Friday, February 13, 2015

That's what love is...

A few years ago, I was gearing up to go out of town with Chad for a few days.  This was a much needed trip.  It was for business, but none the less, it was a get away without kids.  At the time, my life was consumed with Clayton's cancer treatment.  We had just finished radiation and were about halfway through with his chemo treatments, so my days were spent making this okay for all involved while begging and pleading with God to make the treatment a success and to heal my son.  In all, it was a stressful time for us, but a precious time as well as I was totally surviving on my faith and my walk with the Lord.

The Trip to Indianapolis 
   It was the night before my trip, and someone told me there was a book I just HAD to read while I was gone. She handed it to me and said enjoy. She said  it was the BEST BOOK EVER and my husband would thank me for it.  The night before I left, I started to read this book.  I am not a book worm, don't read a lot, and really don't know much about current books, so I unknowingly began reading.  About two chapters in, I realized that this book was not a match for me.  I realized that the God I know, love, serve and was trusting to heal my son, would be so incredibly hurt by the idea that I would fill my heart and mind with such disgust. The book was returned to its owner that night before my trip, and  my heart was broken. You see, there is NO WAY I could read that book and pray for the Lord to heal my son. No WAY. My heart broke because people I know, love and walk beside had no trouble reading it.  I don't understand that, and I probably never will.  I'm sure the you all know the book title by now.  Yes, it was 50 Shades of Grey.  
     Rather than discuss how vile and full of pornography the book is, which I can't fairly do because I only got 2 chapters in, I'd like to tell anyone who is searching for love what true love is. You see, it's not premarital sex, handsome men in suits..( although I do love my man in a suit)..., women willing to do ridiculous things, or exotic sex toys.  Here's what real love is, and for those who are still searching, I truly pray that you find it.
     True love is.... Loving me purely and completely on my wedding night,  holding my hair back as I am vomiting from severe morning sickness, holding my head against your chest as the little heartbeat we just saw became a lost dream..a miscarriage, telling me we'll try again, understanding my fear when we got the next positive pregnancy test, being there when she was born, encouraging me when she wouldn't sleep, and I questioned if I was mommy material, telling me I looked beautiful a week after giving birth and 30 pounds too heavy, walking together in fear as a business didn't go as planned, waking up and  praying over me..all the time, loving my kids, being patient with me when the house is a mess and I burn dinner, coming to get me when I'm scared, picking me up off the floor when I'm told my son has cancer, sleeping with me in a twin size hospital bed for 10 days because I can't be alone, taking the phone call because I can't, working so I can be home with our kids and NEVER complaining about it, being an active part of our children's lives, forgiving when it's undeserved, saying "I'm Sorry" when it isn't your fault, making a commitment to be faithful and never wavering, keeping your mind pure and only for me,  respecting me in public, encouraging me to be the best me, and most importantly putting Christ first in our lives... the list goes on. 

   True love exists. I live it and am so incredibly thankful for the gift. Happy Valentine's Day, Chad Castle. Thank you for loving me so completely. To those who read the book and/or saw the movie, we serve a God who loves us and forgives us and is able to make all things new.  It's okay.  You are always loved, always held and He is always waiting for you.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

50 Years... What it looks like

 This holiday season we drove to Baton Rouge to help my parents celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.  50 YEARS!!!  Half a century...Five decades.. That's a long time, yall!   After the planning, the party, eating the left over cake, opening the gifts, I found myself thinking about the rarity these days of people who can say they've been married 50 years.  I'm sure at every wedding the precious couple is picturing themselves at their 50th wedding anniversary, but seems like most of the time, the dream is lost somewhere between the sleepless nights kids bring and the new job that didnt turn out so great.  Marriage is work. It's a commitment and it's something worth working for.
    I've been involved for 41 years in my parents marriage.  Over those years, I've observed some things that I think would service us all to review in hopes to make our marriages happy and successful.  Some of it seems a little trivial, silly and strange, but apparently it worked!
 Thinking back on it, I certainly didn’t realize what I was witnessing at the time, but now I see that I had the awesome opportunity to watch a marriage work.  Many people my age don’t have that background, unfortunately.  In those years, here are some things I saw that may help us all.
1-       Respect.. My mother has always had a tremendous amount of respect for my dad.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard my mother talk about how incredible my dad is, how proud she is to be his wife, how awesome God is to have blessed her with him, how she prayed we’d meet men as amazing as dad.. almost always without my dad present to hear her bragging.  I also remember my dad doing the same for my mom. ..
2-      Listening-  This one goes out to my dad.  He kind of a reserved individual most times, and doesn’t always have a lot to say, but boy.. can he listen.  I have witnessed numerous times my mother discussing frustrations, fears, concerns and even just stories and my dad just listening to her.. never complaining.
3-      Service-  This one is HUGE.  My dad is a very hard worker.  He rarely takes time off.  He’s always been up early and home late.  He has given his adult years to being an excellent physician and providing amazing care to his patients… not to mention serving his family by being the breadwinner.  I can’t remember hearing him complain about going to work EVER… and my MOM… she has the most amazing servant heart of them all.  She still, to this day.. makes my dad a lunch during the work day.  He comes home from work for an hour and if she is not there, she has prepared for him a sandwich, or something to eat.  She goes over and above to serve my dad.  I don’t think my dad knows how to run the washing machine or the dishwasher even now.

