing out which kids at the table were ours. It was like watching a snowball going down a hill. Or a train-wreck.


#1...The Chef And #2...he doesn't really understand that much English, he just wants a big tip.

We left the restaurant and stood out in the parking lot to say our good-byes. Logan was heading back to school. Really miss that guy. My in-laws were heading back to the lakehouse, but before they left, we had to do the dance-of-the-brown-paper-bags. She always brings groceries with her...she buys in bulk. So, she is pulling stuff out of the back of the truck and asking, "anyone need Cheerios? Toilet tish-ah? Washing powder?" And we...Jim...Holly...and Logan...are taking what we need (and some of what we don't want), and walking from her truck to our own vehicles...and back again. I'm sure we are quite comical to anyone watching us.

She sent home a bag of gingerbread flavored marshmallows with Jim the last time he was down there. Blech! He either took them in a weak moment so as to not hurt her feelings...or she slipped them into one of the brown grocery bags without him knowing. I don't know. All I DO know is that we do not want them...will not eat them. So, she tried to give us ANOTHER BAG of those stinkin' marshmallows right there in the parking lot, and we are all saying, "no thank YOU," as nicely as we possibly can. But then she starts trying to give them to JOSHUA to bring home...knowing full well that he will not eat them. He put his hands up and started backing away. It was pretty funny. She just wants them out of her house, but if we take the stuff we don't want, she will just continue to buy it because she thinks we like it.


In the end, it was the BEST DAY. I laughed SO HARD! Everyone had fun. Clark felt celebrated, and the meal was GREAT!

"The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed." Proverbs 11:25

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Joshua's Valentine Ball! 2014!

So, Valentine's Day.

It was the day of the BIG BALL for Joshua's group! Joshua had already been to lunch with Jenni, and to the gym with Jim. It was almost time to head down to Little Rock.

We had decided that we would eat here in town and avoid some of the Valentine's Day crowds.

Um. Yeah. About that.

We left our house at 5 and planned to go to the Outback in our town for dinner....and we showed up there, along with every other person in our town. Seriously? I thought at 5 o'clock on Valentine's Day, the only people who would be there would be a few senior citizens.

I'm nearly there, people.


We decided that the only person who really needed to eat before the Valentine Ball was Joshua, and he said McDonald's was fine with him. LOVE HIM. So we picked up dinner for him and then went home so he could eat...and THEN we headed down to Little Rock. We got there on time and took several pictures of him and Jenni at the Valentine's Sock-Hop. I put them on my Facebook page: Marty Logan Garland.

Then, we...Jim and I, Clark and Faith...had to decide on dinner. I told them that the fastest place to eat would be a Mexican or Chinese restaurant, because they get you in and out fast. The reason we wanted to eat relatively quickly was because the Ball started at 7, and ended at 9:30. For Clark's birthday, I had promised to take him shopping...also known as why-don't-I-just-gouge-out-my-own-eyes-because-yes-it's-that-painful. And the mall closed at 9.

So, we went to Pei Wei, and had a great meal. Jim's meal was delivered about 5 minutes after the rest of our food, so the manager came over and took 50% off of our ENTIRE MEAL for the "inconvenience." Hello, Pei Wei...we'll be back! By the time we got to the mall, right across the street...we had 35 minutes to shop.




It's like a perfect storm.

But we found 3 pair of jeans, and a pair of khakis and a shirt...and I kept most of my hair. So, it was a good time.

And, FUNNY STORY...if, ya know, you aren't a MOM who is quickly being pushed out of the picture, except for, you know, paying for stuff.

And this isn't about paying for stuff...because this was his birthday gift.

I saw this one shirt and I thought it was SO while Clark was in the dressing room, I brought it back to him. Which, I should've known the fact that I liked it was the kiss of death, but, anyway...I said, "do you like this shirt?" His response: ""

But then these two girls were back there trying stuff on, and they saw the whole thing and were all, like, " brother has that shirt, and is sooo cute!" And then Clark started looking at the shirt in a new light. All of a sudden, he thought it might be okay to wear.

UMMM...NO, SIR. That shirt is now dead to me. I snatched it up and put it right back on the shelf. Two strange teeny-bopper girls' opinions are better than mine? I don't think so.

Joshua had a great time at the Ball. He said it was just as fun as last year's BALL. He danced and danced and danced. He said that he and Jenni didn't dance together very much, which is a good thing. All the friends danced with everyone...and that is ALSO a good thing. Everyone was happy!

"From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised." Psalm 113:3

Monday, February 17, 2014

On Turning 18

Lots to say, but no clue how to say it...or what any of it means. If anything. Maybe it's just to acknowledge that parenting is HARD on many different levels...and keeping it real for anyone who thinks I have it all together. I DON'T.

There is this guy in our Sunday School class.  He talked about when the kids in his family turned 18...his Dad would call that child into the kitchen and hold up a glass plate. The Dad would say, "you're 18 now, and here is your dinner plate." His Dad would then throw the plate to the floor, where it would shatter into a million pieces. After that, his Dad would say, "you're out of my house."

