Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Baby Shower, and How My Kids Are Trying to Kill Me

We've had the best day.

But, before I get to that, I just want to say that my kids are trying to kill me.

And, if you have kids? One day...your kids will try to kill you, too.

Oh, there are times when they don't mean, when they're sick, or when their friends aren't including them, or when you find out that they didn't make the squad. Your heart will feel like it's breaking into a million pieces, because you love them so much, and it KILLS you to see them hurting.

You can't really help those times.

But then there are times, like this past Friday night...when your married son and his wife say they are coming "home" for the night...and you wait. And you wait. And you wait.

And, because you don't want to bother them or nag them, since they are adults and wait until you can't stand it any longer and are wanting to GO TO BED because it's almost 10 o'clock at night and they still aren't there...and you text to ask him their ETA, and you get these words back: "we haven't left yet."

And they live 2 1/2 hours away.

You see what they're doing to me? Because OF COURSE I'm going to stay up until they get here. It was a long night for this ol' gal.

And then, today, our college boy decided to go with a group of friends up to Nashville, Tennessee to some sort of "festival" to hear a particular band...and they had to leave at 5:30 IN THE MORNING, because it's a 6 HOUR TRIP EACH WAY. They made it safely, and all of that...but now they are going to be driving back to school, and probably won't get there until 3 in the morning or later.


The best part of today, aside from having Logan and Morgan here with us, is that Holly's college friends threw her a baby shower! We got ready and headed down to Little Rock...Holly, Morgan, and me.

It was so fun! All of her friends were so kind, and so excited for her. Three of the girls already have babies of their own, so it was neat to see them all as little Mommies. I am so thankful for the friendships Holly shares with each one of those girls. What a blessing they have been, and will continue to they raise their children together.

It was a day full of blessings, and we are so thankful. 

And now? We wait. And we three of our children travel long distances on dark highways in bad weather...knowing that God's hand is not too short that He can't save them...wherever they are. And begging God for travel mercies and protection for them as they drive. And asking for peace for this worried Momma's heart.

"Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear." Isaiah 59:1

Thursday, April 28, 2016

On Making the Fake House

Hey...remind me that I want to strangle my son-in-law later, 'k?

We've had a good day! I took Joshua to Therapeutic Recreation this morning, and then ran a couple of errands for Holly. She was in class until noon, so I went and picked up the thank-you cards she had ordered...and then got some paint for her me to touch-up some places in her house.

Did I mention that her husband, my son-in-law, decided they needed more room before the baby comes...IN 7 they listed their house, and are buying another house...and they are having to get their house ready to "show" to prospective buyers.

Which, if you've never done that part...making the "fake" house, and then trying to keep it neat and clean until it sells? That's it's own kind of hell on earth torture.


I mean, thank goodness they don't have children yet...because when our kids were little, and we had to show our house...I may or may not have shoved things into any available receptacle: the dryer, the dishwasher, the oven, the microwave, etc...not to mention throwing 4 kids, 2 dogs, AND A GUINEA PIG into my Burb, and driving around the block until the showing was over.

Holly and Aaron-the-son-in-law have only moved a couple of they aren't as experienced as we are. It's hard enough to get things ready for a move when you have plenty of notice. It's REALLY hard when you have 2 weeks.

Holly picked up Joshua after her class, and headed home with him. I met them at her house, and then helped her dust, vacuum, clean, pack boxes...and basically just got things ready.

You know...made the "fake" house.

I really do love my son-in-law, and I am thankful for the way he cares and provides for Holly. I love that he is thinking ahead for what will be best for their growing family. I am hoping and praying that the people who saw it tonight...or the people who are looking at it in the morning...will make a good, solid offer...and we can be done with this craziness!

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Silicone Rings and My Angel Baby

I published part of this story on Facebook, so if you've already read it there...feel free to skip.

I was in line at Lifeway the other day, when the checker-lady commented on the ring I wear on my "ring finger." 

I haven't been able to wear my actual wedding ring for several years...due to an arthritic condition passed down from my grandmother (thanks a LOT, Mimi). I've had my wedding ring stretched a couple of times already. If I get it big enough to fit over my gigantic Shrek knuckle, it just spins around on the smaller part of my finger. 

Lovely, right?

I hope you aren't eating breakfast or anything.

ANYway, I've been wearing one of those silicone bands, because its soft and stretchy...and I've had no problems getting it off or on. 

And, they're $15. 


Which, I think it says a lot that I'm worth a whole $15...after being married for nearly 36 years.

These rings are marketed to really athletic people, and those who work in jobs where their metal rings might get caught on something. 

So the checker-lady commented on it, and I said, "well, I'M REALLY ATHLETIC...and this ring works better for my lifestyle." 

The whole time, she is nodding, like she believes I am really athletic...which got me thinking that maybe I COULD be really athletic. But then I realized that I really love cheese fries. 

ANYway, the checker-lady was nodding, and I said, "naw...I'm just kidding." And then I heard this really honest lady in line next to me go "mmm...mmm," as she looked me up and down. I looked over at her, and she said, "I'm glad you said you were kidding, because when I heard you say you were really athletic, I looked over...and thought mmm...mmm." 

And then she started laughing. So there's that.

Also, while we were in Lifeway, we saw one of those Willow Tree figurines. It was of a woman holding a baby. I said to Holly: "Awww look, isn't that sweet? That's gonna be me holding your baby!" 😜 She said, "Ummmm...I think that's supposed to be a MOM...holding HER baby." I was, like, "who said?" 

Because the figurine is of a tall, thin, brown-haired, yeah...basically me😜 


It COULD be a grandmother holding her grand-baby, right? 

I told Holly, "it says 'Angel of Mine' on the box...and your baby will be my sweet angel." She said, "it says 'Angel of MINE...' Not 'Angel of HE'S ALL MINE.'" 


"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb." Psalm 139:13

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Zoo, A Lunch Date, Cookies...and Bad Weather

Today has been a good day.

I took Joshua down to Little Rock, because his Therapeutic Recreation group was going to be spending the day at the ZOO! They were all SO excited. Mainly, they were excited to eat lunch at the Cafe Africa restaurant at the Zoo.

It's a well-known fact that the FRIENDS love to eat out. 

Joshua told me he ordered a "tuhkey buhguh" and that it was "pretty good."

Jim had a meeting in LR this afternoon, and said that he could pick up Joshua after he was I got to do something I rarely get to do when Joshua is at TR, and that is...COME HOME. I was so excited!

I love to be at home. I love puttering around in my house...having some concentrated time to read and pray and write. It's a rare treat when I get time at home by myself during the day. I'm not complaining at life is so sweet, and I love that I get to spend each day with Joshua.

But I'm always "on the ready." You know: listening, waiting, planning, thinking. Knowing that Jim was going to be able to pick up Joshua, kind of gave me a little time to relax my mind.

I drove back here, and was able to meet Jim for a lunch-date...which is another rare thing for us to get to do. And then I came home and spent the afternoon making cookies to send to Clark. He's had an awfully hard 3 weeks at college, and I thought he might like a little treat. I love that boy.

Then, I went to the post office to mail he could be sure and have them in 2 days.

I came back home, and started getting things ready for dinner.

My two sisters, and my brother, all live in Texas. Tonight, they are getting slammed with bad weather. One of my sisters texted me and said, "I love y'all...just in case." She was halfway teasing...but STILL.

File that under "I'll take 'things you never want to hear a family member say to you' for $200, Alex."

Prayers would not be wasted on Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas...and points north and east...tonight and tomorrow.

"Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty!" Psalm 93:4

Monday, April 25, 2016

Monday: Chicken, Boxes & Salad

We've had a great Monday.

If you've followed me here for very long, you know that Joshua loves him a Monday. He "sleeps in" (altho I heard him upstairs at 6:30), and I make blueberry muffins for his breakfast. We typically stay home all morning...we MIGHT go to the grocery in the afternoon, but I try not to. Not on a Monday. I use the day to regroup from the weekend, and prepare for the week ahead.


I did fix his muffins, and I DID do some laundry...but, a little after 11, we went to pick up Holly...and met Jim at Chick for lunch. We went to Kroger, and then back to our house to put up our groceries...and then we went over to Holly's house for the afternoon.

About 3 weeks ago, Aaron-the-son-in-law decided that they needed more room, now that they were having a baby. So, they looked at a house they liked, made an offer, and put their own house up for sale. Did I mention that Holly is 7 1/2 months pregnant?

So, they have been cleaning out and trying to get things organized to show their house. I went over this afternoon, and helped Holly box up some things. Holly told Aaron that part of this whole pregnancy thing is being able to "nest," and she didn't have a nest to fix up. I hope that they can get into the new house before the baby comes, so that she will have some time to get it all together.

Tonight, I went to a "Ladies Night" for our Sunday School (small group) class. The one we used to be in, before Jim and I started teaching. I wasn't sure about going. We've been out of that class for months.

Everyone was supposed to bring a salad...or a dessert. I was excited to still be included! Not gonna lie...there was about a third of the women there I didn't know.

I've written on here about how hard it is to be the "new" person in church. SO hard. I feel like our church, like many churches, is great at making people feel welcome...on Sundays. Not so much during the rest of the week.

And I realize that the new person has to put forth some effort...they have to do some of the work, but they shouldn't have to do ALL the work.

I'm so glad I went!

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2

Sunday, April 24, 2016

That Time I Went to a Gala

I'm not a fancy person.

Like, at all.

I like being at home. I like wearing comfy clothes. I like pulling my hair back in a pony-tail. I like when Jim picks up dinner at a restaurant...and we eat it at home.

Like, tonight, he picked up an order from Wendy's...and it was glorious. Not the food...just the fact that I got to eat it at home...IN MY FLANNEL PAJAMMIES that I've had on since we got in from church.

But I digress...

We got invited to go to a "gala" from our alma mater. Actually, it was a work-thing for Jim. His company was the largest sponsor of this event, and so they bought a "table." And we were asked to attend.

In the town where we went to college, there are two universities...and they are right across the street from each other. I went to the private college for my first 2 years, and then transferred to the state university after we got married. Jim went to the state university for all 4 years...and we both graduated from there at the same time.

The state university was celebrating it's 125 year history last week. Hence, the gala.

Hahahaha...I said, "hence." Maybe I AM fancy!

I had no idea what to wear. The dress attire was "black tie optional." If you look that up on The Internets, you'll see that you can wear a long, formal gown...or a longer cocktail-ish dress. You are NOT supposed to wear a short and sassy cocktail dress.

Do I sound like I know what I'm talking about? Because I don't. I don't know even know what all of that means. I have an above-the-knee black dress that has very little embellishment...but that's about it in the "dressy" section of my closet.

So we went shopping, Holly and me...and it was role-reversal. I don't really like to shop for myself, but I LOVE to shop for her, for my soon-to-be-here grand-baby, for my boys. This trip was all for me, and it felt weird.

Holly chose a few things for me, and sent me to the dressing room. And then, just like I do with her...she insisted on seeing me in everything I tried on, AND she continued to bring me things to try on once I was in the dressing room. I always figure that if I can just get Holly into a dressing room, she will be more likely to try on the things I bring her...because she's already in there.

Do you know what I bought that day? NO gala-wear, but I got a cute dress for church.

Productive, right?

But I went back the next day, and tried on the same dresses from the day before, plus a couple more. I took pictures of myself in each one, and sent them to Holly...and to our youngest son. I brought home a dress. Later that night, that son texted me back and said, "those dresses are all great, but I really like THIS one," and he had highlighted it.

It was the exact dress that Holly had said was her favorite...and NOT the dress I had brought home.

So, BACK to the store I went to get the other dress. And I tried it on again...for the 4th time. I loved it the first time I tried it on...I just wasn't sure if it was "right." But I bought it and brought it home.

I'm kind of a weird shopper. I don't usually have something in mind that I'm looking for...I just know it when I see it...or when I try it on and it feels "right." So when I went to get shoes for this dress, I had 4 people asking to help me, but I just wanted to look. And when I found the shoes...I knew they were right. And when I found the little clutch, I knew it was right. And when we went into two different formal-wear stores, looking for earrings, and Holly asked me what I was looking for...I said, "I don't know...but I'll know it when I see it." And I did.

I just wanted to look nice. Not over-the-top, not under-dressed, not flashy, not plain. I just wanted to be...right. We were going to be sitting with the president of Jim's company, and other people Jim works with...and seeing lots of people we knew from our past. It was really frustrating me that I was worried about it, but I just wanted to make a good impression...and for Jim to think it was perfect.

This gala was being held in the town where my in-laws live, so Jim, Joshua and I headed down to the lake-house on Saturday afternoon. I had to pack alllllll of my stuff: dress, shoes, jewelry, make-up, hair products, etc. Goodness!

I don't ever curl my hair...I blow-dry it, and then use a flat iron. Kayla-the-hair-girl told me how I should fix my hair. I told her that Holly had plans and wouldn't be able to help me, so I needed to be able to fix it myself. She told me to curl it before I put it Holly let me borrow her hot curlers. It was all 1985 up in the howwwwse!

We had to go to a reception before the actual dinner started, so we got there early. We sat in the car and watched people walk in. Even tho I was pretty confident with my dress choice, I just wanted to see ONE OTHER PERSON dressed similarly. We never did. But we got out of the car, and walked through that big parking lot, and into the building. We went up the stairs and down the long hall and into the reception room...where I gave a big, ol' sigh of relief. Lots of beautiful ladies wearing beautiful dresses of all lengths and colors...and I was dressed.just.right.

The dinner was really nice. We got to see a ton of people we knew...and we met a ton of new people. We went back to the lake-house when it was over, and spent the night there.

Side note: Jim had said we were NOT spending the night at the lake-house, but it ended up being so late...we did. And so, guess what Marty did NOT pack? ALLTHESTUFF needed to spend the night. And, even tho there were tons of "handy" clothes left in our room from who-knows-who...I slept IN MY CLOTHES. In the jeans and shirt I wore down there.

Good times.

And then I rolled out of bed, and went to The Cracker Barrel IN THOSE SAME CLOTHES. So, if you want to see the dress I wore to the gala, you can look at the picture of us on my IG: martythemoose. But you'll know what they all don't know...that I slept in my jeans and a denim shirt...AND went to Cracker Barrel in them. Yes, yes, I did.

Let's just keep that between us.

Side note: Jim's parents had plans to attend a dinner at their church on Saturday night. They took Joshua with them, and left before we got ready in our fancy clothes. So when we walked in after the banquet, it was their first time to see us...and they went nuts! Joshua looked at me and said, "ME-OWWWW."

Which, I'm sure it is every mother's dream for her 30 year old son to make a cat-call to her...but, hey...I'll take what I can get! HA! Just kidding! :)

Jim woke me up at 6:15 this morning, and said, "do you want to go with my parents to Cracker Barrel?"


I mean, OF COURSE I do!

