Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Best Day-Christmas Pix at the Old Mill

Today has been the best day. And I wasn't sure that it would be. 

I started off the morning kind of groggy. We'd spent 8 hours in the car on Saturday, going to Tulsa AND BACK...and I was just tired. But I got myself up and around, and got ready for SS and church. So glad that I did, because it was great!

We had a special choir rehearsal this afternoon from 1-3, and I was pretty excited about it. We are having an orchestra with our musical, and today was the first day to practice with everyone from the orchestra and the choir all together. I stayed an hour and only got to hear 2 songs, but it sounded awesome!

I left after an hour and booked it home. We had planned on taking our family Christmas pictures this week, and this was the only day we could all get together and have some day-light to take them. I was a little stressed at how it would all go...because we were coming from different directions and meeting in one place.

We left here at 2:30 and headed to pick up Joshua's Jenni in North Little Rock. We had decided to try and take the pictures at the Old Mill, because it is very close to her house. And because Logan and Morgan were going back to their home, and NLR is on the way. Clark and Faith rode with us, and Holly and Aaron met us there.

The Old Mill did not disappoint. SO pretty. AND, apparently a good place to, in the words of my husband: "smoke a doobie." Like he would even know what that is. But he said it like that, trying to be all cool, I guess, and all of our boys cracked up. There was a girl out there who was smokin' somethin', but we didn't let her distract us from our fun!

Holly had requested that we all wear "natural" colors. Or maybe it was "neutrals." I don't even know. I can't keep it straight. Whatever means cream, brown and tan.

You know what I don't have any of? Cream, brown and tan.

And then, even tho I had been telling the kids for a MONTH OR MORE what Holly wanted us to all wear, and she was sending us pictures of examples from Pinterest...Logan only brought PLAID SHIRTS home with him. Seriously?

Like I have any room to talk.

I had gotten a brown shirt for Joshua and some brown khakis for Clark. I bought Holly this tulle skirt that was precious. Wish I could pull off that look. I spent the week looking for something I could get that would "go" and that I liked...but didn't have any luck. And Morgan had said she would look for something for Logan, but they never got around to it. HENCE: THE PLAID.

In the end, Logan wore a checked shirt that was just fine with everyone else because it had a neutral background. Or maybe it was a natural background. And I wore my chambray shirt, because that's all the neutral I had. Crud. NATURAL. It was all the "natural" I had. And, FYI, blue isn't even natural, unless you count the sky. Or a bird.


Jenni wore BRIGHT RED because I didn't think it was fair to include her in our family's weird idiosyncrasies, so I didn't tell her mom that she had to wear a specific color pallet. Everyone else wore what they were supposed to...and it looked GREAT! Those colors were so pretty with the outside background we had.

Thank you, Holly...YOU WERE RIGHT.

And then we all went to eat at Carino' 4:30 in the afternoon...and it.was.awesome! We just regretted not having Jim's parents with us like last year. My mother-in-law would've LOVED being there.

I have the sweetest family. They were all so kind to Joshua and Jenni. As usual.

Aaron-the-son-in-law, who is also the Joshua-whisperer, ended up sitting at the end of the table, right in front of Joshua and Jenni...and I think they pretty much talked his head off. He has the patience of Job.

I am thankful that everyone was flexible today. I hope we got some good shots we can use for our Christmas card!

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us..." Hebrews 12:1

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Road Trippin' to Tulsa

On Thanksgiving, while 3 of our kids were gone to their other families, Jim and I started talking about maybe going to see my Dad. He just turned 78 last week. We threw around several scenarios, but the one that seemed to work the best...and would get the most participation from our children...was the one that involved us making it a "day trip."

My Dad lives in Tulsa, and it's about 4 hours each way from where we live.

So, we brought it up to our kids and 3 of them were on board.

This morning, we left our house before 8:30...Jim and I, Joshua, Clark and Faith...and went to pick up Holly and Aaron. My Honda Pilot seats 7, and we had 7 people in it. I think there are about 5 of them who would argue with the "seats 7 COMFORTABLY" part. 

But we offered for them to all ride with us because 1) we thought it would save them money, and 2) save wear-and-tear on their cars...and 3) they wouldn't have to drive.

These points will be revisited before any future travel. 

Also, 10 minutes into our trip, Jim asked me where my "off" button was...and to that, I said, "ROO."

And also, when we got home, I moved his leaf from the Thanksgiving Tree...wayyyy over to the other wall. AGAIN.

The trip up to Tulsa went really fast. When we pulled up at my Dad and Clara's house, the other kids were piling out of the vehicle going, " glad to get out of there!" Joshua looked up and said, "wow. THAT didn't take long."


And it helps when you are "travel-sized."

It was great to see my Dad. His health has really gone down a lot in the past few years. It's sad. He still has that same great smile and the sparkle in his eyes...and a very quick wit...but it's hard to see him so frail.

We got Subway sandwiches and brought them back and ate at their house. Clara had made cookies and I brought brownies from home. We had a great time visiting with them, and the kids loved seeing their house. Jim and the guys...well, all of us, really...except for Joshua...helped bring down their Christmas stuff from the attic. It was funny because my Dad would say, "no, we're not putting that out this year..." and Clara would say, "oh yes we are!"

Not gonna lie, the drive home was not as fun! It seemed like it took twice as long. Everyone was uncomfortable in the vehicle. When my Mom was still alive, I started buying them a piece of Snow Village every year. I said that some day, they could pass it back to me...and I would pass it on to Holly. Well, that time has come. My Dad and Clara just don't have the energy to get it all out and set it up. My Dad used to set up a train to go all around was really cool. So, they gave all of those back to me this weekend, and we loaded them in every available space in our vehicle, and there was no room for anyone to move.

But we stopped for dinner and everyone kind of got their second wind, and things were better after that.

Jim found a Christmas station on the radio, and that was fun. We did almost lose Clark about 45 minutes from home, when the Chipmunk Christmas song came on. He tried to jump out the window.


We made it home safe and we are so thankful. We all agreed that it seemed to be about the perfect amount of time to stay at their house. With a big group, anyway. Next time, tho, we may take 2 cars.

Talking with my Dad and Clara...I never in a million years thought I would be in this situation...with my Mom already in Heaven and my Dad remarried. But it's just really sweet how God prepared the way for my Dad and Clara to be together. My parents had 4 children, and were married for nearly 40 years before my Mom died. Clara was single for 40 years, raising 5 children, after her first husband died unexpectedly. Clara and my Mom were really good friends. My Dad and Clara married in 2001. They each bring a rich and godly heritage to their marriage, and to all of us. Even tho I wouldn't have chosen this in a million years, God has truly blessed our family by their union.

So very thankful for my family. I posted a few pix on my Facebook...and on my IG martythemoose.

"'For I know what I have planned for you,' says the LORD. 'I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope...'"

Friday, November 28, 2014

On How I Think I Might Want To Go Vegan

So this morning, I went over to help Holly put the lights on her tree. Her in-laws and some of Aaron's extended family were coming over to see their house. She wanted to at least have her tree up. We got the lights put on, and the mesh. It looked beautiful! They have such a cute house!

I left and came home...and brought some of our Christmas boxes down from the attic. I've been slowly getting things out. We have a large tree in our entry way, and it's pretty much done, but the tree that goes in our family room...I don't know where we are gonna put it this year. We've gotten some new furniture and moved some things around. I'm stressing about it a little.

First World problem, I know. I think I'm gonna wait until Jim goes to work on Monday, and then try to work it out.

The main goal of today was to watch the Razorbacks play Missouri. We were doing the happy dance at half-time, and we were doing the UNhappy dance the rest of the time. I totally think we should've won that game. We had two terrible awful calls that were so wrong that you would've had to have had your eyes closed to call them that way game-changers...and not for us...and it seemed like there was a little home cookin' goin' on there.

I'm not bitter about it at all.

My son-in-law was beside himself. Between his comments and Jim's comments...and Joshua's mumbling about the calls and the coaching and "put in the quarterback's brother," I was about to lose my mind.

Instead, we ordered pizza.

And it was Friday and it was good.

