Saturday, September 16, 2017

Lead Me to the Rock that is Higher Than I

Thinking today about the storms in life...and the storms of life; the ones you can prepare for...the ones you can't. 

And how when you think things are going one way, they can take a sudden turn. 

And how a hurricane may "hit" some directly...but the outer bands can also affect those not directly in it's path. Like how a tragedy can directly affect one person, but the ripples can touch the lives of many others. 

And I was thinking how when the winds howl, we strain to hear words of instruction and peace. 

And when the waters rise, we all look for a higher ground...and for something or Someone to cling to. 

When there's turmoil all around us, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and distracted by the devastation. 

And when things are brought bare, there is no "easy fix." 

It's gonna take tearing away and digging up and you have to go all the way down to the foundation. 

It's not easy to "just go on" after a shock, after a diagnosis, after a loss. You can't slap on a coat of paint, or flip a breaker, or sew on a patch. Sometimes you have to go down to the studs, clean out what is rotting, remove what is malignant...and start from there. 

Maybe it's because my husband works for a utility company, but I'm aware that restoration after a storm is not always as simple as flipping a switch. 

It's not always as easy as attaching a line. 

Sometimes, you have to start with the infrastructure...you have to clear the roads to get the trucks in. You have to clear the line of debris. You have to set new poles. 

Like in life, restoration takes time, patience, intention, tenacity. 

And the time it takes...it changes you. 

Because even after things are fixed...if they are able to be fixed...they not the same. 

And we are not the same. 

There are some things that happen in life that can't be wrapped up neatly in a bow. 

Because what is new can't always replace the old. And because loss leaves scars. And because some things can never be the same. 

Where do you put your hope? 

"My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name. On Christ, the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand." 

"From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I." Psalm 61:2

Monday, August 28, 2017

Moving Day for #4 (Jr Year)

And just like that...he's gone. 

We moved #4 back to school on Sunday. 

He helped with our church's "Dorm Storm" (moving freshmen into their dorms) on Sunday morning...and on Sunday afternoon, we moved him back into his dorm at OBU. 

And I'm using the word "moved" very lightly. 

This year was different, in several ways, and my heart is sad. 

And, in true "boy" fashion, the child wasn't even willing to throw me a bone...to help me through it all. 

He brought everything he said he needed...in two plastic tubs. 

TWO. 

I'm not talking two tubs of CLOTHES...I'm talking two tubs of everything. 

He brought nothing for the walls, no rugs, no pictures (not even one of me...shocker). No decorative items for his desk or shelves...you know, things that might make his room look a little homier. 

He has the same suite-mates for the 3rd year. They voted to only have 1 frig and 1 microwave, because of space...so he didn't bring his. Which, that is pretty smart...just sayin'. He didn't bring the black-out curtains...even tho we have them at home. 

His bed? He did not bring the mattress pad that makes the bed more comfy. He brought a fitted sheet...a FITTED sheet...and a pillow. ONE pillow. No top sheet, no blanket, no comforter. He put his sleeping bag on top of the sheet, like he was at camp. 

I told him that his room was decorated with sadness. 

Because here's the thing: we have ALLTHESTUFF at home from his first two years. WHY WON'T HE USE IT? 

As far as clothes go, he brought maybe 8 shirts, total. And zero hangers, even tho he has approximately 3000 hangers in his closet at home. 

What gives, man? 

My heart was breaking a little, because this day came too soon. 

Take notice of this, moms of littles (and moms of boys): there will come a day, for most of you, when your kids are gonna leave. That's normal, and to be expected. 

But here's the kicker: they.will.not.be.sad.about.it.at.all. 

And there will come a day, if you have boys, when they really don't need or want you to make things cute and comfy for them...because they'd be fine sleeping in a hammock...in a tree...wearing the same clothes forever, like on Swiss Family Robinson. 

My role as a mom has changed with each child, and in each season of life, as my kids have gotten older. It has to, and it needs to. 

And yesterday was a prime example. 

Because really? He could've moved in by himself, in about 10 minutes. Which, I know you think that sounds like a GOOD thing, and it is, it's just hard...hard for mommy. 

Last child and all. 

I may or may not have cried all the way home...and I was driving.

"He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy." Job 8:21

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

I'm Still Alive

Well, hello there!

[Knock, knock?]

Anyone still there?

I want to say that I still love blogging. I do. Please don't measure that by the last few months. Ha!

Summer has kicked my rear-end.

Not necessarily in a bad way.

Our youngest son spent most of the summer working at Kamp. He loved it. And we missed him terribly.

And, I guess with age has come the inability to concentrate on more than one thing at a time...because he was constantly on my mind and in my prayers...and I just didn't have the mental energy to sit down and write about it on here.

It just hit me, at some point this summer, that this is our youngest child...and we have maybe one more summer with him under our roof, under our influence. Eeep!

I can't even deal.

God is telling me to hold things loosely...and I am telling HIM that I want to hold on tight.

Oh, I'm not telling him that with my words...I would never do that. That would be so disrespectful...like saying I don't trust that He knows best...that His ways AREN'T better than my ways. I would never do that.

Or WOULD I?

Did your Momma ever tell you, "actions speak louder than words?"

Yep.

So, lots of learning going on around here. God is stretching my heart, and it's uncomfortable, and it hurts. Lots of trusting Him without knowing my next step...when I can't look ahead to be sure that the road is nice and safe.

I started this blog to document our lives with Joshua, to share my faith, to show how God uses humor in my life every day...and to leave a type of journal for my kids and grand-kids to read one day.

You know...if they're really bored.

I just know that my Mom died young, and I would've LOVED to have had some insight into her heart...what she was thinking, what made her laugh, what struggles she had, how awesome of a kid I was...

Wait...WHAT?

And I try to remember that I write for an audience of ONE...and if I don't use my words to point to Jesus, then I'm just wasting my time.

Summer is coming to an end. Our college/grad school kids all start back in the next couple of weeks. Joshua's program starts back soon as well. Things will be a little more consistent and "normal..." whatever that means.

It's a good time to reassess...to regroup, refocus, plan. Hope to be back on here a lot more often! :)

"I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things You have done. I will be filled with joy because of You. I will sing praises to Your name, O Most High." Psalm 9: 1-2

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Letter From Clark

Am I dead?

Seriously...did I die?

Because I just go the most beautiful letter from my #4 child.