So we headed to CB and ate breakfast...and then we headed home. We got home about 9:30 this morning, I jumped in the shower, and then put on my flannel pajammies that have the colorful mustaches on them. I came into the living room, all ready to snuggle up in my chair. Jim looked up and said, "what are you doing? Let's get ready for church...I think we can make it if we hurry!"

We missed Sunday School, but we made it to church...and we were so happy we did! We came home and have had a very relaxing day, because that is absolutely all the excitement I can handle for a long, long, long time.

"...not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near." Hebrews 10:25

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Warm Fuzzies

Joshua had a good week at Therapeutic Recreation. It's been a gloomy, rainy that typically means the FRIENDS stay inside. It's just not safe when it's rainy and you have FRIENDS with poor eye-sight, balance, and go out and about with walkers and wheelchairs and all.

But, on Tuesday morning, they managed to make it to the gym before the rain started. They did some group activities, but also had free-time to shoot hoops, play games or visit with each other. Joshua said that he did martial arts. Or, as he types it: MATERIAL arts.

The FRIENDS planned on eating at the gym. The Therapeutic Recreation director, Ms. Sherrie, always sends an email that details each activity for the that the FRIENDS can be prepared. Surprises are not a friend to the Therapeutic Recreation participants. Ha!

She specifically said to bring a "picnic-style" lunch. This means sandwiches...or something you can eat right from the bag. Not something that needs to be heated up/cut up/put on a plate/or kept in the refrigerator. She even added: THERE ARE NO MICROWAVES AVAILABLE AT THE GYM.

So, one girl brought a frozen pizza.

On Wednesday, they stayed at the Center all day. I came to get Joshua after lunch. They were doing a team-building activity, where Ms. Sherrie would write the name of one of the FRIENDS on the dry-erase board...and then all of the other FRIENDS took turns saying good qualities about that FRIEND. Ms. Sherrie wrote them all down, and then asked the one FRIEND what they thought of what everyone had to say about them.

(I know I totally messed up that sentence, but I'm tired and YOU GET THE DRIFT)

My two younger boys still have their list of "warm fuzzies" from 4th grade, when their teachers did this activity with their classes.

Apparently, this was an awesome activity. All of the FRIENDS were shocked and amazed by the things others had to say about them. There were smiles and hugs...and even some "happy tears."

I can't help but wonder how many corporate offices and teacher's lounges and FAMILIES would benefit from an activity like this. It's so simple...and yet it held great meaning for a sweet group of adult FRIENDS this week.

Joshua told what he said about each FRIEND. About one specific FRIEND, he said, "I told him that I thought he was a leader." I asked, "IS he a leader?" Joshua said, "not really...but I see that he COULD be."

And there's a lesson for all of us in that last statement.

"...God does not view things the way men do. People look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


I don't really like change. Do you?

I mean, in my early life, growing up as an Air Force brat...change was my middle name.

My siblings and I...we were always the new kids of the class. Always. We always had that nervous feeling in the pits of our stomachs as we moved to a new community...and started a new school...and went to a new church. I mean, I moved 16 times before I graduated from high school. I even went to 3 different schools in the 4th grades.


In one year.

I think that's why I really wanted my kids to grow up and live in one place. I mean, even tho I made it fine, and moving all the time made me more "well-rounded" (or that's what THEY tell me), and it made me more empathetic to new people...I didn't want my kids to have to go through the being-the-new-kid stuff.

And we did live in one community for 15 years...and our two oldest children got to graduate from high school there. But then we moved...the summer before Logan started 10th grade. And it was HARD. Logan? He had an easier time, because he started summer football practice before school started, and got to meet lots of people. Clark had it harder. He was just in 5th grade. He was so nervous. When I dropped him off at school for the first day, I cried and cried as I watched him walk in.

This same child came to me less than 2 weeks after school started, and said he wanted to run for Student Council. And I thought, "bless this baby's heart! He doesn't know a soul, and he's going to run for a student-elected office? I can't handle this!"

But he and I made a couple of posters, and he put them up at school...and the child WON. And that was the beginning for Clark. His confidence soared, and he became a leader in his school.

And then, the summer before HE started 10th grade, we moved again. And it was HARD. We also brought him to football practice here during the summer, and he got to meet lots of the guys. Still, this school here was HUGE. He did okay here. He wasn't as involved as he was before, but that's probably because of football. He's a Freshman in college now, and I think he will tell you that it all worked out okay.

There are always opportunities for change...and it's know what is good and what is best. Our parents...they are aging...and it is HARD. In our friend circle, there is loss, cancer, divorce, marriage, grandchildren, new jobs, moving to a new place. It's HARD. Some friends of Logan and Morgan are in a foster-care situation with a child they desperately want to adopt...and it's weighing heavy on my heart. It's SO HARD. Our youngest son is going on a missions trip out of the country next month, and I know God is there just like He is here...and I know He holds our future and knows our days...but I'm a Mom...and it's just HARD.

The past couple of weeks, I've fallen into bed, feeling...weary. Weary of all the sadness and the loss. Weary of change.

And my mind races when I should be sleeping...and my heart is heavy over some burdens our friends are carrying. And for some of our own.

But, change can be good! And change can be necessary. Every move we've made has been good. God has gone before us and prepared our way...and He never left us. He took care of us and took care of our kids.

He watches over our parents. He is giving us discernment and direction in that area. Our friend's little foster son? God holds him close, when his parents cannot. And seeds will be planted for the Kingdom during Clark's travels.

And so I'm "taking every thought captive." (2 Corinthians 10:5), and thinking about things that are "excellent and worthy of praise." (Philippians 4:8) (like our very first grandbaby that will be here early this summer!) I'm confident I can "lie down and sleep, because You, O LORD, keep me safe." (Psalm 4:8) I know that "when I am afraid, I will trust in You." (Psalm 56:3) And that God never sleeps. (Psalm 121:4)

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8

Monday, April 18, 2016

That Time Jim Drove in the Yard

I may or may not have alluded to the fact that my husband, Jim, is an extremely a tad of a Type A person.

Just a TAD.

And the rest of us in the family...not including our "add-ons" (Joshua's word for his brother-in-law and sister-in-law)...are most definitely NOT Type A people.

So a lot of time is spent with the 5 of us messing things up around here...and the ONE person ranting yelling fussing commenting on the fact that we are all messing things up around here.

Jim likes neat. He likes order. He likes real. He likes what is logical. He likes what is rational. He likes facts. He does NOT like messy, chaos, what is unrealistic...or what is illogical or irrational.

I don't want to make him sound like a tyrant. He's not. He is smart, wise, kind, generous, focused, persistent, diligent, strong, honest, faithful. And for every one of his personality traits and quirks that drive me crazy, I have about 5 more that make him go nuts. Mine are just on the opposite end of the spectrum.

If things were left up to Jim, our home would run like a well-oiled machine, and we would have a LOT more money. Our kids would be organized, focused, driven, competitive.

If things were left up to me, our kids would be wandering around aimlessly in the town square, with no direction, no money, and no plan for their lives...but they would love Jesus and God and babies and puppies and flowers and snow-cones and bubbles.

All this to say that people with all types of personalities are needed in this world.

And, all this to say that Jim and I balance each other very well when we work together.

And all this to say that, while I'm sure it is very hard for Jim to live with us, sometimes it's hard for us to live with him, too.

But, most of the time, it's funny.

