Thursday, April 30, 2015

Lookin' for Purple, & The Shower Saga

Another bee-u-ti-ful Arkansas day. These are the kind of days that are few and far between in Arkansas. Not that we don't have beautiful days. I'm just talking: sunny and warm...without humidity. In Arkansas, the humidity will TAKE.YOU.DOWN.

This week, tho? Soooooo nice.

Joshua's group was doing a morning walk, and then the Therapeutic Recreation Center. Then, lunch at the Center...and then heading to the gym for circuit training.

It's "fitness day," can you tell?

After I dropped him off, I went in search for a purple shirt for Clark. I am just not having any luck. Purple is apparently not a popular color for guys. I may just have to get him a white dress shirt and a purple tie. We, our family, are all wearing shades of purple on Sunday for Senior Sunday. Purple, because he's going to Ouachita Baptist, and their colors are purple and gold. Families don't HAVE to color coordinate, but who are we kidding? This is the South, and it's just FUN to match!

My dress is not really the dark purple that I wanted, and neither is Holly's dress...but it's what we could find, and so that's what we're wearing.

I did pick up a pair of shorts for Clark and a shirt with big "Toucan Sam" lookin' birds on it. I feel certain Joshua will bust it out one day in some sort of random fashion combination. I can't wait.

After we came home, I set out hamburgers and hot-dogs for Jim to grill. I made the cheese dip that Clark likes, and some sweet corn. Jim cooked some squash on the grill. And THEN I got a text from Clark saying he would be eating with Faith-the-girlfriend.

And to that I slow-blinked him in my mind.

And then I texted Holly and invited her and Aaron over for dinner. You know, like that story from the Bible where the man had a big wedding banquet for his son, and the people they invited for dinner didn't want to come. So the man had his slaves to out into the, as one of mine used to say, "bull-bushes" and invite whoever they could find.

Holly has had two "12's " (12 hour shifts) back-to-back this week for her clinical rotation. I knew she would be dead-tired after today. She has gotten up at 4:45 the past two mornings, and then last night didn't get home until 7:30. I texted her a little after 6, and she had not left the hospital yet...but said they would LOVE to come over and eat after she got home.

We enjoyed having them here!

After they left, I went back to take a shower before I put on my pajammies.

Have I written about the Shower Saga? I haven't?

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I went back to our master bathroom, and there was a tiny little ball-bearing-lookin'-thing on the counter, and another little round thing next to it. I thought, "well, THAT can't be good..." but didn't think any more about it. After Jim got in from work that night, he told me that those pieces belonged to our shower door, and that our shower door wasn't working anymore. We have those sliding shower doors WHICH WE HATE. They are so hard to clean in-between, and we think they are gross.

Jim said, "DON'T USE THE INSIDE DOOR because it's broken...just use the outside door."

Which is super fun.

So that's what I've been doing for the past 10 days or so. Easing myself into the shower while trying not to even touch the shower doors...and then sllllooooooowwwwlllly shutting the outside door. Ugh.

Jim and I talked about re-doing the whole shower...taking out the insert, and then doing a really nice tile shower. But, we don't plan on staying in this house, and it seemed like a lot of money to invest in it right Jim said he would just "order the part and fix it himself."

Hmmm, THIS should be good.

Well, last night, I got in the shower, and the outside door wouldn't shut. I gently tugged on it, and there was resistance...and then that whole door kind of vibrated a little, and looked like it was going to fall completely out. Which would serve it right.

So I had to take a shower with the shower door OPEN.

And water went out all over the floor.

And it was cold in there with the shower door open.

Tonight, I went in to take a shower before bed, and the shower door is still standing open...and Jim has placed a towel down to catch the water. The towel is half inside the shower and half outside the shower.

Gotta tell ya, as I stood in my shower with the door open and water going everywhere, I felt a strong connection to Caroline Ingalls...who I'm sure had to stand in an outdoor shower with no door, and dump rain-water on her head.

"Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving..." Psalm 95:2

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mexican Food And Caps & Gowns

Well, the grad announcements are done and in the mail! Yay!

Except for 2 that I'm still needing addresses on. And the ones for the people that I'll think of later and go, "OH MAN! I should've sent one to them!"

Joshua had a fun day at Therapeutic Recreation. They went to another school in town, and walked a mile with a group from that school...and then they went to have lunch at a Mexican restaurant.

Which, if the FRIENDS would try to explain what they did today to you, they would go, "blah, blah, blah, AND WE WENT OUT FOR LUNCH!"

They were so excited!

Joshua said that he got a "lunch special" with 2 tacos...and that he forgot to say, "SOFT tacos," and got the crunchy kind. But, he said that he took his time and ate small bites...and did just fine. He said, "Blair got a quesadilla." And he pronounced it, "kay-sah-DIL-ah."

Which is so funny to us, because people in our family have ordered quesadillas since forever, and I know he's heard it pronounced correctly.

The FRIENDS had not eaten at this restaurant before, so they were checking out the menu. Joshua said that one of the FRIENDS was looking at the "drink" menu and saying over and over, "margahraynah...margahraynah (margarita)"

Because that's what you need...a van full of FRIENDS with a buzz.

I picked Joshua up at the restaurant, because it was about 15 minutes closer to our home. He missed out on the afternoon activities, but he didn't care because THEY WENT OUT FOR LUNCH!

While he was at TR, I had my hur did...and that always makes for a good day. Am I right?

There is a lady who seems to come in every time I'm there, and she is as mean as a snake. She has a "helper-lady" with her, that she bosses around and treats terrible. The mean lady will drive herself there, even tho she has to have help getting out of the car and into the salon...because she says she doesn't trust her helper-lady. And, instead of relying on the helper-lady to get her out of the car and into her wheelchair, she pulls right up front, takes up TWO parking places, and lays on the horn...until the stylist comes out and helps her in.

While she is there, she proceeds to talk bad about our president, other leaders, religion, different races and handicapped people...while using vulgar and colorful language. The first time I saw and heard her, I wondered why they put up with her at the salon. The stylist said that she still holds out hope that she can be a positive influence on her...but it's hard. They warn everyone before she comes in.

I peeked around the wall to tell the mean lady "good morning," and she glared at me.


I heard her tell the stylist: "You don't need to have the words, "beauty salon," in the name of your shop."
Stylist: "I don't?"
Mean lady: "NO, I've seen some of the women coming outta here, and I think you should call it, "best I can do" salon."

She's a real joy.

Anyway, after I picked up Joshua, we came home and I finished up Clark's grad announcements, and took them to the post office. I had to buy stamps, even tho Jim had given me 6 (insert slow-blinking face).

I had asked Jim yesterday if he had any stamps at his work I could have for the grad announcements. He keeps stamps there for his personal correspondence. He said, "Yes! I do!" And then gave me 6 stamps. SIX. STAMPS.

Anyway, after I got out to the car, I noticed that the mailman had given me stamps with flowers on them.


I'm going with it.

The other thing that happened is that Clark picked up his cap and gown at school today, and then sent me a picture of himself with it.

Which explains how I may or may not have ended up in a ball on the floor.

"...weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Grad Announcements & Bird Watchin'

Today has been a good day. I got up and took Joshua to Little Rock for Therapeutic Recreation. His group was doing arts and crafts, and then going to the community center for kickball.

You'd think they would've learned by now:

FRIENDS + kickball = someone is gonna be crying before the game is done.

And they were. Joshua said that he didn't see WHO kicked the ball, but it ended up hitting Jenni right in the throat.

I'm getting all of this info 2nd hand today. Well, it's first hand, from Joshua, but it's after he's already told Holly all about it.

Holly told me that she could pick up Joshua this afternoon, so after I dropped him off, I came straight back home. I had all of these ideas of how I was going to spend my time "off." I was going to paint (not a picture...a wall. Or maybe touch-up the baseboards). I have been wanting to texture a wall up in Joshua's bathroom...and paint his bathroom cabinets. I have also pretty much finished with the "ancestry wall" of pictures I've done in my dining room. Holly has been such a big help to me with this. But, I still have extra pictures strewn out on my dining room table, along with extra frames. I had to move a serving table and 2 chairs out of the way to have access to the wall...and I've got all kinds of things stacked up on that table.

I had the idea that I would get in there and really get that room all put back together. Also, I noticed that there are several areas in my kitchen...cabinets and island...that could really use some touch-up paint.

There are several other things on my "list..." I'm just telling you that there was an abundance of things to be done, and I did none of them.

I know.


What I DID do is work on Clark's grad announcements, so my day was not completely wasted. And I had lunch with Jim, and that was fun.