We really haven't seen much of him this summer, because he's been working at a Kamp. This letter was unexpected, unprompted, and I.was.blown.away.

I'm not throwing any shade on the other three kids...and this youngest child is not any more sensitive or appreciative than they are. But, like they did, he apparently had a moment when things just "clicked," and he wrote to tell us about it.

Our kids are all very sweet, and all 4 mean the world to me. They don't ask us for anything, and they are very appreciative of everything we do for them: little things, big things, and the big, BIG things.

I was just talking to a young mom from our small group this past Sunday. She was telling me how hard she works to please her family, ON TOP OF HER FULL-TIME JOB, and how her kids fuss, fight, and complain...and nothing she does is "right."

Things like, she fixed a healthy, well-balanced meal...and they all wailed because "that looks yucky."

And then once she told them they needed to wear tennis shoes to the gym instead of flip-flops, and they acted like she just killed their best friend.

I was thinking, "SISTER, I have been there."

I mean, haven't we all?

If you have several littles running around, like she does, this is magnified even more.

And can we just talk about summer, and filling the days, and it's hot, and you are worn out, and feeling trapped...AND YOU'RE THINKING ALL TEACHERS SHOULD MAKE A MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR FOR DOING THIS EVERY DAY.

There are good and fun days when your kids are little, but there are also some hard days. This happens at every stage. Not bad days, necessarily...just hard. Decisions and choices for us, and for them...when they're little, they don't seem as potentially life-changing as they do when they're older.

I told my young friend that there will come a day when her kids will understand and appreciate all she did for them...and then I got Clark's letter the next day!

Of course, he's 21...so it might be a while for my friend! Ha!

But, seriously parents...it's all worth it. It really is.

Well, actually, no. Not all of it is worth it. 

Spending a lot of time cutting your kids' sandwiches into the letter of the week in Kindergarten? Not worth it, because I did that for all 4 of mine, and NONE of them remember it.

Also not worth it: making anything "cute" for your child's holiday party at school. Do they even have those anymore?

I remember one year, a Mom spent hours decorating these homemade cupcakes. They were so cute, but I kid you not...no less than 3 kids went over to the trashcan, scraped the frosting ONTO THE RIM OF THE CAN, and then ate the cupcake. Even more kids ate the frosting, and chunked the actual cupcake in the garbage.

Young moms out there...swallow your pride, and grab your treats at Wal-Mart. I learned too late, and now I'll never get those hours of my life back!

But intentionally investing in the lives of your children, however that looks for you and your family, is totally worth it...and it would be worth it to me, even if they never took the time to say thank you.

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

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Father's Day 2017

The greatest thing my Dad ever did for me happened before I was born: He married my Mom.

It was because of her influence, early in their marriage, that he gave his heart and life to Jesus. That one decision set the tone in our home, and directed the path of our lives...and led us all, individually and at different times, to commit our lives to Him as well.

My Dad has quietly lived out his Christian walk on a daily basis. Day in, day out, he's been a faithful follower, and humble servant of Christ...leaning on Him in times of trouble, and pointing to Him in times of joy.

He taught me to praise God in both good times and hard times. He taught me how to be content, and that has been one of the greatest gifts.

Today, I am thinking of my Dad, and praying for him. I don't know if he realizes that today is Father's Day. He is such a humble and gentle man...I doubt he understands the profound impact he's had on each of our lives...or the example he has been to us, and to others.

I'm incredibly blessed to have him as my Dad.

And, today (and every day), I'm thankful for my husband.

We made a lot of mistakes in parenting, for sure...but by the grace of God, and with His help, we managed to raise 4 kids to love each other, and love the Lord.

And, BONUS...this year, our kids have gotten to see their Dad in a different role: as a fun-loving Puddin' Pop to Rhodie.

Our kids know they can count on their Dad for anything, and that he wants the absolute best for them.

We've been partners in parenting for 31 years now. We aren't perfect, by any means...but, together, we are a pretty good balance.

I'm thankful for this hard-working Dad, and for the way he loves and supports our family.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Catching Up: Bella Update and the Fence

Well, I promised myself that I was going to get back on the blog-train. I love writing, and I first-and-foremost want to leave a journal for my family.

Okay, kids...anytime you wonder what is going on, when there's a large gap between posts, know this: Momma's gone crazy.

It all started back in December, when I had the bright idea to get a dog for Joshua. I don't regret it, exactly, but there are times when I get right up to the edge of regret...the closest you can possibly get to regretting it without actually regretting it.

I.am.there.

I love this dog, but she is a horse. She is a horse on crack...with the energy of a Jack Russel. Think, if a Jack Russel terrier and the Energizer Bunny had a baby. That's Bella.

I can barely control her, because she's so BIG and energetic. When I take her on a walk, she about pulls my arm out of socket. I am trying to work with her, and so is Jim...but oh my word.

I think she will be a great dog for Joshua...in about 2 years.

If I'm still alive by then, I'll let y'all know.

I don't remember if I shared on here or not, but Bella kept getting out of our fence. We have a privacy fence on 3 sides of our house, and then wrought-iron fencing and gates on the front. Even tho she is huge, she could squeeze herself through the bars of the wrought-iron. Our Vet said, "she's like a mouse...if she can get her head through, she can get her body through."

And if she ever gets out...she.is.gone. I mean, Usain Bolt couldn't catch her if he tried.

So, I ordered her this "puppy bumper" thing from the Puppy Bumper company. You can look it up. It's like a neck pillow for dogs. It has loops on it, and you thread your dog's collar through it. And it snaps around their necks. It made it impossible for her to get her head through the bars.

YIPPEE! I finally had some freedom. I could let her be outside, which is where she wanted to be...and I didn't have to constantly worry that she was going to get out.

BUT THEN...a couple of weeks ago, Holly was here, picking up Joshua to go to the store. They were backing out of the driveway, when she stopped and pointed. Bella was standing in the yard with half of the puppy bumper IN HER MOUTH.

The other half of the puppy bumper, and the stuffing, was spread out all over the yard.

KILL.ME.NOW.

But, she's bigger now...and we haven't noticed her trying to get out of the gate.

Then, last Friday, we had a storm. I heard a noise, and looked outside. The wind was ROARING. A couple of the potted plants were blown over, the trees were nearly bent over...and things were rolling all over the place. I came in, and told Jim, things are really blowing around out there...the wind is so strong." He was, like, "mmmmm..." I said, "YOUR LARGE PLANT JUST BLEW OVER." He was, like, "mmmm..."

