Friday, June 28, 2013

Momma Challenge

"Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it." 
Proverbs 22:6

Funny how our good Lord has SUCH the sense of humor!  :)   After my recent post....about the "fun part" of raising teens, told to me by many as one of their favorites....

Link is here:

......I've been sucker punched in the throat (lovingly of course!  hehe) by seeing the above mentioned verse SO many times.  Sounds easy enough.....raise them right and they won't stray.  Right?  wrong.  Also after the post, I've taken a little heat for I knew I would.... from the little darlings that inspired it.  lol  I embarrass them so.  Our new banter is ....."Ya better do what she says or she'll BLOG about it....."  hehe.  Yep.  Every silly thing that happens, they tease that I'll write about it....or post about it.  Yep.  I'm the mom.  I'm the boss of me.....and you.  :)  I keep promising that they will cherish it one day when I'm day when they have these creatures called "teens" of their own.  But right now? They are completely mortified and that makes it so much fun!  :)

We all see the little "30 day challenges" challenges, food challenges, exercise challenges, etc etc., that appear on facebook and instagram.  For the most part, as I've pointed out so many times, these things get on my last nerve.  They muddy up my newsfeed and I usually scroll right past them,  but there are rare moments that these "unoriginal things" catch my eye.  This one is the "30-day mom challenge."  I'm sure I'm like every mom out there and can use all the help we can get, right???  Especially, when I am their only disciplinarian and they are in the God-forsaken teen years. 

Sidenote:  I've recently learned that the majority of my readers don't even know me.  I have some from as far away as Russia, Japan, France, Australia.  Cool huh?  So with that said, I feel that I must first say that even though I make my kids (according to them) sound like little one-eyed monsters who defy the very essence of the human race.....they really ARE super kids.  God blessed me with two of the most well-behaved, respectable, sweet-spirited, God-loving children on the planet.  I know this. But.....they are kids.  And those normal teen moments rear their ugly heads from time to time.  And it makes for some good writing.  :)  I feel the need to introduce or RE-introduce the two blessings that call me "mom." 

My Sam....sweet 16.  Plays high school baseball, high school football, plugged in to FBC youth, Sunday School, and Choir, and works part time for Old Navy.  A self-proclaimed "momma's boy" and is pretty proud of it.  Wonderful grades, obeys my rules, has his first vehicle and is "in love" with a sweet girl who is not yet old enough to "date." He is mellow and little effects him.  Very even keel. I don't believe I've ever spanked him.  Ever.  My biggest issue with him?  The darn cell phone.  I see more of the top of his head than anything.  And when it dug into our family time, it now carries with it some pretty strict boundaries.  Is he perfect?  No.  He is the type of kid that it is very, very difficult to get angry with.  His "I love you moms" are plentiful and often.  He doesn't run the streets, or drink, or get into trouble.  He is a little na├»ve....and almost "dingy" at times.  We share alot of laughs at his expense.  :)  Yes, he does have Satan pulling at him.  This is the type of child that Satan will target.....because there is nothing scarier to the old devil than a kid with a love for the Lord at such a young age.....that is living it.  We are working to prevent that.  Diligently.  Please pray for my Sam.  He is having some pretty strong "growing pains."

And there is my Sydney Clare.  Age 14.  With the same personality as her momma.  Strong-willed, no filter, emotions are always to the way or another.  Has a passion for everything she does.  A perfectionist, almost to a fault. And a heart as good as gold. She has danced competitively since shortly after learning to walk.  And is in her second her on the school dance team.  She too, is involved with everything the church has to offer for her age.  She has a love for children.  She is the first to spend a summer day volunteering at a home for un-wed moms, or a daycare, than asking to go to the pool.  She is my best friend.  AND....the person that I butt heads with the most.  I have created a monster by always giving in to her drama moments.  And I'm trying to reverse that.  :)  Typical teenage daughter who thinks mom is the most uncool creature on the planet.....until she wants to borrow my clothes. :)  I love my Syd.  She was the best caretaker ever while I was going through chemo.  After my surgery, she helped me with my drains, take baths, get dressed, and with the household duties.  She administered my medicines, even sent my refills to the pharmacy.  She grew up a lot in those months.

Both of my children know the value of a dollar.  They understand having to wait until payday for this or that.  Or the fact that even after payday, we are still broke and can't do this or that.  We are a team.  They have had to endure much more than most teens, their age....and still manage to thrive.  I realize as a mom how blessed I am and that I am the lucky one.  I watch them in awe.  And I hurt for them and with them through growing up in this world.  Together, we share a lot.  Every evening, we pile into my bed and  watch TV.  We giggle at silly "inside jokes" and we are just plain dorks.  I love this life with them.  Even when they grumble because I make them mow the lawn, do the dishes, or vacuum the floor.  Even if I could hand them the world with a silver spoon, I don't think I would.  For they are learning to be "good folks."  They know the Lord, they love the Lord, and they have a genuine respect for others.

Its starting to hit me that this time with them is sure slipping away.  This challenge kind of caught my eye.  I read down through the different "daily challenges" and here are my thoughts on where I can either pat myself on the back or improve...

By the way, here is your pretty "fridge copy" that you can use too! :)

Ask: “What is one thing we can do together this month?”
Yay me!  We spend tons of time together.  I will, however, work on some "one on one" things.....and maybe some more "special, out of the ordinary type things."  This month, I struck gold...Family Vacay.  Check!

Go the whole day without yelling.
This one I need to work on.  I'm a screamer.  I have a precious friend one time that said she specifically wanted to move back out into the country so she could really yell at her kids and the neighbors wouldn't know.  haha   So me.  I saw somewhere where the "lean in and whisper" goes much further than an eruption.  We are loud people.  Gonna try this one.  Prayers please!  :)

Hug your child three times today.
I'm a hugger.  My kiddos are huggers.  But three times per child is kind of a lot if ya think about it.  Gonna do this one. 

Kiss your children while they are asleep.
I do this often.  Don't even think they know.

Say to yourself, “He’s only ___ years old. He’s still a child.” Then, treat him  that way.
I do this.  BUT.....Its usually in the reverse of what this is intended.  I say...."You are 14 / 16 years should be acting like it!"  Hmmmmm......I think I could use some improvement here.

Bake, make, or buy them their favorite food.
I'm not a cook.  In fact, they feel my forehead when I actually cook something besides "boxed" dinners.  Before chemo, I was better.  But we are guilty of fast food.  I blame it on our busy lives and that IS a factor.  But I'm guilty here.  Momma needs to do better.

Leave a sweet note for them.
Sweet texts don't count.  Notes it is.  I used to write notes and leave in their lunch boxes. more lunch boxes, therefore no more notes. 

