Living the Dream

Living the Dream

Monday, December 31, 2012

Snot, more Snot, and Counseling

Lovely got up sick yesterday, and I took her to the Doc in the Box around the corner, and he declared her with the meanest throat he had seen.  She was feeling so lousy, I felt so bad for her.Mean old crappy strep.

Hallie is sick ALL the time, and I can never get her well.  It's just the way we roll around here.

I think I need to take stock out in Kleenex products.  Between the toilet paper and the kleenex we roll through, that company will never have a Hostess departure.

We're all feeling better today and have spent the last 24 hours, watching movies and trying to get better.

Frankly, I'm ready for school to start.  All those homeschool moms out there, I salute you.... I'm a PROUD public school mama, and I am NOT afraid to say it.

This togetherness is wearing on my sore throat.  (yep, I'm getting one...guilty by association, I'm sure).

But in the midst of the nose blowing, our counselor came to visit us today.

She didn't know we were famous.

It took the Lovelies about 12 seconds to inform her that we are.  LB went first, and he visited with her, then Lovely had her turn, and then joy of all joy, it was mine.

I informed her that I counsel by blogging.  She laughed and said "That's a good way."

She has no idea.

She also told me that she is so proud of us.  And that all the reports she has read about these kids had her expecting far different kids.  She also told me that Lovely informed her that they were staying with me until they couldn't stay no more, and NO ONE was taking them away.

Who knew my first fosters would be my last?

I'm down with that.

So are they.....My favorite thing the counselor said,  "We aren't allowed to talk about higher powers with the kids (HIGHER POWERS, are you kidding me?), but it is quite evident that you have one ruling in this house. And the kids are comforted by that, beyond anything else."  

Well, Hello, So is their Lolly. Even while blowing my nose every 2.5 seconds.

God is good, all the time.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

So let's just see What Happens

I am ready for school to start back.

Yes, I am THAT mom.

I'm sorry, but I've worked since I was like 12.  I have a LOT of kids in my house these days.  I like the organization of up, school/work, home/homework, and bedtime.

That totally works for me.

I'm ready to retire my sweats until the evening, and get back to work.

I REALLY REALLY Am.

Before Christmas I went to my work function in Abilene and we talked about LOVING our jobs and making every day a fun day and to be the VERY Best at what we do.

What I have come to accept these last 10 days is, I don't have to do my best only at work, I have to do my best EVERY day in EVERY endeavor.

Even if it's playing Go Fish with the Lovelies.  And as my patience has worn thin, in our small house with mega people in it, I have to remind myself over and over....

"Be Your Best."

Ugh.

I have cabin fever, and sick kids, and dogs that are cold and want in ALL THE TIME, and a tiny tiny space to live in.

One thing that is becoming abundantly clear, if I am going to continue to foster kids...(Which I know I am called to do)...I am going to have to sell this house and find a bigger house.  That is what God has been laying on my heart for several weeks now, and I just keep ignoring Him.  

THAT wasn't my plan.  I JUST refinanced for 15 years.  I HAVE A PLAN, I have a goal.... and moving into another house was NOT part of MY plan.

Here's all I know and what I believe with all my heart, and resonates within me... "It's NOT MY plan. and God has been so faithful in ALL things that are involved with this deal, that I'm pretty sure, if that is His will for me, everything will just fall into place for me."

So, here we go.

Let's just see how God handles this.   Every time I get transparent, amazing things happen, so there it is.... I know I won't go far, because I won't leave my mom, but I KNOW I need more space.  We sit on top of each other in this house, and the reality is, I could have 2 more kids if I had more space, and I really, really, wouldn't mind that.

I'm crazy, I know, but I believe that I could do it.

So let's just see what happens.

Pray for me.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Wanting to see a movie?

Hallie and I went to see "Les Miserables" last night, as the Lovelies got to go with EG to a party that Chesapeake threw for siblings in homes not together.  (We don't have BB yet, so they all got to get together for that).

I had been reading posts on FB about this movie.  And my anticipation, has been high.

I went to see Danny Gans in Las Vegas back in the day and he finished his show with two songs from Les Mis, and I was WEEPING in the theatre from just those two songs.

I guess that should have been a good indicator.

I didn't tell Hallie what it was about, and off we went.

I kind of squirmed through the first little bit.  Russell Crowe singing a very high song right off the bat, Hmm.  But Hugh Jackman (I have loved him in EVERYTHING, including old gross sideburns, Wolverine, from the  Xman) was mesmerizing, and drew me in instantly.  I looked over to Hallie, and she mouthed, "What the CRAP?  Why are they singing?", making me realize I had, indeed, forgotten to tell her this was a 100% musical.

I shouldn't have worried, next time I looked over, she was slack jawed, and teared up.  It was ok, because so was I.

There is so much I could say about this masterpiece.

The despair ran through the whole movie, but throughout, was the most incredible sense of hope.  Hope for better lives, hope for better circumstances, it was evident throughout. \

Parent Alert:   I was squirming on one part, with Hallie, there....  (Anne Hathaway's spiral into the streets) that I would have rather her not seen, but the rest was fantastic.

I really did spend the first 5 minutes, squirming.   Reminded me of Pierce Brosnan trying to sing in Mamma Mia, watching Russell Crowe....but I didn't squirm for long.

By the time Russell's character came full circle and he stood, literally at the precipice of his life and despaired over who he was... I was in tears for him.   And when Jean Valjean, cried to God to spare his Cosette's love, before he went into war... I was Total Toast.

Anne Hathaway started me off, early,  with her "I dreamed a Dream", and if she doesn't win an academy award for just that performance alone.....whoa.

The children in the movie were amazing, and if you are wanting to see a Feel Good, leave the theatre whistling and laughing over some of the lines...this isn't the movie for you.

But if you want to see a masterpiece, and stellar performances by some of the greatest actors and singers I've ever seen....you should totally check this out.

But take a box of kleenex, because, you will want and need it. especially if you are a snot cryer, like me.  Just think about crying, and the snot just flows.  Was that too much information?

Hallie summed it up the best as we were leaving,   "Mom, the DUDE was singing "Your debt's been paid" and I'm thinking..."He couldn't have just said that??  He had to sing?  and then I was sucked in.   It was the most stupid movie I've ever seen  but I LOVED IT.  My heart hurts.  It was so stupid.   I was like,  "Why am I crying"?  Mom, it was so stupid  and so good."

So with that review from the 14 year old...
Go see this stupid, fantastic, movie.




Thursday, December 27, 2012

"I think we're famous"

My lovelies were so jazzed out their faces today, when I told them that Channel 9 had contacted me about doing a story on us.

"We FAMOUS?" they proclaimed as they danced around me.  "Well, I THINK so."  I told them.

They just escalated to near mania before the reporter got here.

Then this beautiful woman walked in, (Lovely says, "She so bittiful") with her fun camera man, and Lovely just went into overdrive with charisma.  I'm pretty sure that Lisa Monahan won't be the same.


I know Lovely won't be.  She is still starstruck.

"We know a superstar."    She had her sign one of our grocery list sheets.  (We have the best stuff around here).

It was a fun experience.  I'm a bit of a dork with the gracefulness of a swan (sarcasm) thrown in, so it's always a crap shoot what might come out of my mouth  (see, like that?).

I'm very grateful for excellent editing, perfect lighting, and the game "Go Fish".

I'm also thankful to Brad Gragert, for reading my blog and telling his friend, that works at Channel 9, who wanted me for the morning show and got vetoed for the 6:00 news.   Who Knew?

