Monday, December 31, 2012

Checking In

Well it's been a while since I've posted, and a lot has happened.  My youngest got the flu....yuck....I had surgery....yuck and yea....Christmas came and went.... happy/sad.....I had another birthday....yea....and now it's almost a new year!  WOW!  Told ya....a lot has happened.  E was so sick the week before Christmas....fortunately she was able to take Tamiflu, and it helped her feel better in time to go to her class Christmas party.  I, on the other hand, did not fair so well.  I went in for exploratory surgery on my shoulder and to repair a bone spur and possible rotator cuff tear.  It turns out that my rotator cuff was nearly severed, and the doc had to put a screw in.  Needless to say, a lot more invasive than I thought. So from Dec. 20th -27th.....I've slept in a drug induced state of seriously strong pain medication.  I vaguely remember Christmas and my birthday.  Fortunately we had a birthday do over yesterday, and it was fab.  My family has been taking good care of me.  NPayne is the best at taking care!  He really is!  As weird as it sounds, I'm thankful that I had enough health issues that caused me to reach my deductible this year.  Otherwise I might have put the shoulder surgery on hold, and then it could have been really bad.  We have moved B up into part of the playroom as her "own" room...what she asked for for Christmas.  Now all of our children have their own rooms.  I think, after we moved B out of the room she shared with E, everyone was a little envious of E's room; because it's large and clean and large!  We rearranged Drew's room, cleaned out a bunch of stuff, and will be ready for NPayne to build a wall to give B some privacy.  Soon....and very soon....we are starting a remodel.  I can feel it coming.....I am hoping that NPayne gets it moving very soon.  I'm so ready for that laundry room, private bathroom and newly renovated kitchen.  I think that's why it's 2:15 am, and I'm still up....day dreaming or I guess it would technically be called night dreaming.  I'm so excited to get stuff done, but I'm mainly excited to get organized.  Living in chaos makes me grumpy and very unhappy!  I really can't stand it....it consumes me!  I know it may seem silly, but it really really drives me nutso!  Of course I can't do a lot to help right now, with the sling and sutures and all, but I can certainly give verbal cues!  ;)  Thought I would check in and say HAPPY NEW YEAR!  I'm striving for a simpler, uncluttered 2013!

Monday, December 17, 2012

King St.

I joined many from my church family last night at Los Pasados.  Although I was not able to participate in the singing or the readings, not because I am not fluent in Spanish, but because I forgot my glasses and couldn't read the screens....UGH!  It was another wonderful way to celebrate the birth of Christ!  I love learning others' customs and traditions.  The candle lighting in Los Pasados is the best part to me.  We all sing "Silent Night" in Spanish then English as each person's candle is lit, and then we follow each other out of the sanctuary carrying our candles out.....taking the light out into the world.  That is what we need to be doing every day, and I don't necessarily mean literally....or maybe I do.  What I mean is our world can be a very dark place, and it seems darker and darker as of late; but I have the belief that there is still so much good.  Why do I believe that?  I've seen it, experienced it, been part of it, and seen so many lights shining.  My Sunday School class delivered gifts to many of our neighbors this past weekend.  We had a huge turn out of volunteers to help including many children and teens.  We were able to give every single child in this small community a gift, and it was a wonderful sight to see.  Because NPayne and I had done most of the organizing and planning, we were getting lots of credit towards it being a success....I was hearing lots of "Thank You Lorie" and "You did good".  I didn't want to come across rude, but honestly I wasn't sure how to respond.  I wanted people to know that  I did nothing that I wasn't asked to do....

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35


At first, I was responding with things like...."it wasn't just me, or you all made it all possible, or thank you too", but I finally started answering with...."It was Him, it wasn't me".  Later that night, I received a text from one of our good friends who also helped tremendously with the gift delivery, and it said...."Just want u to know.  U did an awesome job Lorie Payne!  What a blessing".  I know exactly what he was trying to convey, but I also wanted him to know that it wasn't me; so I replied with...."It wasn't me.  It was Him".  Shortly I received another text from him that read, "Why does He do it better through some than others?"  I didn't even hesitate when I replied with, "He doesn't!  He gives us the tools and shows us the way....we have to be alert, listen and follow His lead".  It was weird, because there was no hesitation when I replied....almost like I had no control over my fingers as I text it....sort of like it was Him typing it.  The next text said...."I have a hard time listening. Usually think I can do it on my own".  To which I replied,  "We all do!"  And don't we?  We all have a hard time listening....sometimes because we don't make time and sometimes because we don't want to hear; but I think many of us face that struggle.

I told NPayne about the text conversation, and we talked about how although we had made connections and adopted this community as our friends, offered assistance, fellowshipped with them, and grown to love them....it took us a while to do it.  We both felt the nudge, a few years ago, to help the people who live on King St.  We both felt it differently but the same, and we both discussed it; and then we put it on the back burner.  We listened, but we didn't follow His lead until much later.  This year, I have tried diligently to follow my Father's lead and be encouraged by my husband's heart for service and decided to move forward with King St.  We finally reached out, and we have been so graciously embraced that I think we have been more blessed than those we have helped on King St.  We call them our neighbors, our friends, our family....and they are our family....they are God's family!


Above is a video that Addi shot during the gift giving....at the end you will see many gathering around a table to eat.  The King St. residents surprised us with a feast they had made for us....including home made tamales!!  We closed our time together with a prayer circle, lots of hugs, and see you soons!  And we will be back....very soon!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

XOXO

So thankful I get to give and receive these every day!