Calculate how many weekends are left until your child graduates from high school.
69ish for Sam
121ish for Sydney Clare. 
I think I just threw up in my mouth....Bible.

Picture yourself at your child’s age. Remember how you felt.
I totally thought I knew it all.  Only to wish I knew what I know now.  What warms my heart the most, is that my mom was without a doubt the best person in my life and everything I wanted to be.  Not saying that is how my kiddos feel about me.....but how eye-opening to think what if they do?  I gotta shape up!  Thank ya Lord for sockin it to me!  :)

Today’s mom focus: Joy.
This one is a biggie.  I cannot imagine any parent out there that doesn't receive joy from anything greater than their kiddos.  With that joy is great risk......No greater pain than watching them hurt.  Or not being able to fix everything FOR them.  My greatest joy has been trying to change my life from doing things FOR Jesus to doing things WITH Jesus.  I recognize "joy" so much more now.  I must teach them.  I must teach them.  I must teach them.  Hard to teach things you are still learning yourself!  Prayers needed here too.

Tell your child, “I am so glad you are my son/daughter.”
Ding Ding Ding!  Another good mom moment.  They know this.

Pray for wisdom.
Among other things.....I do this more than once a day.  Let alone one time a month.  Check!

Do not criticize your child today.
I wouldn't necessarily say I am "critical" of my kids.  But I can see where in my guidance to them as a mom, that they might think I am.  Gotta work on that.  I try hard to give the "reprimand sandwich."  I learned this in college, and am shown this in my job.  Always start with a positive.....lead into the discipline......end on a loving positive note. "I love YOU.....not necessarily your behavior."   I guess there is a difference in criticism and discipline.  But I also remember not really seeing that difference as a teen.  Grateful for this reminder. 

Remember: being a mother is a gift.
Oh my goodness.  The greatest blessings EVER!!!

Be firm when needed, but not harsh.
I am quick-tempered and harsh.  Guilty.  I need a miracle of a change on this one.  Like changing "water into wine".  :(  Bad mommy moment here.

Picture your child at age 25. Mother with that end in mind today.
Gonna be real here for a moment.  I hope I'm around to see them turn 25.  Darn Cancer.  Otherwise, I can totally see them and makes my heart smile. 

Laugh with your child today.
We are so goofy.  Passing gas is an artform, no matter which end it comes from.  We totally love to open our mouths while chewing like we are 5 and giggle because its so gross.  NO....we know better than to do them in public.  And we are aware we are totally weird.  But its hilarious.   We dance.  We sing. We have so many inside jokes that I could list, but no one would understand or find funny except us. We always laugh together. Check.....Double Check!  :)

Who is a mom you admire? What quality of hers can you live out today?
My own.  I can't possibly lay out my feelings of this one is just a few lines.  I have blogged about her so many times.  Here is a link to a post about her that I wrote on her birthday last year....

The main thing I remember that my mom last told me, "Continue to raise your children in the company of Christian friends."  I would love to be just like her in every since of the word.  The only I hope to beat this monster and be a survivor for many many years.  Just like she wanted to do.  I want to see my grandbabies....and great grand-babies.  Otherwise....hands down.  She is the mom I most admire. 

Teach your child one thing he can do on his own.
hehehehe.....DEAL!  This is a mother's dream!

Today’s focus: Patience.
Back to that whole "quick tempered" thing.  Goes along with Patience.  I'm getting better.  But a long ways to go. 

Forgive yourself when you mess up.
Sigh.  No greater failure than when I mom makes "mom mistakes."  I believe in this idea.  Still struggling on putting it into action. 

How do you want your child to remember you? Be that mom today.
I wanna be their hero.  I want their greatest of memories to include ME.  I want to be their best friend.  I want Sam to want to search the world over to find a woman just like me.  And I want my Sydney to strive to be like her momma.  I want them to see my love for Jesus.  And to long for a relationship with Him that continues to grow.  I want them to remember me smiling.  I want them to remember it's ok to be goofy.  Ok to laugh.  I want them to remember our gentle moments.  I hope they always remember the way I "lived and loved" and not they way I died.  I want them to remember that I was ALWAYS there for them in whatever they needed.  They can always look over their shoulder and find me there.  I also want them to want to live very close to me!  Even next door is ok!  :)

Replace sarcasm with kindness.
Ok.  I get it.  I'm a smarty-pants.  But in a loving way.  Is that ok?  :)

Do not interrupt your child when he is talking.
<hiding under bed now>  Guilty.

Ask your child’s opinion.
Actually, I do that often.  And I listen. 

Encourage your child today.
I'm feeling pretty confident that I master that as well.  I'm pretty much an obnoxious bragging mom. of those.....

Do one thing that is good for your health: walk 10 minutes; eat a piece of fruit; or get a good night’s sleep.
How about trying every shake that Sonic has this summer?  They are half-price after 8?  
Just kidding.  Will do.

Teach your child a new word.
Now there is a concept.  They are usually teaching ME.  "Totes Presh".....i.e, "Totally Precious".  I have taught them a love for 80's music.  I'll work on the word thing.

Turn off your phone, computer, or TV when your child is with you.
No comment.  I'm totally hanging my head in shame.  Candy Crush has the best of me.  Headed for boundaries for myself.

Today’s focus: Love.

 I'm adding my own at the end....."Write a letter to your kids.....something they will treasure."  My mother wrote me a letter before she died.  I still cherish it.  I am doing this soon.  Personally, to each child.  And soon.  I may even publish those someday. 

A pretty good challenge don't ya think?  While I often fail, and am certainly not perfect, I had a wonderful example of a mother and I think I do a decent job most days.  For my two, they are my world.

But I have a dark side.  I have a sweet man in my life, who is the father of four.  Due to my previous marriage, and not the best relationship with step-children, despite how hard I tried, I've kept a wall up from being a step-parent ever again.  I was up front from the very beginning with David and my relationship with these children have been at arms length.  Don't get me wrong....I'm not mean to them.  I love them dearly.  But I've had such a phobia of getting too close.  AND for the majority of my relationship, I was fighting an illness which made me not a load of fun.  Some of these are reasons, some are excuses.

David has prayed relentlessly and God's timing has placed a conviction on me.  I've opened my door and my heart to begin a relationship.....a loving, parental relationship with these four little boys. I am going to try to make it a priority to be the best "bonus buddy" I can be to them.  They deserve all the love I know I have to give.  And this man has proven himself to be worthy of my courage to try.  This challenge....I will stand together with their not only nurture their relationship, but to also nurture ours.  It hit me, that God has most likely placed these sweet boys in my life for a reason.  And at a time when mine is growing closer and closer to leaving the nest. See?  Showing His sense of humor....FOUR?  :)  I'm working to adjust my ways to embrace this is a way to love deeper and stronger.  They have a mom.  They need a friend.  Please don't judge me....for you have not walked in my shoes.  Rather, join me in prayer as I take this big step....for us.  His plan is perfect -- right down to those in my life holding me accountable....and I'm trusting in it the best I know how.