4-      I save the largest for last.  CHRIST.. My parents have always, without wavering, committed and devoted their lives to serving the Lord.  Many times it was hard.  They dealt with church struggles, served on pastor search committees, finance committee, personnel committee, taught Sunday school, led children's choir, hosted events and let's not forget the good ole Committee on Committees.  That's funny, but it's true.  More importantly, through the good times and the many hard times in life, they have stayed focused on the Lord and His desire for them to truly light their world, by sharing Christ, serving others, and growing a legacy of children and grandchildren who also honor the Lord.
  I am so blessed and honored to have celebrated with my parents and honor their marriage.. It's a great reminder that the days are long, but the years are short.  Time flies by, and as you look back, you see the small, but important things that worked.  Here is a picture of my parents with their 16 grandchildren, all of which hold them very close.  College students that come "home" and stay with Granny and Pops all holiday, teenagers who sit around the table laughing with Grannie, little boys who anxiously surround Pops waiting for the next trivia question and kids who would all agree that they hope to have the same marriage, love and home of their own one day.  Thank you, Mom and Dad, for making it work and making it look easy.  We love you!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Our Thanksgiving Cruise.. Carnival Magic


   We just got back from a great week aboard the Carnival Magic.  We went, just the six of us, over Thanksgiving break.  We've been wanting to take the kids to the Caribbean, but haven't been able to decide where, and were not excited about paying for 6 flights, two hotel rooms, and lots of food for all of us, so we opted for a cruise.  Boy, was that a great decision.  Now, let me make it clear.. this was in NO WAY a time alone with my man.  We were in close quarters with 4 kiddos, and LOVED IT.  You see, while you are out at sea, there is no WIFI, no texts, no business calls.. NONE.  You just can't imagine the drama and frustration that is removed when no one can take calls or receive texts.
   This ship is one of Carnival's newest and largest and was designed with kids in mind.  They did a great job.  My boys were so excited to find a putt putt course, a ropes course, numerous pools, a water park which included two large slides, foosball, ping pong.. you name it.  One of the most fun things for the kids, all of them, was Barman.  Barman is a table artist aka, close up magician, who traveled around tables and did special "magic" tricks.  He also had a show a couple of nights during the week and the kids loved watching his tricks. The kids also enjoyed getting to meet and talk to all of the international staff.  Everyone is from a different country and is excited to answer questions from the kids. 
    The food on the Magic was just ok.  Let me be honest, we eat out ALOT and are probably restaurant snobs and just didn't know it.  We don't frequent the Golden Corral.. EVER.. but this cruise, the buffet seemed very much like the GC, so we opted for the sit down dining room, which was a great time each evening and for brunch.  Our kids sat at the table with us, with no phones, remember? and talked with us.  It was truly beautiful.  They also loved the all day and night ice cream.  Super fun while you're on vacation.
    We visited several beautiful countries this week.  We did Zip lining, in the pouring down rain, on Wednesday in Honduras.  We also shopped and visited a very beautiful, but wet beach.  On Thursday we snorkeled off a private island in Belize.  The weather was gorgeous and the beach was perfect.  On Friday we visited Cozumel where we swam with the dolphins and definitely made great memories.  The ports were all highlights and fun experiences for the kids.
     I'll be honest, I was a little concerned about going on a cruise.  I thought the kids may get bored, I thought we'd be surrounded by drunk people, I thought the ship would scare me with kids, but none of that was the case.  We had a GREAT week.  There was always something to do. The kids read, played cards TOGETHER, rested, (the rocking of the boat is very relaxing), laughed.. all of that great stuff.  The ship was full of nice families and I honestly didn't see ANYONE drunk the entire week. We watched big screen movies late into the night on the Lido deck, and we enjoyed dressing up and having elegant dinner nights.  To top is all off.. the last day the ship sponsored a fund raiser for St. Jude's.  Pretty sure I was the only mom on deck with tears in my eyes as I watched the droves of people line up to donate money and buy tshirts.  Blessed this momma's heart!  All in all,we had a BALL and I would recommend this trip to any family!
     Most of all, we spent great time together and made lasting memories.  I spent a week being pampered by excellent staff,  leaving all of my worries behind, focusing on what was right in front of me.. and loving every minute of it.  Now, back to reality.. 4 kids.. 4 campuses.. let's go!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

But everyone's doing it....

