Friday, December 10, 2010

Grades came in.....

I got an A for the course!! Now, I can focus on Christmas!!

This was my favorite course that I have taken thus far. I truly enjoyed it. I had thought that I was going to enjoy New Testament more than Old Testament... but I was wrong.

Next semester, I am taking Systematic Theology II, and Introduction to Apologetics.

I got some Christmas baking completed this week with Paul's help. And right now, Christmas music is playing... rather loudly. :)

Blessings to all and Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

I have finished all my work for this class!!!

This is a huge load off of me. Now, I am waiting on my last two assignments to be graded but so far, I have an pretty high A for the class. :)

My eyes are doing somewhat better this week. Mark bought some cool-mist humidifiers and that is helping me!! I am so blessed by that dear man.

Paul and I took the dogs to the groomer yesterday and then Paul picked them up later on in the day. Here's a funny about Paul. I had asked him about taking the dogs (remember, these are little doggies) and he said, "Sure." Later on, he found me and asked, "Do I have to take them in MY car?" LOL!!! His car is usually a mess and his interior is black. My car is usually clean and my interior is cream. But, we used my car. He had cleaned his car on Friday because he had to drive in the Christmas parade.

I am planning on trying to begin some Christmas baking this week. I will take it slow... for me. I love the smells of Christmas - normally. So, I need to bake early in the week before I take those Friday pills which make everything smell and taste horrid... sort of like metal. So, I'll bake early and eat my oatmeal on Friday and Saturday.

I have most of my Christmas wrapping DONE!! This is early for me. I need to find a couple of weird shaped boxes for two items and then, finish up wrapping some of the girls' presents. Well, I have to pick up a couple of little things and I want to try and make a few things.... but we shall see.

Today, I am going to bake and listen to Christmas music... and work on the never-ending laundry. And, I hope to get in a little reading if my eyes let me!!

I love this season. We are now in the second week of Advent - which is Preparation. I pray that all of our hearts are ready to accept the glorious gift of Christ coming into this world. We are so blessed by a marvelous Savior. The first week was Hope. We have tremendous Hope that is found only in Christ. Of course, our Hope was made manifest in Christ.

Today, my prayer for you is that you see the the gentle ways that God's works in this world. Often, we look for a big burning bush or a show of lights. But, God frequently works in the small and in the quiet. He worked out His most amazing blessing through the birth of one small baby. Look around you and see the ways that God is working in your life.... and rejoice.

Be Blessed!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Alright... already.....

Honestly, just how much sleep does a person with Sjogren's need? If I sit down, I seem to fall asleep if I am not actively engaged in something. When I wake up from my unplanned nap, I am really irritated with myself for falling asleep but I could probably go back to sleep. This happened to me twice this morning. I have never been one to take naps during the day. It's amazing how one's life and schedule can change even when you are trying to keep it normal.

I did get three hours of lectures watched and took lots of notes today. Honestly, I am enjoying this class. I had to stop during the second lecture because my left eye was so filled with mucus filaments and causing much pain. After a couple of hours of hot rags and two doses of Systane drops and then that compound drop my eye doctor order from the pharmacist which dissolves the filaments... I could finally open my eyes without wanting to cry... which I can't do... because it only makes the situation worse.

So, needless to say, I didn't go to church tonight - again. I miss choir. I miss the people but there was no way that I could deal with my eyes at church. I tried to go one Sunday morning, foolishly thinking that I would be able to handle it. That didn't work out. I had people coming up and asking me if I had allergies. I wish this was just an allergy and that my eyesight wasn't in jeopardy.

Okay... I guess I'll stop complaining.

Paul made dinner tonight for us. He made reuben sandwiches. He toasted the rye bread with butter in a skillet while he let the swiss cheese melt into the bread, warmed the sauerkraut, piled the corn beef high and put together wonderful sandwiches. His dad and I greatly enjoyed them. :)

Oh, Mark brought me home Danish cookies. I love those type of cookies. He's a sweet husband.

Toby was sweet today. He stayed in the office with me while I was doing school. That little dog is such a joy.

TOBY, our sweet little chizer!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Day has gone....

But, thankfulness continues.

It was just the four of us for this Thanksgiving and that was probably a good thing because I ended up totally exhausted and rather ill for three days afterwards. But, I so enjoyed Michael being home from college, Mark being off work and Paul actually hanging with his family more than normal. It was nice to be with all my guys.

A picture of my Guys!

Mark and Michael put plastic up on the screened-in-porch and we created a dining room out there for the holidays. Mark and I decorated out there and moved my cherry table out on it, too. The cats do not like having their stuff moved to the garage but they will have to adjust.

The Sjogren's has been giving me fits with foggy brain - which is disconcerting to say the least. I did some research and found out that this is normal... hahaha! Great. I was sort of hoping it was from all the drugs that I am taking right now.

After three days of being really sick with a severe headache, major eye issues and other stuff.... today I felt somewhat better. My eyes have been cooperating today and I was able to work on some school papers. This was a blessing since I need to get them turned in this week. I have been putting Systane drops in a lot more often. I think that this is helping with the mucus filaments and pain.

I did tell Mark that he needed to get a stand-by to sing my solo for the Christmas cantata at church because, well, I am not sure how I'll be doing. I have been having more not so good days than good days lately. And, I want to try and really pace myself so that I will have a good Christmas. I hope that I get to sing the solo but have decided that I will not mourn (too much) if I can't do it. Perhaps, God is wanting to allow someone else the opportunity to praise Him.

November is a hard month for me and that may be why I haven't been doing so good. Bobby turned 29 on November 16. While I try not to dwell on it and grieve that fact that we have missed his last 22 birthdays.... I know that all of those feelings and emotions are right there under the surface. I hope his day was filled with joy and I continue to pray that God will touch his heart and encourage him to contact us.

