Day 70: What Really Matters

It's quiet in this little space I have carved out to be my home office.  Quiet is a rare commodity in our home these days.

I have one little twin off at Preschool, and her sister is in her room, finally sleeping after an excruciating 5 days of mouth pain.           

Babies should not have to endure that kind of pain, especially babies who have already endured so much.  (I guess technically  she's not a baby; she's a great big 4 year old, but she's our baby.)

Funny, just writing that out.  She's our baby.  Ours.

Some days, when I'm bogged down in the tornado of chaos that threatens to overtake my mind, I am reminded of the storm we lived in for over two years, and the beauty on the other side of that storm.

The adoption process is incredibly, incredibly hard.  And while our process was probably atypical in its origins, I doubt that the overall process was that different from most.

There were days when we lived with the threat that at any day their birth mom could come and take them away from us.  There were days when we were overwhelmed with paperwork and legal ease and court proceedings gone wrong. 

There were days when we wondered if we were doing the right thing, were the right parents, were too old, too set in our ways.  Would we have enough energy, enough time, enough love?

There were many long days and nights and weeks and months of trying to solve the psychological distress of our girls.

So many unanswered questions.  Truth is, there are still so many unanswered questions.

But the one thing that mattered all along . . . the one thing that matters today . . .

We were called to be their parents.  God created us for them.  Our hearts and lives are so deeply knit together that you would never know they were not born into our family. They are indeed, ours, in every conceivable way. 

It's easy to think these things when it's quiet.  And easy to forget them when life gets crazy. 

All that to say, a little quiet is good for the soul.  It helps you remember what's important.  It helps you remember what matters.  And what doesn't.

Photograph Courtesy of Chip Gillespie Photography

Day 69: Ode to Candy Corn

I am a Candy Corn aficionado.  I blame my mother, much for the same reason I blame her for my love of Little Debbie's Oatmeal Creme Pies, or every other bite of comfort food that I have eaten in my lifetime. 
The woman was good at comfort food.  She could console just about any discomfort in life with something hot, greasy, sweet or fattening and make you believe that everything in life would be great from that point forward. 

It's a rare talent that woman has.

I almost want to call her right now and tell her to bring me a big ole picnic ham with some homemade potato salad.

But I digress.

This post is about my love for Candy Corn.

I have a friend, a new friend really, who shares my mad obsession with the corn.  And what I love about her is that she understands there are rules when it comes to candy corn.  You don't just go buying any brand, or any color, at any time of the year.

You wait until the fall.  And then you only buy Brach's.  If you buy another brand, you'll be sorry, and you'll end up being one of those dumb people that says things like, "I don't like candy corn."

Next, you give it the "squish" test in the store, through the bag.  (If it doesn't squish, you don't buy it.)

Then, and only then, do you buy it and eat it,


in one sitting. 

This is guaranteed to make you sick of candy corn for at least two weeks, maybe longer if you're lucky, or a lightweight.  (This is an important step, because if you don't get sick of it right away, you're going to munch on it for the two months that it is available.)

Also, if you're a purist, you will only get the yellow, orange and white, because that's the only real candy corn.  Everything else is a poser.  A wanna be.  Don't be fooled.  You'll be disappointed.

And lastly, and this is really important, you must eat it in order.  I like to start at the bottom, eating the yellow layer first. Then the orange. Then the white.  I don't know why this matters, but it does.  (That could be my OCD, but I don't know for sure.)

My husband is aware of this obsession I have for candy corn.  He frowns upon it.  This has forced me to buy it and eat it in my car.  You just got a visual, didn't you?  It's sad, I know. 

Today, as I was loading the girls in the backseat of the car, I found a piece of an empty candy corn bag, most likely ripped off and tossed aside during an eating frenzy.  My heart raced at the sight of it, and I had two thoughts:

1.  Oh my gosh!  I hope no one saw that.
2.  How quickly can I unload these kids and go score a bag . . .  er, I mean, buy some?

It's not pretty.  I know.

All that to say, Candy Corn, I love you.  You're my guilty pleasure. 

Day 68: You Had Me At "Hey Baby"

Thirty one years ago today, I walked down the aisle of a tiny, sunlit country church on the arm of my daddy, heart pounding, hands shaking (literally to the point that my bouquet came apart!), waiting to marry the man of my dreams.

That's still such a pretty picture in my mind.  I love thinking about that day and all the promise that it held.

We I had such great plans.

We'd marry.  We'd have a baby boy 3 years into our marriage.  Then we'd have our second child, a girl, three years later.  We'd both be uber professionals.  Mike would most likely be a professor at LSU, tenured of course,  and I'd most likely be running some fortune 500 company.

We'd own a plantation style home and all our family celebrations would take place there.

We would amass a fortune pretty early on, and retire early.

I love thinking back to those days and how well planned everything was.  True to my nature, even back then I was a control freak!

