Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Joshua: Therapeutic Rec, Ornaments, Corky's

Well, today was Joshua's first day back to Therapeutic Recreation since Thanksgiving...and, oh my goodness, you would've thought it had been a year...instead of just 12 days.

This morning, on our drive into the City, it was like he was seeing things for the very first time. "OH! There's the bean fields." "OH, there's the mountain!"

So funny!

Also, random: he got out and used his bottle of "man lotion," not once...but TWICE...on our 40 minute drive. I almost had to jump out the window, because FUMES.

Also? We have a radio station that plays non-stop Christmas music from Thanksgiving til Christmas, so we sang and sang and sang this morning.

Joshua and the FRIENDS made wooden ornaments this morning. Joshua said they made them from "tree bark." Really, they were circles of a small log that had been cut into pieces. They painted them to look like the face of a snowman. They turned out really cute!

And they went out for lunch.

Which, if you had asked any of the FRIENDS what they did today, it would've been"blah, blah, blah...went out for lunch." Because, it's a known and proven fact that the FRIENDS like nothing more than going out for lunch. Unless it's going out for dinner. Ha.

Joshua had to tell me what everyone had to eat. Of course, he only ate half of his sandwich, and brought the rest of it home to eat tomorrow. BUT, he forgot and left it in the car for several hours, so we had to throw it away. When I asked him about it, he said, "I'm a nut," and I cracked up. He's never said anything like that before.

I told him we would get Chick (Chick-Fil-A) for lunch tomorrow, and he is VERY excited about that!

He was happy to see his friends. He was REALLY happy to ride in their group's brand, new van!

After we got back to town, we made a quick trip to the grocery store...even tho it's Tuesday.

You all know how I feel about going to Kroger on Tuesdays. 

We were walking in the crosswalk, on our way out of the store, and we were nearly smoked by a car that was being driven by a very elderly woman. I grabbed Joshua and pulled him back. I said, "WATCH OUT! Memaw is not stopping for pedestrians." Joshua said, "well, it IS Tuesday..."

"The Lord gives me strength and protects me; He has become my deliverer.” Psalm 118:14

Monday, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

Well, I've been MIA on here for a week! I really want to record all that we did, but my mind is so tired.

We had a great Thanksgiving. Logan and Morgan came on Wednesday night, and they stayed with us until Sunday. They had just spent a week with her family on a trip to Disney World, so they've had a really busy, fun Thanksgiving break!

Last year, my two married kids were with their spouse's families on Thanksgiving, so I didn't make a big meal...and then when everyone arrived here the next day, they were, like, "where's all the food?" So I decided that, no matter who was here for Thanksgiving this year, I was going to make a big meal with all the fixin's...and whoever was here could eat it.

Holly had to work on Thanksgiving day, so Aaron-the-son-in-law took baby Rhodie to his parent's house. Logan and Morgan left to have lunch at her grandparent's house, but they were back here in time for dinner.

I had set the dining-room table a week ago, and then, before I put all the food in there, I went around to all the plates, and brushed them off with a dry dish towel. Which, NOTE TO SELF: use a wet towel. Because the dry cloth did not get all the dust off of the plates, and I was mildly embarrassed/irritated that it didn't.

But it was all okay...it didn't stop anyone from wiping off their own plates and eating big piles of food.

On Friday, we left to go to Tulsa for my Dad's 80th birthday. I want to write a separate post about that...and it's taking me some time to get my thoughts together.

We have had a great Thanksgiving break. Lots of family time with all 4 kids and their spouses...and it was Rhodie's first Thanksgiving. I feel very thankful.

"Seek the Lord and the strength He gives! Seek His presence continually!" Psalm 105:4

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving: Therapeutic Recreation Style

First of all...I just re-read my post from yesterday, and it is not nearly as funny as the actual situation was. I guess you just had to be here...and you just have to know Joshua...and I just need to be a better writer!

ANYWAY, last week was a lonnnnng week.


My husband was out-of-town for all of it, but he's back now, PRAISE THE LORD.

Every year, Joshua's Therapeutic Recreation group has a Thanksgiving Potluck. The meat and the drinks are provided, but the FRIENDS each sign up to bring something. And the rule is that you have to MAKE it at the Center. And, not only that, you have to bring everything you need: spoons, spatulas, measuring cups, etc.

The STAFF is there to supervise, and help...as needed...but this is supposed to be about the FRIENDS feeling independent, and working together...for a common goal.

For the past few years, Joshua has brought the same thing. The STAFF and the FRIENDS request it. It's called, "Brownie Delight." I think his group calls it, "Brownie Heaven," or something like that. Here is the recipe:

Make a 13x9x2 pan of brownies (If I'm making brownies to eat, I make them from scratch. If I'm making them for this dish...I use the mix in a box). Let your brownies cool.

You'll need a trifle dish. I bought one at Wal-Mart several years ago, and it was not expensive at all. Mine is glass, which is good, because you can see all of the layers of this dessert.

*brownies (baked and cooled)
*10 chocolate pudding cups (divided)
*16 oz Cool Whip
*mini-chocolate chips or Health Bar brickle (divided) (however much you like, but make the top look pretty)

In your trifle dish, layer 1/2 of the brownies (crumble them up, and evenly put them on the bottom of the dish). Next, empty 5 chocolate pudding cups. Smooth that over the brownies. Then, you'll need 1/2 of a 16 oz tub of Cool Whip. Spread that over the pudding. Sprinkle mini-chocolate chips, or some Heath Bar Brickle over the Cool Whip.

