Thursday, December 30, 2010

Faith in action!

A really cool thing happened today, and reminded me that it is the little things that matter!! I took the kids out today. We went to Barnes and Noble and then I took them to Q'doba for lunch. Right now, pretty much doing anything with Zach is an adventure (to put it nicely). He grabs everything in sight, and throws everything in sight...and that is precisely why it is such a good idea to take him out to lunch ! HA!
Anyway, I ordered two kids meals. Taylor tried to get them from me and carry them to the table. She lost her tray balance, and of course, both meals went flying to the floor. Awesome. I was very apologetic, Zach was crying because he was hungry , and I could tell the lady behind the counter had pity on me. She gave me the "you look like you have your hands full" look, sprinkled with empathy. She said she would bring two new meals to me (I wonder why she did not want me to get Taylor to pick them up from the front counter!)
Once the meals came and I tried to give Zach his cheese quasadilla and applesauce, he wanted nothing to do with them. When he gets overly tired, which maybe he was, he takes food and just chunks it across the table. So our peaceful lunch ensued. I kept trying to feed Zach, and Zach kept throwing stuff and trying to grab Taylor's lunch, and it was a bit stressful.
After lunch was over, or said another way, after I surrendered, I began to clean up and as I was doing that, I noticed three high school girls came and sat at a table next to us. I saw that they bowed their heads and prayed before their meal, which is always encouraging to see. A few minutes later, I was trying to gather all my stuff, and collect the trash. Zach was crying and obviously ready for a nap! One of the girls from that table got up and picked up all our trash and said "let me help you with this" and went to throw it away for me. Now let me remind you , this is not a girl that worked there; this was one of the high school girls from the table next to us. I was blown away. Such a simple gesture, but obviously one born out of a faith that is action oriented that belonged to that girl! She then went and opened the door for us so I could get the stroller through.
Taylor said, "Mom, she doesn't even work here! " and I said "Taylor, she probably did that because she loves Jesus!!" Then Taylor asked me if I do things too just because I love Jesus, to which I replied '' Well, I try to!" (-:
What a great example for my kids to see today (and me as well!!) A high school girl living out her faith by helping an obviously struggling mom today!! God, will you bless, strengthen, encourage and protect the faith of that girl, whose name I don't even know? You definitely used her to bless my life today!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bloggity blog!

Hello everyone!

I have been very absent from this blog! Now that I am a working woman, I guess I have let some things slide,and one of those things is blogging! Ha- I am not even sure I remember how to do all this!

Life has been very, very full these past months but full is good! I am enjoying working so much-God has really blessed me with some awesome people to work with and I really am loving the variety I am able to experience each day. No day is the same in Children's Ministry! I feel very alive and I am very energized to be a part of something much bigger than myself!

Maybe I will try to get back to blogging a bit (no promises)...but then again, it is one of the busiest months of the year! (-:

Sunday, August 8, 2010

It's been a while!

Whew!! I just noticed it has been a month since I last blogged!! Sometimes blogging feels like homework, but once I do it, I am always glad I did. So, here goes...

I have had a lot going on in the last month. I preached at church on Sunday, July 18th, which was such an awesome experience for me. I was blown away that God would give me that kind of an opportunity. It was very humbling for me as well as a great chance to really depend on the Lord. I so appreciated the friends that came to support me that Sunday...some neighbors, some friends I met through Taylor's preschool, some old, very dear friends I met back when I worked at Church at Charlotte, as well as my parents and some of my extended family. That meant so much to me!! It was a very good discipline, too, for me to prepare for that over the summer.

So, after that day preaching, the following week I was just chillin' out, knowing that I did not have another speaking opportunity that I had to prepare for until October. Aahhhhhh! What was I going to do with all my time (ha ha!!)?

Then I received a phone call...long story short,and many conversations later, I was asked to be the Acting Children's Ministry Director at Lake Forest. I am a planner, and yet MY plans went out the window as I accepted this position. One week later, (this past week) , I started working! It has been a whilrlwind, and yet I feel very grateful to be given this opportunity now. It is clear that God had paved the way for me. He had prepared me by building relationships with some awesome people at Lake Forest over the years. So, in a lot of ways, this is just another example and reminder that GOD IS IN CONTROL! I am not. He has my life in His hands, and I don't always know the plans He has for me!

So, there ya go! I am along for the ride and loving it!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I was leaking today...

Yeah, I know that sounds strange. I think I officially hit that point in the summer today that I realized I was leaking patience and it was draining very quickly!!

After a few weeks in a row of "Mom, what are we going to do today?" and cleaning up spill # 5,192, I realized my patience was running very low. It was just one of those days. It felt like every time I turned around, there was another mess I had to clean up and sometimes that wears on me.

But tonight, I got to go out and repair some of my leaks! T.J. Haycox hosted a "Him Sing" again at his house and I went and hung out with about ten other folks and we worshiped God for over two hours! It is amazing how quickly the cares of the day faded and my soul and spirit was filled up again.