If you're one of my kids reading this, you already know what I think and you can skip over this paragraph. For other people, you need to know that Jim and I are very family oriented. That whole concept of throwing the dinner plate on the floor when the kid turned 18? I.was.horrified. Seriously. WHO DOES THAT? I want my kids out on their own. I want them to have education and a plan, and for them to make a life apart from us. I mean, of course! And I know there are situations where "tough love" is required in difficult or "failure to launch" types of situations, but for us right now? I want them to know that they are a part of our family, and are welcome in our home. I cannot imagine pushing a child out on their own because of a certain birthday...and not taking into account whether or not they have been adequately prepared and are ready for that. We want to set our children up for success, not for failure...AND THEY HAVE TO DO THEIR PART AS WELL.

Yesterday was our youngest son's 18th birthday. This is the child we prayed for the most BEFORE we had him...because Jim wasn't sure we should have another child. Like make another child. We talked about adoption.

When I was in the 8th-9th grade, I lived in Taiwan. My Dad was stationed there with the Air Force. I learned a lot during our time there, but I fell in LOVE with the Asian people. God began to work in my heart about adoption, and I always thought I would adopt twin baby girls from Korea or somewhere like that.

But, I got married, and had three children. And then we had Clark.

And he was born wayyyy too early, and God spared his life.

Then, he was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 2. He had surgery and chemo, and, again, God spared his life.

I am overwhelmed by the goodness of God when I think of this kid. But he is so ornery right now, I just want to wring his neck. Teenage boys who think they know it all? I'm over it.


I had been really looking forward to Clark's birthday. I had planned on making one of his favorite meals: chicken and dumplings, and peanut-butter brownies for dessert. But then I remembered that his birthday was on a Wednesday, and we had church. Not that we couldn't miss...I mean, it was his birthday...but he would have to miss Youth as well, and I didn't know how he would feel about that since he's a leader.

PLUS, Holly's clinical has her at the psych hospital on Wednesday and Thursday nights until 9 p.m. Joshua had his Valentine Ball on Friday night, and Jim and I were going to the Razorback game on Saturday. And, we had planned on meeting Jim's parents for, as Joshua would say, Clark's "tranditional" birthday meal on Sunday. If we wanted to do dinner all together as a family (minus Logan), we would have to do it on that's what we did. I scrapped the birthday dinner at home, and we went out to eat for his birthday. Holly and Aaron met us there, as did Faith. I thought it went well and was fun.

So Wednesday was Clark's actual birthday. On birthdays, I will typically fix/prepare breakfast for our kids at home...biscuits, muffins, pop-tarts, pancakes...whatever they want, I'll fix it and put a birthday candle in it. We always try to get a picture of them before they blow out their candle. Well, Clark told me on Tuesday night that he would be going to breakfast on his birthday with his girlfriend, Faith.

Well, oooookay.

Faith and I had been working on a plan to get some of Clark's friends to surprise him for his birthday. They planned on meeting him for dinner at a restaurant here in our town. We didn't know how we were going to get Clark there without letting him know, but Jim said that he and Joshua would offer to take him on a "guy night," so he wouldn't be suspicious.

Well, I didn't find out from Faith until after 5 p.m. that that wasn't going to work...his friends were not going to be able to meet him that night, so she decided she would take him out for dinner instead. Just the two of them.

Well, oooookay.

By the time Clark got in from track and took a shower, I was only able to talk to him for, AT THE MOST, 10 minutes before he left again. ON HIS BIRTHDAY. And then he got in at 10:30 p.m. He had been gone since before 6 a.m.


The hardest part for me was that Joshua had bought Clark a special birthday was a card with a cat on it that had SOUND. Joshua was SO excited about giving it to Clark. At 10:10 p.m., my little Downsie man is sitting on the couch, yawning...and holding that dang birthday card he had chosen for his brother, who still isn't home. I ended up telling Joshua that he could go to bed and just give him the card in the morning.

And, even more than that, I was so incredibly sad.

I mean, honestly, is it unrealistic to think that a family might want to spend a little time with one of their own ON HIS BIRTHDAY? I think NO.


Expectations. They can be real buzz killers, am I right?

I had expected that Clark's birthday would play out one way. He had expected it would be another way. I am trying to slowly give him wings. He is trying to break down the door. I want him to appreciate the past. He wants to make his own way.

Kind of a recipe for disaster, isn't it?

But, we had a talk...and there were some tears (mine)...and grace was given all the way around. I will say that Clark's 18th birthday is one I will never forget...but I kinda hope that it's edited in my mind as the years go on, so that I just remember the good parts.

Clark is a great kid. He is a strong Christian young man. He's a leader, a teacher...a loyal friend. He's dedicated, sincere and caring. He is self-motivated, intense and focused. He does not like to make mistakes. He likes to know what he is doing, and he likes to do it well. Like most teenagers, he is just wanting to grow up NOW. He is having a hard time realizing that being independent doesn't mean that you don't need anyone...and that you don't SEEK OUT wise counsel when necessary. The Bible says that "all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:16). The Bible is for people of ALL ages. Jim and I still need wisdom...and while we seek it from others, for sure...we also go straight to God's Word for answers on how we are to live our lives.

I love each of our children so much. I don't love them more on their birthdays than on other days. Birthdays just make me a little more reflective...and when a child has been through so much and has been spared FROM so much, I look back and each year seems so significant.

But, then again, we have all been spared from so much...if we know Jesus.

Because we deserve death, but He gives us life.

"For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ..." 2 Corinthians 5:21

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Razorback Game and Bill Clinton!

