Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Joshua is 29!

I've got all of my Spring Break updates in my Draft folder, but I'm taking a break from posting them because JOSHUA IS 29! How can this even be?

Kind of hard to "fudge" on your age when your oldest child is nearly 30.

I love him so much!

Joshua had requested two things for his birthday. 1) he wanted me to make him a peanut-butter pie...and 2) he wanted to go to his grandparent's house, and have a fish fry.

(Also, he really wanted Logan and Morgan to be there, but they were still at the beach...spending the 2nd half of the week with her family)

Since we were going to be traveling to Jim's parent's house and spending most of the day and evening, I asked Joshua if I could make his pie on Sunday instead. He said that would be "fiiiiine." Jim's mom likes to get birthday cakes for the kids at the grocery store, so I knew he would have a special treat for after dinner.

We got there, and in typical fashion for my mother-in-law, she had a friend sitting at her kitchen table, pouring out her heart. My mother-in-law is a good friend to many.

She and her friend were eating Cheetos and those chocolate-covered marshmallow "Pinwheel" cookies. She had poured the Cheetos into a little bowl...and had stacked the Pinwheels in another little bowl. They were drinking coffee.

The rest of us walked around the property because the weather was so nice...and because there.is.so.much.to.look.at.down.there. I don't think I can talk too much about it too much, because it's their home...but, think: hoarders, mixed with...

Never-mind. Just think: hoarders.

And the house? OH MY WORD.

Holly, Faith and I went through every room, looking for stuff we could re-purpose. THERE IS JUST SO MUCH STUFF. I didn't really find anything on this trip. Holly picked up some old books and a few knick-knacky things.

Jim had gotten his mother a Kindle for Christmas, and has "fixed up" Facebook and IG on it for her. You cannot imagine her joy at this development. She sits in one of her "truth chairs" in front of the big bay window that looks out over the lake, and she scrolls through pictures and just giggles. It has been totally worth it to see how much she loves it.

Anyway, she had gotten some friend requests that were obviously not legit. Made-up and foreign names of people she doesn't know. Jim has been trying to teach her about social media. Her friend mentioned something to Jim about getting email for my mother-in-law, and my mother-in-law said, "I've got Facebook and I go to Kroger on Tuesdays...and that's about all I can handle.

It was time for dinner, and my father-in-law fried fish and french-fries and hushpuppies. IT WAS AWESOME! Joshua loved every bit of it! Then, we had his birthday cake, and had to call someone to roll each of us away from the table.

Aaron-the-son-in-law started talking to my father-in-law about internet banking. My father-in-law said he had never heard of such a thing. Aaron said, "you can take a picture of a check, and have it automatically deposited to your account!" My father-in-law said, "I can't even get the TV to play right most days...so don't b'LIEVE I'll try that."

It was hilarious.

And while that was going on in the living room, my mother-in-law was back in her truth chair, going through her Facebook news-feed. She held up her Kindle to show us a picture and said, "I haven't talked to Tammy in ages, but just look at the picture of her bacon 'n' mater sandwiches she just posted."


My in-laws. I love them!

I think Joshua had a great birthday!

You know, he rocked our world when he was born 29 years ago, and he's been rocking it ever since. God has used him as the glue that binds our family together, and over and over He has shown us, through Joshua, His unfailing love. Joshua has changed our perception about what is beautiful, and he has opened our eyes to show us true strength and determination.

Joshua is a true man of God, and we are so very proud of him!

"The LORD called me before my birth; From within the womb, He called me by name. He made my words of judgment as sharp as a sword; He has hidden me in the shadow of His hand. I am like a sharp arrow in His quiver." Isaiah 49:1-2

Monday, March 30, 2015

Spring Break 2015: Day 3 (One Good Eye)

Day 3 at the beach dawned much like the days before (here, here, here). I just love watching the sun rise over the ocean. It never gets old, does it?

Answer: No, not it does not.

Seeing the mist and the clouds being pushed away by the light. Again...I could chew on that, as it relates to LIFE, all day long.

But I won't.

Not today.

It stayed cloudy even longer this morning, and we waited in the condo for the sun to come out. Had I been thinking clearly, I would've realized that it was the perfect "lightness" for pictures, and gotten everyone down to the beach in their cute clothes.

But alas...

I never even thought about it.

Eventually, tho, we headed down to the beach. Aaron-the-son-in-law is a big kid at heart. He brought down our skim board and a boogie board. He was ready to have him some fun. 

He started with the skim board first. He immediately attracted the attention of 3 young boys, who started asking him all kinds of questions. Aaron is very good with kids, and was patient in answering all of them. He put on a show with his crazy, arm-flailing antics expert skim-boarding moves.

Then, he got out the boogie board and headed out into the waves. If you don't know, skim boards are used at the water's edge...and boogie boards are used out in the water. His new little friends joined him in this, and they had a big time riding the waves to shore.

And, even tho Aaron had on sunscreen...and even tho he re-applied about 4 times during the day...he got as red as a lobster. I'm guessing all the times his body hit the sand or rode a wave into shore...rubbed off all of his sunscreen. He didn't complain at all. It just looked uncomfortable.

The rest of us were basically content to sit on the beach. I had Joshua wrapped in a large beach towel because the wind was whipping. It was about this time that I noticed THE WRISTBAND.

When I first put it on him, I went through the long speech about how everyone had to wear one...it was the rule...and we needed to keep it on the whole time we were there...again, it was the rule...blah, blah, blah. The whole time I was talking, he had on his "defiant Fred face." You know, angry eyes, jaw set, lower lip stuck out. He.was.not.happy.

So, sitting on the beach, I looked over at Joshua's wristband. It was on his arm, all right, but it was stretched and warped beyond recognition. Home-boy had apparently spent quite a bit of time slowly and deliberately pullllllling on it until he got it off his wrist...and now it was all stretched out. Instead of fitting close to the skin LIKE A NORMAL WRISTBAND...his hung like a bangle.

I didn't think we could go back and ask for another one, altho we probably could've. It's just that we had already gotten him another one the day before, because he "accidentally" snapped his FIRST band shut before we put it on his wrist, and you know that after those things are snapped together, they will not open back up. THAT'S KIND OF THE POINT.

We decided to go to Lulu's for dinner. It's a restaurant owned by Jimmy Buffett's sister. It is usually VERY crowded, so, once again...Jim wanted us to leave our condo at 4:30.

When I came in from the beach and started getting ready, I noticed that my right eye was very irritated. I figured that maybe a grain of sand had gotten in under my contact. I thought that if I took it out, cleaned it and put it back in...it would be fine.


When I took my contact out, it had a significant chunk missing from it. WHAT IN THE WORLD? WHERE DID IT GO? I ended up throwing that contact away, obviously, and I spent the rest of our vacation with just one contact. I NEVER have problems with my contacts, but I do always think about the "what ifs" before I go on a trip...which is why I had ordered a new box of them before we left. They were supposed to get here on Friday, but they didn't come. I thought, "oh well...they'll probably come on Saturday." We were leaving on Sunday. Well, they never came, but OH WELL...I never have any problems with my contacts, so I doubted that I would even need an extra set.


All in all, it was a minor inconvenience. It did give me a head-ache for days, and it was super frustrating, but I know there are people who can't even see what I can see on a bad day...so there's that. Very thankful for sight.

Back to Lulu's: They told us it would be a 40 minute wait, which isn't bad...but we ended up only waiting about 20 minutes! The guys didn't mind waiting because they could look at all the fancy yachts in the little harbor there. The GIRLS didn't mind waiting, because we shopped in the little Lulu's shop, and I bought each of them a sweatshirt. Even Faith, who didn't get to come with us this year, got a sweatshirt to match Holly's and Morgan's.

And Joshua picked out a t-shirt for Jenni, too.

Our dinner was very good, as usual.

After dinner, we drove out to the outlet malls at Foley, Alabama...and everyone kind of split up. Jim and Joshua usually go together to "man stores," and then come back to the vehicle and wait on everyone. Holly and Aaron went together, Logan and Morgan went together...and Clark and I went together. I usually get a new pair of Nikes at the Nike outlet every year, and this year was no exception.

We finally all met up at the vehicle, and headed back to the condo. I made more "wop" cookies. Day 3 was a success!

So very thankful to have this time with our family.