So, tomorrow is a new day...hopefully I won't be as leaky!!(-:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It's official-I am an extrovert!

Ha! My title for today's blog is a bit of a joke...but do you ever just find that you relearn things about yourself that you already knew to be true?

I love people. I gain energy from being around people (byproduct of being an extrovert). Now, don't get me wrong, I love time alone...but I am so energized when I am around people and it is soooo good for my soul.

Just a few events recently have reminded me of this...I can be in a somewhat average mood, but then I can go have coffee with someone and that completely changes my mood!

Last week, I went to one of our women's ministry team meetings. I have the privilege of serving alongside some really cool women at Lake Forest. I was so excited to go and be with them. We shared a fabulous meal together (thanks Corinne!),we talked about our lives, we talked about ministry "stuff", and we prayed for one another. If I had to rate my soul on a scale of a 1-10, it was probably a 5 or 6 when I got there and a 9 or 10 when I left! I am so aware that God does not intend for us to "do life" on our own, but He gives us other people to share our lives with! Sometimes it is messy, sometimes it is hard, but overall, it challenges me to be more and to live life more fully!

Yesterday, some friends came over to our neighborhood pool. I could have just gone with my kids and I would have had fun, but NOTHING like what I felt as a result of being with other people! I came home tired and yet energized! I find it so much more fun to share experiences with others.

Last night, my dear friend, Pam, went to church for a Bible study and she said she would come by afterward and we could hang out and talk on my porch. She came by at 9pm and we sat out there talking until 10:30'ish! I came in and the first thing I said to my husband was " I just LOVE Pam! She is such a good friend!" and I could tell my spirit was so encouraged by spending time with her. She made the initiative and even such a simple gesture like hanging out on a porch can bring so much encouragement!

And today, the kids and I got together with some of the other kids and parents from Taylor's preschool. We like hanging out together and so we decided to try and do some stuff together every Tuesday this summer. We met them and went to the fountains at Birkdale and then all went to lunch together. I really like these folks and am just so thankful we are getting together!

So, as I was driving home today, with more dirty, wet towels in the car, half drank Caprisuns from the kids, more laundry to do when I got home, I realized that my heart was full...because I had been with friends. So, it is something I already knew about myself but have been reminded of every time I have been with people lately. It does my heart good to spend time with others. I believe God created us to be in relationships with others, to share in the fun times and the not-so- fun times, and just to "do life" with others.

It has always struck me that when Jesus sent the disciples out, He did not send them out alone, but He sent them in pairs, or even in groups. I think He was onto something (-:!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Aren't you glad I am not God?

That is what I found myself thinking yesterday...I am glad I am not God, and you should be too! (-: He is infinitely more patient, loving, and forgiving than I am!

It started yesterday morning when Taylor came to me with a bottle of my nail polish in her hand and asked me if I could paint her nails for her dance recital, which was that evening. I told her she was not allowed to have nail polish on her fingers for the recital and then asked her to please go put the nail polish back in my bathroom. She walked away with it in her hand and it seemed that she took longer than usual to get back to me. When she did come back, she said, "Um mom, the nail polish broke." I put Zach down , shut the door, and went into my bathroom to find a shattered bottle of hot pink nail polish everywhere on the floor. Taylor told me she was sorry and I basically stood there dumbfounded because I had no idea how to clean up such a mess. I tried nail polish remover and that did not work, so I left it alone for hours until I could get back to it while the kids were resting in the afternoon and I had some time to look up on the internet what I should do.

I was so frustrated and yet I knew it was an accident! Accidents happen all the time and I also knew Taylor was sorry for what had happened. What was so interesting to me, though, is even KNOWING all that, I still found myself bringing it up to her a couple of times throughout the morning. Why? Because I was frustrated? Why would I take it out on her? It was not willful was a mistake.

Here is what I realized , though. I was reminded at some point of the verse that says "I, even I , am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and REMEMBERS YOUR SINS NO MORE." (Isaiah 43:25) God does not remember our sins after we have confessed them to Him. He does not rub it back in our face. He does not remind us of our failings. In fact, "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." Psalms 103:12

I thought about those verses and then I thought about myself. I was reminded of how GOOD God is, and how amazing His ability to forgive and forget is, and how HUMAN I am, even when it comes to something as simple as a bottle of nail polish on the bathroom floor!!!

After some research, and a Magic Eraser, the spill came up, but the lesson in my heart remains. I am so grateful God does not treat our sins, our mistakes, our disobedience, our turning our backs on Him, like I do! His Magic Eraser is REAL and it is because of Jesus that He remembers my sins no more. I hope to become a little more like Him the next time something like this happens...which will most likely be very soon!

Friday, June 4, 2010

SUMMER TIME...Lovin' this pace of life already!

It has officially been one week of summer (ie. out of school) and I am already loving this pace of life!! I did not realize until this week how nice it is to not have to rush out the door every morning, with the kids both fed and dressed, lunches made, etc. We have had a good week doing some fun stuff and what I have probably enjoyed the most is NOT BEING IN A HURRY!! Ahhh!

