Sunday, April 17, 2016

Have You Ever Tried Striking a Bargain with God?

Photo Courtesy Pinterest
Have you ever been faced with such insurmountable problems that you don't know exactly what to do?

It's easy for others to give us advice. It may even be great advice. But unless they have been through some hard times themselves, words can often seem hollow, can't they? I like to listen to people who have passed through  deep waters.

I've mentioned before that we had twins born with cerebral palsy. One of our twins, Alex, passed away at the age of four. His twin sister, Elisa, is now 24 years old. She is having a crisis with her faith. She appreciates sincere people and their prayers, but essentially she has told us, "Enough is enough. I have to accept this condition that I have and not have people pray for me anymore." I do understand what she is saying. I don't fault her at all. It would be easy for me to say something like, "Oh, you shouldn't feel that way." But I don't live in her body and don't have to deal with the realities of her daily condition. At least, not in the way she has to.

It's hard for me as her mom. I've prayed for her countless times and will continue to do so. I know that God is bigger than cerebral palsy. I know also that sometimes people aren't healed, for whatever the reason. I don't want to live in an agitated state with God. I know how kind He is. I have to leave my questions with Him. I can trust Him, even in my darkest moments.

We also have a ten year old son who was diagnosed at the age of two with a rare, genetic disorder. At the time of this writing, he is the only one in the state of Iowa with this condition. There are a whole host of issues that are present with this diagnosis. There is also the possibility that his condition could worsen.

So, I've found myself at times bargaining with God. I'll say things like, "I'd like You to heal both of my children,but if I had to choose one, I would have to say Nathaniel. Elisa's condition won't worsen as much as his could, so please heal Nathaniel."

It's funny how I would think that God would require me to choose. I guess after all these years of not seeing Elisa get better, I feel the need to strike a bargain.  I can imagine God saying back to me, "Do you really think I would force you to make a choice? Do you think I'm like that?"

No, I don't really believe God is forcing me to make a choice, but it can seem that way sometimes.

I've went round and round with this situation in my mind. Oftentimes, I am busy with school or things at home.  I will just have fleeting thoughts about the whole situation. At other times, I'm filled with such sadness.

Sometimes, when I'm walking down the stairs in our home, I'll say, regarding Elisa, as my foot touches step one, "If for some reason healing is not in her future, for whatever the reason, could You just heal her hip?" When my foot touches step two.... "Could You heal her feet?", then on step three..."Could You maybe heal her hands?" God must often wonder about how stingy I seem to think He could be.

His love and compassion are limitless. I'm bound by what I see or don't see so much of the time. If I don't see it, then it must not be happening. If I do see something, then, "Whew, what a relief. I thought You might have forgotten me." Sometimes the pathway is so smooth and beautiful. I can rest and take in all the sights around me. But other times, the road is so rocky. I have to carefully watch my steps. I fall down and cry and wonder if God is near.

 My walk with God reminds me so much of one of my favorite books, Hinds Feet on High Places. The main character, Much Afraid, has told the Chief Shepherd (Jesus) that she will follow Him anywhere, no matter the cost. But she is disheartened at His choice of Guides to accompany her on the journey - Sorrow and Suffering. She shrinks away from them at first, but the path is so hard that she ends up reaching for their hands. As time goes on, she finds that not only has she changed, but her name has changed as well. Her two Guides have also been transformed and at last, she has reached the High Places.

No one ever said our journey would be without a cost.

As moms, we begin a journey with our children. At first we are their provider and protector. We kiss and hug away all the hurts. We wipe noses, read books together, take walks, and watch countless episodes of Sponge Bob.

But then, it begins to change.

Now, I'm not sure what my job is anymore. Sometimes I don't know what to do either.  I can't make these situations, like Elisa's, better at all.

I can only speak the truth of who God is to them and to myself.

Even when I look up at the sky and wonder, too, if God is really there, if He really hears me, if He is aware of me and my children.

Yes, He is there. Yes, He really cares. Even when I am unaware of Him, He is beside me. Everyday He gives me strength to accomplish all the tasks I have to do in regards to their care. Sometimes at the end of the day, I'm even a little surprised at all I have done that day. But it isn't me at all. I know that all the credit goes to God and His loving care over me.