On Saturday, our Sunday School class was taking a trip up to the Crystal Bridges in NWA. Jim and I have been wanting to go there for a while, but just haven't taken the time. The weather was supposed to be beautiful on Saturday...a perfect day after a week of YUCK.

But then Logan called and said he was coming home for the weekend. Jim already had tickets to the Razorback game FOR WORK (har har), so if we did the Crystal Bridges thing...and then the basketball game...we would be gone ALL DAY.

I really didn't want to miss visiting with Logan, so we bailed on Crystal Bridges and, as Joshua says, "hanged around" here with the boys all morning.

We ended up leaving here around 1 and headed up to Fayetteville. Jim was able to get 3 tickets, so we brought Joshua with us. We had a pretty uneventful trip until we got close to the stadium, and then the traffic was INSANE! Worse than usual. We found out why during half-time of the game. We finally found a parking place and then dragged walked quickly with Joshua up to Bud Walton Arena.

Jim had the "box" with his work, so we had good seats, good food, and a great view.

The best part of the game...well, the best part of the game is that we won. The NEXT best part was half-time. They honored members of the 1994 National Championship basketball team, and 5 other "Final Four" teams, complete with trainers and coaches. Eddie Sutton and Nolan Richardson were both there, along with all of the "big name" former players. The biggest event, tho, was that former President Bill Clinton was there, and led the entire arena in calling the Hogs!

Joshua was in all his glory with all of the fanfare! I just wish he could've gotten his picture made with Bill Clinton. Politics and being a former President aside...he is a part of Arkansas history, and many people here really like that he comes back to his home state.

We had a great time! We stopped for ice-cream on the way home. Joshua doesn't like ice-cream, so he got a Sprite. He said, "this is my 2nd Sprite today!" It was kind of a big deal, because he typically just drinks water. We all drink a lot of water in our family. I said, "yes, you'll have to get back to drinking more water tomorrow." He looked at me and said, "well YOU had a lot of Diet Coke today."

Little rat.

"A joyful heart is good medicine..." Proverbs 17:22

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

This morning, Joshua and I went and picked up Holly at her house...and then we went shopping! Joshua wanted to pick up something for Jenni for Valentine's Day. My mother-in-law suggested he look at a teddy bear or something not too expensive, but he informed her that he "would not be going CHEAP."

Well, ooooooooookay.

So I called in reinforcements: Holly. She suggested we go to Target and maybe look at some perfumes, so that's what we did. There were a lot of different fragrances to choose from. Holly was spraying them on her wrists, and then letting Joshua decide whether or not it smelled good.

She's good at some things but...amateur.

It wasn't about the smell.

I picked up two different boxes of Taylor Swift perfume and said, "what about one of these?" Joshua said, "Oh, yeah...Jenni likes Taylor Swift."

See what I did there?

Then, I saw a Faith Hill perfume and showed him. He said, "that's good, too...either one of those."

It could smell like dog poo, but if a country singer's name is on the box...I'm pretty sure Jenni will love it. Because, like she texted him the other night, he is a "townie," and she is a "COUNTRY GRIL."

We ended up getting one of the Taylor Swift perfumes. Both boxes were sealed, and they didn't have a tester, so there was no way to know what either one smelled like. BUT, one box had a picture of Taylor Swift on it so that's the one he chose. Like I knew he would.

Because we all know that Country Grils love Taylor Swift.

Joshua also chose two nail polishes for her: one was an OPI Red...and one was an OPI Pink that's name was "Shortstory." Or something like that. It was between that and a different pink called "Strawberry Margarita," and I KNEW he would pick the one with "short" in the name. Because he and Jenni are both short.

Joshua chose a hot-pink, chevron print gift bag, because hot pink is Jenni's favorite color. And then he chose hot pink and white polka-dot tissue paper. He also chose a very sweet "unromantic" card, because he said, "me and Jenni don't go for that romantic stuff."

Yeah, right. Then how come we have to go looking for you guys every time you're together, and tell you to GET OUT OF THE BEDROOM!


We met up with Jenni and her helper-friend, Tiffanie, and the three of them went to eat. Holly and I went to grab lunch, just the two of us. And it was really fun. A great Valentine lunch.

After lunch, Holly and I went to the Hallmark shop, and we were in line with the losers who waited until the DAY OF to buy cards for their husbands.

We picked up Joshua and came home. He went upstairs to get ready for the BIG BALL tonight! Holly came over to shave his neck and trim his eye-dees. Eye-dees are what he calls his eye-brows. He's called them that since he was a baby. He says that he will have a "unibrow" if she doesn't trim his "eye-dees." Jim and I are completely willing and able to help him with this stuff. Joshua's response is "uhhh...I'll save it for Holly."

Jim and I don't really exchange gifts much. If there's something we want or need, we save up for it until we can get it. I walked in from lunch today, and there were these two large ceramic pots sitting on the floor in front of our fireplace. One of them had a Valentine's card with my name on it. They were from Jim. He said he found them at Wal-Mart...ON SALE.

Well, boy howdy!

I think I should say at this point that I'm not being ungrateful. It's just that a LONG time ago, I was informed that things dealing with the yard, and flowers, plants or pots...I was forbidden to touch. All because I pulled up some vine things that I thought were weeds. Sheesh. I was just trying to help.

So, I got tickled when I saw these pots. I knew they weren't really FOR ME. But they're for OUR home and it was such a sweet thought.

