Living the Dream

Living the Dream

Sunday, December 18, 2016

An Open Letter

Dear Jeff and Karla,

I found out from Melba that your daughter's unborn baby has been given a grim diagnosis.

How my heart hurts for you.  For her.  For the precious unborn babe.

I remember October 3, 2007 like yesterday.  That is the day we found out that Laynie was going to be "different".

We were told such incredibly horrible things.  Our hearts were broken, our dreams shattered, in one short doctor's appointment.

But, also, something very tangible happened that day.  God showed His very beautiful face to us.  I thought I was a sold out Christian before that day, but through her incredible life, I found out what walking in the light really was.  Without Laynie, I would have never had a true relationship with God my Father.

So, while the news is grim and unexpected, get ready to walk through the most anointed time of your lives.

It will be your job, to be your daughter's biggest cheerleader.  When she feels overwhelmed, you will be there to always be her positive guide.  When she cries, you will cry along with her, and tell her that God will never leave her side.  He didn't bring you or her to this place to leave or forsake you, He brought you here to show you His face clearer than you've ever seen it before.

I invite you to read my blog of our journey with Laynie.  Go back to the beginning, the day we heard the news and just read about the blessings.  There is pain.  I will not lie, but the blessings FAR OUTWEIGH the pain.

YOU WILL MAKE IT THROUGH THIS SEASON.  You will be better people, better parents, better grandparents, just let God guide you through the hard spots.

The doctors DON"T KNOW EVERYTHING, only God does.  We learned that OVER and OVER.  When we heard negative, we shook our head, and said to ourselves, "God is writing her story, not the doctors" and indeed, He did.

She impacted thousands of lives.  If you allow yourself to be vulnerable in a way you have never been before, God will use this time for good.

I'm standing in solid belief for you, that it will all be good.

For He Is Good, all the time.

Even when our hearts are broken, He is Good.

Love you two,  Laura

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


It has been all over facebook.

"Post this and raise awareness of the suicide hotline".

It's that time of year again, when the holidays are full of cheer for many, and full of sadness and despair for others.

This time last year, I blogged about a man that came in to the funeral home and wrote his cremation, fully intending to go home and take his life.  This year, he is alive and well and living his life in Stillwater.

God's hands.

Three years back, someone very close to me, was on the verge of taking their life.  No hope, no way out, just a black pit of despair.   Fast forward three years, a new season, a new hope, life is better than ever.

God's hands.

I'm here to tell you people, depression is real and prosperous.  Children taking their lives, or attempting to take their lives, because LIFE is so hard and they feel there is NO PLACE For them.  It makes me so sad.

I stand before you a broken human.  This may shock a bunch of you, especially newer friends, but I am not the person you think I am.  I am a broken, lost and sinning mess.  And that's just on Monday morning.  I rally on Tuesday, and spiral on Wednesday, and as Friday gets closer, I rally again, and by Sunday morning, I am off and running, straight into the house of my Lord.

I am making light of this, because "Christians" are so labeled as "Saints" and "Holier than THou".  I am known to throw a cuss word in for good measure usually at least once a day.  You Don't have to be HOLY, for your God to love you.  This is where so many of my friends get caught up...."I'm not worthy of God's love"  "I have screwed up too many times"   "He could never forgive me of the things I've done" and on and on until you are mired in a pit of despair.

I had the pleasure of keeping Deaton this past weekend while his mom took a very deserved weekend ladies retreat.  He is 18 months old now, and so full of piss and vinegar that you can smell him across the room.  He is a mess.  He is precious.  He is all boy and so full of energy, that I needed a nap almost every hour on the hour to keep up with his antics.

In 36 hours he had pulled the dog's tail so many times that she ran when she saw him, he punched Steven in the man parts,  he bit me three times, he threw his blocks at Gina and whammed her in the face, he fell off the chair and landed upsidedown in his VW toy, he blew food at me, landing on my glasses, he knocked the spoon out of my hand, he pooped through so many diapers (post-Thanksgiving blowout), and he napped the whole of 2 hours, and lastly but certainly not least, he punched me straight in the nose and almost cold-cocked me.

Did any of that make me love him less?  No MATTER WHAT he did, I loved him.  I love him with such unending grace, it makes my head spin.  (none of you will get this until you acquire grandchildren, even your own children won't inspire this patience).  And today as I was taking Zach to school, a song came on the radio called "Tell Me" by Carrollton and it made me weep with joy.

God Loves You.  People, you need NO ONE Else.  No one needs to fill your love tank but Jesus.  Instead of blaming Him for everything wrong in your life, switch it up, and try running to Him for comfort.   God loves You as much as I love Deaton, even with your flaws, and your screw-ups, there isn't anything He doesn't love about you.

When I came out of church on Sunday, Tyler had Deaton in the lobby and he was running around (let me clarify here: Deaton was running, not gimpy still limping, but in two shoes, Tyler) and when DeeDee saw me, he lit up like a Christmas tree on steroids, and ran as fast as he could into my arms.  Did I think about how many times he had messed up the day before??  No, I scooped him up and loved him as hard as I could.

Here's a thought, WHAT IF WE ALL FELT THAT WAY ABOUT JESUS?  It is ABSOLUTELY the way he feels about you.....He doesn't remember what you did yesterday, He loves you in the HERE and NOW.  Just think, There would be no more suicides, there would be no more self inflicted pain.....there would only be  unending joy.

Life is so freaking messy.  There is so much pain and crap to deal with.  Instead of blaming God for all of it....try running into His arms for His love.

It will be all you need.

Simple steps to begin a new relationship with God.

 -Turn on worship music in your car.  KLOVE, or AIR1 are perfect starts.  Pour positive into your life.

-Find a Lifechurch, or a church you feel so comfortable in, you can't wait to get there to worship.

-Get a Bible, and dive into Matthew.  It's the perfect time of year, the first four books of the new testament are all about Jesus's birth, and it's just groovy that it times it out that way.

-Talk to God all day.  To help you remember at first, everytime you send a text message to someone, send up a prayer of thanks for one thing.  Before you know it, you will be talking to him practically all day.  (I know His ears ring with my praises and requests)

Just start with those four things and watch something wonderful happen in your life.

