Sunday, December 27, 2015

Joshua and the Gift of Nathan

Wow. I am really slacking in the whole blogging department. I can't help it! I'm enjoying my family so much! :)

I hope to have time to catch up after New Year's Day...but I may be very sporadic until then. Or not. I just don't know what each day will bring.

We celebrated Christmas with our kids on the day after Christmas. It was the day when everyone could be here, since Holly had to work Christmas Day...and Logan and Morgan were with Morgan's family.

We had a great time, and I think the kids all enjoyed their gifts. Of course, the greatest gift is celebrating the fact that Jesus was born. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and Only Son, that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16. 

No greater gift.

And it was the best gift to me to have all of the kids here at the same time.

But the sweetest gift BY FAR...was when Joshua gave Holly a present for her baby.

A couple of days before Christmas, Joshua came downstairs and whispered to me, "I have the perfect gift for Holly's baby."

Now, I had gotten a couple of things for the new baby...a book, a "soft" Nativity set (that he/she can play with)...and something for his/her nursery. I had not mentioned to anyone that I was getting gifts for the baby...since he/she won't be born for several months.

Joshua's eyes were all lit up and sparkling. He was so excited. I said, "what's the gift?" He said, "Nathan."

If you knew Joshua during the first 8-10 years of his life, you knew Nathan. Nathan was Joshua's Cabbage Patch baby doll, and Joshua took him EVERYWHERE. In fact, Joshua "loved" Nathan so much, that his head was nearly severed and was hanging on by a thread...and I had to rush around and try to find a NEW NATHAN that looked exactly like the OLD NATHAN...and make the ol' switcheroo.

I haven't seen or thought about Nathan in years. twenty years or so. The first Nathan is in the hope chest...severed head and all...but the 2nd Nathan? I had no clue where he was, but, apparently, he was on the top shelf of Joshua's closet. Joshua said he had to "use a golf club to whack him down."

Sweet, right?

I was really taken back by all of this, because Joshua thought of this all on his own. He was so excited to surprise Holly. I seriously almost lost it when he told me about this (turns out I wouldn't be the only one).

I told Jim and the boys about Joshua's gift, so we all knew it was coming. We saved it for last. Holly opened the bag. Joshua had written a "poem" to her about the baby. On the outside of the note, he wrote something like, "a great treasure for your baby is inside this bag."

She opened it up, and pulled out Nathan. I recorded the whole thing and posted it to my Facebook and IG (martythemoose). To say she was shocked would be an understatement. She started crying...and then she laughed...and then she cried.

SHE KNEW what a special gift this was.

Joshua said, "I don't need him's your baby's turn."


Nathan is a little bunged up, a little dirty...and he may have every disease known to man on him...but we were all so touched by Joshua's selfless gift.

"Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Maternity Clothes and The Purple Bra

Holly and I had the best day today! Joshua's girlfriend's mom called, and asked if Joshua would like to spend the day with Jenni and the rest of their family at their Christmas celebration. Holly and I took him to meet up with them, and then we headed to Little Rock for shopping.

I wanted to get Holly some maternity clothes for Christmas, but she kind of needed to be there to pick things out and try things on.

But first...LUNCH.

We had lunch at Chuy's, and then took a nap in the car.

JUST KIDDING...but that would've been nice! Because, as my father-in-law would say, I was as "full as a tick!"

I really didn't know where to go for maternity clothes, but I decided to take her to A Pea In The Pod. It was a good choice. I was really hoping it wouldn't be one of those places where you buy shirts with writing on them that say things like "BUN IN THE OVEN," or have a big arrow pointing to her belly.

No, thank YOU.

Holly will not need or want a whole lot of maternity clothes. She's hoping she can get by on leggings and her husband's shirts for as long as possible! But she's got a wedding to attend in March, and then there's Easter...and a couple of other times that she will want to wear something a little nicer.

So we went through the store, and looked at or touched almost every item. We gathered a bunch of things, and she went to try them on. The employee-lady told her to put the fake belly on, so she could see what she would look like at 7 months pregnant.


Not as hilarious as Holly trying on pregnancy/nursing bras.

I haven't laughed that hard in a LONG time!

In the end, she came home with a purple bra.


When we asked about getting one in a more neutral color...say, WHITE...or maybe NUDE, the lady said, "THIS BRA ONLY COMES IN PURPLE."


I just canNOT WAIT for Aaron-the-son-in-law to see it!

We got several things. I'm going to wrap them up, and put them under the tree. And, on Christmas day, after she works her 12 hour shift at the hospital...and then comes over to our house at 8 p.m. so the kids can all open their gifts together...she better freak out like she's never freaked out before...and I better hear her say, "HOW DID YOU KNOW?" and "IT'S JUST WHAT I WANTED!"

Today was such a fun day! :)

"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

Sunday, December 20, 2015

It's The Biz-Busiest Time of The Year!

We have had a busy few days. I hope to get caught up and update everything for my own memory...but it won't be tonight.

Today we celebrated Christmas with Jim's family down at the Lakehouse. It was crowded...and loud...but that's how it always is, and we had a lot of fun. Logan said he hadn't been down there since the summer!

