Living the Dream

Living the Dream

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Casting out Fear

As I listened to Craig preach today, I found myself nodding and saying, Amen, a lot.  Yep, I became one of those ridiculous people that just shout to the heavens, "Amen, Preach, brother!"

At first, I was distracted, first by missing our worship pastor, who recently moved to the Edmond campus, though I love one of his backup singers, it is just NOT the same.  So, I'm sitting in my chair, all disgruntled and unhappy, and the kid behind me rattled his potato chip bag, for 15 minutes at least, then whispered and whispered and moaned and whispered to his brother, to the point, I almost checked him into lifekids for his mom.

It was one of THOSE kinds of mornings.

But as Craig unpacked the message, I found my spirits starting to lift.

He talked about the disciples in the boat, and God snoozing in the stern, and the storm rolling in, and all the disciples, freaking out and waking him up and asking him to calm the storm.  He spoke and the storm stopped......then he looked those silly ole men in the face and said, "Why are you still afraid?? Don't you have faith in me??"

And, mercy, that resonated with me today.  I'm about to adopt three kids.  In that group is a 4 year old.  FOUR YEAR OLD.  That freaks me out if I even spend 5 minutes thinking about it.  FREAKS. Me. OUT.     "Why are you still afraid?"

There are so many problems, I just blogged about it the other day.   Friends fighting cancer, in the battle of their lives... young people dying in car wrecks, leaving their families desolate over the loss......friends having babies with Down Syndrome, having to start from scratch a new journey, totally different from the one they imagined, not a horrible, awful place, just a different one.

When we found out about Laynie, my faith was tested, but it started growing, each and every day, as God revealed miracle after miracle for me to witness and share.  Was I scared???? OF COURSE I was scared, but every single trial led me closer to Him.  He doesn't just want us to stay in" First Grade faith" our whole lives...... get baptized and say a prayer in the pew every weekend, He wants us to SEEK HIM in EVERYTHING we do.  And in trials, YOU SEEK him.

Remembering when I got stopped for a ticket (yes, I totally zipped through a yellowish/red light) and as the po-po pulled me over, the tension mounted in the backseat.  The trio was melting down, thinking that ole Lolly was going to jail.  He took my license, went back to his car half a minute, and trekked back to my window and informed me,  "It's your lucky day, there is a larceny in progress, and I have to go take care of that".   As he walked away, Lovely piped up from the backseat,   "I pray for that larceny!!!"  (not knowing what in the sam hill a "Larceny" even is).   But the point our time of need, the kid went straight to the source, HELP GET LOLLY OUT OF THIS MESS LORD, WHATEVER IT TAKES....even if it does mean some poor person is getting ROBBED right now.

I know firsthand, how much my faith grew, and how firm my foundation in trusting God became during our journey with Laynie.   The more you seek Him, and trust Him, the more calm you become in a storm.  If I don't hear  "How in the world do you do it?" at least 3 times a day, everyday, it's a slow day.  I can't just tell everyone  "God has all the details worked out, I just have to trust Him and let Him guide me through".   It's a wonderful, rewarding feeling, casting out fear.

I woke up in a cold sweat, bawling a few nights ago, because I dreamed Hallie died.  I've been gearing up for the run and thinking about Austin a ton this week.....He was such a huge fan and big supporter in the years past, and I miss him so much.  All those Team hope shirts, with the cowboy hat on the back hip....Seeing all those hats run past me, made me think about him so much.  So when I had that horrendous dream, something I fear so deep inside of me, something happening to my precious children, I woke up and immediately prayed.  I started with Lacey and worked my way through the whole family.  My heart stopped pumping so fast, and I calmed.   God's got this.... cast out the fear.   He brought me to it, He'll bring me through it.

Storm season is fast approaching.  We are supposed to have severe weather on Wednesday.  We could sit around with high anxiety and not get anything done between now and then.  Moore is just in the beginning stages of rebuilding from last year's devastating storms.  I am miserably unhappy about the thought of hours of Mike Morgan.  I miss my fake boyfriend, Rick Mitchell, more than ever these next couple of months.  But God says, Do NOT FEAR, I am there.  And I believe these words.  He will get us through the storms of life.  We all have chosen to live in a state that delivers tornadoes every year, just like Christmas.  And now earthquakes.  If we have both in one day it will be a "Quakenado".  