Plus, in keeping with the spirit of his gift, I bought him some really cute earrings that I will be wearing it's all good!

AND, I just got a call that Logan is coming home from college for the weekend!

"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine's Week at the Center 2014

This is Valentine's week and things have been busy at the Therapeutic Recreation Center.

Joshua went on Tuesday, and they spent their time working on decorations. That means cutting, gluing, painting, hanging up, moving things around...getting stuff ready, because there's gonna be a BIG BALL on Friday night!

Last year's Valentine Ball was SO MUCH FUN! This year, the theme is a sock-hop. Joshua said, "I'm gonna wear jeans, my black v-neck and my black leather jacket...and I will spike up my hair."

So, basically, this is how he dresses every day.

He also said, "I will NOT roll up my jeans."


On Wednesday, Joshua's group was staying at the TR Center and working on more decorations. I decided this was a day that he could miss, and he was fine with it. He and I spent the day together working on stuff at home and going to the store. I made peanut-butter brownies because it was Clark's birthday! And Joshua made a sign for the door. It's what we do.

It wasn't too far into the morning when his girlfriend, Jenni texted Joshua, "get up here...Julia drama."

Hahahahahahahahahahaha! I don't know what went on, but with those two...there's NO TELLING.

Joshua said, "I didn't respond. What am I gonna do from here?"

Wise, wise man.

I tell him all the time about an episode from the Cosby show where Bill Cosby is trying to tell one of his sons-in-law how to deal with their wives. He would say, "DON'T. GET. INVOLVED." And he showed him how to just throw up his hands and back away from the situation...without saying a word.

This morning, I took Joshua to the Center. All the friends were there and they were all getting SO excited! When I picked him up, they were all sitting at different tables in groups of 4 or 5, mixing up bowls of cookie dough and brownies for the BIG BALL. They try to keep Joshua and Jenni in different groups. Works out better that way! Joshua's group was making "glutton free" chocolate chip cookies.

I need me some glutton free cookies. Just sayin'.

They took turns stirring up the mix. Joshua stirred first, then passed the bowl to Crystal. Crystal mainly talked...and then she passed the bowl to Stephanie, who rarely talks. Stephanie stirred while Crystal said, "get it, GIRL...get it...stir it like you're mad."
I was starting to feel a little uncomfortable!

Crystal is a talker. She talks and talks and talks. Every time I see her, she says, "hey, you doin'?" And then in about 15 seconds, she'll ask me the exact same thing again. Like Joey Tribiani from "Friends." Ha. And she is the sweetest, most loving, most sincere person EVER.

Anyway, Stephanie passed the bowl to Melissa. Melissa is the one who has to eat gluten free. And lastly, Melissa passed the bowl to Julia.

Here is a snippet of the conversation:

Crystal: "Joshua is going to be my special Valentine."
Me: "Oh, he is? What about your boyfriend, Brandon?"
Crystal: "Oh yeah."
Me: "And Jenni...won't she be upset by that?"
Julia: "mmmm...mmmm..."
Joshua: "She probably won't care."
Crystal: "Oh yeah? Okay."
Julia: "NO DON'T DO THAT."
Crystal: "I was just pretending. HAHAHAHA. Hey, you doin'?"
Me: "Everyone can just be friends."
Crystal: "ooooooo...I'm gonna be in troooouuubbblllee!"
Julia: "mmmm...mmmm..."

I just love them ALL!

So excited about the BIG DANCE!

"Greet each other with Christian love." 2 Corinthians 13:12

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Maggie and The Pickles

So, no news on the saw/ham thief...but my father-in-law did call the poh-leece and filled out a report. And, he has The Guy's phone if it was him, he should be fairly easy to catch.

Of course, we don't know that The Guy who cut down the tree is the saw/ham's just all SO coincidental.

And, in the words of my Joshua: "I'm not blaming him, but he did it."

It got me thinking about my in-laws and some of the stories I've written about them. I write a lot of things for my children that cannot be made public...out of respect, for sure..but also because some things are too sad or intense or deep. And also because you know good and well that there are things in your family or your husband's family that if you made public...well, it would cause all kinds of hurt and completely damage relationships.

That being said...Jim's parents are SO interesting. And...well...let's just say that if Everybody Loves Raymond hadn't already been done...

Jim's parents both grew up with parents who grew up in the Depression. They saved everything. They never threw anything away. And they recycled WAY before being GREEN was cool. I'm talking...Jim's Mom has a purse that was made out of a Tide box.


They save and re-use baggies and foil. They take the wax-paper bag out of the cereal box, cut it down one side and roll it up on an empty cardboard roll. There you go. That will be $2.97, please. The inside refrigerator is FULL of Parkay margarine tubs THAT AREN'T FULL OF MARGARINE. They are full of left-overs from days or a week ago. Blech. They don't believe in using paper towels. Instead, they use "rags," and not much gags me more than using a rag that has been used for ONLY GOD KNOWS WHAT in the kitchen. And for days.

No thanky.

Especially since I've seen the things that end up on their counters and sinks. There is usually at least ONE large bowl of various stages of, ummm...processing. Hopefully, it has been cleaned and is soaking in water...waiting to be bagged up or FEE-LAYED and put in the freezer. There is always, always, always a bowl of left-overs or SCRAPS of food...or fat that was trimmed off (I think I just threw up a little in my mouth) of meat. This bowl is for the dogs. Seriously. They feed it to their dogs.

