Sunday, January 26, 2014


Today's writing prompt from Jeff Goins is disappointment.  I think every single one of us has lived with disappointment over one thing or another.  It is inescapable in this world in which we reside.  

One of the earliest disappointments I remember was my Mom marrying my stepdad.  I thought he was mean and awful.  He would verbally abuse me and my Mom would tell me to ignore him.  I was disappointed that she would allow him to treat me that way.  

I was disappointed when my Mom was never there for my dance classes or dress rehearsals.  My stepdad was there in the lobby taking pictures, so he was in charge of getting me there and home most of the time.  I was disappointed that work always seemed more important than her children.  Especially when she sent me an email saying that she was sorry that I could not understand that she had to look out for herself and work all of the time.  I felt like a child again, unworthy of her time and love.  

When my Daddy died when I was 13, I was disappointed again.  I was disappointed in God, that He would take my Daddy, but leave my verbally abusive stepdad.  I couldn't understand why He would take a good person and leave a bad one.  A couple of years later, a teacher explained to me that when someone has completed the plan God had for them here on earth, He calls them home.  I am not sure if that was 100% theologically correct, but it sure made my hurting heart feel better.  

When my brother started drinking, got involved with drugs and started stealing from my mom & stepdad, I was disappointed.  When he was not willing to admit that he had a problem, the disappointment grew.  The drugs & alcohol turned into drinking cough syrup to get a high.  The stealing turned into stealing their identity.  When they pressed charges, I was disappointed in them.  That disappointment was definitely misplaced.  When he got out of jail the first time and we opened our house to him and he was abusive to my kids and I did not find out until years later, that was disappointment.  When I found out he had abused my kids and I missed the signs, I was extremely disappointed in myself and filled with shame and regret.  

After my brother repeated the same mistakes with stealing and drugs and returned to jail, I was disappointed again.  When he asked family to throw a party for him when he was released, I was disappointed again.  Yes, I was glad he was released, but a party after 3.5 years in jail?  I just could not grasp the idea.  

A few months after he was released from jail, he was telling us that he was extremely sick and he looked terribly sick.  He told us that he had developed epilepsy due to head trauma from falling in jail and he was having major pain and stomach issues.  He looked horribly ill.  He told us that his family doctor had ordered some scans and told him that he had a mass in his head.  Then weeks later he told us he went to an oncologist and was told that he needed to do a full body scan, because brain tumors usually don't originate there.  A few weeks later he told us that he had gotten the news that he had pancreatic cancer that had spread to his brain.  After not seeing him near as often as I should have when he was in prison, now I thought I was losing him.  More regret.  He told us that the doctors said he had 3-6 months to live and they couldn't do anything.  

We had moved to Texas from our home state of Louisiana where he was, so we went to visit just about once a month, because I did not want to regret not seeing him as much as I could during his dying days.  He would look terrible one visit and decent the next.  I think we all were living in a constant state of turmoil.  If my Mom called, I thought she was calling to tell me that he was dead.  

About 5 months into him saying that he had cancer, my Mom, uncles and aunt, started asking him for proof, because they felt like something wasn't right.  I was naive and so disappointed that they would treat him that way, because I believed him!  I would text him or talk to him e very day, checking up on him.  Some days he sounded fine.  Some days he would say he couldn't text because his phone was too blurry or he couldn't talk because of headaches or slurred speech.  I was disappointed on those days and wondered if he was getting worse.  

He finally agreed to let my Mom and uncle go with him to the doctor and ask any questions they wanted.  I was still disappointed that they were questioning him.  I was still babying my brother and believing him.  He disappeared the day before they were supposed to go with him to the doctor.  I was so disappointed in him that day.  I had had a dream several years earlier that his life was going to end in suicide.  He called me a day or two later and told me that he was fine and just needed some space to himself.  His speech was clearer than I had heard it since he'd been out of jail.  I almost felt like he was reading from a script.  There was no stuttering or slurring, like we had all been accustomed to.  He texted asking for my address.  I have it to him and begged him to not do anything stupid.  He was found two days later.  He had overdosed on insulin.  He left letters to my Mom, sister & uncle.  No note/letter for me.  He had asked a cousin for her address, too, but she never received anything.  I was so disappointed that I did not matter enough to him to get a note.  I was disappointed that nothing I said or did was enough to change his decision on ending his life.  I was disappointed that I had trusted him and believed him when none of it was true.  I believe he came out of jail, planning on putting his family through the most excruciating pain that he possibly could.  I am disappointed in myself for playing along with his scheme and not seeing through it and dragging my family back to Louisiana every single month.  I am disappointed that my family is ashamed and tries to keep it a secret.  

I am hoping to find a group that is hurting from verbal abuse &/or losing a loved one to suicide and be a light of hope to them in their darkness.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A story of redemption

I found myself trying to mother my brother.  Even though I was only 2 years older, with our Mom working full time and unavailable emotionally after she got home, because she was exhausted, I tried to be there for my brother.  

Losing our Dad when I was 13 and he was 11 seemed to have a profound affect on both of us.  Neither of us were the same people.  When I was scared, I would run to him and sleep in his bed, even though he was younger.  I always felt like I would be rejected by my mother and told that I was being silly.  

When I was making wedding plans, I asked him and my half sister to be the ones to walk me down the aisle, because my Daddy was gone and I was definitely not going to ask my step dad because I could not stand him.  My brother walked me down the aisle and sang at my wedding.  

A couple of years later when I started having children, he was a great uncle and visited them quite often.  He would play with them and they looked forward to his visits.  The more I was around him, the more I noticed that he was struggling.  

He started drinking.  When drinking was not enough, he turned to pain pills.  He would go to the doctor and make up extravagant lies to get pain pills.  Eventually that would not work, so he started stealing them from his Mom & from me when I had them after having a baby.  

His drinking, taking drugs and stealing drugs, eventually turned into stealing money from friends and family to buy the drugs.  Then it turned into stealing our mom and stepdad's identity.  It was discovered when my Mom went to buy a vehicle.  In order to not have to pay the thousands of dollars back, they had to file a police report and press charges against him.  

He spent about one year in jail.  Mom was sending him money to buy snacks, paper, stamps, etc, but he did not think it was enough, so he asked our uncle to send him money.  Our uncle would only agree if he would read and write a book report on the book.  Then he would send him money.  Our uncle did not want him sitting in there and not using his mind.  