Every single one of us is born with spiritual gifts.  Yours might be helping at church, wrangling kids in the nursery  Some of you foster pets, and love animals, and give them shelter.  You might tutor kids in an inner city YMCA, and pour hope into children that don't have any way of learning except for what you give them that one hour a week.  You might volunteer at the Food Bank, or wave to people as they drive in to church.  Some are simply stay at home moms, doing everything they can to keep the home fires burning.   Everyone is born with a gift.  Every gift is unique.

Maybe your gift is sharing a blog from an oldish woman with your friends and reaching one person that is hurting.

It all begins with you.  Mixing it up and doing it different.

Be bold.  He is just waiting there, loving you with all of his heart, watching you blow and go, waiting for you to turn around and jump into His loving arms.

GO jump ---  what are you waiting for?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Finding your Why

I haven't written much about the Lovelies in a while.  Because, has been pretty normal.

Then as I grow more and more impatient, and want a seemingly "normal" life for myself, I find myself growing dissatisfied and edgy.  Nobody can do anything right, and I'm basically a bear in a bra.  

Just being real.  

Today was no exception.  For some reason, Big sis has showed back up, (oh wait, let me think a minute, HELLO, it's almost Christmas) and is flexing her big sister muscle and guilting everyone into needing to see each other. 

It has gotten so bad, we took it to the counselor this morning, and I found myself under the tires of the bus....

and it went downhill from there.  

After being talked off the ledge by my bud Michelle, then Lacey and finally, Ray (you all know who you are).... I felt a giant burden lifted.  Who needs therapy when you got those kind of friends???? I mean, really.  

Here is the deal, and this is a big one for those of you that are considering fostering or have taken the plunge yourself, or even if you are 4 years in (like moi) matter how "normal" things can look on the outside, there is ALWAYS something just under the surface waiting to rear it's ugly head.  


For me it's the trauma of family visits.  I know they are a necessary evil, and tonight (after taking a solid 12 hours to process and find my words), I sat the kids down and had a pow wow about what was prompting the need to visit, and really making them explain to me what was making this so important to them.  

1 and 1 half hour later, a box of kleenex, a whole lot of soul searching later, we finally found some answers.  Calmly, lovingly and with everyone's feelings taken into account.  

These kids have been through trauma that most of us, even as adults, have never experienced.  My heart broke again tonight, as Steven shakingly asks me, "Lolly will we ever get over PTSD? will that ever stop?"   Just. Shut. The. Door.  

And hide my guns.  Makes me want to go hunt down that sorry dirtbag that did harm to him.  

But for tonight, we have peace and harmony in the home again.  Restored.  What has finally soaked into me again, is anytime I start to question my sanity, and start any sentence with a "I'm ....... or "I"..... it's not going to be a pretty picture.  There is no I in Team Jesusrocksyourlife, and you caregivers and foster parentals.....When you start focusing on "I", you run the risk of becoming so self involved, you alienate your kids.  

Trust me, If I had my way, and I liked wine, I would head in from work, throw sandwiches at all of them, open a bottle of wine, grab a red solo cup, and be in a my room with the door shut until morning.  My introvert tendencies ramp up the closer I get to parking the car in the garage every night, and I'm ready to shed my extrovert exterior and go hide in the closet and speak to no one and nothing until the next day when I put my extrovert back on and head out the door.  Transparency, friends.  I'm a closet introvert.  Soak that in.

BUT, I have little people in this house that keep me grounded and unfocused on ME about 23.5 hours each day.  And that is a good thing.

When I hear people whining about their lives and how in the world are they ever going to live in a world with Trump leading, I'm like......."go work in a kid's shelter and walk in their shoes 1 day.  Just one day, and you won't be worrying about your nails and if you need the newest, nicest, latest pair of shoes, and what sunglasses are trending, or how many likes you got on your instagram. "  

Forget your I, and you will find your "why".  Why God put you here and how HE will lead you.  

Even though it's hard and messy and sometimes oh so monotonous, The WHY is all you need.  


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Election 2016

Back when Donald Trump announced he would run for President, I just laughed to myself.  "That's HILARIOUS", I thought, finishing the thought with a "You're FIRED" (hand gesture included).

As he gained more and more momentum, and most of my family backing him (my brother, "Washington needs an enema"), and all the negative press surrounding him, and Hillary's nose growing on national tv, I found myself between the proverbial "rock" and the "hard spot".  Who to vote for?

I was a registered Democrat at 18.  (just like my daddy) As I grew older I found myself voting Republican more than Democrat.  So at midlife, I switched my party affliation, but still voted for whomever I believe to be the best candidate.  (Never met a democrat I didn't like)

My facebook BLEW UP last night with hate.  HATE HATE HATE.


Friends, it doesn't matter who sits in the white house.... our GOD is supremely in control.  For the record, I was one of those hillbilly, uneducated white folk that was insanely dumb enough to vote for Donald Trump.

My kid, my own love and flesh, is entering the military in July of next year, and will most likely spend a great majority of her life, in the military.  No way, no how could I vote for the candidate who could care less about military spending.  No way.

Plus, the media needs an enema.  I've been exposed to a media bias here in Norman, with Hallie in volleyball.  The local paper here is pro Norman High.  Always has been, always will be. I watched us almost win state and barely got a nod of recognition from those jack asses.  (sorry, media ticks me off), but when we lost, HEADLINEs of the loss with a picture of our team standing there crying.   What the Heck.  So I understand media bias.  And Donald Trump?  He became media fodder.  Is he perfect?  Oh for the love of heck, No.   Is he a dork in front of the camera?  Oh Heck yes he is.  But what rings true to me, was his insistence on taking down the career politicians that hold this country in their grips.  And he doesn't mince words.  Period.  What you see is what you get.  I remember my brother telling me the enema analogy, and me asking him back,  "Yeah, but I just don't want the whole USA to take the enema".  So enough about enemas.   Trump is president.  We have brought reality tv into the white house.

Let's take it like the champions we are, and see what happens.