All of a sudden, there was a crash outside, and he JUMPED UP and ran to the window. He said, "MOOSE! Our fence just blew down."

Yep.

And, ya know, I miss the days when, if a fence blew over, or a tree fell down, or water was nearly up to the front door...and neighbors and friends would show up with, ya know, hammers and...wrenches or whatever...and help you get things back to normal.

No one came to check on us...even tho I posted a picture of it on Facebook, and several people commented, "bless your hearts" and things like that.

And, apparently, we are at a time where, when something like this happens, we don't even attempt to move it, much less, FIX it...until the insurance adjuster comes by to look at it. And then the fence guy comes by to give you an estimate. And then the fence guy tells you that it might be 1 1/2 - 2 weeks before they can get to it, and SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT I AM GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS DOG IF SHE CAN'T GO OUTSIDE.

She cannot be contained.

SHE WILL NOT BE CONTAINED.

And now, about our back-yard neighbors. ..the fence separates our back yards. Jim met them 3 days after the storm, when they saw him outside looking at the fence. The man's comment? He said, "I told my wife, 'well, you've always wanted a pool...there you go.'"

I really value our privacy. Safety for Joshua is very important to me. I don't know these neighbors at all. They are never outside.

Correction: they were never outside until this happened, and now they are outside ALL THE TIME.

So I said to Jim, "please tell me that you did not invite complete strangers over to use our pool." He claims he did not, but the next day, when Jim was working outside, the neighbor lady came out on her back deck, WEARING HER SWIMSUIT TOP with shorts, and looking over at our house.

Eeek!

They sit on their deck, and stare at us if we're outside. The other night, we were at the dinner table, and Joshua said, "what are those people doing?" I said, "what people?" He nodded across at our neighbors. I looked out the window...they were staring at us while we were eating at our kitchen table.

WHAT IN THE WORLD?

Please, fence people. PLEASE HURRY.

I hear banjos.

"When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation." Proverbs 10:25

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Clara's Birthday

She came into our lives when we were recovering from the loss of our mother.

Truthfully, she'd been in our lives for years...as our mom's best friend.

But, in the days, weeks, and months that followed, she was a constant support, and a faithful friend, to my Dad. When God allowed them to find love with each other, we were excited and thankful. Besides my Mom, I cannot imagine anyone being a better match for my Dad than Clara.

She embraced all of us, even tho she has a large and loving family of her own.

For most of our kids, she's the grandmother they know and will remember.

You know, life doesn't always turn out like we plan, and we don't always get to end our days with great healthy and mental clarity...and then slip quietly into Heaven.

Sometimes there's a lot of hard and a lot of struggle.

That's kind of where things are right now, because Clara has gone from being a wife, companion, and friend...to being a caregiver.

I don't know if my Dad will remember to acknowledge Clara's special day.

I'm pretty sure he will not be able to thank her for the tender and diligent way she is caring for him...but Happy Birthday, Clara!

Thank you for everything you do to help our Dad! We love you!

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Monday, June 5, 2017

Mother's Day & Moving

When you have a bunch of kids, there will likely be times when you can't be there for everything.

As parents, we all just do the best we can with that...amiright?

There are also times when not all of our kids can be together with us at the same time, which makes me sad...but it can't always be helped.

We had a fun weekend over Mother's Day. We went to a college graduation on Saturday, and got to see our youngest...as well as several friends.Then, on Sunday, after church, we drove 2 1/2 hours to our middle son's town, and helped them move into their new place.

My daughter-in-law apologized over and over for "messing up" my Mother's Day. I was, like, "THIS IS LIFE."

Unless I've just forgotten it (which is totally possible, bc OLD), I don't ever remember my kids making me breakfast in bed, or anything like that.

And I've (apparently) slept through my Mother's Day parade for the last...ummm...31 years!

So packing. loading, unloading, cleaning? With my children?

There's nowhere else I would rather be.

I can't even count the times we've done the whole "load the trailer" thing, for us...or for one of our kids. I've learned a lot of things from our many moves, but there's one thing that stands out, and that is this: the words, "all tied down, boys...THAT'S not going ANYWHERE," mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

"The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him." Psalm 103:13

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Memorial Day 2017

The Sunday morning before Memorial Day, I got up and got ready for church. I put on a navy and white dress, and white sandals. I put on a red, white, and blue necklace. And I thought of my Mom...

I thought of how she always dressed my 3 siblings and I in navy and white and red on Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Veteran's Day...and how, in turn, I dressed my 4 littles the same way on all of the patriotic holidays.

I thought of my Dad...so full of love for our country.

He always made sure we knew that the path to our country's freedom was paved with the blood of the men and women who served and fought and died for it. He made sure we knew to respect our military and our president (every president) and our flag.

He also made sure we knew that, while our soldiers died to ensure our country's freedom...JESUS died to ensure our soul's freedom. His death saved us from the penalty of sin, and assures us a place in eternity with Him.

"All gave some; some gave all."

"Jesus paid it all...all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow."

"But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ." Galatians 3:22

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The One Where Jim Has Tick Fever

So, I posted about our wedding anniversary...and Jim's birthday is the day after. And I posted on Facebook about how he was really not feeling well.

I did not post about how he OUT OF THE BLUE said, "I think I might have tick fever." Or how I basically rolled my eyes at him when he said that. Because, he is never sick, so whenever he is feeling bad, OF COURSE he would think he had some random disease.

For several days, I begged him to go to the doctor, or to an urgent care place. We call those places "doc-in-a-box."

Anyway, he finally did, and guess what?

HE HAS TICK FEVER.

Like, for realz.

He had gone on a hike a couple of weeks ago...he knew exactly when it was, because he remembered pulling some ticks off of him. He neglected to tell me about his little tick adventure...his "tickventure," as it were...and then when he did, I was, like, "YOU HAVE BEEN CRAWLING IN OUR BED WITH ME EVERY NIGHT FOR TWO WEEKS!"

And I immediately started itching. I still feel like things are crawling on me.

When he started feeling bad, he remembered reading that it takes a couple of weeks for the symptoms to show up.

So they put him on this high-powered antibiotic, and he had to go to the pharmacy to pick it up. Even with our insurance card, his part was $125. He about freaked. They asked him if he still wanted it, and he said, "yes."