And then there was that one time early in our marriage, when I walked over to his Mom's sink, and there was a long, furry TAIL hanging over the side. The sink was full of dead squirrels.

I am still not over it.

My mother-in-law, sweet as she is, saves things WAY PAST their expiration date. Canned goods...well, maybe. Depends on what it is. Cereal? Again...maybe. But they always tell the story of Jim's grandfather pouring his cereal into the bowl and little weevil looking things floated to the top. He shrugged his shoulders and ate them, too. "Fiber."

But meat? NO.

I have a sinking feeling that the half-a-ham that was stolen from the carport frig was meant for me...and that makes me wonder how old it was. If it was bought last Tuesday (please God please) then it was already a week old. But it COULD'VE been bought earlier than that. EEEK!

My mother-in-law loves shopping at The Krogers. Before that, it was another store where she lived. I can't remember the name of it, now. But, when Jim and I were first married, we would meet my in-laws for dinner at the local catfish place every Friday night. When we left, she would give us $20 and a 6 pack of Cokes.


That was back in the day when we could all drink real Cokes without worrying about fat grams and calories and sugar and words we couldn't pronounce. And we didn't have to have a nutrition degree to decipher the ingredients and we didn't really care anyway because yum.

And my father-in-law would go OFF on my mother-in-law and put on a show for his naive, city-girl daughter-in-law, and say things like, "do YOU MEAN TO TELL ME that with ALLLL the grocery stores in this town, Jim and Marty can't find no Cokes? Well, call the news."

Jim and I would make the $20 last alllll week. We would use it for "treats" like dinner at the Pizza Hut after church on Sunday nights.

Also, nearly every Saturday, Jim and I would meet up with Jim's mom and go to his grandparent's house in Hot Springs...about 30 minutes away. We both loved seeing Jim's grandparents and other family members, OF COURSE, but the other thing that happened each week was that Jim's Mom took us to the grocery store.

I've already told you that she lovvvvveees to buy in bulk. I think it's because of how she was raised...and because she has that care-taker personality, and wants to make sure everyone has everything they need. We were still in college, and working part-time, so we appreciated all of her help. The first year or so of our marriage, she would push the buggy around and say, "Marty, do you need _____?" And I don't care if we were on the last of whatever that was, or had run out 4 days ago, I would say sweetly, "no ma' thank you."

But then I got real.



We never went hungry!

After we left the grocery, we would all go over to Jim's grandmother's house for lunch. We would either pick up chicken from the KFC and bring it back to the house...or all load up and go to the Western Sizzlin'. And when I say we would ALL go...let me just say that when it came to lunch on Saturdays, EVERYONE SHOWED UP FOR THE FOOD. Just sayin'.

After lunch, we would head home and unpack our cans of Beenie-Weenies and boxes of oyster crackers and figure out the rest of our weekend.

This happened every week.

I realize this has nothing to do with the title of the post, but once I started writing...I realized I wasn't going to have room to write all about Maggie and the Pickles before I bored y'all to death and you gave up reading. I just want my kids to know and appreciate where they have come from, and to continue the legacy of generosity that was first started by their great-grandmother, Annabelle. She died before they were born, but my mother-in-law has told stories about her generosity to them when they were just starting out, and through the years as they raised their 3 boys.

We have been in situations where people are talking about their kids and they say, "oh we would NEVER do/give/help-with that," and some people raise their eye-brows. And if they say, we helped out kids/parents do this or that...some other people will raise their eye-brows. I say everyone should just shutty and realize that we are all products of how we were raised, and people make decisions based on that and their own convictions and PRAYER.

Not everyone has a MAMMAW JACK in their life. We can hear her in our heads, which is...well, it's creepy, first of all...but second of all, it's motivating. In fact, you've probably heard WWJD...What Would Jesus Do? In our lives, we say WWMD? What Would Mammaw Do? She has been SO generous to us and to Jim's brothers and their families, and not just with money or groceries...also with TIME and UNCONDITIONAL LOVE and a bunch of other things...and that is why we are trying to pass on this same spirit to our own children. Not wanting to raise kids who feel entitled...but who are appreciative and excited about anything that is done for them. GET OVER IT, NOSY PEOPLE. It's not our business what other people do or don't do in their own families. Unless it's illegal. Then that's bad.

I'll try to write about Maggie and The Pickles tomorrow...or, another day.

And I have some Joshua stories that I need to post as well.

"He who is generous will be blessed..." Proverbs 22:9

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Saw and The Ham

So, the other day after the ice-storm, a man came to my in-law's house and asked my father-in-law about cutting down a dead tree.

Truthfully, it needed to be cut before the ice-storm, and Jim had told his dad he would come down to help him...but this guy came by and said he would do it for $25. He told Jim's Dad this long, sad story about how he used to do this and that...and how he needed the money...and about everything that had gone wrong in his life. Jim's Dad had a weird feeling about The Guy, but said if he would come back in the morning, he would let him do it.

After The Guy left, Jim's Mom, who has a very tender heart, gave Jim's Dad the "what-for" for agreeing to only give him $25. She said, "you have been so blessed, and you mean to tell me that you are ONLY going to give him $25 to cut down that tree?"

And then I'm sure there was some friendly yelling.