What concerns me most, was one of the local state questions.  I wanted teachers to get raises.  Period.  God knows I have voted for the lottery, paramutual betting, liquor by the drink, everything Oklahoma promised to put in the teachers pockets.  Nary a one helped our teachers.  

So I have an idea.  They were going to get $5000 a year raise.  After taxes, that would be about $3500 (being generous).  Every single teacher in Oklahoma has at least 25-30 kids they handle (middle and high schoolers, more).   If everyone could rally and support their teachers this Christmas with $100 visa gift cards,  WE THE PEOPLE could handle their deficit and give them their raises.   We were all going to take tax hits of almost $500 a year passing this bill.  Most families have 2-5 kids.  $100 per teacher is still less than the tax we would pay.   We pay NOTHING for public school.  There is no tuition.  LET's FREAKING TAKE CARE OF OUR TEACHERS.  We said NO to the government of oklahoma handling it, SO the PEOPLE that SEND their kids every single day to school, need to step the heck up.    SUPPORT YOUR TEACHERS.

I remember those first months with the "lovelies".  Christmas was on me, with barely 6 weeks in with them.  I was SHOWERED with insane love that first year.  Gift cards, christmas presents, money...insane!   The second year...same thing.  This year, more on my feet, able to breathe, finding a rhythm, I know how lifechanging it was for me to have those gift cards drop from heaven.  Saved my bacon.   SUPPORT YOUR TEACHERS.   I know most middle school/high school students have 6-7 teachers in a day (impossible to cover all of them).  Pick one- pick two, but EVERYONE has to do it to make it work.  We can fix this problem ourselves.   LOVE ONE ANOTHER.  SUPPORT the teachers that spend more time with our KIDS than we DO!  

Anyway, dang.  I may need to run for freaking office.   I've got a sketchy past I'm not proud of, and really awkward in front of a camera.  I could have a career.

Support a teacher this Christmas.  Rock their worlds.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Tyler and his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

Before you read this, I am just going to tell you, if you have a weak stomach and pictures of very bad accidents bother you, or blood bothers you, you need to NOT read this.

Do yourself a favor and go read Jen Hatmaker's book "For the Love".

However, if you want to hear a story about a really bad day, and you and your family often jump off cliffs into water, or you just want your family to STOP jumping off cliffs into water, read this story, and feel free to share it.

If you haven't followed the saga of Tyler Holt (my son in law, whom I love to the moon and beyond) this year, he has had a tough year.  He's had to have his gallbladder out, his appendix out, and passed a couple of kidney stones.  It's not been his year when it comes to health issues.

So, imagine, if you will, when presented with an opportunity to have some down time and go to the lake with two friends and hang out, and just "be".... you have to know that he was ON BOARD.

All I know is October 3, that whole week, has not been a good week for our family as a whole, for about the last 8 years or so.  Something ALWAYS happens that week.  Weird, significant stuff happens.  God always has it, and gets us through it, but this week, Lacey and I hold our breath until the 10th rolls around.

This year.

Same thing.

5:15ish October 5th, my phone rings and it is Lacey.  Not too worried picking that call up, because we normally converse every day about that time.  Today though I'm met with,  "Tyler told me not to panic, which makes me really panic, but he's at the lake and he was cliff jumping and he has messed up his foot".  All in one, long, punctuated with terror, sentence.

I'm still processing "At the lake", thinking "Do I remember knowing he was going somewhere?" and then immediately thinking of my friend, Kelley Jones Chlouber, and her older brother Jeff, diving off the cliffs at Eufaula, and breaking his neck and dying.  Gone, in one fun, thrill seeking second.  Unbelievable.

So I ask her, "Slow down, NOW WHAT?" and apparently, he and 2 friends ran to Eufaula to work on one of the guys lake house, and decide to take a break and go fish.  No poles later, they end up stripping to their undies and start first on the rope swing, jumping into the water, and then for the ultimate thrill pleasure, deciding to jump off the cliffs (just a bit over).

Now these are NOT our knuckleheads, but a picture I found on the internet, so everyone will know what we are talking about here.  

The three of them stood on the cliff before they jumped, two of them trying to decide if they were going to dive (OMG, let's not even think about that outcome), or who was going first, when my son in law, ran smack passed them, yelling "This is only going to be fun once", followed with  "I'm FIRST" and off he goes.........

At 6'7 and 200 pounds, at that velocity of speed from 60 feet up, I'm not good at physics, but I can tell you the force you hit the water will be pretty stupid significant.    

Even worse when the lake is low, and the rocks are not near as deep as they used to be.  He can only describe it as searing pain and horrific blood all around him.  He came out of the water, and the guys thought he had first hit his head (it was bleeding) must have projected him back into something, he yells, (still in shock).. "Get me out of here, I'm attracting sharks".  

The guys are running down the hill to get to him, and he is desperately trying to paddle (with his injured foot "Flapping skin") to the edge.  Thank goodness he was with Hercules and Thor, because between the two of those big guys, they managed to piggy back his huge butt to the car, and load him up to take him to Stigler Hospital.   

This is all we know at home.  "On my way to the hospital to have them stitch up my foot, going to Stigler hospital, because it is closest".  

With my heart beating out of my mouth and chest, I google Stigler Hospital to see where it is and what people have reviewed about it, 

And I kid you not.....this is what it said....

Not wanting to ALARM Lacey, (who is group texting Kip, her dad and I every detail), I say, "We need to make a plan to get him out of there, can we medi-flight him to OKC?" not knowing that Tyler and co. have made their way to that ER and already know they have to get out of there ASAP.  

Now what I am about to show you is gruesome and gross, but I feel so strongly about cliff jumping in general, after people getting hurt and losing Jeff, that I am going to show this, because please, If you value and love your family.... don't let them cliff dive.    Ever.   And I'm thankful to God above that he JUMPED, and did NOT dive (as his buddies were about to do).  

Again, warning......queamish people do not go any further than this sentence.  

They sent me this picture and I was like.   I am going to cut off his good leg and beat him to death with it.  

They sent me this picture and my next thought was, "I am going to smack that face off his body, next time I see him".  

Then, I got over the initial shock and anger and panic set in.  He could lose this foot.  If they don't get the debris out and infection sets in, he could lose it.  