Speaking of food, I don't know what is wrong with me but I'm thinking I might have to go vegan. I LOVE turkey and I LOVE turkey left-overs, but this year? This is huge, people. I don't know if it's because I had my hand up the turkey's rear-end for 10 minutes while I tried to get the neck, or whatever that disgusting thing is that is stuffed up inside the turkey, OUT of it...and I just lost the lovin' feelin' for the turkey...or what. I mean, I cook a turkey every year, and it never seems to bother me.

That's when I came up with the idea that I might want to go vegan.

Except, I would not be opposed to the occasional steak from The Outback. 

Or some shrimp. 

And the other thing is that I don't really like a wide variety of vegetables. I like potatoes, carrots, celery, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and corn-on-the-cob. And potatoes. Did I say that already?

But "they" say that potatoes aren't good for you.

What do "they" know?

I have some chocolate-ship pound cake left over from the other day. Is that vegan?

Nevermind. Don't tell me.

"God saw all that He had made, and it was very good..." Genesis 1:31

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014, Or, When I Wore My PJ's All Day

It's been a quiet day.

I got up early because Clark was leaving to go spend a couple of days with his girlfriend's family. And because Logan and Morgan were leaving to go spend a couple of days with Morgan's family. And because Holly and Aaron, even tho they were in their own home, were leaving to spend a couple of days with Aaron's family.

And there remaineth Jim, Marty and Joshua, these three...

So after everyone left, I spent the rest of the day in my pajammies, bawling my eyes out.

Only half of that statement is true.

At the moment.

I always loved Thanksgiving at my Mom's house. Growing up, it was usually just our family of 6 for Thanksgiving, because we never lived close to any of our family (my Dad was in the Air Force). What I remember is that my Mom made everything special. She woke up early and started cooking...all the while lookin' pretty. She set the table with her nice China, and just as everything was coming together with the meal...she'd disappear and come back "dressed" for Thanksgiving dinner. Last year, I think I wore my blue sweat pants. And nobody cared.

But, I remember Thanksgiving at my Mom's house. How things it all her house smelled.

Like home.

I miss her.

After she died, we started spending Thanksgiving with some good friends there in town. My friend, Paula, is a nurse, and she always volunteered to work half-a-day on Thanksgiving, because she lived in town. So, we'd load up our family and drive up to the hospital...and have dinner in the hospital cafeteria. My kids thought it was cool that they each got their own tray, and we let them get whatever they wanted for their drink. Nothing says Thanksgiving like a bottle of Dr. Pepper sitting beside your plate!

Last year, here in this home, we had 11 people around our table...sitting in mismatched chairs...and I loved it.

This year, we had 8. Our the two spouses. Clark's girlfriend, Faith, couldn't make it for dinner, but came by for a few minutes afterwards...on her way to her grandparent's house.

So much to be thankful for this year...and every year.

Last year, I started a thankful journal that I keep on my night-stand. I haven't been as faithful about writing in it lately, but it started a habit for me of not just being thankful for the obvious things that happen...but to be in a constant state of thankfulness...always looking for those quiet ways that God is providing for and protecting me.

Because God is always at work.

"For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes..." Romans 1:16

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wednesday Muffins and Green Skillets

Well, it was muffin morning today! Freaked Joshua out because I typically make muffins on Monday. You know..."Muffin Monday." On Monday, he came down the stairs and peered over the railing and sniffed. "sniff, sniff, sniff." I had to keep telling myself, "don't make eye-contact," because I KNEW that he was wanting to say, " muffins today?"

He made himself a pop-tart and I kept doing what I was doing...which was cookin' my fanny off. I started early and cooked quite a bit of the day on Monday...because we had all decided to have our family Thanksgiving meal on Tuesday.

I had already set the dining room table on Sunday with plates, napkins and silverware...and so we were down to about 5 forks in our silverware drawer to use on Monday and most of the day Tuesday. At one point during lunch on Tuesday, I looked up to see Jim using a spoon to eat his chicken pot-pie.

It was like Little House on the Prairie over here.

Also, another little side-note on the competition between Jim and his brother: as I was getting stuff out of the pantry and having to move things around, I kept noticing this Hershey bar. It was in a different place every time I went in the pantry. It was one of those extra, EXTRA large Hershey bars with almonds. NO WORRIES I'm gonna eat that.

Marty is not a fan of nuts in candy bars.

Except for Snicker's.

And maybe Payday's.

At one point during the day, Jim said that he had brought that giant candy bar home from the Lakehouse and had "hidden" it in the no one else would eat it. And that he, Mr. Health-Nut himself, had eaten the whole thing himself. He said, "my Mom had a whole stack of these candy bars...SHE BUYS THEM FOR I took one of them. Hee, hee, hee." He was so proud of himself, like he really did something sneaky. Nevermind the fact that his brother got an entire STACK of candy bars...Jim swiped one.

Law. Our whole family is just nutty.

And a Joshua story: we have a little butler's pantry between our kitchen and dining room. I was walking by it last night and I saw one of our frying pans...just sitting there on the shelf. I picked it up and brought it back into the kitchen...and put it up where the pans go.

This morning, Jim warmed up some of the ham from yesterday. Joshua said, "did you use your green pan?"

Jim's mom got him a green frying pan. It's green, like the color, but it's also "green" and is supposed to cook more evenly or something...I don't know. But Jim made a HUGE deal out of it (imagine that) with Clark when he was cooking something in it. He said, "YOU CAN'T USE A FORK IN MY GREEN SKILLET!" He does not want the surface scratched. Joshua did not miss any of this and took it to heart.

So Jim told Joshua, "yes, I did use my green skillet."

Later, when Joshua was unloading the dishwasher, he was putting up that green skillet. I said, "I found it in the butler's pantry...did you put it there?"

Joshua just grinned and said, "I was hiding it from Clark...for Dad."

"For the word of the LORD holds true, and we can trust everything He does." Psalm 33:4

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Family Thanksgiving, My Dad's Birthday, and Joshua's Facebook Post

We've had a great couple of days. I've been cooking and cooking! I love it, so I've pretty much been in my happy zone. Things get crazy as I try to pull it all together to serve, but the girls will help me get it all pulled together right before we eat.

Logan and Morgan were supposed to come in tonight, but they called us last night with a surprise: they were on their way! So, we are so blessed and so thankful to have them here with us today. Holly had class Monday, Tuesday and tomorrow, and just want to say "WHY ARE YOU HAVING CLASS ON THANKSGIVING WEEK, NURSING SCHOOL?" 

We had a great meal. We enjoyed having everyone here. We were missing two of ours, plus a couple of friends who joined us last year...but couldn't make it this year. I only had 2 "fails." One was the dressing for my spinach salad. I thought I used the same recipe as always, but it did not taste the same. I was cooking about 5 other things at the same time, so maybe I missed an ingredient. I don't know. And the other one was not really a "fail." When I make my pecan pie recipe, it turns out good every time. When I make Ree's (The Pioneer Woman) pecan pie recipe, it's always kind of runny. Every time. But it's better. If that makes any sense. I even cooked it 10 minutes longer than recommended, and it still was not "set." But the ones who ate it said it tasted SO it might not even qualify as a "fail."

We had turkey AND ham, mashed potatoes AND sweet potato casserole, green beans, spinach salad AND Waldorf salad, cranberry sauce, rolls and Jim's family's purple punch (purple kool-aid and pineapple juice mixed). For dessert we had pecan pie, chocolate chip bundt cake and ice-cream.

Isn't it amazing that it can take a week to prepare for a meal like Thanksgiving? From making the lists and going to the store...defrosting the turkey for 3 days, preparing side dishes in advance, cooking on the actual day. 

And then it's all gone and eaten in, like, 15 minutes.

That ain't right.

I also made Shay's chocolate chip bundt cake as my alternative dessert for the ones who don't like pecan pie. It was amazing! YUM.

So very thankful for family and friends.

Today is my Dad's birthday. I wish we could be with him to celebrate. We are going to try and go later in the week if we can. When I talked to him today, he said that his birthday and Father's Day are his two most favorite days of the year, because he gets to hear from all of his kids. Made me so sad. ;( 

Anyway, my Joshua wrote the sweetest post for my Dad today, and posted it on Facebook. It was so sweet and it made me cry. I texted my Dad's wife's daughter because I wanted my Dad to be sure and see it today. They don't check Facebook often, because they have to go all the way into the spare bedroom and TURN ON the computer. 

