Living the Dream

Living the Dream

Sunday, May 25, 2014

I was BORN for this


Today marked a big day for the Tribe.  We left our comfortable, familiar church campus in MWC, and moved 20 minutes closer to home, to the Moore campus.  (Same church, different locations)

We have so many friends and loved ones at the MWC campus, it was TOUGH to leave, but on the same hand, I was thrilled and excited to start this new chapter. 

Hallie brought two friends, and I had my 3 lovelies in tow, and we looked like a clown car when we piled out when we drove up.

That's how we roll. 

Loved everything about it.   The music, the facility, the people.  It was very cool.

We had a guest speaker today, and he OOZED "cool" out of every single pore of his body.  Carl Lentz, from Hillsong United in New York.  Everytime I hear a speaker talk about HARD times, it always hits really close to home.   

There is a BUNCH of stuff happening in my world right now.  Friends with cancer, fighting the fight of their lives, friends attempting to adopt children (I feel their pain), friends suffering from the loss of their children or parents, friends suffering from the loss of their marriage, jobs, dreams..... lots and lots of pain.

And it always seem trite to say, "God will see you through".  Sometimes that is the LAST THING  the people want to hear...but it's all I got. 

Because not too long ago, I was suffering a loss, and I have to tell you....the ONLY thing that got me through was the fact that God held me through it all. 

The one thing that Carl said today that resonated through me, was you have to be armed for the hard times, and be ready for them.  Because the only thing that I know for sure about this the hard times???  They are a'comin.  

Someone very close to me just lost their job.  They didn't love their job, by any stretch of the imagination, but, hello, it paid the bills.  Four years ago, I found myself in a similar situation, betrayed by people I trusted with my very life....and I have to tell smacked.  It smacked all the way to China. 

And as I sat, with my world reeling out of focus, and every single conceivable worry battering every pore of my body, my daughter took me in check and said to me, "MOM, this is your fresh start.  This is your crossroads.  Starting today, YOU are in control".  (paraphrased for effect)

"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.  You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.  So don't try to get out of anything prematurely.  Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient IN ANY WAY.  If you don't know what you are doing, PRAY TO THE FATHER.  He loves to help.  You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it... Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate.  For such persons loyalty in love with God, the reward is life and more life."   James 1:2-5.  

If I had stayed at that place where I was, I would NOT have ever been open to fostering.  I would not have worked with people with disabilities and learned an entire new way of thinking.  So I tell my friend (or anyone that is struggling) be faithful in your prayer, seek HIM in all things, and your life will take a turn (on A DIME) for the better.  It may be so sudden it takes your breath away, or it may be so slow and steady that you don't even feel it, or are made aware of it, but it happens.  Just the way God wants it to be. 

Sometimes the trial you are in, through your actions, speaks volumes to everyone watching you.  I know my prayer life increases significantly when someone asks me to pray for a certain thing.  I will find myself in constant prayer for someone throughout the day. 

When there are no challenges in my life...I'm not a prayer warrior the way I long to be.  I find that when the world throws the worst of the worst at someone, riding through the storm, and staying in the boat, brings out the best of the best. 

One of my dear friends just lost her precious mom.  She feels so lost without the day to day contact with her, and wondered how in the world I managed to make it through the day after we lost Laynie. 

It's hard to explain that time to people, because even engulfed in grief over that loss, we were all so supernaturally held in grace by such overwhelming peace, it brings a spurt of tears to my eyes even thinking about it today.   As I drove to church today, I thought of Laynie's last day, and I just wanted to stop the car and get out and cry and cry and cry today.  WHY did that happen to us?  WHY didn't God let her live ?? 

and the truth of the matter, the heart of the heart is that Laynie served her purpose on this earth.  She brought me to God.  She put me on my knees more times than I can remember.  She made me write and beg and plead for prayers on her behalf from thousands of people, and people that didn't pray all the time, started praying for Laynie, and God heard those prayers and brought Hope and peace to us all.

I don't understand it, and skeptics will shake their heads and tell you I'm crazy, but if this is crazy, lock me up, because there is no other way I want to live my life. 

I was born to live through the pain, the joy, the heartache, the wonderfulness, the awesome brilliant days that are my life.

And I consider them pure joy, Lord....when the trials come.  And I stand ready.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Yearbooks and end of Years

Today was the last day of school.

Hallie finished 9th grade.

Lovely finished 7th grade.