We have set some "Team Howard" summer rules this year. It seems that sometimes summer can be a time when we can get a bit self-absorbant. Last summer I remember feeling a bit like a "full time entertainer" while trying hard to keep the idea of serving others in front of us. It was a challenge, especially with Taylor who wakes up every morning asking "What are we going to do today?" So, that is one of the reasons for implementing the "summer rules."


1) Have fun!
2) Be kind to everyone. (This is something we are working on pretty intentionally)
3) Play nicely and share (Phillip always seems to struggle with this one-ha ha!)
4) Put your friends and your family before yourself.
5) Have at least one hour of "rest time" each day.
6) Try to "outdo" one another in love. (Romans 13:8)
7) Every day, do something kind for someone else, expecting nothing in return.
8) Obey right away, all the way, with a happy heart. (Thanks,Bethany!)

I am enjoying the kids, enjoying a slower pace with our family as a whole, and I look forward to seeing what God is going to do in our lives this summer. I feel so peaceful even as I write this. It might have to do with the fact that I am sitting outside on the front porch as I type this, with "Hillsong radio" on Pandora playing in the background. (-: I hope you, too, have a rich, enjoyable, summer filled with fewer "to do" lists and more chill time to enjoy God and one another!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A note of encouragement

I received a message sent to me on facebook tonight that was so encouraging! It was from someone I do not know well, but he wrote to let me know how much of an encouragement I had been to him as he had watched me living life with Zach. He said he remembers when he first found out we had a son with Down Syndrome and how he had felt so sorry for us, but now he realizes what a blessing Zach is in our lives. He has gained this understanding mostly through my postings on facebook and through seeing one of the latest pictures of Zach I have posted...

This picture screams JOY to me!

Anyway, I was really encouraged that he would take the time to write the message that he did and I also am reminded tonight just how important it is to encourage one another. It says often in Scripture that we are to "encourage one another" but how often do we do that? How often do we take the time to let others know they have made a difference in our lives, inspired us in some way, or just let them know how valuable they are?
Thank you , Bill Giles, for reminding me of the importance of that tonight. I pray I will be able to do the same for someone this week. Your words encouraged me in a huge way.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Does anyone else feel like May is a crazy month? Wow! I don't think I have ever experienced it quite like this! I mean, I am a very detailed person and all these details are pushing me over the edge! It just seems there is so much to remember. I think I need extra brain space to keep up with all that is going on...parties, bringing this and that to school, remembering when cowboy day is (ha! It is TODAY and yes, Taylor was dressed for it...AGAIN!), forms that need to be filled out, appts. made, childcare figured out, ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

There are only two weeks of preschool left and then summer is here? Are you serious? Whew! It is coming fast! Taylor will have her preschool "graduation" (yes, I will cry my eyes out!) and then we will begin thinking and preparing for kindergarten.

So, as I am in the middle of MAY MADNESS, I pause and thank God today for His word "My soul finds rest in GOD alone; my salvation comes from Him." (Psalms 62:1) and I also thank God for 1/2 price frappucino's, through May 16th BABY!!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"A" for effort

It is the week of Mother's Day...and once again, I believe I am high in the running for "Mom of the Year." If it is not my unbelievable amount of patience I exhibit every day towards my children, the way I model for them a Christ-like life in all I say and do, (HA HA!!!!), I should at least get it for the amount of poopy diapers I have changed for little man Zach this week! Whew!!

But today I do at least get an "A" for EFFORT!! I have had a lot to remember this week because it is teacher appreciation week at school and every day there is something new that we are doing. I have limited brain cells anyway, so I am doing my best to remember everything! But today, I went over the top. It was "Cowboy Day" at Taylor's preschool, or so I thought. I looked at the preschool calendar yesterday that hangs on my fridge and read that this Wednesday is cowboy day. Well, unlike some moms, I don't just happen to have cowboy outfits laying around. I mean, I have a princess for goodness sakes!! So, I called my friend, Ashley, and she said her son, Will, had a cowboy outfit Taylor could borrow that he wore this past year for Halloween. SO, last night, we got that together and I was just proud of myself for remembering!! Funny note about the cowboy outfit (vest and chaps)...Taylor wears a size 5/6 and the cowboy outfit is a size 2T. Nice!

This morning, Taylor proudly came in and woke me up all ready to "giddy up" into her day sporting her cowboy outfit! We got to school and it seemed all her other classmates had obviously forgotten! Taylor kept asking different mom's why their kids were not dressed up like she was and she was so excited to show off her outfit to everyone we saw. Some mom's said "We just didn't have anything at home" it wasn't clicking with myself or anyone else that maybe this was the wrong day! We got into her classroom and I thought "Wow-I am good! I must be the ONLY one who remembered! " "MOM OF THE YEAR" at last! I was joking with another mom about how Taylor's cowboy outfit was maybe a tad small but she was excited to wear it anyway, and that mom pointed to the calendar and said "Cowboy day is next week". Get this...I even looked at her point to Wednesday, May 12, and I said,"No, that is today!" She said "No, today is May 5th." It still took a minute to sink in, as I looked around at ALL the other kids dressed in their normal school clothes, and then it sunk in, I was a week early! HA!