I'll keep ya posted!  :)

In Him,


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Miracle Pics!

I can't sleep tonight.   I have post-vacation blues.  I know...."woe is me"...right?   I've been on some pretty awesome trips in my day.....mostly consisting of big ole groups of friends....oftentimes around a ball tournament or a dance competition.  But this one was truly wonderful.  Can't really think of any complaints.  We were on no agenda whatsoever, with my family and with my brother's family.  This trip stood out as one of the best.  Maybe THE best.....because I realized this time not to take any second for granted.  Of course, who can have a bad time at the beach?  I can't think of any other place that can be described as God's magnificent finger-painting. But that is not what the "blues" are about.  I miss my brother, his wife Leah, and his kiddos!  We just didn't have enough time.  In the 12 years I've been in Benton, it's just been over the last year that I've thought about packing up and going back to Newport.  Just to be close to my family.  It will always be my home and what makes it home, are the love and people I have there.  So yes, Panama City Beach made me homesick.

I'm a certified lunatic. Self-diagnosed and I own it.  Several times a day, I think...."this time last week I was blah blah blah or we were doing this or that".....Ya get the picture.  I keep finding sand, even a week the Tahoe, in the laundry, everywhere.  we bought a lot of "Publix" brand items while we were there......(We don't have Publix here in Arkansas)...and every time I see something I pout. Tonight, it was aluminum foil, margarine, the last of a loaf of bread, and even a new roll of toilet tissue.  Our week away....was THAT good. 

I hate pictures that show my fat-ness.  My kids and David and several close friends of mine have been taught how to take pictures from various angles, and cropping is wonderful.  So please understand the love I have for these people to post me in all of my fatness!  :)  I still believe that "fat looks better tan."   haha

While I had planned to do a vacation picture album post later....I got started reminiscing at the ones on my phone and can't wait to get most of the good ones from my camera.  Each has a story....a memory.... 

First Group shot.  See those clouds behind us?  Yep, they unloaded on us just seconds after this shot.  (One of the two "30 minute showers" we had all week.)  I love this picture!!  (And the polo outlet store loved us! )

Right after the Rain.....Wardrobe change......Guys were so thrilled!  Another favorite of mine!

First day on the beach.....Pic with my sweetie!

My brother's first time at the beach. This is one of the most precious pictures I've ever seen.

Sam and David made a breast cancer ribbon in memory of my mom and in honor of me early that morning.  Late in the evening, it survived the rain showers and the crowds.  Turned sideways?  It's Jesus.  Love this.
The "Pink Ribbon" .....Hope

Yes, I love this moment with my brother.....but looky how our Heavenly Father "photobombed" us with that sunset?????   The sky was breathtaking.  My iphone didn't do it justice.

My sweet D.....I love him.

Sydney Clare and Chloe.  Best friends!  Pretty girls inside and out!
Aunt Terri time!   Precious Hannah and Jacob.  Love these stinkers!  <3

Random moment at the pool when a stranger noticed our bracelets and I was able to share our journey.  Sambo proudly exclaimed that he has not removed his since the day he put in on over a year ago.  Had to take a pic.  A sweet moment.

What do ya say 'bout this?  A Bro-Mance at its best.  lol   Love these two!  <3

Back in the car again!  Mom takes a picture of EVERYTHING!  haha

Cousins at Dinner.  I instantly think how much love was coming from Mamaw Patsy in heaven at this moment. Its up to US that they know her!  <3

No, "bar-hopping" wasn't on our agenda....but as we were walking one afternoon, passed in front of "Coyote Ugly", we just HAD to get a pic!  Syd informed me...."Mom! you finally have boobs and hair!"  Funny kid.  And truth!  

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.  <3

My little Hannah -- was my shopping buddy and "fashionista" last week.  We didn't buy the hats.  But maybe we should have????? 

"Infinity".   Sweet friends.

My his "Sammy" shorts.   lol  Love this kid!

While I love this pic......The girls made it an "art" to photo bombing.  This is one of my favs!  Crazy kid!

Another Photo Bomb.....They are comics.  :)

Sam and David's Ribbon in the sand.  Sam even dug a trench to protect it from the tide!  Wonder if its still there??  Made my heart smile!

Beach fun!

Momma and Sydney Clare moment -- I love love love this child! 

They are growing up on me.  Yes, I cannot tell a lie.  I made them take this picture (then and now!).....But I don't have to make them show love to their momma.  I'm so blessed with these two!

Leah.  This girl has my brother's heart and keeps it safe.  She also has made her way into mine.  Love her!!!

Pool time with mom!  I realize how lucky I am that they are content spending time with me!!!  <3

If I keep on trying.....I'll get a smile.  hehehe   These crazy girls made me smile all week!  God bless Chloe!  She is a blessing to us!

Detour on the way home through Duck Commander!  "Duck Dynasty" is the modern "Brady Bunch".  A family favorite and we were so pumped to get to visit!  We didn't have any "beard" sightings.....but lots of fun just the same!
Sitting and chatting....where "THEY" sit and chat!  :)

Their Bus!

Chloe got to hop in the pic this time!  :)

The kids and I with the Robertsons! 

Kids and the rear of the bus!

Momma and Jase! 

Momma and Willie!
My favorite "Beard" still.....Momma and David!  <3  (I stole his new hat!)


Right before we said goodbye.  I cried like a baby.   I love these people.  Blessed to call them family.