I am thankful for our family and friends. I am thankful for this holiday season that ushers in Advent and the time to celebrate our Savior's birth. Oh, I have my Advent wreath set up... but forgot to get the candles. sigh. Advent began yesterday. I am thankful that Advent isn't dependent upon my remembering to buy the candles but dependent upon our Savior's gift!


Saturday, November 20, 2010

He passed his Board of Review!!!

Mark and Paul before ready to leave the house.


Paul passed his Eagle Board of Review. We are so proud of him. His packet is being sent off to National. When it gets back, we can start planning his Eagle ceremony.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Finally arrived....

Paul's Eagle Board of Review is tonight. He says he's not nervous but his momma is! Years of hard work - sweating, building, learning and growing from a young boy into a young man. I love this son. I am thankful.

Mark is off tonight! Wow!! No Friday night band but tomorrow he has a parade. We will enjoy this evening and just get to be together and drink coffee and share dreams. I love this man!

Michael is nearing the end of this semester. He has had to work so hard in school with his dyslexia; yet, he has that never give up attitude. I love this son.

Life continues during the joys, during the sorrows, during our all. One must look to our Father with expectation and realize that He is working in our lives - always.

I am thankful.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Not so good news at the Eye doc...

Well, my vision is now getting worse. And, the mucus filaments are coming back. So, he increased all of my drops both the tears and the compound. Dr. told me that I will probably not know for at least a year if any of my function in making tears and saliva is actually returning.

Tuesday, my rheumatalogist told me that we may know in another six weeks if my immune system is shutting down and not attacking all of my other systems. So, I am still in the waiting game. The new drug is making me ill. Fun. But, hopefully, I'll get used to it in a few weeks.

Tonight, we attended our first Christmas party of the season. The Daniel Baptist Association held the dinner for the ministers in our area. The food was wonderful and the company was great! I met the pastor's wife at Higgston Baptist and we had a LONG talk. She has Sjogren's, too and has been dealing with it for years. It was wonderful to talk to someone who actually understood what I am going through. We exchanged contact information and plan on getting together.

Anyway, sorry for a down post. I could really use prayers.


Monday, November 01, 2010

My friend, Nanette, was here this week-end

We had a lovely time.

Anyway, she got here around 4 on Friday afternoon. I had been grocery shopping with Paul and I had gotten back and put everything up and put the chicken in to roast. When Nanette got here... she made the MOST wonderful chicken soup.

Then we visited and went to shopping. We went to Bealls and I bought some really pretty Christmas cards and a Christmas candle. Nanette started her Christmas shopping for her mom and sisters.

Then, we went to Wally World... and After seeing my roaster.... it's like.... oh...... major old and horrible.... She BOUGHT me a NEW roaster with a lid and a rack!!! I am SO excited!!! She shouldn't have done it.... but, I am KEEPING it. I can't wait to use it.

She bought more groceries. She made waffles Saturday for brunch. She got stuff to make tuna pasta salad for Saturday and she made us shepherd's pie for Sunday. However, Saturday evening, I remembered that yesterday at church was staff appreciation Sunday and the church did a meal. So, I will be using the the Shepherd's pie for dinner today.

She left Saturday afternoon. I wish she could have stayed longer. We caught up with her children and grandchildren. Her and Bob's children are all married and either have lovely children or are expecting them!! It's exciting to see how wonderful they have all turned out.

We met in 1987 at SBTS. I love her and her family. When we lived in FL, we spent many a holiday with her mom, dad and sisters' families... even when Nanette and Bob couldn't be there. God was so good to me in supplying me with new family after my children were kidnapped. Nanette and her entire family have always, always blessed us.

Anyway.... I love her like a sister!

The dinner at church was wonderful We probably have the best cooks in the world. It was a good day. Betty, our pianist at church, organized a skit that was so funny. Also, her son and family came and sang during our service. I student-taught with Kim, her daughter-in-law, and it was so good to see her.

Saturday night, I had not gotten any sleep. I was up with my eyes in pain every hour. Finally, yesterday I increased it using the mucus mist script up another dose. I will tell my eye doctor that on Thursday. By, yesterday at around 3, I couldn't see because both eyes were so red and blurred. However, the script did wonders and they improved greatly by last night.

After being up and going and honestly it felt GOOD to be out, I wanted to get to do things with Nanette. She kept telling me to sit down; but, the predisone deceives me into believing that I feel okay by last night my knees felt like jelly! I stayed on the sofa with them propped up. They still feel weak right now. But, the predisone should kick in a bit.

Today, I hope to get an assignment done for school. It's a word study. I have already started it. It should be interesting.

Mark has a long day; well, actually he had a long week. Paul needs to get his work packet down to GameStop and pick up his Eagle notebook today. I saw Michael at church yesterday.

So, that's a run down on my week-end. I feel blessed.

Oh, tomorrow is VOTING!!! Go vote!!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

October 28

Hi all,

I am going full-steam on this next class (Old Testament Survey)and loving it! While there is a huge amount of reading, I am managing to get through everything. I am working one week ahead which is a great feeling. The assignments are varied which keeps everything new and fresh. This professor is truly trying to connect with the class and that's been refreshing. My last two were rather non-involved and didn't interact or give feedback. So, I am pleased to have Dr. Brooks this time.

I have to say that we serve in the most wonderful, loving church. I think that some folks are simply in tune with the Holy Spirit. Sheila, from my Sunday School class and a friend, is bringing over our dinner this afternoon and visiting. I think that another lady or two may be coming over, also. I am looking forward to that fellowship. I have made it to church the past two Sundays but not to Sunday school due to the drug's side-effects that I take on Friday. Saturday and Sunday morning are difficult for me.

Oh, I know that I said that I wasn't having to take a chemo pill, well, I was wrong. The drug that I take on Friday is a form of chemo which explains the lovely side-effects. I don't think it's as bad on me as it could be and for that I am grateful.