Because what I consider to be little things, will really bother him. Like, "WHY are there two bottles of ketsup opened in the frig? WAIT until one bottle is empty, and THEN open a new bottle." And, "you really need watch how many times you open and shut the garage only has so many ups and downs in it." WHAT? And, "take it easy on that tv wasn't meant for changing channels like a maniac"

He's wound a little tight...and he knows it. The things he gets upset about...most of them are legitimate complaints. We probably SHOULD watch how many times we use the garage door. I know it's MADE to go up and down...but it won't last forever. He's just wanting us to take care of things around here. It's just the things he says, and the way he says them that makes us laugh: "it only has so many ups and downs in it." BAHAHAHAHA.

He likes to tell people that he lives with 4 monkeys and a hyena. (humph!)

He just grew up with parents who taught and practiced frugality...and while he doesn't think HE was ever, ever, ever wasteful, his parents will tell a different story...about him, and his brothers, basically just kids being KIDS. But now those kids are all adults and parents...and sometimes we become our parents.

Also, there's nothing wrong with being frugal...with money, time, activities, etc. 

One of the things I get "in trouble" for around here is driving in the yard. I don't MEAN to, but it does happen from time-to-time. Occasionally. RARELY, even. I use the small side of the garage, because my vehicle is smaller...but the way it's all situated, I have to "swing wide" in order to get in and out...and so, sometimes, I MAY have SLIGHTLY gotten a tire (or two) in the yard during my attempts.

And Jim. Bless him. He can't even deal.

He says, "that is ruining the yard!" And, "I don't know why it's so hard for you to get your car in and out of the garage." And, "I don't know why I even bother working so hard in the yard, when EVERYONE ELSE doesn't seem to care." And, "SOMEONE ran over the sprinkler head."

Okay...I did feel bad about that last one.

I come from a short line of people who have a good sense of humor...and I'm so thankful. Jim comes from a long line of O-VER-RE-ACT-ORS, and men who like to make a scene to get a reaction. They really should've just all gone to Hollywood, and made us all a ton of money...but instead they like to let us enjoy their dramatic flair.

I realize this is a long and drawn out post, and y'all are probably not going to "get" how this all went down, OR why I thought it was hy-larry-us, OR why, when I told the kids later...THEY all thought it was hy-larry-us. And you might not even believe that JIM was trying hard not to laugh the whole time.

Here's what happened: We were leaving for church yesterday morning, and we were in my vehicle. Jim was driving. He backed out of the garage, and all of a a sound that was heard 'round the world...his tires went off the driveway...and into the yard. I looked at Jim...he looked at me. YEP, THAT JUST HAPPENED AND I HEARD IT. Joshua and I looked at each other, and gasped! Joshua said, "oooo nooo, in his deepest, Freddy-est voice.

And then I started laughing.

And then I WENT a very respectful way, mind you. (wink!)

Now, normally, I would say that it is not wise NOR IS IT PRUDENT to repeat something back to the person who said it to you in the first place. But I decided to take my chances! "I canNOT believe you can't pull in and out of the garage without getting in the grass. IT'S JUST NOT THAT HARD. Apparently NO ONE understands that I am the ONLY ONE who does all the yard work around here, and the rest of y'all don't appreciate it at all. Y'all must think FAIRIES do it...I bust my rear all day and then come home and work hard in the yard...and y'all just drive all over it WILLY-NILLY in your cars. I don't even know why I bother. This is why we can't have nice things. We should live in a tent on a dirt road...and everyone can drive all over the yard and no one would even care. You know, none of this would've happened if you hadn't distracted this is soooo not my fault. Also? Clark parked right in my way. I'm not a genie...I can't drive a car through metal. it's not my fault."

I was being VERY loud and dramatic...letting my voice get all high and squeaky LIKE SOMEONE ELSE DOES WHEN HE GETS ALL RILED UP...and I was flailing my arms like a maniac. Keep in mind that we are on our way...TO CHURCH.

At this point, Joshua was ROLLING LAUGHING in the backseat, and Jim was trying not to laugh. He said, "well, it's not my fault...YOU distracted me."

And I said, "I'm sorry that me, sitting here quietly in my seat...BREATHING...distracted you from the hard task of backing out of the garage."

And then HE said, "Well, if CLARK hadn't parked his car RIGHT IN MY WAY, I would've been able to stay on the driveway."

See? Even our children are not immune to being thrown under the bus.

In the end, we all had a good laugh, and arrived at church in happy moods. Joshua said, "I can't WAIT to tell Mammaw Jack (Jim's mom) about this!" I reminded him to say that it was all in good fun.

(MY good fun, but whatever)

"A joyful heart is good medicine..." Proverbs 17:22

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Holly's Very First Baby Shower!

Today was another great Sunday in our church. God continues to speak to me through our new pastor. Today, our sermon was all about faith. As much faith as I think I have, when push comes to shove...I actually have very little.

Because of some of the trials and circumstances God has allowed in our lives, people have said of us, "you guys have some great faith."

Nothing could be further from the truth. It's called time...and learning from our mistakes...and any good they see is ALL of God, and none of us. I would be living a lot differently if I truly had great faith: no worrying, no doubt, no fear.

It's a struggle with all of us, am I right?

This afternoon, Holly had her very first baby shower. Her Sunday School class friends were the hostesses. As soon as we walked in the door, they all started cheering and clapping. I mean, really! Isn't that the way to greet someone at church? YES! I was thinking they must've read my blog post about how I think we should have more enthusiasm at church...but none of them do.

She had a great baby shower. Several members of our SS class (the ones who are our age) came, and I was shocked. Because none of them really know Holly.

And then the class that Jim and I teach now...the mid-30's class...they had all "pitched in" and gotten a really nice gift.

I was surprised, and seriously overwhelmed at the kindness everyone showed our family today.

"...judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another." Zechariah 7:9

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Saturday: Breakfast, Bikes & S'mores

We were so happy to have Clark home this weekend. He got in late Friday afternoon, and we decided to order Chinese food for dinner. He loves it. Holly had to work, but we ordered for her and Aaron anyway...and they came over to eat after she got home.

It goes without saying that Aaron did NOT eat Chinese food...he brought in a bag of food from Zaxby's...but if you're new here, you might not know that my son-in-law only eats from the four basic food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn...and syrup.


But, name that movie.


Seriously, tho...he eats pizza, burgers, chicken...and steak.

He most definitely does NOT eat Chinese food.

It was great having them here...we just missed Logan and Morgan. They stayed home, because they were helping with their church's college retreat.

This morning, Jim fixed breakfast...and then the guys: Jim, Aaron-the-son-in-law, and Clark...drove down to Little Rock for a 17 miles bike ride. Not exactly what I would call relaxing, but whatever. Joshua and I went with Holly to find hostess gifts for her very first baby shower. It's tomorrow!

I'm so excited! :)

We decided to grill out tonight, so I went and got burgers and hot dogs and all the fixin's. On the way into the grocery, they had a big s'mores station set up, so...of course...I had to get that stuff, too!

Clark grilled the burgers and dogs, and they were yummy! And then he started a fire in the fire-pit, and they all had s'mores.

It has been a great, fun, relaxing, family day.

"So teach us to number our days, so that we may grow in wisdom." Psalm 90:12

Friday, April 15, 2016

Special O, April 2016

This past Saturday, we headed up to Northwest Arkansas (NWA) for a Special Olympics Powerlifting meet.

Now, Jim coaches Joshua...he is certified as a Special O Powerlifting coach, but the man who is over all the Special O Powerlifting in Coach Lee. And this meet was in Coach Lee's "area."

Arkansas is divided up into "areas" for Special Olympics. The "areas" are the larger counties...or maybe 2 (or sometimes more) counties grouped together. Each will have their own Special Olympics competitions and games...and then the top-scoring athletes will compete at the STATE games.