"Praise the Lord from the earth, all sea monsters and ocean depths..." Psalm 148:7

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Break 2015: Day 2 (Shark Season & Wrist-Bands)

I love every season that God gives us, but it's like I can't fully appreciate a new season until I let go of the current one.

Lots of analogies to LIFE here, but that's for another day because BEACH.

Anyway...I was thinking about how much I love Fall. I love the leaves and the colors and the food and the football. I always wish it could last longer. But, at some point, I put the pumpkins away, and get out the Christmas stuff...and even tho I'm sad to see Fall go, moving on to the next season makes me so happy.

So, as we leave winter, and head into Spring, I know there's quickly coming a day when my beloved PJ Salvage flannel pajammies will have to be put away.

Thankfully, that day is not today! 

Because I got up early and went out to the balcony to watch the sun rise before breakfast. The wind was blowing and the waves were crashing...it was absolutely beautiful. I sat there, in my flannel pjs, and could hardly take it all in...that God, in His majesty, created all of this beauty. It's really true: "the Heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands." (Psalm 19:1)

The fact that He created us...we are so very small, compared to all of His creation, and yet we think we are SO BIG.

We hung around the condo until late morning, when we all ventured out to the beach. It was sunny and warm, but it wasn't what I would call, "BEACH-warm." It got warmer during the day, and we had a great time sitting and talking and looking for shells.

Joshua and I decided to go on a walk, and Jim jumped up and said he was going to go with us. It became apparent after about 1.29384756 minutes that the word, "walk," had a different meaning to Jim.

Because I am with Joshua most of the time, I know that he doesn't do anything fast. Add walking on sand...barefooted? Well, fah-ged-a-boud-it.

But Jim views everything as an Olympic competition, so he was becoming increasingly frustrated with our stop-and-smell-the-roses...or, stop-and-pick-up-the-seashells approach to our "walk."

We ended up parting ways pretty quickly. Jim continued on his focused, fast-paced 3 mile walk, and Joshua and I went maybe a quarter of a mile, turned around and walked back. He picked up several pretty shells along the way. We saw some birds, admired a sand-castle, saw a boat in the distance...and talked about how powerful the waves were.

Joshua's main concerns at the ocean every.single.time.we.go is SHARKS. I told him that it was too cold for sharks, and that Spring Break is not shark season.

Don't judge me. I was just trying to calm my big man's fears. I have no idea when "shark season" is, or even if there is such a thing...and I don't know what temperature is good for sharks. I prefer not to even think about it, thank you very much.

After a fun day at the beach, we all came in and got ready for dinner. Jim likes to eat with the old people, so he was chomping at the bit...rushing everyone out the door at the ripe, ol' time of 4:30 IN THE AFTERNOON.

We went to the Original Oyster House and Seafood Restaurant in Gulf Shores on the first night. It's one of our favorite places. The food is usually very good, and, with a party of 8...it really was good to get there early (just don't tell Jim, because it will go to his head). We only had to wait about 10 minutes or so. There are several cute shops connected to the restaurant and right in this shopping area, so after we finished our meal, the GIRLS shopped, while the GUYS waited outside for us.



It was during our dinner that I happened to notice that Joshua was still wearing his wristband.

When we checked into our condo, they gave us 8 wristbands...one for each person. The bands identified us as belonging to our condo complex, and we were supposed to wear them the whole time we were there...to get us into the gym or the tennis court or any of the pools...or the lazy river.

I knew it was going to be a problem. Joshua doesn't "do" wristbands, along the same lines that "Joey doesn't share food!"

If you've never watched the show, "FRIENDS," then you don't know what I'm talking about.

But, sitting in the Original Oyster House, and looking down at the band on Joshua's wrist...I was convinced that we'd turned a corner. My man-child was growing up.

After we left there, we headed to the "shark" store to walk around. If you've ever been to Gulf Shores, you know what I'm talking about. We just walked around for a few minutes. I am always worried we will run out of sunscreen, so I bought two extra cans of it, just in case...and I paid approximately 400% more than what I paid at my local Wal-Marks before we left.

We came back to the condo, and I made "wop" cookies. You know...the kind in a roll that you wop out on the counter, roll into balls and bake. It's a tradition that we make them every night while we're at the beach...and you know the old saying, "we can't buck tradition can we?"

Answer: No, no we can't.

Even if we've just eaten ice-cream.

"You silence the roar of the seas..." Psalm 65: 7

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring Break 2015: Day 1 (Pizza Hut & The Grocery)

I haven't really blogged much on this trip, and I would like to say it's because I'm having too much fun.

Which, I am.

But also there's the contacts.


More on that later.

On our first night there, we always go eat pizza...and then we always go to the grocery. So after we explored our condo, we all piled in one car, and headed to the pizza place...where we proceeded to wait at the "please wait to be seated" sign for approximately 17 minutes without a SOUL saying anything to us. While we were standing there, I took a gander at the other people in the restaurant. NO ONE WAS SMILING...and only one table had food.


But Jim, who is normally the "let's just go somewhere else" person in situations like this, very calmly said, "wellll...this place is never very fast...let's all be patient."

Which just proves that the Pizza Hut at the Gulf Shores must be a portal, and we have now been transported to another world.

We did finally get seated by a very harried and sweet waitress who was doing her best to do it all. I overheard her say that they'd had several people quit recently, and that she'd been there all day. We left her a good tip.

We got our food and it was good, and then we headed to the grocery store.

AKA: just.kill.me.now.

Because, if you've ever tried to take 5 toddlers anywhere...or if you've ever, say, tried to corral cats...well, then you can kind of relate to what it was like. It was kind of like a combination of both of those things.

Jim said he and Joshua would relax in the car while I took the rest of the kids and did all the work wait in the car while the 6 of us went to the store. I suggested they go in and try to find an umbrella, since he mentioned we might need another one. He said, AND I QUOTE, "good idea."

So, I took 4 young adults and a 19 year old into the store with me...with instructions to get any special things they liked for breakfast, lunch and snacks...and I went aisle by aisle to get the things on my list. And 30 minutes later, they found me in the section where you buy alcohol in a carton like orange juice.


I don't drink, but I did need a stiff Diet Dr. Pepper and two Motrin by the time we got back to the condo.

Don't judge me.

Because when we got to the car, all 6 of us and a completely full buggy...Jim and Joshua were sitting in there checking their Facebook and WHAT-NOT. When I opened the trunk, it was empty...so I said, "you didn't find an umbrella?"

And Jim said, "what umbrella?"

And that's how Jim died.

Just kidding.

I said, "you said you were going to look for another umbrella while we were shopping for groceries." Jim, "well, I guess I COULD do that."


The kids helped me load everything into the car, while Jim went into the store. I sat in the front seat in the fetal position until one of the kids said, "there's DAD!" He was pushing a buggy with a new umbrella in it, and grinning from ear to ear.  I fought the urge to tell him that he just took away 20 minutes of my life that I would never get back.

We got back to the condo, and got everything put up...and everyone was full and happy. I took a hot shower and got ready for bed a fun week. I posted some pictures of our trip on my Facebook and IG (martythemoose).

Speaking of taking a shower...the shower in the master bathroom had two heads on it. I believe I might have complained casually mentioned about the issues with our shower and the hot water and how I am turning into my mother-in-law because I think the government is out to get me by taking away my hot shower rights with their energy-efficient water heaters.


I stepped into that shower, turned on BOTH shower heads, and stood in the middle for 5 or 7 minutes and just let the hot water hit me from all sides. It.was.glorious.

I told Jim, "if we ever get to build a house, like when you retire, we have GOT to have a shower like that." He said, "you DO realize that that's a shower for two people, don't you?"

And I went all Diff'rent Strokes, "what'chu talkin' about, Willis?" on him.

Because that is a shower for one person...one very happy person.

"O God, You cause abundant showers to fall on Your chosen people. When they are tired, You sustain them..." Psalm 68:9

Friday, March 27, 2015

"Home Is Where My People Are"

I just want to talk a little about Sophie Hudson's latest book today. In case you haven't heard or aren't familiar with her, this is her second book. It's called, "Home Is Where My People Are." Her first book is titled, "A Little Salty to Cut The Sweet," and it's a great book, too.

But this second book is all about family. And friends.