Newtown Connecticut

I started my day Friday by reading to my kindergartner, Elliot's, class!  She dug around on our bookshelf, where we have literally hundreds of books, until she found the perfect book.  She was so excited to have me come in her room that morning and so were her classmates.  They all sat up a little taller, wide eyes shining brightly, and big smiles on their faces.  As their teacher introduced me, I looked at each face....trying to recall all of their names.  I showed them the book and told them how we had hundreds of books, and this is the one Elliot wanted me to share with them; so it was really special.  They were ready to listen.  I read the story, and they all sat intently listening....not a peep.  After I finished the book, I asked them a few questions about it; and they asked me a few.  The whole time I could see my little girl's face, on the back row, grinning from ear to ear....she was so happy to have me there....they all were.  It was awesome and made me miss teaching kindergarten.  They thanked me for coming and were genuinely grateful.  I gave my baby girl a big hug and kiss and walked out with a full and grateful heart.  Shortly thereafter, the news came about Sandy Hook....and I kept picturing those sweet faces from that morning.  How could he not see those faces at Sandy Hook the way I  had seen those faces that morning....wide eyed, innocent, precious.  I don't understand it...some say it's pure evil, some say it's mental health, some say it was a payback....but I still don't understand it.  I've heard over and over and over through many losses and tragedies that we will understand it when we get to heaven, the answers will be there; but honestly....I don't think I will even ask the question.  I think the glory of heaven will override any looming or questions or wondering that I may have here on earth.  All day today, as I looked at each of those faces of the children who were killed....my heart hurt more deeply.  Seeing their faces, looking in those eyes, seeing their tiny hands....it made it that much more real.  I keep telling myself that they are angels, and they don't see it the way we do.  They aren't scared or hurting, but they are in the arms of Our Savior...where everything is as it should be!  The ones left behind are the ones who are hurting, but those angels.....they are perfect!

Someone shared this with me today.....something they read on Facebook. 

Twas' 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38 when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate. Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air. They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there. They were filled with such joy; they didn't know what to say. They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day. “where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse. “This is heaven" declared a small boy. "We’re spending Christmas at God's house”. When what to their wondering eyes did appear, but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near. He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same. Then He opened His arms and He called them by name. And in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring those children all flew into the arms of their King and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace, one small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face. And as if He could read all the questions she had He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad. “then He looked down on earth, the world far below He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe, then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand, “Let My power and presence re-enter this land! “May this country be delivered from the hands of fools” “I’m taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools! “Then He and the children stood up without a sound. “Come now my children let me show you around. “Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran. All displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can. And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight, “in the midst of this darkness,” I AM STILL THE LIGHT."

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. - John 1:5

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I Can't Wait

Fourteen days until Christmas!! Shopping is almost complete! Wrapping not so much! NPayne is such a great help and will be doing more shopping this year! He has some great gift ideas! I can't wait for some time off to spend with my family! I can't wait for the bids in our remodel to start coming in (hopefully)! I can't wait to spend the day in my pjs drinking coffee! I can't wait to drive around looking at Christmas lights! I can't wait to eat a piece of Jesus' birthday cake! I can't wait to watch my kids embark on a Wii tournament! I can't wait to sleep late! I can't wait to sing Silent Night on Christmas Eve! I'm so thankful for the things I'm looking forward to!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

It's Beginning To Feel A lot Like Christmas!!

This is the first Christmas, in a very long time, that I am almost in the Christmas spirit.  I'm as busy as ever, exhausted as always, overwhelmed by everything like usual; but I'm not having as difficult of a time forcing myself to be in the "mood for Christmas".  I think it's because I feel good about the direction my family is taking with this season and the fact that they all....mainly the kids....realize what Christmas is about.  Sure they like getting gifts, but they realize it's not all about gifts and decorations and carols; and that the reason we celebrate is about the birth of Christ.  They have never been greedy or expected too much, but I feel like they are getting it more and more.  Even though our decorations are not up yet, I may actually put up more than I have in the last few years!  The part that my family may not realize quite yet....is that....they will be taking them down, because I will be in the midst of recovery from shoulder surgery!  :/

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Giving and Receiving

Thanksgiving has come and gone!  It's my favorite holiday, and I wish it lasted more than one day.  I've thought a lot about thankfulness lately. Each year when I make our Christmas card, I try to focus on a specific scripture/theme to use.  This year I decided to use "It's better to give than to receive".  After our wonderful surprise gift on Christmas Eve last year, I have thought about giving and paying it forward often. I have also thought about how sometimes receiving can be a wonderful blessing as well. NPayne and I try really hard to serve, to let our children serve, to use our gifts; and oftentimes the feeling of gratitude from those blessings we receive from serving comes naturally.  There are days when feeling thankful is a choice for me, and I get so busy or wrapped up in stuff that I forget to thank God. Those are the days that I have to intentionally carve out time to show gratitude and give God glory for what He brings to me.  One thing I read this week that hit home with me was this....."Jesus doesn't stop being good, but sometimes we stop being grateful".

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I'm Thankful

I'm Thankful....

for something to keep me busy when I can't sleep
for pain medicine
for a comfy bed waiting for me once I do get sleepy
for the next few days off

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I'm Thankful

I'm thankful for....

children

and

adults

who

are

willing

to

work

hard

serving

others!

Friday, November 16, 2012

I'm Thankful

I'm thankful for...

My body....even though it has many ailments.
My mind....even though it can't remember everything.
My family....even though we have conflicts sometimes.
My house....even though it's a mess most of the time.
My car....even though it's old, has torn up seats, and is full of kids' stuff.
My life....because it's good.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I'm Thankful

I got behind a day....ooops!!

I'm thankful for:
hands to hold
kisses and hugs
children who forgive me

Monday, November 12, 2012

I'm Thankful

I'm thankful...
dishes to wash
beds to sleep in
blankets to cover us
books to read
goodnight kisses


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thanksgiving....I'm Thankful!