The weather has been pleasant lately but today it's rainy -which I image that the area farmers need. I love the fall - everything about it - the trees, the smells, and colors and fall decorations. It also means that Thanksgiving is around the corner which is one of Mark's favorite holidays. He can visit with family and friends, eat all his favorite foods, have time off from work, and NOT have to worry about spending money and buying gifts. This year is really tight since the school cut his pay by over $4,000 and they had already really cut his pay last year. But, we are grateful for his job and he respects his principal.

Paul got a holiday job at GameStop and is on top of the world. Hopefully, he will start next week. They have to process his package. This job should be right up his alley. Billy is supposed to be scheduling Paul's Eagle Board of Review. And, I HOPE that happens quickly. I would love to have his ceremony in mid-December. And, it will take a while for everything to come back to me.

Michael is still enjoying his last year in college. He likes living on campus and it's amazing how much food we keep having left-over since he isn't living here. I need to adjust amounts that I prepare.

Well, that's my update. I hope that this day brings each of you joy in Christ.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

October 21, 2010

First class of the semester is complete and I managed to get an A. I began working on my next class which is Old Testament Survey. I love it! Unfortunately, it has more reading than I anticipated but my eyes are handling it with God’s grace and help.

The doctor didn’t start me on the chemo pill – I am taking that to mean that he didn’t get a lupus diagnosis. That’s a praise. My eye doctor told me that he suspected that my rheumatologist would continue looking for another connective tissue disease because of my others numbers.

I have been trying to read up on Sjogren’s Syndrome and I got some good advice especially regarding my dry mouth and numbness in my feet. My knees are giving me fits right now. They are really swollen and painful. But, I have been blessed in that Mark and Paul are allowing me to rest.

My husband has been so wonderful to me. He is so busy with his jobs; yet, he has been sacrificing for me. I am always amazed at his goodness and devotion.

Today was a good day in that I got tons accomplished with school and I made a nice dinner for Paul and Mark. I fixed them pot roast with potatoes and carrots and did some green beans. Of course, I am not eating beef, so I had green beans and eggs. Oh, and I had some applesauce mixed with steal cut oats. Yum.... not! Hahaha

I gave up my church responsibilities for a season, so that my eyes can continue to heal. I miss teaching but we are so fortunate to have godly people at our church who are so willing to step in and take over. I am planning on singing in the Christmas cantata and Mark has asked me to sing a solo, too.

One of the church members painted Mark’s church office as part of Pastor Appreciation month. Lauri and I picked out the colors. It looks wonderful. After we get his office decorated, I’ll post some photos. I am going to move his diplomas and awards and hang them in his office. I also want to include some family photos. Anyway, it will be a work in progress!

Blessings to each of you. Thanks for your prayers.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Praise!

I had encouraging news at the eye doctor's today. Finally, they saw no filaments on my cornea which means all of these drops and drugs are beginning to work. And, he thought that he might have seen some tears.

So, my eyes are improving. I still cannot overtax them and I have to continue use the eye drops but they are improving.

I see my rheumatologist on November 2 and my next eye appointment is November 4. I am so glad not to have to be going to the eye doc weekly!

Hopefully, I will get a good report from the rheumatologist, too.

I have actually managed to lose weight while taking all of this prednisone. That's a huge blessing since my rheumatologist told me that would make my hips, knees and ankles worse than they are now. I do get hungry, but I am being good.

Thank y'all for continuing to pray for me. I needed this good news. It uplifted my spirits.


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Saw the Rheumatologist

So, I go to my eye doctor for dry eyes. I am just expecting some drops and for him to send me home. But, I was wrong. Instead he sent me for blood work and those tests turned against me. I have Sjogren's which is an autoimmune disease. I guess it's doing a pretty nasty number on me. And, he was concerned about my ANA test result as being the "highest he's ever seen in all his years of practice." I would guess him to be in his forties since he has two teen-age daughters. He's not a doctor newbie. He's having that lab re-done along with several others. He is expecting me to have lupus along with the Sjogren's but I am praying hard, along with lots of other people, that I just have Sjogren's. Oh, there were some other lovely things that he mentioned which I have, too. But, I didn't see them as threatening.

He's starting me on lots of drugs. Honestly, sometimes I think that I am God's step-daughter who He doesn't particularly like at times. First of all, I am afraid of the eye doctor and I have been having to go every week and one week twice and have stuff done to my eyes because of the severe damage. I truly dislike taking pills. So, now I am going to be taking mega amounts of drugs whose side effects include getting fat, hair loss, nausea, mouth ulcers, and drug induced insanity.

The doc told Mark to watch me closely because I am on such a high dose of prednisone that I may not be able to handle it. If I get "too crazy" (not sure how my poor husband will determine that...) he's to take the prednisone away from me and immediately call the doctor. If the test for lupus comes back positive, he will be adding chemo in a pill form.

I am not a happy camper but I am trying to keep it together - exactly what the "it" is I am not sure. I guess "it" would include my faith, my hope, and my eyes on Christ. I have been having a pretty big pity party for me today and honestly, if I could cry... I would just like to sit and cry for a couple of hours. But, I can't cry, instead my eyes just fill up with mucus that sits on my cornea causing more damage. I can't even seek the comfort of tears.

Mark and my sons have been amazing. I have a kind loving family. I recognize that blessing of these three men in my life. But, my heart has been thinking of Christi and Bobby and wondering if I'll ever get to see them, talk to them, hold them in this life.

When I was at the doctor's office yesterday, I had to write down the names of closest of kin not living at home. I wrote down Michael because he's living on campus and then stared at the second space. The space where I should have been able to write Sherry, Patti, Christi, or Bobby suddenly became a huge open wound on that paper.