The Guy showed up the next morning. He did not have all of the necessary tools...the ones he did bring were in need of repair or replacement. He asked to borrow some of Jim's Dad's tools, but Jim's Dad said, "no." I mean, the whole point of having this guy do it was so that Jim's Dad didn't have to do anything.

The Guy would say how many trees he had cut down that week, but his actions showed he had no clue how to do it. Jim's Dad has cut down lots of trees in his lifetime. Jim and his brothers have cut down lots of trees in their lifetimes. Jim's Dad has also paid people to cut down trees that were too difficult for him and the boys to attempt.

The Guy bragged that he could shoot a rope up to a branch with his sling-shot and when Jim's Dad said, "okay, let's do that," The Guy said, "my sling-shot is broken." He also asked to see Jim's Dad's chain-saw, to "see if it was better than his." Jim's Dad said, "no...mine is messed up." He already did not think this guy was on the up and up. But this last thing sealed it: The Guy told Jim's Dad that he had noticed a dead pine tree that also needed to be cut down. Jim's Dad said, "where?" The Guy pointed to a certain tree. Jim's Dad said, "that's not pine." The Guy said, "oh, yes it is...I've been cutting pine all my life and that is a pine tree."

At this point in the story, it would be good to know that Jim's Dad is a trade and COLLEGE DEGREE. He has him some experience. Like over 60 years worth. Just sayin'. His family...they have planted and cut pine trees for decades. The income has put many-a-meal on their tables. Don't tell him about pine trees.

Well, The Guy was a bungler. Like Gomer Pyle. Jim's Dad ended up doing most of the work after all...and he's nearly 80 years old! And, so that he didn't have to get a rear-chewin' from Jim's Mom to be nice, Jim's Dad paid The Guy $45...but he was not one bit happy about it.

Fast forward from Monday night. "Someone" broke into Jim's Dad's storage building and stole his chain-saw. Whoever it was also stole FOOD from the refrigerator that's in the carport. In the carport, but JUST OUTSIDE THE DOOR THAT GOES INTO THE HOUSE. Jim's Dad was upset about his saw, and who could blame him? But Jim's Mom is furious that the thief took her HALF-A-HAM.

And 2 gallons of orange juice.

And 4 pounds of bacon from the freezer.


The saving grace is that it didn't happen on a Tuesday night. Tuesdays are my mother-in-law's "Kroger Days." It's Senior Citizen's Day AND Double Coupon Day at "The Krogers," as she calls it. My mother-in-law buys in bulk, and her trips take her at least 2 hours. She says when she goes on Tuesdays, they "practically pay HER for shopping there..." because of all the money she saves.

She is also known for buying things after the expiration date "on special" and keeping things wayyyy longer than a person should. So, my son-in-law said that, depending on the date on the meat, the joke may be on the thief.

Call it the gift that will keep on giving.

"You shall not steal..." Exodus 20:15

Monday, February 10, 2014

He's A Keeper

Linking up today with Edie and telling my little love story:

To say we were shocked when our first child was born with Down Syndrome would be an understatement.

We'd had a pretty uneventful life up until that point.

We met in college, Jim and I. I was an Air Force brat...traveling the world with my family. He was a country boy...growing up in LA. That's Lower Arkansas, folks! I went to the Southern Baptist college in the small town of Arkadelphia. He went to the State university across the street. I lived on campus...he lived at home. I'm an optimist. He's a realist. I see the cup as half-full. He says, "WHO DRANK MY WATER?"

I didn't know a soul in Arkansas, not one soul, but my pastor had gone to school at Ouachita. Hearing him talk about it peaked my interest, and, after much prayer, that's where I decided to go.

In the housing application, I had to fill out a form about my likes and interests. I checked all the appropriate boxes, and then had to write a little bit about myself. In an attempt to be funny, I remember writing that I really liked chocolate chip cookies. My roommate? She apparently wrote the EXACT SAME THING. God thing? I think yes.

She was from the same small town as my husband, and so she fixed us up. Two weeks into my freshman year, Jim and I went on our first date. And the rest is history.

I have written before about my Cinderella Complex. Oh, I had it...and I had it big.

Truthfully, I still do. I just see things differently. Rather, I CHOOSE to see things differently. I just like to be positive...and happy.

We were married 5 years when I became pregnant with Joshua. Jim had just gotten his first "big" job after college, and we had moved to the big city of Little Rock. We bought our first house. We found a church home, made great friends. We were livin' the dream, and putting our roots down deep.

In our childbirth class, there were 12 couples....24 people. During the first class, the instructor had us fill out a little "get to know you" sheet, and then she shared some of the comments with everyone. One of the questions was "I hope my baby is _______." We were supposed to fill in the blank. I put "cute" because DUH.

23 other people put "normal."

When Joshua was born, it was after hours of labor...followed by an emergency c-section, which means I was knocked out. When I woke up, things were fuzzy...but I heard people talking in hushed tones and something in my spirit just told me something wasn't "right."

The days that followed were filled with medical lingo and testing (for us and for Joshua) and lots and lots of visitors. Jim had to call everyone to tell them. I mean, someone had to...and it couldn't be me. It was before the age where we had cell phones, so he was using the phone beside my hospital bed. There was joy in the voices of our families and friends when he told them our baby had been born...and then silence, and some tears, when he told them Joshua had Down Syndrome. I remember him calling our friends, Billy and Sherri. I remember him trying to hold it together on the phone. I remember him telling them, "don't come...we are fine."