I am super thankful for "ordinary" days. I really appreciate the times when Holly can pick up Joshua for me. It gives me some time to be by myself, or be with just Jim...have lunch with him or hang out here at home. It's rare that I'm home when Joshua is not...and, for some reason, I feel like I have to work like a horse when he's gone, so that I'm not wasting my time.

But there's nothing wrong with just doing some simple things like writing, or reading a book, or baking cookies...or talking to a friend.

Or just sitting and watching the hummingbirds.

Hello, I don't believe we've met. My name is Marty and I'm 90 years old.


But seriously.

I put the feeders out the other day, because my mother-in-law asked me about them, and I said, "well, when is it time to put them out?" And she said, "NOW is the time. RIGHT. NOW."


Okay, Mammaw. I put the dang feeders out, and then began the watching process. Yesterday morning, we had our first bird. I may or may not have taken a picture of it through the blinds. And then I sent the picture to Jim and Holly with the caption: I HAVE MY FIRST BIRD!

My life is seriously so exciting.

Also, in a matter of hours, I had two hummingbirds out there and they were fighting over the feeders. AND I HAVE TWO FEEDERS.

See? It's not just people that can't get along.

Then, last night, Jim told me that we needed to put some "sticks" out there for the hummingbirds to "lite" on.

WHAT? These birds are getting high maintenance and it's only Day 2 of The Hummingbirds. He told me to take some of the curly willow sticks that we have out in the garage, and stick them out in the flower pots close to the feeders...WHICH I DID, because I'm a first-born and I usually do what I'm told without sassin' back. 

And low-and-behold...this afternoon, there was a hummingbird sitting on those curly willow sticks, guarding the feeder.

Tonight, Clark's girlfriend had her "gallery night" for her photography class. We went up to her school and looked at her work, and then we went to Chick for dinner.

And now I will sign off because I've probably bored you to death. And because I need to put a load of clothes into the dryer, and fold the pile of clean towels that I threw on my bed. Or at least move them to the chair...

"I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works." Psalm 145:5

Monday, April 27, 2015

My College Roommate

When I was a senior in high school, I was dating a boy very seriously.

Well, as serious as you can be when you're 17 years old and still in high school.

He was a couple of years older than me, and already in college. We planned to marry as soon as we could, so naturally I wanted to stay close-to-home for college. Actually, I only remember visiting one college, and that's where I was going to go. Most of my high school friends were going to go there.

I really had no clue about college. My Dad is a college graduate, but my Mom never went. I got very little guidance from them about higher education...goals, possible career goals, etc. None. All I knew is that they wanted me to go to college, and, so, to college I would go!

But my boyfriend and I were having some growing pains, and we broke up. I remember the preacher at my church talking about where he went to school. He had gone to this small, private school in Arkansas. His wife had gone there, her brothers had gone there. It sounded interesting. It had an Indian name: Ouachita.

I honestly do not remember going to check out the school. I need to ask my Dad about it, and see if he remembers. What I DO remember is casually mentioning it to my parents...and then it seemed like my bags were packed and sitting by the door.

I came to Ouachita and I did not know one soul.

I did not know one soul at Ouachita...and I did not know one soul in ARKANSAS (I was living in Oklahoma).

The night before I left, my best friend, Janet, had gotten married, and I was in the wedding. My Mom and other siblings had gone ahead to Ouachita in a separate car. My Dad and I came after the wedding.

I was randomly assigned a roommate. I didn't know anyone, so I guess it wasn't really gonna matter who I lived with. They had me fill out a form with preferences, interests, etc. Being the little wisenheimer that I was, I remember writing on the form under "interests," I love to eat chocolate chip cookies. Because that's important in a roommate, right?

When my Dad and I got to the campus and found my dorm room, my Mom and siblings had been busy fixing it up. My room was in a really old dorm, but I thought it was so pretty. The dorm had these big, white columns out front. It's still there, and it's still my 2nd favorite building on campus. My Mom said there were holes in the wall. I don't remember any of that, because by the time my Dad and I got there, the holes were covered up with posters. My Mom said that if I had seen the condition of the room when she got there, I would've turned around and left.

I don't think so,'s an 8 1/2 hour drive.

What I DO remember is that we had a corner room on the very top floor of the dorm. On one set of windows, there were three HUGE E's painted in red, oil-based paint. I'm guessing they tried to get them off, but couldn't. Or maybe they didn't even try. I don't know. At the time, I did not know the significance of the EEE's.

The other set of windows looked out over the chapel...and we heard the bells chime on the hour. I LOVED IT.

My Mom had bought a hanging plant and hung it by one of the windows. The plant was called a "wandering jew." My Mom, trying to be funny, had written on the card: "I'm a wandering Jew, but I'll try to be happy at a Baptist University." We didn't know it, but my roommate had come up to the dorm while we were gone. She saw the card and told everyone her roommate was Jewish. Ha.

My Mom and siblings had unpacked all of my clothes and put everything away. I don't remember buying a new comforter for my bed. I may have just brought mine from home...from off my bed.

I know, right?


My Mom said, "your roommate is either very immature...or she's gonna be a whole lotta fun, because she has a Minnie Mouse comforter."

Well, she was a LOT of fun. Her name was Carrie, and she was from a small town just about 15 miles away. She was everything I wasn't: cute, confident, popular, out-going. She drove a cute, little, red convertible, and I loved riding around campus in it with her. She had a horn that played part of a fight song.

She introduced me to her friends from high school, and I went home and stayed the weekend at her house some. She frowned upon the "pant-suits" my Mom had bought for me to wear to class (I KNOW. IT WAS AWFUL. BLESS MY HEART), and pretty quickly introduced me to jeans, overalls, flannel shirts...and boots (I can never thank her enough for this). She taught me about "cruising," and "hanging out."

She looked past my weirdness and brought me into her life...and made me feel not so alone. And, because of her, I now knew ONE person in Arkansas.

But not for long, because the main thing Carrie did for me is introduce me to Jim. She introduced us sometime during the first couple of weeks of school. Jim and I started hanging out, and we just never looked back.

In thinking about the friends God has provided for me in every season, I can't help but think of Carrie.  I mean, I just so "happened" to hear about Ouachita. My church pastor just so "happened" to have gone to college there, and encouraged my parents in this decision. I was randomly assigned a roommate who also put on her roommate application: "I really love eating chocolate chip cookies." 

And that roommate introduced me to my husband. My dorm room that was next to the chapel that I loved...I had no idea when I moved in that day, that in 2 short years, I would marry the love of my life in that very chapel. And now we have 4 children, a son-in-law and a daughter-in-law. Our daughter graduated from Ouachita, and now one of our sons, our baby, is going to start there in the Fall.

Coincidence? I think not.

"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16

Sunday: At The Cross We Are Free

Updated to add: I forgot to hit "post" on this one last night, so it may show up that I posted twice today. But I didn't. Well, I kind of did. But I wrote it on two different days.

What I neglected to mention about our time in Fayetteville yesterday, is that the town was crammed packed full with people who had come to watch an Arkansas Razorback's Spring football practice. And, I also think there must've been some sort of biker convention, because EVERYWHERE.

After Joshua's Powerlifting meet, we decided to grab a bite before heading back home. I suggested Hammondtree's, which is a little gourmet grilled-cheese place and But, Joshua suggested Braum's, and since he was the man of the hour...we went to Braum's. And their food is okay, but their chocolate cappuccino crunch ice-cream on a waffle cone nearly put me into a warm and lovely sugar coma.

While I was driving.

(I haven't had ice-cream in a WHILE)

Also, since we were up that way, I really wanted to go by and see Kelly Stamps and her newborn baby boy at the hospital, but I didn't because, well, she's my pretend internet friend, and so stranger danger.

And, also: stalker alert.

Relax everybody. I would never do that.

(This may be one of those times my daughter is talking about when she says, "MOM, people don't "get" your sense of humor.")

Last night was also prom night. In the 3 years that we've lived here, Clark has not gone to prom one time. He just has no desire. His girlfriend begged him to go (she's already out of high school), but he wasn't having it. I don't really care that he didn't go...I just hope he doesn't regret it one day. I guess if he does, he does.

He was also one of the guys nominated for Prom King. All of the nominees had to turn in a form saying they "accepted" the nomination, and since he wasn't interested in going to prom, he didn't turn it in.



I never went to a prom. Where we lived when I was in high school, our church had a big banquet on the night of prom...and that's what I did. Jim did go to his prom, and he told me that he didn't remember having prom kings and queens, and that, 10 years down the road, no one but the parents would remember anything about prom...but STILL.

He has friends from 3 different schools in the last 3 towns we lived in...I have LOVED seeing all the prom pictures of his friends this weekend, tho. WHERE has the time gone?