But mostly about family.

It's about traditions and connections and friendships and faith.

It's a lot about faith.

I've bought 9 copies of this book already and given 8 of them away. Updated to add: I kid you not...this just happened: my little sister just texted me to let me know that her Amazon order just came in. I was thinking, "what did she order and why should I care?" And THEN she sent me a picture of Sophie's book. :) So I told her about Sophie's first book, and she hasn't read that and now she is so excited!

Listen, I highly recommend this book. I was drawn into it, and could not put it down. Sophie's family...her hometown, her friends, her community...was everything I ever wanted growing up, but never had.

I've written before about how I was raised an Air Force Brat. We moved all the time and never lived near any family. I never got to grow up in a town where I was familiar with streets or neighbors. I never stayed with my grandparents. I never got to go to the same church for my whole life. I never had the life-long friends that Sophie talks about in her book...but I always wanted to.

All of the stuff that she talks about...I never had any of that...but it's like I always knew I wanted it.

How is that even possible...to want a life that you don't even know about?

But I did.

I wanted the stability Sophie wrote about in this book...because my life was never stable.

I had a great life, don't get me wrong. I had two parents who loved me and my siblings, and they loved each other. We never had the fear that they would get a divorce. I never personally ever even heard them fight or argue. They were Christians, who raised us the best way they knew how...and taught us the importance of not only living by faith, but walking in it as well. They showed us that a relationship with Jesus was way more important than church membership or religion.

But it was hard for me to feel connected at school, any school, or at church. Or anywhere else for that matter...because I was ALWAYS the new kid, and, because of that, my stomach stayed tied up in knots.

My Mom made such an effort to make each place we lived feel like home. We had our same "things," you know...pictures, lamps, the couch...she just arranged them differently in each home. But, even with that, everything was always...different.

It was hard to have those really deep friendships that Sophie talks about in this book, because before you knew it...we'd be gone. Or our friends would be. As we got older, letting friends into those deep places that require trust, making memories that last forever...there just wasn't time for that. It took so much effort to open up...and then we were gone. This military life...not a lot of permanence.

I think that is why I tried so hard to create a sense of family and tradition and community for my own children. We lived in the same place for 15 years, raising our children in their early, formative years in the same small town. They were able to go to the same schools as the sibling before them, one right after the other. We went to the same church. We were finally able to develop deep and meaningful friendships, and we raised our children with friends who shared similar values. I never wanted to leave that place.

But, Jim was transferred, and we had to move just before Holly started college...and Logan started 10th grade. And 5 years later, Jim was transferred again, and we moved before Clark started 10th grade. I think they would say that both moves were hard...but good.

Hard, because I lost the network and the connections and the atmosphere of "home" that I had worked so hard to create. I lost the sense of comfort and community. I lost the "village" that I counted on to pick up my children when I couldn't; who sent their husbands to jump-off my car when it stalled in the middle of the street...on a school morning...when Jim was out-of-town; who cooked meals for us after we had babies...who prayed for us in the hard times...who cheered with us in the good times...who held us up and walked with us through the valleys of uncertainty after Clark was born...and who loved and accepted Joshua, and supported us as we raised him.

And, good, because the things that God taught Sophie...He taught me as well, just in a different way. I learned that, altho family and friends are wonderful and necessary, my first loyalty is to Jesus...and I should seek Him first (Matthew 6:33). Because I was always the "new kid," I learned to seek out the new kids...at school, church, work, etc. I tend to gravitate toward the ones who look like they feel a little left-out (Hebrews 13:2). I learned that when things around me are chaotic and uncertain, "He is my constant source of stability." (Isaiah 33:6) I learned that even if everything around me changes, God never will (James 1:17).

And I learned that wherever I go, God goes before me, preparing the way...and He goes with me, so that I am never alone.

"I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down the gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name." Isaiah 45:2-3

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring Break 2015: Road Trippin'

Took a little road trip with my family the other day. You learn a lot about people when you travel with them...when you're trapped in a vehicle for 10 hours.

Just sayin'.

You learn a lot about yourself, too.

Or maybe that's just me.

Growing up, I traveled a lot with my family...and since we've been married, we've traveled a lot with our kids. My sister has taken us on some really wonderful trips, too. All this to say, I know how to pack. I know how to leave things in my house. I know to turn the air/heat up or down. I know to stop the papers. I know to have our mail held. I know to clean out the frig, and to wash all of the dishes. I know to set timers on our lights, so that it looks like someone is home. These are things that I just do. I don't announce them...I don't talk about it, unless I need help.

Jim, on the other hand, tells me every.single.detail. of what needs to be done, and what he is going to do. Step-by-step. OH MY WORD. And, I feel bad, but when I'm trying to think about everything I need to get done, I can't even concentrate on what he is saying.

It wears me OUT!

I usually don't post anything about our travels until after the fact, and we always have someone checking on things at our house.

It took 10 hours to arrive at our destination. You'd think that with older kids...young adults...we wouldn't have to stop as much...and we didn't...FOR THEM. It's just that the patriarch of our group had to stop TWICE to tee-tee, not including when we stopped for lunch.

This is also known as: what we now have in common with toddlers.

What got us through the 10 hours without losing our cool? Faith...family...and the cupcakes Clark's girlfriend sent with us.

Oh. And peanut M&Ms. Lots of those.

We arrived at our condo in Orange Beach, and it's bee-utiful! We've never stayed in this particular complex before. We just needed 4 bedrooms, so we had to stay in a different place. It was perfect!

We typically don't stay in places as nice as this one. I found this place and it was offering a special Spring Break deal. Good thing, because we are not fancy people. We are more like get-a-one-bedroom-and-everyone-bring-blow-up-beds kind of people.

I looked at Jim and said, "I hope you know, I can't go back to that other place...I can't...I won't.

Of course, I was just kidding.

But it's been really nice that everyone has their own bedroom and bathroom.

Here's to Spring Break!

"All my fountains of joy are in You!" Psalm 87:7

Saturday, March 21, 2015

World Down Syndrome Day 2015

Today is World Down Syndrome Day...or, as our family calls it: "The Holiday of Joshua's People."

We are celebrating and giving thanks for all the extra FUN one little, extra chromosome has given to our family.

We ate dinner with our family at one of his favorite places. I made cookies...and Clark and Faith brought him a cupcake! It was a pretty fun day for him. Of course, we set the bar pretty low. One year, we lost Joshua on The Holiday of His People. I wrote about that here.

I don't know what I did to deserve the blessing of this child...or his 3 siblings...because there is definitely nothing good in me. Or Jim. Especially not in Jim.


And I know that some get offended when others say they feel "blessed," but I think that's just because we tend to think of "blessings" as only the good things...and not any hard things. But it IS some of the hard things, too.

I do feel very blessed.

We, Jim and I, feel like we have given nothing, and yet God has given ALL.

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap..." (Luke 6:38)

I read a quote from Laura Story's sister. You remember that Laura Story sings the "Blessings" song, and that her husband had a brain tumor and many health issues related to that. I read that her sister said, "You know, I think the detour is actually the road."

This quote has stayed with me for years, because how many times do we see the trials and circumstances in our lives as hurdles to be jumped...and then we can just move on? Or, as a "detour" that will eventually take us back to our original path.

What if you can't just jump the hurdle? What if you can't just "get over it" and move on to the next thing?

What if the "detour" never leads back to the road?

What if the "detour" is actually the road?

We, Jim and I, have basically fumbled and tripped our way down this path God has called us to walk, but with His help and guidance, and the love and support of our friends...we are finding JOY in the journey.

"Your ears will hear sweet words behind you: 'Go this way. There is your path; this is how you should go' whenever you must decide whether to turn to the right or the left." Isaiah 30:21

Friday, March 20, 2015

TGIF...Spring Break Begins NOW!

I am so excited that it's Friday!

Even more excited that it's the Friday before Spring Break!

Holly has been in clinical this week with her nursing school classes. She only had to go until 10 this morning. She came over and helped me put up family pictures on my dining room wall. She's calling it the "ancestry wall," or the "family wall." We got a lot of it done today. Still a lot of "tweaking" to be done, but I really like how it's turning out so far. I posted a picture of some of it on my Facebook and on IG (martythemoose).