We don't have Powerlifting competitions in our area, where we live now, so we travel to other places so that Joshua can compete.

We got up early, and headed out...Jim, Joshua, and me. Everyone else either had plans or had to work. We stopped for breakfast at the Chick-Fil-A drive-through...which is pretty much the highlight of any trip with make with Joshua. He loves him some Chick.

It was a beautiful day in NWA. Cool and breezy...but sunny. Soooo pretty. The Powerlifting competition was held in the weight room of a junior high school gym...but the track and field events were outside.

This was a small meet...only 6 athletes. Jim was tickled. He said, "we'll be out of here in NO TIME."

Well. More about that later, because the highlight of MY trip happened when we walked into the weight room. There was a lady dressed as Wonder Woman.

Imma gonna let that sink in a minute.


And, I couldn't tell if she was one of the Special O athletes, or if she was a parent...or a coach. I didn't know.

But I admired the heck out of her enthusiasm.

She wasn't wearing the tights, but she had on the shirt, the headband...AND THE CAPE.

I could not take my eyes off her. And the strangest thing one else even batted an eye.

I'm guessin' this wasn't Wonder Woman's first appearance at ye olde Powerlifting meets.

I ended up thinking that she was probably a teacher...or maybe a coach. Maybe the Special Ed teacher, who coached a couple of the athletes. Whatever. She and her group cheered for everyone, and she made me smile.

So, the athletes all got there and were weighed in. Coach Lee always gets up in front of the group, and talks a little bit about Powerlifting...the rules...and how the meet will go. It was during this time that he said these words that pierced Jim's heart like a knife: "Powerlifting is a slower sport. Those athletes out on the track? They have to RUN to try and beat each other. Here, we are trying to beat ourselves...trying to do better/lift more than we did the last time. This is a small meet today, and we are in NO we are going to take our time in-between each rotation, so that every athlete has ample time to rest before their next lift. We will also take a break between the bench-press session, and the dead-lift session...just so everyone feels refreshed and ready to do their best."

Jim's head? Blew right off.

Because he's always got a thousand things going on in his head at all times.

In fact, if you put Jim on one end of the spectrum...Coach Lee would be on the exact opposite end.

I "get" the way both of them are...because when you work in an office or in the business world, it is typically fast-paced. You make plans and trust that people will show up on time...and show up prepared. You have high expectations. You accept no excuses. You move from one meeting or conference or another...fitting in as much as possible into each day.

But when you work with athletes who have special needs, you have to have a different mindset. You have to move at a slower pace. You have to be flexible, patient, and willing to accept that not much will go according to plan.

Both types of people are necessary in this world. :)

Joshua did very well in this meet. He weighed in at a whopping 118.5 WITH HIS SHOES ON. He bench-pressed #145, and he dead-lifted #195. He ended up with THREE gold medals.

And, in a typical "just like dad" moment, he spent the 20+ minutes he waited in line with his group...while their scores were being calculated...looking at his watch, and muttering under his breath about it being lunch time, and how Coach Lee needed to HURRY UP.

We ate lunch at Braum's, and then bugged out of town. Which, if you've never eaten at Braum's, three things: their food? Not that good. Their french fries? They're awesome. And, their cappuccino chunky chocolate ice-cream is my spirit animal.

And Jim? Don't you worry about him. He slept all the way home.

"I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should..." 1 Corinthians 9:27

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Alligator Farm, Purple Cow, and the UN-birthday Boy

Joshua had a great time at Therapeutic Recreation last week. On Tuesday, they loaded up the vans at the TR Center, and headed down to the town where my in-laws live. They usually make this trip once a year, and the FRIENDS all get so excited to see Mammaw Jack. She tries to come eat lunch with them if she can.

First stop was the Alligator Farm. The FRIENDS aren't all that interested in the alligators and snakes...they are more interested in the little fuzzy animals they have there.

But, let's be honest...the MAIN reason the FRIENDS love this that they get to eat at Purple Cow.

I don't know if you have Purple Cow restaurants where you live, but we have them in several places all over the state. Purple Cow restaurants serve burgers and other sandwiches, but they are best known for their ice-cream desserts...especially their "purple" vanilla milkshakes. Every time the FRIENDS go to this particular Purple Cow restaurant...they get so excited!

And Mammaw Jack was meeting them there.

They all were seated and ordered, and everyone was enjoying their food. At some point during the lunch, one of the FRIENDS told the server that it was his birthday.

Except it was not his birthday.

But the entire wait-staff came out with singing and all the hoop-lah...and a free dessert.

When the TR Director, Ms. Sherrie, saw what was going on, she came over to that particular table to talk to the FRIENDS. There were so many of them that they were spread out at several different tables.

ANYWAY, according to Joshua, she talked to all the FRIENDS, and told them that they can't tell people at restaurants that it's their birthday...and get free stuff...if it's not their birthday; that that is lying, and not fair. Ms. Sherrie took the free dessert away from the un-birthday boy.

Keep in mind that my mother-in-law is witnessing this whole thing. And she is ALL UP IN HER FEELS over it.

She doesn't understand that there are lessons to teach and to be learned. She doesn't understand that if one FRIEND gets away with starts a snowball effect with all of the other FRIENDS having "birthdays" every time they go out for a meal; that for all the preaching we do about not wanting our kids/adults to be treated any differently, to allow this kind of behavior, would totally defeat that goal.  And they just have to follow the every other person on the planet.

She doesn't think "they" know what "they're" doing...that "they" don't mean it.

But, oh...yes, ma'am..."they" DO know, and "they" DO mean it. :)

So my mother-in-law did the one thing she knew to do: she bought desserts for all the FRIENDS and the staff. All 23 of them.

Because the non-birthday boy...and all the other FRIENDS? They were gettin' some dessert.

My mother-in-law...don't TELL her "no."

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

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Quotes from the Beach Trip

So, if you have kids...aren't they sweet?

I mean, especially when they're little. E'erbody say, "awwwww..." 

And doesn't your heart just about explode when you look at them...when you think of how you would move heaven and earth for them...and how you would sacrifice your time, energy, finances...and even your very life...all for them?

Well, I'm here to tell you, there will come a point when your child...the one you spent over 20 hours in labor before having to get prison scars to extract them out of your body...that sweet blessing...will, one day, make fun of you. TO YOUR FACE.

Oh, it starts when they are eye-roll, an exasperated sigh. When they are a little older, they will make fun of you behind their their friends. They're really not that good at hiding things, yet, and so you know they do this. Eventually, they will just do it right to your face. Like, you'll say something really wise and profound...maybe repeating something your own parents said to you when you were young (because you just want to "help" your kids by giving them unwanted advice, just like your parents "helped" you)...and your kids will look at you like that was the absolute dumbest thing they've ever heard in their lives. Hopefully, like it is in our case, this is all done in good-natured and mostly respectful fun.

But there's another thing that happened with our kids as they got older: they ganged up on us.

While nothing makes me happier than seeing how much my kids genuinely love hanging out with each other, when they are together...and when they get on a roll...remembering some of the things Jim and I have said and done...they take no prisoners.

There's no time this is more apparent than when we are on vacation. Every time we go somewhere as a family, they keep a running list of quotes from on the trip...and then bring them up for eternity.

Most of the quotes are from Joshua, because he is just so funny...and from Jim. Jim is Type A+. Like, Type A on steroids. So, throwing him on a trip with 6 or 8 "go-with-the-flow" people? Well, it's the perfect storm.

