Friday, January 31, 2014

Behind the Words

We all make mistakes with our words. I know I do.

We are a "wordy" family. My kids are good writers. When they were in school, they had plenty of opportunities to write. Maybe it was a sentence or two when they were "About Me" list, or a few sentences about how they spent their Christmas vacation or summer break. I didn't save every one of those papers, but I loved every one of them. 

My brother is a good writer, too, and my sister, Leanne, is the best writer in our family.

I don't know where we get it, but I definitely think it's part of our DNA. Is that even possible? I don't know.

I do know that I think in sentences. I don't know if that makes any sense at all.

How do YOU think?

But as good as we all try to be at communication, there are always times when we say the wrong things. I've had a ton of hurtful things said to me by well-intentioned people...mainly about Joshua. But what keeps me awake at night, if I let myself "go" there, are the times hurtful or inappropriate words have come from my own mouth.

I like to blame it on youth and ignorance...and there's a lot to be said about that.  But, even now that I'm older and know better, I still trip up on my words. And it is soooo frustrating. I do much better when I can have time to think about what I want to say...write it down and look at it...edit it...think about it some more...edit it some more...and decided if that's really how I want to say it.

But there are just times when I have to, you know, TALK TO REAL PEOPLE...without a topic in mind...and then my words get all jumbled up. It usually hits me later, and I think about what I WISH I had said.

The other day, Holly and I ran into someone from our hometown. She was asking about all of the kids, and I told her about Logan and Morgan getting married in May...and she said, "wowwwwww...your kids all get married really YOUNG, don't they?"

And that's how she died.


But, seriously, what's wrong with saying something like, "oh, how great!" Or, "Congratulations! I'm sure you're thrilled!"


And as quick as my finger came out to point to what SHE said...I did the same thing in a day or two...or a month. I spoke out of turn...said the wrong thing...offered Scripture verses before they were ready to be received.


The power of the tongue...

"for we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is also able to control his whole body." James 3:2

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Joshua's Week-Recycling and Murry's

This week was a busy one for Joshua.

On Tuesday, they had a guest speaker come to his "group" and talk about recycling. He told me he learned some things, but couldn't remember what.

Yes. That's what he said.

And after lunch on Tuesday, they made a craft using plastic bags from WM and Kroger.

When Mrs. Sherrie asked us to all bring plastic grocery bags, I thought, "she has NO idea." We save those things like you wouldn't believe. I use them to bag up things I want to take directly to the trash, like, the packages meat, chicken and fish come in. You let those sit in your trash for 2 days and you will not be able to come into your kitchen! Trust me on that one! I also use those bags for packing purposes. During the 4 years that Logan has been in college, I have mailed him cookies or brownies nearly every week. Not every week...nearly every week. And so sometimes I just need to stuff some of those WM bags in there to keep the cookie container from crashing around in the box. I want him to have cookies...not cookie PIECES.

On Wednesday, they went to the Murry's Dinner Theater. This is one of their favorite things to do. They all get dressed up for it. They go to the day-time show and are there with all of the little old ladies and men. The food is off of a buffet, and you have probably never met a person with Down Syndrome who doesn't love them a buffet line.

Just sayin'.

Joshua tells me who gets what to eat and how a certain one usually snags herself TWO desserts.

There's also a girl who comes to some events that he calls "Bossy Amy." He said, "Bossy Amy is coming today, but she is not the boss of me and I am not sitting by Bossy Amy today. If she comes to our table, we will say, 'no, Bossy Amy, you can't sit with us."

And that last statement is for all the people in my life who have, during the last almost 28 years, told me, "oh, people with Down Syndrome are sooooooooooo loving."

They are, but still.

The last time Joshua went to Murry's, he told me, "I wasn't very hungry today. I just got ham and roast beef and beans, mashed potatoes, one roll and cake."

Okay. Good. So glad to know you WEREN'T HUNGRY.

He also gets coffee. This is the only time and place that he will get coffee. I don't know if he even likes it, but it makes him feel big.

Today, he told me that they "hanged around" the center for a while, went to fitness and lunch at Corky's BBQ. After lunch, they went back to the center and started working on their Self-Portrait Series. I'm not really sure what that is...but I can't wait to find out!

This has been a fun week for Joshua!

"...He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you or forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Link: Big Deal

Well, I have a post written and ready to go...but I read this the other day and haven't been able to get it out of my mind. Maybe you saw it? Maybe you didn't.

As women, we spend so much time wondering...did we do enough? should we have done it all differently? does it even matter?

And we attack each other and judge one person's life as better than...or easier than...another's.

We need to stop, because everything we's all a big deal.

To me this post was...perfection.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The trip to Philadelphia, DC and VA

This post: to quote Winnie-the-Pooh, "it's a long story...and even longer when I tell it."

When Clark was about 1, and the other kids were 5, 8, and 11, Jim had a business trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We decided to take everyone and make it a family trip. My grandmother lived in Virginia, and we planned to travel down to see her after Jim's meetings. We have been blessed with really good travelers, so while driving out there was lonnnnng and there's no way around that...the kids were really good.

You have to imagine that, with 4 kids, you travel with a lot of stuff.

Also, at this time, my kids were fascinated with small toys...small cars, small army men, small "good-guys and bad-guys," small Star Wars figures, etc. My mother-in-law, in an act of sheer genius, bought the kids plastic tool-boxes for Christmas one year. I don't remember if there were ever any tools in them at all. In fact, they might've been plastic tackle boxes. At any rate, she encouraged our kids to put their little toys in them so that they would be easier to carry.

Plus, they could take MORE STUFF.

So, imagine...this is a business trip for Jim. He could've flown out there and stayed in the nice hotel all alone. Instead, he chose to take the we drove. And we pull up at the nice hotel and unload our belongings onto TWO of those rolly-luggage-things...and walk into the hotel lobby to check in.

There are marble floors and high ceilings with HUGE chandeliers. There are couches and a grand piano and professional people without their children mingling in the lobby area. And then there's us. Four kids, 1 stroller and two luggage carriers. We've got Wal-Mart bags full of snacks and diapers and a blow-up froggy ring for the pool. The kids are each lugging their tool boxes. Holly has to go to the bathroom. Logan wants to know where the pool is. Joshua wants to take off running. I have Clark in the stroller. And Jim is up at the desk, trying to be all dignified and professional, and acting like he's not with the crazy people standing over there by the plant.

He was never so glad to just get in the room and shut the door.

We had a great trip. When Jim's meetings were over, we took the kids to see all the tourist-y stuff in Philadelphia. I remember taking a teeny-tiny elevator to the top of the statue of William Penn at Penn Station. The statue area was under construction, and they took us up to the observation area at the top of it and it was beautiful and so scary. I couldn't even concentrate on the beauty of the view because I was just so terrified for the kids being up there. It was just glass or anything. I could just see Joshua bailing off the side. We rode the mass transit and we saw the "Liverty" Bell and other historical buildings.

We decided that we would take in a few quick sites in Washington, DC before heading down to Virginia. We had a day and a half.

I know.

First thing, we had to find our hotel. We had the directions and everything, but we couldn't find it. Jim asked me and the kids to I'm looking out the window...I don't see it. Of course, I'm looking for something like a big HAMPTON INN sign and one of those circle driveways out front know, something recognizable.


But then Jim spies it. We are staying in some sort of executive suite-type thing that looks like an ordinary building. Figures. And there is NO driveway thing...there's just a road with about 3 lanes of traffic in front of the building. Jim does some sort of u-ey and BOOM! We are right in front of it. He turns on the hazards, turns around at me and the kids and yells, "GET OUT! HURRY!" 

Please see the above paragraph about our stuff. We are going nowhere fast.


But we barrel out the doors, and I'm shoving luggage, plastic tool boxes, and their special blankets and pillows at the kids like a mad woman. And then Jim peels off and we are left standing there on the side of the road.

In Washington, DC.

Where the muggers are.

But in 20 minutes, Jim is back. He says he left our vehicle in an underground parking garage somewhere in a 4 block radius. He has no idea if he can even find the place again. He said he threw his keys to a "foreign man" who drove off in our vehicle, and that we may never see it or our belongings again.

Clark starts crying.

(Not because of that...just because he was a baby and he was tired)

We go into the hotel place. When I say people are staring at us, just trust me. I mean, really. In the words of my dear mother, "THIS IS NOT A PLACE FOR CHILDREN." Our room was very sleek and contemporary...and minimalist. No comfy chairs or soft cushion-y things. It was all silver and faux leather and sharp edges. This was for business people and they don't have time to be comfy. Apparently. There was no indoor pool. No vending machine. I have 4 kids. We're probably gonna die here.

Jim senses a disturbance in the force and quickly finds the number of a pizza place and we have it delivered...Cokes, desserts and everything. Okay...I think we might live. It was apparent that we did not need to spend a lot of time in our room, so we decided to venture out after dinner and "get our bearings." We had an appointment at the Capital with our state representative the next day, and we were taking a tour...and we wanted to see how far away we were from where we needed to be. We grabbed our map and packed up the kids and the stroller and headed out the door. We walked a block, maybe, and turned a corner...and there...right in front of us...was the Capital.