After a year, he was released from jail and rented a house with funds that had been placed into a trust fund from rental properties he had inherited.  He could not find a job, because of his record, so my uncle hired him to work at his store.  After a couple of years of working at our uncle's store and being around positive influences, he admitted that life was not turning out exactly as he had wished.  

After much reflection and encouragement from family, he decided to start going to Celebrate Recovery.  It helped, but not as much as he was hoping.  After some encouragement from friends in his small group, he decided to go into a full treatment Rehab facility.  He spent 6 months in rehab and did absolutely every thing asked of him.  As of today, he has been drug free and sober for 10 years.  I am so thankful that he admitted he needed help, instead of living in denial!  



Do you know what it feels like to fear something so much that you are physically ill?  Do you know what it feels like to be woken from a deep sleep at 4AM and stuck in the bathroom sick for an hour, for no logical reason?  I never knew the fear I know now, until I lost my Daddy.  

I completely changed that day.  Now I love every day in the fear that I am going to lose someone close to me.  If it takes Ernie 15 minutes longer than normal to get to work, I'm in a panic.  If he does not text me to let me know he made it to work, or if he texts, but forgets to hit send, I am a basket case.  I will be physically sick, thinking of every possible thing that could have gone wrong on his drive into work.  

If I don't hear from him occasionally during the day, fear creeps in again.  Our oldest child sent back to public school this year, after 5 years of homeschooling.  Most of the students have smartphones now and I know his is with him all of the time.  If I text and cannot get a reply fairly quickly, I will text over and over and panic that something may have happened at school.  Thankfully he has figured out that he can send me a message on fb to tell me when to pick him up or whatever and that helps ease my worry.  I have been known to check the school's website to see if he's eaten lunch so I know he was fine at least that long.  

Part of the reason I homeschool my kids is because of fear of something happening to them at school.  Whether it's a teacher that does something inconceivable or a child with a gun or any other kind of disaster.  I think allowing my son to go to high school this year has stretched me and really helped in my prayer life and trusting that God is going up protect him.  

Leading up to my husband's 35th birthday, I was having panic attacks.  My Dad died at 35 and I was paranoid that somehow the same thing was going to happen to him.  I knew that he would not die the same way, he does not have epilepsy, but I still worried.  As I got close to 35, the paranoia started again.  I was terrified that I was going to die.  It makes absolutely no sense, but I was still fearful.  

My extended family seem to all be worriers.  I don't know if we just pick it up without realizing it or if it's just something that some of us deal with day to day.  My babies have always co-slept.  Not only because I want them close, but because of my fear of SIDS.  

To combat these fears, that can sometimes be debilitating, I read the Bible, meditate on scripture, do a lot of praying, distract myself by being busy and when nothing seems to be working or it's extremely bad, I take Xanax.  I hate taking medication for it, but right now, that is where I am.  

Monday, January 20, 2014


I have been thinking about MLK today and his quote - “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.".  I don't know if you have grown up with hate, but I have.  I cannot remember if it started when I objected at my Mom's wedding to my stepdad at the courthouse.  Or if it was before she married my stepdad.  I don't know if it was because I did not like him or if it was because he did not like having another mouth to feed. 

I was raised in Louisiana where there is still a lot of racism.  There was way more than you could ever imagine in this day and time.  Or maybe it was just that way in my house and my best friend's house.  Maybe it was just their generation.  I doubt I will ever know the reason behind so much hatred.  

I was not allowed to watch The Cosby Show or Fresh Prince, simply because of their skin color.  My stepdad treated all black people as if they were thieves.  It was insane in my opinion.  I could not understand why people would judge and hate others simply because we are different.  

My Dad's side of the family was teaching me that we are all equal, God made each and every one of us and to treat others the way you would want to be treated.  My Mom's side of the family was teaching me completely differently, if actions are what we learn.  

I find it ironic that my stepdad would talk bad about people on welfare, but he would only work long enough at a paper mill shut down in order to get unemployment, then he would sit at home or enjoy his days on the golf course, while my Mom worked full time to carry insurance on us.  How are those two different?  I do not see much difference.  In fact, I think it's taking advantage of the government, the same way some people that are capable of working choose not to and get on welfare.  Is there a difference?  

I cannot count on one hand how many times he yelled at me or argued with me until I just gave up.  He had to have the last word about everything.  He was always right, no matter what the discussion.  

I was a reader growing up.  My books were my escape from reality.  I don't think I will forget him telling people that all I read about was who was kidding who.  I felt so humiliated.  

The first time he bullied my oldest daughter, I completely lost it.  He wanted her to try the peach tea he was drinking.  She politely said no thank you.  His reply was, why don't you ever do what I ask you to do?  There was name calling in there, too.  She was probably 10 years old.  I stood up to him for once and told him that he may have gotten away with bullying me, but he was but bullying my child.  We left his house with my grandmother crying and asking me to just let it go.  I had been told since they'd been together to "let it go", "ignore him", "let it go in one ear and out the other", "that's just the way he is, he doesn't know any better", "he's just not happy, so he tries to bring everyone else down" and my favorite "You just don't know how to take a joke".  I think my mouth dropped every time I heard "You just don't know how to take a joke".  That is what my grandmother said when her daughter, my aunt, said that one of my children would probably grow up to be a child molester.  "She was just joking!  It was just a joke!  You don't know how to take a joke!  You need to just let it go.".  Then my brother turned out to be a child molester, but that is a family secret.  There is shame there.  They don't want anyone to know.  Because that's unthinkable, but yet they could joke about it and tell me that I don't know how to take a joke.  

The day of my brother's funeral, or maybe a few days after, my mind is pretty muddled about that week, my stepdad tried to give me my engagement canvas that had been hanging in their old house for 15 years and told me that it was not going on his walls.  This house that my Mom bought and pays for and only has his name on the mortgage because she needed his income counted, my picture is not allowed on "his" walls.  My brother just died and what I was hearing was that a reminder of you, is not welcome in his and my mother's house.  Do you think she stood up to him?  No, because that could cause a conflict.  She had her mother, my grandmother, call and ask for the canvas back so my Mom could put it in her office.  

I don't think I had ever felt more hated.  By my stepdad and partly by my Mom, because I was not important enough to her to stand up to him and say that I am her daughter and my engagement canvas was going in her house.  