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. (Psalm 56:8)

All the tears I have are remembered by and will continue to be remembered by God. The things that cause us to cry are noted by God and collected by God. My tears and your tears are precious to Him. Maybe He pulls out the bottle one day and remembers those tished mes with us. Maybe He shows us how He was present when we cried. I don't know. But I know that everything He does has a purpose for our good.

Whatever you may be facing today, you aren't alone. I pray today that God will show you how He is there with you. Maybe this is the darkest and loneliest time you have ever faced. Maybe you are wondering if God is even there and if He is there, does He really care about me?  He really is there and He really does care about you and everything that has to do with you.

Part of the reason that I am writing down these thoughts is for the sake of remembrance. One day, if Elisa were healed, I will reread these lines and remember. 

Whether Elisa is healed or isn't doesn't lessen the importance of who she is in our home. It's not that I won't be happy unless she is healed. It's just that I believe that God is a God of healing. It is part of His name and part of His character. The Bible is full of instances where Jesus had compassion on people who could not walk and healed them. I don't hold a magic ball or have some inside track of God's plan. But I do believe in and won't change my mind about His kindness.

And so, maybe, one day I will read these words again, but the circumstances will have changed in an incredible way.

Until then, I believe God is who He says He is. I believe He is aware of me and my tears. I believe He knows what He's doing. I believe He is walking with me and daily giving me strength and grace. I believe He loves me far beyond what I am aware of at this moment in time.

He isn't bound by time and circumstance. He calls things that are not as though they are.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Fixer Upper Inspiration - Touches of Red

Two of my favorite decor colors are red and black. I have black chairs in my kitchen and antique white cabinets.  I love that combination. I have black lampshades in our living room with a few touches of red here and there.

I was watching Fixer Upper, one of my favorite shows on HGTV, a few weeks ago. Jo had found some beautiful red pendant lights while antiquing. I loved the finished look!

Joanna Gaines finds the pendant lights at Round Top, Texas  Fixer Upper HGTV
This room is from Season 2 entitled, "The Tire Swing House"

Different angle from Season 2, "The Tire Swing House".

Fixer Upper HGTV - Season 2 "The Tire Swing House"

Red doors are my favorite, too!  $99  $199  Fixer Upper HGTV from Season 2, "The Tire Swing House".  $79.90

Red and black complement each other so well. Do you like using certain colors in your home?

On the blog,, she offers the following advice on decorating.  (/

“Every room could use a touch of black.”
“Avoid hanging pictures too high, keep them at eye level (unless you are going to cover a large expanse of wall top to bottom).”
“Start with one inspiration piece (maybe a rug or a pillow) and build your room and color scheme around it.”
“Choose your paint color last to complement everything else in the room.”
“It doesn’t have to MATCH, it just has to “go”…”
“Add a touch of whimsy and the unexpected.”
“Pull the furniture out from all the walls.”
“Mix things up.  
This article also has some great advice.

 Joanna Gaines tips for your home:

Linking up to:

Friday, March 11, 2016

An Introduction

Hi! My name is Kathy and I'm a wife and mom to six kids. I'm linking up with one of my favorite blogs, Kelly's Korner, today with my introduction. As it says on my sidebar, I'm a pastor's wife, but I don't have a perfect life. Not by a long shot:) But it is a joy filled, grace filled life. Life doesn't have to be perfect in order to be happy.

Our six kids range in ages from 25 all the way down to age 10! I wrote about our last little surprise here.  He was born when I was 42 years old and oh, the joy he has brought to our home! Don't worry if you find yourself in your forties and you are unexpectedly pregnant. It will be okay and it will be wonderful!

Our youngest a few years ago:)

I met my husband at a Bible college in Louisiana. He was a Teen Challenge graduate and later, we lived and worked at a Teen Challenge ministry in Iowa for fourteen years, where he was the director of the men's program.  In 2002, he became the lead pastor at a church in a nearby city. He has been the pastor for the last fourteen years and loves his job so much.

Back to our family, our oldest daughter has CP. Her twin brother passed away at the age of four. I wrote about that day recently here.   

