Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hate To Break It To You...But There's No Magic In The Air...

Well friends, the title says it all.  A lot of times we (and by we, I mean "I") often use phrases like "stroke of luck" or "good karma" or "magic" to describe the great things that just seem to happen in our lives.  I should back up and apologize for my erratic blog-posting habits of yester-year, and tell you that I have really good intentions in my blogging aspirations.  I am also, however, ridiculously disorganized and have the memory of a 112 year old with Alzheimer's (okay, that may be a stretch...but it's not too far off), and although over the years I have re-dedicated myself time and time again to being more consistent with entries, when it comes right down to it, I just don't follow through.  So here is my 4,217th attempt to be diligent in my blog entries, and more importantly, to give glory to The Father while doing so.
So much time has elapsed and so much has happened, filling in the gaps would make for one seriously long and crazy post (even longer than this will end up being).  And believe it or not, I actually have something of substance to share, so I will make this catch-up portion quick as I can.  The past year has been interesting, scary, wonderful, terrible, and incredibly testing for our entire family.  In short, the major event that rocked our world deals with the mental health of our youngest daughter, Sophia.  Many of you know the story, but because what I intend to blog about today revolves around her, I will briefly explain.  I've known Sophia was "different" since she was in, 15-18 months old.  She was an insanely laid-back baby, but developed a fiery temperament as she ventured toward two years old.  Her moods shifted quickly and severely, and she was extremely unpredictable and inconsistent.  Normal terrible two's, you say?  Yea well...we'll have to agree to disagree on this one.  She stormed into her threes with a vengeance, her mood swings increasingly unstable and violent.  By her fours, it was obvious we needed help.  Our pediatrician is conservative, and began to get involved, but even he admitted it had gotten beyond his level of expertise.  We consulted a few local pediatric psychiatrists and therapists, but her condition continued to deteriorate.  I will spare you many of the details, but last year things took a nose dive.  The "perfect storm" of circumstances collided, and we ended up having to use the services of The Ridge Behavioral Health System...which is a fancy name for a mental health facility...or mental hospital.  Take your pick.  When it became apparent that Sophia was a danger to herself and others at her preschool, we tried the outpatient school program at The Ridge.  There, we met an amazing, young, vibrant counselor/teacher named Brittany.  Brittany loved on Sophia, regardless of her crazy fits and mood shifts.  The first time Sophia bit Ms. Brittany, we went to pick her up and Brittany was much more concerned about Sophia's mental status than she was about the crescent-shaped, tooth-mark-ridden bruise on her arm.  We were mortified.  Brittany was too...but NOT at all about herself.  Talk about selfless.  Unfortunately, Sophia needed more than the outpatient program could provide, and after several weeks in outpatient, we had a tough decision to make.  The day we admitted Sophia to the inpatient program was like a dream.  Actually, it was a nightmare.  To say she experienced a complete psychotic breakdown that day is a gross understatement, but I will just go with that.  Her regular psychiatrist washed her hands of us, leaving us feeling even more isolated and scared than we already were.  It turned out to be a blessing, however, because her new doctor was able to deduce that a huge part of her issues were stemming from a "toxic" combination of meds.  I won't even begin to get into that whole issue today.  But let's just say we were NOT happy.  While in inpatient, we weren't able to visit with Sophia daily.  She was being detoxed.  It was terrifying for her and for us, to not have access to her whenever we wanted.  Those 8 days our entire family coasted through life, surviving only on the shoulders of friends and the love of our God.  And to be honest, at times I felt so isolated by The Adversary that I couldn't feel God's presence.  I wish I could tell you I was a vision of steadfast faith and devout belief that God had a plan in it all.  But I wasn't.  I crumbled.  Badly.  My physical appearance was haggard and unhealthy.  My mental status can probably imagine.  Looking back, I see God never left our side.  But in the thick of it, I unintentionally let Satan in and he wreaked havoc on my heart.  But even amidst my struggle, God was working overtime.  One wonderful thing was that when we couldn't be with Sophia, Ms. Brittany could.  She would work in outpatient all day (and she had some seriously LONG days), and then would go see Sophia.  She would call us and give us updates.  She was our light in the dark.  When Sophia was released and began regular treatment with her new psychiatrist outside of The Ridge, we had every intention to go back to The Ridge and profusely thank Ms. Brittany.  Every time we would drive past there, Sophia would beg to go see Brittany.  For me, I couldn't step foot back in there.  It was too painful.  But as the months passed, the pain became less and the excitement to share Sophia's progress with Brittany grew.  Yet every time we drove past, I always had a reason why we couldn't go...we were running late, we didn't have time, we didn't know if Brittany would be busy...yada, yada, yada.  Life happened.  We STILL haven't made it over there.