All I know is what has worked for me, and all I can tell you is, I've never been more surrendered to His will, and more at peace in my entire life.   Just trust Him, and He will never leave your side.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Running and Running and Running

Today was the Wings to Fly Run at Fort Reno, in El Reno, OK.  TEAM HOPE participated again (for the 4th year) and I am very proud to say, won a BUNCH of ribbons and shoes.

We had over 50 runners, and sold over 200 TEAM HOPE t's, and this year was able to donate over $2000 to Children's Hospital Foundation from Team Hope.

That's a bunch of cash for a worthy, incredible cause.

So many faces I loved there....

Especially these two.  Lacey helps coordinate the whole run, and does a fantastic job.  It's so organized, and such a great, fun time is always had by everyone there.  It's not so huge you get lost, but it's not so small that you don't feel like you're competing.  I was all set to run this year (cough), and I went and broke my toe, and hobbled around in a tennis shoe this morning and danced on one foot with the DJ and his rocking music.

The Cope Family has attended the run every year, and Blake (middle top row) has dominated in the 5k every year.  This year he ran it in 19 minutes.  He blew the competition away and ran away (literally) with 1st place overall.  I barely got to congratulate him and he and his dad were off to his soccer game.  I adore this family, they are just so special to me.

Speaking of my family, we were well represented this year.  Mom got her booty out of bed quite early and we parked her in a chair and she whistled from the sidelines and we made her "Base" and she held everyone's stuff.  She's not getting around great lately, really done something to her hip, so everyone be praying for my mama as she gets an MRI this week.  We have to get her in tip top shape to go trek around Yosemite in a couple of weeks for Kips wedding.
Lindsay and Tadd came, and brought my great niece Makayla, and she ran the miracle mile and took advantage of the face painter (as did all the kids) and was just Lacey's little sidekick all day.  She is a corker!
She checked out the clydesdales and was thoroughly impressed with them.  BB wasn't near as pumped about them as she was.  I just want to tell you, how much I love my family.  When we go to these big events like this, someone always keeps their eye on BB and I am so glad.  I am still getting broken into the fact that I have a 4 year old.  In fact, Lacey introduced him to someone at the run as her "Little brother", and the person just stared at me, slightly slack jawed.  "I look good for someone that just had a kid 4 years ago, eh?"   sigh.

Super duper proud of this Run like the Wind boy, LB took 1st in his age group in 28:41, and that isn't too shabby.
He got some cool Mike Tyson face painting and had #1 on his forehead.... Just a great day for this cat.

Hallie and her good friend Brad each ran the 5k.  Hal ran it in 33:26, only taking a break running around the corner to throw up her cookies (ewww, glad I didn't see that), giving the girl that ultimately won their age division,  time to sneak past her whilst she was yakking her goods on the sideline.  Talk about giving one for the team.   Brad had a bigger group of guys his age and took third with a time of 28:30.  He rolled in right in front of LB. 
It's always fun to watch this big ole goober get an award, she is so awkward, and I have no idea where she gets it.

Amy Astle won 1st in her age group, and when I texted her to tell her she told me she was doing the "ugly cry", she was so thrilled.  She and Laynie have always been birthday buddies, and Amy has always showed up for every run and blood drive, and this year she brought her hubs along too...
Super fun and so proud of both of them.. Amy set a personal best of 30:31 and won 1st and John won 2nd in his division.  Studs, both of them.

Speaking of studs, here's this.

Bubb did good for an old dude with a bum knee.  He told me today that his competitive juices started flowing and he wants to get 'er done in 30 minutes next year.  We'll see.

Back when I was a tweenie, I went to Junior Camp in Binger, OK and I met some fun chicks from Tulsa.  Facebook brought us all back together, and today I was surprised and delighted to find one of my old buddies..  Lori Phillips Huddleston.  She drove all the way from Owasso, and I was thrilled and pumped to see her again...
She placed 2nd in her age division too and that made me so proud. So great to see old friends.
Back when I had Lacey almost 30 years ago, that little gal on the right end was born about 12 hours after her, and from that day forward, her mama and I have been friends.  We shared a room at the hospital and enjoyed watching our babies grow up.  Now she brings friends and supports us and we just love us some Erin Rushing Young.