Jim and Joshua went to check on his Dad, so Clark and I had dinner together. It was really nice. We were settling in, getting ready to watch a movie, and Logan and Morgan texted to say that they were coming home tonight! They weren't supposed to be here until Saturday!

They got here a little after 10, and we've had a good time talking and catching up...but I've gotta go to bed! Busy day tomorrow.

Jim's Dad is doing okay. Still having some discomfort, and will go for a follow-up appointment next week, I think.

Tomorrow is the Holiday of Joshua's People: Down Syndrome Day! We're gonna party like it's 1986!

"How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!" Psalm 139:17

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Mrs. Alanna's Last Day

I neglected to mention that I had a hair appointment yesterday (riveting news, I know), and Kayla-the-hair-girl did a GREAT job making my hair look like it did when I was in my early 30's.


And why is it that your hair can look like the bomb for, like, TWO DAYS...and then the gray hairs start coming out like none other?

Oh...that doesn't happen to you? That's just me?

Anyway, I sat in her chair for 2 hours and listened to Kayla-the-hair-girl talk about how hungry she was because she had made sausage balls for breakfast, but had only eaten two. And the longer she talked, the more she convinced herself that maybe she only ate one sausage ball. Regardless...or, as people around here say: IRREGARDLESS...she was hungry, and she was making ME hungry.

As soon as I left the salon, I went to the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru as fast as humanly possible. And then I ate in my car on the way to Target. After I went to Target, I went to the Lifeway store, to see if Melanie Shankle's new book was out yet.

It's not.

It's not supposed to be out until the first week of April, but my Lifeway store put Sophie Hudson's new book out 2 weeks early last time...and when I told them how excited I was that they put it out early, they just shrugged their shoulders and said, "I had no idea."

ANYway...after that, I headed to pick up Joshua at the Therapeutic Recreation center, and he told me all about his day. Read that here.

The point of this whole thing so far is that...after my lunch...after Target...after Lifeway...after picking up Joshua...I came home and went in my bathroom to finally check out my hair in the mirror...and there, stuck on my scarf, that I was wearing, around my neck...was a LARGE PIECE OF CRUST FROM THE EDGE OF MY CHICKEN SANDWICH.

The struggle is real, people.

And I"ve been all over town WITH FOOD ON MY SCARF. How did it not fall off? I wore my seat-belt and everything!

Today was Mrs. Alanna's last day at TR. She stepped into the role as the Program Coordinator, after our beloved Mrs. Sherrie moved home to take care of her family...after the death of her mother. No clue how this will all play out with the FRIENDS in the days and weeks to come, but there will be drama.

Trust me. There will be.

But today? There was laughter. There were tears.

And there was cake!

"So let's not get tired of doing what is good..." Galatians 6:9 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Pinnacle Picnic and Taco Day!

First of all, to the person who found my blog by searching, "marty moose tattoo," let me just save you some trouble: I don't have any.

This is a big week at Therapeutic Recreation. On Tuesday, Joshua's group went to Pinnacle Mountain to hike. They hike a flat trail at the base, because of physical constraints some of the FRIENDS have. And they had a picnic lunch.

Joshua carries a little nylon back-pack with him almost every day. In it, he packs things he thinks he might need: extra "hankies," chapstick, mouth spray, shades, a cap, bug spray, sunscreen.

On this day, it was 80 degrees and sunny. Some of the FRIENDS forgot to bring sunscreen, and so Joshua went around spraying everyone. They had a great time, but don't worry, They don't exert themselves too hard on their "hike." At the mere mention of a "walk" in the schedule, one of the FRIENDS will come in with a limp and her knee wrapped BEFORE they even get started...and another FRIEND will bust out an "asthma attack" every time they have to do anything that remotely resembles exercise.

Just sayin'.

On Wednesday, they were supposed to go on an outing to this garden, and learn about growing vegetables, but it was raining and the gardens are...well...outside. So...they stayed at the Center, and had a lesson on nutrition. Or, as Joshua called it, a lesson on "nutrients."

They cooked chicken and beef tacos for their lunch. They were divided up into groups and each FRIEND had a chore. Setting up, cooking, grating cheese, fixing the salad (pinching up the lettuce), cleaning up, etc. Joshua said he was in the "salad" group.

On the way home, Joshua told about one FRIEND who said that she was NOT HAVING TACOS, and so she called her mom to come get her.

Alrighty then.

And one FRIEND refused to help wash the dishes. She said that they, the TR leaders, were "treating her like she was at her own HOME..."

How DARE they?

I don't know, but if I had a dollar for everyone who every told me, "oh, THEY'RE so loving," referring to people who have Down Syndrome...well, I'd be living in a big mansion, with other people fixing me tacos and washing my dishes.

Just sayin'.

And then tonight, we watched Diane Sawyer's Sound of Music special. Joshua came down during the "Do, Re, Mi" song around the fountain. He looked up to see Diane Sawyer and a group of people walking around the fountain while they sang.

He said, "uhhh...don't fall in the water, BARBARA WALTERS."

"Do everything without complaining or arguing..." Philippians 2:14

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Shopping For Swimsuits, AKA Jesus Take The Wheel

Today was the BEST DAY!

Last week, Holly and I had planned on spending an entire day together while Joshua was at Therapeutic Recreation. She was only going to have to stay at her nursing school for a couple of hours. Well, the day of, she texted me to say that she was going to have class all day after-all, so we couldn't go.

We were really looking forward to hanging out in Little Rock...shopping, having lunch, stuff like that. We were both looking for new swimsuits, and that requires some intentional, uninterrupted time.

And a mild sedative.

Can I get an AMEN?

Well, she was out of class all day today, so after we dropped off Joshua at TR, we hit the ground running.

First on the agenda: swimsuits.


You have to know where this is going, right? Because is there anyone in the history of forever who has ever really enjoyed this activity? I mean, normal-sized women, that is.

Back when Holly was a teenager, she was that kid in the dressing room you could hear telling her Mom, "this size 00 is just HANGING on me."

Felt so sorry for her. NOT.

Now that she's in her mid-20's, she is finding it's not all that easy to find a suit that meets all of her requirements...and FITS WELL.

We started off cautiously optimistic. We each grabbed an armful of suits and headed back to the dressing room.

Jesus, be very near.

The nice lady had put our rooms side-by-side, so that we could talk to each other through the walls, or step out to see each other, as we tried on suits.

Which, SIDE NOTE: Do you know what is NOT COOL when you are trying on swimsuits? MEN hanging around. Just please...go away. It's nice that you want to be with your wife and all of that, but please. You creep us out. AND, waiting right beside the entrance TO the dressing rooms? Also NOT COOL. Because when this ol' leddie walked out to show my daughter one of the suits I was trying on, there you were.

And there I was in all my glory...underwear hanging out of the swimsuit bottoms and all.

Please just go wait in the food court.

Anyway, we got started trying on suits. As I posted on my Facebook, Holly announced to everyone within ear-shot in the dressing room: "Jessica Simpson is dead to me." 

It got a slew of "AMENs" and one "mmmm...GIRL, you know that's right."

I don't even know...something about because she (Holly) has a long torso, she wasn't able to even pull the Jessica Simpson swimsuit up all the way, and WAS SHE ACTUALLY SUPPOSED TO WEAR IT LIKE THAT? Because that was x-rated...and ISN'T JESSICA SIMPSON A MOTHER?

The struggle is real, people.

Then, Holly started singing a rousing rendition of "Jesus, take the wheel," that had everyone in the dressing room, and the helper-ladies, cracking up.

Except creepy man.

Go away, creepy man.

In the end, we each ended up with two suits. Holly had broken into a sweat, and said her face was breaking out from the stress of it all. There was nothing else to do but go to lunch.

I mean, we had to, right?

We had a great lunch, and enjoyed our time together. We felt fortified enough to head back to the mall and continue our shopping. From where we parked, we had to walk through the store and past the swimsuit section WHERE WE JUST WERE...to get out to the actual mall. We were pretty far away, when we heard the lady who had helped us YELLING, "Miss Holly! Miss Holly! Are you comin' back for more?"


One of the other things on Holly's list to get was a new bra, so we headed to Vickie's Secret. That place always makes me nervous, for some reason. I mean, all women...or most women...wear bras. Why should buying them be a big deal?

