Monday, March 31, 2014

Beach Day 2-Looking For Shells

We got up on Day 2 of our vacation and it was cloudy. And windy. And the sun wasn't out.


I think it should be a commandment that the sun must always shine at the beach.

Jim got up early like a maniac, and went for a run. When he got back, the two of us made a big breakfast for the kids. We had gone to the grocery store last night after dinner.

Which, do you know the only thing more fun than taking 5 toddlers to the grocery store? Taking 5 older teens/young 20's to the grocery store.


I told them to get whatever they wanted to eat for lunches and snacks, and they were all over the store. I was exhausted by the time we were done.

So Jim and I made breakfast and then we all decided to go on a long walk on the beach. We all wore shorts, but we also all wore hoodies...because BRRRRR. We started out walking together, all 7 of us. It quickly became obvious that 5 of the people in our group were neurotic over-achievers, because they took off toward the pier at a speed that made it difficult for Joshua to keep up. I mean, if there was a hope that he was going to enjoy this experience at all.

RELAX, people.

This was the first time we've been where the beach has been covered with tiny sea-shells. Covered. Like, right where we were walking. So, Joshua was keeping his head down, and he was kind of doing a walk like a voodoo man walking over shards of glass. Or fire.

So, I decided that we would just hang back and move slower and catch everyone on the way back. We took our time. I moved at his pace...and I encouraged him to pick up shells along the way. I had brought a baggie for the shells. He said he would bring back some shells for all the friends who attend Therapeutic Recreation.

It was hard to get him to look at anything but where he was going to take his next step. He was so afraid of stepping on the shells, so I kept moving to find the best place for him to walk. Sometimes we walked right beside the water...other times, we walked up where the sand was more groomed and "fluffy." I wanted him to look at the waves and the boats and the sky and the people.

We never did make it to the pier...and that's okay.

We met up with the rest of the family and headed back to the condo and everyone fixed their own lunches.

And then there was some serious "nappage" from everyone.

And I started my book.

Remember that I said I was going to bring, like, 7 books to read over Spring Break?. Yeah. What was I thinking? But I brought them...oh, yes ma'am, I did. I got out the book-bag with all the books, and tried to decide which one to start first. I knew which one I WANTED to start first...I knew the one I would probably love the most...the one I would read the fastest and be the saddest when I was done. So that's the one I chose: "The Antelope in the Living Room," by Melanie Shankle.

I could hardly put it down. I read it all that afternoon while everyone napped. I have never been more convinced that I had a twin...except for the HUGE VALLEY OF THE AGE DIFFERENCE. Also, my husband and hers? Brothers from another mother.

Best read and ONLY READ of the trip.

We ate dinner at the Original Oyster House in Gulf Shores and it was wonderful., as usual. It's one of our favorite places and it did not disappoint. The only negative was that the table behind us was a family with lil kids, parents and grandparents. The little girl was obviously exhausted and she was fussing and crying and finally hacked up ALL her dinner. I didn't SEE her throw up. Holly just said, "MOM...don't look over there," and told me what had happened. She knows I'm a sympathy barfer. If I see (or hear) you hurl..I'm right behind ya.

Side note: My Logan said that whenever this certain friend of his started a sentence with "well what had happened was..." what followed was sure to be a big, fat lie. Ha.

Any-who...I saw the grandmother down on the floor with the child, and when the grandma finally stood up, she was using napkins to wipe off her arms and her neck. What in the world? She looked like she'd been involved in a vomit tornado. Or an exorcism.

But I got out my Bath and Body hand-sanitizer and let the tropical smell take my mind away from the yak.

We had a great time at dinner! Afterwards, we went and shopped at the place where you walk into the big shark head.

It was a wonderful day.

OH! Remember our cat? How we shooed her out of the garage before we left, and then none of us remembered seeing her in the driveway as we left?


And how our son-in-law was going over to check on her while we were gone?


He went one night and didn't see her, but gave her more food and water. Went the next night...didn't see her and called Holly. Holly told him about us not seeing her when we left, and he walked over to the garage and SAID HE COULD HEAR HER IN THERE.


A few weeks ago at our house, the garage door went up randomly. Once, I heard it and went out there...and no one was there. Eeek! I told Jim about it, and one day when he was home, it happened with him. So we started locking the garage doors at night or if we went out of town. Jim thought he had pressed the "lock" button on the garage, and told Holly that he didn't think Aaron would be able to get in...even using the code. But Aaron tried the code. The door went up, the cat went out...hickory, dickory doc.

And all was well.

"He alone stretches out the heavens sand treads on the waves of the sea." Job 9:8

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Beach Day 1-The Cat, The Bird and The Porpoise

You know, anytime you go on a can be stressful before you even get out the door. The preparing-to-leave part. The packing, loading, cleaning, stopping mail, newspapers...getting all the laundry done...leaving out food for our cat. Stuff like that. Stressful.

And some things are stressful because we make them that way. I like to come home to a clean house, so in addition to...see above list...I was washing sheets, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming...stuff like that. Not fun, but I so appreciate the extra effort when we drag back home after a long week and a long drive.

Getting 7 people out the door with a happy heart...also stressful...because packing 7 people's stuff into the back of two vehicles? Challenging, get the drift. But we shooed the cat out of the garage, backed out and were on our way!

And, yes, we leave our cat outside all the time...please don't judge. And don't leave me any mean comments about it because I just got back from 5 days in close quarters with 7 people and I'm exhausted. This is the cat that one of our boys "rescued" from the Wal-Mart parking lot in Bryant, Arkansas. I am highly, HIGHLY allergic to cats...but this cat stays outside, as does our Black Lab, and does fine. In the cold weather, we bring her (and our dog) into the garage, and that system has worked out well for the past 3 years or so since we got the cat. Jim even moved her from where we lived in where we live now, 40 minutes away. We feed her well. Jim gives her the shots that she needs, and he and the kids give her a lot of attention. Our son-in-law promised to come by and check on her while we were make sure she had plenty of food and water. BUT, he said he would draw the line at rubbing behind her ears...he's also very allergic to cats. I wouldn't have even brought it up except that it relates to something I was going to share later in the story when we started thinking how it was ODD that none of us saw the cat in the driveway when we left and that started the whole "I hope she's not locked in the garage the entire time we're gone because we'll come home to a dead cat" discussion. But now I've already talked about it and I don't know if I'll feel like talking about it more later or not. (pbbbbth)

This year, we had to take two vehicles on our vacation. We tried our best to figure out a way to get everyone into one, but it just wasn't happenin'. Not with All The Stuff. We do have a Suburban, but it is 12 years old, and Jim was just afraid to take it on that long of a trip. Personally, I am not a fan of driving more than one vehicle...if we are all going together. I get soooo nervous. I was constantly watching for the kids in my rear-view mirror, no matter who was driving. They all did great sharing the's just my own neurotic #momprobz.

We ended up driving my newer vehicle, and one of the Camrys. Joshua rode in my car, along with two of the other kids (they switched off who rode in the Camry and who rode with us). My vehicle came with a built-in dvd player when we bought it, which we have never in all our born days had in a car. We've always had to have the portable tv  and all the cords and paraphernalia that go with it. Jim said he could just hear his mom saying that the newer vehicle was worth the price just for Joshua to be able to watch movies on long trip.

Anyway, back 15 or more years ago, my kids were into Power Rangers...and I was the mom who I was not havin' it, because Joshua was so impressionable and I thought it might be too violent and he might not know that "hi-yaw-ing" another kid at church was not a good thing to do. But my mother-in-law, Mammaw Jack, she didn't see the point in my logic...and she bought the VHS tapes for the kids ANYWAY, and just kept them at her house. Not only did she buy the tapes, she bought the stuffed Power Ranger toys and the lunch boxes and the birthday plates and the costumes. You name it, she bought it. My kids had it all.

Well, now the Pow-Pow-Power Rangers are on DVD, and my mother-in-law bought a couple of sets for Joshua. He has been in ALL his glory. We've heard him upstairs watching the movies and laughing. One time, I heard some crashing around from his room, and called up to see if he was okay. He said, "I'm finnnnnne. Just doing some martial arts."

Oh, okay.

So, on our way to the beach, Logan kind of wanted to watch the old Power Ranger episodes and Joshua was only too happy to oblige. I looked back at one point, and Joshua, Logan AND Holly all had their headphones on and were staring at the tv screen. And laughing their heads off.

Just like old times.

We hadn't gone too far south when Jim hit a bird. Correction, we were just driving our car down the road in South Arkansas or Mississippi, minding our own business...and a bird hit our windshield. What made it even worse was that it was a Dove...and Doves mate for life. We saw the two birds flying together right just made a wrong turn. Hmmm...

Sorry. Just thinking about a previous post.

Anyway, the bird. It splattered all over the windshield. YUCK. Jim was sad because of it's mate, and kept on talking about what would the other bird do now. Logan said, "Dad, you might as well turn around and try to hit the other one." Such sympathy. (sigh)

We had "bird juice" all over the windshield, so Jim turned on the wipers and used the washer fluid to clean it up. It was at this point that Joshua looked up, saw all the water on the windshield, and said "well, THAT bird must've had a FULL BLADDER."