I'd better get off this subject, or I'll be in tears. (sniff)

Speaking of tears, the lady who sang during church yesterday got really emotional during the 2nd service praise and worship time. She was out front with the praise team. This lady and her husband lost both of their teenaged sons in a tragic car accident a few years ago. I would still be balled up in a corner, but they are at church, and she sings in the choir. I don't know how she does it. But, GOD.

So, she is wiping tears and singing, and I knew we would have a prayer, and then she had the solo in our choir song. I saw her ask someone for a tissue, but the other person didn't have one. And there are no tissues in the choir loft, and WHY AREN'T THERE TISSUES IN THE CHOIR LOFT BECAUSE I PRETTY MUCH NEED ONE EVERY WEEK?

But, in my hand, I had a tissue. I had already been in first service, and I knew what was coming. We were singing songs like, "Now the daylight flees; now the ground beneath, quakes as it's Maker bows His head. Curtain torn in two, dead are raised to life; "Finished!" the vict'ry cry! This, the pow'r of the cross...Son of God, slain for us. What a love! What a cost! We stand forgiven at the cross."

We have so much talent in our choir. Not me, but many, many others. I feel like we could get a piece of music, and probably get up and sing the words with very little effort...and then go on about our week. I never want to do that. I pray for God to keep my heart tender to the message He wants us to get from each song. I want what we sing to speak to the members of the congregation, but I want it to speak to ME as well.

So, I made SURE I had a tissue for the 2nd service. In fact, I may or may not have used it a little during the praise and worship time. I got so worried about the lady who was crying. How would she make it through her song? It's a good thing that Holly was not in choir with me yesterday, because she probably would've fallen over dead at what I did next. During the prayer, I tapped Clark's girlfriend, Faith, on the arm. She was on praise team and standing in front of me. And I'll be dad gum'd if I didn't give her that slightly used tissue and whispered for her to give it to the lady who was crying.

I figured a slightly used tissue was better than nothing, right?

Don't tell anybody. It'll be our little secret.

We had a great morning at church. I asked Joshua if he brought one of his gold medals to church. He never brings all three. He says that bringing all three is "too much," and they "clank together." Anyway, yesterday, he said, "no, I didn't bring one. I don't want to show off."

After church, I headed to a baby shower for Holly's best friend. I cannot believe that kids who are my kids' ages...are starting their own families now. Circle of life, right?

And that's how I came home and realized that I had missed lunch and that it was now dinner time...and I was Jim went out and brought home Wendy's, because it's close and because we're classy like that. We split a chicken sandwich and called 'er done. Holly and Aaron-the-son-in-law came over, and we caught up from the weekend.

I spent the majority of the day thinking of two things: First, our music minister's daughter, Ruthie. She's very ill and undergoing treatment in Washington, DC for the next couple of days. Your prayers would certainly be a blessing to this family.

And secondly, the cross. 

A couple of months ago, Logan and Morgan were in their church service at FBC Jonesboro, Arkansas, where they were able to hear a choir full of members who had Special Needs of one sort or the other. The pastor spoke of the ground being level at the foot of the cross; how no person is above any other person; how, in Christ, there is no favor or distinction. I could not help but think about that this morning as our choir sang the song, "At The Cross We Are Free."

Because the ground IS level at the foot of the cross, and we ALL have Special Needs of one sort or another; The main one being that GOD made us all SPECIAL...and we all NEED Him.

"At the cross we are forgiven, at the cross we are free; at the cross we are broken from the chains of misery. Oh grave, where is thy vic'try? Oh death, where is thy sting? At the cross, at the cross, we are free. Where Perfect Love abides, where darkness cannot hide, where healing waters rise, at the cross we're satisfied; where dead men come to life, and blinded eyes are opened the cross."

"The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Small and Mighty: Joshua, Special O, Fayetteville

We have had the BEST day!

Remember 2 weeks ago, I posted about how we drove alllllthewayyyy up to Fayetteville for a Special Olympics Powerlifting meet, only to discover that it had been rescheduled?

Yeah. Good times.

Well, today was THE day. No, was. And we drove alllllthewayyyy up to Fayetteville for a Special Olympics Powerlifting meet, and LOW AND BEHOLD, people were there!

I was a little concerned when I saw all of the other athletes...they all looked huge! Most of them, anyway. And then there was my little Joshua.

Small and mighty, is what I call him.

"Travel-sized," is what he calls himself.

I posted pictures on my IG: martythemoose, and on my Facebook wall.

Today, for some reason, Joshua decided to wear a gray v-neck under his weight-lifting suit...and, instead of wearing black shorts over it, LIKE HE ALWAYS DOES, he wore black warm-ups. I thought he was just keeping the warm-ups on during the, well, warm-up time, and would take them off during the actual competition. But when I asked him, he said that he wasn't wearing any shorts under his warm-ups. I asked if he had shorts in his bag, that he could change into. He said, "no, ma'am." When I asked him WHY he only brought warm-ups on a day when it's supposed to be 88 degrees, and he said, "because it's windy."

And then I may have slow-blinked him in my mind, because he doesn't understand slow-blinking.

So I said, "WHAT?" He said, "it's kind of windy." I said, "JOSHUA WE ARE IN A BUILDING."

And then I dropped the subject. The last thing I wanted to do was to get him all out-of-sorts before his competition.

Y'all, Joshua did GREAT! Each athlete gets 3 tries at bench-press. They do one round first, and if they "make" that lift, then they can raise the weight for the 2nd round. Same for the 3rd round. Then, they typically have a 15 minute break to let the athletes potty and warm-up before the dead-lift competition begins. Same type of thing...each athlete gets 3 attempts...1 attempt per round. Then, they add each athlete's top bench-press weight, and top dead-lift weight, to get a "combination" award.

My 3 younger kids all went to a Kamp in the summers called Kanakuk Kamps. Kanakuk is a Christian sports camp. They went for 1 week every summer up until they were in about the 11th grade. Every year on the last day of their kamp, the Kamp staff gives all kinds of awards. One of the last things they do is tell the story of the bumblebee. They make a huge deal about how scientists have determined that, because of the body size of the bumblebee...and the size of their wings...they should not be able to fly.

Well, we all know that bees DO fly. In fact, it's one of the top 3 things they do: 1) fly, 2) pollinate, 3) sting.

I made up that list all by myself.

How does something FLY when it has been told, based on tests and FACTS, it cannot fly?

GOD. That's how. We have a big God who doesn't put limits on us...who equips us for His work...and who helps us overcome our challenges.

Anyway, when the Kamp staffers get done talking about how the bee is not supposed to fly, they all start buzzing, and a person in a bee costume comes running in...and they call out someone's name who was an over-comer during the week of kamp. Maybe it was their first time away from home, maybe they were afraid to jump on the blob in the pool, maybe they were afraid to go down the big slide...but they over-came and conquered their fears. The kids all chant and cheer, as one boy and one girl from each Kamp get the Overcomer award.

That's what I thought of today when my Joshua was standing up in the front of the room with all of these really big boys and men. He couldn't do what the bigger guys could do, but he COULD do what HE could do.

He bench-pressed 145 lbs, and he dead-lifted 200 pounds. This gave him a combination weight of 345 lbs, and allowed him to win THREE GOLD MEDALS for his efforts. Impressive, right?

Even more impressive? He weighed in this morning at a whopping 117 lbs.

JOSHUA GARLAND, come get your bumblebee...what, what?

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." Ephesians 3:20

Friday, April 24, 2015

Conference Track Meet-Clark

Today was Clark's conference track meet. I don't think I've shared on here too much about Clark's track season, but it definitely has not been what he thought it would be.

One of Clark's main reasons for not playing football this fall, was to concentrate on track. He had hoped to have an awesome senior track season. He worked really, really hard. He was lifting weights and running. He is honestly in great shape. I posted a picture of him from today on my IG, martythemoose, and on my Facebook wall.

BUT, you know, sometimes things don't happen the way we want or expect them to...and it's hard. Clark's team had some really talented sophomores that came up this year, and a super-fast junior, who transferred in from another school. And, nothing against them...they are really fast.

And they are faster than Clark.

Clark is a sprinter, so his main races are the 100 meter dash, 200 meter dash, and the 4x100 meter relay. In our former town, Clark's 4x100 relay team set a school record and his name is up on the board at the football field. But this year, as a senior, he wasn't getting to run.

It broke my heart for him.

Every day he went to practice. He worked out and ran with the team...but they went to the meets, and he didn't get to go. And he's a Senior.

But there are boys faster than him.

I have been SO PROUD of he has handled this whole thing. I told him, "I just want you to know...all of hard you're working, your diligence, your leadership on the has not gone unnoticed. By your Dad and I...and by God. And, God is going to work this for your good. I don't know how...I just know that He is."