A little about me...I love reading blogs, and most of my favorites are from young moms. I remember the days when all my kids were young. Believe me when I say that some of your best memories are being made today, even though you are so tired and you wonder if you are doing a good job. You are! I write a little about those days here with a post called "Advice to Young Moms". You are doing a phenomenal job!

I love all things to do with New York City.

I remember reading an article where a mom wrote that she had begun being interested in NYC while watching Sesame Street with her little ones. I remember thinking that my interest had been piqued then, too. I really don't know for sure when my love for that great city began. But I've been blessed to have gone twice now. Our first visit was two years ago for our 25th wedding anniversary. I wrote about that magical visit here. If you love the movie "You've Got Mail" with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan too, then you will want to read that post:) I hope I get to visit NYC again soon.

I love the season of fall. To me, it's the most magical and special time of year! You can read a little about my love of fall here.

I love lipsticks. Isn't that funny? But a lipstick in my shopping cart makes me happy. Maybe because I'm so pale and you can hardly see me until I have lipstick on?

I do fashion posts now and then, which is funny really, because for years I owned about one shirt. Well, that may be a slight exaggeration, but not much. Thank goodness I found blogs like Kelly's and also this one. Shaeffer's blog is about the most fun blog you'll ever read. Here she is below.

 One of my fashion posts is here.

I love holidays, too! My favorite of all is Thanksgiving with Christmas right behind that.

Photo Courtesy - Nell Hill

Two years ago at Christmas (our home)

Our living room this past Christmas:)

I love movies. My favorite movie is Father of the Bride with Steve Martin. My favorite drama is the movie Slumdog Millionaire. I'm going to write about that movie soon. It really changed my life. Can a movie really do that? It can when God is involved:)

That's a little bit about me. I would have to say that I'm only an occasional blogger. But I would love to hear from you, especially all the young moms out there. I have a soft spot in my heart for all of you. Much love to each one of you!

Linking up with

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Last Day I Saw My Son

Alex, Elisa, and Evan
McComb, Mississippi

January 19, 2016 marked the 20th anniversary of our little boy's death. At times, it seems like a recent event.  It also seems a lifetime ago.

It is strange to think that Alex never got to meet our last 3 children. Caitlin was born about a year after his death. Noah was born 3 years later, and our last little guy was born 9 years later. They have heard of him many times and seen his photos, of course, so they feel like they know him. But it is strange to think that they never actually met.

In a previous post (here),  I shared about our son, Alex, and his health problems. Throughout his young life, he would take numerous trips by ambulance and even helicopter to the hospital.  He had a long history of developing croup which would often quickly escalate to not being able to breathe. Besides cerebral palsy, he had another condition called tracheaomalacia which leads to tracheal collapse especially when increased airflow is needed. He had since underwent surgery to help with this condition. The surgeon felt the procedure had been a success. We had 9 months of no breathing emergencies and felt that maybe we were finally in the clear.

There had been one particular time before this surgery when we had almost lost Alex. After losing consciousness, he had been admitted to Blank Children's Hospital and rushed to Pediatric Intensive Care. He was having an especially hard time recovering from pneumonia. It was touch and go for Alex for a few days. At one point, he seemed to simply give up. It was clear the pediatric team did not know if he would make it through the day.

A few months later, we were at my mom and dad's home in Mississippi and he saw a photo of my aunt Loretta. He told my mom, "I've seen that lady." My mom told him that he couldn't have as she had passed away from Lou Gehrig's disease a year before. He replied, "I saw her at the hospital when I was very sick. Jesus was there with her and she had on a white, shiny robe and she smiled and said, "Hallelujah (or Glory to God - I can't remember which he said). We were amazed at this as he had not said anything about seeing her before. Seeing her photo seemed to have triggered that memory for him. We hadn't realized how close to death he had come.

January 18, 1996, was a cold and snowy day. The temperatures were projected to plummet that day and despite the previous 9 months of relative calm, I eyed Alex warily. When there was a drastic drop in temperature, he would often experience severe respiratory problems. (That night, the temperature did indeed drop by double digits.)