I'll tell you one reason why...the men.

I know it sounds like I'm man-bashing, but I'm not. I have a husband...I have 3 boys. Love them all. I appreciate the man who was supporting his wife or whatever he was doing...in the swimsuit section, and I also appreciate the men who want to buy their wives pretty things.

I'd just like to introduce them to a little thing called, a gift card. Or "on-line shopping."

Because it's just weird, y'all.

But I'm old, so whatever.

Anyway, we both get new bras, and got in the lonnnnnng line of men...and women...who were waiting to pay. The checker-outer-lady said she was giving each of us a coupon for a free pair of cotton panties, but I thought she said that she was giving us a coupon for free cotton candy.

(I know, bless my heart)

I said, "COTTON CANDY? Sign me UP!"

And the checker-outer-lady and everyone in line behind us busted out laughing, and then Holly had to do the walk of shame WITH HER MOTHER...and leave the store.

It was the best day ever...and apparently I'm really craving carnival food.

So thankful for my girl.

"Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life..." Psalm 23:6

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Merry Monday

We had such a great day. Sunny, warm, relaxing. Holly did not have to go to her nursing school classes today, so Jim took her to lunch...and then she came over and hung out here with us this afternoon. She went with us to our local Wal-Marks...and then we went to Hobby Lobby. Joshua was thrilled.

I bought what I hope is the last of the plain, black frames for my wall collage. I hope to get that knocked out this week.

We sat outside for a little while and enjoyed the nice weather...and then Jim grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for our dinner. We invited Holly and Aaron to stay and eat with us, and they did...and then we watched the first night of Dancing With The Stars.

I walked Holly and Aaron out to their cars, and when they left, I just stood there looking up at the sky. After having such a cloudy afternoon, tonight the sky was clear and the stars were bright. I was reminded of how small I am on this big planet of ours. So small and insignificant, so full of sin.

That God sent His only Son to die on the cross for ME?

My mind cannot even comprehend that kind of love.

I am overwhelmed me with thankfulness.

"When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him..." Psalm 8:3-4

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Sunny Sunday

I love Sundays.

Especially Sunday mornings.

Back when I was in college, Sundays seemed to be the loneliest days. Mainly Sunday afternoons. It's like everyone goes to church and then to lunch, and then there's a lonnnnng afternoon and evening of quiet and rest. Which, I totally appreciate now...but back then, and even before we had children...so quiet and lonely.

Maybe it's because we lived so far from my family. I don't know.

I love Sundays now.

I love getting ready for church. I love going to church. I love being at church. Even tho we still feel "new," and we don't know many people there, I enjoy the community that I feel at our church.

Today, we had an awesome service. The Lord is really blessing our church. We moved to our new location last year at Easter. Our senior pastor resigned at the end of the summer, to take a position with LifeWay in Nashville. We have been having different pastors, and some of our other staff ministers, fill the pulpit.  By all accounts, our attendance should be taking a hit, but we are packed both services.

God is good.

The Arkansas Razorbacks were playing Kentucky at noon today in the SEC basketball tournament, and Joshua was getting antsy during the service. He was still on a high from our big win over Georgia last night. He kept looking at the clock at the back of the sanctuary...turning alllll the way around in his seat to see it, and then SIGHING real loud...which wasn't distracting at ALL.

When the service was over, Joshua couldn't get out of there fast enough. I stopped ask a lady how her Mom was doing (she'd been in the hospital), and I thought Joshua was going to die a thousand deaths right there.

Because he loves Jesus, but tip-off was 14 minutes ago.

The weather was beautiful today, so after our excruciating loss to our arch-nemesis Kentucky, I went and sat outside and soaked up some Vitamin D. I think my pasty-white skin went into shock, because I actually felt like I was getting sunburned after only 5 minutes!

Tonight, we went to the Mexican restaurant for dinner. Holly and Aaron joined us, and it was a lot of fun.

Joshua headed upstairs to his bathroom immediately after we got home. Our upstairs has a landing area, that looks out over our entry-way. Joshua has to walk across the landing to get to his bathroom. We could hear him in his bathroom, because he typically leaves the door open.

He said, "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH..." real loud, and then he said, "there you go."

And, on that note, Happy Sunday! :)

"...Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God's people..." Philemon 1: 7

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Lazy Saturday

We have had a pretty lazy Saturday. We got up and made a big breakfast. We watched a movie. Jim worked outside and I worked inside. We watched the Razorback basketball team WIN over Georgia in the SEC tourney. I watched another movie while Jim took a nap...and then we went to dinner.

The end. Amen.


I spent some time trying to identify people in some old family pictures. I am planning to do a large family collage on the wall in my dining room. When Jim was at his parent's house this week, his Mom sent him home with a folder full of pictures for me to look through.

Slight problem: Jim wasn't sure of the names. So, we got on the phone with Jim's mom, and I wrote down everyone's names on little sticky notes, and put them on the backs of each picture. That way, when we have gone on to Glory, if anyone is interested in the strange people we had hanging on the walls in our house, they can look on the back and at least know the names.

I really wanted to get started on the wall today, but by the time we got done with dinner...it was getting close to closing time at Hobby Lobby, so I will have to try and finish it up next week.

Jim and I didn't eat lunch, so we were HUNGRY as soon as the basketball game was over. Clark called and he and Faith wanted to come with us...so we all went to eat at the Italian restaurant. On the way home, Clark and Faith rented "Big Hero 6" and we watched it. Holly and Aaron came over and hung out for a little while. It was a great night.

I just want to say that my first draft was a LOT funnier, but when it disappeared, I didn't feel like trying to re-do it all the same way again.

Just know that it was GOLD.

"Let all that I am praise the LORD." Psalm 104: 35

Friday, March 13, 2015

Checking in on Jim's Dad

So, yesterday, Jim picked up Joshua from his Therapeutic Recreation, and they headed down to his parent's house to check on his Dad. They were down there for several hours without sending any updates, when I finally decided to text Jim and ask him WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS GOING ON?

Jim said that his dad had been out crushing cans, and was now sitting in their living room yelling at the top of his lungs about things...this and that. In other words, pretty normal.

He said they had gone out for dinner, and if I had seen what all his Dad ate, I would either not think he was feeling bad...or wonder why he wasn't feeling worse.

Jim said that he spent last night, and most of this morning, trying to help both of his parents with their technology. Jim's dad has an iPAD, and Jim just got his mom a Kindle Fire for Christmas. Neither one of them have a clue what they are doing, but they are trying to figure things out. Jim's dad clicks on everything. When it doesn't do what he wants it to do, or it's not fast enough, or he thinks he's made a mistake...he just starts clicking every button or app known to man.

He also shakes his iPAD like an etch-a-sketch, when it doesn't do what he wants it to do.


I told Jim that I was surprised and happy at how PATIENT he was being with them...because when it's me or the kids, he seems to get easily frustrated. He said, "oh...there's been yelling."

Jim's family yells. Or, hollers, might be more like it. They don't have to be mad...they are just very LOUD. Like, "PLEASE PASS THE SALT!"

Goodness gracious.

Jim also said that they had Chick-Fil-A for breakfast...and POPEYES for lunch. Which, I'm pretty sure POPEYES is on the list of dietary restrictions for someone with heart disease...someone who had just been in the hospital with chest pains.

I think I read this on Melanie Shankle's blog one time...that when it comes to healthy food, "Popeyes don't qualify."

Or words to that effect.

The main thing Jim wanted to do was to set up an IG account for his mom, and then show her how to work it. He said he got it all fixed for her, and added some of the family members. He said that when he and Joshua left, she was sitting in her chair scrolling through WEEKS of pictures, just as tickled as she could be.

Last night, while Jim and Joshua were gone, I took Clark and Holly out for dinner. We had a good time. Afterwards, we dropped Holly off at her house, and then Clark and I came home. When Jim is gone, Clark likes to sleep downstairs on the couch...even tho I told him I wasn't scared, and BEGGED him to sleep in his own bed in his own room. He wouldn't hear of it, and posted up on the couch with all of the throw-blankets.

The only bad part about this is that he wanted to go to bed at 10...and I usually stay up a little later. So, I went back to my bedroom and crashed.