Because he doesn't want to die.

But he's not letting it go. He has told everyone...every.single.person we've run into...that his medicine cost $125.

And he told the kids not to expect much for Christmas this year.

I'M KIDDING...but just barely.

He came home and read all the instructions OUT LOUD on when to take the medicine, when NOT to take the medicine, what to eat/not eat/drink/not drink before, during, and after taking the medicine.

Then he read about the possible side-effects...OUT LOUD. At any given time, he's convinced he's got one or more of them.

It's gonna be a long 21 days.

I really am very sympathetic to him. We have some friends whose lives have been drastically affected by Lyme disease. It's no joke. So I'm praying for him...that he will only have to have one round of this medicine, and that he has a complete healing, with no residual effects from the tick bite.

But here is a your PSA, in Jim's words: Take this seriously.

*USE THE TICK SPRAY, every time.
*And CHECK YOURSELF, every time you come in from outside.
*And, if you pull a tick off of you, and start feeling bad after a few days, don't wait. GO TO YOUR DOCTOR.

Stay healthy, my friends.

"Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results." James 5:16

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Happy Meals, Jim's Birthday, Winnie-the-Pooh

We had a good anniversary, but we spent the day living out that whole "in sickness and in health" part of our marriage vows.

Jim is rarely sick, but it seems like he is usually sick on our anniversary...or on his birthday (it's the day after). I don't know what that says about our marriage, but it can't be good...amiright?

Over the years, we've learned to be flexible when it comes to our plans...which explains why our anniversary dinner consisted of a drive-thru, and some Golden Arches.

I didn't pick it...the health nut, did.

Which, if you look up the gift for 37 years of marriage...pretty sure it shows a picture of a happy meal. 

I'm just sayin'.

One more thought on our anniversary, before we move on: One day, I was shopping at the little Hallmark store in our town. A wooden sign on the wall caught my eye. On it was a quote from Winnie-the-Pooh.

If you know me, you know I love me some WTP. He's just so sweet, loyal, loving, and innocent.

I was immediately drawn to his words on the sign: "If you live to be 100, I want to live to be 100 minus a day...so I would never have to live a day without you."

I remember those words bringing tears to my eyes, because that's exactly how I feel about my life with Jim.

I didn't buy the sign, because I thought it was too expensive...and I also wondered why a grown woman would have a Winnie-the-Pooh sign up in her bedroom...or living room? But I came home, and tried not to cry as I told Jim about it.

I don't know what kind of reaction I was expecting, but it wasn't the one I got.

He looked at me, kind of exasperated-like, and said, "who wants to live to be 100?"

THIS IS MARRIAGE, PEOPLE.

And why I say you should marry your best friend...because comments like Jim's can be a death sentence, amiright?

Today is Jim's birthday, and I am very thankful for him...and I'm praying for him to feel better.

"Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble." Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Wedding Anniversary #37

On May 24, 1980, we had us a little weddin' in the chapel at Ouachita Baptist University.

I wore a dress that cost $200. I also wore a hat, because my Mom told me to. I didn't care one bit about having a certain color scheme or theme for our wedding. I just knew I wanted to marry Jim, and I left all of the wedding decisions up to my Mom. She wanted me to have a "southern belle" type of wedding, even tho I was about as far away form that as a person could get.

I think it says a lot about the classiness of the day, when, for the next 18 years, your mom would wear your "wedding hat," when she dressed up as "Ado Annie" to sing the "Cain't Say No" song with her singing group.

Still, one of the best things about that day...besides getting to marry my best friend...is that my Mom was there.

My Mom made all of the flower arrangements, and all of the bouquets, herself.

After the wedding, we had our reception over at the old Flenniken Memorial Hall across the street. We had cake, punch, mixed nuts FROM A CAN...and those little pastel mints.

I posted a picture of us on Facebook, as we were heading out the door after our wedding reception. Seriously, since when does the state of Arkansas allow babies to get married?

NO ARKANSAS JOKES...I've heard them all. :)

My goodness, we were young. And clueless.

We could not even begin to imagine the twists and turns God would allow in our lives over the span of 37 years: 4 children, 1 pwecious wittle gwanbaby, 2 weddings, 8 different houses, and lots of hospital stays.

The things that could've driven us apart...brought us together.

Why?

There's certainly no good in either of us, that we would receive any favor from God. But He has been so kind to us, a good, good Father...and a constant in our lives.

Also constant are the examples we've had in our parents, and the support and encouragement we've received from friends along the way.

Having a killer sense of humor sure hasn't hurt!

Our middle son, Logan, says one of the truest tests of whether or not you should marry a certain person, is if you can handle looking at their "pre-sneeze face" for the rest of your life. HAHAHAHA!

(I guess congratulations are in order for our sweet daughter-in-law, Morgan? hahahaha)

Marry your best friend, people...because beauty fades and wrinkles come and trials will be a part of every life. Marry a person who shares your faith, who encourages you daily, who stays in the storms, who wants the best for you, who won't run at the first sign of trouble, who challenges you in your spiritual walk, who makes you laugh.

Today, I am thankful for Jim, and for the family God has allowed us to create.

I'm gonna wear these 37 years as a badge of honor. Not as a "look at what we've done," thing.

More like a "look what God has done," thing.

Or a "look how far God has brought us," thing.

He really is the One who holds all things together.

"This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one." Genesis 2:24

Monday, May 29, 2017

Nurses Week 2017: May 6-May 12

I tell her all the time. And she tries to understand, but she can't.

Because she sees many during the course of a day...or in the course of a month. Most of the time, our faces run together...because we are not her patients...our babies are.

But for us?

We memorize her name. We watch her eyes, listen to each word, and study her face...looking for even the smallest flicker of hope.

I tell her all the time, but she doesn't know...because she hasn't lived it.

The sounds of the alarms and monitors make us jump...every time.

But not her.

She monitors, assesses, and records with a sure and quiet confidence. It's what she's been trained to do.

And while our emotions bounce all over the place...she is a rock.

In the NICU, we are not at our best. We are exhausted from days or weeks or months of little sleep. We are stressed from weeks or months of bed-rest. We are weak from surgery, or other health concerns that have affected our pregnancy. We are separated from the rest of our family. We are worried about our other kids at home. We are scared for the life of our baby.

We are afraid we might lose our jobs.

We are married. We are single. We are the breadwinners in our families.