And I heard angels singing, and Jim and I burst out laughing.

Early the next morning, we headed out for a day of sight-seeing until our tour of the Capital.

Basically, you have to know that a day and a half of sight-seeing in a city like Washington, DC...with 4, like, the perfect storm. There was a lot of "I HATE WALKING" and a "THEY ARE NOT OLD ENOUGH TO APPRECIATE THIS TRIP" and" WE WILL LEAVE THEM AT HOME NEXT TIME" and a lot of general grumpiness. When we finally got to the Capital and found the office of our Representative, they were waiting on us.

But they weren't PREPARED for us.

Our kids walked in and FELL OUT. On the floor. On the chairs. I wish I was kidding. The staffers there were bringing them WATER. Drama, much? Jim had gone in there trying to act all business-y and nonchalant and "oh, yes, I talked to someone named SARAH on the phone..." but you know what doesn't say "business-y?" A child flat on his back on the floor. AT THE CAPITAL OF THE UNITED STATES. That's just embarrassing, I don't care who you are.

All in all, it was a great 36 hours in Washington, DC with 4 kids in a business people's hotel that didn't have an indoor pool OR a vending machine. :)

We ended the trip by going down to Virginia to see my Grandmother. Got to see my Mom's cousin, Johnnie, who is always so much fun...and my Grandma's brother, Raymond, who left me with these words: "in our family, there's diabetes and heart disease. If one don't get ya, the other'n will."

Truer words were never spoken.

And then we drove straight back to Arkansas. FROM VIRGINIA. That's 17 hours in the car, people.

Yes, we did. We left early in the morning, and ran by the gas station to throw away the coconut cake my Grandmother sent with us. Don't judge. It was such a sweet gesture, but Jim is the only one who would eat it and he said it was terrible. This from someone who eats anything! Plus, it's not like I'm gonna carry it on my lap for 17 hours. Whaaaat?

We made several stops before dinner, but when it was time to eat, Jim said he wanted to go in and have a "sit down" meal. Like where you sit and someone waits on you. We went to a Chili's-type-of-place somewhere in Tennessee. Or maybe it was Jackson, MS. I can't remember. It was great to be out of the car and the kids were acting so good. Over dinner, Jim said, " is the thing. We are about 5 hours from home. I am FINE with staying the night in a hotel here...BUT we can get back in the car and be home between 1-2 a.m. Your choice." We drove home.

After we ate the cheese fries and the chicken strips and the molten chocolate cake, of course.

Maybe Uncle Raymond was right, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Such a great, fun trip.

"The words of the godly encourage many..." Proverbs 10:21

Monday, January 27, 2014

Another Chance

Yesterday was one of those days when I did NOT slow my pace to Joshua's, and ended up (literally) (well, practically) dragging him through Target on what should've been a fun trip.

It was after our lunch with Jim, and we headed to Target on a mission. Of course, we had barely pulled out of the Chick-Fil-A parking lot when Joshua said, "where are we going now?"

What he WANTS us to say is "home."

I said, "Target."

He mumbled, "okay."

And then proceeded to be a big grump all the way through Target. Seriously, I just took you out for lunch and now you're gonna have a bad attitude on me?

Side note: There used to be a business in our town that sold fan gear and sassy clothes for women. It was called "Unhinged Attitudes," but it was spelled "Unhinged AttiTUDZ." And, of course, my kids won't let anything go unnoticed, so they have used that phrase half-to-death, and when Joshua gets into a grumpy mood, they will say he has an unhinged attiTUD.

So all the way through Target, Holly and I can't seem to get Joshua out of his funk. And, secretly, when he gets like this, I watch him like a hawk to see if I can notice change in if he's coming down with something. Because some things, like stomach virus-y things, hit him FAST...and you don't want to be at, say, Kroger...buying groceries...when it hits.

Trust me on this one.

The leader at his Therapeutic Recreation told Holly that Joshua didn't really participate on Thursday, which is unusual for him. It was "fitness" day, and they went to see Mr. Lee at the gym. Mr. Lee even put in some kick-boxing/karate type of moves in their routine, which would typically be right up Joshua's alley, but he barely did the moves. At one point, she said he had his hands stuffed into his pockets and barely moving.

Well, unless he's sick, I'm not having that.

Last semester, I signed Joshua up for 2 days instead of 3...just because it was more convenient FOR ME not to have to make the drive there and back all 3 days. But then there were days that he really wanted to go and he felt like he missed out...and so there were many weeks when I was checking on Monday to see if there would be a slot available on Wednesday...and most of the time there wasn't.

So this semester, I signed him up for 3 days...and Holly has been so gracious to pick him up after her nursing classes. That has freed me up to come home after I run my errands, instead of staying in town and trying to fill up 5 or 6 hours until time to pick him up.

So, sitting at breakfast the other morning, I asked him why he didn't participate on Thursday. His eyes shot up, "who told you?" Then he went through and gave me some random, lame excuses that I didn't buy...and then he said, "I guess I was just tired from going Tuesday and Wednesday." I said, "well, we can fix that problem...maybe you need to go back to Tuesdays and Thursdays only." And I was serious, because maybe it IS too much.

He sat there quietly for a long time. Finally he said, "can I get another chance?"

It was so cute. I said, "yes!" Because don't we all just want another chance when we mess up?

"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love..." Romans 8:38

Sunday, January 26, 2014

That's One Way to Look at It

The other morning, on our 35 minute drive to Little Rock, the sun was so bright. The days before had been dark and gloomy, so the sun was a welcome sight.

Joshua kept saying, "oooo...that sun is so bright." And variations of that statement. Over and over.

I was kind of enjoying the sun. With all of the trees being so dead looking, having the sun out made the drive so pretty. And maybe it did look brighter, since we hadn't seen it for a while.

And I don't know if the brightness of the sun affected my brain, but, against my better judgment...and I only realized this by looking BACK, after the fact...I said, "you know, Joshua, the sun is always bright. That's what it is. If you look it up on Google, it will talk about the sun being a star that's full of lava or some other sort of hot stuff. It's always's always bright...that's how God created it to be."

Joshua, "well, today it is bright."


Side note: I remember one of my boys telling me I could make a Bible lesson out of a bologna sandwich. At the time, I took it as a compliment. As the years have gone by, I think he was making fun of me. ROO.

Me: "The sun is bright every day. It's just that sometimes there are obstacles in our way that keep us from seeing how bright it is, like buildings...trees...clouds...or stuff in the air like pollution or smoke." But even on those days, the sun is still the same bright star and hot as ever, even if we can't see it. That's the way God planned it and He thought of everything."

[crickets chirping]

[and, I KNOWWWWW, but you would be surprised at the Biblical concepts Joshua understands]

Then he said, "You know what I was thinking? What if the greater light was at night and the lesser light...the moon...was during the day? That would be one messed up Creation."

And, instead of listening to that little voice in my head that said, "SHUT YOUR MOUTH AND PLEASE STOP TALKING, MARTY," I pressed on saying, "it's kind of like how the Bible tells us that Jesus is the Light of the world. He is, but sometimes we put other things in front of Him that block His our pride, or our busy lives, or wanting to do things our own way. It doesn't change the fact that He is still the Light of the's just that sometimes we don't see Him."

And then I stopped...proud of myself and pretty satisfied I had made my point.

Joshua just looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and said, "well...that's ONE WAY of looking at it..."

"God made the two great lights-the greater light to have dominion over the day and the lesser light to have dominion over the night. He also made the stars." Genesis 1:16

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Lost in Translation: Might Make You Blush

Warning: you don't wanna read this post unless you have boys. Trust me on this one...and, don't judge.

Holly had the day off from her nursing school yesterday. Yay! I was thinking we would go have lunch somewhere, she and I...and Joshua. I was thinking about this little place downtown. I was thinking about the quiche they have there on Thursdays and Fridays. But I was dreaming about the lemon cookies they have there every day.


Wait. Where was I?

Oh, yes...lunch. Mmmmm...

So, at the place I wanted to gets crazy crowded at lunch. Or, as Joshua would say, "it gets crowd."

Very, very crowd.

It's good to get there early. Especially since I like to sit at the table by the window and stare at watch all the people go by.

I could just tell by the way the morning was going that we would not be able to make it there early. AND, I was thinking that Jim might want to join us, so I thought of a new plan: Chick-Fil-A. We hadn't been there in a while. And, side note: we call it "Chick," because when Holly was in college at OBU, they had a Chick-Fil-A on their campus, and all the kids called it "Chick" for short. So that's what we do now.

I hollered up the stairs to Joshua and he came to the top and said, "ma'am?" And then here is how our conversation went from there:

Me: "Do you want to go to Chick?"
Joshua: "What?"
Me: "Do you want to go to Chick?"
Joshua: "I can't hear you."