Thanksgiving....my favorite holiday!  I do my best to try to be thankful everyday, but honestly I fail on that often.  I'm just going to try to share a few things I'm thankful for everyday on my blog until Thanksgiving has come and gone.  Please know that some of these things are things I'm thankful for right at that moment, but most all of them are things I'm thankful for on a daily basis.  Here are the first few:
I'm thankful for....
fall leaves
that we all have coats
food on our table
a table to all sit at together
friends
songs that make me cry
love

The list will continue tomorrow!  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I Miss Him So Much!




Nov. 7th....today I am thankful for my dad!  It's been 7 years ago today that he left this earth and entered the arms of our Savior!  I know he is not sad, sick, in pain.  I know he sees us every day.  I know that even though Elliot does not know him, he knows her.  I miss my dad.  Addi, Cal, Drew miss their Papa.  Bryna doesn't remember him, and Elliot only knows him through what we've told her and pictures!  It gives me great joy to know that someday he will look in her eyes, the eyes that look just like his, and it will be like they've been together forever!  My dad died Nov. 7, 2005:  but I didn't lose him....I know exactly where he is!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I Miss Her So Much

Addi is on a trip with the drumline from her high school.  They competed in a National Competition today and did very well....3rd overall...best in quads and front ensemble (where she plays).  Seriously...best in THE NATION!  She's amazing.  I could watch her play every day.  I can get very frustrated with the time investment in drumline, because it does take so much time away from our family.  When I watch her, I see in her face how much she loves it.  She is finding her way....sigh!  As parents, we pray our children will grow to be strong, responsible, kind, loving, serving people who make good choices.  But as they grow....even if it seems like they are growing the way you hoped and prayed (except maybe she could be a tad bit tidier) ;), we feel them slipping away.  She is almost 16, and I am trying to hold onto all the time I can.  My body truly aches when I think about her graduating high school....then what?  College?  Away?  Far Away?  I don't know if I can survive it.  I would never want to interfere with her dreams, and I would never let her know that my heart would have a constant ache of longing for her to be home with me; but I know it would.  I'm already missing her so much, and she still lives in my house!  Time is going by too fast....way too fast!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

   Four of the five....
the fifth is in Austin
competing in a drumline competition!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

ORGANIZATION!

I'm exhausted!  I am having a hard time getting everything done....actually a very difficult time.  I can't keep the house clean, taxi the kids around, go to work, and manage the photography business in a way that's suitable in my eyes.  I am afraid something is going to have to be eliminated from the above list!  Can you guess which one?

I am extremely excited at the idea of having some bids on getting work done in our bathrooms and kitchen....yippee!!!  Merry Christmas to me!  Looking forward to getting something done to the house....FINALLY!  I am going to start laying out plans for the family closet soon.  Until we get the remodel going (if we ever get the remodel going), I'm going to use our master closet as our family closet.  It's going to take lots of clearing out and strategizing, but I think it can work.  Unfortunately for NPayne, he will have to do most of the clearing out!  I will probably start this soon, but it probably won't be complete until spring.  I am hoping to have the carpenter guy build a door from our closet to the breezeway, so I can have the washer/dryer moved out there which will also extend some space for the family closet!  I'm so excited about getting more organized.  Living in chaos makes me grumpy and very irritable, so I bet my family will be glad to get more organized too....or maybe they won't, since the majority of them seem perfectly fine with creating clutter!  ;)  But you know what they say...when mama is happy, everybody is happy!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sad

I am sitting here editing photos, and the house is quiet...except for a few small sounds.  I can barely hear "The Parent Trap" playing on the ipad as Bryna and Elliot watch it.  In the distance of another room, I can hear Cal and the sound of his trains rolling back and forth.  I look at him through the window that separates the rooms we are in, and I suddenly become overwhelmed.  As I watch him and the thoughtful intensity that he maneuvers the trains, I listen to him talking to them; and all of the sudden I'm sad.  There is my 13 year old boy....happily playing with his trains.  Why would I be sad?  If I'm going to be honest here, and I am...sometimes it happens....a sadness overcomes me when I picture my boy as an adult.  It's difficult for me to picture him as an adult or what his life will be like, because his future is so unpredictable.  I have a vision for what the girls' lives might hold.  Of course, they might be very different than I imagine; but my vision comes from the dreams they share with me.  Cal doesn't share those dreams with me....he is not able!  Sometimes sadness overwhelms me when I wonder if he will ever get married or have children or have any sort of companion besides his sisters, his daddy, and me!  Of course we will always be there to be his companion, but for most typical people...there comes a time when your closest companion may be a friend or a mate.  Maybe the sadness overcame me tonight, because of the talk we had in the car earlier with Elliot.  She and Bryna were talking about how I would have had many many more children, and how I had told them once we would just get a passenger van if our family outgrew the suburban.  Tonight I said I had hoped we would need a passenger van when we started becoming grandparents.  I had hoped we would have so many grandkids, that we would need a van to transport them all.  Then we started talking about Thanksgiving, that's my favorite holiday, and I told them how Addi had mentioned that she thought Thanksgivings, when they were all grown and had children, would be so wonderful.  We would have a house full...not like we don't already...but an even bigger house full of family here.  Elliot was asking me if she would move out and live with her husband and kids, and I told her she would; but we could all have Sunday lunches together after church and spend all of our holidays together and many other days together.  It was a nice vision when I thought more about it later, then I heard the trains rolling back and forth; and I saw my boy from the distance of another room.....I wondered if he would ever have a companion to share his love and life with.  Usually when it comes to worrying about my son, I worry about what high school might hold or how he will react when we go to a new restaurant.  I haven't worried much about his adult life...that is until lately...when I realized that he is realizing that he isn't seeing some of his friends much anymore.  It's not that they don't still love Cal....it's that they are 13 year old typical boys with busy lives and are becoming more interested in things that Cal can't relate to.  I see kids his age doing things that typical 13 year olds do, and I feel like he really wants to do so many of those things; but he just doesn't know how!  Sometimes I see it in his face...the longing....to be like them...and he's just not!  And it makes me sad!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sisters...I Still Wish I Had One!