They came anyway.

But this post is about my husband. He was my rock during those early days...he really was. And he still is all these years later. It was a blessing that we had so much support...and it was a blessing that we had NO CLUE about Down Syndrome. We were just thrilled with our baby boy and couldn't wait to take him home.

Billy and Sherri got there, and in the course of their conversation, Jim told Billy, "I think he'll be able to hold a fishing pole." Billy said, "well, then he's a keeper."

And Jim said, "Yep. He's a keeper."

All of those women out there who have said they fell in love all over again with their husbands, after seeing them hold their babies for the first time, have got nothing on me...because in that moment, holding our precious son...whose future was uncertain, but likely very husband thought he was a keeper. Just the way he was.

There just nothing more he could ever do or say that will ever top that moment.

"The the LORD God said, 'it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him." Genesis 2: 18

Sunday, February 9, 2014

"Where, Oh Where Are You Tonight?"

My husband is a grumpy old man.

He's not old, but he kinda wants to be grumpy. It's this persona that he is finely crafting for himself, and one for which he is quite proud.

He's had a good teacher: his Dad.

His Dad is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. I can pretty much guarantee that if you met him, you would feel the same. He is loud, gruff, opinionated. He CAN be tender, generous and kind. But he is contrary...con-TRARY...and he knows it. And, at this point, he doesn't really care. That's how he wants it.

Several years ago, he realized that his behavior got a HUGE reaction from his daughters-in-law and his grandchildren, and so that added fuel to his fire. Now, he pretty much yells all the time.

No, really. ALL.THE.TIME.

Well, he would call it talking normally...because he doesn't think of it as yelling. But it is.

Yelling, that is.

Whether he's actually mad about something...or just wants you to bring him another glass of tea...he yells.
He loves to yell at my front of my children. Example:

Him: "JACK, where are my socks?"
Her: "I don't know, Gene."
Him: "Well, you had them."
Her: "No, Gene, I never had your socks."

And he whistles. OH MY GOODNESS. His whistling could make the most sane person go nuts, because it's all the time. And it's the same random tune.

He sings loud and the house, in the yard, IN THE TUB. It's usually old, OLD country songs, or old, OLD-timey Gospel songs.

So, my husband...I see much of his dad in him. Now, I'm not going to handle being yelled at talked loudly to very well at all...and it will not go well for Jim if he tries. Happy wife, happy life, am I right? And, keep up with your own socks.

Anyway, I digress.

Jim has never really liked any of the kids' music...from The Killers to Mandisa to Lecrae...he's got something to say about it: "too loud, too high, can't understand the words." But this morning? I heard blood-curling screams coming from our bathroom. I went in and there was Jim, calmly shaving. On his radio? Deep Purple.


I told him that wasn't very Jesus-y for a Sunday morning. I like for everything to prepare our minds for the message at church. Deep Purple was not gonna cut it.

I don't know why that surprised me. He has questionable taste in music as it is. He is the one who introduced me to the David Allan Coe song, "You Never Even Call Me By My Name."

Check out some of the lyrics: "Well I was drunk the day my Mom got out of prison, and I went to pick her up in the raaaaain. But before I could get to the station in my pick-uuuuup truck, she got runned over by a *danged* old train..."

And you just imagine how he sings it. Country. Twangy. LOUD. Just like his Dad.

And then this afternoon, he pulled this song up on his iPAD...from Buck Owens.


Like, from Hee-Haw.

And then he started singing:

"Where, oh where, are you tonight? Why did you leeeave me here all alooooone? I searched the world over and thought I found true love. You mettttt another and phhhtt you were gone."


"Sing to the LORD; praise His name. proclaim His salvation day after day." Psalm 96:2

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Weekend Update: Sun, Snow and Ice

Wow! What a week!

Since last weekend, we have had warm, sunny days...ICE days, a missed school day...and snow.

All in a week.

That's Arkansas for ya. One of our meteorologists has a saying, "never say never to Arkansas weather." It's the truth!

Joshua missed his group outings on Tuesday and Wednesday. I took him on Thursday, and then because it started snowing.

I had looked forward to Friday all week, and it was so great. After I got Jim off to work and Clark off to school, I crawled back in my bed with a cup of coffee and my lap-top. When I heard Joshua come down the stairs, I went in to eat breakfast with him. He was sitting in "my" chair at the kitchen table. He sits in HIS chair for every meal but breakfast. My chair is close to the outlet where his phone is plugged in, and after he gets done eating, he will sit there for a minute or two and check his messages from the night before.

One of the first things I do every morning is to open all the blinds. I do not like being in a house with the curtains drawn and the blinds closed. So, Joshua is sitting in my chair and he is looking out the window. He mumbled something and I said, "what did you say?" He said, "I was looking at our bird house." I said, "we don't HAVE a bird house." He pointed out the window and said, "well, THAT'S not right."

I walked over to look, and there is the biggest, most gigantic icicle you've ever seen. It is coming from just under the overhang by the roof...and it goes all the way to the ground. It is SEVERAL inches thick.


I thought I would take a picture of it and send it to Jim, but I knew he was busy at work with all of the power outages...I figured it could wait.

