Monday, August 31, 2015

Smoking Cars and Fish in Baggies

I haven't been able to shake a headache for several days. Last night, I went to bed and my head hurt so bad and I had already had 8 Motrin in one day and couldn't take any more. UGH! When I woke up this morning, and it was some better...I laid in bed and stayed very still.

All that to say that my morning was s-l-o-w.

But I did drag myself to the kitchen to make muffins. Because it's Monday...and because I always make muffins on Mondays if I know what's good for me. AND I DO.

Clark and Faith left last night a little after 7 p.m. We had hoped that they would get gone a little earlier, so they could get back down to school and get settled...and they both had reading homework to do. BUT that is not the way they roll at ALL. And it stresses me out at times, but it doesn't bother them AT the best thing is for me to learn to go with the flow.

Which, I am a pretty laid-back, go-with-the-flow Mom already. I just need to learn to go with THEIR flow.

It's hard.

They left here, like I said, a little after 7. Were they gassed up and ready to go? No, no they were not.

And not only that, but Faith was bringing her 10 GALLON FISH TANK to let that just sink in for a minute.


She had cleaned it out, and it was in the backseat, along with all of the equipment and food. And the fish were in large baggies in a plastic container in the front seat that Faith was holding on her lap.

I know.

AND, apparently, earlier in the afternoon...Faith had gone to the pet store and bought 2 MORE fish...and ONE OF THEM HAD ALREADY DIED.

In, like, less than two hours.

Because it is important to buy fish when you are trying to get out of town and have a nearly 2 hour drive ahead of you.

No, it's not important to me, but was to her. And I love her sweet heart.

So they headed out from here with no gas. Faith was not only holding a plastic container full of LIVE fish in baggies...she was also holding a baggie with one dead fish floating upside down.

Just let that image stay with you a minute.

Then they headed BACK to Petco to return the dead fish and get another new, LIVE fish.


As they pulled out of the driveway, I said, "NOW not get distracted in the pet store. Get your fish and get back in the car...YOU CANNOT LEAVE ALL OF THOSE FISH IN THE CAR OR THEY WILL ALL OVERHEAT AND DIE." They assured me that they knew this, and they drove away.

About 45 minutes later, Clark called Jim to tell him that Faith's car (they had come home in Faith's car, because her Dad was going to take it to be serviced) was "smoking." Jim said, "okay...did you call Faith's Dad?" Clark said, "yes, sir." Jim said, "where are y'all? Are you in a safe place?" Clark said, "yes, sir. We're at Baskin-Robbins."


See what I mean about these two free-spirited kids? Completely unconcerned about the time and the drive and the FISH...they wanted ice-cream before they got out on the road.

Bless them.

So, Faith's dad came and he decided to let them take HIS car, and he said he will take her car to be checked out. Again. So they had to unload EVERYTHING from one car...into the other...and they took off. Faith's mom texted to let me know they were on their way. I responded with this text: "they each have their wallets, purses, ID's, room keys, etc...right?"

Well, I never heard back from her...which, as Jim would say: THERE'S YOUR SIGN...but the next thing I know, Clark is calling Jim again, telling him that they realized he had left his wallet under the seat of Faith's car...and they were going to come back and get it. These kids are 19 and 20...but they have never been away from home. So this year should (hopefully) be very eye-opening for them, and they will (hopefully) remember this incident and (hopefully) think long and hard about everything they need or might need or may have forgotten...BEFORE they get in a car to go somewhere. Hopefully.

While they were waiting on Faith's parents to come to them, I texted Clark and Faith and asked them if they were okay. They said they were fine. I asked if they were stressed with each other or fussing with each other, and Clark said, "not at all." (which, bless these youngest-born children, because Jim and I are first-borns, and we probably would've killed each other by this point). I told them that before they did another thing, they needed to stop and pray. Faith said, "oh, we already did." :)

They FINALLY got gone, and I finally heard from them a little before 11...they had hoped to be there by 8:30, sooooooo...

Jim and I were so thankful that they made it and that they were SAFE. Clark had not felt great all weekend, and Faith texted me last night to say that Clark was running a fever. How she knew this, I do not know...but that was enough to make me want to jump in my car and drive down there and get him.

I know.

This morning, I texted response. I waited a while and texted him again. Still no response. It was almost enough to make me want to jump in my car and drive down there and strangle him. It's just the worst when your kids are sick at college and you aren't there to look at them and know if they are seriously sick or just so-so sick...and then there will be a story on the news about a kid who started feeling bad at college and then died the next day of some weird kind of thing.

Every time.

Faith texted me to say that they were both going to go to the nurse that made me feel better, and even more concerned. Should I go down there? I don't know. 

I texted him again. No response. Faith finally texted me to say that she had fallen asleep in her dorm room after classes, and that Clark had fallen asleep in HIS dorm room after classes...and they were both feeling a little better when they woke up. She said that "something" was going around at school, and a lot of students were sick with similar symptoms.


She said they went to their local Wal-Marks, and bought some cough drops and Emergen-C and soft Kleenex because, according to Faith, Clark was" using toilet paper to blow his nose, and his nose was getting raw." Which, I sent soft tissues AND Charmin, and you know Charmin is soft...but whatever.

Faith was going to some sort of campus activity with a couple of her new friends, and Clark said he was going to the Library to study. About an hour ago, he sent me a picture of the two of them in the Library, and he captioned it, "busy nourishing and cherishing."

A friend of mine used that phrase to describe the relationship between one of my sons and one of hers...we moved away, and while she and I stayed close, and our husbands stayed close...our boys did not. She told me that they did not "nourish and cherish" their that's something my kids say now.

Clark and Faith have been dating a while...this month will make 3 years. And they really haven't had many distractions that have kept them from spending time together. I want them to get involved in campus life and make new friends and all of that...but I also told Clark to make sure that he spends enough time with Faith, and that they continue to value their relationship. He is making more friends than he's had in the past 3 years, and I know he's excited about that. It has been such a blessing, because these last 3 years have been hard. His 2 best friends from our old town are twins, and they are going to different schools.

So, to get the picture with that caption made me smile. And they both look good...for whatever that means. I mean, as moms, can't we just look at our kids and tell how they are feeling?

I'm heading to bed...trusting God to watch over them when we can't. And asking Him to calm our hearts.

"I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, Lord, make me live in safety." Psalm 4:8

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday: Our New Pastor

We have had the best day! This morning, our potential new pastor brought the message. He had already shared his heart and his vision with the church yesterday at the reception, so today was not much about that. It was all about him bringing the word of God to us.

I pretty much like this guy's humor at LOT.

Well, I mean...I like his passion and vision and calling and leadership and compassion and heart for families and the future he sees for our church.

AND his humor.

He wasn't cracking jokes on stage like David Letterman or anything...but he has a sense of humor. While he takes his calling and his role as a minister and the command to tell others about Jesus very seriously, he doesn't appear to take himself too seriously. I appreciated the fact that he could laugh at himself.

Of course, sin is not funny. Neither is dying without Jesus. Or living without Jesus.

I don't feel like I'm making my point here.

I just think that we should major on the majors and minor on the minors...and I appreciated the way he spoke about his life and family.

The End.

Oh, wait! The way we do things in the Southern Baptist church is that, when our pastor resigns, we form a search team to search for a new pastor. We pray over who we should choose to be on this team, and, in our church, every member gets a vote. Our church chose 7 people to be on this team. And then they begin the process of seeking God's will...of becoming one as a body and making sure there is no hidden agenda with anyone, or anything like that. And then they start accepting names and resumes of pastors.

And they pray some more.

And they pray some more.

And they pray some more.

And (in our case) 11 months later, they bring you a man that they are united in recommending, and the church body hears him speak and then we vote on him.

So all of that happened, and then we had the invitation and the offering...and then the prospective new pastor left the room...and the church voted. It was 618 YES, and 1 NO.

We joked that the "no" vote could've come from Joshua. Our new pastor is a HUGE Alabama football fan, and Joshua is not only a huge RAZORBACK fan...he is also a huge NOT ALABAMA fan.

But I saw his ballot, and he wasn't "the one." Ha!

While the votes were being tallied, we sang a couple of songs to pass the time. One of the songs was "Nothing But The Blood," which is Joshua's second favorite song. His first favorite song is "Power In The Blood." He likes those "blood" songs, I guess.

Well, we started singing, and he started grinning. He had his proud face on. He was so happy! He was doing this toe-tappin' thing. And, I may or may not have seen a move that I can only describe as an "Elvis move."

Just use your imagination.

It's not for church.

Or anywhere else!