 Wow!  It's been a long time since I've visited and shared on this blog.  This is my original blog that I started years ago to keep some sort of a family diary and share pictures.  Life got busy, Clayton got cancer, and this blog fell by the wayside. Well... I've just had some thoughts on my mind about life and our walk as Christians and feel compelled to share them.  I know we all have a different perspective on life based on what we've been through.  We've all been raised differently, had different experiences, good and bad, and are dealing with different conflicts even now... but one thing remains.. Jesus is the SAME God for you as He is me...

    I'm just floored lately as I really sit back and look at how "we" are living IN the world.  We are all about giving Grace and Mercy... acceptance and tolerance. Exactly as we should because it is what the Lord calls us to do.  Micah 6:8 "What does the Lord require of you?  To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God".  But with that said,  showing Grace and Mercy does not mean that we are to agree and comply with the ways of the world.  It doesn't mean that we become OF the world...

    A few nights ago I was having a discussion with my teenagers about language that is used over texts.  I asked them what WTF means? Of course, I knew what it means, and I know my girls hearts and I saw a conflict here.  After they both told me what I meant, I asked them how they can be okay using or reading such an acronym.  Immediately they both said, " Everyone writes that.  It's what everyone does.  It's not like you're SAYING it".  Oh.. but it is.  Just because EVERYONE is doing it certainly does not mean we have to. OR better yet,  when asking what is up with the unacceptable grade made on a recent test.. her response, as I am sure you have all heard at your house, was " EVERYONE did terrible on that test".  Guess what.. I doubt the college admissions board is going to take into consideration that EVERYONE did poorly.  They will be solely looking at HER records. That leads me to Jesus... and our day of accountability with HIM.  I guess for me, death on Earth and life in heaven has become very real, as I have met and dealt with so much sickness and lives ending far too quickly recently.  It has reminded me that I am going to have a one on one time with Jesus.  He is going to see me, question me and pass judgment on me.  He's going to do it for all of us.  He is NOT going to care what EVERYONE else was doing in 2013, what was acceptable, what the world thought of my sin.. HE is not going to consider that I lived "better than Sally Brown"  He is just going to see ME and MY sin.  I will be accountable for MYSELF.

   In the same way, I would like to remind us all that we have no right to pass judgment on anyone else.  Our father in heaven will do that. We are , however, OBLIGATED to speak the truth, love with the love of the Lord and represent Him to the absolute best of our ability.  Accepting gay relationships,  sex outside of marriage with either sex, obscene movies, terrible language, etc... is us allowing the world to define who WE are.  "Well, it's just how things are these days"... That's so sad.  That does not mean we change what the Bible speaks as truth just because the world is so so lost.  It means we work that much harder.  It means we LOVE all people, but we don't have to change our profile picture to the red equality symbol to support their sin.. we don't have to sit in the bar and get drunk because they are.... it does not mean that we have sex with random people because it's the "cool" thing and our spouse is "boring", and to step on my own toes here... it doesn't mean that we gossip and bad mouth those who wrong us.

    I'm just wanting to remind us all that one day EACH ONE OF US will sit before the throne of God and answer for ourselves. God has the final word with each person.  The same Jesus that died on the cross for all of my sin, died for those around me too.  I'm so thankful that there is grace and mercy and forgiveness for our fallen world. Let's Just live IN the world but not OF it!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Card 2012

Stationery card
View the entire collection of cards.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Want and NEED

This holiday season, I just have "want and need" on my mind. I think we are totally confused about what those words mean. I'm talking to all of us. To clear up any confusion.. want, according to Webster's Dictionary means.. "to feel a need or a desire for"... need means..."Something that is necessary for organisms to live a healthy life".

Now that we've cleared that up, I just feel so burdened by the confusion we have and are creating in our kids for what we want vs need. My 12 year old does not NEED an iphone 4gs.. and neither does yours. I do not NEED a larger house. I may enjoy some of the amenities that a larger house would offer, but I don't NEED one.

Recently my kids were complaining about our house. Honestly because the majority of their friends live in houses that are signifigantly newer and larger than ours. As I was listening to them, I was thinking about truly what they need that they don't have. I couldnt think of anything. So, I ask my daughter, " Okay.. so while I look for a new house for us, tell me what you need that we don't have so I can find the right one". She just looked at me and could think of nothing. The reason why?? Because we have all that we need.

I see us as Americans so wrapped up in wants. I am guilty. My kids are having ridiculous Christmases. I'm just being honest. They are all getting things they don't need but want. It does frustrate me a little that we say we "need" the expensive jeans or we "need" an xbox. No we don't NEED any of that.