Muscle, tendons, nerves, all the way to the bone, severed.  Unbelievably, his bones are not broken.  

They transported him by ambulance to Tulsa, and a top notch surgeon got hold of him and stitched him up (3 hours), and told Lacey how incredibly lucky he was. 

"However, if he doesn't stay off of it, and mind EVERY THING I SAY, he will lose his foot".  

I think he has way too much pain meds in this picture (still joking around), but this is as he is leaving Stigler, heading to Tulsa.  

People, life can change in an instant.   I take for granted EVERY SINGLE DAY that I'm good.  

We all do.  

Tyler's guardian angels have taken a leave of absence for the next 6 weeks, (while he is on strict bed rest) to recover from their heroic efforts in keeping him in one piece.  I am thankful for those guardian angels.  I can't allow myself to think of what could have been.  

Lacey and Tyler have no idea (but are seeing it first hand), how incredibly loved and adored they are.  They are home now, with Tyler going back to Tulsa end of week for doc to change bandages and make sure healing is going as planned.  

Tyler has a tendency to spike a fever in the evenings and be pretty miserable and sick.  I would just ask everyone to please continue to pray for him daily, that he handles being "Still", that the meds keep the infection far from his foot, and that the pain doesn't become unbearable as more time passes.  His toes were very swollen to me today, and we elevated his foot some more and that seemed to help.  It's just a jacked up deal, yo.  

Here's what I know to be true, though.... and Tyler will agree 110%.....

Friends don't let friends jump from cliffs.    EVER.  

Monday, July 18, 2016

In Praying for Alison

As Alison heads to surgery on Wednesday, she has asked for very specific prayer requests.

I will copy them, so I don't miss any.

All right, prayer warriors... the time has come to get down on our knees in prayer for my surgery on Wednesday! Scott and I will be leaving Tuesday morning for San Francisco, and we would covet your prayers over the next week. After having a family pow-wow to discuss specific prayer requests, here are the BIGGIES we are asking you to pray over:On the homefront:Restful, sound sleep every night beginning tonight! That all fears would be banished; for the peace of God to rule in this house and for hearts and minds to be at peace, trusting God completely.Sibling unity; love for one another; kindness and gentleness toward one another; patience. Safety in transportation to and from events.Good leadership from the older kids toward the youngers.For Surgery:I have one procedure on Tuesday the 19th to inject dye which will travel to my "sentinal" lymph node that will be removed in surgery to ascertain if any cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in my right underarm area.Surgery is scheduled to begin at 8:30 am on Wednesday the 20th, and should last 4 to 5 hours.For the Lord to provide supernatural peace that surpasses all understanding. That I would be able to walk confidently into the hospital Wednesday morning, trusting God completely. For me to have absolute faith and trust that God is leading me and therefore He will be faithful to sustain me.For miraculous healing and to be cancer free from this point on.For my surgeons to have skilled hands and wisdom.For every nurse who has contact with me to be attentive, skilled and alert, and that I would have favor with the hospital staff.For no mistakes to be made.For me to be protected from any infections or exposure to other sickness and germs.To have high tolerance for pain and discomfort and have good pain control.For Scott to be at peace while he is waiting during the surgery.For safe travel to and from San Francisco.For a full and complete recovery at home.I will be "turning over the reins" for updates this next week to Victoria and Savannah. Scott will be providing them updates from the hospital and they will then post updates here.Thank you, thank you, my faithful prayer partners. I am so thankful for your prayer covering.Pressing onward with God's grace,Alison

Today, I met with a couple that was in their 80's.  She shared with me that she was a breast cancer survivor.  She said to me, "I was and am the biggest wimp in the world when it comes to anything I had to put the cancer in a box, and give it to God.  Once I gave it to Him, I never worried about it again, I just did what I had to do to get through the surgery and chemo, and I knew that HE had the cancer, and that HE would control that box, and I promise, It got me through"
So powerful, how God puts the people in our path that we need to hear from.  I've been praying and praying for Alison's peace, and this precious little gal tells me exactly what I need to hear to share with my baby cousin.  
Extra prayers for the Grants, and meanwhile, that Cancer is in God's hands, not ours.  

I believe in total healing.   For God is Good.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Good news, Great news, Amazing News

This time of the year is always a kick in the teeth for me.  I just don't like the first of July.  Laynie went to heaven on July 10, SIX years ago, and even though we have a flood of PURPLE love heading to us on the 10th, it's always a hard day for me.

Then KD decided to leave Thunder, which left 1/2 of my household and my neighbor in bereft sadness,  so all of that mess was hard to take on the 4th.

Then Alison shared this post on facebook, and made my entire day.....