I woke up this morning and sat straight up in the bed. It was nearly 7:30 IN THE MORNING. I glanced out of my bedroom door toward the living room, and it was completely dark! At 7:30 IN THE MORNING. I jumped up and ran in there. Clark was still sacked out. I said, "Clark! It's 7:30!"

You have never seen anyone get ready so fast.

And even tho I don't pack his lunch for him anymore, I did today...while he grabbed his clothes for track and made himself a cup of coffee before flying out the door.

All of this just proved what Jim's been saying all along, and that is that things would fall apart around here without him.

Well, he doesn't actually SAY that to us...but we all know he thinks it.

And now we all know he is right.

Well, he doesn't know about what happened this morning, so no one tell him.

Also, while we are keeping secrets...he usually gets the newspapers from the front sidewalk, first thing every morning...and reads some of it before he goes to work. Today? I didn't even think about the papers until, ohhhh...maybe 3 in the afternoon. So, yeah...they sat out there all day in the rain.


He would never let me forget it if he knew that we do barely function without him.

Also, even tho he was only gone one night and I DID miss him, it showed me what a good night's sleep feels like. You know, where no one is getting up at the CRACK O'DAWN to go run outside in the pitch black...no one crashing around in the kitchen looking for that green frying pan to make an egg...stuff like that.

Also, Jim's dad just texted him to tell him that their power is out. They feel like, since Jim works for the utility company, their power should never go out. But, if it DOES happen to go out, it should be the first one to be fixed. Jim always tells them to call the 1-800 number, but they say, "YOU KNOW WE DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO THAT."

Tonight, Jim's dad's text said that they had, in fact, called the 1-800 number to report the outage...but their power was still out.

It had been 20 whole minutes.


Jim got on-line to check it, and told them there were 219 outages in their area.

Jim's dad said, "no, it's just us."

Jim said, "I'M LOOKING AT THE COMPUTER SCREEN RIGHT NOW. There are 219 other customers who are out of power in your area."

Jim's dad said, "YOUR MOTHER HAS BEEN DRIVING AROUND...and everyone else has power but us."

"Do everything without complaining..." Philippians 2:14

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Chair Yoga, Bowling and Jim's Dad

We've had a good week. Thankfully the snow is GONE. We have rain now, but we'll take it.

Joshua got to go to his Therapeutic Recreation all 3 days this week. He was so excited, because over the past two weeks, his group has missed 4 times...because of the SNOW and ICE.

On Tuesday, his group started out with "chair Yoga." Now, I would pay good money to see this. Because FRIENDS...CHAIRS...YOGA.


What is so funny about their fitness activites is that no matter what they are doing: Yoga, Boot Camp, Wii dance, kick-boxing, Jazzercise, Zumba...Joshua is going to bust out some martial-arts moves.

Wouldn't you love to see that? I sure would!

*And...I haven't forgotten about the potty-yoga video. I haven't had time to film him, yet. Maybe this weekend. I promise I will let everyone know when I do.

Wednesday was the one non-rainy day, so the TR group went to walk the Twin Rivers Bridge. It was a great day for them to be outside enjoying the fresh air. Joshua said they walked 2 miles! He was so tired when he got home, but he and Jim still went to the gym before dinner!

Today, Joshua's group went bowling. He always enjoys that, and the FRIENDS are s-e-r-i-o-u-s about it. Many of them have their own shoes...their own bowling balls...and their own little bags to carry their stuff in.

Not even kidding.

After bowling, the FRIENDS went to Chili's, and a good time was had by all. What a great way to end the week!

We had a little scare with Jim's dad last night. Jim called his Mom and she said she was fixin' to take his Dad to the ER because he just wasn't feeling "right."

Here's the bottom line: he's fine.

Come to find out, he hadn't felt "right" for 2-3 DAYS. Yesterday, he and Jim's mom spent the whole day driving all over central Arkansas...and down to north Louisiana...picking up and delivering some equipment for one of Jim's brothers. Jim's dad even did most of the driving, which is very rare for him.

He prefers to sleep when they are in the car...so it just works out best if someone else does all the driving.

Just sayin'.

Jim's Mom said that they got home last night, and she went straight to the bathroom. Jim's Dad walked down to the lake to "check on it." News flash: it's still there. Ha. When he walked back in the house, she asked him what he wanted for dinner, and he casually said, "uhhhh...I think maybe we need to go on up to that ER."

Jim's Dad has a history of heart issues, and the doctor ran a bunch of tests and kept him for several hours. He was finally discharged around 1 a.m. with no real answers as to what was causing his pain. As they were heading home, they passed the IHOP and he said, "ya know...I could eat. I haven't eaten since LUNCH."

And so they stopped at their local IHOP at 1:30 IN THE MORNING, and had a big breakfast. After he'd been having chest pain for 2-3 days.

We didn't tell our children about all of this until this afternoon. When Clark found out that his grandparents were at the IHOP at 1:30 in the morning, he said, "normal people just don't do that...maybe college students, but not old people."

He continued, "you know, they are going full circle with this stage."

I said, "well, if that's the case, a stage that'll be coming up soon is the diapering stage."

And to that, I say, "NOT IT."

"He covers the heavens with clouds, provides rain for the earth, and makes the grass grow in the mountain pastures." Psalm 147:8

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Ground Is Level At The Cross

So today...I'm all up in my feelings.

I'm not really sure what exactly that means. Holly says there are some girls in her nursing school classes who use that phrase: "Oh, she's all up in her feelings."

For me...it means I have a lot on my mind. Words, thoughts, feelings...all jumbled up and rumbling around in my head. I'm trying to make something sensible out of it, so that I don't sound like a crazy person.

As a Christian, I don't believe in coincidences. I believe in God-ordained happenings, and that things happen for a reason. Even the choices that we make of our own free will...I believe God can and does use them for teaching or reproof.

Also, I feel...and this is my personal opinion...I feel like if I hear or read a Biblical truth more than once, and from more than one source, in the matter of days or weeks...then God is trying to get my attention.

This happened this week.

March 4, 2015 was the national "Spread the Word to End the Word" day. It was all about bringing awareness to the hurt that is inflicted on others when the "R" word is used. I didn't blog about it this year, but I have in the past. Last year's post is here.

FYI: I still feel the same.

But this year, Joshua became aware of it. Because of social media and his access to it...which is a source of contention in our home, because I have tried to control monitor his access to it, but he is nearly 29 years old. All of his friends have it. I don't know how much more I can or should really do.

I wrote here how, on Sunday night, Joshua posted a heart-felt message on his Facebook about how he felt on the subject of the "R" word.

It wasn't long after his message posted, that I heard from our daughter-in-law, Morgan...and then from our son, Logan...two separate messages...about the sermon they'd heard that morning in their church.

They said their pastor preached on how the ground is level at the foot of the cross; how everyone is created by God, and therefore equal. Their pastor said that the greatest thing about love is that EVERYONE can love. Logan said that they had a special-needs choir leading their worship. Logan said the group was called the "Overcomers," and that the choir was FULL of FRIENDS in all shapes, sizes and diagnoses. Logan said the pastor was extremely patient in answering and responding to many of the FRIENDS' comments and ideas.

He said it was very powerful message.

I wish we had been there.

And, kudos to the pastor at the First Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Arkansas, for sharing this important message. Truth be told, it should be preached from every pulpit in every church across the nation. And the world.

Because if there's one place where there should be no favoritism or prejudice...if there's one place where there should be complete acceptance and love...it's the church. Am I right?

Sometimes, God will lay a burden on a person, or group of people, in the church...and then they try to reach out and show God's love to a specific group of people. When they begin to talk about starting a small group, or needing transportation, or finding teachers, or an empty classroom, or wanting other support...they can sometimes meet resistance from the staff. I'm not saying this is always the case...it's not.

At the FBC in Jonesboro, Arkansas, this ground-is-level-at-the-cross philosophy is coming right straight from the pulpit. Because, not only did the pastor share the message God had laid on his heart, his patient and respectful conversation with the individuals from the Overcomers choir set an example for the entire church.

And for the individuals with special needs.

It said, "you are valued."

It said, "God loves you and so do we."

It said, "we will listen to you."