I wanted to scream a prayer to God right at that moment and beg Him to heal their hearts or minds or whatever and allow them to be part of my life again. But, I didn't do that. I just sat there looking at that gapping wound on that paper. As I was mourning my sisters, God gently said, "Write down Lauri. She's your sister. I gave her to you." So, I did. In the line where is said relationship, I wrote like my sister.

On the drive home, I was pretty quiet. I told Mark that I questioned why God had let me be born. My parents never loved me. They were disappointed that I wasn't their son. I spent many years of my life trying to earn their love. That was rewarded by their stealing my children and destroying my relationship with my precious sisters, too. We are struggling financially due to job loss and pay cuts. And, now... this. I said all of this out loud. I guess I was breaking the silence. Without hesitating, that sweet godly man, took my hand and said, "You were born for me. God gave you to me. You, not our children, have brought me more joy than I ever thought possible. Debbie, without you I would have been lost."

My heart just about broke. My family has tried to destroy this man and he still counts himself blessed to be married to me. His words humbled me.

Paul went out today and bought me Smart Water. He didn't tell me. I went into my room and there was a huge bottle sitting in my bedroom. I went to his hallway and asked him if he had bought me the water. He said yes. I called him to me and hugged my son and told him that I loved him. He told me that he knew. Then, I added that he shouldn't do things that make me cry these awful mucus tears. He replied, "Mom, it's just water." But, see it wasn't just water. He knows that I love Smart Water. I love the way it feels in my mouth - so smooth. I love the way it taste. He knows his mom. Sometimes, he acts so self-absorbed that I am amazed when I see him so caring. God keeps giving me glimpses of the man this eighteen-year-old is becoming. I am so grateful. He has been wonderful to his momma through all this ugly medical stuff.

I am rambling. I should be writing a 15 page research paper which is due Friday week and I can't get my brain to wrap around it. Instead, I am writing this pitiful post and sharing my fears and joys with whatever poor person reads this blog.

If you have a moment and you believe in the power of prayer, I covet your prayers of healing.

In the meantime, I am going to try to "keep it together."


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Quota of Tears

I told Mark tonight on the way to church that God must have given each of us a quota of tears and that I obviously have used mine up. I have always cried easily. I used to cry when I was happy or sad. I have cried with friends over sorrows and joys, too. But, I guess that since my parents stole our children, I have cried too much. I have sat up and cried all night long on so very many nights. I have told people that I think that I have cried enough tears to fill the Atlantic Ocean. And, now I have these eye problems and I am producing no moisture at all.

When our children were found in February of 2008, I cried. I cried over their refusing to see or talk to us. I cried when people told me that my sisters were still saying horrible lies and writing them on the internet. I cried over the loss of so much and finally I thought, “I’ll see my precious children. I’ll get to touch their faces. I’ll get to hear about their lives....” but all we got was silence.... well, I cried for weeks. All of the sorrow, all of the pain, all of the betrayal came flooding back into our lives. I cried as I watched my husband and sons hoping to hear from Christi and Bobby – yet, only receiving silence. I would wake up in the night and my pillow would be soaked with tears. I have never been able to escape this pain even in my sleep.

When the children were found, I was also informed that my mother was dead. I told Mark that when my emotions calmed down over Christi and Bobby that I was going to mourn my mother. Mourn. Several months later, I decided that I could now think about my mother and allow myself to truly grieve. I pulled out old photos and my eyes burned and my nose became full.... but no tears. I remember thinking that something was very wrong with my heart. I was crying – but no tears. Then I thought, maybe God is protecting me from crying over her because He knew that I would never stop. I grieved for days.

As the months went on, I realized that I no longer had ANY tears. I would feel like I was about to burst... but those cleansing tears never came.

Last week, due to extreme eye pain, I went to the eye specialist. He told me that I produce no moisture in my eyes. I told the doctor that I was aware of that fact and that I hadn’t been able to cry in months. Now, I actually do cry.... I just do not shed any tears.

Tonight, as we were heading to church, and my eyes were burning and aching, I had the thought that I had used my quota of tears. I remember praying and asking God to stop my tears (actually I meant my pain, my sorrow, my heartbreak over my children) and I guess He answered that prayer.

After church, I stopped by to see my son, Michael, at his college and told him that I needed him to pray for me. Michael prays with such faith. He wrapped his arms around me and his dad and prayed. He prayed for my healing. He prayed that God would give me tears. He prayed, “God, tomorrow when my mother sees the eye doctor, I pray that she is healed. I pray that the doctor says – your eyes are perfect.” His prayer went deep into my soul. I looked at my son with new eyes and I saw an amazing loving young man.

Thank you, Lord.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A family trying to adopt....

This is a link to a mom named Robin. Their family is adopting a child from Africa and are selling T-shirts to help with the expenses.

Go take a look at her blog!

Robin's Blog

Adoption is a wonderful experience; however, foreign adoptions are very expensive. So, if you would like to be part of helping a child get a forever family.... click on over to her blog!


Friday, September 10, 2010

My eyes....

I am having some pretty painful issues with my eyes. I am supposed to see my eye specialist every year because I have a narrowing of the lens which can lead to glaucoma. I haven't been going every year but I freak out when I have to go to the eye doctor. However, the pain was no longer just happening in the evening, but was beginning in the morning when I got out of bed. So, I called him and made an appointment. I appear to have ripped and torn my cornea because of severe dry eyes. I now have to see the cornea specialist next week and see my glaucoma doc the following week, again. He appeared to act like this might be serious. They have to determine a treatment plan. He also believes that I have sjogren's syndrome and had me schedule a blood test with Lee to check this out. Sjogren's syndrome is usually associated with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. Doc wants to figure this out, too.

Anyway, I am not a happy camper but I am thankful for modern medicine. I would appreciate any prayers in regard to healing.