Of course, I have two million things I wish I would have said.

BUT, the thing I did want to say is that God is faithful, and He rewards those doing His will in their life.  He is amazingly faithful, even in the hardest of circumstances.

And I really, truly am thankful for the editing team, they actually made me sound pretty good.  And wasn't that a nice sweater that Lacey got me for Christmas??

Secret Santa Makes Special Delivery To Norman Foster Mom - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |
(Here's the link for Aunt Nancy, and Aunt Angie, the only two people in the world who don't have facebook).  Love you!~

What Would Life Be Like if Jesus shined through You and Me??





Are you still into GIVING?

I talked with EG this morning (my caseworker, Elastic Girl, for those of you that are new) and she said that they are wanting to create a fun space within the building at DHS for the kids to have bio parent meetings.

I've been to one there,and it's not a great place.  There is plastic furniture and old worn out toys.  Bottom line.

EG (and you know how I love her, and think she rocks harder than anyone I know) thinks that we could take one of the spaces and do a MURAL on the wall, and get some fun kid-sized furniture and NEW TOYS and make that ridiculous space, more appealing to the kids.

Well, I know just the place to ask for these things.

Here.

Anyone want to draw a mural on the wall??  Anyone got TOYS (Good ones, please) that can make their way to this place and kid sized furniture, like bean bags and small chairs that these kids could have a safe fun haven, when having to have a not-so-great day?

Think about it, pray on it, and get in touch with me.  Most of you know how.  Let's do the dang thang.

It's all about giving.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

It's in the "How"

In the joy of the christmas season this year, there has been a lingering sadness in my heart, because precious Ellie Kate passed from this life this past weekend.

Even though I was relieved that she was suffering no more, I was just so heart broken for her precious parents, brothers, grandparents, baby sister, and the league of EK lovers that she left behind.

Today in her obit, she was described as a missionary.  That made me tear up in all kinds of ways.

God just doesn't call grandmas with a computer, he sends angels to earth to teach us all.





I couldn't help but reflect back on our time with Laynie, and how brave and amazing Lacey was during Laynie's life, and especially her last days.  I see the same resilient strength in Ellie Kate's mom, Ryan.

Some of the pictures they have shared have literally brought tears to my eyes because they are so perfect and so, so, so, touching.

This one with her parents just radiates love.  

This picture of her still, quiet chair beside the Christmas tree, taken by her Poppy just about broke my heart into a million pieces.  
And this one, well... just cry along with me.  

These precious gifts.  The missionaries that God sends us to teach us love, humility, faith, patience, perseverance and loss.... these little souls, live only in our midst a short while, but leave footprints that last a lifetime.  

These gifts are never forgotten, and live on in the stories and the love we pass on to others.  How blessed and rewarded we are, to have received these gifts.

Lacey and Laynie on her 7th day... we only thought we would get to keep her a few days...

29 months later.....

How lucky and blessed we were to have those 29 months.  

It really doesn't matter how long...

It just matters HOW.  

And HOW those two little girls lived....
Loved and Cherished,
..
Thank you, God....for our special little missionaries.  




Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas with the Lovelies

To say it's been high excitement for the last couple of days is putting it mildly.  Vietnamese people believe in the Vietnamese New Year, and don't celebrate Christmas (mainly because the majority of them are Buddhist), so my little Christian Vietnamese kiddos were over the moon excited with the tree, the gifts, the music, the stockings, the idea of cookies, and games...and...and.... and....

It's been ridiculously fun.

I'm going to back up to last night though.  You all know I've been a slight maniac in trying to get everyone to make this season about something MORE.   Be generous, surprise someone, blah blah blah.

Well.....  Last night.

We had just gotten back from getting Big Sis, and were running around getting food, and laughing, and, as usual, just being our loud usual selves, when someone knocked on the front door.

I assumed it was Lacey, as I was expecting her at any minute, and though it was weird she knocked first, I really thought it was her, with her arms loaded or something..... so I yelled on the way to the door... "Come on in Lacey, the water's Fine..." or something else ridiculous, and when I opened the door....nobody there.

I stepped out on the porch and looked around....nothing.   I looked down, saw a box, and picked it up and looked around the corner of the house.  I could see taillights and two people just BOOKING it running to the corner.   ??

I thought, "What the crap?"   (Yes, I did) and then   "For.the.love".

I carried it in, thinking COOKIES, woohoo!~  and told my three bonus children..."HEY, kids.... SANTA came early!"   and then I opened the box,  and fell over.

I really did.  It kind of concerned my kids.  I just started crying.  There was money, money, change, folded bills, and money and money.


I handed off my last $20 in my purse to the tired checker at Target yesterday, and I TRULY, didn't know what I was going to do.  

I'm so silly.

The lovelies just went nuts, and what a blessed moment to get to show them the TRUE love of Christ's people.  I got my bible and we read the verses together.  

The first verse :  "And all the believers met together constantly and shared everything they had.  They sold their possessions and shared the proceeds with those in need."

Slap my face and call me Blessed.

2nd verse:


Amazing.  These folks PULLED IT OFF.  I saw the back of retreating people and taillights.  MAN!  HOW INCREDIBLE!

The kids were just over the MOON, and I got to share with them the amazingness of generosity, and how faithful God is, if you just put your trust in Him.   Big Sis said,  "It no mistake that we are here.  God wants us here."  

Keep being generous, keep being faithful Jesus lovers.  Don't let the giving spirit stop after the season.  People need you all year.

I had highlighted Acts verse and wrote in the margins

"God use me for your Will.  I am Yours."

I do believe He heard me and is doing just that.  And NOTHING, I repeat, NOTHING is more satifsying and heart filling than walking in God's will.

The rest of the season has been anti-climatic...the kids LOVED everything, and just yelled and yelled, and now we are playing cards and video games and trying to ride the bike in my 100 sq ft of front room, and the scooter in the kitchen, and we're watching it snow, and it's just magic.

I didn't get to share the amazingness of the giving with the kids when I got the target cards from friends, because that's what bought the presents.  But they got to witness firsthand,  the generosity of our unknown gift bearers.   My friends and even people I don't know who to thank have overwhelmed me to the point of near speechlessness.   (Now that's a first).

Everyone remember to wish Jesus a very Happy birthday, and remember the REASON for the season.  It's all about God and His love.

If my anonymous benefactors are followers of my blog and can hear me, I want to tell you that you taught this family so much in your gift.   You will NEVER know the depth of gratitude for your generosity.  I pray that God blesses you all back a hundredfold.

Jesus is the Reason for the Season.   MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Ultimate Gift.......

I've really been encouraging "Giving" this year.

Then, at my work Christmas party, each employee was given an envelope with $250 cash in the envelope (for a grand total of $47,000) to go and PROJECT Good into the world.

Yesterday, my lovelies had their bio parent visit.  The first visit was such a bust, I've really drug (dragged?) my feet to let them meet again.  Lovely is just blooming and being such a trusting, sweet girl, that I don't want to revert back to the old negativity.  Poor LB had nightmares all night, prior to the visit.

Their caseworker, I'm going to call her Elastic Girl (EG), because she is just so amazing and constantly moves mountains and works miracles, and is 3 places at once at all times, so That is Her New Name.  EG.

EG picked up BB (Baby Brother, at his foster home about 40 minutes east of OKC), and met us at the agreed upon meeting place, and headed over there for the meeting.

Parents never showed.

