Living the Dream

Living the Dream

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas CELEBRATION

I woke up WAY before everyone this morning.  My lovelies aren't used to Christmas excitement, so they weren't waking up.

I grabbed my cell phone to see what time it was, and I had a missed message.   WHAT? 

It was from Brandon, and it had happened 11:37pm my time  (A bit past this ole gal's bedtime) and said,  "Look what I am surprising Kip with tomorrow"...


INSTANT TEARS!!!!!  Well, I was awake at 6:30.   That's 4:30 AM in Calif.  Did that stop me from texting him right back??  Heck, no it did not.   Plus, I immediately text Lacey (next door at Gram's) and Hallie (in the next room).  Hallie came running in my room and jumped up and down and said, "Why the heck is no one awake in this house? DON"T THEY KNOW IT"S CHRISTMAS???"

A few minutes later, Gram,Lacey & Tyler made their way over, and I ended up waking up the kids.  They sleep stumbled into the front room and BB immediately saw the monkeys!  "TWO MONKEYS" he screamed.  He could have not gotten one other thing and he would have been a happy camper.   But the presents!     So many wonderful presents from friends, I can't even begin to tell you.  Lovely got some amazing clothes (THAT FIT PERFECTLY) and LB got roller blades and a robe from Grammie and he was one happy cat.

But all of that was overshadowed by our need to hear from Kip.  8:30 am, and our phones ring on facetime, It's Kip calling in to talk to us from her apartment!!!  I said, "NO ONE SAYS A WORD" and we talk to her about 5 minutes, and then I'm like, "I NEED TO SEE BRANDON AND  BRIELLE, you need to get over there." (Best I could do to not ruin it)... so she bids us adieu, and 30 minutes later, we get this text....

And the Okies went NUTS.   We immediately called her, and this is how we looked the next 20 minutes...







And then I had to keep it quiet for 4 hours until they got to Brandon's parents to tell them.  Hardest 4 hours of my life.  You know how I am with any secret.  That's probably why Brandon text me whilst I sleep. 


Looks good, huh?  Best thing about it though, is the guy we are going to get to call "Family" that goes with it.  

So proud of them.  They are just a precious couple, and in pure "Kip" fashion, when she saw the sign Brandon had made for Brielle to stand by, "Will you marry my dad"  she thought he meant his dad.  Shaking my head, and laughing STILL at that one.  That's my Kipster.  


 


Man oh man, I'm going to have me some beautiful grandbabies.  No pressure though. 

Two beautiful son in laws.  How blessed am I?


Blessed beyond measure.  That's us. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Hello 3 am

I woke up at 3:00 last night.   That always makes me pretty happy.  (where is the sarcasm font?)

I started worrying.  You know what I'm talking about.  That 3 am voice of doubt starts in and it's a loud mouth heckler, just wanting to rob your joy.

I said, "Satan, get behind thee."

Instead of worrying about my dog (who is really old and having a battle with her arthritis right now), I got up and went in to her, laid on the floor by her (for those of you that know me well, I have moved her bed out of the laundry room and into the front room, so NO, I wasn't laying by the washing machine), and I petted her sweet little gray face and told her how much I loved her, and that she has been a most excellent dog and how much we all loved her (even Lacey).  She's just a bit delirious (on her pain meds and still in so much pain) and I have a feeling I won't have her much longer.  She's been such a fantastic companion for my family, providing fun, energy and loyalty that I cannot even begin to write in this blog.  I'm not much of a dog person, but I'm an Arlie person, but this story will be for another day.

I went back to bed, and tried to go to sleep, but then Hallie was put on my heart.  She is off to New York City this next weekend through New Years Eve with her sisters on her dad's side, Chaurley and Sammi.  I know she is going to be fine and dandy, but she is my baby, so I'm allowed to worry.

I thought about what they had said at our meeting last week, and I put some worry into action.  I turned on my light and got my bible and randomly opened to a verse.  Matthew 7 was laid on my heart.

"Keep on asking and you will be given what you ask for.  Keep on looking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened.  For everyone that asks, receives.  Everyone who seeks, Finds.  And the door is opened to everyone who knocks."....  "If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him." 

Well, He had me at Sinful People, cause that's me.  And since it's Christmas and all and the "GOOD GIFTS" got me too.

You cannot believe the amount of wonderful presents that have been bestowed on the lovelies.  It's been amazingly overwhelmingly terrifical.  They are going to flip outside of their bodies on Christmas morning.  And here's the deal, one present would have been good enough for them.  In fact, if they had gotten nothing, and I had got up and made them pancakes and eggs, they would have been satisfied.  Especially if I had sat down and played the card game "Koolaid" with them for a couple of hours.

I take that "Good gifts" as quality time.  If you sinful people know how to gift quality time to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give quality time to those who ask him.
Our kids are gifted with every device, game, sporting equipment, high dollar clothing and chi straightener known to Walmart.  But, just like Arlie in the wee hours of the morning, all they want is you to lay beside them and tell them how brilliant and special they are.  I am guilty of this.   So very guilty.  I always have provided for my kids, but not stopped and hugged them and told them how amazing I think they all are.  My kids turned out brilliant, in spite of their sinful ole mom. 