This has to be one of my all time favorite photos I've ever taken!  I love it so much, perhaps because I love them so much!  It's a living in the moment shot, and those are my favorites!

Summer........

I can't wait for summer.  Sounds crazy to hear that in October....just when it's starting to cool off....but I can't wait.  I don't long for the 100+ degree temps, but I do long for the lazy summer days.  If we could skip from Thanksgiving to summer, with a few dates to celebrate, in between....I would be a-okay with that.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, so I would never want to skip that!  NPayne's, Drew's Addi's and Cal's birthdays are all in Jan., Feb., March, May; so I wouldn't want to skip those...and of course there's Mother's Day too.  I miss sleeping late, eating all my meals with my kids, hanging out with them every day, having time to sit down and rest, swimming, staying up late, blogging, reading, editing, creating....I miss it.  Busyness exhausts me, and not in a good way!  I wish I could figure out how to balance the busyness of everyday with caring for our house, cars, yard.  I wish I could figure out how to balance the busyness of everyday with spending quality time alone, with my husband, with each child, with God...each day!  I'm giving it my best, but I still feel it's lacking in many many ways!  Balance....that's one thing I haven't conquered yet! I don't know if I ever will, so I am hoping I can continue to live in the moment!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

I Believe

I believe....
-happiness is a choice
-someone always "needs" more than I do
-serving others is as much of a blessing to those who serve as it is to those who are served
-a good cup of coffee can change my attitude
-winning is not always all it's cracked up to be
-children are the best gift ever
-the meaning of Christmas is oftentimes forgotten
-the journey to perfection is more about the journey than the outcome
-living in the USA is a gift
-God doesn't make bad things happen, but He does allow them to happen
-Adam should have never eaten that apple
-good friends are a necessity
-TV is overrated, but music is not
-joy should be shared
-beauty flows from within
-we are all created perfect...in His image...but sometimes things interfere with creation
-LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

XOXO

Just in case you need a kiss and a hug....here you go!

And on that note, my weekend has been a good one so far.  
Partly because I get kisses and hugs from her.
That endoscopy thing was quite uneventful....
except that now I'm waiting for some results!
The best part of the weekend....
it's a three day weekend!
Boy I sure could use those every weekend!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Week

It's been a week.  Drama, challenges, sadness in all aspects of my week! It's been such a week that I'm actually looking forward to the endoscopy tomorrow just so I can escape (through anesthesia) for a few hours! :)
On a serious note,my week has been challenging, dramatic and sad; but its been wonderful, special and full of blessings as well! I am looking forward to sleeping the day away tomorrow though!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Baby Fever

You want one.....you know you do!
Well I know I do!
Latest photo session....
sweet baby, 
sweet big sis,
sweet big bro, 
sweet mama and daddy!
Need to see more?
Click here!




Friday, September 28, 2012

September 28....The Best Day of 2003!

Bryna Mae Payne....
you came into this world weak and fragile, 
and we weren't sure if we would take you home.
I spent the first 8 days of your life 
on my knees in prayer
for my baby girl!  
Look at you now!
You spent the first year of your life
in and out of the doctor's office....always needing oxygen!
Look at you now!
You were named for your circumstance at birth....
Bryna means "HOPE"!
Your middle name comes from
two of your great grandmothers...
your daddy's Granny and your mommy's Mamaw!









You are vibrant and joyful 
and full of life!
You are tough as nails and sweet as pie!
You are happy and kind and a little fiesty!
You are my most challenging child and my most affectionate child!
You look just like your daddy and are smart as a whip!
You dance and sing your way through the day
and live in your own fairy tale.  
You are a talented musician, dancer, and writer.
You always tell me you want to be just like me
when you grow up....well guess what....
I want to be just like you 
when I grow up!
I adore you!  My heart is yours!
Happy Birthday B-Nut!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Lesson Taught....By My 11 Year Old!

With a heavy heart, Drew told me that some kids have been teasing Cal and another special needs child in their PE class. Drew has PE with them both. She explained what was being said, and then she told me that there were only a few who were teasing and that none of her friends were teasing; because they knew Cal. In fact, a few of them are sticking up for Cal and his friend. I told her it was kids that didn't understand Cal and his friend and autism, and they needed to be educated. The odd thing is that some are saying things to her about Cal, because they don't know she's his sister. I asked her how she handled it, and she said I just told them that Cal was born that way; and he thinks a little differently but other than that he's the same as they are. One girl asked how she knew this, and she told her Cal was her brother. She didn't believe Drew, so she asked Cal; and of course he said YES! I had Drew speak to Cal's teacher and get some guidance on how to handle this at school....his teacher is so wonderful! She reinforced that what Drew was saying was appropriate and made her feel much better. Drew also said there are a lot of kids who use the word "retarded", and it bothers her a lot. I told her that use to be a very common word to use when you meant goofy or weird or something like that and that it's not okay, but people seem to use it without really thinking about it being hurtful to others. She told me that she explained to those kids that there are really people in the world who have brains that work differently, and she didn't like them using that word! She has always stuck up for him, and it makes me so proud that she has the strength to do so. It also makes me so sad that she has been put in that position more often than she should have been. For Pete's sake....we're all a little quirky and different and special and odd and the same....can't we just see that that's okay and embrace people for who they are? It's hard but a wonderful life lesson, and she is a wonderful 11 year old teaching it! My children bless the lives of so many, and most of the time they don't even know it; and that's what blesses me!  