My mother-in-law happened to be there for a visit. I would be forever grateful that she had been there that day. Her presence allowed me a little more freedom to have fun with the kids. We all sat at the table and did some finger painting. Sometime that morning, I had to give Alex a little swat on his bottom for something he had said or done. I can't remember why exactly. But he scooted hastily down the hallway after that swat and crawled right out of his pants:)

Later that day, I remember being very annoyed at myself about my lack of preparation for supper.  My brother-in-law, Chris, stopped over for awhile prompting us to do something a little unusual. He had brought his guitar and sang some worship songs. Looking back, that time together was a gift from God.

 I wish I could say we did that all the time, but we didn't. It was an unusual event. Life was often so rigid during those years. Relaxing was almost unheard of. There was always a worry about Alex. A day could be so seemingly ordinary and then in the next instant, we could be standing in an emergency room watching a doctor intubating Alex.

I am thankful that night was different. After Chris sang some worship songs, we got the kids ready for bed. Dave remembers that Alex was sitting on his lap when he suddenly turned towards him and said, "I love you, Dad." Dave would later say that it struck him as unusual. It wasn't out of character for Alex to be affectionate, but it stood out to Dave because he had said it with such intensity.

 A few days prior to this, Dave and I had been gone a couple of nights for a staff retreat with the ministry my husband worked with. When I got home and walked in the door, Alex looked at me and suddenly started to sob. I sat him in my lap while he cried uncontrollably for a few minutes.  That, too, was unusual. I've looked back on that night and often wondered if somehow he knew that he wouldn't be with us long.

I also remember just prior to Alex's passing, I had been cleaning the house and suddenly felt the voice of the Lord say to me, "The house can wait. Go and play with the kids." I put my cleaning things down and went into the living room and played. I'm so thankful that God interrupted my plans that day.

Early on the morning of January 19, 1996, I woke up to the dreaded sound of Alex loudly struggling to breathe. It was pitch black outside.  I don't think either Dave nor I ever really went into a deep sleep at any time during those years with Alex.  I feel like I was always a little awake during the night, just in case he ran into some sort of difficulty with his breathing.

 When I heard his gasps, I stumbled into his room and picked him up, calling out to Dave at the same time. Dave quickly began rescue breathing as I called 911. They had been to our home before and had mistakenly went into the Teen Challenge building which we lived behind. I remember telling them to please come around to the back of the building.  I didn't want there to be any waste of time. There were deep snow drifts everywhere and I hoped they could make it to us quickly.

Everything seemed to be moving slowly, almost as if you are seeing events pass by your eyes in a detached sort of way. I pulled clothes on over my pajamas and put on shoes. I remember Alex was wearing his blue pajamas. Dave was working on him frantically and saying his name.  Alex didn't seem to be responding. I could see the flashing ambulance lights through the window. We met the men on the sidewalk and they quickly placed Alex into the ambulance. I climbed into the front seat of the ambulance as Dave prepared to follow in the van. In some ways, I felt relief now. I had seen this happen many times before. We would stay in the hospital for several days until Alex had again recovered. I didn't know that this night would be different.

Somewhere around the Altoona exit, we pulled over and were met by a second ambulance. I remember a voice of the ER doctor over the intercom talking about administering epinephrine. The ambulance started again. I kept looking back to see Alex, but there were several people around him and I couldn't see him. I prayed and watched the road. It was deserted due to the weather and the icy conditions. We were nearing the hospital when I looked back again. Someone moved and I was suddenly able to see Alex. A man was over him doing chest compressions. His heart had never stopped before. I began to be filled with dread. I got out of the ambulance as they rushed past me with Alex into another room. I know I was walking, I know I was answering questions, I know I handed them an insurance card, but yet it was like I was watching myself do all these things. A chaplain came into the waiting room and began  talking to me. I remember feeling slightly annoyed, to be honest. I didn't want to talk with her at that moment. I wanted to listen and hear what was going on. I could hear a lot of activity. I felt very alone and prayed as I waited for Dave to arrive. I knew that he would have to drive very slowly due to the weather conditions.

I asked the chaplain to please go and see what was happening. She did and came back to say that it didn't look good. I felt like I was swallowing a lot of air. My mind didn't seem to be able to register what she was saying. Dave came into the room. I don't really remember what we said to each other, if anything at all. I saw the men from the ambulance walk past our door. They didn't make eye contact. Their shoulders were slumped over. I stood up and walked out the door. I walked towards the room where I heard voices. I think Dave was with me as the doctor met us in the hallway. He put his hands out and said, "I'm so sorry. There is nothing more we can do."