Well, Jim has worked late, late, late every night, so I was surprised when Jim walked in at lunchtime.  I had made a quiche and was just pulling it out of the oven. Holly had come over, and we were all getting ready to sit down and eat. Holly points at the kitchen ceiling and casually asks, "what's that?"

When we looked, our hearts sank. We knew what it was because we had seen it before, in our last house. It was a water spot from a leak from upstairs.

Jim went up to the attic and sure 'nough...the water heater had frozen, burst, leaked and frozen some more. HENCE THE GIANT ICICLE.

I am so blessed to have a "handy" husband. He knows a lot about a lot of things. He went back to work, but before he came home, and as the snow started coming down in earnest...he ran by and picked up a brand, new water heater. He and Clark spent the better part of the evening draining and removing the old one, sopping up all the water that was in the attic...and then installing the new unit. It took HOURS but I was able to take a hot shower by 10:30 that night!

I was also blessed to overhear a conversation between Jim and his Dad, and I've had it on my heart ever since. Jim called his Dad to tell him about the water heater situation, and to just ask a few questions about the installation process. Jim then relayed the information to Clark, and the two of them hooked up the water heater. Three goal.

Being willing and humble enough to ask for help. It's something I pound into the head of my boys...because they can be pretty stubborn and think they know more than they do. None of them really wants to ask for help or appear like they don't know what they are doing...especially in front of their dad. I'm sure it could be intimidating to them, but it's very comforting to me. If they would have a willing spirit and a desire to learn, their Dad could teach them many things...just like his Dad taught him.

I am constantly telling my boys "a wise man receives counsel," and how, even to this day, their Dad calls HIS Dad when he has questions or needs advice.

I just want them to know that they are never too old to ask for help.

And if I am being wise...neither am I.

"A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel." Proverbs 1:5

Friday, February 7, 2014

Exaggerations and Haircuts

When I was in about the 2nd grade and my sister, Leanne, was in Kindergarten, we lived in Virginia. My Dad was in Vietnam, and my Mom had moved "home" to be closer to her family. Before my Dad left, he and my Mom had found a little house for our family. It was right across from the elementary school we would attend. My Mom would walk us across the street every morning before school, and I'm assuming she met us after-school and helped us cross the street...altho, I don't know.

I don't remember much about that house, except I think it had a basement...and the backyard had red, clay dirt. There were old bricks in the backyard and whenever we would turn them over, there would be rolly-pollys under them.

I remember my parents had bought a new stay-wag before my Dad left for Vietnam. We did not have a garage. Did people not have garages as much back in the day? I don't know. But there was this one day when the weather person predicted a bad storm...they said it might have large hail. My Mom, wanting to protect the new car, put our nap mats from school on the hood and roof of the car.

But that day? It didn't storm. It was hot as blue-blazes, but it did not storm. You know what did happen? It was so hot that the color off the nap mats melted onto the hood and roof of the new car. Yeah. My Mom was SO upset, and she took the mats off.

It hailed the next day.

So now, not only did the tan-colored car now have a green film all over had large dents in it from the hail.

And now I totally forgot where I was going with this post.

Oh, yeah. Exaggerations and haircuts.

One day when I was in the 2nd grade and Leanne was in Mom took us to get our hair trimmed. I think it's key to know that she took us to the BEAUTY SALON AT THE JC PENNEY'S in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Leanne and I had long hair. Like, past shoulder length and more mid-back length. We wore it straight, parted on the side...every single day.

At the hair appointment, I went first and I think it went okay. I went back out to the waiting room to wait on Leanne with my Mom. My Mom was reading a magazine, and I was being a little kid and walking all over the place. I could see the girl cutting Leanne's hair if I stood in a certain place over by the door. By the time I noticed what was going on, Leanne's hair was getting SHORT. I kept telling my Mom, "her hair is getting's shorter than's up to her's up to her neck...IT'S OVER HER EARS." Every time, my Mom would say, "mmmmm..." and NEVER LOOK UP FROM HER MAGAZINE.

This was a modern day version of the little boy calling "wolf."

When Leanne came out, she had a PIXIE HAIR-CUT. My Mom FREAKED OUT...and I sat there, smug with satisfaction. I told my Mom, "I TOLD YOU SHE WAS CUTTING IT SHORT."

My Mom wasn't having any of that. I'm pretty sure that I got in trouble for poppin' off my mouth.

Yeah...the girl cut Leanne's hair too short. I tell you about it. You ignore me...and now I'M in trouble. Story of my life.

She later said that she didn't pay any attention to what I was saying because I was KNOWN TO EXAGGERATE.


Who's exaggerating now, Mom...who's exaggerating now?

And, I guess it all worked out in the end. My Mom had a fit on the girl at the JC PENNEY BEAUTY SALON and ended up getting Leanne's hair buzz cut for free. Leanne looked precious in her pixie hair cut. In fact, my Mom had a picture of Leanne, with her short hair, directing her class play or musical or that pixie hair-cut did nothing to diminish her self-confidence. Even at an early age, she was taking charge of things and running them AS THEY SHOULD BE RUN!

So, what have we learned?

--Virginia has red, clay dirt and rolly-pollys.
--The weather forecasters aren't always right.
--Garages are important.
--There's exaggeration...and then there's short hair. Just sayin'.
--Saying "I told you so?" Not ever a good thing to say to your mom.

"Honor your father and mother..." Exodus 20:12