Hate makes me sick.  There is absolutely no place for it, ever.  We are commanded to love God and each other.  Hate is a waste of time and energy.  It separates us from God.  

What are your thoughts?  Have you dealt with hate in your life?  How have you reacted to it?  Or are you able to easily let it go?  

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Waiting, the prompt given by Jeff Goins yesterday.  I fell asleep writing, so I finished this morning.  If there are errors, please forgive them.  We are supposed to just write & not edit.  

I feel like I have been waiting all of my life.  I grew up waiting to feel like my Mom accepted me and/or loved me.  I grew up longing to feel wanted and cared about.  

Perhaps there was something in my Mom's childhood that prevented her from loving me the way I needed to be loved.  I will never forget my stepdad telling me that I had a roof over my head, food on the table and clothes on my back, so what else could I want?  

My Daddy died the day after my thirteenth birthday.  I remember waiting for the funeral, having no idea how I could make it through it.  I remember when my Mom came to West Monroe Junior High and the intercom came on, asking me to come to the counselor's office.  I remember thinking I was in trouble, but wondering what I could have done.  I was the good, quiet girl, always seeking approval from other people, while waiting and hoping to get it at home.  I remember walking into the counselor's office and seeing my Mom.  I remember being told to sit down and her telling me that my Dad had passed away.  I remember thinking, surely she meant my grandfather.  My Daddy was only 35.  We had just talked that past weekend about me moving in with him, because I was so miserable living with my Mom.  One thought that kept going through my mind was "Why couldn't it have been my stepdad?".  He was verbally abusive and horrible to be around.  Why not take him, instead of the one person that I could trust and I felt like loved me unconditionally.  

My best friend from 6th grade on would come over and my Mom and stepdad would talk to her and act like she was accepted and important.  I waited for them to treat me the same way.  If never happened.  I don't know how many times I thought she should be their daughter, because they loved her more than me.  I waited to get out of that house.  

I am very thankful to have met the man of my dreams in high school.  Once again, I felt loved unconditionally.  I felt like I mattered to him.  I remember watching our the window for him to come pick me up for dates.  I always sat at the window waiting for my Daddy on Saturday evenings.  These are the two guys that I felt like would never leave me.

After we had our first child, the girls of the family started taking a week off in the summer to vacation.  I waited for an invitation to join them.  It never came.  My mother's excuse was that I could not leave my baby and the baby.  Once again, I felt unwanted and unwelcome with my family.  

Waiting to move out of LA, where I felt smothered by family.  My kids were hurting because my Mom doted on them and spent time with them, until her Mom moved to town, then they were on the back burner.  If family called, we knew they had computer problems and wanted hubby to drop everything and come fix their problems.  

Waiting for my Mom to get excited about her 5th grand baby coming.  I called her the day my water broke, only to be told that it was not a good weekend for her, for me to have the baby.  She could not drive 4 hours & spend 1 night, at least, because she was so busy and her volunteer activities are more important than her family.  Waiting for my younger girls to realize how little they mean to her, like my older kids have.  

I am tired of waiting.  Some days I wish I could cut off all ties and be done with wishing she loved me the way she loves my half sister.  One of these days, I may have no choice for my own sanity.  But right now I am waiting, because occasionally visits are great and we seem like a normal family.  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bipolar 2...

Have you ever heard of it?  I am finding out that a lot of people have never heard of bipolar 2.  I know none of the general practitioners had any knowledge or experience with it.  I asked repeatedly if I could possibly have be bipolar and I was told absolutely not.  It's not possible.  I knew something was wrong with me.  I had known it since I was in my 20s.  

I was diagnosed with depression in my teens, after losing my Dad at 13 and living in an emotionally & verbally abusive home.  I saw a psychiatrist for years and I think the only thing he was interested in was prescribing antidepressants.  I went to tough love for teens where I was surrounded by mostly teens that had either done drugs or had a bracelet on their ankle and were under house arrest.  

I was irritable and my mood could and would change in an instant.  Most of the time when I went looking for help from my general practitioner, it was when I was in a really deep funk.  Anger became a very real part of my life.  I found myself getting angry over the tiniest things and screaming and yelling.  

When I am hypomanic, I do not want help, because I feel happy and smile and laugh a lot.  I am energetic and can get a lot done.  Then come the mixed episodes, where I will be laughing and happy, but feel like crying at the same time.  Those are the hardest emotionally.  

I finally have in and went to a psychiatrist over here when I was feeling absolutely helpless.  After going through the questionnaire, he did not even have to see me before diagnosing me.  

The biggest clue, was that antidepressants do absolutely nothing for me.  Some, like Prozac, make me fight suicidal thoughts.  Lexapro made me want to punch somebody, anybody.  A general practitioner had tried Paxil with me.  I felt so out of it that I could not get out of my recliner.  Not to mention the weight gain.  

Finally, I found a doctor that understood and did not want to just push antidepressants.  He explained that my episodes were not as severe as full blown bipolar, but the depressed side is usually worse.  When I told him one of the worst issues is my moods changing so quickly and randomly and the anger and irritability, he knew exactly what was going on.  He put me on a mood stabilizer and thankfully, it has been a huge help.  There are still some days with super highs and tremendous lows, but I think with a baby and sleep deprivation, it affects it a lot.  Most days, I feel normal, when I remember to take my medication.  

Thankfully he put me back on Xanax, after the baby came.  Most of the time, it does great with keeping me less crazy.  There are still some days when my mind automatically jumps to the worst possible scenario.  But most days I feel like I am functioning much better than I have the past 10-15 years.  I stay sleepy all of the time, probably from the Xanax, but I will take that over panic attacks and chest pains any day.  Maybe one day God will heal me from this, or maybe He chose to use me to speak out and be a help for someone else going through something similar.  Maybe He will do both.  Hopefully I will not have to be medicated the rest of my life.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Food... one of my biggest struggles...

Today's topic is brought to you by Jeff Goins and his 500 words a day challenge.  I missed yesterday, but do not think I can stretch a post on food to 1000 words!  

I am very well aware that we are to eat to live and not live to eat.  I know good is only supposed to be fuel for our bodies.  I know I need to cut out all grains, sugars and probably dairy.  I know that nutrition is 80% of the battle, I know that I am one hundred percent responsible for every bite and drink that I put in to my mouth.  I know how to get healthy, but do I do it?  No.  

