Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Birthday Shawn

Our day was so good. I woke up this morning at 6am to Shawn sorta screaming...okay...that part is not so good....BUT.....he was healed of whatever was wrong the second I lifted him out of bed and started singing happy birthday to him. He is 2 today. I brought him downstairs to bed with me and Joe got to actually be OFF work today....YAY!!!!!! Soon, Asher was up and bouncing soon we were all up. I made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast...(did I mention Spencer is here.....yay....all 3 of my boys!). We took a trip to the Opryland area to see the Grinch Ice Exhibit (fun and free since Joe is an employee of the resort)...... then came home for kiddos to nap....(I snuck off for a horse ride)....then back home for an early little party with just the family. Shawn completely enjoyed discovering his new toys and he totally rocked the cupcake. Shawn has never consumed that much sugar in his life...and here he did it in one setting. Watch him devour the end of this cupcake....Asher sings him a song...and Shawn gets excited. It's a decent 2 minutes and 17 seconds worth of free entertainment. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Smashed Taters

Tomorrow, my Shawn will be 2 years old. On 12/ sweet Asher turned the big 04....yep that's right.....he is 4 years old. I cannot believe it. I didn't post about him at that time because my head was already in Zimbabwe on 12/4, even though my body didn't board the plane until 12/5...... But here is the latest Asher Tate that swirl in the middle of his head that makes his hair do unreasonable things.........

Asher has earned a few nicknames in his short 4-years..... who can have a middle name like Tate and NOT be called Tater every once in a while..???(or everday???) I also call him "Tater Tot, or "Splasher" when he's taking a bath, or "Smasher" when we're playing around and being silly. I also regularly call him "monkey", or "What the?", or HEY....GET IN HERE.....and well, you see where this is going. But when you cross Smasher with Tater, with get Smashed Taters......

Happy Birthday sweet Tater Tot! I thank God for you!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Yo Yo Yo - God Squad

Needing a smile I have spent a little bit of each day since I returned home, crying because I feel so helpless in this Zim orphanage, hunger and poverty situation. In fact.....this Christmas was difficult for me to find my joy......although I do sincerely and deeply have joy in the Lord..... my heart is still broken from Zim.

Here is a video I'd love for you to see. It is from 2 orphanages who are actually doing pretty well. While there is always a food shortage, they are making it.....but more than anything....these homes are clean and organized, the kids are clean and have clean clothes, they speak pretty good English, and they are learning academics there at a home school. These kids were gorgeous, gracious and full of hope. Their house mother is madly in love with Jesus, and in spending any time there at these 2 homes, you learn quickly that all of the kids have put their hope and faith in Him. I got to return to one of these homes and spend some amazing time with the older girls....which I have already posted about.

So, watch and enjoy the video....I don't know what this song means, but these children at both homes greeted us with the same song and dance. Let it bless you!!!!!

p.s. the guy dancing wearing a blue "God Squad" shirt is named Boss...... he rocked on many levels. I really enjoyed getting to know him. And p.s.s.. I forgot to tell you some of these kids are HIV/AIDS positive...but many of them are getting the proper meds for now.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

FACES - Part 2

It was mental...
It was overwhelming...
It was devastating...
It was political...
It was spiritual...
It was sad...
.......but through it all were moments of joy.
I'll admit....I had a good cry today! I was driving and listing to one of my favorite CD's, by Ginny Owen. Ginny is a songwriter and singer of Christian music. She is blind. She plays piano and has the voice of an angel. One of her songs talks about walking through the other words......willingly experiencing trials, pain and sorrow....for the sake of traveling the pathway that leads her home to Jesus. I have loved this song for a long time. Today I heard the song again......but unlike any other time, I heard it from an orphans perspective. As I sang along in my car (I am most definitely a car karaoke gal!).....I realized the song will always mean something different to me now. My favorite part of the song is toward the end when she sings.... "when I cross over Jordan, I'm gonna sing and I'm gonna shout....I'm gonna look into your (Jesus) eyes and see you've never let me down". I always have a visual during this part of the song, and goosebumps cover I picture crossing the Jordan, running to the open arms of Jesus. The visual was different I saw Jesus awaiting my arrival across the Jordan with His arms open wide.....and all the children you see in the photos above were dancing around Him....they were not hungry. They were not dirty. They were not sick. They were perfectly perfect.
I miss them.
I cry now.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


This boy in the top center......I would have brought him home if I could have. I loved on him for 4-5 days. I never understood his name. The boy on top right in the one found a few days before my arrival on the side of the road resting next to his dead mother. His new name is "Knowledge".

These older girls above are the ones who asked me many questions about God, Jesus, prayer, life, etc. They prayed for me and I cannot describe my time with them. From left to right......the first girl came late because she has HIV and was at the clinic, so I do not know her name. The 2nd girl is sweet Emily, then both girls in front of me are named "Precious", the next girl is Nyradzu, and the last girl in red t-shirt is Deborah. They are amazing girls....and yes, they too are orphans.

This boy to the left has a name that sounds like "Tin-tone-in". He was the saddest and skinniest boy I have ever seen. He was rescued from the wild, but his siblings were not. He is worried about that. He does not speak English. He is the one who would come and either sit or stand next to me and put one arm around me, prompting me for hugs and kisses. This photo is a rare smile. I am also pictured with him above.

I have many more photos and many stories.....but for now just wanted you to see some of the faces that blessed me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

i have been away from any internet connection for a while.....and it doesn't feel good
i have finally updated emails today......and am caught up reading the daily accounts of life at my home while i am away. shawn, asher and joe have been sick. but things are looking up for them now it seems.

here......what to tell you

we rarely have electricity, but i am getting used to doing most things by candlelight at night, and it is quite nice. no a good thing. but i have no idea is barack obama has a dog yet, and so some things i'll wait to learn.

speaking of barack obama.....i went to a church service here on sunday and the preacher was talking about raising money for certain initiatives regarding some starving villages....he literally referred to u.s. money as "obama dollars" a perspective. they love barack....the kenya connection. nice.

one thing i love about being here and being the only american in my group is the barage of questions. what is your staple food.......peanut butter for sure.

the kids.............i know you want to hear about them.........yesterday i spent the morning at an orphanage with kids around 13 - 17, about 1/2 girls 1/2 boys. i had the most amazing experience of my life speaking with the girls. they asked me tons of questions, mostly about jesus........and all i can really tell you is that the spirit was involved majorly and i spoke from my heart and God truly blessed me with fair and understandable words. then we prayed....i for them....them for me. i love those girls. emily, precious #1, precious #2, deborah, nyradzu, and some others whose names i cannot remember at the moment. i took a photo with them and plan to keep it visible. they wanted to know how to show God that you love him. they wanted to understand how Satan works. it will be one of my most memorable times here.

the boys.............the older boys especially are so incredibly darling and respectful. i have received more hugs than i can ever count. they are tender and wise and precious, truly. one of my favorites so far, his name is Boss. he is a character for sure. i have video of him dancing. the music they sing is just heavenly. i'll post video after i get home.

the landscape here is quite beautiful. i have taken many photos.

my time on this computer is counting down. i may not get to be on the computer again. i am scheduled to land on friday at 9am in the morning....but who knows. amercian soil will smell nice.

thank you for reading.





Friday, December 12, 2008

zim baby

i literally only have 8 minutes to type

it is friday here, at 9:56 is 1:56am in nashville, tn

i have visited 4 orphanges, the 5th is today. one of the homes i have served in twice and hope to spend the rest of my time there. there are 40+ children there. they eat one meal a day. they wear the same clothes every day and wash them once per week. they love love love to sing and play. some of them just want to be held. i am giving and receiving more than my fair share of hugs and kisses. it is unbelievable. i cannot describe it here in words.

i will tell you 2 quick stories.

many of the kids do not speak english but some do, and very well.

a few days ago, a young boy probably about 28 months old was rescued on the side of the road where he was found lying next to his dead mother. he was opening her eyes and trying to get her to wake. now he is in a strange home. he is afraid for people to shut their eyes...afraid they will not wake up. he is BEAUTIFUL. they do not know his name, so they call him "knowledge". i got him to laugh yesterday, and it was by far the gift of my day. turns out....he is tickelish. he also loves to receive kisses on his neck when you make the hungry chewing sound. he has my heart.

another child has my heart. i cannot spell his name, but is sounds like "Tintonin". he is probably 5 or 6 years. he has the most gorgeous face but he is incredibly skinny and he does not smile. he was rescued from the "brush" (aka wild) and he has siblings still in the brush. he is worried that they are not eating. he has only been in the home for a couple of weeks. he looks starved and sad. he walks up and puts one arm around my waist to let me know he wants a hug......and what do you think I do????? i hug him until he nearly breaks. i took a photo of him and showed it to scared him. he didn't understand. i took a photo of us together and showed it to him and he smiled. he smiled. i managed to get a photo of him smiling. i will frame this photos and never forget these children.

i cannot tell you about all of them. they have a good, bad smell. some of them have aids. 3 children at this home have cholera and are dying because they cannot get the meds and do not have enough water or liquids to rehydrate. they die from dehydration....not cholera itself. one died the day before i arrived.