Jim and I, Joshua and Clark, stopped to pick up Logan from his in-law's house. Morgan went to church with her family and said she would join us later. Aaron came in his own car, so he could be free to leave and get back home if things ran long...because Holly worked today, and he didn't want her coming home to an empty house.

Both of Jim's brothers were there...their wives, and nearly all of the cousins.

The guys grilled steaks, and we had baked potatoes, green beans and rolls. Jim's mom made a chocolate cake and a lemon ice-box pie, and Jim's sister-in-law made 2 pecan pies.

No one went hungry, that's for sure.

We didn't eat until around 2, and then we gathered in the living room for "Christmas." Jim's mom always gives us a SACK OF STUFF. I call it my SOS. It's a large gift-bag, and she fills it with the most random things ever. One year, I got a throw-blanket and a book of poems on friendship and a little bag "to keep my panty-hose in when I wash them "(WHAT?), some "push-pins" (thumb-tacks) with decorative fruit on the ends of them, a hammer, a towel turban thing to wear on your head after you wash your hair...and a pink wrench.


Always entertaining, and always leaves us all scratching our heads as to WHAT IN THE WORLD? And WHY?

This year, I got another "throw-blanket." I may or may not have mentioned that we get one of these every year.

We EACH get one of these EVERY YEAR.

Our family is single-handedly keeping the displaced residents of our county warm...because there is no way we can use that many blankets. 

That was really the only thing in my SOS this year. I mean, besides the gift card. She always gives us a gift-card.

Not gonna lie...I was a little disappointed there wasn't more weird stuff in my SOS. But, never mother-in-law ended up giving me two hammers before I left. You case you ever need more than one hammer for anything.

And then she told us to "shop" in the you-TIL-TEE room (utility room) and in Mammaw Irene's room (the front bedroom)...both places are crammed full of canned goods, boxed goods, pots, pans, Rubbermaid containers, random kitchen utensils, random tools...and more. can't even imagine.


And, also? Come here if the world ends, and eat some Vienna Sausages from 1989...

I usually let Jim bring home stuff, but he never checks the dates on things...and there are many things he's brought home over the years...that are past the expiration date. NOT THIS TIME! I brought home several things...and so did Logan and Morgan.

Side note: My mother-in-law also keeps some bulk items outside in the carport, so, before we left, we had to go through all of that stuff, too: laundry detergent, paper towels, Charmin toilet paper. Even tho I didn't need more toilet paper...I already have 96 rolls of toilet paper, just in our master bathroom closet...I went ahead and stocked up.

Because ya never know!

"A generous person will be blessed..." Proverbs 22:9

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tuesday Shopping: War Room, Reversible Belts & Cupcakes

So, I'm still Christmas shopping, and it's not all my fault.

Every year, I ask my kids to make a list for me. They are all pretty much past the age where I can pick things out for them. Except for Joshua. He wants many of the same things every year: a wolf calendar, a planner, some v-necked shirts.

I try to keep everything equal. Jim and I typically give our kids 3 presents each. Jim says if it was good enough for's good enough for the Garland's.

Just sayin'.

Now that they're married and/or have significant gets trickier. I like to get them each 3 individual things...but every now and then, I can get them something together. But not usually. There are sometimes things they want or need for their home, but someone told me a long time ago, "if it plugs's not a present."

I think they were mainly referring to "kitchenware" things. The last thing most women want for Christmas is something to make their cooking and cleaning experiences better.

Unless it's a maid.

I would be down with a maid.

I don't mind getting the kids things they want, rather than what they need...I'll do either, but I really like to get them something that they would never buy for themselves. We have 3 of ours in college/grad school, so there are lots of things that aren't really necessities...things they would never buy for themselves, because they either wouldn't have the money, or they would think it was wasteful. Those are the things they would love to get as a surprise. I know everyone is different and that's great...but those are the items I'm looking to buy for Christmas.

I think I've pretty much got the shopping knocked out...except for Holly and Aaron. I really want Holly to pick out exactly what she wants, so it will be the right thing...and I need her to help me shop for Aaron.

I shopped for Joshua today, and it was so fun! When I say that I try to keep things equal, I do not include Joshua in this. His needs and wants are very simple. He wants pens and notebooks and a calendar and a planner. If I kept it equal, money-wise, he would have those things stacked to the ceiling.

One thing on his list was the War Room book. I went to the Lifeway store, and got the book, and the Bible Study that goes with it...AND a study on prayer that goes along with the book. I was giggling to myself, just thinking about how happy all of that was going to make him! Oh! He also asked for a brown belt. The one I bought him is reversible. The lady showed me how to hold the buckle with one hand, and pull down on the belt with the other hand...and twist to switch from brown to black. I got so excited thinking about how much Joshua was going to love that! I found the wolf calendar and just hee-hawed. I thought he might like a Star Wars calendar instead, but the wolf calendar was ON THE LIST. So that's the one I got.

It's so fun shopping for Joshua, because I just know how much he's going to love everything!

I always put toiletries in their stockings, and so yesterday I spent an hour at my local Wal-Marks...picking up body wash and shampoo and lotion and DOVE SOAP FOR MEN (which Joshua pronounces "dove..." as in, he DOVE into the water...and it cracks me up every time)...and things like that. Joshua loves all of that "smelly" stuff. When he gets out of the shower at night, you can smell him all the way down the stairs!

