Is Your Church Truly A “Whosoever Will May Come” Church?

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Most churches have them right? Someone with a cane or a wheelchair. Typically, it is one of the elderly in the church who have been there for years and their health has declined. Many times, their health is too poor to do little more than attend – which is quite an accomplishment in itself! But are there others, with lifelong disabilities, that do not attend your church?

There are a lot of people out there with disabilities that are healthy and anxious to attend and serve God in a church. So, what is the big deal? If they want to come – let them come! No one is stopping them, right? WRONG!! You would be amazed at what may be stopping them.

The church was established by Jesus Christ Himself. He was always tripping over and dealing with the poor, the sinners and those who had disabilities. My Grandpa was a pastor/missionary, my dad was a pastor, my brother and brother-in-law are pastors, and my husband is a pastor. I tell you this pedigree because I am allowing myself the platform to tell you what I know is an absolute truth. When a church only serves itself, there will be 3 categories of people they get real snobby about – the poor, the sinners and the disabled. Isn’t that amazing that it is just the opposite of who Jesus constantly ministered to?

If the church has lost it’s ability to follow Jesus, they may as well shut the doors. Or at least just play Bingo and make it the official social club of the community.

I know that may sound harsh, but I do believe Jesus had some pretty harsh actions against those who had turned the Temple into a money changing hangout. We need to make sure that we are actively pursuing the poor, the sinners and the disabled. For this post, I will talk about the disabled.

Can I point a few realities that you may not know about?

  • Do you have a welcoming, accessible entrance?

I have been to restaurants and had to be taken in a back door and through the kitchen just to eat there. Do you think I returned? NO! Have you ever been tipped upside down trying to popped up a bunch of steps? It is terrifying! Do you really think visitors will do that? No. They will find a church that is prepared for them to enter with dignity.

This is not money wasted. I remember a group of guys that took out a roof of a house to make sure their disabled friend could get to Jesus. Oh that we would be like them!

  • Do you have accommodating restrooms?

I have been in an accessible restroom….after I got carried down the stairs to it! That doesn’t count! Let me also state that adding handrails does not make it usable. The stall door must be wide enough that a manual or power wheelchair can get through it. I have seen a beautiful, open handicap stall that could not be used because they forgot to make the door wide enough.

The three most important features to an accessible stall are:

1. Wide doorway (36 inches minimum)

Do not swing the door inside the stall. If you roll in, there is no way to shut the door because you are in the way. Doors swing out!

2. Plenty of room inside to turn your chair. 

If I pull in and my knees touch the toilet, it is a HORRIBLE transfer. I can do it, because I can transfer well. If I was any weaker, which I am when I am tired, I would not be able to do that at all. There must be space beside the toilet. The ADA requirement (which churches are not bound too – I will talk about that in a bit) is a 5 ft. radius. Remember, power chairs are bigger and need more room to turn than even a manual chair does. So, you must have room to accommodate both.              

3. Rails.

Rails are important. They help in transferring and giving much needed balance. They help for those who walk, but have weakness, to get up and down.

  • Do you have available drivers?

There are some people who would love to come to church but have no way to get there. They cannot drive and are at the mercy of others to get them around. Most insurances pay for transportation to appointments, many healthcare workers help with grocery shopping, but who takes them to church? Compassionate, loving people who don’t mind figuring this out! Maybe a church could buy a van with a lift and tie downs in it. Maybe someone has a vehicle that is easy for someone to transfer into. Ask the person with the disability. They can help figure out a plan. They just need a willing heart.

  • Do you have available areas are service?

What am I even talking about? I am talking about having a church mind-set that the disabled are not there just to be served and catered to. We are there, like every other member of the body of Christ should be, to love, learn and be actively serving Jesus.

Did you know that many people with disabilities have a hard time working full-time jobs and so they make wonderful church volunteers? Did you know that our physical disabilities can give the impression that we are not capable? In some ways, that can be true…which is why we need accessible stalls and ramps.But…that is about as far as it goes.