"Let them praise His name with dancing..." Psalm 149:3

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Clark's First Weekend Home, New Pastor Reception, and Sharing My Kids

So, last night, Clark and Faith-the-girlfriend came home! Well, Clark came to OUR home, and Faith went to HER home with her parents.

We were SO excited to see them! Faith's parents had something planned for last night, so she ate dinner with us...WHICH I LOVED. We decided to bring home Chinese food. Holly and Aaron came over, and we all sat around the table and talked while we ate. We got to hear all about their classes and their roommates and the activities they are doing and the new friends they are making and how they are adjusting.

This afternoon, we had a reception for our potential new pastor at our church. We only got to talk with him for about 10 seconds, but then we all went into the sanctuary and he shared his heart with everyone...and it was pretty much awesome. I am excited about him coming to our church.

I really wanted to take out the list Joshua wrote and ask the new guy if he had all of those qualities. "Are you bold? Are you faithful? Do you have a heart for kids?"

After that, we planned on going to dinner. Clark decided to eat with Faith's family, since she had eaten with us last night, and I DID.NOT.LIKE.IT.AT.ALL.

I think I have a problem with sharing.

As in...I'm not a fan.

But, I smiled and waved and said, "have fun!" as he left. And then I may or may not have said, "come home in 5 minutes." And then Jim, Joshua and I went to dinner.

Tomorrow, the potential new pastor will preach in-view-of-a-call in both services. And there will be a vote after each service...and the results will be announced after they are tallied after the late service. This is the main reason Clark and Faith came meet this guy and to vote on him tomorrow.

And then I guess they will load up after lunch sometime and head back down to college. My emotions are on a roller-coaster these days, but that's okay. These mommy growing pains pull and stretch me in ways I never could've imagined.

In these times, and in every time...I am thankful for a God Who never changes.

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

Friday, August 28, 2015

Flannel Pajammies in August

I didn't post last night. Honestly, I didn't think I could string together a coherent sentence. And also? I re-read the post from Wednesday, and thought that if I can't do any better than that...well, I need to find a better use of my time.

Jim picked up Joshua from Therapeutic Recreation yesterday afternoon, and then they headed down to the Lakehouse to visit his parents. WHY I didn't go is beyond me. I usually stay home to "be with Clark." It hit me after they left that CLARK IS NOT HERE. He is at college now, and my schedule is more free than it's been in over 29 years.

Oh well.

I was productive, tho. I started off going to Sonic for dinner, because it was .50 corn-dog day.

I'm classy like that.

After dinner, I started looking for this letter that had the date of Clark's doctor's appointment on it. Clark still sees his oncologist once a year, and I knew it was coming up in September...just couldn't remember when.

In my defense, the letter was sent about 10 months ago, and I can barely remember yesterday...soooo...

This started the paper-purge of 2015. I looked in the drawer where I typically put Clark's appointment letter, it wasn't in there...but I took allllll of the other papers out and threw most of them away or shredded them. Then, I looked in the OTHER drawer where it could've been. Nope. Not there, either. But I cleaned out THAT drawer, too, and the one next to it...just cuz.

From there, I went to the closet and looked through an old purse. Yuck. I cleaned it all out. And then I cleaned out my current purse. I save all of my monthly receipts, so I had to go through all of those...and I chunked the ones that I didn't have to keep.

Then, I tackled the stack in the cabinet. I love magazines. My mother-in-law has gifted me with a Southern Living magazine subscription for 35 years. I love the pictures, and all the recipes. I used to fold down the top of the page, and then save the case I wanted to try the recipes. But now, I can look up recipes on-line. So I chunked a BUNCH of magazines, and, not gonna hurt a little.

I also tossed a BUNCH of paperwork...old mail and stuff. When you have a high school senior in your house, you get a TON of mail from colleges. A TON. Now that Clark is in the college of his choice, I can throw all of the recruiting letters away. Sorry, John Brown...Tulane...Ole Miss...University of Arkansas, etc.

I took out 4 BAGS OF TRASH. Well, one bag of trash and 3 bags of recycling.

I guess I got all lightheaded from all of that, because then I decided to take down EVERY ITEM from our "built-ins," the mantle, and all of the tables in our entry-way and family room...and I dusted everything. All the tables, all the frames, all the shelves, all the little pretties.

And THEN...I went up in the attic, and brought down the Fall "tubs." I put up Fall garland and pumpkins and, well, just call me Shay...because my house is all decorated for Fall and IT'S NOT EVEN SEPTEMBER, Y'ALL.


And then, I took a shower and got ready for bed. I don't mind spending time alone during the day, but at bedtime? NOT A FAN. But, I turned down the air and put on my PJ Salvage flannel pajammies...IN AUGUST...and I slept the sleep of the angels.

When I got up this morning, and went to get our geriatric Black Lab out of the garage where she spends her nights...I got tickled at the "burglar alarms" I had left out. I kind of went to bed before I put everything away, and I had those Rubbermaid tubs in front of the door and stuff strewn out all over the floor. I didn't think of it at the time, but there's no way anyone could've sneaked in on me...I would've heard them FOR SURE.

And also, after I rearranged everything back on all the shelves, I had a bunch of stuff left over. Where did it go? Where should I put it?

I think this is why Jim has never let me put anything together. I put things together by how I think they should go...and then I always have a bunch of pieces left over.

Ruh rohhhhh!

Jim and Joshua made it home, and the house looks so pretty. I'm pretty tickled with myself, and so thankful that I'm gonna get to enjoy these Fall decorations for a good two months until it's time to get out the Christmas stuff!

"The LORD Himself watches over you..." Psalm 121:5

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wednesday: Choir, Answered Prayer and Change

Seems like this world is getting crazier and crazier. And scarier. WHY is everybody shooting everybody? It makes my stomach hurt just watching the news. It just reminds me that this world is not our home...and we have to be ready to die whenever it's our matter how that plays out. We HAVE to get things right between ourselves and God if we are ever going to be able to live without fear.

God sent His only Son, Jesus, to die on a cross for all of my sins...and yours (John 3:16). I didn't deserve it...and neither did you. The Bible says that if we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, we will be saved (Acts 16:31). And it also says that if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive them (1 John 1:9).

In John 14:2, the Bible tells us that Jesus is preparing a place for us in Heaven.

Please be sure of your salvation.

This morning, Joshua and I headed into LR. His group was going to do Yoga first thing...and then they were going on a hike (on flat ground) and having a picnic.

I ran a couple of errands, and then came home. Holly said she would pick Joshua up for me this afternoon, because she had a hair appointment. She has a pot-luck at her work tomorrow. She asked to borrow a dish, and asked for a recipe. On my way back into our town, I decided to stop at the store and get everything she would need to make her dessert. And when I got home, I decided to go ahead and make the dessert for her. I mean, I had the extra time, and she was picking up Joshua for me.

The only "down" side to this was that my house smelled AMAZING...and there was NO after-dinner treat for Jim and Joshua! Ha!

Tonight, I had choir practice. Holly didn't come with me because she has to work on Sunday. We got our Christmas music and so IT WAS AWESOME! I love Christmas!

Our music minister shared that he and his wife had just gotten back from the doctor with their 9 year old daughter, Ruthie. I have asked for prayer for her before. Well, they finally got a more definitive definition of what Ruthie has. I would tell you, but I tried to write it down when he said it...and I wrote it phonetically...and when I "googled" that word after I got home...there was NOTHIN'. Because it wasn't even a word.

ANYWAY, it's some sort of neurological thing, and the specialist totally believes that Ruthie can be cured. It may take a year or two, but he told them they should see improvement in a matter of months. He also told Ruthie, "when you are healed from this, remember that it was GOD who healed you...not me."


With all of the craziness going on today...THAT was such uplifting news.

Our other kids are all doing well. Clark and Faith each feel at peace with their college choice, and that is music to my ears. They are having a good time...but they are also making friends and attending class and getting to know themselves even better. I shared about the sweet text I got from him the other night. Tonight's text went something like, "did my homework, ate a Sonic Blast...and ate a questionable pork-chop in the caf." We can't wait to see them this weekend.

Logan had his 2nd day of OT school, and he was already in the lab...studying. Morgan had her 2nd day of her internship (practice teaching) and she is really enjoying it. Logan had to go back to the dentist this morning, because he got an infection in the sockets after his wisdom teeth were removed last week. Poor baby! He should be feeling better in a day or two BC antiobiotics. Holly had a good day at work on Monday. She has to work 2 more times this week, and then on Sunday. She is going to be EXHAUSTED by Sunday night!

Speaking of Sunday...our church is just buzzing with excitement! Our prospective new pastor is coming this Sunday in view-of-a-call. There's an energy in our church that hasn't been there in the past 10 months, altho GOD has been so faithful to our church body.