We've been thrown into a situation we didn't plan for, with people speaking a "language" we don't understand.

She's our 4th baby. He's our first.

He's our foster baby. She's the only baby we've delivered that has survived this long.

He's our only chance at having a biological child.

He wasn't planned. We've been waiting on her forever. He is our last shot.

Please save my baby.

I can't handle another child.

We had good medical care. Our lifestyles have put our babies at risk. We are at every visit. We come when we can. We are angry. We feel helpless. We question everything. We question HER.

We want to know everything. We don't want to follow the rules. We appreciate everything. We think only of ourselves. We respect the ones taking care of our child. We are going to try and ruin your day.

No. We are not our best when we are in the NICU...but SHE is.

Professional, knowledgeable, calm, direct, gentle, firm, protective, caring.

Every patient, every time.

Then, at the end of her shift, she drives home, and cares for her own family.

I wrote this with my daughter in mind, but it can apply to any nurse. As "nurses week" winds to a close, I want to honor the men and women who serve and care for us when we are at our most vulnerable.

THANK YOU.

"Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had." Philippians 2: 3-5

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Begging Others For Scraps of Love

Jim and I were blessed to live in one place for 15 years.

And I know people say we aren't supposed to use the word "blessed" anymore...because they think it makes it sound like we are better than other people...or like God is blessing us more than other people who maybe DIDN'T get to live in one place for 15 years. I get it. But it was a blessing. Just like having to move away from that place...to a new place...where our two younger kids had to go to a new school, find new friends, etc. That was also a blessing. It was just a different kind of blessing.

I think the problem comes when we associate the word "blessing" with only what we perceive to be the "good" things in life.

After growing up as an Air Force brat, and moving 16 times before I graduated high school, I thought it was a blessing to live in one place for that long.

ANYWAY, that was a rabbit.

Four years after we married, we made our first move. We left our small college town, and moved to the big city of Little Rock, Arkansas. It was there that we started our family. Even tho we were only there for 5 years, God allowed us to make some precious, precious friendships...friends we still have to this day. Making friends back then was easy, because we had the common bonds of faith, family, and all things involved with having kids and trying to figure out how to raise them to love Jesus.

These days, we are most likely to see these friends at weddings...or funerals...and when we do, we pick up where we left off. We are concerned for one another, and interested in each others' lives. We pray for each other, and for our children...and we have each others' backs.

After 5 years, we moved again...and, not gonna lie...it was a long 2 years in that place. But even there...God provided friendships, and opportunities to connect with others.

And then we moved to the place we lived for 15 years. My older kids would call this their "home town."

But, after 15 years, we had to move again. My first priority, as a mom, was to make sure that my two younger children were okay. They started new schools, and we found a new church. Honestly, this new town really embraced us, and that was so nice. I made some really sweet friendships during our time there. Our 3rd child graduated from high school there...and he met the girl who would be his wife there...and that was a huge blessing for all of us.

Five years later, we had to move...again.

(sigh)

During the last two moves, the hardest part, for me, was finding my people...making new friends.

So here's some of what I've learned. I hope I can articulate it in the right way: you can't move on with new friendships, if you are comparing them to your friendships from the past.

Does that make sense?

The friends we made when we lived in our "home"town of 15 years? Those roots grew deep. So, when we moved, and when we moved again the time after that, I was looking for these types of friends.

And I never found them.

Why?

Well, one reason is because we are in a different stage of life.

We no longer have the bond of AWANA and Children's Choir and Mother's Day Out and sports programs and school.

Also, I am not out in the work-place. I am home with Joshua. I spend my days teaching life-skills and answering some of the same questions as the day before...talking a lot about the weather, and running him around to his various activities.

And I am happy to do it.

It just that my life kind of isolates me from people my own age, and I have to work harder to make and find those connections. Most of the people we know who are around our age, are free to hang out and go at a moment's notice. We cannot. Our situation is different and unique, because we have a FRED. Not complaining at all. It's just different.

When we first moved here, someone at church told us, "people say it takes about 7 years to feel a part of things here."

SEVEN YEARS?

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

We might not even be living here in 7 years.

I might be dead in 7 years.

Actually, I have just a little over 2 years until I am the age my mom was when she died. Every birthday, Joshua tells me, "uhhh...only 5 more years until you're the age when Nammaw died..." The next year: "only 4 more years until you're the age when Nammaw died..."

Precious, amiright?

So, I was a little bit frustrated at the hoops I thought I had to jump through...in order to make friends here. And, on top of that, it was going to take SEVEN YEARS?

One of the main reasons for my frustration came when I tried to force or create friendships myself.

As the "new" person, it's hard to know what to do. I feel like the "established" people, the "home crowd," so to speak...should be the ones reaching out to the "new" people. They should be inviting them, connecting with them, connecting them to others, checking on them. The new people bear some responsibility...they have to want to engage, and they have to make an effort.

But they should not have to make ALL the effort.

So, instead of thinking God might have me in this season for a reason...I decided to take matters into my own hands. I tried to befriend the ones I felt I had the most in common with, like...if our kids were the same age, or if we had similar personalities, or if we were around the same age/stage in life, or if I thought they were "fun" people.

And, guess what?

It didn't work.

And I was left wondering, "is it me?"

God was bringing people into my life...don't get me wrong. But it wasn't the people I had been looking for. It was older people, younger people, very different-from-me people...people in need. Not really the meet-for-coffee, go-to-lunch, walk-the-neighborhood, share and laugh and cry and pray friends I was looking for.

What the heck, God?

It's tough to feel like you're not enough. Not good enough, pretty enough, confident enough, well-spoken enough, connected enough, popular enough...EVEN IN THE CHURCH COMMUNITY.

What are we, in high school?

But this is the game that satan plays with our minds...even as Christians: "They don't like you...you'll never fit in...they are probably talking about you."

And, even tho I knew better, and I know better, I still allowed those thoughts to creep in...and they affected the way I saw myself. And the way I saw others.

The Bible has PLENTY to say about our worth and our role IN CHRIST, and it is the first place we should always turn. But, when I read the book, "UNINVITED" by Lysa Terkhurst...these words of hers washed over my heart: "live from the abundant place that you are loved, and you won't find yourself begging others for scraps of love."

"...begging others for scraps of love..."

Once I stopped trying to do things MY WAY, I was able to see that the people God was bringing into my life? They were there for a reason. Some were meant to be friends, and they are my friends. Others were meant to encourage me, or challenge me. Others need me to minister to them in one way or another.