REPEAT to make another layer: brownies, pudding, Cool Whip, chips. Cover with Saran Wrap, and refrigerate over-night.

For this event, we bake the brownies at home, and then Joshua brings the rest of the stuff with him to the Center, and he makes the layers himself.

I walked into the Center this particular morning, and...not gonna lie: I got all up in my feels. There, around about 5 or 6 round tables, were all the FRIENDS. Each one had a "station" and they were each working on their dishes.

They were dressed in some of their nicest clothes.

At the beginning of the week, the group made their annual trip to a store called "Savers." They each brought money, no more than $20, and they shopped for things they wanted. Joshua said, AND I QUOTE, "I have enough clothes," so he didn't buy anything. But some bought tops and pants and skirts and jewelry. Everyone looked so nice.

This was a special day, after all.


Anyway, the picture of it all brought tears to my eyes. The "least of these," according to the world, anyway...working hard to help each other, and preparing a meal to enjoy together.

So very THANKFUL for this program. I am very cautious with the people I allow to "watch" over Joshua. His safety is my utmost priority. I'm THANKFUL for the Director and Staff for providing opportunities for independence, and for teaching life-skills for the TR FRIENDS.

"...‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!’"

Monday, November 21, 2016

On How We Blew Joshua's Little Mind

If you've read here very long, you know that Joshua is a creature of habit...and a lover of routine.

We aren't slaves to it, or anything like that, but if we CAN and it's not a big deal to us...we do try to stick to it, because it IS a big deal to him. Why, I do not know, but knowing what's coming...scheduling things for the same time each day/week...it's comforting to Joshua. And if he's comforted and calm...it's just better for everyone.

Like, on Mondays we have muffins. Blueberry muffins. Betty Crocker Wild Blueberry Muffins, to be exact.

Today is Monday, and we had them today. 

Last night, I didn't think I had a box of muffins in the pantry, so I was preparing to run to the grocery store at 8:15. I thought I'd check in there one more time before I left, and I FOUND ONE BOX OF MUFFINS.

I swurr I heard the angels sing.

But, this post is about Sunday, and on how we blew Joshua's little mind...and how he might have to have therapy because of it...and how we, Jim and I, might be gettin' a good "talkin' to" from Jim's Mom.

For as long as I can remember, I've fixed cinnamon rolls (the kind from the can) on Sunday mornings. Joshua is 30 years old, so I've been fixing them for a long time. When Joshua was little, he called them "Sunday Rolls."

Now that there's usually just 3 (or maybe 4, if Clark is home) of us here, I fix the smaller can.

Every Saturday night, Joshua will look in the frig to make sure we have a can of cinnamon rolls. This Saturday night, I saw him coming in from the garage. We keep an extra frig out there for our excess stuff. He came in, and kind of threw his hands up in the air: "I looked in both frig's, and we have no cinnamon rolls." And then he just stared at me with his exasperated face. I could almost feel the judgment coming out of his eyes..."I don't know what she does all day...she had plenty of time to go to the store, and SHE KNOWS TOMORROW IS SUNDAY."

I called Joshua to come closer, so he could hear me. I said, "let me tell you what we are doing in the morning...we are not having cinnamon rolls for breakfast." His eyes got real big, and he said, "we're NOT?" I said, "no...we are having a breakfast potluck at church. There will be all kinds of good breakfast stuff...maybe someone will bring cinnamon rolls, but I don't know. OK?"

I know Joshua loves breakfast foods, and so he said, "okay!"

No one brought cinnamon rolls, but it was all good.

For lunch after church, we typically run through a drive-thru place...unless we have left-overs at home we can eat. We hadn't gotten too far down the road when Grandma Ellen Joshua said, "so...what about lunch?" Jim asked me, "do we have enough left-overs?" We were still discussing it when we got to The Light: The Light where you go straight, if you are going to Wendy's or Zaxby's or Subway...or where you turn right to head to our house.

We turned right.

Jim mumbled, "you should SEE the face I just saw in my rear-view mirror from Joshua...it was not a happy face."

I had a wedding shower to attend, so I wasn't eating lunch at home...but I warmed up the Chinese food from the night before, and there was enough for both of them. Plus, Jim warmed up half of a burrito from a couple of nights ago, because having his stomach turned inside-out from Chinese food was apparently not enough for him. He had to add half of a giant burrito for a flourish.

Jim said that, after I left, Joshua said, "I might try some of your burrito," and so Jim shared with him...and it was all good.

Or we hope so.

Whenever Joshua gets in trouble...or feels like things aren't going his way...he goes upstairs and calls Jim's mom to tell her his side of the story. OF COURSE, she thinks we are horrible parents (not really...I'm kidding), and takes up for Joshua (but I'm NOT kidding about this!) every.single.time.

I was so tired when I got in last night. I took a shower, and put on my flannel pajammies. We haven't had our heat on yet, but the past few nights, we've had to use our comforter. I decided it was time for our Christmas flannel sheets. Every year, I put them on all the beds in our house (but one). I've already put them on Joshua's bed, and I'm putting Clark's on tomorrow. Logan is too hot-natured for them, so, even tho he's married and doesn't live here anymore...I keep his room flannel-free. I took our sheets, and threw them in the dryer for a few minutes...and then I put them on our bed. They were soft and warm.