So this Christmas, I'm going to slow down and not worry if the meal is perfect, or if I gave too many presents to one kid over another, I'm going to love and appreciate my family.  And play some Kool-aid, and share the story of the baby born in a manger to my lovelies, so they will always understand the real meaning of Christmas. 

Because the "Good Gifts" that the Heavenly father gives back to you, is the peace that floods your soul and the joy you have facing each day.  Worry won't rob me today, the only thing on my mind will be God's presence and peace.  All because I woke up at 3 am, and let God comfort me.  Try that next time you find yourself awake and worrying.  That's my Christmas gift to you, given to me by the very reason for Christmas.  

Love and Merry Christmas Eve.  I would love to invite everyone to a Lifechurch tonight at 5 or 6:30 for our Christmas Eve services.  It will be the perfect evening, I promise. 


Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Merry Christmas (our year in review & pics)


CHRISTMAS 2013
WHAT A YEAR!  WHAT A YEAR!   WHAT A YEAR!  WHAT A YEAR!  WHAT A YEAR!  WHAT A YEAR!

January….. Celebrated Laynie’s birthday with our yearly memorial blood drive.  Lots of friends and family turned out to celebrate this monumental day with us…. I started my first full month at work back selling funerals.  Love love love my JOB. Lovely got baptized this month.

February…. We drove over 4 states, watching Hallie play club volleyball, and learned what a competitive sport looks like.  She was growing like a weed, and was about 5’10 at the beginning of the season.  Hallie also participated in her singing contest at school and made a superior rating.  She’s a singing volleyball queen.  


March…. Had our Team HOPE participate in the Wings to Fly run in El Reno, and it was so bittersweet, missing sweet Austin (who had competed in all of them with us before), and also, our last weekend before Kip moved to California to be closer to her love, Brandon.  At least he lives in Redding, where our beloved Aunt Nancy and Uncle Lavonne live, so she is close to family, and what an adventure she and Lacey had, driving out to California, to take her to her new home. 


  

April….After prayer and consideration, I took in my foster kids’ 3 year old brother, BB.     And then there were 5 (in the 1200 sq ft house).    Hallie performed for the 2nd year in the Arts Festival Idol competition.  



May….Lacey GRADUATED with her Master’s degree.  Incredible thesis written, honors awarded, what an achievement.  My kid’s done growed up good.  And Learnt, too.   Hallie started playing Beach VOLLEYBALL, and had me driving 1 hour each way, every day, so she would practice 5 hours a day.  That’s a driven, dedicated kid.  And an exhausted, road weary mama.  Worst Tornado hit Moore, affected us all.  




June….. Grammie and Lacey flew out to Redding to go visit the Kipster, who, much to my dismay, instead of being homesick, was way upbeat, because she had just landed a phenomenal job with an ARCHITECT firm in Redding, and had found a roommate (that looks remarkably like her sister) to share an adorable apartment with.    That was a fateful trip, because I believe it was this trip that Kip told her sister that she needed, now that she was done with school, to quit making excuses and get it together and start DATING again.  After a couple of failed attempts, as she was resigning herself to become a foster lady(instead of cats) like her mom, her cousin Lindsay called her and told her she had found her a husband.  Turned out, she had.  1st date in June, ON HER BIRTHDAY.  Forever, Tyler will be Lacey’s birthday present from Jesus.  


July….the lovelies first 4th of July celebration.  Parades, fireworks, hot dogs, Tyler, swimming, just a full fun day.  As we were holding hands walking to the car, BB looks up to me and says, “Lolly, I happy”.  And my goodness…I happy, too.  Hallie tried out for Norman North Volleyball team, and landed on the JV team, a high honor for a kid playing volleyball less than a year.  Lovely attended her Loveworks camp and gained confidence and swag galore.  It’s amazing watching this kid bloom.  Then I done lost my mind and had both Lovely and LB’s tonsils/adenoids out the last week of July, and when the doc says they will need to lay down for 10 days straight, he ain’t kidding.  That put ole Lolly to the test, having two very pain-filled kiddos to nurse back to health.  But the upside, is after being sick non-stop and on antibiotics the entire winter (strep throat constant), they haven’t been sick once since.  Not even a cold.  It’s a Christmas miracle.  And Lovely doesn’t snore anymore, which makes the whole house a happier place. 


August….. Hallie and I flew to California to check out Kip’s new digs.  We flew into San Fran, rented a car and cruised up to see our girl.  What a great time, meeting Brandon’s parents, seeing Aunt Nancy and Uncle Lavonne, and getting to finally see Alison and Scott and all their tribe, after 16 years, we figured out.   It was awesome, and I even got asked out by Brandon’s 80 year old neighbor.  I still have it, people.  Hal started school ball, and killed it in JV.  Also, started her freshman year in HS.  How is that even possible?  Lovely lost 50 pounds, started 7th grade, LB started 4th, and BB sings, all the time. YAY.  