At this point, I think I should say that while Joshua does have a very hard time hearing, I've had a sore throat all week and couldn't speak very loud, no matter how hard I tried.

Me: "Do you want to go to Chick?"
Joshua: "DICK'S?"
Joshua: "I'll get ready."

My throat hurts and now my head hurts.

Joshua came downstairs and said, "what do we need at Dick's?"


I was sitting at the kitchen table and I said, "CHICK, Joshua, CHICK. CHICK-FIL-A. Do you want to go to Chick-Fil-A?"

Joshua said, "ohhhh. I thought you said, DICK's."

We have a sporting goods store in our town called "Dick's Sporting Goods." When I talk about it around here, I refer to it as the "D-word store" because 3 BOYS.

And because we don't talk like that around here, but you know who does? locker-rooms.

And I would also like to say that, several years ago, we had a quarterback at the University of Arkansas by the name of Casey Dick...and Joshua got so mad at him one night during a game and said something not nice about him...and then used his last name...and when I say Clark fell off the couch laughing, Clark fell off the couch laughing. 

And we had company at the there's that.

And, Casey Dick had a brother named Nathan Dick, and he was also a we had several years where we couldn't have people out to the house during football season.

Just sayin'...OBVIOUSLY.

So anywayyyy, we got to Chick and met up with Jim. While I ordered for Joshua and I, Joshua got allllll of the straws, napkins, ketsup and silverware we would need, and he went to sit down. Jim and Holly stayed at the counter and waited on our order.

The tables at our Chick are really close together. Wanna know how I know that?

Because Joshua, who talks very quietly most of the time, quietly said, " home...I thought you said, DICK's!"

And he put the emphasis on that last word and it was not quiet. In fact, it was like E.F. Hutton was speaking, because it seemed like the entire restaurant went silent...and peoples' heads whipped around toward us like a scene from The Exorcist.

And that word..the last one...echoed for a good 20 seconds: "ICK...ICK...ick...ick...ick..."

We probably can't go back there for a while.

"Pleasant words are like a honeycomb..." Proverbs 16:24

Friday, January 24, 2014

Special Olympics...

We love Special Olympics.

Joshua was introduced to it in elementary school. I think you have to be 8 or 9 in order to participate. His teacher got a few kids interested in it and they "trained" at school during part of their day.

On the day of Special Olympics, we went. We had NO CLUE what to expect. Joshua was signed up for the 50 meter dash and the softball throw. He participated in the region games and qualified to participate in the state games.

I just remember pulling up to Harding University where the games would be held. The parking lot was full...full of cars, full of vans and school buses. They came from EVERYWHERE in the state. Many of the athletes...most of them, probably...stayed in the dorms with volunteer parents, teachers and sponsors. They got to eat in the cafeteria, and experience a little bit of "college life." They thought they were so big and so important!

And as if that wasn't enough, the place was crawling with police officers and fire-fighters. Joshua was in all his glory! The fire department brought some of their big trucks, and would give the athletes "rides" up in the cherry pickers. One truck was flying a HUGE American flag. The police officers are the ones who handed out the medals. On Opening Ceremonies night, hundreds of motorcyclists from EVERYWHERE showed up. They lined up and rode around the track flashing their lights and revving their engines. The athletes went NUTS!

We walked through the gates and onto the area around the track. There were huge flags and banners blowing in the breeze. There were little tents everywhere that contained merchandise you could purchase. Other tents housed stations where the athletes could get their faces painted or their pictures taken FOR FREE! The whole place was all decked out like a big party...and it was ALL for the athletes!

Actually, one night they did actually have a big party....a dance on the empty tennis courts at the park. If you know anything about kids with special needs...especially kids with Down Syndrome...they love them a big, ol' dance!


When your child goes for years not feeling included, not feeling special, not being able to...and then they come into this place that is all FOR THEM, and they have a couple of days that are all ABOUT them...well, I almost cried.

Well, I probably did cry, but it was a long time ago and I've slept since then.

It didn't take long for us to realize that the 50 meter dash was not going to be in Joshua's future. Most kids with Down Syndrome, like my Joshua, are on the...shall we say...short side? We tell Joshua that he's "travel-sized." He thinks that's funny. When he was racing kids his own age who had special needs, just NOT Down Syndrome...and they were nearly 6 feet tall...well, you get the picture. He switched over to the standing long jump and had some success at that.

Success=blue ribbon.

You see, you can say things like "you are all winners," all you want, but even these kids know that blue means #1...and they want to be #1.

They also want all of their friends to be #1.

When Joshua was 16 years old, he was introduced to a sport that changed his life. I'll write about that another day.

I realize Special Olympics does not have the same meaning for everyone, or affect them in the same way. One day, I spoke to a class at a university in our "home" town. I went on and on about how much Special Olympics has meant to our family...and how much it has meant to Joshua; how it had given him purpose and self-confidence; how it had made him feel a part of something. One of the other moms on the parent panel with me was asked if her daughter participated in Special Olympics. Her daughter had spina bifida. She said, "my daughter doesn't need Special Olympics...she has her mind."


Everyone has their own opinions, but we love Special Olympics. Our family loves to attend the games and the Opening Ceremonies the night before are usually SO AWESOME! Our other children have volunteered during the games at one time or another. They love it. I mean, every athlete...pretty much...has gotten there with help from someone...parents, teachers, coaches, aides. It is just so fulfilling to see the JOY on the faces of the athletes.

"Let them praise His name with dancing..." Psalm 149:3

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thankful Day

I went to the store today after I dropped Joshua off with his group. I just needed a few things. It is bitterly cold here...for Central Arkansas, anyway...and the wind was cutting through my clothes. I decided to leave my big coat in the car while I shopped because because BULKY.

But I finished up my shopping and when I got home, I unloaded everything from the car. It was cold outside, but the huffing and puffing and hauling from bringing in the groceries had made me hot! As I shrugged off my coat and threw my keys on the table, I thought, "WHEW! It's HOT in here!"

Immediately I stopped. I took a deep breath and let the thankfulness wash over me.

Thank you, Lord, for shelter that keeps out the elements; for food, clothing, a vehicle, heat on a cold day, Jim's job, our family...and a place we can all call home.

These can all be gone tomorrow, or even today.

Thankful most of all for Jesus. :)

"...but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Parent Panel, the Sequel

So, last year, I was invited to come back to our "home" church and be a part of a parent panel...where people asked us questions on parenting and we gave all the wrong answers tried to give wise and godly advice.

I think I did okay talking about parenting Joshua, because I've talked about him and our experiences with him quite a bit...that's my comfort zone. But I didn't say anything about how Jim and I tried to intentionally parent our boys...Holly, too, but mainly our boys...because that's what the girl asked me to talk about. I was a wreck after I got home, because I felt like nothing coherent or usable came out of my mouth during that time...which, really, that is one thing that kind of spurred on my blog writing. I got home and was so convicted about it, that I wrote down the stuff that I WISH I would've said...and then I just kept on writing!

So, depending on how you look at it, maybe that was the good that came out of that day.

Anyway, in some sort of weak moment, the Children's Director asked me to come back again this year...and to bring Jim with me.

I know.

And the whole way over there...1 hour and 15 minutes away...he kept saying, "why do I have to come? You basically have done it all, anyway...or most of it."

(And this is where Moms everywhere stood on the roof-tops and cheered, because stay-at-home moms, part-time working moms, full-time working moms...we basically do most of the daily child-rearing I right? I think it's the bent of our hearts)

Truthfully, I was thinking the same thing...AND IT WASN'T THE FIRST TIME I'd thought it, either. It was just nice to hear it from him.

But there were 4 couples on the panel this year, and the questions were written anonymously and put into a box in the Children's area at the church.

Jim said that we...he and I...were probably the "what not to do" part of the program.

Ever the ray of sunshine.

But the questions we got...OH MY GOODNESS! There are some hurting families out there. Some of the questions we had NO BUSINESS even attempting to answer. But there was a lot of laughter...and even a lot of relief, as parents realized they weren't alone...that they were doing their best. And then there was one this one girl at the back of the room who sobbed as my friend, Ruth, and I spoke about parenting our children with special needs. What a tender heart! She about made ME cry.

After it was over, we got to see a LOT of our old friends. That part was AWESOME! They were so welcoming and familiar and loving. During some of the hardest and most difficult times in our lives, this particular church family was there...loving us and supporting us. And in some of the happiest and most joyful times in our lives, again, this church family was there...loving and supporting us. No matter where we go or whoever comes into our lives...that time stands as one of the most precious times of our lives. We will never forget God's faithfulness or how He used His people to invest in and minister to our family.

"These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up..." Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Starting Back...Joshua and His Friends

Today was the big day! Joshua's group started back after a 4 week break over the holidays. He was so excited!

He and Jenni have been talking about it incessantly on the phone. He's done really well this year. Usually, he about works himself into a tizzy over the breaks. He misses his friends, misses his routine.