I turned slightly and could see Alex on a gurney. I walked to his side and looked down upon his face. I remember that I gently closed his eyes.It is painful to write that detail, but that is something that I remember clearly doing. Even though I knew I was in a hospital room, I still felt as if I were watching someone else. I asked Dave if I were dreaming. I was clearly in shock.

 A kind nurse told me that if I sat down, she would place him in my lap. Disconnecting the tubes, they placed his little body in my arms.  He was warm and looked as if here were sleeping. I looked at his face and felt the weight of his body. The reality of it hadn't quite sunk in. Dave would later say that I asked him numerous times if we were dreaming.

 In the midst of our grief and shock, I suddenly had a  very keen awareness of what was happening in another place. In my mind, I could clearly see Alex standing in front of the gate of heaven with throngs of people watching him.It is important for you to know, Alex had never walked. Although he was more mobile that his twin sister Elisa, he too was bound to a wheelchair. In my quick vision, it was very quiet until he began to walk inside. Then the people began to cheer like you would hear in a large football stadium full of people. All of this happened so quickly and so quietly within my spirit. It was God showing me a little of what Alex was experiencing. He had closed his eyes in this life. Maybe he had seen me or Dave for just a moment. But when he opened them again, he was with Jesus. He was able to walk now and run. He no longer needed his wheelchair. There were no more limitations.

This vision was God's way of reaching down to me in that terrible moment in time, helping soften the pain as I held our son. In fact, I now understand that shock during grief is itself a gift to buffer the pain.

I can remember turning to Dave and asking, "Is this really happening? Is this real?" The surrealness of that moment can't be described. Just an hour before we had been in our beds. I had talked to Alex just a few short hours before that. I had kissed him goodnight and sang a little song with him. He had asked me the same question that he had asked me many times before, "Mom, what are we having for breakfast?" It didn't compute that I wouldn't see him again. It didn't make sense that he wouldn't be sitting in the kitchen having oatmeal for breakfast. How had this so suddenly happened?

I sat with Alex in my lap for quite a long time. It was dark when we arrived, but now daylight had come. The time came to give him to the nurse. A few moments later, our friend and boss from Teen Challenge, Warren Hunsberger, came into the room and brought hope as he prayed with us there.  It seemed to bring clarity. The fogginess was still there, but his voice and words carried authority and were what we needed at that time.

We walked into the bright sunshine and got back into the van. We drove through that dazzling sunlight back to Colfax. I knew that our lives had been altered forever, yet as we passed other people, their lives were the same. They were driving to work or home. But we were going home to a different life.

In the next few days, we had to meet with the funeral home director, plan his funeral, his burial, what clothes he would wear. I hated every moment of that experience.

 When  all of this was behind us, when the funeral and burial were over, there remained no true normalcy. Everything was sort of the same, but not really.

We still had all of Elisa's (Alex's twin sister who also had cerebral palsy) needs to tend to. That was hard for me. I loved her, but wanted a break from the constant care so that I could grieve. But her care wasn't something that we could just stop doing. I also had her big brother Evan, who was just about to turn five and her little brother, Tyler, who was just three years old. I remember that he came into Alex's bedroom where I was sitting and said to me, "Mommy, you sad? I sad, too." That is a precious memory of him trying to help.

Over the next few days and even months, I stood in front of his closet and stared at his clothes. I smelled his clothes which comforted me. We don't often think about it, but everyone does have a scent that we recognize and that scent was a blessing. We left his shoes at the front door and never moved them that first year. It was almost as if he was still with us as long as his shoes were there.

Twenty years later, it sometimes feels as if we have lived two lives. One life as a family with Alex, and a whole other life and family without him.

When Caitlin was little, she was watching home movies with us of Alex. We later found her crying on her bed. Even though she had never met him, she missed him. She recognized the loss we had suffered in our family. She has a brother she has yet to meet and feels the loss in a very real way because he is a part of our story.

So, what do you do when one of your children is just suddenly gone?

All of the questions, pain, hurts have had to be left in the hands of the One I can trust. His kindness towards me has convinced me of His character. I don't understand His whole plan. Not now. But one day, I will.