September…When Hal & I were in Cali, Brandon and Kip told us they were wanting to get a Great Dane puppy, but hadn’t had much luck finding one.  I got back home, put a notice on facebook, and within 12 minutes, had a Great Dane “puppy”.  She was the size of a small mountain, and thought she was a lapdog.  We decided that Gallup, NM was halfway enough, and on Labor Day weekend, took a “Balls to the Walls, Ladies” trip, with my cousin, Shannon, Hallie and Brielle, the wonder mutt, to meet Bree’s new parents.  It was a fast and furious 24 hours of driving in a 48 hour period.  It would have been less, but Kip decided to leave her purse in our hotel room and drive 3 hours before she realized it was missing, so that added 1 ½ hour each way to all parties involved.  But, hey, we got to see some of Arizona that way.  Hallie turned 15, and Lacey was so in love, she was ALL shook up.  Tyler asked her to marry him this month, and just like that we are planning a wedding.   Hallie got moved  up to Varsity!! in HS ball this month.  Grew to height of  6’1”. 


October….Lacey & Tyler got married Oct 4.  It was the most beautiful, wonderful, touching, love filled moment I have ever witnessed.  Makes me tear up thinking about it.  Carl & I snuck Kip home for the big event, and if you haven’t read my blog and watched the video of those two reuniting, you need to do that, because I promise you will tear up and laugh all at the same time.  It was SO SPECIAL!  BB turned 4 during all that excitement, even though he isn’t sure how old he is, he just knows he’s something. In spite of all these things, I qualified for our company trip..a one week cruise from LA to Cabo and Puerto Vallarta for next April.  Had to sell $700k to qualify, so that was a big accomplishment.  


November…kids met Santa at my work, and when Santa asked BB what he wants for Christmas, he tells him “A monkey”.  Lacey wants to know what his Plan B is, if Santa can’t bring him a monkey and he tells her “Two monkeys”.   Kip and Brandon come home for Thanksgiving, and we have a big Shindig at the Round Barn and celebrate our newlyweds with their friends and family.  Took some dandy pictures too and danced our faces off. Have had my fosters one year, and decide I can’t live without them, and make the decision to adopt when the courts terminate the parents’ rights.  Could be this March, could be a year from next March, but when the time comes, they will become Jacksons.  

December…. Ramping up to Club Volleyball season with Hallie, LB and Lovely getting ready to play Jammer Basketball with the Norman parks and rec department, BB speaking more and more English, though still peeing his pants.  Lacey married and happy, Tyler hilarious, like we’ve had him our whole lives,  Kip and Brandon doing the California thing, and they caught (were handed) the garter and bouquet in a not too subtle gesture from big sister.  

All you need is love, friends.  I’ve frantically searched for a happiness my entire life.  And right in this moment, is the most content, happy and loved I have ever felt.  God supplies our needs; He is our constant support and guide.  May love surround your family, and the peace you find ONLY through Jesus our Lord, be yours this upcoming year.  


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Training

This past week, I took my year-end sojourn down to Abilene, Texas to gather with fellow co-workers and hear a whole bunch of good stuff.

Last year, I was brand new, didn't know what to expect, and was relieved to have a break from my kids.

This year, I knew what to expect, and missed the kids like crazy.

Our CEO is over the top crazy about Jesus.  He resonates it in every action, every word, every move he makes.  I've never been so happy to work for anyone in my life.

Until he takes the stage and makes us all do one hour of yoga with him.

Yes,  Yoga.

I am hurting today in places that I didn't even think I could hurt in.  We did this Thursday morning.  Friday morning, I hopped up out of bed, jumped in the car, not one sore muscle, thinking,  "Yeah, this yoga stuff is EXCELLENT", and by Friday night, I was hobbling at the birthday party.  Then this morning, I couldn't even get my sorry old butt out of the bed to walk down the hall.

Awesome.  On Friday, the temps dropped and normally when it gets cold, the hound dog comes in the house, because she is old and fragile, like me.  In the excitement of leaving for school, everyone forgot about poor ole Arlie, and she sat outside all day.  By the time I got home and let her in, her back hip had gone out from the cold and she was in severe pain.  I took her straight to the vet, who massaged and moved her around (I liken it to a chiropractic adjustment), and gave her some good pain meds and muscle relaxers and sent her home.  She is a cheap drunk.  One pain pill and all the sudden she is drinking from the toilets and eating used kleenexes out of every trash can.  And still limping, but better.  She will go in Monday to be sedated and have some xrays ran on her (Merry Christmas to ME) to see if she has a tumor, or just arthritis like her mama.  So prayers are welcome.

In training, we talked about training.  Imagine that.  But I want to talk to you about what I took from it.

Hallie wanted to play volleyball.  She didn't just pick up a volleyball and smash it and be an olympic player the minute she started.   The kid has practiced and practiced and practiced x 4 hours per day for months, and it's starting to pay off for her.  When she isn't smashing the ball, she is jumping in her room, running 3-5 miles in the neighborhood, or peppering the ball, watching tv.  She NEVER stops.  Only to sleep, and even then, I'm pretty sure she is running plays in her head.

She is in training.

When I wanted to play the piano, I went to my neighbors house, and he started me off.  He gave me sheet music and told me in order for me to ever be good and play for people, I would have to practice.  PRACTICE?  what?  TRAIN?

I want you to think about something and this is what I took away from this week.  In order to be a Christian that I want to be and can be proud of, and make a difference, I have to train.  I can't just go to church on Sunday and sit in a chair, and sing the songs, and listen to the message and expect that I'm a Christian.  That's not how anything works.  But that's what so many people think is all they need to do.