And, as excited as we are, our staff is quick to remind us that another church will be mourning the loss of their shepherd and pastor, and they will begin the hard task of letting go and moving forward. They will start the process of forming a search team and going through the same process our church has just finished.

Life is full of change.

"I took my troubles to the LORD; I cried out to Him, and He answered my prayer." Psalm 120:1

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

First Day Back: Therapeutic Recreation and Joshua

I know this blog is supposed to mainly be about Joshua. I mean, I do write about everyone in my family, typically...I just got a little side-tracked with the whole sending-Clark-to-college emotions.

Sorry not sorry.

A couple of weeks ago, my sister, Leanne, said she wanted to do a family newsletter. OF COURSE SHE DOES. We have a group, my 3 siblings and our Dad. Leanne wanted to do a monthly newsletter, with updates on all of our kids, and their families and all of that.

I don't know what I was expecting...maybe along the lines of the group email, only with more people in it.


I got the newsletter yesterday, and immediately started crying.

I know, shocker. My emotions are all over the place right now.

But it was SO CUTE and so well done! She's calling it PawPaw's Patriots, after our Dad...and it's all red, white and blue. She put Psalm 33:12, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord," in a little red,white, and blue box...and the border is trimmed with those patriotic colors.

It was awesome to read about everyone. Leanne had asked for us to send her little updates on everyone in our families. With 20 grandchildren, 3 step-grandchildren...and all the husbands, wives and significant's hard to keep up. I am loving the newsletter!

In other news: Logan started Occupational Therapy school yesterday. He said there was so much information to learn, but it was all very interesting...and he is very excited! Yesterday was also Morgan's first day as a teaching intern. She really enjoyed her day, and she did not get mistaken for a student like she did last week! Ha!

Today was Clark and Faith's first day of classes at OBU. Both of them sent texts, telling us how much they enjoyed their classes today. I am just so happy they are there. :)

And, today was Joshua's first day back at Therapeutic Recreation. He's been going there for years and years, but every year, when they start back, he gets so nervous the night before. Keep in mind that they've only been "off" for a month...AND they've had TWO get-togethers with everyone during this last month. So there's that.

Joshua said that everyone was going to be happy to see him...and that they would probably notice he had a real man's build: "definition" and a skinnier stomach. Ha!

Holly rode into Little Rock with Joshua and me. After we dropped Joshua off at TR,  Holly and I spent the day shopping...and went out for lunch. It was the most fun I've had in a WHILE.

Here's a little story for everyone who every told me, "oh, THEY are so sweet," or "THEY are so loving..."

Today at TR, the FRIENDS spent some time brain-storming about activities they want their group to do this well as places they'd like to eat. The FRIENDS are all about some eating out! Joshua said he suggested "Corky's BBQ, and everyone went nuts because it's a favorite. Someone suggested McAlister's, and Jenni-the-girlfriend started crying.

Apparently, she's not a fan.

Annnnnnd someone else suggested Buffalo Wild Wings. Joshua said that the "new Michael" said he didn't like that place, and Joshua said, "well, that's okay. It was just a suggestion...AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO COME THAT DAY."

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

Monday, August 24, 2015

Knowing Clark Less

Today, we've had a quiet day. I made muffins for breakfast because MONDAY. And Joshua was so excited and happy. So many changes going on, but he was happy to have his Muffins On Monday. :)

I woke up early. It was Logan's first day of Occupational Therapy school...and Morgan's first "real" day as an intern (also known as her semester of practice teaching). Holly had to be in Little Rock by 6:15 for work. I just needed to get on up and get to prayin'!

I decided to have a comfort-food dinner tonight. I made chicken and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn-on-the-cob, salad...and bread. I only made the bread because I had it in the freezer, and I was afraid it had been in the there too know that Jim does not eat bread. In fact, none of this would be on his gluten-free, twigs and grass diet...but he scarfed it up like it was his first meal in days.

The food was comforting, but my baby is still at college. And I miss him. :(

I read something last week, and I wish I could remember where, so I could give them credit...but a mom was writing that the reason we are sad about a child leaving for college is because once we do...we know them less.

I started thinking about this and she is so right. From the time they start to school, you know them less than you used to.

Remember when they were little, and you were their whole world?

And then you signed them up for Mother's Day Out or some sort of pre-school...or they went to Kindergarten, and all of a weren't their whole world anymore. There were friends to play with, and teachers who hugged them when they fell down on the playground. Just like mom. They talked all day and shared their life with other people...and by the time they came home, they were tired. They didn't tell you everything...partly because they were exhausted from the day, and partly because they just couldn't remember it all...and all of a sudden, you know them less.

Then there's elementary school...and middle school...junior high and high school. There's church and sports and camps and work...and with each year and each activity and each person that takes them away from your sphere of know them less.

Now, my youngest child is away at college. He's been there 5 days. Even tho he is not the most talkative child, I miss hearing even the little bit he would share about his day. He's been living at his college since Thursday, and I haven't heard from him much. I can see from the schedule he sent...the activities they are offering during this time of orientation. I don't know if he's gone to all of the activities, or skipped out on some.

I don't know how he's sleeping. Or if he's adjusting to sharing a bathroom with 3 other guys. Or if the temp in his room is hot...or cold. I don't know if he's still getting along with his roommate. Or anything about the other people he's met. I don't know if he is enjoying all of the orientation activities they've had this week.

I don't know if he's figuring out that he has everything he needs...or if he's thinking of things he's wishing he had.

I don't know if he misses us.

Because I know him less than ever before.

The text he sent me yesterday said for me not to worry. Riiiiight. Actually, I'm not WORRIED. I'm just curious. I want to share in all of this with him, but it's not really my place, I guess. He's a 19 year old college freshman, and he is SO READY for this new chapter of life.

In his text, he also told me that he was so happy there...and that made me and Jim happy...and relieved.

I've been reading all of the back-to-school posts...and I've been about in tears. Those first day jitters are for realz. For the kids AND the moms. I read Shay's post about crying as she tucked her kids into bed the night before school, and listen...I get it. Every night this week, I crawl into bed and, as I'm saying my prayers for my college boy (and my other kids)...the tears are rolling down my face. Every.single.time.

And this is our 3rd time to send one of ours to college. It doesn't get easier, people.

This growing up stinks and it's awesome and it's hard and it's fun. I love my grown-up kids, but I miss them being little, too. I love that they are making their own way, and I'm proud of the choices they are making with their lives. I love that Holly has a husband and Logan has a wife and Clark has a girlfriend...but this means that I know them less because others hear the deep stirrings of their hearts before I do. And that's okay. And that's how it's supposed to be.

We have Joshua, and he's 29 years old. He lives at home with us and we love it and we love him. But he knows...he knows that his 3 YOUNGER siblings have all left home, and he is still here. We try our best to make it okay. We tell him that we are ALL different and we all do different things.

Not sure if he's buying it.

Every stage, every age...those growing pains are hard on us mommies. Even tho that's what moms and dads are supposed to do...raise children to be Jesus-loving, compassionate, sincere, caring, encouraging, confident, capable men and women...who will leave home and make their own way and eventually make a difference in the world. 


It's just so hard to let them feel like, as parents, we are DONE.

Or maybe that's just me.

"You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book." Psalm 56:8

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Clark's First Days of College and His Text

I'm not getting much information from Clark about how his first days are going. Classes at OBU don't start until Tuesday, but they have all kinds of things going on between now and then. Clark says that every minute of every day is packed full of stuff. I told him there was a reason behind all of that. They do want the new students to bond, before all the upperclassmen get there...and they also want to keep the kids busy and active to stave off homesickness.

He sent us a schedule, so we kind of know what all they are doing. That's been helpful to see what all has been going on.

They broke up into "family" groups and they hang out together during the day. They eat their meals together and go to the activities together. The first night, after we left, they had meetings and stuff for everyone to get to know each other.

On Friday night, they went to eat at the faculty's houses. Clark and his group ended up at the interim president's house. OF COURSE HE DID. Jim said, "tell him that your dad was the one who sat beside him on the stage...who was wearing the SHORTS."


On Saturday, they had some sort of competitions between the groups, dinner at the football stadium...and a pep rally. Holly looked through 300 30 pictures of the evening, and zoomed in on everyone's faces until she finally found Clark. Actually, it's a thousand wonders she recognized him. The picture was of the side of his face. Basically, it was of his ear and the back-side of his head...but you could see his cap, and that's how she found him.

This morning, he texted me to say he and Faith were going to church. I asked him to try and get a picture out in front of the church, because that's where Jim and I went to church when we were there and in college. Clark sent me a picture of him and Faith in the the parking front of the church.