And we all fell out laughing.

Clark called us from his car...behind us...and said, "WHAT just happened? I was driving...and then there were feathers everywhere...and bird juice was hitting my car...and then I saw a bird "fly" off...and I realized, Dad just smoked a bird."

(and I think it goes w/o saying that the bird did not fly off, per bounced off...our car)

But, other than that, things were fairly smooth, and we made it to our condo safely. We unloaded all the luggage into our rooms and opened all the curtains. We like to keep the curtains open and the doors partially cracked the whole time we're there. Love seeing the ocean, and hearing the waves hit the shore.

All of a sudden, Jim yells, "PORPOISE!" and practically hurdles a chair to get to the balcony. It.was.hilarious.

Everyone got ready, and we headed out to dinner. As we were walking down the stairs, guess what we saw? A lone Dove, sitting out there in the parking lot...watching our every move.

I'm not even kidding.

"...You see me when I travel, and when I rest at home." Psalm 139:3

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Picture of Marriage

We met my in-laws for dinner last celebrate Joshua's 28th birthday.

And we talked and ate and laughed.

I looked around the table. There were 3 generations of marriage represented. My in-laws...married nearly 56 years; Jim and I...married nearly 34 years; And Holly and Aaron...married nearly 3 years.

Logan and Morgan...not yet married. They've dated over 5 years, and are now looking forward to beginning their lives together as husband and wife in May.

I was content to have all 4 of our children sitting around the table. Listening to them talk to each other, and to their grandparents...I was overwhelmed with thankfulness. I tried to explain the feeling to Jim, but he gave me the *blank stare.*


I saw different parts of marriage represented around the dinner table. Jim and I...we were sitting in the middle, and we ARE in the middle. We are parents...we still are caring for and raising children. And we have parents who are going to need more and more attention every year.

The middle.

Holly and Aaron...she rode with us, but Aaron was already at the restaurant. He saved a seat for her...right beside him. I just thought that was so sweet. Before I moved to sit beside Jim, I had taken a seat across the table beside Joshua. It's not that I love Jim any less than I did in that early married stage. In fact, I love him more now. But with 4 children and a life-time of days and nights and memories...I don't have to sit beside him every time we have a meal. I know in my heart that when push comes to shove...I've got a place...and my place is beside Jim. :)

My mother-in-law...she wasn't feeling well. Still isn't. She's got some sort of issue going on and we just aren't sure what it is. She's had some tests and will have more next week. Whatever it is has affected one of her eyes on her right side and it's drooping pretty bad. She's very self-conscious of it and kept putting her hand over it. My father-in-law...he's pretty gruff on the outside...and my mother-in-law is the softy. She pretty much does all the driving. Not because my father-in-law can't...she just does it so that he can relax. But last night? My father-in-law drove...both ways.

And when we were sitting there at the table, he poured a cup of coffee for my mother-in-law. Even some of my kids noticed that. My mother-in-law is the servant of the family. No one EVER does anything for her...she does it ALL for everyone else. She wants to...she loves it. Just seeing my father-in-law be tender and considerate of her...just in those very few was such a blessing.  In spite of all of the griping and yelling that he does, mainly to put on a show for the grand-kids, he does love Jim's mom.

Logan and Morgan...not yet married...they shared a large steak. Logan cut off the best part and gave it to Morgan. She cut around the part she wanted and gave the rest back to Logan. She said, "it has a little bit of fat on it, but I feel like you would still like it." Logan cut and cut...and gave her a smaller piece back. She said, "I said you could have it," and he said, "well, I cut all the fat off for you."

I told Jim that was a sweet picture of marriage. He knew what she liked. He put aside his own wants and desires and offered her the best part first. And, even after she gave some of it, back he still worked on it to make sure she would have enough to eat.

Again, I heard *crickets chirping* and got the *blank stare* when I tried to explain this to Jim.

I will never understand men.

"This is why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one." Genesis 2:24

Friday, March 28, 2014


28 years ago, I gave birth to a baby boy who had a head full of "stickin' up hair" and a big, happy smile. It was a life-changing, life-altering experience for Jim and I.

Today we celebrated 28 years of Joshua. It's been such a ride. We had about 20 years of struggle and push and pull and tug and never-ending meetings and forms and therapy...and now we are having what I call the "years of blessing." I feel like it's the calm before the storm. Not that I'm expecting a storm, I just think that there's a lot of hard times ahead with Joshua and his care as he ages. I am thankful to God for these precious years of joy.

I got up this morning and realized I didn't have a blueberry muffin mix in the house. In my defense, we just got back from a trip to the beach last night. I should've planned ahead and gotten one before we left, but I didn' I fixed the next best thing: cinnamon rolls. From a can. Joshua calls them "Sunday Rolls" because we have them every Sunday morning before church without fail, rain or shine.

Joshua came downstairs and I had two cinnamon rolls on his plate with a candle on top of one...and Jim and I sang the "Happy Birthday" song to him. He grinned real big and said in his best Fred voice, "'s not SUNDAY...hee hee hee."

Jim took Joshua to the gym mid-morning, and we ate lunch here when they got home. Holly came over and took him out for a birthday Cherry 7-Up from Sonic. :) And then Clark and Faith came in and brought him presents...and he was thrilled.

Later, we all headed down to meet Jim's parents for dinner. They live 1 1/2 hours away, so we typically meet at a restaurant that's about half-way for both of us. They love to meet for birthday dinners. My in-laws came in their car. Our son-in-law, Aaron, came from work in his car. Logan and Morgan came in his car because they had been out looking at tuxes for the wedding...and then the rest of us...6 of us...came in the Suburban.

There were 11 of us around the table. When our group got there, my in-laws were already seated, along with Aaron, Logan and Morgan. It's no secret that Joshua LOVES Morgan.


So, typically, Joshua is going to sit right beside my mother-in-law and tell her all of his stories that (through no fault of his own) make Jim and I look like totally incompetent parents...and Holly, Logan and Clark like uncaring, insensitive siblings. I don't think Joshua means anything by it, but my mother-in-law is overly-sensitive when it comes to Joshua, so she asks questions and bases her opinions on his responses.

There's your first mistake.

Never trust a Fred.

It's like our family's motto.

He means well...he really does, but he misses a lot and he doesn't hear well...and so while what he tells may be true from his's not always true. It's not even usually true. Not 100% anyway. Ever.

Never trust a Fred.

Anyway, we walk in the restaurant, and they are already seated. I think everyone thought that Joshua would snag the seat closest to my mother-in-law as usual...but I had already quickly surveyed the situation.

I've written about this before. It's a gift.

I saw that Jim's parents were on one side and there were 5 empty seats beside them. Then, on the other side there was Aaron, and a seat next to him for Holly...and then Logan and Morgan.

And I knew exactly what was fixin' to happen.

Joshua headed toward Morgan like a bee to honey and she never saw him coming. She was turned towards the other end of the table, talking, and I tried to yell, "INCOMING" but she didn't hear me, and before she knew it, Joshua had wrapped her in a big bear hug...from behind...while she was still in her seat.

The whole meal, Joshua just gazed at Morgan and smiled...and hung on her every word. It's so cute and Morgan is a good sport about it.

At some point, he notices that she's cold...and before anyone could do anything, he had placed his leather jacket around her shoulders to keep her warm.

And he grinned from ear to ear.

Logan was trying to be all sly about it and get a picture of the two of them without Joshua knowing. The picture shows Morgan looking at the camera smiling, and Joshua looking at MORGAN smiling. I posted this on my Facebook page.

We told the waitress it was Joshua's birthday and she brought him a huuuuuuge brownie with ice-cream on it. He doesn't like ice-cream at all, and he was already full...but he did eat one bite of the brownie because he was the Birthday Boy. My mother-in-law kept after him to eat more of the brownie, and he couldn't make her understand that we didn't tell him he COULDN'T have any of the brownie, it's just that HE.WAS.FULL.

I finally had the kids cut a chunk of the brownie to put in the to-go box so that he could have it tomorrow.

Such a great day. I hope Joshua enjoyed it, and I think he did. His favorite thing of all today was reading all of the Facebook messages everyone sent him.

He also posted a status thanking everyone for the birthday messages they sent to him. And he specifically tagged me, Holly, Logan, Morgan, Clark and Faith. He did not, however, tag Jim in his kind words. A long time ago, Jim told Joshua not to tag him in anything without asking him first...because he caught Joshua taking pictures of old pictures at Jim's parent's house, and Jim said there WAS NO TELLING what could possibly end up on Facebook. And, since we have grown accustomed to, ya know, eating...and being able to do things like pay our bills...Jim did not want anything to be posted that would not be appropriate for his status as a business person in town. You know, naked baby pictures and the like.

So, Joshua said, "I tagged everyone in my status, but I did not tag Dad because he said don't EVER tag him in anything...hee, hee, hee."

We cannot thank everyone enough for the prayers lifted up on our behalf during these 28 years. It is a joy to be this young man's mom, and a blessing to walk through life at his pace.