I am completely blessed to have this week full of laughs, special moments, happiness, and family time.  I vow to make it a priority.  And to Him I give all the glory for this perfect week.  And these people I will grow old with.
Note:  This blog started out as me whining and cranky.  I was planning to complain  and moan as I've been aggravated a lot the past couple of  days. I've bit my tongue repeatedly to keep from telling some "how the cow ate the cabbage" and stopped myself.   I started out just to post a pic of my family from vacay, and got so entirely caught up in the memories I captured from our week together, that I've deleted many many words and this entire post turned on a dime.  Kiss my hiney, Satan.  Nice try.   I already feel better. God worked through a few silly pics.  Trust me.....I was in a mood.  They are "Miracle Pics"!  haha
Lessons I've learned and been reminded lately?  Count your blessings, and be happy when others are blessed as well.  Not your woes.....Because we ALL have them.  Things are rarely as they seem, so don't gossip.  Absolutely NOTHING about gossip is right.  Am I guilty of it sometimes?  You betcha.....but I strive very hard to take up my issues with people directly.  When I slip, I hate myself.  Thanks be to God!!!   Grumpy believers are not bringing people to Christ.  Be gracious to those who help you and be observant and give them value. Sometimes, you may not realize just how much others do care....and do want what is best for you.  Its human nature to want to feel "value" when you help others.  But in a Godly frame of mind, we do them simply to serve and not receive value.  Do not compare yourselves to others or keep score. That drives me crazy.  Give with a giving heart.  Receive with gratitude.  Do both with love.  Even when people are un-loveable, love them anyway.  For they need you most.  Keep reaching out even though you may get slapped hands, keep knocking on closed doors, keep calling unanswered calls, and texting with no replies.  Yes, it does stink to be left out....but in God's plan, everything is perfect.  I'm learning to trust that.   Being a Christian isn't about perfection.  It's about spending time with Jesus.  Nurturing that relationship with Him and inviting others to join.  He loves it when believers bring in new believers......but He celebrates when believers find each other!  :)   Remember, that everyone has different beliefs.  We are to love them and let that fact make this an interesting world.  There is never an excuse for hate or judgment.  We should open our hearts to new ways to bless others and of course, be blessed.  Don't be the kind of friend that you do not want.  We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and He never fails us.  Ever. And above all else, remember that nobody is perfect.  Forgive.  And do it with grace.  Thank you God for speaking to me!  <3
Jesus loves me, this I know.....
In Him,

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

God's Stage....

Still writing from PCB. I will quote my brother (which I most likely will do often) and say that "if we had to leave right this minute, it still would have been an awesome vacation." Amen. However, I'm so glad we still have a couple of days left!

Monday, we spent all day soaking up the Florida sunshine. Be it on the beach or in the pool. Despite the sunshine, we all were little lobsters at the end of the day. Worth it? you betcha. Our condo is within walking distance to most anything, and the girls wanted to get "henna tattoos" so we took a stroll down the road. Shopped a little and they picked their art. I love it that the Top Gun aviator sunglasses are back in style.....but a small face and very little hair to balance it (as I did in the 80's) -- I looked like a bug. So I was tickled to find a kid pair. hehe Kid prices....Kid face. I'm now cool. (Unless you ask either of my children.) :)

Hannah and Jacob were with us as we tried on hats, looked at funny T'shirts. David promised them each a "treat" and boy, my little Hannah is like her Aunt Terri. Too many options. She pulled David all over that store and finally settled on a little cat in a crate and named her Lori. She was so doggone cute, I'm thinking that she talked him into more than that while I wasn't looking. :) Jacob settled on a crocodile head. A wrestling fan, we searched high and low for a beach towel or something with that theme. So the crocodile head it is.....named him "Jock the Croc".

Jacob is possibly the sweetest child I've ever met. Very reserved and almost bashful on the outside....but fun.ny. When he warms up, possibly one of the funniest I've met. A lot like his daddy. He loves to make up dances.....I'll see if he will let me video each one before the trip is out.....but until then you have to use your imagination. We have "the lawnmower", "the sprinkler", the "shopping cart", the "preacher", the "bread man".....etc.etc. He has moved on to the "Terri"....which is a laughing uncontrollably dance ending in a "snort", the "Sambo" which is "texting" to the beat, etc. etc. Today, we added "the sunscreen".....which is the natural dance done when someone is spraying you with sunscreen and its cold. :)

As if these funny "jigs" aren't funny enough here at the condo....we make certain we do them in public places. More teen embarrassment at its best! :)

Anyway, as we were walking along, taking in all the sites and places along "the strip", Jacob melted my heart. He said, "ya know, one thing I haven't seen around a church." David and I exchanged looks and chills went all through us. Such wisdom from a 10 year old little boy. I just had to hug him tight! Headed back and grilled burgers and watched Monday night RAW. I think he is pretty impressed that Aunt Terri can talk wrestling with I used to be a fan. Fun day.

Yesterday, we all slept in a our evenings have been late ones....talks on the balcony, late night snacks, and I'm way into my book. Which I love. Again....I plan to blog later about it. While the details of it are different....I could have written that book. Seriously. I never realized how cynical I've been! And what I've learned about my spiritual walk just by reading it. Good stuff.

Back to yesterday's events. We decided to take a little break from the sunshine, and head into Destin. My kiddos love "Whataburger" so we had a lunch there and headed over to the outlet malls. Had to teach "Sammy" that an "Outlet" mall isn't because the stores open to the "outside". AND that just because others DO....doesn't make them an outlet mall. Lol....Samism's keep coming. He is joined in his "blonde roots" by Chloe. Who thought "dumb" was spelled "D-U-M"....and was met with great debate. Which is why we were forced to purchase "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum" shirts for she and Syd. Guess you know which one Chloe got. Or.....when David said he preferred "Miracle Whip" as opposed to Mayonnnaise......she proceeded to tell us, "I hate whipped cream" Chloe-isms. Her list is growing too! :) I just love these kids. And so grateful Chloe is with us this week. And grateful for her as Sydney's friend. Never an ounce of drama. Can see this one lasting a lifetime.

Our budget didn't allow much for shopping. Any, really. But the kiddos have their own money so we spent the day searching for bargains. And took advantage of the "Polo" store and all nine of us bought matching shirts for beach pics this week. It's always fun shopping with David and Sam. Their styles are polar opposites. Sam loves the "preppy" look and wears bright colors. David....not so much. If I point something out....he will inevitably say...."that's a Sammy shirt." We were walking through Sak's Fifth Avenue, and there in the men's dept were the colored skinny jeans. David yanks a bright yellow pair and a red shirt and hold them in front of him and lets me snap a pic just being silly. He called it a "Sammy outfit." JUST as I snapped a pic, I get a text from Sam wanting me to come to the Banana Republic to look at some shorts he found.....Yellow. He tried them on with a new red polo to get my opinion. The timing was hilarious!!

After wrapping up the day, we headed back to the condo. David and Jay grilled pork ribs and pork chops, while Leah and I made pan fried taters, mac and cheese, and baked beans inside. Big ole country meal, and of course the new "Dance Moms" was on. We milked every ounce out of another day and there were smiles all around.

Woke up today and visited with my brother on the balcony for a bit. We listened to praise music and just watched the ocean. He and I wondered what Noah must have thought, after never seeing rain and waking up to "this"......we pondered the different reactions he may have had. Mine of that he HAD to have wanted to say "I told ya so...." hehe.

We headed down to the beach and spent another day in the sand and surf. David and I got gussied up and went on our usual Wed. night dinner date. Low-key day and evening. I'm out on the balcony and just letting my thoughts flow. How easy it is to be close to God here.

I've enjoyed this family time this week. And I so hope another vacation just like this one is in our future. It would take an "Old Testament" type miracle for me to be able to anytime soon. Worry is starting to creep in on me of all the financial woes I've got waiting for me back home. I'm so grateful that David has blessed us with being able to come. Even bigger, I'm thanking God often for the little "four leaf clovers" of benevolence he has bestowed upon us. I know that its His hand and His favor that has given this week for us. It is everything I thought it would be and more.

