Monday, June 30, 2014

The Christmas with the Dead Fish Decorations

So, I wrote this post after we met my in-laws for dinner a couple of weeks ago. And I posted here about going to dinner with my in-laws at the Chinese restaurant several years ago.  

And remember how my father-in-law took FOR-EV-ER cleaning fish outside...while we were all inside patiently waiting on him? 

Well, the next morning, Jim got up early to go fishing with his Dad. When the rest of us came downstairs for breakfast, we found out why it had taken my father-in-law so long to clean the fish the night before: he was decorating

Side note: They have a very small kitchen, with cabinets on one side, and the frig, sink, dishwasher and oven on the other. There is not much room at all. In fact, if someone is at the sink and someone else needs to get to the frig, you kind of have to turn sideways to get by. 

I don't know why this is important, because it's NOT.

Anyway, this area is divided by a bar...and it's a TALL bar. My mother-in-law used to have bar-stools there, but the bar was so high that no one wanted to sit there. Plus, she used regular-sized bar-stools and that was no good because they just didn't fit at all. So she moved the bar-stools upstairs, and added shelves on top of the bar. Then she stacked all of her junk TREASURES on top of the bar, and now if you are in the kitchen area, you cannot see the ones sitting at the table on the other side of the bar.

Seriously, coffee cups and mugs of all kinds. Cream and sugar sets...tea pots...baskets. OH MY WORD AT THE BASKETS. And she has some little "signs" sprinkled around everywhere. One of her signs says, "Happy Easter."

It's June.

And we can't forget the "bat alarms." The milk jugs that are on the verrrrrry top of all of this mess...nearly touching the ceiling.

Again. Don't know why I'm sharing this. Maybe so that my kids can describe it to their children one day. Words really cannot even come close.

Where was I again?

Oh yes...the decorating.

In front of the long kitchen table, is a big, bay window. My mother-in-law has 3 chairs sitting in front of that window. We call them the "truth chairs," because she wants to sit there all the live-long-day and talk about everything and every ONE and look out at the lake and watch the hummingbirds and in general keep up with what all is going on everywhere.

And sleep. She loves her a nap.

But those truth chairs? They have magical powers. My in-laws have a pretty "open" house. We have never been there when it's just our family...someone is ALWAYS dropping by. And they just walk right in. No one ever knocks. My in-laws welcome everyone in, so the truth chairs have gotten a lot of use. When people sit in them, it's like they lose all of their inhibitions and sense of decorum, and before you know it, they are telling all of their family secrets. 

I try to avoid sitting in those chairs at all cost. 

This particular morning, we looked out the window, and there around the deck...on the trees...in the potted plants...on the clothesline...on the hanging plant holders...on anything that could support weight...were fish skeletons. Head and all. My father-in-law had strategically placed them all around the deck area after he finished cleaning them the night before.

It was like Christmas in Zombie-land.

And he did it on purpose to freak us all out.

MISSON.ACCOMPLISHED.

Y'all, seriously...who DOES this?

We asked him why he did it, because the smell...well, that was the added little bonus (that, and the FLIES)...and he said it was to "keep the evil spirits away." 

Which, that didn't work because some of the cantankerous family members showed up anyway.

I'M JUST KIDDING.

Except not.

I took a little walk around their property and saw several other interesting things. He had hung two broken bikes on the clothesline...lovely.

And there was also a broken tricycle tied up to a post...with a short piece of Christmas garland wound around it. Festive, right?

I thought about my Mom...and her house. Everything was always so...pretty. Everything matched. It all went together. There was never any rotting flesh or bones of any kind. Ever.

As I looked around my in-law's place...I can't even...

I mean...there are just no words for these people. I love them with all of my heart, but they are so...different. 

And, listen, they know it...and they embrace it. It's kind of like Julia Sugarbaker said in that one episode of Designing Women:

"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."

"The LORD is my refuge...the rock of my protection." Psalm 94:19

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Whirlwind Trip And The Importance of Friendship

I have two sisters.

I have one brother, too, but...as Joshua would say..."Imnottalkingaboutthatrightnow."

My sister, Leanne, has 4 beautiful, smart and talented children. 1 boy and 3 girls. So far, the older 3 each have beautiful voices, and are attracted to the fine arts of singing, dancing and acting. And they are all 3 really GOOD!

The youngest girl...I don't know if fine arts are gonna be in her blood. She's over a head taller than everyone in her class, even though she's the youngest one in there (she skipped a grade). She seems attracted to volleyball and basketball AS WELL SHE SHOULD BE. I mean, she's athletic, but even if she wasn't, JUST STAND UP BY THE NET. Or, UNDER THE BASKET.

Hello?

Because you know who would've killed for her height?

Any of my 3 boys.

And she's 11.

Anyway, we have come to choir and madrigal performances and plays for the older two kids when we can. It's been hard to always find a time when we can go. Last week, the middle daughter, Lily, was going to be in the musical, Shrek. Holly and I made plans to run down to Texas to watch her. We got up early on Friday morning and bugged out-of-town. I was really glad Holly came with me, because I wasn't wanting to drive down there by myself. We made it to Leanne's house by mid-afternoon. We were able to rest for a couple of hours and have a quick bite of dinner...then we headed to the play.

The play was in Ft. Worth with the Kids Who Care group. The show was phenomenal. Seriously. Especially for a group of kids to pull off. 99 kids, to be exact. Lily said that some of the main roles were held by actors who were more experienced...college-age and older...but the rest of the parts were held by the amateurs. It was so good!

After the show, we came home and visited for an hour or so, and then Holly and I went to bed. We were up and out-of-town before 8 a.m. We had NO problems on the way home...no bad weather to speak of, thank goodness. I was trying to get home early because I was helping with a post-wedding shower. We pulled into town. I dropped Holly at her house and went immediately to the store to get the items for my vegetable tray that I was supposed to make.

I got everything prepared and packed up, and I climbed back into my vehicle and drove the 45 minutes to the shower.

The shower was a lot of fun. Got to see some of our "old" friends from Little Rock. The young couple...the groom was the son of some of our best friends...had been married just 4 weeks, so it was great to shower them with gifts and blessings.

I looked at them as they were opening their gifts. They were so young and cute. They looked like they could be on a poster or something. Just precious! They were being all tender and sweet with each other.

None of the, "I SAID, can you bring me my PURSE...GEEZ!"stuff. (Ha)

I looked around the room at our friends. I was overwhelmed by how God has allowed their lives to intertwine with ours...and with the legacy they are leaving for all of us. All of our friends...all supporting these two young loves.

Years ago, we were just like them: full of anticipation and innocence and love. And now? Well, we still have some of that anticipation and we still have the love...but we aren't innocent by any stretch of the imagination. All of us are Christians, all church members. Some serve in leadership positions in their churches, and others work behind the scenes. And yet, we've all seen hurt and loss and struggle and pain and fear.

Being a Christian does not mean a life of ease, or protection from hardships.

Some have faced evil, either in their own lives or in the lives of their families. Some have had their kids turn away from them...or from their friends...or from God. Some have seen drug and alcohol addiction. Others have seen their children in jail.

All of us have said things and heard things and done things that we never would've imagined in our younger days. We have gone from changing our children's diapers to, in some cases, changing our parent's diapers. We have had our children move out...only to have them move back in. Or we've moved a parent in with us. We've had things happen to us that we don't understand.

We've all felt heartbreak like we never thought we could, and we have all also seen redemption, forgiveness...and change.

Now, "they say" we have wisdom, you know...because we're older. Oh, not all of us...and not all the time. Sometimes we just don't learn from our mistakes, but most of the time we do.

Most of us have poured our lives into our spouses and kids...into our relationship to the Lord...into ministry...into our neighborhoods...into the lives of others. Most of us are serving the Lord, each in different and unique ways. We are happy. We are tired.

In some ways, we are empty...but we are mostly full.

Because we have One constant: Jesus. As I looked around the room, I realized that none of us would be where we are without our relationship to Him. Yes, we are all a little battered, a little beaten...a little worn. But we're still kickin'...patched up time after time, willing to be used for His service until we are finished with this earthly life.

And we are blessed, because even tho we have seen some hard and trying times, we have also seen many times of great joy. And even tho we have all grown up from the wide-eyed innocents we used to be...and even tho some have moved away from each other, times like this bring us right back to where we were all those years ago...when the foundation was built.

We have been knit together by the blood of Christ.

"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12

Friday, June 27, 2014

Spiders (and Snakes)

You know what I don't like about spiders?

Ummm...that they're SPIDERS.

Creepy, crawly, leggy, webby, bitey.

I don't like them.

And I know that God made all the creatures and I know He said, "it is good," and I believe Him. I believe that HE thought it was all good, and I believe everyONE and everyTHING has a purpose, but I've got a few questions:

Wasps. Really?

We moved here 2 years ago, and this town seems to have two things like none other: FLIES...and SPIDERS. And this must be pregnant-spider season, because a lot of the spiders we see are HUUUUUGE. And if you try to smash the huge spiders, a million spidey-babies will come running out of the momma's body and it is gross beyond gross.

All I can think of is the episode on Friends where a rat in Phoebe's apartment has babies and she keeps them in a shoe box after the mom gets killed in a trap. And, later, she looks in the box and one baby is missing, and then Monica runs out of her bedroom yelling, "rat baby, rat baby, rat baby..."

My husband does not have the same irrational healthy fear of spiders that the rest of us do. He doesn't make sure the last thing he does at night is to pull the sheet up TIGHT around his mouth, and then convince himself that it stays like that all night long.