When I got to the Therapeutic Rec center to pick up Joshua, Ms. Kendra said that one of the moms brought cupcakes. I was drooling over them, so they asked if I wanted one.


She started to put it in a bag for me, and I stopped her. I said, "don't even bother...that cupcake is not going to make it to the parking lot."

And it didn't!

"So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him." Matthew 7:11

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Program Rehearsal and Christmas Cards!

Today...I don't think I can even tell you what I did today. I don't even know. I took Joshua to Little Rock for his Therapeutic Recreation, and poof! The day was gone and I was there to pick him up in the afternoon.

His group of FRIENDS are working on the Christmas program they will perform at the end of the week. THEY.ARE.SO.EXCITED.

It will be so cute!

It won't be smooth...or polished...or like anything you've ever seen.

But it will be perfect.

Also, Joshua's girlfriend, Jenni, has been trying to get "more healthier" (Joshua's words). She told Joshua this morning that she has lost 20 pounds so far. Joshua said, "well, no WONDER I can't keep my hands off of her!"


When we got home, our Christmas cards were waiting on the porch for us! WOW! They told me it would be December 22 before I got them. At this point, I didn't even care. I was just happy to have them ordered and on their way. Holly pretty much took care of everything for me. She took the picture, helped me choose the best one, and narrowed down the card selection process for me.

All things I appreciate.

So, after I cooked dinner...and we ate it...and I cleaned up...and I made a cake for Jim to take to work in the morning...I started addressing our Christmas cards. I just got done. Whew! HAND CRAMP!

I'm so happy to be getting those cards out this week! :)

"Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth!" Psalm 100:1

Monday, December 14, 2015

Ornament Exchange and Fruity Socks

Today is Monday. Yesterday was rainy and gross, but today was sunny and nice! That always helps, right?

I got up and made blueberry muffins, because it's Monday...and because I know what's good for me. Joshua was SOOOO happy.

And, because we ordered pizza last night, and had some left-over, we did NOT go to Chick-Fil-A for lunch like we usually do. I figured Joshua was going to say something about it, like, "I THOUGHT we were going to CHICK for lunch...." but he didn't. He said, "I know we have re-runs (what he calls left-overs) from last night, and we need to clean those up."

I puttered around the house all day doing laundry, straightening up. I decided that I am DONE with the Christmas decorating, and I put up the boxes that have stared at me for weeks. No, it's not ALL out, but it's enough...and I plan on enjoying it.

I felt really tired today. We had our choir performance yesterday in both morning services...and I think it wore me out!

Joshua has an ornament exchange at Therapeutic Recreation tomorrow, so he and I went to the Hallmark store this afternoon. That was probably a mistake...going to the Hallmark store. They have some beautiful things, but this is one time when I should've sucked it up, and gone to Wal-Mart...because the ornament he chose was, like, $17.

Oh, well.

The FRIENDS were also told that they could wear their pajamas tomorrow. They are going to stay at the Center all day, just enjoying each other and watching Christmas movies and doing their ornament exchange. I made a bunch of red velvet cake balls for Holly's birthday yesterday, and there is one left. He is planning on taking it in his lunch tomorrow, and he is so excited about it. Who knew a little cake ball would make him so happy?

I reminded Joshua that he could wear his pjs tomorrow, and he said, "uhhhhhh...NO. I will NOT be wearing my pjs." I knew he wouldn't. He's not much on wearing pjs out in public, just like he's not much for wearing costumes...or crazy socks.

Side note: A couple of years ago, I bought him some "cute," patterned socks to wear with his Sunday shoes...because he had been wearing his white, athletic socks with them...which are FINE...but, you know...

So, I gave him the cute socks and explained that he could wear them on Sundays, or any other time that he was dressing up. He took one look at them, and said they looked, "fruity." Don't really know what he meant by that. His Dad and brothers all wear "fruity" socks, and like them just fine.

It's been a good and quiet day, which is what we needed after our busy weekend.

"The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength..." Psalm 23: 1-3a

Sunday, December 13, 2015

College Graduation and The Living Christmas Tree

Yesterday was a marathon day. Jim and I dropped Joshua off at Holly and Aaron's house in the middle of the night. Or, what is commonly known as 6:20 a.m.


Of course, anytime we have plans to go anywhere that involves driving, my husband will get up at 4 in the morning, and go on a long run. And then it's like, "so...tired...can'"

Marty is not impressed.

Jim and I headed to Morgan-the-daughter-in-law's college graduation. It was at 10 a.m., and we wanted to be there by 9. There was no traffic, because SATURDAY AT 6:30 A.M. When we rolled into town with nearly 30 minutes to spare, the spirit of Tim Allen...said, "well, we made good time."

(name that movie)

(The Santa Clause)

(one of my favorites)

We got to see Morgan for a split-second as she ran into the convocation center, and then we met up with her parents and little brother...and then Logan came in, and we found our seats.

As usual, with these things, it went ON AND ON, and I found myself wishing some of the speakers would fall into a deep hole remember back to THEIR commencement ceremonies. It is a big deal, graduating from college, but don't most people just want to get their diplomas, have their picture made...and then go to On The Border for lunch?

No? Yes?