Okay, so here's where we pick up the story, in current times.  Last week, Ernie was asked to participate in a short promotional video for our church.  Our whole family met at the location, which happened to be a local coffee shop and restaurant that our church runs.  (It's actually WAY more than just a coffee shop.  I'll have to explain that in another post though.)  We walked in and were ordering some food before the shoot began.  And then it happened.  I looked over and saw Ernie and Sophia talking to someone...a woman...she looked so familiar, but I didn't place her at first.  Then, in mid-order, it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was BRITTANY!  After I ordered I couldn't scoot over to her table quick enough.  I hugged her...probably a little too tightly.  I had tears in my eyes.  It was HER, there, in the flesh! After some small talk, we discovered that she was no longer at The Ridge.  She was getting ready to move away and was just in town helping a friend with some wedding planning.  We never had her phone number, and per Ridge policy, she wasn't permitted to contact us, even though she no longer worked there.  We would have had a really difficult time tracking her down, if it had even been possible.  It was like all the stars aligned and all the good juju in the world fell upon us.  I thought to myself "What a small world."  But in hindsight, I realize it's not a small world at all.  It's actually a really a HUGE world.  But we serve a really HUGE God.  There are no aligning magic...what we have is even greater, even more wondrous; we have a Heavenly Father who cares about us, even in the mundane details of our daily lives.  I get the goosebumps just reliving that moment  from last week.  God has some seriously large issues to attend to...urgent prayers beyond what I can even comprehend.  But in that moment, He put a series of events into motion that would seem insignificant to most.  Okay, this Brittany chick met a girlfriend at a coffee shop to talk wedding details. No biggie. But it was so much more than that for us, and for her, too.  She fawned over Sophia, genuinely elated by her progress and just full of loving words and affirmations.  We were so moved by what God had done for us; what He had given us; just in that chance meeting.  Ernie and I both sat through most of our dinner speechless, literally only commenting about how awe-struck we were by our God.
Okay, so that was pretty awesome.  But it gets even better.  Fast forward to this week. Some of the meds Sophia is on have caused some weight gain.  We have tried various activities for Sophia to participate in to combat that, and she hasn't really loved any of them.  Ballet? Nope.  Tap? Notta.  Soccer? HA.  No way.  Clogging?  She liked it...but it wasn't something financially feasible for us right now, and it was only a half hour once a week.  Hardly made much of an impact.  Sophia has always loved to swim.  We've tossed around the idea of finding a little swim team for her to join, but haven't ever really made it happen.  On a recent day off from school, we wound up at the local indoor pool for HOURS to get some energy out.  It dawned on me I needed to check out this swimming thing again.  So, I contacted the coach of our little local swim team.  After much email correspondence, I found out the coach and I have a lot in common.  Like, a-scary-lot, right down to our age, competitive swimming experiences, and shoulder injuries.  Cool? Yep.  But not nearly the coolest part.  Towards the end of our emailing conversation, I shared that I was really excited about this new adventure for Sophia, not only for the physical activity aspect, but also to help with her ADHD and anxiety.  And here it is: she has a Master's in clinical psychology, has worked as a therapist, and works at UK doing neurocognitive assessments.  ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME?!?!?!  I can't help but just sit back and smile at God...sometimes He is such a show off...and I LOVE IT.  I can almost feel Him saying, "Yea, check this out.  Not only do I have control of this entire situation, but I'm gonna throw in some extras just for giggles because...well...I'm God!"  So there you have it.   Mind. Blown. {AGAIN}