I'll close with this: after thanking God for everyone who wished him a Happy Birthday, Joshua ended his prayer with this: "...and thank you, God, for Mom...for conceiving me all those years ago...and for doing all that hard work to get me out."

"Let your roots grown down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness." Colossians 2:7

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Wrong Turns

Ever make a wrong turn?

I did.

Actually, I missed a turn and it cost us 20 whole minutes...on a 10 hour trip.

It's a thousand wonders we all survived.

It was frustrating. I didn't blame anyone for getting upset, but no one was more upset than me. I knew instantly what I had done...because it wasn't the first time. Several years ago, I made the same mistake.


It really wasn't that big of a deal, in the grand scheme of things. I mean, we weren't really on a time crunch...we just wanted to get there.

It just started me thinking about life. We all make wrong turns in life, don't we?

Please tell me it's not just me.

Whether we make a wrong turn, or miss the RIGHT turn...we all do it.

Sometimes it's intentional...we choose to go a different way. Sometimes it's accidental. Other times, we repeat a mistake, like what I did...because we didn't learn the first time. Or because we forgot. Or because we weren't paying close enough attention.

Any way it happens, it's our faults. It's our responsibility to acknowledge it, and take steps to get back on the right road. If we don't know the right way, we need to ask someone for help.

In life, there is also a road...a path...a plan. And it's good and right and God wants us to stay on it. But sometimes we don't.

We take detours for pleasure...or short-cuts we think will make life easier.

Sometimes, we just aren't paying attention...and we are off the path before we even realize it.

There are times when we can turn sharply and get right back on track without too much trouble or damage. Other times, we are so far off course that to get back to where we are supposed to be takes time. And things have played out and words have been said and other lives have been affected.

About as important, in my opinion, is how we react when we make those wrong turns and get off the right path. Or when others do.

It's frustrating for sure. But we should never want to shame or belittle someone. We all make's just that sometimes we make ours in secret, right?

Not that we should overlook sin...or that there aren't consequences. Not at all.

It's just that the goal is to get back on the right path. To make the RIGHT turn.



Cliche? Maybe.

But I make mistakes every single day...and many times...most of the times...there are consequences. And there is discipline. But it's always done in love and with the goal being the restoration of the relationship between me and my Father...and Him helping me get back on track.

I need Him.

"Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead." Proverbs 4:25

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Non-Bible Book Study

I know I already wrote before about the Non-Bible Book Study I was doing at church, but I feel like I may have painted it in a bad light...when it's probably a great study for many, many people.

For MOST people.

It's just that I see things through humor-colored glasses.

But I know there are just some things...hard things...that aren't one bit funny.

We have had some very difficult, very serious situations in our and medical issues with two of our children...and the death of my Mom...and then my Grandmother.

Not funny.

Although, I will have to say that DURING MY GRANDMOTHER'S FUNERAL, one of my sisters...who shall remain nameless, but her name rhymes with Deanne...said something about how we should've put Grandma in a flower-printed Mumu for her service, and we all got so tickled that tears were rolling down our faces.


Our only saving grace was that everyone thought that we were overwhelmed with emotion over our loss, because our shoulders were heaving and we were wiping our eyes.

We all loved our Grandmother. LOVED HER with all of our hearts. She was just very prim and proper, so the thought of putting her in some touristy outfit for her sending off party was so far from anything she would ever, EVER do...and we could all hear her saying that it "didn't suit her" to wear that outfit.

Anyway, back to the non-Bible Book Study...we would typically read two chapters a week, and then answer some questions that were in a different book. There were many questions that were serious. I guess they all were supposed to be, but some of them nearly sent me running from the that no one would see me laughing.

Things like, "how did you feel when you first started your period?"


And, "how did your mother feel when she got hers?"

Good grief, I DON'T KNOW, and my Mom isn't here for me to ask. Does this mean I failed the non-Bible Book Study?

There was one chapter on how to love your body. I don't have the best body in the world or the best body IMAGE in the world, but when the author said we were supposed to look at our thighs and say, "I love you thighs," and thank God for them...I nearly lost it.

One week I got in there and the leader said she'd had lots of tears that week...but they had been "good tears, cleansing tears."

This proves it: I'm just not that deep.

My husband and boys would run me out of the house if I was crying all the time...good tears OR cleansing tears!

The whole study was all very introspective and it wanted you to look back at your childhood and all of that...and, honestly, I can barely remember yesterday.

The book asked a lot of questions about our moms and how they felt on things...building on the thought that some of the ish-ahs we have today might be from experiences our moms had and how they may have
(even unintentionally) passed on those thoughts or fears to us. There were women in this class who were remembering things and dealing with things that I never in a million years have had to do.

I was raised in a loving home with two imperfect parents who looked to God as the source of all wisdom...and that's pretty much it.

And while I may not have had to deal with some of the heavy memories and experiences of my sisters in Christ, everybody's got something, right?

I am thankful for this study. I met some new people.  Now, it feels good to be able to wave and speak to them when I see them at church! I also gained new respect for people who are struggling in different areas: with their weight, with addiction, with abuse, with self-esteem/respect issues. Oh the list went on and on.

I really felt the Lord prompting me to take this study, altho I could not relate to many of the topics.

Still, there was a purpose for me being in the learn, of course. But also to empathize with others, and encourage and pray for them.

"Bear one another's burdens..." Galatians 6:2

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Long Life

It's no secret. I don't expect to live a long life. It makes my kids upset when I say this, but I just want them to know that it's okay.

I ain't mad about it.

I am fully aware that God ordains all of our days. I am also fully aware that long-life genes may not be in my DNA.

Granted, my Grandma Ellen lived until her mid-80's, but she was one of 5 siblings. One died in her 30's. My Mom's Dad died when he was 40. My own Mom died at 59.

I wrote in another post about the last time I saw my Grandmother's brother, Raymond. He looked at me and said, "in our family, there's diabetes and heart disease...if one don't get ya, the other one will." They were the last words he spoke to me before he died of a heart attack.

My Mom died when she was 59. It was unexpected and sudden. She did have high cholesterol, but was managing it with medication. Her autopsy showed that she had had a heart attack 2 weeks prior to her death. She didn't know because her symptoms were not the "typical" symptoms that we have all heard about.

A long life.

I remember when my little brother decided to enlist in the Army. I was FREAKING OUT. Even tho we are a military family...4 generations so far...I did not want to think about someone I love being in harm's way. I remember expressing my concerns to him...about how dangerous it could be and that he could DIE. He was a helicopter pilot for Goodness' sake. He said these words, and they have stayed with me all these years: "well, who wants to live a long, boring life, anyway?"

I mean, of course, he didn't want to die. He didn't want to be in danger...shot at, captured, tortured, killed...all the things that raced through my mind at night. But he knew what I also knew...only he had taken it to heart, "...all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began." (Psalm 139: 16)

A long life.

I don't really ever have the vision in my mind of sitting on the front porch with Jim in our old age. That may sound morbid, but I just don't. And it's okay. Because while I have seen how difficult it is on the ones left behind, I just have to trust that I've done my best and that God will fill in all the gaps if I'm gone too soon.

It's also okay if I DO get that whole sitting-on-the-front-porch thing! I would be so happy to spend my "golden years" with my have more time with our invest in the lives of our grandchildren. How cool would that be?

A long life.

This is the reason that I that when I'm gone, my children and grandchildren will know the answers to some of the questions they may have one day...about life...about me. I just know that there are things I wish I could talk to my Mom about. We didn't really share deep conversations about faith and family or anything like that. Sadly. But, even tho she didn't bring up those subjects with me, I like to think that if she was here now...I would bring them up with her.

You know...just questions about her childhood...her she came to know Jesus...the struggles she had in her life...her dreams. All the stuff that you wish you could ask your Mom.

But she left us many things. She used her voice to sing...I use mine to write. And hopefully to encourage. And she had such a wonderful sense of humor...we, my sisters, brother and I...we all appreciate that. I know that I have used humor to get through many of the hard times in my life. Humor didn't change my circumstances, necessarily...but it changed my outlook, my perspective, my attitude.

I hope that comes through my writing. Although there are serious issues our family faces, LIKE WE ALL DO, I like to write about the funny stuff that goes on...the funny things Joshua says and does. It just makes me happy.

I hope I am remembered as a good Mom...a loyal and funny friend...and someone who tried to find the good in everything.

"O LORD, You alone are my hope. I've trusted You, O LORD, from childhood." Psalm 71:5

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Time For Bubbles

My Mom wasn't very playful.

Like, as far as I remember, she wasn't one for running in the leaves, letting us play in the rain, or being spontaneous and fun.

She was a great Mom, don't get me was just a different time. And she was a different Mom. She was raised with nothing much, and she wanted more for there was a lot of intensity and stress in those early years. And my Dad, he was from a children should be seen and not heard life. It was just how he was raised, and all he knew.

Now, tho, he loves talking with the kids, watching them in all of their activities, and encouraging them in their spiritual walks. His parents probably wouldn't believe how he turned out.