So, I broke the news to Taylor, and she began to disrobe her cowboy attire. I could not stop laughing at myself and how adamant I was that TODAY IS FREAKIN' COWBOY DAY EVERYONE!! SO, next Wednesday, we will try again...but you do have to at least give me an "A" for effort today,right?

Happy Cowboy day everyone... a week early!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New journals

I went and bought two new journals today. I love to journal and have journaled pretty regularly since I was in high school; however, these journals are not for me. These are going to be journals I keep for my children. I got the idea from my dear friend, Pam Sharp. She told me recently about how she has kept journals for her children ...chronicling special times in their lives,etc.

I definitely don't do well with pictures/photo albums and such so this might work for me! My intent is to use these journals as places to write about special things that happen in their lives, but also to write down prayers for them. Taylor has been giving me a really hard time lately (please pray for her if you are reading this, and pray for me as well!!) and I am just trusting that God will soften and change her heart. I think it will be helpful to write down specific prayers for both Taylor and Zach, prayers for their future spouses, for their friendships, for their relationships with God and then watch and see how God works in their precious lives.

I will also include Phillip in this journaling endeavor if he wants to participate. I think it will be a really cool gift to give them someday, maybe when they get married (after age 30, of course!!) So, off to journal entry #1 in both journals today!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

I am a broken funnel

I had the privilege to go to Winston Salem this past Friday night to speak to a group of ladies on Saturday morning at Reynolda Pres. Church. I stayed in a hotel Friday night, which was utter bliss...because I was able to sleep in a room that was as dark as a cave!! (-:

I got to the church on Saturday morning around 8:15am (which if you know me, that is EARLY for a Saturday!!) and the meeting was to begin at 9am. I went early because I was asked to come early so a group of ladies could pray for me before I spoke. That was really great because I realized Friday night as I was praying about my talk on Saturday morning, that it is hard sometimes to walk into a room cold turkey and speak to a group of people who have never seen you before! I was praying for a quick repoire with the ladies I was speaking to, and that they would hear what God wanted them to hear. I also prayed that my words would not be my own and that I would speak with clarity.

After being at the church for a bit, the women who were going to pray with me came and got me. Once these women started praying, I was definitely touched and thought "I would love to have these women come and pray with me every day!!" They seemed to all have very intimate relationships with God. One lady in particular spoke words I will never forget. She started by saying, "This week as I was praying for you Cammie, God gave me a word picture." When people begin something by saying "God spoke to them" or "God gave them a picture", my ears definitely perk up! Then she said, "Cammie, the picture God gave me is that you are a broken funnel." Huh? A broken what? She went on..."There is a funnel in my home that is bent and worn and broken, but when you pour something into it, it still works...the water pours through still and then comes out strong though the end of the funnel. That is like your message today, Cammie. You may be broken and damaged, but the Lord wants to use you and He wants you to be the funnel for Him."

Now, no one wants to be told they are broken (ha!), but of course, I know that I am. I know that I screw up all the time and the fact that God still uses me is mind boggling. It was so cool though, as those words were prayed over me, I felt such a peace come over me. I don't have to hide. I don't have to pretend. I am who I am ... and I am a broken "funnel" that wants to be available for God's Spirit to flow through.

It sure does take the pressure off. God is who is being poured through the funnel...I need only to be available. I don't know the name of that lady who prayed for me and gave me that word picture, but it is surely one I will not forget.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Good date night questions

Phillip and I love to go out on dates. We just seem to connect better when we are away from our home/routine/diaper changing. Yesterday we were able to go out on a "date afternoon" because my parents kept the kids at their house (ALWAYS A HUGE GIFT TO US!!) We ran an errand, then went and hung out at Caribou coffee, each of us taking time to read the Bible, pray, journal,etc. and then we topped it off by having dinner at Village Tavern. We were able to enjoy outdoor seating and it was a beautiful night so that was a major plus!

I had brought along some questions that I had heard before that are great to ask your spouse every once in a while:
  1. What have you been observing in me lately?
  2. What is inspiring you?
  3. What is encouraging you?
  4. What is challenging you?
Phillip and I found those to be great questions to discuss last night. If you know me, you know that I love asking questions anyway, and I am always up for some good, in-depth conversation! I definitely learned some things I did not know were going on with Phillip and so that encouraged me to try and be a better question asker of him in the future.

I wrote my parents a note thanking them for keeping the kids. It was definitely a win-win. My children LOVE being with their grandparents, and I in turn told them that when they do that for us, they are making an investment in Phillip and I having a healthier marriage. So, here's to dates and good question asking!! (-:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Grateful Heart

Do you ever have those times in life when you sit back and realize just how grateful you are?
It has been one of those weeks for me. I have been in a season of blessing and I am so grateful.