Another thing my girls do not "Need" is a boyfriend. These girls at 14 and 12 do not "Need" a boy to make them feel like they are somebody. The very day they start thinking they "need" that to be happy is the day our problems begin. What a hard life for a little girl who grows into a lady thinking she "needs" the presence of another to be somebody. I will be the first to tell you that my husband is my everything. He is all that plus some and I do "need" him. I do think he contributes to me having a healthy life and living.. as the definition says, but with that said, we've been married 15 years, and he has become part of me. These young girls do not have that bond nor do they need it. What they need is to grow into ladies who love the Lord more than anything else and trust God to provide them an excellent spouse at the appropriate time. They don't "need" to be heartbroken and hurt beginning at age 12 with a repetious cycle continuing through their young adult life. Just my soapbox. Now, I'm all about the date to homecoming and the harmless "going with" boy that you never actually go anywhere with, but I want to clarify that the moment our kids "NEED" a person in order to be happy, we better stop and look at what we're doing. You think I'm kidding... I drive lots of carpools, listen to lots of conversations with kids and read lots of texts. Stop and listen and you'll be amazed by what you hear.

I'm preaching to myself here. The Lord has shown me what I "need" so many times and taught me patience along the way. I patiently waited for Chad. I didn't have lots of boyfriends in highschool, and I know it's because I was waiting on Mr. Perfect. The Lord has brought me to a point before where I needed $600 to pay my house note, and patiently waited until the Lord delivered at the last minute. I lost my first baby, and patiently waited on the Lord to provide me with kids. It wasn't easy, and I wasn't feeling patient at the time, but I see now where he was working on my patience and showing me what I truly "need". The list goes on..

Anyway, I just want us to remember that it's not always about pushing forwarding for what we want. I see us all doing that, yes, even me.. and it scares me. If my kids want the top of the line best thing now, what do they have to look forward to working for? And yes.. I say this as I'm wrapping Miss Me Jeans and other things that we do not "NEED" and putting them under the tree.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Is it really you and Dad?

Last Saturday Clayton woke up early and while the other kids slept in, we decided to have a date to go see Santa at the mall.

I'm trying very hard to remind myself that Clayton is still young and that he still likes doing things his siblings find "uncool". So, we got dressed cute and took off to see Santa. On our way there, here's what happened in the car. ( I'll be writing it just as Clayton said it.. although I can't reproduce the cute voice, I can reproduce the grammatical errors :)

"Mom, is Santa real? I think he's just your Mom and Dad putting out gifts."

"Well, Clayton, you know Mommy doesn't like to buy toys, so what do you think?

"Well, I'm just being real. Let's just think about it, how many people lives in Texas?"

"Wow.. I'm not sure.. alot"

"Well, how many hours is it dark at night?"

"About 8"

"And, kids have to be asleep, right mom? Let's just think about this. How can Santa go to all the kids's houses in all of Texas in 8 hours in one night" AND.. How can he eat all of those cookies by himself and not feel sick?"

"Well, Im not sure, Clayton. Since I'm not Santa, I'd just have to say it's Christmas Magic"

"Christmas Magic is not real and think about it... reindeer can't fly. They don't have wings and NO animals can have a glow on their nose"

"Well, they just push their legs back and forth so they'll go fast, or maybe there's a motor on the sleigh.. and as far as the glow, I think maybe it's just the way light shines on Rudolph"

" There can't be motor because it would burn the reindeers and light doesnt shine up that high and then how can the reindeer see the food we put out? And another thing, was Rudolph the lead reindeer when you were little?"

"Yep, Rudolph has always been the lead reindeer"

"Well, then I know this can't be true. There's NO WAY Rudolph could still fly if he's been flying since you were little. He's WAY old"

" And another thing.. how can Santa fit EVERY kids toys on one little sleigh. I mean, I get big stuff. There's no way it all fits in that one little sack on a sleigh."

So, the good questions continue and we get to the mall. I'm sad at this point thinking that my youngest no longer believes in Christmas magic..

We get to the mall and see Santa. He's the REAL Santa! REAL beard, REAL stomach.. Real outfit.. GREAT Santa. Clayton sees him and excitedly waits his turn in line. We get to the front and Clayton climbs up on his lap. Santa asks, "Have you been a good boy this year".. looking at me. I fib a little because he had honestly had the worst weekend EVER. I smile and say, "Oh yes, he's a good boy". He tells Clayton that he thought so because he didnt see his name on the naughty list. Clayton's eyes light up and a huge smile comes over him. Santa asks him what he wants for Christmas and promises him a Christmas visit.. the whole time looking at me for approval. So, Clayton hugs Santa good bye.. walks out and looks right up at me and says, " Thanks for tricking Santa and telling him I've been good"...

So after all of that, I think we still believe.. even though my smarty pants, inquisitive child still has lots of unanswered questions. It's fun to keep it that way, and fun for mommy to still have Christmas magic alive :)