And tonight, we saw a couple of other group pictures, and we looked at each and every face until we found him.

Tomorrow is his last family group day. They are winding those down, and gearing up for classes to start. They will spend the afternoon at the lake as their last big thing.

Clark isn't much of a texter. Or a call-er. On the rare occasion he does text me, the messages are short and to the details. But Saturday morning, I got a lonnnnnng, detailed text from him. It was FULL of details about what he was doing, and the friends he was meeting...and how he was realizing how blessed he was.


He said that, for some reason...and he doesn't know why...their room is the hang-out room, and everyone wants to be in there. So he and his roommate found a couple of extra chairs, and WENT TO A THRIFT STORE to pick up some "signs and stuff" to "make their room more hospitable for all of their visitors."


But, the best part of the text came at the end. He said, "don't be worried about how I'm doing, because God is making every little thing fall into place. I'm so happy here."

No better words for this mommy's heart.

"Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far [home] country." Proverbs 25:25

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Taking Clark to College (Part 3)

The VP of Student Services at OBU had asked Jim to speak at the New Beginnings program on Thursday, after the freshmen were all moved in. This program was for all new students and their parents. Jim was supposed to speak, for 3-5 minutes, on leaving your child at college...from a parent's view. Since we've moved 2 of our 4 kids to OBU and 1 to another college...I guess they thought he'd be a good choice.

The fact that they asked him was particularly funny to many of our friends, since Jim is a HSU REDDIE, which is the University just across the street from OBU...and a HUGE rival. OBVIOUSLY.

You wouldn't think a REDDIE would even be allowed up on stage at an OBU event!

I told Jim to prepare to be "boo'ed."

Or heckled.

He wasn't. :)

He had kind of stressed over what to wear to this shin-dig. I told him to just wear his shorts and t-shirt...I mean, it was MOVING DAY and he was speaking on behalf of the parents. He went 'round and 'round with it. He finally decided to pack jeans and a pull-over shirt to change into., but, in the end, he decided to just wear his shorts.

When he got to the auditorium, they showed him up to the stage where the speakers were going to sit. There was only one place left to sit: right beside the interim president of OBU...who was wearing a suit. Jim was in shorts and tennis-shoes. :)

In preparing for this speech, I told Jim that he was, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES, allowed to get up there and talk about how much money he has paid for our kids' college educations. No moaning and groaning. No pulling the insides of his pockets out to show they are empty. No opening up his wallet and pretending to shake it out.

All things I could see him an attempt to be funny, and prove his point.

He asked me to help him write his speech, and I did. He did a great job, even tho he did threaten to pass an offering plate at the end to help pay for Clark's tuition.

After all of the speakers has spoken, they had a girl come up and lead in prayer. At the end of the prayer, she said, "And God, we pray specifically for..." and she started saying some new student's names. I thought, "oh, that's neat. I wonder if they just randomly chose a few names to pray for, or were they international students...or students that had traveled a far distance...or were they part of a group that had been involved in an accident or something?"

Clearly, I was in the spirit of prayer.

All of a sudden, I heard talking...and I was, like, WHAT THE WHAT? I thought it was maybe someone on their cell phone and I was thinking, "HOW RUDE." The best part was when Joshua heard this LOUD talking during the prayer...he raised his head and spun it around to he was in the Exorcist movie or something.

Then, ANOTHER person started talking. And then ANOTHER person started talking. And then ANOTHER person started talking.

I was about to have a panic attack until I stopped to hear what they were saying. They were praying specifically for every single new name.

All over the auditorium, people stood up to pray over a list of names. All at the same time. Out-loud. Until every name had been spoken.

I heard them pray for Faith-the-girlfriend...but I never heard Clark's name. It was probably spoken during my "freak-out time."

After the prayer, we were dismissed to go. As in...they wanted the parents to GO. As in...they wanted the parents to LEAVE ALREADY.

We went to get pictures before we left. We decided to get pictures in front of the chapel at OBU, because that's where Jim and I got married...35 years ago.

Interesting SIDE NOTE:  we ran into a Little Rock pastor we know in the bookstore at OBU. He said he was there with his 8th and youngest child...moving her to college. WOW! He said, "yes, my wife and I just kissed over on the steps of her old dorm...where we first kissed 42 years ago."

I glared looked sweetly over at Jim.

I said, "WELL, HOW SWEET! I mean, that is SO NICE! Jim and I got married in the chapel here, and we've walked past it about 5 times so far...and I got nuthin'.

"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:20

Friday, August 21, 2015

Taking Clark to College (Part 2)

So, yesterday, we took our baby to college. And it was good...and it was hard.

I've written about the difference between boys and girls here. Never more apparent than on move-in day.

With Holly, it took us every bit of 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to get her moved in and her stuff arranged. Because there were curtains and dust-ruffles with their names on them that her roommate's grandmother made. There was hooking up a TV, and stringing tiny pink lights all around the room. There were shelves to put together and desk items to organize...and all the pictures that had to be put on the walls. Mirrors, bathmats, shower-curtains, chairs,

Things were a TAD different yesterday. We pulled up, and some of the older students welcomed all of the freshmen by helping them unload their stuff. It was really nice, considering that when Jim stepped out of his car (we took two cars), this guy that he went to school with IN THE 7th GRADE came up to him and they started OLD HOME WEEK right there in front of the dorm.  While Clark checked in, Joshua and I unloaded all the stuff from the car because Jim was still talking.


AND, the guy took a selfie with Jim to show his family and friends...and I nearly died from laughing.

Most of Clark's things were carried upstairs by the student group, so we walked in and got to work. Clark's roommate and his roommate's dad had come the night before and put the carpet down, praise Jesus. We had planned on bringing a rug. It was left from when LOGAN lived in the dorm...but it would've been FINE for Clark and his roommate to use. We were so happy to find out that the flooring had already been taken care of. We didn't have to bring the rug, and we were able to get right in and start working on Clark's room.

Honestly, we could've been done in 20 minutes, but we dragged it out, because we had to stay until 3 anyway.

Clark had packed all of his clothes...what he thought he would need for the entire school year...INTO ONE RUBBERMAID TUB.


His whole life in one plastic container.


And, instead of taking his clothes out of his drawers (at home) and placing them directly into the tub, he had rolled up each item into a teeny-tiny roll, like a Ho-Ho. Anyone remember Ho-Ho's or was that a "northern" thing? We had them when my Dad was stationed in Ohio. They are similar to Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls.

So, that's what everything in his clothes tub looked like.

Also, we brought him a little ironing board...AND NO IRON. So there's that. Don't know what I was thinking. Not that I didn't send an iron...but that I sent an ironing BOARD. If this child is anything like his older brother, Logan...he will use the nearest clothes dryer as his "iron."

After we got Clark all settled, we walked over to have lunch in the cafeteria. Holly always called it, "The Caf." We went and picked up Clark's books from the bookstore, and he tried out his combination on his campus mailbox.

On our way back to Clark's room, Jim found a debit card right in front of our parking place. At first, we weren't sure if it was "real" or just one of those cardboard cards...but the last name on the card looked so familiar, AND we knew this lady was moving her daughter into the dorm that day. I called her and it WAS hers...and I walked over to meet her and her daughter. They are from the town where we used to live, so it was fun catching up with them.

After we got back up to Clark's room, my friend, Sherri, came over to visit. She and her husband have been friends of ours for over 30 years. Our daughters are also friends! She works at the college, so it was awesome to see her. While we talked, Clark took off with his roommate and two other new friends...and that just blessed my heart so much.

After Sherri left, we all walked over to Faith-the-girlfriend's dorm room...which, let me just say, is a NIGHT AND DAY difference from Clark's room. Not just in appearance...but ALL THE PRETTIES. And, the dorm doesn't smell like a locker room at a prison. Faith's room looks like it's out of a magazine. It is soothing and pretty...just like her! She had art all over the was just perfect.

And then it was time to head to the New Beginnings program for all the new students and their parents. I'll write more about that tomorrow, because this post is getting wayyy too long.

"But each day the LORD pours His unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing His songs, praying to God Who gives me life." Psalm 42:8

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Taking Clark to College (Part 1)

Well, we did it. We took our baby boy, our 4th child, to college. We left our home at 8:15 this morning, and pulled back into our driveway about 12 hours later.

I am too tired to process all the feels...maybe tomorrow.

But for tonight, let me just say that I'm kind of sick of hearing people say that I shouldn't feel sad about taking Clark to college. I don't "get" this any more than they don't "get" the blubbering mess that is me.

But, "they" don't know that I almost lost him twice in pregnancy; that he was born prematurely at 27 weeks, 4 days; that he spent 7 1/2 long weeks in the NICU at Baptist, growing...and learning to breathe.