I am by no means perfect and will admit that it is very hard for "teasing" not to bring out the worst in me. But I have come to realize that there are so many children and adults who have had no experience with special needs children and need to be educated. I don't think it's okay that they tease anyone, typical or special needs children, and they need to be held responsible. Sometimes children (and maybe even some adults) need to be taught to be compassionate and accepting. Unfortunately many aren't, but I don't always think that's the child's fault either. Because we live it, have experienced it many times (even from adults), my girls are educated and have been taught to be accepting; because it is often more hurtful to them than it is to their brother. I would hope that even if we didn't live it, I would have had the insight to teach them to be accepting and love all those who cross their paths. I also think that many children who are the "teasers or bullies" have their own struggles and look for someone (an easy target for lack of a better description) to take those feelings out on. Drew, herself, was bullied by a 4th grader when she was in 1st grade. Once she told me about it, it was quickly rectified at school. I do remember discussing with her in depth the possible struggles that boy might have been having and why he might have picked her to bully. The child, who is being bullied/teased, also has to be taught how to deal with it appropriately. I think Drew has done a great job with this, because of her past experiences and her sweet compassionate soul. I do my best, but there have been times when mama bear came out; and I had to firmly set an adult straight about rude and inappropriate comments made about Cal. For all of you who know my boy or any other person who may not be easily accepted, keep up the good work in teaching your children and modeling behaviors of how to do what Jesus commanded....LOVE! YOU GUYS ARE THE BOMB! 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

WOF

I went to the Women of Faith conference this weekend.  I have gone for many years, and I LOVE it.  It's usually the weekend before school starts, which is quite a difficult weekend to be away from home. This year, they moved it to this past weekend; and that was much easier for me to be away from home.....insert sarcasm here.  All week, I kept trying to figure out how I could get out of going; because we had too much going on this weekend.  On Thursday, I decided that I knew if I went God would have something specific for me; and I am looking for guidance.  So I went, and He did!  There were so many things He spoke to me about in that 22 hour time frame....maybe more than any other WOF conference I've ever attended.  As always, I laughed A LOT....and I cried A LOT!  I loved hearing Selah and CeCe Winans sing.  I loved hearing Angie Smith, Sheila Walsh, Pat Smith, Lisa Harper, and Ken Davis.  But the one that I loved almost the most....almost....was Max Lucado.   What he shared was something I had never thought of before, and it was fascinating to me.  Max talked about having "Jesus in your heart".  As long as I can remember, I remember people telling me or asking me about having Jesus in my heart. As a child, I didn't really know what that meant; but would just nod in agreement.  As an adult, I always thought and still do that meant the holy spirit dwells inside of you once you have asked it to do so.  Max took those thoughts of mine to a much more defined place.  He said once you ask Jesus in your heart, your heart is replaced with the heart of Jesus....in other words.....Jesus not only dwells inside of you through the Holy Spriit, but His heart becomes yours.  WOW!  Jesus' heart as mine....that's exciting and a lot of pressure too!  ;)  The example Max used was one of this sweet family who lost their 13 year old daughter, Taylor, in a terrible accident.  Once they decided to donate her organs, her heart was given to a lady in her mid forties.  Taylor's parents wanted to meet the recipient and hear their daughter's heart beat one more time.  A photo of Taylor's mother holding the stethoscope to the recipient's chest popped up on the jumbo tron, and it took my breath away.  I can never describe the look on her face, but the point was hit home like a grand slam.  The heartbeat was strong and vibrant and then Max asked, "Who's heart is it"?  Is it Taylor's or the recipients?  Once both of these people had asked Jesus to dwell in their hearts, their hearts became His.  So "Who's heart is it"?  The most amazing part about this to me was that a heart that once lived in a 13 year old's body now lived in a 46 year old's body.  It was put there and acclimated there perfectly.....like it belonged there.....sort of like when Jesus came into my heart.  And that look on that mother's face, the one I can never accurately describe, I imagine it to be the same look on Jesus' face every time someone asks Him into his/her heart.  I have thought about this so often since I heard it on Saturday, and it makes me giddy to think of Jesus' heart being mine.  I find it very powerful and exciting, but I also take that as a lot of responsibility to use His heart as He would have me use it!  I'm so thankful to have Jesus in my heart.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Guidance

I had a nice night with some super d duper ladies tonight at church.  We gathered for the women's minisitry, ate, chatted, ate, listened to the speaker, ate, took notes, ate, teared up....it was good.  I'm going to the Women of Faith conference this weekend, and although I keep thinking up reasons why I shouldn't be going....too much going on, I'll miss this and this, NPayne will have to get a sitter, who is going to do the chores and laundry, and the list goes on and on....I know God wants me there.  I know He has something specifically for me.  I'm giddy with excitement waiting to hear what it is.  I've had some uncertainty about many things lately, and I'm doing my best to be still and listen for his direction.  I'm thankful that He is there to guide me....now I just hope I'm strong enough, brave enough, smart enough, obedient enough....whatever I need to be enough of to follow!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ailments