Jay and I have talked some about the worries I face. And I have vowed to not only turn it over to God....but to listen. God doesn't always provide "answers" in black and white. As a Christian, I think I've sometimes expected Him to just "pull a rabbit out of a hat." I moan, whine, and gripe about things I can control expecting Him to dig me out of it. I don't think God prefers to work that way. He works through His children. He uses dire circumstances to bring people together and bring out their very best. He uses low times to make our gifts shine. He creates circumstances, sometimes grim, that forces us to tap into our hidden resources of love, grace, strength and knowledge. He sees the bigger picture and performs in HIS time.

When I look back over the past year....which I do an awful lot. I think most anyone would in my shoes. Anyway, I compare this this time last year. I realize that even though I have questioned why He allowed me to suffer. Why he "allows" cancer. Why he "allows" suffering of any kind. I realize that He never does so without setting a stage to bring us through. I think back over my own illness.....and he gave me David. He gave me a job with bosses who were compassionate. He gave me my church family. He gave me my kids. He gave me doctors and nurses who were the best in their field. He gave me my mother before pave the way. He gave me my brother, who never ceased prayer. He gave me my friends. The best ever. He placed those in my life to offer prayer support, financial support, and emotional support. These are just a few.

We were never promised joy without suffering. But in my suffering I've found the greatest joy. I've experienced some of the greatest human suffering in my life. When I first moved to Benton, I went to a female doctor for the first time......and they asked me to fill out a "patient information" sheet that basically wanted medical history and such. One question asked me to "check all that apply:"
Did any of these major life changes happen to you in the past year?
Death of Family
Loss of Job
Move to new city
New Job
etc etc.
I literally could check ALL of those. The sweet nurse practitioner looked at me and said...."Prozac?" :)

When I think back....God knew exactly what he was doing. Just like the beautiful breath-taking sunsets that I am enjoying this week..... He was setting my stage. I know that my story is far from over. He gives us the "mountaintops" so that we can get through the "valleys." As a Christian, I have been known to get angry with God.....yes, I'm really admitting that.....when he doesn't give me answers and miracles on the spot. But when I look back over the course of my journey.....He was only setting the stage for something better. Even though I know as a human, I will most likely take a stroll through more and more valleys.....I can't WAIT to see what he is up to with His "mountaintops".....

Well, my Sam just joined me on the balcony for some Momma-Son time. Precious and priceless. Until next time.....

In Him,

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day Vacay

Well, its coming up on midnight of "Father's Day" and our first full day in Panama City Beach is officially in the books. I'm sitting here alone on the balcony of our 20th floor condo, nice breeze, hearing the waves crashing, a half-moon lighting up the shoreline. Peace.

I couldn't wait to blog today. I find myself wanting to take a Polaroid of every moment so I don't forget even a single memory. I am so incredibly happy and my heart is simply full.

We arrived at PCB yesterday afternoon after a fun-filled 12 hour drive. Ok, for was a 12-hour ride. David drove. I napped. :) The kiddos were so excited. Sydney's best friend Chloe has joined us this week and much of their trip consisted of taking self-potraits, more appropriately called "selfies", complete with puckered lips. I learned that selfies over the age of about 20 are NOT cool. And I learned that I AM pretty cool to most folks other than my own children. Which means I embarrass them often. (Score! hehehe).

I love my kids. Much of our laughter is at the expense of my sweet Sammy. God love him.....the poor child sometimes wakes up in a new world every 10 minutes. His "Sam-isms" keep us rolling. Off the cuff, its hard to come up with something that isn't a "ya just had to be there" but for instance....."I think we are going the right way....I remember those trees." Trees? That is your landmark?? lol Ok.

Anyway, we got to the condo, checked in, and headed down to the beach in enough time to spend a couple of hours before dark. The water was perfect. The beach was beautiful. The weather felt great. Kids were smiling. Sam met a buddy to skim board with, the girls were swimming and snapping pics.....all was well with my soul!

Poor Jay and Leah and the kids met several delays, traffic jams, and general bad luck. Poor guys....Mobile is so unpredictable. We decided to go on in to buy groceries. By-passing Wal-mart, we headed on to Publix....called "Pubix" by my silly family, always with a buy groceries. We paid twice the price for half the wait. But oh well....we now had groceries for 9 peeps and a menu for the week. Got it all back and put away and headed to the balcony. That moment when you realize....all the hard work is behind ya and its just relaxation for the next 7 days.

We all settled in to watch a movie and wait on the rest to arrive. The kids put in "Pitch Perfect" and by the first time we saw "Fat Amy," I was the only one awake. I waited up to welcome my brother and his family. They finally arrived and we visited for a bit before heading to sleep.

Woke up this morning, a little too late to watch the dolphins, but woke up to lots of smiles and excitement. Jay and the kids have never been to the beach. He and his family haven't taken a vacation in 5 years. I have been hoping these last few months of planning that they would just love it like we do. Some folks are not "beach people"......and I have been praying that the kiddos love it. We sent Sam and my nephew, Jacob down to "claim our spot" on the beach.....and like true Arkansans, giving them instructions from the 20th floor balcony. :) Of course, ya can't leave the state EVER without leaving a "Woo Pig Soooie" here and there.

We all got ready and headed down. Didn't take long for the kids to absolutely love it. The laughs, the squeals, the smiles. I looked at Leah at one point, and said "That is what its all about right there." :) Jacob and Hannah were total water bugs, playing in the waves, searching for shells, and showing us each and every find. Sydney and Chloe were building a sand castles, writing "Father's Day" messages in the sand to send to their dad back home, and taking pics, David and Jay were out too far in the ocean, Leah and I were perched in our chairs right at the water's edge with sand everywhere you shouldn't have sand! haha Sammy was skim boarding and playing in the ocean. Just another day in paradise......

I'm a picture taker. Driving the kids crazy with snapshots of every moment. Im posting from the Ipad this week, and its difficult to format pics like I like, but will plan for a picture journal of our memories when I get home next week. In the meantime, I'm driving my Facebook and Instagram followers crazy with pic after pic. To me, they are more than that "Kodak moment" and are that "polaroid" of every moment of the day. Funny, with this day of digital cameras and iphones, one of the kids asked what kodak meant? They have never seen film! haha I love these people. <3

This afternoon, Syd and Chloe could be found poolside "tanning" and allowed me to join them. I began a new book that I'd been saving for my "beach read" entitled "Assaulted by Joy -- The Redemption of a Cynic" that was loaned to me by my sweet Aaron. I forgot my glasses down by the water, so I only got a few pages into it. Even so, I can tell by the first 20 pages that its going to be written about me. Can't wait to dive in further. It's already triggering some convictions. Another post. Another day.

