Before I introduce this week's guest - I wanted to give you an update on my very first guest Jordan. She had baby Lucy very early yesterday morning. So far Lucy is stable and in the NICU. I don't have any other updates yet but I'm so thankful for your prayers! Keep praying for her heart!
My Friday Fellowship guest is one of my very favorite people that I've never met. Marty lives in central Arkansas and she's a fellow OBU alum. She commented on my blog and social media and over time I feel like I've gotten to know her and to know her is to love her. I think you will all want to know her and love her.
She has four grown children. Her oldest son has Down's Syndrome. And Marty is such an advocate and example to other moms. If you have a child with special needs or even if you don't, you will be so encouraged by her. October is Downs Syndrome month and she is doing a series of posts on her Instagram that you will LOVE!
Her youngest son had cancer when he was 2. He's now a college sophomore at OBU. She has mothered a child with a serious illness and a child with special needs and she's now a grandmother to a precious little baby named Rhodes. And she does it all with the best sense of humor. She told me she was "too boring" to be on here and I told her I couldn't imagine anyone more interesting.
1. What is your favorite Food?
I don't know that I have one favorite food, but, I love bread (Hey! Just like Oprah!). And cake. I love cake. And tacos.
2. What is your very favorite piece of clothing right now? (FASHION)
Favorite piece of clothing? Hmmm...Well, I am all about the comfy...but I don't want to look like I just rolled out of bed. I love dresses...a LOT. I love the longer shirts/tunics with jeans or leggings. I love boots and booties. And socks. I love socks. But my most favorite thing to wear is my PJ Salvage flannel pajammas. They come in fun colors and designs. I buy a size larger than I typically wear, because I want them to feel big and cozy...and they do. I literally wear them from September to April...but I will bust them out in August, if we have a "cold front" come through (my husband loves this...except NOT). They are kind of pricey, but I buy a pair every year when they go on sale.
3. Tell us about your Family?
Jim and I have been married for 36 AND A HALF years. It's important to add the "and a half," right? :) We met the first 2 weeks of college. My family was living in Oklahoma. My pastor casually mentioned in a sermon, one time, that he went to Ouachita Baptist University. I had never heard of it before that. But the joke is that I mentioned it to my Mom...and the next thing I remember...my bags were packed! Ha! I didn't know one soul in the entire state of Arkansas, but I moved here...8 1/2 hours away from home. I was "randomly assigned" a roommate, and she was PRECIOUS. She was from a small town just south of Arkadelphia, and she is the one who introduced me to Jim. He was a Freshman at Henderson State University, which, if people don't know...is RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from OBU. We married between our sophomore and junior years (WHY, I do not know) (I'M KIDDING!). Even tho it was hard to be married, and work, and continue in college...we both agree that we would do it the exact same way again. Which, this shows we are either still madly in love...or we just don't have good sense. Ha! After our marriage, I transferred to Henderson with Jim (since my parents were no longer paying for my education), and Jim and I both graduated from Henderson at the same time. That was pretty cool. In our marriage, we have lived in Arkadelphia, Little Rock, Newport, Searcy, Bryant, and Conway.