2 of the children walk around and look like death to me. one little girl has fallen asleep on me 2 days in a row, and she should be full of energy. her name is patricia. she is the same size as shawn, but is probably 2 years older. i heard her sing yesterday for a moment. it was lovely.


my bug bites are healing and not itchy. they killed me for a couple of days. i now have luggage....but it was so appropriate that i did not have luggage for 4 living without is the way of zim. it is the only way. my south african friends cook lunch and dinner everyday. they offer the greatest warmth and hospitality and the food is good. 2 others have arrived so we have 6 in total now. 4 of us are voluteers and 2 are staff. last night we stayed up late without electricity and wrote poems by candlelight. we could each only contribute one word at a time. the poem is both deep and funny. i haven't laughed so hard since i got here. they want to know about america and amercians. i am asked some challenging questions, but i tell them the truth. they all love Jesus.


i have been here 7 days and washed my hair once.'s nice. i do get to wash with soap. we rarely have electricity except for a couple of hours in the evening, while everyone is sleeping. the spiders here are gigantic. i sleep under bug netting because it is friggin scary not to.

*********today we are going to a boys home....of older boys. we will spend most of the day...then we are delivering food and baby supplies to the babies with aids home. we have been there once. today we will spend more time. i forgot to tell you that during the 2 days we spent at the home i love (the Hatcliffe home) we painted 2 rooms, in addition to delivering a ton of food and supplies. my journey here involves physical work and a lot of loving on children. i am taking photos and getting video.

******finally before i get cut off nights, when i crawl into bed, i think of my children until i fall asleep. is hard to be away from them. and even though spencer is older, he is having some tough times right now as it seems he and dana are broken up and i am worrying and missing him terribly. he sent me a text that was sad.........and i worry. i miss everyone, but i am not ready to come home. God has been so amazing to bless me with kids i have a heart for (here in zim) projects that i love (painting) and with people who are curious and want to know about america (my south african friends). i am fully filled with the love of Christ....He sustains me every moment. it is good.

Monday, December 8, 2008

In Zim

here is a 2 day diary so far.....

Sunday night in Zimbabwe:

HI all. I am somewhat speechless. It is Sunday evening here. I am in a private park 3 hours from Harare, so I have not seen any children yet. This is my surprise. Tomorrow, I will walk with a lion and I will ride horseback. Pam, please tell Moreau not to be jealous. This is a resort/retreat for Christians. it is beautiful. I will take photos. i have already seen Elephants walking the grounds. This morning I woke in the voluteer camp. I will have a room in like a little house. It is not what I expected, at all.

My hosts are Nic, Susanne and Linda. They are all from Johannesburgh, South Africa. They are wonderful.

My flights were good. My luggage is lost. I might or might not get it the children might or might not get their pencils and paper. i want them to have their stuff. I will be fine either way.

So, i'm on a timer....and i won't be able to use computer again for a few days. The ride in a van to this place, 3 hours, the most remarkable. If i see nothing else, i have seen so much. Babboons, a family of 4, crossed the street. One was a tiny baby. The human mommas' wear their babies on their backs, and tie them on with fabric. The babies look so content. The mommas carry things on their heads, perfectly. they farm. Some just hang on the side of the road and try to sell you things. they don't have a good marketing plan.....because i don't know what they are selling.

They drive on the wrong side of the road and in the wrong side of the car. no speed limit. food is weird, but i am doing okay with it.

no tv. i love it.

i had a good cry the first night, missing my boys. still miss them so much it hurts.

i'll be here for 1 more full day, (2 nights) and then will go to the orphanages. my heart is not quite ready for that, but will be.

i met incredibly wonderful people on the planes. maybe the nicest people in the world. a man from Dakar was my buddy for 7 hours. a beautiful lady from zimbabwe was my buddy in line (in queue) at the airport for 2 hours while we reported our luggage missing. she was so lovely. she gave me a huge hug for coming to her country. i could cry right now, but will try not to in this tiny internet cafe, in a beautiful park, in zimbabwe.

dinner is soon. must eat and rest up for my walk with a lion tomorrow. my room has a straw roof. i'm listening to christian music in the background right now.... "we bow down, we lay our crown, at the feet of Jesus...and we cry holy holy holy is the lamb".

i am safe and well, and i love you each.

always and for the Lord,


Monday - Zim time: 2:56 pm
the lion walk is later this afternoon. this morning was the horseback ride into the brush to look for wild game. i had no idea i'd be doing any of this. i couldn't possibly tell you as much about zimbabwe as i'd like. this computer is slow. people are starving in this country. their currency is worthless, but it is against the law to trade in other currency that requires a permit. i can use my us dollars, but many others cannot. if you think this doesn't make sense, then you might begin to understand how helpless they feel. for example, the guides here are paid in zim dollars but the banks don't have it is like they are working for free. it is so bizarre. i have been told not to use a credit card here even for an emergency because the exchange rate here for credit cards is ancient, and that a $3 bar of soap here would charge $300 to my card. it's a good thing i brought cash.

on to funnier trivia...

the bugs here are large enough to be pets. there is a beetle that is larger than a large egg. it is not pleasant. he's frightening in fact.

i have flea bites. come'on, that's funny.

the birdlife here is incredible. they sing so loud and they are so beautiful.

this park here is called antelope park. the wildlife here include elephants, zebra, giraffe, wildebeasts, impala, elephants and lions. the lions are being breeded and/or rehabilitated to go back into the wild, so they get special attention. the other animals are self-sustaining, but they are used to humans. on my horse ride this morning, i got to see zebra, giraffe, impala. later today, i went to watch my friends swim with the elephants. i didn't participate since i do not have clean dry clothes to change into. the i got to pet them though, and they are remarkble.

a bug woke me up in the night. he sounded like a squeaking cell this was confusing. i slept under mosquito netting in my small private room. i slept well, except for the bug.

the showers and bathrooms are in a separate building. i have only taken one shower since i arrived, but i have not yet washed my hair. i'm afraid, that without my hair product (in lost luggage) that i might be laughed at alot with hair sticking straight up. i honestly don't know when i'll get to wash my hair. trust is more acceptable here than it would ever be at home.

tomorrow morning we will drive back to harare. the plan is to visit all 4 orphanges beginning tomorrow and then choose a project. i'm getting nervous about this. i have been learning about the culture and the government. zimbabwe is extremely poor. it makes me feel a little guilty about being at this "resort" but i am happy to have had this experience. i have a feeling though that when i leave come back home, it is the resort that i will remember the least. they offered me a trip to victoria falls at the end of this...which i declined because i'd rather see my children. but to do my orientation to the country, they had to take me somewhere, which is how we ended up here.

need i say this....i really miss my children

it is easy to talk to God here, especially when you feel the need to pray at night that bugs won't be in bed.....on my knees is a natural posture....HA!!!

i might get to post again tonight....but if not....the next time i'm here my stories will be about the children

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Mission trip aside, December is a massive month in my household. December holds blessings and treasures that fulfill my life in the most meaningful ways. December is the month that I pinch myself, the month I sing, and the month I praise the most.

First and foremost, December is the month that I get to physically celebrate the birth of Jesus, who I consider Savior. I love Easter equally, but the birth is so precious. I love that giving meaningful and thoughtful gifts to each other is like saying happy birthday to Jesus. Not commercial consumerism......just giving from the heart. And being a joyful giver. With the right mindset and the proper intentions, it is such a nice holiday.

Those who know me know that Spencer is my heart and my joy. He is almost 20. Even though I had him at a young age and the pregnancy was not planned, I very much wanted him. I longed for my own child from a very young age. I loved the little babies in my neighborhood and wished they were mine. I have plenty of witnesses to back me up. Spencer might have been a surprise, but he was never a mistake and I am truly grateful for him. He was born in April.

