Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Day After Christmas 2014

We got up this morning, and made a big breakfast. A big CHRISTMAS breakfast. Joshua asked me 5 or 100 times when Holly and Aaron would be here, and to quote his famous response to all the questions his grandmother routinely asks him, I told him,"I don't know, Mammaw...I don't know."

And then I swurrr I had just put the last food item away and cleaned everything up and had the dishwasher running, and Clark came in and said, "when's lunch?"


So I got everything out for lunch. And, as we were sitting at the table, Joshua said, "when are Holly and Aaron gonna be here?" And I responded, "I don't know, Mammaw...I don't know."

Then Jim came into the kitchen and said, "heard from Holly and Aaron?" And I said, "yes." He said, "where are they?" And I said, "I don't know." And he said, "when will they be here?" And I said, "I don't know." And I must've said it kind of huffy, because he said, "I just think you would KNOW when we should expect them." So I said, "I don't know, Mammaw...I don't know."

But Holly finally texted that they were home...they had to pick up their gifts and check on things at home, and said they would be right over.

And even tho I had chicken and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, asparagus, spinach salad, rolls, chili (with AND without beans), ham and cheese sandwiches, buffalo chicken cheese dip, sausage balls, cheese dip, hot dip, meatballs, Texas caviar, cake balls, peanut clusters and several different kinds of cookies...there was still nothing here Aaron-the-son-in-law would eat.

Holly texted me from the drive-thru line at Slim Chickens.

Once they got here and everyone had eaten their (first or second) lunch...we gathered in the family room for the "tranditional" (Joshua's words) reading of Luke 2. Typically, each of our children read 7 verses, and Joshua starts things off.

Because we can't hear "Qwy-REAR-eee-ous was governor of Sy-REAR-eee-ah" (Luke 2:2) enough.

No ma'am, we can not.

He also says that Mary wrapped baby Jesus in "snuggly clothes" and put Him in the manger.

After Joshua was done, it was Holly's turn. Joshua always wants her to read the part about the angels, because he calls Holly his "Christmas Angel Sister," since she was born at Christmastime.

After Holly was done, it was Logan's turn, and he read and read and read. Clark finally interrupted him, because Logan not only read HIS verses, he was now reading all of CLARK'S verses. Clark shot Logan a glare as he read the ONE VERSE Logan saved for him, and Logan just collapsed in laughter.

And that's how we lost the sacredness of the moment.

Well, all but Joshua.

As soon as Clark finished, Joshua said, "and now the deacon of the family will pray," and nodded his head toward Jim.

Jim put his coffee down and sat up straight to pray, but Joshua said, "we will all stand...and hold hands."

And you know what? We all stood...and held hands.

And then we opened presents. Joshua was happy to help hand them all out. He had the best Christmas. We are blessed with really thankful and content children. I had to INSIST that they make out a list for me...not that they would get everything on the list. I just needed some ideas.

Joshua's list consisted of notebooks, pens, a wolf calendar...and a "red and a blue tank top in a bigger size than the ones Mammaw gave him."

Clark and Faith got him the wolf calendar, and he was thrilled. Holly and I found a wolf pillow at the old Garden Ridge (can't think of the new name), and we got it for him. He was so excited!

After presents, we had more snacking and someone mentioned that there was a Harry Potter-a-thon on, and we turned the TV on to watch. My kids all love Harry Potter.*

*I was one of those moms who was very cautious about the whole Harry Potter series in the beginning. I am not a fan of witchcraft or sorcery, when it comes to actual people doing it.  I don't even put out ghosts or witches for Halloween decorations because I am THAT leery of the whole evil spirit world and all of that. I 100% believe in demons. My kids also never let me forget that they weren't allowed to watch certain Disney movies, like Snow White, just because of the witchy, evil part of it. Holly read the Harry Potter books as part of her Accelerated Reading program back when she was in school because she really enjoyed them...and because they were worth so many points, and that's how I first started to investigate them. I think there a lot to think about when it comes to what our kids read and watch, and I am 100% behind parents and their rights to make those choices for their own families...just like we did. My kids are all "adults" now, and they are fully secure with their walk with God and their salvation experiences. 

Holly casually mentioned that she'd seen a pin on Pinterest on how to make Harry Potter wands out of chop-sticks and glue.

Well, Joshua doesn't use chop-sticks, but he saves them. He has a collection of them that he's saved from every Chinese restaurant we've ever eaten in in his whole life.

And I have a glue gun.

And I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, but those kids...all 7 of them...sat around my kitchen table and took turns with the glue gun, and painted and decorated those pretend wands for 3-4 hours.

They talked and they laughed. Together.

Jim and I watched them from the family room, and it made me so happy! Even Joshua participated!

So, yes...while another family we know was probably looking up the different names of Jesus and calligraphy-ing them on a large canvas to go over their fireplace...and, NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT AT ALL...my family was making pretend Harry Potter wands out of chop-sticks and glue.

So, there's that.

We only had one injury...glue shot out of the glue gun and landed on Clark's leg. He was wearing shorts, and used his hand to swat the glue off...and now he has one really bad burn on one leg, and a minor burn on the other leg and on his hand.

Love my family.

"...be content with such things as your have. For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" Hebrews 13:5

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Answered Prayer-Kevin Hartis

Our friend, Katie, posted this update on Kevin earlier today. We are so thankful for this great update.

For those of you who read this and prayed, I cannot thank you enough. I believe in the power of prayer. I also believe that just because we pray for things to work out a certain way, doesn't mean that it will.

As you will read in the update, Kevin was ready and willing to accept whatever God's will was for his life.

Kevin still has a long way to go, and is still in a lot of pain...but his family and friends and church family are all so very thankful for God's protection and provision for him and his family. Thank you so much for praying.

From Katie:

I know God has answered our prayers! We've been at St Vincent's since Dec 23rd on the NSICU floor. When we first came in it looked like Kevin would be headed for surgery right away, but we had good news. The CT scans had not changed, so the surgeon decided to wait another night. Then we had a setback when they found 4 small hemorrhages throughout Kevin's brain. Even in extreme pain Kevin's faith didn't waiver, he was still so kind to the nurses and when I broke down he reminded me that God is always in control and that he always takes care of his children. My husband with 5 brain hemorrhages reminded me of God's promises.
Even though Kevin desperately wanted to be healed, his faith and trust in God would stay the same even if God's answer was no.
Today we found out that all of Kevin's test results are negative. (Still awaiting 2 more) Our neurosurgeon feels that Kevin has cerebral cavernous hemorrhages. Which is the best diagnosis! There is only a 1% chance it will happen again! In about an hour we will move to CCU and most likely go home tomorrow evening or Tuesday. I literally almost hugged the life out of our precious Lebanese surgeon. Kevin will still have some healing time because it was brain hemorrhage. He will be closely monitored for a while to make sure none of the hemorrhages become active, he will most likely be on anti seizure medications since he will be at a higher risk for seizures and he will continue to have severe headaches for several months, BUT something that could have taken his life only gave Kevin a chance to glorify God. I'm in awe of the kindness of our church, our friends and families, and people we do not even know!! I'm really speechless at the love that has been shown to us!
For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised. Psalm 96:4

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

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Day But Our Christmas Eve 2014

We got up on Christmas morning and I made blueberry muffins. I knew it would make Joshua so happy! When he came downstairs, I said, "Merry Christmas!" and gave him a hug. He said, "uhhh...not for US until tomorrow."

Joshua is refusing to even acknowledge Christmas until all of the kids can be here, which will hopefully be tomorrow. He said, "we are having OUR family Christmas Eve again today."

Today was really quiet and not gonna lie...not a fan.

Now I totally understand why our friends Earl and Carolyn go on a trip somewhere on the years when all of their married kids go to their in-laws.

Hawaii, hear we come!

We were really thankful to see Logan and Morgan come this afternoon. It was funny because I decided that I was gonna stay in my pajammies all day. So when Morgan saw me, it was like the scene in "The Princess Diaries," where Mia comes to the coronation ball in her regular clothes, and she is drenched from head to toe...and her friend, Lilly...who is dressed in appropriate "ball" attire, looks at her date and says, "why didn't we dress like her? We look like idiots!" Morgan said, "I need to go out to the car and get my pajamas...NOW."

We snacked and visited and it was a lot of fun! After they had been here an hour, Morgan's mom texted to let us know that their family was dropping like flies with the stomach virus. AREYOUKIDDINGME?

So now we wait.

I served chicken and dressing, mashed potatoes, asparagus, spinach salad, and rolls for dinner.

During dinner, Joshua took a bite of the asparagus and said, "oooo...it's really thick and woody."

And I'm sorry...I have boys, and a husband, and they all fell out laughing...and any manners, decorum and general spirit of the holiday was lost in 1.2 seconds.

Of course, I don't know what it says about manners, decorum and the general spirit of the holiday when Morgan and I roll up to dinner, CHRISTMAS DINNER...with me wearing my flannel PJ SALVAGE blue pajamas with the dogs on them, and Morgan wearing her flannel PJ SALVAGE elephant pajamas.

What is it they say? THERE'S YOUR SIGN.