When I asked Crystal if she placed, she said "No, there are too many gals in my old category to win anything."... well the joke was on her, because she took 3rd in her age category in the 15k, mind you!  She is a "real" runner.  :)  Love our family, and sweet Hannah "Miracle child" helped Lacey hand out awards, and did a great job.

I love me some Haley Bordeaux and Lindsay Ramirez, they ran over the finish line in tandem and took 1st place in their age division in the 5k... I call them "Team Beautiful" and you can see why for yourselves...

Who looks THAT good when they run????????  I mean really.

Well this girl does...

And I cannot write about Wings to Fly without talking about this young lady.  Kelsey Wall.  She has participated every single year, through icicles, damp warmish fog, and freezing rain and finally the 4th year gave her the weather she loves to run in.  She took 1st overall in the women's 15k, and 1st in her age group.  Her b/f Grant is helping her carry all her goods.  She LOVES the shoe awards, and this year got about a size 15 decorated shoe (Lacey told her it was a Hallie-size shoe).  Kelsey, you are a supreme rock star, and you and Blake DOMINATED the 5k and 15k, and made TEAM HOPE big winners this year!!!
Now, someone who didn't get an award, and trailed in almost dead last, gets my final words.  Lovely is the big winner in my eyes.  This kid is a true miracle.  The fact that she has overcome everything that has been thrown at her, is kind to a fault, finds good in every thing she is faced with, and tries so hard at all the challenges, makes her my big winner.  I was just about to get in my car and go looking for her, when she finally turned the corner and headed in.  She had charley horses in her ankles, her collarbones were on fire, and tonight she is limping like a broken toy, but that smile and her "I did IT, Lolly" makes me remember what life is all about.   This kid made it past the finish line.  She kept on running and running and running.....and I couldn't be prouder.

You just got to do life one step at a time, and I know tonight that Laynie is beaming up in heaven, so proud of her TEAM HOPE.

Disclaimer:  There were oodles and gobs of people there today, and I am sorry if I did not include you in this are all well loved and I am thankful for you.  I am just really super old and tired this evening and can't think of everyone.  Truth hurts, people.

RUNNING AND RUNNING AND RUNNING.....  For Laynie... cause it's all about
                                               Loving a baby....

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Here's Mud in Your Eye

Church really rocked me today. 

This year seems to have been a blur of bad news.  Friends with cancer, friends with sick babies, money issues, depression, questions of the future....sometimes just overwhelming to the point of "I'm staying in bed and sitting today out."

And this past week, on a post on Facebook, a friend said, "I'm so mad today.  It's like God isn't showing up" (I'm paraphrasing here). 

I know I have felt that way 1,000 times.  At least.  Ok, God, you got me here...Now What?????

Today in our lesson at church, the example was made of  Jesus's first miracles.  He made water into wine, and he gave a blind man sight. 

No big deal, right?   In this world of make believe and special effects, that seems like a no big deal, easy peasy thing to do. 

But just think about it.  It so parallels our lives on earth.

Jesus could have spoke the words...."Heal this man" and he would have had sight.  He could have just thought "Fill these vessels with wine" and poof, it would have been. 

But, he never just hands us the answer.  I've always said, God isn't the good ship lollipop.  He isn't like Glenda the Good Witch, waiting for the prayer that you've spoken 200,000 times ... "Oh, ok, that is the one I will grant.".....  It's so much more than that. 

He took spit and dirt and rubbed it on a blind man's eyes.  Think about it.  Spit and Dirt.  Do you think that dude was overjoyed have Jesus's spittle all over his face?  I almost urp when I even think about spit in my OWN mouth.  But Jesus had a point to make here.  He made mud and put it on the man's eyes and told him to go wash in a specific Sea.  Not "go to the sink and wash it off", he told him exactly where to go. 

Now you think this guy was embarrassed?  Jesus's man made mud pies on his face?  Have you ever been embarrassed by something you've done?  Wondering, HOW IN THE WORLD could Jesus have put me here??    What did I do to deserve that???  I know I have.  Many many times.  And I wandered around with mud on my face, not listening to what he told me, trying to fix the problems, trying to figure out WHY?...when God simply says,  "Trust me, and seek me and wash the mud off where I tell you to go". 