I try to be really patient with him. You know, when you are dependent on others to work out your schedule, well, it's hard. It would just have to be, wouldn't it? I don't think any of us would enjoy waiting on someone else to make decisions that will affect us...either directly or indirectly. And then, if their plans changed...our plans would change. At the drop of a hat.

I know I would be frustrated.

So, I try to be patient and I try to let him know what is going on.

Now, sometimes we do have to spring stuff on him. Our nerves cannot take the every-hour-of-every-day "is it time?" that sometimes happens. In these cases, we have found it works best to not tell him until the last minute, especially if it's a "maybe" thing, or if the plans aren't set in stone.

In the car on the way to Little Rock, Joshua talked and I knew he would. He said, " I didn't get up at 6. I thought, 'this is a new year and that is toooooo early.' So I got up at 6:20."

Oh, good. Since we don't have to leave until 8:15!!!


But he said, "I had my quiet time from 7-7:30. Thirty minutes for God. Yep...that's good enough."

After we got to the Center, all the friends came up to give hugs. It is the sweetest thing ever, the pure way they love.

Holly picked him up for me today, so she got all the good stuff during the first 5 minutes of their drive. But, once he was home, he methodically went through his day. "Well, after you left this morning, we just HANGED AROUND...and then we went over the ruhs (rules). After that, we 'brainstormed' for a while."

Joshua used his "air-quotes" over the words "a while."

During the brainstorming sessions, all the friends get to suggest places to eat or things to do or places to go. They usually write them on a big dry-erase board and talk about them.

Joshua suggested they have another course on "manners and etiquette." It's been a few years since they've gone over that. He said that Jenni said, "uhhh...NO."

Someone else suggested "golf." They usually play golf sometime during the Spring as part of their fitness regimen. Jenni said, "NO!"

Joshua suggested they eat at "Chili's." He thought that was Jenni's favorite restaurant. Jenni looked at him and gave him the thumbs down.

Did I mention that they have been boyfriend and girlfriend for over 10 years?

I didn't? WELL.

Did I mention that this was all the friends' first day back IN A MONTH?

I didn't? WELL.

Then Joshua said Jenni took her notebook...where she had been writing down all of the brainstorming suggestions...and vigorously MARKED OUT "manners," "golf," and "Chili's."

This "makes" me "extremely" unhappy. See what I did there?

All in all, I think everyone had a good day. Joshua said, "me and Jenni got along pretty much."

Tonight I made chicken and dumplin's...and a chocolate pie! Joshua's first day back and I got a LOT done!

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." Proverbs 16:24

Monday, January 20, 2014

Guarding My Heart

One of the topics we talked about in my group during my non-Bible book study the other night was what would we like to change about ourselves...and how do we hope this book study will help.

I can't remember if I even answered the question. By the time I told a little bit about myself, I was kind of at a loss for words. I don't know WHAT I hope to get out of this study, other than stepping out of my comfort zone and making connections with other women. Which, that would be GREAT! I think I talked about how hard it is for stay at home moms/wives to meet other women when you have older kids. Or, when you are in my situation with an adult child who lives at home. Or when you are in my situation with an adult child with special needs who lives at home.

And that I hoped to try and be more engaged this year...on my part, anyway. That's why I came in the first place.

When my kids were younger, there was Mother's Day Out, and I became friends with the other moms whose children were in the same class with mine. There was also a group of us that met at McDonald's every Wednesday, and we let the kids play in their indoor playground. When the weather warmed up, we would meet with our kids at the park and have a picnic...aka: wearing the kids out for naptime.

But when you have an adult child with special needs who lives at home, there is no play group for them. And even if there was...or if you find a program they are interested in...or if they have a can't ever make it seem like you just want a break

From them.

Because, we love them so much, and never want them to feel like want to be away from them.

But here is a little nugget of truth: there are very few breaks. While I may go hours or maybe even a day (doubt it, but for argument's sake) without being concerned about our other children, Joshua is ALWAYS on my mind.

I'm not complaining at all...just stating a fact. I LOVE my days with Joshua, and I am blessed to have a great support and friends I can call for an encouraging word. Or two! But how many times when your kids were toddlers did you want to have a minute to yourself? Or, on those tough days, just walk out the door and keep on walking? I don't remember many days like that, but I'm sure I had them.

My days now are spent answering the same questions over and over and over. Everything has to be planned in advance...very little is spontaneous because Joshua doesn't handle that well. Everything is in a routine.

But there are also days when the talk turns deep...and I see glimpses of God through the eyes of my child. Precious, precious times.

We've all read this, right?

But I see my life with him as part of my ministry here on earth. Not only do I try hard to provide him the fullest, most rewarding life, I also want to be able to tell our story to others. God opens doors with Joshua that we might not ordinarily go through. He uses Joshua...what we've been through, what we've learned...and we can share the love and HOPE that is Christ when we allow ourselves to connect to other people. We educate...hopefully...and we encourage...hopefully. And we try to point others to Christ as the Source of any good that is in our lives.

On three different occasions over the Christmas break, Jim called my attention to the obituary section of our newspaper. Three different obituaries of people with Down Syndrome were listed...different ages...but young. All three times, I told him, "I DO NOT NEED TO READ THAT."

Statistics show that people with Down Syndrome live shorter lives, but I don't want to think about a time when Joshua is not here with us.


I know God has ordained Joshua's days, just like He has ordained mine (Psalm 139:16).

I realize, at this point, that this post is all over the place. Sorry. I don't really know how to tie it all up in a nice, neat bow.

But, after some thought, if I could go back and answer the question from my non-Bible book study, I would say that the thing I hope this study will change is that I will open my heart to others. I guard my heart pretty fiercely. I feel like I have to. The things that I've been through with Joshua, the things that I know, the things that have been said to me...all have made me guard my heart. I feel like by guarding it, I protect the ones I love.

But maybe, I guard it to keep people out. Because if you don't let people in, they can't hurt you, right?

"God's peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. " Philippians 4:7

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Joshua and Jenni's Lunch

Got a call the other night from Jenni's mom. Jenni and her helper-friend, Tiffanie, were gonna be in our town around lunch, and wondered if they could see Joshua.


Joshua was so excited!

I decided to let Joshua go with Jenni and Tiffanie without me, so I met up with them in a parking lot near my house and they took off to the restaurant.

An hour later, I went to pick Joshua up. Joshua and Jenni had eaten lunch AND exchanged their Christmas presents. Jenni got to see the "chin fur" that Joshua has been growing for the past few weeks. She is not a fan.

I knew I liked that girl.

But Tiffanie went on and on about it, and now Joshua wants to keep it until the Valentine Ball. Ugh.

I was so glad they got to see each other. It is sometimes a hassle to get them together. Weekends work best for plan dates...but Jenni is gone a lot on the weekends, staying with various family members.

I hate to use the word "hassle." Bless their hearts. They hate that they have to be so dependent on others. It's definitely not the way they would choose. They would love nothing more than to jump in the car and go to a restaurant or to a movie...ALONE. Of course, by now, they would love to be married and share a home and be starting their lives together.

But that's not the way it is.

We have to be involved in the planning because someone has to get them together, and they live 40 minutes apart. We typically stay with them at the restaurant or movie or whatever...sitting at another table or other seats sometimes. They are just so innocent and the last thing we would ever want is for anyone to take advantage of them in any way. And neither one of them are really good about money, and some people will take advantage of that, even if it's just to get a few extra dollars. On this day at lunch, Tiffanie told me that Joshua tried to leave a $20 bill for a tip until she caught it. His meal was $8. He knows that was not the right amount to leave, but he was on a date and trying to be "manly." He's seen Jim leave a large tip after a meal...but it's usually when there are 8 or 10 of us eating!

And, from the pictures that Tiffanie took at the restaurant, seems like Joshua and Jenni spent some time smoochin'!

Joshua brought back usual. He will typically eat half of his meal and then bring the other half home in a to-go box. But this day, he told me that he ate all of his food, but brought Jenni and her friend's left-overs home.


It's one thing to eat something that a family member has gnawed on. Not gonna lie...I pick and choose depending on whose meal it was...but it's quite a different thing to eat something a complete stranger has handled. Blech.

It's my goal to get Joshua and Jenni together more often this year!

"Sing to the LORD with grateful praise..." Psalm 147:7

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Bittersweet Day and a Link

My Logan packed up his room today and has headed back to college. The past month of Christmas break has FLOWN by. I know he's where he needs to be and doing what he needs to do: defeating some Huns and graduating from college and being a young man that's fixin' to get married in 4 months.

But I miss him already, and my heart is sad. :(

So, I'm just gonna share this post. That's all.

"But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head..." Psalm 3:3

Friday, January 17, 2014

New Beginnings

I went to a new Bible study at my church this week.

Actually, when I got there...AFTER I had checked-in, paid for the books, got my name-tag, sat down at a table and filled out the "about me" sheet the leader gave us...she told us, "this is not a Bible's a BOOK study. If you want a true BIBLE STUDY, that is fine, but maybe you should go next door to that class."