For dessert, I fixed this Snickers cheesecake that I found on Pinterest. I'm not a big dessert person, or a big cheesecake person, but they all said it was very rich, but very good.

And now we are watching a movie. Logan wanted us to watch a Batman/Dark Knight movie. I don't even know. It's not very Christmassy, so even tho I wanted to stay in here with my family, I slipped out to our other living room and watched the end of ELF...which IS very Christmassy.

Now I'm back in the family room with my family. The movie is still going on. I'm so not interested in it, but I AM interested in my kids. :)

In just a little while, we will all go to bed, and in the morning, we will wake up (Lord willing)...and Holly and Aaron will be here around lunch (Lord willing). And then...it's CHRISTMAS! Except it will be the day after Christmas.

Just really praying that no one gets the stomach virus. I don't want any of us to get it, but I REALLY don't want Joshua to get it.

And please, PLEASE pray for our friend, Kevin. He is supposed to have surgery to remove the hemorrhage in his frontal lobe on Monday. It's a risky surgery, and I know their family would covet your prayers.

"Wait for the Lord.; be strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:14

Friday, December 26, 2014

Prayer Request: Kevin Hartis

I have posts ready to go in my draft folders, but there's this.

Would y'all pray for these sweet friends of ours? Kevin and Katie Hartis from Searcy, Arkansas.

Here is the Facebook update Katie posted on Christmas Eve. Kevin is still in the hospital. Altho they have discovered 3 other bleeds in different places in his brain, they still don't really have any answers...and Kevin is in so much pain.

Please pray.

As many of you know Kevin was sent to St Vincent this evening for a brain bleed in his left frontal lobe. The neurosurgeon will be in tomorrow morning to let us know his plan of action. 
As I'm sitting here next to him I'm thanking God for this man he has given me for my husband. Kevin always has a smile on his face, he is always willing to help everyone, he loves The Lord and his church. How did I get so lucky? We are also blessed beyond measure by First Baptist Searcy. Our sweet friends Kristin Raney Stafford and Richard Stafford were here within minutes after we arrived followed by Hal Stroupe and Sheila Stroupe. I've had so many texts and phone calls. Even though I can't answer them all they mean so much to us. By the way, if your looking for a church home, First Baptist should be first on your list.
I have to add that my sweet sisters were here like they always are.  what would I do without my sisters?
Please continue to pray for Kevin as we await to see what the future holds, he especially needs prayer for the pain he is in. Again, thank you all so much for the texts, phone calls, and most importantly prayers.

I just really covet your prayers for this family.

"Constantly pray..." 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas, 2014! Christ Is Born!

Cooked all morning...because kids still weren't all here. Cooked and cooked and cooked.

I got in bed after midnight last night, and I reflected on our day. I felt a little bad that I wrote so much about feeling sad and missing my kids. Just keepin' it real, but seriously...ME, ME, ME.

I started thinking about my own family...how we lived all over the United States and in two foreign countries during the time my Dad was in the Air Force. We were rarely at "home" for Christmas. In our case, "home" would've been Charlottesville, VA...where my Grandmother lived and where my Mom was raised.

About every other year, my Grandmother would fly out and spend a couple of weeks with us at Christmastime. I remember a couple of times when my grandparents on my Dad's side came to visit. Usually, tho, it was just our family of 6. I'm sure my Mom had many lonely holidays.

I wrote about one specific Christmas here, when my Dad was in Vietnam for a year...and my Mom had to handle everything for all of us.

I started thinking about my two sisters...whose kids spend some of every holiday, alternate Spring breaks and part of every summer...with their dads. And how lonely it is for my sisters when their kids are gone.

I started thinking about my friend, Ruth, whose dad is on his journey home. It won't be long now. They were hoping he would make it until Christmas, because all of his 6 children, and almost all of the grandchildren were coming home to say good-bye, and to celebrate his life. The last ones got there last night, and he was still hanging on. So thankful...but still so sad.

I started thinking about our former pastor, Ken. His Mom passed away about the same time as my Mom...16 or so years ago. I didn't know his parents at all, but his Dad remarried...just like my Dad did. And last week, his step-mom passed away. I was thinking about Ken's Dad...having to bury two wives. How hard is that?

I started thinking about Jim's cousin's wife...her husband died not even a week ago. They have 4 children between them, and now she's a widow. And a single mother. And it's Christmas.

There's so much joy this time of year, but also so much sadness. We like to think that this time of year is sacred and special and only for the good stuff. But a long time ago, before the creation of the world, God set things in motion for how it was gonna be...and the seasons change and the sun rises and sets and there's love and loss and life and death...no matter what has gone on in the nights and days before.

For some, their sorrow is deep and joy may not come today. But there is hope for tomorrow for those who know the Lord, and the promise for an eternity with our loved ones in Heaven with God.

"Therefore we are always full of courage, and we know that as long as we are alive here on earth we are absent from the Lord...thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord." 2 Corinthians 5:6,8

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve 2014

I've spent most of the day cooking and baking.

And even those are things I absolutely LOVE to do, I've gotta admit that I was mainly trying to keep my body and my mind busy.

Because as much as I want to pretend I'm a big girl about it, I am not a fan of all the kids not being here for the holidays. No ma'am. Not a fan AT ALL.

And while I know I should be thankful for the ones who ARE here, and I am...and while I know I should be thankful that our daughter and son have each married and are celebrating Christmas with their spouse's families, and I am...I while I know it should make me more empathetic for my kids' in-laws when my kids are HERE, and I am (sortofbutnotreally)...and while I know I should be thankful that THE KIDS ARE COMING, and I am...it's still hard, this in-law thing.

Is there a support group I can join?

Hello, my name is Marty and I do not like to share...

my kids...

with their in-laws.

Faith came over, and she and Clark sat at the table and ate lunch. That was fun, and a nice break in the day. I said something...and now I can't remember what it was...and Clark said, "that's wisdom from the life of Marty...write that down." And I said, "I'll put that in my 3rd book."

Because that is something Joshua would say...since he's always working on "stories" for about 7 books that he's gonna write.

Anyway, Faith said, "you SHOULD write a book, Mrs. Marty," and I said, "Oh...I'm working on it. My first two books are on marriage, since being married for 100 years makes me practically an expert."

And we all lay-uffed and lay-uffed.

She said, "Oh yeah? What are the names of your books?"

I said, "well the first one is called, "Get Off Me," and the second one is called, "Don't Touch Me There."

And while Faith burst out laughing, Clark very quietly pushed away from the table, put on his cap, and walked out of the room.

He was gone a LONG time.

When he came back, Faith said, "you okay?" And he said, "One word: Therapy. Gonna need a lot of it."

So, there you have it.

And don't steal my book titles.

Anyway, so far today I've made a pot of chili, chicken and dressing, mashed potatoes, chicken AND BEEF enchiladas, cookies, a cheesecake and two kinds of dip.

But the night is still young.

I wanted to make Christmas Crack, but SOMEONE who shall remain nameless, but his name rhymes with "MARK," left an EMPTY BOX of Saltine crackers in the pantry...and I just ASSUMED it had crackers in it.

Jim likes to ask me, "you know what you get when you assume?"

And I like to tell him, "shutty."

Except not really. We don't talk like that.

Between cooking and cleaning...we went to our church's Christmas Eve service, and that was fun. It was awesome to see everyone with their families, and it just made me miss my family SO MUCH.

After the service, we came home and ate chili...and that's when I made my cheesecake and finished up the enchiladas. It's also when I finished up my wrapping. I actually finished up the other day, but Joshua had gotten a few things for the family, and I wrapped those for him. I really feel sorry for the ones who are getting the last few things I wrapped, because I am OVER.THE.WRAPPING. Morgan and Faith are both really awesome and creative wrappers, so my packages will look awful compared to theirs.

Oh, well...what is it they say? "Comparison is the thief of joy."

Every year I say I will do a better job wrapping, but I never do. I don't think it matters.

I hope this post doesn't sound whiny. I am so thankful to be celebrating Christmas this year. I don't know...the older I get, the more I realize that I am not guaranteed a long life. My own mother died suddenly at the age of 59...I think about that all the time.

I know Christmas isn't about the trimmings or the decorations or the food or the presents. It's not about who is here in our home, and who we are missing. It's not even about the wrapping. Jesus was the greatest gift of all, and He came into the world wrapped in a young woman's body. He was born in a manger, wrapped in cloths...snuggled down in hay. Not the beautiful and majestic birth that everyone was looking for...but oh...what a Savior!

Tomorrow is Christmas Day, but we are pretending it's Christmas Eve...and we will continue to pretend it's Christmas Eve until our kids come home. And THEN it will be Christmas.

And then we will go see my family in Texas...and THEN it will be Christmas again.

"But Mary treasured up all these words, pondering in her heart what they might mean..." Luke 2:19

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Lakehouse Christmas 2014: The Magnetic Wands

Continued from this post and this post.

My mother-in-law likes to keep everything equal...whether it's money or gifts or food or offering to put gas in someone's car (she will offer it for everyone, not just one person). So the boys (Jim and his brothers) all know that if one of them pulls something out of their Christmas "sack," there's a 99.99999% chance that the other two will have that exact item in their sack as well.