Oh how I wish I had the time to introduce you to so many of my friends with disabilities and what they are doing!! I will admit that many of us have a little chip on our shoulder that is having to keep the scales balanced that we are very capable. And so, many of us are over achievers! Yes, guilty as charged!

What does this mean? Think of taking all that energy and plugging it into the work of the Lord! We can serve the Lord even if the church makes that hard for us, but it is such a tremendous blessing when we get to serve Him in and through our local church.

I don’t want to overlook visual, hearing or mental impairments. There are solutions for all of those things too! I would recommend that you print off this checklist for churches.

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It is a beginning guide to a look at your individual facility and see where you can start!

So, when as a church, we preach and teach and sing “Whosoever will may come…”, let’s make sure we really mean it and aren’t leaving out anyone. Especially those that Jesus always included.

Special Note:

Churches are not required to follow ADA laws because of separation of church and state. I am in agreement with that. But I am NOT in agreement with a church that uses that to bury their head in the sand of  responsibility to meet the needs of every single soul in their community.

If you need help knowing what your church needs, please let me help you! I have become pretty creative coming up with ways to make things work without spending a fortune. Every change helps and sends a strong message that those with disabilities are wanted. 

 

 

 

 

The Best Chore Decision I Ever Made

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So…I do not do very many chores in my house. Really. I stay terribly busy with a million things, but chores just really aren’t one of them. My life changed pretty dramatically almost 7 years ago, and when that happened, so did our chore routines. I wrote about chores a few months ago but I decided to go into more detail on the zone system and why we love it so much.

Don’t misunderstand me. I can do most of the chores in this house – with the exception of scrubbing the tub, behind the toilets and cleaning out the fridge or wiping up the back of my countertops. I can sweep, vacuum, mop, dust (love those Swiffer extender dusters), make beds, clean up clutter, and do most of the laundry (I cannot reach it in the washer to put in the dryer). So, not being physically able is not the reason I do not do them. Because I can do them.

But….it takes SO long to do chores! When I used to zip through my house and have it straightened up in about an hour now takes me half of a day. It is absolutely ridiculous. I have better things to do then to spend 4 hours a day just trying to clean up. By the time I am done, I am absolutely exhausted and the rest of my day is shot because I am just too tired. I would hate to die and the only thing I accomplished with my life was trying to keep the vacuum cord untangled from my wheels!

It has just been within the last couple years, after unsuccessfully being able to keep up with my home and just staying frustrated with chores, that I decided it was time I gave myself a promotion. I decided that after 15 years on the job, I was being promoted to foreman. So, I made up a little system when we moved to our new home here in SC that has been the best decision I ever made regarding chores!

Let me set some foundational thinking first:

  • There are a lot of people in this house. Jimmy has 6 children and I have 7 making a total of 8 people. Think about that. You will get it. :) Jimmy works from home and we homeschool. That means that every day, a lot of people + lot of living = a lot of mess! I am only 1 out of 8 and I assure you I do not make the biggest majority of the mess and therefore, I am not going to be the only one to clean it up.
  • My kids have always had to help with chores. I think it is good for their character and I also think their future spouses will thank me! This was my mentality before a wheelchair ever entered the picture!
  • Jimmy has always been willing to help me with the housework since I homeschool and help in the church that he pastors. We are truly a team. He likes to pick the jobs himself and that is fine with me. I am just glad he helps! So, the chores that he has are the ones that he chose and likes to do. Fair enough!
  • I have tried a ton of different chore ideas and systems to help organize and keep on top of this home. All would work in different ways, but the kids would get so tired of doing the same chores. Also, because they are kids, I was always repeating myself a million times because they would forget certain areas or jobs. What we do now has just been wonderful and has been consistently wonderful for almost 2 years now so I am a believer.

Having said all that, I will now share what I did!

I have 6 kids (well, 7 counting Jimmy! :) ) so I divided the house into 6 chore zones.