But here is the blessing of the last 31 years of our marriage.  It has looked nothing like the picture in my mind. 

We have traversed some pretty turbulent waters and suffered much loss. We have lost a child, lost parents and grandparents, lost jobs, lost weight (gained it back!) lost our minds and lost our youth.

But oh what we have gained.

We did have two babies, both boys, and not at all in the time frame I thought. Those boys have been the greatest joy of our lives (I'm old . . . it's possible that I have forgotten the teenage years).

We have gained a daughter in law, whom we adore.  If God had let us handpick someone, we would have picked her.

We have gained our daughters, and they have changed our lives in immeasurable ways.

We have gained a deeper respect for one another. We have gained insight into each other's thoughts and reactions. We have gained a desire to grow closer to each other.  We have gained a love that surpasses time and circumstance.

All that to say, Mike Jones, you had me at "Hey baby."

Day 67: Changing Planes

Mike asked me to take a break from controversial topics for a while, which makes me laugh a little (not really, not at all) that a subject like losing my job and learning the lessons God wants me to learn is controversial, but I've kind of reached the "whatever" stage.

Technically, that's not true either.  I'm not at all at the "whatever" stage.

I totally vacillate between the

"This isn't a surprise to God" stage

and the

"What in the H-E-Double Toothpicks is happening right now?" stage.

When I'm in the God stage, I have a million thoughts that run through my head, all encouraging, all uplifting, challenging, but not in a way that makes me want to pull the covers over my head and never leave my house.

When I'm in the HEDOUBLETOOTHPICKS stage, I have a million thoughts that run through my head, none of which are good or for my good.  And they almost all end in some horrible set of circumstances.

When I'm in the God stage, I am at peace.  I feel assured that the future is in His hands, and I can easily trust in His incredible plan for my life and the life of my family.  I feel eternally grateful that He cares enough to refine me, purify me, mold me into the woman I will someday want my girls to be.  And none of that makes my blood pressure soar.

When I'm in the H.E.D.T. stage, I can't breathe.  I fear every conversation (or comment on this blog) is going to turn into some kind of rant.  I worry about what others think. I feel trapped, attacked, bewildered, confused.  I feel like I'm trapped in a tornado of chaos.

So, last night, I was in the NOT GOD stage, and reached out to a friend.   I told her all of the above and she spoke some incredibly life giving words to me and I wanted to share them with you.

She said, "Carol, I'm going to paint you a visual picture, because that's how your mind works. It's like you're on two different planes.  One plane is your spirit, and it's the part of you that's connected to God.  And the other plane is your flesh.  And that's the part of you that wants to be heard.  It's where the chaos is. And the noise from that plane demands to be heard. And you keep changing planes.  When you're on the plane that is your spirit, you can be rational, logical, calm, because you are trusting God and His plans for you.  When you're on the plane that is your flesh, you feel the fight, the chaos.  But you can control which plane you're on.  It's why God tells you to take your thoughts captive."

She said many other things, all of which were God-breathed, that caused me to breathe deeply of Truth.

All that to say, I reached out to her because she's the kind of friend that listens well, and then speaks Truth into you, and also refuses to allow you to wallow in your junk for very long.  Everyone needs a friend like that.  Very grateful for you today, my river friend.  And thankful for the change of planes.

Day 66: Working for The Man

Being self-employed is not easy.  If you have ever been self-employed, then you know what I mean.  Some days it is really just freaking hard, and the lure of going back to work for someone else is very attractive.

I was reading something this morning about self-employment and the dismal failure rate of small businesses. 

The person writing the article used the phrase "captive employment" when talking about working for someone else.  Gotta admit, that made me chuckle a bit.

So your options are captivity or probable failure.


I've mentioned a couple of times that my husband, Mike, started his own company, Maximum Pest Management, a little over a year ago (yes, it's another shameless plug - get over it).  And I have to say, watching him navigate the waters from captivity to business owner has been difficult.

He's an expert in his field.  He has worked in this industry for over 30 years.  He even has a degree in Entomology.  He actually trains the staff of OTHER pest control companies.  (Yes, he's that good).

But even with that impressive list of credentials, he has to work his john brown hind parts off to succeed.  Every day he has to be the owner, sales team, service tech, bookkeeper (well, I'm sort of the bookkeeper, but I'm free, so he doesn't get much out of me!) as well as perform every other function of the company.  He's it.  He's the man.  (Which is a little funny if you think about it.  He works for himself and he STILL works for the man! HA! . . . It's late, I should not blog late at night . . .)

I asked him tonight if he liked owning his own company (we had our first ever "company meeting" . . . someone should probably being praying for him . . . or me . . . or both of us) and he said he did.  Phew!  That's good news!  I'd hate to think he's working this hard for something he doesn't like!

I'm proud of him for starting his own company.  It's outside his personality type.  He's not so much of a risk taker.  Unless of course you count marrying me.  That was certainly a risky move, but hey, here we are 31 years later, so sometimes risk taking pays off.