Blow dryers, beard trimmers (they don't have beards), nail clippers, etc. Three of each. Every year.

Now that I have a son-in-law, and my own boys are older...they are starting to get some of the "big boys'" gifts, too.

This year, Logan, Clark and Aaron-the-son-in-law each got a large, metal, wand-lookin' thing that had a magnet on one end...in their "SOS." The first thing they did was to extend their "wands" as far as they would go, and then Logan and Clark acted like they were light-sabers and made the sounds from Star Wars as they "pretend" cut-off every limb of each other's bodies.

Boys never actually grow up.

And then one of them turned to the other one, pointed his magnet wand, and said, "EXPECTO PATRONUMMMMMM!" and they turned into a scene from Harry Potter just.like.that.

Side note: Most everyone moved into the living room area after dinner and that's where we had "Christmas." Everyone except for Holly and Aaron, Logan and Morgan, and Clark and Faith. They were content to sit around the dining room table and talk, and it just blessed my heart to no end. They weren't being anti-social...they were just enjoying being together. We hadn't seen Logan and Morgan since Thanksgiving, and they are staying with Morgan's family until Christmas day or the day after that (sniff)...so my kids were just enjoying each other.

And I LOVED it.

Anyway, Aaron-the-son-in-law started trying to see what all he could pick up with his magnet wand. And my other two boys followed suit. At one point, Aaron was able to snag a fork from the silverware canister that's in the middle of the table...and brought the fork to his plate. Logan used his wand to get a fork...brought the fork over to his plate...cut a piece of cake with the fork still attached to the magnet want thing...and put the cake into his mouth. All while using his magnet wand.

I'm sure that was the intention behind the makers of the magnet wand.

No more, "please pass the salt." Instead, just whip out your magnet wand, extend it, and get the salt yourself.

IF your salt shaker is metal...which, my mother-in-law's is.

At the end of the evening, we got ready to go home. Some of my bunch stayed over one more night, but the majority of us headed home. Holly and Faith had to sing on the Praise Team this morning, and I planned on taking advantage of a day with the kids gone to get a bunch of wrapping done.

ANYWAY, we had already loaded up the vehicles and filled up with gas. We were fixin' to head out. I had Clark and Faith in my vehicle...and Aaron, Holly, Logan and Morgan were in the other vehicle. As I put the last item into the trunk, I heard Morgan say, "we'll be on in a minute...don't wait on us. Mammaw said we could shop in Mammaw Irene's room."

Now, Jim's grandmother, Mammaw Irene, has been dead for many years...but there was a point in her life, near the end, where she moved into the Lakehouse with my in-laws. Her bedroom was pink, and it is now and will forever more be referred to as "Mammaw Irene's Room."

My mother-in-law is a pack rat like none other. I've talked about her "you-TIL-tee room" (utility room) and all the supplies she has in there. I've talked about how they have 4 refrigerators/freezers and how they are all FULL...and how the saw/ham thief showed that his momma didn't raise no fool when it came to knowing where the goods were, because he hit the Lakehouse carport frig two times in a month. Just sayin'.

Well, my mother-in-law's supplies and "stuff" filled up the you-til-tee room a long time ago. So that, and the fact that my mother-in-law has an ankle issue that makes it hard for her to walk...has made the front "area" as you come in from the carport...another supply place. Because what she can't leave in the garage, she brings just in the front door, and drops the grocery bags on the floor...and then it's just up to everyone to get what they want. For the past few years, she has started filling up Mammaw Irene's room with her stuff, too. It is a mess and I know most of the people reading this don't believe it's as bad as I say it is because y'all were all on Jim's side when he said I had a "flair for the dramatic."

I know who you are, BUT I'M NOT KIDDING.

Anyway, when my mother-in-law told Holly and Morgan that they could "shop" in Mammaw Irene's room, well...as they say around here: "Katie, bar-the-door," because they took off back inside the house. And when Faith heard where they were going, she JUMPED out of the front seat of my vehicle and said, "I'M IN." And that's how we ended up leaving later than what we had planned.

Holly and Morgan got all kinds of kitchen stuff. Morgan even got a set of "green" frying pans like my mother-in-law gave Jim...the ones that he won't let Clark use because he's afraid Clark will use a FORK when he cooks an egg, and it will scratch the surface of the pan.

The whole bunch of them are crazy.

The girls said that shopping in Mammaw Irene's room was their favorite part of Christmas, and I should say so!

Canned popcorn and tweezers will only go so far!

"So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." Galatians 6:10

Monday, December 22, 2014

The "Sack of Stuff" 2014

Continuing from this post.

Every year, my mother-in-law gives us a large Christmas bag with our gifts in it. We call it our SOS: Sack of...STUFF.

And, every year, we CAN.NOT.WAIT to see what prizes we will get. Basically, the gift is the GIFT CARD she gives us, but it's the other stuff she gives...and the reason behind it...that makes our Family Christmas so much fun.

Also, one of my sisters-in-law came down early in the week to help my mother-in-law...and she ended up finding all kinds of gifts that were meant to have been given over the years. My mother-in-law had bought them, hidden them, and then completely forgot about them. My sister-in-law said that they lined up all the sacks and just started throwing things into each bag.

Which, that became obvious as we started digging into our bags.

And ALSO...my mother-in-law had a stack of the new Taylor Swift CD "1989" sitting on the kitchen table, and she was giving the CDs to whoever wanted one of them. She had gotten them "on special" at The Krogers for $4.99. She almost didn't get them because she thought it was an old CD...because it had 1989 on it.


Bless it.

How old does she think Taylor Swift is?

I happen to know that Taylor Swift was born on December 13, 1989...and the reason I know this is because she and my Holly Bear share a birthday. Same day...different year. So Taylor Swift would've had to have made a CD as a 2 week old baby in order for this to even be reasonable.

And I "get" that when you aren't familiar with the artist, it IS confusing to try and figure out if the CD is new or not. Anyway, I thought it was funny.

Now to our SACKS. This year, my mother-in-law found the largest gift bags I've ever seen...and we ALL got one. Down in my sack was a large can of popcorn, 2 packages of emery boards, and a package of tweezers.

Tryin' to tell me somethin', Mammaw? Like my nails look bad and my eyebrows need attention?

And the popcorn. WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH THE CANNED POPCORN? I thought we had finally gotten away from that. Years ago, my mother-in-law discovered the joy that is the canned popcorn. Jim and I worked at a bank when we were first married and still in college, and part of our Christmas gift from the bank was a giant can of popcorn. My mother-in-law went NUTS over it, and a tradition was born.

A tradition where she gave us giant cans of popcorn for Christmas. This went on for many years, but finally she went on to other things...like flashlights.

My mother-in-law started buying flashlights by the DROVES, and we all got flashlights for Christmas for many, many years. Jim and his brothers would say, "MOMMA...WE STILL HAVE THE FLASHLIGHTS YOU GAVE US LAST YEAR." She didn't listen. We would get more flashlights the next year. And the next year. And the next.

Same thing with the "throw blankets." For the past several years, we have EACH gotten a "throw blanket." Because, you know, "you just never know when you might need a throw blanket. They are just so HANDY to throw in the car or take to ballgames or even just lay on the couch. SO HANDY!"

Which, if you read this post, you might say that the "throw blankets" have been very handy for us when it comes to covering all of our furniture.

But I'll tell you what is NOT HANDY: 8 people crammed into a Suburban with 8 sacks and 8 "throw blankets."


You see...it's not JUST the popcorn or JUST a flashlight or JUST a "throw blanket"...it's that she would give EACH of us popcorn or a flashlight or a "throw blanket." And Jim and I like popcorn as much as the next person, but who are we...the HULK? WE CANNOT EAT THAT MUCH CANNED POPCORN, MAMMAW. And flashlights? There are 6 people in our family...so that's 6 flashlights, every.single.year.

And just let the power TRY to go out during a storm. Good luck with ANY of us being able to find even one of those flashlights.

Just sayin'.

And while I did not get a throw-blanket OR a flashlight this year, Holly and Joshua got throw-blankets. Holly is pretty much the blanket queen, so she was pretty tickled about it. Some of the girls got decorative "push-pins..." to use on bulletin boards. I didn't get any push-pins, but I ain't mad about it. I've had my share of them over the years, and I am happy for it to be someone else's turn!

It's just so fun to hear my mother-in-law talk about the gifts she gives us. She was SO EXCITED about the canned popcorn. I seriously thought she might lose it at any minute. She said, "there are THREE KINDS of popcorn in the can." And she would hold up three fingers. "THREE KINDS." She said, "Marty, you can take that when you go see your family in Texas."

Yes, yes I can.

And then this, "well, there are THREE DIFFERENT KINDS of popcorn in the cans (holds up 3 fingers again)...but the best part is the CAN. After you eat all of the popcorn, you have the CAN...and the can is so handy! SO HANDY!"

"...the godly show compassion and are generous." Psalm 37:21

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Garland Family Christmas 2014

I am so excited...I don't even know where to start. I am about to squeal from excitement. Tonight we had the Family Christmas with Jim's family.

I don't even know where to start.