In a world where we are riddled with tragedy on a daily basis; where God is being pushed out of daily life by most social institutions; where we "Christians" fall short and turn our backs time and time again; where we credit karma and relics and good luck charms for the good things we experience; I'm here to tell ya- all that is hog wash.  There's no magic.  There's no luck.  There's no karma.  Here's the "secret"- there's God.  End of story.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Big 3-Ohhhhhhhhh

I woke up this morning and started my day just as a I start most Sundays...went for a run with my favorite running partners, went and got a cup of hot coffee, and headed home.  As soon as I pulled in the driveway and got out of the car, I could smell the bacon that was cooking behind the closed front door.  It was clear this was not the usual turkey bacon, either. Nope. This was the REAL deal.  I tried to unlock the front door but alas the lock on the handle had been locked, making it impossible for me to get in because our key doesn't work for that lock. {and yes, I know we should get that taken care of...} I rang the doorbell and I heard Sophia squeal, "Mommy's home! She's here! Hurry!"  Then, with a click of the lock, the door flew open and my girls yelled, "Happy Birthday, Momma!!"  I was ushered into the kitchen where there was a stack of cards, a dozen red roses, a balloon, and my husband, slaving away over the stove.  And then it hit me.  I am thirty years old.  THIRTY.  Adios, twenties...Momma's got a brand-new bag.  Or rather, a not-so-brand-new bag.  Last weekend my husband and friends threw me a surprise birthday party, and it was fantastic.  But truth-be-told, the reality of entering a new decade didn't really hit me then, because, well, I was still 29.  It doesn't seem all that long ago that I WANTED to be older; to look older; to act older.  I couldn't WAIT to turn 13...16...21...but today was a bit different.  I remember years ago sneaking down to the basement of my parent's house to watch The Real World on MTV, and thinking, "Geez, these people are OLD!"  19 seemed old.  24 seemed ancient.  And 30?! Yikes.  So today, as I got ready for church, I took a few extra minutes examining myself in the mirror.  Where did those lines above my brow come from?  And how come they don't go away when I relax my face?  They USED to not even be there unless I furrowed my brow.  Over the past few days several people have asked me what I did differently with my hair.  I wish I had actually done something different to tell them about, but the only thing I did was get my gray roots covered up with some dye.  Gray. Roots.  WHAT?!  When did this happen??!??!  I had a "moment" earlier, standing there staring at my face in the mirror...a moment when it hit me like ton of bricks...this crazy thing called "Life" stops for no one.  Not even on your birthday.  ESPECIALLY not on your birthday. I took a second and prayed for God to reveal me today that He wanted me to learn.  I thanked Him for the past 30 years, and asked that He make whatever time I have left here on this Earth be used to glorify Him.  And then, something pretty awesome happened.  I felt excited about turning 30.  It dawned on me that God has used the past 30 years to teach me, mold me, move me, and draw me nearer to Him.  For thirty years He has been there, patiently waiting as I've messed up time and time again {and oh good LORD have I taken advantage of that!}  For 3 decades, He has been preparing me for the mission He has called me to.  Talk about some serious on-the-job training.  As we walked into church this morning, I felt kinda' excited.  As soon as I got off the shuttle and walked towards the front door, the "Happy Birthday"'s began...and I soaked it up!  I walked to my usual seat, and there was a GORGEOUS cake waiting for me, thanks to a dear friend.  During the opening worship session, I was overwhelmed as I thought about the unbelievable friends God has gifted to me.  Friends old and new, alike.  The sermon this morning was fantastic, as usual.  God spoke through our pastor, Brian, like He always does.  I got to have lunch with my little family, and then we went to a birthday party for a friend's daughter, who just happens to be my birthday twin.  The weather outside was brisk but sunny, and the afternoon was filled with well as some super cake and ice cream.  