They called and gave some lame excuse about not knowing how to get there, so EG loaded up the lovelies in the DHS van and headed to them.  I had made Mom a frame with the kids pics in that we took at Thanksgiving, and EG said she cried when she opened it.

I took some good advice from fellow foster moms and had laid out the PLAN for the AFTER visit, to give them something to look forward to, and They knew that BB was coming back to our house with them and EG, and we were going to celebrate birthdays (Lovelies on the 20th, and LB's on the 26th) and give BB his gifts.

It was so much fun.  They are so THANKFUL for ANYTHING!  (Look at that bow!!!) that it is so humbling.

I've been super in tune with God's voice in my head, and EG was on my heart big time a couple of weeks ago, so I dialed her, and she was so down and so out.  I don't think there is a more thankless job in the universe than that of a DHS worker.  You break up families (rightly so, usually), you have to place helpless children in overcrowded shelters, or sometimes even worse, less than stellar homes (if you've ever been to foster home training, you will know EXACTLY what I am talking about) ... you have to be everything to everybody, and do it with a smile on your face.  I know for a fact that EG spent 42 of the first 48 hours of Lovely's first 2 days with us, on the phone or doing something just for US.  She was incredible.  She's a rebel and doesn't like to hear no.  (I dig that A BUNCH about her).  She stubbornly wouldn't let them say NO to us about bringing LB to this house and allowing him to be here with us... she has just been AMAZING.

I have read example after example of people sharing their stories with me about how incredible it felt to unexpectedly do something amazing for someone.  There really is no better feeling.
I am so looking forward to seeing these kids faces tomorrow when they see the bicycles that "santa" (code for: anonymous donor in NY) called in to Toys R Us and had me pick up.

I am so jazzed I don't even have words for the fun that will be tomorrow.  Lovely got a purse in her Foster Wishes, and she won't even take it off.  She has carried it on her shoulder with her pj's on, and sits and watches tv with it on her shoulder.

Over the years, I lost the joy of Christmas.  I was a grinch and a ho-hummer and really wasn't into Christmas.  Then we had the joy of Laynie and I got to see a Christmas tree through her precious eyes and understood the Christmas story for the first time in a personal way.

It's such a miracle.

God sent his son.  And not a full grown warrior, but a tiny baby.  A baby that a VIRGIN bore.  She didn't say, "Oh, Lord, I am so afraid that all my friends will whisper behind my back, and I'm not sure I have TIME for that, and well...it's just NOT what I want to do right now".... She said, "YES, I will do this very special thing, and I won't ask questions, and I will do it, KNOWING I will have to sacrifice him someday""
That right there is cause for pause.  WOW.

I remember when we lost Laynie, and people would say to us, "I just can't even imagine losing my child." and Lacey would say to them, "We signed up for this".  Yes, we knew going in that our little journey with Laynie would be brief and precious.  I felt this pain again yesterday, as a fellow miracle child, gained her heaven wings, and the heart pain I felt for the parents and the grandparents and the whole family, losing their precious girl, right at Christmas, the most joyous time of the year.

And as hard as that was, I remember Lacey making the connection and saying, through tears to me,  "Mom, I get it.... I can't imagine the depth of God's love for us that he sent his OWN SON, to be born of a virgin, to bear the weight of our sins and die on a lonely cross, forsaken by the world he came to save.  HE LOVES us so much, because NOTHING can be harder than losing Laynie, and GOD did it willingly."    Nothing can be harder than losing....(you fill in the blank with your loss)....and GOD sent his SON WILLINGLY.

Whoa.  


I just cannot express enough, what the beauty of sacrifice and obedience and generosity brings. As God gave generously and freely, I hope that you all strive to be more like that..  And not just at Christmas, but year round.

This is one of my all time favorite songs, sung by my all time favorite singer, David Phelps, and just let this song sink into your heart..... and the quick words before he sings.....

Merry Merry Christmas friends.....




Our year in review

I always send a letter with my Christmas Cards.  It's tradition.  For YEARS I've sent letters. 

This year, I didn't.

I feel like I have blogged all year, and everyone that gets a card would just get a DO-OVER of my blogs, so instead, I decided to do it this way.

So MERRY CHRISTMAS 2012....

Hello loved ones....

What.A.Year.  We have rock, rolled and took some names this year. 

In January, we had a blood drive in Midwest City in honor of what would have been Laynie's 4th birthday.   It was fabulous and sad, all mixed together.  We had tears, vomit, fainting, laughter, and lots of blood at this event.  Sounds great HUH?  Oh, it so was....



In February, Lacey and I pinned and tagged 600 donated kids clothes and put them in the JBF sale to help Kip finish her 11 month/11 country donation goal.  We made the $2000 she needed, and again, God showed his faithfulness.  I applied to OU to go back to school, and got admitted.  Should say "committed", because WOW, little did I know.


March was a fun month, because it was time for TEAM HOPE to come together for the 2nd year in a row, and RUN the Wings to Fly 5/15k at Ft Reno.  It was much warmer than last year (Icicle run of 2011), and we had a FANTASTIC turnout of awesome friends to come and run in Laynie's memory....it was OUTSTANDING!!




In April, I decided I wanted to become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for kids in the foster system.  I trained all month.   We also decided this month, that Lacey, Hallie & I were going to go to Haiti and experience one little tiny bit of the experience that Kip was having, on her 11 month/ 11 country mission trip.



So we had garage sales.  And people donated so much stuff that I had to take over Grammie's garage too.  It was intense, and ridiculous, and overwhelming and OH SO much fun.
On the Hallie front, she was chosen to sing in the Arts Festival Idol and just rocked it hard, and we were sooo proud of her...

Hallie's video

In May, I turned 51.  It was no big, as I've been 50 for a year now, and what's another birthday at the point in my life?   I say, just bring it. 

June we left for Haiti, and this video sums it up better than anything else I can say.   It changed us all profoundly, and made us stretch our hearts and be different people in the way we view things. 

our video of Haiti

I had my first colonscopy in July, and that made for interesting blogs.  We were also just weeks away from KIP BEING HOME, and lived in high anticipation of that.  It was during this time, too that I decided I wanted to throw my hat into the foster parenting ring, and took classes and impatiently waited for those kids to start dropping from the sky so I can HELP everyone.  We honored Laynie's day of getting her wings on the 10th of July and had over 70 people post pictures of their purple on her Facebook page.....It was overwhelming, and we felt the love so very much that day.....

KIP IS HOME!!!!

visiting with our favorite family/friends in the world while waiting for Kipster

In August I started back to school, Lacey started in her last year of grad school, Hallie started 8th grade, and Kip worked on re-acclimating to the world she left behind.  I anxiously awaited my fosters, changing my room weekly to accomodate whatever child I thought would be coming to the house, and just enjoyed life. 

Then in September my heart stopped beating for a few days.  The precious ginger that called me Aunt Laura, and  I had just seen a few weeks earlier at Kip's homecoming party, and had won 2nd in his age division at the Team Hope run earlier in the year....tragically drowned over Labor Day.  He was 16.

We will forever miss and treasure our time with Austin.


It forced me to realize how short life is, and how everything you know to be true, can change in an instant.  It made me understand how big God is, and how through even pain, He can be faithful.  So many unanswered questions, and sadness, yet, He gave us peace.  It gives me great comfort to know that Austin is with Laynie in heaven.   I have two precious angels in heaven....and I know I will see them again...