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Thoughts About My Four Children

Today is the day that my youngest son turns eighteen. He is so very excited as he races to meet this next year in his life. He is looking forward to all the advantages of being an adult. His dreams and hopes for the future are forming in his mind and all he sees are the windmills – dreams spinning, cool breezes. From this perspective he is able to see the future as it gently tumbles in front of him. His thoughts are full of the next glorious adventure in his life.

Today, I look at this young man, and remember. I remember the day that God placed this precious gift into our home. After Christi and Bobby were kidnapped, I thought that surely God had forgotten us until my Father surprised us with a little son with black hair and black eyes. Amazingly, the verses from Isaiah 49 became a reality in my life – in our lives.

8 This is what the LORD says:
"In the time of my favor I will answer you,
and in the day of salvation I will help you;
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land
and to reassign its desolate inheritances,

9 to say to the captives, 'Come out,'
and to those in darkness, 'Be free!'
"They will feed beside the roads
and find pasture on every barren hill.

10 They will neither hunger nor thirst,
nor will the desert heat or the sun beat upon them.
He who has compassion on them will guide them
and lead them beside springs of water.

11 I will turn all my mountains into roads,
and my highways will be raised up.

12 See, they will come from afar—
some from the north, some from the west,
some from the region of Aswan. [a] "

13 Shout for joy, O heavens;
rejoice, O earth;
burst into song, O mountains!
For the LORD comforts his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.

14 But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me,
the Lord has forgotten me."

15 "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!

16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.

17 Your sons hasten back,
and those who laid you waste depart from you.

18 Lift up your eyes and look around;
all your sons gather and come to you.
As surely as I live," declares the LORD,
"you will wear them all as ornaments;
you will put them on, like a bride.

19 "Though you were ruined and made desolate
and your land laid waste,
now you will be too small for your people,
and those who devoured you will be far away.

20 The children born during your bereavement
will yet say in your hearing,
'This place is too small for us;
give us more space to live in.'

21 Then you will say in your heart,
'Who bore me these?
I was bereaved and barren;
I was exiled and rejected.
Who brought these up?
I was left all alone,
but these—where have they come from?' "

22 This is what the Sovereign LORD says:
"See, I will beckon to the Gentiles,
I will lift up my banner to the peoples;
they will bring your sons in their arms
and carry your daughters on their shoulders.

23 Kings will be your foster fathers,
and their queens your nursing mothers.
They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground;
they will lick the dust at your feet.
Then you will know that I am the LORD;
those who hope in me will not be disappointed."

24 Can plunder be taken from warriors,
or captives rescued from the fierce?

25 But this is what the LORD says:
"Yes, captives will be taken from warriors,
and plunder retrieved from the fierce;
I will contend with those who contend with you,
and your children I will save.

26 I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh;
they will be drunk on their own blood, as with wine.
Then all mankind will know
that I, the LORD, am your Savior,
your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob." (NIV)

Today, I rejoice because through this son, I received confirmation of my Father’s divine and perfect care. As I was reading that passage, again, probably for the millionth time since Christi and Bobby were stolen, I recognize that I have only seen a partial fulfillment of that scripture in my live. Our precious Paul was a down payment and assurance that God had not forgotten my family and that He will restore all of our children.

Today, Mark and I prayed for Paul – for his life, for his future, for his joy. But, we also thanked God for Michael, Bobby and Christi. Our hearts are always full with the love we have for all of our children. We prayed God’s blessings in their lives.

For twenty-seven years, I have been part of Michael’s life. That child saw his mother fall apart and then watched as God picked up the pieces of her life and gave them beauty and meaning. I will forever praise my Father for not allowing my parents to steal him, too. For eighteen years, I have been privileged to raise Paul. I remember all of Michael and Paul’s firsts. Those memories are forever embedded in my heart and mind.

And, now I look to a future – much like that of Paul’s windmill. I can see the beauty and restoration of God’s providence. I know that while my visions of the future may not unfold as I think that they should that I can trust God’s vision for my future and for my children – all four of them.

Today is a celebration. A celebration of the gift of Paul and the beauty and joy he brought to our family. Today, my baby turns eighteen.


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

ENFJ - "Persuader". Outstanding leader of groups. Can be aggressive at helping others to be the best that they can be. 2.5% of total population.
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Monday, September 06, 2010

Pictures from August....

Man, I meant to post these photos earlier and life happened and I didn't get it done. The first one is a dear friend and me. Mark and I got to visit with Deborah for a little while before we headed home after Aaron's wedding. It was so wonderful to see her and realize that God blesses us with friends who are like family. I guess I would call her my sister by choice.

Deborah and Me

The next photos are of Mark's brothers and sisters and their spouses. We were able to get together for a meal on Sunday, August 8.

Kelly and Tim

Mike and Jane

Joan and John

Mark, Debbie, and Paul

Mandy Lee, Stan, and Emily

These photos are the in-laws with Charlotte, the original children with their mom and some of the grandchildren with Grandmaw.

Mike, me, Kelly, Emily, John, and Charlotte

Mark, Stan, Jane, Tim, Joan, and their Mom

Six of the Cousins...
Jared, Paul, Ashley, Mandy Lee holding Vivian, Graham and Grandmaw

The Cousins, again!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Finally, a few pics of Paul's completed Eagle Project!!!

Man, we are ALL happy this project is complete! It has taken lots of man hours and could not have been accomplished without a couple of the other Scout dads! We are so thankful for the help in constructing the swing set and in picking up all the supplies from Lowes. Lowes gave Paul some great prices on the supplies needed for the project. Some of Paul's church members donated for the project. He was still short by several hundred dollars, so he got in his class A's and went to a few businesses. We want to say a special thanks to Webster's, Dr. Barrett our dentist, and to a teller at Montgomery Bank and Trust. Without all of you contributing his project would have lacked funds.