He said, "I know," and proceeded to tell us some neat things that have happened in the past month or so. How his track coach called him over and acknowledged that things aren't the way HE thought they would be, either. He praised Clark for being on time for practice and for going all-out every day...for maintaining a good attitude, and for helping the younger runners.

Clark told him he appreciated that.

I mean, I know we should all just do the right thing because it's the right thing...but sometimes, when you feel like nothing is going right, no matter how hard you try...don't you just want someone to notice? to SEE you? to acknowledge that, yes...this stinks...but it's not the end of the world.

Or, maybe that's just me.

Anyway, the Coach told Clark that he would have a spot at the conference track meet and he could run whatever he wanted. Now, before he said this, he did make them have a run-off and Clark won every time. He told Clark that he wasn't offering a spot at conference out of "charity" or anything, but that he had earned it. And that he was really sorry about how things had turned out for him this year.

Pretty nice for a gruff, ol' coach.

A coach who Clark said, this morning in the pre-meet pep-talk, told the team, AND I QUOTE: "You've been doin' it all've put the hay in the barn. And now it's time for go out there...and put it on the track."


Seriously, WHAT?

We had storms this morning, and we had rain ALL THE LIVE-LONG DAY...and it was cold and rainy, with cold and rainy rain. They had said they might reschedule the meet for tomorrow, when it's supposed to be sunny and 85 degrees, but noooooooooooooooooooooo...we had to stand out there in all that mess. And, I told Clark, I have never more seriously questioned the intelligence of the powers that be than I did at that very moment.

Clark ran the 100 meter dash and the 200 meter dash and he did GREAT in both races! He didn't win any awards, but he finished both races strong. He was really pleased, because he didn't know how he would finish the season. The only guys he's raced are his own teammates. I was thrilled for Clark. He was so happy that he did well!

And now we are done with track.

That kid...I'm telling you: run or walk; tackle, kick, pass, score; play or not; win or not; I'm so very thankful for him.

"...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us..." Hebrews 12:1

Thursday, April 23, 2015

This Week at Therapeutic Recreation

So today, Joshua's Therapeutic Recreation group was planning to go on a walk at the Center...around the little pond there...and do some crafts...and then head to the gym after lunch.

It was raining on our drive into Little Rock, but the rain and the clouds didn't diminish Joshua's spirits at all. For some reason, he started talking about the Pow-Pow-Power Rangers. He knows every Ranger, every actor that plays the Ranger, all about their lives. He went on and on and on. As annoying as it was, it was also pretty impressive. Names, dates, etc.

He started talking about how there couldn't really be a true Power Ranger reunion, because "Trini," the yellow Power Ranger...Joshua calls her "Trainy..." died. Joshua said, "she died in a car accident in September of '01...I don't know what day."


Some how, this led to a conversation about the Twilight movies.

If there has ever been a movie series that the FRIENDS at TR love and are obsessed's Twilight. The boys love it and the girls REALLY love it.

Joshua said, "Aaron (the-son-in-law) told me that Twilight wasn't a Christian movie, and it kind of hurt my feelings." I said, "well, he's right Joshua...they aren't Christian movies." Joshua said, "well, Aaron hurt my feelings." I said, "well, I'm sure he didn't mean to, but they're not Christian movies." Joshua said, "IMNOTTALKINGABOUTTHATRIGHTNOW."

Joshua said, "if I had all of the Twilight movies, I could have my own Twilight marathon up in my room."

Okay. Here's the deal. We let him watch the first movie with us...and then we let him watch the 2nd movie with us...and then he went berserk and got obsessed with the characters and the story-line. He got all broody and dark, and wanted to wear black v-necks and write stuff about pushing people away...because apparently that's what they do in the books and movies. He became obsessed with wolves. He added wolves to his stories and talked about wanting the strength of a wolf and requested a wolf calendar for Christmas.

He completely was taken over by these movies and talked about them non-stop.

We told him he couldn't watch those movies anymore.


My mother-in-law thought we were being awful, and so she would buy him the movies and he would sneak them into the house. He has a dvd player in his room, and he would watch those movies up there, and we didn't know about it for a lonnnnng time.

When we finally figured it all out, we took the movies we didn't want him to watch...and we hid them.

He is convinced they are out in the garage. I have no idea. Since we moved here nearly 3 years ago, I don't know that I've seen them. And we do still have some boxes in the garage, so who knows?

So, when he talked about the Twilight movie marathon up in his room, I said, "no, sir...then you would get all obsessed about them again, and that was NOT a good thing."

He said, "I did not get obsessed about the first Twilight movie."

I said, "and why not?"

He looked right at me and said in his best and more exasperated Fred voice..."uhhh, no VUHVS." (wolves)

"Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth." Colossians 3:2

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pah-sketti, Purple and Prayer Requests

Today at Therapeutic Recreation, Joshua's group made spaghetti and then ate it for lunch. They also had salad and bread.

As always, they were divided into groups. Joshua said his group was "sauce," and that they put onions, tomatoes and leaves in their sauce.


I'm sure he was talking about a Bay Leaf, but it was still funny to hear him say it: "There was a LEAF in my pah-sketti!"

I was able to meet Holly for a quick lunch. We ate Chick at the mall, and did a little shopping. Clark's Senior Day at church is in a couple of weeks, and I decided that our family should all wear I was looking for a purple dress for Holly and a purple shirt for Clark. Everyone else has something to wear. Our church does not require this...I just thought it would be fun.

And then I thought we could get someone to take our picture in front of the "hanging frames" in our church lobby...that were put up at Easter. :)

Which, SPEAKING OF GRADUATION, I told Clark that we are kinda under a time-crunch to get his grad announcements out in time. I asked him if he had a special Bible verse that he wanted on them, or if he wanted me to choose one. In a few minutes, he texted me two verses, and said either one would be fine.

One was from Leviticus, and the other was from Amos.

It was at this point that I had a moment of real pride. Not even kidding. I was seriously impressed that Clark chose verses from the Old Testament. I mean, it wasn't Psalms or Proverbs, it was the OLD, Old Testament.

Clark knows his Bible, and I was giving myself an imaginary pat-on-the back for raising such a great kid. Oh, and Jim, too. He had a small hand in it as well. I'M KIDDING.

WELL. What is that saying, "OH HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN?" Because that's pretty much how I felt after I looked up those two verses:

Leviticus 16:12, "He shall take a firepan full of coals of fire from upon the altar before the LORD and two handfuls of finely ground sweet incense, and bring it inside the veil."

The little weasel.

And this one from Amos 6:9, "And it will be, if ten men are left in one house, they will die."

Oh, someone is about to die, my friend.

It would serve him right if I used one of those verses. Or one that says for him not to forget the teaching of his mother and father. Or how not to be a pain in the bum-roosky.

What? That's not in the Bible?

Anyway, back to my story...

When I got there to pick up Joshua, his girlfriend, Jenni, came walking down the hallway. She was crying. And before you think, "awwww..." let me just tell you that crying among the girl FRIENDS at TR is pretty much an every day occurrence.

And it doesn't take much.

When she saw the Director, Mrs. Sherrie, standing there beside me...she straightened up real quick. She said, "I'm crying because I'm tired." Mrs. Sherrie said, "suck it up, girlfriend."

It was funny.

On the way home, I asked Joshua if he had hurt Jenni's feelings and made her cry. He said, "I don't think so, but if I did...I'm sure she'll tell me."

After I got home, I made cookies for choir practice, picked up Holly and headed to church.

During practice, our music minister shared a little about his daughter, who is having some serious health issues.They are taking her for a special treatment up in Washington, DC next week. My heart is so tender for their situation, because I remember many uncertain days with both Joshua and Clark.

Your prayers would not be wasted on their behalf. Their daughter's name is Ruthie, and she's 9. Her treatments are on Monday and Tuesday of next week.

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Toltec Mounds, De-Hairing Joshua's Back & Senior Proofs

Yesterday was a good day...because it was Monday and we had no plans. Joshua LOVES Mondays. He loves "sleeping in" (until 6:30) (not kidding) and he loves that I usually make blueberry muffins for breakfast and he loves hanging out at home.

Altho, when I texted him mid-morning, and said, "Let's go Krogering...and to Chick-Fil-A," he was dressed and downstairs in 1 minute FLAT.

And, don't judge me for texting him from downstairs. Joshua is VERY hard-of-hearing, and it just works out better, sometimes...if I just text him what we're doing, instead of yelling upstairs to him.

Whatever works, man.

This morning, Joshua was up early to get ready for Therapeutic Recreation. He came downstairs for breakfast. He never thinks I can hear him, but I always hear him. The sound of small feet wearing Crocs...I could probably hear him from a mile away.