That's almost like Hallie carrying a volleyball and thinking she will get to the Olympics.  It's just not going to happen.

You have to do so much more to hear God's voice, and be in a relationship One on One with Him, and I promise to you, that is where you want and NEED to be.  You have to seek Him, and want Him, and think on all things Him.  This starts with reading the bible, and praying.  Someone asked me about my prayer life this week, I chuckled and told them that it was easier to tell them when I wasn't praying.  I pray all day.  I shoot "text message" prayers to God almost every minute.  I'm in communication with Him constantly.  And the more you do that, the easier life gets.  I'm serious, people.

It takes training and dedication to make it to the Olympics.  It takes training and dedication to get to ultimate Olympics of heaven.

Arm yourself with the Youversion app on your phone and get to reading some passages every day.  Read them several times and let certain words stop you in your tracks, (and they will), pray over those words and listen for God's voice.   So many people don't recognize it or doubt that it's God talking to them.  I'm not crazy, peeps, I'm in love with the one that gives me Hope and Love and Joy.

And for Christmas, I wish that for you.

And loving Jesus and seeking him is far easier than volleyball training and yoga.  I'm here to tell ya.

I need the every hour, most precious Lord.  (And I need 1/8th of this guy's talent and hair) Watch it all the way to the end the last 30 seconds will make your hair look like his!   He is A.ma.zing. 


A Very Lovely Birthday Party

Last year, I was still reeling with trying to get used to extra kids in the house, figuring out how to make them understand us, (Vietnamese being their first language) and still so overwhelmed that I just had family come over for their birthdays.  We had strawberry cake (which we found out that day that Lovely is allergic to strawberries) and it was a happy day.

But this year.  I asked them what they wanted to do, and they enthusiastically yelled at me they would like to SKATE WITH THEIR FRIENDS.

Skating parties are easy, you show up with cake and the rink takes care of the rest of the details.  For a price.  I'm old, so therefore, I was in.

I let them invite 10 kids.  besides themselves.  Lacey, Tyler and Hallie were there for backup skating support, as I just don't skate anymore.  But I'm just here to tell you, back in the day I was a skating fool.  We went twice a week and took lessons as a family.  We were the bomb on skates.  But now I'm old, and had a company wide "Yoga" hour the day previous, and I was getting more stiff by the second as the day progressed.  (more on that later).

So, I don't know my kids friends.  Lovely never remembers anyone's name, and is so over the top when she sees anyone she recognizes in public, I had a few misgivings that she was under the illusion of friends.

Oh, Silly Silly Me.

Her friends were AMAZING.   And yes, I am going to share pictures of her party, because as far as I'm concerned, these kids are mine and I'm showing them off.
 LB is so sweet, he has a lot of friends, but he is so afraid of hurting anyone, he didn't know how to just pick 3 or 4.  So he picked 2 of his good friends, and one of the other little boys brother he didn't know well, he asked him too and told me that he said,  "Bro, we not leave you out" when the little boy was sad from not getting invited.  He is a real keeper.   It was fun to have a "Boy" party.  In the history of our world, it's really the first boy party we have thrown.  They are fun and BIG eaters.  Whoa.






Tyler always throws FUN into the mix, he and Lacey gave LB some walkie talkies and the boys used them to stay connected to Tyler.  There were some bigger boys there and Tyler was their bodyguard.  Fun stuff.






The sweetest moment was when Lovely opened her cell phone.  She is just so grateful for ANYTHING.  It's just a text and talk phone (no smart phones, yet)
Her reaction was just priceless.  She was trying so hard to keep it together, she just really didn't know how to respond. 




Precious.  They shared with me that this was the first time they had EVER had a party with friends.  It was never anything they could do with their volatile bio dad.  Mom couldn't trust him to hold it together.  Neither one has EVER been to a sleepover or had a friend come to the house.  It's overwhelming to me that the most basic of childhoods have been denied to these kids.

So, I'm having a NEW YEARS EVE party.  Girls only.  Sleepover, movies, popcorn, cookies, no sleep, you know the drill.  For Lovely and her friends.   The boys will be hanging with Lacey and Tyler and doing boy things.

Everyone was saying Happy Birthday to them.   She is acting more and more like me everyday.

Oh. Boy.

It's a great life people.  It's full of wonder and light.  And none of this wouldn't have been possible if I hadn't said YES to God's plan for me.  Was it something I chose for myself?  Kids for 20 more years??  ARE YOU KIDDING?  But, seriously.  The peace I have is beyond anything I can explain, and God. Is. Good.

More later.   I have birthday cake to eat. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Fear Not

It always overwhelms me how God speaks to me through our pastor, Craig Groeschel.  It's like he has an ear to the ground on what is going on in my life, and preaches directly to me. 

For. Real.

Today, as soon as I read the message title, I knew I was in store for exactly what I needed to hear. 

"Fear of What God is Asking Me to Do"

hello.

To say I am not FREAKED OUT OF MY HEAD over the idea of adopting THREE more kids, is just an understatement of vast proportion.

I "Pro and Con" so much, I think my head is spinning like a top. 

