Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My baby's not really a baby anymore

At what point is a child no longer a baby? I'm sure there are labels out there-infant, toddler, anklebiter, crumbsnatcher, preschooler, rugrat, etc. But for you, when is your child no longer a baby? Since Brady is our last baby (unless God decides to use His wicked, not the Yankee version of wicked, sense of humor on us) I'm having a hard time letting go of the title baby. Being that I'm the baby of my family I don't think my family has ever let go of the label for me. At some point, though, for him to mature and become the man God calls him to be, I must allow that baby label to be replaced by others. I'm also well aware that there are so many labels out there that I don't want him associated with so maybe that's why I'd prefer to hold tight to the baby label for a while longer.

Brady came to our room Saturday morning and we said, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!" We excitedly commented about our big three year old and he quickly pointed out that he wasn't three yet because he had not had a cupcake. He is so my child. I do have a thing for cupcakes, actually cake, but you know that you're really not supposed to eat an entire cake so some genious came up with cupcakes to help those of us with a guilty conscious. Sadly, I'm particular about my cake and am not fond of grocery store cake so I don't often get one for my birthday because Jim's not going to bake one and he knows better than to run to girl Lowes and buy one. Last year sweet Katie Nakhle, one of my Crossings' students, made me the most delicious cupcakes for my birthday. Oh, so yummy. I will not divulge how many I ate. Oh, how I digress with the delicious topic of cupcakes...

Back to Brady's birthday morning. He needed cupcakes to turn three and when asked what he wanted for his birthday breakfast all he said was, "Coke." Now, we don't keep those in our home. We're a pretty boring beverage home. We have milk, water, coffee and juice. Sometimes we'll have decaf tea, but that's only when I get a hankering for it and I prefer Splenda so we need that, too. I've been sick so I definitely didn't feel like driving somewhere for a Coke. Next best thing-wonderful neighbors you can ask for anything and visit in your pajamas. They had a 2-liter of Coke and wrote 'Happy Birthday Brady' on it. Sweet! For breakfast (in bed, no less) my three-year-old had chocolate chip muffins/cupcakes to him and Coke. That's a successful birthday! Happy Birthday Sweet Brady! May God bless you abundantly. We love you toe mush!






I'm guessing if Brady (aka, Candy Man to SMC Staff) gets loaded with caffeine for his 3rd birthday then he's no longer a baby. But I would certainly love to keep him my baby forever. I have held him a little tighter, a little longer and kissed him more the past week hoping to keep him my baby. But as he looks up at me with those incredible blue eyes and that nose sprinkled with freckles, my heart melts knowing that one day he'll have to look down at me because certainly he'll grow beyond me. My baby will always be my baby, all of them will, it's the letting go and allowing them to become little boys that's so painfully hard sometimes. That's where my trusting God to hold them when I can't becomes key and praying that there are still people willing to speak truth into their lives on a constant basis is crucial. Until that day comes that Brady doesn't allow me to squeeze him to pieces, I'm going to hold tight to be my baby just a little longer.




Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Certainly not Snow White...

Do you ever feel like you're one of the Seven Dwarfs? Maybe all in one day, all in the same hour? Sometimes I'm so caught up in emotions that I can't pick which one so I end up terribly GRUMPY. That's where I've been all week. Deep down inside I have so much to be grateful for and I'll find myself weeping over it then minutes later I'm crying over something really sad. I even had a student Sunday night call me grumpy. Ouch, that hurt. Is it the time change? My sneaking the good Halloween candy from the boys? Or is it really time for Jim to consider moving and not telling me?

How difficult is it for God's light to shine through you when you're grumpy? And I mean REALLY shine? I don't mean the flashlight has a battery so it works, I mean LIGHTHOUSE shine. I'm feeling my light's starting to dim. That's the last thing God or I want. So I'll take a step back, spend some time with Him and pray my light is of better quality to burn off the grump. It doesn't look like chocolate is doing it. And that's depressing enough! "And the light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out." John 1:5

Just so this isn't all about me being a GrumpPot...I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but my Nathan is one amazing prayer warrior. I'm not sure when gifts are distinguishable, but he has something amazing. The past week or so he's really opened up with his prayer time leaving me in tears each night. And yesterday I was anxious about a friend so I asked him to pray for her. He prayed for her and brought up another friend in the prayer. This other friend has some complications in her pregnancy a few weeks ago. I have no idea why her name came to his head at that time. Later on I found out she had a doctor's appointment. Everything is fine, but it was just incredible that he would bring her up as well. Throughout the day I'll ask him to pray for someone and he'll say, "I'll pray for them tonight." I always ask him why not now and he normally does it then and is always certain to remember them again that night. I don't know about you and it may be that I would honestly forget my brain if God wasn't so thoughtful and attached it, but I have a hard time remembering prayer requests that have just been told to me. In fact I write them down and pray with one eye opened because I would hate to forget one. Here's my four (almost 5) year old remembering to pray for others. He just amazes me.

With all this prayer talk, please pray for my high school friend, Anitra. Her husband passed away unexpectedly last week. I cannot even imagine what she is going through. Please pray for her. And with that prayer thank God for the people in your life and don't take a moment with them for granted. My poor boys are held so tightly some mornings they beg for air because I've missed them at night. Notice I said "some." There are many mornings I'd love to sleep in for an hour more instead I have two wild monkeys jumping on my bed and you know what happens when monkeys jump on your bed...

video

Gotta love YouTube!

I'm still beyond grateful for these gifts of Nathan & Brady no matter what time it is or how grumpy I may be. Have you heard this song on Noggin? When we had cable, Nathan loved Noggin and we loved this song. Good to know you're loved even when you're grumpy!

Grumpy

If you want to be a grump that's ok
But could you be grumpy kinda further away
It's not that I dont love ya cause you know I do
Sometimes I'm grumpy too!

If you want to be a nudge that's ok
But could you be nudgey kinda further away
Its not that I dont love ya cause you know I do
Sometimes I'm nudgey too

And I think I understand exactly what it is you're going through
When your oatmeals lumpy; your socks are all bumpy
What's a poor kid to do?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A sign?

One year ago today we were quietly grateful Brady made it through a somewhat elective surgery to correct a birth defect. I say somewhat because it wasn't life threatening, but it could have affected him in all sorts of ways later on. We went ahead with it, trusting our doctors because we believe they have the knowledge and know what's best for our children when it comes to medical decisions. He had some pretty disturbing complications from it weeks later that lasted for quite some time. For months following the surgery we questioned whether we had made the right decision in going through with this somewhat elective surgery. Now, a year later, everything's fine. If we had to do it again, would we? I don't know. We'd probably weigh our options out again heavily and chances are, we would do it. Knowing that in the end, he turned out okay. In fact, he doesn't remember any of it. Jim and I are the only ones who seem "scarred" by it.

Is this a sign? Does this mean that God is telling us to go ahead and listen to the doctor with botox treatments, trust his wisdom and expertise? It just seems like it comes at the right time. Or is it a sign of us questioning those months after where things were such a struggle for us. It was more of a heartache for our son than an actual physical struggle. If we go through with the botox it will be a physical struggle for all of us.