(back to December)....... both Asher and Shawn have birthdays in December. They are so incredibly special because when Joe and I married, we didn't intend to have more children. Spencer was everything and more. But our hearts and desires changed. When we decided to have children, I prayed. I really prayed. I believe that I had a miscarriage, although I've never had it medically confirmed. I learned that I had problems with my uterus that required surgery, or I would not be able to carry a child. I had that surgery in Feb 04 and conceived Asher in March 04. He was born, 12/4/04. The joy of becoming pregnant and delivering a vibrant and beautiful child is greater than anything I have ever experienced. We did it. We really did it. When Joe and I talked about having children, I told him I'd really like to have 2 that could grow together, and he agreed. I know, and it breaks my heart so deeply, that some couples try and try and try, and do not get pregnant. I know the grief and heartache that some people suffer. I certainly do not deserve the blessings God gives me.....and He gave us Shawn, two years later, on 12/31/06. December is the month I pinch myself. Thank you God.

Happy December.

Merry Christmas

Happy Birthday to my 2 precious baby boys who came to me in December. May God bless your precious hearts and bring you joy each day of your lives.

Friday, November 28, 2008

My Mind

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

I haven't had much to say you have probably noticed. I'm leaving for Africa in one week, and I'm trying to get extra hugs and kisses in with Asher and Shawn before I leave. Every time I hold one of them, I am really taking a moment to soak in how they feel and smell. This morning Shawn woke up at 4am crying, most likely teething pains. I snatched him out of bed and brought him to bed with me. (Joe had already left for work). We snuggled together awake for over an hour. He kept touching my nose and my hair. I made faces at him while we were scrunched together on my pillow, and he'd giggle. Sometimes he would just suck his thumb and stare at me. He is really becoming a little boy. I can't believe he'll be 2 years old in December. I wish he could I know he would have so much to say. I believe he will, someday. Asher joined us around 7am. We turned on the Disney channel with Asher snuggled against my chest and Shawn near my bent knees. Asher was rubbing Shawns' back while they both watched Mickey Mouse. They are so naturally, brothers. I can't believe I'll wake up in Africa 14 days in a row without one of my babies snuggling with me. That, by far, is the hard part.

I also am beginning to realize how much I will miss my husband. Our lives are so much about the boys and we do not take much time for each other....but I very much value his presence, his smile, and his dedication to our family. He is not just your average Joe. My Joe is special. He works without complaining. He cooks most of our dinners. He readily helps with any chore I request, and even does some without prompting. He gives our boys most of their nighttime baths, and he's not afraid of a poopy diaper. He happily lets me run off to an occasional dinner with a girlfriend, and gladly let's me escape off to the horses when I need. He never yells. He never complains. He acts like he isn't sick, when he is. He is not extravagant. He doesn't care at all about keeping up with the Jones's. He does a lot of wonderful things for people. He is generous and eager to provide and serve others. He is such a good man. I will miss falling asleep next to him while I am away.

That is what is on my mind.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Get To Know Me

My friend Tam over at InProgress urged her readers to write things about ourselves that others might not know. She came up with 16. Not sure I can come up with that many, but here's a go:

1. I've had 16 front doors, at least....probably more.

2. I tried to join the Air Force when Spencer was a baby.....and they wanted me pretty badly....but I did not join because I wasn't willing to give over temporary custody of Spencer. I was too afraid I'd never get him back.

3. I'd much rather be cold than be hot. A cold person can do jumping-jacks to warm up.....the heat drives me insane.

4. Green is my favorite color and has been for a couple of years. Before then, I didn't have a favorite color, and I don't mean to have one now....but just cannot help it.

5. My husband and I have drastically different tastes in music, however, it was kinda music that brought us together. His musical choices make me want to stab myself....and he'd probably say the same about mine. LOL

6. I absolutely freaking love a drum line and marching bands. I never played in a marching band......but just love the music. I should have been one of those drum line dancing chics at football and basketball games. Seriously...... the drums give me goose bumps on my head. Those are SERIOUS goose bumps.

7. Living in Nashville, TN I have met a lot of famous people and have absolutely nothing exciting to tell you about them.

8. My favorite smell in the world is the smell of a horse's face and neck.

9. My husband loves sushi with massive amounts of wasabi. I like cheese, please.

10. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a vetrinarian for large animals. I specifically wanted to work at the San Diego zoo. I had never left the south, so not sure where that came from. And oh, by the way....that didn't happen.

11. I made terrible grades in high school and superb grades in college.

12. When I was a teenager, I drooled over convertible yellow corvettes. Now I only drool for cars that are paid for.

13. We do not have caller ID on our home phone anymore. I'll's weird and I'm not wild about it.

14. I have never watched an episode of ER, Law & Order, West Wing, 24, and many many other popular shows.....never!

15. I'm pretty handy. I recently changed out most of our faucets and some light fixtures. I dream of owning a nail gun someday.

16. I can't believe I have come up with 16 things... I'm letting my hair grow out again. It's gonna be about 300 bad hair days in a row, I'm afraid. it's your turn. If you post 16 things about yourself, let me know so I can read them.

Happy Sunday!


Saturday, November 22, 2008

9 Names

Here is a fun name game that my blog friend posted on her site. She is "Just Me" and you can visit her from the right side of my blog. I also occasionally loving refer to her as Twin M, because her name is Melissa also, and we have a little to much in common!

My 9 Names:

1. YOUR REAL NAME: Melissa

2. YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (first 3 letters of real name plus fizzle.) : Melfizzle

3. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color and favorite animal) : Green Horse

4. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (your middle name and street you live on/or neighborhood if it's a number) : Gail Bridgewater

5. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first name): Irwme (it's more fun with my maiden name: Ishme)

6. YOUR SUPERHERO/CRIMINAL NAME: (Your 2nd favorite color and favorite drink): PinkMocha

7. YOUR IRAQI NAME: (2nd letter of your first name, 3rd letter of your last name, 1st letter of your last name, 2nd letter of your moms maiden name, 3rd letter of your dads name, 1st letter of siblings first name, and last letter of your moms first name) : Ewihra

8. YOUR WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (parents middle names): Ann Ray

9. YOUR GOTH NAME: (black, and the name of one of your pets) : Black Sammie

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Caught in the Act

I love this video. Asher and Shawn both take daily naps, but not at the same time. They overlap. Here is a video where Asher was supposed to be going to sleep, but Shawn woke up and they did some brotherly bonding instead. I could hear the noises from downstairs, so I snuck up with the flip camera to see what I would find. I LOVE the way Shawn will tilt his head and look at Asher with a huge grin. And then again, when Asher gets into his bed and hides under the covers and Shawn just hangs there over the crib like he's so lonely.

One of my early worries when Shawn was born....(we didn't know he had Down syndrome until his was 1 day old).....I worried that he wouldn't emotionally connect. I worried that he wouldn't be active, wouldn't show emotion, or wouldn't bond with his brothers. How wrong I was to waste even 1 second on those worries. Enjoy...

Saturday, November 15, 2008


***See Cute video at the end.***

So, let me think.....what's new? Hmmmmmmmm, have ya'll noticed the economy is crud? Well....yep, that's about all I can think of right now.

Well, no.......that's not true. Here are some highlights and lowlights from my week:

  • I listen to Christian radio about 98% of the time in the car. When a song comes on that I don't love, I'll flip through. From the backseat, Asher screamed "Mommy let me hear this song....I LOVE Rock-n-Roll!". Wha???
  • Shawn is almost 2 years old and does not say Momma or Dada. However, today he has enjoyed a screaming game, and I've almost got him screaming "momma". It's hilarious.
  • Asher has been extra lovey with Shawn this week. It warms my heart to no end.
  • I got some shots for my trip to Africa. I leave in 20 days......yikes
  • My bible study girls and I have been meeting together weekly for over 2 years. We finished another study this week....and I'm always sad to end a study, even though I know we'll start a new one after Christmas.
  • I went to the CMA awards with my sweet friend Stacey. The funniest part of the whole night was a lady in front of us in her 60's with bright red hair and a purple suit who didn't move a muscle until Kid Rock showed up.....then she boogied in her seat.
  • I found out this week that some friends of ours are getting divorced and my heart hurts for them.
  • I found out this week that a high-school classmate (from 20 years ago) was just diagnosed with MS. I've been praying for her and feeling kinda numb.
  • I firmed up plans today to host Thanksgiving dinner at my house and I'm super excited about that. Thanksgiving rocks!