What?

It's just that my friend, Paula Hill, told me years and years ago...that every person swallows, ON AVERAGE, 7 spiders a year. She read it somewhere.

SEVEN.

SEVEN SPIDERS.

ON AVERAGE.

WE SWALLOW THEM.

WE SWALLOW SEVEN SPIDERS EVERY YEAR, ON AVERAGE.

I can't even...

Jim even went so far as to PULL UP SOME PICTURES OF SPIDERS ON HIS i-PHONE and brought them in to show me. He said, "see? THIS is a wolf spider...they're GOOD. We NEED them."

Ummm...no we don't.

The only "good" spider is a dead spider. That's my opinion.

That's also my opinion when it comes to snakes.

And Jim has given me the whole "red-on-black, friend-of-Jack," "red-on-yellow, kill-a-fellow," speech, but I think we all know that IF I could even remember that little rhyme, I'd probably already be dead because of all the time it would take me to look closely at the snake to try to figure out it's color pattern.

And plus...all the screaming.

And, I'm not "Jack," and I tend to wonder about people who have friends who are SNAKES.

Seriously, Jim. Are you new here?

"Then God said, "let the earth produce living creatures according to their kinds..." Genesis 1:24

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Holidays at the Lakehouse

Everyone loves when I write about my in-laws, God love 'em. And the thing is, everyone who knows my in-laws loves them, too. I dug this post out of my drafts.

Today, I thought I'd share a holiday memory. It might be from Thanksgiving or Christmas...I can't even remember. But it will give you a little insight into life around here. It was 2007, I think...maybe 2008. Not exactly sure and it doesn't matter. It could happen any year.

We got to the lake-house and all of the family was there...Jim's two brothers, their wives, all the kids, etc. We had planned on all going out for dinner together. We were all completely ready...all except Jim's dad. He was outside cleaning fish. Yes...he knew we were all coming. Yes...he knew there were 20 people waiting on him in the living room. It didn't phase him in the least. Honestly, I think that it's part of his fun. He walks to the beat of his own drum, and half of the stuff he does, he does to get a reaction from his daughters-in-law and his grandchildren.

Knowing that tidbit of information, you can imagine that he took an extra long time cleaning the fish. When he finally came in the house to "clean up," we were blessed to hear him bellow out his rendition of "When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder," and "How Great Thou Art" while he bathed.

He finally got ready but he makes a big, loud production of it...how he can't ever find any socks and how "them kids have run off" with all of his things. And this whole time, my m-i-l is running around saying, "GENE...HURRY UP...THE KIDS ARE WAITING." Which, I'm convinced, makes him move even slower.

He always likes to tell us that whatever it is he is wearing used to belong to so-and-so, and he got it AFTER THEY DIED.

I'm a little more conditioned to this phenomenon now, after being exposed to it for years...but it still creeps me out. He told me one time, "Martha..."

For some reason, he always calls me Martha. And he pronounces it, "Mahhhtha." 

Anyway, he said, "Mahhhtha, I know you have a different view on death than we do around here. You are more sensitive. We think it's sad and all, but we look at it as a way that we can get some new clothes."

I know.

Bless it.

He said, "after they die, the family will go through their closets and give it all away to whoever can wear the stuff." And as I looked on with horror, he explained, "it's not like they're gonna need it, and no sense wastin' good clothes."

Most of the clothes my father-in-law gets are "pre-worn," for lack of a better term, and he's happy to have them. It's great if the clothes or shoes actually FIT, but most of the time they don't. It's okay...they make do.

And, BONUS: everyone is thrilled if they get clothes that still have the tags on them: "Can you believe that he had 3 sports-coats STILL WITH THE TAGS ON THEM?"And then the price that's on the tag must be shared with everyone. The higher the price, the better it is that you were the one who scored the dead-guy's suit...or pants...or shoes.

At dinner tonight, Papaw is wearing the Uncle Bill Collection...

May he rest in peace.

We headed out to dinner. We went to this Chinese buffet place that we always go to...they pretty much know us there. That might explain why my father-in-law felt comfortable enough to USE HIS HANDS, instead of the utensils provided, to get some of those crunchy won-ton things from the buffet. He said his thumbs were numb and he couldn't use those tongs.

Now, not gonna lie. Some of the things he does...I can't...I mean...well, there are just no words.

But the people at the restaurant didn't seem to mind, so I guess no harm, no foul, right?

My in-laws are from a different generation. They go to this place a lot and they feel like they're kind-of like family. And if they met you, they would probably invite you to come visit them at their home anytime. That's just how they are.

They would probably offer you a cup of coffee and a piece of freshly baked cake or pie.

Actually, they would probably offer you a FORK and tell you to DIG IN.

Like, dig in with everyone else from the same pan or dish.

I like that. I can't do it, but I like it.

Most of the time!

"Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." 1 Peter 4:9

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Random Thoughts on Therapeutic Rec, Family and My Hair

In other news, my blogger news-feed, or whatever you call it...where it lists the blogs I follow...hasn't been working for the past few days. And I realize it's not a big deal like the economy or Iraq or if I should get a long-bob or just a regular trim when I go to my hairdresser lady today...but it has annoyed me to no end. If you're a person like me who is fairly technologically savvy impaired, then even searching for help on-line is futile. I don't even understand the terminology. I just really want my husband or one of my kids to fix it and not bother me with how they did it.

Clearly I have issues.

But basically and anyway, this morning it fixed itself, and so I feel like the world is spinning right on it's axis again.

So, random thoughts in this quick post:

*Joshua has gone to Therapeutic Recreation (TR) twice this week so far. He's having a good time, but it's been a quiet week for him. Several of the FRIENDS have been missing, for one reason or another, and that always gets the FRIENDS out-of-sorts. Tomorrow, they are supposed to go swimming, but the meteorologists are calling for rain and storms. I doubt that they go. BUT they are going to go out for lunch, and all the FRIENDS are so excited about that! There's nothing the FRIENDS love more than eating out.

*Holly and I spent the day together. We did some shopping, grabbed lunch with a friend, and picked up Joshua from TR.

*Heard from Clara on Monday morning. It always worries me when they call when I'm not expecting it. I blame the fact that 3 years ago, Clara called and I asked how they were doing, and she said, "oh, we're fiiiine." And I asked how my DAD was doing, and she said, "oh, he's had a little heart-attack..."

Eeek!

But they are both fine. She just called to tell us that they were in Colorado for the week with her daughter's family. When I told Joshua, he said something like, "I bet PawPaw is loving that!"

*And I talked to my in-laws, and they are doing well. My father-in-law is still having some chest pains. We don't know if they are actual chest PAINS, like ones he should worry about, or if it's discomfort from the surgery. Or maybe just that he's hyper-sensitive to every catch or cramp. Jim is going down to see them in a day or two.

*I ended up just getting my hair trimmed, like usual. I have to be able to put it in a pony-tail every day. Not sure I have the patience (or enough hair) for a "bob."

"The earth is the LORD's and everything in it..." Psalm 24:1

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Jake, The Good Dog

Several years ago...well, more like 18 years ago...I had 4 young children.

One of them was a newborn, premature baby who had just come home from 7 weeks in the NICU. I was responsible for keeping him all of the children alive, but this tiniest one? I had to nurse him approximately 38,000 times a day. I also was responsible for giving him 4 different medicines at 4 different times each day. He slept and napped wearing an apnea monitor. When that thing went off, it was like the house was on fire.

So it only makes sense that, on a hot August day, when I was trying my best to just survive...Jim brought home a puppy.

And oh my goodness...I wanted to kill Jim.

And I did not want to like that dog, but CUTENESS.

He was a golden Lab...almost white...big ol' paws and a happy, wagging tail. My kids were head-over-heels in love with him.

We named him Jake, and he was a good dog. He tolerated most of us, but he loved Jim best of all. And he loved being outside. We had a little creek that ran beside our house, and he loved nothing more than to play and run and splash and swim and dig in it. When Jim was out in the yard, Jake was right beside him, step by step.

When I took Jake outside...he took off. Every.single.time.

WHERE IS HE GOING?

Yes, Jake was a good dog in many, many ways. And he was a bad dog in only one way.

He barked.

I mean, he barked incessantly.

If he was awake and breathing, he barked approximately once per second. I'm not even kidding. He made himself hoarse on numerous occasions. Jim bought one of those bark collars that would shock Jake when he barked.

I know. I hated it, too., but we were at our wit's end with Jake.

One of the neighbor ladies came over one day to complain about Jake's barking. She told Jim that she was pregnant, and the constant barking bothered her.

Stand in line, sister.

She said that she had called to report it to the police. She told Jim that when the policeman came, the two of them stood outside our fence, and that Jake barked the entire time.

Ummm hello? Stranger-danger.

The police officer was really nice. He understood about dogs...how they, you know, BARK.  He just asked us to try and keep it under control at night.

The collar didn't work on Jake. Jim didn't want to fry Jake's little doggy brain, so he didn't have it turned up high enough...and the low voltage didn't seem to bother Jake at ALL.

The only thing that DID work was to throw a small rock (pebble) into Jake's dog pen and hit his tin roof. The noise would kind of spook Jake, and he would stop barking for a little while. This was a great solution and all, but it did require that a person GET UP OUT OF THE BED to take care of it.

Jim started leaving a little pile of these small rocks by our front door. And in the middle of the night, or whenever Jake was barking, he would get up and go outside...and throw a rock over into Jake's pen in the backyard. When it hit the roof, Jake would stop barking.