In some ways, I feel like after that time, I took whatever hope I had and placed it on a shelf in a closet and slid it towards the back. From time to time, I will open the door and happen to see it. It is covered with dust now and I might even think about taking it out. But it seems best to leave it where it is.

It isn't the hope of heaven that I've left on the shelf.  It's the shattered pieces of a hope that wasn't realized. All the hopes I had when I was carrying the twins...all the hopes I had for them to be well. It's so painful. After all this time, I still think there is a part of me that is unhealed.

Why did our twins have cerebral palsy? Why was Alex born only to die at the age of four? Why couldn't we have experienced normal, healthy twins? What would their lives have been like? What has been the point of it all? Why has there been so much pain and suffering?

I just don't know the answer to all those questions. It is like something I heard an older missionary say one day in chapel during Bible school. Their son had died years before and he had looked up into the sky with all the questions and pain, knowing God could have spared their son. He stood before all the students that day in chapel and looked up to heaven and cried "I don't know why God allowed my son to die; it's a mystery...but I'm not going to hell over a mystery." That is the bottom line. I may not understand, but I refuse to be bitter with God.

I love day to day life. I love ordinary days. But I also love celebrations to look forward to. It's probably why I love holidays so much.

One day I will walk into a place that I've never been or seen before. I will stand and try to take in all the beautiful sights before me. I will hear a familiar voice and turn to see his face. I will hear him say, "Mom!" again. It is a certainty.  All of the pain will be gone as I'm reunited never to be separated again. It will be the ultimate celebration.

I've written my recollections of those last days to the best of my memory. I don't have a neat, tidy way of wrapping up the story. I guess it is still being written.
If you have suffered the loss of a child or any deep loss,  I grieve with you. God can heal our deepest hurts. He longs for you to call to Him. He will answer you and He will come to you in the pain you are in right now.

"He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds." Psalms 147:3

Linking to:

Friday, February 12, 2016

Brother Pine's Prayers

Probably 30 years ago now, I had an experience that I've often thought about. I can't say it had ever happened before or since. It was really remarkable.

I was attending church at First Assembly of God in McComb, Mississippi. There was an elderly man that always sat near the back - Brother Pine. He was a white haired gentleman that had an endearing quality about him. We always greeted one another, but never really had a lengthy conversation. He always seem to radiate a gentleness and warmth.

One morning during the greeting time, I was feeling troubled and sad.  I walked back towards Brother Pine, and as our hands met, we both started crying. It didn't feel odd, as you would think, but it did take me by surprise. It was as if his spirit connected to mine at that moment. I had the strangest feeling that he understood my heart and was praying for me.

The greeting time ended. We both smiled at one another and went back to our seats.

I've thought of that moment many times over the years. I needed someone's prayers that day and God sent me Brother Pine. Somehow, I knew he stood in the gap for me that morning.

Have you ever experienced a connection like that?

Courtesy Pinterest

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

10 Things That Make Me Happy Today

Photo courtesy of  Pinterest

Have you ever thought about what makes you happy on any random day or season of life?

Here are ten things that today just make me happy!

1. A bed that is made. A lot of times, I don't do this. I smooth out the blankets, plump up the pillows and call it a day. But when the bed is actually made with my comforter and all the throw pillows, I just feel happy whenever I walk into my bedroom throughout the day. Try it and you'll see what I mean (or maybe you already do that).

2. Fresh, clean sheets. This one goes with # 1, I guess. There's something about going to bed at night with clean sheets that smell so good. I think I sleep better that night. If that's all in my mind, then let's just go with it.

3. Boots. Oh, I do love a pair of boots. I have 3 or 4 pair, but there's always room in my closet for one more pair. A pair of boots makes me feel very happy.

4. A visit to Starbucks and Target - the dynamic duo. They just go together, don't they? And there's a new Starbucks drink - a Molten Chocolate Latte.

5. A candy bar stashed away for a rainy day. My favorites are a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup or a Hersheys Cookies and Cream. As you can see, I kinda like chocolate.