In October, Hallie got recruited for Club Volleyball, and decided to take her 6' frame and take that on.  She's learning more and more everyday.  The coach told us that he hadn't seen raw talent like hers since the Freshman of the Year at OU this past year, had played with them, back at the same age as Hallie.  Does anyone smell a college scholarship in the future??

Such Form.  :)


November dawned, and Lacey is gearing up writing her thesis, anticipating graduating with a masters in May,  working full time at Children's Hospital Foundation, spreading her Laynie Love all over the city, helping other sick kids.  Hallie is doing great things in 8th grade, taking all AP classes (just amazing), and Kip is working with Leukemia/Lymphoma society, working as a campaign assistant.  I'm just through my first class, working in my 2nd, when I get the call to take a foster daughter.  Then a son, and if you haven't read about our journey, just start at November 1 of this blog, the incredible journey we have been on.


As December blooms into 2013...the girls and I anticipate it with much hope and joy.  The blessings of our life, far outweigh the pain, and though the pain is there....there is so much joy along with it, that it lessens it somewhat.  Every day is an adventure, and we stand in wait to see what the Lord has for us.  We value and appreciate your prayers, and love and pray for you all in ours. 

Have a joyful and blessed 2013.



Saturday, December 22, 2012

Simply the best story

I got a bunch of great "Giving Stories" yesterday.  My message box floweth over, as did my heart.

But there was one...

WOW.



First off, isn't she the cutest thing ever???  I've known Keely since she was a kid back in MWC at Midwest City Community Church of the Nazarene.  She was the "older" kid in the youth group with Lacey & Kip.  She babysat Hallie for me back in the day, so that might give you an indicator how old she is.  :)

She messaged me late last night, and it was MAGIC.

I'm just going to copy and paste because it's perfection.

So I NEVER wake up before 10 am. Just not a morning person. But today out of no where I was up and on FB about 830. Odd. Saw your post about paying it forward. I thought I've got a crap ton of stuff today (THIS IS WHY I LOVE HER, BTW, "CRAP TON")   so I'm sure I can find someone, somewhere. Nada. Not a dang person. For whatever reason nothing spoke to me. My fiancĂ©, a pilot, who is out of town on a trip called me a while ago and gave me horrible news about his best friend. So I did what any normal person would do, go to Braums. Totally not thinking about helping anyone. I needed a sundae STAT. Ordered my sundae got up to pay for it and the little old slow lady that was making me want my ice cream more had paid for my ice cream. Of course there was no one behind me either. And I literally only had a $50 in my wallet. What to do??? In a moment of complete insanity I gave my brand new $50 bill to the tired looking woman working at the register and said "Merry Christmas."   She started crying, I wanted to, and slurred through her tears that she was late on her rent and didn't know what to do all she needed was $50. Then I cried. And prayed with her. God is good. Thank you for your challenge.

Well, Can I hear an AMEN?

That.is.what.I'm.talking.about.



Friday, December 21, 2012

God loves a cheerful Giver

The last 4 days have been an eye opener for me.

Last time I was in the funeral industry, I wasn't too impressed with some of the caliber of people.  Seemed the higher up the food chain you went, the lesser amount of integrity.  Sad, but true.

I wasn't happy to go to this YEAR END extravaganza at my parent company.  I wasn't happy to NOT work the last week I could possibly sell something in the year 2012.  I didn't want to leave the lovelies and Hallie.  I didn't want to stress Lacey out by having to have her keep them.  I didn't want to have to drive 5 hours (when I firmly believe it you can't be there in under 3 you better be flying).   When I got there, I didn't have a room booked, my butt was numb, and there was so much dust in the air I was choking.

Pretty pumped.

I've been to Houston, Las Vegas, Chicago, Atlanta, for sales meetings.  They all basically are the same old tired thing.

Even though my manager, Kristen, told me I would LOVE it....I was oh, so very, oh so, skeptical.

Man, I'm a dummy.

Wednesday we had a motivational speaker named John Miller, QBQ guy, for those of you that have ever heard him or read his stuff, he is just phenomenal.  He is huge on accountability and he was just terrific.  I can't sit still for over an hour, and I listened to him almost 3 hours, and never even checked my phone.  That's saying something. That afternoon, we got a new leather portfolio and listened to our CEO tell us about the company.  During his talk with us, I started paying attention.  This CEO, the LEADER of the company, was so real, and genuine, and God-fearing, loving Jesus Freak, he got my attention.   I've only known one or two more managers like that (not owners, either, managers) and ironically, it was one of those managers that got me this gig.   The CEO had sent an email out to the funeral homes asking people to think through their thinking tanks and think of people they might recommend.  My friend, Brent, emailed them back and recommended me.

I am forever, to the bottom of my heart, thankful.

This Jesus Freak, sat there, literally with my mouth hanging open, listening to a fellow Jesus freak quote SCRIPTURE about his vision for this company, and I felt hope.  It just continued to grow and grow throughout the next 24 hours.

But this is where it gets SOOOO good.

Thursday night, at the Christmas program, we had an honest to goodness, preacher from his church come and speak to the crowd of over 200 employees.  We sang Silent Night with our candles we lit together and it was a surreal moment for me.

Then it got better.  Kris stood in front of the group and said he wanted us to be radically generous, and to get us jumpstarted, he was gifting each of $250 cash, in an envelope with our name on it, and all he asked is that we project it out in the world, and blog back to him about the experience.

He told us to pray over the envelope and really think about what to do with it.  It took me less than 5 seconds to know EXACTLY what I would do with mine, and I am, seriously, soooooo excited, I need to pee my pants.  I haven't even had my normal portion of sweet tea today, because I'm pretty sure I could just blow anytime!!!!!

It's that serious.

I'm not going to tell you who I am going to give it to, until after Sunday (That's when it's going down), but I do want to tell you a bit about the enormousness of the SPIRIT of GIVING and how it followed me all over the place today.

I got up early to leave.  I wasn't particularly happy about driving home, but I was pumped to get here and see my kiddos.  I decided to stop by Sonic and get me some sweet tea to have some road caffeine in my system.  I even found myself perturbed at the dude that rushed to get in front of me with his big loud diesel that smelled up my car interior.

I was still feeling surly, when I drove to the window, went to hand my money and the young girl smiled at me and said, "That man that just drove away paid for your order".

Well slap my face and call me Santa.

"WHAT? are you kidding?"    "No, seriously, it's been the coolest thing, some guy started it a couple of hours ago, and it's been going non stop for a while now!"

Well, of course, no one is behind me now.  Not a car in sight.  I look at the smiling girl and some dude behind her smiling like a possum eating doo doo and I tell the girl, "Well, here's you $5, and $5 to give away, to keep the good will going."  She instantly turns, and hands it to Mr. Smily, and you would have thought I had given them a Gold medal.  It's times like these that I was made of money, how cool would it have been to give them both a $20?   Next year, baby, Next year, I'm giving $20's.

So, I, of course, do, what I always do when a rock solid thought or action hits my brain....I facebooked about it.

And I had over 100 "likes".  I urged everyone to "LIVE and GIVE" today, and do something extraordinarily generous.

And 3 hours later, when the Lawton police was whistling because he caught me in his speed zone, and I implored him to find his Santa Claus mentality for this tired, hardworking mom....he totally gave me a warning.  I was going 20 miles over the speed limit.   That could have been really bad!   But, Santa/God/good mojo/generosity won again.

Life is made up of ONE chance.  The mark we choose to leave is up to us.