Food has become an idol for me.  I turn to it when I am tired, sad, lonely, bored, happy.  I turn to food for comfort.  I will go through a drive thru when I am stressed, because I may need to get out of the house.  Or I may feel like junk food will make me feel better.  Or I may be craving salt.  Or I may just be too lazy to cook and have to deal with the clean up.  

I struggle with thinking sugar or junk food will make me feel better.  I grew up being told that I could not have coke, because I was fat.  My stepdad would insist that I drink diet coke over coke.  I was not allowed to choose how I wanted my steak cooked or what I wanted on my hamburger.  Now that I can choose what I eat, I rebelliously choose junk and coke.  It makes absolutely no sense at all!  I think I am letting him win by staying overweight.  

My absolute favorite food is Mexican food.  My favorite meal is chips, queso, carne asada, rice, beans & sopapilla bites with vanilla ice cream.  With a coke, of course and sometimes a margarita.  The majority of that meal is terrible for you, but it is my favorite.  They have a white cheese, spinach queso.  The carne asada is a huge steak, covered with Monterey Jack cheese, over a bed of grilled onions.  It is one of the best meals I have ever had.  I always get it with flour tortillas & love putting queso on top of slices of the meat inside a tortilla.  I never eat the onions, but I love the flavor of them.  It has always been a texture thing with me and onions.  The beans and rice are really just standard Mexican beans & rice.  The sopapilla bites are out of this world.  They remind me of bite sized beignets, if you've ever had beignets in New Orleans.  These are sprinkled with cinnamon & sugar with a little honey drizzled around the bowl and a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the middle.  I think each of my family members could eat one of these desserts on their own, but we split it.  Our favorite Mexican place is a place called Frankie's.  My kids beg to go.  The manager is absolutely wonderful.  My girls call him Uncle Jesse, Full House?  He kind of looks like him, too!  

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Best Day of my Life

August 10, 1996, the day of our wedding.  I was 17, two months before my 18th birthday.  Ernie was 20.  We were just babies.  I am sure quite a few people thought there was no way we would ever make it.  

We were high school sweethearts.  I knew I was crazy about him the first time I met him.  He was so nerdy in high school and I just have a thing for nerds.  I love smart people.  

Mr. Miller, one of my favorite teachers, suggested asking him to help me with math.  That was not just a ploy to get attention, because I really needed help in math.  Ernie did help me during free time during the day.  

My Mom had a rule of absolutely no dating until I was 16.  Ernie was a senior and had asked me to prom.  I was 15.  My Mom would not agree, so one of our teachers, who stayed and supervised those of us that did not have a ride home after school, spoke with my Mom when she picked me up one afternoon.  The teacher sang Ernie's praises.  He was so loved by all of the teachers.  

She agreed to let me go to prom with him.  We were pretty much a couple from then on.  He started college, went with me to my junior prom and we spent most weekends together.  

He proposed to me when I was 17.  I will never forget telling his Mom and being asked if we had to.  She assumed that I was pregnant.  When we told his Dad, he said "big surprise".  Ha!  His Dad was the most laid back and easy going person I have ever known.  

So, the wedding day comes around and Mr. Miller, the same teacher that suggested I ask Ernie for math help, was there, standing at the back of the chairs, with his Bible in his hands, waiting for the cue to walk up to wait on us.  I will never forget the smirk on Mr. Miller's face.  It was so cool to have him be the one to marry us.  The guys walked up and were standing and waiting for the bridesmaids, flower girls and me.  

I will never forget the story of Willie Mae(Ernie's grandmother), trying to get Stinky's(Ernie's Dad) attention to tell him that his fly was down.  Eventually she got his attention and he turned around and fixed it.  It was so extremely hot and humid.  An August day, outside, after it rained, in Louisiana.  Those poor guys in tuxedos were burning up.  

I wi never forget the way Ernie looked at me when I walked down that aisle to him.  My brother and half sister walked me down to him.  Mr. Miller refrained from asking who gives this girl, because my Dad was deceased and he did not ask if anyone objected.  I could just imagine my stepdad objecting out of spite because I did when he married my Mom, even though I was only 8 at the time.  

Our photographer had a little too much beer through the ceremony and reception.  We repeatedly had to search for him for pictures and he even missed the kiss.  

The reception was a blast.  We had a  DJ and had a blast dancing to YMCA and doing the Macarena.  I changed from my muddy heels to my combat boots.  I am a much more combat boot type of person than high heels.  

This was absolutely the best day of my life.  I get to wake up every morning, next to my best friend.  I love this man more than life.  

I am so thankful that God and Mr. Miller brought us together!  Ernie has been the one person since my Dad died that shows me unconditional love.  He is such a blessing to me. 

Addiction and cancer

Do you suffer with an addiction personality?  I used to think I did not have a problem with being addicted to anything, but I am.  If I do not have coke, I lose my mind.  I go through major withdrawals and I am mean!  Thankfully I am not nearly as bad, since I started drinking Spark.  

My phone.  I do not even want to talk about my phone.  I use it to text Ernie, the kids and my family.  I hardly ever talk on the phone these days, unless I have no other option.  I do not hear great, especially with kids in the background that want my attention.  My phone is with me ALL the time.  If I am a passenger in the car, I'm on my phone.  If I am up in the middle of the night with the baby, I am on my phone.  If I am in the bathroom or bathtub, I have my phone with me.  You would think I could not survive without it.  I use it for Facebook, Pinterest, texting. Dictionary, to read e-books, maps, etc.  I have gotten so dependent on it that it is ridiculous!  

Facebook is another addiction.  I am nosy, I am not going to lie.  I like seeing what my friends are doing.  I love to see the pictures.  I love being given the chance to pray for friends that I would never know needed prayer, if it was not for Facebook.  I love the uplifting posts that are shared.  There is so much positive about Facebook, but only if you keep it in balance.  With being a stay at home mom, there's very little adult interaction.  It gets lonely at times, even with 4 kids at home.  Being distracted on Facebook means that I can ignore the fact that I need to clean house and the baby does not want to be out down.  It can also bs a distraction to me when I am worried or anxious by keeping my mind occupied.  I do not have to really think or feel or process things that are bothering me.  Some people choose drugs to help dull pain and hide from their thoughts.  One of the few benefits of Facebook is hearing when we need to pray for someone.  I think I use it a lot so I do not have to think about how my heart has broken over the years and  my heart is breaking now over two people that are bravely fighting cancer.  Both of them have young teenage children and it takes me back to being 13 and losing my Dad.  Knowing the pain and devastation that they are going to face soon is heartbreaking.  Losing a parent as a teenager completely changes you.  I remember hating God for several years, because I just could not understand why he would take my Daddy away from me.  One of my high school teachers told me that he must have completed his purpose here on earth.  I remember ranting that all of the good people die too early and mean people are left here too long.  It was not very logical, but I was 15.  