Poor Jake. :(

Well, at one point, Jim noticed that Jake had a swollen part on one of his legs, and took him to the Vet. The Vet said it was cancer. He told Jim that he could do surgery and treatments and it MIGHT prolong his life a LITTLE, or we could just bring him home and love him, and let him play until he couldn't. He wasn't uncomfortable or suffering in any way.

At this point you need to know that Jim loves dogs, he does...and he does consider them to be part of our family...to a point.

The point being that they are DOGS.

We brought Jake home...and Jake continued to bark.

And bark and bark and bark.

And one day, Jake got bitten by a snake...right in the place on his leg that was swollen. And y'all won't believe this, but his cancer went away! It did!

Jake lived a long time and he was happy. One day, he went to spend a week with Jim's brother. Jim's brother had a small saw mill, and he had the idea that Jake could roam around the plant and be the "plant dog," and get loved on by everyone.

That worked for 3 days before Jake met an untimely death that involved a fork lift.

And let's just leave it at that.

We told Joshua that Jake died of old age. Don't judge.

So, the other day, we were driving back from Logan and Morgan's place. Joshua was sitting up front with me. It was a beautiful, sunny day. Joshua was staring up at the sky, deep in thought. And then...completely out-of-the-blue, he asked me, "do you think Jake is getting on God's nerves yet?"

"The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack." Psalm 23:1

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cleaning and Painting...and Hanging Plates!

Today we had a quiet day. It was great and much needed. The weather was cloudy and it sprinkled earlier, and then poured down rain just before 5 p.m. when everyone was hitting the roads to head to their homes. I kind of wanted it to rain all day today, just because I like when it rains on a stay-home day. Because ALL ABOUT ME. But then I thought of Clark traveling back and forth to Little Rock in bad weather...and Jim and Aaron are also both traveling today...and then I hoped it would stay clear.

I spent the day using my new washing machine and dryer...and generally straightening up around here. When Jim is gone, one of the first things I do is clean out the frig. I'm all for saving left-overs, but that boy loves to keep EVERYTHING.

For a lonnnnng time.

My frig is clean now, tho. :)

And then I painted some in Logan's bedroom. I was toying with the idea of making his room a little more feminine, since he's married now. More than likely, if he ever stays here, it will probably be he and Morgan together. His room was red, white and blue. He had a large American flag that Jim gave him on one wall. I think it had flown over Jim's office building at one point. Logan wanted the flag, so when I asked him if he wanted the bedding, too...he said, "yes!" So I gave him all the bedding AND THE PILLOWS...and when I asked if he wanted the lamp, he said, "yes!" So I gave him the lamp.

And then the idea that I was toying with kind of had to become a reality, because once you give away everything in the bedroom, you're committed to the re-do.

I chose a gray color for his walls. I hope it will look good. I'm not really a "gray" kind of person. I bought a yellow lamp-base with a bright, flowery lampshade. I'm thinking of doing white bedding with some yellow, green and coral accent pillows...and some new curtains.

It might be a tad more feminine than I first had in mind. :) Heeheehee...

Later this afternoon, Joshua and I went over to Holly's house and helped her put up a "plate wall" in her kitchen. It turned out great! She has a plate from each of her great-grandmothers and then some new ones she's picked up here and there. A mix of the old and the new.

After that, we all went out for dinner, and now we are watching the LEGO movie.

We lead an exciting life!

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

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Road Trip, A Stent, Feeding Fish...and A Hamburger

First of all, let me say that my father-in-law is FINE. You'll want to know that before you read today's post.

Secondly, I love my in-laws and I love writing about them. They are simple, family-lovin', God-believin', hard-workin', country folk. They are also the funniest, most eccentric, most generous, most...different two people I have ever met! (I'm sure there would be a lot about ME that they would want people to know as well!)

As Joshua would say: Imnottalkingaboutthatrightnow.

There is a LOT about them that I don't feel I can write about. At least not until they go on to Gloryland, and we hope that's not for a long, LONNNG time. I want to protect their privacy, to some extent, and plus...some of it YOU.JUST.WOULD.NOT.BELIEVE! (wink!)

Today, we had planned on going up to see our Logan and Morgan after church...taking them our washer and dryer, and a bunch of other stuff we're giving them to help make their first home more comfortable. We planned on going to SS and church, eating a quick lunch...and loading up and heading out by 1:30 at the latest. It's a 2 1/2 hour drive to L/M's apartment, so we wanted to get there and get back as quickly and efficiently as possible.

After church...as we were leaving the sanctuary...I pulled my phone out of my purse to check it. I figured that Logan would be texting to ask what time we were coming. Instead, I had about 9 text messages...ALL from members of Jim's family.

My heart sank.

That's never good, is it?

Turns out that Jim's dad had woken up at 3 a.m. with pain down his left arm, and had been at the ER since 4 a.m. He'd had some tests run and was being monitored...and he was waiting on the results of the dye test. He wasn't worried, tho. In fact, several of the text messages WERE FROM HIM.

Yes, my 78 year old father-in-law was texting his every move to all of us...from his hospital bed.

As my Grandma Ellen would say: "well, wonders never cease!"

And we had JUST had dinner with him last night! Jim's brother wanted to know what we fed his Dad to make him have this pain. I told him we gave him a lot of red meat, cheese...cake.

And an onion tower.

KIDDING.

Anyway, the dye test showed an 85% blockage in one artery, and a 65% blockage in the other. My father-in-law was skeptical. He said, "they CLAIMED it was 85% blocked..."

Yeah...because that would be highly unlikely. EXCEPT NOT.

My in-laws are not exactly the picture of healthy living. They work hard and sleep when they can. My father-in-law is constantly outside. If he's not fishing, he's piddling in the yard or in his shop. They eat eggs every morning for breakfast, along with ham, sausage or bacon. Sometimes they eat all 3...in one meal. They eat butter. They eat gravy. My mother-in-law makes a thing called "red-eye gravy," which is the drippings left from after you fry the ham or sausage...mixed with coffee. So, yeah...basically greasy coffee gravy.

They consume more coffee than any human-being should.

They eat mostly fried food. They eat late nearly every night. They like potatoes, gravy and bread. They love any and all kinds of dessert.

They get very little exercise thanks to a little thing called a MULE. No, not a real mule, but one of those golf-carty-utility vehicles people use to haul things. My in-laws have two, and they ride them to check the mail, to check on each other, to go down to the boathouse...because actually walking is SO over-rated (on a serious note, they both now move a little slower, and the Mules probably ARE a good thing for them to have and use). They laugh because they will pass each other in their Mules...and they'll just wave. AT EACH OTHER. As they drive by. IN THEIR YARD.

Anyway, the doctor put a stent in the artery that was 85% blocked and left the other one alone. My father-in-law is recovering and wants to go home, but they are keeping him overnight. My mother-in-law left to run home and "feed the dogs and the fish." You need to know that the dogs they feed are indeed their own dogs...but the fish? THEY ARE FISH IN THE LAKE.

About once a week, my father-in-law goes to what he calls "The Day Old Bread Store." He buys 100 loaves of bread (not even kidding) for less than $10...and feeds them to the fish off his dock, and around his fishing holes all over the lake.

So, my mother-in-law left her ailing husband in the hospital...to go home and feed the fish in the lake.

IN THE LAKE.

And my father-in-law, who was texting everyone known to man about all of his procedures, asked my mother-in-law to bring him a phone charger when she came back to the hospital, because his phone battery was getting low.

She said she would, but (wait for it) she "wanted to get a hamburger first."

In the end, Jim decided that we needed to stick with our plans, and drive up to where Logan and Morgan live. So, 6 of us drove two vehicles 2 1/2 hours to where they live. We unloaded boxes and gifts...and a washer and dryer. Jim and Logan went to Lowe's for something they needed, and then they hooked it all up. And then 6 of us drove two vehicles 2 1/2 hours home.

I drove my vehicle the whole way there and back. I had Aaron and Holly in the back seat, and Joshua sat up front with me. He talked non-stop to me for 2 1/2 hours there AND back. Holly tried to distract him with a magazine, and he flipped through it like he was speed-reading. He said he didn't want to get car sick.

I can respeck dat.

We are so thankful to make it home safely. We are thankful that my father-in-law is doing well.

And we are thankful that my mother-in-law got her hamburger.

"See now that I alone am He; there is no God but me..." Deuteronomy 32:39

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The In-Laws, The Onion Towers and The (non) Allergic Reactions!

Well, today has been fun.

It started out with sleeping in and a late breakfast and piddling around the house. I was trying to get all of the laundry done, because Lowe's was supposed to deliver our new washing machine and dryer this afternoon. After I got done with the two loads, Jim unhooked everything, and moved our old w/d out of the laundry room.

This is the part I was dreading...because Jim is a clean freak. I had vaccumed in there this morning. I went under the w/d and in-between them. There wasn't a speck of dust...THAT YOU COULD SEE.

Of course, I knew it would be messy once the machines were moved and the room was empty. And I was right. But Katie-bar-the-door, Jim went nuts about how I should periodically move the washer and dryer, and vacuum under them BECAUSE IT IS A FIRE HAZARD.

In his defense, Jim comes from a long line of o-ver-re-act-ers.

And while I believe that it probably IS a fire hazard, and I probably SHOULD move the washer and dryer ALL BY MYSELF with a space of AT THE MOST 2 feet of wiggle room in front of the w/d...just sayin'. Probably not gonna happen.

What am I, Mr. Clean?