All that to say, I  just wanted to tell you I'm proud of you, Mike Jones.  And I know you're working hard.  And I also appreciate that my house is bug free.  (it's a bonus, but I appreciate it!)

Day 65: All Things Considered, I'd Rather Blog

I have been thinking about other blogs to start because I am trying to make a living by being a freelance writer (at least until God tells me otherwise!)  And one of the things I read was that you should have about 3-4 blogs that are "pointed interest" blogs, meaning someone is likely to search specifically for that topic. 

Some examples I thought of were: 

A Psalm a Day

Divorce by Pinterest

World's Worst Sermon Analogies

Jacob was quick to dismiss this one.  He said it was too negative, and I'd run out of ideas too quickly . . . he's probably right on both accounts.  But seriously, I heard one the other day about the benefits of God over alcohol.  The preacher said, "You'll never have to sleep off the benefits of God."

But yeah.  Probably not sustainable blog material.

My last idea was to blog about being a white family raising black children.  That was something I have actually googled before, and couldn't find much.  It's scary sometimes.  We don't want to harm them more than they have already been harmed in their lives.

And people say horrible things sometimes. 

Stupid things.

Things like, "Do you think they'll grow up to  resent you for not raising them in a black family?"

True story.

Or "Do you ever wonder if love really is enough?  You're cheating them out of their heritage."

Also true.  Actually said to me.

So I was googling to see if there were any blogs about this topic of White Families Raising Black Children but I didn't find any.  I did find this rant about white people not knowing how to take care of ethnic hair.  (I TOLD y'all that people judge you if you are not good with hair!) HA!

And then, yesterday, I was at Walmart, and there was this guy who was staring a hole through me.  I try not to ever jump to conclusions if people are staring.  There could be any number of reasons why people are staring.  The girls are twins. They are toddlers.  I'm old.  I'm white.  I try not to jump to conclusions.  Most of the time, the people are just trying to do the math.

But this guy, I could tell he was not going to be nice.  And sure enough, when I went to get a drink out of the cooler he whispered, "Why in the world would she even WANT to have two black children?"  I hate it when *!#! like that happens.  Because I really don't know how to respond.  Usually, I just ignore them.  (Which I did this time)

But it did make me think maybe that would be a good "pointed interest" blog.  Because people are ignorant sometimes.  And mean sometimes.  And sometimes I need some help.  And I'll bet other people out there need help too!

All that to say, I'm exploring options.  If you have any good blog ideas, let me know! 

Day 64: Risk

I received an email some days ago from a young woman who reads this blog.  I have her permission to post this letter.  I wanted to share it with you because her heart is so raw, so vulnerable.  As I read her letter, I could truly sense how desperately she needed Jesus.  And I think that's how He wants us to come to Him; wanting Him more than anything else, and being willing to reach out in total vulnerability to find Him; to have the deep loving relationship with Him that He wants to have with us.  I asked her if I could share her letter because the effect it had on me was profound.  It made me wonder what I would risk to draw closer to Jesus.

Here is her letter:

"So I know that this may be unexpected or out of the blue but I think that you are probably the best person that I can talk to right now. I normally don't do these types of things. I have been through so much in my life and have really sheltered myself off from the world so long that it's really hard for me to reach out to anyone even for the simplest things.   

I have a lot of trust issues and I am just really tired of the feelings of loneliness that I deal with.
I've had really great friends in my life and even family members that I have been close to,  but it seems as though disappointments in my life come in handfuls. My expectations of people are not really that high, I've had a lot of people come and go in my life and a lot of bad experiences.

But the one thing that I am really wanting is to better my relationship with God, and when it comes to that I feel completely lost. Now I truly believe that if I better my relationship with God that this just may be my key, to give me the confidence, the strength and the courage to dig myself out of the sheltered hole that I have dug myself into. I just don't know where to begin.

I was raised as a Catholic but it was never really an enforced religion. I was told very little about what the Church believed, and just learned by actions that I saw from other Catholics, I became accustomed to the belief in a lot of the Catholic beliefs. Of course I didn't really learn these customs from the Church it was all from what I was told and what I saw.

Now, that I have been trying to attend Church on a more regular basis, I know that I am Christian. When I walk into my Church, I feel the presence of something so beautiful and amazing and I just take it all in. The only problem is I don't know what to do to continue that into my everyday life. I don't know how to have an ongoing relationship with God and how to trust in him in all that I do. I don't know what to do to better what I already have and believe that one day I will see his plan for me and know what I need to do to be completely happy. I know there will always be tests of my strengths and character but I just need to know how I should prove that I am the person he wants me to be and learn about the person he wants me to be.
I know that this may be a lot or you may already have a lot on your plate with everything else, but for some reason I am drawn to you, your posts and your words, it's like I know that I can trust you and that your response will be completely honest and forthcoming in the entire message that you deliver."
My response to her doesn't matter (well, obviously it does matter, but not to the point of this post.)  Her letter made me want to love Jesus more.  She risked a lot in writing me, and even in allowing me to share this with you.  And I thought it might make you wonder what you would risk to be closer to Jesus too.
All that to say, I love how Jesus calls us to himself; sometimes through prayer, sometimes through His Word, and sometimes through the words of a sweet young woman who just wants to love Jesus more.