Please join me in prayer for these two very special people that are fighting for their lives and their families.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Mentally ill and choices

The first time I wondered if my little brother was mentally ill, we were getting off of the school bus and he took off running to the garage.  He said he saw a man standing in the woods across the street with a gun.  Somehow the window in the garage had a hole in it.  I do not know if my brother had shot the window with his BB gun and did not want to get in trouble, so he fabricated this story or what.  I just know that our house was swarmed with police and the searched the woods and found nothing, other than the neighbor's donkeys.  

I remember my Mom taking him to the psychiatrist after that episode. They did not know if he was hallucinating or schizophrenic or just lying for attention.  

I am not sure when things changed with my brother's personality.  I don't know if it's when our parents both remarried and there was no hope of them ever getting back together or if it was after my mom's marriage.  He always seemed to like our stepdad.

I will never forget when we were getting ready to go to Texas for our mom to get married, because in Texas you did not have to wait 3 days after getting a marriage license to marry.  I still have no idea why waiting 3 days when they were already living together was a big deal.  My brother told me to find all of my money and bring it with us, because our Mom and stepdad were taking us to get rid of us.  He had on elastic bans shorts and kept having to pull them up because his pockets were heavy with all of his change.  Just in case we were left.  I have no idea what he thought all of his change would get us.  As I think back, I think he was only 6.  Imagining my almost 6 year old gathering all of her money and thinking we were going to get rid of her wrecks me.  My family thought it was funny.  I cannot imagine that being funny under any circumstances.  Maybe the trying to keep his shorts from falling down, but that is it.  

We went with them on their honeymoon to Florida.  It ended up being my Mom and me in the pool and on the beach most of the trip, while my brother and stepdad played mini golf and did other guy things.  My family loved to pick on me because there was a man in the pool with his two sons, that was actually playing with his sons.  I do not know how many times I tried to set my newly married Mom up with this guy.  I thought he looked like a great stepdad.  He was actually playing with his kids.  

We came back home and the real stepdad emerged.  He was not working at the time.  He worked shut downs at plants on occasion, because it was good money and he could work 1 week a month or 1 month out of 4 and it paid about the same or better than a full time job. So when he was home, he would spend the whole morning drinking his coffee, reading the paper and yelling at us to clean house.  He reminded me of the wicked stepmother.  Mom would get home and the house would be clean and she thought stepdad had done all of the work.  

I am not sure when the shift happened and my brother started looking at my stepdad as his hero and not wanting to see our Dad unless he had to.  I remember he started staying home occasionally on the weekends that we were scheduled to go to Dad's.  My brother had diabetes and one weekend he had to do a 24 hour urine test, because his blood sugars were going crazy.  I was told that the reason he did not want to go was because he did not what to take the jug, because  he was embarrassed by it.  It was not until I was an adult that my brother told me that he told our Dad that he hated him and never wanted to see him again.  I have no idea where that came from.  Our Dad died in his sleep 4 days later.  Those were the last words he said to him.  

I have no idea if he got involved with drugs and alcohol in high school or afterwards.  He got addicted to pain pills.  A couple of days after I had my 13 year old, my Mom brought him & his girlfriend to visit.  I noticed the next day that out of a whole bottle of pain pills, I only had 2 left,  I assumed his girlfriend had taken them, because at the time, I still looked up to my brother, even though he was younger than me.  

I think my family hid a lot of things he did, because denial is much better than facing the fact that he had problems.  Every job he had as a teen and in his early 20s, he would be fired because money would disappear from the register.  Family even gave him chance after chance.  A relative that owned a furniture store hired him to deliver furniture and he tried to keep the delivery truck, along with money. 

He married for about 12 months.  He started stealing pain pills from his mother in law and money, so they divorced.  He spent some time living with friends, then I'm sure something happened there.  

He ended up back at Mom's in his 20s.  Unemployed and bored.  She tried to get him to get help, but he refused.  He stole golf clubs and guns of my stepdad's and hocked them.  My stepdad finally recovered them all.  He knew most of the pawn shop owners in town.  Then, I'm guessing when he needed another fix, he stole my stepdad's identity.  He charged up his credit cards and would check the mail first and when he found checks from credit card companies to get cash advances, he would do that.  Eventually my stepdad pressed charges.  He spent a year or two in jail then was released on probation for good behavior.  He went back to Mom's house and was welcomed in again, this time almost in fear.  Sometime during all of this, he said he was going to kill my mom & stepdad in their sleep.  So, all of the guns were taken out of the house and locked up at family's houses and in the shed.  My teenage sister is living there through all of this and I am terrified he's going to kill them all.  He behaved for a couple of years.  Then stole both my Mom and stepdad's identity.  He opened credit cards in their names and was ordering stuff left and right.  He went to "test" drive a truck and failed to return it.  He went back to jail.  This time with a 7 year sentence.  We went to see him a few times, but not as often as I wish I would have.  We did exchange many letters.  

Three and a half years later, he was released.  My Mom told him that he could not move back in with her.  She offered to get him an apartment on the city bus line so he could come & go.  She even offered to pay for his apartment.  He found a house and lived there for about 6 months.  

Every time we saw him, he looked more & more sick.  Supposedly he fell down & hit his head so hard a month or two before he was released and crushed part of his skull, resulting in epilepsy.  He was complaining about feeling bad and not being able to eat almost constantly.

About a month after he got out of jail, we took our family and moved a state away.  My older two children remembered the chaos and were scared of him stopping by out of the blue.  

He kept complaining about headaches, passing out and vomiting, so my Mom took him to the doctor.  After what he said was a lot of testing, he said they found a brain tumor.  Then he said the doctor wanted to do a full body scan because most brain tumors do not originate in the brain.  He said he had a full body scan done and his pancreas was covered in tumors.  He said the doctor said that would be his last Christmas and he would be lucky to make it 3-6 months.  There was nothing they could do.  