I remember my Mom taking us to concerts and plays when we were young. I think she was trying to broaden our horizons and open our eyes to new opportunities. Because my Dad was in the military, we traveled a lot. My parents, especially my Mom, tried to make sure we saw the sights and learned about the history of the places we were visiting. I appreciate that so much.

Well, I appreciate it NOW. My Dad loves to remind me of the time they told me to PUT THE BOOK DOWN because we were going over the Golden Gate Bridge. When they asked me about it later, they told me I said, "it was nice."

*slow blink*

I just don't have any memories of my Mom doing the fun, every day stuff with us. She was probably just overwhelmed. Or maybe she did all the fun stuff, and I just don't remember. That is totally plausible with the state of my mind these days.

I have a memory of my Mom standing at the ironing board. She had set it up in the living room of the house we lived in in South Carolina. My parents had 3 young children at the was a newborn. This particular image of her...I don't know if it's a memory, or if it's from a picture, because my Mom was not really a fan of the housework. She was, on the other hand, a BIG fan of the HOUSEKEEPER


As much as I love all things HOME...she loved all things GO. She needed to get out...she needed to be big and loud and in charge. She needed to fly.

Of course, even tho I tried to be the Mom who ran in the leaves and played in the rain and let my kids bring home cats and dogs and guinea pigs, and even kept a snake in an aquarium IN THE KITCHEN...and tried to be spontaneous and fun...they may only remember all the stuff I didn't let them do, the tv shows and movies they weren't allowed to watch...the places I didn't let them go...and all the times I fussed at them for doing the wrong thing.

SIGH...the life of a parent.

I'm at my sink...a LOT. So much, in fact, that I cannot even grow my fingernails to a decent length. I know, I know...wear gloves. I don't.

But I have a bottle of dish-washing liquid beside the sink. I have some in a decorative bottle, but I also have some in the actual plastic bottle that it came in. If you turn it over to pour some in the sink and then turn it up quickly and squeeze, most of the time a few bubbles will come out the top. I love that. I remember my Mom doing that one time on accident, and the bubbles floated through the air. I thought it was the coolest thing ever! I tried to pop the bubbles before they landed. I would blow them up high and try to blow them around the room. It was fun until they popped.

I used to try and get my Mom to "make bubbles" more often when she was doing dishes at the sink. She didn't have time...didn't see the need...didn't see the fun in it.

And it was such a simple thing.

We are all so busy. There are so many opportunities for distractions. I see Moms on their phones after they've just picked up their little ones from school. I know there are times when we all just have to be on the phone...I'm not judging. I've done it, too. I'm just saying, as an older mom looking back...they are only little once. You can't get this time back. My kids, especially my non-talkative boys...they were full of stories at the end of the day. If I was distracted, or if Jim or a friend picked them up from school...I missed all the good stuff. My boys WOULD NOT REPEAT A STORY.

DON'T MISS IT...if possible and as much as it depends on you...take the time to BE THERE in the moment with your kids.

And make time for the little things.

"He renews my strength..." Psalm 23:3

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Time We Lost Joshua on World Down Syndrome Day

Yesterday was World Down Syndrome Day and it was a great day. Spent the morning and part of the afternoon with Joshua and Holly...and then, last night, our college boy came home from Spring Break!


Of course, nothing compares to the World Down Syndrome Day from a few years ago when we lost Joshua on The Holiday of His People.

We were on Spring Break and had gone to Orange Beach, Alabama...also known as the "Red-Neck Riviera."

We're classy like that.

At the time, we had not ever been to OB. For 15 years, we had gone to Destin on our vacations. But, we'd heard about OB and decided to give it a try on Spring Break...just to see if we'd like it.

WELL...we LOVED it. We are either more red-neck that we thought we were, or we are huge fans of TWO HOURS CLOSER than Destin.


Anyway, it was dinner-time and Jim wanted to go to this place called Wintzell's. He said that it's the one place he remembers eating with his family when he was younger. Not this exact restaurant, but I'm guessing there's one in another city. I've heard the stories...we all have...of how Jim's family would go on vacation. Jim said they would leave on a Friday and he and his brothers would sleep while his parents took turns driving through the night. They would pull into Pensacola and spend the whole day on the beach...and then spend one night in a hotel, and drive all the way home the next day. THAT was vacation.

Sound like fun?

With 3 boys in a stay-wag?

No, thanky.

I guess they thought it was fun, because they alllll remember it fondly.

Or with horror.


Anyway, we decide to eat at Wintzell's in OB for old-time's-sake for Jim. Out front, they have a little pond with a sign that says, "Beware of the Alligators." I am certain this is purely to scare the tourists, but still. 

While we are waiting to be seated. a nice hostess talks with me about our family...where we're from and all of that. She was an older lady...older than Jim and I...and she was taking quite an interest in Joshua. She was talking to me about him, and interacting with him. She seemed very comfortable around him. She pulled me aside and told me that she'd had a brother-in-law with DS and all about what a sweet man he was. I asked about him and she told me he had passed away when he was 50 and I DO NOT NEED TO KNOW THIS INFORMATION.

She got very emotional as we were seated and told me how great it was to talk with us...and how much visiting with us had BLESSED HER. What? She told me that her husband of 35 years had passed away 2 weeks ago. I just looked at her and said, "WHY are you HERE?"

I mean, if it was me and Jim had just died 2 weeks earlier, I would still be in the fetal position in my living room. Not even kidding. She said that she felt better being at work than at home in her empty house. And here she was...not just working...but reaching out to our family. It was the sweetest thing.

At some point toward the end of the meal, Joshua gets up to go to the restroom. I asked if he knew where it was and he said, "yes" and took off walking. At this point, you need to know that I am borderline neurotic cautious about Joshua going to the restroom by himself. I know he needs to go by himself, but don't even try to convince me that all manner of evil and crazy people don't hang out in men's bathrooms. I know they do. And while I want Joshua to be independent and not have to feel like someone has to go to the restroom with him, I do always try to suggest to another male member of my family to go a few minutes after Joshua to check on him...but not so that Joshua KNOWS they are checking on him.

Make sense?

Welcome to my warped little world...but I have a Joshua.

And he was 25 years old at the time, but CREEPY PEOPLE. Hello?

So, after a couple of minutes, I ask Clark to go check on him and he says, "MOM...he just left." Well, I kept on and on and finally Clark gets up and reluctantly goes to check on him. He comes back and goes, "he's not in there."

And that's how I died.

Seriously. All of my worst dreams and fears became real in that one moment and I went from 0 to full-out panic-mode in 2 seconds: Joshua.was.gone.

But, as I stood up, I saw the kind hostess lady come around the corner with Joshua. She said she FOUND HIM OUTSIDE.

And I'm breathing into a bag.

Apparently, he took a wrong turn on the way to the restroom, and he went through a kitchen area...and out a side door. He walked around the side of the building...BY THE ALLIGATOR POND, which, at this point, I am CONVINCED has real, live alligators in it. Hostess-lady saw him through the windows as he was walking around the building. She went out and brought him in to us.

I was shaking.


And I was overwhelmed with the goodness of God...and the goodness of kind the hostess-lady was to our family that day and how tender God was with the emotions of my heart.

I thought of God's words from the Bible about the Shepherd who has 99 sheep and goes after the 1.

I get it.

I had barely recovered from it all when we climbed into the Burb to head back to our condo. One of the kids said, "pretty bad to lose Joshua on The Holiday of His People."

"...may Your unfailing love and faithfulness watch over him." Psalm 61:7

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Holiday of Joshua's People

World Down Syndrome Day is on 3/21 every year to symbolize a third copy of the 21st chromosome in people with Down syndrome.

We try to celebrate Joshua and his special little self every day. We are all so thankful for him. He adds a dynamic to our family that is occasionally frustrating, at times overwhelming...but mostly sincere, hilarious and fun. 

We told Joshua that 3/21 is the "Holiday of His People." Holly and I celebrated him today with lunch and a BIG COOKIE from McAlister's.

We don't really talk "disabilities" around here. I want our home to be a place where we encourage each other in our strengths AND in our weaknesses...but Joshua posted something on Facebook this morning and, not gonna lie...I was holding back tears. Here is what he typed and I'm gonna write it exactly how he did:

"As you all know today is the day of people like me who all have many different disabilities. We may come from having different disabilities but our hearts we are one. Through the shedding blood of Christ we are one. Don't judge us for who we are or what we have. For I declare as a leader. We at least are loved and accepted by family we each have. Our bond is strong and unstoppable through The Lord who has made all different. Our hearts are 1."

Is that not the most precious thing you've ever read?

So, of being me and not knowing when to and just leave well-enough alone...I initiated a long conversation about how we should not concentrate on DISabilities, because we all have them in one way or another...but we should, rather, celebrate our Abilities. And I shared how God gave us all different gifts and how we all can't be feet or hands in the Body of Christ. 

Joshua understands these concepts, but today? I probably shaved off 3 years of my life because I got...