As I was sitting there watching the kiddos play and listening to them squeal and giggle, it dawned on me that 30 really isn't so bad.  In fact, it's pretty awesome.  Pretty, remarkable, really.  You see, turning 30 today means that God has bigger and better things planned for me that are yet to come.  It means that I have survived 30 years of huge mistakes that many many times could have cost me my life...but God had other things in mind.  Turning 30 means three decades of memories, some horrifying, some glorifying, but ALL of which made me who I am.  Those wrinkles in my forehead?  Just reminders of all the crying and laughing I've done over the past 30 years. Those gray hairs?  Just reminders of the trials that God had brought me through during this crazy journey I've been on.  So, bring it on, thirties.  Bring. It. On.  But you better bring your A-game, because I know my God has some big ol' plans...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Life's Lessons Learned

So I learned a valuable life lesson today: The ONE HOUR Dry Cleaners does NOT offer one hour dry cleaning. Let me explain: I took Ernie's suit coat to a business called One Hour Dry Cleaning. I show up there at 3:15 to drop it off. The cheery lady asked when I wanted to pick it up and I said "tonight". Her whole expression changed and she said "Well, stuff for pick up today needed to be in before 1." I felt confused, because this is a ONE HOUR dry cleaners. So I said "Is this not a one hour cleaners?" And she answered, "Well we don't clean clothes ALL day!" Shame on me for thinking they cleaned clothes during business hours at the ONE HOUR dry cleaners?! So then I said " can I pick it up in the morning?" She got all cheery again and said "Sure!" I asked what time they opened and she said 7, so I said I would be there at 7. That twisted facial expression came back and she said, "Well, it won't be ready until 9." Puzzled, I asked "Is the name of your business not ONE HOUR Dry Cleaning?!" and with a exaggeratedly-loud sigh I walked out the door. What a trip. Thank goodness the rest of the world doesn't operate like a the one hour cleaners. Can you imagine going to the grocery store and them saying "Well we don't sell groceries ALL day"?! And then them looking at you like you're nuts for even asking in the first place! Like how dare you think you could just stroll into the grocery store and by groceries during regular business hours.HAahahAHahahH. It's laughable. But today, I wasn't really laughing. It was REALLY unnerving. Not to mention the look on the ladies face about put me over the edge...kinda' like she got some smug satisfaction from turning me away. After I left I lost my temper. I vented to Ernie, and to my friend Kasey. And then I pulled in the driveway and I was STILL simmering over it. I walked in the house with Sophia (because Angelina is at a friend's house) and got her all settled, and then I sat down and continued stewing on my anger. And then it hit me...this morning, when I woke up, for the first time in a LONG time I asked God to shine through me today...through my words and actions. But, I can say with near certainty that Ms.-We-Are-A-One-Hour-Cleaners-That-Does-Not-Offer-One-Hour-Cleaning did NOT see Jesus in me. In all fairness, I do think the name of that business is extremely misleading and they should at least offer one hour cleaning. But that's still not an excuse. This is just one more thing about Jesus that I simply cannot wrap my head around- He would have smiled and probably blessed her before turning on his heel and heading out the door still holding his dirty suit coat, no matter WHAT the sign above the door read. I am SO glad Jesus doesn't turn his back on is when we don't live up to our names. And I don't mean our literal names...I mean our names in Christ. I love how God can take these little moments and use them as teaching tools. The same God who created the Heavens and the Earth also cares enough about the mundane, minute happenings of our every day lives, and uses them to teach us life's lessons. Powerful stuff! Praise be to God...and praise also be to my mother who just happened to buy us a professional grade steamer for Christmas so I can attempt to "clean" Ernie's suit coat myself! :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Adios Facebook. Hello God!!