We have 4 kids. Our first son, Joshua, was born in 1986. We had been married nearly 6 years. We had just moved to Little Rock with Jim's job. We had bought our first home. We had a church we loved, and had made a lot of new friends. Everything was falling into place...until that March morning when Joshua was born, and the doctor told us, "your son has Down Syndrome." Those words changed our lives profoundly...for the better. They gave our family a focus and a ministry that we didn't have before. They gave us a new and different out-look on people and abilities and hardships...and the challenging roads many people walk. It's been hard, fun, scary, intense, joyful...we feel so very thankful. Our daughter, Holly, is married, and they live in our same town. She is a nurse in the NICU, which is a place very dear to my heart...and Aaron-the-son-in-law is in commercial real-estate. They just had our very first grandchild, a baby boy named, Rhodes. "Rhodie" is the most precious thing EVER! Growing up, we never lived near any family. Jim and I, during our marriage, have never lived near family. To have Holly, Aaron, and Rhodie here in town...to get to love on him nearly every day, and hold his baby feet, and rub his fuzzy head, and watch him grow...well, it is the sweetest gift. Our son, Logan, is married to Morgan, and they live in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Morgan is a teacher, and Logan is in his 2nd year of Occupational Therapy School. They are both involved with their church, and in their community. They are working hard, and we are so proud of them. And, our youngest son, Clark, is a sophomore at OBU! Clark was born at 27 weeks, 4 days, and spent 7 1/2 weeks in the NICU. That Holly works there now, is a "full-circle moment" for our family. When Clark was 2 years old, I found a hard spot on his little tummy. It turned out to be a malignant tumor, the size of a man's fist, growing out of his liver. In a matter of hours, our lives were again turned upside-down, as Clark had surgery to remove the tumor, along with part of his liver. Hey! Did you know that the liver is the only organ we have that regenerates itself? I had totally forgotten about that until then. Clark had 4 rounds of chemo, and 17 years worth of doctor's appointments and check-ups. He is now a completely healthy, 20 year old college student, and was released from the Oncology Department at Arkansas' Children's Hospital last year! Praise the Lord!
4. What is the most important quality in your Friends? OR tell us something that a Friend has done for you that you can't forget.
In every stage of our lives, in every place we've moved, God has provided the friendships and relationships we've needed for that specific time. The common denominator in all of our friendships is this: they showed up. They showed up to serve, they showed up to pray, they showed up to babysit, they showed up to cook, they showed up to sit, they showed up to support, they showed up to cry, they showed up to grieve, they showed up to cheer. Jim and I try to do this for others, but we fail many, many times.
5. What's something you have learned recently in your Faith journey? And/or share your favorite scripture right now and why or your favorite Bible Study or book you have read recently.
My faith journey has had many ups and downs...many times, this has been due to my own choices: my choice to do my own thing, or my choice to place something ahead of my relationship with God. Other times, God keeps me in a time of learning...and then my life will take a twist that requires me to stand (or not) on the precepts I have just studied. Before Joshua was born, I believed in my head that God was sovereign. It was a concept that I didn't really understand, and a concept that seemed very far away from what was going on in my life. BUT THEN, I had this beautiful child...and I had to put feet to what I believed. I had to nail it down in my head and my heart, so that I would never question that the things God designs or allows in my life are for my good and His glory. I looked up all the Bible verses I could, and when doubt started to creep in...I would run straight to God's Word. But, it doesn't have to be the big things in life that bring me to my knees. More recently, it has been something I was certain God was telling me...that, so far, has not turned out. And so I've had to push away the doubts and distractions, and focus on what He said...and continue to pray. And, just trust that, whether it comes to pass or not, He is faithful, and He is good.
6. What is your biggest Fear?
My biggest fear: I really don't want to live without my husband. EVER. More than that, or as much as that, is my concern for Joshua after Jim and I are gone. Special-needs parents not only have to provide for their lives for as long as they live, they also have to provide for the potential 15-20 years of life for their adult child, after they themselves have died. It can be daunting to consider. Yes, we have things in place for him...but that is not the same as having Mom or Dad. When Joshua was born, we made the decision to be a one-income family, so I've always been here with the kids. Now that he's out-of-school, he lives at home with us...and it's the two of us together during the day, most days, while Jim is at work. I like to say that I work for Joshua. Ha! I want him to have the most fulfilling life possible, and I never want him to feel pain or be afraid. His safety is one of my highest concerns. One of my greatest fears is that someone will harm him in some way, or take advantage of him. Most people are good and kind...a few are not. And Joshua is very innocent and trusting.