The only peace I have had over the decision was just shortly after I made it, before the doubt, anxiety and the devil walked in and starting stomping around with my worries. 

"How am I ever going to afford another house?"

"How am I going to raise a 4 year old?"

"Do I realize that I am most likely never going to find a partner that will want anymore kids"

"How am I going to take on the responsibility of a special needs teenager?"

"What in the world was I thinking?"

"What if the biological dad finds us and shoots us all?"

These are things, I totally worry about.  Usually, instantaneously, and non stop. 

But here is the reality..... "God's purpose is often different than our plans".  Oh yes, it is. 

If you would have told me 4 years ago, that I would be having 3 kids (one special needs) LIVING with me, I would have laughed my face off at you.  Yet here I am. 

I have found a house in Norman that would be perfect.  I am too chicken to call about it.  I am using every excuse in the book.  "Debt ratio too high"   "Too much crap to move"    "Bigger house- bigger bills"   

Here's the deal......The OUTCOME IS God's responsibility and OBEDIENCE is mine.  I've obeyed him this far, and he has never let me down.   NEVER. 

Even today, as I posted on facebook about anyone having any basketball shoes for my lovelies....could they hand them on....and a friend walking up to me at church and pressing some money in my hand.   Watching LB's face LIGHT UP OFF his neck, when I rolled him into REAL basketball shoes.  He is sitting in the front room, just holding them, he is so jacked out of his mind. 

I have no words, for how faithful God is in my life.  This foster mom walk has been the most challenging and changing thing of my life, yet every time I throw a need up, every NEED IS MET. 

Just Trust and Obey. 

There's no other way.

Now to call that realtor, and quit worrying.  The outcome is God's responsibility,   being obedient to His call is mine.   FEAR NOT. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Tasting the Donut

When Hallie was just barely old enough to eat table food, her dad gave her a donut.  She had one taste of it, and food, across the board, lost all it's enjoyment for her.

She only wanted the donuts.

All the time.  "Donts".    "Hallie what can I get you to eat?"   "Donts"

Great.

Once the kid tasted the donut, she was forever changed.

I was visiting with my long time friend,  the whole reason  my oldest girls grew into the fine citizens they are, Dawn Moore, and we were discussing the pros and cons of me adopting the lovelies.

It was surprising the OVERWHELMING response to my admission to adopt them.  Seems the only one that was surprised by it was me.

Everyone pretty much knew I would be taking this step.

Tuesday, a "Wrinkle" occurred.  The kid's caseworker called to inform me that the bio parents have hired an attorney and have made the statement that "We will do whatever we have to do to get our kids back."

My hardened, in love with their kids, heart says  "WHOA, back up the BS train, people".   but my gentle, empathetic heart thinks, "These kids need their parents".

Then in talking to Dawn, I told her that their CASA worker, and the kids attorney as well, have said, simply... "These kids have outgrown that life".

In other words, they tasted the donut.

They've had stability, clothes, warmth, food, consistency, built trust, established relationships.  The thought of them going back to living in a car and having one pair of clothes and only speaking vietnamese and not moving FORWARD, wrecks me.

I know God has this.  I know that His will has worked miracles in these kids, and my own life.  I have to focus on that in everything.

Some things just don't make sense, but I have a grounded, firm belief that God knows and has had their plan from the beginning.

You might just say that God is my donut.  And He's all I want. 





Monday, November 25, 2013

Growing old

I watched the American Music Awards last night.

It used to be a big night for me.  I loved to see all the rockers glam'd out and listen to the music.

Now, it just makes me tired.

And sad.

I watched it with Lovely, who took my side on all things ridiculous.

Lady GaGa,  "What she doing?" ..... Katy Perry,  "Why she being Chinese?"     to Rihanna,  "She look like a .....I can't say that word, Lolly".

And, yep,  I agree.

Hallie listens to mainstream music, but for the most part, the kids and I are Christian KLOVE'rs and proud of it.  Air1, when the fundraising drive is full force, but mostly KLove.  So most of the songs, last night, were new to me.

Now, I have heard of One Direction.  No one on the planet hasn't heard of these mop haired wonders.  I had no respect for them, and considered them a teen band.

Well, excuse me, I was so mistaken.  (except for the mop hair on a couple)


What a catchy, great tune, and these guys were nothing but class.  Very Very awesome.

Then more bump and grind, more sleaze, and wonder of all wonders, this happened, and I was blown away.



I'm not really sure why Christina continually rubs her hand on her face, I guess I would if I was that talented, just to reassure myself I really exist, and the bigger question is what is the dude standing by the piano doing?  Man candy?  Just there for looks?  Christina took his part?  These are questions I have no answers for, but WOW, what a song.  I get choked up every time I watch it.

 Then Miley Cyrus (whom I have seen in concert twice with my little Hannah Montana fan) ended the show with not only a flying kitten in the background, but it was singing as well. .  wearing what looked to be like, half of a swimsuit, and who wants to even guess what that debacle meant?  I'm saying, get you some clothes like Ariana Grande (who doesn't have to rely on gimmicks, she has such an amazing talent) and wail "The Climb" for me, Miley.   Please bring back the G rated Miley, she was much more interesting. 