Bless their hearts.

So Clara's daughter read it and she cried...and then she called her mother and when she read it, she cried. Then, my Dad came in and read it and he cried. 

I'm coping it just like he wrote it:

Happy birthday to the most wisest and the bravest man. I've ever known., I'm so morphincally proud of the determination and love and service that this man who pledged to lift high our nation's flag. I want to say not just a happy birthday to a grandfather that I loved so dearly through out my 28 years that I been with. I also want to thank him. For the man I hope on day I will give my child one day after him. I will want my child one day to follow in the foot steps of my godly and wise grandfather. I will say this to pawpaw skip. Thank you for the service not just to our nation. But the most important thing that can be the highest importance of all to our family. And I speak on our family's behalf to say happy birthday. Pawpaw skip. We love you.

My Downsie-boy wrote that. My sweet man-child. We are so blessed by him, and so thankful for his life.

And then, just to end with a funny...Joshua wrote the post, and then he LIKED his own post...and then he COMMENTED on his own post. His comment was: "I'll one day name my child after him."

And then JENNI saw this and SHE said that someday in their future, they can have a son and name him Skip Lee. My Dad's name is David, but he goes by "Skip." I have no idea where the "LEE" is coming from.

So...there ya go. "SKIP LEE."

"God blesses those whose hearts are pure..." Matthew 5:8

Monday, November 24, 2014

Competition and Brothers

So, last week, Jim and Joshua went down to The Lakehouse (where my in-laws live) for a couple of days. The whole reason they went is because Jim's brother, Jeffy, was going to meet him there...and they were both going to run a 10k on Saturday morning.

I am not a competitive person. Even tho I'm a first-born child, I don't really have any of those typical first-born characteristics. I just want everyone to get along...and be happy. Because you know the one most important thing our society needs? "That would be harsher punishment for parole violators, Stan. And world peace."

My mother-in-law...she had 3 boys...and they were going all Jacob and Esau on each other from the time there were two of them. And then when Jeffy came along, it was all out war. All the time. Now that they are older, they not only love each other, you know...because they're "bruhs..." they actually LIKE each other. But they are all LOUD and they are all OPINIONATED and they all always think they are RIGHT.

It's exhausting, really.

I have 3 boys, too...AND A DAUGHTER...and I totally "get" the competition thing. Altho my boys aren't nearly as bad as Jim and his brothers. Or maybe that's just my opinion.

So, when Jim told me that he and Jeffy were going to run this race together, I thought, "heeeeeeeere we go." And when Jim told me that he ran a personal best, I wasn't surprised. But then I heard the REST of the story. He told me that he ran with Jeffy for a while and then he said that he ran ahead and told Jeffy, "you'll probably catch me on the hill." But Jeffy didn't catch him on the hill. Jim beat him by SEVERAL minutes.

I'm sure we will hear ALL about it over the holidays. And EVERY HOLIDAY for the rest of our lives.

The other thing that happened was that Jim texted me to ask, "you use JIFFY cornbread mix, right?" Which, I thought was funny since he KNOWS I do...because he made it perfectly clear from the get-go of our marriage some 100 years ago that he did not like JIFFY cornbread mix. He liked the way his mother made cornbread...from scrap scratch. And sometimes I do it that way, but most of the time I do it the JIFFY way.

And so I knew he was going thru the groceries at his mom's house. I've written before how she loves to load us all up with the extra groceries she buys at The Krogers on Tuesdays. Because it's not only senior citizen's double-coupon day...and they "practically pay HER to shop there." And she said that, many times, the cashier will call the manager over because my mother-in-law is saving so much money, "it just can't be right."


I told him, "yes, I will use some JIFFY cornbread mix...but NOT TEN BOXES OF IT."

Their family kind of goes overboard on things.

I had already gone to the store while Jim was gone. I wanted to get all organized and buy everything I needed for our Thanksgiving my pantry and both refrigerators were pretty well stocked. And then Jim came in from The Lakehouse with so many groceries...I can't even tell you. And, a lot of it was stuff that we don't even use! What in the world? When I asked him about it, he said, "well, Jeff was grabbing things so fast...I had to get it before he did." And I was, like, BUT WE DON'T USE THOSE THINGS."

And he looked at me like I was crazy. Like, it doesn't matter if we use it or not...we can't let Jeff get it.

And before y'all think I'm being ungrateful...I totally appreciate everything my in-laws have done for our family. I do. But Jim brought home two dozen eggs with an expiration date of 10.24.14.

And it's 11.24.14.

And the eggs I bought that were "fresh" at the time...will be "old" by the time I finally get to use them.

So I guess it goes without saying that I will be using those old eggs to make the cornbread.

"How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony." Psalm 133:1

Sunday, November 23, 2014

All Kinds of Cranky Up In Here

Warning: obnoxiously long post

I'm not one to get cranky. I just usually wake up happy and I choose to be in a good mood, if I can. Not every day, obviously, but most. And, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt...because you just never know what is going on in someone else's life. My mother-in-law does this by making up stories about strangers she sees...

"Bless her heart...she's probably had a bad day." Or, "he probably only has his kids on the weekend." Or, "look at that Grandma with those little kids...she's probably having to raise them because something happened to the parents and even tho she's in bad health, she took in the grandkids and she is just trying to do her best. I'll smile at her and let her know that it'll be okay."

This is what I live with...and now it's what goes on inside my head. I'm turning into her.


I headed to the store for a few grocery items...AND to get my Operation Christmas Child stuff. I left Clark at the house because SATURDAY. I went first to Wal-Mart. I don't typically shop there for groceries. Okay...ANY MORE. I used to...until I discovered the blessing that is KROGER when we moved here. Plus, Joshua has determined that Kroger is better than Wal-Mart because their "nanners" are "more bigger," and their buggies aren't "janky." Whatever that means to you. To me it means that Joshua and I go to Kroger.

But I didn't want to traipse all over town in the rain, and Joshua wasn't here, so I decided that Wal-Mart would be the best place to go to pick up everything.


Because who doesn't have Dole Pineapple Juice in the can? My Wal-Mart doesn't, that's who.

And, I was sorely disappointed in the selection of things for my OCC box. Things that I usually get...I couldn't find. Little fun bracelets and colorful hair things and small, soft dolls that aren't $12.97 THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I don't give crap to the poor, like we've all read about and I agree with. I really do try to choose things that I would and I HAVE given to my own children. But where are the little nerf-like footballs? The squishy balls that light up when you throw them? Small etch-a-sketches? Sets of those long mardi-gras type beads for little girls? My daughter loved those when she was little. Could not find any of these things at my WM.

So, as much as I hated to...after I left WM, I stopped at Dollar Tree. Actually, the reason I stopped is that I noticed a young mom with two girls, who had been shopping in the same areas I was at WM...walking into Dollar Tree with a young child and a BABY ON HER HIP. And I thought, "if she can shop at two stores with two kids on a rainy, cloudy day...then so can I."

Not a fan of the Dollar Tree's selection, either, but I was blessed by going there. I was on one aisle and I could hear a commotion on the other aisle. Not bad...just lots of excited little kid voices. And I heard a mom say in her kind voice, "okay, listen...too many people are talking at the same time. One at a time, please."

Of course, I had to check this out. I went to the next aisle, and there was a mom and 4 little girls. The girls were all talking at once. One of the little girls said, "we are get-tin thum toy-ees for da kids who don't have no toy-ees."

I about died at the cuteness.

And the mom said, "yes, we are...and what do you think they would like better? A tamborine or maracas?" And the one little girl said, "tam-boo-WEEEEN." And the other 3 girls said, "maracas!"

For the record, I would've gotten the tam-boo-WEEEEN, just to hear the little girl say it again.