I don't really have one favorite Bible verse, but this one is pretty special to me:
"In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and less important are actually the most necessary." (1 Corinthians)
7. What are some of your Favorite things right now?
My most favorite thing right now, is my grandson, Rhodie! I've already shared another one of my favorite things: my PJ Salvage Flannel pajammies. I love them SO MUCH! I love my Woodwick candle in Warm Wool. I love everything about Fall...the weather, the colors, the decorations...and SEC football. I love Hot Tamales (the candy). I almost always have a box of them in my purse. And I keep a jar of peanut M&Ms on the kitchen counter at all times. I buy the "holiday" colors, to go along with the season. Also? Holly and I have JUST started watching Downton Abbey (don't tell me what happens). We are on Season 3, and I already want to sell all of our belongings, and move to that estate with our whole family. I don't even have to have any servants. Well, maybe just Anna. And Mr. Bates. And maybe someone to take care of the horses, because of my allergies. And because I don't want to take care of a horse.
8. What has been your biggest Failure?
My biggest failure? Goodness. I don't even know where to start. I fail DAILY...in my marriage, with my kids, with friends, with strangers, in my walk with the Lord. I am thankful for forgiveness, for new mercies each day...and for GRACE.
9. What do you do for Fun?
Jim and I are big home-bodies. We enjoy traveling, but we always miss HOME. We love spending time with our family. We love hanging out with our friends. Pretty boring, but we like it that way. This is a good thing, because we will probably never be "empty-nesters." Joshua attends a Therapeutic Recreation program in Little Rock, so, on the days I take him for that, I try to meet up with one of my girlfriends for lunch. Those times are bright spots for me, and much needed! Because of our family make-up...with Jim's schedule, and then having Joshua here (which we love, and this is what works for OUR family...not complaining), I don't do a lot in the evenings, unless we can work things out for Joshua (we don't leave him home alone, EVER, since that one time he let in a man who "looked" like a policeman, but instead was a guy dressed in a policeman costume, SELLING HIS OWN DVDs door-to-door...and I walked out of the bathroom, to see this strange man talking to Joshua IN OUR LIVING ROOM, and I nearly died of a heart-attack. Eeek!).
10. Tell me about what animals you have? (Furry things)
Our kids were always bringing home some sort of critter, or begging for some sort of critter. I am allergic to pretty much everything that has fur, so while we've always had Labs, they always stayed outside. We've also had a few cats...and I'm VERY allergic to cats. And, I don't really like cats. I also don't really like snakes, but my boys occasionally brought in a snake they had caught in the creek, or in the yard. I also don't like spiders, but my husband once stopped in the middle of the road...and used ONE OF MY GOOD TUPPERWARE DISHES, to trap a tarantula he found crawling across the street. No, thank you. We had to put our 12 year old Black Lab down last month, and it was so very sad. I think we will get another dog one day, but not right now.
11. What is your favorite FILM? (movie)
Because I have a bunch of boys, the "films" we've watched around here are mostly things like Star Wars and Harry Potter...and, now that they are young adults, Jason Bourne type-of-movies. I like movies that make me feel good, or make me laugh...Legally Blonde, Father of the Bride, The Santa Clause. I love The Sound of Music, and Mary Poppins. Pretty boring, right? My family, we love Disney. Even now, we will text each other to say, "TANGLED (Mulan...Pocahontas...Frozen, etc) is on RIGHT NOW." And, even tho we have all of those DVDs here at home, we get so excited when they come on TV. Weird, I know. I just enjoy the calmness of something familiar. I like a happy ending. In fact, I may or may not have started watching "Maleficient," after just the first 15 minutes of the last Presidential Debate, because I.COULD.NOT.EVEN.
10. What is one Fact we might not know about you?
Fun fact? Hmmm. Here are three: 1) I grew up as an Air Force brat, and I moved 16 times before I graduated from High School. I even went to THREE different schools in the 4th grade (that's every bit as awful as you can imagine for a shy girl). 2) My husband calls me "MOOSE." Why? I do not know, but he always has...and we've been together 38 years. I'm not a large or tall person...and I don't think I smell! If he's talking about me to someone, he says, "THE" Moose. Like, "The Moose wants me to pick up more milk." I don't even think about how weird it is, until I hear one of my friend's husbands call them, "honey," or, "baby," or, "sweetie." 3) I'm pretty private, so the fact that I have just shared all of this with total strangers? It's like I don't know myself anymore. I'm gonna need a minute.
"Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?"
2 Sam NIV