So I have all these weird and irritating ailments going on right now.  Seriously if it's not one thing, it's another.  Yesterday I visited an orthopedist, because my shoulder has been bothering me.  Apparently playing beach volleyball in Alabama didn't work out for me.  Anyway I had two cortisone shots in my shoulder, and the doc said "It could get really sore today".  Ahem.....that was an understatement. After being in tears most of the afternoon from the pain, I have just taken my fourth hydrocodone.  It has relieved the excrutiating part, but the constant throbbing is still there; and it makes me itch like crazy.  PT starts Monday, and then we will go from there.  He did see a bone spur and lots of arthritis in the xray, and I am hoping there is no torn rotator cuff.  We won't know that unless I have an MRI!  Seriously.....it's a problem.  I've also been referred to a RA doc.  I've been avoiding that for years, but my arthritis symptoms are daily and have been for some time; so I guess I'll go see what they have to say.  I pray none of my children inherit arthritis....it's amazing how the pain in your toe that arthritis causes can really impact a person.  So that's ailment number uno.  I'll be visiting a GI specialist on Wednesday to see what's up with the swallowing problem I've been having.  I was hoping it was gall bladder related, but it wasn't.  So now I guess I'm hoping it's acid reflux related....that seems like the best of the worst case scenarios I've read on google.  That problem is more irritating than anything else....feeling like you're choking on your own spit is annoying.  So that's ailment number dos.  Then after visiting the dentist this summer, I was referred to a periodontist for receding gumline.  I've had that problem for years, so I knew this time would come.  It appears that I am going to need some surgery (skin grafting)....yes that just sounds problematic to me.  However since three of my teeth have basically no gum tissue surrounding them, I have to have this done to avoid complete tooth decay.  I am going to admit that when one of the questions I was asked at my initial visit was...."Do you want to keep all of your teeth"?  I became a little alarmed.   Truthfully most of this stuff I just see as a nuisance.  Although I have an extremely high pain tolerance, I am certainly not looking forward to any of these things; but the main stressor for me is the cost.  Our insurance doesn't cover any of this until we meet our gazillion dollar deductible, and it won't cover the several thousand dollar skin grafting surgery at all.  As I was sitting in the orthopedist office today, calculating in my head the potential cost of all of this and how on earth we were going to pay for it; I looked up and said....."God, I'm giving this to you.  I know you will provide and help us figure out how to pay for all of this".  Now I just have to make sure I've given him that worry completely and quit trying to take it back.  I need to trust Him.  When I filled NPayne in on all of this, I promised him I would be worth it when I was all better.  Without hesitating, he replied with "YOU ARE WORTH IT!"  Thank God for NPayne!  If there are any typos above, please forgive....I am on my 4th hydrocodone, and it is 4:30 in the morning.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

NO REMODEL :(

I'm sad to say that we will not be going through with our original remodel plans....sigh!  I was looking so forward to having an organized, junk free, COMPLETE house more than I have been looking forward to anything in a loooooong time; but........  I am looking for a handyman, contractor, do it aller, who can do many of the projects/home improvements; but we won't be getting the big stuff done....no foundation work, no exterior paint, no add-on re-do, no add-on period (can you say BUMMER....I was so looking forward to a master bathroom and laundry room).   I am going to move our laundry area to the breezeway area near our garage, so we won't have laundry all over our living room; but the temperature and condition of that area is going to make doing laundry a little challenging.  I am planning on a "family closet" out in that area as well.  Have you seen the Duggars' family closet?  It's awesome!   I'll make it work.  After all I only have five kids...they have 19 and counting.  We will be getting our 2 bathrooms finished out, and our kitchen finished out....no new cabinets, but a new floor, range, counter top and sink!  No outdoor pool, but at least we will have a new fence.  And we will have our dining room floor re-done....of course I may end up doing that myself!  Unfortunately for NPayne....his weekends are about to be spent WORKING....bye bye football watching!   But we will have the rooms and floors repainted and all of the trim finished out.  I'm thinking about the built in in our living room and not sure what I'm going to do there....my family might come home to a surprise one day.  The money I'm making working full time is going to come in quite handy.....over these next several months, it will ALL be used on home improvements; but at least it will be finished.  I'm not sure how that foundation and exterior paint will ever get done.  Foundation work is way out of our league, and I think painting our exterior is way too big and time consuming for us!  I am ready to go and hopefully will start week after next....bathrooms first?  kitchen first?  fence first?  Probably the fence first.  So if I don't invite you over for a while, you'll know why.  No guests until it's all complete.....you wouldn't want to be around all of the chaos anyway!  The house won't be done the way I had envisioned, and it may fall down in a few years but....I'm thankful we have a place big enough for us all!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Glorifying God

Three of the five devotionals, daily scriptures, etc. that I read each morning had the same message today.  Focus on God and be alert.  I think He's trying to tell me something....I call those God moments.  When you feel like God is speaking to you so clearly that you can almost hear His voice.  I have been busy and wrapped up in the busyness, but I have felt His nudge a lot lately.  I love that He is nudging me without it being hurtful.  Does that make sense?  What I mean by that is that sometimes I think things occur, that are hurtful, to get your attention.  I don't think God causes hurtful things, but I wonder if He allows them for that reason sometimes.  I was praying about the last nudging I was feeling, and I have discovered that the answer was NO....not this time!  I was hoping to go to Costa Rica with a group from my church in October to do some mission work, but I have discovered recently that my health is not quite up to par; so the answer this time was NO!  Addi will be going as a junior or senior, so I am hoping to go then.  I have also felt a nudge to serve some people who live right down the street, so NPayne and I have been meeting with our pastor to get that ball rolling as well.  I'm very hopeful and excited that this will be a wonderful way to be His hands and feet and form some wonderful new relationships.  I have been trying to be more intentional this week in decisions, conversations, everything I do and asking Does this glorify God?  I'll admit it's easier said than done, but I am trying to make that my purpose in all things I do.  I will be strong in the Lord....I will be strong in the Lord....I will be strong!
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power." Ephesians 6:10

Monday, September 3, 2012

September 3rd.....The Best Day of 2006!