"They" don't know that, at age 2, a malignant mass was found growing in his abdomen; that he had surgery to remove it, along with part of his liver; that he endured 4 rounds of chemo.

"They" don't know about those anxious appointments with the oncologist every month (that are now just once a year)...for the past 17 years.

So EXCUSE ME if I shed a few tears. You do you...I'll do me.

I am happy, sad, proud and grateful for this boy, and so excited to see where this new chapter of life takes him. He is ready.

Life is hard...but God is good...and I have been overwhelmed by His faithfulness in EVERY circumstance.

"Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies." Psalm 36:5

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

It's Really Happening.

Welp. I guess it's really going to happen. I keep pushing it to the back of my mind, but there's no stopping time, I guess. Clark is supposed to move to college tomorrow.

Of course, as of 8:30 tonight, he had NOTHING packed.

Not, he didn't have very much packed...he didn't have ONE THING PACKED.

I wish I was kidding.

I think he's dragging his feet because he really doesn't want to go. Right? It helps me to think this way...please don't take it away from me.

Truthfully, I don't think he understood the big rush. After I saw how and what he packed, I tend to agree with him. The boy got ALL of his clothes...into one Rubbermaid tub.

ONE Rubbermaid tub.

When we packed Holly for college, we filled every bit of a Suburban...AND her car...with her stuff.

We spent the day hanging out here. Holly came over this morning, and she stayed all day. Tonight, we all went to dinner, and then came back here. FINALLY, Clark started packing.

Holly can't go with us tomorrow, because she has to work...and she is about to die a thousand deaths. This is her littlest brother, and he is going to her alma mater. She wants to be with us so bad. Her nursing preceptor told her that if she wanted to ask off, they would try to work it out, but Holly said she didn't want to be "that" person who comes in on her first day of work...and asks off for a certain day.

Anyway, she helped Clark pack some things, and I packed some other things...and I think he's all done. 5 Rubbermaid tubs. THAT'S IT. I can't believe it.

His life...packed into 5 plastic containers.

And now, we are all going to bed, because tomorrow? Our lives are going to change so  much.

"The LORD watches over the path of the righteous..." Psalm 1:6

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Holly, the RN!!!

Woke up this morning to the Holly found out that she passed her NCLEX!

The NCLEX is a test that all nurses have to take to be certified as a Registered Nurse. She took the test on Friday. They were supposed to post results in 48 hours, but, being that it was the weekend...she knew it would take longer. On Monday, they announced that they would be doing "maintenance" to the website for several hours during the night, and I thought Holly was going to go over a cliff.

She said, "I gave it all to God, but then I took it back...and then I gave it back to him...and then I took it back."

The struggle is real...with all of us. Right?

I'm just proud of her for recognizing it at an early age.

She said that she had not slept well all weekend, so she woke up at 4:50 this morning, and took her phone to the bathroom so she wouldn't wake Aaron. She said the results were posted and she passed! She was so excited that she couldn't go back to sleep! She said she woke up Aaron to tell him, and he smiled sweetly and said, "that's great news!" and then fell right back asleep.

She is always telling me how sweet he is in the night...if she has to wake him up. She says he will wake up smiling.

Waking up her Dad in the night is taking your life into your own hands. It's like waking up a rabid bear. Jim jerks his arms and legs, and will holler, "what? what? huh?" And I had better duck and swerve, because he is out-of-control.

If we ever have an intruder, and I have to wake him up to tell him...well, we're dead.

Holly had to go in for an orientation class today. I stayed home and did laundry and stuff...trying to get Clark's things ready to head to school. After lunch, Jim took Clark to get a case for his computer...and Joshua and I went to run errands.

Joshua is always the FIRST one to volunteer to help me. If I walk through the room with an arm-full of clean sheets, he will quietly get up and follow me...and help me put sheets on any of the beds.

Today, we went to Wal-Mart to get a few groceries. He also helped me look for things Clark needs for college...and then he helped me load all of it in the car. I typically try to park close to one of the places where you put up the buggies. I call shopping carts, "buggies," but some people don't know what I'm talking about. Anyway, if I park close to the buggy "station," he can push the cart over there, and then walk back to the car. I try to park on the same side as the buggy station, so he doesn't have to walk across the car lane to the other side of the parking lot.

I know. It's a whole thing.

This is my life.

I try to give him some independence, when I feel like it's safe.

So, he headed toward the buggy station, and I stopped him to say, "watch for cars backing out." He nodded his head and said, "okay." I mean, I say it to him every time...he knows the drill.

Unfortunately, and also NEVER AGAIN, I had to park about 4 parking places down from the buggy stall. I ALWAYS stand at the back of my car and watch until he puts the buggy up and walks back to the car.

There was an empty space next to us, and then a car, and then a white truck, and then a smaller car...and then the buggy stall.

It happened so quickly. I saw the smaller car move backwards, and Joshua was behind it. He jumped back and pulled the buggy back, and stood there. I went running to him. The girl backed out and left.

And even tho it may or may not have technically been her fault...I may or may not have glared at her. Well, not glared-glared...I just looked at her.

Because she should've seen him.

She should've looked behind her and both ways and she should've seen him. Even tho he's short, she should've seen him.

Joshua doesn't hear well, and his vision isn't that great. A person like you and me would probably have been able to hear her start the car...or maybe it was already running. I don't know. He certainly didn't hear it, and it was a thousand wonders...AND THE HAND OF GOD...that she didn't hit him.

I was shaking, but I tried not to make a big deal out of it, EVEN THO IT WAS A VERY BIG DEAL. I just knew that if I acted upset or shaken-up, he would

We came home and he helped me unload everything. Clark and Faith came over...and then Holly came over, because Aaron had a meeting tonight...and then Jim came home from work. Jim grilled burgers and hot-dogs on the grill, and I made cheese dip and baked beans. And a cookie cake that I lovingly placed blue m&ms to spell RN...on top.

We so classssssssy.

But my family carved into that cookie cake like it was their last meal.

I love my family. Jim and I are super proud of Holly. She has worked SO HARD in nursing school.

Also, Logan had his wisdom teeth removed this morning. Normally, when my kids have any kind of procedure, I am right there...but Logan is married and I didn't want to be that kind of smother. I mean, MOTHER.

It killed me not to be there.

I am so thankful for Morgan. She is the best wife! She bought him icy things to eat and ice-packs for his cheeks. She fixed him mashed potatoes and soup...and she kept up with when he had his medicine...and when he could take the next dose.

Last night, Logan told me, "Don't worry...I'll be just fine." And I said, "I KNOW you didn't just tell me're not new here. I am Mommy...hear me ROAR."

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

Monday, August 17, 2015

HAIRSPRAY and Dorm Storm

So, last night, I wrote a lonnng post where I vented sweetly wrote about something that was mildly frustrating bothering me...and without any completely poofed away.


So I didn't even post. Maybe another day I will talk about that subject.

Maybe not.

Probably not.

Just thought I would put up a few random things up tonight.

Last Wednesday, Joshua's Therapeutic Recreation group went to the local dinner theater, and they had a blast. They got to see "HAIRSPRAY." We have the DVD here at home, and the soundtrack. Joshua has watched it...he just didn't really get "IN" to it like Holly and I did. I thought about trying to get the DVD out before he went, to give him a refresher on what the musical would be like, but I decided against it. I thought about trying to tell him a little about the basic premise of the show, but then I decided against it. I would much rather him come up with his own thoughts on a matter, than for me to unintentionally influence him with my own thoughts and ideas.

I asked him how he liked it and he said, "it was really good." He said, "there were a lot of Black people in the show, and they were very stylish."

I think it's fair to say that Joshua likes the fashion of the 60's.

He also told me there was a 7 foot tall woman that played Tracy's Mom. Holly said, "are you SURE it wasn't a man dressed up like a woman, because John Travolta dressed up like a woman to play that part in the movie." Joshua said, " was a woman...a very tall woman."

Holly asked him what he ate, because it's a buffet. He said, "I had some fish and potatoes and green beans." Holly said, "that sounds good."
He continued, "some corn, roast beef and ham."
Holly said, "JOSHUA! You ate THREE kinds of meat?"
Joshua continued, "and a roll."

And he always drinks about 1/2 cup of coffee at the dinner theater...and only at the dinner theater.

We had a quiet weekend...I wrote about it here.

Every year, our church helps with a ministry called "Dorm Storm," at one of the colleges in our town. We bring anywhere from 150-200 people from our church, and we help the freshmen move into their dorms. That means unloading cars, carrying refrigerators up to the 3rd or 4th floor, or helping put together a piece of furniture. Whatever it takes. All in the name of outreach.