Anyway, we made plans to meet Jim's parents at a restaurant half-way between our town and theirs. They are loaning us their pick-up, so we can take our old w/d set to Logan and Morgan tomorrow.

I love my in-laws, but I've written about them before. It's always a treat to be with them...especially at a restaurant. They both do NOT like to wait, which is why we met them at straight up 5 p.m.

AND, they called us while we were on our way to ask how many people were with us and HOW MUCH LONGER we were going to be.

Seriously? It was 4:53 pm, and we were 5 minutes away.

OH MY WORD.

So, our group of 6 gets there and they are (thankfully) already seated. There are two empty seats next to Jim's mom, and I moved out of the way to let Jim scoot in first...because the last thing anyone wants is to get between Jim and his mom. They are just alike and can talk a blue streak, and...well...no one wants to be in the middle of THAT.

But Jim, the RAT FINK, goes, "noooooo...I'll be good to just sit here on the end."

And that's how Jim died...because I strangled him.

No, really. I just gave him a "if looks could kill" kind of look, and smiled at my mother-in-law.

I love my in-laws, I promise.

We all ordered our tea and water, and then the waitress asked if we wanted an appetizer. We THINK that's what she said, we couldn't really tell. She could barely talk. She told us that she'd been on vacation all week, and when she woke up this morning, she had lost most of her voice.

Which, this was delightful, because Jim's dad can't hear on a good day...and Jim can't hear on a bad one.

Jim was trying to tell her what we wanted, because if we are with Jim's parents...THERE WILL BE APPETIZERS.

There will also be dessert, if my mother-in-law has her way.

Jim can't find the appetizers on the menu. He tells the waitress he wants onion rings and some sort of appetizer where you get 3 different things. In her raspy, quiet voice, she asked him what kind of sauce he wanted with his bbq wings and he said, "okay." And she asked him if this was all on one check, and he said, "ranch."

Seriously. It was like bizarro night.

We get the appetizers and the topic of conversation that completely took over everyone at the table is the fact that we got an onion TOWER...instead of onion STRAWS, which is what they wanted. "But just look at that, would ya...it's definitely an onion tower...yes, it is." And everyone agrees that it is, indeed, an onion TOWER. Jim's mom orders something that comes with a salad, but she doesn't want her salad. She asked Jim about 11 times if he wanted her salad. He finally says he'll take it. Nevermind the fact that his meal also comes with a salad.

So they are eating their appetizers and the salads come. The waitress gives my mother-in-law her salad, and I take it. The waitress squeaks, "oh, I'm sorry...did you order a salad?" She is all confused. I said, "no, SHE did...but I'm going to eat it." She just stares at us. I said, "you did it RIGHT...I'm just going to eat her salad." My mother-in-law says, "we are a crazy family."

Whatchu talkin' about, Mr. T?

Then, my mother-in-law tells Jim that he should save the appetizers to eat with his salad.

WHAT?

Jim said, "I don't want to eat them with my salad." She says back to him, "yes, you do. That's what you're supposed to do."

It is at this point that I look over at Jim and say, in the most loving way I can, "I soooo do not like you at this moment." Because Jim and his Mom are arguing about how he should eat his appetizer with his salad...AT THE SAME TIME. And I've got one of them on either side of me. Get me out of here!

Jim just grinned and said, "next time, I'm going to seat my mother at a table across the room," and then his mother replied, "no, that won't work because I like to be in charge."

Remember that episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond" when Frank and Marie are arguing over whether it's a pot or a pan...or whether it's a lawn or a yard?

My whole night was kind of like that.

And they are TALKING OVER ME.

And then she starts telling Jim this lonnnnnnng and drawwwwnnnn out story about someone. Jim says he doesn't remember them, and she goes, "yes, you do."

We got our food and it was all really good. The thing to know whenever you eat with my in-laws is that they have no boundaries when it comes to what is on a person's plate. They all share food and "fork" off of each other's plates. My father-in-law will eat anything anyone wants to share with him.

And then they ask for to-go boxes and proceed to pile everything that's left into a box for later. Joshua was mortified.

Let that just sink in...JOSHUA was mortified.

There's your sign.

He was muttering under his breath and all I could make out was "this is so embarrassing," and "it's ree-dic-a-lus to take all the food on the table."

My father-in-law cannot sit for long "spells." His knee will start hurting, or his foot...or his hip. Usually when he is done eating, he will get up and go outside to wait for us by his truck. We accept it and don't find it to be weird.

Anymore.

He has also started this thing where, after he is finished eating, he starts sneezing. And he gets so uncomfortable...because he's so full...that he has to leave the table and walk around outside.

So, he gets up and is heading toward the front door. The waitress whispers, "is he going to the restroom?" I said, "no." She said, "oh, good...because he's going the wrong way." Jim goes, "he's just having an allergic reaction."

And that's how the waitress nearly died.

Seriously.

She turned all pale and whipped her head around toward Jim's dad like she was on the Exorcist movie. She said, "what? He IS???"

I'm pretty sure she was seconds away from dialing 9-1-1.

It's at this point we all start talking over each other, reassuring this young girl that there.is.no.allergic.reaction.in.progress...thank you, very much.

In the end, we had a great dinner and a nice visit. We left a NICE tip. We exchanged vehicles with my in-laws, and my mother-in-law gave us all toilet paper, paper towels and laundry detergent. :)

And then she went to Lowe's to buy Logan and Morgan a vacuum cleaner because GENEROUS.

We got our new w/d and they look basically the same as the ones we are giving away. I went around the house taking pictures of things, and sending them to Logan and Morgan...asking if they wanted them. So far, I'm also giving them a rug, a lamp, bedding, pillows, and Logan's giant American flag from his bedroom wall. It was so fun! This is EXACTLY how Jim and I furnished our home in the early days...full of stuff that used to belong to others.

Who am I kidding? It's still like that. I look around my house...there's the china cabinet from my grandmother. I also have one from my mother-in-law. I have a few things from my Mom. We got the armoire in our bedroom from some friends. There's the huge, gold, couch from my sister. She also gave us about 4 decorative accent tables, the large kitchen table and chairs I now have in my dining room, those shelves, that tv, those lamps, the big, gold mirror...and the list goes on and on.

It makes me so happy when I look at all of these beautiful things and think of the ones who passed them down to us.

So thankful for our families.

"A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." Proverbs 11:25

Friday, June 20, 2014

FRIDAY. Also Known As: Yawnfest 2014

So, first I got up.

And then I laid back down.

Is it laid or layed? I never know.

And then I got up again.

I always try to get up with my husband or kids when they leave in the mornings...no matter how late or early. I like to see them...walk them out to their cars. I try to talk to them, but SOME PEOPLE in my family go to great lengths to avoid uttering any sound at all...which irks me to no end, but whatever.

This morning, I woke up at 5 a.m., but I didn't actually get up out of bed until 6 a.m.

It pains me to even type this because SUMMER.

Clark leaves for work really early. He has started packing his own lunch. Well, this is the 5th day IN HIS LIFE that he has packed his own lunch.  I'm glad for the help, but he's cheating me out of adding whatever little "mom touches" to his life that I can...while I can. He will be a Senior in the fall...my time is limited. Throw me bone, please!

For as long as I've packed lunches for the kids, I've always written a little note or scripture verse...or a JOKE...on their napkins. My kids used to call it their "love nakins."

And now this one is packing his own lunch and not even including a napkin AT ALL! What is it with kids trying to cut mom out of the picture?

AND YES I REALIZE THAT CLARK IS 18 YEARS OLD.

Sheesh.

After Clark left at around 6:20, I laid...layed...okay, now I'm paranoid about it. I stretched out on the couch, because Jim was off today and I didn't want to go back to our room and wake him up. He is usually up at the crack o'dawn...he's a morning person...but he did sleep a little longer today.

Hello?

Tap-tap-tap...anyone there? I'm boring myself to death.

I did about 5-6 loads of laundry today...trying to get it all done. We decided to give our washer and dryer to Logan and Morgan. They do have a laundromat close to where they live, and they have been using the w/d at a friend's house. The other night, tho, they had both worked late...and she told me that she was hand-washing Logan's work shirt and her VBS shirt. She wasn't saying it like, "poor us" or anything like that. But I told Jim...and now I am getting a new w/d tomorrow, and we are giving Logan and Morgan our old set.

Which, our old set is only 2 years old. We still have 2 years left on the warranty Jim bought on it. Double yay!

Other than picking up around here and doing the laundry, it was not a productive day, and that's okay. Holly came over and she wasn't feeling well...so we just, in Joshua's words, "hanged around" most of the afternoon.

YEEE-AWWWWNNNNNN.

Boy am I tired! And I bet you are, too, if you are still reading this.

BUT WAIT!

I have a link that will make it all better!

Funniest thing I've read all week was this post from Melanie. I read it and laughed til my sides hurt, because...I've been there. Trust me.

THEN, I read it out-loud to my 25 year old daughter, and I was laughing so hard I was crying. She didn't think it was as funny as I did, but that's just because she's young and clueless naive about the things in life that lay/lie ahead of her (oh good grief!). So, I was howling-laughing, and wiping my eyes, and she was all, like, "MOM...STOP."

What does SHE know?

Happy weekend!

"I will be filled with joy because of You. I will sing praises to Your name, O Most High." Psalm 9:2

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Days 2 and 3

Well, I know y'all are dying to know how it's going with Joshua this week.