I guess I should start with the sad part. Jim's cousin, Daniel, died suddenly from a massive heart attack yesterday. He was 41 years old. He had a wife, a daughter, and twin 3 year old boys. It is so, so sad. We just couldn't believe it...but we had already scheduled the Family Christmas and everyone was coming in for it. I think I've talked about Jim's family and the matter-of-fact way they view death.

But, this case is different because 41 YEARS OLD.

So some of us sat around the table with my mother-in-law, as she recounted the events of yesterday, and remarked 3 or 100 times that it all seemed unreal. And how Daniel's wife sat at the hospital with a tissue in her hand and twisted it around, over and over and over...her skin pale and her eyes blank.

Totally in shock.

I sat there trying not to cry, and my mother-in-law started telling about her most recent trip to the cemetery. My mother-in-law and her sister, June, have taken it upon themselves to put flowers on the graves of everyone in the family. They've done this for years and years. Every season, every holiday...they are up there changing out the flowers for all the graves. My mother-in-law keeps a stack of plastic and silk flowers in her carport. She has them for all occasions. She told me that when she dies, I won't have to buy any flowers for her grave, because she has them all right there in her carport.

My mother-in-law will also put flowers on other people's graves if she feels like they are being unattended or neglected by their family. It's at this point where she usually makes up a story in her head about why the family has not taken care of their loved ones grave and the scenarios go anywhere from that they have all died off...to they've all moved away...to some sinister event that went on in the family and now they won't even take care of the grave because of spite.

My mother-in-law was trying to split some of that floral foam with her hands, but it was too hard...so she angled it on the tombstone and pushed down real hard to try and bust it down the center. She busted it all right. She about busted her HEAD WIDE OPEN, because she ended up losing her balance and FALLING OVER THE TOMBSTONE to the ground.

And, right here, it might be good to know that my mother-in-law is not light on her feet. She's not nimble. She's not a-GILE, hos-TILE or even MO-BILE.

She's medium-set.

Aunt June had gotten cold some time ago and was sitting in the truck where it was warm...periodically calling out to tell my mother-in-law that so-and-so needed a couple more flowers on their grave.

So as my mother-in-law was flailing on the ground, Aunt June called from the truck, "JACQUIE?! Are you okay?"

So helpful.

We were sitting there...at the kitchen table...while my mother-in-law was telling this story. Some of the big kids: Holly and Aaron, Logan and Morgan, Clark and Faith...were sitting at the one end of the table talking with each other. I was sitting at the other end of the table with my mother-in-law, and she was talking to me. My mother-in-law pulled up the sleeve of her shirt and showed me this nasty looking wound on her arm from her fall. And, as if that wasn't enough, RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF GOD AND EVERYBODY, she pulled down the neck of her shirt to show me her OTHER boo-boo...and inadvertently ended up showing me her...ummmm...chesticle area.

And I recoiled in fear and yelled "MYYYYY EYYYYYYYEEEEEESSSSS" said, "JACK! What in the WORLD? I DO NOT NEED TO SEE THAT."

And she was, like, "what?"


And now I'll say GOOD-NIGHT and finish my story tomorrow. Because that's really enough, right?

This post continued here and here.

"Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy..." Psalm 126:2

Saturday, December 20, 2014


Yesterday morning, we slept in...and then we got up and made a big breakfast. This is something we usually do on Saturdays, but since we were going to be traveling on Saturday...and since Clark decided that he was done with school on Thursday...we decided to do it on Friday morning.

Side note: I don't know what it says about the state of things when your high school senior asks you to check him out at 10:50 on a Thursday, because they have already stopped taking grades and he has nothing else to do. And, he said that one of his teachers said, after their semester test on Wednesday, AND I QUOTE: "for the next two days, you don't bother me...and I won't bother you."

Yes, boys and girls, this is our future. Our future leaders, employers, VOTERS.

You don't bother me, I won't bother you.

And also, he has a teacher that is leaving at semester to go care for a loved one, and he is getting a new teacher in January. His "old" teacher said that she hoped the "new" teacher didn't need any help or advice from her, because the "new" teacher has been "gunning for her job" for years and now she's finally going to have it. The "old" teacher said she was not gonna help the "new" teacher AT ALL, and that if anyone had a problem with that, well then "screw you."

This is a college level class that he his taking at our high school.

Lovely, isn't it?

And we wonder why our kids turn out the way they do and we wonder why our world is in the state it's in. Not that it's our teacher's responsibility to raise our kids...it's not. It's ours. But I'm just sayin'. "Screw you?" There's no need for that, is there?

I think not.

And, also, when I called the high school to have Clark checked out at 10:50, she asked if he had an appointment. I said, "no, but he has RFCB and needs to come home." She said, "I'm sorry, RFCB?" I said, "yes, Ready For Christmas Break."

And I swurrr I heard crickets chirping.

People these days.

Can't take a joke.

Might explain why she asked for my name, relationship to Clark...and a call-back number.

Anyway, we all got up and around, and somewhere in the course of our morning, words were spoken that cut like a knife. And, as quickly as it happened, there was an apology. But the damage had already been done and tears rolled down my face as I bit my tongue. And everything is okay now, but I just wanted to share a little bit of wisdom that I've learned about marriage and parenting:


You just can't.

Oh, there are times when they can make you happier and more fulfilled that you ever imagined you could be.

And there are times when you want to strangle them.

Our joy has got to be about more than what our families can give us.

Our joy has to come from deep, deep within. It has to withstand trial and trouble and trauma and difficulties and the weariness of the days. We have to be able to pull it out no matter our circumstances. And it cannot be determined or affected by our circumstances.

It's not happiness...it's JOY.

I could've made things a lot easier on myself and others if I had understood this at an earlier age.

Learn from me.

"...looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2

Friday, December 19, 2014

Links For You: December 19, 2014

I am way behind on reading all of my favorite blogs, but here are a few links for you that I've loved this week:

Why we can't mess up Christmas. Hint: It's not about us.

I thought this post by Annie Downs was so sweet and honest. Let's remember our single friends...always...but especially over the holidays.

This post by Melanie made me cry. Then I clicked over to her friend's blog and cried some more. Cancer is something I just do not and will not ever understand, but I am AMAZED and INSPIRED by the faith of her friend. I know that your prayers would not be wasted on any of this whole situation.

There is so much wisdom in this post that I am gonna have to spend several days just "pondering" on the nuggets of truth that spoke to me.

The Nester posted her Christmas Tour of Homes and it is so fun! I haven't had time to look at any of them this year...yet...but will soon!

This is one of my most favorite things...Kelly's Christmas Tour of Homes. I will be spending any free time I have between Christmas and New Year's...clicking on every, single one of these links. SO EXCITED!

"But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart." Luke 2:19

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pajama Day At Therapeutic Recreation

Today was the highly anticipated Pajama Day at Therapeutic Recreation...it falls on the last meeting time before Christmas. Joshua doesn't always participate. I've said it before: he's an old soul. He thinks a lot of stuff is "silly," and he won't participate in it. He's not mad about it; he just doesn't want to do it.

But he did today. I had found him a pair of flannel Christmas pajama pants at Old Navy in the BOY department (bigger kid sizes) (shhhh...no one tells Joshua), and he LOVES them...which is probably the only reason why he was excited to wear them.

BUT in one of my many epic mom-fail moments, I forgot that they were supposed to bring a $5 ornament to exchange today.

And, yes, I'm not too proud to admit that I LOOKED AROUND MY HOUSE for something I could throw in a gift bag for him to bring. Shameful, I know.

It would've been so great if I could've found a nice, unused $5 ornament lying around...

Or a gift bag.

So, Joshua came downstairs all ready to go in his pajama pants and a t-shirt. I told him that I forgot he needed to bring an ornament to exchange, and so we were gonna have to run by WM on the way. I told him he could wear his pajama pants in the store if he wanted to, or he could change into a pair of jeans. I knew that he would not be caught DEAD in a pair of pajama pants at WM...no way, no how.

Even tho, at our Wal-Marks, he would've fit right in.

Just sayin'.

Anyway, he changed into jeans and put his pajama pants in his backpack, and off we went. Our WM is right on the way to the Interstate, so it wasn't a big deal. I needed to get gas, anyway. It didn't take Joshua any time to choose an ornament. I grabbed some gift-bags and tissue paper, and we headed to the nearest check-out line.

There was a lady in line in front of me with her son. She had a gift bag and a gift...an ornament or something...and a plastic container of cookies.


And just like in the scene from The Santa Clause...where Tim Allen's character burns the turkey and they end up at Shoney's and he looks over at a guy at the next table who is sporting a bandage on one hand and asks, "burn the turkey?" and they give each other the head nod...I look at the mom and child in front of me. I see what she's buying...she sees what I'm buying. It's before 8 a.m. on a school day at Christmastime. We make eye-contact and I ask, "forget the ornament exchange and the Christmas party?" And we give each other the head nod.


Joshua had a great time today. They did their ornament exchange and he told me that he ended up with a red pine-cone. Hmmmm...I haven't seen it yet, but I'm wondering if it's one of the craft items the FRIENDS made earlier in the week. And that's fine if it is. It can hang on the tree next to the BLUE pine-cone that Joshua made, and we'll have a set!