This was September and family was very upset.  We had already lost that time with him in jail and now he was dying.  He moved in with an aunt and uncle, because they did not think he could take care of himself.  We made trips to town at least once a month to see him.  My uncle and cousin took him on a trip to play the two golf courses he had dreamed of playing.  Once he got back home, he spent as much time as he could on the golf course because he said that was where he could clear his mind and relax.  

January rolls around and my mom and uncle started questioning whether or not he really had cancer.  He claimed he had the medical report, but then Mom made him mad, so he shredded it.  My aunt and uncle asked him to go stay at Mom's just on the weekends, so they could have some time alone.  He did that, but hated it, because he said that he had nowhere to call home.  

At times he was starting to feel unwelcome & uncomfortable at our aunt and uncle's.  So he went back to stay with Mom.  We talked or emailed every day and he said that he would not stay at Mom's long, because he just couldn't stand it.  He said if it got too bad, he would go stay at a hotel room to cool off.  

He had a doctor's appointment scheduled a few days after moving in with Mom and told her that she could take him & come back & hear what the doctor said and see his records. He offered that to anyone in the family.  

The day before they were supposed to go to the doctor, he had a friend pick him up and said they were going to lunch and to pick up his medicine.  He was an insulin dependent diabetic.  I texted him and Mom that evening and didn't hear back.  She called me the next day and told me that he had left an did not show up at the doctor.  She went to the appointment, hoping he would show up.  The doctor could not really tell her anything, but when she asked if he had cancer, the doctor shook his head.  

He called everyone the next day and told them he was fine and just needed to get away and spend some time alone.  His voice almost sounded like the old brother I knew, not the slurred speech brother that he had sounded like since he got out of jail.  It sounded like a rehearsed speech.  I think he said the exact same thing to everyone.  

The night before when I found out that no one had heard from him, I remembered that the first time he was in jail, I dreamed that he was going to end his life.  Every time the phone rang & it was my Mom, I was scared that was going to be the call that he had done it.  Ernie and I went for a walk that night and I told him that I really felt like they were going to find him somewhere dead.  He texted and asked for my address.  He did the same thing with s cousin.  I begged and pleaded with him to not do anything stupid.  

Two days later, Ernie came home from work and pulled me into the bedroom and sat me down.  He told me they had found him in a motel room.  He had injected 2 vials of insulin.  He left goodbye notes for my mom, stepdad, uncle & little sister.  Not a word for me.  

The counselor at the church that we had grown up in, that had been trying to counsel him over the phone, told me that he had gotten a call from my brother the night that we had heard from him the last time.  He missed the call & it went to voicemail.  He let me listen to it.  My brother was sobbing and asking him to please pray for him right then.  That message will haunt me the rest of my life.  The brother that I felt like I had helped raise, because Mom worked all of the time, decided that it was easier to end his own life than to go on.  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Victim mentality?

Have you ever had a victim mentality?  Have you ever thought if I had just been born into another family?  If I had different parents, different grandparents, different siblings, then my life would have turned out differently.  If only my parents had not divorced and had modeled what true marriage is supposed to look like.  

If only my Mom had not married a man that was verbally abusive.  If only my Daddy had not died the day after my 13th birthday.  If only I had spent more time with my Daddy, not that the decision was mine.  

If only I had picked better friends in middle school and high school.  If only I had never smoked a cigarette.  If only I had not made the decision to give up and drop out of school in October of my senior year, because we had several English teachers and I was doing horribly in my favorite class.  Thankfully I at least got my GED.  If only I had not given up on college and dropped out.  If only I was not so timid and scared of being myself around other people, because if I did not like myself, how could they?

If only I had not let my brother come live with us for a little after he got out of prison.  If only I had never left my children alone with him.  If only I had known what signs to pick up on.  If only I was not blind to him and his drug, alcohol and cough syrup addiction.  If only I had the chance to put him in jail again for the things he did.  

There are many if onlys that I have lived with for most if my life.  I could blame my parents, my brother, my circumstances, but I am not a victim.  God wants us to live in victory.  I cannot live in victory, as long as I am in bondage to the past.  

I blamed my weight problem on my stepdad for many years.  He called me fat and told me that I had to drink diet coke, instead of coke, because I was fat.  So for years, I have thought that I can drink as much coke as I want because he cannot tell me what I can and cannot drink now.  My rebellion was doing nothing other than hurt me.  A victim may act like a rebellious teenager.  I am no longer a rebellious teenager.  I feel like God wants me to walk in victory in this area of my life.  My body is His temple to take care of, not something for me to destroy.  

I could choose to be a victim and not accept blame in many situations in my life and I have many times.  I am thankful that God has used friends to show me the error of my ways.  I am glad that he uses different people to help me grow.  

So are you a victim?  Or do you walk with God in victory?  Are you living out the victorious life that he has planned for you?  Have you accepted that God allows bad things to happen to us to grow us, teach us lessons and so we will lean on him?  To be honest, God is still working with me on this issue.  I am so thankful for his grace and loving kindness and that he does not hit me upside the head and say, "You are doing it again!".  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A bucket list of sorts for 2014

1.  I want to get our budget under control.  I am tired of money ruling over us.  I want to tell it where to go.  I want to put 3 months worth of living expenses in savings.  I do not want to have to worry about buying groceries.  

2.  I want to buy a house this year.  I want to be able to paint and decorate and make it mine.  

3.  I want Ernie to find the perfect job, for him.  He is not happy in his current job and I want to see him happy again.  

4.  I want to declutter every single thing in my house that either does not have a use or we do not love.  

5.  I want to tame the paper monster.  

6.  I want to clean out every single closet in the house, even mine.  

7.  I want to clean out the garage and get rid of everything we do not need.  

8.  I want to kick the addiction to my phone.  I want to set a limit of only being on it before my kids wake up in the mornings and after they are in bed at night.  