I almost didn't send Joshua to Therapeutic Rec (TR) today. Honestly, I went back and forth on it. I was trying to figure out if it was just that I didn't want to take him, or if I was trying to convince myself that he wouldn't really miss anything today. They are going swimming today, but he can do that here at home.

What I was really worried about was the drama.

Drama among the FRIENDS is going to be the death of me.

Because as much as I tell myself to not.get.involved. and to just let.it.go...it's hard. Mentally exhausting.

Yesterday, Joshua said there was drama between Julia and Jenni.

Now, you have to know that JENNI has been Joshua's girlfriend for the past 10 years. Julia is an older FRIEND, and she and Joshua are, in his mind, just friends.

And you have to know that Joshua and Jenni have gone to Camp Barnabas together (the same week) for the past 10 years.

And you need to know that Jenni did not get signed up in time and that week filled up...and she didn't get to go.

But Julia did.

And there-in lies the drama.

Are you getting the picture?

Because Jenni was so sad, and Joshua was sad that she couldn't go with him to Camp. BUT...enter Julia, who was THRILLED to have a week there with her friends...AND JOSHUA.

A Joshua without Jenni.

And remember that Julia did ask him to be her "date" to the dance one night...the night that he had TWO dates...and, in Joshua's own words, she, "hogged him all night so that he couldn't dance with anyone else."

So, yesterday, Julia comes to TR with a bunch of stuff from Camp...to show everyone.

Mmmmmm-mmmmm....she did.

She brought a t-shirt and some other Camp merch that she bought in the Shirt Shack. She brought the craft that they made during the week. Annnnnnd she brought her "picture book," that was full of photos from her week at Camp. And she laid it all out in front of God and e'erybody...AND JENNI...and it seemed like it was kind of her silent way of saying, "take THIS, home-girl."

Because, yes...the FRIENDS are very, very smart. They are capable of compassion, tenderness and love. They are also capable of jealousy, manipulation and even...at times...a teensy-tiny amount of pay-back.

I said, "Joshua, were you in her picture book?" He said, "yes, there were pictures of her and me from the dance."

Oh no she di 'int.

Oh yes, she did.

And then it all hit the fan. Jenni was crushed, and Julia was beaming...and Joshua felt stuck in the middle.

Joshua told Clark about it all the way home, and then he told me about it last night. He said, "I told Julia that I"m going to try and make it right." I said, "it's not your place to make it right." Joshua said, "well, I don't trust Julia and Jenni to make it right." Me: "So? if they don't make it right, that's their problem...not yours. You weren't even involved." Joshua, "I told them that I will make it right...I will take all the blame."

My head about blew off.

This is how they are...the FRIENDS. They have drama and are totally unaware of the consequences. Sometimes feelings are hurt, and they try to make it right. And they jump in to defend...not one person...but BOTH of them, or ALL of them...and they will go so far as to take "all the blame" for something they weren't even involved in!

I asked Joshua if it was possible that Julia knew exactly what she was doing...not saying she for sure did...just was it possible. AND I asked him if he could possibly put himself in Jenni's position and understand that she was hurt.

I tried to reason with Joshua, but I was getting nowhere. Every time I would bring something up that he didn't want to talk about, he would say his favorite phrase, "Imnottalkingaboutthatrightnow."

If you need me, I'll be in my closet...in the fetal position. Join me, won't you?

"The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic." Psalm 29:4

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

TR-First Week of Summer Day Camp

So, yesterday was the day Joshua and the other FRIENDS have looked forward to for one month: SUMMER DAY CAMP at Therapeutic Recreation!

I realize I had set my expectations pretty high for the whole Joshua-and-Jenni-getting-along-around-others thing because of the very fun day they had here on SATURDAY.

Oh what a difference two days can make.

Joshua got up early and was so excited. Jim had a meeting in Little Rock, so he said he would take Joshua for me. YAY! So I got Clark headed off to work...and then Jim and Joshua out the door...and I waited for everyone to text me and tell me that they made it safely.

Joshua's text: "me and Dad had made it."

Sweet, right?

So when they came home, I was interested to see how it went. First, I had to hear all about Clark's day. He is working for the Therapeutic Rec Day Camp this summer. He works with the kids program, and Joshua attends the program for adults.

Clark had a BLAST! I knew he would. He came home with a ton of stories from his day. It's kind of cool because Holly and Logan have both worked this day camp in the past, and they knew some of the kids in Clark's group.

We decided to grill hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner, and everyone came over...Aaron and Holly, Clark and Faith, Joshua...and Jim and I. While we ate, Joshua proceeded to tell Jim about his day. He started with his usual, "well, after you dropped me off, we hanged around the Center for a while..."

He starts every re-cap with that same sentence.

He talked about how their group loaded up and went to the poo-ah (pool), and the "little kids group" was already there, and he got to see Clark! He said that Jenni didn't want to get in the poo-ah, but he did. And how they rode back to the Center on the vans and he got on the wrong van, because JENNI was on it...and that was miz-uh-bal (miserable). And that they had lunch, and he didn't sit by Jenni and she got mad. And how they had a brainstorming session after lunch, where the FRIENDS all got to talk about activities they would like to do during this 6 week day camp. He said that one FRIEND suggested rock-wall climbing and lunch at Tropical Smoothie, which is something their group does once a year anyway...and Jenni "threw a little hissy fit" because she didn't like that idea.

It was at this point when Holly looked across the table at me and said, "Day...ONE."

I don't get it. They are soooo sweet and lovey-dovey when they are alone together, but you put one other FRIEND into the mix, and they cannot get along.

I told him that he would not be able to go 3 days/week if he and Jenni can't be sweet. I explained how he always talks about leadership and being a leader...but he wasn't living it out in his relationship with Jenni. Because they should have each other's backs, not constantly snipping at each other all day.

*crickets chirping*

Jim just looked at me, shaking his head. I KNOW. But I just have to keep trying.

Then, just about the time I want to throw my hands up in the air, he comes in and tells me he got so full from the lunch I packed him, that he gave his brownie to Jenni.

What are you DOING to me, Joshua?

"If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." Romans 12:18

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Random Links (even one to Logan & Morgan's wedding video!)

Some posts from the past couple of weeks that really spoke to me in different ways:

*This from Ann Voskamp, on how to keep hoping for things that seem impossible.

*This from Alia Joy at (in)courage, because there's nothing tidy about following Jesus.

*This from Ann Voskamp, when you feel like you don't belong anywhere.

*This from my friend, Christie Erwin, for when the unthinkable happens and nothing makes sense.

*And, just for sweetness...Logan and Morgan's wedding video. I've watched it about 20 53 times so far.

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

Monday, June 16, 2014

Father's Day 2014 (Re-post)

Linking to my Father's Day post from 2013 because nothing much has changed. Still love the fathers in my life.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Anna's Wedding

Last night, we attended the wedding of Holly's best friend, Anna.

Holly and Anna were "randomly" chosen as roommates their freshman year at Ouachita Baptist University. I've got "randomly" in quotes, because while it might look random...it was most definitely a God-thing. We do have a friend who works at OBU...she and another girl were working to find a good roommate for Holly...and for all of the other incoming freshmen who didn't have roommates. They came up with a couple of different girls, but it wasn't working out with either of them, for whatever reason.

And then there was Anna.

Her roommate situation had just fallen through, and the staff was looking for a compatible person for her to live with.

I'm sure it's like this at many schools, but at OBU...back in the dark ages when I went there...they had you fill out a questionnaire about yourself...your beliefs, likes, dislikes, habits...things like that. And then the registration staff would try to match you with someone who was suitable. My answers were all pretty generic, but I do remember on one part of it that I put that I liked chocolate-chip cookies. Later, when I talked with my roommate...after we had become friends and all...she mentioned that she put THE EXACT SAME THING.

A God-thing.

Back to Holly and Anna. I remember the day we first met them...we went to the Cracker Barrel in Bryant, Arkansas and had dinner with their family. We were eye-balling them, and they were eye-balling us. I guess we must've passed the test, which was amazing if you consider that I have 3 rowdy boys...(well, two rowdy boys...Joshua's not rowdy)...and they had these two beautiful and well-mannered daughters and a handsome and well-mannered son. We made a "date" to meet up with them and shop for bedding, and that is still one of the most fun days of my life. I think I probably freaked them out, because, like Holly tells me all the time, "MOM...people who don't know you...don't "get" your humor."

I'll admit it...I find humor in weird things, and I laugh...a LOT. My sense of humor is something I picked up from my mom, and have passed down (hopefully) to my children. Both of my sisters, and my one brother, are all really funny...

Looking.

I'M KIDDING.

I just know that God has used my sense of humor to sustain me in many times in my life that were very sad...or scary...or serious.

We moved Holly and Anna into their dorms on a hot day in August. We filled up two cars, our Burb plus Holly's car. There was NO WAY all of Holly's stuff was going to fit into a dorm room...must less Holly AND ANNA's stuff.

But it did.

I remember sitting on the floor in their room...boxes everywhere. You couldn't even walk. The room looked like the pink-orange-purple-and-lime-green section at Bed, Bath and Beyond had exploded in there. Anna's mother and grandmother were lamenting the fact that the curtains they made didn't fit the window, and they vowed to make another pair and come back with some that did. Jim, and Anna's dad, were practically hanging upside-down on a shelf...trying to hook up the tv and all the cables and the string of pink Christmas lights that one of the girls had brought. Anna was pulling things out of a box like it was the first time she had ever seen them. At one point she yelled, "OHHHH...MY....GOSH!" We all stopped, because it scared us to death...and we all looked at Anna to see what had happened. Was she hurt? Anna holds up a pair of scissors and says, "these scissors ALMOST cut my hand off."