We had a LONNNNNNG commute this morning, because a drop of rain fell and everyone lost their minds, and a 35 minute drive took well over an hour. What in the world? Fortunately, Joshua is never at a loss for words, and he entertained me by telling me all about the latest chapter in the book he is writing.

After the ornament exchange, they made cookies...and then they had lunch. After lunch, they watched a movie. I asked Joshua what movie it was and he said, "Polar-BEAR Express." They planned to have their cookies after the movie, but I picked up Joshua and we came on home. We have cookies here, and he was fine with leaving a few minutes early.

He recounted his day, minute-by-minute, on our drive home. He said there wasn't any drama today because Jenni wasn't there. I told him that when I got there, he was sitting between two girls...and one of them had her hand on his shoulder. And I said that if I was Jenni...and I saw that...I might be creating me a little drama my OWN self. He said, "oh, we are all just friends."

And then he deflected my questions by bringing up the "love triangle" between Michael and Julia and Jennifer. He said that Mrs. Alanna had some new songs for the Wii Dance, and the first one was a New Direction (the FRIENDS call them New DICTATION), and that he wasn't a fan of that group but the song was "very danceable."

He said that Michael and Jennifer were dancing to the New DICTATION song and that Michael was all over Jennifer "like a monkey on a banana."

Drops mic and walks away.

"...a wise person wins friends." Proverbs 11:30

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tuesday: Kickball And To-Go Drinks

Nothing earth-shattering today. Just a regular day.

On Tuesday of this week, Joshua and his Therapeutic Recreation group were supposed to go on a walk on one of the bridges that goes over the Arkansas River. When we left our house this morning, it was a balmy 41 degrees. And, while you'd think it would go without saying, I'm saying it: while taking a walk and getting some exercise outside SOUNDS like a great idea...what you don't want to do is to take a group of FRIENDS on a WALK...before LUNCH...in the freezing cold.

Actually, in order for this day to go well, it would have to be scheduled on that one perfect day that happens once every year, and today was not that day.

Joshua said that they went to the community center instead. They played kickball and basketball. The last time they went to the community center and played kickball, Joshua accidentally kicked the ball at Jenni's head and she ran to the bathroom crying and he ran to the other bathroom crying and the FRIENDS all split into groups of boys and girls and went into the respective bathrooms to check on Joshua and Jenni. And, when they finally convinced Joshua that Jenni was fine and that it was an accident and not his fault...they took him into the girl's bathroom to see for himself that Jenni was fine.

This drama was talked about for WEEKS.

So, pretty brave for the program directors to take them back there again.

He said, "me and Jenni only talked 2 times at the community center, and we got along just FINE."

He also said that Jenni picked him to be on her team and that's not what he really wanted, but it was FINE.

They ate lunch at Chili's today. I told him I would get him after lunch, so I got to Chili's early, parked close to their vans. Instead of going in to get him, I decided to wait for the group to come out. The scene did not disappoint. Two of the FRIENDS came out first, with one of the drivers. And then the rest of the group came out. Jenni was hauling it as fast as any FRIEND has ever hauled it. She was passing people right and left, and even cut through the flower bed to be at the front of the pack. In order to be first to the van. In order to get the coveted front passenger seat. And she succeeded. Even when Joshua walked over to tell her good-bye, she wouldn't leave the van. She opened the door and leaned wayyyyy out to hug him.

When Joshua got to the car, he began to tell me about their lunch. At his table were three FRIENDS: Blair, Mrs. Angel's Brandon, and Sarah. He said that Blair, Mrs. Angel's Brandon and Sarah all ordered the "double burger," which he said is "new on the menu." He said that "was not a good and healthy choice for them," but he didn't say anything to them about it.

Joshua got the "two burger bites and a cup of soup and water." He said that he had to help Blair cut her burger, and figure out the money for her ticket, and leave a tip. He said that he told everyone at his table to leave a tip.

At one point, Blair either ate too fast or got choked...not sure, but she couldn't breathe. Joshua said he had to help her. I asked him how he helped her and he said, "I kept her calm and held her drink."

He said that Blair wanted a "to go" drink...which, it is against the rules to bring drinks on the van AND THEY ALL KNOW IT BUT TRY TO ORDER TO-GO DRINKS ANYWAY.

Joshua said, "I didn't tell her NO, she couldn't get one. I just said, 'hey...do YOU want to make everyone wait while you clean up the mess of your drink if it spills on the van?" Blair talks verrrrry slooooowwwwly, and said, "noooo." And Joshua said, "can you wait til we get to the Center...where you can get a drink of water?" And Blair said, "yessssss."

Joshua said, "she knew the right thing and I didn't have to tell her "NO."

Not gonna lie, I was pretty impressed with the problem-solving skills he was displaying.

This is the last week of TR until after the first of the year. The FRIENDS have been counting down the days since Thanksgiving, not because they are looking forward to the break...but because they are dreading the break. Today, they were all really sad, because for some of them, today was their last day because they don't go on Thursdays.

I love that Joshua is learning skills that will help him throughout his life.

"So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." James 4:17

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Blessing of the InTRAnet

The Internet can be a scary place (my father-in-law called it the inTRAnet in the beginning). You have to be so careful with your personal information, because of all the crazies out there. Not only that, when you post stuff, you have to be prepared that there might be an onslaught of negative comments about it from people who don't agree with you.


Fortunately, for me, those times are very rare.

One of the coolest things about the internet, for me, is that it can be one big prayer chain. I remember when Clark was diagnosed with cancer back when he was little. We didn't have Facebook or blogs, but we did have email. I remember people telling me, "my parent's church in Kansas is praying for Clark." Or "my friends in Washington state are praying for Clark." One of my friends told me that they emailed the prayer request to the missionaries from their church who were serving in Japan...and THEY were praying for Clark.

Exciting and humbling.

One of my most favorite things to do this time of year, is to check the mail. I LOVE getting Christmas cards and letters from our friends and family. I love seeing all the pictures, and reading about their lives. One of the most fun things EVER happened last week. I got a Christmas card from someone I don't know. I mean, I KNOW her, but I don't KNOW her, KNOW her.

I "met" her on the Internet.

She comments on my blog and we became "friends" on Facebook. She has a son with Down Syndrome and I have a son with Down Syndrome. I am just a little further down the road than she is. 

OKAY, nosie-rosie, I am a LOT further down the road than she is. Is it further or farther? I never know. Either way, I'm in the next county...and down the hill...and around the curve. Because I'm OLD.

But she is young and fresh, and I am amazed at all she does to advocate for those with various abilities and challenges, all the while being married and raising 3 children.

And, you know what? When she asked for my address, I didn't have one single thought that I shouldn't do it. And you know what? I asked for hers as well.

And last week, I received her Christmas card in the mail...and when I put the picture of her beautiful family up on The Big Board in our kitchen, my family said, "who are those people?" I said, "that's my pretend internet friend, Deborah, and her family." And they all went, "MOMMMMMMMMM!" because they pretty much think I'm crazy. 

Jim and I have spent YEARS telling our kids to be careful with their personal information and don't talk to strangers or "friend" someone on Facebook that you don't know in real life.

All good ideas.

BUT then I come along and say things like, "my friend, Sophie, said..." Or, my friend, Kelly, said..." And my family says, "WHO?" Because I don't have any friends by those names...that they know of! Usually one of my kids will say, "MOM...okay...is this a REAL friend, or one of your pretend internet friends?" 

And that's when I have to look down at the floor and say, "a pretend internet friend."

Holly JUST told me tonight that I shouldn't go around saying things like, "my pretend internet friend," because people will think I'm strange.

Well, stand in line, honey.

When this whole thing started, I wanted NOTHING to do with it. No social media for me, no ma'am. I was very reluctant, and my kids like to remind me of things I said about it, like, "I will NEVER have FACEBOOK...what a waste of time."

For the record, I probably said the same thing about Pinterest.


Also, my 18 year old son claims he is NEVER on Facebook anymore, because "it's just not the same since the OLD PEOPLE started using it."

So there's that.

For me, this whole social media experience has been mostly positive. So far!

I love that I can get prayer requests from all over the world from people I don't even know...and I can pray for them. I love that I can keep up with family and friends, even after we move away from each other. I love that I can get recipes and decorating ideas and find out the most popular paint colors for our front door. I love getting information on things from medical issues to spiritual issues. I can "read" books on-line. I have several blogs that I read daily and I've gotten so much helpful information from them...from fashion advice and what's on sale at what store...to finding out about great books and Bible studies. Overall, it's been such a positive experience.

This whole blog started because of my sister, Leanne. She and Holly got it all set up for me and it just sat there untouched for months. Now, I love keeping track of our days. It has been a great way to journal our lives...to record what the Lord is teaching us and where He's brought us. If the whole thing crashes, I don't even care about my banking and other things that people put on their computers (note: Jim cares about all of that. He cares very much). I care about my pictures and my blog and keeping up with my friends. I have loved the connection that the internet brings. Not that it takes the place of actual human interaction...it should never do that. I just love that it can bring us all together...in a good way.

