God's Footnotes on the day, a late night prayer for YOU and musings on "sibling rivalry"?

Here I sit, ready to head to bed after a long productive day and my 4 offspring are in the middle of a heated battle. The Offspring (I hesitate to call them children as the "baby" is now 14 yrs old and almost as tall as I am) are all in the middle of their latest game of "Illuminati". This is an odd strategy game and I don't know if anyone else, short of their long time friends, has heard of it.

The Sibling rivalry comes in when you understand the nature of Illuminati. This is a strategy game in which you bluff, out think and even (gasp) CON your fellow game players into doing whatever it is that is your objective.

Ordinarily I would not encourage this sort of deception, but in the spirit of the board game, I am sitting here basking in the evidence of a "Job Well Done".

How so?

I see before me the fruit of literally decades of work trying to knit my children's heart to each other. They are now fast friends, although they are still working on the dynamics of "what to do when your sibling doesn't do things the way you think they should" and "Learning to let go of preconceived notions of how much better it wold be if Sibling X would just listen to Sibling Z's advice."

I write all this in order to explain that, although I am basking in the glow of God's goodness in letting me be mom to these 4, I know they are not perfect. (Thank GOODNESS because they certainly don't have a perfect mother!)

What God is showing me right now is that HE HAS BLESSED ME (yet again) and this beautiful scene is a "common, every-day" blessing. What would my life be like if I'd not recognized the need to pray for God to help me to knit their hearts together? They love each other, they tease and play with each other. They pray for each other and actually ENJOY EACH OTHER'S COMPANY!

Tonight's blessing is given just because of God's grace and mercy to me, a grateful mom who had no clue as to how to raise kids, except that she had to LOVE THEM and show that love, praying to God to bless my efforts. He's blessed me way above anything that I could have dreamed and what I see before me is nothing but the Grace of God. My children are so much better than any children I would have "earned" by my own feeble efforts. It's just one more way that God has shown His love to me, I know.

Speaking of God's love for us, the only one of my "chilluns" missing right now is our "newest" son, who is working hard at his EMT job in Louisiana. I don't know how long it will be before we see him again but we call and text him many times a week, he's constantly in our prayers and there's yet another "care package" ready for the post office tomorrow afternoon.

It's touching how, even though he's not here, his "adopted" sibs have mentioned him many times tonight, even giving a cheer for his favorite football team, Notre Dame.

Football has been the big topic of discussion this evening, with the general consensus being that this is the most off kilter year we've seen in a long time of NCAA football viewing. #1 rated LSU has lost this weekend (ouch! and to Arkansas?!) Kansas lost to Missouri (unexpected around here but very appreciated as we're Sooner fans) and now it appears that our Sooners will have a game against Missouri for the Big 12 Championship game. (This will be the 2nd time OU has played Missouri this year and it will likely be a fantastic game. Too bad those season tickets don't extend to the Big 12 Championship game!)

The only bright spots for the fans on this football viewing day are that Oklahoma managed to win the big "Bedlam" game vs. in-state rival Oklahoma State and (sweet thing for our Cajun son) Notre Dame is now reveling in the glory of their 2 game "winning streak". It's been a tough year for the Fighting Irish and those 2 wins are a sweet end to the season. So there is yet another footnote, the folks who formerly didn't like Notre Dame at all are all happy because they won another game and it's all because of our love for the "newest" addition to the family.

As I head off to dreamland, I pray your eyes are open this week to the GLORIES that God will show you. I encourage you to look around you and seek out the small victories and loving signposts that God has undoubtedly put in YOUR life right now, too. Every Glory that He has prepared for you might not be a BIG SIGN, but maybe a little footnote to your day, just like the footnote God showed me this evening while watching a fast paced game of Illuminati.

I hope and pray your eyes are now open to seeing HIS grace and gifts in your own footnotes to the day.

P.S. News Flash- the winner of the 1st Illuminati game this evening is the "baby" the 14 year old daughter. Just one more sweet end to the day as I hold on to the memory of her sweet smile as I walk down the hall to my warm bed.

Thanks, Lord! I needed these little footnotes today.

I'm loving the photographer who took these photos!

God is so amazing to take me from a "plain clothes mom" to the mom of a budding commercial model.

Sorry about the sideways posting, I don't know how to get them to stand upright. I'll fix that when I figure out how.

When you wonder if it's all worth it......

I love this little essay. Seems to describe how frustrated I get and reassure me all at once. I hope you enjoy.