JIM: "Well, I don't know if we can fit another thing in the car." [said as we packed the car at our house].

JIM: "We'd better hope Holly only has 1 bag..." [said as we drove over to pick up Holly].

JIM [When Holly came out with not one, but THREE bags...and Frank-the-giant-pregnancy-pillow wrapped around her, and we all laughed our heads off for a good 6 minutes]: "it's funny until you can't get it in the car!"

JIM [to me when I asked whether I should turn left or right]: "Well, you COULD go left...but you'd end up in the middle of the Mississippi River." (I mean, seriously?)

JIM [right before downing 3 large spoonfuls of a Wendy's Frosty]: "I'll get one for Holly, but I don't need one...I've got cookies in the car."

When the phone charger in the car wasn't working:
HOLLY: "the phone charger isn't working."
ME: "the phone charger isn't working."
CLARK: "the phone charger isn't working."
JIM (LOUD EXASPERATED SIGH): "give me the charger (plugs in his phone) (SURPRISED VOICE) "Well, THE PHONE CHARGER ISN'T WORKING."

JOSHUA [with his proud face on]: "I've got a surprise for Holly...a DVD we can watch together. It's her childhood favorite."
HOLLY (groan): "ohhh it Black Beauty?"

[Stopping at a gas station to potty]
JIM: "Joshua, are you getting out?"
JOSHUA: "We are family...we all get out."

[As we pulled into Gulf Shores]
JIM: "where'd we rent our condo from?"
ME: "Meyer."
JIM: "we always rent from them.
ME: "no, we don't."
JIM: "yes, we DO."
ME: [silence] [I should get brownie points for this]
*pulling up to Meyer to get the condo key*
JIM: "oooooo...we've never rented from here before."
ME: [slow blink]

And this:
JIM TO ME: "For some reason, and I don't know why...I want to think you're right."

See? Good-natured fun! (grrrr...)

"Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." Colossians 4:6

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Book Review

When our son, Joshua, was born 30 years ago, his diagnosis was a surprise to our doctors...and to our family. We were not expecting it, and we were not prepared.

We scrambled to find information and support. People in the "special needs community" cautioned us to only read books and articles that were "current."

This was really before Google was the "go-to" for everything, so searching for "current" information was time-consuming and frustrating.

WHERE was the book that contained facts AND information for every stage of development?

Well, if you're a parent of a child who has Down Syndrome...THIS is that book by Mardra Sikora and Jen Jacob.

It's clear, concise, and easy to read. It very much acknowledges that, just as all individuals with DS have different abilities and personalities...there are different ways of helping them reach their potential. Not every "typical" child can grow up to be President, and not every person with DS is going to be the "poster child" in their community for their accomplishments.

And that's okay.

The fact that Mardra included REAL stories from REAL parents in her book made it a very practical and relatable resource for me.

I wish I had been given a book like this back when my son was born. It would've made the whole beginning process not quite as scary.

I highly recommend this book!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Joshua's Birthday Book: The ROOAHS

I knew that if we gave Joshua this Birthday book, there would have to be some rules. Or, as he pronounces it, some "rooahs."

Because, this ain't my first rodeo.

Joshua writes all the time...ALL THE TIME. Right now, he is working on a story he's convinced will be picked up by the Kendrick brothers (Courageous, Fireproof, Facing the Giants, etc), and made into their next movie. But, before he started writing his book, he wrote poems. He called them songs.

He wrote songs for people in our family, friends we knew...and sometimes he wrote them for strangers.

Some of them made no sense at all, but some of them were really poignant and beautiful. Like the one he wrote to a friend after her mom passed away...or the one he wrote for a former coach, who was facing a terminal illness. He was asked by the coach's wife to read it at his funeral.

So my mother-in-law said that I should put all of his songs/poems into a special notebook.


I spent the better part of several weeks typing all of the writing he had done. I made a "cover page" and everything. I bought "pretty" copy paper, and used a nice font. I put all the pages into one of those clear my kids used to use in school for their reports and stuff.

I presented this "book" to Joshua, and he seemed thrilled. I also printed out more of these "books," and let Joshua give them to family and friends for Christmas one year.


Not too long after that, I was up in Joshua's room one day. I noticed the folder on his desk, and thought, "awww...he loves it so much!" I picked it up to thumb through it, and that's when I saw it.


On nearly every page, he had taken his red pen, and he had "added to" or "crossed out" or written "commentary" on parts of his poems. And I know that it's his work, and I've heard how the creative mind is never satisfied and BLAH BLAH BLAH...

It was a hot mess, and I was mad.

He didn't value the time I put into it.

The time I put into it.

There's a whole lesson in all of this, and in the statement I just made. You see it, right? And I've learned there's no need in spending more time on it.

But, HENCE THE ROOAHS in his Birthday Book. Because this isn't something he wrote and I printed out...these are KIND WORDS from friends and family.

So on the page AFTER the cover page. Here's what I wrote:

*Joshua: In this book, you will find letters from many, but not all, people you love. You will also find letters from many, but not all, people who love YOU. I'm sure there are people I forgot to ask about writing you a birthday letter...and that's okay. And, not everyone I asked could participate. Some people got busy. Some just forgot. Don't hold it against them. They all still love you.

(I wrote this because I know that if he got 1000 letters, he would worry about that ONE he didn't get)

*You may not remove any page from this book.

*You may not write on any page in this book.

*You may not mark over or tape over any page in the book.

*These people took time out of their day to share some kind words with you. 

*Be respectful of this book.

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

Sunday, April 10, 2016

My Letter for Joshua's Book

I thought I would post the letter I wrote for Joshua's Birthday book...for my kids and (future) grand-kids to read one day...and so I can always remember it.

"Well, I hardly know where to begin! These past 30 years have gone by so fast! And they have been the best 30 years of my life!

When your dad and I found out we were going to have a baby, we were overjoyed!

When we found out you were a boy, we were so happy! We already had your name picked out: Joshua. It means, "Jehovah saves." We thought it would be perfect for you. Your middle name would be "Osborne." It's a family name, and we wanted you to have it.

After you were born, and the nurses placed you in my arms, I got to look at your sweet face for the very first time. I thought you were the most beautiful baby I had ever seen! We were so thankful for you!

The doctors told us that you had something called Down Syndrome...that it might take you a little longer to learn stuff. We were a little surprised by this news...but it was okay with us.

They said you might not talk...but that was okay with us.

They said you might not be able to walk...but that was okay with us.

They said you might not be able to read or write. The thought of you not being able to read made me sad, because you loved books so much. But, if you never learned to read? Oh well...we'll just read to YOU!

It was okay with us.

Well, proved everyone wrong! You learned to talk and walk and read and write just fine. You learned to speak slowly and clearly. You learned to walk and run and dance. You learned to do martial arts, and you are an awesome Powerlifter. You can read your Bible, or a book or Facebook, or the newspaper. You can read directions. You can read a recipe. You can read letters and emails.

And you can write. Oh, MAN, can you write! You have probably written more in your 30 years than I have in my whole life! What a blessing!

And, have worked really hard to master these skills, but any glory that comes from your life...goes to God.

HE made you; HE healed you; HE watched over you.

All along our way, HE planned for and provided doctors, nurses, therapists, and teachers...who have been diligent in providing the best care and attention to you. Not only that, HE placed wonderful family and friends in our lives, who have walked with us every step of the way.

So thankful for you, Joshua. Your life is a testament to the faithfulness of God.