Anyway, we had to leave before the thing was over. We did get to see Morgan walk across the stage. THANK THE LORD she and Logan are married, because her maiden name starts with "S" but our name starts with a "G."


I hate, hate, HATED not getting to stay after and take pictures and go to lunch and all of that. Ugh. But we had to beat it back to Little Rock by 2:30, and it was a 2 1/2 hour drive.

Side note: We went through the Wendy's drive-thru on our way out of town, and decided to just eat in the car. Jim and I typically split a spicy chicken sandwich and fries. The meal comes with one drink, and Jim said, "That's fine...WE CAN JUST SHARE A DRINK." And, like a crazy person, I agreed.


I was driving (SEE ABOVE) and so I didn't want to eat while I was in town, because of traffic, turns, construction, etc. I wanted to wait to eat until I got out on the big highway...which I did.

SLIGHT PROBLEM: barely any drink left.


So now, not only am I STARVING...I have a mouth full of SPICY CHICKEN SANDWICH...annnnnnd no drink.

Marty was not impressed.

Jim was, like, "what? I saved you half."

Maybe half of the ICE.

LESSON LEARNED. I'll take my own drink, thankyouverymuch.

Where was I? Oh, yeah...

Two months ago, I bought tickets for the Living Christmas Tree at our old church in Little Rock. Years ago, I sang with the choir up on that tree, and Jim did various things. I think one year, he was a shepherd or something...and another year, he worked with a technical support team. I'm not sure what you call it, or what, exactly, he did. I do know that some of the guys got in trouble for bringing water guns and shooting the legs and feet of the choir members as they were up on the risers.

Grown, married men.

Yes, they got caught.

Yes, they got a "talkin' to."

Yes, it's some of their most favorite memories of The Tree. Last night, they were talking about how they should have shirts printed up: "The Tree...The Early Years."

Oh, the stories they could tell!

They haven't had The Tree in about 15 years, so this year was a big deal! We were so excited to get to go!
I bought plenty of tickets, so that we could all go. In the end, only 6 of us could make it, and that's fine. It was AWESOME!

Besides the fact that not all of our kids could make it, the only other disappointing part was about the camel. They had several animals in the program: goats, sheep, donkeys...and a camel named Humphrey.


Apparently, during the dress rehearsal, Humphrey got spooked with the lights, and let the contents of his intestines fly.

In the the hallway...AND UP THE WALLS.

People said it was epic.

I'm not much on camels, but I kinda wanted to see this one.

Humphrey is no longer allowed in the church. He has to stay outside in a fence for the kids to see.

After the program, we all went out to Chuy's for Holly's birthday dinner. Clark had driven up from college to attend The Tree with us, and he went to dinner with us. The food was yummy!

Then, we took Clark back to his car at the church. He headed back to school, and we headed home. He has finals this week, and then will be home for a month. Yay!

I was worn out, but it was such a fun day!

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

Friday, December 11, 2015

Joshua, the Usher (Part 2)

So, Joshua was asked to help take up the offering again last Sunday.

This time, I did not freak out as much.

After last time, we talked about how he needed to watch the usher on the other side...and try not to send his offering plate down the same row twice. We talked about going every-other row...and Joshua seemed clear with that.

He is just so stinkin' cute. I mean, I know he's a man and all...a nearly 30 year old man. And I don't want to baby him by telling him how cute he is, so I don't.

But he IS.

My favorite thing about this whole situation is the look on Joshua's face. Everyone wants to feel needed. Like they have a place...or a job; that people depend on them...that they fit in...that they can contribute. Joshua's face, when he is taking the offering, shows all of this...and more. He is so proud.

My other favorite thing is watching the faces of the people in our section. Most of them are smiling at Joshua, and some of them speak to him. It just blesses my heart that they are so encouraging.

My other OTHER favorite thing was the shake-down that went on in our section last week. I saw Joshua try to pass the plate at the end of our row. I don't know if the man waved him off or wasn't paying attention or what. All I know is that I saw Joshua nudge him on the shoulder, and then use his hands to indicate what seemed to me to be "give money or else, buddy." And then Joshua just stood there...and looked at the guy.

I don't know if any of it was like it looked to me, but what I know for 100% CERTAIN is that there was a $100 bill in the plate as it came down our way.

Just sayin'.

"Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Comfort and Joy...and a Gunman on Campus

So, today.

Trying to wrap my mind around it.

This morning, Joshua and I went to pick up Holly, so that she could ride into Little Rock with us. She had a doctor's appointment. After we dropped Joshua off at Therapeutic Recreation, I drove Holly to her appointment...where she met up with Aaron-the-son-in-law.

Today was the day...the first day...that they were going to try and hear the baby's heartbeat.

I had a hair appointment, and I kept my phone in my hand the whole time. Holly FINALLY texted me a video Aaron had taken at her appointment. It showed the doctor with the Doppler on Holly's tummy...and I got to hear the sweet sound that is so familiar and reassuring to every mother.

Holly and Aaron have both been anxious the past 4 weeks. If she's sick, she wishes she wasn't sick...and if she's not sick, she's sure something is wrong.

First-time Moms can relate, right?

When you are not far along enough to "show" or feel movement, every cramp, pain, bubble...makes you wonder if everything is okay.