Day 63: People Who Inspire Me - Cathy

So, I'm starting a new series called  People Who Inspire Me.  This is my first one.  And while it might end up sounding like a commercial (it isn't), it's really just a great story about a great friend.

I am such a fan of people who start their own businesses.  Maybe because it's so close to home, but even before Mike started his company, Maximum Pest Management, (shameless plug) I just loved seeing people start their own businesses and succeed!

I have a really good friend, Cathy Henry, who has that entrepreneur spirit. She's the kind of person that has a new idea every minute.  When I first met her she was an ebayer.  And I think she was pretty good at, but didn't love it.  Then she decided to sell Arbonne, but that wasn't her thing either.

And THEN, she decided she would sell Thirty One.  If you don't know what Thirty One is, then you need to check them out because they are really an amazing company.  But that's not the point of this blog.  Cathy is the point of this blog.  Cathy, and determination, and finding your purpose.

On her birthday in 2010, Cathy took her birthday money (cracks me up that she still GETS "birthday money!") and she plunked it down on a starter kit.  She swears she just wanted to get $300 worth of product for $99, but I think somewhere down in her heart she knew she would start selling the stuff.

Early into her business venture, someone challenged her in a pretty big way, and she decided she was going to make a career out of Thirty One.  Fast forward less than two years later, and she is a Director with 31 Consultants on her team!  A DIRECTOR!  And her monthly income is . . . well . . . it's impressive! 

I'm telling you this story because I love my friend Cathy, and I'm so impressed and inspired by her.  She told me this recently, "I love how I have grown as a person just because I am where I know God wants me to be."

When I told Cathy I was going to blog about her, I think she was actually a little embarrassed.  And then being the true business woman that she is, she said, "Well then I'm going to run a special for your readers!  I want to offer your readers free shipping for every order they place on my website between now and the end of the month, under the party titled "All That to Say."   Oh, and please mention that thru the end of this month for every $31 spent they can chose another item for 31% off!!!!  

HA!  And THAT'S why she's successful!

All that to say, working for yourself is hard work, but doing what you were created to do, being where God wants you to be, that's what really matters.

Funny aside about Cathy and I, we have NEVER taken a good picture together.  It's almost comical how bad they are!  Here's one example of our epically bad pics:

Day 63: A Good Thing

I have toddlers, which in and of itself is laughable, because in reality I should be rocking my grandchildren, not breaking up playroom brawls between my 4 year old twins.

But I have toddlers. 

And toddlers keep you young. 

And on your toes.

And out of bed all night.

And wishing you didn't have to pick things out of your drink before you could drink them.

And best of all, they keep you laughing.

Then again, my grown kids keep me laughing too.  Which is not at all to say that they are like toddlers in any way.  I can't remember the last time I had to yell at them to pick up their stuff or hurry up in the bathroom . . . oh wait . . .

Well never mind.

My toddlers keep me laughing, and that makes every day a good day.  No matter how crappy things are anywhere else, (yes, I said crappy, you'll be okay) a conversation with them is awesome.

I was out of town this weekend, and as I usually do when I'm out of town, I called to talk to them on the phone.  (I WISH my husband had an iPhone 4S so we could facetime, but HEY, I barely got him to get an iPhone at ALL so there's not much chance he's likely to upgrade anytime soon!)

Anyway, I called home, and I got to talk to Nikki first. Nikki is still struggling to catch up in her speech, so she's a little hard to understand over the phone (I repeat, facetiming would be so nice Mike Jones!)    And, she still has a few processing problems, so she doesn't always totally "get" what you're asking. 

I said, "Hey baby.  How are you?"  She said, "I had a fit."

"You had a fit?  What were you doing?"

She said, "I go 'waaaaaaaah, waaaaaaah' like that Mama."

Bahahahaha.  Then she said, "I don't like parrots.  They bite me."  (Always good information from that one!  I know all the animals in the animal kingdom to be afraid of!)

Her sister, the more verbal one says, "Mama, you coming home?"

"Yes baby.  Do you miss me?"

She said, "No, I don't miss you.  My beads came out.  I need you to fix my hair."

(Good thing my self-confidence is not based on her missing me or anything!)

(I would also like to point out that she probably did not miss me because upon my return I found a pizza box AND leftover spaghetti in our refrigerator!  Her two favorite meals!  Truth be told, her daddy probably gave her ice cream in my absence too!)