That's how Heaven is gonna be, right? Except we won't need our computers or our smart phones. All of the believers will be together in one place with God.

I can't wait!

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

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Heart of a Father

I guess there's not much more heartbreaking than seeing a father break down over the condition of their child's heart.

Oh, I'm reaching...I know. There are tons of heartbreaking things: a child born with a "disability" (I hate that word) or challenge...or when something happens later in life as the result of illness or accident or a side-effect from medication; a child (family member, friend) diagnosed with cancer; the end of a marriage; the death of a loved one; when someone is lost...and there are many meanings of the word "lost,"

On this day, there were two dads...both very different, but both with similar circumstances. Both Christians, both involved in the lives of their children.

The children in this case are both girls...sweet, precious, godly girls.

And speaking as the mom of a girl, I will tell you that it is such a huuuuuge responsibility to raise up godly daughters who are compassionate, kind and pure...because the world is pursuing them...constantly snapping at their heels, trying to get them to fall.

Trying to get them to fail.

The world entices them with the promise of pleasure without consequences. It tells them "you'll never be pretty enough," or "you won't be able to keep that boyfriend unless you go farther...and farther." Getting them to question their parents, their pastors, what they've been taught all of their lives.

Getting them to question God. 

And the world is not only OUT THERE. It's sometimes even in our churches.

Sometimes it travels in our same circles. It dresses like us and talks like us and makes us think that we are the same.

But we are not the same.

"For you were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:20

As hard as it is for grown adults to discern who is genuine and who is deceiving, it's even harder for a child. Even an older child. Even a young-adult-type child. And when our children are growing up and taking those baby steps of independence, which is what we want, they sometimes go a little too far in thinking they know more than every other human-being in the history of forever.

I've been there...haven't you?

You know, when you thought your parents just didn't understand...that they just weren't caught up on what life is like now...when you thought they were just trying to control you...when you thought that they surely must not want you to be happy.

It's when you think you're stronger than you are.

It's when you think you can change a person or a situation...when it's not okay right now, but we are SURE that, with time, it will be.

News flash: it will not.

"Beware of false prophets who come to you like gentle sheep, but really are ravenous, devouring wolves." Matthew 7:15

As heartbreaking as it is when you feel like you just can't reach your child...there is also not much of anything stronger than a love that will move heaven and earth to do everything in your power to protect your child.

On this day, this stoic and strong dad, sat quietly and tears rolled down his face as he listened to the gentle and encouraging words of another. Oh, how he loves his daughter. 

And on this day, there were no answers. No earth-shattering revelations...no "magic" words to change the situation or the hearts involved.

But a burden was lifted.

Because there is power in prayer and in Christian community.

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

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday: "To Bring Him Glory" And The Blessing of Friendship

I don't think I can adequately put into words the emotion of this day.

It was finally the day when our choir was going to perform the program we've been working on for months. It was called "To Bring Him Glory." I thought it came together so well, and that the message of the Gospel was CLEARLY presented. I mean, there were no testimonies this year...no drama, no live animals. Just the Gospel in song...plain and simple.

The first service went well, and by the time it ended, I think we were all warmed up and comfortable with how things had gone. We were sitting in the choir loft, waiting for the next service to start when Holly goes, "isn't that Mrs. Stacy?"

I looked out in the congregation, and I saw some of our friends walking in...and then I saw my friend Stacy, and her two kids. And I felt tears well up in my eyes. I kept thinking, "don't cry...don't cry...don't cry...you have to sing...don't cry."

Here's the deal. Our friends, Bill and Ruth, from our old home town...have a daughter goes to college here in our town...and she also goes to our church. She had a solo in our choir program today, and her family came to hear her. We knew that they were coming. What none of us knew was that our other friends were coming, too. They showed up and surprised us ALL. We were so excited to see everyone! And Stacy looked like the cat who swallowed the canary...she pulled off a great surprise and it was wonderful.

After church, we all went to lunch...all 15 of us. We went to a Mexican restaurant and stayed for 2 hours just talking.

Just like we used to do.

And the words of encouragement that were spoken around that table? I cannot even tell you what it meant to all of us.

Friendship is a blessing. Friendship with other believers...it's just priceless.

And this is why we need to keep our Christian friends close. We need to check on them and check in with them and encourage them in their walks with the Lord. We need to encourage them to stay grounded in God's Word and we need to keep them accountable. And we need to have friends who will do all of that for us. Because there will be times when we are at the end of our ropes...when we are backed into a corner and don't know how to get out...when we have tried it all and nothing is working...when we are broken over the condition of a family member...when we have nothing else to give and we want to give up...these are times when Christian friends can step in and offer words that are like a salve to the soul.

Prayer is a powerful thing, and it's something we can do even when we don't know the person or the situation.

But spoken words can be a gift, washing God's grace and peace over us.

And that's what happened today. And my heart is so full.

"A word spoken at the right time is like fruit of gold set in silver." Proverbs 25:11

And, speaking of prayer needs: this came across my screen today from Melanie about her friend. I don't know either one of them, but that doesn't matter. Can we agree to pray for this sweet lady?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Being Wise, The "F" Word, and Dirty Santa

Got your attention?

This morning, Joshua was telling me a little bit more about what all went on last night. He said, "Jenni said the "f" word."

And I was thinking to myself: "don't react, don't react, don't react."

I said, "oh dear." He said, "yes, she said the "f" word and Marci heard it and Tiffannie heard it and she is going to get in BIG TROUBLE with her parents,"

And at this point, I know not to say anything that will be repeated.

Because it will all be repeated.

This ain't my first rodeo.

So I said, "Jenni said the 'f' word to Tiffannie?" And Joshua said, "the WHOLE "f" word." And I repeated, "she said it to Tiffannie?" And Joshua verrrrry sloooowwwwly said, "the WHOLE "f" word."


I did not want to pursue it any further, because I don't know what exactly she said or what he heard or what he thought she said.

Joshua said that Jenni's helper-friend, Tiffannie, wasn't going to be able to take her to the gym on Wednesdays now, and Jenni "will lose all motivation to work-out."

I told him that there are lots of things you can do at home to work-out. Joshua works-out in his bedroom several times a day. Every day. Joshua said, "hmmm...I think I might write down a work-out plan for Jenni, like I did for Aaron." And I was, like, "uhhh...you might want to ASK her if she wants your help first. Because if you walk into Therapeutic Recreation on Tuesday and hand her a piece of paper with a work-out plan on it, she will probably take offense to that and be very sad and mad."

Emphasis on MAD.

He said, "well, she looks to me for help because she thinks I'm so wise..." And I said, "yes, well..." And he continued, "...which...I AM."

Tonight we went to a Sunday School class party. Last week, we went to a SS class party for our former class, and tonight we went to a SS class party for our current class. Jim said, "there probably won't be many people there, because it's such a busy time for everyone."

I counted 34.

Also, last week, when we got the email about bringing the $10-$15 gift for the Dirty Santa game, I packed up something and off we went. The first year we went to this particular party, I went out and bought something nice, and then everyone else brought things like garden gnomes and foot cream.

Well, Momma wasn't born yesterday. I might die tonight, but I sure wasn't born yesterday...so when THIS class sent out the email about the $10-$15 gift for the Dirty Santa game, I was prepared. Jim said, "we're just gonna take the stuff we got at the party last week...which was a small FOOD GRINDER...and a tape measure. I packed them up in gift bags, and also wrapped a nice ornament for the host and hostess as a kind of "thank you" gift.

Thank goodness.

After the first couple of gifts were opened, Jim and I realized we were in BIG TROUBLE. These people don't play. Everything was NICE. Like, really nice ornaments and holiday frames and gift items. Yeah. AWK.

I ended up with a really cute MOOSE door-stop, which I kind of felt guilty about taking...since the girl I stole it from ended up with our crap. BUT, this one girl came up to me and sweetly said, "you know? That moose just fits you for some reason...I can't put my finger on why." (this was right after this other girl said, "I like the door-stop moose's big, fluffy bottom.")

And, just like that, all the guilt melted away.

Yep. It DOES fit me...and I believe I will just take it on home.

The only saving grace was that the chick who got our "re-gifts" was the hostess...so at least she got a really nice "thank you" ornament out of the deal.

But seriously?

Can we just be over the Dirty Santa game?

"A happy heart makes the face cheerful..." Proverbs 15:13

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday, Decorations and Lights

We have had a nice day here. I made blueberry muffins for Joshua since it's Friday and he didn't have anywhere to be this morning. He always says he is going to "sleep in" on Mondays and Fridays, but he never does. This morning, at 9 a.m., Joshua still wasn't up. I can see his door from the bottom of the stairs and it looked dark in there...his light was not on.

I've written before that this makes me VERY nervous. Joshua is such a creature of habit and routine that any time something is out-of-order, that's a potential red flag.  Several times every year, we read about families who have a child with Down Syndrome, a young child or an adult-child, who has died unexpectedly. Like, they just don't wake up. And even tho I know we will see each Joshua in Heaven, I really don't want to walk in on that situation.

I walked slowwwwlllly up the stairs. When I got to the top, I stopped to listen.


I peeked my head into his room...and breathed a quiet sigh of relief. I could hear him making "mouth noises" that are unique to him.