Here is a video of Shawn & Asher. It's just too cute. It is from this morning! It was a jammie day!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Pill Poppin'

I'm finally getting over a nasty sinus/cold thingy. Yuk. And yes, I'm medicating. I'm also drinking teas with local honey, thanks to one precious friend. I'm taking Ibuprofen because if I don't, my face hurts. (and jokes about how my face hurts you too)..... And lately, I'm volutarily taking anti-depressants. I have some left over from my short bout with post-partum issues.....and thankfully, they are helping, but with only 6 left, not sure what's next.

I am so darn happy that the election is over. I wanted to vote for Obama, but I did ultimately vote for McCain. I prayed about it and God changed my vote against my wishes....but when I went to the polls I honored what I heard God telling me. I sincerely hope and pray the best for new President Elect Obama. God intended all along for him to be in leadership, as well as the other leaders who have been and will be appointed. Is it going to get better? Or will it get worse before it gets better? Who knows.....but what I do know that my eyes are on the Lord, and my plans are to offer encouragement....nothing less. (And by the way......God was not telling me to vote for McCain because He wanted McCain elected....but rather it was a test of my willingness to be obedient to what I was hearing Him speak to me. It was painful and difficult to say the least!)

I go to Africa (ALL BY MYSELF) on 12/5. Please keep me in your prayers. I will return home on 12/19.

Nothing profound peeps......just a few words. Have a beautiful day!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ode to Caramel

oh caramel
you are my sweet
of choice
you can't be beat

i love your scent
and flavor so
your secret
i'll never know

how you woo me
into a trance
of bliss
and happy dance

whether Kraft
or Slow Poke or
caramel creme
you fulfill all my dreams

that's not true
caramel cremes are grime
but it helped me with
my rhyme

the truth is
you are an evil cat
and eating you
makes me fat

i love you though
i really do
and Halloween
it's true

for without
this hallowed date
i'd not consume pounds
equal to my weight

the end

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Do Not Drive

I am a far better driver than I am a passenger. In fact....I get car sick as a passenger, so I am the primary driver in our household. In addition to the car sickness, I have some control issues. I just simply feel safer behind the wheel. There is a darn good possibility that if I do somehow end up in the passenger seat.....and if we travel far, at some point, I will tell you how to drive. Or at a minimum, I will push my imaginary brakes and/or I may gasp outloud and scare the poo out of you and cause you to crash. It's not just let me drive, k?

In no other area of my life do I desire to drive. God has my road completely planned out. He knows when I am supposed to move slow, and when I need to accelerate. He has planned areas for me to stop and soak it all in, and other areas where I need to grip tight, hold on and trudge through. Since He knows all of this, it is just best that He take the wheel and that I be patient on the journey and that I fully experience every turn....even the unexpected sharp curves, and the long-straight flat roads and running out of fuel. God even has a plan at those dead ends.

Even though it can be painful, sometimes I will look back on my journey like a map. Knowing that God was in control all along, I see those curves, dead ends and straight-aways in my life and it all makes sense. Every road connected me to here. I have arrived here, and here is where I am supposed to be, for now. I love that He has always known and continues to know where I am going.

This picture of my past, present and future roads has radically changed my prayer life. Instead of praying for God to do this or do that, I've learned to pray for His direction, to keep me on His road with Him at the wheel. I'm not snoozing in the back seat. I'm fully along for the ride and seeking what my purpose is all along the way.

In my prayers over the past couple of weeks, I've been praying about some situations and simply seeking direction, solutions and remedies. Not specifically, just generally. I've been consistently engaged with Jesus in the scriptures and in private worship, and in nature. He has presented me very clearly with His direction and His solutions.......very unexpected mind you....but solutions none-the-less. I'm so thankful He is at the wheel.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Another Tasty Milestone my Shawn is incredibly independent. He is most definitely a "doer" and "mover", in Down syndrome terms. But one area where Shawn has really showed no desire is to give himself a bottle, or to learn to drink from a sippy cup. In fact, Shawn is 22 months old, and we still give him every bottle....and he does not assist. Obviously, we have to do this because he also will not drink from a sippy cup....and the boy has got to drink.

Finally, yesterday.......with a cup that does not frustrate him.......he has embraced the sippy cup....and is now enjoying sweet yummy apple juice.....independently. I'm not sure he'll be as excited about it with milk or steps.

It's sooooooooooooo cute. WATCH.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Video of Asher and Shawn playing

Asher and Shawn take time every day to enjoy some pretty vigorous brotherly play. Shawn loves to climb on Asher and really, just be near him. It is so fun to watch. The other day, Shawn was cracking up at Asher. By the time I found the flip camera to catch this video...the cracking up had stopped....but the play was still fun. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I stumbled across this photo today and just couldn't resist posting it here. Something about it makes me feel good.......and I know that is gonna freak some of ya'll out..... but it's all good.

So, what would you call this?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Shawn learning how to do sign for "stop"

Shawn has been learning more sign language. In this video he demonstrates the sign for "stop". Usually he does it a little better than this....but this is so cute anyway! Watch this cutie pie. Oh, and also you can hear him try and say the word "stop". He is really doing well with his vocalization and just in attempting to mimic sounds. FYI, he's in speech therapy once a week, pretty intensely, but it is fun and extremely helpful. We're so proud of him, and enjoy him so much. What a joy and a gift we have in all our boys!


Good morning Lord. It's a beautiful day today. Thank you for the gentle termperatures. Thank you for your spirit within me. I pray to serve you well today.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Bubble

How can I even tell you what I've done, and why? It is so complex. I still have twirling fluttery feelings inside of me that border on raging out of control either toward me throwing something across the room to shatter before me and cut my flesh.....or just falling on my knees in tears. And the thing is...... it probably isn't even a big deal.

You might not understand, and that's okay, whoever you are. I don't even know who most of my readers are. I don't know.

I have created somewhat of a bubble in my home for Shawn. In our home he is not different. He is not retarded. He is not significantly special. He and Asher are treated the same, with the same expectations that they will obey, that they will learn good manners, that they will share and play fairly. I've carried this bubble over into their school....after all it is a school with a blended environment to include kids with Down syndrome, Autism, CP, MS, whatever...... It's a happy place where learning takes place and equality is practiced. It is perfect.

What I haven't really realized is that I'm in my own bubble. My head is in this world that believes Shawn will be loved and accepted everywhere he goes.....not just today as a toddler but in a few years as a tween and then later as an adult. Am I freaking nuts????? Those who see him today and think he is the most precious baby ever are probably not going to choose to sit beside him at the movie theater when he is 20. These same people who are so impressed with his abilities today are probably likely to be uncomfortable having dinner with him in the next few years when he might possibly have food hanging off of his chin and staining his clothes. He is cute now when he has a poopy diaper, but what about that accident that will happen to him in the 6th grade because he gets flustered around a pretty girl? What then? ARE THEY STILL GOING TO LOVE HIM?

Yesterday I was just innocently catching up on blogs and enjoying my reading time.....going through funny comments left on other blogs, etc. I happened across a comment left on another blog by a woman I have never seen before, whose blog I have never read........ and I allowed myself to be hurt and offended by a comment that she never dreamed would insult anyone. It was actually a funny story......until she suggested her son looked like he was "mentally challenged" or had "special needs".....and made some comment about smelling like urine and dressed in rags. I was beside myself with hurt. Not at what she said.....but at the realization that outside of our comfy bubble, people might actually think that about my son. My sweet child. So, I left her a comment. It wasn't mean or stabbing.....but it was a comment that I didn't need to make. I knew better. I read so much of her blog and saw nothing but a beautiful, tender, precious and loving woman of God who shares her life with others to serve God. She is really beautiful. Why did I feel like I needed to school her? I cannot imagine.....but that I am battling with pride. She quickly commented me with love and I think I've wiped up my mess.....but today I am just so sorry. I am literally sobbing in grief. (and this is why I want to throw things......lest you think I am aiming for her, I am not!)

Let me tell you what a mother of a special needs child has to endure some times.....and I'm barely 2 years into this...... mine is still sweet and cute and un-threatening to most......and I know it is going to change. I know it will......but here is the beginning.

