Living the Dream

Living the Dream

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


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)


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


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 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"


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"


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.