I don't know about you, but I'm new here and even if I had wanted to leave, I wouldn't have...not at this point. Because AWK. And, I mean, THE CLASS HAS ALREADY STARTED. I already wrote a check. I bought two books. I filled out a form. I know one person in this room and I'm sitting by her. No way I'm getting up now....even tho I wasn't drawn to this particular study at all.

And then, the leader said, "if you like Beth Moore, Kelly Minter, Priscilla Shirer, Kay Arthur and those types of studies...this is not like that."


I LOVE all of those types of studies.

Now, she wasn't speaking against any of those women. Not at all. She was just saying that if we are expecting the "polished production" of the pretty stage and the lighting and the big colosseum-type event and the back-ground music...this study was going to be very different.

Truth be told, I came for two reasons: 1) the leader. I don't know her, but I 'heard' she is very good. She's pretty enthusiastic and after meeting me one time about a month ago, she still remembers my name. And, 2) my friend, Peggy.

Peggy is the one and only person I knew in the class. She is also in my SS class so I see her most Sundays. She is the one who invited me to the last Bible Study (which did, indeed, study the actual BIBLE!) (shocker!). Not only did she invite me, but she gave me her cell phone number and said if I wanted to come...she would meet me in the parking lot and walk up with me. And I may be *&#* years old, but I still don't enjoy walking "cold" into an unfamiliar situation. I will do it...but I don't really enjoy it, so how sweet was she to meet me and walk in with me?

The last question on our little "about me" form was about why we chose to come to this class. I wrote exactly what I just said about not really being drawn to this class, but that I always, always need to study the Bible (oops!), and that I was new and wanted to meet some other women and get involved in things at our church.

After the video, she instructed us to answer a few questions in our group...and our "group" was our table.

At this point, I know I heard God laugh....because my group? It could not have been more different if the leader had intentionally tried to put us together. We have a young soon-to-be-married girl, a married lady with a blended family, a lady in her mid 40s who married a widower, and me...the oldest, oldest married, most kids. I felt as old as Methuselah.

And then I came home, wrapped up in my blanket, sat down in my rocking chair and knitted a scarf.

But seriously...I wait and hope for God to work in our group...and in me.

"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My Lunch Date

So, I woke up this morning and decided to take Joshua on a little lunch date.

His "group" hasn't started back yet, and he's been VERY patient about it. I mean, it's been about a month. Oh, he asks "when does my group start back?" about 50-11 times a DAY...but where usually he gets more agitated the longer the break lasts, this time he's done very well.

Of course, what usually happens on the first day back is that they are all sooo excited to see each other...and that lasts for a couple of hours until there's some big DRAMA and everyone ends the day in tears.



Anyway, about 10:40, I went up to Joshua's room and asked him if he wanted to go to lunch. He grinned real big and said, "YES!" and then, "where should we go?"

I didn't answer him because I knew he was thinking Chick-Fil-A, which we LOVE, but I had a different place in mind. And we would have to get there early to get the table by the window.

Fortunately, by 10:50, Joshua was coming down the stairs. I let him look over the menu in the car on the way. I knew what I was gonna get, and kinda figured he would get the same thing...but he decided on the French Dip. I got the quiche and a cup of soup. While I was paying, I pointed to where the cups were and told him to choose a drink. When I was done, I turned around and he was grinning as he handed me a half-full cup of Diet Coke. "HERE," he said. He never fills drink cups up to the top. NEVER. I think it's because he's kind of unsteady when he walks, and he's afraid he will spill it.

We got the table by the window. SCORE! I scooted my chair close to his so that he could hear me easier when we talked. He asked me if I read what he posted on Holly's Facebook wall. I had not, so after we sat down and got situated, I pulled it up and we read it together and laughed. He had written, "Goup, I wish you, me and Mom were at Hobby Lobby right now."

It's so funny because that is a BIG joke with him. Holly and I LOVE HobLob. Joshua? NOTSOMUCH. He doesn't understand our endless fascination with burlap or flowers or frames or why we need chalk pens and what is chevron, anyway? It started one day when he was just DONE FOR THE DAY...but we dragged him with us. We should've known better. He was not a happy camper, and the more Holly picked at him about it...the worse it got.

But one day, he was with his group, and we went without him.


He still hasn't quite gotten over it.

He doesn't want to go with us, and he doesn't want us to go without him.

And they say WOMEN can't make up their minds. Sheesh.

Oh, and he calls her "Goup," or "Goupie." How you get that from "Holly," I will never know, but he has called her that forever. And, yes, we call him "Fred," but THAT IS AN ACTUAL NAME OF A PERSON. "Goup?" NOTSOMUCH.

So we ate and we talked. And we watched people from our seats in front of the big window. I knew he would like it. We could see the road and the cars and the people out walking in front of the downtown shops.

As we finished, I remembered that I forgot to order cookies. This place makes the best lemon cookies, and I wanted to get some to bring home. It IS Logan's last week at home before he moves back to school! So we got back in line and I ordered. The lady ringing me up said, "We were admiring your shirt and pretty!" I said, "Thank you! You're so sweet!" Joshua looked at me and smiled real big and said, "I noticed you at home and I thought you looked key-YUTE!"

Self-esteem issues? No ma'am. Not with him around.

Think I'll keep him!

"...speak encouraging words to one another..." 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Many Oxen

Have you ever heard people say, "I think the Bible is SO out-dated." Or, "if I could find just ONE THING in the Bible that was true, I would believe."

Well, let me be the voice of clarity as I direct you to Proverbs 14:4: "Where no oxen are, the manger is clean..."

I mean, DUH.

As I walked into my living room this morning, I about tripped over a red soccer ball. It's been in our living room since Logan came home from college for Christmas break...that was about the 2nd week of December. Logan...and Clark...have both been kicking the soccer ball IN THE HOUSE, resulting in at least one accident that I know of. It was just a knocked over cup of water, but it could've been so much a LAMP, or my Scentsy warmer.

(gasp!) I know. This is why we can't have nice things.

There is a pile of shoes over by the fire-place...a pile=4 PAIRS OF SHOES, plus a pair of cleats. Seriously? The cleats are Logan's and he has been taking the soccer ball out in the backyard and kicking it around...and then he comes in and tracks grass all over the rug. I have vacuumed at least once a day since Christmas. Which...unless you are new here...ain'tnobodygottimeforthat. And, bless his heart, he is totally unaware. He stomps off his shoes before he comes in the house, but there's just so much grass that gets tangled up in the cleats. In the pile of shoes, there is also a pair of shorts, one shirt and a pair of black athletic socks.

And a PEZ dispenser.

I'm not even kidding.

This morning, there were 3 blankets strewn all over the room on various chairs, and there were two jackets belonging to two different boys thrown over the back of the couch. There was a football on the counter, and on the bookshelves in the living room...lined up neatly, are the items from one of the boys' stockings...sitting in the exact same place he left them on CHRISTMAS DAY.

And on my kitchen table, there are scissors, tape and pieces of construction paper...all left from an "About Me" type of project one boy had to do for school. He put great thought into it...took him 25 minutes to throw together THE NIGHT BEFORE IT WAS DUE. And he didn't have to be bothered with putting everything away.

Just like when he was 8...except he's almost 18!

We have 3 boys. I don't want to give any names, but out of the two boys responsible for all of this mess, neither one is named Joshua.

I'm just sayin'.

Many oxen...dirty stable.

I have really enjoyed having Logan at home during the break. I know he doesn't have any friends here...we moved here the same year he started college, so most of his friends are in our former town...and at his college. And the mess in here is not all the result of Logan being home, only kinda. It's just that when he's home, he and Clark hang out a LOT and I love that...but the more time they spend in here together, the more "stuff" accumulates. I love that he and Clark can get in here and horse around, or they'll hang out with Joshua and talk or watch a movie. All of that is the ONLY REASON I haven't had a Come To Jesus meeting about all the clutter up in herrrr.

That, and because I've learned that it won't be like this for long. Come Saturday afternoon, this house will be really empty. Granted, 4 people will still live here, but when Logan leaves it changes the dynamics of our home...the same way it did when Holly left our home for college...and when she got married.

I am trying not to think like, "this is Logan's last Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year's at home..." because that will make me so sad! I am thankful for the choices that he's made in choosing a mate and all of that...I know it's going to be good.

But it's sure gonna be different.

This manger will be a lot cleaner without one of my

I'll sure miss him.

There's also another Bible verse I'd like to share from Proverbs 26:11: "...a dog returns to it's own vomit..."


Don't ask me how I know this.

"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:12

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Joshua and His "Retreating" Hairline

My Joshua is a detail person.

I am not.

My husband has always said that I am the most UNobservant person in the world.

Not only that...I don't recognize faces. Jim can see someone he's met one time, and he will remember them forever. Me? NOTSOMUCH.

It's pitiful, really. I blame it on the poor vision I had as a child.

I was 9 or 10 years old before I got glasses and could really see anything going on around me. It's a funny story, really...if you think your own mom not believing that you were BLIND AS A BAT and thought you were faking when you failed the eye exam at school and threatened you within an inch of your life if you didn't pass the eye exam at the ophthalmologist is funny.