As for me, I haven't been this excited about a Christmas in YEARS.  The generosity of my friends, making sure I had enough money to buy presents for my kids, coupled with the feeling of joy that is pouring out of every pore of my body these days...

Well, it's pretty much amazing.

The best way to get out of a bad mood is to do something unexpected for someone else.

It will ROCK your socks off.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lacey takes on the Lovelies


Guest Blog: Lacey's Lessons from the Lovelies,  (written by my Lacey)

There was a time period after Laynie died that I swore I'd never want to have kids again. I said that I would never be able to top the perfection that was my first born child. I was afraid not only of opening my heart to love another child but, heaven forbid, the thought of losing another one. Then, Mom tells me that God really placed it on her heart to have some foster kids. "Fine," I thought, "Power to ya. But it's not for me." I think what I really meant was that I was afraid to get too close to another kid that might be taken away from us in a few months. I LOVE kids, don't get me wrong. Love to play with other people's kids at church or lifegroup, love to learn about them at school (it's my whole degree program for crying out loud), but the thought of getting close to another child just paralyzed me for some reason. It's hard to explain, but I built a shield around my heart in an effort to try and keep it from breaking again. Little did I know the plans that God had for my heart which would be revealed to me through two, sweet Vietnamese kiddos.

You've heard the stories of the first few days the kids were at my mom's house, the dance parties, basketball, and fun. God starting chipping away at my hardened heart during those times but nothing like He has this week as I've been the primary caregiver while Mom's away at a work thing.

Words cannot express how precious these kids are. So full of love, and so sweet. They just needed a safe place and safe people to be able to express themselves. It's hard to imagine the cranky, untrustworthy, angry Lovely that Mom first met a couple months ago. She is so full of life! and personality! and happiness! My lifegroup friends gave her an iPod for Christmas (you remember Mom's blog...she cried, I cried, we all cried...priceless reaction!), last night Hallie and I put music on it for her. We went through our iTunes playlists to see which songs she might like. EVERY song, "Ooooohhh, this my favorite!" "Oooohhhh, I LOVE this SONG!" Dance party in Lolly's bedroom. We couldn't figure out how to get Hallie's songs (you know, the fun ones all the tweens/teens love) switched over and finally gave up. Much to our surprise, an hour or so later Hallie carried Lovely's iPod in and handed it to her with over 100 songs on it! Little genius figured out how to transfer them! Lovely was so excited she hugged her and said, "You so awesome. You great gurl." Then leaned over and gave me a kiss on the cheek. She put her face in her pillow and kept saying, "I can't believe it. Just can't believe it." I continue to be humbled by these kids. I have taken so many things for granted in my life. They don't take ONE.SINGLE.THING. for granted. It's so precious. And I am SO PROUD of my baby sister. She is learning what it means to be selfless and to love like Jesus does and I could not be more proud of the woman she is becoming.

I want to brag on LB a little bit. Oh, boy, oh boy, oh boy. I know NOTHING about little boys. How they function, what makes them tick, why they choose to ram their heads against the mirror and climb the walls in the hallway (true story). But I do know that this little guy has knocked a big chunk of the shield away from my heart. He is awesome. Last night he told me, "You the best girl in all the earf." He comes up and hugs you out of nowhere. Getting ready in the morning, he comes in for a hug, give him some breakfast, he comes in for a hug, pass him in the hallway, hug. And always asks, "Still friends? Best friends?" I'm not sure why he needs constant reassurance that I will always be his friend, but I go ahead and tell him every time. Now I answer, "Yes. Best friends. My answer is always yes. For ever and ever and ever." We switched the Taylor Swift song up a bit. Instead of "never ever ever [getting back together]", we sing, "best friends for ever ever ever. Like EVER." He loves it.

Last night I told him it was time for him to go take a bath. No argument, he grabbed his jammies and headed to the bathroom. When he came later, smelling yummy and looking so adorable in his Incredibles pjs, he had a little smirk on his face. I asked him what the face was about and he said, "Toilet not flush. Had poo in it or something. I grab the thing [plunger], do this, [acts out the plunging motion], it go down but it splash a little and I got poo on my hand! It gone now though cuz I clean." Bahahahahaha...crazy kid didn't even ask me for help! He plunged the dang, nasty toilet all on his own (not that I'm arguing, but I'm uber impressed!) This is just the kind of kid he is. He's a hardworker. Always offers to carry my bags, help bring in groceries, make my cereal, help with dishes. I don't think this is common for 8 year old boys, he is a gem. When we said our good night prayers he said, "God bless Lacey, Hallie, my mom and dad, Lolly, my sister, my brother. We all the best."

This morning I was trying to fix my hair, all of us in Lolly's bathroom (I finally understand what mom's mean when they say they get no time to themselves for anything...someone is ALWAYS by your side), and LB says, "C'mon guys. We gotta get dressed, eat breakfast, let's blaze." If you know my mom at all, you know one of her favorite sayings is "Let's blaze." It made me smile to hear him say this. Lolly's boy!

Today is Lovely's 12th birthday, so Hallie and I wanted to do something special for her. After the kids went to bed last night, we made birthday signs for her and got up early this morning to hang them around the house. Lovely was impressed. "This so nice." She must of hugged us after seeing each sign and then a few more times after that. What a precious girl she is. We have plans tonight after volleyball practice to have a dance party with her new music and she is pretty excited about it! (I am too, not gonna lie!) LB says we get to stay up late "cuz no school tomorrow!" By late, I hope he means 10pm cause I don't think I can make it much after that!







The past few days have been exhausting, but very rewarding. I forgot what it was like to have a kid, I'm pretty tired. You sleep, but you never seem to fall into a deep sleep. One, because there are a zillion night lights and noise machines running. Two, because you have Mom ears that hear every.little.thing. that happens through the night including when they turn over in bed. You can't use the bathroom without someone standing at the door asking if you are almost finished. You have to kick them out of the room to get dressed in the morning, pry them off of you when you're trying to gather your stuff to get out the door, and don't count on ever watching a Thunder game because inevitably there's homework, or Beyblades, or volleyball, or some random, annoying Disney show on the TV already.

But on the flip side, there is unconditional love like you've never experienced. Hugs that come straight from the heart. Smiles that are so sincere they can turn a bad day into a bright one. I feel the love and power of Jesus so much when I am with these kids. They remind me that everything we have is precious. My health, my home, my job, my family. Nothing is promised in this world. I must make an effort to to be thankful every single day, and for every single thing that happens to me (no matter if it's good, bad, sad, or ugly) because you never know when it could all be over. These sweet kiddos are teaching me to open my heart and not be so afraid of getting hurt that I don't allow myself to love again. They have been through so much, yet they love with all they have if given the opportunity. Lovely said this morning, "You so bootiful. You not get husband yet, ok? I need meet him first make sure he okay. Else I throw him back in trash can." Well, thank you darlin'. It's nice to know I have a 12 year old body guard to protect me! Haven't chipped away all of the shield on my heart yet, but each day I spend with these kids helps me just a little bit more. Thank you Lord for reminding me of your goodness and faithfulness, and thank you for the lessons I receive from these kids.



Thank you Mom, for following your heart and answering God's call for your life. You are making a huge impact in these kid's lives and I am SO PROUD OF YOU. You make being a single mom look so easy and I've got to experience it first hand this week. IT'S NOT EASY! Thank you for always being here for us, for being our biggest cheerleader in life, and for opening up your home to give these kids a chance. You are the real deal and I am so thankful for you.<3

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas and Tear Drops

The beautiful thing about having an oldest child that works with Children's Hospital Foundation, is that I get to meet and be acquainted with some of the neatest kids and their parents. 