6. Sunrises and sunsets. I'm a pretty simple person and it's the simple things that bring me the most joy. Try getting up early one morning, make yourself a cup of coffee, and watch the sun rise. I always think of Anne of Green Gables when she says, "Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it." That's how I feel when I watch a sunrise.

7. I love when the snow is falling outside and all my family is home inside. It's even better if there is soup bubbling on the stove or cookies baking in the oven.

8. Black lampshades. Add a lamp with a black lampshade in your home. It adds elegance to a room.

9. Fresh flowers. During the dreary days of winter, I love some beautiful color in the kitchen. Trader Joes is my favorite place to buy tulips this time of year.

10. New York City. I really love this great city. I've been privileged to visit twice and I hope that I can go again one day. I've checked off a number of things that I was able to see while we were there (here for some of the filming locations from "You've Got Mail"), but already have a new list. I love history and old buildings. I was doing a little research about the Titanic and  remembered that it was sailing for New York City. I learned that the old White Star building is still there today as well as what is left of the old pier where the Titanic would have sailed  had she made her destination. Those type of things fascinate me and I really want to visit both places if I get to go to New York again. ( I love Central Park and Broadway shows, too, but I also love walking around and looking at history.)

White Star Offices after the sinking of the Titanic 1912

Present day on 9 Broadway, NYC
Photo Courtesy of

1912 and today

 Are you like me at all in that you just want to stand on that very spot?

All that remains of Pier 54 in NYC. This would have been the Titanic's destination.


I've woken up praying for New York on several occasions asking God to protect the city and the people there. I can't explain why I have such a love for the place, but I really do.

That is my random Top Ten for February of 2016. Do any of those things make you happy, too?
Have a great week!

Linking up to:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

20 Years Ago Today...

Dave and Alex - McComb, Mississippi

Twenty years ago today, our little 4 year old boy passed from this life to the next.

In one moment, he may have remembered seeing my face looking at him, but in the next moment he opened his eyes and saw Jesus.

There is always a mixture of feelings on this day. Sadness at what might have been and happiness that he is safe and well. He no longer needs a wheelchair. He can run and play with no hindrances whatsoever.

I wonder often what he is doing and who he is seeing. I wonder if he ever thinks of me. 

I think about one of the last things he ever said to me, "Mom, what are we having for breakfast tomorrow?" He really enjoyed breakfast:)

But thankfully, joy outweighs any sadness. This life truly is temporary. All the things that seem so hard today won't carry carry the same pain when we stand before God.

I want to encourage you today that if you are feeling alone or forgotten, you aren't. There is Someone who passionately loves you and sees the pain you feel. If you want Him to, He will come in and walk with you and you will never be alone again. There is nothing you have done that can't be forgiven or redeemed.

That is what I want you to know today.

I know that some things hurt so badly and you want to know the whys of it all.

I don't have the answer to that either. But Jesus will never leave you or forsake you. He will stay with you until the end.

One day I will hear his voice say, "Mom!" again. All the sickness and fear will no longer be associated with him any more. I will see him whole and happy and running to meet me.

Monday, December 28, 2015

New York, New York! (Trip #2!)

 I had wanted to visit New York City for several years, would you believe that I was just there last month for our second trip?!! It's incredible to see a dream come true.

This was an even sweeter trip than last year. On my first trip in October 2014, my husband took me to NYC for our 25th anniversary. But this time, we brought along our 18 year old daughter for a special high school graduation trip.

We arrived on a Monday afternoon and checked into our hotel. We stayed at The Belvedere in Manhattan, just a few blocks from Times Square. We would recommend that hotel if ever you are looking for a place to stay. It was clean, which if you know me at all, is HIGH on my list! The location was great, too, as it was within walking distance of Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall.

Our first afternoon, we walked to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree (yippee!!), walked on to Grand Central Station to eat at Shake Shack, and then did a little more sightseeing on into the night.

The next few days we squeezed in as much sightseeing as we could. On Tuesday night, we had tickets to Aladdin. It's such a great show and our daughter loved it as much as we did.

Another magical performance!
Aladdin at New Amsterdam Theater, NYC

 Afterwards, it was raining and we walked to a place we found on the internet called Capezzi's. It was located in Hell's Kitchen and was the cutest little place. The pizza was fresh and so delicious. We pretty much inhaled it.