*slow blink*

And, funny thing...for World Down Syndrome Day, they were asking people to wear different colored socks. Like, funny patterned socks or striped socks...or socks that didn't match. Supposedly, this brings awareness to Down Syndrome, because when people ask about your socks, it opens the door for you to talk about individuals with Down Syndrome.

Too bad we don't use this type of tool for evangelism.

Just sayin'.

Anyway, what's so funny is that Joshua would NEVER EVER wear socks that didn't match...and he would NEVER wear "funny" or colorful socks. In fact, he has some striped "Sunday socks" that he occasionally wears with his khakis on Sundays. The last time he wore them he said, "I couldn't find my black socks, so I had to wear these." And he kind of frowned. Then he said, "so I had to wear these fruity socks." WHAT?

He can come up with some interesting color combinations, let me tell you: maroon and and orange...mixing stripes and plaids. But in HIS eyes, he thinks he matches. I've talked before about how he was born an "old soul." He doesn't really "get" a lot of humor, and he doesn't really like a lot of silliness. So to intentionally wear something like weird and colorful socks? He would never do it. 

Even on the Holiday of His People.

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!" Psalm 139:13-14

Thursday, March 20, 2014


When Clark was born, he was 12 1/2 weeks early. I've written about that here on my blog. He had to stay in the hospital for 7 weeks, while I got to come home. It was torture to be away from him...the hospital was an hour away...50 minutes if I went above the speed limit hurried. I had 3 other kids at home to take care the first day or two that I was home, I tried to stay busy. Jim had told me that we could go to the hospital every other day...because I needed to rest and traveling was hard.


I know he was just watching out for me. I had a ton of complications with Clark and was very sick before and after he was born. But it didn't take me long to realize that I had to see my baby every day.

EVERY DAY. And it was gonna take more than Jim to stop me.

So, I planned and plotted how I was going to get down there. I wasn't supposed to drive for 2 weeks after my c-section, but I couldn't stand it. It had already been about a week, and I decided I was going. Jim took Joshua and Holly to school, and I got Logan all ready to ride with me. I remember easing myself into the driver's seat and buckling my seat-belt. It wasn't comfortable, but I was going to see my baby. I wasn't taking any pain pills or anything like that. I figured I wasn't gonna hurt myself too much unless I had to slam on the breaks or had a wreck.

I'm certainly not recommending this...I just couldn't NOT GO. A part of me...a piece of my heart...was in the hospital, and I couldn't bear to be away from him.

Logan and I would drive to LR in the mornings. We were only allowed certain times in the NICU and only for 30 minutes. My goal was to be there for two of those sessions, and then head home.

Wanna try keeping a 4 year old entertained for several hours in a HOSPITAL?

Didn't think so.

We parked in the hospital's parking deck, and very carefully walked across the sky-bridge thing and took the elevator to the NICU. If it was visiting times, we washed our hands and put on a gown and waited to be allowed in. We couldn't hold Clark at first. In fact, he couldn't really have any stimulation at all...but I would sit and watch him breathe and listen to the nurses give me an update on how he did during the night.

Actually, they told me that children (like Logan) were only allowed if it was determined that they could behave properly. I mean...LOTS going on in the NICU. Not just with my child. There are lines and monitors and flashing lights. And things are quiet, so that the littlest ones aren't overly stimulated. Logan was an angel, and for the 20-30 minutes we got to be in there with Clark, he was still and quiet.

I'm a pretty shy person. Well, not shy, exactly. More like...reserved. I like to be in the background, surveying the situation. I'm not one to jump in head-first to anything until I've gotten the lay-of-the-land. I will listen as other people talk, and I won't say a word.

I always want to be learning new things. And, I'm not a doctor or a nurse or a teacher or a therapist, so I listen carefully when they tell me things about my children.

But I believe God gave moms a "gut" feeling about've had it, right? We should listen to it and at the very least check it out. We know our children...we felt the signs of life, before anyone else. We felt them as they stretched inside our bellies. We felt them hiccup. We felt them kick.

Some of us felt as they grew still.

I never forget my children. They are never far from my mind. When it comes to their care, I can be pretty assertive. I will listen to others and their expert opinions and advice...but those are my children. I KNOW them...just as God KNOWS us. How we feel about our children is how He feels for us.

Updated to add: I wrote this several weeks ago, but today read THIS post...a perfect reminder of how God feels about us.

God made my children...I grew them in my body. I birthed them, nursed them, rocked them, sang to them, encouraged them and disciplined them.

I have stormed Heaven on their behalf many times.

Sometimes, they've broken me...but not really. When I am weak, God is strong.

So, yes...I will drive, walk or crawl to get to one of my babies...even now that they are big and think they are grown. And nothing and no one will stop me.

I'm a mother.

"Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? Even if that were possible, I would not forget you!" Isaiah 49:15

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Body Image

I just got in from shopping.

I need to lie down.

We have Spring Break coming up, so I wanted to get a few things. The first place I went was Academy. I am all over that, I love everything in there. Leggings, hoodies, t-shirts, shorts...socks, shoes. I LOVE IT ALL. It's my happy place.

And was time to head to the mall to look for a swimsuit. DAH, DAH. DAHHHHH.

And in a dressing room, with a hand-full of swimsuits to try on...THINGS. GET. REAL.

I can cover up a lot. Foundation, under-eye cream, concealer...even sunglasses...these are all my friends. I love me a cardigan or a little jacket. Long shorts, track-suits and leggings. Ahhh...

But stand half-nekked under the bright fluorescent lights of a department store dressing room and there's no hiding. And, I don't know about you, but I felt like I'd had a cardio work-out after I was done...pulling, reaching, that even a word? I had about worked up a sweat! WHEW!

Side note: the other day when I was looking for shorts, I told Joshua, "I really like the longer shorts...for me." And he said, "I agree...I don't want to see that much of you."

*slow blink*

I try not to say anything about body issues in front of anyone. I am very thankful to be healthy. I really don't want to pass down any negative feelings about how I look down to my children...or my friends. Truth is, the shape I'm in has nothing to do with how God made me...and everything to do with eating habits, physical activity (or the lack thereof)...and birthing 4 children. Can I get an Amen on the last one?

And as much as I want to start running with my daughter, it's just a matter of time before my bladder falls smack out on the ground...and no one wants to see that. Am I right?

What if we uncover all that we've covered up...on the inside? Lay it right out in the open. If we really are about what's in our hearts and not what's on the outside...then why do we spend so much time adorning our outer person?

There are lots of things we cover up besides the "problem areas" of our bodies. We cover up our beliefs. Sometimes, we do. We fear losing our jobs or our reputations or our friends...maybe even our families. We fear that we might hurt someone's feelings. We fear that we can't defend our beliefs if someone questions us about them.

We cover up our abilities. Sometimes we say we are "too busy." Sometimes it seems easier to just let someone else do it.

We cover up anger, hurt, disappointment. We cover up our insecurities. We cover up how we really act at home.

Sometimes, we cover up our dreams. We question whether or not it could really be. What if we tried? What if we fail?

Everyone will know.

Sometimes, we cover up our sin.

But God made us and He sees all of us...the good that we show, and the not-so-good that we try to hide.

What if...we laid it all at His feet?

All...of us.

And let Him work...and let Him lead.

"...You are the God who sees me..." Genesis 16:13

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

St. Patrick's Day

A long time ago...when I first started out on my journey as a Mom...I had tons of energy and lots of ideas on what kind of mother I wanted to be.

Granted, it was probably an unrealistic goal. In fact, I'm sure it was.

I was already way over my head from the get-go. I had Joshua and he had Down Syndrome...and everything changed after that. Not for the worst...just for the "different."

Actually, God has used it all for the best...His best. And hopefully for His glory.

Back when my friend Karen Alexander-Doyel was Karen Alexander...and she was married to Doug...and he was a minister at our church...she and Doug taught a parenting class for all of us young parents. I learned so much from her about how to be a Mom. Big things...for sure...but also some little things.

She made the every days special for her husband and 3 boys.

That's what I wanted to do, too. Make the every days special.

So I got out the china on random days and I decorated the house...or the kitchen...or maybe just the front door. Some days we used paper plates with Super-heros on them...just for fun. Or we'd draw on the driveway with chalk or we'd play in the rain.

Karen told me about Valentine's Day at their home. She made heart-shaped meat-loaf and pink mashed potatoes...and other things that were pink and red to go along with the theme...and we did that in our home as well, back when the kids were little.

Yesterday morning, I started thinking about what to have for dinner. I wanted to make this dessert that I'd seen on a Saturday morning TV show. It was a green jello-y type of thing that they were making for St. Patrick's Day. That's what started the ball rolling. I knew the only people who would eat the jello-y dessert would be Jim and Joshua. I wanted to fix something Clark would like, too.

I decided to make Pioneer Woman's Salisbury Steak. My whole family loves that. I didn't make the steaks into heart-shapes, but I could've. Actually, I should have. I just made them into small logs, like I usually do. I made mashed potatoes and I got out the green food coloring. Not gonna lie...I thought about it a lonnnng time before I finally squeezed a few drops of it into the mashed potatoes. Then I turned the mixer on high and watched the green color spin into the potatoes.