This evening, we took the "dads" out for a Father's Day supper. Went to a little local place called the "Wicked Wheel" was totally worth the 45 minute wait and yummo! While waiting, Leah and I visited and did a little more people watching. Not long after we sat on the patio, a big large family walked up. Like us, they were snapping pictures, and enjoying each other. They took one that was obviously a few generations of "dads".....Granddaddy seated, with the others flocked around him. I envy those close families that take vacations together and make it a priority. And secretly looked around at the 9 of us and hoped this becomes a tradition.

As we left, the silliness began. My brother is one of the funniest guys I know. We did our own version of the "chinese fire drill".....Jumped out in the middle of the intersection and danced in front of our headlights. Nope, not an ounce of alcohol consumed....just an extreme desire to be totally uncool and embarrass the teens in our group. Complete mortification. Score! :) We laughed and laughed and laughed some more. We took our comedy act and made a stop at Walmart.....braving the lines 20 deep to grab a couple of forgotten items. God's favor placed us by the fishing poles (i.e. Sporting Goods) and the little guy at the counter checked us out back there. As we exited....we giggled at those still waiting....SUCKERS! hehe. Jay loudly asked me if I remembered my hemorrhoid I retaliated and told him I was carrying his sack with the "RID" in it for the crabs he caught that day. We were total dorks and having the best time. More dancing ensued to the cars as we began our quest for ice cream.

Introduced David and Chloe to Dippin Dots for the first time. Not sure what rock they've been hiding under.....but we had a ball messing with the kids. Jay tried hard to get Sambo to let him "introduce" him to every cutie pie that walked in. And threatened the same to the girls as they urged him to do that to Sam. Lots of laughs and more stories. Complete silliness. Random idiocracy at its very best folks! :)

Headed back to the condo, and the girls began manis and pedis, the rest of us retreated to the balcony to relax before bedtime. I am still here writing about the day. Like Aerosmith sings...."I don't wanna miss a thang....." Jay and I have had some wonderful quiet time today. David and I have had some sweet visits. Other than Syd's smarty pants attitude creeping in every now and again, the day has been totally perfect. Poor thing, she is just like me! I shared with Jay tonight, that in all honesty, on paper we really couldn't afford this vacation. But you can't put a price on this togetherness. Yes, the beach is beautiful. And its awesome here. But the family time is priceless.

I sometimes get a feeling deep down in my gut, that my earthly time is limited. I guess that is normal for anyone after facing a tragedy or journey such as cancer. It isn't fear....I'm at peace with it....but I want to do everything within my power to give my children these memories, and to keep my family close. Jay said tonight, that mom would love this. After talking to my dad today, I wish he were with us. We know that if mom were alive, he would be. There is not a doubt in my mind that she is smiling in heaven tonight, rejoicing with our Heavenly "Father" on this Father's Day. Her heart is full as she is looking down at her kids acting like fools, and the cousins bonding together. A year ago, I was starting my journey with chemo, not really sure if I'd see another vacation like this. So we found a way. As a Pastor, Jay and Leah haven't been able to take a vacation in several years. We realize the level of blessing this is. And are soaking up every single minute.

Jay has now joined me on the I believe I will log out and visit. Hope he knows how much I love him. I intend to let him know!! <3

Thank HIM for it all tonight......I am completely blessed much more than I deserve.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I hate getting old.  Well...of course, the alternative is worse.  But I feel like I've been beat up.  What a weekend!!!! 

My friend Gina is now starting her life in wedded bliss.....<3  The Lord provided the best weather and beautiful nature.  Friends and family were plenty.  I am hopeful that it was everything they dreamed of.....and more.

David and I arrived Friday around noonish and with the gang, we began the setup.  Hours later....tulle was flowing in the wind, canopy was up using the beautiful spring river as a backdrop, and the stage was set.  Bride was "medicatedly calm"  (Gotta love Benedryl!) and as always, laughs were going strong. 

I hadn't felt good all I can tell, it was a good old summer cold.  But charged forward. Wild horses couldn't have kept me away from standing near my friend that Saturday.  :)  Although, it did make me grumpy and a brat.  :(  On top of the insecurity I feel of being fat, white, and of course....the whole "hair" thing...., and my exhaustion from the day,  AND the cold,  I snapped at a precious young girl.  She came up behind me and asked me if I was the "mother of the bride".  Of course I melted down immediately.  Everyone snickered and it sent me into an emotional tailspin.  That poor girl.  Yes, I had a friend explain to her.  And yes, I apologized and enjoyed her company the rest of the weekend.  I don't know what got into me.....ugggggg.....not one of my favorite moments. 

Aside from Gina's wedding shoes walking away without feet in them, causing a slight delay in start time  (I ripped mine off and put them on her so no...she wasn't barefoot!), the wedding was beautiful and unique.  Filled with humor and celebration and love.  I was so happy to be a part of it. 

After the cake was cut, the pics were taken, and the comfy clothes were on, we took a short float down the river.  Fun fun times were had!!!  <3  I could write for days on the events of the weekend.  But in short here are a few highlights!  Things I learned and/or were reminded:

   * I am NOT a wedding planner/decorator.   lol  Thank the Good Lord for my sweet friend Dana, and Pinterest!  And for Sonya, professional bow-maker and Shane for her willingness for the whole "trial and error" of the day!  A few sweet fellas were there to help too!  :)  And Maria, for keeping the bride calm.  Was a group effort for sure!

  * Do not let crazies jump off of a tree into 3 feet of water.  If you have to...Ask them to "check their driver's license to remind them how old they are!" ..... At least BEFORE the wedding.  If they want to kill themselves after, perfectly ok.  :)

* I was reminded how to raise up my butt when goin over the rocks.  :)  My abs are stronger today for sure! 

*  There are times when I'm definitely a fish out of water.  There is a little piece of nature on the Spring called "Deadman's Curve" that is named appropriately.  If you are gonna end up out of your canoe, raft, tube, whatever anywhere.....this is the spot. Yes, its swift, rocky, narrow, and hard to manage.  However......the "scenery" there can make ya lose your focus. I'm certain that is the reason for MANY  "almost drowings"!  haha   A DJ, stripper pole, lots of "adult beverages" consumed there....and a people watcher's paradise.  There is a "mardi gras" type theme with beads.  Not a great place for a woman who has had a mastectomy!   lol   I was given an honorary strand.....I most certainly earned them.  NOT a place for kids.  Ever.  Under any circumstances.  Bypass Deadman's curve. 