This past weekend, I had the privilege of speaking on a youth retreat. It was for the youth of Two Rivers Evangelical Free Church of Knoxville, Tennessee where my very good friend, Chris Jessen, is the youth pastor. Here is a pic of he and his son, Oliver.

It was just one of those weekends that I felt so blessed and privileged to be a part of what God is doing in people's lives...and on this particular weekend, it was the lives of an awesome group of high school students and leaders. This was the second year I have spoken on this same retreat and I feel like these folks are really a part of my heart.

So, this week I have had such a full heart. I love that God is giving me opportunities to do what I love to do, and I feel very blessed!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lake Forest Women's Retreat

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

Last weekend was our Lake Forest women's retreat. I can honestly say it was one of the best weekends I have had in a long, long time. The above verse was our theme verse for the retreat and the topic was "Filled to Overflow." We talked about the four thieves that rob us as women from being filled to overflow- unmet expectations, comparison, busyness, and distractions.

It was a beautiful weekend in the mountains and it was amazing to experience it with 90 women! It has struck me again how cool it is to retreat with other people of like minds. These are some of the most beautiful women I have ever met. We laughed together, cried together, prayed together, and shared our lives together over a 48 hour period. Once we got away from our everyday lives and created the "space" to hear God and also hear one another, God saw that opening and moved in powerful ways! Women shared their pain, their struggles, and their joys together. Some met one another for the first time and began friendships over the weekend. Others had the chance to catch up with old I did. I was able to grab coffee with a dear friend for a couple of hours on Saturday.

The weekend filled my soul in so many ways. I am a believer in retreats!!! I saw firsthand God move in the lives of many women, including my own, and it was a privilege to be a part of it all. My prayer is that the "thief" will not steal what we received over the weekend and that God will continue to remind us all of the "good work"He did in our lives over those two days together.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I am in a club!

Do you ever feel like you have entered into a place where you feel part of a "club"? Clubs seem to have their own language, filled with people who share a common interest. Some clubs feel exclusive...and yet some are exclusive only because of what they share in common.

For example, I know many people who are in the "cancer" club. This is not a club they would have chosen to be in; however they have met so many new people though being a part of the "club." They have words that they toss around that only they really understand. They also have fears, thoughts and emotions that only people who are in that "club" really understand.

Then there is infertility. I have met some people in that "club". They support one another, ask questions of one another, share stories with one another, and I imagine they cry together too...joyful tears at times and really sad, disappointed tears at other times.

When I was pregnant, I definitely felt like I was in a "club" with all the other pregnant people I would see. Even the ones walking in a mall...especially during the later months of my pregnancies. We would give each other that knowing look like"Oh yeah, I understand how uncomfortable you are right now. Oh,and the nearest bathroom is right over there." (-:

There are all sorts of "clubs" out there...the "exercise fanatic" club, the "working mom" club, the "unemployed" club, and the list goes on.

The club I am in is one I joined on October 14, 2008 (the day Zach was born). It is the "MOM of a child with Down Syndrome" club. Now this is not a club I had any aspirations of joining. In fact, two years ago, I did not even know this club existed. I was hesitant to join at first, but as soon as I did, I was met with great acceptance , love, and an understanding that only mom's with these special kids can truly understand.

I went to dinner with six other mom's last night who are in this "club." We laughed together, and we shared stories. We talked about our kids and we shared tips, challenges, and funny moments that we all seem to encounter. We used codes like "PT, OT, and Speech" and no one had to even ask what those stood for. Well, this was because we all became quickly familiar with those abbreviations once we joined the "club". We go out once a month and have these "mom's night outs" and they have quickly become a highlight of each month. I feel understood when I am there. I feel supported. I feel like we can talk about anything-not just our children who happen to have Down Syndrome, but other topics as well-our jobs, schools, our "typical" children,our faith, and even our fears. I sat back last night and looked around the table. What a neat collection of women! These are women I respect because I know what they are going through! We all have different stories and different backgrounds, and yet we all share a common bond that has enabled the walls to come down quickly. It amazes me to think this is not a path I knew I would be traveling, but now that I am, well, I really enjoy it, feel privileged to be a part of it, and am thankful to have so many others to walk this path with me!

So, I realize little Zach is the one to thank for opening my world to this "club"!! If he had not entered my world, I would not have had dinner last night with some amazing women, who I have so much to learn from!

So, thank you God for this "club" fees, but GREAT rewards!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

God knows just what I need

Yesterday I had an experience that reminded me that God knows exactly what I need.

The day began as every Tuesday morning does...with Zach having physical therapy. He works so hard in that hour each week-doing things that we take for granted like learning to walk, learning to kick, reaching for toys and then trying to place them where they go while trying to stand at the same time. I am always so proud of him and he really is making great progress.

But yesterday I found myself doing what I try really hard not to do, and that is looking to the future with Zach. I have found that when I focus only on the present, I don't get anxious or fearful, but when I begin to look to the future, I am sometimes overcome with the "what if's"? Yesterday the "what if's" came in the form of Zach's speech and language development, along with his overall social development.