Listen, I have been there, and sometimes it's hard to have that kind, calm voice when you have a list and are trying to get something done while teaching your children that it is better to give than to receive. It's a LOT easier to shop by myself, but when our 4 kids were growing up and at home...I took all 4 of them with me to the store and let them help pick out items for our OCC boxes. And we got 4 boxes, because we have 4 kids. This morning, I did it all on my own, and, for a minute, I kind of lost the perspective of what it's all about. It's meant to be a joy! And hearing the excitement in those little voices blessed me so much!

At this point, I probably should stop writing and call 'er done, but I need to just keep it real.

I picked up a few more things there, and drove home, feeling content with my newly re-charged attitude. But then, when I got home and started unloading my vehicle...I couldn't get in the door to my house. I had left the door that goes from our garage to inside our house...unlocked on purpose...because the garage door was DOWN and I thought it would be safe.

But do you know what is super fun? Having arms loaded down with grocery bags, and having to put them all down and use the KEY to get in...and then finding out that our FRONT DOOR, the one that leads outside to the world, was left unlocked by Clark when he went out that way...and realizing that I'm coming into an empty, unlocked house.

Lost that lovin' feelin' real quick.

And do you know what else is super fun? Finding the box of Pillsbury "Frozen" themed cookies with the purple heart in the a bag that you didn't unpack because it was filled with toys and so you thought it could wait until later.

Do you organize your buggy items as you put them out on the conveyor belt thing at the store? If you don't, stop reading right now because the rest of this is going to make me look like a lunatic.

I am not organized in very many areas of my life, but I've always unloaded my buggy in a very specific way. All the boxed goods, all the cans/jars, all the cold items, the freezer stuff, then bread, chips, eggs, bananas. It just makes it so easy when you get home, especially if you are in a hurry or have somewhere else to be. You can just grab the bags that need to be refrigerated, and leave the rest for later.

This system works out great until someone packs need-to-be-refrigerated "Frozen" themed cookies into a bag with crayons and toothbrushes...and you don't find them until later. Much later.


I told Clark that I was feeling like the "before" guy on the Snicker's commercials. You know, "you're not you when you're hungry."

I took some time and thanked God for being able to drive to a store for food anytime I want...for the blessing of Jim's job that provides our family with income to meet our needs...for our 4 children and their spouses and friends.

And now, if you need me, I will be scavenging through our left-over Halloween candy...looking for a Snicker's bar.

" Your presence is abundant joy..." Psalm 16:11

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Saturday: Jim and Joshua Are Home!

On Thursday, my husband picked up Joshua from Therapeutic Recreation, and they headed down to The Lakehouse...where my in-laws live. Back years ago, when our kids were little, Jim traveled it doesn't typically bother me too much when he's gone. I mean, as far as being afraid or stuff like that. BUT, something always happens right before he goes out-of-town that sets my nerves on edge. Things like...a light comes on in my vehicle, or there will be an escaped convict running loose in our town, or...what happened this week...the saga of the garage door. It pops open randomly, EVEN WHEN IT SHOWS TO BE LOCKED.

But Jim said he disabled it so that it's not supposed to go up OR down...and I've had no problems with it for the past 2 days. We've just been using the other door.

There are things I usually do when Jim is out-of-town...paint a room, clean out the frig, move furniture. Last night, I got in the closet under our stairs and went to town on the junk in there. There's still a lot that I need to go through, but I'm not Nate Berkus...I'm just one woman. It looks a lot better than it did, and I don't feel like I have to fight to hang up a coat in there now.

Also, I didn't realize that I still have so many of Holly's pageant and prom dresses. I gave a bunch of them away to an organization that provides prom dresses for teenage girls in a shelter. 

And also, found a stocking-stuffer I had gotten for Joshua last year AND THEN COULDN'T FIND. It was stuffed in the back of the closet.

It's like Narnia back in there.

I also put up curtains in my dining room and switched the dining room curtains to the kitchen BY MYSELF. I'm talking using a stud finder and a hammer and a drill and window "hardware" and by last night I wanted my father-in-law says, "say my Sunday School lesson backwards." 


But seriously. Frustrating and tiring.

And I put up the Christmas tree in my entry-way. I am one that doesn't like to do ANY Christmas decorating until Thanksgiving. I'm legalistic like that...ha! I feel like Thanksgiving gets lost in the Christmas shuffle and it's such a sweet and important holiday. I love the leaves and pumpkins and the PILGRIMS. But, I love Christmas, too...and I just decided that I could do a few things now and the earth would not fall off it's axis. So, yes...I've got a pumpkin AND my pilgrims on a table in my kitchen...right under our Thanksgiving Tree. 

I was so happy for Jim and Joshua to come home today! It's been weird without Joshua here...because he's ALWAYS here. And he is so predictable and I know him so well, that my ear is trained to hear all of his movements even when I'm doing other things. I can pretty much tell what he's doing upstairs just by the ordinary noises that he makes. I told Clark that I thought I heard him up there twice yesterday...but then I had to remind myself that he wasn't here. I know Joshua because I've spent so much time with him. I know Joshua because I've taken the time to sit with him and listen to him. And I can tell what he's doing because I have trained my ears to hear him.

God uses the ordinary things to show me His Big Truths...and He has used Joshua to teach me many things. And this time of year, in this season of Thanksgiving and Christmas, He is showing me that I am fully capable of keeping my mind and heart on HIM, even in a season of much busyness. And that if I know Him, like REALLY KNOW HIM, like I know Joshua, I will know His character and I will discern His will. I will sense His presence and I will be able to the quietest whisper of His voice.

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

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dazzle Daze and Links 11.21.14

It's been a great day! Holly was off from nursing school, and so we went to a little Women's Event in our town called, "Dazzle Daze." Lots of vendors from around the state set up booths in at building out at our fairgrounds. We saw lots of pretty things!

Then, we went to lunch...and did more shopping around town. It was a cold and rainy day, but we had a blast! I took her home so that she could do some paperwork for her classes, and I came home and hit the ground running. I heard from Logan and Morgan about when they are going to be able to come here...and so I just have to make sure all of the other kids can come on that day. Around here, we celebrate holidays whenever everyone can be doesn't have to be on the exact day. We didn't celebrate Thanksgiving on the exact day last year, and we won't celebrate it on the exact day this year.

And that's okay.

I've been working my tail off in my house all afternoon. I have to be verrrrry careful with my back, and unfortunately I've been up on ladders and chairs and things like that...I am already feelin' the pain. Ugh.

But, the good news is that I have one Christmas tree up! It's not decorated, but I put all the lights on it. Holly said she would come over tomorrow and put the mesh on it for me. I am thankful for a tall, helpful daughter!

I'm also really, really thankful for my Dad. Four years ago, he had a heart attack...and he survived. I am very thankful for his presence and influence in my life.

On this rainy day, I thought I would send a little love with these links:

When Slaying the Giant is Only the Beginning...this.

I thought this from Edie was so sweet. Maybe you had someone in your life like this...maybe you ARE someone like this.

When the world seems neither glorious nor free, this.

Maybe a better way to get unexpected news. I shared this with Holly. Since she is almost done with nursing school, I thought it might be really helpful for her to read this. Honestly, it's probably a good read for all of us...for those situations when we really aren't sure what to say.

And, finally, if you ever feel this. "You aren't set aside. You are set apart."

Have a great weekend and stay dry! :)

"He gives rain to the earth and sends water to the fields." Job 5:10

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Meeset Girl, and Trouble With Maggie and Our Garage

Joshua has had a good week at Therapeutic Recreation. The FRIENDS were all so excited about today's potluck...they could hardly stand it!

Joshua told me how the "yoga lady" came Wednesday morning and how, when one of the FRIENDS bent over to do one of the exercises, Joshua "saw his undies." And how that FRIEND should really be more careful because no one wants to see THAT.

And that, after lunch, they divided up into groups and got to work moving things around and decorating for the potluck. Being the big, strong, power-lifter that he is, he had to help move tables and chairs. He said that in his group with him was "Julia, Michael, Crystal, Steph...and the medium-set girl."

He has heard people refer to others as "heavy-set." In his mind, that means "fat," and he knows it's not nice to call anyone FAT. So, he came up with his own term for someone who is a little bigger (chubbier, fluffier)'s "medium-set." 