Six years ago, my baby girl brightened our lives with her entry.  She was my longest labor but a fairly easy delivery.  We were completely surprised by her impending birth, but still....she was an answered prayer.  Elliot (meaning: The Lord Is My God), Ann (meaning: graceful or priceless) was the name we gave her.  I knew I wanted a name that began with an E, because we had children with initials A, B, C, D already; and I knew I wanted the use Ann as her middle name.  All of our children have middle names after someone or in honor of someone important in our lives.   I didn't want a name I had heard often, so the research began; and Elliot was the choice.  It fits her perfectly.  Elli was born on Labor Day weekend....not advised if you ever have the choice....there's NO NURSING STAFF at the hospital on Labor Day weekend!  On the positive side, I spent every single minute of our hospital stay with her lying in my arms!  The baby, that we didn't know we were going to be blessed with, has blessed us so much more than we could have even known.  She has us all wrapped around her fingers, and honestly we like it that way!  :)  You would too if you knew her. 














I love the way she smiles with her two little front teeth that poke out.  I love her blue eyes with her almost invisible strawberry blonde eyelashes, crazy curly hair and big darling dimples.  I love how I often hear...."she is your spitting image" and how I say "Thank You!  I must be pretty cute  ;)."  I love her sweet voice, and the gentleness in which she approaches you.  I love that she is often the center of attention but already recognizes that the world doesn't revolve around her.  I love that she LOVES her siblings....adores each of them for different reasons!  I love how she is the most independent child I have....even though she's the youngest.  I love hearing her say "Mama."  I love that she loves sparkly things, white milk, her Pinky Pie, dressing up, having her picture taken, her friends, and that she will break into a song and dance the minute she hears a good beat.  I love that you only have to tell her "NO" once (at least most of the time).  I love how she learns from her mistakes and the look she has on her face when she knows she's done something wrong. I love that she asks me all the "hard" questions and is completely okay with the "I'll tell you when you're older response."  I love that she's mine, and I love that God entrusted her to me!  I love that she sings praise music, Adele, and Twinkle Twinkle all in one car ride.  I love that she loves church and learning about our savior.  I love her!  Thank you dear sweet Jesus for blessing my life more than I could have ever imagined with this sweet child.  My heart overflows with gratitude!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Holy Spirit...

I've been so busy....really for the last year....and I've sort of felt a little lost.  I've felt like I have lost a little of myself....or maybe a lot!  Today, I was singing in church; and I felt it.....the HOLY SPIRIT!  It hasn't been as present in my life as it once was.  I know that actually it has been there all along, I just haven't taken the time to recognize it.  I felt it wash over me, and as I took communion....I thanked God for all He brings to my life and asked Him to show me how I can glorify Him.  I'm already feeling a nudge, but I'm not sure if it is something I'll be able to follow through with or not!  I'm praying about it, and it is on my heart and mind nearly constantly!  If you feel led, will you pray that I will know...and it will be God leading me not my own mind?  I need to feel it wash over me every day.  I have missed that, and I long for it!  Thank you in advance for your prayers!

Baby Girl on the beach!

She is fabulous!  I can't tell you how much I love taking her photo!  We did some more of her today for her 6th birthday....which is tomorrow....SIGH!





The Beach

Here are a few of the "professional" photos from our beach trip.  The fun, playing in the ocean, building sand castles, all dripping wet pics will be on at some point.  I haven't had a chance to look at many yet....been busy with other people's pics!  But for now, enjoy!!  I will post two of my favorites of Elli having fun in the sand in the next post!















Sunday, August 26, 2012

Kindergarten! SIGH!

Today was kindergarten dedication at our church.  My baby girl is heading to kindergarten tomorrow.  I can't believe it's been almost 6 years, since she blessed our lives.  Before the service, I watched her little smiling face and saw how excited she was.  She couldn't wait to go up and be prayed over....she couldn't wait to hear them say her name....she couldn't wait for it to be all about her and kindergarten.  Drew asked me if I was going to cry during the service, and I told her I was trying to think happy thoughts.  Everytime I felt the lump, I just looked at Elliot.  Her excitement helped my happy thoughts remain.  As for the rest of the weekend, well I've shed a tear or two or a million.  And as for tomorrow...well....it won't be pretty!!

 NPayne and I laying hands on her as they prayed a blessing over her!!
While E was getting ready for dedication, she asked if Pinky Pie, her most loved possession, could come with her to school for rest time.  I told her there wasn't a rest time, and she let out a heavy sigh.  She will leave Pinky Pie behind tomorrow for the first time in her little school life, but I know she will be okay.  Pinky Pie will be waiting in her booster seat and greet her when we pick her up!!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

School

I can't believe it's that time again....starting school!  My children are getting ready, except maybe one, but I am NOT!  Summer went by so fast, and I so enjoyed having them home.  My oldest will be a sophomore, and my youngest will be in kindergarten.  Where does the time fly to?  I wish I knew, so I could go there and slow it down a little.  There are some things that I want time to go by fast for, but school starting is not one of them. I miss my children already, and we are already about halfway into our busy lives that exist during the school year.  I'm praying for a wonderful year for my children and for yours!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Just Married Again