Dear Cancer,
I thought it would only be fair to warn you. You have chosen the wrong woman and the wrong family to mess with. It is obvious that you are a coward and have no idea who you are up against. Let me set you straight. On your side, all you have is yourself. Cancer. Sneaky, relying on scare tactics such as “stage numbers” and survival statistics. The problem is, you have no idea what we have on OUR side. Let me enlighten you. First off, we have GOD. The only reason you have been permitted to throw the first sucker punch in this fight is that GOD is permitting it. He is allowing it for my good; for my growth and the chance to rely on Him further and learn more about Him. You don’t get to call the shots. GOD does. You do not control the time span of my life. GOD does. What you mean for hopelessness and discouragement, God means for good and a closer spiritual walk with Him. Given God’s absolute power and authority, we really don’t need any other team members, but since I said I would introduce you to the whole team, allow me to continue.
You picked the fight with me, so I will kick off the introductions. You clearly did not take a good look at me before you threw the first punch. I am a fighter. I am stubborn and loyal and never give up when I set my sights on a goal. Did I mention that I am the mother of six children? And an adoptive momma? And a homeschooler? Take just one of those jobs and you would have one tough woman. Throw all three into the mix and you come out with a tenacious woman who values life and her family above all else, and a woman who will fight you until the bitter end. Did I mention that knife throwing is my backyard hobby? Just thought you might want to know that.
My husband. Ah, my husband. You obviously did not take a look at him up close and personal. My husband is an amazing man. Yes, he has a soft and gentle side, but that is reserved for those he loves and trusts. That would NOT be you. No, you will be seeing the OTHER side of my husband. The man who is fiercely protective of his wife and family. The man who will stop at nothing to protect and support his wife and who will remain steadfastly alongside her in this marathon. He has already suited up and I believe I hear him reloading right now. I would run while you have the chance.
My children. Yes, I do have a gaggle of them. And you know why? Because they are amazing, that’s why. Given they are our children, the kids have inherited our tenacity, fierce loyalty, stubbornness and fighting spirit. And, interestingly enough, our passionate pursuit of various self-defense techniques. Victoria will be happy to target you in using her bow and arrow OR her rifle. She’s multi-talented like that. Did you know that Savannah recently returned from military war dog internship? She’s been using all that she learned in training our two Dobermans. I would be very scared if I were you. And sure, Ashlyn seems like such a sweet and gentle girl, but don’t let that fool you. When it comes to defending her family against bullies she won’t hesitate to knock you down flat. Laramie is thirteen years old. She doesn’t even NEED an excuse to hate you, as she is already emotional and will see you as bent on ruining her life. Did I mention she also has begun Jujitsu? That girl is going to mess you up. And the boys? Wow. They would just LOVE the chance to go all crazy Ninja on you and use some karate moves on anyone who messes with their momma.
I am sure you are now very nervous, cancer, but I haven’t even touched on our extended family or friends yet!! Suffice it to say that most of my close friends are also moms of large families & homeschoolers, and they are not only some of the most tenacious and loyal friends you can ask for, but they are also chronically tired and overworked, so they will indeed be prone to taking out all pent-up aggression on you and will give you a butt-kickin’ you are not soon to forget. Our loving friends and family members have all been in touch with me to let me know they are praying for me and they are all standing by my side, offering support in any way that I need. My mom and dad have already developed a deep hatred toward you. Did you know that I am my dad’s youngest daughter? He’s a good ol’ Okie boy who also stands ready to battle this one out on behalf of his “baby bear”.
So, cancer, I guess the message bears repeating. You have picked the wrong person to mess with. My heavenly Father is supporting me and helping me every day; my family and friends are there to pick me up after you throw your cowardly punches and we will ALL come out swinging. There is NO way you are going to win this one. You WILL be overcome. You WILL be beaten. It is time for you to leave.

Then after spending a fun time with Lindsay and her girls on July 4th at my brother and his girlfriend's place, and laughing and laughing at her in her 9 month state of pregnancy,.
 she presented the family with our newest member last night at 8:30ish  7 lb 2 oz 20 inch long,
 Major Warren Lewis

His new big sister, Maleah,  is more than ready to take him home.  This will be a fun, busy time for Lindsay!
Then on the heels of this sweet news.....Alison got her biopsy results from San Francisco and PRAISE BE TO JESUS, all the new spots are BENIGN!  We are praying for surgery to happen on the 20th now, and get those tiny little cancer cells GONE from her body, so She can begin the healing journey and SHOW Cancer OUT THE HOUSE.  SUCH a PRAISE report!

Just got off the phone with a nurse from UCSF... I am now crying HAPPY tears. BOTH biopsies came back as benign, meaning no cancer spreading to those areas. The nurse is awaiting one last “puzzle piece” that she thinks she will get today – the radiologist has to look at the pathology report and confirm what the other folks see and the conclusions they have drawn and either agree or disagree with their findings. She said she will call me back before close of business today either way to let me know what she has heard or if she has not heard. SO... I am now praying that we are still able to move forward with surgery on the 20th. I will post info. when I hear. Join me in praising God for good news! With thanksgiving, Alison

CAN I GET AN AMEN?????God.  Is.  So.  Good. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

When It's Not what You want To Hear

Alison went for her pre-surgery MRI this past week, and was handed some very discouraging news.

Doctors found spots in both breasts, and now they want to do biopsies next week to see what is going on.  Alison had a horrible experience with the initial biopsy, so this was very distressing news to her.  The doctor assured her that her team in San Fran, are all very talented and that it shouldn't be that traumatic this time.

 If they are benign, or they are found to be early stage, then they will proceed with the surgery.  If it's more aggressive (due to her CHK-2 gene and HER2 path) they will start with chemo.

All of this is very distressing.  We were all believing that when she had her MRI, she would be miraculously healed.

It's very hard for me, as a Christian, to understand what is happening.  I believe in God, I believe in miracles, I trust Him with all my heart and soul.

Yet, He allows this to happen to my cousin, who is probably one of the closest things to a saint, this earth has to offer.

I. Just. Don't. Get. It.

When trials like this happen, the urge to start the Blame Game really kicks in.  The Devil gets in there and causes the doubt and worry and tries to magnify it to an impossible level.

The bible clearly reads,
It is so hard to hand God your worries.  Almost impossible.  I was distracted yesterday, and left my wallet laying somewhere at a race with over 500 people there.  Didn't realize I had left it until well over an hour later, and 45 miles away.  As I raced back to the course, my heart in my throat, crying and praying "Oh Lord, please let someone turn it in", I felt a peace, but still that nagging, "What am I going to whole financial world is in that wallet?" feelings kept creeping in.   As I ran to the volunteer tent, praying against the odds, I wept in relief when the volunteer handed me my wallet, CASH HANGING OUT OF THE EDGE, everything in it, nothing taken.  My kids exclaimed to me, "Oh, Lolly, God takes such good care of you.  We knew you would find it".   

I'm not gonna lie, here.  I want that same certainty that Alison is going to be 100% healed.  And it is given, in large, by having Faith.  

Faith is believing.  
I ask all of you to continue to believe and pray without ceasing for my Alison.  Everytime you close your eyes to throw up a prayer, include her name.  

I'm a big risk taking, bet the farm kind of believer.  I want you all to be one too.  God never fails to come through for me.  

I'm praying this for Alison.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Keep Your Eyes On Me

I've had several people ask me how Alison is doing.

She is heading to San Francisco tomorrow to do an MRI, and then make her battle plan for surgery, next Wed, June 29.