*  Dogs are smarter than humans.  "Saddler" (named after Saddler Falls) is probably the best-trained, smartest yellow labs I've ever seen.  Ya just had to be there.  He could dive down and retrieve a rock that I'm sure looked like every other rock when thrown as far as a man could throw one.  He could shake and shower anyone on command at whomever told to.  He could bark, be shushed.  I'm not doing this justice..... It was amazing.

*  Beauty is NOT only skin deep.  I saw beautiful people who were so incredibly ugly.  And learned that what is INSIDE a person can make them simply exquisite.  If only the rest of the world felt that way.....That is for another blog post.  For another time.

*  I miss camping.  I would love to go back another time....simply to "vacay and relax".  I was so exhausted from the "wedding setup and takedown"....that I didn't take a minute to simply enjoy God's splendor. I've been worrying and fretting for weeks and it turned out pretty ok!  :) I'm so very happy for my friend who is now making this her new home. 

*  You cannot always bank on first impressions.  I grew to really enjoy the company of several this weekend that I was skeptical on the front end.  I'm learning to really dig deep and get to know people.  And in doing so, I was blessed.  On the flip side....I'm grateful that others gave ME the same courtesy!  :)  I met some fun new friends in the process! 

*  We are more than a group of friends.  We don't allow anyone to hurt each other.  We may not always be appropriate in the showing of our love.....but it is known and understood without a doubt, that we have a true and genuine love and we are a family.  In doing so, we respect the wishes of each other.  We forgive. We stick together. And we protect.  You might find yourself on probation!  :)  But if you come to realize and understand the nature and dynamic of this is one you will never want to leave.  Nothing makes me more happy, than to hear my dearest friends tell me how precious David is.  Yes, he is a wonderful man.  But I believe they truly accepted him when they saw how well he treated me.  (AND of course when he rescued Gina in the snow! hehe)   How he has never left my side.  Even with some of the unexpected "crises" I've dealt him!  :) And even further....David loves and respects my friends.  He would do anything for them.....just as he would for me.  I pray that everyone find a love like I have.  One I honestly don't deserve.

*  I need to lose weight.  Pictures really do say a thousand words.  And for me....a thousand pounds.  So.....I'm gonna be totally selfish here and only post one.......which is my favorite.  I cannot tell you how much I love these people!!!!!  <3

Aren't they all so beautiful??????   Inside.....AND out.

After David and I dismantled the "wedding stuff", we headed to my brother's house in Newport.  Stayed up way too late laughing and sharing old stories.  Planning our upcoming vacation, which apparently is to do a whole lot of porch sitting, beach laying and eating!  :)  Cannot wait to make these memories!!!!

Jay's sermon Sunday morning, and Leah's leading of the worship time in song....touched me like never before.   My sister-in-law led a song that I've never heard before.  I've wished I had recorded her version of many times since yesterday morning.  But I was so lost in prayer and worship, that I didn't think of it. 

It's entitled "I never lost my praise".......and even if I have to say, her version is better than any I've heard.  The words are so meaningful and so true!  Please take a listen:

Got me to thinking about my life.  How I've handled crises.  I'm not so proud of myself at times. I've not always "praised" Him anyway.  But in those hard times when I did.....the path was much smoother. 
It got me to thinking about myself as a mother.  Am I guiding my children to be lovers of Jesus and servants of Christ? 
How am I as a life partner?  Do I let the "words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart" be acceptable to Him?  Am I respectful to David?  Am I a Godly example?
How am I in friendships?  Do I surround myself with Christian believers and always have my actions reflect that of Godly behavior?  Do I truly give all of myself to the needs and desires of others??
As a sister, daughter, I more concerned with being "needed" and standing through any storm no matter what.....than by advising what the Word says? 
Boy have I got a ton of work to do.  I guess God answered my prayers all these months in letting me stay a while longer, because he KNEW I wasn't ready for His Kingdom.  I've got some more things to work on.  It is tough being a Christian sometimes.  It is tough taking the road less traveled.  Walking along the path that others sometimes don't choose. 
I have a smart mouth and a bad attitude at times.  Sometimes, I'm just a brat.  That is not a Godly example at all.  I strive to be a tither.  I mean, I place something in the offering.  When I'm there.  But I want to truly give ABOVE the 10%.  The Bible tells me that 10% is already His and any above that is my "offering".  And to an accountant, that is hard.  If the money is not there, how can I give?  10+% of a little....isn't much.  But when there is little to begin with????? 
What I'm learning in my quiet time and in digging into the word.....and this week through Jay's sermon, is that if my true focus is on what God wants for me.....again, what GOD wants for me.....then He will take care of the rest.  For this ole control freak, that's hard.  God has been revealing to me those in my life who nurture my relationship with Him.  Those who connect with me on a spiritual level.  Who speak to me in love and encouragement.....not in judgment.  Who will love me regardless.....but will not let Satan use them as a vessel to steer me wrong.  As I'm afraid I've done in the past. 
I have learned to designate prayer time each day....not to give Him my worries.  But to just praise Him.  It warmed my heart so much Sunday have my David beside me....holding my hand in his, with his other raised in worship.  I glanced at him and a tear trickled down his face.  Finally....I have a man in my best friend....who "gets it."!   <3  I love watching the videos posted of the kiddos on Choir Tour -- who are leading worship across the nation.....and it shows on their faces....the PRAISE.  It shows with their hands high in the air....and their eyes full of wonder. I simply love it.
I can't wait to get away next week....with my family.  Get close to them and to God in all of His splendor and beauty.  I plan to blog away!!!  :)  Its funny, when you put your life out there in a public forum such as I do with this blog.....Satan uses people to constantly find fault with every move I make.  I guess its one of the "down sides" to letting people in on your life.  I almost get tickled at those who "hang on every word" but then use those words against me.  Small town America....unfortunately, I hear everything that is said.  What's funny is.....for every bad apple.....there are 10 times those who have gone out of their way to let me know that my blog inspires them.  That they can relate to my words as a fellow friend, mom, sister, daughter, Christian, and even Survivor.  I hear from people all over.  Some know me on a day to day basis.  Others only through here.  I told myself I would stop using this space to defend it.  But every once in a while....I just have to say....Satan! Get back Jack!  You are not welcome here.  Satan....if you don't like what I say.  Don't read it.  If you are forced to judge what I say?  Then contact me because you must be perfect and possibly I could learn something!  If you think I'm trying to be something I'm not?  Then read EVERY word.....because I don't know many that would trade places with me on much of my life.  I am a hypocrite.  I am a sinner. I fall short. And I place it here for all to read.  Gossip is ugly.....if you can't tell something from a place of truth and non-judgment, then ya probably outta not say it.  Momma used to say...."if ya can't say something nice........"  :)
I don't wanna get a thousand texts asking me "who is being mean".....blah blah blah.  Nobody.  It also kinda tickles me at usually those who text first are usually the ones who are guilty!  :)  I am working to live my life for Christ.  I am in love with a man that I hope to marry someday.  Yes, he lives under my roof. (Well....he does when he is not working out of town averaging MAYBE 6-8 days a month).  Didn't make a lot of sense to keep two places, when he was needed here.   And as I've discussed with more than one clergy, God knows my heart.....and there is no doubt that David was hand-picked by God to be a part of my life and of that of my children.  We have very frank conversations about that with the kids and yes, I'm very convicted of the very hypocritical nature of that.  There are very private reasons why I am not married to him, yet.....of which I am choosing not to disclose now.  And I have that right.  Many speculate many things.  I'll tell my reasons.  Someday. 
When I became sick, the kids and I would not have made it without his love and care and devotion to our times, at the sacrifice of his own.  Those who love me.....focus on THAT fact.  I am a single mother with a large village.  I have single momma worries.  Single momma fears.  Single momma issues. And Single momma blessings.  Throw a little thing called "cancer" in there and all that that entails on the side.....and then talk to ME about issues.  Yep, I shouldn't be spending the money I really don't have to take a vacation.  So I'm really not.  Thanks to DAVID, we are able to enjoy this.  And Praise GOD he is in my life.  When you face your mortality square in the have to soak up every second.  Every. Single. Opportunity.  Last summer we where forced into surgery and chemo and worries like never before.  So yes, I'm taking advantage of the gifts and blessings given to us....and taking my kids to make a few memories.  Judge me.  I no longer care.  The glory goes to nobody but God.
For one small week.....for exactly seven days......I'm excited to see my brother's children see the ocean for the first time.  To bond with Leah and have some heart-to-heart girl talks with my brother's love.  I'm excited for the nightly devotions we have planned.  And to reminisce the same old childhood stories with my baby brother. And even create some new ones to talk about!  I'm excited to turn off my phone and spend some quality time with my children and take lots and lots of pictures.  Time is precious.  And we are not promised any certain amount of it.  You get the jist.  All my problems and worries will be here when I get back.  No harm in taking a week out. 
You see?  I am all of those horrible things I mentioned above.  Satan DOES try to use me as a vessel at times.  But through my salvation, I'm promised grace and forgiveness.  And if I don't extend the same to others, I can not receive it.  I am seeking to right my wrongs.  To live in fullness with God.  I'm on the road my friends.  Takin care of business.....
"I never lost my hope.  I never lost my joy.  I never lost my faith.  But most of all....I never lost my Praise.  "  For that, I'm not lucky.  I'm blessed.
In Him,