9.  I want to spend more time reading with my girls and playing with them.  

10.  I want to fully engage with all of my kids and Ernie and put the phone away any time they are talking to me.  

11.  I want to spend more one on one time with each of my kids.  

12.  I want to encourage Ernie to do the same.  

13.  I want to declare one night a week to be a family game night.  

14.  I want the read through the Bible chronologically this year.  

15.  I want to memorize one verse per week.  

16.  I want to do my Jesus Calling devotional every day.  

17.  I want to encourage Annalee to do her Jesus Calling devotional every day.  

18.  I want to stop yelling.  

19.  I want to stop dealing with anger.  

20.  I want to pray more and feel God more.  I want to grow deeper in my relationship with him.  

21.  I want to invite a friend or another family over once per month.  

22.  I want to be a good example to my older children.  

23.  I want to be better organized with homeschooling my girls.  

24.  I want to stop living in fear.  

25.  I want to stop saying yes to things, just because I want people to like me.  

26.  I want to exercise at least 4 times a week.  

27.  I want to learn to eat healthy, real food.  

28.  I want to learn more about essential oils and how they heal our bodies.  

29.  I want to learn more about healing our guts. 

30.  I want to learn to be a better communicator and not fear rejection.  

31.  I want to be intentional about talking to Ernie more. 

32.  I want to take a vacation to Disney and Branson.  

33.  I want to write a book.

34.  I want to read more than 100 books.  

35.  I want to train to jog a half marathon next New Years Eve.  

36.  I want to get off of all sugar and wheat.  

37.  I want to find complete healing from the anger and bitterness after my brother's suicide.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A letter to my 18 year old self

Jessie, Jessie, Jessie...

Ten years after your Mom married your stepdad, at a courthouse, where you objected, just accept that he is who he is.  Accept that he is mean and bitter and excruciatingly painful to be around, because he is unhappy with himself.  Either he was abused or neglected or maybe, he's mentally ill, but cut him some slack.  

That time that he went to your guidance counselor and asked for advice because he could not get through to you and did not know why you hated him so much, then your Mom called her sister to come babysit your siblings and you were stuck in a locked car in a grocery store parking lot with him and your Mom, until you would tell him why you did not like him... forgive him for that.  Perhaps he has a victim mentality and had no clue why in the world you do not like him.  

That time that you decided that all you wanted to watch on TV was The Cosby Show, because he would not allow it, because they were a black family.  And the years that you decided that you only wanted black friends, because he was the most prejudice person you know, forgive him for that.  Maybe that was the way he was raised and he has no desire to change.  

That time that he went digging through your purse and found a cigarette with the filter broken off and thought it was a joint, because it was always a jump to the worst possible conclusion, forgive him for that.  

The years that you sat in your bedroom absorbed in books, terrified to come out of your room, because you had no idea whether you were going to be yelled at, cussed at, ignored or treated nicely, it is time to let it go.  

The comment "We are not going to raise that child", when my Mom told my stepdad that we were expecting our first child, it is past time to let it go.  After years of verbal abuse, there is no way I would let him raise my child.  

The years that you felt neglected and abandoned, because your brother was diabetic and ADHD and needed more attention, let it go.  Mom was doing what she thought was best at the time.  Then when Mom and stepdad had their daughter and you were definitely forgotten about, forgive them.  

Cherish the time you have left with your grandparents on your Dad's side of the family.  Your Mom tried to poison your thoughts against both of them, but they are the ones that know what true love is.  They are the ones that have the most life experiences.  They are the ones that started from nothing and built a wonderful life for themselves.  Spend as much time as you can with them and soak in their knowledge, especially from your grandmother.  

Do not listen to your Mom when you tell her that you want to go to school and major in psychology and she says "Oh, you want to be just like your grandmother".  Or maybe say, yes, I would like to be just like her.  She was far from perfect, but family and helping other people were her priorities.  

When the psychiatrist tells you that if you would record your stepdad being verbally abusive and something could be done, you should have considered listening to him.  Letting fear get in the way of that, did nothing to benefit your teen years.  

When your stepdad plays the victim and complains to his family that you are not nice to him and his niece, who you admired, told you that if you could not be nice to him that you could not be friends with her, maybe you should have realized right then that there were some family problems.  

When your stepdad is telling you that you are fat and no man that weighs less than 500 pounds than you, maybe you should realize he has much larger of a problem than you.  When he is telling you that you are fat and if you get any bigger, your clothes are going to have to be handmade, when you are in a size large, do not listen to him.  

When he is the one there for you to cry on his shoulder when you do not make drill team and your Mom cannot be bothered to come, be thankful.  When he is at your dance recital rehearsals and once again, your Mom cannot be bothered to be there, be thankful.  

Remember that most of the time when people hurt you with their words, they have been hurt.  Hurt people hurt people.  Try not to take his words personally.  I know it is hard, but all of the flaws he is so good about pointing out in you, are pointed out either because he has the same problem, or it was something that he has dealt with.  

When he tries to give you all kinds of baby advice, just nod and agree.  Try to remember anything helpful and forget the rest.  

Remember that all of the craziness had nothing to do with you.  Do not let yourself be terrified of rejection or failure, just because you were constantly being rejected or failing, according to your Mom and stepdad.  

Let yourself grieve for the loss of your Dad.  Get help to learn how to grieve.  Do not just stuff the emotions deep inside, because you may never find healing.  

Thank God every day for getting suspended in public school, so your mom would pull you out of public school and put you in private school, where you met your high school sweetheart.  

Spend more time in church.  Read the Bible, dig deeper and get to know The Lord better.  Memorize scripture dnf tight 

Realize that the neglecting and negative attention has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them and where they have decided to take everything out on you, 

You have made great, close, God fearing friends.  Turn to them when you need love and not your Mom that cannot or will not give it and definitely do not turn to your stepdad that makes the comment "I put a roof over your head, clothes on you back and food on the table, what more do you want!"  Just let go of the fact that they are incapable of giving the love that you seek.  Turn to God and let him sort everything out.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

What is your purpose?

Do you ever wonder if you are living in God’s will?  What your purpose is in life?  What you were created to do?  What your gifts are?  I do not know about you, but I have pondered these questions so many times that it is not funny.  I have spent many sleepless nights wondering what I am supposed to do with this gift of life I have been given? 

Have you ever heard that if you are not going after your dream or fulfilling your purpose that God will give someone else the dream or purpose that He had planned for your life?  I do not know about you, but that statement had me anxious for a little while.  I was wondering if I was a failure by not doing this “big” thing. 