  1. Living Room
  2. Dining Room
  3. Kitchen
  4. 2 Bathrooms
  5. Laundry Room/Hallway
  6. Outside yard/Porches

I made index cards for each zone and wrote down on that card every single thing that has to be done in that room. I also added what needed to be done once that week in that zone. For example, they sweep every day, but they only mop once a week. They can pick any day they would like to do their weekly jobs, but it has to be done.

I have a large magnetic board and put their initials on magnets. On Monday, we rotate the zones to a new kid. So each kid gets one zone for the week – from Monday to Sunday. Then, they get a new zone the following week.

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This has been so wonderful for several reasons:

  1. Some zones are easier than others. The kitchen is a hard zone, but the laundry room and hallway is very easy. So, they know that if they have a hard zone, an easy zone is coming so they do not bog down and get discouraged with a hard zone. In our family, it is also very easy for me to dump the harder jobs on the older ones and they can resent that very fast! Learned that the hard way! It is good for the younger ones to be challenged in a harder zone!
  2. The kids love rotating the zones on Monday. They are ready for a new zone. It is cute to see them get excited about a fresh place to keep up.
  3. I LOVE having every chore written down. If I see a room that has not been swept at all, I ask if they did their chores. If they say yes, I just ask if they looked at their card. If they did not, then I do not have to go over every thing they forgot. It is already on their card!
  4. My youngest is learning to work. Elisha is only 6 so he cannot really handle many of the zones alone so for now he has the yard zone. He gets bored with it and it is pretty easy, so he also helps with trash and picking up his own stuff.
  5. Jimmy does all dishes and washes and dries most of the laundry. We all help fold and put it up. The kids all fold their own laundry. The older children do their own laundry most of the time, but if they get behind Jimmy will take care of it.
  6. Jimmy and I keep up with our own bedroom and bathroom and the kids have to keep their own rooms cleaned on top of their zones. Recently, my oldest daughter has been wanting to make money so I have been paying her to clean my room/bathroom every couple weeks. She loves the cash and I am enjoying the extra time!

An important lesson I learned:

When you are not able to do the chores yourself, or the way you like to do them, you can become a mean ogre. I learned early on that I was going to drive all my family away from me because I was OCD about what I could no longer do! It was awful. I learned that when others help you, you have to back off.

I had to drop my level of expectation. I have also had to drop what I think others level of expectation is for me and my home. They do not live in my paralyzed body and they do not manage my children. So, their opinion is none of my business. I just try to do the best that we can do and uphold my children to their best ability. Of course they will skip corners if they can, but I no longer hold them to my standard of best. I hold them to theirs.

My kids are amazing. They help with the cooking and the cleaning. We are a big ship and it takes a crew to keep it all going. I used to feel so terribly guilty about them doing so much but as they are getting older, I see they are becoming very responsible teenagers and I can see how God is even using a Momma that stinks at chores to help groom them into the beautiful people they are. It really swells my heart to see them pitch right in and do their part. I do not know what I would do without the support of my hubby and kids. I try to thank them, love on them and do what I can extra to give back to them in the ways I can.

I’m not sure if this post is helpful to anyone or not, but I thought I would just share how it is done around here!

How Should We Handle Bad Relationships?

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I have debated writing this post. It is an area of my life that I do not like….and I cannot change. I love people. I have always loved everyone getting along. I love approaching every single person with the idea that they are my next friend. So what do you do, when you want a good relationship but you are shunned or given conditions for how that must happen?

I am not alone in this. I hear stories of parents who want relationships with their children. Children who want it with their parents. Siblings who want it with each other. Pastors with church members. Church members with pastors. Spouses with each other. The list goes on and on. I apologize in advance for the length, but this is a painful issue for many people and cannot be answered in 500 words or less.

Did you know that we were created by God to be relational? We were not created to be dependent or independent. We were created to be co-dependent. I depend on God, but those who live their lives only waiting for God to give to them are missing a key part of their Christian lives. We give back to God our lives and service. Not because we “earn” His love, but because it is good for us! It is the key to a joyful Christian life. Proof: look at Christians you know who seem to cause the most trouble in churches or who just seem miserable. I guarantee, that in most cases, they do very little serving outside of their own little world. So, we desperately need God, but He also loves to use our lives as we serve Him. He needs us on this earth too!