She is asking for specifics in prayer.... I will copy them here for her perfect words...

Good evening, praying friends and family,
Scott and I head back to San Francisco tomorrow afternoon. I have an MRI on Thursday morning and meet with my surgeon and her team on Friday to finalize a surgery plan. Here are some specific prayer requests if you have time to pray for me and my family. Thank you!
God’s wisdom in making a surgery and treatment plan. Only HE knows all the information, and we want to walk in HIS wisdom.
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Surgery: no infections or complications, skillful surgeons, lack of any cancer growth or spreading, complete and speedy recovery. A cancer-free future!
Remove fears; let me see and feel God’s presence in every moment. Faith to not worry about surgery, to not worry about future risks and cancers from my gene mutations; living every day fully and joyfully. Eyes to see the good in every day and cherish it.
Phil. 4:6-7: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace that surpasses understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Rest peacefully in God’s grace and be able to let my desires and expectations go.
2 Cor. 12:9 – My grace is sufficient for you, My strength is made perfect in weakness.
Absolute trust and submission to God. To fully feel in my innermost being that HIS way is perfect; that HIS plan is best; HIS love for my children exceeds my own. 
Trust in the Lord with all my heart, and lean not on my own understanding. Acknowledge him in all my ways and let HIM direct my path. Proverbs 3:5-6
Remove dread of chemotherapy and ensuing hormonal changes. Wisdom in how to handle chemo-induced menopause; able to adjust to body changes. 
Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
Family prayer requests (in their own words):
Scott: Wisdom in knowing how to best help Alison; medical discernment; patience.
Victoria: Patience and a very long fuse; dealing wisely with any stresses inside or outside the family; emotional intelligence; wisdom in making the best use of time and being a good leader.
Savannah: Patience and emotional intelligence as I work with my siblings, peace and a quiet mind to be able to fall asleep at night; no bad dreams.
Ashlyn: Patience; diligence to do all that needs to be done; faith in God’s ultimate plan.
Laramie: Freedom from stress and anxiety; patient with siblings; trust God.
Ethan: To be calm and trust in God.
Levi: To be obedient when asked to do something and not obstinate.
Much love and appreciation to all of you praying,
Alison & the Grants

Join me, if you will in praying for my family.  I also had a friend, Sandra, who got some distressing news last week, as well.  Add her in your prayers, too.
It's overwhelming, sometimes, this dance called life.  Enjoy this video from one of the most talented singers I know, Marcy Priest.  We were honored to have her and Trent Austin sing at Laynie's celebration, and she holds a very special place in my heart.  Listen to the words of this song, and let it become part of who you are.  
Keep your eyes on Me......Matthew 26:38

Blessings and Love Friends....

Thursday, June 9, 2016

When It's Not what You want to Hear

Alison, and her rock, her husband of 27 years, Scott

The first step in Alison's journey was finding out exactly what is going on in her DNA.  We were hoping that the test results would find no breast cancer mutation in her gene, and in getting the results, there was no presence of that gene, however in her CHEK 2 gene, which ups the chances of cancer showing up elsewhere, that is present.

This is a huge disappointment, plus a scary time for all of us, as we have found that my aunt and uncle both are "Carriers" and while being a "Carrier" isn't too much of a risk, having the gene passed to you, puts you at risk.

So in light of this diagnosis for Alison, I will be checking with my doctor to get a CHEK 2 DNA swab for myself, to make sure that I am not a "Carrier" or a "receptor" of this gene, since my uncle does carry the gene, making my mom a candidate to be a "Carrier" as well. (Have an appointment next week for genetic testing).

When Aunt Nancy called me to tell me the news, I hung up from her and bawled my face off for all of their family.  (That seems to be a "thing" these days) and I called Lacey and Kip to share with them, in talking to Lacey, we recalled the bad diagnosis after bad diagnosis with Laynie, and how things seemed so doomed.  And how she beat every odd.  Over and over and over.

If we had let fear consume us during that time, we would have been frozen.  What we lived in, was a full out live life to the

People, God is in control.  I remember telling my Christian friends that came to me and told me "God is BIGGER than this diagnosis" saying...  "But He can't change her genetic makeup" and in looking back, God not only changed her genes one time, he changed them three.  Three different times, as we looked at her DNA makeup, it was different every time.

Our God is a God of miracles, and He stands firmly in control.

No matter what this DNA diagnosis is for Alison, HE is in control.

We won't understand why this is happening, we just stand in faith that He is a good, and faithful and loving God, and throughout this process, HE will receive the glory.

For God is Good, all the time.

A New Chapter

About three weeks ago, I found out that one of my cousins has breast cancer.

On my mom's side, my brother is the not only the oldest cousin, but he is the only boy.  He always lamented that he wished someone would "Give him a boy to play with", but it was not to be, we were presented girl cousins, 5 times over.

I, however, was in heaven.  Because cousins are better than sisters, because you have that family connection, without the reality of having to share, live and breathe every second of every day with them.  (kind of like grandkids, get to enjoy all their gifts, and then send them home).

So when I heard the news that the "Mother Teresa" of our family, my baby cousin, had been diagnosed, I bawled my face off.  Broke my heart.

I just saw her when Lacey, Deaton & I made our quick trip to California the first of April.  

Alison and I, without knowledge of the other's thinking, got into the adoption thing about the same time.  I had no idea she was working on an international adoption, and she and her family (Scott, husband, 4 daughters, Victoria, Savannah, Ashlynn and Laramie) adopted 2 little boys from Ethiopia.  Levi and Ethan.  She runs their farm, she homeschools her kids, she is the REAL deal, people.  

And she gets this kick to the gut.  Her first reaction is not one of sorrow for herself, but her first thought, "I don't want to do this to my kids".  Which doesn't surprise me, because she is one of the most selfless people I know.  

I don't tell this much, because most people wouldn't get it, but for the sake of transparency and my obedience to God in all of this, I'm sharing this.  When Laynie was alive, it started for me.  In my early morning hours, when you start to wake up and your subconscious is  awake, but your brain hasn't kicked in fully (I know you all are thinking that's how I roll 24/7, but keep those thoughts to yourself), that's when God speaks to me.  