I heard him coming down the stairs...his unbalanced gait on the wood makes a distinctive sound. I heard him scuff down the hallway to the kitchen. But first, he walked to my bedroom door, and quietly closed it.

How sweet is that?

On our drive to Little Rock, we talked about this and that. I told him that it was about time for me to "do" his eyebrows (they get out of control without some maintenance). He said, "I'll save that for Holly."

Oooooookay. I'm sure your sister will be thrilled.

He also said, "it's about time to DE-HAIR my back."

Joshua is hairy. Not like he's a Yeti or anything. He barely has any hair on his arms and legs, but he does have a hairy man-back. He likes for it to be shaved before any Powerlifting competitions, and he has one coming up. I said, "okay, we'll take care of that in the next few days." He said, "we can save that for Holly, too."

He said, "I like my hairy back...I do. But I want to de-hair before my competition."

He asked me if I saw the post he wrote on my sister's wall. She had posted about my niece being sick. I said, "I did see was very sweet. Did you pray for her today?" He said,"uhhhhh...I THINK I prayed for her last night." I said, "well, you told her you would be praying for her." He said, "I think I prayed for her in my sleep." I said, "well, you made a commitment to pray, so you need to follow through." He muttered, "I'll pray to stay awake." And then he started cracking up laughing.

He said, "I don't think God would think my joke is funny...but I do."

Joshua's group went to some Native American Indian mounds today. They took a picnic lunch, and had a great day. I was already waiting on him when they got back to the TR Center. I sat in the car and watched them get out of the vans. The way they help each other is precious. Joshua reached for Jenni, and helped her out of the van...and they BOTH reached for Blair, and helped her out. I was sitting there thinking, "if one of them goes down...they're all going down..." but it was so sweet to watch.

At one point, Joshua noticed the kickball bag had been left on the van, and he jumped back on to get it. Jenni was standing there waiting on him, when, all of a sudden, he LAUNCHES this bag out the door of the van like a torpedo. It almost hit Jenni as it sailed by. OH MY WORD. I laughed for 5 solid minutes.

It was a good day. Jim and I were able to have a lunch date, and that was fun...and then the photographer that took Clark's senior pix emailed the proofs to me, and I spent the majority of the afternoon curled up in a ball and crying my eyes out.

And singing "Sunrise, Sunset" from "Fiddler On The Roof."

Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?

I don't remember growing older
When did they?
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn't it yesterday
When they were small?

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears


And, I did this with our 3 older kids, too...I just stared at the pictures on the screen, overwhelmed with emotion. I looked at them over and over. I just can't believe this beautiful child came from me and Jim

And now he's gonna graduate and leave us!


"Behold, children are a gift from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward." Psalm 127:3

Monday, April 20, 2015

Tornadoes And Rainbows (Hey, That Rhymes!)

Last night, we had a tornado warning for our county. We had no idea the weather was even that bad. We may or may not have been watching Tarzan on our TV when the warning scrolled across the bottom of the screen.


Holly was at our house at the time. Aaron-the-son-in-law had gone to visit his parents, and she was home studying for a test.

When I talked to her this morning at church, she mentioned wanting to go out to Target and check out their Lilly Pulitzer collection. She had been so excited for today, because LP is ex-pen-SIVE. She has a couple of LP items that were bought on the sale rack, because GOODNESS GRACIOUS.

Anyway, we had Sunday School and church, and our married son and daughter-in-law were here...and things were kind of busy with lunch and packing and them leaving...but after they left and things settled down, Holly called to see if I wanted to run out there with her. We drove out there...for nothing. Apparently, they sold out on-line and in stores in a matter of minutes. Oh, well.

We hurried home, because coming out of the store into the parking lot, we could see the clouds and the storm forming. 

So, Holly stayed here and she was studying...and I had the TV on, too, because FAMILY ROOM. She said, "we are under a tornado warning." And Jim and I both said, "warning, or WATCH?" She said, "warning," and pointed to the screen.

So I did what any good Arkansan would do...I went outside, stood by the body of water in my backyard, and looked up at the sky. I mean, that's what Jim usually does. Tonight, tho, he got out his lap-top and started looking at advisories and power-outages. I called upstairs to Joshua, and asked him to come hang out downstairs for a while. He was pretty nervous about the weather.

And just so you don't think I'm the ONLY crazy one, our backyard neighbors were GRILLING OUT. During a tornado warning. Those crazies. And it smelled so good that I went in the house and made myself a little snack...and went back out to watch the sky. And, in the spirit of full disclosure, my snack was a few Cheetos in a cup.

Hey. Whatever it takes, man.

The bad weather went just north of us. The sky, the clouds, the lightning...was an amazing and powerful display of the glory and handiwork of God.

If we know bad weather is coming, I am prepared. Like, shoes-and-jacket-on-and-got-the-closet-under-the-stairs-ready prepared. Tonight, I really wasn't scared at all. We weren't having any of the indications of a tornado in our wind, and it was barely even sprinkling. 

When the weather passed, Jim and I decided to make breakfast for dinner. Holly ended up going back to her house to finish studying, and to be there when Aaron got home. And, to get things ready for the week. 

When the last pancake was done and warming on a plate, I stepped back outside...and the BIGGEST rainbow you've ever seen was up in the sky. One of those rare times when you could see the whole rainbow. It stretched all the way across the sky, and it.was.gorgeous. I mean, look at God showing out!

I love rainbows, don't you?

When Clark was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 2, they found a malignant tumor, the size of a man's fist, growing out of his liver. They removed the tumor and part of his liver...and it left a big scar across his little tummy. The scar is in the shape of a rainbow. He has several small scars from that time in his life, but the rainbow scar? He is a healthy, 19 year old, high school senior, but every.single.time I see it...I am gripped in my heart.

Who am I that God spared this child's life? 

To me, a rainbow is a symbol of God's faithfulness. His reminder in the sky that He is still here.

He sees us, and He loves us.

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

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Our Weekend and Growing Pains

So, Logan and Morgan came in this weekend. Morgan's little brother was playing in a baseball tourney, and they wanted to watch him. Plus, they'd just had kind of a stressful week. Logan turned in all of his application and paperwork for Occupational Therapy school, and now the waiting process begins. Logan typically works on Saturdays, but he took the day off and they came home. Friday night, and most of the day on Saturday...they spent with Morgan's family. We weren't going to be home most of Saturday, anyway, so it worked out that both families got to spend time with the kids.

Saturday was a big day for our family, because Clark registered for college. EEEK! He will be attending OBU in the Fall, and we could not be more thrilled. I wrote about our day yesterday here.

What I neglected to mention is that, as we walked across the campus, Aaron-the-son-in-law remarked at how nice everything looked. And it did. I've always thought the campus was so pretty, even back in the stone ages when I went to school there. Aaron said, "the thing that is sad to me, is that the Ouachita River is RIGHT THERE...but you'd never know it. You don't really see it, because of all the buildings."

And, this is how you know there's a chance you might have watched a tad too much "Fixer Upper," because I stood there in the smack-dab-middle of the court-yard, and said, "well, if I was Joanna Gaines, I would tell you that we could 'reconfigure this space' to maximize the view of the river."

Oh, "and add more natural light."

You know...just move a few buildings around to expose the natural big deal.

This morning, we all got up and went to church. Holly was on Praise Team, so they went out on stage first...and then the choir came out. I looked out to where Joshua and Jim usually sit, and saw Logan and Morgan sitting beside them, waving at us. We were just missing Clark, who has to go to first service, because of Youth (but not for too much longer!).

And, I'll just tell you right now, apart from my salvation, and my marriage, and the births of my children, and maybe a few other cool things...there's not too much more thrilling to a mom, than to look out and see her adult children sitting beside each other in the same worship service.

I thought I was gonna die right there.

So precious.

Even tho we had less than 24 hours with everyone here at the same time, it was the best time.

I don't think there's any way I can tell y'all how much fun adult kids are. When my kids were little, even when they were completely exhausting and I would crawl into bed at night and wonder how I would make it another day because I was so worn out...I still loved those days: the lunches at McDonald's or wherever had a "playland"...afternoons at the park...Mother's Day Out for the kids and lunch with friends for me...t-ball and soccer and peewee football...gymnastics and swimming and dance and piano. I loved it all, and I miss it.

Because I never wanted it to end.

I never thought my time as a mom would ever be more fun and rewarding once our kids got older, but I was SO WRONG. I have love, love, LOVED every single stage. I have.

Each stage of parenting has it's own cares and concerns and struggles, and each stage can be wonderful.