Last night, my women's bible study started back up after a small hiatus over the holidays. We are doing a study that centers are the story of David. Last night was WONDERFUL. The speaker on the video talked about how God doesn't care what we look like...doesn't care what baggage we have or what excuses we have made...he DESIRES to work in our hearts and through our hands. Period. End of story. Doesn't matter how many times you have slammed the door in His face; "Oh no God...I mean, I love you and all...but I can't be a Jesus girl while/at/with _________." Truth is, I am a sinner. You are a sinner. Your sweet little ol' grandma is a sinner. (Yep, I said it.) We all deserve to die. But my precious God, who I have turned my back on, bad-mouthed, disobeyed, and God who, in the face of my deepest darkest sins, wants NOTHING more than to have a loving relationship with God sent his ONLY son (parents out there, can you EVEN imagine?!!?!?!) to Earth, knowing before He even planted the seed in Mary's womb that Jesus would die on the cross, so that my sins could be forgiven. I just can't even wrap my head around His sacrifice. I pray to God every day for guidance, peace, healing, and whatever pops into my head, really. I am pretty sure people who pull up next to me when I am alone in my van think I am schizophrenic because I have full on convos with The Big Man while I am driving. Lately, I have been feeling a little disconnected, though. My spiritual cup is not overflowing at the moment, and honestly, I haven't been doing a whole lot about it. I have been comfortably numb. Not feeling fulfilled, but not feeling desperate. I have been praying for God to speak to me...REALLY speak to me, loud and clear. Last night during the study, our group leader touched on how, if you POUR yourself into His word, your life will never be the same. What a novel (and obvious) idea. I have done many studies. We go to church just about every Sunday. But, I have a confession to make: I don't pick up my Bible very often at home. Unless I have homework to do for my Bible study, it sits and collects dust. The devil has had me convinced that it's "too big" for puny lil' me; that I won't "get" what's in there. I have felt led to volunteer to lead studies, only to talk myself out of it because I am not familiar enough with my Bible. But do I pick it up and dust it off and familiarize myself? Nope. Shame on me. There's no excuse. And tonight, as I was sitting here, playing around on Facebook, God spoke to me LOUD AND CLEAR: I spend waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more time on Facebook than I do with Him. Ouch. It hurts to write that. But it's true. Sickening, but true. What if, for every minute I spent on Facebook per day, I took that time and spent it in His word? Well, after praying and praying to hear God speak to me, and then hearing Him tonight, I have decided that this time I am not going to question my conviction, even though I felt kinda silly having God speak to me about, of all things, Facebook. I always do that; I pray to hear God and then when I do, I question "Was that really God?" and then I let Satan convince me it wasn't so, that that wasn't God. Not this time. Yea, it sounds silly...that God even knows about Facebook. Ha. But, I have erased the Facebook app from my phone. I am not deleting my Facebook account entirely, because I don't think Facebooking in itself is a sin. But, I am going to go on a little FB vacation. Pop in from time to time. Say hello and catch up briefly. Post new blog posts. But it will NOT be my usual multiple-times-a-day check ins (or even every day, for that matter!). I am going to take the time I usually spend on Facebook, and spend it in my Bible. I am a little sad. That's weird! But I am. I am sad that I won't be up to date on all of the going ons and happenings in my friends' lives, via cyberspace. (What did we ever do BEFORE Facebook?! Oh yea, that's right- we wrote letters, met up, or talked on the phone...LOL) But I am also excited to see what happens who I pour myself into the truth, love, and word of the Creator of Heaven and Earth. "My bags are packed, I'm ready to go. I'm standing here, outside your door..." But this time, I am opening that door. I am not letting Satan dupe me this time! So, adios Facebook. It's been a fun ride, and we can still be friends and meet up here and there, but it's time that I fall in love...and I mean REALLY fall in love with my God. Peace out.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Arts & Crafts Extravaganza!

So...I have always liked to decorate things. Canvases, ornaments, and more recently my girls' rooms. The past few years I have dabbled in "doing it up" for my girls' joint birthday party. Three years ago I did a Carnival...complete with games, prizes, a clown, etc. Last year was an "After-Halloween" Party, and I decorated with tons of Halloween themed decor, and a cauldron full of Witch's Brew with a floating ice skull. This year, I decided to do an Arts & Crafts Party, and concentrated most of my decorating on the "cake table", which ended up being a cake-pop table, and a mini candy buffet. It really came together better than I could have imagined. I decorated the tables with different colors/patterns of plastic table cloths, and scattered various art supplies (pom poms, buttons, paper, paint, crayons, markers, colored pencils, etc. etc. etc.) down the centers of the tables, like a runner. Each table had a few giant inflatable crayons, and also a bunch of balloons in the center, secured on these ADORABLE Crayola thermoses, shaped like crayons, that I just filled with water to act as a balloon weight.

For the food tables we had various snacks in brightly colored bowls, another cute balloon bunch/Crayon-weight in the center, YUMMY mini ham & cheese croissants (thanks Alisa Brown!), and added some color by rolling brightly-colored plastic cutler & napkins and putting them in some cute arts & crafts-themed "buckets" that I found for 25 cents at Walmart. One of my fav parts of the food table, however, was the water bottle rainbow. I bought bottles of water and custom water bottle labels ($20 for 50 waterproof, ready-to-stick labels) from Labels R Us. (I ordered off Ebay, but they can be found on Etsy.) The night before the party, my husband and MIL helped me put Crystal Lite into 50 bottles...10 each of fruit punch, lemonade, pink lemonade, orange, and grape. So fun!