And then I told Jim, "if it wasn't 8:30...I would really want to go to bed." And HE said, "you can still go to bed at 8:30." And then I said, "I don't want to go by myself," and HE said, "oh, I'm coming, too."

Joshua was upstairs, totally oblivious to this conversation. I called up to ask him to come to the top of the stairs. I said, "Dad and I are going to bed now." He said, "you ARE? Okaaaaaay."

I was asleep in less than 15 minutes. Not even kidding. Soooo cozy.

This morning, after Joshua his muffins, he came in to talk to me. I was rocking Rhodie. I said, "how did you sleep last night?" And he said, "good, BUT CAN YOU TELL ME WHY WE WENT TO BED AT 8:30 AT NIGHT?"

Bless his heart. We totally messed up the routine of his entire Sunday. Even tho it freaked him out...he was really pretty accommodating about all of it. Or so we think.

We haven't heard from Jim's Mom about any of this, so maybe we're okay.

For now.

"From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised!" Psalm 113:3

Thursday, November 17, 2016

World Preemie Day 2017: Clark

Clark...our 4th child. He was prayed for, wanted, planned. We nearly lost him 3 times during my pregnancy. I remember wondering why the people at my Christian, pro-life clinic...weren't as upset as I was about all the problems I was having in this pregnancy. I didn't know there was a certain length of gestation that had to be reached, before all necessary protocol would be put into place to save this baby. I didn't know, when I went into pre-term labor with Clark, that I had just barely met that deadline.

But here's the thing: the Clark who met the deadline...the Clark who now had a medical team medical working to save and keep his life...was the same Clark who was just a blip on the screen when I first saw him at 7 1/2 weeks gestation. He was the same Clark who grew and moved in my tummy...the same Clark who kept trying to get OUT early and see the world. He was the same Clark I prayed for, that I begged God to preserve and save; the same Clark who, with every ounce of my being, I willed to live...even as some in my hospital room were quietly discussing a funeral and a cemetery.

They didn't think I heard them, but I did.

I know it was never in my hands...Clark's life. But I was determined to do everything in my power to help him have the best chance at life...so that, whatever happened, I wouldn't have any regrets.

This was the same Clark who ended up being delivered way too early. Twelve and a half weeks early, to be exact. Just a little over 3 pounds. Thin, red skin, delicate features...so very tiny. We couldn't hold him for a long time. We couldn't even touch him for weeks. They didn't want him to have any stimulation. He just needed quiet and rest and time to grow.

How big he was, how early he was, how sick he was, how wanted he was...none of those factors change the fact that he.was.LIFE. He was Clark.

Today is World Preemie Day...also known as, "The Holiday of Clark's People." It could also be called, "The Day That Scared His Mommy Half-to-Death." I know that not everyone has the same outcome with a preemie...that we had with Clark. I'm so sorry. I am THANKFUL to have been born in an age of advanced medical knowledge. I am THANKFUL for the medical care Clark received at delivery...and in the 7 1/2 weeks he spent in the NICU at Baptist. I am THANKFUL that God spared Clark's life. And I am THANKFUL to know that none of the circumstances of Clark's life have taken God by surprise.

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body, and knit me together in my mother's womb...You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." Psalm 139: 13, 16

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Tuesdays At Kroger

Today I forgot.

I forgot it was Tuesday, and I went to Kroger anyway.

If you don't know, Tuesdays at Kroger are Senior Citizen Days. They are also "Double-Coupon" days.

My mother-in-law pronounces "coupon" as "qu-pin." So Tuesdays are "Double Qu-pin" days.

Also known as "the day Kroger practically pays me to shop there."

For years, my mother-in-law has shopped at Kroger on Tuesdays. She gets the Senior Citizen discount, AND the double qu-pin discount. According to her, they call the manager over to her line from time-to-time, because NO ONE can BE-LIEVE that she is saving THAT MUCH MONEY. "It's like they are paying me to shop there."

Except that you pay THEM, Mammaw.

Also? It takes my mother-in-law 2-2 1/2 hours to grocery shop on Tuesdays. WHAT IN THE WORLD?

I never understood the Tuesdays-at-Kroger phenomena...and then one day...I forgot. And I went. On a Tuesday. And then things became crystal clear.

It is a social outing for most of these people. Some of the Senior centers bring vans full of senior adults.

In fact, my mother-in-law tells me that her sister will call her 3 or 4 times BEFORE she gets to Kroger...and then, when she gets there, and they see each other, they act like they haven't seen each other in FOREVER. I love to watch these senior adults see their friends. They check out what the other one has in their buggy, and they ask about recipes...and about their families. It's so sweet.

But, God-forbid if you are trying to get to the meat department for the day-old pork tenderloin, because you will be RUN OVER by the "hover-crafts."

Not sure what you call those riding things, but, on Tuesdays...at Kroger? They.are.everywhere. EVERYWHERE. And you'd better WATCH YOUR BACK (and your heels).

I'm not making fun. That is my future, should I live that long. I am so thankful for equipment that increases the quality of life for people. All people. Some of the FRIENDS in Joshua's Therapeutic Recreation group use wheelchairs, so I'm well-aware that they need to watch out for people...and people need to watch out for them. 

Yesterday, there was this elderly man who was shopping...and his cell phone went off no less than THREE TIMES (that I heard). He had a unique ring-tone, probably put on there by his grandchildren, and it had to be on the loudest possible setting.