Well, everything seems to be going along just fine, and the baby has a nice, strong heart-beat. That news was COMFORTing to my two expectant parents...and they were JOYFUL as they left the doctor's office.

After they ate, Aaron dropped Holly off at the salon, and she waited on me to get finished. We went to pick up Joshua from TR a little early, because Clark was coming home to go to the doctor. Months ago, he made an appointment with a dermatologist here in town. He has two on his face, and one on his neck...that are concerning to him (the doc said they are fine).

On the way home...on the construction traffic...I got a call from Logan. I don't typically take calls when I'm driving, but since it was Logan...I answered it. He said, "Mom, I don't know if you've heard, but there's an active shooter on campus...but I am safe."


That's probably not every parent's worst nightmare...but I guarantee it's right on up there. Can we agree that it's in the top 5?

I felt sick. I wanted to pull over, but we were in traffic...and there was NO WAY I was going to let Holly drive. She would be as upset as me....and she's carrying some precious cargo. Thankfully, Joshua was as snug-as-a-bug in the back seat, playing on his phone.

So I did what every good mother would do: I sucked it up. All the way up.

I talked to Logan. I asked him a few questions. He was on his way out the door to take one of his final exams when Morgan called. She had gotten an alert on her phone about the gunman. He got it, too, but he got it later than she did.

I made sure he was safe. He went back into his apartment and locked the door. The entire campus was on lock-down. The police/SWAT teams/first-responders were there in less than 4 minutes, and he said they were crawling all over campus.

I told him I loved him, and to stay safe.

And then I hung up, and took some deep breaths...and I drove.

Holly took care of answering the text messages I was receiving. Apparently, our daughter-in-law, Morgan, had texted me several times, but I didn't get them because I was driving. I also was hearing from several friends who had seen it on the news.

I got back to town, and took Holly to her house. Joshua was going to stay with her, while I met Clark at the dermatologist's office.

I had a couple of minutes at home before Clark got there, so I did what I imagine any MOM would do after receiving news about a shooter on her child's college campus: I went in my bathroom and cried my eyes out, and thanked God for His protection over Logan. And for everyone on his campus. Everyone was safe...even the gunman.

And then I blew my nose, re-did my make-up, and went out to wait for Clark.

And then a big debate started on-line with people saying it was not an "active shooter" situation, because no shots were fired. I "get" that it might not have fit the description...and we can argue that the campus coulda-shoulda stated it differently...BUT that's the alert the students were given.

I just want to say that one crazy person...with a gun...on a campus, is one crazy person...with a gun...on a campus...too many.

And everyone needs to shutty about the semantics, because this Momma needs a quiet room, a diet Dr. Pepper...and a cookie.

"In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." Psalm 4:8

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Pregnancy and Mashed Potatoes

So, Holly, our daughter, is pregnant! I posted about it here. And here. And here. :)

And some days she has been really sick and yakkin' up her guts. And other days, she's just queasy, and the only thing she wants to eat is pizza...and mashed potatoes. And not necessarily at the same time.

But maybe at the same time.

Which is funny, considering her husband, Aaron-the-son-in-law, eats from the 4 major food groups of: chicken, steak, burgers...and pizza. Holly gets SO SICK of pizza.

But now she WANTS pizza.

Maybe that means the baby is a little boy like Aaron!

One day, she was at work and texted me on her lunch hour. She said she was wishing she had a tub of mashed potatoes. And, she said, "by TUB, I mean LARGE BUCKET."

I had used all of my potatoes making her mashed potatoes one day last week, so I went to the store and got a 5 lb bag, and I made them ALL. I kept a small amount for Jim, Joshua and I to have with our dinner...and I packed up the rest for her to take home with her.

I texted her a little before 7 (she gets off work at 7), and told her we had two small pieces of steak left...and some mashed potatoes. She texted back something along the lines of "you're gonna make me cry at work."

She came over after she got home, and she ate our left-overs. Aaron brought food from McDonald's. :)

I sent her home with a small piece of steak, and the container of mashed potatoes. She said that she ate them at work yesterday, and that it made her feel much better.

So tomorrow afternoon? After Joshua and I get home from Therapeutic Recreation? I'll be going to the store for more taters, because like I told her: "if you eat all of them in 2 days, you best be believin' I'll make more."

"If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" Matthew 7:11

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Therapeutic Recreation: Christmas Shopping at the Mall

Joshua had a big day today. It was Christmas Shopping Day with the FRIENDS. They love going to the mall, and they love, love LOVE eating at the food court.

Like you're surprised. :)

When I got to the Therapeutic Rec Center to drop him off, one of the FRIENDS came up to say that FRIEND Rachel was "crying her eyes out." Ms. Sherrie asked to see her. When Rachel came up to the front, she had tears streaming down her face. All of the FRIENDS were so concerned. Ms. Sherrie took Rachel's hands and talked to her. Rachel is having a sleep study at the end of the week. Ms. Sherrie asked her if she was scared...because Rachel had had one before and it was fine. Rachel said she wasn't scared, she was embarrassed.

Ms. Sherrie held Rachel's hands and rubbed her arms. She took off Rachel's glasses and used a tissue to gently wipe her face.

Not gonna lie...Mommy here got a little choked up. It was the sweetest, most tender thing ever.