All that to say, their bus will arrive at any moment.  Those are the best moments of my day.  They'll run off the bus yelling, "Mama!!!!!"  I'll run toward them, arms out, waiting for a big giant hug, and if today is like any other day, they'll run past me saying, "Where's my snack?"

I have toddlers.  And that's a good thing.

Day 62: The Weight of Your Words

"To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;  not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.  For,The one who desires life, to love and see good days,Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceitHe must turn away from evil and do goodHe must seek peace and pursue it."  I Peter 3:8-11

You're going to read a good bit from me over the next few days, weeks, months about the tongue because the Lord is teaching me much about my tongue.

A few days ago, during a time of listening prayer, I believe God wanted me to make a list of anything bad I could think of that I had said about anyone over the last 5 years.  I mean anyone.  From my neighbors to my friends, to my coworkers, to my family, to the strangers who have made me mad while driving or irritated me in restaurants, or just aimless comments I have made about people while people watching.  In addition, I wrote next to the comment what I was doing, how I felt, etc.  (talking on the phone, sitting at my desk, happy, angry, out to dinner with friends, etc.) . . . obviously I couldn't remember everything, but I did the best I could.

I encourage you to try this because it is incredibly powerful and incredibly sobering and incredibly convicting.

Do I think God wanted me to do this because He is mean and thinks I am a terrible person?  No.  Because He's not mean, nor does he think I'm a terrible person; because when He looks at me, He looks at me through the blood of Jesus.

I think He wanted me to do this because He is teaching me something about my tongue and the power it has.  I believe God wanted me to do this to see just how much evil can come forth from my mouth, both in times of emotional distress and even during casual conversation.

And He wants me to use my powers for good.  "The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.  He must turn away from evil and do good; He must seek peace and pursue it."

All that to say, our words are weighty.  They have the power of life and death.  Regardless of our reason for speaking, whether we feel we are justified or right in what we are saying or if we are just being careless with our words; they are so very powerful.

Day 61: RETREAT!

I am leaving this morning to go spend the next three days with my mentor and friend, Doris Tarbutton.  Doris has been my mentor for the last 15+ years, and next to my husband knows me better than just about anyone.

She has an incredible gift of discernment.  She is lovingly referred to by many as "the Oracle."

Time with Doris is always multi-faceted.  It's comforting because she loves me.  It's challenging because we will spend the majority of our time together praying about my crap.  And it's overwhelmingly encouraging because I will come face to face with my sin, I will pray through it, and I will come out on the other side of the river better for the experience.

She was going to come here, but my husband said, "No, you need to go there.  You need to get away."

So I won't be blogging or facebooking or checking email for the next three days because I need to retreat. . . er I mean I need A RETREAT.

For this weekend, I want to leave you with one of my favorite scriptures:

Proverbs 3:5-12

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
a father’s delight is behind all this.

All that to say, I love the Word of God.  It is comforting, challenging, and overwhelmingly encouraging, much like my friend, Doris.

Day 60: The Real Carol Jones

When I was little and would spend the weekend with my grandma, she liked to watch this show called, 'To Tell the Truth."  The premise of the story was that 2 or 3 impostors and one "real" person would sit on a panel and answer questions from a panel of judges who would then determine who the "real" person was.

Each judge would guess who they thought the real person was and then the host would say, "Will the real __________  ______________ please stand up?"

What in the world does that story have to do with the price of tea in China?

It's this. I think depending upon circumstances, personalities, events, outcome of events, etc., we are all viewed by different people in different ways.   The pastor at a church I attended often told a story about a friend that he'd had a falling out with, and how he was fairly sure that particular friend didn't think he was godly, or kind, or loving or any of the other qualities that others ascribed to him.

And yet pretty much anyone else who knew him well at all thought he was one of the kindest, most loving and godly men they'd ever met.  So how do you explain that the same man was thought of completely differently by different people? 

Same man.  Different perspective.

Like I said, we are all different people to someone.  And yet, we are the same person at our core.  And it's what's at our core that matters.

Most assuredly there are going to be people in my life that are not in my fan base.  (Just read my comments occasionally and you'll see that!)

And there will be people in my life that love them some Carol Jones.

And I must be careful not to too heavily buy into either opinion.  I cannot totally judge who I am by what others would say about me, good or bad.

I have to daily remind myself that God is the only One who really knows the real me.  And He is the only One who can accurately judge my character.

All that to say,  someday the real Carol Jones will stand before a Holy God who has seen me live, mess up, get it right, grow and change, and He'll know that the real Carol Jones is standing before Him.  Because He knows me the best.

Day 59: Crack Check

I have been wearing jeans for as long as I can remember, and considering I was born in the early 60's, I've been wearing jeans a LONG, long time.

I've worn every kind of jeans too. 

I wore bell bottoms in the sixties.

I wore "hip huggers" at the turn of that decade, which necessitated the invention of the snap crotch body suit  (true story).