And, plus, he doesn't know the "medium-set" girl's name, even tho she's been coming since September.

The way he says it and runs it together, it sounds more like "meeset" girl.

It was not surprising to me that the meeset girl was in his group, becaaaauuuussssseee...she's "meeset." And they needed some of her muscles to move all that stuff around!

This morning, before we left for Little Rock, Joshua came to tell me there was a "stranger at the door." He knows not to open the door to anyone.

I don't trust this 100%, because even tho I have drilled it into him since he was very little, I have not gotten over the time several years ago when I walked out of my bedroom to find a man standing in our living room talking to Joshua. He was dressed like a policeman, but he was most definitely NOT a policeman. He was more like a "village people" policeman, and he was selling his CD's door-to-door.

And that's pretty much how Marty died.

Except that I couldn't really die because I had to get that man out of my house.

ANYWAY, back to today, by the time I got up front to look, no one was there...but I saw our neighbor-man going into his house across the street. And I thought, "well, that's weird." And then I thought, "hmmmmm..." and I opened the door to the garage, and there was our big, black Lab, Maggy...and I could just tell by the happy way she was wagging her tail, she had been on an adventure. And because THE GARAGE DOOR WAS WIDE OPEN.

We keep our garage door closed ALWAYS, because we've known people who come home for lunch or whatever, and leave their door up, and when they come out, their bikes/tool-boxes/4-wheelers are gone!

We've been having trouble with one of our garage doors. We think one of our neighbors has our same code...OR that someone is going through the neighborhood pushing a remote and just seeing if any doors open...OR our garage is just jacked up.

I'll take "C...all of the above."

I don't even know. All I DO know is that I want it fixed. I do not want to be in bed at night, wondering if the garage door is going to randomly pop up. Jim has been working on it and for the past few weeks, the box where you push the button to open that particular garage door...has been hanging away from the wall...wires exposed and everything.

Ghetto fabulous.

ANYWAY, I'm guessing that our neighbor was returning Maggie to us...and I'm HOPING Maggie wasn't across the street at their house...and I'm PRAYING that, if she was, she didn't LEAVE ANYTHING in their yard.

But I've got a feelin' (oooo-oooo).

Jim and I are the ones putting Maggie in the garage. Even tho she's a Lab and pretty much enjoys this cold weather, it's been in the teens and low-20's at night, so we've been letting Maggie stay in the garage during the night. Now she's wanting to stay in the garage all the time. So we put her out in the yard every morning and feed her...and let her outside to run around and potty and just "be a dog," but she starts scratching on the door until we let her in. She's got to walk through our nice, warm house to get to the garage...I think she is starting to get wise to the fact that we don't all live outside.

She's pretty smart.

Which is why I'm not totally convinced that she didn't just get up on her back legs and punch the garage door opener herOWNself...and go in search of someone who would let her into their house.

I'm highly allergic to dogs, which is why she is an outside dog.

That, and the fact that she weighs 90 pounds and sheds like the dickens and when she wags her tail, it takes out the lamps and all the pretties on the end-tables.

But I told her that I we were just trying to help her stay warm, and that when we put her in the garage, she needs to stay there.

I've laughed so hard as I've read Melanie's struggles and adventures with her two puppies. I'm laughing WITH, not AT...because I've been there. Until Jake-the-good-dog died, we'd always had two dogs. And they were double-trouble and got into a ton of messes!

I got tickled at one person who commented to tell Melanie that SHE is the master of the dogs, not the other way around...and that as soon as she made that clear to the puppies, the happier she would be.

So, I took that advice to heart. I sat Maggie down and just told her, "I am the boss of you...NOT the other way around." Maggie groaned and started scratching her back. I said, "I'M NOT KIDDING." She just looked at me and yawned real big. I said, "you need to quit scratching on the back door, because you are taking off all the paint. You are a dog. You are covered in thick, warm fur. You have a nice bed and plenty of food. If it gets too cold, we will put you in the garage...but it's not gonna be an every day got it?" She put her right paw on my leg. I said, "thaaaaaaaaat's a good girl," and patted her on the head. She immediately slid to the ground and rolled over. That's her "rub my belly" pose.

And I did rub her belly, BUT ONLY BECAUSE I WANTED TO...not because she's the boss of me.

"Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

For The Love of Flannel

I love this time of year. I start trying to get everything all cozy in our home. I typically do not put up any Christmas decorations until the day after Thanksgiving, or maybe Thanksgiving evening, but I'm getting mine out early this year. Just cuz I wanna.

And, I'm happy to report that there are flannel Christmas sheets on all of the beds in our home. And I sent a set to Holly and Aaron. And I sent a set to Morgan and Logan.

I love flannel so much. I can hardly wait for the weather to get cold so that I can get out my fun flannel pajammies. In fact, I'm wearing a set right now. Earlier in the evening, I asked Clark if he thought it was too early for me to put on my pajammies. It was 6:31 p.m.

I managed to wait until 8 p.m., but it was hard.

So, if you're keeping up: I am wearing flannel pajammies...and then I'm gonna crawl into my bed and sleep on flannel sheets.


I'm so excited!

Anybody remember the Seinfeld episode where George wanted to wrap himself in velvet?

I totally get that. Except flannel.

Joshua had a good day at Therapeutic Recreation. The group of FRIENDS is gearing up for their annual Thanksgiving potluck on Thursday. They have signed up for the dish they want to prepare, and have made the decorations. Tomorrow afternoon, they will get out the tables and start to arrange the room.

Joshua signed up to bring "Brownie Delight." It's made in a trifle dish...brownies, pudding, Cool Whip, etc. He's made it the past few years. The FRIENDS always request that he make it because they all love it so much.

This event is a cooking class. They don't want the FRIENDS to bring prepared dishes. Part of the fun is that they each get to prepare the dish they've chosen to make, and they help each other. I will make the brownies ahead of time and send them, because of the time factor and everyone needing the oven. He will have to put the whole thing together.

They are so excited.

I'll sign off with a funny Joshua story:

Years ago, I went to Tuesday Morning with my mother-in-law. It's not a place I would think she would shop...I had never gone with her there before. So I followed along with her, the whole time wondering why we are there, and what in the world she could possibly be looking for.

All of a sudden, I stopped dead in my tracks. Right in front of me was a display of vases. They were all different, but they were all painted to look like women. Blonde hair, brown hair, black hair. The one that was right in front of me looked JUST like my Mom. I'm not even kidding. She had red hair, like my Mom...and had a flower in her hair. My Mom used to wear those little hair combs, that had flowers on them, in her hair...back in the day. The flowers looks like a yellow Mom loved yellow roses. The vase-lady also had green eyes and lonnnnng eye-lashes, just like my Mom. And she had painted nails. I'll try to post a picture of it on Instagram (martythemoose).

Well, I grabbed it up and told my mother-in-law, "I HAVE to get this, because LOOK." She got big tears in her eyes and put the vase in our buggy...and it has been in my kitchen in our last couple of houses.

So, the other day, Joshua and I went to Chick-Fil-A, and brought the food home to eat. Joshua didn't eat all of his fries. I assumed he would save them for our dog, Maggie, like we usually do. Instead, he told me, "I gave the fries to Nammaw." I turned to look at him, and he was smiling.

It's rare that Joshua makes a joke. We think he is hilarious most of the time, but it's completely unintentional on his part. This was him TRYING to be funny. When he acts like this, we call him "playful Fred."

He had leaned the box of left-over fries up against the vase. He said, "I know, I know. Nammaw can't really eat fries." 

I thought he was going to say, "because she's dead."

Instead, he said, "She can't really eat them...because she's a VASE."

And then he looked at me, trying to see if it was okay for him to say that.

And I laughed.

We both did.

"These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children..." Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Monday, November 17, 2014

On Rules and Ministry and the Words We Say

I've been thinking a lot about church and ministry and true Christianity. And the rules we make up for ourselves and others. Mainly the rules we make up for others. Not that I've arrived, by any means...but just how sometimes we get so far off from what it used to be. Or what it should be.

Because we look for a church where we feel comfortable...that meets all of the needs of our family...that has a nice building and lots of programs and offers a lot. FOR US.