We also want to thank all of the young men who helped work on this project. Hopefully, Grace United Methodist Church will enjoy her play area for years to come.

So, enjoy a few photos of lots of hard work in the HOT Georgia sun!!!

Taking off the slide to replace some of the rotten wood and rusted bolts.

A brand new swing set and two wooden picnic tables!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Savor the moments

There used to be hugs that left marks on my clothes or evidence that someone had a runny nose on my shoulders. I thought that I would never get a full night’s sleep or that I would never be free from diapers. I used to worry about keeping the laundry done or cookies made for them to snack on. I thought that time would last forever - all my babies under my feet – all my babies running through the house or playing in our backyard. But, time moves forward.

She doesn’t move slowly but marches quickly by often leaving you wondering where all the years have flown. Now, the laundry is easy to keep up with. My house is quiet. I don’t receive hugs that leave marks on my clothes. Now, I close my eyes and pray that somewhere in their minds, Bobby and Christi remember the truth of their lives with us. Now, I call Michael at college, just to say hello. Now, I try to catch Paul as he runs from the house to go hang with his friends.

Savor the moments and keep in step with the march of time because she will move quickly out in front of you and you will miss the beauties of life.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

August 1

Last week was a busy week! I traveled up to Calhoun and helped to host a Couple's Shower for my dear friend's son, Aaron and his fiancée, Deborah. Everyone worked together beautifully and the shower was a success.

Aaron and Deborah

The Family

Bride and Groom with the Hosts

While driving home on Tuesday, I received a text message from Joan, Mark’s sister, that their mom had suffered from a heart attack in the wee hours of the morning. Thankfully, Stan, Mark’s older brother, was able to get Charlotte to the hospital and she was in surgery within two hours. God really worked in this situation on her behalf. And, we are so thankful that Mark’s brothers and sisters live so close to his mom. Joan has been great about keeping us informed. Please keep Mark’s mom and his family in prayers.

Paul began his Eagle Project this past week. Unfortunately, he began his project on some of the hottest days of the summer. However, he has to continue and get the work completed due to his upcoming eighteenth birthday next month. He is renovating his church’s playground. One of the younger Scout’s dads has been a tremendous help to this project. Mark is already working doing band camp and has been unable to assist except on Saturday. Another Scout’s dad met Paul at Lowes at pick up all of the supplies. Paul has been blessed by these dads. We are grateful. (I will add photos of project later!)

Lauri’s son is getting married this coming Saturday. We will be attending the wedding and rejoicing with this young godly couple. Aaron is such an amazing young man and we look forward to getting to know his beautiful bride in the coming years.

Two weeks after being told Mark’s clavicle was broken, we were informed that it was not broken. This information was only found out after several unreturned phones calls to the doc’s office. However, Mark is still in much pain and has an appointment to see a specialist. The appointment is scheduled for August 17 which is over one month since his fall off of the ladder. I find this unacceptable and will be trying to schedule him an appointment at a more reasonable date! His blood pressure is high even with his meds and he has a terrible hacking cough. Mark says that he is calling the doctor’s office, again, to try and get some relief from both the pain and the cough. Nothing that they have done or prescribed has worked.

Michael has moved home for a couple of weeks between breaks in his semester from college. He appears to have done pretty good, grade wise, this semester. He is beginning his last year of college. He would have graduated this past May except he changed his major which added a year to his education.

My Sunday school class was full this morning! Praise God!!!

Please keep Mark and his sweet mother in your prayers this week. Also, pray for Mark’s siblings as they are trying to take care of Charlotte and make wise decisions. Oh, Mark’s baby sister is turning 50.... she may need a few prayers, too. Pray for Paul and those helping with his Eagle Project. Pray for a reprieve of this hot weather.

To God be the Glory!

Friday, July 09, 2010


One of my best friends, actually my sister by choice and not by birth, just left with her precious daughter after coming and visiting for a few days. We spent time at the beach, ate wonderful food, and pampered ourselves with going and having pedicures and manicures. All in all, it was a good visit just too short. As she drove out of my driveway, I realized that I am so blessed by the amazing people my God has put into my life.

Pampered Feet..... No wait.... three pampered feet and one man foot!!

Yesterday, while Lauri, Rachel and I were at the beach, my husband fell off a ladder while re-screening our back porch. He did not call and let me know that he was injured. When we came strolling in after 11 PM, I found out that he was hurt and had not gone to the doctor’s. He had a horrible night with much pain and very little sleep. This morning, he was still not making any attempt to go get checked out. I finally called the doctor’s office and made him an appointment. The office was able to work him into their schedule within forty-five minutes from my call. So, Paul, graciously, jumped into the shower and took his dad. Mark was still insisting that he didn’t really need to go see the doc. Well, after an examination and x-ray, Mark discovered he had broken his clavicle.

I asked Mark why in the world he hadn’t called me and let me know that he had fallen off a ladder and his reply, “Honey, I didn’t want to spoil your time with Lauri.” Honestly, I love this man so very much but if he wasn’t injured, I would probably have to smack him silly!! Hasn’t he realized that I adore him and that I NEED to know important things like he might have injured himself by falling off a ladder?

And, just for the record, if I, the big baby, had fallen off a ladder, I would be crying and calling my husband to come home immediately! That’s a major difference in the two of us. He’s nicer than me!

Okay, on to more news. I have been loving my Tuesday night Bible study. I hope my ladies are enjoying it and learning because I get so much out of writing and teaching these lessons. Michael is enjoying living on campus this summer. He has been busy working and attending college classes. He is scheduled to graduate this coming May with a degree in Film Studies with an emphasis on script writing. He absolutely loves this field. I am waiting to see how God uses him in this industry upon graduation.

Well.... I have rambled on about several non-related topics... let’s see... Toby is getting bigger and is just precious. Paul is hoping to start working on his Eagle Project next week.

Paul and Rachel.... Growing up way too fast!!