The Journey by Max Lucado

I drove the family to Grandma's last night for Thanksgiving. Three hours into the six-hour trip, I realized that I was in a theology lab. A day with a car full of kids will teach you a lot about God. Transporting a family from one city to another is closely akin to God transporting us from our home to his.

A journey is a journey, whether the destination be the Thanksgiving table or the heavenly one. Both demand patience, a good sense of direction, and a driver who knows that the feast at the end of the trip is worth the hassles in the midst of the trip.

For me, six hours on the road is a small price to pay for my mom's strawberry cake. I don't mind the drive because I know the reward. I have three decades of Thanksgivings under my belt, literally. As I drive, I can taste the turkey. Hear the dinner-table laughter. Smell the smoke from the fireplace.I can endure the journey because I know the destiny.

For some of you, the journey has been long. Very long and stormy. In no way do I wish to minimize the difficulties that you have had to face along the way. Some of you have shouldered burdens that few of us could ever carry. You have bid farewell to life-long partners. You have been robbed of life-long dreams. You have been given bodies that can't sustain your spirit. You have spouses who can't tolerate your faith. You have bills that outnumber the paychecks and challenges that outweigh the strength. And you are tired. Let me encourage you with a parallel between your life's journey and the one our family took last night. It's worth it.

As I write, the Thanksgiving meal is over. My legs are propped up on the hearth. My tablet is on my lap. I have every intention of dozing off as soon as I finish this chapter. The turkey has been attacked. The giblet gravy has been gobbled. The table is clear. The kids are napping. And the family is content.

As we sat around the table today, no one spoke of the long trip to get here. No one mentioned the requests I didn't honor. No one grumbled about my foot being on the accelerator when their hearts were focused on the banana splits. No one complained about the late hour of arrival.

Yesterday's challenges were lost in today's joy. God never said that the journey would be easy, but he did say that the arrival would be worthwhile.

Remember this: God may not do what you want, but he will do what is right … and best. He's the Father of forward motion. Trust him. He will get you home. And the trials of the trip will be lost in the joys of the feast.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll close my eyes. I'm a bit tired from the journey, and it feels good to rest

A few thoughts...What makes a "Real Family"?

The following thoughts have been bouncing around in my brain for a long time. Today I saw them articulated on another mom's blog. Go visit her site and be blessed yourself!

Angel brought home two children through adoption and posted recently about the "are they brother and sister" question which drives lots of people (even me) crazy.

Part of what she said really resonates with me. Maybe it rings true for you, too?

It's from her site here:

She says:

"When I try to get at the root of why this bothers me and why this is still a question that seems important for people to ask, I come down to this, In America, our concept of family when we refer to parents and their children is based on blood, not choice, and I don't like that.
When you say someone is your mother, you are referring to the woman who gave birth to you. In Liberia, this is not the case. Your mother may be biologically an aunt, a grandmother or a family friend, but no one ever thinks to ask about these distinctions. They simply don't matter.

Your mother is the woman who nurtured you, loved you, cared for you, raised you. The same is true for brothers and sisters. They are the people you love best, and the people who love you best. If I had to name one of my top ten most favorite things about Liberia, this would be it. They get God's concept of family."

Now it's me again-

She has such an amazing explanation on her blog, please take a few minutes to go read it. I think this topic resonates with me for many reasons but a few I'll explain here.

I have "children" who are children of my HEART. They did not come through my body nor were they even raised by me but they are LOVED as if they are my children. I pray for them everyday, many times a day, just because God brings them to my mind so often. I send them little (and sometimes big) gifts and they are soooo dear to me!

I have "brothers and sisters" who were not raised alongside me but we have formed a loosely defined "family" relationship. Sister-friends and brother-friends, I guess you might say? This is the sort of friendship that goes deeper than words can explain.

As is true with all families, I've had times of being hurt by some of these other family members. I'm sure also that I've hurt some of them by my actions or inactions. Whether that action was intentional or not doesn't really matter as far as the hurt feelings go. Just as with all families, we can choose to forgive (or choose to not forgive) the person who hurt us. Even just reaching out and saying "I'm sorry, I hope you can forgive me" is enough to get us back on track most times.

We can choose to FORGIVE just as we can choose to LOVE. It's all a choice. Just as we chose these special family relationships out of LOVE, we can choose to forgive out of Love, also. Here's just one more indicator that we're a family: We are there for each other through thick and thin, no matter what. Only time can show that love and committment to the ones we love, whether those loved ones are related through birth or through choice.

Above all, we are FAMILY because we share those common bonds and beliefs that grow us together. We are family by CHOICE, not just by biology. We're Family by choice, just as God chose us to be part of HIS family!