In the end, the potatoes were green. I steamed some broccoli, and made a tossed green salad. I fixed some garlic bread. I was going to add green to the butter/cheese mixture, but I just couldn't go that far. I also made a Key-Lime Pie. I don't know that I've ever made a Key Lime pie before. If I was a lonnng time ago.

Jim and the boys loved the meal. Clark didn't eat the Key-Lime Pie, altho I think if he had tried it, he would've liked it. So, all that time I spent thinking of a dessert that they would all eat...

I was going to invite Holly and Aaron over, but Aaron is verrrrrry picky with normal looking food. I knew he would probably freak if he saw green mashed potatoes on the table!

Beth Moore says, "the days are long but the years are short." Or something along those lines.

We've had a lot of dark, dreary, snowy, icy weather here lately. Many gray days...outside.

And, you know, through the years, we've had some really gray days of life.

Haven't you?

I love making the every days special for my family.

"...when morning dawns and evening fades, You call forth songs of praise..." Psalm 65:8

Monday, March 17, 2014

"Reflect Jesus to Them"


I typed out a text to my 18 year old son this morning after he left for school. He might not listen to me when I talk, but he will read my text.

Or WILL he?

We hadn't had "words." We weren't arguing. I was just burdened for him this morning as he left. He had to know. He has to know...that he needs to be real; that there's accountability here.

I typed it out. Fast and furious at first. It got longer and longer. I stopped and took a breath. I re-read what I had written and I deleted it all.


Because my goal is not for him to know I'm right...WHICH, I WAS RIGHT. There could be little question about that. But I am the adult...and he is the child. Even if he's 18...and how can you expect a child to know all that an adult knows?

Kids, when they aren't thinking their parents are all dumb as wood, think most other grown-ups are wise.

But...maybe it's just that we've learned from our mistakes.

I question myself with my children, now that they are older...what to say, how to handle things, when to step in, when to let thing be. It was so much easier when they were young.

In the end, I decided not to send my text. I'm praying for God to provide opportunities for us to just talk. Like, in person. And I pray that he will be receptive to what I have to say.

I pray the same for myself.

He's a good kid. All four of ours are good kids. I'm thankful to be their Mom...but they have much to learn.

Then again...don't we all?

A lot of it will be by trial and error on their part. They'll try and fail...they'll try and learn.

I sat down this morning after my son left and just thought about the situation I was trying to deal with this morning.

I pray for wisdom.

I opened up my lap-top and read this post, and it reminded me that my goal for my child is their changed heart...and only God can do that.

Reflect Jesus to them.

Because, really, as much as I want to help my kids...the Voice I really want them to hear is not mine...

But HIS.

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

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Weekend Update 3/16/14

We've had a good weekend. I don't really even know why I'm bothering to write anything. It was a real snooze-fest.

Kind of like this post.

It does get better at the end...I promise.

On Friday night, we went out for dinner...and Holly and Aaron joined us. It was a lot of fun.

On Saturday, we really had no plans...and that was GREAT! Except that Jim wanted to get in a run. WHY IN THE WORLD he has to get up at the crack o'dawn on a Saturday is BEYOND ME. But he did. He also fixed breakfast for everyone after he got home, so that made up for a lot of aggravation!

We "hanged around" (Joshua's words) most of the day, and then Holly, Clark and I started getting cryptic messages from Logan that made us all think he might be coming home! I was so excited! But, as I was unloading the dryer, I started thinking how disappointed I was going to be if it was something we were all making up in our heads.

But, sure enough, about 5:15, we heard our doorbell ring. Before I could get to the door, Logan's key was turning in the lock! YAY! He had come to town with Morgan. She was attending a bachelorette party for a friend here in town, and Logan didn't want her to have to drive by herself.


Anyway, we all went to dinner, and Morgan went to her party...and Logan came home with us for a few hours. It was FUN having him here.

When Morgan was done and got back to our house, it was 10:45 at night...and they jumped in the car and headed back to their college, 2 1/2 hours away. And do you know what is NOT fun about that? Worrying half-to-death about them driving 2 1/2 hours in the dead of the the dead of night.

Because I have determined that no matter how old my kids their mom...I'm gonna worry about them. Not an incapacitating worry (let's hope)...just a deep concern for their safety and well-being.

I trust God...but I'm human.


I remember a Beth Moore series that we did at our old church. Can't remember which study, but in part of one lesson, she talked about the worst thing that could happen. And how she went to the Lord with whatever her fears were, and she said, "Lord, if this happens...well..." And she felt the Lord saying to her, "well, what?" And she said, "well, this or that will happen," and the Lord said, "and then what?" With each scenario she mentioned, He would say, "and then what?" She said she ended with, "well, I'll just die." And the Lord said, "and then what?"

And she realized that if the worst thing that could happen happened...and she lost her life...she was going to Heaven, so how could that really be the worst thing that could happen?

I think about that all the time.

Morgan texted me at 1:45 A.M. to say that they had made it safe and sound. One reason I had been worried, besides the obvious...that they were driving 2 1/2 hours in the rain in the dead of night...was that Logan fell asleep on the couch waiting for Morgan, and he slept a good 1 1/2 hours before she finally got back here. I thought he would be so groggy, but I guess he got enough sleep to power through. She had driven the whole way from their school to our house, and he was driving the whole way back to their school.

This morning came early...after that late night...and it was cold and rainy. I've always heard that for every drop of rain that falls, a Southern Baptist stays home from church. Well, it wasn't like that today! Our service was PACKED! We had a group from a facility that provides help and recovery for men addicted to alcohol or drugs.

The most moving part of the service, for me, was when the men...about 30 of them...came up one by one with these cardboard signs that they had made themselves. On one side, it had words that described what they were...what others have told them they would always be...the words they have told themselves. And one by one, they walked to the stage and showed those words to the congregation. Things like: LOST, DAMAGED, DESPERATE, WORTHLESS. And then we sat in awe of God's goodness as one by one, they turned over their signs to reveal who GOD says they are in Him: HEALED, REDEEMED, SAVED, VALUED.

A perfect picture of all of us...before Christ. And a perfect picture of all of us...IN Christ.

"...proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." 1 Peter 2:9

Saturday, March 15, 2014

On How We Missed Clark's Track Meet

Yesterday was a day.


Joshua didn't have Therapeutic Recreation, so we "hanged around the house" (his words) most of the morning. But about 10:30, we decided to get out-and-about...or, as my Grandmother used to say in her thick Virginia accent, "oot and aboot."

Joshua needed a haircut and I thought we might do some shopping.

If I tell you about that, it would just take a year off your life. Let's just say that Joshua did NOT get a hair-cut because the ladies at our local Sports Clips were having some ish-ahs. We opted to leave and have lunch at Chick-Fil-A. Joshua was so happy.

You know how they will ask for a name when you place your order at Chick? I gave them Joshua's name, because nothing makes my son happier than someone calling his name in a restaurant...and then bringing him a tray of chicken sandwiches and waffle fries.

I'm just sayin'.

Jim took a half-day of vacation yesterday because Clark had a track meet...and Jim wanted to get in a run and do some yard work and things like that. Clark told us that HIS COACH TOLD THEM...that this would be a long meet. The track meet was being held in our old hometown...and the track at the school has 6 lanes, instead of that makes things last way longer. We've been to meets there before, and usually it's late in the evening before we are done.

So, we planned to leave at 4, but Clark texted us and said, "DO NOT LEAVE AT 4." He said that he would probably not even run until 8. That's p.m. ON A THURSDAY.

It's a little over an hour away, and Jim was antsy, so we decided to leave at 5:30. That would put us there by 7. We had Clark's girlfriend with us, and another college girl from our hometown that we were taking to meet her parents for dinner while we were at the track meet.

We were barely into our drive when my friend, Stacy, texted me to say, "are y'all here yet?" I texted back that we weren't and where we were and what all Clark had said. Last week, Clark's team had a practice track meet. Clark ran 4 races and had the fastest times of any other boy on his team. So, naturally, his coach tells him that he's only running 1 race this week.


But, whatever...we went to every football game and every away football game but one during Clark's sophomore year, even tho he was injured and didn't play. Driving 1 hour and 10 minutes for a 25 second race at a track meet? NOOOO problem. We are not amateurs.

But then Stacy texts, "Clark is fixin' to run."


Run what? He was only supposed to run one 8 o'clock!

At this point, you just have to know that it kills me to miss any of my kids' events. There have been times when our kids have had things scheduled on the same day. With 4 kids, it was bound to happen. It's been rare, tho. Jim and I like to make every game, meet, recital, assembly, conference...that we can. So when Stacy said that Clark was fixin' to run a race that his coach had told him he would not be running...and we were going to miss it...I wanted to cry.

I know. Dramatic, much?

But, great friend that she is, Stacy videoed it for me and sent it to me via text. We were able to watch it while we were on the way and nothing made me any happier. And Clark did great.

I was so sad that we missed it.