Well, I did not really vocalize those thoughts yesterday but I did feel them in the pit of my stomach. I picked Taylor up from preschool and then took the kids to get haircuts. Afterwards as we were pulling into the garage, I realized we had left Taylor's lunch box at school, so we decided to go back to the school to get it.

We pulled up to the school and they had their "after school program" going. Kids were outside on the playground as we arrived. We got out of the car and I saw Mrs .Betty (one of our favorite teachers of all time!!) coming towards us and she had two little guys walking with her. I quickly noticed that one of them had Down Syndrome. Taylor and I walked up to them and Mrs. Betty introduced us to the boys. My heart melted as she introduced us to Clifford, the little guy with DS. Clifford immediately engaged us and asked Taylor her name. I couldn't help but put my arm around him and talk to him. He asked us a few questions and then playfully said that he had to go get a shovel, but he would be right back. He was absolutely floppy hair and a smile that was so captivating. I am guessing he is 6 or 7 years old.

When he walked off, Taylor turned to me and said "Mom, does he have Down Syndrome like Zach?" I was blown away because I did not know at what point Taylor would be able to recognize that, and I really had not expected that at 4 years old. I said "Yes, he does. Isn't that cool?" to which she sweetly nodded and smiled.

I was so moved by this interaction. I was encouraged by watching Clifford on the playground, going to get toys, and playing with his friends. Mrs. Betty even told me that once two kids were arguing over who was going to be Clifford's BFF (best friend forever). I can't explain how much it warmed my heart and gave me JUST the encouragement I needed yesterday. My eyes filled with tears because it was so like God to give me that SPECIFIC encouragement yesterday. There I was lamenting the fact that we had left Taylor's lunch box at school, and yet I came to find out that there was a bigger purpose for my opportunity to meet sweet Clifford!

Thank you, God, that even when I don't express my needs, you know exactly what I need. What a specific reminder of that yesterday!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hey mom...

"Can you lay with me for just one more minute?" Those are sweet words that came out of Taylor's mouth tonight as I lay in the bed with her after tucking her in. Sometimes it just hits me as I look into her sweet, sleepy eyes...that she probably won't be asking that question forever. Some of my sweetest moments with her are putting her to bed. She seems to be the most tender, the most vulnerable, and even if she had been "extra spirited" (aka wild woman) during the day, she seems to be so sweet and snuggly at bedtime.

This week, a woman in the Down Syndrome Community in Charlotte who has been a part of our mom's group, did one of the hardest things imaginable this week...she buried her 8 month old son, Evin. He was a precious little guy who had some complications following heart surgery a couple months ago, and lost his battle this week. However I know that he is now whole and is no longer sick, and still I grieve so much for his mom. Evin was her world. Taylor and I had been praying for him every day on our way to school. The day after Evin died this week, on our way to school, after Taylor and I prayed for the day ,she said, "Mom, you forgot to pray for Evin." Well, we have just recently ventured into the subject of death and I did not know how to tell her about Evin, because right now she thinks people only die when they are really old (obviously we haven't covered everything yet). So, the words that came out of my mouth came with a lump in my throat "We don't have to pray for Evin anymore honey...he's all better now."

I write about Evin because I have been reminded this week, when my daughter asks me to lay with her for "one more minute" ,you better bet I will take it...and maybe even add a few more!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Good timing for LENT

Ahhh! It seems that Lent has come at a good time for me. We had some sickness go through our house last week and it seems like that can knock ya flat for a while. Our house felt like a pharmacy for about a week. These past couple of weeks have left me a little dry spiritually . I was hoping for some good reading/connecting with God time while in the Bahamas but you know how that went...Strep throat did not lend itself to me being very alert!!

So, last Wednesday, we began the Lenten journey for this year. ..time to prepare for the cross. Time to strip away some excess in my life and focus in a sharper way on God. It really could not have come at a better time for me personally.

I am using the book "From Sacrifice to Celebration -A Lenten Journey" again this year as a book to accompany me on this 40 day journey. A few quotes from the first chapter have already sharpened my thinking and my focus so far...

"Lent calls us to discipline. At its best, Lent is more than a season; its a journey from the daily grind to spiritual growth."
"When my journey of faith seems stuck in the ruts of indifference or predictability,Lent propels me forward again."

"Lent is a time for feeding on God's word. It's a time for nourishing our spirits on the good news of our acceptance in Christ."

"Once you stop wanting what you do not have and loosen your grip on what you do have, you are ready to receive God's presence in a new and empowering way. Filled with this presence,your restlessness will cease.You will take the less traveled road from boredom to bonding, not the congested expressway from boredom to brokenness. On your journey, you will find adventure, the unfolding drama of life's richness."

I pray these forty days will deepen my walk with God, and will propel me forward in Christ!

Friday, February 12, 2010

I want a DO OVER!!!!

Bahamas-Atlantis resort

Ever wanted a "do over"? Have you ever said something you regretted? Have you ever had a day in which everything went wrong? There have been many times in life when I have wanted to press a "do over" button, but I can say this is one of the first vacations I have been on in which I wanted to find that button and just start over!!