They all have special stories, they all are miracles, and they all touch your heart.

One in particular, that I haven't met, has kept me intrigued and amazed for awhile now.



 
Ellie Kate has a rare disorder called NKH (even if I spell it out you won't know what it is, it is so rare).  EK wasn't given much hope at birth.  Her mom and dad are FAITHFUL Christ followers and knew that every day with this little girl was a gift  (Sound familiar?)  They knew she was terminal, but were determined to give her the very best life I child could have. 
 
I've heard Lacey's stories, we have many mutual friends, but I've never met her mom, Ryan.  She is just beautiful, (Inside as well as out) and has tirelessly fought the good fight to be in a "Normal" life.  Come to find out she is a "Tully" and I love me some Tullys.  My brother went to school with her uncle Kevin (they actually played a guitar duet in the 7th grade talent show), and her aunt Jamie was one of my besties for many years.   So I feel a connection with this lady I've never met, but love through association. 
 
And as I read her carefully crafted words about going home on hospice, and the gut-wrenching decisions they are having to make as a family, my heart breaks and mourns for her. 
 
I remember the Christmas of the insane blizzard and how Lacey and I were "Trapped" in the hospital with a very ill Laynie. 
 
It was the first time we acknowledged that we were facing the finish line with her.  God granted us 7 more precious months after that visit, but we had to come to grips with the fact that after being blessed 22 months with her, that her life on earth was drawing to a close. 
 
I want to tell Ryan that God will hold them in a special close way, and that every single second left with their angel will be joyful.  I want to tell her that the laughter she has will be through tears and in hindsight, it's a miraculous gift.  Embrace the laughter, it is God's present to you.
 
I want to let her know how her precious daughter touched us, and what an impact and difference she made.  She was a rare angel on earth, and everyone that knew her, loved her.  Even people that never got the priviledge of meeting her, loved her.... me being one of them. 
 
What an honor it was, to read your brave words about your angel, and your willingness to share her with us, and let us love such a gift with you.
 
I stand with you, in your words that God could heal her tomorrow for more months/years with you, or she could have the total healing and run and run and run with Laynie. 
 
Either way, know that you are loved and prayed for and cherished by so many.
 
Friends, pray for this beautiful family.  Pray for the brothers, the mom and dad, the baby sister, the grandparents, aunts and uncles, and thousands that stand in the gap for them, while they march tirelessly on.
 
 

 
 

http://www.carepages.com/carepages/EllieKate       Here is the link to follow Ellie Kate's carepage

Monday, December 17, 2012

Baby steps

Met with the counseling service today, that will place the lovelies with their specific counselor.  The kids were acting a bit skittish, so she asked me to sit in with them.

What transpired in that hour, continues to show me that God is forever and always faithful.

As the counselor asked them about their hopes for the future, they both said,  "We are good to stay here, until our mom and dad get better."

THAT IS HUGE.

This from the angry girl that couldn't WAIT TO GET away from the MANSION.

Most of the time I think everything I'm saying is just going into thin air, but boy, did she surprise me today.

"What makes you happy?" asked to my Lovely.

:"Well.....(she draws it out as she ponders)..... I think I need to do a good job in school and be a good girl and learn lots of things so I can help other people, too".

Well, slap my face and call me Rudolph.

The counselor continued, "What about when you go home, would you be happy?"...to which my dancing queen answered, "My mom needs to learn to take care of herself, that not my job, I be happy all by myself  And I'm pretty sure Lolly will let us stay here."

Well praise be to the highest heavens, one of the tweens in the house actually heard me talking.

Sigh.

It's absolutely amazing the change and the difference in my lovely.  The angry, defiant, looking for all the worst in the people, now smiles and tries to please. She still has zero filter, and pretty much anything in the brain comes out her mouth, but then again, she's kind of like me in that regard.   I'm hoping that whatever happens going forward, is that they stay with me long enough, to instill enough coping/life skills in their little minds that can sustain them through anything life throws at them.

And He is so amazingly faithful that I believe that is EXACTLY what is going to happen.




Sunday, December 16, 2012

Favor

Favor has rained down on this family without stopping for several days now.

It has reduced me to tears so many times I can't even begin to count.

I want to start first back a couple of weeks ago.  You all know Hallie is in club volleyball and it costs about the price of a mortgage for her to be in it.

We sent out contribution letters and I'm happy to say we got enough to help support her through two months.  It's so great.... Thanks to Aunt Nancy, Nina & Ron, Barbara, Clara, and Holley & Gale for helping me out with that.   It just started the giving cycle in unbelievable ways.

I really hope I don't forget anyone.  I want to publicly thank these people.....

Ashlee Terry
Shelley Anderson Terry
Sheree Cordray
Laura White Cuellar
Ashley & John Willeford
Rick & Teresa Favors
Beverly Cope and her awesome children Amanda Blackwood, Liz Bowman and Josh Cope
Shelley & Kelsey Wall
Dinae Ferguson
Mary Zuech
Lanie Badger
Janice Giordano
Eileen Carrol
Darlene Berkovsky

I'm here to tell you... those people I listed, made me cry over and over this week.  We are so blessed, and in favor, I can't even begin to tell you.   I have almost hyperventilated at times, looking at the wonderful things you have blessed this family with.

Tonight, Lacey's lifegroup came over and we had a surprise Christmas gathering for the youngsters.  It was ....well.....I'm still speechless...

Abbey & Roger Bombach, Matt & Jessica Fay, Kayla and Josh Brannon and Kellie & Austin Greenhaw, rained so much love and awesome gifts on these kids.

I think there wasn't one person in the room not touched when Lovely opened her Ipod.  She has asked and asked and ASKED me about one, and I knew there was no way in the world of america,  I would be able to pull that off, and Abbey and Roger had an extra one, so they passed it down to Lovely.  She fell in the floor screaming  (reminiscent of the twilight calendar the other night) and just was so overwhelmed, she started to cry.  Which started me to crying, and then pretty much everyone else in the room.  It was so REAL, so completely sincere, and so very very precious.

Friends, this is what CHRISTMAS is about.  The true, REAL response of excitement and joy on the faces of precious little ones that have never experienced anything like it in the world.  Big Sis was totally included and got a new coat, and she couldn't even express herself eloquently she was so overwhelmed (I feel so RICH).  LB got some Beyblades (Which I think all the guys liked waaaayyyyy too much) and this hot wheels track that is now hanging on the wall in a bedroom, I believe, and there was joy and singing and laughing and food and excitement and KIDS and noise and most of all, there was LOVE.

These kids felt LOVE in a way, I do believe, they have never felt before.

LB can't get close enough to me this evening, and he and Lovely keep telling me over and over....."I just can't believe it."

Neither can I, Kids,  Neither can I.

Big sis summed it up perfectly...  "There is so much love in this house, it fill everyone's heart.  You have good friends".

I do.  I really, truly do.   Even though Shelley Wall totally told her I only had four at church today and she believed her.  "You only have 4 friend?"

Yeah, and are they magnificent.

Merry Christmas.  I wish I could share pictures because I can't explain what I witnessed today.

I just got my good night text from big sis and it said  "Good night, mama.  I sure love you all".

I sure love you too, Kiddo.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Faith

Today on the way to school, Lovely and I had a good talk about Faith.  It was a bit surreal, because I had just read an entire book in the bible last night, all about Faith.