Needless to say we haven't made a decision yet. We're at a complete standstill of indecision. I have trouble deciding where to eat lunch, what to wear, even picking out shoes for the boys is painful. Geez, Jim decided the color theme for our wedding because I couldn't. His favorite colors are orange and green. My bridesmaids are eternally grateful he went with hunter green! Although you know I'd probably choose orange if it were to happen right now! :) I thought I was getting better for a while. I was becoming a decision making adult, a married woman who had a great job who could make decisions and had a voice. Then I had children and suddenly I became afraid to make decisions. What if I make the wrong decision? What if I fed them the wrong foods, bought the wrong brand of diapers, make the wrong medical decisions? I look back at some of the poor (bad, wrong) decisions I've made in my life and doubt my ability to make any good decisions. And sadly I've passed that indecisive gene onto Nathan. The last time we were picking out shoes for him we had to call Jim to ask his opinion on which ones to get. Seriously? Two children and a mom couldn't pick out a pair of shoes for a four year old? Then there's the fear of making a decision and hurting someone's feelings or choosing something you don't like. What if I choose Mexican and you wanted Italian? I have that fear of letting others down, you know. That leads into not being able to make decisions.

As we were walking tonight the boys wanted to race Jim and Kodi home. Nathan and Brady kept looking back to see how far Jim was pretending to stay behind. I told them both to never look back, to always look forward. That looking back never gets you anywhere and it slows you down. Keep looking forward. Hmm, at the time I thought it was brilliant. Now, I'm thinking not so brilliant. We have to look back; leave the past behind us. But use it to grow and learn and trust in God's plan for our lives. Use it to show His provisions for us. Use it to remind us of His love for us and how He has held us in the palm of His hand and carried us.

We'll make a decision soon, it's important we do before Nathan becomes a real giant. We cherish your prayers as we learn to discern and as I do my best to make decisions. Just beware of asking me out to lunch-know where you're going because I'm not going to decide!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The "B" Bomb Hit

It's been a full week, I've even had the thrill of going away to Catalyst, an exciting weekend of horseback riding and a great Sunday at Crossings, but my brain and mostly my heart are still aching over a decision that needs to be made. Last Tuesday we visited Nathan's doctor at UNC. After waiting almost two hours we finally got to see him. We like this guy, he's got an incredible way with the kids and always takes time to ask how we're doing as parents. But I'm always anxious for what may come out of his mouth. Prior to this visit, Nathan's physical therapist had been leading us on nicely with Nathan being able to go to a home therapy program within six months. Basically that means that he's meeting all of the goals she can set for him so to save us several thousands of dollars, we may as well do what we do at home. We've been going to her for almost three years so we know from her instruction what we need to do for him. Not to mention that he has hit the age where he realizes not everyone goes to therapy weekly and wears AFOs. He loved and responded well to aquatic therapy, but since he met his goals for that insurance and therapy requirements weren't too keen on him continuing it.


So, we enter Dr. Alexander's office last Tuesday thinking he's going to go along with Nathan's PT's thoughts about a home program and we'll walk out, rush back for Nathan's football game and be happy to not return to the light blue area for 6-9 months. You know that saying, tell God your plans and He'll laugh at you. So glad I could become His personal comedian last week. The doctor looks at Nathan's weight and height (51.2 lbs with clothes and AFOs, 3.9 ft. tall) and gives us the look. Normally that look leads into a lecture about Nathan's eating habits and what I feed him. That leads into Nathan's preference for fruit over fries any day. It's a frustrating, tear-jerking battle for me. Nathan's a solid, tall young fellow. Just ask someone who's tried to pick him up lately, I should have amazing arms-oh well. The look didn't lead into that. It led to a discussion about Nathan's rate of growth being consistently high and at this rate he's going to run into some problems because his hamstrings and calves will not stretch to keep up. I get that, I see that, I ache because of that. I envision what that will do to him physically as Dr. Alexander imitates him walking in a crouched position. When is surgery an option (didn't we just finish up all the surgery business I need forever with Brady this time last year?)? Surgery is not an option until he's about 8-10 years old for him to reach a certain state of growth. Phewy. What are our options?


That's when he drops the "B" bomb we've worked so hard to avoid the past two years. We've read about it, vaguely researched it, heard from other parents about it, but kind of put it in that drawer labeled "not us." Because for two years they've told us he's not a good candidate (they most likely said "at this time" but I'm sure I was so excited to hear not a good candidate that that's all I heard!). Now remember, we walked in thinking we were leaning towards a home based program, just wanted you to stay on track with our hearts. :) Botox. Not the get rid of wrinkles kind (I'm so going to need that after this), but the relax your muscles enough so we can stretch them silly kind. Yep, an ugly toxin injected into his muscles. Several injections at that. Did I mention that we waited an unbearable amount of time? Therefore we were not given ample time to discuss the "B" bomb? He did give us a patient information sheet on Botox. The same kind of information your pharmacist gives you listing all the side effects of your meds. Scary stuff in there with the what ifs. Thus began my ridiculous internet research and you know how that can go. And the pestering of friends and anyone who has had any encounter with Botox at all. For a brief explanation you can check this out. I think it gives the best general information out there. http://www.ucpnyc.org/info/about/botox.cfm That's the cheery, this is good for your child news. Then there's loads of news out there that's not so cheery. Like the one that says it's not FDA approved for children under 12 but it is still used. Complications of breathing difficulties and death are possible. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/09/BUIUUV6G3.DTL While HSP and CP present similarly in gait and ability to treat, that's about where the similarities tend to end. Many CP patients have underlying issues which may be the cause of the problems that have come about from using Botox. Nathan has excellent health (PTL). However, we wouldn't want to find out something too late. Then there's the matter of the injections. It is vitally important that the correct muscles be targeted. I'm certain Dr. Alexander and his team know exactly what they are doing, it's still my Nathan who means more to me than anyone could possibly know. Every time I think of this possibility I get teary eyed and sick to my stomach. There is an option of sedation, but that brings another host of concerns. Without that we have to trust that Nathan will be able to handle the multiple injections with just the numbing cream applied before hand. What happens after that? From my research and brief discussions with his PT, we'll have some very intensive PT over the course of the Botox working to stretch those muscles. And we'll pray like crazy all the while that it works for a long while, it works to stretch, stretch, stretch those muscles and it doesn't affect any other parts of his body or his being. There's a small chance it could weaken the muscles he needs to walk well, especially at first. Oh so heartbreaking. There's also been some discussion about serial casting to really stretch those muscles. Here's some friendly information on that: http://www.sjbhealth.org/16196.cfm. The main thing is that if we do the Botox treatment then we need to take full advantage and stretch him as much as possible while it is effective. Chances are he would have to have more than one treatment since they only last a few months at a time. I don't even want to begin to think of how much this will cost. I can't think that way, if it will help him walk taller and stronger for the rest of his life, it has no monetary cost but a lifelong value.