After Ms. Sherrie told Rachel about allllll the FRIENDS who had had sleep studies before, Rachel figured out that she didn't need to be embarrassed. All was well, again, and they got ready to go to the mall.

I don't typically give Joshua a lot of money to shop. He...well, all of very innocent and gullible. He knows simple Math, but he can't count backwards to know that if something cost $8.15, he should get back $1.45 from a ten-dollar bill.

What we do is tell Joshua to "scout out" and get ideas for gifts...sometimes he takes pictures of things on his phone...and then when I come pick him up, we go look for the things he's found. It works really well for us.

I had some errands to run in town, and I had a couple of gifts to pick up at the mall. When I got to the mall, I didn't text him...I thought I would try to find his group. The FRIENDS are usually easy to spot, even tho they split up into different groups. I was on the top floor, and I looked over the railing to the food court.



Joshua, of course, had already finished his lunch AND PUT HIS TRASH AWAY. He was sitting at the table with some FRIENDS, looking around. When he glanced up, he saw me, and I waved real big.

After I finished up with the items on my list, I went down to get Joshua. We picked up the items he'd found, and we headed home.

I watched "A Christmas Carol" on tv and then got up to start dinner. After Jim got home, the three of us ate, and then we watched "The Santa Clause," which is one of my most favorite movies EVER.

All day today, I was just thinking, "this is a good day." My heart has been so heavy for everything going on in the world, and today is the first day, in a week or so, that has felt "normal." I am thankful for these days.

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

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Family Picture and No Regrets

Yesterday, after weeks of uncertainty, cancellations and more uncertainty...we finally met to take the family picture for our Christmas card.

Actually, I had just about decided not to take a picture this year, and just send a card like I used to do all the time...before photo cards became all the rage. But my girls, Holly, and our daughter-in-law, Morgan, convinced me to do it this year.

I'm so glad we did.

We missed two members of our "family" who couldn't make it for various reasons...but there were 8 of us, and we got some good shots.

I mean, as good as you can get with two brothers (Logan and Clark) who are constantly irritating/picking at/stirring up/poking at/cracking up each other.

Also, Logan brought his slingshot, and wanted to use it in the picture...and he's 24 years old. JUST SAYIN'.

Our choir program is next weekend. Every year, our worship pastor asks a person or couple or share their story as part of our program. This year, it's a couple who lost their young daughter in a 4-wheeler accident a couple of years ago. She was 8 or 9 years old. So tragic.

Our worship pastor wanted to show us the un-cut version yesterday during choir practice, because it is really sad...and he wanted us to not be hit with it the very first time during our very first performance. It was heart-wrenching and heart-breaking...but it was also full of HOPE. Because as they told of their daughter, Madalyn, they pointed to Christ.

One thing they said over and over was that they had no regrets with Madalyn...and that they couldn't think of even one day with her that they'd want to ask to live over. They did make it very clear that they would have loved more time with her.

It would never be enough, tho...would it?

But no regrets.

Because Madalyn knew they loved her, and they knew Madalyn loved THEM. And more than that, Madalyn loved Jesus.

She had felt God's calling on her life just a few months before, and asked Jesus to come into her heart. She was baptized in our church. She had begun memorizing Bible verses as a part of the AWANA program. She had written those verses on note-cards, and they are posted all over their home.

Madalyn loved her home, her parents, her brother, her friends, her school, her church. And Madalyn loved Jesus.

Her mom said that she thought Madalyn was too young to make such a big decision...that she didn't really have the understanding that she thought Madalyn needed. But Madalyn was persistent, and her mom tells of Madalyn's insight, even in her childlike faith.

She was a light.


This was RIGHT BEFORE I left choir practice early, because FAMILY PICTURE DAY.

Yes, I cried off all my make-up, and then my eyes were puffy. FOR THE PICTURE.

Y'all, we aren't guaranteed tomorrow. You know that. You don't have to listen to the news for 5 minutes before you see that life can be cut short in a split-second.

No, we aren't guaranteed tomorrow, but we are guaranteed eternity. Where will you spend it?

A friend of Jim's once got in a conversation with a man who did not believe in God. The friend said to the man, "I'll give you a 10% chance that you're right, and there is no God. Hey, I'm a good person. I've lived a good life. I've been kind to old people and animals, and I've taken care of my family. I've given to the church and to poor people, and I always put coins in the red kettle at Christmastime. With your philosophy, I'm going somewhere good. But you give me even a 1% chance I'm right...that there IS a God...that there IS a Heaven, and none of my good works on earth are good enough to get me there. So before the beginning of time, God provided a way...He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the price for me. And for you, if you believe. If you choose not to, you will spend forever separated from God."

I feel like we have lost the urgency of the Gospel. Or maybe that's just me. We spend so much time, money, and effort to get people into our churches with programs and bells and whistles. And, hey...I'm not against many of those things, if they are gospel-based and the goal is to reach others. I'm just saying that we spend a lot of time preaching about how God meets us where we are...and He does...but we tend to forget that He doesn't want us to stay there. He is HOLY.


He doesn't come to us in order to stay at our level. He is perfect, sinless, and He loves us too much to leave us where we are. He lifts us up, and draws us to Himself.