Thursday, June 6, 2013

My Gina.....

My post tonight is about my friend.  My friend Gina.  She doesn't read my blogs, but don't think I'm talking about her behind her back.....maybe I'll make her read this one!  :)

Gina is getting married Saturday to her "Elementary School" Crush.  Now how incredibly NEAT is that??  Gives some truth to the old adage.....that "if ya love something let it go....if its meant to be, it will always come back"....(or something profound like that!  haha)  I think this is a relationship that had some Godly fingerprints on it......And things were done in HIS timing.

I met Gina a few years ago through a mutual friend.  Let me tell you a little about her.  They broke the mold for sure.  She is a sweet spirit beneath a rough exterior.  She shows her love oftentimes through the "tough love" option.  She is the "mother hen" of our little circle of friends.  She is never fake.  AND you always know exactly where you stand.  Even if she's mad at ya. :) 

Gina has a deep heart.  And when her friends are hurting.  She hurts.  She stood by me through the breakdown of my marriage and through my finding love again.  Her advice is usually spot-on and I never worry that she has nothing but the best intentions for those around her.  Honestly, I'm pretty scared of Gina. :)  Not really,  but as my momma used to say, "She will tell ya how the cow ate the cabbage!"  That's what I love the most.  She is real.  Always.

She is so dang funny.  Together, we all have shared so many laughs the last few years.  Her one-liners could be a comedy show.....and her stories (especially the ones about her grandma) could make her a best-selling author.  Even when crises seems to attack -- she puts hilarious spin on things like no one else.  Her sarcasm and banter are so unique. 

As a mother, she gave birth to a rocket scientist.....literally.  Daegan works for NASA!  She sacrificed so much for his education and to guide him to be a successful young man.  The hardest thing for a mother is to "cut those apron strings".....and God placed Lynn back in her life at just the perfect time to ease the burden and love her.  See how God works???  :)

As a nurse, she has a compassion deep inside like few I've met.  She has been with us all through heartbreak.  Through joy.  Through illness.  Through fun times.  Through horrible times.  Like a "friendship marriage".....We all have survived it all.  Its finally....HER time.  Her day.  Her new beginning.  She fell in love with this man ( maybe it was a crush....but on the playground, same thing....right?? :)) all those years ago, and now God's timing has brought them back to one another to build their ending together.

I am very honored to be a part of her wedding.  To stand beside her, and the best of friends, as she professes to love this man in front of God and all of her friends.  And as he takes her hand to love and protect forever.  I love Gina, and my heart is so incredibly full as I watch this circle of life become complete.  She is so deserving of not only a beautiful wedding day.....but more importantly, a beautiful marriage.  I'm also grateful to know that once she relocates to begin her life together....that no amount of miles will damage the friendship that we all share.  Poor Lynn.....he gets such the package deal!  :)

Of course, I'm not the perfect person to give marital advice, so I'm not going to try.  But as her Sister in Christ.....I would love to say this to you, Gina.....

I love you.  I am so happy for you and Lynn, that you patiently waited for God to reveal your "missing piece".  I have included you in my prayers for many days and will pray for you and your new marriage in the days to come.  Place God in the center of your marriage and in front of every issue.  Don't go to bed angry.  Ever.  Don't worry about money or finances......because what is most cannot buy.  So do not let it consume you.  Kiss him goodnight.  Every night.  Hug him often....and hang on for a minute.  Pray for him.  And trust that he too, is praying for you.  Let your worries about the "big day" go....and enjoy it.  He fell in love with you for you.....and no matter what Saturday will be a beautiful bride and it will be a ceremony you will never forget.  As Proverbs 31:25 tells us "She is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future."  That is the epitome of you and your wedding.  It will all come together and you are marrying the man of your dreams in front of those who love you most.....and with the blessings of many that simply have to be there in spirit.  Enjoy every second.  Soak up every thought and every feeling.  I am so proud to call you one of my best friends and thank God for placing you, my life.  I pray that God places a hedge of protection over your marriage and that He bring to you and Lynn many happy years together.  I leave you with 1 Corinthians 13 -- which is what God tells us about love.....and I'm so very happy that you and Lynn have found it....And our friendship knows this love also!  <3
1 Corinthians 13 

1If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
I love you Gina Beana!!!!!!   <3
In Him,