If you are in a season like this, I would suggest that you do your part to stay involved and connected. Pray and seek God, and just see where He takes you.

You are loved. Jesus loves you. Your family loves you. You have friends who love you. Why isn't that enough?

It IS enough.

You don't have to beg others for scraps of love.

"But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." Romans 5:8

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Choir Practice and Dancing With the Stars

We've had a good week so far. I mean, as I'm writing this...it's just Wednesday.

I love Wednesdays. It's the half-way time during the week...so, if you have plans for the weekend that you're excited about, Wednesday gets you that much closer to them. If you're having a bad week, it's kind of like a re-set day. And, if you're having a good week, well, then Wednesday is WednesYAY.

Plus, I have choir practice tonight...WHICH I LOVE.

I don't have a great voice. I used to have an "okay" voice. My Mom was very musical and she was very involved in the music programs at all the churches we attended growing up. But I had some surgery about 7 years ago, and something happened...I don't know...but now my voice is on the struggle bus.

But I still love music and I love to sing.

God bless the people who stand near me. :)

I also love the feeling of community I get in choir practice. So, YAY for Wednesdays!

This is Joshua's last week of Therapeutic Recreation for this semester. The summer program starts at the beginning of June, so they will have a break for the next few weeks. This break is designed to let the STAFF refresh and reboot and re-energize for the summer program. It is also the time I will be asked 27 times each day, "how much longer until the summer program?"

Yesterday, Joshua's group stayed at the Center all day. They have a big art festival coming up this weekend, so they are busy preparing for that. Jim picked him up on his way home from work. Joshua said, "Well, Jenni wanted to go outside." They have a little patio area where they have their garden...and there's a covered patio area, and some picnic tables. It's nice. But, Jenni saying, "let's go outside," is CODE for: "let's find a quiet place to smooch."

So, they asked one of the leaders if they could go outside, and he said, "yes...but take someone with you."

They did...but apparently, the one they took was not a good chaperone, because Joshua said, "Jenni got romantic."

I said, "oh, she DID?" He said, "well, we BOTH did."

He said, "Jenni wanted to dance, so she put on some country music. We danced like Dancing With the Stars...except I did NOT pick her up!"

"Praise His name with dancing..." Psalm 149:3

Friday, May 5, 2017

Self-Talking And Eye-Rolling

I was watching from a window inside our house: Joshua...walking around and around and around our pool, talking to himself. His head was nodding for emphasis, and his arms and hands were moving at different points...just trying to reinforce what he was trying to say. 

This is not a new thing with Joshua. He's done it as long as I can remember. Many times during the day, I can hear him upstairs...a low rumble or murmur, as he talks. To himself.

A couple of times, I've gone up there and peeked around the corner. I've been able to watch him without him knowing. It's like he's rehearsing a sermon or something.

Most of Joshua's FRIENDS, the ones who have Down Syndrome, do this self-talking thing, too.

On this day, I had asked Joshua take HIS DOG outside for a while, and play with her. It was sunny and warm. It wasn't like I sent him out there in the rain...but you would've thought I had. Oh, he didn't SAY anything to me...he knew better. But I saw him roll his eyes.

Yep. You read that right. My sweet and loving Downsy man ROLLED HIS LITTLE SASSY EYES AT ME.

From a NADS (National Association of Down Syndrome) article entitled, "If People With Down Syndrome Ruled The World: People engaged in self talk would be considered thoughtful and creative. Self talk rooms would be reserved in offices and libraries to encourage this practice. 

People with Down Syndrome have a reputation for 'talking to themselves.' 

When conducted in a private space, self talk serves many adaptive purposes.


It is a wonderful means to ponder ideas and to think out loud. It allows people to review events that occurred in the course of their day. It allows people to solve problems by talking themselves through tasks. It allows them to plan for future situations. It is also helpful in allowing people to express feelings and frustrations, particularly if they have difficulty expressing their feelings to others." 

It also helps when you are mad at your dog for disrupting your routine. 

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

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Bad Weather, Re-Runs, And Easter Undies

I feel like I've kind of gotten out of the beat of the rhythm of the night with my blog. I still love it so much, but I definitely use Instagram more. I think because it requires less thought, and I'm old.

The End.

Thank you for reading.

We've had a good week here. We had all 4 kids here...plus the two add-ons (what Joshua calls his brother-in-law and sister-in-law) and baby Rhodie...on Friday night, and it.was.wonderful.

(sigh)

Just didn't last long enough, but upside: I didn't bawl like a baby when they left.

Go figure.

We had terrible weather here on Saturday. My husband works for a large utility company in our state...so he was called in to work on Sunday. He stayed in town long enough to teach in our small group at church (thank goodness, because Momma had not even LOOKED at the lesson!)...and then he headed out.

Jim ended up coming home early on Monday afternoon, and it was great! He and Joshua went to the gym, and they brought home Subway for dinner.

Joshua loves left-overs (he calls them re-runs). If I cook at home, he is excited to have "re-runs" for his lunch the next day. I call him "Grandma Ellen," because my grandmother would start talking about her next meal...while she was eating her current meal. Ha.

If we eat "out," or bring home carry-out, Joshua will eat exactly half of what is on his plate...and save the rest for his lunch the next day.

So, on Monday night, we had Subway. Joshua and Jim split a foot-long sandwich. Joshua carefully cut his 6" piece IN HALF, and set it aside. Then, he ate the other 3" piece. He was so excited to take that sandwich to Therapeutic Recreation on Tuesday!

When I picked him up from TR, I walked in like I always do...and walked down the hall. I heard one of the FRIENDS call out, "MOM ALERT!" I didn't think it was a warning, but when I got to the big room, the director said, "You can't be in here!" Turns out, they were making Mother's Day crafts!

Oopsie!

I did get a cute picture of Joshua and Jenni-the-girlfriend, tho. They were having a good day.

After we got back to town, we hung out with Holly and the baby for a while...and then Joshua and I went to have an early dinner. After dinner, we ran to our local Wal-Marks to pick up a few things.

While we were in the check-out line, Joshua whispered something to me, and grinned. I said, "excuse me?" because I didn't hear what he said.

He smile, and whispered louder, "I'M WEARING MY EASTER UNDIES...and they are very comfy!"