The problem? This gentlemen could not hear it ringing. He was happily going aisle to aisle, filling his buggy with the things he needed...and, all the while, his phone was BLARING.

Or, maybe he was just ignoring it.

Because, the other day, I ran into Wal-Mart, and there was an older couple standing right in the entrance of the store. They had no clue that they were blocking the entrance, and everyone was having to kind of squeeeeeeeze by them. The woman was asking loudly, "ARE YOU GOING TO GET ME SOME CORNFLAKES?" And the man said, "I TOLD you I'M NOT WALKING ALL THE WAY OVER THERE."

What in the world?

"So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim Your might to another generation, Your power to all those to come." Psalm 71:18

Monday, November 14, 2016

Joshua: Therapeutic Recreation Update 11.10.2016

I've been trying to write a few "thankful" posts during the month of November...but, like I stated in a previous post, life is going on...and I want to record some of those memories as well.

A couple of weeks ago, Joshua's Therapeutic Recreation group went to the dinner theater. They saw Agatha Christie's, "And Then There Were None." It made a BIG impression on all of the FRIENDS.

At the dinner theater, you pay one price for a ticket, and the meal is included. It's a buffet, so people can choose what they want. They also have dessert, but Joshua rarely gets it. He has so much self-control.

The drinks are included: water, tea, coffee. If you want a soda, that costs extra. Joshua always gets water...and coffee.

He does not drink coffee. EVER. Oh, sometimes, Holly will save him some of her frappa-mocha-whipped-cream whatever...and he MIGHT have a sip or two. Other than that, he won't drink coffee. Doesn't really like it.

EXCEPT when they go to the dinner theater. I don't know if it makes him feel "big" or what. It's funny.

The first thing Joshua told me was, "I didn't want to over-eat, so all I had was peas and carrots...

And fish...

And mashed potatoes...

And HAM."

Oh, GOOD. I'm so thankful he didn't over-eat.

I don't know if you are familiar with the play they saw, but...SPOILER ALERT: lots of people die.

That would've been good for the FRIENDS to know in advance...because some of them have sensory issues.

And, to give credit to the dinner theater, they did come out at the very beginning to say there would be a lot of shooting...that it was all part of the show.

But to quote Joshua, "once the shooting started, it was all for one...and all for one."

Yep. That's not a type-o.

All for one...and all for one.

And then one day last week, they went to a restaurant called, "Mellow Mushroom." Since we'd had pizza the night before, he said he wanted to order something different. He said, "I got a hokie." I said, "a what?" He said, "a HOKIE." I said, "what is a hokie?" He said, "uhhh...a SANDWICH."

Ohhhhhh...a HOAGIE.


He makes me smile every day. So thankful for him. :)

"Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty." Psalm 91:1

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Weekend Update 11.13.2016

Just sitting here watching the Seattle Seahawks play the Patriots. I'm for Seattle because we used to live in Tacoma...back when I was a girl. My little brother was a big Seahawks fan. He had the bedding, the curtains, the trashcan...everything. I've been cheering for them ever since. :)

We've had a great weekend. We didn't really do a THING worth writing about...but I'm gonna write about it anyway.

On Friday, Jim was off, and it was great to have him here all day. Holly and the baby came over, so Jim got to spend a lot of time with him. Jim and Joshua went to the gym. We ordered Chinese food for dinner, and it was YUMMY.

On Saturday, I "slept-in" a little later than normal. And by "slept-in," I mean that it was around 6 a.m. when I woke up. But I didn't GET up then. I stayed in bed. Jim got up and went on a long run. When he got home, I got up, and we made a "big" breakfast.

After breakfast, we cleaned everything up, and Jim posted up on the couch to read the newspaper and watch TV. Mmmm...hmmm...I know what that means. He's full and warm and tired from his run: NAP TIME FOR JIM.

Not wanting to be left out, I did something I NEVER, EVER do. I decided to crawl back in our bed and read for a bit. But then I turned on the TV, and The Proposal was on. Have you seen that movie? I've seen it a hundred times, but I like it. :) I sank down in the pillows, and pulled the covers up to my chin.

So, yeah...productive morning.

I could hear Jim crashing around up front. I heard the door opening and closing...and him going in and out. DID NOT PHASE ME A BIT. At one point, Jim walked through our bedroom, looked at me, and grinned. He said, "you're kind of enjoying your morning, aren't you?"

Yes. Yes, I am.

I finally did get up, but only because it was nearly lunch-time. No matter how late we eat breakfast, Joshua will be coming down the stairs NO LATER than straight-up noon. He would think I had died, if there wasn't some sort of lunch being prepared. Ha!

He comes by it honest, tho. My Grandma Ellen used to say, "I know we are just now eating breakfast...but let's go ahead and talk about lunch..."

I did laundry. I sat outside in the sunshine, and it was all kinds of peaceful. Holly and Aaron brought Rhodie over, and we watched football. It was such a great day.

Except for the part where Arkansas got trounced by LSU, and Joshua nearly LOST.HIS.MIND. Actually, compared to Aaron-the-son-in-law, Joshua was relatively calm. 

The weather is cooler now, so the house is really cool in the mornings and evenings. We aren't running the air or the heat. After everyone left, I put on my flannel pajammies, and crawled into bed...and I was soooo cozy. This must be what a bear feels like when it gets ready to hibernate.

Hur, hur, hur.

This morning, we had Small Group and church.