Having the faith to trust God to send you where He wants you is the hardest thing you will ever do.  It's like jumping out of a plane without a parachute.  TRUST ME. 

Before Laynie, I assumed I trusted God....but I never really did.  I grabbed back that wheel, every single time I handed it to him.  Once He gave us Laynie, and put mud all over our faces, did we learn to trust Him, and believe we would get to the Sea.  And even our earthly prayers, of total healing for
our girl, were  not just heard, but given.  We had a baby that wasn't supposed to be born, 30 months.  THIRTY months of blessings, 30 months of lessons, 30 months of grace.  

It took me 47 years to get the mud out of my eyes and really see and trust and believe in God.  I read the miracles in the bible, and never had the full understanding of who God really is. 

I don't do anything anymore without praying it through.  I try to preface every move with a WWJD? and though I still have a long way to go.... I have come a long way too. 

Wash the mud from your own eyes and see God.  You will never be alone again.  He never promised to fix all the problems, but He sure promised to never leave our sides when they come. 

Thank you God, for making this blind woman see. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

World Down Syndrome Day

March 21 may mark the 4 days after St. Patrick's day, the ending of spring break, or the day after the first day of spring.

But to many families, it marks a very important day in their world..  "World Down Syndrome Day".

My first memory of someone with Down Syndrome was my friend Trey Davis' sister, Dana.  She cracked me up all sides of tomorrow, and wore more rings than Elizabeth Taylor.  She hugged everyone she met, and had a smile that would make anyone having a bad day, turn it on a dime.

Her mom was one of the first "advocates" I met in my young life.  She worked tirelessly to aid people with disabilities, and give them a voice and a place to go to school, work, have a life.

I didn't appreciate or understand the enormity of what she did at that time, and probably until today, as I muse over my life, I never told her or Trey how impressed I was by their love and compassion for people with disabilities.

I was scrolling through Facebook this morning, and Kip's very good friends, Erin and Drew Crain (the whole reason she decided to do the World race was because these crazies did it first) have just had their first son, Everett.  I have been stalking their page like crazy because I am a fan of tiny new humans, and I just love Erin to death.  He has a heart condition, so I've been making sure he is doing good, and this morning I read this post from Drew's page...

"Hey everyone! First, thank you all so much for your prayers and generosity; we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support we’ve received. Here’s the latest update on Everett: Yesterday we received test results confirming that Everett has Trisomy 21, a type of Down Syndrome. His heart condition is very common in children with this diagnosis. We see God’s faithfulness as Everett makes improvements every day. He continues to amaze everyone and as he gets stronger our faith increases even more. He has changed our lives forever and we could not feel more blessed to be his parents! The most important thing we need right now is your continued prayers for the healing of Everett’s heart. Thank you for believing with us for this miracle. We will continue to keep you updated on his progress."
My very first reaction when I read this was, "Wow, God sure knows what He is doing to give that lucky boy those two for parents."   followed, with,  "Wow, those lucky parents"! 

There is so much misunderstanding of Down Syndrome and other disorders.  One thing to remember..... they're all just PEOPLE.   Some people have dimples, some have brown hair, some have moles on their toes, some have singing abilities, and some people have down syndrome.  Yep, I lump it in their with moles on the toes, because it's just people.

Linda Douglas Ehlinger and her husband Rick, have 1 daughter and 2 sons.  I've known Linda most of my life (her brother Kent was one of my bff's in High School).  Their youngest son, Doug, has Down Syndrome. I look forward every day to reading either Linda or Rick's posts on him.  He is a corker, and headstrong (that's a Douglas trait) and some of the antics he pulls just make me roll on the floor.

I remember when Lacey took dance from Jim Paul in Shawnee, there was a little girl that took dance with her, and she had DS.  She is a hugging, loving machine.  And the girl loves to dance.

I can't stress enough to you, if you start to feel sorry for these families, just stop.  Every family has stuff.  The one thing I know for certain, these families will never have to worry about their teenager taking drugs, or sneaking out at night.  They will have different focuses, they will most likely worry about heart issues, and flat feet, medical issues that most family with "normal" children don't have to worry about as much.

I love reading this blog Nella's blog.  This mommy got the gift of a lifetime in her second daughter, and she so eloquently describes life and ups and downs in this wonderful blog.