And that's how Anna died.

*Because Jim flew off the shelf and told her in no uncertain terms to cut the drama and unpack those boxes and let's get on with it because unless something actually did cut her hand completely off...we all have other things to do and other places to be.

I'M KIDDING.

He didn't say anything like that. We all just laughed, and I wondered how and if my slow-moving, drama-avoiding girl was going to survive in all of this. I looked over at Holly. In the middle of all the chaos...the cable wires, the tools, the boxes, the bedding, curtains and supplies...she is ever so slowly and carefully putting her pencils in her desk. ONE AT A TIME.

And that's how Holly died.

Because...*see above paragraph.

But Holly and Anna became best friends. They roomed together their freshman and senior years. They were sorority sisters. They graduated from college together. Three years ago, Anna was Holly's maid of honor in her wedding...and last night, Holly stood on the stage with Anna, as she pledged her love and life to her new husband.

And as I looked around the reception tent last night, I thought of how GOD has orchestrated and planned out the past 7 years, and I was overwhelmed with gratefulness.

"...surely just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand." Isaiah 14:24

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Joshua and Jenni's Very Fun Day

So, I decided last night to get in touch with Jenni's mom, to see if Jenni was available to spend a few hours with us today. We have a wedding to attend tonight, but nothing at all this morning or afternoon.

Thankfully, Jenni was free, and she has been here with us for several hours. Joshua is thrilled.

In the car, Jenni was asking Joshua all about camp. Jenni didn't get registered in time, and so she is having to go a different week from Joshua for the first time ever. Joshua proceeds to tell her about his "double-date" to the dance, Katherine and Julia, and Jim looked over at me and mumbled, "someone needs to tell Joshua to shut his mouth." But Jenni seemed okay with it, for the most part. Oh, she did say, "she better be glad I wasn't there" at one point, but over-all she was fine. Joshua explained that Katherine was just using him to get her own boyfriend jealous, and that she came up later and apologized for it. Joshua said he told her, "it's okay, I probably would've done the same thing."

And Jenni laughed.

WHAT?

Usually, when Joshua and Jenni have their dates, we take them somewhere...out-to-eat, to a movie, bowling...stuff like that. I've been thinking more and more that we should cut back on that, and just let them BE. We spend so much time entertaining them...and watching them like a hawk...that I'm usually a nervous wreck when the date is over.

I decided that if they want to have a "normal" relationship, like they say that they do, they need to do normal stuff like we do. You know, run to the grocery, eat a sandwich at home, watch tv, play outside, etc.

Now they do need extra...ummm...supervision, because they have ALL THE FEELINGS and don't always know the appropriate ways to express...or NOT express...them. It's been something that we, along with Jenni's parents, just don't really know how to handle and we work on it with them all the time. Joshua and Jenni want private time. They want to go into hallway, or the back patio or a bedroom...to smooch and do I don't know WHAT...I just don't want to find out.

Or walk in on it.

Because I am not a fan of them having ALL THE FEELINGS at my house.

Clark is not here, and now Logan is married...but, in the past, whenever Jenni came over, and she and Joshua were looking for a private space...Logan and Clark would run interference. Clark, especially, got ALL into it. He would be on his cell phone, like, "they are in the hallway...I repeat, THEY ARE IN THE HALLWAY."

So we ran by Subway on our way home, and just ate a sandwich at the house...which is something totally normal that we would typically do. Except that our sandwiches would be made from whatever we had here on hand, but since Jenni is our company...

And as soon as lunch was over and the table had been cleared, Joshua grabbed Jenni's hand and said, "I'm taking her upstairs to show her my bed."

And I knew that he meant he wanted to show her his NEW bed...which is different from his old bed...but I still thought that statement should be filed under "Pick-Up Lines That Work."

At our house, we don't entertain members of the opposite sex in our bedrooms. Never have. Never will. But Joshua and Jenni want to be alone. Private. Away from all the eyes. So they like to go into a room and shut the door. I don't know if that's what they think all couples do, but it's not happenin' in my house.

We don't know what would happen if we just left them alone for a period of time. I'm thinking it could go one of two ways: the way I don't want to think about or SEE...and the way where Jenni falls asleep.

Right now, they are in another room watching a movie...with the door open. And I can walk by and check on them. All I hear is giggling. And I'm thinking, "please Lord Jesus...I CANNOT HANDLE THIS!" And I hear more giggling.

Two things are in my favor. One, I got them both nice and tired. They played in the pool for a long time, and then sat out under the umbrella. When I saw that Jenni was struggling to stay awake, I suggested they come inside, change clothes...and watch a movie. Most of the giggling I can tell is related to the movie. The other giggling? I am choosing to ignore. Because MY EYEEEEES.

And now they are singing, "Love is an Open Door," from FROZEN.

Both of them are off-key and off-beat...but their voices are music to my ears. I love them so much.

"and may the Lord cause you to increase and overflow with love for one another..." 1 Thessalonians 3:12

Friday, June 13, 2014

Funky Town

I've been in kind of a funk since the wedding.

I don't know why.

Last week, Logan and Mosrgan were having a blast on their honeymoon.  Joshua was at Camp Barnabas. We were here at home, and I just wanted the other two kids to gather around me and SIT. Like, 24/7.

Needless to say, that didn't happen because...ummm...well...Holly lives with her HUSBAND.

In their own home.

Because they're married.

Urg.

And Clark seemed to be gone a lot because SUMMER.

I realize it's not realistic or fair to expect my kids to meet my emotional needs. I KNOW. I'm not new here.

When Holly got married, everyone said, "oh, go on a trip after the wedding!" And we were thinking, "with what money?" Ha.

But seriously.

Actually, we didn't feel the need to leave and get away, since we had 3 boys still at home. Things were loud and busy.

Right now I'm kinda missing the noise.

So, I'm kind of thinking that the whole taking-a-trip-after-the-wedding thing would've been a good idea after Logan's wedding. Joshua was already going to be gone to Camp Barnabas. Clark could've gone with us...and it would've been better than trying to fill the days in a very quiet house.

This week, Clark is gone to the beach with his girlfriend's family. He says that he's "having a blast," and that "her family is really cool."

Humph.

I'M KIDDING.

This is also the first summer in about 8 years that we don't have a son attending summer football practices, 7 on 7 games and football camps. Clark has decided not to play football his senior year of high school, so this is his first summer ever to have some extra free time. I'm kind of sad about it...not as much for him not wanting to play as I am for US not getting to enjoy watching him and being a part of the team.

You know...making it all about ME.

(oh just be quiet)

Clark does have a job that he will start on Monday after he gets back from the beach.

There's just lots of changes going on around here, and it's a new day.

What was wrong with the old day, again?

I don't like change, even though sometimes change is necessary and sometimes change is good. No one wants to be stale and bored, right?

Today, Holly and I took Joshua to see "Maleficent." I was kind of nervous about it. I was one of "those" moms who was very protective of what my kids watched on tv and at movies. In fact, it's a fun little trip down memory lane (NOT) when the kids are all here together and one of the rat finks will say, "hey, remember how we weren't allowed to watch that? Or do that? Or go there?" And they all give me the HARDEST TIME.

But, guess what? They all survived, and they are fine, upstanding students and young adults. Hell didn't freeze over and they didn't indeed JUST DIE like they swore they would if we didn't let them do what they wanted to do.

Wonders never cease!

(And the "kids" made it okay in the movie. Of course, Joshua is 28 and Holly is 25...so there's THAT!)

"Be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD..." Psalm 31:24

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Camp 2014: Cross Carry

Every week at Camp Barnabas...on the last night before the campers leave...they have "cross carry."

You have to know that Camp Barnabas was started because one person had a heart for a child who wasn't able to attend her "regular" Christian sports camp...because she got cancer. And this one person, Cindy Teas, and her husband, Paul, got friends to think on and pray and invest in what God had put on their hearts...and Camp Barnabas was born. Still a camp that teaches Christ. Still a camp with a sports emphasis, only the activities have adaptations for those with physical and mental challenges.

Here is the mission at Camp Barnabas. I copied this from their website.

"CHANGING LIVES THROUGH CHRIST-CENTERED EXPERIENCES"

Our mission at Barnabas is to show others the love of Christ in every aspect of our ministry. Our ministry is not only in changing the lives of those with special needs and chronic illnesses, but also in changing the lives of all who come in contact with Barnabas: campers, volunteers, parents, staff and donors. We want to show our campers that they can live a life of ability and they were beautifully, wonderfully and perfectly created with a purpose. We want to show our volunteers what it looks like to serve others the way Christ calls us to serve, to look past physical appearances and instead, look at the heart. We want our donors to be blessed and touched by the stories of how their gift went towards giving a child the best week of their life where they made new friends, were encouraged, and were shown life-changing worth. We want our parents to find respite while their child is at camp and to find encouragement from staff, from other parents and from children just like their own. We want our staff to be challenged by the growth and strengthening of their faith as they set aside their own needs for three months while serving our campers, parents, volunteers and fellow staff. The experiences gained from Camp Barnabas go beyond a week at summer camp. These experiences change perspectives, redefine disability and become life-changing. 

Over the course of the summer, Camp Barnabas will host campers with various levels of abilities...and in various stages of treatment or recovery. They have special weeks for those FRIENDS with cancer; for those FRIENDS with all sorts of developmental delays or autism/ for those FRIENDS in wheelchairs; for those FRIENDS who are blind. And they have weeks for younger campers, and weeks for adult campers.