Which, funny story: Joshua kept looking at his watch during our class. Side note: Joshua only wears a watch on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Don't ask. It's a long story. It's just one of his "things." ANYway, he kept looking at his watch during class. I would ask him what time it was, and he would have to look at it again...which showed me that he wasn't even looking at it for the time, necessarily. He was doing it out of habit.

So, he kept looking at his watch during class (LIKE I'VE SAID 3 TIMES ALREADY), and I whispered, "hey...you takin' medicine?" He just grinned at me, and then said, "uhhhh...NO. I'm timing Dad."


The little stinker.

Tonight, we met Logan and Morgan for dinner, and that was so fun! They are going to be out-of-town for about 8 days or so before Thanksgiving, so we were happy to get to have dinner with them tonight. :)

Before we left the house, Joshua came downstairs, dressed and ready to go. He was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. He had his backpack on his back...and he was carrying his denim jacket. He knows Logan has a denim jacket. He said, "maybe Logan will wear his denim jacket tonight."

Well, we pulled up and parked. We got out of the car. We saw Logan and Morgan walking in the door of the restaurant. I looked at Joshua, to see if he'd noticed. Oh yes, ma'am. You'd better believe he noticed. He had on his "proud face" on, and was putting his arms into his jacket. When we walked in the door, he grinned real big at Logan. Logan said, "hey! You brought out the denim tonight!"

I wish I had taken a picture of them. It was really cute.

This quiet and restful weekend was JUST what I needed.

"Because the LORD is my shepherd, I have everything I need! He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He restores my strength..." Psalm 23:1-3

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Thankful for the Bond of Siblings

Several years ago, we lived in a different town...and Jim had the bright idea to take a family picture out in the backyard. 

He spent 45 minutes trying to get the spot just right. He's a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to taking pictures (and every other thing in life!), so he was pulling up weeds, clearing a spot. He dragged a bench to this cleared off spot, and then told us all where to sit. He was trying to get everyone in the exact right position. 

He even broke/sawed off some branches that were in the way of his perfect shot. 

This was going over great with our 4 kids, because they had been sitting there, dressed and ready to go, for 45 minutes.

After about an hour, the sun had moved to a different position, AS IT DOES, and it became apparent that we needed one of the branches Jim had removed...to create some shade on our faces. Never fear, because Jim picked up that branch, and THREW IT BACK UP IN THE TREE. 

And then...right before this shot, the branch came crashing down. 

Our kids were completely over.it. at this point, and I was laughing so hard, I could hardly breathe. 

Jim was not amused (SHOCKER). He's always said he lived with 4 monkeys and a hyena. 

I am thankful for the bond our 4 kids share. They not only love each other, they genuinely LIKE each other. 

When they found out it was Rhodie's Baby Dedication Day at our church, they all made plans to attend...even tho that part of the service was only 2 minutes long. After lunch, they, along with the two "add-ons," spent the whole afternoon sitting outside, just talking with each other. 

I'm so very thankful.

"See how good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live together in harmony." Psalm 133:1

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Day After The Election

Excited? Relieved? Optimistic? Nervous? Angry?

How Clinton supporters feel this morning is how many of us felt when Barack Obama was elected. Or how many others felt when George Bush was elected.

It's the way our country works.

Not everyone gets a trophy. Not everyone wins.

And it's hard if your guy or gal loses.

But if you ever played athletics, or had a child who did, you know there are those games where there is an underdog...where victory is unlikely...but where a team will scrap and scrape and claw their way to victory.

Of course, we only think those games are great, if we are on the winning team.

Let me be clear...in my opinion, there has been nothing "good" about this campaign, from either side. I'm glad it's over.

The first time a presidential candidate I voted for didn't win, I was not happy. I remember grumbling about it to my Dad.

Being that he grew up as an Air Force brat, was career Air Force himself, and a huge supporter of the military...I felt like he would certainly understand and agree with my frustration.

But my Dad, ever calm, ever steady, ever the voice of reason...told me, "this is the American way. This is what our forefathers wanted...one of the reasons they left their homeland to come to a new land; why many fought and died...for this: our right to choose our leaders, and vote for the ones we prefer. Sometimes we win, and that's great. Sometimes we lose. But when we lose, we suck it up for the good of our country, and work all the harder for next time. As passionate as we feel on certain issues...other people feel just as passionate about the opposing view...and that's great. We might not ever agree with them, but we can agree that we all want to work to have a great country."


(that's my Dad!)

So very thankful to live in the land of the free...and the home of the brave. But my hope is not in any leader...my hope is in the Lord.

"The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord like channels of water; He turns it wherever He wants." Proverbs 21:1

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Real Life Update 11.08.2016

I haven't done well keeping up with my family on the blog. I tried to post every day in October for Down Syndrome Awareness Month. And in November, I typically post something I'm thankful for each day.

But life has been going on for 31 days of October, and now 8 days of November...and I have yet to post anything.

Earth-shattering, I know.

And, even more earth-shattering? I can't remember anything that we've done that is worth posting.

Except that the HOGS won against Florida last weekend, and it was like the seas parted and the angels sang...because the weekend before, we were slaughtered by the Auburn Tigers, and I lost all hope for the season. Joshua was fur-i-ous over the loss, and he was muttering every Downsy bad word he knew...and doing a lot of "self-talking" during the whole game.