There is a situation in my private life where there are people that I love deeply that will not have anything to do with me. I have tried to talk to them and ask them if we can just agree to disagree and not discuss what we do not agree on. We agree on more things than we disagree. But the answer is no. I have cried. I have begged. I have sent gifts and messages on special days…no answer. In one instance, I was even kicked out of something I had invested a lot in! Stories have been twisted and lies have been told about me and my family. A few people, who were told some of these things, wrote me privately because they cared and asked if it was true. It was not! And I was so hurt that things had been said.

What do you do? Get bitter? Get even? Get lost? I would like to share what God has helped me with and maybe it will be a help to someone in a similar situation.

1. Stopping communication is poison.

You have to be humble enough to seek reconciliation…even if you are mad! Of course we all like to be right. We all have our opinions. We feel strongly about what we believe. There is not problem with any of that. The problem is when we let pride stop communication. If I look at someone and say that unless you agree with me, we cannot have a relationship, I have just cut off my nose to spite my face. Can you imagine if God acted like this? Do you think He agrees with everything we do? NO!

Adam and Eve were hiding, naked and ashamed, in the Garden of Eden after sinning and God came out to walk with them anyway. Did God say, “Hey! Whenever you want to make things right and agree with me, I will be on my throne. You know where to find me!”? He did not!

Peter denied Jesus – not once, but three times! Peter was back out on the fishing boat away from the ministry. My resurrected Savior went to the seashore and made supper and called Peter right back to Him! Did Jesus say, “Oh there you are you wicked, backstabbing, yellow bellied coward! What kind of friend leaves another in their hour of need? Don’t ever talk to me again. For all I care, just drown out there!!!” No, He did not. 

2. Don’t wait on an apology.

In the above examples, where were all the apologies first? Where were the tears of sorrow? When did they come?

The point is that IF we think we are right, then we especially need to keep relationships open. I believe turning my back is just one more door slammed before they get right with God. And that is the ultimate key. Am I more worried that they are right with me or with God?

IF we know we are the ones who are wrong, then nothing moves me quicker than when someone shows me unconditional love when I am being a jerk. Jesus gets me this way every time. When I have been ugly, He has been wonderful. That breaks my heart and tenders me quicker than anything. To be like Christ, I owe that to others. (Eph. 4:32)

Jesus, hanging on the cross, redeeming the world, looked out on a jeering and mocking crowd and said, “Father, forgive them.” We have asked forgiveness since then, but His love happened before we asked.

Do right. Even if they do not apologize.

3. Relationships are more important than being right.

I would rather be quiet on a subject, than lose a relationship with someone. I do not have to agree with someone to stay quiet. My positions are not less because I respect another’s right to their own opinions. Someone does not have to agree with me to be my friend. If your opinion is so high that you are willing to lose a relationship, something is terribly wrong with that picture. I assure you that there is no moral high road in that decision. 

A verse was quoted to me that “two cannot walk together unless they are in agreement.” This is Amos 3:3 and is talking about Israel and Egypt. His people vs. those who were not His people. Jesus said to go into all the world. He said to go into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in. He said to do good to your enemies. If we are not to talk to those who are not His people how can we even fulfill these great commands? So, this cannot be the way.

As far as how to treat someone who is a brother or sister in Christ, that passage has zero bearing. I am reminded of when Jesus’ disciples told him that someone was casting out demons in His name and was not doing it right, and Jesus said, “He that is for me is not against me.” (Luke 9:49-50) We are on the same team. 