LB finished 4th grade.

BB still wears pull ups.

And I finished my continuing education for my insurance license for TWO YEARS!  woohoo.

So, it was a big day.

Hallie got her yearbook last week.  After a cursory look through it, she promptly dumped it in her room and hasn't picked it back up.  She has gotten a yearbook every year, since she was in kindergarten.  We have a stack of books in her room, marking the passage of years of friends, and herself.   Occasionally I will move them to clean around the pile, but for the most part, they've been looked at, maybe 3 times each.

Here's the difference in kids that have grown up with everything, and kids that have had nothing.....

Lovely got her yearbook on Tuesday.  She slept with it Tuesday night, carried it all day Wednesday, took it to Hal's volleyball practice on Wed evening and showed everyone there, and carried it to school yesterday, and was still carrying it, when I picked her up this evening.

That yearbook is HUGE to her.

LB's school sent an email out earlier in the week, saying they had 25 yearbooks left and they would have a lottery for any yearbooks that hadn't been purchased.  Me, being the swift of brain, couldn't remember if I had bought LB a yearbook or not, so I just made the offhand comment, "If I didn't get you a yearbook, let me know and we will enter the lottery."

He took that to heart.  He REALLY thought I had forgotten to get him a yearbook.  I was 99.9% certain I had bought him one, but there was that nagging .1% that still doesn't have faith in a few of those areas.

So today, when I picked him up, the VERY first thing out of his mouth was,  "I have been praying that I could get a yearbook, and LOLLY, I GOT ONE!"

I GOT A YEARBOOK. I've never been so happy I pre-bought anything in my life.   And we poured over every page, like it was liquid gold.

And to a kid that has NEVER gotten a yearbook......that is a big deal.

Last year, I had only had them a couple of months so we missed out on the whole yearbook thing.  I had no idea how hard it was for them to miss getting yearbooks, when that all happened last year.  BUT THIS YEAR....HOLD the PHONE.

I am humbled daily by how for granted I take my life.  These kids have brought "REAL" back in to my world.  They are so thankful for everything they have.

I heard LB telling BB the other day, "YOU HAVE THREE pair of Shoes!"  like he was the luckiest kid in the world.   with THREE pair of shoes, and I know as I typing this he needs another pair pronto.

To these kids, who have had nothing their whole lives....three pair of shoes is a big deal.  BB has so many toys to choose from, he can't even decide on one.  So he puts the top of the toybox on the floor upside down, puts a pillow on it, and sits in it and pretends it's a boat.  Who needs legos?  Give that kid a pillow and a toy box lid.

Our lucky, entitled, spoiled, and for the most part ungrateful children we are raising (and trust me, that 15 year old  that I gave birth to, that lives with me, has almost KILLED me this week with her ungratefulness), have NO IDEA what it is like to go without.   They have no idea how to be grateful for ANYTHING because they have been handed everything on a silver platter.

I created that monster, but what my "take-out" kids have taught me, is how to be grateful in ALL things.  I'm thankful now for every little thing.

I even pulled out my old yearbooks and took a stroll down memory lane.....All because I'm still learning about life, from my 3 bonuses.

And life is about belonging, to someone that loves you, and being cool enough to be in a yearbook.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

You are Cordially Invited......


 In keeping with my daughter's love of games and our sarcastic wit, her RSVP was a mad lib, which we all gleefully filled out, and sent back to her ASAP!

Tyler & Ashley Herrinton came from Virginia and hit the ball out of the proverbial park on these pictures.    Words cannot express how thrilled I am about these gems.  I told you our pictures from our cellphones were delicious, but these.....well, these are priceless.

Hang on....

Cinderella didn't have a more perfect shoe.  And this covered the "something blue" perfectly.

Kip did all the flowers and seriously, the perfect touch on everything.

 Including her mama, who, after seeing these pics, is getting a haircut because I look like a long lost Beatle.  And not even a cool one. 
But these three????  Not a Beatle to be found!
The sweet couple wrote each other letters and gave each other a small gift, and Brandon thought
his was quite funny....
(he really DOES love his wife!)
Kip was over the moon ecstatic with her Sonic gift card for all the sweet tea her little heart desires (this guy knows my girl)
We all stayed in the same lodge/cabin, so it was pretty great timing that the guys got ready, without the girls running into them, and vice versa....
 And just WHOSE ideas were suspenders?????
 Though once on, they looked pretty dang spiffy. 
Thank goodness, Brooke (Brad's g/f) knew how to tie bow ties...