And what in the world, giving Rihanna an Icon award??  WHAT?   Now Paul McCartney?  Steven Tyler?  but Rihanna?  Come on.   I have spices in my cabinet older than her. 

Ok, I'm done ranting.   At least I became a fan of One Direction out of the deal, and I don't know who that singer is for the "Great Big World", but he is so good, he might become my new fake boyfriend.

Keepin' it real, people. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A lifetime of blessings

I'm going to shock the hair off a bunch of your heads.

Some of you aren't going to be surprised at all by my admission.

I'm still fairly in shock myself, though the blessings that have piled on me since my decision completely tend to overwhelm me.

Wait for it.......

Wait.....

...  well....

after intense prayer and soul searching, I've decided to adopt the lovelies.

Yes.

I haven't told them, I'm trying to think of a way to tell them at Christmas.  So don't be running up to them at church and EXCLAIM, "OH MY AREN"T YOU EXCITED"??

Just don't do that yet.  We still have a half a million miles to travel with the bio parents, and if a wonderful younger mom and dad couple decide they can't live without them, then I would gladly hand them to a worthy young mom and dad.

The unknown is too risky.  If they got separated, or even worse, fell into the wrong home, I would never be able to live through that.

Besides, it's just kids.  I've been raising kids about 29 years now, what's 14-15 (30)  more years?

I mean really, now?  So, I'm starting the process of adoption.  I don't know what it looks like, or how long it will take, or anything really. 

So, warriors, be in prayer for me.  The world doesn't understand this decision.  The world thinks I'm mental, and some days, I tend to walk that worldly way, and feel defeated and ridiculous.

I know this for sure...I have to find a bigger house.  I have to sell my house and find a bigger house, and what would be fantastical, would be to have a BIG house and foster more kids.

Don't shake your head and think I'm crazy.  Wait, you already know I am.  But I would, there is NOTHING, I repeat, NOTHING more rewarding.



Lovely, losing over 50 pounds, finding friends and being the social little butterfly I knew she would be.

LB, totally off his IEP, working top of his class in the 4th grade, winning Student of the month, and his teacher's total favorite.

BB, learning more and more English, never meeting a kid that he doesn't play with and be friends with in 5 minutes, and wearing anything stuck in his pants, or hanging on his back with a headband he stole from Hallie,

These kids deserve a life.  They deserve a chance at a life.  And I know I can't save them all, but I can save three of them.  And maybe shelter more, if I find a home that will house more.  And when I'm old (er) and they have grown, I'd like to turn my big house into a shelter for women and children seeking shelter from abuse.

I have big fat hairy ridiculous goals.

Because this life isn't about me, it's about showing God's love through action.  And sometimes that looks crazy to some people.  And the crazier it is, the better God likes it.

The words to this song just hit home with me, because I'm not doing this for me, I'm doing this because walking with God will take you deeper than an ocean, it will take you to places you would never dream possible....  trust and Walk on.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Sweet Little Zi

Everyone remember Zi from the world race??

The family had a Zi Day to raise money to bring him to his forever home in the United States, and a ton of my friends supported this precious family, and helped them get the funds they needed on "Zi- Day".

It was so fantastic.

Bringing Zi-Ping home  If you want to read about my musings on that day.

Anyhoo, they just released the sweetest video talking about their journey and I wanted to share it with all my friends and family that helped support get this sweet little boy home!

http://vimeo.com/adventuresinmissions/zi


Get your kleenexes.  For.the.love.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Awards and Accolades

Last night at Hal's volleyball banquet, I was expecting $10 food, and some fun company in the form of the other parentals that I adore on this team.

Not expecting awards (she's a freshman on a Soph/Jr/Senior dominate team).

I had hoped that her JV coach would at least acknowledge her, but no.  Nada.

So when the Varsity coach got up there, I was half listening, because I didn't think there would be any way, being the last kid pulled up, etc.

Well.... didn't know there was a Most Improved Player.

The coach's speech about her went a little like this....

"At the first of the season, I knew she was a great possibility.  I watched her grow all season, as a player, and keep everyone entertained as a goofball.  We never knew what would happen when she went out on the court.  We knew she had the capability of smashing it in their faces,  when she hit, there was nothing the other team could do. Then, other times, she'd hit, and we'd all think to ourselves, "Well that just happened.  Good job, girl, keep swinging."  (LOL)  But, then, we had to do a tournament without her, and her presence was missed, both her playing and her ability to keep us smiling.  That is why the most improved player award goes to..... Hallie Hembree."

 She also commented several times about her goofiness, with the disclaimer that she loved her, despite the goofiness, and overall paid her a great compliment.

I was very proud.  I was also proud of her friends, Rachel Maddy, who got Best Defensive Player on the Freshman Team.  And Abbey Woodrow received MVP for JV, and earlier in the year, when Hallie's club coach from last year (who received her as a brand new, freshly hatched player and taught her to block) watched Hallie and Abbey play together (Hallie as the middle and Abbey as the setter), and told me, after finding out Abbey was a freshman, too "By the time they are seniors, they will be unstoppable, what a pair".  Very exciting stuff.