Joshua is not really able to participate in this. I mean, he could if they would find him a job he could do...but it was really hot and it's just easier for us to skip out on this. So, Jim, Clark and Aaron-the-son-in-law all went to Dorm Storm. Joshua, Holly and I went to church. Holly sang on Praise Team both services, and I sang in the choir. The three of us sat together in early church, and it was a great service.

The plan was for us to leave after we sang in late church, and come home. I was going to let Joshua sit on a couch in the church lobby until our choir song was over...about 15 minutes after the service starts. When our music minister found out our plans, he said, "why don't you let him sit up on the stage...out of view, but where he can see and you can see him?"

I seriously almost cried.

He went and made sure there was a chair up there for him. When our choir filed in, I could see Joshua sitting over on the far side and he just grinned. When the choir led the church in worship songs, I looked over at Joshua, and even tho no one could see him, he was standing up...singing his heart out.

I seriously almost cried.

It seems like such a little thing, but to was a big thing. Because we haven't always received this type of treatment...even at church. Such a sweet act of kindness. I am forever grateful to the ones who make the effort to reach out to my child.

"And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of My followers, you will surely be rewarded.” Matthew 10:42

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Sweet Saturday

Today was a great day. We "hanged around" (Joshua's words) the house most of the day. I caught up on laundry, and washed some sheets and towels that Clark will take to college (sniff). I don't wanna talk about it, other than to say: 5 days.


I can hardly stand it.

Jim and Clark mowed the yard, and Jim commented that he would have to start doing it by himself until the summer (sniff).

Around lunch, Logan texted to ask if we wanted to meet them for dinner half-way. Uhhh...YEAH. That perked all of us up a LOT...because 5 days (sniff).

We called Holly and Aaron, and they came over and rode with us...along with Clark and Faith...and Joshua, of course. We were so excited to see Logan and Morgan. He is getting his wisdom teeth taken out on Tuesday, and then he has orientation for O/T school on Friday. Prayers would certainly be appreciated that he would have NO complications from this procedure.

Morgan starts her internship (also known as her semester of practice teaching) on Monday. Actually, the students won't be there until the next week, but she is going on Monday for meetings and stuff...and then will stay home with Logan on Tuesday, and maybe even Wednesday...and then go back on Thursday.

So many changes going on in our family in the next week or two.

We had a great time at dinner. Morgan's mom, little brother and his friend...also joined us tonight. It was great to see them, too, and I know it meant a lot to Morgan that they came.

I know this post it kind of boring and not funny at all. But I just wanted to record these memories for our family. After dinner, we got a picture of all the kids on the bench outside the restaurant. We've had many pictures made there over the years.

Family is everything to us. It's not the most important thing, but it's right up there...after our salvation and our marriage. I am thankful for every opportunity to hang out with the kids, and it blesses me that they like to hang out with each other.

"You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me..." Psalm 92:4

Friday, August 14, 2015

Holly and the NCLEX

Today was the day every nursing student dreads: the NCLEX. Or, as Joshua pronounces it, the IN-TELL-EX.

After you go through nursing school, and after you graduate, and after you are "cleared" with all of your grades and everything...THEN you can select a date to take the State Nursing Boards.

Holly already has her temporary license, and she already has a job. She has already started the 12 week orientation at the hospital where she works.

Today is the day she chose for her test...and she has been studying for it since the day she graduated from nursing school, TWO MONTHS AGO.

I have been so impressed with her dedication.

Holly really didn't have to study much in High School. She took lots of AP courses, and did very well. Then, she went to college for 4 years, and she had to study a LOT. In fact, she kind of had to learn how to study. It sounds kind of funny to say that, after being in school for 13 years, she needed to learn how to study. But she did.

After she graduated from college, and got into nursing school...a whole, 'nother kind of learning opened up to her. Because in her 13 years of school, and 4 years of college...she was taught to get the right answer.

In nursing school...finding the right answer? NOT SO MUCH.

According to Holly, "THERE IS NO RIGHT ANSWER" in nursing school.

It's "select the BEST answer," to a question or case study that might have 3 or 4 potentially "right" answers.

And it's "select all that apply." Which, those questions on an exam will about push everyone over the edge.

I told Holly..."Nursing school HAS to be hard. I mean, I don't want a dummy taking care of my family. DO YOU?"

I think this type of learning has not only challenged Holly, it's made her a better person...because she's had to really search out answers and THINK about what would be best in different situations...and she has applied this to all areas of her life.

She has been really "crunchy" the past week or so. That's the word one of her nursing school friends used instead of the word, "grouchy." She has been really on edge. I can't say that I blame her. Last night, she and Aaron went to dinner, and then they came over and visited a while. By the time they left, she was calm. She said, "I've given it all to God...the test, my anxiety, whatever the outcome...all of it is His and I will give Him the praise no matter what."

I have never been so proud of her.

She got to the testing center at 7:15. She could not take a purse or backpack. She could not take ear-buds or head-phones. She could not wear earrings or a watch. She could not bring mints or gum. The only thing she was allowed to have with her was her driver's license. Holly said they checked them in one-by-one...and they scanned the palms of their hands.

Right? So Jason Bourne-ish.

She called me as soon as it was over, and she was walking to her car. She sounded really relieved. She said, "MOM...I prayed more than 75 times this morning." I started laughing and said, "WHAT?" Because it totally didn't sound like something she would say. I thought she meant she was praying a lot at home before she left...and was she COUNTING her prayers?

She said, "before I read each question, I prayed and asked God for wisdom and guidance...even if I kind of glanced at the question and knew the answer." Her test cut off at 75 questions, so that's why she said she had prayed more than 75 times this morning.

Prayer is not like wishing...and God is not like Santa. Holly has studied her tail off and was as prepared for this test as possible. I feel certain that if Holly had rolled up in there without having studied and was not prepared, all the praying in the world would not give her a positive outcome. But we prayed for her, specifically...that she would be calm and relaxed; that she would take her time and not rush; that she would remember all that she had studied; that she would not panic if she didn't know something; that she would stay focused.

God does answer our prayers, but not always in the way we hope, and we need to pray for His will to be done in our lives.

Of course, we hope that she passed this test...and it sounds like she did very well...but she won't know for sure until she sees it in black and white.

This afternoon, she was on Facebook and showed me a post on her "time hop" from 3 years ago. I guess it was her first day of nursing school. I had posted a little pep talk on her Facebook wall, using a quote from the great theologian, Mushu (from the Mulan movie) was fitting that it was 3 years ago on this exact day that she started...and today, on this same date...she is (hopefully) done.

"Now remember, it's your first day of trainin', so listen to your teacher and no fightin' nice with the other kids, unless, of course, one of the other kids wanna fight, then you have to kick the other kid's butt."

Amen and amen.

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You." Isaiah 26:3

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Hey, MOMS...Let's Support Each Other

I've been thinking a lot over the pasts few days/weeks about moms...and all of the changes we go through during the parenting process. Because there's a lot being written about and shared on social media this time of year...I can hardly stand these back-to-school posts. And the pictures. OH MY WORD.

There are just some pictures and posts that just take me right back...and I can feel the knot in my stomach and the tears start to well up.

And do you know what you don't want to hear, as a mom sending a child off to school for the very first time? This: "Just'll blink and he'll be leaving for college."

I'm pretty sure I've said that to people...and even as the words were coming out of my mouth, I wanted to punch my own self in the face.

Because those words are not comforting. Not at all.

This mom gig is HARD. Emily P. Freeman says, "motherhood is both miracle and madness," and that is true. It is also exhilarating and frustrating and discouraging and satisfying and gut-wrenching and joyful and sad and heart-stretching and heart-breaking.

All of you hopeful young wives out there...don't everyone rush to get pregnant all at once now. Because when you put it like that...doesn't it sound super fun?

It IS super fun. Being a mother is one of my greatest joys, and pouring my life into these humans God gave me has been the best investment of my time. It's also HARD...because these kids did not come with an instruction manual. There's the Bible for how to guide them, yes, and we have used the fire out of God's word around here. Still, there are days when I felt I got it right...and there were days when I felt like I did it all wrong. On those "wrong" days, it was encouraging to talk to other moms...the ones walking in the trenches with us, and the ones who have made it through to the other side.

This is the time of year when kids are starting school, or starting a NEW school, or leaving home. We need to look past our own sadness, as we turn our children out into the world...out into Kindergarten, 1st grade, middle school, junior high, high school, college or life...and find another mom we can encourage. Because all of these stages? THEY ARE ALL SO HARD on a mommy's heart.

At each stage, our children break away from us a little bit more. That's one of our goals, right? We want to teach them to love God, love family, serve others...and we want them to be able to stand alone. We hope they don't have to, but there might come a time when they do.