NPayne and I renewed our wedding vows this past Saturday.  We've been married for 20 years....I am not sure how that happened, since I'm only 35; but.....   It was a wonderful afternoon, and we were overjoyed to share this event with our family and so many of our close and lifelong friends.  Our pastor, Cindy, led the service for us; and as you know.....I simply adore her.  She was amazing.  She spoke about marriage and how marriage can be work and how they can be fragile and how they can be forgotten, because we get so busy and wrapped up in our children, jobs, etc.  Honestly NPayne and I have never had to "work" very hard, because of the type of personalities we  he has!  ;)  But we have been in the "fragile" state a few times, and we have been in the "too busy" state some as well.  As our children have gotten older, we have become more busy; but we have also been able to carve out some alone time....as we run out and grab a burger and chat, just the two of us, for 45 minutes or so.  NPayne and I recited traditional vows, then we shared some personal words; and he cried....just like he did on our wedding day.  I was not nervous on our wedding day or on our second wedding day, but he was on both; and he cried on both.  It's a beautiful thing to see your husband shed tears while he tells you how thankful he is to have you in his life.....okay...well now I might cry!  The photo above is us lighting our family unity candle....it was one of the ways we involved our children in the ceremony.  The girls thought the entire thing was spectacular....they loved it all.  Cindy said many profound things, but my favorite thing she said went something like this....while she was leading us all in a closing prayer....she spoke about the light that each of our children shine.  I couldn't have been more overwhelmed with joy when I heard those words.....that's what I strive for as their mother....to help them learn by actions and words how important it is to have relationship with Our Savior and how important it is to be His hands and feet!  When you think about it, not only marriage can be "fragile"; but any kind of relationship has a "fragile" state....even the relationship I have with Jesus.  Unfortunately that one is the one I need the most, but the one I take for granted the most; because I know HE will always make time for me....sort of like NPayne!

Monday, August 13, 2012

BEACH!

Just to wet your whistle.....here are some pics from our little beach trip. 
I will post more soon! 
 All of the kids minus my boy....he wasn't in the picture taking mood.  
Quite honestly, he has done 110% better with pictures over the last year; 
so I didn't want to stress him out over it. 
 I got some great ones of him riding the waves that I'll share later.
My baby girl....Elliot!  
There are so many lovely images of her from this trip, 
but this one spoke to me! 
 It's like I can see straight to her soul through her eyes in this photo.
I can't stop looking at it!

BRIDALS! I LOVE YOU SO!

Ashley's Bridals.  To see more, click here!



Saturday, August 11, 2012

Home Sweet Home

We're home, and I'm exhausted.  We just spent 13 hours in the car, and I have to work tomorrow; so why am I awake so early in the morning?  I wish I knew.  Post more soon!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thoughts and Opinions


When I was trying to explain why there were so many people at Chick Fil A yesterday to my teen, I was trying to figure out the best way to explain it without taking sides or sounding like I was judging on either point but also sharing with her what I believe. I explained to her that there are some things that are very controversial, and the two that came to mind were homosexuality and abortion. People will never see eye to eye regarding those topics here on earth....they just won't. And whether I support those things or not, I have the right to express my support or non-support as long as I do it in a way that is not hurtful to others. I do not have the right to condemn or judge others ever. Support/Non-Support is very different than condemning and judging. With that being said, I have certainly been judged and have certainly placed judgements on situations and people in my life. As I've grown as a person, christian, mother, wife, friend, daughter, and in my relationship with God; I've discovered many things....REMEMBER THESE ARE MY OPINIONS!
1. I always have something to be thankful for!
2. It is not my place to judge!
3. Love is the greatest commandment, and if we all truly love our neighbors and embrace them; existence would be much more peaceful.
4. Being discerning and being judgmental are two different things.
5. I take most public things I hear with a grain of salt.
6. I can co-exist, be compassionate, embrace and have a relationship with people who dont' share my beliefs or lifestyle. It's not always the disagreement or situation which causes a ruccus, but it's usually the reaction to the disagreement or situation.
7. Not everything is God's plan, sometimes it's part of the worldly circumstances or a choice that someone has made...but God will bring good from it....if I will open my eyes and see it.
8. God is good....all the time!
If someone believes that homosexuality or abortion (I use those two just because those are two things I spoke to my teen about) are sinful things-which I'm not saying I do or do not (and will not get into that debate on FB); and are willing to condemn someone because they are gay or have had an abortion; then I should also be condemned for.....gossiping last week, or yelling at my child yesterday, or coveting my neighbor's pool, or not keeping the sabbath holy! Does that make sense? Sin is all the same in God's eyes, and as my friend Lisa said....we are sinners, we all fall short! We gossip, we eat too much, we don't honor our mother/father, we lie, we lust, we let anger or worry or temptation separate us from God; and that's just to name a few. Thank God for His mercy and grace! If we don't agree with someone's beliefs, instead of condemning them, let's love and embrace them. This is the point I was trying to get across to my teen. I have people in my life who are homosexual, who are alcoholics, who have had abortions....and it doesn't make me love them any less....whether I live the same lifestyle as they do or not, whether I share the same beliefs as they do or not, whether I believe those are sinful things or not. I also have people in my life who are not christian or have different spiritual beliefs than I do....and it doesn't make me love them any less either. And I am SOOOOOO thankful that they don't love me any less, because I am a heterosexual...non-alcoholic...christian woman who has not had an abortion...but has made my own questionable or bad choices in their eyes and mine. I will do my best to teach my children right from wrong and share my beliefs with them and why I believe the way I do, but I realize that some beliefs they will develop through their own life experiences, struggles, and relationships; and they may be different than mine. Yes I will do my best to raise my children to be accepting, loving people who know when to trust their own discernment but also recognize the difference in discernment and judging others. And I will continue to practice these things right along with them.

Romans 14:12-13
So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

Yes, I think Jesus calls us to love our neighbor, but I don't limit my thoughts or the power of love and think only christians can love their neighbors. One of the general definitions of LOVE is.....Love is also a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection —"the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another"

However my personal opinion AS A CHRISTIAN is that, I do believe that I have the responsibility to let people know that the love I have to share is because of the love Christ has lavished on me. If I had not felt Christ's love so fully, I probably would not be able to love others as easily. It all comes from HIM! I also believe that I have NO right to judge anyone on their choices, beliefs, lifestyle, etc.; and that should be left to Our Holy Father.
THESE ARE ALL MY OPINION! Take it for what it's worth!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012