I always go into the Bible, with a question in my heart, and direction as the goal and wow, did last night shake me.

God's been directing me on something for a couple of days.  I'm still not ready to talk about it, because I'm trying to think on it, and understand the depth of what He is asking me.

I had Lovely's first IEP meeting today with all her teachers, and they were very complimentary of her.  The counselor still says she can't believe it, but I have to tell you, the kids have come a LONG way.

I cannot say ENOUGH, how overwhelmed I am at the level of compassion, you, my friends, have showered on this family this holiday season.  I could go on and on about stories of your fantastic-ness.  Yes, I make up words.  And there aren't enough words huge enough for the fullness of my heart.

Today, a senseless tragedy occurred in Connecticut.  It is beyond my comprehension how someone so unhinged would walk into a roomful of babies, and unload a gun on them, and his mother.  Before I started foster care, I wouldn't have been able to wrap my head around such evil.   Unfortunately, I've heard things and seen things that turn my stomach first hand, and am so much aware of the evils of this world.

I saw such unreal posts on Facebook today.

"How could God have allowed this violence".   "Where was God in all of this tragedy"

It still saddens me that some people out there think that God is the Good Ship Lollipop.  Evil is powerful, and the enemy's only goal in life is to make people screw up and do horrible, evil things.

Nothing about today was God.  The only part of this that is God, is the healing prayers being poured over this community.  I know it's going to be, beyond impossible for these parents to deal with this loss.  I'm overwhelmed by it, and I'm not even involved.

Tonight, as watched my kids gleefully open a sackful of goodies from a precious friend...full of cheetos, warm fuzzy blankets to wrap up in, and a Twilight calendar that had Lovely climbing ON THE CEILING, my heart was full and thankful.  I'm appreciating Christmas this year in a whole new light.  These kids don't even think a present will be for them, and find joy in EVERY single thing they are given.  It's very humbling, and healing, to have such Joy abundant in my home.

This morning Lovely informed me that some boy we saw walking by, was scared of birds.  I was like, "Birds??", and she said, "Yeah, you know, the kind that fly"  (as opposed to the ones that don't? I thought to myself), and when I said, "Well, everyone has weird crap they are scared of"...she thought on that a minute this morning and said,  "Not if they have Faif (faith), Laura, not if they have faif".

Tonight, as my heart breaks for Connecticut, I'm praying they all find and lean on their "faif".  It's worked for a lost little girl, I'm praying it works for them.

I can never say it enough.   God is Good, All the time.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My "Chazown"

For all you fellow Lifechurchers, you are totally going to get this blog.  For those of you not with Lifechurch, a) I'll try to make it understandable, and b) for the love of PETE, get to a lifechurch!

There is a book written by my pastor called, "Chazown".  It's a book designed to help you find and refine your spiritual gifts.  Now looking at it, you will want to say "Chaz" (like Cher Bono's daughter/son) and Own, like you "own" something.  

That would be wrong.   It's a CAW (sort of like those awful birds) and Zone....well, Like Zone.  CAW- ZONE.   Except with CAW, put a little spit in it and gargle it out when you are saying it.  CHAZOWN.   (You can do this)

I worked through the steps when it first came out, and I didn't get it.

I led my lifegroup through it about a year ago, and I still didn't get it.

It showed my gifts to be a) Hospitality, and b) Writing.

Well, the writing was a given.. I got that....I'd been writing about Laynie, so that made sense to me, but the Hospitality???

Should I give more Pampered Chef parties?   Start a bunco group?  Be a red-hatter...oh I'm sorry a Pink hatter??

I just didn't get it.  So, in all things that stump me, I  just set that aside in my mind, and kind of forgot about it.

Until this weekend, when they are encouraging the lifegroups to do the "Chazown Experience" and see what your gifts are....

Which got me to thinking....

Now what about that hospitality and writing thing????

And then,  DUH....Hello.   Anyone home??????

I do believe that I am running the best bed and breakfast in Norman right now, and cannot wait to get to my computer to write about it each and every day.

And in doing so, I have people writing on my wall, if I should miss a day,  "Uhm, hello, where's my daily dose?"   (You know who you are)....

In living my CHAZOWN  (God's plan for me, using the GIFTS that I have), I am reaching people.  Through my wild and crazy experiences, I am sharing God and His love for ALL of us, to well....US.

And I just wrote a blog about how blessed and incredible and how my life just doesn't make sense???

It's because, (and OH IT"S SO SIMPLE IT"S RIDICULOUS)...when you are living God's will and plan for your life....(wait for it)....  You Cannot Fail.

I'm smiling at the screen typing that, because it's so true.

Superman, move over.   I want a cape with a big ole "C" on it, because I'm living my CHAZOWN, and there is NOTHING, I repeat, NOTHING, more satisfying.





You can't Out give God

In the last Twilight movie, currently in theatres (YES, I'm a Twerd, you know Twilight + Nerd = Twerd), my vampire family, The Cullens, are falsely accused of breaking the law, and the vampire "police" (if you will) are coming to destroy them.  They rush to all their friends, and have them come over, to "witness" to the "police" when they get there, that all is well, and they haven't broken a law.

Ok, maybe that wasn't the best example to use for this blog, but I've been dying to talk about the Twilight movie (Team Cullen), so there you have it.

I have been taught from the cradle that you tithe at church.  You give the "Best" and let God "Bless the Rest".  I've pretty much tithed my entire life. And until recently, I haven't "Gotten it".  You just give your 10% and press on.

And though I'm a huge proponent of it, I haven't been giving faithfully like I should this last month.

I've been too anxious about my situation, and, "worried" that I would run short.

What an idiot.

Here's what I am here to be a WITNESS to (This is why i had the bad example up top)... You cannot OUT GIVE God.

I have not understood that to the full extent.  This whole world is about money.  It's about how nice of a car you drive.  It's about how nice of a house you have.  It's about how good you are dressed and how your kids are dressed.  So that requires money.  And when you start to dwell on money and the need for money and the desire for money.....it takes you away from what is important, and that is doing God's will for you.

And my witness is this.... God still blessed me, even though I wasn't giving my "dollars", I was giving my time, my home, my worn out mind, to something outside of myself.

At work, my funeral home owner, Chad, encouraged us all to be generous.  "Do something outside of your normal this week", he told us.  He is a very generous soul, and shows it abundantly in all he does.

It's like generosity flows into so much more than just money.  I don't have ANY money right now.  On paper, (and in my bank account) it just doesn't make sense.  When I sit down with my bills and write them out, and projecting forward, it just doesn't make sense....but what I've done, is quit worrying about it.  Because God is faithful.

It's not about "Oh, crap, I made $1425 on this paycheck, so I must tithe $142.50, that leaves me $1200 to PAY MY BILLS.  It should never be like that.  Generosity comes from the heart, not from the duty.  God made me able to work, and all he asks is to show FAITH in Him, and be obedient.  That act of writing a check isn't a burden, it's a privilege.  It's my way of saying, "God, you got this, and I trust in you."


My witness is this.... ..  It's time to change things up.  Be generous.  Live outside of your comfort zone, and show God that you trust Him with EVERYTHING.   Money will come and go, but God is always there.

Just trust Him.

Your world will change. 


Monday, December 10, 2012

Your love

I may have not made the best call in changing to a commission job at the holidays.

I've been slightly stressing over finances, and it's just ridiculous.

Because God, ALWAYS comes through.