Many times, the loners you find on a team, are the ones who are sitting on a bench. There is a giant world who needs Jesus. We do not have the luxury to sit on a bench, all by ourselves, licking our wounds because someone doesn’t agree with me. Get out in the game, get over yourself, and put your arm of encouragement around others trying to do the same thing! We should not be sulking over how we do things differently. We should be seeking those who love Jesus and encourage them as a fellow journeyer! It is not about you. It is not about me. It is about the Kingdom of God and His righteousness! When we let “being right about the things of God” become more important then the relationships we can have with God’s people, we have just taken the emphasis away from God Almighty and put it on my preferences. That, my friend, is idolatry. 

4. Compassion and care do not equal compromise.

I was told that if my loved one had a relationship with me, that everyone else would see that he agreed with me on a choice I had made. I tried multiple times to explain that others knew his position and they would not think that of him. No matter how many times I tried to explain, he would not budge. So, the relationship has stopped. He cannot go further less he feels he will be a compromiser. 

I know from others who have written me that this has also been the mentality they have faced. Why is that? Why is it, that there is a thought that for me to continue to be kind and love someone, it means that I agree with them? I have friends that are liberals, atheists, gay….and I do not agree with them. If they ask my opinion, I share it. If they start a subject that I can add my opinion too, then I do. I try to be respectful as I share my beliefs. However, you could line them up and ask them if I believe what they do and I believe they would each tell you exactly what I think. I also believe they respect me back…although they do not agree with me. I have gleaned much from these relationships. If I am right, and they are wrong, how will they ever be challenged to further their own thinking if I never talk to them? This cannot be the plan of God. Jesus said that we will be known as His disciples by the love we show one another! (John 13:35)

Is it any different amongst those of us who claim to share a similar belief system? Many times, I think the greatest reactions of anger and shunning come from those who must be insecure in what they believe. I KNOW whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed! If I am solid in my beliefs, I need not be shaken by the belief of others. I am to love the law of God…and nothing shall offend me. Nothing. If I am offended, I do not have my eyes on the God who can work and change a heart. It is His Word that pierces a heart – not mine! Once again, whose kingdom are we building?

Now….what do you do when you have been pushed away?. What do you when you desperately want reconciliation but the other party does not? 

  1. Pray. 
    All communication should first go to God. Ask for wisdom. Ask for opportunities. Ask for guidance. Ask for peace.
  2. You can keep your doors open.
    Find ways to let them know that you still desire them whether they desire you or not. It can be a text, or a gift in the mail. You have to be careful if they have shut the doors of verbal communication, but you should try. Do not do it because you expect results. If that is your goal, you will get hurt and discouraged when you do not get them. Do it because it is right before God to be a peacemaker. It is right before God to live in a spirit of reconciliation. We are to have a ministry of reconciliation! (II Cor. 5:18)
  3. Do not have a list they must follow to get right.
    Relationships take the good and the bad. It is opening your eyes more to the good and closing them a little more to the bad. If we all were treated how we deserved, no one would love us. I am thankful for those who love every part of me and I should give that to others. If they are willing to reconcile, drop the hoops.
  4. Do not get bitter.
    It is a poison meant for them that kills you. It is very hard, especially when you feel repeatedly rejected.

There is no greater relationship than the one with Jesus Christ…Who will never leave you or forsake you. Be thankful for that, cling to that, and treat others like that!

May God help each of us as we strengthen and build relationships in our lives! And may God help us to do right by those who will not let us.

Special Note:

There are cases where individuals are toxic. There are also Scriptures that say to make no friends with an angry man. There are times when people are manipulative and cruel. They can wreak havoc in a family. There are boundaries that must be set at times with these kinds of people to protect yourself and your loved ones.

To know how to handle these situations, I highly recommend Leslie Vernick’s book called Emotionally Destructive Relationships and Henry Cloud and John Townsend’s book called Boundaries, but I would also recommend almost anything they write!

 

The Gift Everyone Can Afford All Year Long!