I recorded a video of him on my phone, where he was giving lots of advice to our coach, Bret Bielema. I ended up not being able to post it, because he used the words, "don't be a bunch of sissys," even after I asked him not to. I told him I couldn't use the first video, because "WE DON'T CALL NAMES," and it is not nice to call anyone a "sissy." He asked me to make another one, and he promised to be kind.


The second one turned out great and cute until the end, when he said, "Well, I would tell them not to be sissys, but my Mom says that's not nice to say."

It seemed like such a long week last week. There was Halloween...don't get me started. I love all of the little kids who come by.

LITTLE kids.

But, we had people bringing flat-bed trailers through our neighborhood, and kids were running all around and in the street, like kids do...but these kids weren't even from our town. Maybe I'm getting old, but I gave one little kid a candy bar, and he said, "ewww...I want something else." I looked at the Mom, thinking this would be a teachable moment FOR HER, and she looked at me like, "well?"

I quietly shut the door, and prayed they wouldn't come back later and trash our yard.

I had a kid hit the doorbell 7 times with the palm of his hand. BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM! Good thing Jim just replaced the doorbell THE DAY BEFORE.

And there was the kid who beat on my door with a SICKLE. I opened the door, and there stood a "kid" about 6 feet tall. He was dressed all in black, and carrying a sickle. Good thing he wasn't a clown. Because, you know, you can't dress up as a CLOWN these days...but you can dress up as the grim reaper? I gave him a ton of candy because he was so scary looking.

Please don't hurt me.

Jim was out-of-town a lot last week, so I was really looking forward to Friday. He got home right after lunch, and Holly came over with the baby. It was a fun day.

Joshua's Therapeutic Recreation group was having a "movie night" for the FRIENDS on Friday night. They were watching some Ninja Turtles movie. I knew Joshua was not a big Ninja Turtles fan, but I assumed he would want to go hang out with his friends.  WRONG. He told me he would rather stay home, because he "didn't want to see no talking turtles."

BAHAHAHAHA....tell us how you really feel, Joshua.

Then, Logan and Morgan, and Clark, all came home late Saturday afternoon. Holly had to work on Saturday. Aaron brought the baby over, and he and Joshua watched football together. We ordered pizza for dinner, and everyone ate whenever they felt like it...and they all hung out and visited after Holly got in from work.

On Sunday, we had Rhodie's baby dedication at church.

If you aren't familiar with this custom, it's a service where the parents publicly dedicate their children to the Lord. Actually, it's more about the parents dedicating themselves to the Lord, promising to raise their children in a home that believes in and follows Christ. And then we, as a church body, commit to support and pray for these families.

It was so sweet to see Aaron-the-son-in-law and Holly up on stage with baby Rhodie.

It was a blessing to have all 4 kids here, as well as the two add-ons (that's what Joshua calls Holly's husband, Aaron...and Logan's wife, Morgan). Jim's parents met us at church. Aaron's parents, and Aaron's sister, also came to the service.

After church, we all had lunch together at Holly and Aaron's house. We had BBQ and the fixin's. I had asked a girl from church to make a cake to acknowledge and celebrate Rhodie's big day. Rhodie is a baby...he could care less about decorations and cake and things like that, but I wanted it to be a special day for Holly and Aaron.

We all ended up leaving Holly and Aaron's house after lunch, and we came home. Holly and Aaron live 1 minute away from our house, so they came over in about 30 minutes...and then all the kids, plus the two add-ons, sat outside for the rest of the afternoon and talked and laughed.

I watched from the window, because I was inside rocking Rhodes. I could've gone out there with them, but I think they need time together to make fun of Jim and I talk about life, and what is going on with them, and all of that.

Watching them interact...my heart was about to burst. I love each of them so much. They are all the same and they are all different. They are all caring and sensitive and sincere and loving. They are also opinionated and loud and funny. They are all so.very.funny.

And then, before I was ready for them to go, they left. Logan and Morgan headed back to their home, and Clark headed back to college.

I'm so thankful for my kids, and for the relationships they have with each other. I hope and PRAY they are always close.

"I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are walking in the truth." 3 John 4

Monday, November 7, 2016

Joshua: "I May Be The 'r' Word"


I had a different post ready for tonight, but then my sweet Joshua posted this as his status (he is posting something he is thankful for during each day of November). I copied it exactly how he wrote it:

"Day seven I am thankful for who I am and I may be the r word but I don't care what anyone one think's. because I have got a lord Jesus and he call's redeemed. And that is more then enough. Because living this way I know that I may have been bullied. Through that in the lord's eyes I am blessed. I've developed through the trials of life. Through heart surgery. And a disability. Has made me more attuned. That is rightly so. I am both blessed and redeemed. This gives me a small nugget of confidence. In not just myself but in Christ himself."

He "may be the r word?"

Not gonna lie...I died a little on the inside reading the word he used to define himself. 

I mean, we like to think that we have made everything "okay" for Joshua. We have built him up and talked about his strengths and encouraged him...and we let him know how thankful we are for him every day. 

But then he uses the "r" word to describe himself?

My heart just broke into a million pieces. 

Because, this is not okay. It's not okay for Joshua, and it's not okay for anyone. 

Every year, in March, there is a campaign called "Spread The Word To End The Word." People say the political correctness has gone too far...that we can't say anything these day without someone getting their feelings hurt. 


But then there's a post like this from one of your children...or from someone you love more than anything, and all you can think of is how awesome they are...and how you wish everyone else could see it, too. 

There are millions of words in the English language...WHY do we continue to use words that hurt and dehumanize others? 

Please can we just do better?