I wore button fly straight legs in the seventies

which, just for the record I HATED that era because I am a bit hippy and straight legs only exaggerated that condition!

who am I kidding? I'm A LOT hippy, and the junk in this trunk has never been a fan of straight leg jeans!  (Fortunately, I'm old enough now that I don't have to wear "skinny" jeans.)

I wore acid washed jeans in the eighties (which by the way is also when holey jeans were the thing and I had a pair of jeans that had such big holes in the knees that my husband hid them from me.  My husband!)

I wore mom jeans in the 90's.

I wore boot cuts at the turn of the century (which were apparently also mom jeans, and I just didn't know it!)

Why all this information about jeans?  Because throughout a lifetime of jeans, I have never had trouble keeping my jeans up!  Is anyone else out there sick of jeans that stretch and stretch and stretch until every movement requires what I call the "crack check?"  What HAPPENED TO JEANS?

I don't care if I buy low cut, high cut, mid rise, sits at waist, sits just above waist, sits just below waist, every pair of jeans I own move into the forbidden land of crack check.

All that to say, I wish someone would invent jeans that actually fit . . . and don't show my . . .

Day 58: The Truth of My Reflection

My grandmother was a very wise woman, and I write about her often.  One of the things she said was, "you should be the kind of woman that if anyone ever said something bad about you, no one would believe them.'"  (That's a paraphrase, but something along those lines.)

Recently a friend of mine said something similar, and it reminded me of my grandmother.
I wonder what she'd be thinking these days.

I believe that I have lived a life that would say to people that I am a woman who loves Jesus, loves her family, loves her friends, and loves people.

But I also know this to be true.  I have not honored people with my words at times.  I have participated in gossip.  I have probably started gossip at times.  I have "vented" my anger, which in reality is often just another form of gossip. 

My list could probably go on.  Yours probably could as well.

And the way we conduct ourselves, the words we speak, the words I speak . . .

those things cause other people to formulate opinions about who we are.

And those opinions can be dangerously easy to believe.  Even if they are wrong.

This morning as I was spending time with the Lord, I wrote this in my journal:

"Lord, more than anything I want to care about truth.  It would be too easy, it IS too easy to care what others say about me.  But what I want to care about is truth.  Help me to see the things in me you want me to refine and let me easily discard all else that consumes my thoughts."

All that to say,  I do want others to see me as a woman who loves God and lives a life that reflects Him.  And the best way for that to happen, is for me to look to Him for how I'm doing.

Day 57: Loser

I lose things.  It's a flaw in my character.  A frustrating one, I might add.  Frustrating for me, for my husband, whose frustration frustrates me even more.  (I mean, for real, you'd think the man has never lost anything!  Geesh!)

Saturday, I had a special day out with the girls, getting their hair braided.  A small problem with Nikki's hair (it looked like a boy!) required a stop off at Sweet and Sassy so we could get Nikki some new earrings.

I knew we were going to be fast so I parked in the 30 minute TOWING ENFORCED parking.  (Don't be too quick to think you know where this is going!)

We went in and got Nikki's earrings, but then the nice ladies there (who spoil them rotten) did their nails and gave them a sucker.

Well, I couldn't put them in my car with wet nails AND a sucker, so we walked around Market Street a bit while their nails dried.  Just as we were walking back to the car, the trolley came by.  The trolley to the girls is like chocolate to a woman with PMS.  It calls to them. 

So we rode the trolley.

And about halfway through the trolley ride, I remembered that I was in 30 minute TOWING ENFORCED parking. 

And I panicked.

But by the time we got back to the trolley stop, I had completely forgotten my parking situation and decided we should go enjoy a nice dinner together.  A perfect end to a perfect day with my girls.

And then . . .

about midway through dinner . . .

I remembered . . .

that I was in 30 minute TOWING ENFORCED parking.

If you have never tried to get two four year olds to rush through their dinner and then hurry to walk 4 blocks, then you have no idea the frustration that ensued!

But we made it to the place where my car was supposed to be parked and Thank Jesus it was still there.

I reached into my purse to unlock the door, but alas, I could not find my keys.

And then I remembered, my purse had fallen over on the trolley, and I was fairly certain my keys had fallen out.

Two hours later, we all made it home (courtesy of said husband who gets frustrated, and rightfully so, because I lose things!) but my keys have never been found.

All that to say, I'm a loser baby . . .

Day 56: Obstacles

We skipped church today.  I can't remember the last time we did that, and to be honest, it felt weird, and sad.  We asked the girls if they wanted to go do something fun and Shannay said, "How about church?"  Oy.

But we convinced them to be adventurous, and we listened to Jesus music on the way (that's what they call it) and found ourselves at the Children's Museum.

If you have never been to the Houston Children's Museum, it is voted the #1 Children's Museum in AMERICA by Parent's Magazine.  And I promise you, it was a well deserved vote.  It was amazing.