Learn from me, my little Padawans...don't wish the time away, and don't try to hang onto it longer. Don't wish they were older, and then when they're older...wish they were young again. Embrace each day...each stage.

I don't want you to feel bad for me when I say the next thing, but listen...I have Joshua, and he has Down Syndrome. He is a man, but he is a child. Many of the milestones our other 3 children met and passed...he did not. And it's okay, it really is. I'm gonna get to be a Mommy to him And that's okay.

But it's not "normal." You get what I'm saying?

I don't mean that in a bad way, because "normal" is relative...but it can also be divisive...because I know for myself, there have been times when I just wanted to blend in. Which totally shows that God has a sense of humor, because we stand out pretty much everywhere we go. Oops! But I'm not sure we should strive to be "normal." In fact, I'm not even sure that God calls Christians to be "normal" or live a "normal" life. What is it the Bible says about being "peculiar?" (But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light;" 1 Peter 2:9)
What I'm talking about is OUR normal. And it's okay.

I'm saying that it's good for our kids to grow and learn; to get to an age where they might not want to hold our hands or be seen with us in public; to form their own opinions (even if they're wrong); to strive for independence; to work out their faith; to get a driver's license and want to be free; to work and make their own money; to vote; to go to college if they want; to get have children...and to raise them how THEY think is best.

Remind me of those last few as you feel led.

Because come August...and I take my baby to COLLEGE...all of this is going out the window, and I'm gonna be crying my eyes out.

But I'm gonna remind's hard, but it's normal. It's what most kids do...and what they're supposed to do. And I'm gonna remind myself to breathe, to embrace this new stage in Clark's life.

Anyway, back to today, my friend, Ruth, had also come for the service this morning, and it was so great to see her. After church, we went to eat at a Mexican restaurant. Everyone* was really excited about going out, because we usually just go home and eat re-runs (what Joshua calls left-overs) for lunch.

*Well, JOSHUA was not excited about eating out. HE wanted to come home...and change out of his Sunday clothes...and eat his left-over chicken strips from last night.

Hey, I can respek dat. 

We typically walk in the house after church, and it's a full-on race to see who can get in their "comfy clothes" the fastest before lunch. Joshua has a love-affair with his Crocs. He can't get them on fast enough, so when we said we weren't going straight home, but going to lunch instead...he was not happy. And he started doing the mutter. You know, how the bad guys on cartoons used to mutter? Like that.

Plus, he calls his grandmother at straight-up 1 p.m. every Sunday without fail, and our lunch at the Mexican restaurant was totally messing that up.

A fact that he shared with his grandmother immediately after we got home, when he called her.

I was not happy with Joshua.

Anyway, after lunch, we came home and everyone started changing clothes. Logan and Morgan were getting their stuff packed up and ready to leave for their home. Joshua came downstairs and said, "I talked to Mammaw Jack...they are doing okay."

I said, "I heard you telling her that we messed up your plans, because you wanted to come home and eat re-runs."
I said, "that wasn't very nice, Joshua. Logan and Morgan are here, and we all want to hang out with them as long as possible. We have a few left-overs, but not enough for EIGHT people."

Joshua just stared at me. I could see the wheels spinning.

Finally he said, "I was just hungry. You know that commercial that says you're not yourself when you're hungry?"
Me: "Yes."
Joshua, "I was not myself, because I was hungry."

"Train up a child in the way he should go (and in keeping with his individual gift or bent), and when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Clark: Early Registration @ OBU

Y'all, We have had the best weekend.

This morning, we got up at dark-thirty, and headed south to Arkadelphia, Arkansas. It was Early Registration for Clark at OBU.

I cannot believe we are here at this point. My baby...our youngest child...if he has his way, will be heading to college in August.

And Marty will be on the floor in the fetal position.

But today, was for happy thoughts! We all piled in the car: Jim and I, Joshua, Holly and Aaron...and Clark. We had to leave our house at 6:30 in the morning. We drove 40 minutes, and drove thru a Chick-Fil-A for some breakfast. Joshua was a happy, happy camper!

And then we drove the rest of the way.

You know, when we registered Holly and Logan for college...the other siblings didn't come. It was just Jim and I. And it wasn't a big deal.

Now, it was all hands on deck on moving in day...and moving OUT day, and we went as a family. But on early registration day? No.

But nothing was gonna keep Holly away from going with us this morning. She was all kinds of excited and emotional.

She walked ahead of us with Clark and showed him where to go. Jim and I...Joshua and Aaron...we stayed at the back and let Clark go up to the registration table by himself. I mean, if he thinks he is big enough to go to college by himself, then he's big enough to register by himself.

Holly was appalled.

She said, "Well, if YOU aren't going up there with him, I will," and she marched herself right on up there and stood in line with Clark. I wasn't mad about it. I didn't want Clark standing up there all alone, even tho he was just fine.

The first person we saw was one of the head administration person. He shook Clark's hand and said, "do you know who your roommate is?" Clark said, "yes, sir," and proceeded to give him the name that was on his housing letter we had just gotten this week. The man said, "ummm...there's been a change. You are now rooming with my son." Clark was, like, "ooooookay...great."

I don't know if it's because of Clark's "bent," or because his medical conditions forced him to interact with adults at an early age...but he is very comfortable talking with anyone. Kids, teens, adults, people with challenges or special needs...doesn't seem to bother him. I am really thankful.

So the guy calls his son over and introduces him to Clark, and the two of them talk and talk and talk. And then they take off inside, and we don't really see them again until the thing is over. Clark said they got along GREAT, and he is so happy with the change of roommates. I am very thankful he is so flexible. He said, "I'm gonna be living with someone I don't know, this guy is fine."

This whole morning was just amazing. How did we even get to this point? When I think about my difficult pregnancy with he was born 12 1/2 weeks premature, and weighed a whopping 3 lbs 2 he stayed in the NICU for over 7 he was diagnosed with cancer at the age of he endured surgery and chemo...and how God brought him through it all. And now, here we were...registering this precious son for college. I am overwhelmed by the goodness of God.

Jim and I got to see several really good friends while we were there. It is so interesting to see the dynamics of families: the ones taking their first child...and the ones taking their last child. Jim and I totally skipped one of the parent sessions to visit with friends, because BEEN THERE, DONE THAT.

Come move-in day, tho, we'll all look the same: red, teary eyes...sad, sad faces.

We grabbed lunch on the way home. Logan and Morgan came over once we got here, and we were so happy to see them! They decided to come in for the weekend to watch Morgan's little brother play in his ball tournament, and because of Clark.

There were 9 of us at dinner tonight. We had to wait a while to be seated and we had to wait a lonnnnnng time for our food. It is prom night in our town, and we loved seeing all the teenagers all dressed up! The kids all seemed to enjoy visiting, so the wait wasn't a big deal.

We all came back to the house, and the kids got out ice-cream and cupcakes and whatever else they could find. And, now it's after 11 p.m. and we all have to get up early...and they are all sitting in the kitchen at the table, and they are talking and talking and talking.

I think my heart is about to burst.

I hear all the time from friends about situations in their families where there is jealousy or bitterness or people who cannot get along with each other. I am so thankful that my kids enjoy each other and enjoy hanging out together.

Today, our family came together for one reason: to support Clark. Watching Holly walk around the campus that has meant so much to her...showing Clark different things and taking his picture like he was a movie star...well, it was precious. We went in the bookstore no less than 3 times, and bought all kinds of swag. Holly bought Clark AND JOSHUA t-shirts, and bought a sign for Clark's dorm room. We didn't buy anything for Logan, because he is pretty much happy being a Arkansas State Red Wolf graduate, thank you very much.

And, Jim? In an attempt to be funny (AND WE HAVE HAD THE CONVERSATION THAT I AM THE FUNNY ONE, NOT HIM, SO STOP TRYING), said, "well, I'm glad y'all had fun buying goodies in the gift-shop, because all I got out of the trip is the BILL FOR HIS TUITION!"

And it was at this point I wanted to go all Regina George on him and say, "please stop talking."

But I didn't, and he did.

I hope Clark felt really loved today.

"Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." Colossians 3:14

Friday, April 17, 2015

Oklahoma, Orange Pants and Ouachita

This post is probably gonna be really boring to anyone but my kids. And it might be boring to them, too. Right now, anyway. Just giving you the heads-up. Feel free to skip. :) And I promise I have more "Joshua" posts on the way...that's the real reason people show up here! :)

The summer before my 10th grade year, we moved from OOOOOOOOOOOklahoma.

Just two years before, we said good-bye to the United States, and began our journey overseas. And we all cried. Because we were moving to a ROCK.