Anyway, we made it to town at 6:45 and dropped the friend off at her house and headed to the school. We got out of the car and walked to the gate to pay. Just then, a rush of boys flew by on the track. Think: the scene from Mulan where Mulan says, "I NEVER want to see a naked man again..." and a herd of men run by while she stands there...stunned.


Faith pointed and says, "uhhh...I think that was Clark."



*Updated to add that someone brought it to my attention that the above reference to the scene from Mulan makes it sound like the track boys were nekked...and even tho we are from the South, we run with our clothes track meets! ;)

We just stood there, shocked, and so disappointed...and that's when I determined in my heart to never, ever, EVER again listen to my son or his coach when it comes to the schedule of a track meet. Ugh.


The ticket-taker lady told us to go in without paying. Was that sweet or what?

And our friends who were there in the bleachers...they were all just as sad as we were...that we missed Clark's race. Thankfully, Stacy had recorded that one, too.


Clark wasn't upset at us. He had told us that he would "keep in touch," and he didn't...but oh, well. We got to see our friends...and then when we went to pick up our college-girl at her parent's house, we got to visit with them as well.

All in all...a good night.

And next week? We are going back to where we used to, where we moved from to move here. Clark has a track meet there. And I will be there early, I don't care what anybody says.

"Can a woman forget her...child?...Even if she forgets, I will not forget you!" Isaiah 49:15

Friday, March 14, 2014

What I'm Reading

Linking up with Kelly...

I used to love to read. I remember my Mom saying that I spent the better part of a year of my life when I was a my room...with a book. I loved reading.

Now, tho, I'm doing good to read my Bible...which, I guess is okay. That's really the most important thing to read.

I read a few good books this past year, but the only ones I remember are "Sparkly Green Earrings" by Melanie Shankle, and "A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet" by Sophie Hudson. They were both soooo good, and I cannot WAIT to read the next books by both of these two women (I like to pretend I know them in real life because I totally think we would be friends).  :)

So, here's what's on my nightstand:

The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn
The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
not a fan. by kyle idleman
Chasing God by Angie Smith
The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle
Restless by Jennie Allen
Shadowed by Grace by Cara C. Putman

We are fixin' to go on Spring Break in a couple of weeks. I am trying to get finished with "not a fan." before we go, but I am taking the other 6 books with me.

Nobody bother me.

Oh, yeah...forgot that Jim and I are taking 5 children with us.


In my defense, the youngest of the "children" is 18...they are pretty low-maintenance.

I am sooo looking forward to...REST.

"...He leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life..." Psalm 23:2-3

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Marked (Vanity Tags)

The other day when I was taking Joshua down to Little Rock, we got stopped at the light just up the street. I looked up and the van in front of me had a personalized tag that read: DISNEY. Oh my goodness! LOVE! And, they also had a magnetic Mickey stuck on the back...the kind that is just the 2 small circles for the ears, and the one larger circle representing his head.

A true Disney fan just knows.

It was a not-so-hidden Mickey.

We are a big Disney family. Not that we go all the time...we don't. But we'd like to! My sister, Leanne? They DO go...a LOT.

I'm so jealous.

In fact, just this week, my sister took her 4 kids and 4 of their friends to Disney herself...for their Spring Break. Leanne plus 8. She is amazing!

Anyway, I was really tickled to see the DISNEY tag. Mainly because DISNEY. And also...are you like me...when you see some tags with letters on them and you rack your brain trying to figure out what it's trying to spell? BTRLVR. Butter Lover? Better Lover? Big Troll Lover?


Around here, they're called, "Vanity Tags," and before someone says something u-g-l-y, let me say that I do not believe every person who gets a personalized tag is vain. It's what PEOPLE around here call them...not me.

In fact, my sister got one for me years ago with the word, "MOOSE," on it...that's what my husband calls me. It wasn't one of the state issued ones that you can order. This was one that you could put on the front of your vehicle (here in Arkansas, we only have our license plates on the backs of our cars). I was so excited to put it on my vehicle, but Jim nixed that idea real fast. He drives my vehicle some, and said he didn't want people thinking his nickname was "MOOSE."


And he didn't want people thinking he would put his own nickname on his own vehicle.

It started me thinking. As Christians, we are all marked, aren't we? "Tagged," so to speak. We should be, right? Marked by Jesus? Redeemed...washed in His blood...saved by His grace...set apart...not conforming but being transformed daily. All of that should leave a mark. We should stand out.

We don't have any sort of visible label or tag on us, but what if we did? What if we had a "vanity tag" on our backs that read, "Christian" or "Christ-follower?" Or, CRSCHEN? Or CRSTFLR? Eeek! I feel like that might be sacrilegious.

So, what if people who know we have been "marked" by Christ...maybe they know we are Christians, or maybe they just think we are "different"...what if they see us living in a way that doesn't line up?

Last Wednesday, I was headed to church. The road takes me by the High School. It was not during school hours, but our police enforce a strict speed limit through school zones at all times. I saw a vehicle come up behind me and it was riding close on my bumper. I had already noticed it in my rear-view mirror, passing cars, moving quickly. Not being erratic, just going faster than everyone else.  I watched as it passed me and I saw the vanity tag: "HOLINES" (in Arkansas, you can only have 7 characters on a license plate). I watched as it passed me and two more cars, and then darted over into the right lane. I wondered if they were going to church. I wondered if they were going to MY church.

I know...that's wrong to think...but seriously? If you're gonna have a vanity tag like that, you're gonna have to drive the speed limit. A friend of mine has 1COR13 on hers. I joked and said she was gonna have to let every car merge in front of her now. You know those irritating people who get in the other lane and pass everyone, only to merge at the very.last.second? I had a lady at our former church tell me, "I will wreck my car before I let someone like that in front of me."


I think that's why our pastor was cautioning everyone about getting church license be AWARE and to seriously consider if that would be a good witness for the church...or not.

You know, we can't hold people who are not Christians...those who have not accepted Jesus as their the same standard of behavior as we would those who are. And for Christians, there's grace...for sure. I need it every day...don't you?

I read a quote on Pinterest that said, "what other people think of you is none of your business."

Well...I get the point...not to worry over jealous or bitter feelings others have when it's of no fault of your own. But, the Bible does talk about our reputations...about staying on the right path...and things to avoid.

We are all marked. We are all labeled. We might not know how others see us, but we know how we see others...right? Haven't you been somewhere...seen something they wrote...heard something they said...and it made you wonder? And while we aren't supposed to judge others, knowing the truth of a person's character can keep us out of a lot of trouble. And being aware that others are watching us is something we all need to consider. We are to reflect Christ.

Who do you reflect?

Who do I reflect?

"...let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lives We Touch 2--Mr. Mailman

Before we moved...two times ago...we lived in the same town for 15 years. We loved it. It was small enough that if we didn't know someone, we knew someone who did.

My husband says there are just two degrees of separation in Arkansas.  :)

We lived in a small 3 bedroom house and had 3 kids...and were expecting one more. Getting the mail was a big deal. We had a clear storm door, so I left the big door open a lot so the kids could see out. They loved to watch for the mail-man.

Also...side note: during the Christmas season, whenever we saw a UPS truck out anywhere, Logan would point at it and say, "they bring presents from Santa."

Whatever it takes, man.

And, side note: Logan is also the one who would only eat chicken strips for...oh...8 YEARS or so...and when he was little would go berserk whenever we saw a Tyson's truck on the interstate.

ANYway...we had several different mail people...two older men and a lady...I would usually watch the truck come and then let the kids walk out there with me to get it.

I don't remember really talking too much to the mail-person, other than a "hey, how ya doin'" type of thing.

When Clark was born at 12 1/2 weeks early, Jim and I stayed at the hospital until I was discharged...several days after Clark was born. While I got to come home, Clark had to stay 7 weeks in the NICU. Jim's mom came to our house to stay with the other 3 kids. People sent balloons, and decorated our mailbox with blue ribbons. It was so sweet to see when we got home, but it made me cry. Leaving the hospital without a baby...after HAVING a baby...was so hard.

The next day, the door-bell rang, and it was our mailman...standing there...holding our mail...delivering it to our front door. He said that he'd noticed the balloons and there were several days of mail in the mailbox piling up...he wanted to say "Congratulations." I told him about Clark being born so early, and he was genuinely concerned. He brought our mail to the door every day for the 7 weeks that Clark was in the hospital.

He would ask about Clark's progress each day, and each day I would update him. I would share about God's faithfulness and how the members of our church were ministering to us during this time.

On the day after Clark finally got to come home, I watched for the mail truck. When I saw it coming, I picked up Clark and waited by the mailbox. Mr. Mailman was SO EXCITED to see Clark. I let him hold Clark and it was such a sweet moment.

After that time, I tried to take Clark out periodically to see the mailman. As he got older, Clark knew to watch for him, and would wave and laugh.

When Clark was 2 years old, I discovered a lump in his abdomen that turned out to be cancer...a malignant mass the size of a man's fist in my baby's tummy. I felt I'd been kicked in the stomach.