  
Recently, when my husband and I were in New York City, we loaded onto the subway. It was very crowded. I am eye level with everyone’s waist and I was totally surrounded and could barely see. I was hanging onto one of the bars so that my wheelchair would not tip over as we started and stopped. As the doors opened at a station and more were cramming in, a young man in his early 20’s entered right next to me. He was carrying a large case over his shoulder and it kept banging into the side of my chair. As I looked up at him, the crowd was squeezing him also. He started tapping his head over and over with his fingers and I immediately realized this young man was on the autism spectrum. The crowd was upsetting him. I could hear laughing and I looked over and about three guys were pointing and laughing at him and tapping their heads mocking. I don’t think the young man ever noticed because he was getting upset. I asked the young man if he was carrying a musical instrument in his case. He looked at me and paused and said, “No. No. It is my camera stand. I like to take pictures.” I began to talk to him about my daughter and how she like to take pictures. We talked about where he took them, where his favorite spots in NYC was, where he worked and anything else I could think of to keep his mind off the crowd. We talked until he got off at his stop. He stopped tapping his head and I made a friend.

I could give you so many stories. Maybe because I sit a lot and watch much of what goes around me. Maybe because I feel deeply and it kind of spills over into my vision and how I see others. Maybe it is because God has put me on a journey to reach out to hurting people. I don’t know. I know this. There are a LOT of people out there who are sad, or scared, or lonely, or hurting.

So many times at Christmas, we wonder what we can give those we love. What is the perfect gift? What do you get for those of us who already have so much? Gifts have to get bigger and more elaborate. The wow factor is no longer a long sugar stick in a stocking. It has to be hundreds of dollars spent on each child and one another. We feel the pull of the commercialization of Christmas and we do not like it, so we put our dollars in the Salvation Army bucket, we donate a coat, or we serve at a soup kitchen. And those things are wonderful! But I would like to suggest that we can give a gift that all can afford, all have time for, every age can do it, and can keep giving all year long.

The gift is kindness.

  
By definition, it is pretty clear. But by practice, do we often overlook it? It is not hard being kind. We are just too busy many times to actually stop and think about others long enough to do anything about it. I am often a recipient of kindness. I guess my wheelchair is sort of an object that people naturally will reach out in kindness towards. Yes, there some rude, unkind people out there, but it has been my experience that most people are kind to me.

Doors are opened all the time, people have stopped in the parking lot to ask if I need help loading my wheelchair, offers of help are constant in a store, friends willing to load me in and out of their vehicles or get inside their houses, my husband making sure I am comfortable and helping me, my kids loving and devoting on me….I am a blessed girl. I am given much kindness. Can I give it back?

It is not big things. It is a smile to a sad stranger. It is a short text letting someone know you are thinking of them. Just do it when you are thinking about it. If you wait, you will forget. Call a friend. Just because. A 5 minute call is better than none. I am so thankful for my friends that call! Send a note. Buy a coffee. Meet at the mall. Give a hug. Put your arm around someone and tell them you are so thankful for them. Invite someone to your home for a movie. Do good to those who aren’t good to you. Look around for someone lonely and reach out to them. Just put yourself in their shoes for a minute and think how they must be feeling. Then do something about it.

Kindness never gets outdated. It never rusts or breaks. It doesn’t take batteries. And everyone…..everyone….appreciates it.

Thank you, my dear friends and readers, who are so kind to me. It is my favorite gift and I pray I can keep passing it along!

Merry Christmas!

Are You Posing?

We recently had family pictures made. I have no problem with my wheelchair being in pictures. Some do and want it all hidden. It is a part of me and no big deal anymore. So, most of our pictures, I am right there with my family. But…the farm where we took the pictures at was so amazing as they had all of these props you were welcome to use. They had a beautiful couch and it was just asking for our family to include that couch in a picture. For that picture, I transferred onto the couch and my wheelchair is nowhere to be seen.

There is something that you need to know. I was totally feeling like I was falling the whole time!! The couch was old and lumpy and was not a smooth seat at all. I have very poor balance and am always propping myself to feel like I am not falling over! You can see how I am leaning into Jimmy. That was not just a pose. He was holding me up!