This concept resonates with me so much that I named THIS BLOG in the spirit of that theme: CHOOSING a Loving Family!

As I've been reflecting on Love and what Love Really is this summer (the wedding of our son and our 25th wedding anniversary) I've been reminded that I am SOOOO Blessed! I have a family to love and am adding new family members as God blesses me. It's such a blessing to have a family both by choice and by birth. I pray that you are already experiencing even a small part of that sort of joy in your life both now and in the future. It's enough to make your heart sing just out of gratitude that you are so blessed by God with a family!

Dear Lord, my prayer today is that more and more of YOUR children will begin to see family the way that YOU see family. That we will begin to bless each other and treat the other person with the deep and abiding love that you hold for all of us. Knit us to each others' hearts, Lord, so that we can become a righteous, effective team for YOUR honor & glory. In Jesus' name, Amen!

I'm praying God's Blessings rain down on you throughout the coming week.

with Much Love,


(Here are a few more quotes that inspire me)

I am only one. But still, I am one. I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
~Edward Hale

I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. ~Robert Frost

Stop telling God how big your storm is. Instead, tell your storm how big your God is. ~Unknown

How can there be too many children? That's like saying there are too many flowers.
~Mother Theresa

Sitting on go...

I am coming to realize that I must be in one of those seasons that inspired the old phrase "sitting on go".

I feel like I am almost ready to burst forth out of this lovely season of life into the next exciting season, but I see that I do have a bit more work to do here at home until my last 2 "arrows" are fully sharpened and straight enough to fly to their target.

I'm so close that I can see that horizon just around the corner. A few years ago I would have mourned this season of life. I was so full of babylust that I couldn't stand the thought of not having babies around the house all the time. Not that it's the same thing, it's a totally different season of course, but someday there will likely be grand-babies to tote and love on.

I'm also quite sure there will be 2 sons-in-love and maybe even another daughter-in-love to add to our family. I see G-d is unfolding some plans and I'm excited yet curious to find out how HE is going to play out this next act of the play I find myself in.

For now, with the answer to the question I posed recently, I think there is some considerable evidence that G-d is laying out a path for me for the future and saying "Not Yet. The opportunity will come and it will be effortless when the doors are opened for the new ventures."

The signal I received from every person I've consulted over my last post is something along the lines of "proceed with great caution and seek out G-d's will in this decision, too." (i.e., In a multitude of counselors is much wisdom.)

For now, I think He's laying out an excellent opportunity for me to "have my cake and eat it, too". I can work from home, make a very nice part time income and hone that resume a bit
more. The out-of-the-home opportunities are going to be there when I am absolutely sure I am supposed to step out of the home. Until then God is providing a nice income which I can earn while still teaching the girls from home. May G-d forbid, but if I should need to earn an income due to Jim being lost to accident or some other unforseen event such as not being able to work, I could still keep our home and make headway on those future plans while staying home where I'm still needed.

The "little women" are almost done but not quite, with formal schooling. Liz is about 10-11 months from being completely finished with high school. Tori has now decided that she wants to get the formal schooling out of the way as soon as she possibly can so she can start her heart's desire, culinary school. That is 2 years off due to her age, so we are going to fill in this time getting them really prepared for the essential things while finishing up the book work that's also needed.

We have a few more building blocks to finish, G-d is laying out some plans for both of them and the reason it's not time to have them fly the nest is quite obvious. They're not yet everything they can be with just a little more training and instruction. Oh yes, they'd do quite well if (once again, G-D forbid!!) some illness or accident were to take both of us parents ahead to Glory, thankfully G-d obviously has more for us to do in training and preparing them for the wonderous future He has planned.

I know G-d could throw a monkey wrench in the "plans as I see them" anytime He chooses but at this time He seems to have laid out a very unusual path for me that won't require me to leave the family for extended amounts of time. I'm concentrating on the BLESSING in being here for this season. It will end soon enough and I need to have FAITH that HE is preparing the next thing when it's the proper time.

I can continue my studies one class at a time working toward a health care related career (exactly what is yet to be determined) and still earn some money to pay down the bills, the house, pay for cooking lessons and more expenses that go along with having 2 daughters in high school. Next school year (2008-2009) Liz will be a Senior and Tori will be a Freshman. Not yet the time to be away from home as they are still so dear and I know they will need my attention for a few years more to grow into the awesome Christian women G-d has prepared them to become.

I guess that's the end of my assorted ramblings tonight. My eyes are tired and I may edit this tomorrow to be more cohesive, but this gets the general idea across. I'm staying right where I am for at least a short time and will see what G-d lays out for me in the coming months ahead.