I've talked about Zi Ping on this blog before, but look at him, his adoptive parents moved heaven and earth to rescue a little Chinese boy with DS from his life in an orphanage in China, and now he lives here with his new family, and brings joy and love everywhere he goes.  (Yes, I stalk Katie and Josh (his parents) like a crazy person as well).   How do I have time to get anything done for stalking all these people, you ask?  I don't know.

What I do know is we all need to support and love each other, and never EVER EVER take one day for granted with your child that otherwise healthy.

My time working at Dale Rogers Training Center were my favorite days.  Working with the people in the workshop, all kinds of people...people with autism, some blind people, some people in wheelchairs, some short people, tall people.   What I loved most??  Walking over to their workspace and being greeted by them.  I felt like a rock star.  They have a way of making you feel like the most important person in the world.  I could never leave without fistbumping all 220 of them and getting a million hugs and I can't begin to tell you, how if I was ever having "a day", I'd go over and get "My fix" of happy.

There is no form of purer love on this earth than the love of these children/people.  I can't explain it to you....this is something you have to experience for yourself.

Celebrate with me, on this World Down Syndrome Day.  Honor them, love them, and pray for them.  It's a gift.  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Graceful as a Swan

I was so thrilled to be home this weekend.  I had to work this morning for missing two days this week to continuing education (Oh, THAT WAS FUN), and after sitting 16 hours in a classroom, I had a terrible crick in my shoulder, so I thought....

MASSAGE.  I have a gift certificate from a friend just calling my name for the last few weeks, and I have been so busy running Hallie and the Lovelies to and fro, I just don't have any time.  So TODAY was going to be the day.

2:00.  I was getting a massage at 2:00.

I fixed the kids lunch without incident.  I just put BB down for his nap, and I was putting up the tea in the fridge, and going to go put my shoes on.

Then 20 minutes before I was to get massage, When IT happened.

The refrigerator reached out and got right in front of my right foot.

 Now, please believe me when I tell you that this is NOT my foot.  I rarely have hair on my big toe, and though my toe did look like this, I take a tiny bit more pride in my toenail lookage.

Plus, let me just tell you, when this drama was going on, the very last thing on  my mind, was grabbing my phone for a selfie.  I was too busy sitting in the chair holding my leg and sobbing like a big ole sissy baby.  I did reach down and since it was pointing west and I was looking east, I managed to pop it back a tiny bit.

Of course, the minute it happened, the kids scattered like flies.  I don't cry.  Ever.  and I was doing the ugly cry.  Snot, tears, more snot.  It was glorious.

Thankfully, my brother had just shown up at moms', and he always remains calm, even in the face of snot and tears.  He leveled my foot on his leg, and all I could sob to him was,  "Fix it, so I can get to my massage".

He grabbed it and pulled on it, and instant relief.   About that time mom rolled in, with Hallie and Lovely on her heels, and, dang it, I needed my mommy.   "Well, dummy, you ran into the fridge?" was just what I needed to hear from her at that moment.

I told Bubba to tape it up and I was going to my massage.  I made it back to my bedroom, and the adrenaline quit pumping and the pain came back in a major way.  I think Hallie rubbed some ben-gay on it, but I was blubbering like a baby again, and I think this time it was more about the fact I knew I wasn't getting my massage.

Bubba loaded me up in his pickup (me borrowing Hallie's crutches that she just quit needing) and off we went to the ER.

It was packed, full of people hurting, sick, puking.  And me, with my bag of peas on my foot, feeling sheepish, and still intermittently snotty.

The ice pack was too heavy, and we didn't have corn, because we eat it the minute it hits the house.  It was this bag of peas, or a popsicle, or maybe a frozen piece of texas toast.    Peas it was.

1 hour later, and 1 x ray later, the young doctor called me, "Kiddo" and sent me on my way.  Fractured toe.

Really really really wanted a massage today.  Instead I spent $100 on an emergency room co-pay.

I'm really living the dream, baby.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Jump right on the roller coaster

You all know Hallie & I have been traveling all over the world for club volleyball.  This weekend was no exception, we went to the mile high city, Denver, Colorado. 