We've had a couple of  incidences that prompted these thoughts, and justsoyaknow...I'm thinking out-loud as I type and process my place in it all...and I am pointing at the woman in MY mirror.

And so I'm having a hard time weighing all of that: our wants, desires, comforts and creating a little church kingdom for ourselves and our friends...with things like "pray without ceasing," and "if your brother takes your shirt, give him your coat, also," and Christians feeling compelled by the Spirit of God to leave their families and the comforts of this life to go to very difficult and dangerous locations, in order to search out and bond with people very different from them...for the love of that ONE who might be changed by Christ...all while living under the threat of persecution or imprisonment... or death.

How does all of that even fit together?

And why, in our churches and in our small groups and in our ministries do we say things like:

that's my seat
* this class is traditionally taught by a church member/choir member/deacon/elder/fill-in-the-blank
* we've always done it this way
* that's my job
* I'm the greeter/secretary/speaker
* I usually organize that
* we can't do it that way
* we like to keep our groups small
* I like my class and don't want to change
* we don't wear pants/shorts/jeans here

Because Jesus says things like:

*Come to Me (Matthew 11:28)
*Go above and beyond (Matthew 5:40-42)
*Do unto others (Luke 6:31)
*Think of others before yourself (Philippians 2:3)
*Love your enemies (Luke 6:35)
*Go into all the world (Mark 16:15)
*God does not show favoritism (Romans 2:11, James 2:2-3)
*Those who seem to be the least important are really the most necessary (1 Corinthians 12:22)

Who do we think we are?

There's definitely a place for conduct and dress and organization and purity of speech...but there's also a place for GRACE.

And I think that we need to temper anything we feel like we need to say about a person...with GRACE. Because what if what we say wounds them deeply? What if it keeps them from coming back to church? What if it keeps them from finding God?

Reminds me of those bracelets we all wore years ago...WWJD, What Would Jesus Do? Still a good reminder...for me.

"Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Couch Saga

Well, you'll be happy to know that, after 3 days of having a couch sitting in the middle of my living room...IN FRONT OF THE FIRE is gone. Actually, you could probably care less. Anyway, we loaded up that sucker and took it over to Holly and Aaron's today.

In return, they loaded up their OLD couch...which was OUR old couch that we gave to them when my SISTER gave us the Big Gold Couch...(just making sure you're keeping up)...and sent it over here.


NO WAY was it coming back in the house, so it's in the garage right now. Just got one extra couch out of the living room, we don't need another one!

The funny thing strange as it was to have a couch sitting in the middle of your living, in the smack-dab that no one around here seemed to mind. People have come in and sat down and started it's...normal.


But I AM glad that, no matter what seems to be going on around here...our friends and family take it all in stride.

Good thing, because in addition to the couch...there is a giant ladder sitting in the living room as well. Last night, the TV "froze" and the only way to fix it is to unplug it and then plug it back in. Our TV is over our mantel, so Clark had to go get the ladder OUT OF MY BEDROOM (there's another story)...and climb up on it, snake his hand up behind the TV...and unplug it. And plug it back in. This morning, the ladder is still here in the living room.

I think it's mocking me.

We have been updating our master bathroom. And by "we" I mean ME. Just simple things like painting walls and cabinets, but that's why I had the ladder back there. Because while I could reach most things by standing on a chair, or on the bathroom cabinet, there was an area over the tub that I could not reach. And, bad news: the ladder wouldn't fit into the tub so that I could stand on it and feel safe. Believe me, I tried.

Because I do not like to ask for help when it comes to projects like this. I just as soon do it myself as to answer a bunch of questions as to WHY I'm doing it and WHY did I pick that color and wasn't the other paint just fine?

The answer to the first two questions is "because I wanted to," and the answer to the second one is "no, no, it was NOT....obviously, or we wouldn't be having this conversation."

And shutty your mouthy.

I did end up asking Clark to help me paint that very tip-top part of the wall over the tub. I appreciated his help so much, but he did have a lot of questions!

Anyway, this has been a month long project, because I don't do anything fast...and because I would need for my family to be gone for several days in a row in order to get it done quickly. Painting the cabinets was not that hard, but then I wanted to glaze them. JIM kept crashing stuff into his cabinet and chipping the paint...and then I had to re-paint it...and wait to do the glaze. And then he'd chip the paint somewhere on his side again, and I would re-paint it again.

Imma figgin' ta blow.

So I FINALLY was able to get the glaze on and today I finished up the poly. THANK THE LORD. I still have things to do in there, but the painting-the-cabinets part is over.

And, as much as I'd like to put the ladder in the garage...way WAYYYYY in the garage...I promised Joshua that I would work on his bathroom next.

Jesus, give me strength!

So, if you're keeping track, that's two couches minus one couch equals two couches...and a ladder.

"Whatever you are doing, work at it with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not for people..." Colossians 3:23

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Links For You 11.15.14 And An ARKANSAS Win!

Well, I had another post all ready to go, but I decided to save it....because today is a day that will live in infamy. The Arkansas Razorbacks just got their first SEC win after something like 17 consecutive SEC losses. Monday should be a holiday.

Not even kidding.

We had a big football day around here. We cheered so hard for Mississippi State...for various reasons.

My Joshua said, "why are you cheering for Miss State?"
And I said, "because my friend, Sophie, is a big fan."
He said, "who?"
And I said, "Sophie."
He said, "Sophie, who?"
And I said, "Sophie Hudson...she's my pretend internet friend."

And my Downsy man-child...looked at me like I had

It was precious...and we all lay-uffed and lay-uffed.

And then today was the Battle of the Ravine...where the college I went to (Ouachita Baptist University) and the college JIM went to (Henderson State University)...played each other. This is a HUGE deal for that small town, because the colleges are right across the street. And it's a huge deal for people who have gone to either university.

We debated all week about going to the game. We all wanted to go, but this weather...Joshua doesn't "do" cold very well. In the end, we decided to stay home. And our OBU Tigers WON! And won handily, 41-20! And now the Tigers are the Great American Conference champs!

We also watched the Mississippi State vs Alabama game...and there was wailing and gnashing of teeth when 'Bama won.

And that was just from me.

And then we watched the Arkansas game...and now we are all spent. And relieved. And thankful. And happy!

Here are some links for you to enjoy this weekend!

This because God never leaves you out.

This on practicing true hospitality.

Ummm...yeah. This happened to me one time, too. LOVE this Mom's response.

This from Lisa-Jo Baker...SO POWERFUL!

"Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!" Psalm 126:5

Friday, November 14, 2014

I'm So Fancy (you already know)

You don't even wanna know what's going on around here.

Oh, DO?

Well, on Wednesday, Joshua had his Therapeutic Recreation. It was also the day that our new couch and love-seat were being delivered. Jim said he would come home and be here for the delivery, but I wanted to be here, too. It's not every day a girl gets some new furniture! Not THIS girl, anyway.

When we first bought this house and I was looking around for how to make this place a home, I came across a picture in a magazine and I thought, "THAT'S what I wanted for this room." I could just picture it. Nothing fancy...just homey.

At the time, we hadn't moved yet...we were just spending time here each day while Clark was at football. And I was doing some painting...stuff like that. All of our furniture was still in our old house...waiting for moving day. During that time, in our living room here at THIS house, we had about six chairs arranged in a circle in the middle of the floor. Six LAWN chairs. Like the kind you throw in the back of your vehicle when you're going to a soccer game.

We so klassy.

This house was very "blah" when we moved in...everything was this beige-y, off-white color and I felt like I was sinking into a pit of nothingness (see? no flair for the dramatic here)...but then my sister, Leanne, showed up with her "crew" (my other sister, Robin and her husband)...and transformed the living room and kitchen into something much better! All it needed was the new furniture from my vision...but Jim was so mean wise and said, "not right now." I mean, we did still have our other house to sell, and it ended up taking OVER A YEAR to sell it. As much as it pains me to admit it, Jim was right.


Nobody tell him I said that.

So we got the new couch and love-seat, and I LOVE it. For the past several years, we've used this big, gold couch that Leanne gave us. Everyone loves it because it's nice and big and comfy. So we are offering it to Holly and Aaron, and they are thrilled.