A mom who is sending her child off to school for the very first time CANNOT IMAGINE what it's like to be sending one off to college. They might even tell you that: "I cannot imagine sending my baby off to college." I'm pretty sure I said that to their face...back in the day.

Surprised she didn't slap me.

She should have.

No, the mom of a young child cannot imagine what it's like to send that baby off to college, but guess what? WE can imagine how THEY are feeling...because we've been there. We sent our babies to school on those first days...just seems like yesterday.

Let's don't patronize them with the "YOU JUST WAITS," and the "this is easy compared to what's ahead" comments. Let's be tender with their hearts and emotions, and offer the words of encouragement that maybe we didn't get from others during that time.

Like, "how can I pray for you?"
Or, "let's meet for lunch?"
Or, "I'm bringing you dinner tonight."

There's so much of motherhood that is hard. I've loved each stage, but each stage is hard for different reasons.  Could we maybe reach out to other moms...learn from them...pray for them?

Send a text, make a call, write a note.

We need each other, y'all.

"So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing." 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Dorm Shopping. AKA: The Difference Between Boys and Girls

Today was supposed to be our Day of Fun with Clark. We had to take Joshua into Little Rock, because his group was going to a matinee showing of "HAIRSPRAY" at the dinner theater. So, Holly decided to call it Holly and Clark's Day of Fun...we were going to spend the day shopping for Clark's dorm room items.

And, in case you don't already know...and despite the fact that TARGET wants to tell you different...there is a difference between boys and girls.

Never is that more evident that when you take them shopping for their dorm room.

Let's go back 8 years, to when Holly was a Freshman and starting at OBU. She had met her roommate one time, and they'd made a plan to meet and shop for ALL THE THINGS. Back then, Little Rock had a store called, "Linens 'n' Things," and that was the first place we hit.

And we put the HURT ON.

Those girls went nuts. Everything was pink and orange and pink and yellow and pink and pink.

We had bedding and towels and lamps and art for the walls and shower mats and shower curtains and dishes and glasses and all kinds of little decorative items. And it ALL coordinated. And they had to have it ALL. 

It was so exciting. The girls were just getting to know each other, so they were part guarded-with-their-feelings and part grown-up and part little girl...because they would SQUEAL when they saw things that made them happy. And that made us moms happy.

I think you get the idea. I came home from that trip feeling happy, excited, peaceful...and confident that Holly was going to have such a great year with her roommate. And she did.

Contrast that to today.

After we dropped Joshua off, we hit the mall. Clark wanted a backpack from Eddie Bauer, because they have a lifetime warranty. We've gotten all the kids a backpack from there, and Logan's has been replaced 2 times already. For freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. But we walked in, and Clark did a quick sweep of the room. He saw that they didn't have the one he wanted. I told him we could order it on-line, and he said, "okay...and walked out of the store."

Wait. Are we done here?

We decided to go down to the food court and eat.

After lunch, we went to American Eagle, where I practically had to beg him to look for things. Seriously? We left with nothing, even tho he'd said he wanted some of their khakis...he decided to wait. For what, I do not know.

Next, we went to Bath and Body Works...this was for me. He said, AND I QUOTE: "I've never been in this girly-store." 

We decided out work was done at the mall, and headed to Target. There was a certain bedding that he wanted, and that was the only thing he was looking for. Gray bedding. Gray comforter or quilt. Gray sheets. Gray towels. Gray shower mat. I picked up 4 washcloths, and he said, "what are those?" And I said, "washcloths." And he said, "I DON'T USE THOSE."

His room was beginning to look like where GRAY went to die.

They didn't have the bedding he wanted in the size we needed, so he was done. D-O-N-E. As in, are we leaving now?

Holly finally got him to look at school supplies, because...ya might need a pencil. 

We also bought some hangars, Command hooks, shelves to go on the top of his desk and little "bins" to go in the cubbies. He did not see the need for any of this at all. We were standing there in the aisle, the three of us...Holly and I were trying to convince Clark that he needed a fan...and this random girl comes up and goes, in a Fat Amy voice from Pitch Perfect (except not British), "uhhhhhhm, if you are going to collage, you have GOT to take a fan. It's, like, SO important. Seriously. I'm, like, a senior, and I will tell you that you need more than you think you'll need."



Girlfriend was just trying to help, but I'd about had it with this whole day. I went from laughing hysterically and the things Holly and Clark were about wanting to cry. And I went from wanting to hug him and never let him wanting to strangle him because he was being so stubborn.

We left Target with a buggy full of stuff, and no bedding...which is why we went there to begin with. We headed to Bed, Bath and Beyond. As we walked in, I told the kids, "I am feeling hopeful about this place." Newsflash: NO BEDDING.

I mean, they had SOME bedding. But they didn't have ANY bedding that was plain gray or plain dark gray or plain light gray...with no pleats, pin-tucks, stripes, texture, or pattern on it. Other than that...TONS.

And, guess what? RANDO girl was there, too.

It was a little after 2 by this point, and we needed to pick up Joshua by we headed out. I saw that we were going to have a little extra time, so I decided to go to this ghetto Target on the other side of town. Maybe THEY would have the plain, gray, unpatterned bedding.

Uhhhhhm. NO. They did not. But, as I was circling the parking lot, looking for a place to park, guess who walked by our car? RANDO GIRL.

And guess what we found at the ghetto Target? Bedding.

And guess what color it was? GREEN.


Driving home, I was so frustrated. I think if I'd had all boys and no girl, I would think it had been a fairly successful day. I remember Logan's shopping day being kind of the same...he did not care at ALL about anything we bought for his dorm, or any of the school supplies...because his roommate was bringing a giant TV. But I just remembered how much FUN Holly's shopping day was...and this was not like that at ALL.

I felt like we were butting heads with Clark over everything...and he was sending updates and pictures to Faith-the-girlfriend. I asked him if he was okay, and he said that he was having a good time.

Tonight, we had choir and it was a lot of fun. Half-way through the service, our minister of music stopped the practice to introduce new some people, and that was a lot of fun. And THEN, he said he wanted to acknowledge two students who will be going off to college...and this was their last choir practice to attend before they moved...and one was a girl in the soprano section, and one was Faith-the-girlfriend.

And I don't know...the tears just started flowing. FROM MY EYES. And they were not stopping. He told us to put our hands on them, if they were close to us, and pray over all the sopranos were praying excited, happy prayers over that girl...but the alto section? Faith-the-girlfriend saw my face, and SHE started crying. Then, when her mom prayed for her, she also prayed for Clark...and then HOLLY started crying...and then the women sitting on either side of Faith-the-girlfriend started crying...and I'm not even kidding, by the time we said, "Amen," the entire alto section was sobbing.

Good times.

One lady told me, "I was bawling like a baby, and I don't even have one going to college."

Happy times...sad times.

"You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." Psalm 56:8

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

9 More Days...

So, we are on the countdown until Clark's move-in day at OBU, and Momma ain't happy.

Well, I am very excited he is going to OBU, and I am very excited for what this new chapter of his life, and ours, is going to bring.

I'm still not ready to for him to go.

And, I KNOW I just wrote about "letting go" and how I believe we are in the process of letting our kids go from the time they are born...until they leave for college. The fact that I KNOW this and yet am not ready, just goes to prove my point: easier said than done.

Also, Sunday night, we were sitting in the family room talking with Clark about his trip, and after he went up to bed...Jim said, "I was watching Clark while he was talking...the way he was sitting, the way he cocked his head, his was like looking in a mirror."

And I said, "THANK.YOU."

Because we all see it. We have all seen it from the very beginning. Clark is Jim's clone.

So ANYWAY...we are trying to soak up the time we have with Clark for the next less-than-9 days. Problem is, apparently he doesn't feel the same way. Last night, after I made him one of his favorite meals ever...he left for Faith-the-girlfriend's house, and I had to text him to come home at 10.


And then tonight...I planned on making another one of his favorites, and I did...but he told me mid-afternoon that he would be eating at Faith-the-girlfriend's house.


I love her...I really do. She is perfect for Clark, and she has a wonderful family. But, for the next less-than-9 days...Marty doesn't want to share.

Think along the line from the "Friends" episode, where Joey says, "JOEY DOESN'T SHARE FOOD."


I don't care if we sit in silence in the family room, or we watch TV, or play on our phones, or just talk...I want us all here. ALL of us here. 24/7. For the next less-than-9 days.


A Mother's heart has to be tender. That's for sure. But it also has to be tough. There are times when it takes an act of our sheer will...and total reliance on do the right thing. So, we ate the awesome dinner I fixed, and I fought back the tears...and I willed myself to be strong. I reminded myself to be thankful for the ones who were here to share our meal: Jim, Joshua and me.