I don't know if your mind can go to the place where you can imagine that not all campers make it back year after year. Some are just too sick. Some are ushered into the arms of Jesus.

I...just...can't...

For the campers who pass away, Camp Barnabas honors their memories by putting their names on little brass plaques attached to a large cross that sits at Inspiration Point. On the last night of each week, two people will carry the cross from cabin to cabin, leading in quiet worship songs. This is a very emotional time for all the campers because some of these campers have a diagnosis that is terminal. They are well aware that their names will be on that cross one day. Some of the campers are in the siblings cabin. They may have a brother or sister whose names are on the cross. At each cabin, the campers are allowed to gather around the cross and pray.

This year, when the cross came to his cabin, Joshua was chosen to lead the prayer. He was very honored to do this.

I was surprised that they asked him, because explaining cross-carry to the newbies was one of the things Joshua thought HE should get to explain...NOT the staffers.

Cross-carry is one of the sweetest traditions at Camp Barnabas. It's sad, obviously, but it's also hopeful...because of Christ.

"because of the hope that is reserved for you in Heaven..." Colossians 1:5

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Logan and Morgan's First Home!

We interrupt regular JOSHUA AND CAMP BARNABAS programming...to tell what we did yesterday. Actually, I may be about at the end of the camp posts...might have one more. Maybe.

We got a special treat on Monday when Logan and Morgan came to spend the night with us for the first time as a married couple! They didn't get in until late, so Jim and I were the only ones up. Joshua had already gone to bed, and Holly and Aaron had already gone to their home...and Clark is at the beach this week.

It was great to see them, and to hear all about their honeymoon trip. They made it FINE to the Dominican Republic and back...thanks to the consistent and worried prayers of their Moms.

They spent the morning here, packing and loading their cars with stuff from Logan's bedroom. I could hardly stand it.

(sniff)

And then they were OFF to their new apartment to set up their new home!

And by "new," I mean that it's new to THEM. It's an apartment in married housing on their college campus, so it's most definitely NOT new.

Holly and I were invited to go, but she had a test...so I told L/M to go on ahead, and we would come later. After they left, Joshua and I headed to Target to buy sheets. Morgan said that when they signed up for the apartment, it said 2 bedroom/1 bath/washer/dryer. They took that to mean that there was, in fact, a washer and dryer in the actual apartment. BUT what it REALLY meant was that there was the CONNECTION for a washer and dryer in the actual apartment. They'll know to ask about that next time.

They'll also know to check and see...if they have queen sheets and bedding and a queen-sized bed frame...that the mattress they pick up from someone's storage building is ALSO queen-sized. Because if it's a FULL sized...things won't fit.

Not fussing about them. It totally sounds like something I would do.

Anyway, they didn't have sheets for their bed, and I couldn't stand to think they were going to just put sheets from the package straight on the bed. The laundry-mat is across the street from their apartment, and I knew they wouldn't have time to do laundry on the day they were moving in.

We picked up sheets and a rug and some nails and hooks and things like that...and came straight home. I threw the sheets in the washer, and was able to wash and dry them before we left. When Holly got home from nursing school, she and Joshua and I headed up to help the kids move in. It's about a 2 hour, 10 min drive. ON A GOOD DAY.

And while I thought yesterday was a GOOD DAY, or it ended UP being a good day, weather-wise, it was not. This little fact was not known to us...even tho we checked the weather before we left...until we found ourselves driving in the middle of a dang hurricane nearly the whole way.

Not an actual hurricane. We live in Arkansas. But it was every bit like I imagined a real hurricane would be. Wind, blinding rain, street flooding, thunder, lightning. The only thing that kept me from just pulling off the road was that I didn't know how long it would last. I always feel like a sitting duck on the side of the road, anyway.

AND, the only thing that kept me from turning around and coming back home was that I didn't want to drive BACK through all of that mess again.

It is at this point that I would like to thank the good people at the Honda Pilot store...for putting the little tv screens in their vehicles. We have never had one before...and it wasn't even on the list of things we were looking for in a vehicle. Our kids are all older, and I kind of thought those were mainly to entertain younger kids on trips.

WRONG.

I have to agree with my mother-in-law, who said that our vehicle was worth what we paid...just so Joshua could watch movies. He put in a dvd when we started our trip yesterday, and even tho we were about to be blown away, he was blissfully unaware of the danger...which made me a LOT less nervous.

We finally got to the apartment. The U-HAUL was parked out front. Morgan came out and said they had decided to maybe WAIT on unloading until tomorrow.

And that's how Holly and I fell over dead.

Seriously, we just braved the wind and rain and...well, just see what I just wrote in my hurricane paragraph...it's exhausting to repeat it...to get here and you are telling me "UM NEVERMIND?"

I don't THINK so.

And bless their hearts...they were trying to unload as much as they could from the trailer by themselves and they were both soaking wet. Head-to-toe. We started helping them, and got most of it into the house. They don't really have that much stuff. Logan called a friend from church and asked if he could come help for 20 minutes, and he did! And he helped get the couch and two pieces of furniture up the stairs to the second floor. Yes, they were on the 2nd floor...in the rain. OF COURSE.

We couldn't stay long, because Holly had a final today and needed to study. We just had a little over 2 hours, but we made a good dent in getting them started. Morgan's mother was also there helping.

We are so excited for Logan and Morgan. I think they will be so happy in their little place. I was impressed with them yesterday, because you know that tempers can flare when you're frustrated...and aren't moving days just the worst?

Or maybe that's just me and Jim.

We've had several moving days, and I remember them being pretty frustrating.

But Logan and Morgan were sweet with each other, and to everyone else, the whole time...and it was great to see them working together.

Morgan sent us a couple of pictures last night, and they had fixed up their bedroom so cute. They had gotten some duplicate wedding gifts (like 3 toasters!), and they were busy taking those back last night as well.

So excited for them!

"Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you..." Proverbs 5:18

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Camp 2014: The Swimsuit "Surprise"

So...yeah, of all of Joshua's experiences at Camp Barnabas...the ones that he's shared from his week...one affected us all profoundly. And probably not in the way you might think. Because this experience? Let's just say that it was unexpected...by all. And it was a very rare occurrence.

And I realize there may be people who feel like I shouldn't share this, but...I usually post all the fun and funny stuff Joshua does, and everyone surely knows that it's not ALL fun and games over here all the time. This post? Just keepin' it real.

Joshua loved telling us what happened each day at camp...and he went through it meticulously, minute by minute. What he did, what he ate, who said what. If you've read any of my recent posts from this year's camp experience, you'll see that Joshua needs a filter.

But I'm so glad he doesn't have one.

Most of the time.

Joshua, and his FRIENDS, they get to do and say what we all wish we could do and say...but can't. Like, "she's a little BIG," or "this wedding is TOO LONG," or "SIT DOWN, Matt P, so I can eat my lunch!" Because we filter our thoughts, actions and speech...and sometimes we decide that maybe that's not the right thing to say or do, or it's not the right time, or that it might hurt feelings, or that it's bad manners.

So, he tells us that one night...Tuesday night...they have corn dogs to eat. Which, it's always funny to me that camps serve hot dogs anyway. It's one of the most common things kids choke on...and I just would think that at a camp for kids/adults with special needs, you'd want to limit your risk. BUT, it's an easy meal to fix and the campers all LOVE hot dogs.

But this particular night, they had corn dogs. And, for some reason, Joshua said he "pulled off the "corn"...and just ate the dog."

He said, "that corn dog gave me baaaaaaad indigestion!"

They were having a fiesta night, and they were all in their swimsuits. Joshua said that his tummy started to feel funny, and he had to go to the bathroom RIGHT THEN. He said he was too embarrassed to tell anyone he had to go, so he just did it.

There.

In his swimsuit.

Because apparently that's not as embarrassing as just opening your mouth and telling your CIA that you need to go to the potty.

Seriously?

And I realize that many, many parents deal with this on a daily basis...and I feel for you...and I know that you are happy to help your child/adult child in any way, if they can't help themselves.

This may be Joshua one day...but it is not Joshua today. And it frustrated me to no end that he wouldn't use his words to communicate his needs to his CIA. That's one thing we work on all the time with Joshua...asking for help or direction if you need it. He is able to take care of his bathroom needs himself. This was totally out-of-character for him, and something that never, ever happens.

In fact, I was trying to think of the last time he had an "accident" like this, and it was about 8 years ago...at this very camp. I remember because after we had gotten home, he brought his laundry bag from the week into the laundry room, pointed at it and said, "uhhh...there's a little SURPRISE in there for you."

Yes. Yes, there was. And not a GOOD surprise, either. Yee-UCK.

So, he was telling us about the "fiesta" night and the corn dog and and the indigestion...and I said, "what did you do with your swimsuit?" And Joshua said, "I put it in my LAUNDRY BAG."

And, when he is telling us all this...it's FRIDAY. And that thing has set in that bag for 3 solid days. And that bag was in the back of my vehicle, and I IMMEDIATELY could smell it. I was about to gag. Holly said it was all in my head, because she didn't smell it at ALL. But she said, "Jah-sha-WAHHH...you should've cleaned that up and washed that out right then." Joshua said, "I know...I'll do it when I get home."