Phillip and I were given a great opportunity this past week...five days in the Bahamas at the Atlantis resort. I had never been to the Bahamas and was very excited! I was especially excited to leave the weather we have been having this Winter. ( I know I may be a wimp but I can not remember it being this cold in Charlotte for such an extended period of time in many, many years!)

Before we left town, Zach had started have "gook" (nice word,I know) in his eyes and a runny nose, but I thought it was just a cold. "Mom of the year" was wrong again! We got to the Bahamas and I began to get text messages from Reeve, who was staying with the kids while we were gone. She was asking how much gook was normal ( not her exact words) and she got more concerned throughout the day. Apparently, he got much worse, and after an almost sleepless first night at our house, she took him to the doctor the next day. They gave him some antibiotics and some drops to clear up his eyes. Soon after all this, Reeve started feeling poorly. OK, we are in the Bahamas, at one of the coolest resorts I have ever been to, and I was really having a hard time enjoying myself knowing all this was going on back home.

Another day goes by, and Phillip and I both woke up with wicked sore throats. Now I am a woman , so I am used to just sucking it up and moving ahead...but woah, this was a good one!! I was almost in tears and more than anything, shocked by the irony of the fact that we were in the BAHAMAS no less and feeling this poorly. How crazy is that? There were water slides to ride on, beaches to be walked on, books to be read while sitting by the pool, but what could we possibly do when we felt like we had just swallowed razor blades!! We called a Dr. from the U.S. who called in a prescription for us to a pharmacy in the Bahamas, but when we called the pharmacy to see how much it would cost, they said it would be $291.00...for probably the same medicine we could get back home with our $10 co-pay!! So, we opted to not do that and instead got a couple boxes of cold/sore throat theraflu and began sucking those down. A few people have mentioned we should have put colorful umbrellas in our theraflu drinks!

Anyway, as we finished out our trip, we got a text from Reeve that she had strep throat, and then we came home yesterday still feeling like we had been hit by a truck. We both went to the Dr. today and as you might guess, we both have strep (along with everyone we shared the plane with yesterday probably-sorry folks!).

So, five days in the Bahamas... and there ya' have it! I try to be a really positive person and I am sure there will be more funny stories and illustrations to come...but for now, I just want a DO OVER!!!!!!!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Random thoughts from this past week

  • Snow/ice/days for a while, but I realize I am a big fan of routine! I was really thrown off this week!
  • Taylor cracks me up...after spending 45 minutes (slight exaggeration) getting ready to go out in the snow, we go out, get one picture...and after one time sledding and getting ice on her face, she started crying and exclaimed "This is the worstest season ever!!"
  • Been thinking a lot about selfishness this week. I have had a few situations that have brought this to the forefront of my mind. I have seen it in myself and I have seen it in others. THANKFUL for the grace of God!
  • Zach's laugh is one of the sweetest sounds I have ever heard.
  • Finding joy in the mundane is a discipline.
  • I can post a Bible verse on facebook and get few, if any,responses. I posted a question this week , asking if I am the only one on facebook who doesn't watch the show "Lost" and I got 43 comments...I'm just saying!
  • This morning in my prayer group at Oasis, we spent some time just praising God for who He is. We went through the alphabet and for each letter, we spoke out attributes of God we are thankful for- and yes, "Z" was a tough letter!! What struck me was as I listened to what was being said about God and threw out some words myself, I realized it was the most peaceful I had felt all week. (Note to self: Focusing on God , and not myself, is a good thing!!!)
  • Believe it or not, I still really like the song "I Got a Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas...could have something to do with the fact that it is funny to hear a 4 year old singing "I got a feeling, that tonight's gonna be a good night!"
So, those are a few of my random thoughts for this week! Thanks for playing!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Simple worship

VERY cool night tonight! My friend, T.J. Haycox, who I have known since high school, had a great idea a while ago that I was able to participate in tonight. He had the idea to start something called a "Him Sing"...a night where people gather, very casually, bring guitars and songsheets, and come with hearts ready to worship. He has already had a handful of these "Him Sings" and tonight was the first night I was able to go.

So, Matt Glass, T.J., Christy Fritz and I hung out in T.J.'s living room and had a chill evening of worship. We sang some songs I had not sung in years!! We went old school and it was so refreshing!! It reminded me of how much I LOVE stripped down, authentic worship! Nothing loud, nothing flashy, no program involved, no planning involved...just worship!

I left feeling so refreshed spiritually, and I felt honored to be a part of a simple night of worshiping God with fellow believers. Thanks T.J. - thanks for your heart and vision for this.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A servant friend of mine

As you can see by lack of blogging this month, January tends to be a somewhat blah month for me. Holidays are over, the weather is pretty yucky, and it seems the sun is not out a whole lot. SO, when I feel this way, it is always good for me to stop and focus on all that I have to be thankful for, which gives me a little perspective.