1. At one point on Myspace there was a page dedicated to making fun of the hair of people with Down syndrome....that they all have the same bad haircut, and stick straight hair.
2. I get to read funny email jokes about someone not even being good enough to compete in the special olympics.
3. I receive emails about not wanting a retard (the next president) to run the country.
4. I will have to fight for my child to get a fair shot at education and not stuck in the retard room at the end of the hall on the furthest wing of the school.
5. I can't even get people to stop using the word "retard". This word makes me insane!
6. Someone once told me the opposite of smart is retarded. NO....the opposite of smart is dumb, or stupid, or not-so-smart, or un-wise. My mentally challenged child is actually very smart. But he is mentally challenged.
7. Other children in their discomfort and insecurities are going to be mean to my son, or they will be afraid of him.
8. I get to worry about his health, his upcoming open heart surgery, his thyroid, and pray pray pray pray so hard that he does not get Leukemia.
9. One day I was trying to enjoy a sweet article on the online newspaper about a couple, both with Down syndrome, who had just gotten married. It was an open forum for people to leave comments. There were about 30 comments at the time and most of them were such a low level of cruelty that I wanted to pack up my kids, move to the hills, and hide.

I have always been one to take a stand. I've opened up my mouth many times that I probably shouldn't have and I've caused some problems in the past. I don't want to hurt anyone. I didn't want to hurt that very sweet lady. This is my sensitive spot, I suppose.

I am not sure this post serves any purpose. My head hurts now and my eyes will be puffy the rest of the day. I am deeply in love with my children! I wouldn't change Shawn for anything....not even for him, because I think he is better off who he is. I am strong and have some braveity about me......but I am also afraid and I'm sure I'll be wounded many times over as a witness to the things in this life that hurt him. I am hurtable. I have Jesus and He is my fortress, and I'm just not afraid to admit that I need His covering of protection and His spirit to guide my heart. I know where He wants me.....and it is outside of the bubble.....where I am not allowed to get comfortable.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Am I a danger to myself and others if I sit here prepared to blog about absolutely nothing? I have no idea what to say....just that my heart is pounding, evidence I must get something off my chest.

But what?

My house has been on the market over a week and not one showing. Grrrrrr.

Shawn is learning more sign language and thrilling me to my core.

My upcoming mission trip to Africa in December is fully paid for (praise Jesus) and I am fully horrified and getting cold feet. (Thank you to all of my "senders".)

Spencer is going to the Presidential Debate tonight at Belmont. I am thrilled for this experience for him and wonder if it will have a long-term affect on his precious life.

Although I am having some trouble adjusting to my new car and it's lack of everything fancy I once had, I am enjoying the small gas tank and the long miles.

I am excited that my friend Laura and I are going to celebrate our 20th anniversary next week. She is a precious friend to me.

I had a darn successful yard sale this past weekend, AMEN.

Asher, Shawn and I had a wonderful time at Gentry's Farm on Sunday, enjoying pumpkins, hay ride, toy tractors, and bumping into sweet neighbors.

It rained this morning. I wanted to stand in it, be washed, cleansed and renewed. But I didn't. I'm still all dirty.

My birthday was 10/3 and now I am 38. Thirty-eight. U.n.b.e.l.e.i.e.v.a.b.l.e. That means I'm almost 51.

Why isn't there a cure for breast cancer yet? Seriously?

I am nothing without Jesus.

I am dying to know who is gonna be President. Either way I think we'll all need to wear helmuts the next several years.

I am going to see the horses later today. I will put my clean face against their muddied coats and take a deep deep breath. Nothing smells better than a horse.......well okay, the smell of my children is the absolute best, but the horses are definitely next.

I need cake.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'm Not as Think as you Drunk I really

Ok, so today was good and good and not so good.

Day started with me snoozing an extra 15 minutes, which if you know you math, you'll know that this is only a 2 hour and 45 minute shortage of sleep, rather than 3 hours short.... it's math...and it's okay if you don't get it.

Then, my man took the kids to school while I went to the barn and watched Pam ride Moreau who's leg is healing. You don't have to follow me, because I know what I'm talking about.

Then I get a call that we are going to have a showing tonight after our house has barely been on the market one day. You cannot imagine my that a word? If not, it should be.

I cleaned house for 3 hours to transform it into a museum...really, phenomenal, beautificatory (which also should be a word). Lovely, simply sweet. It's a late showing which means the chef man cannot cook so we had to go out to dinner with the kiddos which we cannot currently afford to do, even if it is cheap mexican food. We get the call on the way there that the showing is cancelled. Inser 15 4-letter words right here. Are there 15? I can only really think of 4. But we have to go out to dinner now because the kids are PSYCHED, PUMPED, ECSTATICITED (another word I just made up)....and leave it not to me to break my kids hearts.

I ordered a large frozen strawberry margarita...before understanding what that meant. Take a gigantic look at this.

It's poor quality photo from my phone, but let me tell you this beverage lacked not a darn thing in quality. I'm not a big drinker...although you certainly cannot tell that from this photo.....but here's the really crazy part (get ready, Christian girl goes whack).......I cleaned out Asher's milk cup (to go) right at the table and poured the remaining margarita in that cup, stuffed it in my purse, and walked out. Don't worry, Shawn drove....wait, no, Joe drove home I am quite certain. Fairly positively sure that I occupied the passenger seat with a frozen strawberry margafrigginrita in my purse. Don't worry, I remembered the straw. Oh and if you think that large mega thing is just the angle of the camera, think is literally bigger than Joe's head.

Did I mention that my house looks like a museum?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ok, Get Your 5 Frogs Ready!

Oh, with such great passion he sings, and with striking tonality....

Ladies and Gentelmen, I present to you....... A.s.h.e.r. T.a.t.e

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

She Trusted Me With Prayer

There are evidences of time passing that brighten any darkness lurking in my heart. I love to witness with my eyes and nose, the birth of spring, year after year. I enjoy getting older....actually. The further I grow from the years that wrecked my soul, the more settled my soul age heals me. I have plants in my garden that change in the autumn to such rich, deep, heavy colors, so opposite from the light and fluffiness of their spring coat. Evidence of time passing has some benefits, for me. The older my children get, the more a part of my history they are. The longer a friendship grows, the more a friend feels like family....the more a friend begins to feel like a finger or a toe (attached and necessary).

Time hurts when the clock is ticking away from the passing of a loved one. My aunt Brenda died on September 25, 2002. 6 years ago. Her absence is painful at every family gathering, every holiday, and for me....every time the seasons change. She loved seasons. I love seasons. She is missed every time I eat a casserole or a pie. She is missed every time I hear the word "cancer".

She battled a variety of cancers for a long period of time....always seeming to rebound. Then it got bad and she needed some surgeries. Then it didn't get better. She lost a lot of weight in a short period of time. I went to visit her a couple of times in Kentucky the last year of her young life. We talked about things that we pretended were no big deal, but they were a really big deal and I knew in my heart she was preparing for death, even before she understood that death was close. The last time I saw her, it was my privilege to go to Kentucky and spend the night with her in the hospital as many of us were taking turns so that her husband could go back to work. The night I was there was the night before the doctors were to decide if more surgery would help. We watched "Friends" on the hospital room TV and then James Taylor played on Letterman or Leno.... I can hear her like it was yesterday........she was thorougly enjoying James Taylor and showing it in her typcial goofy rock chic kinda way. When she snapped to music, she would gnarl up her lip and smile/laugh, pretend to sing.....and do a silly little head-bang to the beat. I remember laying on the little bed I was sleeping on with my heart beating fast and taking her in.

The next day, I was the only one in the room with my aunt Brenda when the doctor walked in and told her non-chalantly that she would die in about 30 days, that she would die of starvation because her body could not digest food. I remember feeling like (A) I was the wrong person to be in the room because that news should have been delivered to her husband or to her son. (B) that damn doctor must be lying.... (C) what the hell do I do now? The doctor left (of course) and I crawled on the bed with my aunt Brenda and held her hand. We cried. I don't know how long I was there or all that took place, but I remember her asking me to pray with her, for her. She was scared, and in her fear she deemed me qualified. That has always stuck with me. I was not a seasoned pray-er at that time. I was really only seasoned at existing......but my love for Christ was fresh and fierce. I remember praying for peace for her spirit and for her total forgiveness. She wasn't totally sold that she had been fully forgiven, but she wanted to believe that. I might have helped that day. I hope I did. I hugged her and kissed her and stayed until her husband came. That was my cue to leave.... not a moment that I needed to interrupt. I walked out the hospital room, quietly shut the door, and left my trail of tears from there to my car, and all the way back to Nashville. I knew I would never see her again.

I hope she's doing her goofy rock chic routine while she's in Heaven. I'm quite sure God is getting a kick outta that. I think I'm going to make a casserole......and a pie.