First, several people have stepped up to the plate to help me with the lovelies Christmas.  Lacey's lifegroup and then, yesterday, one of my friends, and I won't say who, because she would be so ticked at me, text me and told me that I had been on her heart and she was buying christmas gifts for my kids.  Then another couple I love and adore messaged me and told me they wanted to get us a giftcard, followed shortly by a message from yet another friend, saying, "I want to help you with your Christmas".

OVERWHELMING.

I literally have cried at the drop of a hat today.

Because yesterday morning in prayer, I just said, "I submit, God, and I trust you and I refuse to worry".

And then the text's started.

I called Lacey this morning, and just sobbed.  It's so overwhelmingly clear, that I am following God's will for me.

Sometimes I wonder what in the crap of america I am doing.  My house is a mess, my pantry is empty, I run out of toilet paper every two days or so, and I can not keep up with the amount of laundry loads that I wash in a day,

Yet, I am strangely at peace.

And, when my friends start stepping up to help me out, and every worry is swept away,

I just have to cry because God is so faithful.

No one will ever be able to convince me otherwise.  No matter WHAT is happening in your life, if you just submit to Him, and get REAL, and get FAITHFUL in your prayer life, and Just trust Him to lead you, and open the BIBLE and let Him speak into you.....

You can do absolutely ANYTHING.

And when you least expect it, your friends step up and save you.

Don't think you can't be generous.  People you might not even believe need help, Need it.  Be GENEROUS this Christmas.  (and I don't mean to me)

I mean...BE CRAZY this week. And if you don't think God speaks to you, just get a piece of paper out (I'm stealing from Craig's service yesterday), and just sit there and make a list of people you want to pray for... and if you are clueless who that is....just sit with the pencil and the names will occur to you, and just pray for them.  And then text them and tell them that you just prayed for them, and I promise....you will get a return text of them saying "I needed prayers today, how did you know?"

Just trust God.

He is all you need, because when you are faithful to Him, He is more than Faithful to you.

I love you friends.  You overwhelm me with your love.

Kleenex Round Two

I was laying in bed last night, and I clicked on my phone to read through my Facebook, and a "New Post from Lacey Payne" popped up.

I don't ever tell you enough how proud I am of this young lady.  She keeps me moving forward, she encourages me daily, she is my hero, she is my constant source of strength.  I have amazing daughters, and my oldest daughter just really is amazing.

I went to the Norman Kiwanis meeting, and introduced myself and told them I was Lacey's mom (she handles all the Kiwanis clubs at her job) and they all freaked out!  Remembered her story (been over a year), knew Laynie, the whole nine yards.

This girl is awesome, and her story.....well.....read and see her heart for yourself.


Hey friends. Laynie's Mama here. I'm sorry that Lolly and I haven't posted on this page much lately. My apologies. God has really been speaking to me the last few weeks and tonight I have an overwhelming conviction that it's time to share my heart with you.  Sorry this is kinda long, but it's been brewing in me for awhile now! :)

Throughout our journey with Laynie, Lolly has generally been the one to keep you all informed. Writing comes so naturally for her and she describes things so wonderfully that I usually leave the writing up to her.  I'm better at writing a journal for myself to process through my feelings because being vulnerable on Facebook has always been hard for me.  But God is telling me that some of you need to hear my heart this time, so here it goes...

Have you ever heard the song, "Never Once" by Matt Redman? We sang it during worship at church a few weeks ago and I absolutely love it! Here are some of the lyrics:

Standing on this mountaintop,
looking just how far we've come,
knowing that for every step,
You were with us.

Kneeling on this battleground,
seeing just how much you've done,
knowing every victory,
was Your power in us.

Scars and struggles on the way,
but with joy our hearts can say,
yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone.
Never once did you leave us on our own.
You are faithful, God, You are faithful.
....
Scars and struggles on the way,
but with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone.
Carried by Your constant grace,
held within Your perfect peace.
Never once, no, we never walk alone.

Every step we are breathing in Your grace.
Evermore we'll be breathing out Your praise.
You are faithful, God, You are faithful.
You are faithful, God, You are faithful.

Oh how I love these lyrics! The picture it paints of being on the battleground with the Lord, after the fight (whatever fight that may be), and seeing that through it all, God was faithful and never left our side.  We may have battle wounds...broken hearts from death or divorce, physical scars from accidents, surgeries, or treatments...but we can come through the battle with peace and assurance that through anything in life, God never left our side.  "But with JOY our hearts can say, NEVER ONCE did we ever walk alone."

This promise has guided me through the last five years of my life. No matter what happens to me, God will be there to help me through it.  A constant sense of comfort and peace in a very inconsistent and changing world.  What a blessing this promise is to all of us!

"And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

I think this verse is often quoted to people who are suffering or by those suffering people in an effort to find comfort through the pain. (I'm guilty of quoting this as well). But I think we must pay close attention to the end of the verse, "of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." In order to see the good in ALL things, we have to realize that God is in charge and is there to help us through whatever bad situation has been handed to us. No matter how painful, crappy, ugly, or messy the situation is, God will never leave us and is there to comfort us if we just accept Him and let Him love us.

I'm sure many of you know this by now, but Laynie's daddy and I are no longer together. I won't dive into too many details but I want you to know that we are still friends and I am so grateful that God chose him to be my angel's daddy.  People often ask me how I can handle losing him after I've already lost Laynie and I always reply the same way..."My strength comes from the Lord." It's the absolute truth. If I tried to live my life on my own, I think I'd be a crying mess that has trouble getting out of bed every morning.

The truth is, because of all the pain I've endured over the last five years, God has been able to work in my heart and change me for the better. I've learned what it means to submit to the Lord.  That word, submit, seems kinda scary, like we will be giving up control or something. Here's the deal though, friends, we have to remember that we don't have control anyway! We just think we do!

Submission instead, means acceptance of what could happen to you and realization that God CAN and WILL carry you through it if you let Him.  God's peace is so real and so overwhelming, sometimes I wish I could take people's shoulders and shake them and help them realize that the worry, agony, pain, anger of this world and our worldly circumstances can all be GONE if we ask the Lord to help us and we seek Him daily.  Peace comes from him as you spend time in the Word or in prayer.  Submitting to the Lord's will in your life isn't hard when you spend time with Him and accept His love and mercy. He never leaves us, just as the song says. He is right there, always, with us.  We just don't always spend time with Him or open our hearts to Him to recognize it. When we do, we can realize like Romans 8:28 says, "in ALL things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

So how do we do the next part? "Live according to His purpose" That's what Philippians 2:13 helps us understand..."For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose."  By spending time with the Lord, that sense of acceptance and submission surfaces. When our hearts are open to the Lord, He will lead us and give us the strength and direction He wants for our lives.  Our job is to listen and to follow through with our convictions.  God can use our stories of pain, and trial, and anger, and hurt, to help others in similar situations begin to feel His love and to understand His peace and strength.  But only if we are willing to be vulnerable and let Him work through us, through our pain and hurt.

So there you have it. In practicing what I preach, I've bared my heart to all 4000 of Laynie's Facebook fans because God told me it was time.  Whatever situation you are facing tonight, please know that you are NOT ALONE. God will never leave you or forsake you. He has been with you during the entire situation and can give you comfort beyond understanding if you open your heart to Him. All you have to do is talk to Him. Read His Word. Listen to Christian music. He will speak to you and give you peace if you seek Him. He will. Trust me. I've been there.

Thank you for loving our baby. Thank you for your continued prayers.

God is good. ALL the time.
Lacey


Be blessed, I know I am..........  Lolly