So today, I want to spend a few minutes writing about someone in my life who I am truly thankful for.This is a dear friend of mine named Pam Sharp who has taught me so much about serving and giving selflessly. She and I have been friends for years and I consider her to be such a TREASURE in my life. Pam loves people so well and she has one of those personalities that lights up a room. She is almost always smiling and joyful and her joy is contagious to those who come in contact with her.

When I was in youth ministry, I often had parents tell me how much it meant to them to have someone loving and pursuing their child. Now that I am a parent, I have found one of the greatest ways I feel loved by people is when they take an interest in/care about my children. This is where Pam comes in...

So, when we found out Zach had Down Syndrome, Pam went to the library and immediately began reading up on DS so she would better understand what we would be facing. She came over and cried with me and immediately took a huge interest in Zach's life. (She is a favorite of Taylor's too, by the way). Well, I think it was sometime over last summer, Pam and I were having coffee and she said she had something to share with me. She said she really felt like she wanted to spend time regularly with Zach. She wanted him to grow up knowing her and for him to never remember a time when she was not in his life! I said "Thanks, but no thanks Pam. I really don't want anyone caring for Zach like that." JUST KIDDING!!!!!! Of course, I was deeply moved, as you can imagine.

This year we came up with a plan. I take Taylor to dance on Thursdays so Pam comes over every Thursday afternoon and spends time with Zach for a couple of hours while I go and have some time just with Taylor.

Now I don't "pay Pam back" in any way. She just comes over and serves us and loves us in this huge way every week by loving our little Zach. Her life is very full and she has a job, a husband and two kids of her own, and yet she still sacrifices her time to come and do this. Not many people today are willing to serve and give so sacrificially. I have learned so much through Pam's "gift" to us. She has been a definite example to us of the amazing love of Christ. She has lived out this verse "Each of you should look not only to your own interests , but also to the interests of others." (Philippians 2:4) as well as "Serve one another in love." (Galatians 5:13) She is no doubt serving us in love, and her example as well as her friendship has impacted my family and me greatly.

So, don't you agree that even on a somewhat dreary January day, I have so much to be thankful for? Not the least of which is my dear friend, Pam.

This picture is Pam and Zach at the "Buddy Walk" in October.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Opportunity to live it out!!

"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well: keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." James 2:14-17

These are the verses that were rolling around in my head on Christmas Eve as I laid in bed, unable to sleep, thinking about who was sleeping downstairs...and no, I am not talking about our Elf on a shelf!!

Here is what happened...we went to the 4:30pm Christmas Eve service at church. I am a planner , so we definitely have traditions on Christmas Eve. I had put together our meal of "Overnight French toast" which is one of our Christmas Eve traditions, that we would eat upon returning home from church. Then we would read about Jesus' birth from the book of Luke, and then put the kids to bed. Phillip and I have our own tradition of exchanging gifts and listening to Christmas music later in the evening. (I know-AWWWWWW,so sweet!) The night ended up looking a little bit different...

I have written before about two women who have been coming to our church who happen to be homeless and are presently living out of a car. I met them when our church hosted an overflow shelter for the Salvation Army. Well, they happened to be at church at the 4:30pm service.I saw one of them and went up to her after the service and before I could even think, I felt God urge me to invite her and her friend over to the house for dinner. Because I am such a planner, I don't usually do "spur of the moment" things like that. She gladly accepted the invitation for she and her friend, and after I told Phillip what was happening (sometimes when the Spirit moves, you don't have time to consult your spouse!!), they said they would follow us to our home.

We prayed on the way home and told Taylor we were having some guests for dinner. Then Phillip brought up the point that he was not going to feel right sending them out for the night so what if they spent the night with us? I probably said something really spiritual at that point like "Let's just see what happens..." (ha!)

We ended up having a nice dinner around the table, and after dinner, we made some hot chocolate and just sat around and talked. Phillip got the Bible out and read the story from Luke and then we put the kids to bed. By the time I got back downstairs, Phillip had already invited them to stay the night. They accepted and we brought their stuff in from the car.

Like I said, I am a planner...this was not what I had planned for Christmas Eve, but it was definitely what God had planned for our family!! So, when Santa came that night, he found two new friends in our home. On Christmas morning, when Taylor came in our room , we told her our friends had spent the night so she would not be alarmed. She said,"Mom, I am just so impressed that they stayed the night!!!" Hilarious!

We went downstairs and had our Christmas morning , while one of our friends lay on the couch watching it all, and the other stayed in the basement and just "chilled out", as she said. We all gathered to give our friends a little present on Christmas Day and got some Christmas morning pictures. One of them laughingly remarked "Hey-we are the darker side of your family!!" Once they opened their gift, one of them said "This is the best Christmas I have had in seven years!"

I,too, would say it was a wonderful Christmas,and one I will not forget! I thank God that His plans are different than ours,and sometimes we just need to step out in faith.

Now, as a follow up, I am asking God to protect our friends as they are sleeping in a car during one of the coldest winters I can remember. Since I have opened the door to such an experience, it is hard for me now to just "move on" from that. We'll see where God leads us in the future. I do know He reminded me of those verses on Christmas Eve and His word is living and active!!