I remember being a nervous wreck at the eye appointment. I tried so hard to pass the test. I remember the doctor walking me out into the waiting room to meet my mom. He said, "Mrs. Logan, your daughter has significant vision impairment."

I'd like a re-do of that day because I'm pretty sure I sat there demurely while they talked. Now days, I'd like to think I would do a fist pump and yell "YESSSSS" really loud for all to see, and then say very loudly, "I TOLD you I couldn't SEE and YOU didn't believe me."

She said it was because of my long history of "embellishment" that made her doubt me, but I told her a million times that wasn't the case.

And, she said I had commented numerous times on the cute glasses a girl from church had recently gotten at her eye check-up.

I don't remember trying on any frames, altho I'm sure I did. My Mom chose the ones I got. I mean, it's not like my choice would've been trusted anyway...I couldn't SEE.

I remember riding in the car on the way home after we picked up my glasses. My Mom said I was really quiet, just looking out the window and occasionally commenting, "how long has THAT been there?" Or, "what is THAT building?"

She said she felt bad for not believing me, but the fact that I still remember this all these years later tells me that her apology was NOT ACCEPTED and I might still be a little bitter.


And at this point, I'd like to say that to add insult to injury, the frames my mom chose for me were CAT-EYE frames...which were totally "in" for older women like my MOM...and totally NOT IN when you are in the 4th grade. And so even tho the glasses helped me a LOT, I left them home every day for a week ON PURPOSE and my Mom had to bring them to me at school. She was understanding for the first two days, and very UN-understanding on the rest of the days. I eventually had to break down and wear them, until I got, as Joshua would say, "more blinder." My prescription changed in a year and I finally got to get gold wire-rimmed glasses like everyone else. They clashed with the silver wire of my braces, but I was just so excited to not be wearing those hideous cat-eye glasses that I didn't even currr.

And if I could tell my 10 year old self anything, I would tell her to hang on...because when she's 14 years old, she will discover the miracle of contact lenses and all will be right with the world again.

So, I think maybe not being able to see clearly during the formative years of my life helped make me the UNobservant person that I am.

But Joshua notices everything. He likes routine and so he notices when we do things out of order. He also notices when things are not in the right place. For example, at our church, if I take one of the Bibles out of the rack in front of the pew, I'd better put it back just right or Joshua will reach up and move it. He can't help it. He knows how it was, and how it SHOULD BE...and wants to fix it just right.

Joshua notices when I get my hair cut. He notices when I get a new outfit. He notices when I'm sad. He has a fantastic memory, and he remembers days that are special to our family...whether they are special for good reasons or not-so-good reasons. He remembers people who have died and frequently tells us stories from his memories about them.

Since Joshua has such a good memory, I am careful about what I say. I mean, he will seal it permanently in the vault, so you'd better say what you mean...and mean what you say. It WILL come back to haunt you.

Joshua is also very honest. One day, he was in the car with Jim, and Jim said he was going on and on about something. Those two butt heads a lot because they can be.

Get it?

Because they can be...butt heads?


They butt heads because they are a lot alike in their personalities. I've written about how persistent Jim is about things, and Joshua is no different. So, in the car, Joshua was talking about Jim's hair and how he was seeing some gray hairs and that he might need a haircut and maybe some "Just For Men Gel." At this point, Jim had had ENOUGH.OF.THE.TALKING.ABOUT.THE.HAIR and so he casually said something to Joshua along the lines of "well, Joshua, your hair isn't turning gray yet, but it has started to recede a little, like mine."

Well, that's all Joshua needed to hear and now he brings it up every few weeks when I take him to get a haircut. "My hair is said so."

Thanks, Jim.

So he's been growing out his "grotee" while Logan has been home. He says he will shave it when Logan goes back to college, which, thank the LORD, will be this weekend.

Thank the Lord that Joshua will finally SHAVE...not that Logan is going back to school. Because :(

The other night at dinner, Logan mentioned to us that you could see a couple of gray hairs in Joshua's grotee. OH NOOOOO. We all agreed that NO ONE TELLS JOSHUA about this. He will obsess about it and drive us all nuts. With his vision, I doubt that he will be able to see them...but you never know. The other day, I saw him using the camera function on his phone to take a "selfie" of his grotee to send to his girlfriend, Jenni.

It's hard for me to realize that, at almost 28, he's old enough for gray hair. My little man.

"Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life." Proverbs 16:31

Monday, January 13, 2014

Taking Pictures at Church

We went to SS and church this morning, like usual. The sanctuary was really FULL. We live in a town with THREE colleges, and all the students were back! I love it. It has looked so empty with them gone for Christmas break.

As the service started, I noticed the young couple sitting in front of me. They looked about Holly and Aaron's age...I didn't remember seeing them before. The guy had dark hair and the girl had the most beautiful blonde hair I have ever seen.

I'm just telling you what they looked like, you case you see them out somewhere.

We shook their hands during the welcome part. I was hoping that they would introduce themselves or that by some cosmic feat something would happen to let me know they were visitors. I know, I know...I just should've asked them, but we've been at our church for a year, and people STILL ask us if we are visiting.


And, at our last church, we were there for 5 years and were VERY involved. We went to the early service one day, instead of our customary late service, and someone asked if it was our first time to visit there.

Just goes to show ya.

Whatever. I don't even know what that phrase is supposed to mean.

Anyway, I couldn't get this couple off my mind. I kept thinking to myself, "what would Carolyn do?"

Carolyn and Earl were the Directors of our Young Adult SS department when we were young married kids. Actually, Earl was the Director...and he also taught one of the men's classes. Carolyn said she was "just the sec-a-tary."

But everyone knew she was much more than that. She scoured the newspapers for the couples getting married and scoped out the new people in church. She had a network of friends and people at church and she some how found out when new couples moved to town...and she and Earl would make contact with them in some way. I "heard" that she even ran into a young couple at the Burger King in our town, and stalked them until the opportunity presented itself to invite them to church. She was really good at asking all the right questions, and making you feel comfortable while drawing out information at the same time.

So I began to think of a way to meet this young couple, and what I could say to them that would let me know if they were visitor or members. I didn't want to make them feel uncomfortable. I mean, especially if they are visiting. You want to make visitors feel welcome, without making them feel like an oddity.

And all this time, the preacher was preaching a really great sermon on Nehemiah and I was honestly trying to listen and keep up. But this couple was sitting right in front of me, and the girl's hair was mesmerizing. I mean, she could be a Disney princess, she could.

I was hoping the girl couldn't feel my eyes boring into the back of her head.

I kept wondering if Holly knew her, but Holly and Aaron had gone to early church and there was no way I could ask her.


During the invitation, when we stood up to sing, I glanced down to see the girl's Bible sitting on the pew in front of had her name on it.


And then, at the very end of the service, the youth pastor asked us to all get our phones out...and he starts telling us about our church's free wifi and how to sign up to receive announcements by text. I am typically not a fan of having phones out in church. I have literally bored a hole into my children with my eyes when they have dared to get their phones out...even when they are using their Bible apps. Because you know what sounds like the rustling of pages from the Bible? Not an iPHONE Bible app. In fact, my husband got his out one Sunday and just as I started to give him the stink eye. He looked at me, smiled and whispered, "it's the BIBLE."


So...I already had my phone out...WITH PERMISSION FROM A PASTOR, mind you...and so I texted the girl's name to Holly real fast to see if she knew her. She texted back to say that she did not.

And then I did the unthinkable. I took a picture of the back of the girl's head.



Don't judge me.

I went straight from being interested in her for purely evangelical crazy stalker old lady mode. JUST LIKE THAT!

In the end, I didn't get to speak to them after church, through no fault of my own. GRRRR..

Maybe it's for the best.

And, justsoyaknow, Holly did NOT recognize the back of the girl's head, called me a creepy stalker for taking a picture of her IN CHURCH...but agreed with me that the girl's hair was "enviable."

So there's that.

And THAT is definitely NOT something Earl and Carolyn would do.

And neither should you. Don't be like me.

"...older women are to be reverent in their behavior..." Titus 2:3

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Why It's Sometimes Hard to Hear His Voice

Today we were in the car on the way home from church...Jim and I, Joshua, Faith (Clark's girlfriend)...and Meredith, a college girl from our hometown that is going to school where we live now. She has been coming to our church, and has gotten to be friends with Faith. Holly and Aaron had gone to early church, and Logan decided to go home for lunch. Clark had a leadership meeting after church. None of this is really important to the story, but I'm from the South and over-explanations are what we do. Since we had the two college girls with us, we decided to take them out for lunch.

And it should go without saying that Joshua was in ALL his glory being with us and two pretty college girls.

After lunch, we dropped Meredith off at her dorm and headed to Faith's house. We started talking about Meredith's Dad (and Mom) being a good friend of our family...and how, nearly 18 years ago, when it became apparent that nothing could stop my labor with Clark, and I would deliver him 12 1/2 weeks prematurely, Meredith's Dad, Bill, drove down to Little Rock to be with Jim and I. Mainly to be with Jim.