Once we got old enough to realize what my Dad's job entailed, when he would come home with his "orders," we would get out the globe and try to find the new place on the map. And we'd trace our finger along an imaginary route from where we where we were going. We nearly always cried about it, because God was so gracious to provide friends for us in every place we lived...and now we would have to leave them.

You cannot imagine the WAILING AND GNASHING OF TEETH that went on when he came home and told us we were moving to Taiwan. First of all, we couldn't even find it on the globe. And, second of all, when we DID find it, it was the size of a tick.

Seriously? This HAD to be a joke.

And someone (I blame one of my siblings) said, "we are moving to a ROCK." So that's where that phrase came from.

So, two years later, our family of 6 was piled on a military cargo plane, leaving Taiwan. When the wheels left the runway, everyone cheered. And we cried. It was bittersweet, ya know?

And when we finally touched down in the United States...everyone cheered again.

And then we headed for Oklahoma.

If I thought I stood out in Taiwan, well...I stood out even more in Oklahoma...if that was even possible. I mean, I remember when a new guy was transferred to my Dad's office in Taiwan, and we went over to their house to welcome them. They had a teenage girl my age who had led a very different life. I remember being in her room and she was unpacking all of her stuff. She asked me if I wanted to listen to any music, and I said, "sure!" She gave me the choice of several different this day, the only one I remember her saying was "Bread."

Now, where I came from and in the life I'd led..."bread" was FOOD.

But, that's the group I chose, because BREAD. And I acted like I knew the songs and loved the group. She turned it up really loud and then tried to talk to me. I remember thinking, "why is she trying to talk over the music," and "this is hurting my ears."

And it hit me: I was 15 and I was not cool.

There would be many more times to come, but that was the first time I remember feeling really ODD.

But then we showed up in Oklahoma.

Our family had lived for 3 months in a military guest-house, while our belongings were shipped to the United States. While our parents worked, we hung out at the guest-house pool And I wore the same two-piece, hot pink

When we arrived in Oklahoma, we were all VERY tan. VERY.

Combine that with the fact that we'd lived on an island for the past 2 years, and my mother had been having some Chinese lady make all of our clothes. My Mom would buy the material, and point to things in the Sears or Penney's catalog, and the sewing lady would magically make outfits appear. My 2 sisters and I nearly always had matching or color-coordinated clothes. We rarely wore them at the same time, but sometimes we did...inadvertently. We almost always wore "out-fits." I never didn't "match." I never even owned a pair of jeans. And I was in the 10th grade.

And I had now moved to Oklahoma, which, next to Texas, has got to be the blue-jean capital of the world.

Bless it.

I think that, on my first day of 10th grade, I wore orange pants and an orange flowered shirt.


Was that wrong?

Oh, never-mind the fact that every other person in my very large high school wore boots and jeans.


Walking into the lunch-room/cafeteria that day...well, it just wasn't happening. I wandered down a hall and somehow, by the grace of God, found my way into a snack-bar area. I happened to have some money, and I ordered myself a Coke and a bag of Cheetos. And I ate by myself.

But, over the next few days, I started seeing of the same strange and lonely people, and I struck up a conversation with a girl there...and she became my first Oklahoma friend. Her name was Aurora Ash. We ended up riding the same bus, so I would see her in the mornings and at lunch...and on the ride home. I think that was the extent of our friendship, and you know? That's okay. She was there in the loneliest time for me, because there would've been no way I could've gone into that cafeteria.

Again, God had His hand of protection on me.

At some point in the year, I met a girl named Karen. I think that was her name, anyway. She was in one of my classes, and she was getting a car. And, not just any car...she got a CLASSIC. It was a Falcon, and she was stylin'. She lived near my house, and agreed to pick me up for school so that I didn't have to ride the bus anymore! Also, for the first time in my life, I got to be a part of things in my school...Karen and I were both on the pep club, and I got to ride to and from all the games with her.

Our family had joined a growing and dynamic church in our town, and my parents were very involved. It was through that church that I first met Janet and Linda. They took a chance on the dark girl in the orange pants, and we became the best of friends. They challenged me in my walk with Christ, and were with me through all the struggles of a geeky high school girl. It was so awesome to finally have great Christian friends.

Janet and I only had to take 2 classes our senior years, so we decided to take another 2 classes at a local Jr. College. And then we ate at Braum's nearly every day for lunch. It's a wonder I didn't weigh 300 pounds.

I miss my 17 year old metabolism.

Janet decided to go to college locally, and I can't remember about Linda. Janet also got married right out of high school. I remember that I was in her wedding the night before I moved to college.

I chose to go to Ouachita Baptist University, even tho I did not know one soul in the entire state of Arkansas.

Once again, I was the geeky new kid...only this time, it was by MY choice. I had to trust that the God who had protected me all of my life...had gone before me to prepare the way.

On my loneliest days...8 1/2 hours away from a strange place...God continued to pursue me, to remind me that I was held in His hands.

I had no idea that the experiences I had growing up...moving a lot and always being the new kid...would provide me with a resilience and inner strength I didn't know I had. I had no idea that roommate I was randomly assigned...would introduce me to a blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy from her hometown in L.A. (that's Lower Arkansas), who happened to go to the college across the Ravine; that he and I would eventually marry; that we would have the family we have, the children we have, and the life we've created. We didn't know the twists and turns our lives would take. I always say that if we knew, like if we could've looked ahead, we would've run screaming into the woods...because how could we ever survive some of these challenges? We couldn't. Not without God.

I didn't know any of that when I took that step of faith and chose to go to OBU. Walking my parents out on that first day, and watching them drive away...I had no idea how God would work all of this out for my good and His glory.

But, He did.

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

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Joshua: Purple Cow, Mammaw Jack & He Is Here

Joshua has had a fun week at Therapeutic Recreation. On Tuesday, they went to a community garden thing...and learned all about different vegetables and things like that.

Yesterday, they went to a botanical garden place about an hour from Little Rock. It's always beautiful there, no matter what time of year you go. At Christmas, they have TONS of light displays and it's so fun! They got to look at all of the pretty flowers, and walked on the paths. It had been raining before they got there, so they took it slow. A lot of the FRIENDS don't have the best balance in the world.

And, like last week, when they went to a different botanical garden place...this was just a stop before lunch.

The TR group had planned on going to lunch at Purple Cow, and they could not have been more excited! Even better was that they were in the town where my in-laws live, and my mother-in-law always tries to go meet Joshua and the FRIENDS for lunch if she can. Joshua was supposed to call her when they left "the gardens," so that she could arrive at the restaurant about the same time as his group. He called her, and his grandfather answered the phone. He told Joshua that Mammaw Jack was already at the restaurant, waiting.

Of course she was.

All of the FRIENDS were so excited to see Mammaw Jack, and there were hugs all around! Joshua told me where everyone sat and what everyone ordered and all of that. THEN he said that Mammaw Jack offered to buy everyone dessert, and you have to know right now that the only thing the FRIENDS like better than eating out for DESSERT.

Anywhere, any time.

And, you also need to know that ordering dessert is frowned upon by the staff at TR...because they are trying to keep the FRIENDS active and healthy.

And, you also need to know that ordering dessert is frowned upon by some of the parents, who are trying to encourage a healthy lifestyle for their families...and, apparently, a healthy lifestyle does not include eating a big piece of chocolate cake with vanilla ice-cream on top.

Or a purple milkshake.

Go figure.

And, also, some of the FRIENDS are dairy intolerant. Some are gluten intolerant. And, at least one of them is diabetic.

And they all know it, but it's hard to pass up cake, ya know?

Oh, I know.

I've tried to tell Jim's mom this on multiple occasions. She just doesn't think anyone is happy unless they are eating...a LOT. Joshua said, "Mammaw tried to sway me to eat dessert, and I said, 'MAMMAW? I am FULL FROM LUNCH...I don't need any dessert.' She kept on pressuring me, but I didn't order anything."

Good boy.

She means well, Mammaw Jack does. Like most people do.

Holly said she could pick up Joshua for me, so I got to come home and just be HOME.ALL.DAY. By myself. I loved it. I did laundry and cleaned my kitchen from top to bottom. I did some writing, ate some lunch, worked on the "family wall" of pictures I am putting up in my dining room. And by "I," I mean, mainly Holly. She is helping me a LOT, but I've put up a few things by myself.

I thought about making cookies and bringing them to choir. I do that sometimes...but I had JUST cleaned my entire kitchen, and I didn't want to mess it up again. PLUS, Clark broke my hand-mixer had mysteriously broken last week, and I knew I couldn't do as good of a job mixing everything up by hand.

I decided that I would make a run to Target and pick up a new hand-mixer...which, I did. But, by then, I didn't have time to make cookies for choir.