HE's got an UNCOMMON life purpose for me. I'm part way through fulfilling a large portion of that purpose and eager to see where the next bend in the road will take me. Following the advice of those wise women who gave me council, I am seeking out that purpose and calling.

I'm reading the Max Lucado book right now, Cure for the Common Life and it's really speaking to where G-d has been leading me in the last 2 years or so.

If you haven't read it yet, be sure to seek it out at the library near you. (Or garage sale, whichever strikes your fancy) I got this one at the local library's for sale cart for just $1.

Yet another example of G-d's providence over every little detail of my life. He is waiting for me to catch on to the themes that He has been weaving through this tapestry that is my life. I just have to keep asking and looking to see what He is trying to teach me.

Because I know HE is faithful to show it to me if I will just keep trying. That's an awesome thing, to realize how HE has planned every detail to care for me and my arrows, too. Just like He has for you and your loved ones.

What's more Silver- the Anniversary or the hair?

In the past quarter century, we have been living a mostly quiet life in central Oklahoma. Oh, we haven't ruled out living anywhere else, it's just worked out that way as we have grown up here and have family ties and history.

Where God will lead us in the future is unknown, but we do know that we have a great life here. The "standard of living" is less expensive here and I've been blessed to be a stay-at-home wife & mom for over 24 years. (I worked outside the home for almost a year.)

Now I work from here at home, and the opportunity is being laid in front of me to choose to continue that venture with it's blessings and advantages, as well as it's draw-backs, or find a career outside the home which could lead to different advantages and blessings and the accompanying draw-backs.

After many weeks of prayer and thought, I'm at an impasse. I thought God was leading me to do one thing, then when I had prayed and asked Jim what he thought, he said he knew it was up to me to decide (thanks, hunny!). Pray some more, wait and it looks like God is saying to make a specific choice. Rather, it looked like God was making the decision for me.

Monday I got a call that seems to indicate maybe God is not done with me making that first choice after all. Maybe what I thought was God's will is now being offered as a different choice. Maybe it's all in the timing.

SO, what would you do?

Choice A: You make a nice living with room for more pay working from home for 30 hours per week and pay for your own college courses to work toward a nursing degree
Choice B: Earn about the same working away from home for 40 hours per week with opportunities for advancement and educational expenses for that college degree.
Choice C: Something I have not thought about yet. (if you pick choice C please explain?)

Tell me- What would you do? Lemme know in the comments?

Thanks and I really appreciate the prayers for wisdom and discernment that you can offer.
Here's a shot of us on our wedding day, now 25 years ago, October 23, 1982.
Now on our silver anniversary, we have more silver in our hair and even less hair for one of us. (I'll let you guess which one of us has the silver hair and which has less hair than in 1982!)


Click on the video and then read the post with the same title.

And the beat goes on....

(With all apologies to Sonny & Cher for borrowing that title today, the song just keeps going thru my head all day)

Update: Doctor visit today went well. She's a nice gal, very common sense and takes time to visit with you. Dr. Kristin took one look at me and said to me "Wow, you don't feel good at all, do you?" Did the normal diagnostics and miscellaneous questions and diagnosed me with a mega Sinus Infection. Given the normal course of antibiotics and rest, I should be fine in no time.

Lizzy (aka Liz or Lil Sis to one brother) came along to meet the doctor, having heard many good things about Dr. Kristin. Liz is considering which career she will study for (aside from the motherhood and wife career she's been training for the last 7 years or so). Medical field really appeals to her and she might just end up in some doctor type profession eventually. Her youth minister's wife is a Physician's Assistant and we know lots of medical profession folks so she's got a lot of input from folks about that field. She'll probably at least go to the local Vo-Tech next fall if not sooner, as they have some prep classes for the medical arts which would allow her to get her feet wet without spending money on college expenses just now. She'll be out of high school in a little less than 12 months so now is the time to start making some sort of plan for the near future. The planned mission trip for next summer is sure to be a big factor, too, as she is feeling called to be involved in missions in some personal way.

On the way home from the pharmacy, Liz was only too happy to "drive for me". She got her permit a while back and actually would have had it earlier if we hadn't been so busy with summer camps and such. On reflection, she is really not a bad driver. Actually she's probably a hundred times better than I was with the same amount of experience. The true issue is that I am a control freak and only trust about 3-4 people in the world to drive me safely, one of them being my husband. (I'll let you guess who the other folks are, wouldn't want to offend anyone!)