Jim and I are still discussing this and praying about this and I'm doing a lot of crying about this. Every time I think I've put it in God's hands to have Him resolve it, I grab it back to worry over because I don't feel like I've gotten an answer yet. I'm an impatient sort when it comes to my children. I am however, extremely thankful and ever so grateful that while I'm stressing and crying and extremely anxious about this decision, there are others out there with far greater concerns for their children's health and well-being. My incredibly amazing children are sleeping peacefully in their beds tonight knowing an infinite amount of love from their mom, dad, each other and our heavenly Father. Really, what more can I ask for? Oh, I can ask for a cure to this disease or easier treatment. But I know that I am blessed beyond measure to have them in my life exactly as they are-perfect creations of our Father. I will ask for your prayers as we make this decision, that once a decision is made we'll have peace with it and can go forth with few reservations. I will carry my tissues either way!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Losing touch

How is it that just opening one book can calm your entire being? With this insanely busy, modern world and life we're in, I've found myself jumping onto biblegateway.com so often when I'm looking up verses or wanting to find some information. Even my quiet time comes from reading a friend's blog then looking up verses online. Now, something's seriously wrong with that on so many levels. There's nothing wrong with having biblegateway as a tool. It's an incredible service. In fact, I love reading a verse in several different Bible versions, especially ones I question or when I need more clarification. I even have fun putting them in different languages and using them as my facebook statuses. Why not? But, I'm losing my touch. My touch for His Word. And wouldn't you know who reconnected me? Brady. That little wonderful bundle of blonde hair blue eyed energy!

My boys are currently fascinated with the Bible. Much better than a fascination with bugs, worms or actually Brady's fascination with boogers & Kodi fur. But, they are drawn to the Bible. One morning last week I went to Nathan's room to get a different shirt for him. There were four Bibles laid open on the floor. Why did my four year old have four Bibles on his floor opened up? "Brady did it." Well, getting a reasonable answer from him is about as easy as getting tights on a toddler. And sorry, folks, I didn't have time to see what pages they were opened to. And part of me was a little frightened to even look-I'm telling you, sometimes my kids weird me out. Do you have any idea what was going through Brady's head that morning? I love attempting to get into Brady's head! But he does love the Bible.

Which brings me to tonight. We were getting ready for bed, he and I were cuddled up, waiting for Nathan to finish brushing his teeth (this takes forever). Brady looks at me and says, "Wait just a second Mommy" and rushes off to his room. He comes right back with a Precious Moments Bible. Now, we've been very intentional the past week including Brady in our Bible time each night after Nathan said, "I don't think Brady knows God or the Bible that well and he really needs to." Nathan's just so quick to always answer that Brady just sits quietly and watches. We've been making sure we ask Brady directly and we've asked Nathan to give Brady a chance to answer as well. As Jim's leading our Bible study, Brady's flipping through the Bible he brought in. He sees writing in it and freaks out that someone has written in it. I explain that we wrote in there about Nathan's dedication to God. Brady was upset that he didn't have one until I convinced him he had his own Bible. Peace reigned! And Brady opened our prayer for us...baby steps. Nathan did the rest of the prayer by himself, you know that had me in tears. As I tucked Brady into bed with his own Bible being tightly gripped, I couldn't help but treasure that moment. I had flipped through the pages with him and shown him the stories of God's faithfulness and love for him. I told him we would read that Bible together and that I couldn't wait to share it with him. And I truly cannot.

Brady's freaking out about writing in the Bible also sparked my attention. I can't write on biblegateway about verses that strike me. I can't highlight them, or write down how/when/who influenced that verse. But my Bible, the one I received from my sweet Jim almost seven years ago, has lots of markings in it. Not enough, but I'm getting there. I share an office with the great Cindy Bailey. One day Brady accidentally knocked over one of her Bibles, she's got one of those that's been so loved and used that the cover is off and I'm not sure Genesis exists. As I was putting it back on the shelf, I noticed it was filled to the brim with writings. That's what I want my children to see when they look at my Bible. Notes from where I prayed for them, about them and others. Times where I was challenged by God and sought after Him. They aren't going to see it if I don't do it. Chances are, they aren't going to do it themselves if I don't do it either. Likewise, they aren't going to have their heads and hearts in it if mine isn't either. And they can't tell if I'm on facebook or biblegateway. So, just as we're making an effort to get Brady more focused on our Bible time, I'm going to make a better effort of being more focused on my own Bible time. With my actual Bible in my hands that oddly enough has a direct line to my heart.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sea Turtles

While we were at the beach last week, Jim had the great pleasure of watching and helping sea turtles hatch and make their way into the Atlantic.  He came back to our place more excited than any child on Christmas Day.  He visited the site for two nights and waited over three hours for this event.  As you watch this, I believe you'll hear his voice say, "Unbelievable."  I think it's him because it has the same awe in it as when our boys were born!  Needless to say, this was one of his "Top Ten" life experiences.  Watching it shows we serve a mighty God who creates each one of us perfectly and cares so much for each one of us.  

Saturday, September 5, 2009

He's just wonderful

I almost missed out.  Almost.  Nine years ago I was a first year teacher at Aycock Elementary School in Henderson.  If you can believe it, it was time to send out the first progress report.  I had forgotten about them, there's a lot to do when you're a first year teacher, you know!  They really did sneak up on me.  I was walking out the door, excited about my plans for the night, when the teachers in the room next door grumbled to me about finishing their progress reports.  YIKES!!  Those blasted things needed to be done, my parents would be wondering how their children were responding to the new girl's teaching and I needed to be sure the students were responding to the new girl!  I looked at the veteran teacher next door and said, "I'm supposed to go on a kinda-sorta-date tonight.  I guess I'll cancel it so I can work on those progress reports."  She so nicely looked at me and said, "Those progress reports will still be here in the morning, that kinda-sorta-date will not."  

See, that's a hard lesson that I'm constantly learning.  I feel like I always have to be there (wherever there is) or something won't get done.  I even did this when I was pregnant with Harris, I wanted to be there until the last minute-like the school couldn't function without me.  When will I learn that I'm not that important and life can very easily go on without me?  You would think I would have learned it nine years ago.

My kinda-sorta-date was with this guy Jim.  We met at a Bible study in Henderson.  I knew most of the people there because it was in Henderson and well, at the time it was hard to not know most of the people in Henderson.  Except this guy Jim.  He talked funny.  He was from Massachusetts.  Going on a kinda-sorta-date with him was as close to sacreligious as I could get (yes, grandparents rolling in graves kind of thing).  Before this kinda-sorta-date, we had talked within the group and someone mentioned TipTop Restaurant.  I hesitate to even put Restaurant at the end of TipTop, but I suppose it's the proper thing to do.  This guy Jim wanted to know more about it and other Henderson (oh, so many things) establishments.  Being proud of my roots that I've sadly been so quick to forget and escape since, I quickly offered a tour to this guy Jim and any other foreigners.  He was the only one to accept.  Everyone had everyone's phone numbers because that's what you do in a small town Bible study so he called one day and asked about the tour.  I was in Raleigh with my friend Kathy.  We discussed another date, not date date, but date as in time and place for an event.  This guy Jim worked in RTP so he got home around 4:30ish, right when I was leaving school (yeah, right) so we planned for a dinner on Sept. 6.  Which just happened to be the night I should have been working on progress reports.  Oh well, God always has better plans for our lives if we just believe. 