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's all about the BUTT

Ok, so I recently learned this trick about tracking how many people are visiting my blog, etc. No, I have no idea who you are if you do not leave a comment or flat out tell me, but I know where my referrals come from and how many people visit on a given day. It shocks me actually to see that I am visited by 9 countries...and I'm going to admit that one of them I have never even heard of. But here is why I write today......because I really need a good laugh.....but there is a way for me to research and see what "search terms" people are using, and then randomly end up on my web log.

You would not be surprised to learn that many people are researching jasper, heaven, jasper in heaven, and even just my name, etc. Many of the search terms make perfect sense. But here are the ones that have me cracking up! These are exact search terms people used and somehow ended up with my blog as an option, all of this is from Google. Get ready...

1. little boys butts
2. bam smash boom
3. being near someone makes your heart race
4. cute butts with underwear
5. round little butts
6. fleas on walls?
7. toddler prayer

Someone please tell me.....why do I attract people looking for cute little butts?

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I have had upmteen missed blog post opportunities over the past week or so. My heart has been heavy and my mind has been too busy to sleep. At times over the past few weeks I have felt like I am suffocating. I could blog, or I could not. I guess I chose "not". I'm sorry, and I'm not.


Business has been rough. I have two closings next week, but both of them have been plagued in a sense with negative factors. I have worked long and hard. I have had to deliver bad news. In one case, I have even been driven to argue, which is not my preferred method of managing a transaction. Due to the economy mostly, I am seeing people freak out and behave in ways that probably aren't typical. It is upsetting to everybody. When all is said and done next week, both sets of my clients will be better off, and will be happy, but it has been so difficult.


To combat the negative economic forces, we in our family are making some changes. In my opinion for my situation, these are huge changes and they carry with them some fear and a little grief. To might remember me posting a blog not long ago about the little economy rental car that I had to drive for 5 weeks while my big handsome luxury vehicle was being repaired. Well, I did it. I traded away my large leather interior, with 6 CD's, dual climate control, 6 cylinder all-wheel-drive and more, for a small 4-cylinder, simple, car. The idea is not only to save on gas, but just to move toward a more simplistic lifestyle in general. I desire the simplicity for 2 reasons. #1 is most definitely because I know I have always had a material mind because I have almost never had material luxuries....and I was in the overcrowded rat race. At this point in my life, my heart wants whatever God wants for me, and I believe with all my heart that He wants simplicity for me. I have certainly endured some pain over this. But the truth of the bottom line is that there is no material possession that can possibly bring happiness into my life. Not one. Knowing this is a freedom that I never thought I would feel. Not caring about wealth and not caring about possessions is like having cuffs removed. I'm not chained, and I love it. My heart belongs to Jesus. His desire is for me to be in this world, but not of this world...that I will serve for Him. I cannot do that if I am concerned about what I drive and where I live. Today I drive a humble, simple, solid car. #2 is to instill a sense of peace in my younger children as they grow up that we are not living this life to compete for stuff. Relationships matter far more than any bank accounts and service to others matters far more than focusing on what the world can do for "me". I hope we are starting to set a good example for them.
The second change we are making is with our home. We are going to sell our home and find or build something smaller and less expensive. I'm full on board with the motto that "less is more". We're not there yet, but I highly anticipate the feeling of renewal and cleanliness in my soul when we have accomplished this, by the grace of God.


Two matieral things I have treasured the most broke at the same time. First my car and then my beautiful diamond ring (the band broke). Both have taken over a month to repair, and in that time, I have learned that not only can I live without both, but that I should. I'll get my ring back next week. I want to sell it. God has an amazing gift for convicting me.


I had to drive a lot this week. I'm blessed to live in such a beautiful area, that no matter where I go...when I leave and when I return, my eyes get to see such beauty in trees, flowers, sky, birds, hills, bluffs and rivers. God's gorgeous creation is all around me. One day this week I drove down a road that was framed in trees that hung above the street at touched at the top like a canopy. I felt the presence of Jesus in the trees. He was sitting in the branches eating fruit and singing worship songs and He engaged with me. He wanted me to know and wants you to know that there is peace. Maybe we need to explore nature more to feel it. Maybe we need to sit still and feel the breeze. Maybe we need to elevate love to the top of our priority list. Jesus reminded me in that moment that Heaven will offer us far more than this world ever could. I'm content to live here to glorify Him, and then enjoy Heaven to the fullest.


Do you have a friend that brings you constant heartache? Get rid of her or him. You can love and forgive and still distance yourself from the center of pain. Don't compromise who you are or who you can be because you feel the need to please someone else who serves themself. Escape. There is peace.


It is scary when there is no gasoline, and when the market crashes, and when hurricanes destroy and when politicians make promises.


I have started about 10 projects in my house over the past couple of months and finished all but one. That one will get finished this weekend.


I have cursed a lot the past couple of weeks. I'm sorry.


My mom, my husband and my 3 sons were all sitting at my dinner table last night. That is happiness.


I have a friend and business associate who has breast cancer. Praying for her hurts.


I love my friends. My real friends. I wasted a lot of years misunderstanding friendships, being abused, and making more than my fair share of mistakes. My current account of friendships has me rich beyond measure.


Come back soon to see the most precious video of Asher singing a wonderful song. I'll post it this week.



Sunday, September 14, 2008

Shawn is learning Sign Language

As mentioned in a previous post, Shawn has been learning the sign language for the word "more". It's a great starting point. Shawn just started going to speach therapy once a week, and sign language is practiced in the classroom as needed. So, in this video, you will see Shawn do the sign for "more" at least twice. We were in the kitchen last night playing with a toy that he loves, a spinning toy. When it stops, he began signing "more" without being prompted. It is such a blessing that his mind is making the proper connections. We think more signs are on the way, and we'll continue to show you his progress. Oh, and FYI....Shawn is almost 21 months old and does not speak. He is loud and vocal (trust me on this), but no clear words.

OK, so the sign for more requires both hands. If you bunch up your fingers and thumb on each hand, and tap them together, you get "more", Shawn will show you. Enjoy.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I've Been Tagged

Ok, so I was just casually minding my own business over on my friend's blog, when I realized she tagged me.....DANG......and so here I am just trying to follow the rules. And here are those rules:

1. Post the rules
2. List 6 random things about yourself
3. Tag 6 others
4. If you get tagged....just do it

Here is me playing nice:

1. I have 3 tattoos

2. I hate mayo in ANYTHING

3. I do not like to be tagged if I'm going to have any responsibilities.

4. This month is mine and Joe's 7th wedding anniversary (woo hoo)

5. I painted my toe-nails light pink at the beginning of this summer.....and well, all the pink is almost grown off now......just in time for autumn.

6. I hold licenses in financial management, skincare, and real estate, because I am a knowledge junkie.

Ok, now I'm going to pretend to tag other people. I'm a rebel that way.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Man Accessories

Shawn has discovered tennis shoes and ball caps.

And as always, Asher is the ultimate accessory.

Friday, September 5, 2008


I receieved a card in the mail this week, with a donation for my missions trip fundraising. The card was from a friend I went to highschool with, but have only seen once in the past 20 years (at our 10 year reunion). We barely know each other, really..... the money she sent is greatly appreciated, however, it is the card that she chose that is really blowing me over. It is a quote by John Ruskin...

"The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they
become by it."

I'm blogging about missions here. Please join me.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I Am a Swing Voter

I always have been a swing voter, and I never like that about myself. Or I love it. There are times I wish I had the thing inside me that people must have, to grab onto a political party and stand strong in support of that party until their dying day. But instead, there is this thing inside me that wants to weed out the truth from the lies, tally up the good marks, and cast my vote. But even deeper still, there is this confusion over what is truth and what is lie. In recent elections, I think I have found myself voting against one candidate, moreso than truly voting FOR the other.

I will tell you, this election is no different. I'm worried about the leadership in our country. I am nervous. It is my right and my responsibility to vote, and I will. But I might be on my knees in that ballot box just praying God will let me press the right buttons. But what are the right buttons? This is the THING I have thought about for 10 years now........(please follow along if you can)..... I believe with all of my heart, that God has the plan for our worlds leaders. I truly and deeply in my soul believe that the right person (according to God's plan) will be elected president And I also truly and deeply believe that the "right" person, might very well be the "wrong" person. Why? Because I read and study the bible, and if you're doesn't end in world peace because of "us". It ends in Heaven because of Jesus, and folks, the picture between now and then is not too pretty. It's bathed in war, crime, and people turning their backs on God. It is horrific, most especially for people who do not believe. I believe in God's will.....and I believe, as with my own personal life, He will allow us to suffer periods of terrible failure and pain, to get our attention. I believe this is true for the individual, the group, the organization, and for the nation.