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

Friday, November 4, 2016

November 4: The Blessing of the Add-Ons

November 4: This picture showed up in my Facebook "memories" from 3 years ago. They didn't know I was watching...I took it through the window. Look at how they are both sitting! 

It started me thinking how very thankful I am for the "in-laws" in our family. 

You know, you don't really have control over who your children marry...unless you lived, like, in the 1800's...or in some country where arranged marriages are considered the acceptable way to do things. 

Holly and Aaron-the-son-in-law started dating when Holly was 14 or 15 years old...I think she was in the 9th grade. And, no, they could not date-date...until she was 16. They came over to our house, or they went over to his house...all the while with close parental supervision. They dated for 7 years before they married. 

Joshua adored Aaron from Day 1. And Aaron has been really good with him. As much as I talk about how sweet Joshua is...and he is very sweet and very precious and I love him half-to-death...he doesn't always make things easy. 

He's got him some moods, LIKE WE ALL HAVE. 

Aaron takes it pretty well, and God bless him...because Joshua is honest to a fault. Like, "you need to watch what you eat, Aaron," or "I've made you a work-out plan, Aaron." Or, "you eat too fast, Aaron." 

He calls Aaron his "add-on brother." Like, "maybe me and Holly and the "add-on" can go to dinner while you're gone." 

We know how Joshua is...his personality, his temperament, what he likes, what ticks him off...because we've been around him his whole life. So there is something to be said for the ones who get in there and work hard to establish a relationship with him. 

Joshua likes to make his own choices and he likes his routine, so pushing him too hard will not go well. Even if it's something he wants to do, if we put too much pressure on him, he won't do it. Swimming, playing catch, watching a football game...all things Joshua likes to do with Aaron. All things Aaron will ask Joshua to do. All things Joshua may fight Aaron on, depending on the day. And, the thing is, Joshua ALWAYS ends up having a good time after it's all said and done. 


But...he comes by it honestly. 

My Grandma Ellen...she used to complain about this or that, or wish for this or that...and we (mainly my Mom) would bend over backwards to figure out a way to get it done for her, and then my Grandmother would end up not doing it, or not going to it...because she would say it "didn't suit" her. 

And she would kind of sniff when she said it, like, (sniff) "It didn't suit me." 

Well, alrighty then. Just sit in your house alone. 

I call Aaron the "Joshua-whisperer," because he works until he finds a way to reach Joshua...and he usually does. This is saying something because the same technique doesn't usually work twice. 

I am THANKFUL for my family...for the "add-ons" that have been added, and for the "add-ons" that are to come. 

We are THANKFUL to have Aaron in our family. He has the patience of Job. We are also THANKFUL for Morgan-the-add-on-sister. Joshua is over the moon for Morgan...AND WE ALL KNOW IT! 

God continues to enlarge our family through marriages and births and the friends that we welcome in...and I.love.it. 

God's ways are always better than our ways. 

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." (Colossians 3:16)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

November 3: Thankful for Earl and Carolyn

Today, I want to say how THANKFUL I am for the ones who have invested in Jim and me over the years.

Few have had a greater influence on our lives and family than Earl and Carolyn Peeples.

When we moved to Little Rock in 1984, we were just two green kids, with no idea of life in the "big city." We'd been married for 4 years, at this point. Jim had just been hired at ENTERGY, and we felt like we were just starting our "big kid" lives.

We got married between our sophomore and junior years of college, and we had lived in a mobile home (my mother-in-law called it a "trailer house") for 4 years.

On the day we moved to Little Rock, a caravan of family and friends, driving a variety of vehicles, helped us load up all of our worldly goods...and we headed out. Jim and I joked that if we had lost everything we owned on that short trip, we would've been out about $35.

No, really.

And not much has changed! Even today, most of our furniture and "fixin's" have been given to us by family members...and we love it all.

We moved into a brand, new apartment in LR. After living for 4 years in a "trailer house," I thought our apartment was the most beautiful place I had ever seen!

Bless my heart! 

I can't remember why exactly we ended up at LRFBC. I think it was because of the invitation of a friend...but I don't remember who. But, by God's plan and provision, we ended up there...and we somehow ended up in Earl and Carolyn's small group...and that began decades-long friendships for our family.

We, the couples in this class, were all kind of in the same boat...just starting out...just starting our families. It was such a precious time for us...because this group of friends? We experienced life with them. There were births and miscarriages and sickness and job losses and job changes. People moved away. There was divorce. It was hard and beautiful, and our faith was stretched beyond what we could've imagined.

The constant in it all, besides the Lord, of course...was Earl and Carolyn. For the men, Earl was a fountain of wisdom...and he did.not.mince.words. One of the smartest men I've ever met, he had the ability to see the big picture. He knew the right thing to do, and he would tell the guys to do it. And he would EXPECT them to do it (We never will forget his lessons on TITHING!). For the women, Carolyn was our source of daily encouragement and wisdom. She would always say Earl was the Director of our department, and she was the "sec-ah-tary," but she was way, WAY more than that. We went to her with everything. She had mercy. She had knowledge. She taught us to be wives and mothers, and modeled a life of service.

It was into this group that Joshua was born. He was born, and he rocked.our.world. Or, his birth had the potential to rock our world. Our friends...this group...they, along with our entire church body, rallied around us...and God used them to "steady our ship".