Mike said at one point, "It's a shame that Nikki's ADHD is so bad because she really can't focus long enough to enjoy any of this!"  (Which was true.  Poor baby.  I think the Children's Museum is probably not the best option for a child with MAJOR sensory processing issues!)  Oh well.

There was this one place in the museum, though, where Nikki excelled.  It was an obstacle course that had 5 components; a wall you had to climb by using a rope, an area where you had to hop from rock to rock, climb through a cargo net tunnel, up a cargo net wall, and then slide down a pole.

At first, Nikki was not good at any of the components.  She tried to crawl on all fours up the inclined wall with the rope, she walked around the rocks instead of jumping from rock to rock, her feet fell through the cargo nets, and she was too terrified to slide down the pole.

But with a little instruction, and a LOT of encouragement, little by little, she mastered the entire course!

As I watched her, I felt her sense of accomplishment.  And though it would have been incredibly easy for her to give up after one attempt, she didn't. (Perhaps that is because she has to work for everything she accomplishes, so maybe she's just used to the hard work.)  She worked so hard, and in the end, she mastered it.

For me, I felt like I was learning a lesson about myself as I watched her.  I'm scared.  I don't know how to do so much of what I'm about to do!  ( I mean, I know how to write, but starting a business, growing a business . . . I don't know how to do that and it scares me to think about it for very long!)

All that to say, if my four year old can tackle her obstacles, I should at least try.  So I will seek instruction (and encouragement) and little by little, I hope to master this new journey.

Day 55: Judge Me, Go Ahead

You may or may not have noticed that I am white.  Very white.  In fact, I once had an intern (Brittany Callender) who told me that I was "ivory bisque", which I am guessing is pretty white.

And you also may or may not have noticed that my daughters are most decidedly the opposite of ivory bisque!

I don't know if you know this or not, but there is a lot of pressure that comes with being a white mama of sweet brown babies.  There is.  And the greatest source of this pressure comes in the hair department.  People judge you.  They do.  And I have had plenty of friends (both white and black) tell me that the last thing I wanted was for people to be able to look at my daughter's hair and IMMEDIATELY know that their mama was white.

Like I said.  Presh-sure.

When I first got the girls, this whole hair thing was astronomically hard because their hair was badly damaged from neglect, so I had to first figure out how to get their hair healthy, and THEN figure out how to make it cute.

Well, I ain't proud, so I just marched myself to Walmart, stood on the ethnic hair aisle, and waited for the first kind looking older black lady to come down the aisle (not kidding) and begged her to help me.

I watched as she pulled and tugged on the girls' hair, clucking her tongue all the while in complete disappointment over the condition of their hair (I felt quickly obligated to tell her they came to me that way!)  But she schooled me and sent me on my way with all kinds of information and grease and oil and lotion and more!

Well here I am, two and half years down the road from that day, and while I wouldn't say that I have figured it out, I have definitely figured out a few things.  I mix my own detangler, I can work up 16 puff balls (that's a hair style for all my white friends) in no time, and I even know how to  do some simple twists.

And one of the SMARTEST things I have EVER done is take them to the Paul Mitchell School today and had THIS done!  OMGOSH, could they be any cuter!  (Don't judge my photo skills.  We were on a trolley and it was moving!)


 All that to say, best money I ever spent.  And I dare someone to judge this white mama today! HA!

Day 54: New Beginnings

I lost my job recently.  That might be a news flash to some of you and maybe not so much to others.  There is a lot to be said about that particular topic, but I think the best thing to say is people say and do things that they often regret, me included.  And all I can do is own what I know to own, learn from this experience, let Jesus rub off a few more rough edges from me, and continue to become the woman God wants me to become.  Enough said.  AND this is not the point of this post, just the beginning.

For quite some time now, really since our pending adoption of our daughters (see those cuties below!),  I have been asking God what I should do about working and being their Mommy.  Many people have challenged me with the question, "Should you be working?"  In truth, that question always ticks me off, but maybe it makes me mad because it's a question I'm asking myself.

So, I lost my job.  And now I'm faced with that question, "Should I be working?"  The simple answer is yes.  I like to work.  I need to work (for financial reasons).  And I want to work.  That said, I ALSO want to have a job that affords me the ability to be available to my daughters AND to pay for their therapies AND to save money for their college education.  That's a tall order out of  a job.  But hey, I figure if I'm in the "reinvent yourself" stage of life, why not?!
Okay, so here's the new beginning thing.  I have two pretty awesome opportunities in front of me.  One is to become a ghost blogger/writer for some pretty incredible people.  And the other is to write a book.  Both of these opportunities would pay me well, let me be available to the girls, AND let me use my talents to help others.
I'm seriously so excited about this I could pee my pants.
But I won't.  Relax.
OMGosh!  Like when I tell you that I'm so excited, I mean I AM SO EXCITED!!!!
How like God to just plop this in my lap, at a time when I'm questioning so much, and really asking Him what He wants from me, for me?
All that to say,  I am as nervous as all git out (that's Texan for really nervous) but just feel like this is the start of a new beginning.  And it makes me want to twirl. 