I went back downstairs and in about 30 minutes, he came down, too.

We hung out here at home most of the day. Oh, please go to my Instagram (martythemoose) and look at the picture of our front door. I had asked my husband LAST WEEKEND to please put the outside garland over the door, and he said that he would because the weather was warm and sunny and perfect. But then he didn't.

He was off work today, and even tho it was cold and rainy, I asked if he would please put up the outside garland over the door, and he said, "I did." And then I walked outside to see...well, I posted the picture on my IG and on Facebook. You just need to see it for yourself.

At first, Holly and I just stared at it. I mean, seriously? But then I started laughing...the kind of laugh that makes your cheeks and stomach hurt, and before I was done laughing, I was wiping tears from my face.

And so, we may or may not be on the Holiday Tour of Lights: Redneck Edition...because PEOPLE WERE DRIVING BY.

We may have to move. In fact, I have a feeling that our POA is meeting about us as we speak.

And then tonight, Joshua's Therapeutic Recreation group was going on a Tour of Lights in Little Rock. It's a tradition that they do every year. We took him in to Little Rock and then Jim, Clark and I went out for dinner. We had a good time, just the 3 of us. It's usually just the 3 of us, but it's me and Jim and JOSHUA. Tonight, we enjoyed our time with Clark.

Joshua said they had a great time. He planned to give Jenni her Build-A-Bear Elsa-Bear tonight. He walked into the Center with that giant B.A.B. box behind his back. When he pulled it out, SHE.WENT.NUTS. It was really cute. She LOVES it! They were really cute and sweet.


Tonight they were really cute and sweet. :)

"A friend loves at all times..." Proverbs 17:17

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Joshua's Trip To The Mall

Today, Joshua's Therapeutic Recreation group was going to the mall for their annual shopping trip and he was so excited! We had to leave earlier than normal, in order to get there in time...but the drive is never wasted because today I got to hear about what Joshua has been writing in his stories.

Like how he was "transported" to a "heavenly command center," and how "God broke him down emotionally in order to raise him up and redeem him." And, that, at one point, God spanked him for his disobedience. I asked Joshua why he wrote that...what did that even mean?

He said, "I don't know. When it was happening, I was thinking, 'this is so embarrassing!' I'm getting spanked by the LORD."

So there's that.

And it was really hard to look at him without laughing. Joshua came downstairs this morning and his hair in the front was spiked up HIGH. Like, spiked up to Jesus. Like, Alfalfa from the Little Rascals...only in the front. Like, when I looked at him, I wanted to say, "shark bait, ooo ahh ahh."

I got Joshua to the TR Center and went on my way. I ran a few errands and then met up with my friend, Amy, for lunch. We had a great time visiting. When you live in a new town and see LOTS of unfamiliar faces on a daily basis, it sure is nice to spend time with a friend and just BE.

After lunch, I went out to the mall to meet up with Joshua. I had told him I would find him, and that he and I would do a little shopping for Holly. Her birthday is Saturday. I texted him when I got there and his group was in the Hallmark store. One of the FRIENDS was at the cash register, slowly counting out money for her purchase. Mrs. Alanna was standing beside her, helping her. The sales lady was SO SWEET...she looked at Alanna and said, "it's okay. I taught special needs for 17 years."

The first gift Joshua wanted to buy was one for Jenni. Jenni couldn't come today, because she had to work...and even tho Joshua said he didn't care...it really bothered him. So, he decided to get a "cheer up" gift for her...at Build-a-Bear. If you've ever been in that store, well, they take "perky" to a whole new level. He saw the "Elsa" bear first thing and that is what he had to have. The lady made him take the heart that goes inside the bear...and put it on his eyes, so that he is the first thing Jenni sees every morning. She had him put the heart on his chest, so she would know that his heart beats only for her (so cheesy...even Joshua rolled his eyes). Then, she asked Joshua to put the heart on his muscles, to symbolize the strength in their relationship.

This for the guy who told his girlfriend of 10 years, "don't worry, Jenni...your beauty is only skin deep."

And, yesterday, Holly reminded him that Jenni is his GIRLFRIEND and that they have dated for over 10 years...and he said, "I frown upon that."

And, also, they gave him a card for to address to Jenni, and he intentionally spelled her name JENNY instead of JENNI...just to make her mad.

If you are keeping up...he is getting her a gift to cheer her up and because he missed her today...AND, he's trying to annoy her with said gift.

Do you SEE what I'm dealing with? 

Anyway, when he pulled up the sleeve on his shirt, the lady made a comment on his muscles and called over the other sales person. They went on and on and Joshua was pretty much in all his glory. He does have him some muscles. He works out 3 times a week and he ain't just playin'. It's like, "welcome to the gun show."

Then, I took him over to see the sales lady at Dillard's that usually helps me. I don't know her name, because her name-tag is always turned the opposite way or she has a scarf over it or her hair covers it...and now it's been, like, 3 years or something and it would just be weird if I randomly asked her her name. But she LOVES Joshua and she was THRILLED when I brought him by...because, lately, I've been doing my shopping when he's at TR, and so I've gone by himself.

I told Joshua that it MADE HER DAY that we came by and she got to see him.

It's the little things.

And I thought how kind it was for God to bless us with a really great trip. There's a lot of ugly out in the world...sometimes it's close to home. Just this week, this same mall had a "die-in," where people protesting the outcomes of certain  trials laid down in the food court.

I'm not saying that's part of the ugly, because I'm all for peaceful demonstrations...but it would've scared me to death. All you need is one over-zealous crazy person and there you go. But that's in any situation, right?

And, I'm just sayin'...don't be gettin' in the way of the FRIENDS ordering their Chick-Fil-A.

Everyone we ran into today was so nice. It was such a fun day.

"...Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me." Matthew 25:40

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Singing For The Elderly, and "Embracing the Concept of Healthy Eating"

Yesterday, Joshua's group went on a lonnnnnnng field trip to sing at a nursing home. It wasn't just any nursing home. It is where the former Director of the Therapeutic Rec center went to work when she moved away from Little Rock. The FRIENDS were all SO excited to see Ms. Sherrie!

Joshua said they sang Christmas songs and passed out candy canes. He said, "we were low-singers...like the low-talker on Seinfeld who asked Jerry to wear the puffy shirt on the Tonight show and he said he would because he couldn't hear him." He didn't think the "el-dah-lee" people could hear them. And he said he didn't think the "el-dah-lee" needed candy canes because most of them didn't have very many teeth.

Alrighty then.

The biggest thing that happened is that one of the other FRIENDS had a lunch with something that leaked...a water bottle or something...and it got on Joshua's lunch bag. That, combined with his nervous stomach from the trip, meant he only ate 1/2 of his sandwich. VERY unusual for him.

But he said he was fine after they sang.

Today, their group stayed at the Center all day. They had yoga this morning with the yoga-lady. She comes to the Center. And then they ate their lunch there, and then did a craft. When I got there, they had just sprayed some glue onto a large pine cone, and then rolled it in glitter. Joshua looked at me when I came in and said, "I made a pine cone."

We had a long talk yesterday on the way to Little Rock about how and why the 4 Gospels are different. Which, was kind of odd because someone had talked about this in our Sunday School class just this past week! I thought it was kind of odd for Joshua to bring it up...so random. This is usually how our drives go, tho. I never know what he's gonna want to talk about.

We drive by a church on the way to the TR Center every morning. On certain days of the week, they give out food boxes to the poor, and the people line all the way around the building. On this particular morning, we drove by and no one was at the church. Joshua said, "no food today."

This church always has little phrases on it's marquee. This week it says, "wise men still seek Him." Which, I'm sure we've all heard and read and seen typed on cards. Joshua read it (OUT LOUD) and then said, "WHAAAAAAT?" I had to explain that it was a "play on words," and gave him some other examples. He said, "well, good, because I know those wise men are DEAD."

And the last thing we talked about this morning was his chin. He was looking in the mirror and said, "my chin is more skinnier than it was when I was in high school." He loves the word "definition" as it describes his muscles, so I said, "well, it's just more DEFINED now. You have more definition." He said, "it looks more skinnier." So I said, "well, it might be that even tho you started working out and powerlifting when you were in high school, you didn't start eating healthy until much later."

And Joshua, my Downsie man-child, said, "yes, I didn't really embrace the concept of healthy eating until after I graduated from high school."


I love him so much!

"It is fitting to thank the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O sovereign One!" Psalm 92:1

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Just Like Our Parents

Last night, I looked around my house and thought, "we are turning into old people."

I mean, seriously.

I've got the knick-knacky stuff that my kids will go through one day and wonder WHAT IN THE WORLD I was thinking. Because I'm already thinking it!

At Jim's parent's house, back when I first started hanging around with them before we were married, I noticed that everything was covered in blankets. The couch, the recliner, all the chairs.

As I got to know the family better, I was really thankful that there were blankets over everything. Think on that a while.

Just sayin'.

Jim and I...we are not fancy at all. Our house is pretty much a combination of things we've been given. The couch, the end tables, the TV, the lamp...all from my sister, Leanne. Other pieces have come from my in-laws...and some of the decorative items belonged to my Mom. I have a set of my grandmother's china. And we're okay with all of it. I love the sentimentality of it. It feels like home.