Friday, June 04, 2010

Is it already June???

Time. We always think that we have time to do the next chore, prepare for the next event, make that phone call we have been meaning to make, write a little note to cheer someone but we often find ourselves scurrying around at the last minute to complete our task and the niceties of life seem to slip through our fingers. I have been thinking about time lately and I have decided that it’s not always our friend. When we are waiting for a joyous event to arrive, it takes far too long. And, when we are dreading an event or wishing for more time to prepare then Father Time races to that moment and we are plunged into a situation where we feel ill-at-ease and ill-prepared.

My seventeen year old told me that I never enjoy the moment but always look to the next task, obligation or event. He informed me, “Mom, I’ll complete a task and do a good job with it and instead of saying, ‘Great job, Paul,’ you tell me the next thing that I need to complete. You always have a list.” He thinks that I live my life on an agenda and that I am trying to run his with dates and deadlines. Perhaps, he’s right; however, often we have deadlines or we miss the mark.

My fear is that I’ll miss a deadline, so I do get caught up in the details and I am constantly racing to get everything completed. Our pianist at church told me Wednesday night that I did not have the ability to say, “No.” How has she figured that out about me in less than a year of knowing me?

Here’s what I know. I do not want to miss or overlook God’s calling in my life. I also want my family to be prepared for whatever the future holds for them. What Paul doesn’t seem to realize is that I am laid back for me! He doesn’t realize how I would really love to run this home.

So... those are my rambling thoughts as I am preparing to write a Bible study for next week. Of course, they have nothing to do with my study.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I thought that I would post a few random photos.

A little bit of our front yard.

Paul and his Dad fixing to eat!

Paul and Mandi - Finally Home!!

Toby!! The Big Puppy!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Let's see.... our new little family member....

Toby!!! He is now 7.5 weeks old. He is a Chizer. And, Mark and I think he's precious. Here's a few photos!

Summer is Here!!!

I am on summer break from working on my Master in Theological Studies. I plan on enjoying this break from studying. Well, studying for school. I am teaching 5 year-olds in VBS. Not sure how THAT happened since I requested older children, teens, or adults. While I LOVE children, I am not thirty anymore and I simply do not have the energy or body to keep up with a class of energetic little people. Of course, being told that I was given the most-wild age group at our church isn’t very encouraging.

I plan on beginning to prepare my decorations and lessons for my group of children. Thankfully, I have a young mom helping me. I am trying to keep a positive attitude!

I teach an adult Sunday school class – which I love. I love digging into the word and sharing the deep and vital truths of the scriptures. My class is growing and the members are wonderful. They usually have so much to add and I feel that we learn from each other.

On June 1, I am beginning a Women’s Bible study. I am so thrilled!!! Of course, I am researching and writing my studies. One of the ladies, asked me to do a lesson on how to study the Bible. So, I am beginning to prepare that one week study. I may make a PowerPoint to help facilitate the study. My next lessons will be on the Genesis Account of creation and the flood and why believing Genesis is so very important because it links to the salvation message of Christ. I **think** that series will be about 3 weeks. I wrote a research paper on that topic for one of my classes and believe that I should teach this while it’s still fresh on my mind. I need to create a PowerPoint and some handouts for those lessons.

Okay, enough about me!! Let’s see, Mark will be on summer break after this coming Monday! I am so happy. I love this man and so enjoy being with him. God was so gracious in giving him to me as a husband. I don’t think that Mark has a lot planned for the summer other than doing some church work, and my honey-do list. It’s not that long..... well, not really!! Haha!

Michael has moved to his college campus for several weeks of this summer. He is coming home this week-end to finish learning HOW to drive the VW stick- shift we bought him. Then, he will take that car back to campus and Mark will miss it. Michael is taking 12 hours this summer and will be completing his degree this coming school year.

Paul is Paul. He is always on the go. He’s finishing up a few assignments to complete his 11th grade year. He meets with District Tuesday night to get his final approval on his Eagle project and hopefully, will get it completed the month of June. Right now, plans are for him to take some college courses along with his senior year.

One of my very best friend’s sons is getting married in August. I am helping to give them a wedding tea, probably in July. And, we also plan on helping Lauri with some major painting this summer, too.

Speaking of painting, I painted the toilet room off the master bathroom yesterday. I really like the color and told Mark that we should paint the great-room this color, too. He just looked at me! I don’t think that he was thrilled with that opportunity.

I went to my niece’s blog and she has been approved for one of the studies. So, she begins treatment in Texas. Please pray that these treatments work. Mark and I are praying for Sandy daily – as the Lord puts her on our minds and heart. She seems like a cool young woman. Regardless of this treatment, I am assured that God can heal Sandy. He created her and knows her body and is able to bring about a healing in her life. Please pray to that end.

Well, I guess I have rambled long enough. I hope everyone is blessed!!


Monday, May 17, 2010

Unexpected news.....

Mark's mom sends us articles from the local paper in Tennessee from time-to-time. Today an envelope arrived with an article about my niece, Sandy. I was at the hospital when Sandy was born. She is the oldest child of my older sister, Sherry. I have not seen her in over twenty-one years, so she would not know me.

My niece has been fighting lupus and recently received some horrible news that she has stage IV melanoma. The cancer is in her foot, lymph nodes, and liver. Right now, the outcome appears bleak since the cancer has moved to her liver. However, she and her husband have traveled in Texas to M.D. Anderson Melanoma and Skin Center in Houston. She is hoping to receive treatment and to beat the odds and live.

Please join us in prayers that Sandy will live and not only get to raise her beautiful children, but will live to see her grandchildren.

While I know that Sandy doesn't know me or her Uncle Mark, we are praying for her and wish her health and a blessed long life. My heart is just breaking for her, her husband and their two children.

To Him Who is ABLE, I give the praise.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Update on Paul and Mandi and Sweden....