Who is responsible for our leadership? WE ARE! We put them in office. Who created the laws? We did. Who's policies allow for majority and delegates to not always be the same? Uh.....US. Who voted for Gore but elected Bush? Ummmm.....the Americans. God gives us a mind to think with and a heart and a soul for the rest of what makes us who we are. When we lose sight of God, we make decisions that He might not have made. We choose paths He might not have blessed. We engage in ideals that might not represent Him. So we, break it down, break it down, break it down.....and collectively, we run our lives, our businesses, schools and our government, largely without God. And He allows us these failures. If we do not fail and do not suffer, we might not recognize how much we need a savior.

I don't think it is exciting when a new President is elected. It freaks me out a little. America will get what America wants, based on the voting system (delegates, majority, whatever). Some people will vote in support of their firm association with a political party. Some people will vote based on one single might be pro-choice vs. pro-life. Some people, sad but true, will vote against a race or for a race (for the first time in history of the Presidential election). Now, some might vote for or against a gender issue, because of Ms. Palin. Some will oddly vote for the candidate they are most physically attracted to (and you KNOW this is true!). I wonder how many people will just pray to be led between now and election date, to the core truths of the candidates and their plans, and actually weigh out the differences, and even ask God to give us a leader who will make only a few small mistakes for a long time? I wonder who will pray that our next elected leaders be a blessing to the nation and to the world.

I'm still swinging. I am feeling no convictions one way or the other. I did listen to Ms. Palin speak at the convention last night and I was riveted. I believe regardless of the results of the election, that that woman has something incredibly special inside of her. This moment I admire her, for her willingness to air the dirty laundry, and to fiercly seek change in support of what she believes.

I will be praying, sincerely, for our nation to seek God more than seek a President, and then maybe God will allow us a good one. I'm swingin' and prayin'.

Monday, September 1, 2008

My Knight

HI. This is a video, people. You will need to press the play arrow, if you care to be entertained.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Asher's self-portrait

About a year ago, I transformed one wall of our laundry room into an art area. I used chalk-board paint to create a chalk-board, and I also installed a small dry-erase board. In the beginning, it was scary, because Asher drew on things he shouldn't have. Now, he just draws where he should. He loves the art area. In the past couple of weeks, his artwork is starting to actually look like art, instead of haphazzard lines intersection moons. Below is an example. Yesterday he drew 2 "boys". He told me one was him. I thought this art deserved some exposure. (Maybe he'll paint beautiful artwork like his Daddy someday!)

I love to see the creative spark in my sweet Asher. He's too precious for words. By the way, these masterpieces are for sale. Hurry up and get yours before it gets erased!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Catching UP and Down

Aren't most weeks of most peoples lives sprinkled with ups and downs? It's nature. It's ebb and flow. It's life.

My ups this to see Jimmy Fallon perform at Zanies with 3 great friends on Thursday night. My face still hurts from laughing so hard. That was super fun.
I've enjoyed a little pleasure reading, having discovered the author, Anne Lamott. She is my new fav and I'm on the 3rd book. (Not typical for me).
I've started my new missions blog, as I answer the call to go and serve for God. I'm both tormented and excited about the directions God is choosing for me.
I got to see Spencer smiling one day this week, after a couple of weeks of not seeing him at all.
My mom retired on Friday, which brings her much happiness. I am so happy that she does not have to continue to spend all of her energy in a job that doesn't offer much reward.
I got to eat at Everything Bagel, at star Bagel, with a side of cream cheese.
I got to see my little friend, Amaya, who is 7.

My downs this week..........both Asher and Shawn have been sick with colds.
My pain in my neck, shoulder, back, wrist, and forearm from my wreck on 8/3 is not getting better with physical we seek new treatments. Yuk.
My car was supposed to be repaired, but it is not.
I said "shit" at least twice....but not in front of my children. I also cursed at a bug at Pam's barn when it would not leave me alone. (3 curse words in one week is 3 too many for me.)
I learned this past week that a precious and dear woman I know and am priviledged to do business with on a regular basis was diagnosed with breast cancer.
My sweet cousins, Julie & Scott, lost their dad this week. He took a shower, got dressed, sat on the sofa, propped up his feet, and died. He was too young (I think under 60). I can't go to the funeral in Arkansas, despite my efforts at working out all the conflicts. I hurt for them. And I am reminded again, that life is brief.

It is simply no secret that life is marbled with joyful moments and then deep despair. Everyone shares this lot in life. There is no escaping hardship. No one is immune to pain. I do believe that God equips us to use pain for good, in life. I do not believe though that everyone believes that, nor do I believe all things are wrapped up in neat and tidy packages, when it is all said and done. I do believe though, that there are opportunities in despair and there are gifts in both life and death. We just have to be willing to know that.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

New Blog

Ok peeps. I'm keeping this blog and will dedicate it to family, faith, and career matters (mostly family and faith). But I have also started a new blog that will be dedicated to topics involving mission work and service projects. Please visit me there regularly.

Or, just click here.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Feelin It - The Kenny Loggins Concert at Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville, TN

One of my favorite things to do in the whole world is to sit in a music venue and enjoy incredible music and musicianship. The energy does something to me that nothing else can quite accomplish. I love the true who writes music and lyrics, sings, and also plays an instrument. Throughout my life, I have always identified my favorite artists this way, naturally. Something about it all connects. When a person writes, sings and plays a song....they birthed it...and for me, it's a phenomenal process.

I love acoustic guitar and piano. But I also love percussion. I love the voice. I love the lyrics. It blows me away at times when I hear some religious people suggest that music is sinful (by its very nature). David sang and danced in the Old Testament, songs inspired by God himself. And David was a man after God's own heart.

Last night, my mom and went to see/hear/experience Kenny Loggins perform live at the Wildhorse Saloon. It was UH-MAY-ZING! He changed guitars on every song, and sometimes during songs. They jammed for extended periods of time. His voice was perfection. To this day, 2 of my favorite all time songs just happen to be his, "Celebrate Me Home" and "Conviction of the Heart". He sang both, so for me, Heaven was on earth in the Wildhorse saloon for a little while. His voice is like an instrument, finely tuned.

A few years ago, my cool husband catered an event in Nashville where I got to hang out in the green room with Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald. They were busy being normal, but bigger than life in the center of it all, and I was hard at work holding up one of the walls. Two of my favorites, feet away....and all I could do was hold up the wall. I never have been one to approach the stars, even though I have had many opportunities. Last night I thought, one day Kenny is gonna wake up dead and I'm gonna cry like a baby (unless I wake up dead first). I'm so happy that I got to see him perform live again. He's the real deal......oozing talent and incredible musicianship. WOW. What a great night in Nashville, Tennessee.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Shawn's First Day at Pre-School

**Update** Please notice that below is a VIDEO of Shawn, not just a lonely looking photo. My sweet pastor told me at church tonight that he didn't realize it was a video. And I thought he was soooooooo high tech. I guess he didn't notice the arrow, a universal symbol for "play". Go ahead, give it a go. And Pete, when you rewatch the video that you once thought was a photo, don't forget to add a new comment telling me how precious Shawn is! I laugh.***

In just one week of pre-school, Asher's manners have improved as well as his identification of the letters of the alphabet. He absolutely LOVES his 1/2 days at school. He hasn't quite fallen in love with the lunch menu.... His classroom is called "Polar Pals"

Shawn has loved his classroom too. His room is called "Busy Bees". What I love about this school is that each classroom has children with special needs right alongside children without. The teachers are amazing...and that is an understatment. Here is a video of Shawn on his first day. I picked him up at noon and he was in the middle of lunch. Look at him sitting in this tiny chair at a tiny table. And with a PLATE! Normally, I feed him in a high-chair with his food directly on the tray.

Everyday, Asher says "Mommy I hope Shawn has a great day in Busy Bees". He also expresses his thoughts of his baby brother to his teacher, Miss Ashley. You can see here that Shawn does indeed enjoy his days with the other busy bees.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

the sappy passionate friend, in me

Here is a letter I wrote today to my bible study group. We're getting ready to celebrate our 2 year anniversary together. They let me be me....and here I share the me that I am with them, with you. We are taking a tiny break before we begin our next study. I missed them.