But last night, I took a look around. The new recliner we got in the Spring...that took me 3 times back and forth to the store to get the fabric right for JIM...it's covered in a bright green, think Christmas green, fleece blanket. It's like this ALL THE TIME. Oh, if we know you're comin' over, I might snatch the blanket off before you get here. But if you just drop in, and that's okay...you're gonna see it.

At first, I thought maybe the material on the chair was scratchy to Jim. He's the one who sits in it the most, even tho it was supposed to be "my" chair. I asked him about it one day. Why, after saying we needed to get a new chair because the old one was so ratty...WHY does he insist on covering it up with a blanket?

His answer? "So I can sit in it and eat my breakfast." (this explains the Cheerios I keep finding)

So I thought, "awww...he's trying to keep it nice." I can re-SPEK dat.

But now, we have a new couch and love-seat, and THEY stay covered up with blankets most of the time. Why? Because my daughter's little half-a-dog is too good to sit on the floor like a regular dog. Oh, noooo. He has to be on the couch. Or in Jim's leather chair.

And not only that. He has to have pillows for his head.

What a diva.

So we keep blankets on the couch to keep dirt and grass from Marley's fur from getting on it. Marley thinks he's a Lab, and the time he doesn't spend outside peeing on everything known to man...he spends trying to dig his way to China from Jim's garden. And then he wants to come in and sit on my couch. No thanky.

The other thing that I've been noticing is that Jim is trying to re-use his coffee cups. Now, I use the same glass all day. But I'm not going to use it DAY-TO-DAY. Jim has started lightly rinsing out his coffee cup and putting it over with the other CLEAN coffee cups...and reusing it over and over and over. This might sound okay to you, but it is NOT okay with me. And it is definitely a FAR cry from the Type A, germ-a-phobic man that I married 100 years ago. It's just so yucky.

There are many things we do like our parents did. Jim talks LOUD like his dad does and occasionally puts on a show being loud, like his Dad does. He makes some of the same sounds when he clears his throat. He likes to have a radio on when he's outside working, even tho he might not be able to hear it. His dad does this, too. The difference is that Jim's dad CRANKS IT UP SO LOUD that you can hear it from everywhere. I'm sure he's a joy to his neighbors, for many reasons. It's probably just a matter of time before Jim is doing this, too.

Like his dad, Jim will eat almost everything...even if the date is expired or if it's left-overs that have been in the back of the fridge for weeks. His motto, and I just want to add I heard no less than THREE TIMES yesterday is "waste not, want not."

He also wears clothes until they are past the point of no-return...even wearing underwear that will hardly stay UP. It's like he thinks he will get a prize for wearing clothes the longest that anyone has ever worn them in the history of people wearing clothes. There's just no sense in it.

There are also many things that we do because our parents did them: Like working hard. Jim's dad is a very hard worker. Like making a home. Jim's mom always makes a happy, cozy home for her family. Like praying for our family and others. My dad and his wife pray for our family every morning...just like my Dad's uncle used to do. We are thankful for the blessing of prayer. Like praising God. My Mom hummed and sang and praised God all day, every day. Jim's dad taught Jim the value of money and about financial planning. Jim's mom taught him about being generous. My Dad taught me about being content, and my Mom taught me to embrace new adventures.

I am most thankful for the legacy of godly parents and grandparents. It has meant so much to Jim and I and been a solid foundation on which to build our family.

"These words I am commanding you today must be kept in mind, and you must teach them to your children and speak of them as you sit in your house, as you walk along the road, as you lie down, and as you get up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Monday, December 8, 2014

Monday, Mouth Spray and the Supply Closet

Today is Monday. If you keep up with my blog, you know that Mondays and Fridays are two of Joshua's most favorite days. Why? Because he doesn't have to get up early to go anywhere...and because I usually fix blueberry muffins for breakfast on those days.

Except that last night, as I frantically searched through the pantry, I came to the realization that Momma didn't have no muffins...and I was concerned that it might bring life as we know it to a screeching halt.

Around here, anyway. 

When Joshua finally came downstairs for breakfast, I told him I didn't have any muffins this morning. He looked at me, sighed real big, and said, "that's fiiiiiin." Then he croc'd, croc'd, croc'd into the kitchen.

Nothing like an epic mom fail at 8 a.m.

After he ate HIS POP-TART, he came to tell me that he had added some items to our grocery list. Items like mouth spray, mouth wash and body wash.

And "nanners."

I have a "supply closet" in our house. It's just the "linen" closet in the hallway where I keep sheets and towels and stuff...and also some extra items of the things we use most. It's something my mother-in-law has at her house, only it's her "utility room." Actually, she pronounces it, "you-TIL-tee room." Anyway, we all know that not only does she keep her washer and dryer in there, she also keeps shelves and shelves of canned goods, dry goods, and household items that she buys in bulk. When we go to her house, we all "shop" in there for the things that we use.

As well as things we do not use, if you are my husband.

Which is how I ended up with 8 individual containers of microwaveable mac and cheese, and 4 individual containers of microwaveable brown rice. I highly doubt we will end up using them, and I'll probably end up taking them all back over the Christmas break. (sigh)

And, OH MY GOODNESS, we are so thankful for my mother-in-law's "you-TIL-tee" room and all the goodies in there. It has been a life-saver for us over the years. Never mind that I haven't bought toilet paper since 1988...

Which, I have no idea why she got on the toilet-paper-buying wagon, but she did...and we have never been more grateful.

Well. Wait. It might have been that way back in 1981, when I graduated from college, I announced (in a very non-dramatic and Gone-With-The-Wind-ish way), that "as God as my witness, I will never use that rough dorm-room toilet paper evah again!" And maybe she just took that to heart.

Whatever happened, there I was...big pregnant with Holly and in line at the Wal-Marks with a buggy FULL of Charmin toilet paper. Three different times, three different ladies asked us if it was "on special," and my mother-in-law said, "no, I'm just helping out my daughter-in-law..." and then proceeded to tell them her whole life story. And I just stood there, staring at the floor and looking like I had some sort of condition that required my mother-in-law to buy me 120 rolls of toilet paper.

Oh, and my mother-in-law calls it, "toilet tish-ah."

I haven't bought toilet tish-ah since 1988.

And there were many times that we...and by "we" I mean JIM...brought home cans of "beanie-weenies" by the droves. No.thank.you. Another favorite his mom bought and I didn't were cans of "Vienna sausages." Jim would put them on crackers. If you aren't from the South...or, better yet, LA (that's Lower Arkansas, people)...you might think you pronounce that "Vienna"...like the city. And maybe that's how you're supposed to say it. My husband, and his whole, entire family, call them "VI-EENIE sausages."

There is no way on earth or under Heaven that I will ever eat a VI-EENIE sausage from a can. Blech.

But, even tho Jim occasionally brings home items we don't use, he also brings home items we DO use...as evidenced by the approximately 147 rolls of Charmin toilet paper we  have in our home as we speak.


So I said, "Joshua, did you look in the supply closet?" I thought there was a pretty good chance that I had body wash and mouth wash in there. And, something in the back of my mind made me think that I had put some of Joshua's mouth spray in there. Because, as I think I've mentioned before, I do not want to live in a world where Joshua is out of mouth spray. No ma'am. Not ever.

So, Joshua goes, "oh, yeah," and headed back there. Sure 'nuff, I had several different kinds of body wash and mouth wash for him to choose from. My eyes were scouring the shelves, when Joshua said, "oh, HEYYYYY...there's some mouth spray in here!"

Thank you, Jesus.

Joshua was so tickled. If you know anything about people who have Down Syndrome, you know that they "self-talk." Jim calls it "mumbling." We will hear Joshua talking upstairs, and think that he's on the phone. I'll holler up at him and ask, "who are you talking to?" And he'll call down, "MYSELF!"

So, as Joshua is walking up the stairs to his room, he's got all of his supplies in his arms and he's kind of mumbling, "I didn't know it would be in the supply closet. I should've looked there first. I didn't know there would be MOUTH SPRAY in the supply closet. Mom must've gotten it and put it in there because I didn't know there would be MOUTH SPRAY in the supply closet. I thought I was out but then I found more. I will have to take it off the list. Heeheeheehee."

There were many times when our kids were little when I just didn't have the extra to put in my supply closet, altho it was always my goal. Most of the time, I was doing good to keep up with just what we needed. Things were chaotic and so very busy. But now, with just two kids at home, I try to keep some extra stuff in there. And not just for our house, but for our kids and their homes as well...just like my mother-in-law always has. In fact, the other day, when Logan and Morgan were here, it blessed my heart so much to see them standing in front of the supply closet, looking at all the stuff in there...picking and choosing what they wanted to take to their own home.

And so it continues.

You know, the Bible says that God will supply all of our needs. In my mind, I imagine that it's like a huge supply closet that is never empty. He has everything we need in there...all the patience, all the love, all the peace, all the faith, all the guidance. Need joy? God has it. Need answers? God has them. He is always prepared. He has everything we need. We only need to ask.

"And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19