Continental is FLYING again. Please pray that it continues. We should be picking them up at the airport on MONDAY!!!!! Man, I have missed my boy. He's been gone 3 weeks and 3 days right now!!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Paul is unable to fly HOME!!!!

My youngest son, who is seventeen is grounded in Sweden. He and Mandi flew over there for a 2.5 week trip that has turned into a much LONGER one. Their flight has been cancelled for Sunday and we have them re-booked to fly back to the states Monday, April 26. For anyone who reads my blog, please pray that the volcano in Iceland settles down and that the ash cloud will dissipate.

There are hundreds of folks stranded in airports and foreign countries. Please pray for them, too. We are fortunate that Paul and Mandi are with friends and so we do not have to worry about their safety.

Paul wrote in his blog, that God must have something for him in Sweden and that's why they can't come home yet. I love that his faith is strong.


Friday, April 16, 2010

April already?!?!

Wow!! It’s the middle of April and I am left wondering when did the first months of 2010 disappear? Sometimes, life flies by quickly and there isn’t time to really see and visit and love all the people that God graciously put into my life.

My youngest is in Sweden. He left at the end of March. Man, the kid drives me insane since he’s a typical seventeen-year-old; however, I have missed him terribly. I was so glad that we were able to allow him to go on this trip and that God blessed us with the funds. He is creating memories that will be cherished for years to come. The flight over was great except for a rather LONG layover but a small glitch might prevent his return home as scheduled. Iceland had a volcano erupt and its ash has spread over Europe closing several airports. It’s not a good idea to fly a jet through volcanic ash since the ash stalls out the engines. So, we are now hoping and praying that his flight on Sunday isn’t canceled. If it gets canceled, he will not be able to get a flight out of Sweden until next Saturday.

I spoke this past week-end at a Woman’s retreat at Camp Pinnacle in north Georgia. I believe that my talk blessed some ladies. Several asked that I get them a copy of my piece called The Candle. And, another lady has asked if I was willing to come speak at her church in south Georgia. I never thought that our tragedy could be used to glorify God but I was wrong. People need to see and realize that God is the sustainer of our lives and hearts during horrible times and that He replaces sorrow with Himself. And, in Christ there is found a renewal of hope and joy.

The focus of my talk (after a brief run down on the kidnapping) was on the church and how she wrapped her arms around us and truly became God’s ambassadors. Two of my favorite and most loved ladies were with me this week-end (Lauri Gray and Lynda Talmadge). God has been so faithful to me and my family.

I am halfway done with my third class in my degree. Systematic Theology is... well, it’s systematic. Actually, I am sort of getting into this class. I enjoy wrestling with implied theological truths – like the doctrine of a triune God. Since I am only taking one class this eight weeks, I am not feeling quite as much pressure.

Mark and I decided that I would take summer off from school. So, while we will not have any money to do anything, we will be able to enjoy each other. And, maybe I need to relax.... (insert HUGE monster eye-roll!!)

Well, I can’t think of anything else to update our lives about.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Two Down and Counting....

I have completed my first two classes in my graduate program. I have to say that I was pleased with my grades. These were probably two of the hardest classes that I have ever taken: tons of reading, loads of writing, hideous tests, and huge final projects. I was thankful that I was still breathing at the end of the eight weeks. I have to keep pinching myself to make sure that I am finally pursuing a degree in theology. I really desired to get my bachelor degree in Christian studies but went the more practical route and got an elementary education degree. However, my love has always been studying and digging into the Word of God.

My first two classes were New Testament Orientation I and World Missions. I truly enjoyed New Testament Orientation and totally got into studying about the Intertestamental period. Now, World Missions was not my favorite class. Haha!

Today, as I was reading from my Systematic theology textbooks, I needed a dictionary. That really tickled me because I actually have a decent vocabulary. However, these textbooks are written on a high academic standard. So, I imagine old Webster and I will remain friends throughout this course.

I feel so blessed that I am able to begin working on this degree. When I was five years old I told my mother that I wanted to preach God’s Word. She laughed at me and told me that only boys got to preach. However, God has allowed me to share His message on more than one occasion. And, I have come to realize that He calls each of us to particular tasks and ministries. I am a Biblical teacher. I love to tear apart the scripture and get into the meat and message of the canon. I am so thankful that God called me to teach an Adult Sunday school class. I have been blessed to have been published in a monthly Christian newspaper in the past. Fortunately, my mom was wrong about little girls not being able to proclaim God's wonderful message to mankind.

Today, I will rejoice for the opportunity to study God’s glorious Word and praise Him for calling me to proclaim the message of Christ Jesus. Now, next week, I may be crying during a test; however, I will still praise Him!

Blessings to all,

Monday, January 11, 2010

Back to normal

The hurried days of Christmas are over signaling that the time has come to resume our normal life routine. My family is no longer under one roof all day. Mark is back working full-time in the school and doing his church position. Michael’s college classes started today and he is also back at his job through the college. Paul is trying to complete his junior year in homeschooling along with a friend’s child that I am tutoring daily in her junior year, too.

Last week was the first week of having sweet Chelsea in my home. She seems to enjoy homeschooling and comes in every morning ready to work. She and Paul are completing their chemistry together which is a tremendous blessing for me and Paul. I have to adjust to being more on a schedule since Chelsea is here during normal school hours. This has its advantages as well as its disadvantages. There is a loss of freedom but it’s nice knowing that the school day is complete by 2 PM.

I start my classes with Liberty next week. I am beginning to work on the Master in Theological Studies degree. While I love learning and school, I find that I am anxious about launching this new phase in my life. I believe that this is God’s plan for me as studying His Word is always a good thing.

So, the holidays are officially over and life continues its normal flow and ebb. But, each day still brings a new adventure and joy as I watch those I love excel in God’s design for their lives.