Find a Bible, or look on-line, and start reading the book of John. If there is someone in your life that you believe is a Christian, ask them to point you to a pastor or a church. Christmas is not about little trees, sparkly lights and beautiful decorations. Those things are wonderful, but Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ...the perfect Son of God who came to die for our sins.

"For whosoever calls upon the name of the LORD will be saved." (Acts 2:21)

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us." (Titus 3:5)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Decking the Halls: The Pink Tree

Well, I usually have all of my decorations up well before Thanksgiving.

Or, most of them.

But Clark didn't want me to put up any Christmas decorations until AFTER Thanksgiving, and WHY I LISTENED TO A CHILD WHO IS RARELY EVEN HERE BECAUSE HE LIVES AT COLLEGE, I will never know. But I did...and now I'm way behind. I love Christmas and Christmas decorations so much, and I like to put them up early so I can look at them for a lonnnnng time.

Plus, I usually have Holly helping me, and two people get done a lot quicker than just one person. But she's been feeling puny, and I felt bad asking her to help me on her days off from work.

I got most of it done today, except for my Snow Village...which I absolutely love...AND I leave it up through February, usually. But just the thought of getting it all out makes me feel overwhelmed.

Anyway, back to today. I've had my family tree up for a week or so...and just had lights on it. You know, Christmas trees are pretty with nothing but lights on them. :) Last night, I put the mesh on it, and all of the decorations...and then I looked at it, and do you know what it looked like?

A pink tree.

If I buy mesh, I like to pick it up after Christmas, when it's on sale. Last year, I bought this red and white checked mesh, with the idea of changing up the red and gold that's been on this tree for the past few years. I thought how cute and rustic it would look.

Um. NO. It looks pink.

If you think you might want to buy red and white checked mesh, DON'T. Unless you want a pink Christmas tree.

And, if you think I'm kidding, Holly and Aaron-the-son-in-law came over and saw it, and she agreed that it might look a "tad" pink, but told me to add more red to it. So after they left, I went back up to the attic and pulled out the tub o'mesh. Sure enough, I had a couple of bolts of red mesh...and even tho I already had allllll the decorations on the tree, plus the "pink" mesh...I put the red mesh on there, too. And do you know what it looks like?

A pink and red tree.

And if you think I'm kidding, Joshua walked in and goes, "key-yuuuuuuuuuuute! A pink and red tree like Valentine's Day."


I realize this is a first world problem for sure, and it's not that I don't LIKE the pink and red's just that it didn't go with the vision I had in my mind.

Which, I should be used to that by now. My whole life is not how I envisioned, but it's exactly how it should be. Well, except for my sin and struggle and all of that. 

But God is making beauty out of my mess, just like I am making beauty out of the Valentine tree.

Which, the longer I stare at it, the more I really want some cotton candy. That's what the red and white checked poofs look like: cotton candy.

Our house is cozy and twinkly with all the lights. We are safe and warm. We are full from dinner. We love each other.

I am thankful.

"The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy..." Psalm 28:7

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Fear and Faith

Yesterday, I pulled up to the Therapeutic Recreation Center to pick up Joshua. They had gone out on an outing, and they weren't back I pulled out my phone to check messages and social media.

My heart nearly stopped when I got on Twitter, and saw the tweets about the shooting in San Bernardino.

Because, before we knew that it happened in a conference room that had been reserved for a holiday party, it was reported that it was at a center for individuals with developmental delays and special needs.

Like my Joshua.

It was reported that, on any given day, doctors were in that Center, assessing toddlers and young children for services...with adults who have special needs there as well.

Like my Joshua.

The more I read, the more the tears fell...and my heart was racing.

What if...?

I nervously looked around the parking lot...and at the building. What would possess someone to come in a place like this, and terrorize and murder our innocent ones? I thought of how frightened everyone must've brave the people there had to be to keep everyone calm.

What is our plan? Should we have a plan? How do we implement that without scaring all of the FRIENDS?

The fact that those children and adults were not doesn't make it better. I mean, I am relieved, but there are still 17 people who lost their lives...and even more families that have been disrupted forever.

And while those victims likely didn't have "special needs," they were special...and they were needed. They were innocent, and they didn't deserve to die.

My heart is broken over this, because if this is, if it's legit...being funded and promoted by the bad people overseas...then that is going to change how we live forever. I just remember someone in the military being quoted saying something along the lines of, "we fight them over there, so we don't have to fight them here."

Well. They may be here.

What is the answer?

I don't know.

I know that GOD is the ultimate answer...a personal relationship with His son, Jesus, is the ultimate answer. But with the free will He gave us, not everyone in the world will follow Him.

Until He comes again, I turn my fear over to Him...and I run into His strong tower.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

"Listen to my prayer, O God. Do no ignore my cry for help! Please listen and answer me, for I am overwhelmed by my troubles. My heart pounds in my chest. The terror of death assaults me. Fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can't stop shaking. Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest! I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness. How quickly I would escape--far from this wild storm of hatred. Confuse them, Lord, and frustrate their plans, for I see violence and conflict in the city. It's walls are patrolled day and night against invaders, but the real danger is wickedness within the city. Everything is falling apart; threats and cheating are rampant in the streets. But I will call on God, and the LORD will rescue me. Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the LORD hears my voice. Give your burdens to the LORD, and He will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. But you, O God, will send the wicked down to the pit of destruction. Murderers and liars will die young, but I am trusting You to save me." (Passages from Psalm 55)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Joshua: Randomness and Baby Names

Random: I just saw where someone found my blog by searching, "tanzanian woman so beautiful."