Like I mentioned above, my main focus was the cake-pop table. I had seen lots of blogs and posts on Pinterest about awesome b-day decor, but a lot of it was WAAAAAY out of my budget, and I needed a higher quantity. So, first I looked around my house to see what I already had that I could use. The fabric I used for the backdrop was fabric I used to use in my classroom to cover a bulletin board. The table skirt was a curtain that used to hang in my classroom. The boxes I wrapped and used to elevate the lollipops and cake pops were just lying around from the art supplies I had ordered for the party. I made the banners myself. The "Happy Birthday" one was just construction paper and the letter were made from Contact Paper and cut with a Cricut! Much cheaper than vinyl :) I tied the banner together with mis-matched brightly-colored ribbon pieces that I already had. The banners of the girls names I also "made", but I ordered a digital kit from Paper Party Passion on Etsy. There was a lot more in the kit than just the banner template, but the only other thing I used was the favor tags (which I will explain later). I also tied their name banners together with ribbon that I already had. I wrapped foam pieces in bright polka-dot paper I got for $3 at Walmart, and stuck the cake-pops I made in one, and the swirl lollipops I got from Oriental Trading in the other. The boxes I set the foam pieces on were wrapped in paper I got for $1 at Target in their discount area. My friend Alisa made tissue paper pom poms that I stuck in the background of the table. I got colored Twizzlers and Gummy Bears and put in clear glass vases, as well as M&M's separated out by color and put in brightly colored bowls, and made a mini candy buffet to add some more color. And while all of this was great, what really stole the show were the custom balloon pillars, made to look like crayons, that were on each side of the table. Thank you thank you THANK YOU to Balloons Unlimited for these awesome creations!! If you live in Central KY, you should definitely look into using this company, which is based in Winchester, KY. To cut WAY down on cost, I also made my own cake pops. I decorate cakes, and have made cake pops before, but I always find it overwhelming to plan/set up my girls' party AND make a cake/cupcakes. But, the cost of purchasing cake pops from someone just wasn't feasible for me, so I used the Baby Cakes Cake Pop Maker from Kohl's.
I was able to make over 100 cake balls in under an hour. Decorating them took a while longer, but it was a nice break from the usual cake/cupcakes.

Overall, I think it turned out pretty well! To end the party, each kid took home a favor bag full of Skittles, crayons, a coloring book, stencil, stickers, and a small toy. For the bags, I bought red and blue paper lunch sacks, folded the tops over, and secured it with a favor tag (from the digital kit I bought for the banner). To hold everything together, I put two hole punches through the bag and tag, and put a paint brush through to hold the bag shut.

The kids had fun, lots of great art was made, and thanks to the help of several great friends and family, the party went really well. The girls even had custom Arts-&-Crafts-Themed outfits from Little Darling Designs. A very special thanks to my mom and step-dad for helping prepare the favor bags, to Alisa Brown for the sandwiches and the help with the decor, Linsey Smahaj for her expertise with rolling cutlery, my hubs and MIL for helping with the water bottles, my nephew Richie for blowing up the giant crayons, and Mandy Jacobs & Cindy Lynn for helping with the set-up and clean-up efforts. I couldn't have pulled it off without you ALL! Guess I need to start planning next year's party now :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

8 Inches

Today started just like any other "ordinary" day. Got up, kids got up, had breakfast, gave baths (which doesn't usually happen in the morning, but we had plans today and the kiddos were DIR-TY!), got everyone dressed, dropped the dog off at the groomer, went to lunch with my boss and coworkers for the boss's birthday, and then we were en route to the "haircutters" for a trim for Sophia when a Tornado Warning came across the radio. So, we detoured home for a bit and while we were waiting for the storm to pass, Angelina asked if she, too, could get a trim. I said "sure" and we hopped in the ol' van-a-roo and headed to Walmart. And yes, I take my kids the salon in Walmart. JohnnaBeth does a GREAT job and is so