Lots of emotions in my head these days. I have a feeling it ain't gonna be pretty. I've been down this road before, after all. There are just so many things I want to say to Clark...things I want him to know...before he moves out. I just hope I can handle myself with grace.

"But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness." James 3:17-18

Monday, August 10, 2015

Clark is Home from the Mountains!

If you read my post yesterday, you are probably wondering how I managed to drag my old self across the room to get to my laptop.

It was hard. Trust me.

Clark got home last night from his Freshman orientation adventure. He had a BLAST! We listened as he talked and talked and talked about what all he saw and what he did and who all he met. He said they hiked and they climbed rocks and they rappelled down the side of a mountain. They jumped off a cliff into freezing cold river water, and they floated Class 3 and 4 rapids.

He said that, with God's help, he conquered two of his biggest fears this week: heights and snakes. He said he's still afraid of those two things, but he knows that, if he's faced with either of them, he'll be okay.

He said that he stayed in a 9 person tent with just 3 other guys...and that it felt like a hotel because they had so much room! Everyone else's tents were filled to capacity.

Earlier this week, when I went up to his room to put clean sheets on his bed, I noticed that he had not taken his sleeping bag. It brought back all kinds of memories from a missions trip he went on in middle school...when he forgot his sleeping bag. Fortunately, on that trip, they were staying inside, at a church or something, and they found towels for him to sleep on.

I was so concerned that he would forget something important like that on this trip, because it doesn't sound fun to be in a the mountains...for 6 days...sleeping on a dishtowel.

Just sayin'.

He claims he left his sleeping bag here on purpose.

We'll never know.

He took Faith-the-girlfriend's sleeping pad thing...and her camping pillow. He said it was "perfect" for sleeping and he wasn't uncomfortable at all.

Also, he said he wanted to "confess" that he hadn't showered for 6 days.

Let that sink in a minute.

But, he said, it was all good...because he "was in the river every day."


Not showering is something I would expect out of a middle school boy...not a college freshman, but whatever. He said that he thought he smelled "great," and the only issue he had was the black dirt under his toenails.

I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.

So, he spent a lonnnnnng time in the shower last night, and then he went to bed.

I walked into the laundry room first this morning, and was greeted with the smell of death. I realized it was the garbage bag full of Clark's wet and dirty clothes that was causing the smell. I put all of the clothes into the washer and washed them on HOT...with lots of detergent. I could still smell something. It was his towel.

I had to wash it twice.

When I told him about it, he said, "my towel shouldn't smell at all...I DIDN'T EVEN USE IT."

So, best I can tell...he had a great time, he conquered some of his greatest fears, AND, in the span of 6 days, he wore 3 pair of shorts, 2 pair of underwear...and never used a towel.

"Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." Psalm 90:2

Sunday, August 9, 2015

We ARE The Old People

So, yesterday, we had a quiet Saturday. We "hanged around" the house, as Joshua would say. Some time before lunch, Jim said, "well, let me tell you what I did." He proceeds to tell me that he ordered a BLOOD PRESSURE CUFF that will TALK TO HIS WATCH...and that it was scheduled for delivery that day.

I am so sick of our electronic devices telling us what to do. I mean, I love being able to get directions and recipes and things like that...when I initiate it. Jim has this fancy-schmancy watch that tells him his heart rate and how far he's run and how much he needs to run to meet his goal for the week. Blah, blah, blah.

Also, in the middle of church, it will beep...and the screen will show: TIME TO MOVE.

And I will glare at Jim with all of the Christian love I can possibly muster up on a Sunday morning...during church...when I know people are watching...because REALLY?


Honestly, I would pay good money if Jim would get up and move when his phone told him to. You know...lunges at the back of the church...during the sermon; maybe some light stretching or "in-place" running...during a business meeting.

Good money, I say.

People might think he was gettin' the Spirit!

So, after lunch, the mail finally came. Jim was like a kid on Christmas Day. He unwrapped it and spent some time setting it up on his computer and syncing it to his phone.

Also, he got a PINK one, because he said it was $20 cheaper than the blue one, and he said he didn't care about the color.

Here's the thing: he does not have high blood pressure at all. In fact, I would be willing to bet that it was the exact same every single time he tested it. He has just been on this kick lately...eating sticks and rocks...running all the time...getting on Pinterest...things like that.

I told him I felt like Rip Van Winkle, because when we went to bed the night before...he was a normal, middle-aged man...and when we woke up in the morning, he was 100 years old. I bet he checked his blood pressure 57 times from noon until we went to bed. It makes this buzzing "mmmmmmm" sound. We were watching a movie, and I could hear "mmmmmmmm..." and I said, "tell me you are NOT checking your blood pressure again." And there would be silence.

And then, "mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm..."

He said it was "fun," and I said, "you.are.old."

In other news, Joshua has slept in Logan and Morgan's room all 6 nights that Clark has been gone on his trip. Clark is on his way home now, and Joshua says he is ready to be back up in his own room.


I told him that Clark IS moving to college in less than 2 weeks, and that he will need to stay up in his room. He says he will. We'll see.

Our church was buzzing with excitement this morning. We have been without a pastor for 10 months, and we've had a Pastor Search Team working through the process for almost that long. It was announced this morning, that the name will be released in 2 weeks. We are so excited.

I've been a Southern Baptist all of my life...and this is how we do things...but my husband reminds me that, even tho he's been a Southern Baptist for 35 years, he was raised up Methodist, and they would've had a new pastor in 2 weeks.

So there's that.

Anyway, a lot of times, the "pulpit supply" you get is not always the best...but our church has been ABUNDANTLY BLESSED with great preaching and teaching over the past 10 months. It's really been awesome.

This morning, Joshua wore his purple shirt, "to support Clark's OBU colors." He wore his black leather jacket over it, and it was 90 degrees outside as we headed to church at 9:15. He wears his black, leather coat nearly every Sunday morning. Last Sunday, I asked, "WHY are you wearing that coat today? It is SO HOT." He said, " ELSE am I going to carry my WAH-TAH?"

Every Sunday, he carries a small bottle of water with him...ever since he had a slight cough, several years ago, and he had to get up during church, and walk out to the water fountain. Now, he is paranoid that he might do it again and he might need water. Whatever. I don't fight that battle. But, he is like the traveling salesman on Green Acres...he fills up the inside pockets of that leather coat with all manner of things he might need: mouth spray, chap-stick, extra hankies, a pen...his water bottle.

And, if it's the Christmas Eve service, he will most certainly have ONE black, leather glove in his coat pocket. Hot wax ain't gonna drip but one time on my boy's hand, before he finds a better way to hold a candle. Yep. All Michael Jackson style (eee-eee-eee).

Also, during the sermon, the pastor mentioned that he asked a group of high school CHURCH KIDS 5 different questions...just to hear their answers and see what they really knew. The first question was, "what was the name of the strongest man in the Old Testament." He said that only 8 out of 50 CHURCH KIDS knew the answer was Samson.

And Joshua, my sweet Downsy-boy, RATHER LOUDLY muttered, "idiots."

Holly had to work's her 2nd day in the NICU and she is loving it! I am so thrilled for her! I thought she would like it, but I wasn't sure...and neither was she. She never got a clinical in the NICU, so she didn't know if it would be a good fit for her. Yes, you get to work with babies all day, but these babies are SICK. And they are TINY. And some of them will not make it.

But it's Day 2, and she definitely feels like she made the right choice. Thank you, God!

I missed her being in choir with me this morning. I got there for early-service choir, talked to a few people, went through the warm-up, talked to a few more people, sang in church...and then AFTER all of that, I was walking with a girl over to where our SS class meets, and she said, "'ve got lipstick on one of your FRONT TEETH."


Everyone who was in early choir with me this morning and didn't tell me...they are ON MY LIST.

As we were sitting around the table at lunch, Jim announced that he thought we needed to start going to Wednesday night supper at our church. Which, I'm fine with...but not gonna lie: did not expect that.

And then he dropped this little bomb: he said that one of our ministers on staff at approached him about US teaching in another class. Actually, he said, "co-teaching." And something about an older couple who had "gone through some stuff" that could "be mentors and maybe encourage" some of the younger couples.

I said, "okay, cool. Who is the older couple?"

And he just looked at me and said...LOUDLY, "'s US! WE are the older couple."

And that's how Marty died.

Because we are now, apparently, being referred to as an "older couple" who has "been through some stuff" by others in our church.

I might need Jim to take my blood-pressure.

"Even when you are old, I will take care of you, even when you have gray hair, I will carry you. I made you and I will support you; I will carry you and rescue you." Isaiah 46:4