This message isn't just for people with special needs. It's also for their parents. I think we've all heard that over 50% of marriages end in divorce. Would you be surprised to know that when couples have a child who has special needs, that rate jumps to between 80-90%? Most of these families will have other children in them as well...what about them? If these families come into our churches, and we are unprepared or ill-prepared for them...what then? Because I can guarantee you they won't stay. It takes love, for sure...but it takes more than love. It takes planning and research and WORK. How can we come along and support these families?

This message, the ground is level at the foot of the cross...it's also for your unwed mothers, and the man down on his luck; it's for the one recovering from drug addiction, and the lady who has all of those wild children that no one can control in AWANA; it's for the woman with the tattoos that you stare at in church...what is that on her neck? A snake? A flower? And what does that say...those words going down her arm?

This message is for the divorced, and for the home-wrecker. It's for the foster children who can't relate to a God who loves them, because their own father never did.

This message is for the high-powered executive, and for the policeman; it's for the teacher and the prisoner and the soldier. No class, no status, no hierarchy. It's for all of us.

"There's room at the cross for you. There's room at the cross for you. Tho millions have come, there is still room for one. There is room at the cross for you."

"In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary." 1 Corinthians 12:22

Monday, March 9, 2015

Joshua's Facebook Post On Special Needs

Last night, I was just sitting in our living room with Jim...minding my own business. Joshua was upstairs, and Jim and I were talking about what to do for dinner. On Sundays, after morning church, we typically come home and have FFYS for lunch. FFYS stands for Fend For Your Selves. We usually take out all the left-overs from the night before, and we take turns using the microwave to warm up what we want.

And then we beat it to the couches and get all snug and comfy.

On Sunday NIGHTS, we usually go out and grab a quick dinner. USUALLY it's McAlister's, because Jim likes to get a salad AND soup. And, because I normally can't eat all of MY soup or my half-of-a-sandwich, Jim eats that, too. He gets quite a good meal when we go to McAlister's!

I was sitting in my chair, reading the newsfeed on my Facebook...when I saw a post from Joshua. And it was long.


Joshua can write him some dramatic Facebook posts. Just sayin'. He likes to use very descriptive words, some of which he makes up himself. You just never know what he is going to say.

And, lots of times, my family members or friends will text me with messages like "Joshua's post," or "what happened with Joshua," and I just about break my neck trying to pull it up.

But this post, I read it...and then I cried...because it came straight from his heart.

In a way I think when people treat those with special needs. In a mean way it is not nice at all. The bible states that all people are created by The Lord. In a morphincal way. I think that is wrong for treating those with special needs. I will not stand aside and let people like my self be treated in a mean way. Because we are just created in the image of The Lord god has created people with special needs for a reason. Even if one stand's alone. I commonly have to spread the word with camp barnabas and with my companion. Jenni Hayes as well as many others whom has special needs. Quit using the r word. Because we have feelings and we are one in The Lord. We are have one heart in The Lord. The Lord even proclaim's to don't judge people at all unless you want to be judged. I have to happen to have a heart for people even people whom all has special needs. So treat people the way you want to be treated Matthew 7:12 I care for people. I believe that everyone has a heart of Christ within us. Who will stand up with me for those people whom has special needs.thank you.

Sweet, right? Powerful.

Did you see the word, "morphincal?" That's inspired from Power Rangers, and he makes up all kinds of versions of that word in his posts.

Clark asked me what I thought about Joshua's post. I said that I thought it was awesome. He said, "morphincal?" I said, "yes." He said, "GOD...is morphincal?"

And I said, "yes...yes, He is."

One of my sisters asked me what brought all this on with Joshua, so I asked him about it.

He's been reading a Tony Dungy devotional book that he got for Christmas. I think it must talk a lot about people who influence us in our lives, because Joshua will post something on Facebook, thanking people who were in his life a long time ago. The most recent post was thanking the lunch-room ladies in Jr. High and High School. I figured something he read in that book had gotten him all stirred up.


He said that he had been reading all of the recent posts about the "R" word, which got him thinking...and that two verses from our sermon on Sunday, really spoke to him: First, in Genesis, where God created everyone in HIS image. EVERYONE. And then in Matthew, where Jesus said to treat everyone how you want to be treated. 

He said that he was sick and tired of being silent about it, because it just wasn't right.

Preach it, Joshua!

I was flying high with pride at my little Norma Rae.

BUT THEN, he said, "and if anyone wants to make fun of people with special needs or disabilities...they're gonna get a kick in the face from THIS GUY with special needs."

So high...and then so low.


"In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary." 1 Corinthians 12:22

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Chase Race (2015) and a Lazy Saturday

Saturday morning, Jim, Holly and Aaron all ran in a 2 mile race in our town, to benefit Arkansas' Children's Hospital.

Which, I'm all for racing...and giving to good causes...and all of that. But do they always have to be scheduled at the crack o'dawn in the wintertime? I understand the need to have early races on the warm, late Spring days...and the scorching hot summer days...but in the winter? BOOSH! It was cold.

Our one saving grace...no, two: NO RAIN, and the sun was out. Praise Jesus!

They all three did very well. I'm so proud of them! Joshua did pretty well, too, if you don't count the CONSTANT MUTTERING. He muttered about getting up early, wearing ALL THE LAYERS, walking where there was ice, PARKING where there was ice...and why were there so many dogs at this race.

*The race is named for a 13 year old boy, who passed away a few years ago due to a traumatic brain injury. He loved animals, so along with the 2 mile race, there is a 1 mile "walk" that people can do with their pets. Last year, I saw a lady with a pet raccoon.


Yes, I live in Arkansas...why do you ask?

She brought a pet raccoon...to a race where there was going to be a ton of dogs.

After the race, we all went to Chick-Fil-A, and you should've seen the grin on Joshua's face. CFA has magical powers, because not only did the muttering instantly disappear...but when Jim got ready to pay for our meal, the cashier said, "that's okay, Mr. Jim, I've already taken care of it." Jim said, "what?" And the guy said, "you're the Customer of the Day!"

Well, HOW-dee!

And, it's always a treat to watch Joshua eat. My kids borrow a line from "Friends," and say it like Chandler would: "It's a treat for the eyes...and the ears."

Bless hims wittle heart.

He ordered a sausage/egg/cheese biscuit, and then opened it up. Which, who knew they had sausage at Chick? NOT ME. Anyway, he took out the sausage and carefully cut it up into small pieces with his knife and fork...and then ate it all. Then he at the top bun. Next, he took the egg off and cut it up into small pieces, and ate it. And then he ate the bottom bun.

Clark said it was like watching a "Seinfeld" episode. Remember the one where they ate candy bars and cookies with a fork and knife?

We hung out here as a family all day. Holly's husband was on a day-trip with his dad, so she was here, too. She spent most of the day studying for a test she has on Monday.

When Holly is here, we like to order Chinese food for dinner. Her husband is a VERY picky eater, so when she's with us, she likes to have the things she doesn't typically get to eat. We suggested Chinese food last night, but Jim said he wasn't feelin' it. Tonight, HE suggested it, and Clark did the happy dance!

It has been such a great day. Even tho I didn't get much of anything done around here, it was sunny and bright outside, and doesn't that just make everything better? I say, "YES!" Especially after a long week of rain, freezing rain, thunder, sleet and snow!

I am excited for church in the morning! I love Sundays!

"All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step..." 1 Corinthians 9:25-26

Friday, March 6, 2015

Snow Daze, March 5-6, 2015

So, we had a colossal snow storm here this week. Not "colossal" compared to most places...but for Arkansas, it was. I think our meteorologist said it was the 6th snowiest Little Rock in history. Don't quote me on that, tho. I wasn't really paying attention.

Jim worked from home yesterday morning. We didn't have any outages in our area, so he was able to keep up on-line and on the phone. Mid-morning, he thought he would try to make it to work. First, tho, he walked out front to take a picture of our house in the snow. He said, "I bet people are wondering, 'why did that guy put his trash-can at the curb this morning...does he really think the trash truck is gonna run in this weather?'"

I reminded him that it's probably not the first time they've wondered about him. Or about our trash. On more than one occasion, Jim has taken the trash to the curb on a holiday...and then LEFT IT OUT THERE FOR AN ENTIRE WEEK when the trash didn't run...just to prove a point.

What point, I do not know.

I basically did nothing much to speak of on these two snow days...unless you count that I made chicken 'n' dumplin's for dinner last night, and they were the BOMB...annnnnnd I got all caught up on over a week's worth of blog reading.