My wheelchair is custom built for my body to make me feel stable. When I am out of that chair…I am an expert on how to not fall over…well mostly! Subtle things like hunching over, leaning against a piece of furniture or a wall, keeping my hands on my legs, using my elbow to hold me in place…lots of little things that are just second nature now.

As I looked at these pictures, I thought about how much of our lives are posed. Especially in the days of social media, and how much we “stage” our pictures….it is easy to live our lives like this! We look so poised. So together. If you did not know me, I don’t think that you would ever guess from these pictures that I need a wheelchair to get from that couch to my van.

 

I am not against staging a beautiful photo, but I just don’t want my life to be staged. I want to be real. As I look at the beauty of my Christmas tree, I do remember that it is very artificial. It does not grow. It is not alive. It’s okay in a tree – but not so in life. We need to grow, to change, to know that we will fade and need to be pruned and fertilized. 

I am thoroughly enjoying this Christmas season, but I don’t want to just stage a nativity – the story of Jesus – in my yard or home. I want to live it in my heart. I want it to be real in my daily life.

I want to run to Jesus like the shepherds.

I want to seek Him like the wise men.

I want to share Him with the world like Mary. 

My prayer is that when I talk to others about the Christ of this Christmas, that they will know that I live for Him. That I love Him. That I serve Him. I pray they never have to wonder if I just put on a good show – if I am a talker but not a doer. I hope that others will know by my love for them, that I am so grateful for His love for me!

I do not want to “pose” as a Christian. I want to be real. Really needy. Really loved. Really blessed. All because of Jesus.

Happy Birthday Jesus! I love you!

 

 

 

 

 

17 Years Married Today…and You Have Got To See What My Kids Did!

 

Today is my 17th wedding anniversary. I should be posting about how much I love my husband. I should be talking about the day I walked down the aisle to the man of my dreams. I should be writing about how thankful I am that my guy has lived his vows, how he has loved me and not only stayed with me through better and worse, but is happy. He is not a heroic angel that has stooped to be good and faithful to his wife and endure life with a disabled woman. He sincerely loves me. He enjoys spending time with me. He is not embarrassed to be with me. He is my hero – but not because he endures life with me. He actually enjoys me. But, that is not what I want to write about. I should be sharing how that we have had our ups and downs, our butting of heads, our bad and good days, our seasons of marriage that have tested us to our limits. I should be gushing how I love this man with all my heart and that I have never been sorry I married him. I would do it all over again. Maybe I will. 

I should be writing all of those things, but I will not (wink, wink). Instead, I want to write about the favorite part of our anniversary. I would like to give you 6 reasons that make Jimmy and I want to have many, many more anniversaries.

  1. Briley Nicole
  2. Caleb Benjamin
  3. Isaiah Tate
  4. Audrey Faith
  5. Macey Joy
  6. Elisha Maclaren

Our precious children are such a blessing to us. Let me tell you what they did yesterday.

Briley and Caleb went to Wal-Mart on Wednesday and when they came home they told me to stay out of the refrigerator. I know not to ask questions when they say stuff like that. I just obey. Today, they had set up a beautiful table. Caleb had bought all the stuff with his own money that he had earned. He bought candlesticks, beautiful glasses, apple juice, cornish hens, french bread, and a table cloth. They set up the table in Jimmy’s office so they could make it a romantic spot. They had music playing and had put quilts over the windows so it would be dark. Briley cooked all the food. It was so good and took her much time to make. Cornish hens, mashed potatoes, green beans, and  she had made a delicious brownie dessert that was her own recipe. Briley was the cook, Caleb was the bank and host, Isaiah was our waiter – filling our drinks, taking our plates, and escorting us to our places. Audrey, Macey and Elisha were the entertainment that was still to come. The food was delicious and was filling, but nothing was as full as my heart. The thought that these kids had planned all of this and the details put into it and the love. The love and honor that my babies were bestowing on us and our marriage. The fact that our marriage is important to our kids just about burst our hearts open!