But right now, and this is the whole point of this my living room, and it's not a big room...there are two couches, a love-seat and two chairs. I had pushed the big, gold couch up out of the way to fit the new couch in, and so it looked like seating at a movie. One couch right in front of another front of the TV.

But then CLARK thought it would be hilarious to turn the old couch around, which he did, so that it faced our new couch. He backed the big, gold couch up IN FRONT OF THE FIRE-PLACE...because doesn't everyone want a couch blocking their fire-place? And there is where it has been for the past two days.

Our furniture is in a square and, once you get into the square, you can never get out.

I saw a picture of Shay Shull's beautiful mantel on Instagram...all decorated for Christmas, and I just had to laugh when I looked at my living room. Because it looks practically the same.

Except not! :)

But this is my life, and this is also what you get when you have boys.

When Joshua saw the new couch, he said, "ooooo...nice."

And then he marched over to the table and wrote "new couch" on one of the construction paper "leaves," and stuck it up on the Thanksgiving Tree.

Which, speaking of the Thanksgiving Tree, Jim's leaf has been moved back to it's proper spot, and, so far...all seems well. You just never know what's going to happen when all the kids are home for the holidays. I'll never forget the year when we had one of our ministers and his wife over at the house...they were looking at the Thanksgiving Tree and commenting on all of the nice things my family was thankful for.

I may or may not have had a twinge of pride at the sweetness of my kids.

BUT THEN, they busted out laughing, and starting pointing at something on the tree. Apparently one of my rat-fink boys had written "deez nuts" on one of the leaves.

I thought we were going to have to leave the church.

"...give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Scrawny Tree and Luke Bryan

This is the 3rd year that I've been making the drive south to Little Rock with Joshua. I take him 2-3 times a week to Therapeutic Recreation. It's about a 35 minute drive each way. Not gonna lie...sometimes the commute gets a little tedious. For me.

Because for's just a journey to get to see his friends.

And, like he told me one day when I was trying to figure out a way to get out of going that day, "my friends are pretty much like my family."

And so I said, "get in the car."

I mean, right?

This time of year is my favorite for the drive. Part of what Joshua does is talk my head off, but the other part is that we watch for the changing of the leaves. And so we say, "oooo...look at the yellow one!" Or, "look at the red one!" He always likes to predict whether or not we will be able to see Pinnacle Mountain (sometimes it's too foggy). The view as we cross over the Arkansas River is just breathtaking this time of year.

There are a few places along our drive where I know the leaves will be pretty...because I've been watching them change each day. And, there are a few places where the trees are still green...because they're evergreen. And they don't always catch my eye this time of year.

This morning, I noticed the most beautiful tree. It was small and scrawny. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't have given it a second glance, because it was surrounded by tall, strong-looking trees. But today, there it was...a beautiful red in a sea of other beautiful trees.

And I thought...that's me.

Not that I'm beautiful or talented. I do very little well. One of the most important things I've worked really hard at is being a good mom. I tried to invest in my children's lives, disciple them, teach them, love them, praise them. I've tried to be a diligent and intentional mother when it comes to teaching them to love and follow Jesus, and all of the other things our family finds important.

But let me just tell you...those days when your children look adoringly into your eyes and think you can do anything and everything? They last about 2 seconds in the big scheme of life...and by the time your kids get through high school they will have you questioning everything you think and believe, and wondering how you even get through each day without some sort of assistance.

My sisters are both beautiful and creative. My youngest sister can sing. She and her husband can re-do and transform furniture and houses so they look like pictures from a magazine. My other sister can organize and plan a party or a trip like none other. She is smart with numbers and business, and likes to be in charge. And she's good at being in charge.

And I'm

And what God showed me this morning is that that's enough.

Because, like the beautiful tree I saw this morning, it didn't have to try to out-do any of the other trees. Thank goodness, because there would be no way that would happen. It was small, and all of the trees around it were tall and grand. But it had a place and God had a plan for it in His creation. A plan that placed it right in the middle of those other trees. And even tho I could barely see it from the road, I could tell it was vibrant. The leaves looked like fire as the sun shone through them. And then, on the way back, with clouds all was still there in all it's glory.

It was barely visible from the road...but get above the tree line, and I bet it was gorgeous.

And the thing is, the little tree was beautiful all on it's own. It didn't have to do anything. And it's beauty did not distract from the beauty of the trees around it. And vice-versa. God blew the seed there and He sent the wind and rain and sun...and even the snow and wind and ice...and the tree survived and grew and now provides great beauty to God...and to others. God did it all!

And, it's probably sacrilegious to bring this up right now, but speaking of rain making things grow...just made me think of Luke Bryan's song, "Rain Is A Good Thing." I mind is warped. I had not heard the song until Jenni, Joshua's girlfriend of over TEN years, sang it to him one night. And yes, she has Down Syndrome, too. I looked up the words and was, like, OH MY GOODNESS THIS DID NOT JUST HAPPEN. Because this is how it went down:

Jenni: "rain makes corn, corn makes whiskey, whiskey makes JENNI...FEEL A LITTLE FRISKY."

I know, totes inappropes.

Where was I?

The little tree...not noticed by many...but created by God...for His pleasure and for His glory. All for Him.

We can't all sing. We can't all speak or write or calculate. But we can all love. We can all listen. We can all praise. We can all encourage.

Embrace who you are and how God made you. You were made for Him.

All for Him.

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Holly's Day Off And Also Thank God for the Bathroom at HomeGoods

Holly had a day off from nursing school this week, and we were so excited! We had planned on spending the whole day together and had a list of places we wanted to go. Lots of looking and shopping and a girly lunch.


Her day off from nursing school just so happened to be on Veteran's Day, and do you know what's not open on Veteran's Day? City offices. And do you know what Joshua's Therapeutic Recreation is part of? A city office.

Time to rethink the plans.

We decided to stay here in town, and all THREE of us look around and all THREE of us go shopping and all THREE of us go to lunch.

However, since most of the places we had planned on going in town were full of "pretties" that girls...not most guys...would love, I had to bribe encourage a happy heart from Joshua with the promise of lunch at Chick-Fil-A.

And so we got to hear a lot from Joshua, like:

1) WHY is that Santa so skinny? THAT'S not how Santa should look.

2) Well, THAT'S a weihrd lookin' angel.

3) It would take a decade to burn that candle.

4) PIGS aren't Christmas-y.

5) WHY is that Nutcracker BLACK? (this was said right in front of a sweet African-American woman shopping on the same aisle. Jesus take me now).

6) Same thing with the dark-skinned Wise Man in the nativity scene: "never thought there was a BLACK Wise Man..." (And, again, this was said in front of a young African-American lady filling out an employment application) (It was at this point that I launched into a rambling discourse of how the king was from Africa or somewhere in the middle east...I HAVE NO IDEA...I'M JUST TALKING...where people have dark skin, like his best friend, Marcy. And the whole time I'm looking for the back door. WHERE IS THE BACK DOOR?)

"Ebony and ivory, live together in perfect harmony...side by side on my piano keyboard, oh, Lord, why can't weeeee?"

Here's an idea: let's have lunch.

As promised, we ended up at Chick and all was well with the world once more. Joshua ate his #1-plain-no-hot-pickles-with-a-Sprite and then we were ready to conquer HomeGoods and Pier One.

Holly was having a big time, looking at and touching everything in HomeGoods and then Joshua got, "the look."

Now, Moms all know "the look." It's just that most moms are used to getting "the look" from their potty-training pre-schoolers...when they are in the check-out line at Kroger with a full buggy of groceries...including ice-cream.

Mmmmm-mmm...yep, you know it's true.

And Joshua is potty-trained, and has been for, oh...about 25 years, praise Jesus...but he's not always able to discern the rumblies in his tumblie until we are in a "situation."

So I said, "Joshua, are you okay?" And he whispered, "I need to take a DUMP."

And, let me just say right here that the phrase, "take a dump" is not one I have used or encouraged in my home, but BOYS.

They think it's hilarious and it always gets a rise out of me.

And, let me ALSO say right here that while Joshua whispered the "I need to take..." part...the part where he said, "a DUMP" was said LOUD AND CLEAR.