*Never forget how far HE has brought you. 
*Never forget that YOU must decrease, but HE must increase.
*Don't be is GOD who blesses your endeavors.
*Be kind to ALL of your friends...they each have a special place and role in your life.
*Honor God in everything you do. Not everyone can be a teacher or a preacher...not everyone can be a missionary in a foreign land. 
*But EVERYONE can encourage the people God places around them each day.

Happy 30th Birthday, Joshua!

I love you.


"...The LORD called me before my birth; from within the womb, He called me by name..." Isaiah 49:1

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Joshua's Birthday Gift: The Book of Joshua

Joshua turned 30 this past Monday.

I spent the weeks leading up to his birthday, wondering what we could give him to commemorate his special day. Joshua's needs and wants are very simple...but 30 is kind of a big deal!

A few days before we left for our Spring Break trip, Holly said, "why don't we ask members, and friends, from the past to the write letters to him. We could ask them to share a picture or a memory, and then we could put them all in a big book?

It was pretty much a genius idea! This is something that Joshua will enjoy FOR-EV-ER.

I quickly sent Facebook messages to some family members and friends. Over the next few days, I would think of others, and send them a message, too. I also mailed letters to the people who don't use Facebook messenger...and I went to Hobby Lobby to get a scrapbook album, and a package of pages.

The day after we got home from our trip, our accumulated mail was delivered.


It would barely fit in our mailbox!

I started putting the letters onto the scrapbook pages, and quickly realized I needed more I went back to Hobby Lobby.

The next day, more letters. The day after that? More letters...and another trip to Hobby Lobby. I think I've been back 6 or more times.

You see, apparently I think my God is small...but He is not.

OH NOOOOO...He is not!

He is BIG, and He showed up BIG...all for my brown-eyed birthday man.

In the beginning, I thought, "IF ONLY we could get 30 letters...that would be one for every year of his life." Well, I got another letter in the mail today, and we have almost 100 letters! And we are starting our 4th scrapbook album!

God's goodness and unfailing love continually pursues us. HE prompted people to participate, and their actions not only blessed Joshua...they've also blessed our family.

I am blown away by the kindness that has been shown to Joshua. I'm talking a pressed-down-shaken-together, more-than-we-could-ask-or-imagine kind-of-thing.

We are still getting letters almost every day, so we haven't given him his book yet. But soon.

I am so very thankful for every person who has invested in Joshua's life, and ours, over the past 30 years.

"Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever." Psalm 23:6

Friday, April 8, 2016

Gardening, Running...and Cooking

Joshua was happy to be back at Therapeutic Recreation (TR) last week.

He was also really excited that we were celebrating his birthday with a "family" dinner at home. His birthday was on Monday, but Holly told us that Aaron-the-son-in-law had a meeting on Monday night...which, in our family is code for: "I will be eating dinner with you guys and can we please order Chinese food?"

I asked Joshua if it would be okay to have his "family" dinner on Tuesday night, so that Aaron could join us, and he said, "shuh!" I asked Joshua if it would be okay to order Chinese food for dinner, and he said, "shuh!"

So, on Tuesday morning, we headed down to Little Rock for TR. Their group was going to be working in the little garden they have at the Center. They were also going to be walking toward their "reverse marathon" goals. They try to walk at least a mile every time the group is together...and they are keeping track of it on a big chart at the Center. When they all complete 26.2 miles, they are going to have a big party...and everyone is going to get a marathon medal! The FRIENDS are all so excited!

Well, they are all so excited about getting a MEDAL. They are all NOT excited about the actual work it takes to achieve that goal.

But they press on.

I sent Joshua to TR with a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, which, to him, is code for: MY MOM HATES ME.

Jussssssssssst kidding.

Joshua is not much of a "sandwich" person. He likes to take our dinner left-overs for his lunch.

But I knew we were having STEAK for his day-after-his-birthday birthday dinner...and I was pretty sure he could eat a sandwich for lunch and not die.

Jim grilled steak and some veggies for our dinner. I made mashed potatoes, because Holly loves them so much...and so does Joshua. I baked a sweet potato for Jim. We had a big salad and some rolls. Mmmm...

The past couple of years, Joshua has requested a peanut-butter pie instead of birthday cake, so I made one of those, and it was yummy (I used Pioneer Woman's recipe)!

He was supposed to have a "cooking day" at TR on Thursday. When I got there, I asked what they would be cooking. They said, "sandwiches." I thought, "mmmm...good luck with that."

Because they've had cooking days before. They've grilled burgers and hot dogs, they've hosted the TR staff with a chili lunch...they've made desserts...they've cooked lasagna and chicken alfredo.

Sandwiches sounded pretty me.

The Director, Ms. Sherrie, said that it was a very "telling" activity...and that she learned a lot about the FRIENDS. She said that one of their aides made the comment, "well, THIS activity isn't going to teach them ANYTHING."

They had 4 kinds of meat, and several kinds of cheese. They had lettuce and onions, and tomatoes FROM THEIR VERY OWN GARDEN there at the Center (THAT was cool)! They had bread...bun, rolls, tortillas. They had olives, pickles...and allll the condiments.

The FRIENDS had unloaded the groceries from the van. They split up into groups and everyone worked together. They put the meat and cheeses on plates and arranged them to look pretty. They washed and separated the lettuce. They washed and sliced the tomatoes and onions. A couple of the FRIENDS are gluten-free...they have special bread or other things they can eat...they know it, all the FRIENDS know it...and they all know where those items are located. They opened the bottles of condiments. They got out the bags of chips. They arranged everything on the table. They got out paper plates, napkins, and silverware. They set up the tables and chairs.

All things we could do in a matter of minutes. 

All things we could probably do in our sleep, and with little-to-no help.

But there are some critical thinking skills in play here...planning, counting, organizing. And some team work skills...seeing what needs to be done, and figuring out how to do it.

A LOT more than just "cooking sandwiches."

Some of them, Ms. Sherrie realized, could not even make their own sandwich. They were PHYSICALLY able to do it...but they had never done it before. They would stand there with the bun or bread on their plate...and everything else they needed spread out on the table in front of them...and literally have no clue how to make their sandwich.

And the sweetest thing was when the FRIENDS would help each other. "Hey, Crystal...put some meat on the you want cheese...let me hold your drink."




"I therefore, a prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:1-3

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Spring Break 2016: Easter & Clark Goes Back to School

We had a great, fun, and relaxing Spring Break. We went to the beach for the first half...and then stayed home the second half. We got to see both sides of our family...unfortunately, it was because each of our Dads wasn't doing well, but we still got in some quality family time.

And then there was Sunday...EASTER Sunday.

Our church had 3 morning services, and 1 evening service. Our choir sang for the morning services. Holly was on Praise Team, so she had to be at the church at 7:15. I had to be there at 7:30.

It was the best day! I think I've written about how much I LOVE SUNDAYS. And Easter Sunday is the BEST Sunday ever. Right?

Jim, Joshua and Clark came to the 8 a.m. service, and then the boys went home...and Jim stayed to help in the 9:30 service. We ate left-overs for lunch...because we fancy like that.

Holly and Aaron-the-son-in-law came over, and hung out with us for the afternoon. Logan called and wanted to know if we wanted to meet them "half-way" (between where we live and where they live) for dinner, and we said, "YES!"

It.was.awesome. to have everyone together...all 4 of my babies. :) And Morgan's family came, too! And even her grandparents!

We were going to celebrate Joshua's birthday a day early, because he had said he wanted "all the siblings" to be together...and everyone was able to come for dinner that night. Morgan's grandmother came up to me and said, "thank you for letting us come tonight!" I said, "Of course...but JUST SO YA KNOW...we are telling Joshua that this whole thing, and all of y'all being for his birthday." She said, "fine by me!"