The week started off tough.  Hallie was practicing and the team was scrimmaging, and as always, she was playing full out.  She went up to block and came down on someone's foot and rolled the crap out of her ankle ("I felt a crack and a pop, mom!" she cried, with tears rolling down her face).  This is a kid that NEVER cries, and rarely gets hurt, and if she does (remembering when she took out her shin in beach, and hurt her knee last year), she works through it as quickly as she can.

I took her to the ortho doctor on Tuesday am, and after a quick x-ray, he deemed it to be a Grade 2 sprain with a few stretched tendons and put her in a glorious boot.  She felt immediate relief in the boot.  It did put pressure on her old torn knee on the opposite leg, but she was a trooper.

We flew out Friday night, foot in boot, and arrived around 8:00.  She was tired, and got carsick on the ride from the airport to the hotel.  That just started out our weekend from the planet Hell. 

We were lucky on Saturday, not starting until 3:00, so we meandered over to convention center and got her ankle super taped by the trainers and she only went in to rally the troops and help them pull ahead in a crisis situation.  The team did well, and she only had to play the last few points to help put them over the top.  So Saturday was pretty ok.  We got in super late, and ended up having to get up at 5:45 on Sunday morning.  Well.......with the hour lost going to Denver, then losing the hour to DST (don't even get ME started on that crap), we were dragging our feet Sunday morning.  She was determined to play all day, and played all 3 of the games.  She definitely wasn't herself, more focused on landing correctly on her ankle, and unable to jump to her normal ridiculous heights, and they ended up losing every game.  So disheartening.   She was limping badly as we left the convention center, and I insisted on taking one of the bicycle taxis to find her some food.  She melted down at the restaurant and it was all I could do to get her to the hotel.  She was chilling and chattering, and almost delirious babbling.  I cut her foot tape off her ankle, and bundled her into the blankets, and she slept like a rock for about 4 1/2 hours.  It was so beautiful in Denver, hitting almost 70 degrees, and we were holed up in the hotel.  It was ok, I went on an HGTV marathon, and I'm pretty sure I want the Property Brothers to fix me up a fixer upper. 

By Monday, she was still out and so sick, I had figured out she probably had altitude sickness, and the whole weekend was a total wash.  I understand from the other parents, that these girls have never, in their past history, ever lost as many games as they lost this weekend.  It was very disheartening (to say the least) and for the love of pete, you just want your kids to not be so disappointed. 

I guess the upside to this, is that they are learning that life isn't always like a bowl of cherries.  Sometimes it's just a chair of bowlies.   I LOVE volleyball, and this weekend, I was OVER it.  :)  I just wanted to be HOME.

The only upside to the entire trip was visiting with friends, Susan Burk and her precious daughter, Samantha and her 3 cutie patooties.  (Jackson, Kendall and Laynie Belle).   They played hide and seek with Hallie and watching them hide under the AREA rug from Hallie, just cracked me up.

Sam turned on their sunday school music video, and they tore up the rug showing off for me.  At one point they tried out a new dance move, and mommy informed them, "Jesus doesn't like it when you twerk"........ (i'm pretty sure this family is my soul family).

Susan dropped us to the airport, and at midnight we were driving in our garage. 


Lacey & Tyler ran the kids this weekend, and I'm thinking I will never get grandkids if I continue to ask them to babysit. 

On the Hallie front, she has an upper respiratory infection, and we are guessing she definitely had altitude sickness.  BB has strep, so it is way fun at our house.

Why we were sitting at the doc, waiting, BB stared at Hal's ankle brace, and asked her,  "What happened to your elbow?"   Hallie told him she hurt it at volleyball, and he replied,  "For real?"

Where does this kid get this stuff?   He sang for Lacey this weekend,  "Hallelujah, Holy Moly, God almighty, the great I am". 

In spite of her sickness, today is Hallie's half year birthday, and everyone knows what happens when your teenager turns 15.5.    Yep, drivers permit.

Even with her hurt ankle, upper respiratory infection and quasi pink eye, she went for it.  She looks pretty special in her picture on the license. 

Now I'm in the passenger side for the next six months, sweating and trying not to swear out loud as we swerve off the road, and pull out in front of oncoming traffic because my new driver assumed it was a four way stop.  

Welcome to the roller coaster.   Just jump on and have some fun.