We met at Pino's, a small Italian place in Henderson.  We both get out of our cars (not a date, see) at the same time.  He starts walking to the door.  It's then I notice him walking differently.  I hadn't noticed this before.  Sidenote here-I had spent the better (much better) part of the summer with my sister, Candi and her now husband, Curt.  Curt is an adorable goofball.  He and his family are true classclowns who will try to make you laugh and will do silly things to get you riled up.  Wearing silly hats or clothes or Grinch costumes is not uncommon for a Tucker.  It's fun and exactly what I needed that summer and what I had been used to.  Which leads me to my next dumb, thoughtless comment to this guy Jim.  

Me: "What are you doing?"

Jim: "What?"

Me:  "Why are you walking like that?"

Jim: "I always walk like this?"

Me: "No you don't."

Jim: "Yes, I do, I have Spastic Paraplegia."

Me: "No, you're making that up."

Jim: "No, it's what I have.  Why would I make that up?"

Me, inserting foot into mouth.  Somehow I stumble into a seat in the restaurant and manage to order something while apologizing profusely.  This guy Jim takes it all in stride (he's just that wonderful) and thinks nothing of it.  Wow, if that were me I would be blowing off this chick and never looking back.  See, from the beginning Jim's always seen more in me than I'll ever see in myself.  Back to the kinda-sorta-date.  We ate and talked and talked and talked.  I had no idea I could talk to someone that much.  I don't remember what time our date began, but I know we ended up talking until close to midnight.  I didn't know where or if this was headed somewhere.  Especially after the way my big mouth started the night.  I do know I was on cloud nine.  I am pretty sure I hopped into school the next day and every day after.  My great assistant, Malinda, would be able to tell you that!  I'm sure I drove her batty talking about this guy Jim.

Over the next few weeks and months our relationship escalated into this guy Jim becoming THE ONE.  I would talk to my friends from college and say, "He's just so wonderful" and giggle.  I think it was the giggle that caught most of them off guard. Certainly those closest to me that summer. Prior to meeting Mr. Wonderful I had dated and been engaged to someone for five years.  I'm quick to say that's five years I wasted of college experiences and life.  That's a lot of time for mistakes and things that I have spent too much time dwelling on-you must put the past behind you. I was broken, battered and bruised and spent much of the summer healing with family & friends and their prayers and my time (not enough) with God. I was stronger in some ways, yet still weak in lots of others.  I wanted and still want to be a better person for God, a better servant for Him.  I was never expecting to come across Mr. Wonderful in Henderson at a Bible study.  Oh, how great are the plans of our Father.  Jim has allowed our Father to use him to make me into that better person.  More loving, giving, caring, and kind.  Because that's who Jim is.  He taught me about agape love which he lives out every day.  He defines it.  Jim loves me whether I have on a pretty dress or the same sweats for three days, makeup or he actually prefers none, does he even notice if my hair is brushed?  He could care less if I lose 30 pounds or gain 60, he knows I would feel better about myself but to him he honestly doesn't care.  He is going to love me because he loves me.  I'm sure you've heard this song, if you haven't I don't know where you're hiding, but it makes me think of how Jim loves me.  It's a lot like the way God loves me.  I am so blessed.



You could say the rest is history, but it's so not.  We've only just begun.  We've promised each other 100 years.  We know the road is bumpy-we've had some seriously high speed bumps in our almost eight years of marriage.  He's lost both parents and we've got an angel baby.  My grandmother passed away.  His brother and his wife, whom Jim and I adored and looked up to, divorced.  His family is in Massachusetts.  We've also celebrated some pretty awesome things.  We've got two incredible children with us on earth, good health, joy in our hearts and our dog is still with us!  We've also celebrated one of my sisters getting married and having two children of her own.  His sister got married.  All of this is life and we're doing it TOGETHER.  So today I'm celebrating that nine years ago I listened to a wiser woman and went on a kinda-sorta-date with a *gasp* Yankee who turned out to be wonderful Jim, my precious husband and father to our three children.  Without him I couldn't even have this awesome blog about our two gifts from God!   



Thursday, August 27, 2009

Green pastures

"The Lord is like a shepherd to me.
A shepherd takes care of his sheep.
The Lord takes care of me.
He give me everything I need.
He gives me nice places to rest and good water to drink.
He helps me to be strong.
He helps me do the right things.
Even when something sad happens, I am not afraid.
I know the Lord will be with me.
The Lord makes me strong when I face my enemies.
He honors me.
He gives me more than I need.
I know God will love me all my life.
And I will live with Him forever."

There's your easy button, folks. This came from The International Children's Story Bible by Word Publishing. The boys have gotten quite a collection of Bibles going and love to hand me a different one each day to pull from. Each scripture has an illustration from a child from somewhere on the globe. It's adorable. I opened this version today and my hands went to this page. Exactly what I needed to hear and in these simple words. No green pastures or still waters, but a nice place to rest & water to drink. That's about all this spent mind and heart can accept so my God knows exactly what to offer. How grateful am I to have Him and to have two children to hand me exactly what I need when I need it?! Thank you God for my immeasurable gifts now and always.

"With everything you know about Heaven

would you want them back?" ~ Tony Dungee  

Yes, in a selfish heartbeat I would.  But then I think about how awesome Heaven is and no, sweet baby, enjoy Heaven, I'll be there one day.  We'll all be there together for eternity.  This life here is short, so short compared to where you are.

I wish I could write with something witty or fun or happy since I know my last post wasn't.  Of  course there have been some fun times here, I have two amazing kids.  But I am heavily burdened by recent news and I've learned that by getting it out (unfortunately to you who read this) I am eased somewhat by that burden.

My sister called me yesterday afternoon, you know the first day of school I was dreading, to give me some awful news.  I knew it was bad when I realized my sister, Candi, was calling me in the middle of the first day of school.  At first I thought, is it our other sister, our parents, her husband or children?  No, her best friend, Lindsay's four month old son, Ayden, died in his sleep while at daycare.  Lindsay and her husband, Jeremy, are both teachers so they were having their first day of school, too.  I know they will never have a first day of school again without remembering this one.  They got a call from the sitter that Ayden wouldn't wake up, she had called 911 and they couldn't help him.  FOUR months old.  Here's where you say I can't imagine and honestly I can't.  I can't imagine having my sons for four months, four years, forever and losing them.  I had Harris for 9 months, sent him to Heaven and haven't been the same person since.  Yet I cannot imagine completely what Lindsay and Jeremy are going through.  My sister asked for advice, what to say.  I said not to say anything.  You wouldn't believe some of the things people will say thinking they mean well not realizing how hurtful they are.  Hugs and simply being there, talking about him are the greatest gifts.  I've only met them once, just before Lindsay had Ayden.  We were at my niece's 3rd birthday party, she was so ready and excited to have him.  She is such a sweet person.  