While upstairs...

 The beautiful bride was finishing up her makeup and gorgeous hair, and getting ready to walk the aisle.
But first, we had 50 buttons to button.  
 Ole Dad got first look, and his face says it all....
I absolutely adore this pic of Kip and her dad.
Now at the wedding site, Levi had decided that the empty chair boxes were the perfect "dressing" room.  He is a precious little person.
It was an incredibly beautiful morning, and Hallie looks like a million bucks singing her song.  I only wish I was talented enough to take the song she sang, and actually put these pictures on that soundtrack.  I've looked at the pics, listening to the song Oxygen by Granger Smith, and shed a couple of tears today, I'm not going to lie.
Levi is delicious, and took his sign carrying VERY serious.

He is so yummy, I wanted to squish his sweet face all weekend.  I love how he hooked his fingers through the lattice to hold the sign, I loved his hat.  I loved his little shoes.  I love his white blonde hair peeking out from under the hat.  I loved his confidence in striding down the aisle.   And he is totally making eye contact with "Uncle Brandon" in the first picture, like, "See what my sign says, dude? Here comes your chick".  
Here comes the bride with her very teary dad.  Just love it. 

 Such a joyful ceremony.
 Full of fun
And tears.  
and totally "Kip".  Classy, elegant, low key, and breathtaking.

Now I pronounce you HUSBAND and WIFE!!!
Now here's where the fun begins...
We are so used to seeing Hallie in volleyball clothes and a ponytail, we forget she's a gorgeous girl.
I truly have the most beautiful daughters, maybe in the world.  And the best part is, their insides are even more beautiful than their outsides.  Truth.
 And to add icing to the wedding cake, these man candies ain't so bad, either. 
They could be models.  Good grief.  

And put them all together???
Photogenic BLISS.

And add their unique, individual personalities, and we have a Winner.  
I LOVE this one...
and this one...
 and these......
and if this one doesn't scream, "Look what I got" I don't know what does. 
But the look of supreme happiness on both of these faces makes me smile ......
Seriously, how am I EVER GOING TO DECIDE????
Oh, here's my daughter in paradise, standing in her wedding dress.  no biggie.
The cake sharing started out friendly.....
 But knowing these two like I do, I knew it wouldn't take long....
and it didn't

 face smearing, take down....
followed with a smooch.   Perfection.
All too soon it was time for Mr. and Mrs. Hall to head to the airport for their beautiful honeymoon in Cancun, so, Kip donned her traveling dress and shoes, and out into a whirl of bubbles they journeyed...
With their fan club cheering them on......

It was

Thursday, May 8, 2014

No rest for the Weary

It's just been an adrenalin rush after another for the last few weeks. 

First the cruise, followed by the wedding, then Hallie's club team winning at the Regional tournament.  One rush after another. 

Then you go home.  And crash. 

I haven't talked about the lovelies lately.. They are doing good, and have hung out with their extraordinary babysitter whilst I've been traveling.   They are doing great, and improving every day.  The adoption is moving forward, and it is stuck somewhere in the red tape area, but everyone assures me that by July we should be final.

Lovely has kind of started gaining weight again.. since sports has stopped she has become a #1 couch potato.  I am racking my brain for activities to keep her busy this summer.  LB will attend his fun camp (Lovely is too old, though mature wise she would fit in just fine) and BB will continue his quest for kindergarten before he's 8.  That's our goal. 

Hallie is driving, and seriously, I cannot wait for her to get her real DL, so I can have a break from her massive running.

This summer she will be...


Going to 3x a week practice for club volleyball, preparing for nationals the 3rd week of June in Minnesota (in the evening)

Going to daily practice in the early morning for beach volleyball.....and attending tournaments every weekend with her  beach partner Ericka.

Attending school volleyball practice in the late morning-early afternoon probably 4 x a week. 

Then in July she will fit somewhere in the mix, practice for High Performance (she tried out at regionals for a place on the team, along with all the other girls in OK) and made the team!  They practice at UCO or MACU in a camp setting for a couple of weeks, then do a tournament against the other states High Performance teams in July.  Thankfully this year the tournament is in Tulsa (last year was Ft Lauderdale) and maybe more people can come and watch. 

So, I'm watering my money tree.   And getting a lot of rest. 