During that anointed, blessed time with Laynie, I heard Him almost daily.  He spoke truth and positivity into my daily life, and usually, I would sprint out of bed, and put it all in writing, and share that with you.  Most of my blogs during Laynie's life and beyond, came from the voice that led me every single day.  

After we lost Laynie, that voice told me to foster, and later, adopt, and then I didn't hear it (probably because I'm so exhausted from raising kids !!!) for the last year and a half or so.  

PHEW, He isn't going to ask any more of me!  I DID IT!  I answered His call and I'm Done!!  

Then about 4-5 months ago, He came back and told me that a girl in a wheelchair was going to come and live with us.  

I have to tell you, I sat straight up in bed, and said, "Oh NO, LORD, I can't do that.  I'm too old, we have NO room, and I have to tell you NO".

The very weekend after I heard it, I was at church and lo and behold the sermon is in the "Neighbor" series, and it's on adoption.  Now normally, anytime I'm at church, and they talk about fostering/adoption, I'm all  "Oh yeah, no guilt there, been there, done that, got the adoption papers to prove it", and can move straight on.  This time, I sat riddled with anxiety, because I was told and I didn't listen.  

That night, I begged, pleaded and prayed for God to task me with something I could handle, something that wouldn't squeeze my already exhausted life into more chaos than I already have.  

Then, Alison was diagnosed, and a few days later God laid it on my heart to write about it.  To share her story, just like I did Laynie's, and have world wide prayer for her.  And the anxiety about the wheelchair kid disappeared.  God gave me a different direction.  Because....

Prayer changed lives in Laynie's life.  

Prayer will change lives in Alison's.  

He also told me, he would give her full healing.  I'm standing on faith on that.  I'm counting on that.  I'm believing without limitations on that promise.  

My cousin is gifted with the writing gene.  She can write brilliantly, so when she feels she can share things with me, with her permission, I am going to share her words with you.  She leaves me in tears with her confidence in our Lord, her selfless love, and her devotion and unconditional love for her family.  

After seeing surgeons in her area (Redding), she opted to go to San Francisco, as they have a world class breast clinic there, and she saw the leading surgeon, and built a plan.  The first thing to do, when you are diagnosed is to see if you carry genetics for this type of cancer.  Then you build your plan.  (remember Angelina Jolie, she carried genetic profiles in her DNA, so she opted to have a double masectomy, oopherectomy, pre-cancer, to knock down her chances of cancer)/  That's what we were waiting on when I approached Alison, telling her I'm suppose to share her story.  This was her response a few days back.....
" I am working through life hour by hour, day by day. God and I have been having many conversations lately, and although I do not know if He will choose to heal me completely before, through or after treatment, day by day I am learning to let go and let Him have control of my life.  Words like “submission” and “total abandon” rattle through my head. I cry to the Lord that this is not fair to my children... that the boys have already experienced too much grief and loss and insecurity in this life. He replies that the boys are HIS, that God knew all of this before the boys ever came to live with us and He STILL chose me to be their momma; that HE is the owner and I am the manager, and I need to trust Him. This is so difficult, as I am a control-freak and I love to plan and prepare for all outcomes. However, through my Bible time since my diagnosis, I DO feel that the Lord wants to use this trial to make me look more and more like HIS character. To show my kids that God is good and trustworthy ALL the time, even when the story of our life makes a major left turn that we did not see coming. I plead with the Lord to help me never cause others to stumble when my grief and fears are out in the open, especially my kids, as I walk this journey and learn whatever it is He wants me to learn. I do know that my role is just to give all glory and honor to him. So, that is where my heart is. I am a jumble of emotions from hour to hour... one hour I have complete, utter, ultimate faith in the Lord; the next hour finds me in the bathroom with the door closed (the only quiet place in the whole house!) where I can cry and plead with God to take this cup from me.  Whether God chooses to miraculously heal me before my MRI and He is glorified that way, or whether I face a year of treatment and therapies and come out at the other end healed and alive through God sustaining me day by day through all the yuck, I know that He loves me and His plan is best, and all honor and glory belong to Him.
Does that make any sense at all? I feel like my brain is all jumbled and I am having difficulty forming coherent sentences. I do know that I love you and so appreciate your prayers and your support; your rallying your prayer warriors on my behalf. Please let them all know how much I appreciate each and every prayer.'

So, what I need from you, my faithful and unbelievable prayer warriors.  My Laynie team, my rock and strength through the anointed time with her.... I need all of you on your knees, praying for Alison.  So many of you have told me, how your lives changed, during Laynie's life.  It's because you prayed without ceasing on her behalf.  Now I am asking you to do it again.... for Alison.  I'm asking you to rain prayers on heaven, with her name on your lips.  

Because I want to be a faithful servant to what God asked of me, I will share her journey with you.

Because God is Good, All the time.  

 Latest Grant Family picture - No filter.  

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Days are Long, But the Years are Short

This school year blew by so quickly, I barely had time to process it.

That's 250 mornings of taking 3 different kids to 3 different schools, and re-loading lunch accounts with money eight times.

And then you're done.

This year end has been particularly hard.  I am now approaching my last-born's senior year.

I scrolled through picture after picture of friend's kids graduations, and I realized that 2017 is bearing down on me, with miraculous speed and intent.

Yesterday, (and I do mean yesterday), I was watching Hallie walk across her Kindergarten stage, with no teeth and sweet little braids to accept her Kindergarten diploma.  When they called them the "Class of 2017", I just chuckled, because that was such a long time in the future.

Well, 5 dance recitals, 3 sets of ear tubes, 40 weeks of guitar/piano lessons, millions of hours and dollars spent on volleyball, later, Hallie received her application instructions for West Point this week.

Her time with me, living with me as my child, is roaring to the finish line.

I know I still have three to go, but, this flesh of my flesh, is soon to be gone.

And it won't be to OU, or UCO, where your children still pop in your house anytime you want/need them.  It will be a structured time, 3 times a year, to see her...and my mom heart is overwhelmed.

BUT WOW, what an awesome opportunity for this big thinker.  I had a friend spend time with her recently, and she text me "Your kid is amazing.  She so knows what she wants, and that is rare with someone her age."