My sister is absolutely crushed.  I cry out to God in pain, "How often does one person have to suffer?  And why so much at once?"  My sister is so strong, so amazing, so loving, so giving and one of the greatest people I know.  That's why I'm asking God why she's having to suffer and be in death's face so much.  One of the things I vividly remember from Harris' death (thankfully I'm very forgetful so some things I've forgotten other things I remember as if they happen yesterday) is the faces of our family and friends when they came to visit.  Candi's is one of those faces that will not escape my memory.  The heartache she suffered for me, my loss and her loss of a nephew, too, was unbearable and clearly visible in her beautiful eyes.  She drove so quickly from Henderson to Burlington and hardly ever left my side.  There were so many things she did for me.  So many things I cannot even tell you about because I wasn't even aware of them.  She took note of every person who visited, everything they brought, wrote thank you notes, handled just about every detail of the funeral-all while grieving.  On the day of his funeral she fixed my hair for me, it was one of those things I simply couldn't do for myself.  She took great care of me when I couldn't take care of myself.  She wasn't alone in caring for me, there were countless others and hordes praying for us.  But right now, Candi has been through so much.  Two months ago today Ma Tuck went to heaven followed by Mr. Tucker's brother the next week.  Then Candi's big old cat.  Please pray for Lindsay and Jeremy.  Please pray for my sister Candi as she takes care of her friend.  

I serve a big, mighty, awesome God.  He promises to never leave us, nor forsake us.  He reminds us to not be afraid for He is with us.  He gives us eternal HOPE.  I hold onto Him during these times, I cry out to Him in anger and frustration-He can handle it.  I praise Him still for my gifts from God, for the thousands of blessings He pours out on my life.  I hold onto the HOPE that can only come from HIM.  

He offered that reminder of His promises and His hope for my life today when I got a text from Sarah (aka Fafa) Apel.  She was our Angel Nurse when Harris was born.  She took such great care of us.  She even came to his funeral.  We became great friends.  When Nathan & Brady were born she was such a big part of their births and has been a part of their lives ever since.  Her text this morning "We're in labor!  Will text back when he makes his grand entrance!!" at 9:44 am.  I started praying.  Then I realized I was still mad at God.  You know how when you're mad at someone you don't want to ask them for something?  That's how I was.  I told God that.  That I needed to talk to Him about Fafa & baby Will but I was a still upset about Ayden.  I know He's upset about Ayden, too, but sometimes the one-sided conversations with God are difficult.  I asked Nathan to pray for Fafa and baby Will.  It was the sweetest thing in the world.  I got a picture text at 2:33pm with a sweet Will being held by his beautiful mommy.  God is good, guys.  God offers hope.  God is good all the time.  I pray Fafa and Josh are resting peacefully with baby Will tonight.



I pray Lindsay and Jeremy are finding comfort in their Father's hands and in the loving arms of those closest to them.  

Thanks for letting me share my heart's burdens.  Thank you for praying for these people-Lindsay, Jeremy, Candi, Josh, Sarah and baby Will.  May God be with each of you and may you hold your gfGs a little tighter.

gfG=gifts from God, mine are Nathan, Brady and Jim

Here's a video from the Celebration for baby Ayden-have your tissues and someone to hug handy:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Should be

preparing to send our first son to kindergarten this year.  A few years ago I knew this year was coming and mentally prepared myself for it.  Then I "forgot."  Harris' 5th birthday rolled around and like each birthday it's the most painful day of my life.  Every year, January 14-excruciatingly painful.  No matter how hard I try to not let it be.  Each year I say it's so hard because he would be doing this, should be doing this.  This year, in a few days, he would be going to kindergarten.  It nailed me about two weeks ago in Petsmart.  It's one of those things that will grab you by the throat and won't let go.  It's not as if a day goes by I don't think of Harris, it's just many days I envision him in Heaven with God and so many of our other loved ones that I know he's in a much much better place so I don't get slammed so hard.  I ran into the teacher who graciously took my classroom when I had Nathan.  If you haven't seen Nathan or don't know him, he's larger than life.  And I mean that in several ways.  But for this reference I mean, taller than your average four year old.  Liz said, "So, you're heading to kindergarten this fall?"  BAM!  Each time I get nailed by the reminder I can honestly feel the light in my eyes dimming.  I'm sure others can't see it, but I feel myself shutting down.  Liz probably thought I was blowing her off or being rude or just an idiot, but I simply said in rapid speed, "No, Nathan's heading to preschool at SMC.  We're very excited, he can't wait.  I've got to go.  Great running into you.  You look fabulous.  Have a great year." Then I came home and was pretty much useless for the rest of the day.  

Jim's learned in five and a half years (gulp) that I'm having a Harris moment/day/week/month and I need space/love/cuddling/chocolate/not to cook/to bake, whatever it takes to get me through it.  However most of the time neither of us knows how to get me through it other than time, the love of each other, our precious boys here on earth and tons of praying.  We normally wait until the boys are asleep to talk about.  The boys know all about their special angel.  Nathan knows that chances are if Mommy's sad it's because she's missing Harris.  He's so great about giving me the pep talk: "Mommy, Harris is with God, I know you miss him, I miss him, too.  But he's having a good time with God and we'll see him one day.  I love you, Mommy."  Followed by lots of love.  Brady's version: "Mommy, why are you crying?"  Then attacking me in some form!  But we avoid talking about him when I've been nailed because we don't want them to feel any more oppressed about it.  I can remember that feeling as a child-the entire month of December was awful at my house and we try so very hard to not do that in January for the boys.  

Anyway, on this night, we get in bed and Jim asks me how I'm doing.  I lose it.  I tell him we are supposed to be getting ready for school, buying gobs and gobs of school supplies (I cannot wait for this, I LOVE new school supplies-I think that's one of the reasons I became a teacher), new clothes, meeting the teacher, and preparing to send our first child to school.  This is where Jim and I truly speak pink and blue.  That was a message Bob did in the fall-men speak blue, women speak pink; finding violet is so hard sometimes!  Maybe it's not even pink and blue, maybe it's just me.  He doesn't think about what all could have been, he doesn't allow himself to.  Meanwhile I'm running into people or reading facebook posts about people sending their kids to kindergarten and becoming a mess right before their eyes.  Part of me is insanely jealous of Jim's ability to do what he does with his emotions, however, there's something in me that's not willing to let the "should be" go.  Since Harris and Nathan are only 11 months apart I can easily know that the class before Nathan's would be his class, those kids have their license, so should he, those kids are going to prom, so should he. 

Our first son should be going to kindergarten Tuesday, instead he's dancing with angels.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

mine, Mine, MINE

Finding Nemo made those words cutely popular in 2003.  My family and I jokingly say them when one of us gets a case of the gimmies.  However, this week I do not want to share.  I have pinkeye for the first time in my life.  It's painful and annoying and oh so bothersome.  I've had some eye problems before.  I had a Chalazion in the 4th grade that had to be surgically removed (not fun, mom passed out watching it!).  I've had a few styes.  I wear contacts, I consider myself almost blind without some sort of eyewear.  Don't ask me to see anything without light, darkness and I are not friends. I'm not afraid of it, I just cannot see!  Eye problems don't bother me.  However, as my sister said, "Those are some mighty big eyes to be pink."  Gotta love her!