9th Avenue, NYC

Ah, that fresh basil!

Our daughter was so excited to see Central Park. When we arrived there, I suggested walking into The Plaza Hotel first.  I really wanted to see the inside. I kind of wondered if the doorman would just look at us and tell us that we couldn't go in. But I had nothing to worry about. It was a beautiful place. We walked around the lobby and headed downstairs where there are bakeries and shops. As we were leaving, I noticed they were serving a formal tea to a family at their table. I would love to do that next time, but we decided to go on across the street to Central Park.

I had wondered if we had arrived too late in the season to see any fall colors (this was early November), but the park was beautiful with orange and yellow leaves everywhere.

The Plaza Hotel is the white building in the front

The Plaza Hotel

Wollman Rink Central Park

Dave and our daughter on the right at Bethesda Fountain, Central Park
Dave laughed when he saw this photo. He said he looks so dramatic, but  was just pointing out The Boathouse to Caitlin.

A very sweet lady at our church had slipped me a $50 bill before we left and had told me to spend it on something special in New York.  When I saw the horse drawn carriage rides through Central Park, I knew that was where the $50 should go:) 

I couldn't find my photo, so had to substitute this one I found online.

My husband and daughter in Central Park.

After spending a few hours in Central Park, we walked across the street to the upper West side to a few movie locations we had found on our previous visit. You know, you really can find just about anything on the internet. My daughter and I love the movie, You've Got Mail, so we had a map of locations with us. My husband and I had walked to a few of them on our last trip (he is a great husband because he could really care less about seeing those places), but this time we walked on even further until we found the location from the last scene of the movie. I know, some of you are probably wondering why we would even do this, but my daughter and I had so much fun seeing all the locations. I just can't explain it. If you've ever loved a movie, then you might know what I mean.

Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail

We found it! This is the same spot from the movie in the photo above. 
91st Street Garden at Riverside Park

We went to Cafe Lalo on West 83rd as well as Zabars on Broadway, which were two other movie locations.

My daughter also had heard of a bakery that she hoped we could visit. We found it on our walk back. The cookies were huge and so good!
image courtesy of

Levain Bakery West 74th Street. This was the very long line waiting to buy their cookies.

(We also visited Magnolia Bakery for their banana pudding and Milk Bar on Columbus Avenue on our trip.) 

On Thursday, we took a taxi to Serendipity for their frozen hot chocolate. It was as wonderful as it looks!

Serendipity East 6oth Street, NYC

We walked all over that beautiful city, took buses a few times, taxis a few times, and Uber rides a few times. We found the people to be very friendly. But it also helps that my husband can become best friends with people in five minutes. The Uber drivers and my husband would talk and talk. They would end up telling him their life stories while my daughter and I would just look at each other and smile. He is just like that.

Little Italy

Chelsea Market

A blogging friend recommended this restaurant to us on West 51st Street

We happened upon this photo shoot near the Flat Iron Building.

The Empire State Building in the clouds
On our last day, Friday, my husband and daughter went to the top of the Empire State Building while I stayed safe on the ground at Macys. I shopped for some Christmas ornaments and found these two.

We ended our trip on Friday with our first visit to Radio City Music Hall. We had tickets to the very first Christmas show of the season. Our flight also left Friday night, but we had time to take in one more show. It was a special experience for all of us. If I lived there, I would go to that show every year. It was really everything you would hope a New York show to be.

The Rockettes!

Then it was time to pick up our suitcases and take our last Uber trip to the airport. You guessed it. The driver and my husband never ran out of things to talk about. 

We made it home around midnight. My daughter says that it seems like it was a dream. It's still hard to believe that we went! We would get up every morning and hit it hard. We never got back until it was dark outside. Even after being there Monday through Friday, there are still things we didn't get to see! I saw the Statue of Liberty from a distance, but next time I want to actually go out and see her up close and visit Ellis Island.

I'm so thankful that we were able to take our daughter. I hope to go back again someday. If  I were rich, I would take all eight of us. I would love for all my kids to see it. This is when it can work against you to have a large family. ha!

I loved New York City. I'm so thankful that I've been able to go. It was as wonderful and magical as I remembered it to be!

Washington Square, NYC

Goodbye, New York...until next time!

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