All this reminded me of my own time in driver's permit territory and hearing those stories of how my parents and grandparents learned to drive. (Most of them even learned to drive safely!) The recurring theme of new generations learning the same old things in turn inspired the theme song for tonight's post, The Beat Goes On by Sonny & Cher.

I'm guessing those wise (?) 60s philosophers Sonny & Cher didn't even know how wise they really were. (Okay, maybe no one else did either, but it's a valid thought.) Others through the ages have said "There is nothing new under the sun." and other such sayings.

Those 60s & 70s retro outfits are back and the songs from that era just seem to wander into my thoughts as my "babies" have grown up. They're really not babies anymore, in many cultures they'd be considered full fledged adults. I don't even begin to understand all the ways and reasons, but I know part of why my "chilluns" are often more mature than many of their same-aged peers is that we have always had the philosophy "We're raising adults, not children."

All those thoughts go through my mind as I hear Sonny sing "Grandmas sit in chairs and reminisce..."and Cher sings "Boys keep chasing Girls to get a kiss."

Click on the link to the video and listen along with me. Maybe you'll be a bit reflective, too. Because the beat does go on.... and the world keeps turning as we all get older. Let's hope you and I are able to leave a more lasting and beneficial impression than even Sonny & Cher.
And the Beat Goes ON.....

The Long Anticipated Weekend

Just because we've been married for almost 25 years doesn't mean that the sizzle is gone from our marriage. You might be able to imagine the anticipation of a nice relaxing weekend when I heard several months ago that my teen daughters were going on a Youth Retreat this past weekend.

Yes, it is nice to have the young-uns around and they *are* the most well behaved teens you will likely ever meet. They're entertaining and somewhat intelligent, if I do say so myself. At the same time it is nice to know that you can just dilly dally around the house, not have any demands put on your time and just generally take it easy. It's a little like having a vacation without the expense of a vacation.

Plus the oldest son is so low maintenance and works most of the weekend anyway with his hours keeping him gone most of the day, he was going to be out of the house, too.

I get the gals ready on Friday for their weekend trip while working my regular "J.O.B." (just over broke is what some would call it. I call it working from home on a flex schedule and getting paid for it). My next step is to take them to meet with the other youth & sponsors in the afternoon and return to my home for the evening's plans (thank you sponsors for going with them so I could stay home).

The idea then was to get home before hubby did and make him a nice dinner. I just didn't anticipate that he would be home before I was. (Nice surprise there!) We decide to go out to eat so we find a nice steak place and have a good dinner. We return home to watch my favorite show & then his new favorite, with the plans that after our programs were over we would go on our customary walk around the park and maybe a little quiet time when our walk was over.

(Regarding that walk- I'm up to 3 miles per day, usually 5-6 days a week, after having begun this exercise program about 10 weeks ago. Great progress and I'm enjoying knowing that I am not letting my body rebel against it, even if I am *not* enjoying the workout.)

We settle in for our nice nite at home (cheap date could describe it pretty well) and about 3/4 of the way through my program, I begin to feel a tad bit warm. Not knowing if it was a hot flash/power surge or if our air conditioner had given way, I asked Jim if he was warm. When he says "No" I begin to assess the situation a little more clinically. My throat is achy, my arms and legs hurt and my head is splitting. He comes over and feels my forehead. "Oh my. You're warmer than I am!"

To understand the magnitude of this comment you have to understand that I am a very cold-natured person. How cold-natured, you might ask? Fact: I have been known to wear long sleeved flannel nightgowns with socks and 3 layers of blankets to slumber-land. This IN JULY AND AUGUST when it was over 100 degrees during the daytime & in the high 80s at night!! To say that I am warmer than Jim is like saying that the popscicle is now as warm as the hot link. (The man could sit in a refrigerator and think it was beginning to feel pretty warm on most days.)

Suffice it to say the weekend began to go downhill from that point. I was appropriately dosed by Dr. Husband (no, he's not a doctor, he doesn't even play one on TV) with the usual anti-flu medications and sent to bed. (with much whining on my part to no avail)

After a long night's sleep, I felt somewhat better the next morning. We had a productive visit to the local Sam's Club for miscellaneous items and came home to put them away. Since I was feeling about 80% recovered, we decided that we could now go on that too-long delayed walk after we helped our son search for reliable transportation for our daughter-in-love. (Doesn't hurt to have Dad help lend an ear & eye if you have never bought a car before.)

After an abbreviated (2.0 miles) but still lovely walk around the park left me feeling appropriately tired, I went and took a shower to get the sweat, (I mean GLISTENING GLOW) off my tired body and sat down to watch some more telly. I was convinced at this point that I had dodged the bullet on the illness wagon and was ready for a fabulous evening.