At that point, it didn't even matter. I had already formulated a plan. I'm pretty frugal, but I'm also older now...and how I would've handled this when I was a younger mom and how I was going to handle it now was very different. Because then? I might've dug around to find the suit and rinsed it out in the toilet like my mom used to do with my little brother's training pants. Or I could've taken it outside and used the water hose on it...then washed it separately with detergent and bleach...and maybe-probably-could've gotten it all cleaned up. But I've learned a thing or ten in my 28 years of parenting, and one of those things is that a three year old, $12 swimsuit from Wal-Mart, is just not worth me trying to scrape, scratch and clean caked-on poop out of. Especially when it has been fermenting in a laundry bag for 3 days...at camp...in the summertime.

Just a little parenting wisdom for all of you newbies out there: NOT.WORTH.IT.

So, I dumped out that laundry bag on the floor of my laundry room. And I got my laundry tongs...yes, tongs. I have a pair of tongs that I use only in my laundry room. Those tongs have been used to pick up my sons' football/soccer/basketball/baseball/track/going-to-work-out-at-the-gym-nasty-sweaty-wet-clothes through the years...but today, I used them to fish around until I found that suit. And I didn't even look at it. I put it into a WM grocery bag, and took it straight to the outside trashcan. I threw away his laundry bag, too.

An hour later, I'm back in the laundry room...doing another load. Joshua sticks his head in the door and asks, "did you find my swimsuit?" I said, "yes." He said, "how was it?" I looked right at him and said, "I'm sorry...it didn't make it."

"Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow." Psalm 51:7

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Camp 2014: JEFF and HONOR

In talking to us about his experiences from Camp Barnabas this year, Joshua kept saying, "we did JEFF." I couldn't figure out what they did to Jeff...or if he meant that they HELPED someone named Jeff.

He finally told us that JEFF meant, Joy-Excitement-Fellowship-Fun, "or something like that," he said. And each cabin competed for that award each day. Joshua's cabin never won that award, but he told us that they DID get on our cabin one day.

Holly and I looked at him, and then looked at each other. "What, Joshua?"

"We got on our cabin."

We asked him what that meant, because, on the way to camp, Holly saw a large GOAT on top of a dog house...like, standing up on top of the dog house...so when Joshua said they got "on our cabin," my first thought was that maybe there was a way they all climbed up there or something. And my second thought was...well, that can't be safe, can it? Joshua said, "I don't know what it means, but we weren't expecting it at ALL, that's for sure." Then, he told us that, because they got on our cabin, they all got ice-cream sandwiches.

Ohhhhh...HONOR cabin.

He said they got that award for making their beds and keeping their things neat...and then he reminded us that he makes his bed EVERY day and keeps his things neat EVERY day. And he does. But apparently, their group of FRIENDS did exceptionally well, and won the Honor Cabin award.

And all this happened on the same day they had "bah-sketti" for dinner...and giant cookies the size of FEET...for dessert.

Alrighty, then.

Sounds yummy.

Oh! Speaking of FEET, Joshua said that he got mud all over his shoes on the last night. Holly looked at the shoes he was wearing in the car and they looked perfectly fine...so she asked him, "which shoes?" Joshua looked down at his feet...and looked back at her and said, "BOTH!"

"For the honor of Your name, O LORD, forgive my many, many sins." Psalm 25:11

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Camp 2014: "A Bunch of Wehr-dos"

Joshua had a great time at Camp Barnabas, but it wasn't his favorite year ever. I wasn't surprised to hear this. I could tell from the time we dropped him off that this year would be different.

And then there was this statement he made to us before we left: "there's a bunch of wehr-dos in here, but I'll try to make the best of it."

A proud parenting moment.

Is it Jeff Foxworthy who says, "there's your sign?"

Another FRIEND from his cabin was outside just sitting on the ground...which is something that makes Joshua question everything about this FRIEND, because, if given a choice...or if he can see another option...Joshua will not EVER sit on the ground. He looked at him and looked at me and said, "what is WRONG with him?"

Joshua is known for making up words. He doesn't THINK they are made-up words, but either he hears them wrong or hears them and tries to spell them. Either way...funny. His latest word is morphinconally, and we aren't really sure what it means. We think it has it's roots in the Pow-Pow-Power Ranger movies, when they say: "It's morphin' time." Joshua's phrase he came home from camp with is basically and anyway...and he is using it quite often. Like, "the weather was bad one morning, so basically and anyway we stayed in the mess hall for two hours."

The first week at Camp Barnabas is called "Adult Friends." This can include Autism, Down Syndrome and any other type of developmental delay. Typically, Joshua's cabin is mostly FRIENDS with Down Syndrome, and it is so fun for us to see. Young men of all shapes, sizes and abilities...all who happen to have Down Syndrome. I don't know...as a parent, it's just a cool thing because sometimes we feel like we're the only ones. And it's cool because we tell other people that our children are more like us than they are different...and then we get to SEE how true that statement is! Oh, they may all have the smaller bodies, and those beautiful, almond shaped eyes...but different skin, hair, eye color...and LOTS of different personalities!

This year, Joshua's cabin was mostly young men with Autism. Or, as Joshua explained it, most of the FRIENDS in his cabin were "artistic."

So there you go.

Apparently they can all draw.

I'M KIDDING.

We realize that Joshua is really fairly "normal" in the way he goes through life. At least right now. I definitely call these the years of blessing, because the early years and the school years were so very hard...and I know that there are many hard times ahead. Right now, it's like God has given us a breather...a time to catch our breaths and relax a little; A time to reflect on how far we've come...with God's help...and time to allow God and His Word to steel and fortify us for the road ahead.

So the nurses asked me if there was a trick to getting him to go to sleep. "No." If he had to have a Tylenol, was there a trick to getting him to take it. "No." Any fears...security blankets/toys...help needed to dress or shower? "No, No, No."

Jim got Joshua's bed all set up and helped him get settled, while I went to the medical building. Every camper has to be signed off on the medical form. In the line to turn in my form stating that he takes no medicine (thank you, Jesus), the two women in front of me had multiple large freezer bags full of meds for their campers. Makes me so thankful every year, because that might be Joshua one day.

Jim tried to get Joshua to unpack some of his things and put them out on the little shelves that are beside each bed. Joshua wasn't having it. He said those shelves looked "janky."

Such a thankful child.

When I got back to Joshua's cabin, I could tell he seemed a little out-of-sorts. One of the FRIENDS in his cabin had already gotten out his special doll to comfort him after his parents left. Joshua looked at him, and then looked at me and said in his best Fred voice (which is the voice that is unique to Joshua, and he uses it when he is very animated), "what is WRONG with him? A DOLL For a GROWN MAN?"

Clearly I'm raising compassionate children.

So, my prayers all week were pretty specific. Not only for protection from illness and harm, but also for peace and comfort for Joshua...and that he would reach out to the ones in his cabin. I knew he would...it just might take him a while. This whole post is making him sound like a stinker, WHICH HE TOTALLY CAN BE...but he's the sweetest, most caring person I know. Everyone has their moments, am I right?

The main problem Joshua had this year, APPARENTLY, is that he knows it all.

So, basically and anyway, he's his father's son!

I'M KIDDING.

Except that my husband really is the smartest person I know. Really. It's a fact I appreciate every.single.day.

Anyway...baaaack to Joshua: This is his 11th year at Camp Barnabas, and he knows the drill.

Pretty much every camper at Barnabas has a "helper" with them 23/24 hours a day. They're called CIA's, which stands for Christians in Action...and they are buddies and helpers to the campers all week. Joshua's CIA was about 8 years old. Just kidding. I think they have to be at least 16  years old to be a CIA...but Joshua's guy was very young. And the Staffer in the cabin was young. And the Cabin Dad was NOT young, but he had not been coming to camp for 11 years, and Joshua has been coming to camp for 11 years...and APPARENTLY Joshua was all kinds of cantankerous when it came to the schedule and how things were run at Camp. Because he's "been there, done that," and he just thought he was smarter than the ah-ver-age-bear.

Joshua said that when it came to explaining things to the new campers...the CIAs, Staffers and Cabin Dads needed to just be quiet and let HIM explain everything.

Clearly I'm also raising humble children.

Joshua told us that when their activity was "shooting," the Staffer was going over all the safety rules. Joshua said he did the "hurry up" motion with his hands. The Staffer said, "are you trying to rush me, Joshua?" And Joshua said, "I don't care about all the ru-ahs (rules), I just want to shoot a rifle."

A true southern boy.

Hello, NRA?

And I'm pretty sure that they are NOT shooting rifles...I think they are bb guns. Still, I don't want to live in a world where the FRIENDS from Joshua's cabin are out in the woods shooting rifles. OR, bb guns!

In the end, I think it was a learning experience for all. Joshua had a lot of "fussy" words to say about his CIA. He said he was the pickiest person he had ever met. And I want Joshua to be thankful that a young man gave up a week of his summer to come out and help others at Camp Barnabas, but Joshua said his CIA basically survived on bread and crackers the entire week. Joshua had no respect for that at ALL because he eats just about everything without complaining.

Except that he did say that the toast they had for breakfast one morning was as hard as a block of "conCREKE"...and he demonstrated biting it and choking on it...and we all fell out laughing.

He was also extremely frustrated with one FRIEND in his cabin who loved Texas A&M, and that's all the FRIEND talked about ALL THE TIME. Joshua said that he never wanted to hear the words Texas A&M ever again IN HIS WHOLE LIFE. Sorry Melanie.

We are enjoying his stories, now that he's home. One story about a certain event in particular affected us all profoundly...and it might not be what you expect at all! I'll be posting that on another day. I still haven't recovered from it.

"...with humility comes wisdom." Proverbs 11:2