Of course it was.

So I walked to the restrooms at the front of the store, and told Joshua I would wait outside. I said, "MAKE SURE YOU HAVE TOILET PAPER FIRST," and he said, "okay."

And then I waited. And I was sweating. And I was thinking, "I need a drink." But then I remembered that I DON'T DRINK. Never have. But, at this point, I would not have been opposed to a Xanax.

And then I heard him flush. And then I heard, "ahhhhhhhhhhhhh."

And then I heard him flush again. And then I heard, "AHHHHHHHHH."

What in the world?

And then I heard the 3rd flush...and finally I heard the water running in the sink.

I was thinking, "Whew! Thank goodness!"

And I was also thinking, "there is no telling what has gone on in there and please, dear Lord, don't let anyone else be in there."

Then, I heard him getting paper towels and it sounded like he was beatin' the "WHEY" out of the paper towel holder. WHAMWHAMWHAM...silence. WHAMWHAMWHAM.

Finally, he came out. I looked him over...and just to be on the safe side, I got out my bottle of Bath and Body Works hand-gel and put a huge squirt in his hand.

We found Holly. I walked up to her and said, "let's go." She said, "Well, YOU went to the bathroom and came back cranky."

Oh, yeah?

You want a piece of me, Missy?

Tell me I'm cranky ONE MORE TIME.

"He is your constant source of stability..." Isaiah 33:6

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Don't Get Your Tinsel in a Tangle

Tonight, Holly and I went to a Women's event at our church. It was called, "Don't Get Your Tinsel in a Tangle." There were probably at least 200 women there. Everyone brought salads, and there were some ladies who showed us different ways to set a table for Christmas. They gave us all kinds of GREAT ideas.

Only problem: I am 100% sure those women never had boys. Because putting branches on the table? That's an eye-pokin' toy. Tying limbs onto the back of the chair? Light-saber. And real, live, lit candles? Girl, please. Have these women never heard of FIRE? All of the branches and bark and moss and PINE-CONES THAT HAVE BEEN BLEACHED IN...BLEACH...are just kindling.

And pine-cones can be thrown at your sister, too.

But everything was so pretty!

And then they had a lady come up and talk about wrapping presents. She used twine and rope and ribbon. She used boxes and bags and EMPTY PAINT CANS FROM SHERWIN-WILLIAMS. Who'da thought?

I'm just sayin' that by the time I ask my 4 kids, plus their husband, wife and significant others, what they want for Christmas...find it, buy it, hide it and then re-find it again the night before Christmas...they're lucky it has wrapping paper on it, and if the piece I cut actually covered the whole box.

Because haven't y'all been there? Where you thought you had cut enough wrapping paper for your gift, but then when you start to wrap it, the wrapping paper won't quuuuiiiiitttte come together...leaving a 1/4 inch space of BOX?

And, please don't tell me that I have to find a cardboard initial of everyone's first name at Hobby Lobby, cover it in glitter and use it as a "gift-tag" on their present. Not happenin'.

I have my own system. Each kid gets their own wrapping paper. It works out pretty well until you run out of paper on one kid and have to use another kid's paper...and then, on Christmas morning, your son wants to know why you bought him yellow Hunter boots...

We had a great speaker who did a little devo for everyone. She talked about keeping Christ in Christmas and it was really good. She used the word: CHRIST as an acrostic.

C-celebrate Him. She talked about the many ways to keep the focus on JESUS and His birth. From nativity scenes to explaining the story of the candy cane to talking about the stars and angels on the tree. Lots of opportunities to share about Jesus.

H-handle your finances. So many people rush around and buy this or that...without giving a thought to how they will pay for it after the holiday. She said that it's okay to have a list...but that we should pray over the gifts we give others. From our kids to our parents to our in-laws to our kids' teachers to our co-workers and friends...make it a matter of prayer. She said to set a budget and pray about how to spend your money.

R-remember those less fortunate or who are alone over the holidays. She told us to look beyond ourselves. Maybe your high schooler has a friend who doesn't come from a Christian family. Invite them to celebrate with you, and make sure they have a gift...even if it's just a gift-card or something. Maybe you know someone who has suffered a loss this year...job loss, loss of a spouse, child, parent, friend. Reach out to them in some way. Help at a food bank. Send someone a card or a note.

I-was be intentional. She said that keeping Christ is Christmas is not just going to happen naturally...because we are all stressed and we have lots to do and sometimes it's just easier to celebrate the way the world does. She advised us to start now and do some planning and be intentional about the way we decorate our home and the way we choose to spend our time over the holidays.

S-is for sloooooow dowwwwwn. Don't rush through everything  and miss what's important.

T-is for traditions. She talked about the importance of traditions with our it gives our children a sense of continuity and belonging. It forges a bond between your family members and makes for lasting memories.

Simple reminders for this busy season.

"And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:10-11

Monday, November 10, 2014

Joshua: Wifi and Our Trip to Kroger

Over the past few months, the kids have been complaining that the wifi we have doesn't reach each room in the house. Clark is upstairs and he says it won't work in his room. Joshua is also upstairs, but on the other side...and has not had any problems with it that we know of. Logan's room is downstairs and it doesn't work well in there. Even in our downstairs master bedroom, the signal is "iffy" and even non-existent at times.

So, last week, Jim ordered a new router and put it upstairs and thought all would be well. I mean, right?


All is not well with the oldest child of the family (Joshua). Apparently the "new" router has turned his world upside-down, because when he's upstairs...the downstairs one won't work; and when he's upstairs, the downstairs one won't work.


Did I just say that?

I would retype it but it would take too much energy. You get the drift. His phone was switching back and forth and not using the one he needed.

We've told him that WHENEVER he has a problem with his phone or iPOD touch, to come tell us and we will try to help him figure it out. He doesn't know how to go to his "settings" and click on the other wifi. And we haven't shared the password with him, because who knows where that will lead, and I don't really have time to answer questions from the FBI concerning ugly comments about any government official coming from someone at this address who has unlimited access to the internet.

Just sayin'.

Homeboy's not happy with the current state of affairs in our nation's capitol, and can't wait for the next election.

Apparently, he was having trouble with his phone over the weekend, and did not tell us about it. He did, however, tell Aaron-the-son-in-law that the "da** wifi" wasn't working up in his room.

Now, we don't talk like that in our home, so Aaron was kind of shocked. Joshua said it 3 times, trying to get a reaction, and finally Aaron told him that it probably wasn't the NICEST way to say it...and Joshua agreed. Aaron said, "your dad was just trying to help." And Joshua said, "I know. I'm not blaming Dad...but he did it."

Bless it.

This afternoon, Joshua and I headed to the grocery. We are supposed to get some really cold weather, and I wanted to get everything we needed for the next few days. I had a pretty long list. It's already a proven fact that Joshua prefers Kroger to Wal-Mart, because the "nanners" at Kroger are "more bigger," and the buggies at Kroger aren't "janky."

Joshua likes the small buggies they have at Kroger. They are just easier for him to manage, so that's what we usually get. Sometimes, I pack those small buggies so full that the guys who bag my groceries can't figure out how in the world I got it all into one small buggy.

Please. This ain't my first rodeo.

Today, I told Joshua that I thought we should each take a small buggy, since I had such a long list. That about blew his little mind. In hindsight, we should've just gotten the big buggy and been done with it, but hey...tried a new thing. Joshua was a nervous wreck not knowing which items I was going to put in his buggy, and which items I was going to put in mine. And he about started to sweat when, almost at the end of our list, both buggies were FULL...and we still had to get Orange Juice and coffee creamer.


Spoiler alert: it all fit and we made it home with everything...and Joshua can't wait to tell his grandmother that we fit 80 items in our two buggies!

Today, I am thankful for my husband.

I'm actually thankful for him every day. 

But, when Joshua and I got in my vehicle this morning to head to the grocery, it wouldn't start. Jim came home for lunch, and took my vehicle to get a new battery before he went back to work.

And you'll all be glad to know that his leaf from the Thanksgiving Tree? It's been moved...

Closer. :)

"The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy." Psalm 126:3