So many people encouraged us, prayed for us, ministered to us during this time. Joshua had to have a pretty major heart surgery when he was just 3 months old. We were able to carry him to the doors of the OR, and then we had to hand him over to the nurses. We walked slowly back to the waiting room...they said his surgery would take several hours. I will never forget walking into the waiting room. It was FULL of family...and friends from our church. In fact, someone from the hospital came and moved all of us to a private waiting room, because there were so many people who were there to wait with, support, and pray for our family during this time.

And when the surgery was done, they told us that Joshua could have two visitors...and we let everyone who wanted to see him, go back, two-at-a-time, and take a look at his fresh, pink skin.

This support did not end when we moved away from Little Rock. It continued...with each joy, with each trial. It continued with prayers during Clark's premature birth, with me being VERY sick after delivery, with me needing blood...which led to someone at LRFBC putting out a call, and, within an hour, 3 church members (of this FORMER church of ours) had donated blood...FOR ME.

It continued with this group (and others) praying for Clark during his cancer diagnosis, his surgery, the chemo...and with people praying for me and my family when my Mom died suddenly. And on and on and on.

And not just this group...there were other groups and other churches and other friends who have supported us during our lives, but this post is about this particular group.

Because this group? We have kept connected with many of them over the past, ummmm...30 plus years. That's over 30 years of life and kids and moving away and moving back and trials and joys and GRANDCHILDREN.

All because one couple...two people...yielded their lives and their wills...to the plan of God. Never underestimate the power of a surrendered life.

God's plans are always better than our plans.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

November 2: Thankful for Family

Today, I am THANKFUL for the gift of family. 

My Dad grew up in an Air Force family. His Dad was a pilot, and they moved a lot, and lived all over the United States. 

I grew up in an Air Force family. We moved a lot. A LOT. I remember going to three different schools in the 4th grade. That is every bit as horrible as you can imagine. 

I moved 16 times before I graduated from high school. I have lived all over the United States...and in two foreign countries. Jim and I, in our married life, have never lived in the same town as his family. To have Holly Nicholson, Aaron, and Baby Rhodie here in the same town with us, is so sweet and special...and I don't take one day of it for granted. Not one day. 

We have the BEST time together. 

Jim and I are THANKFUL for the opportunity to invest in Rhodie's little life.

Yesterday, Holly and I had hair appointments. I was nearly done when she and Rhodie got there. I held the baby while Holly got her hair cut. A lady came in the salon, and she started asking about Rhodes: how old he was...stuff like that. She said she had a grandson about Rhodie's age, but she didn't get to see him, because he and his family live in Germany. 

She talked to Rhodes, and he gave her a big, drool-y grin. Her eyes got all teary, and my heart melted. I thought, "I've been there, friend, and it's hard."  

We saw my Mom's Mom about once a year...and we saw my Dad's parents less than that. As a kid, I mean, I missed them...but it was all I knew.

Now that I'm a parent...and a grandparent...I realize how hard it must've been for my Mom and Dad, to not get to see their parents...and how hard it must've been for my grandparents, to not see their children or grandchildren but once a year. At best. 

The military life is a life of sacrifice...for the whole family.

I love my family. I wish our two younger boys lived here, too, but I am THANKFUL we can get to either of them in less than 3 hours. 

Jim says I will never be truly happy until our kids live on either side of us, and across the street....and to that, I say the three little words that make Jim's heart soar: "you.are.right."

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

November 1: Blessings in Disguise

Have you ever thought about the things God brings or allows in your life? 

We spend a lot of time counting our blessings this time of year, and that's a good thing. It's good to be thankful. I think the problem comes when we equate "blessings" with only the GOOD things. 

We are "blessed" to have a car, but if it breaks down...are we still blessed? We are "blessed" to have a great job, but if it moves us away from our family and friends, is it still a blessing? 

Our beautiful and healthy children...they are blessings, aren't they? But what about the ones born with health issues or challenges...or the ones who develop them later? Or the ones chosen from the foster care system, who are so deeply wounded by abandonment or abuse...their new parents wonder if there will ever be enough love to erase their pain? What about the ones, wanted and loved from birth, who chose a different path, and walked away...from family, friends...from God? Were they not considered blessings at one time? 

When I was pregnant with Joshua, back in the olden days, Pa and I drove the covered wagon into town one night for one of them new-fangled parentin' classes. 

Apparently givin' birth out in the fields ain't no good no more. 

One of the first things our instructor did was to have us fill out a questionnaire. The very first question was, "I hope my baby is _____." I put "cute." Because DUH. 

Twenty-three other people in our class put "normal." 

Well, I think I got exactly what I wanted: the cutest baby EVER. And yes, the road has sometimes been hard...but hasn't yours? 

We've probably all heard the song, "Blessings," by Laura Story. It talks about hard things that are "blessings in disguise." 

I've shared this story many times, because, the first time I heard it, I thought, "YES! That's exactly how I feel!" 

You may know that Laura Story's husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She said that her whole life, she sang the song, "Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus." But she said that until Jesus took her through something where her only option was to trust Him, she didn't really know that sweetness. 

I love that. 

I also read that, when Laura and her family were talking about this "detour" God had placed in front of them...with her husband's surgery and radiation and therapies, her sister said, "you know, I think the detour is actually the road." 

I love that, too. Because how many times do we try to hurry up and deal with any problems or road-blocks, so that we can get back onto what WE think is our road? 

But what if you can't get back on the road? 

Maybe the detour IS the road. 

"And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left." Isaiah 30:21