After about 20 minutes of conversation with the husband and son, once again I realized I was feeling one of those power surges/hotflashes/whatever-they-were again. No, I do not believe I am, or ever have had, a power surge/hot flash. I was just beginning to think maybe that was the cause as I had felt so good all day. Upon which time Dear Husband said "You don't look like you feel well." and we were off again to Theraflue-Land.

This time medication didn't seem to help as much and I was sent to bed once again.

Sunday morning I awoke at 8 am to the alarm and tried to get out of bed. My voice stuck in my throat, my eyes crossed and the body refused to move. I croaked to Jim that I had better not share these germs with the body of Christ (aka my sisters and brothers whom I love but not enough to share germs with them). Somehow in my fever induced fog mind I thought Jim had stayed home also. I also remember some sort of dream about rabbits and brooms and cruise ships (hallucination, anyone?) and awoke around 10:30 drenched in sweat.

Not being one to give up the ghost to the flu, I decided I would crawl to the shower and try to wash some of the toxins (-I mean - sweat!) off my body. The shower only weakened me more and I barely managed to get dried off and dressed before Jim returned from worship early.
Jim decided he didn't want me to touch his food and also didn't want to pick me off the floor if I should try to help him cook, so we went out to Pancho's for lunch. (Mexican has been known to cheer me before, so he was giving it his best shot).

We then come home and he "makes" me take another nap (no, he didn't get much argument from me) then he picks up the girls at the appointed time. They charitably give me a generous dose of sympathy and sit on the sofa with me to watch old movies like "Singing in the Rain" and "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and "The Lady Vanishes".

All the while, the dear husband (who has been very patient) decides he will piddle/work on his computer. (For some reason musicals from the 50s and mysteries from the 40s just don't appeal to him.)

So much for that romantic weekend, HUH? I'll undoubtedly end up in the doctor's office tomorrow sometime, I'm thinking it's either a sinus infection or strep throat. Either way, it wasn't a great time for a romantic weekend this go-round.

Quite frankly, after almost 25 years of marriage, this is not the first time one or the other (or even both) of us has been sick on a much-anticipated and highly-planned weekend. I dare say it will not be the last, either. It's just nice to know that after all this time, we can still make each other at least WANT to have a weekend alone, even if those hopes don't materialize.

Oh- That Romantic Weekend? We'll find the time later this month/year/decade to go away for a REAL weekend. I'll just have to remember the flu meds might not fix it up for us. We'll keep the number and location of a minor emergency clinic handy, wherever we do go.

We've learned in 25 years that one of the major keys to marital happiness is flexibility! A generous supply of Flu Medication doesn't hurt, either.

Then and now....


Aren't we cute together?

Boy does time fly when you are raising kids!

Now here we are, 25 years and 4 kids later.
What do ya know? We're still smiling!

Here By Me by 3 Doors Down

After being married for almost 25 years now, I am even more in love with my sweetheart than ever. The words of this song pretty much sum up my feelings.

Here by me- 3 Doors Down

I hope you're doing fine out there without me
'Cause I'm not doing so good without you
The things I thought you'd never know about me
Were the things I guess you always understood

So how could I have been so blind for all these years?
Guess I only see the truth through all this fear,
And living without you...

And everything I have in this world
And all that I'll ever be
It could all fall down around me.
Just as long as I have you,
Right here by me.

I can't take another day without you
'Cause baby, I could never make it on my own
I've been waiting so long, just to hold you
And to be back in your arms where I belong
Sorry I can't always find the words to say
But everything I've ever known gets swept away
Inside of your love...

And everything I have in this world
And all that I'll ever be
It could all fall down around me.
Just as long as I have you,
Right here by me.

As the days grow long I see
That time is standing still for me
When you're not here
Sorry I can't always find the words to say
Everything I've ever known gets swept away
Inside of your love

And everything I have in this world
And all that I'll ever be
It could all fall down around me.
Just as long as I have you,
Right here by me.

And everything I have in this world
And all that I'll ever be
It could all fall down around me.
Just as long as I have you,
Right here by me

A video to go with the Wondering about HONESTY note posted below...

East to West by Casting Crowns

From my other blog- Wondering about... HONESTY

Someone I love posted a short note this week about honesty. It was a pointed note and one of those posts that makes you think. One of the things said was "Why is honesty so hard to take?"

Wow, that was a great question! Frankly, I would not have even thought clearly enough to ask that question until the last couple of years. No matter how we might try to deny it, honesty sometimes DOES hurt. I certainly have not attained full knowledge of God's plan for any of us, but I do know a few things that He's shown me over the past few years....