I got home, and loaded a Tupperware container with the BBQ chicken and mashed potatoes I had made for dinner last night...and Jim took it to Holly when he went to get Joshua. I thought she could take it in her lunch at nursing school. Jim and Joshua usually hang out on Wednesday nights while I'm at choir. They go to the gym and eat out...stuff like that. And Clark goes to youth. I usually go pick up Joshua at Holly's house, but Jim offered to get him last night, because they were going straight to dinner.

After I got ready, I went over to get Holly on my way to church. I LOVE choir practice, but, for some reason, I had a hard time concentrating last night. Also, at one point, one of the men hollered down at me from the top row, "hey, Marty...did you bring any cookies?"

Which just goes to prove my friend, Carolyn's, mantra is true:

"IMpression without EXpression leads to DEpression."

Now, I wasn't actually depressed, but I should've gone ahead and made the cookies when I thought about it.

Because I thought about it.

Holly didn't tell me she was on Praise Team for this I stayed after choir practice, and listened to her group go through all the songs. I didn't hate it.

I love choir practice...have I mentioned that?

When they finished, Holly was ready to leave, but this group of guys was getting ready to practice the song they're gonna sing during the offertory on I begged her to stay 5 more minutes.

And then I may or may not have sat in the choir loft and bawled my eyes out like a baby. Have you heard this song? We have 4 men singing it, instead of 3, and

He Is Here, first verse and chorus:

"I sense an awesome moving of the Holy Spirit,
and I see His countenance resting on your face.
I know that there are angels hovering all around us,
for the presence of the Lord is in this place.

He is here, Hallelujah!
He is here, Amen!
Here is here, Holy, Holy.
I will bless His name again.
Here is here, listen closely.
Hear Him calling out your name.
He is here, you can touch Him.
You will never be the same."

When the men were done, they turned around and saw me...I said, "look away...I'm a mess." And one of the men said, "well, I'd say that means it sounded okay." was okay.

"The LORD your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love; He will rejoice over you with song." Zephaniah 3:17

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The God Who Sees

I've been spending some time remembering old friendships.

Well, not just old friendships...but friendships over the years.

It all started recently...when my old boyfriend from when I was 14 years old...friend-requested me on Facebook. I realize that, for many of y'all, this would not be a big deal. You may still know your boyfriend from the 9th may still know his family, where he lives. He may go to your church. No big deal, right?

Well, it's huge for me...because I grew up as an Air Force brat, and I lived all over the United States...and in 2 foreign countries. I've written about that temporary my friendships were, because just about the time I would meet someone and begin to form a relationship with them...we would move. Again.

Or, they would. That's the life of the military.

Not gonna lie. I remember very few people from my childhood. VERY few. I think the earliest friend I remember is a girl from the 3rd grade. I remember we lived in Toledo, Ohio. I remember our school was down the street and I could walk to it. I remember that this girl lived a couple of houses down. I remember going to her house and meeting her sisters...and that they had a closet full of clothes.

And, that's it.

I don't remember anyone from the 4th-7th grades. Not one person. I can't even conjure up an image in my mind. How sad is that?

But in the summer before my 8th grade year, we moved to Taiwan. If you aren't familiar with Taiwan, it's a teeny-tiny island, 90 miles from mainland China.

In fact, not to one-up Sarah Palin, who said she could see Russia from her house in Alaska...I could see mainland China from mine.

So there.

Not eyes weren't that good.

But I remember several people from my time in Taiwan. Not like I would ever look them up or anything. I don't remember most of their last names. There's nothing like living on an island, or on a military base, to make you lose any stereotypes or prejudices you might have...because, as I'm sure you can imagine, not a lot of Americans living in Taiwan. Most of the American kids went to the American school there. And we made friends with the ones who moved, yellow, black, white, brown. Did not matter. We'd see them walk in with that all-to-familiar deer-in-the-headlights look...and, after a few months or a year...we were friends, and we cried when it was their time to leave. Because no one else can understand what that life is like...more than someone else who is living the same way.

I remember a girl named Janice, who could do sign-language like none-other. I thought she was ah-MAY-zing. I remember a Nazarene girl, who had long, beautiful hair. I remember my African-American friend, Judge Dudley III. I thought he had the coolest name ever. And I remember a girl named Donna, who made me a friendship bracelet out of leather that I wore for a solid year after we got back to the States...before it dry-rotted on my arm and fell off in the shower.

Attractive, I know.

And I remember my little boyfriend. This was before cell phones and internet and all of that. Think: Little House On The Prairie days. Ha! We would hang out at school, and he would come see me at my house in the afternoons or on the weekends. It was innocent and sweet. I remember there was a wall that separated our neighborhoods, and instead of walking allllthhheeeeewaaaaayyyaarrrrounnnnd, he would jump over the wall. I remember my Dad saying the most he ever saw of that boy was the bottom of his shoes, as he sailed over that wall.

And when my Dad's new orders came (to move), we had to move out of our house, and into a "guest house" for 3 months (so that our belongings could be shipped). My little boyfriend and I broke up...because I was leaving, and I knew that I would never see him again.

I remember that a week before we moved, he took a bus and came to see me at our guest house. I think he came every day that week. It was really sweet.

And then we moved...and I never saw him or heard from him again.

Until last week.

I've just been thinking about the people God has placed in my path over the years...the ones for good, and the ones who were not-so-good. Honestly, there haven't been very many not-so-good ones. But even looking back on the 2 years we lived in Taiwan, I can see God's hand of protection on me and my family.

And, it's true what "they" say about hindsight being 20/20. Some things are really hard to go through at the time...break-ups, moves, losing a friendship, etc...but now, looking back, I can see so many blessings that have come from the life I lived. And not only do I see God's protection...I see His plan. I see His provision. I see His guidance.

I see His hand...all over everything...even those times when I was trying to do things on my own, or go my own way.

Years and years ago, I took a Kay Arthur Bible Study on the names of God, and I am reminded of one in particular today: El Roi. I thought it was so funny, because "ELROY?" But over and over again, I am reminded that, no matter the circumstances...whether I created them myself, or they happened out of my control...God was there. El Roi: The God Who Sees.

I love that.

"She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: 'You are the God who sees me...'" Genesis 16:13

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Joshua: God and Storms

One morning last week, we had a storm early in the morning...and it woke Joshua up. He's a pretty light sleeper, so I wasn't surprised. Plus, he doesn't always get his blinds closed tightly. He woke up to flashes of lightning, and thunder that shook the house. It was 4 a.m.

When Jim got up, and came into the living room at 5 a.m., he was shocked to see Joshua asleep on the couch.

It is one of my fears that Joshua is going to fall down the stairs. He's pretty agile, but he has zero depth perception. And, in the dark? This is a nightmare in the making for me.

But Joshua told him that he came down the stairs on his bottom. That's what I've always told him to do...if he was scared in the night, or sick...please come down on your bottom, because it's safer. Or, as Joshua said, "it was more safer." I was happy to know that he did just that!

Jim said Joshua had brought his pillow, Bible, water bottle, iPOD touch, phone...and THREE hankies down with him.

And, as cute as the mental image of Joshua coming down the stairs on his bottom in the night...even cuter is the mental imagine of him coming down the stairs on his bottom in the night...with all of his stuff.

I mean...BLESS.

Years ago, Joshua was terrified of storms. TERRIFIED. And he would dart into our room like a bat outta you-know-where...and we would make him a "pallet" on the floor (and, because I had someone comment and ask me one time, a "pallet" is just a little padded area for kids to sleep on...sheet, blanket or a quilt. When our kids got too big to all crawl into bed with us, or if they didn't want to...but they got scared, or were sick in the night...they would bring in some blankets or maybe a sleeping bag...and put it on the floor by our bed. There were some nights when there were 2 on the floor and 2 in the bed with us. NOT EVEN KIDDING).

Anyway, we would look up Bible verses on not being afraid...that God was always with us...that God was in control of the weather. It took several years, but Joshua finally got over his fear of storms. Correction: GOD got Joshua over his fear of storms. He still gets concerned, but it's not nearly as bad as it was.

Even so, there are still many times when I go into Joshua's room to check on him, and he'll be sleeping on his Bible. Like, his head would be laying on his Bible. Or, his Bible would be under his pillow.

I don't know about you, but, to me, that is just such a sweet picture of childlike faith; Of believing and trusting that God's word is life; that it is comfort. It is strength. It is wisdom. It is peace. It is a strong tower (Proverbs 18:10). It is safety.

And even Joshua, my Downsy big man-child...knows the truth that God's word is a shield.

I just love that.

And, I don't know that the rest of us wouldn't be better off if we faced life like this as well.

"As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the LORD is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him." Psalm 18:30