I'm very proud of Hallie.  She has tackled volleyball with a laser focus, and it has really paid off for her.  I am thrilled to death to watch her move on to Club Volleyball in the next couple of months, and really continue to grow and learn more and more.   She's finally settled on a club that she wants to play for, the coach is amazing and the girls are all a tight knit group that have a laser focus similar to Hal's, so it should be a ton of fun this year.  Lots of driving, lots of tournaments, LOTS of fingernail biting fun.   And tons of pictures and blogs I'm sure. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Funeral Seller

I have a weird job. 

A good weird, but weird, none the less.

And I LOVE it. 

I've done this weird job for several years now, with a 4 year hiatus, right smack dab in the middle of it. 

But now that I'm back, I'm home.  I enjoy the horse pucky out of it.  And that's a lot. 

I'm a funeral seller. 

Yep.  I sell funerals. 

There are many names for this.  Prearrangement specialist, family service, preneed counselor, arrangement advisor, sales counselor, you name it, we have been called it.

Bottom line.... I sell funerals to people. 

Because it's the only thing in the world that for certain is going to happen to you. 

You.  Are.  Going.  To.  Die.   Wheeeeeee.......doesn't that sound like a fun job!!?!?!?!?!?!

When I first got into it, Lacey and Kip were still fairly young, and it was very disconcerting for them to tell people what I do.... I always kidded they would rather tell their friends I was a dancer than a funeral salesman.   But in truth, Kip was always freaked out.  Especially after she visited Baggerly South Funeral Home with me back in the day, and being the curious little being she was, as she toured the facility on her own, she came running into my office, with a pale little face, and informed me, "there is a dead lady in parlor A".    Well, uhm,  Yes, Kip, dead people are usually in our parlors.  That's what they are there for.   And another time, I can't remember if it was Hallie or Kip, but they were up at the funeral home with me, and we had 2 people there, and one was overloaded with flowers, just all in the hall and the room was overflowing, massive flowers, and the other person had died with no family, so no flowers.  It almost broke my tenderhearted child in two, "Can we please put some flowers into her room, she needs flowers too mom".  Sigh. 

Then there is Lacey, who also worked at the cemetery with me for a few years and referred to the mausoleum, the place of eternal rest as the "Dead Barn". 

Yes, we are a peculiar family of oddities. 

Here's the dealio....I have three types of customers.  The Prepared, The Ostrich, and The Idiot. 

The Prepared is the person whose #1 concern is their family.  They don't want them to have to be out a dime, or have to make one decision on their behalf.  They sit with me and figure out what is needed, they pay for their casket and services (either at once, or over time insured) and not one thing is left to the kids to have to either come up with money for, or agonize over, in making decisions.  I love these people.  This is the reason I exist.  Everyone knows my dad died at 60 years of age.  Suddenly, without warning.  That was the worst day of our lives.  I should say worst week of our lives.  Making all those expensive decisions, and in a hurry and fog of grief.   Ugh.  That is no way to plan a funeral.  I don't blame my dad, he was young.  He had lots of time.  Don't make that mistake, if you love your family, talk to me about how you protect them.



The Ostrich is the person that knows that death is going to happen, but as long as they don't talk about it, it won't happen.  This is tough.  Most men are curled in the fetal position, unwilling to talk about losing their spouses.  Most children, when approached by their parents, wanting to take care of this for their kids, their kids going nuts and unwilling to talk to them about it, by NOT talking about it, it won't happen.  Ostriches wear me thin.  Not out, but thin. 


Because last but not least are the idiots.  These are the people that say stuff like,  "I will let my kids deal with it."  "It won't happen to me"   "I'll donate my body to science"   "Just throw me in a pine box and call it a day"  (At least the pine box people have given it some thought, so they might fall in the ostrich category). Seriously, these people wear me out.   Because at the end of the day, NOTHING is taken care of.

And I can tell by the way the family enters the funeral home, if their plans are prearranged.  There is a calm that permeates people that are prepared, and it is powerfully awesome.  The ones that come in with no idea how they are going to pay for it, how much it's going to cost, where they are going to go to bury mom or dad, or even what to dress them in....that's a sad appointment.  That was us, taking care of my dad.  And what's lucky, was we had the money to pay for it, but my frugal dad would have flipped over at our price tag. 

So, take the time and visit with me.  Let me educate you on funerals.  My catchphrase is "I put the FUN in FUNeral."   Buying a funeral is a smart choice.  YES, life insurance is a great thing.  I'm not dissing life insurance in any way, shape or form, but I've never seen a life insurance policy walk into a funeral home and pick out a casket.  That's the hard part.  I have a paid for funeral AND life insurance, because my family deserves that.  But they will buy me flowers.  That's the only thing I didn't pay for, cause they better cough up some cash and buy me some carnations. 


The best love letter you can give your family is the peace of prearrangement.  Pick it out, pay for it and give your family the best gift you can give them for this christmas and every christmas from now on,  Peace of mind.   It's only a phone call away.  Ask your parents if they have prearranged their funerals yet.  If they haven't, call me.  After I get them taken care of, it's your turn. 

Call me.  You will be glad you did. 



Friday, October 11, 2013

Prayer Warriors Needed

Life is so unpredictable. 