He is an OB/GYN doctor, and so he knew the seriousness of the situation.

I remember Bill being in a room with us, praying for us...and then Jim was gone. I think it was right before my C-section, and Jim had gone to scrub...and some how I ended up in a room with just me and Bill.


Bill Godly man, and a wise doctor...but he is typically very quiet. His wife, Ruth? NOTSOMUCH.

She and I have been friends for forever, and we can both talk a blue-streak about everything under the sun, and not come up for air for hours. We are kindred spirits, she and I.

Bill and I? NOTSOMUCH. Because he's a guy. Soooo...

So, obviously, I was worried sick about what would happen in the next few minutes. Would the surgery go well? Would Baby Clark be okay?

I've already said how I am not a fan of awkward silences, and so I felt the need to fill the space with sound. I mean, I'm laying on a gurney, covered with a a room alone with Dr. Bill. I started by thanking him for coming. I was shocked that he drove down to be there with us. He is one of the busiest people I know. He's a doctor but I was not his patient. It meant so much to Jim to have him there. I wanted to tell all of this to Bill, but I stumbled over my words and the tears began to flow.

Like it wasn't already awkward enough.

I just remember him telling me to be still and rest...and even tho it went against everything in my spirit to just close my eyes and lay there, that's what I did. I focused on my breathing, slowing it down. I focused on the voices. When Jim got back in there, I could hear him talking with Bill, but I didn't open my eyes or comment. I focused on the goodness of God, knowing that whatever happened in the delivery room in those next few minutes, He was in control and He would use it for my good.

So, back to today...from the back seat of the car, Faith asked me why Clark was born so early, and I started telling her what we the placenta looked like it was attached, like from the ultrasound images...but in reality, it was attached only on the sides, allowing blood to puddle underneath. And how the blood would be released in waves...and then my body would think it was time for the baby to come...and I went into labor.

They tried to stop my labor with drugs, and that kinda-sorta worked for a short time...but after a week, Clark was on his way and there was no stopping it. In that week of waiting, tho, I had rested in the hospital. I was away from my family and friends. I had hours and hours with nothing to do...nothing but to be still and that's what I did day and night. And I read my Bible and prayed like crazy.

Faith and Joshua were in the backseats. I was having the conversation with Faith about Clark's birth...along with Jim chiming in as he drove.

My sweet Joshua, who has a VERY hard time hearing unless he is close to the person and there's not much background noise...heard enough to know that he wanted to contribute to the conversation, and so he does. While I am telling the above story to Faith...about the circumstances that led up to Clark's birth, Joshua is back there having his own conversation with Faith..."and I was in the 2nd Mrs. Faith's class. I didn't know what was going on...and I went in the bathroom and no one could find me...I was in there crying because I was worried about my brother and my mom...and Mrs. Faith found me and gave me a hug..."

All of this was going on while I was talking. I glanced back at Faith at one point, and she had the most confused look on her face. She was trying to listen to what Jim and I were saying, but she was also trying to listen to Joshua, who had NO CLUE that the rest of us were deep in conversation. Bless her heart...she wanted Joshua to know that she was sincerely interested in what he was having to say, but also trying to have this other conversation. And every time she would ask us a question, Joshua would respond in his own way...AT THE SAME TIME...WHILE WE WERE TALKING. Poor Faith! Her eyes were going from Joshua to us to Joshua to us.

The last thing I heard Joshua say was, "born at 8:03."

Jim mumbled under his breath to me, "I don't know what he is talking about because I'm pretty sure Clark was born at 9:12 on 2/12." I said, "well, he's gone from Clark's birth his own...and he was born at 8:03."

When there is more than one conversation going on, it's difficult to hear any of them clearly or get an accurate picture of what is being said or described.  We can get bits and pieces of each conversation without getting the real truth. We could end up agreeing to wear the puffy shirt on the Tonight Show. Seinfeld, anyone?

We need to turn off the background noises in our lives...spouses, kids, work, parents, carpool, church activities, friends, social media...and take some time to focus on the Only Voice we need to hear.

Be still and rest...

"...Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Jim's Energy-Saving "Suggestions"

Warning: This is an obnoxiously long post, but you'll be so much smarter in the end! ;)

My husband works for the electric company. Not only that, he's really smart.

No, really. He is.

Over the years, he has given us some really helpful hints and suggestions on how we should do things around here...not only to save money, but to also do things in a logical and efficient manner.

And I'm nothing if not logical and efficient.

So, yeah.

I just honestly don't have the brain power or the desire to understand the complexity of how electricity works. I just want to flip the switch and have the lights come on...or go off. Whatever. And if it's not working, hey...I can dial that 1-800 number like nobody's business.

Plus, my mind is filled to capacity with other things like the fact that we're out of bananas and how I haven't been able to find my recipe book since we moved here 1 1/2 years ago.

So I'll just give you a few basic suggestions on how to be energy-efficient. It's a's a gift.

First, there's the thing about what you should put your thermostat on in the summertime. We keep our house on the warm side of cool. Because that's efficient.

Jim used to try to wait to turn on the air-conditioning until June. And then one year it was May. And then one year, it was April.

And that's how Jim died.


I don't was like a sense of accomplishment for him...especially if he could tell his family, "well, we had to break down and turn on the air-conditioning on May 7th...because The Moose (he calls me The Moose) got hot."

That's right...blame it all on me. I don't even currrr.

In the wintertime, we keep our house on the cool side of warm.


Side note: Two months ago, we had to have our entire downstairs unit replaced with a brand-new, energy efficient one...and now Jim is a little less wound up about what we keep our thermostat set on than he was before.

Also, one thing we never, ever do is switch back and forth. Like, you know how there are those weeks when it is really, really warm at the beginning...and then it turns really, really cool at the end?

Oh, you don't? Well, we live in Arkansas...and we do.

Happens all the time.

In our home, once you switch on the A/ don't go back to Heat. Not until the wintertime. Not ever.

I don't get it either...that's just the way it is.

So here are Jim's suggestions on how to take a shower. What you do after your shower depends on the season of the year.

At this point, I'd like to offer this quote from the theologian known as Julia Sugarbaker: "I'm saying this is the South. And we're proud of our crazy people. We don't hide them up in the attic. We bring 'em right down to the living room and show 'em off..."

One thing that never changes is that you must shower...FAST. Because that's efficient.

Now, in the summertime, when you take a gets all hot and steamy in the bathroom. YUCK. What do you do? Open the door and let all that steam out, right?


You don't want to put all that heat and steam out in the house if it's summer. That will make your air-conditioner kick on and your unit will have to work harder to get the temp back down to where it's supposed to be and DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH THAT COSTS?

So, in the take a shower and the bathroom gets all hot and steamy. What do you do? Nothing, right? Because it's nice and warm in there. You use a towel and rub a little circle on the mirror so that you can see and you stay in there as long as you can.


You open the bathroom door IMMEDIATELY. The heat and steam from your bathroom will actually help heat your house. It doesn't matter that you are freezing and your skin is turning blue...think of how much money you are saving!

If you take a hot bath at night, don't drain the water out when you're done. Oh no. You let the water sit in there ALL NIGHT LONG and you open the door to let the heat escape. Again, it will heat up other rooms of your house and you don't have to do anything! It's just that, in the morning, you'll have to reach your hand down into the cold water of your own filth that has set out all night lift the plug and let it drain. Blech. I am not a fan.

Also, if you take a hot bath at night, it had better be wintertime. You do not take hot baths in the summer. You just don't.

Side note: When our kids were little, they took lonnnnnng showers. Logan, especially. Jim would knock on the door and tell him to hurry...and Logan would say, "Yes, sir...I AM HURRYING," and 10-12 minutes later, he would still be in there. It was a constant source of aggravation for Jim. He would say, "does he not understand how much our water bill is?"

No, no he does not...because he is 8.

But there was this one day, and Logan was in the shower for a LONG time...and Jim had already told him to hurry up more than once. Finally, Logan comes out and he's all wrapped up in a towel. His blond hair is wet and tousled. He has the towel wrapped so that all we can see are his big, blue eyes. He comes into the living room and before Jim could utter a word, Logan says, "I'm sorry for taking such a long shower, but I spent most of the time ASKING JESUS INTO MY HEART."


After that, his long showers didn't matter as much.

Let's see...what else can I share? I want to help you. Because, again...I'm a giver.

Oh, yes...candles. I love a good candle, don't you? I like to light one every day...especially in the winter. I think it just adds to the cozy.

Well, one day...and it was summertime...I had a candle lit, and Jim came in and said, "you have no idea how much heat that candle generates, do you?"

Why, no, Thomas Edison...I do not.

He then proceeded to go into a lengthy explanation about innocuous things around a house that produce heat and use electricity, like candles and Glade plug-ins. I don't honestly know what all he said. I may or may not have blacked out at some point, because you know what I don't ever want to hear? How much heat is generated by ONE SMALL CANDLE lit in my home for an hour.