"He causes the clouds to rise over the whole earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from His storehouses." Psalm 137:7

Sunday, April 23, 2017

When Your Plans Don't Turn Out

[My parents, as we were growing up] "When y'all get married and have kids of your own, don't expect us to drop everything, and babysit them all the time. We are going to travel...we are going to see the world." 

Plans. 

Good to have in many cases. Maybe even in most cases. 

But I think it's best to hold our plans loosely...very loosely. 

Because things in my life, have rarely gone according to plan. "My" plan, that is. 

After all, I planned on going to Italy...but ended up in Holland. 

My Dad was raised by parents who thought kids were to be seen and not heard. They thought kids should be clean, neat, and proper, and never act unruly. And their feelings of pride at being grandparents seemed to be based on our behavior and accomplishments. 

I'm not knocking them...it was all they knew. And so it was what my Dad knew, and what he lived. And, as a result, he learned to be...better.

Even tho he was way more invested in our family than the example that was set for him...it was still very different from the way Jim and I have raised our children (please bring me all the grandchildren...STAT). 

That may be part of it, tho...ya think? That we take and learn from the generations before...and then we decide what we want to keep for ourselves, and what we want to let go. 

However we were raised, my Dad and I, we both came to see our need for Jesus...and that's really everything, amiright? 

So, as each of my siblings and I came of age, and left home for college...my parents saw the world opening up to them more and more. They had plans...big plans. They were gonna work a little longer, and then they were going to spend the rest of their days having fun and enjoying life. Oh, they would come see all of us, but we wouldn't be their main destination. They loved us, but they made sure we knew that they were about to have THEIR time. 

But, ya know, God's ways are not our ways...and one day, suddenly and unexpectedly, my Mom just...died. 

And all of those big plans she and my Dad had...they died, too. 

I'm just saying. It's good to work and plan for your (earthly) future...but if you don't embrace the days, each day, and the good things God provides along the way, and the people He gives you to share your life...if you are only living for the "some days..." like, when you graduate, or when you move, or when you get that job, or when you get married, or when you have a child, or when they finally start school, or when they leave home...if you aren't willing to trust God NO MATTER WHAT...what happens if your dreamy future doesn't pan out? How are you going to react? 

This is what I mean by holding our plans loosely. 

Because my Dad? Just when he thought he might have a second chance at that life, with the new love God had provided for him, he had a heart attack, and that seemed to be the beginning of his health issues. 

My Dad's plans for a healthy and active life? Well, he has Parkinson's. 

Like the rest of us, his days were laid out before the foundation of the world. He may outlive us all! But I think he knows that he's not going to get any better...and he accepts it, which is good. Then again, he's always been the most content, most faithful person I've ever known. 

Just last year, he told me, "It's unrealistic to think that I will live the rest of my days with good health..." And, "this is really the only adversity I've had in my life." And, "God has blessed me my whole life. I have no reason to think He will stop now." 

I am thankful for a God who brings us new mercies each morning. I find comfort in knowing that, while my Dad hoped for a different path, he really has embraced all of his days. Ministry takes many forms, and because we are all different...it may look different, even in a marriage. But it has the same goal: care and connection and leading others to Christ. 

My Dad has ministered and served others his whole life...in the places God put him, and with the family God gave him. He, in his quiet, behind-the-scenes way...and my Mom in her large, in charge, and out-in-front way. 

I have peace knowing that my Dad's eternal future is secure...because on a day long ago, he placed his life and his hope in Jesus Christ, and HE is the one who has walked with him through all of the ups and downs of life...and He carries him even now. 

"...Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity..." (Job 2:10) 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Love...Endures Through Every Circumstance

*I've been posting a lot of thoughts about my Dad on Facebook recently. I had some people message me to say that they want to read more "Joshua stories." That they "like those the best."  Well, as long as there's a "Fred," there will be stories, and I'm gonna get back to those soon...just not tuh-DAYYYY. 

As we were leaving my Dad's house, we took one last picture. It was Clara and my Dad...and Clara was holding Rhodes

Rhodes is my Dad's first great-grandchild. It makes my heart swell to see them together. There's about 81 years between them...that's a lot of life, amiright? In 81 years, you experience a lot of sadness, a lot of joy. A lot of moves, ministry, milestones, memories, ups, downs, in-betweens. 

A lot of change. 

After my Mom died, I would see *older* couples out at dinner, or at the grocery, or at a peewee football game cheering on their grandchildren...and I would wish that my parents had gotten to go through life together, you know...to the end. Because I assumed, mistakenly, that the couples I was seeing had been together 40-50+ years. In reality, I had no way of knowing if that was true. 

If you saw my Dad and Clara out strolling, you wouldn't know that each of their spouses had died...and that they had found love again with each other. And that they had made the decision to marry, even tho they knew people might say they were too old; or that it was too complicated; or that there were too many obstacles. 

You know, the same things we tell ourselves when we make decisions concerning relationships, family, work, or finances. 

But these are the places where God shows up and shows out the most, because when we can't...He can; when we think we are too young or too old, God reminds us that men look on the outside, but He looks on the heart...and when we think things are too hard or too complicated, He goes before us to make the rough places smooth. 

And, you know, it might be hard...but the rewards can be great. 

My Dad said, "we aren't guaranteed tomorrow, and we want to enjoy the time we have left on this earth...together." 

And, "no matter how much time we have together, it will be worth it." 

I'm so glad they took that step of faith. Because he did, my Dad has been blessed immensely. And because he did, our family has been blessed immensely. 

My Dad not only got a partner for life, he got another family...with a host of people who love him and care for him. And we got a woman who embraced all of us, and our families. She supports us, encourages us, prays for us...and is the only grandmother on my side that our kids remember. 

At our last visit, I remarked to Clara how pretty everything was at their home. My Dad and Clara built their house, so they could have something new and fresh to start out their marriage. They furnished it with pieces from their pasts, as well as new things they collected during their time together. 

These next few years will likely bring great change for all of us. I hate to think that there may come a time when they might have to move from their home. Even tho I know it's "just a house," it's THEIR house...and it's beautiful. 

But Clara said, "well, when we built this house, we said we would be blessed if we got to live in it for 10 years...this April has been 10 years." 