This whole week has been a celebration of high proportions.  Lacey marrying her soulmate equal, Hallie finishing the season, the Lovelies making breakthroughs in their healing. 

Everything so wonderful.

Then out of the blue, the hits start coming. 

A very dear friend of mine, has been diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease.  This terrible disease is a landmine of wastefulness.  I've watched several acquaintances succumb to this very quick, lethal sentence. 

This gentle man, who laughs at ALL my jokes, good, bad or ugly is going to die.  Not in his sleep at a very old age, but sadly, much sooner than any of us expected.





He loves his grandkids.  He loves his motorcycle.  But mainly, and most importantly, he loves the Lord.  and I know without a shadow of a doubt that he will be in heaven, and met by his little bald headed friend, the minute the Lord takes him home.

So I need all of my prayer warriors to pray for this family.  Pray for the kids, Jessi and her family, and Russ and his family, as they struggle to make sense of all of this. 

I believe in the goodness and the power of God.  I believe that we have earthly struggles and disappointments and sadness, to learn to depend on Him.  I believe that when we are rooted so deeply in our Lord's promise, that nothing this world can throw on us can shake us.  There is unfairness in many things of this life, but God didn't promise perfection, He promised He would never leave our side when the bad things happened.  And He never does.  The only way to get through trials is to NOT lean on your own understanding, and let Him carry you through the days.  Some days are only one second at a time.  You get through the day one second at a time.  Breathing prayers of pain, of sorrow, of uncertainty.  God gets it.  He knows our sorrow, and he knows our pain.  He only asks us to trust Him with it and bring it to him. 

So I'm asking my warriors to stand with me, and pray for peace for this precious family.  To give them strength only HE can give, in the days and months ahead, and for Robert to find peace that passeth understanding as he journeys on. 

Even in the hardest of times, God is good. 


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Surprises

I am seriously the world's worst secret keeper.  I develop tourette's syndrome when keeping a secret and blurt things out to random strangers.

It's really a trial.

Lacey and Tyler decided to get married October 4.  When the planning first started it was going to be a small, "them and the preacher and their witnesses" event.

Then two weeks ago, Lacey decided she needed her people there, and was talking to me about Skyping  Kip in at the chapel, and surely to goodness they had WIFI there.  I could hold the Ipad and Kip could watch.

Well.

One quick call to her daddy and a plane ticket later, we all had a little secret to keep.

For. Two. Weeks.

We all decided that it was best not to tell Gram or Grandma, because they might inadvertently blurt it out, not meaning to.

Trust me, though, I am the WORST.  I ended up telling Hallie because my eye was beginning to twitch, and I had to tell someone.   I went in to find Lacey at her work one day, and ended up blurting it out to Linzy Hall, her co-worker and partner in crime, who cried in her office and reinforced it to me that Lacey could NOT know.

Oh, The. Pressure.

So I avoided.  I didn't talk to my mom, I barely talked to Lacey and I tried to put it out of my mind.  Except for then, at a volleyball game, as my brain, constantly on alert to NOT divulge any secrets to people, let one of my friends, Laurie Miller, in on the fact she was getting married  (Wanting to keep that a secret as well) says to me,  "Oh, is she having a shower????".... gets me to thinking, I have enough secrets I'm trying to keep, let's throw another one in for good measure, and MAKE IT A DOOZY.

So I planned a shower.  A surprise Shower.  And if it hadn't been for Donna Brewer Gibson, and the swell folks at Havenbrook letting me use their beautiful and handy as a pocket on a shirt, event center, I would have NEVER pulled that one off.

But first things first.  Kip getting here.  She called me the night before (Thursday) and wailed to me, "I just lied to my sister for an HOUR!  She skyped me and wanted to talk strategy and wedding details and I just lied and lied".  That's tough for my straight as an arrow Kipster.  I told her it was ok, I hadn't spoken to mom in 2 weeks.  (Later my mom tells me, "I thought you were mad at me") So, here you go.

Then as I raced back to Norman to get the kids and head back to Edmond with them, my mom, and cousin Mike (who snuck up for the big event), my girl had her sisters in tow.  It was pretty awesome.

Then we did this.  And all of us cried.

Especially LB, sitting by me.  I looked over at him, and tears were streaming down his face, and I hugged him and he said, "I so emotional. This so beautiful".  And he was right.


You pray and pray that your children have a great life.  And pray and pray that their choices are wise.  I knew without a shadow of a doubt that my Lacey will have a great life, and made a wise choice as I watched this gentle man with a servant's heart commit his life to hers.  It was so beautiful.






That was Friday night.

Saturday was a whirlwind of preparation, because, of COURSE, I waited until the very last second to make the final food purchases for the shower.

Because that's the way I roll.

One thing for certain.  In a pinch, Walmart will NEVER let you down.  Told them to put the happy couple's name on the cake.  No Congratulations or Best Wishes....because I've seen what happens when people try to spell congradulashuns.  Just their names.  That's all i wanted.  Was that too much to ask??


We are so lucky.  Even redneck spelling on the cake would only happen to us.   

And it, like everything else that happened over the weekend, Was Perfection.  

Great Shower, Great Wedding, Great friends, great memories.  

Congradulashuns Mister and Misses Holt, I wish you nothing but joy and love your whole lives.