good with the kiddos...I highly recommend her! Anyhow, we rolled into WallyWorld, signed in at the salon (can you call a haircutting place in Walmart a salon?! Heheheh) and waited our turn. Sophia went first and gleefully hopped up in the chair to get her hair washed. I sat there thinking "Why oh WHY can't she be this excited for ME to wash her hair at home?!" Anyhow, next she hopped into the chair in front of the mirror and JohnnaBeth began chopping off dead ends and fuzz until Sophia's hair no longer resembled a bird's nest hair-don't, but rather a well-coiffed hair-DO. Then it was Angelina's turn. She followed suit, hopping in the chair to get her hair washed and then skipped over the the "cutting chair", as she so coined it. Then she said, "Momma, can I cut my hair a little shorter than usual so it's curly like Sophia's." Well, I immediately said, "No, because your Daddy likes long hair." But she was persistent, and asked again. I tried calling Ernie, but didn't get an answer, so I texted him and asked if she could cut her hair shorter. His answer: NO. I told Angelina her Daddy nixed the idea, and her eyes welled up with tears. JohnnaBeth began our usual trim of an inch or two, but around that same time the manager of the store was talking with a teenager close by, explaining what Locks of Love is. Angelina heard this and turned to JohnnaBeth (and NOT me!) and asked "Do I have enough hair to do that?" Well, JohnnaBeth had already taken about two inches off the back, so she looked at me (who was giving the NO NO NO silent look) and hesitantly told Angelina she didn't think she'd have enough hair since we already cut it. Angelina looked so defeated, and she looked at me with puppy dog eyes and said, "Momma, I really wanna' give my hair to someone who doesn't have any." Well, who could say no to that?! So I tried to call Ernie answer...but then I looked at my phone and several minutes before, after I had texted him how upset Angelina was that he said she couldn't cut her hair, he had texted me back "fine". Seeing that, I told Angelina "Daddy said you can cut your hair!" JohnnaBeth measured and SOMEHOW Angelina still had just over 8 inches of hair, even after the trim! So she put Angelina's hair in a ponytail and was JUST about the cut it off when suddenly a wave of panic (and nausea) spread over my body. I said (well, yelled) STOP! All of a sudden it dawned on me that it wasn't just Ernie who liked Angelina's long was me, too. I mean, after all, this baby was born bald as a cue ball and STAYED that way until nearly her 2nd birthday. It's been a 5 year process to get her long hair! How would I style it if it were short? Would it cut her curls off? How would I put it up so she wouldn't be hot at soccer? What about those mornings when I'm running late and literally pile it on top of her head and secure with a hair-band? And as I was silently panicking, Angelina said, "Mommy, there's some little girl who doesn't have any hair who realllllly needs my hair." Well shoot...suddenly my anguish and panic over a stinkin' haircut didn't seem legit at all. While I sat there lamenting over Angelina's hair, there was a mother and father who found out their little girl, the same age as Angelina, has cancer. Right at that moment, somewhere, a family was burying a child, Angelina's age, who had just died. Right then, a little girl JUST like Angelina, who loves life to the fullest, was sitting in a hospital bed crying because the medicine she is getting to fight her cancer is making her hair fall out. How selfish of me to be so up-in-arms over a haircut...especially when, to Angelina, it was pretty cut and dry (no pun intended)- she had hair, someone else doesn't, and she had enough to spare that she could give some to them. Period. End of story. I looked at JohnnaBeth and just kinda nodded for her to proceed. And with a few snips, she cut off Angelina's entire ponytail. When she held it up for Angelina to see, Angelina gasped and JohnnaBeth said "Now don't cry, please!" But Angelina's face was quickly taken over by a cheek to cheek smile, and she said "Cry? Why would I cry? I am excited! Will I get to meet the little girl who is gonna' get my hair?" Wow. What a humbling, awesome moment. My FIVE year old just seemed to "get it"...that we are called to help people, even when it means giving up something of our own, and that we are to be EXCITED about it! 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." And what a cheerful giver she was...and what a proud Momma I am.