After we finished eating, we were asked to go outside and sit on the office porch. They had brought a chair for their Daddy and a quilt for me because I get cold so easy. They thought of every detail!

I am not going to write about the entertainment because it is on video. It was SO cute! They took details of our relationship that they have heard us tell stories about and acted it out. It was the cutest thing I have ever seen. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! 

You will enjoy this if you know these facts:
~ I kind of asked their daddy out on our first “activity.” Jimmy was very          shy. It was a Lady Vols basketball game that our singles class went to. I        asked if he wanted to go.
~ We hiked all the time when we dated (obviously before I was paralyzed).       He asked me to marry him at one of our favorite spots. I didn’t say yes         right away. I just kept saying that I was so shocked that he pulled it off         without me knowing about it. He has a hard time keeping secrets when       he is excited!
~ Right before my dad walked me down the aisle, he teased me and told           me that I could still back out if I wanted to. I didn’t. :)
~ We decided to have children right away. We married, took a cruise and         Briley was born 9 months later.
~ We have never regretted any of this!

Let me end with the poem that Caleb wrote us that was laying on the table when we ate our dinner. I think it sums our crazy clan up pretty well.

To our parents, strong in Christianity,
You’ve proven the key to family is raw insanity.

Although we have our problems – like Isaiah and vanity,
We’re still the best family of all humanity.

As you come to 17 years, you’re proving you’re getting older,
But all this time you’ve never let your marriage flame smoulder.

So, to the end of this poem I won’t tarry,
And I have to admit – I had some help from Webster’s Rhyming Dictionary!
~Caleb Reagan

We love you kids. You have made your Daddy and I have a very, very happy anniversary.

Happy Anniversary Jimmy. Thank you for 17 precious years and 6 beautiful children.

 

Thankfulness ~ A Cure for the Season?

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Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years ~ I love that the holiday season starts with thankfulness! In our day, many times Thanksgiving is observed as a day to eat turkey, take a nap and watch football, go hunting or plan your Black Friday shopping. Not that any of those things are wrong, but what are we missing an amazing benefit of Thanksgiving?

Winter is around the corner, and for many, that means a seasonal depression is coming on. Christmas will be here in a few more weeks and many dread this holiday. Statistically, depression and suicide are very high around Christmas. The New Year will be here shortly and with it comes high resolve to change some things…finally! Only to find, that for most of us, that resolve doesn’t last long and you feel even worse about yourself.

How about if we just stopped and thought about this day called Thanksgiving as a great vaccine to fight against all of those above symptoms? I don’t think we do that very much. I believe we go through this day laughing with family – which is awesome. I believe we eat our yummy food -which is delicious. I believe we watch, or play, or engage in our games and hobbies – which is fun. I believe we strategize – which is brilliant. But…do we actually stop and give thanks. Are we arming ourselves to face the days ahead with the proper ammunition?

Thankfulness has amazing benefits!

  • Bratty kids demanding or complaining about presents? Give them a dose of thankfulness. Any present is better than none.
  • Spouses with hurt feelings about presents? Try a dose of thankfulness. At least that spouse tried!
  • Family out of sorts with one another? Try a dose of thankfulness. Thank God for those you get to be with.
  • Health not where you wish it was? Try a dose of thankfulness. Cemeteries are full of people who had it worse than you.
  • Feeling alone? Try a dose of thankfulness. God is always with you and you are never alone.
  • Out of money? Try a dose of thankfulness. Since when has money equaled happiness. Find other ways to show love.
  • New Year discouragement? Try a dose of thankfulness. It is not all about you. Serve someone else and you will be cured.
  • In a funk? Try a dose of thankfulness. We all get there. Thankfulness really does work.

We should not focus on feeling thankful. We should focus on being thankful. When you are intentionally thankful (whether you feel it or not), you will start feeling that way too. And it feels really, really good.

So, make your list today. Then, live focusing on that list. What are you thankful for?

May each of you truly have a very happy holiday season and may it all start today. Happy Thanksgiving!