I ain't mad about it.

Clark's school could not make a call last night on closing again today. They said they would wait until 5 a.m. and then decide.

I appreciate our school administration, who try very hard to put the safety of our students first. But what I want to say is this: if you are going to wait until 5 a.m. to decide whether to have school that day or not...you probably need to go on ahead and have school.

Because I've been up since 5 a.m., waiting on the call...and I'm gonna hit my peak around 2, and it will be all downhill from there.

You have been warned.

And my youngest son, who is a senior...who normally has to drrrraaaaaaggggg himself around in the mornings, was up before 6:30. A.M.


We hung out here at home all day long. Clark's school was canceled due to the snow. Holly's nursing school classes were canceled as well, so she came over to our house. After Jim and Aaron got home from work, we made plans to go out for dinner.

We had a great dinner...but we sure missed Logan and Morgan!

Clark spent some time playing a PlayStation football game with Joshua this afternoon. He said that, during one of their games, one of the players took an incredibly hard hit, and Joshua yelled, "WOW...he just got LAAAAAAAAAID!"

"She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes." Proverbs 31:21

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Potty Yoga (yep...you read that right)

I'm laughing at myself because the title of my last post was "Pancakes and Birth 'Defects,'" and, in the post, I never even wrote about the pancakes! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Apparently, Tuesday was National Pancake Day. IHOP was giving away free pancakes all day, if you made a donation to a charity. People were tweeting about lines out-the-DOOR at IHOP. I decided to just fix pancakes for dinner at home...and it was great! Someone (again, on Twitter) said they googled the top-secret IHOP pancake recipe...so I did the same. I usually use the recipe on the back of the Pioneer or Bisquick box, but this time, I used the IHOP recipe.

And Jim used his gluten free cardboard box recipe.

I'm not a big pancake person, because I don't like syrup...but I had a bite of one...you know...to test it out. I thought the IHOP pancakes were really good. My fake IHOP pancakes didn't "rise up" like the ones at the restaurant, tho. Jim told me that I needed to make them thicker and they would. I told him that I FOLLOWED THE TOP-SECRET IHOP RECIPE EXACTLY, thank you very much. Clark said there wasn't that big of a difference in taste between the IHOP recipe and the box recipe...so if the box recipe was easier, I should use those.

Well, there's 10 minutes of my life I won't get back.

Anyway, Jim fixed sausage, bacon and eggs. I made pancakes and just a few biscuits. It was such a great night.

Okay. Back to this post.

I learn so much from Joshua on a daily basis...but this really took the cake.

I am usually on top of things, but I don't know...I think my brains fell out the back door this week. Not only did I not have cash to give Joshua for his lunch, I didn't remember until we were half-way there that they were doing Yoga. Joshua always wears gym clothes on Yoga days at his Therapeutic Recreation, and then brings a bag with clothes to change into after that. I completely forgot.

He was fine. He is limber enough and his clothes are loose enough that he can do Yoga moves and it not be a big deal. He kept saying, "I just forgot." I said, "No, Joshua, YOU didn't forget...I forgot." He said, "Yeah...I was confused." I said, "Joshua, this is not your fault at all, but it's not a big deal. I am the one who forgot...you didn't even know!"

After couple or TEN times of going over this point, he finally let it go. He said, "I didn't even think we were having Yoga today. I was busy getting ready...having my quiet time, shaving, doing potty Yoga, getting dressed..."

Wait. WHAT?


I've written before about how Joshua is ALL about being physically fit. Or, as he calls it, "fiscally" fit.

Which isn't bad, either.

ANYWAY, for a long time, Joshua had a bo-flex machine. Or, as he called it, his "BLOW-flex." We sold it when we moved, because we just didn't have room for it in this house. He has free weights up in his room, and he uses those exercise bands every day. He is all about a schedule, so he has certain times of every day that he works out different parts of his body. He is so disciplined. I've walked in on him many times when he's watching TV. He'll be standing up in front of his TV, using those exercise bands or lifting weights at the same time.

So I said, "POTTY...YOGA? What is that?"

Joshua went into a lonnnng and knowledgeable explanation of potty Yoga. He also included a visual demonstration...which was both insightful and more than a little distracting as I DROVE 70 MPH ON THE INTERSTATE.

Because there was the side-to-side reach. Yep.

And the spin movement. Sure to work.

And the reach over...allll the way over. The mental image of this one alone...has scarred me for life.

Joshua said that anyone can be "fiscally" fit, and that there's always time for exercise. He said there is NO EXCUSE for not exercising.

Basically, he said, "if you can sit on a toilet, you can exercise."

Well, there's a sentence I never thought I would type.

I'm gonna try to film him demonstrating the Potty Yoga (hopefully while he's sitting on a normal chair with his clothes ON), and I'll post it on my Facebook (Marty Logan Garland) if I do.

"For you have been bought with a high price, therefore glorify God in your body." 1 Corinthians 6:20

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Pancakes and Birth "Defects"

Ya know...there are just some days when I wish everyone could be a witness for what goes in in my life. I promise, I don't make this stuff up.

I mean, most of my days are what people would consider "mundane," or repetitive...not too exciting. And, hey, I get that. Nothing exciting about doing laundry or making dinner. Nothing exciting about talking about the bad weather. Nothing exciting about answering some of the same questions over and over and over.

But Joshua teaches me something nearly every day. Most of the time, he teaches me about God and His ways, and how very tender He is to us. Some of the time, parenting Joshua shows me how much I lack. God, please make us worthy of this calling, because half the time we wonder what in the world we are even doing. And all of the time, parenting Joshua shows me how very much I need God's wisdom, discernment and grace.

What Joshua taught me today? It cracked me UP. Just wait, because I'm 99.9% sure it's something you've never heard of or thought about before. There's your tease for tomorrow.

On Monday, we basically stayed close to home. Joshua loves Mondays, because he says he can "sleep in." This is a HUGE JOKE, because he gets up every day at the crack-of-dawn. In fact, it's something I say to him every Sunday night as he heads upstairs to bed. I'll say, "don't get up at the crack of dawn." And he will look at me with "the face" and say, "on a MONday? Why would I?"

But, Tuesday morning was a different story. He is always up at the crack-of-dawn when he is going to Therapeutic Recreation, because he can't wait to see all the FRIENDS. We got all ready to go. I remembered that his group was going out for lunch. Due to poor planning on my part (and the fact that I only got the weekly schedule late on Monday afternoon), I only had $5 in cash, so I was going to need to run by the bank before we left. Unless...

I asked, "Joshua, do you have any money?" He said, "I have an emergency $20 in my wallet." Even tho this didn't qualify as an emergency...SCORE! I just don't keep cash. I told him I would pay him back this afternoon.

I know. Proud parent moment.

On the way into Little Rock, Joshua talked and talked and talked...which I will share about tomorrow. But before he started into THAT, tho, he was reading his Facebook news-feed...out-loud...in the car. He told me that it was World Birth Defects Day.


I know that every syndrome, challenge, club, disease, and support group has a "day" now. They have ribbons and buttons and t-shirts to raise support and awareness about their cause. I think this is so good, because it gives people a voice, and support, and it fights the isolation that so many people often feel. If I had a ribbon for everything that affected just our family and friends, I would be covered from head to toe.

We've all got "ish-ahs," am I right?

I think we, as a society, go overboard trying to be all PC about everything. I mean, we can't see a pink lady and call her a pink lady. She knows she's pink...we know she's pink...e'erbody knows she's pink...but if we refer to her as pink, we will be labeled a racist and signed up for diversity training classes. If we describe someone as "tall and thin," we will be accused of bullying, and all parties involved will be ordered into counseling.


But can we all just agree that the word "defect" should not ever be used when referring to a person?

You can have a "defective" part on your lawnmower. You can have a "defective" car battery. You can even have a "defective" heart valve.

There are no "defective" people. No ma'am.

I just think there's got to be a better way to say things, and someone way smarter and more eloquent than me needs to figure that one out. Because no one wants to be labeled or defined by any challenges they may have.

So, I asked Joshua, "what do you think that means?" And he said, "I don't know...but I'm glad I never had it!"

That's right, baby...fearfully and wonderfully made.

"I will praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:14