I do not want to share my germiness with my family so I'm screaming MINE, MINE, MINE to my boys to keep my germs to myself.  I'm keeping them at arms length to avoid contact at all costs knowing how wildly contagious this mess is.  Nathan's got it perfectly under control, even drawing pictures of me with one eye stuck closed and the other open.  Brady, on the other hand, still wants to cuddle and be kissed and loved on.  It's only been a full two days, but my arms ache with longing to hold and cuddle my gifts from God.  It's one thing to be away on a trip or be pestered to pieces and need a break.  It's another to be in the same room and want to hold them or for them to want to hold me and know that doing so could jeopardize their health.  

Last night we were supposed to join Jim's link group on a trip to a Greensboro Grasshoppers game.  Nathan was so excited about going until I told him we wouldn't be going because I didn't want to give my germs to all the people there.  That was one heartbroken little guy.  We've promised him we'll go next week (let's hope no one else gets this)!  If anyone wants to join us, we've been gifted lots of free lawn seats, so let us know.  

Today I was supposed to go to a retirement luncheon for a dear lady at work.  I sadly had to decline to avoid getting anyone else sick.  Yes, I'm pouty about missing out on all these fun things!

BUT, I remember a facebook post from a friend just last week who was feeling under the weather.  She said, "not feeling very well! However, when I don't feel good....I just think about all those people around me that are having much serious health issuses and suddenly my problem is sooo small. Thank you Lord for overall good health! I am so thankful!"  What a beautiful reminder of all I do have to be thankful for.  Oddly enough Saturday night I was sitting at church during announcements thinking of this sore throat I've had for a few days and started thanking God for keeping me healthy.  Our entire family has been blessed with good health the past few years, very few colds and now just this.  That's pretty good considering we've got two little people and I work with lots of youth! Preschool's coming, I know! :) Like my friend's post I was thinking about others who suffer regularly with pain or serious medical conditions.  I thought of this family, http://www.littlepapiandpunkin.blogspot.com/.  Sweet Julia is fighting for her life, battling ugly cancer.  We went to Westover with this family.  Their son Carter was born a few weeks before Harris.  Mom Amber is a super mom, really, one of those moms you wonder if she ever sleeps because she's able to do so much.  She runs circles around me and always has, I'll admit to being wickedly jealous of her.  And now her sweet Julia is being attacked by cancer and here I am whining about pinkeye.  If you have some extra time, read about Julia-read a bit of the before cancer to see how their life was (how super mom Amber was then and still is now!) and how the ugliness of cancer has changed their life.  But read carefully to see how GOD has held them carefully in the palm of His hand and never let them go.  He will never leave you nor forsake you.  This family knew that before and is a testiment to that now.  Check out that beautiful new beach picture, too.  Julia used to have these adorable curls, now, well, you'll see.

Friday, August 14, 2009

WE

That's our new series title for Crossings.  I cannot wait to begin my third year with the most amazing group of students and volunteers.  Something almost magical happens when you walk into Reformation Hall that changes you, well, at least me.  My heart is opened to God's calling and I want to be more like Him, I want to serve Him and I get to do that every Sunday night.  I'm so blessed that I get to be a part of something so incredibly awesome and call it work!  

I don't think I'm giving too much away for Crossings folks with this post because you know Jarm and the team will make it so awesome that what I have to say will be a vague memory by September 13th!!!  But that's not what this post is about.  

The series, WE.  Conjures up lots of things with two little letters, doesn't it.  When I first opened up the series I thought about when Jim and I became a WE.  The real WE, not the dating WE or the engaged WE, but the November 17th WE.  The Shea giggling down the aisle, Jim losing his breath, most magical day of our lives WE.  The day two became WE-one.  That WE led into the next WE thought where we've carried each other through some of the most difficult times a WE should have to carry.  Jim's sweet dad went to Heaven the April after we became WE.  After waking up from surgery and hearing our doctor tell us about Harris I looked up at Jim and said WE're still together.  Three years ago Jim's mother died suddenly of a heart attack.  My grandmother passed just this April.  WE have carried each other through those heart breaking times.  Then there are those other times where WE've thrown each other up in the air with excitement and celebration-December 7 and November 21 to be exact!  Our wonderful, prayed for and cherished gifts from God completed our WE.  Our WE has grown and WE are so thankfully blessed.  I have so much, yet I sometimes feel like I'm missing something.  I have God, yet I sometimes feel like I'm missing out on something.

WE.  I am so busy caught up in the ME that I so often forget the WE of other relationships outside of my immediate WE.  Are you following me here?  I am guilty of being self-centered, especially when it comes to my family to the point where I've neglected some really great friends and neglected to make new friends.  This has left me in a sad state that I didn't truly realize until I came across this new series.  I get so wrapped up in what Nathan and Brady are doing or need to do (or what I'm supposed to be doing ) that I can't remember what's going on in your life or your childrens' lives.  Shame on me, I want to be a more caring person.  If you're one of my friends, I apologize for that now.  

This also means that when I have a need (normally just your typical womanly emotional need, nothing drastic, just something a good milkshake or chocolate chip cookie would handle) I don't let others know it since I haven't fully invested time in them I shouldn't allow them to invest time in me.  So I "suffer" alone, actually I make Jim and the boys suffer with me.  That's not healthy for anyone!  God created more than one person, you remember He gave Eve to Adam, so that he wouldn't be lonely or bored or get in trouble-well, I'm not sure that was part of the plan-hope not!  Anyway, those other people God created are for us to have in our lives not just in times of need, but all the time.  Since reviewing the new series I've tried to make a more conscious effort of contacting people or getting in touch with them, but I'm afraid of failing them or letting them down.  That's always one of my fears of anything I do.  I've had the same best friend (outside of Jim) for going on thirteen years (some of you are barely thirteen!!!)  She knows me too well, but she lives too far away!  We'll always be best friends because she knows me too well!  

If you're one of my local friends, please bare with me as I'm trying hard to be a better WE.  I want you in my life, I care about you, I'm thankful God has placed you in my life and let's please try to stay in touch on a regular basis (of course that does normally mean I've either got a monkey or two in tow or may not be able to hear you on the phone!).  If you're a long distance or veteran friend, I'm so thankful God placed you in my life when He did.  He has perfect timing for everything, to mold us and shape us into who we are today.  To my bestest, thank you for always loving me, no matter what-you model God's love beautifully.  Jim, thanks for sharing the WE with me, I wouldn't want to share it with anyone else- I love you toe mush!

If you're reading my blog for the first time, thanks for reading.  I'll try to update more regularly.  It's kinda when the mood strikes, when the laundry's caught up and the creativity's flowing enough to make this interesting enough to read!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Thankful

My heart is so full of gratitude right now.  The boys and I have been "home alone" since Tuesday night at 1:30am  (that makes it technically Wednesday morning, doesn't it?).  Jim went on a great trip with our middle school group to Jonathan Creek Camp in Hardin, KY.  54 middle school students and chaperones on a bus for a long, exhausting trip full of pranks, fun and time with our most awesome GOD!  I knew he would have a great time, camp is right up his alley and bonding with his now 7th grade guys is very important so I am very excited for him to have had this opportunity!