Nicole Nordeman just released a song called, "Slow Down" and I sobbed the ugly cry in the parking lot at work the other day, listening to those words.  I know I'm being dumb, because she is just going to college, and I think about my cousin/sister losing our precious Austin, and not having that ability to see him on the phone and talk to him and I feel silly feeling this way.

 Just TRUST me and grab a kleenex  for this.

So I am going to put on my big girl mom panties, and help her fill out this application.  I have pointed to the sky her whole life and said, "This world is yours for the taking, do you want to do it?" and smile through tears at all the volleyball games, the senior pictures, her new job, the senior year, and breathe all of it in.

Young mommies, don't worry about the small stuff.  Don't involve yourself in the drama of what's not important.   Involve yourselves in introducing your kids to Jesus and making sure that no matter what happens in their lives, HE will always be there with them.  That is your greatest, most important gift you can give them.

Because in two blinks of an eye, they are out the door and flying to the sky to follow their dreams.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

On Being Still

This is on my heart very heavy this morning, so I'm putting it out there, because someone will read this and go, "Dang, I needed that".

And maybe, it might be just me that needs it.

I heard on KLOVE the other morning, about being in a "season", or a "Valley" (if you will) and despairing, or worrying about it ALL THE TIME.  I mean, just being eat up with worry about something.

For example, I lost a job in 2010.  I was very hurt, very depressed and very anxious when all of that went down.  I despaired and despaired over what I thought to be, one of the worst things that could ever happen to me, in my entire life.

Now, looking back, I realize just how anointed that time in my life was for me.

I was able to help my mom with her brother, who was dying at the time, and be there 100% for her and him.  I was able to heal from losing Laynie.  I spent time with my nephew/cousin, Austin during spring break and had him up to hang with Hallie and I, and really got to know him and his heart and speak truth into his life and love him in a way I hadn't until then.  Never knowing that in 24 short months, he would gone too.   I leaned fully on God, and thinking back, never, really worried about finances and how things would get paid, and how I would make it happen for Hallie and I.

It just did.

God comes through for you.  During the hardest times of your life, if you will just lean into Him, and really trust HIM to take take the wheel, He will.   I believe that sometimes, He will bring you to the hard times, to teach you to do that.

There is nothing more freeing, than to hand your worries and burdens over to God.  And if I'm being transparent here, I have had health issues these past few weeks, and had a biopsy done (don't ask me where), and I am now waiting results.

I am Not Even Worried.  Oh, I think about it.  and when I do, I breathe a prayer of thanksgiving for my blessings and the life I have, but I'm not mired in worry.  I couldn't function if I was.

Now, before Laynie, I would have not been able to get out of bed for worrying about this.  But now, I know that my God is greater than anything that gets in my path, and He always, always has my back.
If you are in a place of uncertainty right now, just give it to God.   That's what He wants from you, He wants to shoulder your burdens and TRUST HIM.

He Just Needs you to BE Still and hear His voice.

Because He is There.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Happy Birthday, Deaton

One year ago, a little boy came roaring into the world.

With a sister in heaven watching over him, he brought joy and hope, all in a tiny little body of a boy.

His mommy's heart started complete healing, the very first minute she held him in her arms.

And in his daddy's arms, he found his perfect rest.   It is still his number one place to sleep.  Safe in his daddy's arms.

Of course, you kind of like your ole Lols, too.

And then, there you were.   One month old.  All dimples and baby hair, no sleep and big feet.  Perfection in a diaper.

2 months old, and since it almost fell on Laynie's angel day, you got to wear a ridiculous purple bow tie.  It sounded like a great idea in Target, when ole Lols found it, but in reality, probably should have skipped the tie.   Still think you are adorable, but growing like a weed.

At three months, you are becoming a ham.  You still don't sleep, so mom and dad are tired messes, but you are a happy baby, and big as a house.  Foxy fox is looking smaller and smaller beside you.

At 4 months you started wearing shoes, and won't sit still for anything.  You army crawl to what you want, unless Lols is there, and then you just have to whimper and the world is yours.  That's my job.

At 5 months, Lols got you some groovy man beads (amber for teething) and you started wearing them all the time, and boy did they help.  Starting to sit up all by yourself and life is so much easier.  Sleeping better and really figuring out everything around you.

Six months old, on the move.  Crawling, interested in everything, those big eyes still blue as can be.  Eating everything you can get your hands on, and just a bundle of fun..... what did we do for entertainment  before ??
 Halloween was fun, because we just dressed you up like daddy.  Made sense.  Love the spikes.

 We have a couple of 6 months and I just love them so much I am showing this one too. 

 7 months.  The sticker on the fox is more interesting than anything in his world right now.  How can I get that sticker off that fox??

 8 months!  WITH THE STICKER.   Can I just have this thing right here, mom?

 At nine months, it just became too much.  We had to taste the sticker and the boy won.
And even though his shirt says "Tiny but Tough", that hardly is the case now.  Over 20 pounds, almost 30 inches tall.... he is a bruiser.

 Ten months old!!!  How in the world?  Walking....4 teeth....eating vanilla wafers as fast as you hand them to him......
 And I don't even care that most of the time we are together, I look like just doesn't matter.

 Eleven months old.  Who can keep him still??  Not momma.  Not daddy.  Not Lols.

Deaton Alan, you have brought us so much joy this year.  You have taught us all about raising a healthy, huge baby.  Everything about you was total opposite of your sister.  God is a master planner, and He delivered your plan in a mighty, wonderful way. 

As you continue to grow at lightning speed, always know that your Lols has your back, loves you unconditionally (even doesn't care if she gets gunk eyes and sinus infections, from you she'll take it)
and will be in your corner, whatever you need.

I feel at my most peaceful peace, when you are asleep in my arms.  I marvel at the hugeness of God's love for our family, and the miraculous ways that He shows His face to us, over and over.  When people say to me, "I'm not sure there is a God", I have to believe that they have never heard our story and know your sister, or have held a healthy, incredible baby.

God is good, all the time  

Happy 1st birthday, Grandson.