Monday, March 14, 2011


So...I have neglected this poor little blog! Geesh...I mean so much time has passed and so much has happened...where do I even begin?!?! Hmmmm...hmmmmm...ummmmm....ok, got it. I will start with GOD! The past few months have been nothing short short of amazing. It all started when we began an AWESOME study called Not A Fan. Looking back, God's grace (and a little sense of humor?) was really apparent in how we got involved in this study. We have been a part of a married couples study group for about 5 years. The past few sessions, our attendance has not been that great. It wasn't really a priority for us, but rather a "oh if we're free on Saturday night we might go"type of thing. We had stopped going to church regularly (and by that I mean MAYBE once a month, but usually less.) In all honesty, at first I was nervous to go because Sophia had gotten in trouble for hitting a kid, and I didn't want a repeat. But then it seemed like every Sunday a kid was sick, or something came up...but mainly we had just grown lazy and accustomed to our Sunday morning sleep-ins, big breakfasts, and family time. I hadn't hardly noticed, but my relationship with God had pretty much gone un-attended for almost a year. Last fall I got into a bible study group at my church and we did a Beth Moore study. I totally felt God tugging at my heart strings and while it hurt, it felt good, too. Kinda like a "hurt so good" feeling; I had neglected my personal relationship with God and this study really made it apparent that I couldn't go on any longer like that! I felt renewed and rejuvenated...but then there was a lot of homework and I got behind and then I got overwhelmed. And while I know I didn't get as much out of it as I could have, but it got that fire burning in my heart again. Meanwhile, our married couples small group was discussing doing a study called "Not A Fan". Our whole church was going to be doing the study and it would correlate to what our preacher would preach about on Sundays. Our preacher wanted all the small groups to do the study. Well, we hadn't been at church in a LONG time so I had NO clue what this "Not A Fan" was all about. Ernie and I discussed it, but when we realized it would require us to meet EVERY Saturday for 6 weeks, we were like "No way. We can't commit to EVERY Saturday!" So we bowed out for this round, rationalizing that we had been a part of this group for a long time and needed a little break. I decided, however, to see what this "Not A Fan" was all about on Wednesday's with my women's group. Well, the first Wednesday was life changing. I went home and told Ernie we HAD to rethink our decision to forgo this study with our married couples group. He agreed to go and see what it was all about. Well, if God speaks to most hearts, He SCREAMED at ours that night. The transformation seemed to begin truly overnight...suddenly we were THIRSTING for Him, all the time. We eagerly looked forward to Saturdays with our married couples group. Wednesday nights with my women's group couldn't come soon enough. Tuesday mornings with Ernie's men's group climbed to the top of his priority list. And Sundays...oh Sunday mornings have become something we just cannot wait for...and not for the sleep-ins and big breakfasts, but for the opportunity to hear God's precious word through our amazing pastor. And what about all the rest of the days, you ask? Well, those other days have been filled with more positive attitudes, much more prayer, and a marriage that has been blessed with more honesty, openness, and joy for these past few months than it had seen in the 5 years leading up to this point! Now, it hasn't been ALL unicorns and butterflies, either...we still have "off" days and struggles. We still sin daily. The difference, though, is on those "off" days, we see hope for tomorrow. We wake each morning, attempting to die to ourselves and pick up our crosses...and when we fail in sin, we ask for forgiveness and strength to not do it again, and TRULY mean it. We don't want to be "Fans" of Jesus any longer. We want to be fully committed followers of the Lord. We want to experience the kingdom here on Earth, and even more, we want to be a part of it and further it all for God's glory. We have discussed different ways we want to serve, and have put a few into action. If you had known us 5 or 6 years ago, this would seem like an alien, out of body experience for you because we were NOT living for God. Even a year ago, even after knowing Christ and being baptized in Him, we still did not "get it". Sure, we were good people and we were definitely fans of God. God did some pretty big stuff in our lives about a year ago, and we took it for granted. We weren't ready to commit. But the Lord has been there, waiting patiently for us to realize that He longs for a relationship with us. He wants us to put Him first. He doesn't NEED us...He WANTS us. Wow. How did it take so long for us to truly TRULY get that?! Well, regardless of how or why, all I know is the transformation in our lives has been profound...and I want MORE! I want to be on that narrow path that leads to Him. And the best part is this peace that has overtaken our lives is available to every single person who walks this Earth. I know I know...I can hardly wrap my head around it either...but it's not meant for us to understand. So, ask yourself...are you merely a fan of God, or are you a fully committed follower? Short question, but BIG importance. Want to know more? Please feel free to contact me on FB or email me at I would love to share in more detail what God has been doing in our lives. Much love to you all!