The thing is, I stay at home with my children.  I have had many, many people ask what I do and the looks I get from some people leave me feeling worthless and like what I do does not matter.  I have had friends that have commented, “It must be nice!”.  Sometimes the reaction is “What in the world do you do all day?”.  A lot of times I hear, “There’s no way we could do it.  We have to have two incomes.”.  I usually just nod and bite my tongue or do not say anything at all.  Until you have been a stay at home mom, it is not possible to understand.  Yes, it is nice to stay home with my children, but the truth is that it is hard.  I worked for a little while when we had two children and I have to say that it was much easier to go to work every day and be able to go to the restroom in private.  To eat lunch without interruptions.  My house was cleaner when I was at work all day.  The kids were not home to make messes.  The we have to have two incomes statement is something that the world wants us all to believe.  Sometimes I believe that we need two incomes.  There are months that are an absolute struggle, but we make it.  We cannot have all of the coolest and newest gadgets, but we do not need them. 

My 3 year old telling me “Mommy, I love you!” out of the blue almost every single day is absolutely priceless.  The smiles and hugs that I get, because I am here and not away from them all day are priceless.  I know that I would get smiles, hugs and I love yous when I got home, if I was to go to work, but throughout the day out of the blue is just the sweetest thing in the world. 
I am not the best housekeeper.  I am not the best cook.  But I try daily to meet my family’s needs by cooking meals, providing snacks, washing their clothes.  It is not the most glorious job in the world some days and some days it feels like it is tedious and an unthankful job, but loving on these people that God has blessed me with, day in and day out, is my calling.  It is my purpose.  I am absolutely, tremendously blessed to be able to be home with my kids and to take care of them and my husband.  These are the people that mean the most to me and I am so thankful for every day with them. 

So if you are ever feeling like me and wondering what is my purpose?  What was I created to do?  Look around you and see who you can bless just by being you.  Where you are right now is where God wants you right now.  Things change, we go through seasons, but God has planted you in that place and in that season for a reason.  Maybe He’s trying to teach you something.  Maybe He has you right there to be a blessing to a certain someone.  There is a calling on your life and do not ever feel like what you are doing is not enough.  Because it is.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Do you struggle with people pleasing or acceptance?

One of the struggles I have had my entire life is pleasing other people.  I want everyone to like me.  The thought of someone not liking me almost seems unbearable.  Why in the world it bothers me so much, I do not know.  

I wonder at times if it comes from feeling like I was a bother to my mom.  I never felt accepted or wanted, so I felt like I was constantly trying to please her.  

When after years of trying, it did not seem to make any difference at all, I went the complete opposite direction.  I would talk back.  I had a horrible attitude.  I stayed in my room all of the time.  I kept canned cokes and Vienna sausages under my bed, so I did not have to leave my room, except to go to the restroom.  

I chose friends to hang around that I knew my mom would not want me hanging around.  I smoked, in my closet, stupidly thinking I would not get caught.  My stepdad could not stand black people, so I flocked to them.  I have always believed skin color does not make one bit of difference.  We are all the same.  

I think since I did not have that need for acceptance met as a child, I still struggle with finding acceptance.  It has taken 35 years for me to realize that acceptance does not come from man. Should it come from our parents?  Yes, it should, but they are human.  As parents, we will fail.  Probably every single day.  

People pleasing is nothing more than trying to gain acceptance from man. The enemy is planting lies that we need to please others.  We can get so caught up in trying to please others that we take our eyes off of God.  It can easily become an idol.  It takes the focus from loving God and others to being all about ourselves.  If the enemy can get us focused on ourselves and what other people think, then he is winning.  

Galatians 1:10 says:

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10 ESV)

So, when I am trying to please others and trying to gain their approval, the Bible says I am not a servant of Christ.  This is one of the verses I definitely need to memorize this year.  I want to be a servant of Christ at all times.  I want people to be able to pick me out as a follower of Christ.  

James 2:18 says:

But someone will say, “One person has faith, another has actions.” My answer is, “Show me how anyone can have faith without actions. I will show you my faith by my actions.” (James 2:18 GNT)

When I am gone one day, I do not want people to remember me as someone that was always wrapped up in what everyone else thought and whether or not someone approved of me or accepted me.  In the end, I want people to see me as someone that only looks to The Lord for love and acceptance.  I want my actions to show that I believe I am loved, accepted and approved of by God.  That and showing His love to others is my goal.  If others are brought to Christ because of the way I live my life, I will finish this race well.  

Friday, January 3, 2014

Going to a Wedding....

Going to a Wedding…. 
When Ernie and I started dating, my half-sister was two years old.  I could not fathom her dating one day, much less getting married.  This afternoon, she married her high school sweetheart.  I can still remember pushing her on the swingset in the yard.  Watching her dance recitals, listening to her yell and argue with her Dad.  Never have I seen a child so strong willed and stubborn.  I love this beautiful young lady fiercely, though.  I am so thankful that she found this amazing man, Destin, to share her life with.  I cannot imagine the two of them apart. 

This is a guy that has such a strong relationship with the Lord.  He is such a great influence for Johnye and I am so thankful for that.  I am so thankful to see her in church and serving in church.  I am so thankful that she married her best friend. 

She chose a lodge, on a lake, in the country for the wedding and reception.  She chose to get married outdoors, in January, even though it was 40 something degrees.  She chose a sleeveless dress that was absolutely gorgeous and so classy.  It fit her personality to a T.  I thought maybe she would wear a shawl or a jacket or sweater, but not my sister.  She wanted that dress showing and she wore it and acted like she was not cold at all. 

She cried coming down the stairs with her Dad.  Destin was crying, watching her come down the stairs.  I think they cried through most of the ceremony.  It was so sweet and so beautiful to see the love they have for each other.  I don’t think there were many females at the wedding with dry eyes.  The preacher did an absolutely phenomenal message on Ephesians and what love really means.  And how our actions show how we love Christ and each other.  I don’t know how many of the guests needed that message, but it was really beautiful. 

Inside for the reception, the decorations were simple.  Burlap, cotton, sticks in vases, candles and a few flowers were all that decorated the inside of the lodge.  There was a hot chocolate and coffee bar, that was definitely a hit, after coming back inside from the cold.  There was a wonderful meal of bacon wrapped chicken tenderloins, green beans, corn, salad and rolls.  The food was delicious.  I think the favorite of the night for the kids, was the smores bar!  They had all of the fixings and they could make their own smores.  I lost count of how many one of my children had.  They did not have room for cake after filling up on smores! 

All in all, it was a great afternoon and evening of spending time with family and friends.  Seeing my sister glowing and watching Destin remove all of the toilet paper from around his car before they left, was absolutely an unforgettable time.  I am praying that their lives are filled with many years of happiness and many babies!