He's shown me sometimes it hurts to think that someone doesn't see you as you want them to see you. Sometimes we humans want to pretend we are something we are not. Maybe we are in the process of becoming the way we see ourselves, but that other person just doesn't see it in us yet. Sometimes it's just that our fantasies and the pretend stories we tell ourselves are so real and so dear to us that we can't bear the thought of those dreams not being true. That's another time when Honesty hurts.

Sometimes a circumstance is the tool to make us face the truth honestly, sometimes it's a person and sometimes we just realize out of the blue that we aren't being honest and we force ourselves to face the truth. It takes courage to face the truth, even when we didn't willfully choose to see the truth with our own eyes.

I guess what I've learned thru the last couple of years is that no matter how it happens, no matter how long it takes Him to get me there, God always brings me around to the point where even those hurting times of brutal honesty can work to build me into a better Me than I was before the hurt from the honesty happened.

Given time, even that deep-in-the-pit-of-your-gut-hurt begins to ache less and less. Later down the road, I can usually see that even though it literally took my breath away, the hurt was only temporary. Best of all, the outcome was so much better than what I could have imagined when I was so busy being wrapped up in my fantasies and nursing those hurts that were only temporary.

I have come to believe that God has a way to bring us back to the middle of that path and keeps us walking toward the awesome future that HE sees for us. He continually brings us back to facing the truth about the life we are leading or the future route of the path we are walking, even though He knows that we will suffer some pain along the way.

In those times, it helps to have someone beside you saying "I love you and even though it hurts, you will get through the hard times and see a blessing in God's plan for you." God is so awesome when He sends us friends who both love us and who are "like iron sharpening iron" in our walk.

This year He has blessed me with being a witness to some ordinary-yet-amazing people who are living out their lives in extraordinary ways. He's shown me so much Love and Grace and Goodness through these people. Maybe you know someone who is just like them. Maybe you are like them yourself.

These are folks like the couple I know who are going through a difficult period in their marriage and still have not given up, struggling to stay together through what some would call insurmountable odds to raise their daughters in a safe home. They have real struggles and honesty hurts right now. They're in the middle of that reality check called Recovery-from-Alcoholism.

You might know someone like this other brother-in-Christ I have. He's a former prisoner who struggles with his own battles over depression on a daily basis. His past haunts him at times, his mistakes have impacted his now-grown children and he struggles with financial as well as emotional battles every day. But still he praises GOD for his new walk with Christ.

Then there's my dear, dear friend, whom I've known for over a decade now. She's rebuilding a new life after having lost her husband at a young age to cancer and God is truly giving her BEAUTY from ashes, but her struggles are real and heart wrenching. She's hurting so much and struggling to be everything God is calling her to be but she honestly has doubts sometimes about how she is going to get to where God is calling her to be.

Lastly, there's a young man, very dear to my heart, who is working out his own faith while he's going to school plus working a more-than-full-time-adrenaline-packed-job without knowing exactly where God is going to lead him but he's still pushing through anyway. He has a track record of blessing so many others and he is so loved. I wonder sometimes if he believes it when the Voice of Truth whispers to him that Christ is able to deliver him to the bright future planned for him by the Father. Does this handsome young man hear that Voice of Truth? I pray he does. I can see and hear it so I'm sure he can hear it, too, if he can just slow down long enough to hear.

I so hope they ALL can hear that Voice of Truth! It's very exciting to be here cheering all of them on from the sidelines. I know that God has so many big plans for all of them. I can see the outline of those plans, even though I can't see the exact details of the whole plan that God has ready. Mostly, I can see that God's plan is so GOOD and HE IS FAITHFUL to deliver on his promises!!

These awesome people are showing me their great faith that there IS a better future out there for them. They know that God is good all the time and His plans are to prosper them and give them a bright future. I can't wait to see those plans come to be.

We can all come to see God's plan as the awesome adventure it is. He has absolutely awesome plans for us that we can't usually see when we're in the middle of the hurting times. Maybe that's the ultimate gift that comes from Honesty, to understand with discernment and wisdom that God is blessing you- even when you are feeling hurt by someone else's truthful assessment. Even in the middle of the hurting, there is a blessing just around the corner. We just have to open our eyes and start praying for the wisdom to see it.

Here's to all of us having our Eyes Wide Open!
Here are some fabulous pictures from the wedding. We are all happy with how well everything turned out and had a great time!
The happy couple

Beautiful Sisters
All the Groomsmen and the bride

Joe & Bryan, even closer than Brothers.