Day 53: You Should Write a Book

I wish I had a dollar million dollars for everytime someone has said to me, "You should write a book."  Seriously.  I would be enormously wealthy.  I would have so much money I would be vacationing in some place exotic right now, with Manny's for each of my girls, and paparazzi documenting my every move.

Scratch that.  We all know that even if I was enormously wealthy I'd still be meeting the school bus twice a day and looking up crock pot recipes online, because, well, I'm just that kind of girl.

BUT, back to my book writing.

Today, again, someone has said to me, "You should write a book."

Yesterday, someone said to me, "You should write a book."

And my answer is always the same.  "What would I write a book about?'

The answers usually run anywhere from parenting to ministry, but at somepoint we usually end up at, "just string together enough of your blog posts and you've got a book."

Today, for some reason, (maybe it's because I am REALLY trying to hear what God has to say about being a working mom with a crazy flexible schedule that allows me to meet the needs of my two special needs daughters) I feel like I could do it.  I could write a book taken from my blog.

So, will you help me? 

Will you tell me what some of your favorite blog posts have been? 

Will you follow my blog?  (Apparently that's going to be important down the road . . . plus you practically stalk my blog anyway, so why not just make it official and publically proclaim your undying fondness of me and my stories?)

And will you periodically post my blog to your wall or tweet it to your followers?

And if you are a blogger, will you post my blog to your blog?

Gosh, I feel incredibly needy all of sudden.  But hey, this whole "write a book thing" was your idea anyway.  So now you're practically obligated to help me.

All that to say, I may or may not write a book.  But I'm thinking about it . . . (said in a really high pitched voice followed by a gigantic smile across my face, which feels a little awkward considering I'm sitting in my house all alone, smiling and talking to myself.)

Day 52: My Secret Love

I have a love affair with fried chicken.  I'm not proud of it, but it's true.  I know it's bad for me.  Just like I knew kissing Stephen Gray when I was in 4th grade was bad for me, but I couldn't help myself.  He was just so cute. And I was 10.  And he was cute.  And my friends dared me. 

But I digress.

Why am I so drawn to fried chicken?  I blame my grandmother, and then my mother after her.  They made the best fried chicken you have ever put in your mouth.  Frying chicken was an art to them.  The cutting of the chicken, the flour, the seasoning, the oil, oh that luscious oil, all sizzling in that cast iron skillet.  I blame them for my love affair.

And then I moved to Louisiana.  And there was Popeye's Fried Chicken.  Where you got fried chicken AND those biscuits.  Those biscuits that they drown in butter and THEN bake them.  Biscuits made of soda and sour cream and butter.  Chicken.  And biscuits.

And now there's Canes.  And that sauce.  That sauce that taunts you.  So there's chicken, fried succulent goodness AND sauce.  I'd drink that sauce if people wouldn't look at me weird.  (I may or may not have licked the sauce out of the container before.)

All that to say, I know you're shocked that I am not making a spiritual analogy of this, but perhaps I am.  Sometimes I feel a little closer to God when I'm eating fried chicken. 

Day 51: Bump, Bump, Bump

Mike and I took the girls to the "tree" at the mall the other day.  For those of you out of the jet setting fabulous life of toddlers, the "tree" is the place you go to play when it is either rainy or blazing hot and you just can't play outside but you also can't stay inside the comfort of your own home for one more second because if you do someone is going to lose their mind or die.

We were at the "tree" on this particular day and it was crazy crowded!  Not only was it crazy crowded, but there were tons of big kids who had been left to "supervise" their little siblings, but what that usually equates to is a bunch of big kids way too big to be playing at the tree, running crazy and stepping all over little kids.

AND, if any of you know big Mike, AT ALL, you know he isn't going to take one second of nonsense off those big kids, ESPECIALLY if they even REMOTELY come close to his precious princess baby girls. (But that's another blog).

I noticed something interesting and challenging about the little kids though.  They were crazy and running around too.  Very wrapped up in their own little worlds of running and jumping and bouncing and skipping and sliding and running and jumping.  (did I mention there was lots of running and jumping?)

And on a pretty frequent basis someone either stepped on someone else, or bumped into someone else, or flat out knocked someone else over.

And when this happened, the offended party would look menacingly at the offending party (or burst into tears) at which point the offending party would quickly say, "sorry" and the offended party would say, "that's okay" and both parties would be immediately "over it" and they'd go right back to being okay and running and jumping and being wrapped up in their own little worlds.

I thought to myself, "Why can't grown-ups be like that?" 

We bump into others.  We inadvertently step on them or maybe even flat out knock them over.  And when that happens, why can't we just say we're sorry, forgive each other, and just move on and be over it?

All that to say, I never cease to be amazed by what I learn from toddlers.