We had a great night. At this particular Mexican restaurant, if it's your birthday, they all come out and sing...and they put a small dollup of whipped cream on your nose. I don't know why...they just do. We've been going there for 20 years...this is what they do. I posted the video on my IG (martythemoose). It might not look like Joshua is enjoying himself, but TRUST ME...he loved it.

And then it was time to go. Logan and Morgan had to head back to their home. Morgan's parents and grandparents were heading back to their respective homes. Holly and Aaron were heading back to their home...and we were heading back to ours.

On our way out, Morgan's grandmother...her name is MABEL (is that not the sweetest, most Southern name EVER?)...went up to Joshua and said, "JOSHUA! THANK YOU for letting us come to your birthday dinner!"

And Joshua, honest as always, said, "that's okay...I don't even know who you are!"


"Rejoice in the LORD always, again I say, "Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spring Break 2016: The Adventures of Logan & Morgan

While we were on our Spring Break trip to the beach, Logan and Morgan were on a little trip of their own. They went to Chicago with their church's college group.

Because they were chaperones, they didn't have to pay for anything! Well, they had to pay for some of their food on their "free" days...but they didn't have to pay for their transportation up there, OR the food they ate when they were with the group.

The rode an Amtrak train to Chicago. Logan and Morgan were so excited! As a Mom, I was excited that they weren't driving...OR riding in church vans...all the way to Chicago. Their college minister was 2 tickets short of having a whole "car" to themselves, so he bought those 2 tickets so the whole group could be together.

When they arrived to board the train, they apparently "didn't know there was going to be this big group that wanted to stay together," even tho the college minister had the paperwork. They ended up having to be in some sort of "observation car," and it was kind of cramped and uncomfortable until they got to St. Louis, where they added a new car. And then all was good.

Logan and Morgan don't travel anywhere where they aren't prepared with a list of things they want to see/do/eat. They watch the travel channel and the food channel...they had a plan.

Most of the mornings, they had some free they split up into groups and went sightseeing. They tried to see as much as they could on a short amount of time. After lunch, they came back to the church, and set things up for the after-school program they were helping with. Logan and Morgan both had a blast doing that.

They also had worship services at the church, and did some other ministry work.

They had so much fun, and they felt safe the whole time. I am so glad they have a heart for missions.

"And He said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation." Mark 16:15

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Spring Break 2016: My Dad

While Jim's Dad was in the hospital, my sister, Leanne, was in Oklahoma at the doctor with my Dad.

My Dad has Parkinson's. Unfortunately, the main medicine he needs for causing him to experience hallucinations.

Some of them are kind of when he thought there were bums up in the attic cooking hot dogs.

But some of them are most definitely NOT when they make my Dad feel afraid.

With my Joshua...his safety is my highest concern. But, even more than safety, is that I never want him to feel fear. Like, straight-up, legit FEAR.

Have you ever been afraid?

My mother-in-law says things like, "I'm afraid he's not going to like that job." Or, "I'm afraid that business is not going to make it." Or, "I'm afraid I've burned the biscuits."

In the words of Joshua: imnottalkingaboutthatrightnow.

I'm talking about scared-for-your-life fear.

I can't even think about dealing with that type of in the WORLD would I expect one so innocent to be able to handle it?

The same thing goes for my Dad...because, while he's not a child...or even someone who would "technically" be characterized as having "special needs..." his medication makes him vulnerable to fear, and unable to discern between what is real...and what is not real.

The side effects of his meds make him think people are in their house...or that they are trying to break into their house...and he gets so afraid. This just breaks my heart.

So, after Jim's Dad got to come home from the hospital, and appeared to be doing okay...we headed up to Oklahoma to see my Dad and Clara.

My Dad is the best man I know. He is a godly husband, father, and grandfather. He is loving, kind, and patient. He is consistent. He is a servant. He is humble. He is patriotic. He is calm. He is steadfast. He is steady.

Don't judge him by what you see now.

Better yet...let's don't judge anyone by their appearance or behavior.

That old man in front of you at McDonald's? The one who is asking the checker to repeat things 57 times? Who just spilled his coffee while shuffling back to his table? Who can't get the package of ketsup open? Who is having trouble fastening his belt in the bathroom?

He served our country FOR YOU. Maybe he used to teach kids LIKE YOU. Maybe he was a doctor and took care of people LIKE YOU...or your children. Maybe he used to lead the music at your church Maybe he was an author. Maybe he was a motivational speaker. Maybe he used to keep an immaculate yard. Maybe he coached the football team to the state play-offs years ago.

You just never know about people.

My Dad used to stand straight and tall. He was handsome and distinguished-looking. My Dad served our country well for 20 years in the USAF. He raised 4 children. He served on-staff at a church after retirement...and then he and my Mom bought their own business. He was a husband to my Mom for nearly 40 years. After her death, he married Clara...and they have been married for 15 years. He was a BOSS at handball and racquetball...pretty much up until his heart attack 4 1/2 years ago. He has been well-thought-of everywhere he's, work, at the gym.

Outwardly, he is not the same as the man I just described. He doesn't hear well at all. His feet move slowly now...he shuffles everywhere he goes. He is bent over, and stares mostly at the ground...for balance, but also because it takes a lot of effort to straighten up. He can't always get his body to do what he wants it to do. He can't always recall the exact word he needs...but at our last visit, he could recall every school he ever went to...and, as an Air Force Brat...and being nearly 80 years old...that's a pretty amazing feat! And, he still has his same quick wit...cracking jokes and keeping us laughing.

But his spirit? It's strong. He weathered the death of a spouse. He's living with the loss of ability. He's frustrated...but he's not bitter. He says he feels extremely blessed.

His words: "I've had a good life. I was a good husband and tried to be a good father. I was always good in school...good in athletics. I was always good at my job, no matter what it was. This is really my only only trial. Sometimes I complain, but I don't mean to...I have no reason to...because God has blessed me beyond measure. I'm just gonna try to praise the Lord through it all."

"...shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" Job 2: 10

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

Monday, April 4, 2016

Spring Break 2016: Jim's Dad

We had a great time at the beach. Lots of relaxing, reading, thinking, praying, watching the waves.


Because, Y'ALL.

But all good things must come to an end, or that's what they tell me...and we had to pack up and go home at some point.

We hadn't been on the road very long, when Jim's youngest brother called to let us know that their Dad had been admitted to the hospital.

Jim's Dad has been having some health issues for a couple of months...the doctors can't really figure out what is going on. They are trying to treat his symptoms...just to see if they can help him feel better.

Jim's Dad is strong. He is a hard worker. He is constantly outside tromping around in the yard...or out in his boat fishing. He's not much for lying it was obvious he wasn't feeling good when he didn't feel like getting up off the couch. He couldn't breathe, even tho he didn't seem congested...and he acted like he was choking, even tho he wasn't eating.

He went to the ER, and was admitted for tests and observation. He did not have a heart attack, but they said something about his enzymes being out-of-whack. Also, he had gained 17 pounds of fluid in a matter of days. WHY? That's what I wanted to know...and no one could really tell me. They started him on Lasix, and he lost 9 pounds in the first 12 hours.

And, he had to inform us that he'd gone to the bathroom 23 times during that time as well. TMI.

What is it about being in a hospital that makes people want to tell everyone all about their bodily functions?

He was discharged, and has been back to the doctor twice since then. Still not sure what all is going on, but we are so thankful for him.

"You are a hiding place for me; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah" Psalm 32:7