Interesting- Now there are TWO Mr & Mrs Maddoxes..... or is that Maddoxi?

Whew! What a month! Plus we have 2 new family members!

It's been almost a month since my last post and boy has it just flown by!

Our son Joe was married on August 4th to my new daughter-in-love, Cynthia. It was a beautiful ceremony, we had a marvelous time and all the hard work was worth it. We have gotten to know her side of the family a little better and we do hope to have her mom & dad over sometime for steaks & to get to know them better.

This is only one picture of that day, the professional shots will be here as soon as I can get them from Joe.

In addition, we had a new son added to our family on August 2nd! Yes, that's right. Here are the stats:

Name: Bryan
Height: 5'8" (yeah, he is a big guy)
Weight: I'm guessing about 170 lbs of mostly muscle!
Other: He's cajun and he even loves Sushi! (just one more thing to show he's a perfect fit in our family!)

Isn't he the cutest guy?! Single ladies, he'd make a fabulous husband! He's such a sweetheart!

No, I didn't get him in the traditional sense, but boy howdy are we gonna claim him from now on! Bryan's original family still claims him, too, we are just his Okie family! Isn't that a neat way to add someone to your family!?

Bryan is Joe's best buddy from AIM and we are now enthusiastically claiming him as our son. They are even closer to each other than Joe & Jared are, Bryan's that important to us!

It's both funny and awesome how quickly someone can be knit to your heart when it's God's plan. We can't wait to have him come back and as far as we are concerned, he can just stay forever if he wants.

Please pray with us that God will continue to bless Bryan and guide him in the decisions he makes about his life. He is currently working as an EMT and will likely be going forward in that career field with more classes for further certification toward becoming a paramedic or maybe even nursing. He spent a long time in Mexico City as a missionary and we are so proud of him and the choices he makes.

He's one of our heroes and BOY are we proud of him!

Here are a few pics of our new "baby" boy, Bryan. His sisters and I miss him a ton, even if his "little" brother Joe is too busy with the new wife to call him much. We miss you, Bryan! Come "home to Oklahoma" as soon as you can!

Bryan posing with his little sisters in the front yard. We were getting ready to take him back to the airport to fly back to Louisiana. We weren't happy to take him back, but we were very happy to get the picture with him.

Please also pray with us that God will bless Joe & Cynthia as they grow closer together in their new marriage, that we would all be supportive of them and do everything in our power to bless them in their new life together!

I am so blessed! Thank you God for this fabulous month, I am so grateful!!!

Last few days before the wedding...

We have been busy in the hustle and bustle that often happens just before a big event. WHICH big event? Joe & Cynthia's wedding, of course!

This past week, though, we were able to slow down "un petit temps" (just a little while) when Joe's "le vrai ami" (true friend), Caleb, came to visit. Caleb is just back in the USA after having been "in the field" in Strasbourg, France. Hence the french translation there. I'm quite sure that Caleb would be better at the translation, but since he's gone back home to Montana, you're stuck with me (Becky).

Here are a few pics I took before Caleb went home. We were sad to see Caleb go so soon and we are all in agreement that if he came back as early as tomorrow it would be a good thing.

I hope you enjoy the pics. Maybe you can get an idea of his gentle spirit and fun loving nature. Or then again, maybe you won't have a clue.

Caught in the middle of making Joe laugh, you can see the laughter on Lizzy's face, too. I think Tori was just shocked that she got to see someone who was able to make Joe laugh enough to almost wet his pants.

This one is the "Dramatic Shot". Not overly dramatic, just a bit posed. Then again, maybe he had a twinge in his tummy at the very idea of leaving us..... or is he looking at a flea on Joe's head? You be the judge.

I think this one is the best shot which captures some small part of Caleb's young-but-oh-so-wise personality. Of course, it's my favorite as you see that great smile which is just aching to turn into a smirk. Come to see us sometime, Caleb.

Do you DDR?

Here is a video of Jim & his brother playing a video game. The teen sons & daughters had been challenging each other all evening and their "old" fathers decided to show them how to do it the "right" way. Most of the video is from behind (not their most attractive side) but the end shows them laughing and cutting up.

Hope you enjoy it. You can listen to the teen sons' commentaries (as well as the wife's) in this short 1 minute and 41 second clip.

Grandparents with some of the Grandkids

Grandparents with some of the Grandkids
Becky's parents with most of the grandkids

Jim's High School Picture

Jim's High School Picture
My goodness, we were so young!

Becky's High School Picture

Becky's High School Picture
Would you look at that red hair! Thank You, Lady Clairol!