However, I was so freaked out about being home alone mainly because Brady has not let me put him to bed since he weaned himself at close to one year.  I had been imagining a week of sleepless nights or of me trying to sleep with him (ha, not happening)!  Needless to say I was a bit of a freak all day Wednesday just dreading the bedtime routine.  Everything went as well as it normally does, we did everything we always do with Jim and he gave me all of his pointers for handling Brady.  I took Brady into his room and he didn't even utter a cry!  It was purely a miracle.  He did call down for me at 10:30 crying his eyes out, but Jim had prepared me with what to say so I was ready and knew how to handle it.  Then Nathan woke up at 12:30 crying and I knew how to handle him.  Ah, super mom here I come!  No more problems the rest of the week, the boys went to bed without a single problem each night and it's been pure bliss at bedtime.  I am so THANKFUL for easy bedtimes!  All that stress for nothing!  I SHOULD learn from this, should learn to not stress the little things, but will I?  No, I'm sure that next summer, should Jim go to camp again I'll probably get a little freaked again!  Not to mention that the boys connived against me and coerced me into allowing Brady to wear his underwear to bed two nights ago.  Two nights, no accidents.  We'll see what happens tonight.  Potty training him has been a breeze-I'm not sure if it's the second go-round or if he's just been easier, but I'm so THANKFUL!

Our nightly routine consists of the four of us sitting on Nathan's bed together reading, joking, and praying.  We pick a fun book then we read our family devotional from HiHo (Leading Little Ones to God).    I've taken the memory verses and put them on sentence strips and Nathan loves having them to look at each night.  One of the highlights of the night is selecting a joke from the joke book the boys made for Jim for Father's Day this year.  Tonight's joke was "What makes the zzub zzub sound?  A bee flying backwards."  Some of them are so cheesy, but the boys sure do enjoy them!  In Jim's absence, Brady's been asking Nathan to start our prayer.  Here's how Nathan started tonight:  "Dear Lord, thank you for this day. Thank you for my brother Brady. Please look after him always and thank you for giving him to us. We love you. Amen"  Well, I always cry when I pray outloud as it is. So you know I was leaking faucets with this one.  Our devotional had been about loving and trusting God no matter what the circumstance.  I shared with them how hard it had been to continue trusting and loving God when Harris died but that we must always trust and love Him.  That He is true and just and has a beautiful, perfect plan for our lives.  Nathan and Brady are part of that perfect plan for our lives and they are our gift from Him.  I always want them to know that.  His perfect plan for our lives is having these two amazing children who bring us immeasurable joy.  Nathan understood that and captured it in his prayer of gratitude for his brother.  I am so THANKFUL for the gift of my boys and the gift they are to each other!

Jim will be home in about two hours.  I am so so so so so so so THANKFUL for that!  I'm quite exhausted.  I don't know how single parents do this.  I've had to take the boys to work with me throughout the week and this weekend.  I'm fortunate that I CAN take them, but it's not easy.  They feel more than at home at church.  They behave at home (most of the time), they go kind of crazy at church!  They know where each person has candy in their office, who has toys, and that I have to be there so there's only so much I can do.  They must think the lobby is some mini-gym for them to run around in-great, huh?  I am THANKFUL to be going to work alone this week and I'm quite certain my coworkers are, too!  I'm sure they "love" my children but everyone has their limits and those limits may have been met this week!  

Happy heart, full of gratitude!  Maybe I'll be back to creatively blogging again now!


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Slow down the clock

During dinner I sat quietly watching Nathan.  I so desperately wanted to capture that one moment of him and savor it.  Even more than the oh-so-delicious chocolate cake I made last night!  He was taking FOREVER to eat dinner because he was sharing so much of his precious mind with us. It started with, "I think we should have two more people come and stay with us for a while." This is obviously to fill up the two empty seats at the end of the table.  I must say that he has taken over the head of the table, quite priceless!  Then he adds, "How long will we eat at the dining room table?"  Well, tonight it would seem like forever, but I'm not sure what he was getting at with that.  One bite of chicken followed by about two or three life pondering questions.  I love his brain.  Love, love, love it!

I just wanted to somehow put him in one of those amber filled compartments like they put bugs in.  You know, the ones you find at fancy jewelry stores or science museums.  But I want to keep him alive and not lose this moment at the same time.  How can I do that?  How can I continue to watch him grow but keep up with where he is right now and all the amazing things he's doing right now?  It's like he's growing into this absolutely incredibly amazing little person right in front of me and there's nothing I can do to stop it and nothing I can do to record it all and I don't want to miss any of it.  And I know there's Brady right next to him doing the exact same thing-even faster!  Brady is growing at warp speed.  I looked over at him tonight and couldn't believe his legs were so long and we're almost out of diapers FOREVER and the crib has been gone for a year now.   My baby is not my baby, but yay, he still sucks his thumb & will not relinquish his bunny for anything-there's still some baby left in him!  I may regret saying that!  

They have to grow up, I know that.  I'm beyond thankful for that gift of life, of renewed hope that I thought I lost five years ago.  They are my gifts from God and I am so grateful.  Right now I am typing this one-handed as Brady sits on my knee and laughs hysterically at his favorite show, Funniest Home Videos.  I fully expect to see our family on there one day.  I love watching this with them, Brady's cackle is contagious-inherited from his wonderful daddy and he throws his head back after each video.  One of them will even say, "That'll leave a mark" after someone gets banged up. As I'm holding him I can feel his stomach contract just before each one because he's getting ready to laugh.  At each commercial he says, "Are Funniest Videos over?"  And we say, "No," and he just laughs and laughs. Life is good.  Does it get better than this?  Oh yeah, the tickle monster must attack... 

Saturday, May 30, 2009

AWESOME tees

I got this link from a friend on facebook about these Christian tees for women. Check it out on the bottom of my site! :)  I don't know about you, but I've been searching for these.  They are hard to find, your average Lifeway and Family just aren't going to have them.  So finding this treasure is such a treat!  I have a wishlist now, the only problem is picking which one I want first!  There are so many to choose from!  Do I pick based on the verse, the style, or the color?  Hmmm, decisions, decisions.  For someone who cannot make decisions, this is sooooo hard!!  

Check them out, support these hard working moms who love God, love people and dress yourself in His word.  Sounds like a good plan to me!