Recently, I read a quote that pretty much sums up my Dad and Clara's marriage, and it applies to other marriages and relationships as well: "It is impossible to love deeply without great sacrifice." (Elisabeth Elliot) 

"Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." 1 Corinthians 13:7

Friday, April 21, 2017

My Dad, Heaven, and BUCK WILD

On our way home the other day, the talk turned to comments about suffering and dying...which led to questions and more comments about my Dad. 

If you read my post last week about my Dad, you know what brought this up. 

Joshua: said, "When Pawpaw goes to Heaven, it will be a happy day for him." 
Me: "Yes, but it will be a sad day for the rest of us, because we'll miss him so much." 
Joshua: "Yes, sad for us. But for him? GOOD." 
Me: "Yes, he will be very happy." 
Joshua: "Pawpaw is going to go BUCK WILD when he gets to Heaven." 
Me: "Why do you say that?" 
Joshua: "Because he'll get to see his family, like your Mom, and all of his friends up there!" 
Me: "yes, he will." 
Joshua said, "I hope I get some of Pawpaw's qualities...he's the 'most godliest' man I know." 
I said, "he is. He is faithful, patient, humble, content, and he's an awesome prayer warrior." 
Joshua: "He is strong. He is my only grandparent who served our country in the military." 
Me: "Yes. He loves God and he loves our country. He was dedicated to his job, but he loved his family more. He loved my mom, and he loves Grandma Clara. He loves all of his grandchildren, and he loves Grandma Clara's kids." 
Joshua: "uh-huh, and not only that...HE HAS ALL OF HIS HAIR. It's not the same color it used to be, but he's still got it!" 

So, in summary...my Dad still has all of his hair...annnnd he is going to go BUCK WILD when he gets to Heaven!

"For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with Him the believers who have died." 1 Thessalonians 4:14

Thursday, April 20, 2017

He loves me...He loves me not...

"He loves me...he loves me not." 

Remember saying that as kids? 

Holding a flower, and pulling off one petal after another, until you got to the last one that provided the answer...he loves me!

(Or not) 

A simple children's game...but how many times do we use this same philosophy in our lives as adults? 

We let our doubts and insecurities raise questions about our worth...why doesn't he/she love me? What is wrong with me? We wonder what we could DO to make others love us. 

The Bible says: "But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." (Romans 5:8) 

If we didn't have to "prove" ourselves to God...if we didn't have to make sure we presented ourselves in the best light...if we didn't have to have our stuff together, have a plan for our lives all laid out...in order for God to love us so much that He would send His only Son to die for all of our sins...why do we require others to prove themselves, show us their good points, have their acts together, have a plan for their lives, etc, before we decide whether or not they are worthy of our love? 

And why do we spend even one minute feeling unwanted or unworthy? 

God gave us all of His love when we didn't deserve it...and there was no way we could ever earn it. 

We try so hard to not give our hearts away, but that's part of the reason we are here...to love others the way Christ loved us. 

I had a young friend whose big heart for others often led her into relationships where she was not valued for who she was. Her unique personality and sensitive spirit were not always accepted or embraced by others. I read this quote one day, and it reminded me of her...and it applies to me, and so many of us who have been in similar situations: "You might be too much for some people...those are not your people." 

Honey, THOSE ARE NOT YOUR PEOPLE...but guess what? GOD is your people. 

All of you out there who know Him, trust Him, believe in Him...HE is your people. He sees us, He knows us...and He loves us, even when we feel no one else does. Stop running after everything else. 

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

Isn't that beautiful? 

Jesus pursues you, and He chooses you! And He will choose you again a million times over. 

He provides others to walk this life with us, not to take us away from life and ministry, but to enhance it...to enlarge it...to encourage us...and to help share the burdens and the joys in this life. 

It's almost Easter...the time when we remember the great sacrifice Jesus made for each of us when we were so very unworthy...and we celebrate His victory over sin and death. He loves us...He loves us so...He loves us. 🌼 

Look no further.

"For Your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds." Psalm 57:10

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Joshua's Group Goes to Branson!

A couple of weeks ago, Joshua's Therapeutic Recreation group made a trip up to Branson, Missouri...AND THEY STAYED OVERNIGHT.

I know.

They were all so excited! 

This is a BIG DEAL when you travel with a group of FRIENDS who have varying special needs. Nothing like this had been attempted since the 2015 Trip to Graceland...affectionately referred to as, "The Trip To See All The Bathrooms."

They didn't stay overnight on that trip, and Joshua wasn't able to go on that trip...but we heard they had to stop to potty...a LOT. And that they all had a great time!

I was pretty nervous about this Branson trip. I mean, what could go wrong?

Am I right?

Their first stop was for lunch at the Wendy's in Harrison, Arkansas. Joshua said his lunch was the cheapest out of everyone's: $4.40. Jim was so proud when he found out.

Once they got to Branson, they checked into their hotel, freshened up, and headed out to Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede.

If you've never been to the Dixie Stampede, it's pretty fun...loud and interactive. They also expect you to eat your meal without utensils...like the cowboys used to do? I don't even know.

What I DO know is that they don't give you any. And they serve you, like, a whole rotisserie chicken.

WHAT?

But we knew, because we've been there before...and momma didn't raise no fool. Joshua Garland said he "wasn't a Roman OR a Barbarian..." (don't know, didn't ask) so when he got his food, he whipped out some plastic silverware he'd snagged from their lunch at Wendy's, and had put in his pocket.

And then he snickered to himself at how smart he was.

Just sayin'...that WAS pretty smart.

BUT THIS IS WHY PRICES HAVE TO INCREASE AT WENDY'S.

They swam in the hotel pool that night, and then everyone got ready for bed. Joshua said that he took a hot bath before bed. 

Joshua loves him a bath. At home, we will hear him sloshing around upstairs in his tub...and then all the smells from all the soap and lotion and body spray will waft down to our living room.

At home, we call him "BATHsheba."

hahahahaha

Anyway, back to my story: he took a hot bath, and when he was done...he didn't let the water out. OH NOOOO. He told one of the other guys in his room that he had "saved the bath water for him."

AND THEN THE GUY USED JOSHUA'S 'USED' BATH WATER.

Eeek!

I mean, HOW GROSS!

There were some other things he shared about their trip, but I'd better take those secrets to my grave!

I am so thankful for his Therapeutic Recreation program, and for the STAFF who continually push the boundaries of what is possible, and work hard to make all of these amazing opportunities available to all of the participants. 

"Defend the weak and the fatherless; protect the rights of the afflicted and needy." Psalm 82:3