The day of our appointment...we were in our little town and things were routine. But that afternoon, we had again called in Jim's mom to stay with our 3 older children...and by that night, Jim and I were in Arkansas' Children's Hospital with Clark, preparing for surgery...chemo...and an unknown future.

We got home a few days after Clark's surgery and his first chemo felt like those days had been a dream. A bad dream. I saw the mailman coming and I walked out to the mailbox. He noticed that the mailbox was full, and asked us if we'd been out-of-town. Through tears, I told him about Clark...about the cancer and the surgery. I told him we were sad and scared...and hopeful...and that God had never left our sides.

The mailman got to see Clark during the whole process: after his surgery...after his treatments...and when he lost all of his hair.

It was some time after this...can't remember how long...when Mr. Mailman joined our church. He said he had lost touch with God, but had come back. I don't know if Clark's story had a direct impact on his decision, but I like to think it did.

You know, Jesus died for us when we were still in our sin and so undeserving of His grace and mercy. The Bible says in John 3:16 that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life." God willingly gave up HIS SON...for ME.

And for you.

I couldn't do it. Even tho we saw people come the Lord as a result of Joshua and Clark's life and testimonies...I wouldn't willingly put my kids through the struggles they've had to endure...for someone else. It's not that I don't love's just that I love my family more. That being said, seeing how God used our situations with our children, it made it more bearable. Because we are always taught that God wants good for us...that He has a plan...that suffering is not without a purpose...that He makes beauty out of ashes.

So many times, I think we look at the trials that come our way and ask, "why me?" or "what did I do wrong?"

I believe that while God never wastes an experience and will use it all for His good...sometimes, it's not about us. It might not even be our lesson to learn or about anything to do with us...but He will use all of our circumstances, good and bad, to mold in us a heart like Christ's and to bring others to Him. God sees the big picture. He knows the plan. He will accomplish His purpose, and if we are willing, He will use us.

I alone am GOD!  I am God, and there is no one like Me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish...I have said what I would do, and I will do it." Isaiah 46:9-11

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

TR's Big Darn Bridge Day

Joshua had Therapeutic Recreation (TR) today, and it was a beautiful day for it. They were going to the Big Dam Bridge for a walk and a picnic. Joshua calls it the Big DARN Bridge...because one time they went, he told us that he was tired because he had "walked THAT DAM BRIDGE," and that got quite the reaction!

Just sayin'.

While he was with his friends, I spent some time shopping with Holly, and got in lunch with a friend. :)

A. Good. Day.

After I picked him up and on the 35 minute drive home, he told me what all went on today. How he almost walked a one of the friends had an asthma attack on the they were supposed to bring a picnic lunch and everyone brought sandwiches, except for one girl, whose mom bought her a Hot'n'Ready pizza from Lil Caesar's and she turned into both the envy and the arch nemesis of the entire group. Joshua said it "wasn't very pic-nicky."

Well, said.

Kinda hard to choke down a PBJ sandwich when your friend has got a steamin' hot slice of pepperoni pizza.

He said that some of the friends sat around the picnic table, but he sat on a blanket with some of the others. He was sitting on his right foot, and he said that when he got up to take his stuff to the trash, he nearly fell over because his foot fell asleep.

Apparently that was the big drama.

This blog post is riveting, I know, but we can't see cats in strollers and pet RACCOONS every day.

Other than that, I think everyone got along well. I pulled up to the TR Center to pick him up, and I could see the back patio area from the road. Three friends were doing the hula-hoop; A couple of friends were throwing a ball back and forth; two were sitting in chairs, watching and talking; a couple of them were under the pavilion part, talking and sitting in the shade.

It was such a sweet setting.

I am so very thankful for the ones the Lord has brought into our lives to walk with us as we parent our sweet Joshua...(and, because I know they'll say it) Holly, Logan and Clark. We certainly wouldn't want to walk this path alone. :)

"Walk with the wise and become wise..." Proverbs 13:20

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Dogs, The Cat and The Raccoon

Okay, I am BEYOND excited to write this post.

 I write this blog mainly for my talk about things that are important to me: family, faith and life with Joshua. BUT, every once in a while, blog posts are just laid out in front of me like a gift.

I'm just sayin'.

On Saturday morning, Jim was going to run in a race here in town. It was a memorial race to honor the life of a 13 year old boy who died in 2005. He was apparently an animal lover, and so his parents tried to figure out a way to incorporate all of that into one event.


Even tho Clark had had a track meet the night before, he decided to enter this race as was only a 2k. And then there was a 1k race where you could bring your pets.

So, the town square area was covered with people and their dogs...all shapes, sizes, breeds. Some were dressed up...which, was cute on some, and just unfortunate on others...but, lots of fur and lots of barking.

BUT THEN...I saw what I thought was the funniest thing I had ever seen: someone had put a large cage in a baby stroller. They had fastened it to the stroller with ties...and there was a giant CAT in the cage. They were pushing their CAT in the race.

And the cat was so embarrassed. You could just tell.

Because we know good and well that no self-respecting cat would EVER voluntarily participate in any act of physical exertion.

So I took a picture...OF COURSE...and put it on my Facebook.

But what I saw next nearly took my breath away. A lady behind me had brought her pet raccoon to the race.

*just gonna let that sink in for a minute*


To a race where there are 100 dogs.

Which, Jim had wanted me to bring Maggie, our Black Lab. I did not want to bring her because 1) she about yanks my arm off on our walks; 2) she would try to poo everywhere; 3) I was concerned about the interaction with other dogs...and 4) one time she "retrieved" our neighbor's little toy-sized pure-breed dog and brought it to us in her mouth (the dog was fine) (the dog's little boy was screaming, "MY DOGGGG!") and our neighbors never looked at us the same way.

It's been years, but I'm still not over it.

Anyway, if I had brought Maggie with me, she would've had that raccoon up a tree in 15 seconds.

And heart was full. The sun was out. Jim and Clark both ran well. I saw lots of cute dogs. I saw someone pushing a cat in a roller-stroller...annnnd I saw a lady holding a pet raccoon.

Please tell me this counts as one of my 1000 gifts, because RACCOON.

Does life get any better?

Why yes...yes, it does...because Jim decided to run our vehicle through the car wash on the way home. You know how they have your choices listed on the little machine, and you choose the one you want? As he is pulling into the bay, Jim says, "I hope this place does a good job...I chose the wet willy.."

And that's how Clark died.

From laughing.

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

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Ice, Hair, Lunch, Track

Couldn't really think of a "cute" or "catchy" title for this post, but I need to have one that will remind me what it's about know, because I'm OLD.

On Friday, Joshua and I had planned to go with Holly to her hair appointment. The plan was to leave our house at 7:15. In the morning. On a FRIDAY.


Unfortunately, we have to cross a large bridge over a river to get there. The news was reporting "freezing fog" on the bridge was causing accidents, and that police had both sides blocked, preventing drivers from getting on the bridge. And there was an accident.


On hair day?

You know that if there is "frozen fog" or anything like that, we will all balk about having to drive to work or school...but our HAIR APPOINTMENTS?

"Ain't no mountain high keep me from you."

We called Kayla-the-hair-girl and told her our predicament. She agreed to move us til later in the morning. Yay! We made it there with no problems and Holly got some bouncin' and behavin' hair!

We made it back to town just in time for Joshua to have a lunch date with Jenni. Never mind the fact that while we were at the hair place, Holly pointed out that Joshua was wearing a pair of jeans that had A HOLE IN THE CROTCH. Ugh. And, Joshua knew it.

It was FRONT and CENTER.


He said that he couldn't find another pair of jeans. I wanted to wring his neck, but I couldn't. I wanted to run him home so that he could change before his date, but I couldn't. Jenni's helper-friend, Tiffanie, took them out for lunch. Joshua had a great time.

When Joshua and Jenni were done, we picked him up and booked it back to the house. Clark had a practice track meet in a town 45 minutes away. We got home about 15 minutes before we were hoping to leave.

By the time we got in the car and headed out, I was feeling kind of frazzled. And tense. I had done a lot of running around, but had been a while since I had to pack for a track meet. A year. But I did remember the blankets, the snacks and to remind Joshua to get a movie to watch in the car. The traffic was AWFUL on the way. We were concerned that we were going to miss Clark's first event, but we didn't.

Since it was a practice meet, it was kind of hard to tell how he did compared to the kids from the other schools. Compared to the other boys on our team, he did VERY well. At least he knows where he is and what he needs to work on.

We came home and Logan was here! He had come in for the weekend. Holly and Aaron took him to dinner, and hung out until we got home.

Later, after everyone left, I pulled a Mammaw Irene. She was my mother-in-law's mother...Jim's grandmother. I didn't know her until she was already old. She lived with her husband until he died, and then she moved in with my in-laws. When we would all come to visit, it was wild and loud and crazy. She would tell us that she would "think about it later." I didn't really "get" what she was talking about until the last few years. When my family is all here and there is a lot going on...sometimes it's all I can do to make sure there's food on the table.

It's not until every one is gone that I allow my mind to relax...and I let myself think about what all went on...who I saw...what we talked about...what we did.

I think about it later.

"Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me." Isaiah 46:9