Dear Sujette, Pat, Julie, Sharon, Pam, Wyndi and Elaine (in no particular order, for all are winners)

It is the eve of Thursday, which is nothing to be excited about, right? Right! It was just a day. A day without my girls and bible study. A day without my community that helps hold me together like glue holds together a broken treasure. I am beginning to see myself like a treasure to the Lord. I see you all that way too. Treasures to me and to Him, but mostly to Him because He loves you perfectly.

In my new routine of the taking the boys to their precious pre-school at Vanderbilt, and my un-routinely week of not gathering together with the brood of you this morning, I decided I might need a filler… know….something to hold me over until our lunch next week. I decided on Tuesday to bounce into Borders to use the gift card that you gave me so unnecessarily. In keeping with the spirit that the card was given me, I decided I would peruse the Christian section, which is not a Christian section, but a Religious section and I was reminded there are other religions…(who knew?). The Beth Moore section was small. The Joel Osteen section was big and smiley. My eyes were drawn to 3 books by Anne Lamott, “Traveling Mercies”, “Plan B”, and “Grace, Eventually”. I did not know a thing about Anne. I had only read another author had written somewhere that if she could have lunch with anyone besides Jesus, it would be Anne Lamott. My expectations were not large, but of somewhat significant height.

I am blessed!

I am not one of those insane people (like some of you) who sit and read a book in one sitting. It isn’t possible for me. My eyes grow weary and my brain spoils and I give up after 25 pages. I finish books, but it takes me a while. I am a slow reader. God had so designed that you would give me a gift card and that it would be for a non-Christian bookstore so that I would really have to weed through the garbage to find the pearl that is Anne Lamott. I read “Traveling Mercies” in one day. I read ½ of “Plan B” today. Ask me if my house is clean….no wait…don’t ask.

My gift card was for $50. The three books cost $49.10. I have .90 cents left to blow but will save it for something special.

Thank you for my 3 Anne Lamott books. Thank you for thinking me opening my door on Wednesday mornings is a big deal.

I love ya’ll, for real!

a box with wheels

I confess, I am a car person. If you have to ask what a car person is, then likely you are not one. But I'll explain....a car person is one who is physically attracted to an auto, either for its shape and design, or possibly for its power, and probably mostly for what it might symbolize (eh hemm...maybe wealth?) If you are simply drawn to practicality, effeciency, economics, etc, then you are not a car are a sensible person, and I congratulate you.

My draw is not that of all three. I care little about the power of a car. What is torque? I don't care how quickly it may go from 0 - 60, but I do notice design. I am not interested in owning a car that my symbolize wealth, prestige or power. For me it is all about design. I'm attracted to what I'm attracted to. Some of my attractions are toward expensive vehicles and some of them are surprisingly simple. Why does my eye like what it likes? And why would I think owning any particular box rolling on wheels would make my life any better, or even sillier, increase my position in any way? I want so desperately to see a car for what it is. It is transporation. It needs to have some quality safety features and it needs to get me where I need to go, and it needs to not cost me a fortune in maintenance. That's it! Well, maybe it needs to be comfortable for my clients, because they do spend a lot of time in my car, but just basic comforts, not ridiculous comfort!

For over a year now, I have been feeling God's calling in my family's life for simplicity. He is showing me that the more simlply we live in this world, the more extravagantly we can live for HIS purpose. I have fought this theology. I want what I want, and is that so wrong? We don't live extravagantly to begin with, but I have had a deep desire to live extravagantly. My heart has been all wrong. My selfish and materialstic wants have drastically gotten in the way of even enjoying some of the basics. It's just a truth I have to confess. I'm not as responsible as I should be. And I'm certainly not self-less.

I'd rather be complimented on my heart rather than on my car. I'd rather be remembered for my spirit than for my social status or position. I'd rather be identified with Jesus than to be identified with this world.

For the past week I've been driving a rental car since my real car was crashed and smashed up in an accident. This little car has no leather, has only 1 cd slot, no heated seats, doesn't sit up high, has no sun roof, and its shape and color blend into every other car and i cannot find it in a parking lot. It's just not a cool car. It isn't noticable. It isn't sexy. I'm not attracted to it. But it gets me to where I want to go...and as ridiculous as it might sound....I've been affected by this. It's just a box on wheels. It serves it purpose. And in some small way, it has opened my eyes.

There are many material things I would like to have....many of those things I've never purchased. Some of them I could have purchased and some of them are just out of my financial league. I have always wanted more. I have never ever caught up to where I have wanted to be. I am always behind my desires and my goals....always. I never get the material prize. Never. There is a simple solution. Stop wanting. Just stop wanting. Could that be the cure?

The more I pray, the more I study the Bible, and the more I grow in deep personal relationship with Christ, the more I want to stop wanting. Giving up wants isn't a cold turkey kind of a deal. It feels like a painful and exhausting practice. It feels like I'm being sifted. It feels like I'm being molded, literally bent into shapes and positions that are not natural for me. Sometimes it feels like a lie. Sometimes it feels oddly true. When I stop wanting, I'll be simpler and I'll be more useful. I look forward to that.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Mischevious Laughter

There is this particular laughter that comes out of Asher. I'd recognize it anywhere. It is the specific laugh that indicates Shawn is doing something bad and Asher is enjoying watching the process....almost as much as if the bad behavior was his own....only better, because Asher will not get into trouble for something clearly carried out by his angelic baby bro.

It is a telling laugh, and it makes me nervous. Has Shawn eaten the dogfood again? Has he taken a hefty bite out of the antique china cabinet? Recently, with all of his talented walking skills, Shawn has begun to reach for and grasp a beverage, take off on a smooth trot (not) and demonstratively spill a trail of evidence for as far as the eye can see.

I'll admit, I've seen him in action from a distance, and it is quite hysterical, until I have to clean it up.

Can I tell you that it is a gift beyond measure to see him walk? Could I stress to you that I can see in my small child, that his brain connects to the all knowing fact he is doing something wrong...and to see him know he is doing something bad is better than not. It thrills me to no end that his little hands need a spanking sometimes. It kills me (in a good way) that he has a strong will and a determination beyond what I thought he might have, not knowing anything about Down syndrome at his birth. I did not know who he would be. This kid is so normal! He's wild and energetic. He loves to have books read to him, to dance and to sing songs. He loves food (amen)........ and the monkey loves to sneak off with mommy's cold iced tea (southern style).

Here is a video of Shawn walking. I tried to get the older video clip to go first, but the newer one starts off. He really is doing a great job of walking! Enjoy this very short video.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Annoying phenomenon......... okay so a little out of character for me...this is a complaint!

I was in an auto accident several days ago. Since then I have received random phone calls to my CELL phone just asking if I am okay, by people I don't even know. Fortunately, I am a sly dog, and I do not just willinging give out my personal info to strangers. Some of them are ambulance chasers, wanting to be my attorney, my doctor, my insurer, etc. Some of them probably represent the woman who caused the try and get on record that I am "ok" so that I won't sue in the future when I discover that I am "not ok".

Today, the kind sounding gentlemen on the other end of the line simply said, "good morning melissa, how are you feeling today?" I kindly, but suspiciously ask, "who is this?" and he states he is Dr. Taylor, just calling to check on me and see how I am feeling. How does this person even get my cell phone number? Seriously.....who does this...the police? It's a little nutty. I like to mess them a little and tell them, "I'm extremely sore and my head is still throbbing!" And oh by the way....since I don't know you, I am going to decline to speak with you further.

It irritates me that trauma is such big business. By law, as a Realtor, I am required to introduce myself as a Realtor and I am required to announce who I represent (buyer or seller). I can otherwise be sued. Shouldn't the medical, insurance and legal professions have to do the same?

Hmmmmmm....... any thoughts?

And hey...don't forget to watch the video of Shawn doing Itsy Bitsy Spider, below in my other post today. Thanks!!!

super fast itsy bitsy spider

I've been trying to capture some itsy bitsy spider action for a while. As with most experiences in life....once we get used to something, we tend to rush through it. Shawn no longer pays much, if any, attention to the here is his lightening fast (and I mean don't blink or you might miss it) version of the ever popular classic, Itsy Bitsy Spider. Oh, and yes....he is sitting in a box. It's our family room toy box....which he likes to sit in.

In other Shawn news....the heart surgery has been put off until spring, because Shawn is too small and needs to fatten up and grow a bit. It will most likely be open heart surgery, verses the simpler procedure...but it will be the best choice for him.

Love to everyone.