I'm going to need it. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Yosemite Wedding....the things Dreams are made Of

I really almost put this post off until I got the official pictures from the photographers.  They sent me one today, and I seriously bawled again.

Pam (Brandon's mom) asked me if I was a crier, and I told her  "NAW, not me", and I'll be ding donged dang if I didn't bawl my face off every second on Monday.  I was precariously close to the ugly cry a couple of times.  If it weren't for the knowledge that they were snapping pictures every second, and I didn't want to be caught with the ugly cry going on.

Kip had an itinerary, and we all followed it, like a legion of soldiers.  And everything went off without a hitch.

So cute with the sign Pam made for them, and their respective state shirts on.....
I'm just going to show pictures and add some captions....because seriously, this day was all about the beauty..... and the pictures show it .....

The guys had Brandon face him so he couldn't see Kip coming from the car, until she was ready.  :)
Levi carried a sign (that Kip made on Sunday)  UNCLE BRANDON, Here comes your Bride. 

Levi is the cutest ring bearer in the history of all ring bearers.  I just am saying.

Brian (Brandon's older brother) did the ceremony and it was very very amazing.  He kept us in tears, and then laughing, and to me, that's the very best way to be.

Hallie started us all off, with a surprise to Brandon from Kip.  When they first started dating, the ONLY, and I do mean ONLY thing that didn't check off her husband list for him, was the fact he liked country music.  His first task was bringing her over to the dark side.  He made her a mix tape of all his country songs, and while I wouldn't truly call this song country, he dedicated a song to her called Oxygen, and for their wedding day surprise, Hallie sang it for him.  He was pretty choked up.
Then he saw his WIFE walking down the aisle, and he was toast.  Even ole Brian was choked up, as he started the ceremony, and he pulled it together, with true Hall style, and when it was finally time to do the vows.... Brandon was struggling, and big bro popped him on the butt and told him to "Shape up".  When Kip struggled, Brian said, "I won't hit you on the butt, Kip", so Lacey reached over and promptly smacked her too.   It was priceless.

I think I love this one so much, because the oldest kids are together (Brian & Lacey), the middles are together  (Brandon & Kip) and look at the youngsters, Hallie and Brad.  Did they bond, or what??
Prankster did the same thing to his shoes that his dad did 30 years before know I loved it.

Lolly's gang

The Hall gang minus Brian's wife, Laura (All the same names make it easy when we get together) and their new daughter Savannah...

I am so thankful for Aunt Nancy & Uncle Lon, it's all God that Kip lives in REDDING!

Brian went on to say, that he knew that Brandon truly loved Kip, because in order to pay for her ring and other stuff, he sold his beloved VW bus, that he worked (slaved) on for years, so Brian said, "I knew he must love her, when I heard he sold his bus".   Then in the ring exchange, Brian added,  "This ring is a symbol of love, and everytime you look at it, remember that Brandon sold his bus for it......" and we all laughed again.
The most special part to me, was when Brian had the parents come up and lay hands on the new member of their family and pray over them.  It was beautiful and special, and uniquely Kip and Brandon.  Something I know I will always cherish, and I'm sure so will they.

They shoo'd us away after the service so they could take pictures (and believe me, when I get them in I will share the link and many many of the final product with you, because they will be fantastical.  And terrifical.  And stupendousness.   Because Ashley shot this to me this morning (I had seen a tiny blurb of it on Instagram and had stolen it, but now I have it in all it's not needing edited one whit, glory...
It was totally worth the hour they made us wait for them at the lodge, while they were out taking romantic pictures that most people only dream about.  I seriously can NOT wait to see all the rest of them, Can YOU?

Seriously, could they be any cuter????
Aunt Nancy got them this DELICIOUS cake and they had fun shoving it up each other's noses.  I especially like the Love Birds on the top.  Only Kip.

Then, in a twinkling of an eye, it was time to leave..... Kip donned her "Going away" dress.....
And they were OFF..... to San Francisco to hop on a plane to head to beautiful Cancun, to spend the next 5 days in sand and sun.

The memories and the fun we all shared in the mountains, will forever bond both of our families deeply and completely.  
I truly believe God brought these two together, in glorious union,
and every inch of my heart rejoices at the love story they will share for 
many many years.  
Welcome to our family, Brandon Hall.  We love and are so proud to call you ours.
Kip Hall.  Coolest name ever.  


What God has joined together, let no man put Asunder.