Now, I realize that I may have painted my husband as the Captain of the crazy train, but he's not really crazy. You know that right? We all laugh at him a LOT when he offers these suggestions to us. He's just always trying to help our family save money where we can. While at times I have chaffed at some of his suggestions, I will have to say that our lives have been infinitely better and more productive because of them.

You might even say they've been more efficient.

See what I did there?

And the other thing I have to say is that I take a bath when I want and shower the way I want and I will most certainly light a candle in our home every night...but some things, like the candle thing and Glade plug-ins thing, are just good to know, you know?

"Instruct a wise man, and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man, and he will learn more." Proverbs 9:9

Friday, January 10, 2014


My Dad gets choked up more now...since my Mom died...and since his heart attack. But never more than when he talks about how much he loves our family. So as we joined hands to pray, 23 of us on that night, my Dad thanked Leanne for opening up her home to all of us. And his voice cracked with emotion as he told God how thankful he was for our family.

I totally "get" that.

Prayer has always been a big part of my life.

Correction: I have always wanted prayer to be a big part of my life. I've not always been faithful to do it, but I've always wanted to.

I desire to have a full prayer have that relationship with God, that constant communication with Him; to be able to share in the joys and heartaches of others. I also realize that I cannot pray for every thing and every one, so if I say, "I'll pray for you," I honestly mean it, and will make every effort to do it. Because, isn't it so easy to say out-loud or write on a card: "praying for you?"

Well, ARE you?

Am I?

I just know that there have been times in my life when I have counted on those prayers, and I have held fast to the belief that others were praying for me. The promise of those prayers have been my life-line.

I have seen first-hand the power and the change that comes from prayer.

I am not a good speaker. I'm not even a good out-loud pray-er. I'm not good in stressful or intense situations with others...I don't like awkward silences...

But I can pray.

And you can, too.

I get frustrated with myself at times. My prayer life ebbs and flows...not based on God's responses, but on my effort.


I thought early in our marriage that my prayer life was strong. I was young, married and away from another state from all of my family. Jim and I each went to our college classes in the mornings, and then worked in the afternoons. It was hard and we struggled and we made mistakes. We still make mistakes. But I prayed for God to bless our marriage in spite of us and God did. We honored God with 10% of our income, and He provided for us financially even on our meager paychecks. We got involved in our church, and God blessed us with Christian friends and mentors.

We prayed for direction after graduation, and God provided a job for Jim...and, in our 4th year of marriage, we moved and Jim started his first "real" job. We got involved in a new church and met new friends. We had people who invested in us and helped us as we started our new lives. We planted ourselves in the middle of them and our roots grew deep. A year later, God blessed us with a pregnancy and a new home. And then...Joshua.

And my prayers took me on a new and intimate journey with God. It was like being in an completely dark room...we couldn't see in front of us. We prayed and yet we had no idea how to pray or what to pray or where to go. We needed so much.

We needed...HIM.

But in the dark we waited..scared and unsure and feeling alone...not knowing where to turn. And there, in the dark, we heard the voices of our family and friends. There were other voices that we didn't recognize, and they were all praying for us. And the people...they came to stand beside us, and they brought warmth and Light, and we didn't feel alone. And where His voice led...the people, all of them, they carried us.

"For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison..." 2 Corinthians 4:17

Thursday, January 9, 2014


So, I wrote about Joshua's hair recently and not much has changed. Except that his Therapeutic Rec group is not starting back for a couple more weeks, so he doesn't really have a reason to spike his hair up on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. For now, he just spikes it on Sundays. And it sits high and proud in church.

Holly has a friend in nursing school who'll say about another girl, "she's got hair up to Jesus."

So, yeah. He's got hair up to Jesus.


But now...his face.


Logan has let his facial hair grow over the break. I mean, no school and the engagement pictures have already been taken. He's thinkin', "what's the point?"

Well, that's all Joshua needed to fire him up. He has decided that he's not going to shave until Logan goes back to school. That's about January 18th. And there's nothing I can really say to him, because LOGAN...

Oh dear.

So Joshua's got hair growing, like they say in L.A. (Lower Arkansas), everwhichaway on his face. He mainly wants to have a "grotee." That's what he calls a goatee. He has been trying to trim it up himself and his vision is not the greatest. Plus, when you look in the mirror, everything is backwards. You cannot even imagine what it looked like.

And at this point I just need to remind myself why it's important we get help with this...because there was that time when he was trying to trim up his sideburns on his own, and couldn't get them even and kept going from one to the other until...poof! He shaved them completely off and even shaved the hair up over his ears on either side. Made him look like a Vulcan. A little Downsy Vulcan.

Beam me up, Scotty.

ANYway, I begged implored Holly to come over and she helped trim up the grotee other day. Even I have had to resort to helping out with it, and that's kind of a "no-no" for me. I have had a "hands off" policy with all things hair related when it comes to Joshua, ever since I accidentally snipped the top of his ear. It was back in the day when he was a squirming toddler, and I cut his hair at home to save money. Blood went everywhere and I pretty much felt like the was a tiny snip. Who knew ears would bleed that much? And then when I got him all settled down, I finished up on the other side and snipped that ear, too.

And then I was DONE WITH THE CUTTING OF THE HAIR. Forever. I mean, seriously? It's a wonder Child Services didn't take him away from us at that point.

So, in-between visits to Ms. Hope at the Sports Clips, Jim and/or Holly are in charge of any and all of Joshua's hair-related needs. What was it Hillary Clinton said?  "It takes a village."

Yeah. A village with a razor.

And maybe a nose hair trimmer.

Because Joshua's nose-hairs? Yes, they are a problem.

I can't wait to see what the grotee looks like in a couple of weeks. I'll post a pic on my Instagram: @martythemoose

"May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you." Jude 1:2

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Because I Have Boys (and a Girl)

I love having my kids home during the Christmas break. I wish we all lived together all the time.

No, I really don't.

Yeah, I kinda do.

I love having a girl. It has been a joy to watch her grow up. She brought singing, piano playing, swimming and dancing into our lives. I got to "do" her hair. Because of her, I get to do all things girly like shop, decorate, cook, look at magazines, paint my nails, talk about make-up, do crafts, lay out without having to talk, eat salads, like everything pink, love shoes and jewelry, and read books.

I love having boys, too. So much. So much more than I ever thought I would, you know, before I actually had them. They have pushed me farther and harder and to more extremes than I ever thought love, in parenting, in life. They are funny and loving. They taught me all about sports. They are dirty. They can smell. They break things. They make a mess just walking thru a room. They are louder than I ever could've imagined, they eat all the time, and they are constantly in motion.

And another little thing about my boys: they out-number me.

When Logan is home from college and they are all 3 together, it's loud, unpredictable, messy and irreverent.

Not really irreverent, exactly. It's just that BOYS...and my desire to make a Hallmark Family Christmas around here...seem on a collision course for disaster.

Like, how "Mary" from my nativity scene lost her hand. It fell off...or was BROKEN off. No one will say. But I glued it back on and all was well in the Nativity scene...until I walked in to see the baby Jesus figurine wearing one of the boys' Ray-Bans. Then, one day, I noticed they had made two of the wise men give each other "high 5's," and now they have two of them posed in a confrontational manner. Just what everyone needs to see when they walk into my house...two wise men duking it out and the baby Jesus wearing shades.

I also have a little wooden nativity scene hanging on the wall in the hallway. The pieces are child-sized...probably so that it can be used to tell the Christmas story to children. I walked down the hall the other day to see the piece that is baby Jesus...UP ON TOP of the donkey...manger and all. Another day, one of the boys had put the baby Jesus figure up on top of the stable, where the star should be.

We have a set of carolers that belonged to my Mom...a man, a woman, a boy and a girl. My boys (and my girl) move the pieces around so that it looks like one piece is being "shunned" by the rest of the family. This year, they got a little more creative...choosing one of the carolers and putting it in various places. I also have another set of figurines that belonged to my Mom...4 little children and each one is a letter that spells out NOEL. As we speak, they are up on the shelves in our living room spelling out LEON. Yeah. Good times. They have made them spell out every combination imaginable to form a word, real or made-up. I found a sniper (army man) hidden in the garland and mesh going up our stairs. And, right now, in the middle of the "lake" I made to go with my Snow Village...someone has placed a bottle of chewable Flintstone vitamins.

They haven't bothered the Christmas tree too much this year. Usually, they will each find the ornaments that are theirs, and put them front and center...and move their siblings' ornaments down to the bottom. Or put them at the back of the tree where no one sees them.

I love the kids that God gave me. Truly they are the best of Jim and I, and the ones who have gone before us in our family...grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. They can also be the worst parts of us...the parts of you that you used to be, that you have worked hard to change; or those parts you have tried to hide, hoping they would never see.

Oh, they see.

I feel so blessed to have my family. They love each other and actually love being together. That, as a mom, is one of the things that makes me SO HAPPY.

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12