Wild Olive Tees

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

# 1-ORANGE!

I promised to talk about things from my list and I will-after I share from my heart about my experience on the playground today.  A dear friend called this morning and invited us to the park for a picnic and playdate.  The cool thing is we haven't been able to do this in forever because our dates never work out and the other cool thing is this friend is one of Nathan's "girlfriends."  The other cool thing is that this friend is one of those very few people I can totally be myself with, I have a hard time doing that with everyone.  It's not about them, it's all about me, you know the stinky old self image deal.  Aims is about the only one I let myself just "be" with.  So it's nice to have someone like her around here.  BUT, I woke up having one of those really down days where I wanted to just stay in bed and cuddle with two little monkeys.  I guess God made her call me or I would still be in my sweats without a shower right now (Jim's so thankful for her!).  I got a move on despite my funk, worked out despite feeling like it's useless right now and actually got to the park only 10 minutes later than planned.  Nathan was so excited to see his girlfriend and eat his BK lunch, don't think he's even had one before.  Brady was excited to have my fries and his apples and his nuggets!  They ate quickly and voraciously attacked Springwood Park.  Fun, fun, fun!  Brady doesn't think there's anything that he can't do, he'll even tell you that.  Some of those climby things freak me out, his legs just don't stretch that far-geez, mine have a hard time stretching that far!!!  He was in that tubey thing trying to go up because he had seen Nathan do it and if Nathan can do it, Brady will try his best to do it. So there he is, trying hard to do it when three older chicks stand at the top of the tubey thing look down at him.  They then proceed to slide on down, right over my Brady.  I'm standing right there, HELLO?!!  Brady just lets it all pass, no sweat, he's used to falling and getting right back up, right?  He tries again, this time his big brother has noticed the big girls (about 7-8 years old, why aren't they in school?) so Nathan is behind him and his girlfriend is behind him.  Nathan is trying to boost Brady up and the big girls slide down AGAIN.  My crowd again is not too phased, I think I have smoke coming from my ears, but I try to let kids manage playground stuff.  Brady tries again with Nathan giving his bottom a boost.  The now titled MEGs (mean elementary girls) stand at the top of the tube and starting laughing.  One even says, "Let's make fun of them and laugh at them."  WHOA, now that's just not nice.  And Nathan tells them they are not being nice.  They continue laughing and my crowd continues pushing. Finally I crawl in the tube (no laughing at the image created with that one!) and begin to push a bum up the tube.  MEGs come back and start laughing until they see me and I respond with, "Must be easy to make fun of someone half your age."  I finish pushing my two bums up and Nathan's girlfriend makes it up on her own.  The MEGs continued to laugh at my boys throughout our time at the park until my friend and I were just done and ready to go.  Hate leaving a park because of three little mean elementary girls.  Seriously, now they will grow up to be mean adult women who treat others rudely.  Unless someone intervenes and changes their hearts which leads this brokenhearted mama into her discussion on ORANGE!  In a minute, though.  I must confess that I am SOOOO very proud of Nathan for standing up for his brother and his friend by telling those older girls that laughing at them was not nice.  He's one pretty amazingly awesome wonderful kid!  I'm blessed beyond measure to have those two guys.  And just this morning Nathan and I were talking about others and how we treat them.  My pastor talked a while ago about a classmate of his named Leonard and I was sharing that with Nathan.  The essence of the Leonard story is that there will be different people in this world; some will dress differently, wear glasses, smell funny, some may not walk well, some may be in wheelchairs, some may not be good readers, some may be have different colored skin, hair, eyes or no hair at all.  But, God made each and every one of them and He has called us to love them and treat them the way we want to be treated.  No matter what. Love God, Love People, that's what it's all about.  Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.  I got tons of support from my facebook friends.  But starting my day off in a funk and having my sweet, precious boys picked on is not great.  

ORANGE
Yep, it's a great, cheerful color, one of Jim's favorites and it can speak volumes for your ministry!  Last year our youth and childrens ministry team went ORANGE and tried to share that vision with the church.  I thought I had the vision, I understood it enough to explain it, but it was not in my heart.  It was not my passion, it was not transforming me or the way I want to do ministry.  If you're reading and thinking, oh, I'm not in ministry, this doesn't apply to me, you're wrong.  If you have children and you want to grow in teaching them to have a relationship with Christ, then you may want to read a bit more, I have a great tool for you.  After attending the ORANGE conference last month I now have the vision, I am transformed, I cannot wait to make it a contagious force within my church.  I want my entire church (and yours) to capture this ORANGE vision and create a change that will strengthen families.  

The ORANGE Conference is about bringing children and youth leaders together to guide and direct them on leading our children to Christ and a relationship with Him.  I just had a typo where I had REALationship.  Hmmm, not quite a typo is it?  Sorry, got distracted there.  I don't know about you, but there's nothing I want more in this world than for Nathan and Brady to have a real personal relationship with Him.  When they were first born I struggled with singing classic children's songs or Christian songs or reading Christian stories over secular stories.  I know, it shouldn't be that big of a deal, but I'm weird like that.  I realized two things.  1.  If I make sure God always has first place in their lives He's going to take care of everything else in their lives (from the alphabet to their future finances). 2.  He's going to take care of everything so we'll do a good mix of both! So far, I think it's working. :)

I experienced an amazing time of worship (love Steve Fee, Kristian Stanfill and Phil Wickham) and Francis Chan totally knocked my socks off!  I had breakout sessions with some people who are doing church in ways that made me say, I want us to do that, how can we do that???  My brain started going on overdrive and it's not slowing down!!  SMC watch out!  I heard some great speakers and bought a book that I'm slowly devouring.  I bet if I enjoyed my food as much as I enjoy this book I would lose some weight!  It talks about what ORANGE is all about.  I'm only on page 91, yes if you know me I normally read a book a day.  The entire Twilight series in 4 days anyone?  I'm taking this one piece by piece because it's meaningful for not just our ministry, but for my family.  My prayer while at ORANGE was that I would be a better parent.  I came home and felt like my prayer had been immediately answered.  There was so much peace in my home. That peace has slowly dissolved and I need to get at the heart of what created that peace and how it can be a constant.  I feel like that can be found in this book because this book is about families and making sure our connection to God is our top priority.  Or maybe I just need to get away again... It will be available for purchase soon, it's called Think Orange: Imagine the Impact When Church and Family Collide.  It's "about two entities partnering to make a greater impact or to create a better solution." It's good, well, the first 91 pages are and if you only get something out of those pages, you've spent good money.  I think my highlighter is spent from those 91 pages!

If you ever have the chance to attend an ORANGE Conference or a Catalyst Conference, GO!  I was hesitant because that means leaving my family, but this was beyond worth it!  I'm so thankful my church thinks enough of me to send me.  I'm hopeful I can give back a little something of what I gained there.  We're off to a great ORANGE summer.  If you have any ideas of any ORANGE things, anything no matter how whacky or outrageous they may seem, send them my way.  ORANGE foods, ORANGE games, ORANGE skits, you name it, if it's ORANGE, I want to know about it!  Also looking for some ORANGE clothes, my one ORANGE t-shirt from last summer may not make it.  If you see something that looks nice on sale in the area, let me know so I can grab it!  

Oh, and what does ORANGE mean?  Here you go, if you haven't heard it, I hope you love it as much as I do!  We all know that red and yellow together make ORANGE.  Imagine the church being yellow (the light of Christ) and families being red (the heart).  Put it together and you get ORANGE.  You get the heart/love and the light of Christ in one as it should be.  They weren't meant to be separated.  Be ORANGE.