Because I'm thinking..."no."

And, also, "these aren't the droids you're looking for."

Holly and Aaron spent quite a bit of time at our house over the Thanksgiving holiday...and we loved it. :) The big topic of conversation was, of course, about my their baby. And that brought up the topic of baby NAMES. Holly asked Joshua for his ideas, and he took it very seriously.

For a boy, he came up with the name "Fred Aaron." To be said as a double name, like Mary Grace.



The other boy name he suggested was "Kelly Josiah," which Holly AND AARON vetoed pretty quickly.

For a girl, Joshua suggested the name, "Grace Ruth." Again, to be said like a double name: "GraceRuth."


Joshua's group decorated the LR City Hall today. It's something they do every year, and it's always a lot of fun. And then they went out for lunch, which...I don't think I need to remind everyone of how much the FRIENDS like to eat out for lunch.

Or dinner.

Or breakfast.

Where was I?

Oh, he said the FRIENDS all got to talkin' about what types of holiday drinks they liked. You know, hot chocolate, apple cider, etc. Joshua said, "Crystal said her favorite drink is EGG-KNOCK. I have never tried EGG-KNOCK, and I never want to. It sounds like BARF."


Also, I'll leave you with this little gem:

A couple of weeks ago, Jim spent a week in Kansas, pheasant hunting.

Joshua said, "I hope when Dad comes home, he doesn't have SKID MARKS in his undies."


I said, "Why in the WORLD would Dad have skid marks in his undies?"

Joshua: "Well, you never could come out of nowhere."

"A good name is to be chosen rather than great wealth..." Proverbs 22:1

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

First Day Back to Therapeutic Recreation: Decorating the Center!

Today was Joshua's first day back to Therapeutic Recreation since the week before Thanksgiving. Might not seem like a long time to you and me, but to him? It's been an eternity.

He was SO excited to get back and see all of his friends.

Which would explain why he was downstairs in the kitchen at 6 a.m. warming up 2 blueberry muffins for his breakfast...when I told him we weren't leaving until 8:30.

And which would also explain why, what with all the extra time he had this morning, he completely rearranged both silverware drawers.

And when I asked him about it, he said, "ohhhhh...I just wanted to change things up."

Sometimes it's the little things...

that push you over the edge.

Like wanting a spoon...and getting a fork.

Just kidding. I appreciate that he wants to help...and I like that he feels he can move things around to suit him better.

Anyway, when we walked into the TR Center, most of the group was already there. They were sitting at the round tables, and Ms. Sherrie had the dry-erase board up at the front of the room. I asked if they were "brain-storming," which sounds like a good idea until someone suggests an activity or outing that someone else really hates...or if someone suggests an activity or outing because they KNOW someone else really hates it...and then all h-e-double-toothpicks breaks out, and so there's that.

They weren't brain-storming. Ms. Sherrie was talking to them about their Christmas program...and about the parts they will all play.

I love Ms. Sherrie. I love her creativity and her dreams...and how hard she works to make it all happen.

I left and did a little shopping...and then met my friend, Amy, for lunch. It was like a shot in the arm, because I've kind of been in a funk since the kids left after the Thanksgiving break.


We sat at lunch and talked for 2 hours, and then I went to pick up Joshua. When I walked in, I heard Christmas music playing in the back. I walked back there quietly. The FRIENDS are all super-aware of anyone who comes in the building, and will usually shout out who it is. I like to be able to quietly observe.


All of the FRIENDS were helping with the decorating. They were putting up at least 3 Christmas trees of different sizes...and things on the walls and windows. There was something for everyone to do...the short ones, the tall ones, the ones in wheelchairs, the ones who walk with canes or braces on their legs; the ones who are outgoing, the ones who are shy, the ones who don't talk at all, and the ones who ne-ver-shut-up. It wasn't loud. It wasn't unorganized. It was fun...and peaceful. I mean, if I could paint, I would paint that image and look at it every day. It was just that beautiful.

Joshua's group was putting lights on the large Christmas tree. He said that once they got the tree put together, some of the FRIENDS started putting decorations on it like it was a race. And then he said, "hey...LIGHTS FIRST, then ornaments." So they had to talk off all the ornaments and start over.

Ms. Sherrie said that some of the FRIENDS said they had never decorated a Christmas tree...or helped decorate a Christmas tree. She said she showed them the lights, and they tested them to make sure they worked. She told them how to put them on, and then left them to do it. We left before all the lights got put on, but I.CAN.NOT.WAIT to see what it looks like when we get there in the morning.

It's weird how things look different to different people. I know many people who could walk with me down that hall at the Therapeutic Rec Center, and all they would feel is pity for the FRIENDS...for how they look or talk or walk...or for what they CAN'T do.

But me?

I see love...and beauty, acceptance and determination.

And hope.

Lots and lots of hope.

"For You formed my innermost parts; You knit me together in my mother's womb. I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being formed in secret, and intricately and skillfully formed (as if embroidered with many colors) in the depths of the earth." Psalm 139: 13-15 (Amplified Bible)