Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head

I bit ago, I promised to tell you about Shan!  So here goes!  Shan was born 2 1/2 mo. after we arrived in France.  If you read his birth story, you already know that!  He was born precocious...NO LIE!  That boy woofed down an 8 oz. bottle from the time we brought him home from the hospital! 
By the time he was 3 mo. old, he was tearing around in a walker.  Walkers, then, were a different breed!  They consisted of a cloth seat between two X bars with wheels...very collapsible...not really safe at all.  But he needed to move.  He followed me all over that house and that was a problem because the basement door lock didn't work.  When I would go down to wash, he would take a running start and hit that door.  One time, he actually ended up hanging head down between the steps..with concrete below. 
He was crawling and also called me Mama and Don Dada and said bye bye by the time he was 4 mo. old, had 7 teeth by the time he was 6 months old, and had learned to climb out of his crib by the time he was 6 mo. old.  His bed was by the door, which opened right on the top step of very old, very slick stairs.  We knew, if he was to survive, we would have to find a safer house!
We found a nice 3 bedroom, American designed, unfurnished house for a reasonable rent, and we moved, just after our first Christmas.  Our furniture consisted of a bunkbed, a portacrib, and a rocking chair.  Friends loaned us an old mattress for us to sleep on.  We had no curtains, no appliances, no table and chairs, no couch.  It was embarrassing, because we could see the "oh my!" looks of people passing by, but we took advantage of "no interest for 9 months" credit and ordered the cheapest couch, kitchen appliances and chairs.  The only problem was, back then, you had to wait forever and a day for it to get delivered!
One day, our immediate neighbor asked if it would offend us if they gave us a clic-clac sofa.  This would open up to a comfortable double bed...clic clac!  We thanked them and said we would love it!  In the meantime, some missionaries on their way to Africa came through.  They were expecting a baby and they said how much they really wanted a portacrib, so I gave them ours...I mean, after all, Shan had been getting out of it for 3 months...he could just start sleeping on the bottom bunk!  Don's mouth was gaping!  But he knew me...he has said from the beginning he lives in dread of the day someone says they like what I'm wearing and I will end up bare!
So, Shan moved to the bottom bunk.  He never fell out of bed...we just had to fight to keep him in it!  That boy!
One night, Don had gone to a late prayer meeting, and all of a sudden, here came Shan down the hall!  He was smeared in red and looked like he was bleeding to death.  He wasn't!  He had opened a screw top jar of burgundy shoe polish cream and eaten it!  Then he drooled it all over kingdom come and himself, too!  I was hysterical!  Was that stuff toxic?  There was absolutely nothing on the label to say either way.  I made a frantic call to the church, which was a good 20 minutes away.  Don and Paul Dédéyan came tearing to the house, grabbed him up and rushed him to the hospital...where they were told, "Wrong hospital, we don't treat children!"  They went to 2 others before they found one that treated children! 
When they got there, the young intern looked at Don and said, "Take all his clothes off."  Don left his diaper on, but was told that must go, too!  Now, Don was an experienced dad...he knew what would happen to a stripped down 9 mo. old boy laying bare on a cold table.  He stepped aside, still holding on to Shan, but out of the danger zone.  Paul wasn't as quick on the uptake.  Shan did the expected, and it rained down on Paul's head!  Not realizing where the moisture was coming from, he looked up, as if to see if it was actually raining.  Then it hit him just what was happening!  He leaped back hollering, "Oh, Oh!"  Don couldn't help it!  He laughed!
Alexis, Paul's wife, told us he never wore that suit again!  Every so often, I tease Paul by singing the following song...

Have a great day!!!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Freedom's Never Free

I lost several friends in Viet Nam, and some who did come back were never the same. They did their duty...fought a war they were not allowed to win and came home. They did not receive hero's welcomes for the most part, just as the guys fighting in Afghanistan and Irak come home unsung heroes. People forget that soldiers go where they are sent, do what they are told to do, and rarely do they get the honor or merit due their many sacrifices. No amount of pay can ever make up for what they give up to serve their country. They their duty...whether the commander-in-chief is to their liking or not.

WW1 and WW2 were horrendous battles.  America fought in WW1 for other people's freedom.  WW2 they fought in Europe, again, for other people's freedom and elsewhere for OUR freedom.  Omaha beach should be visited by every person of this new generation so they can see the terrible price so many paid for freedom's
Soldiers leave the comforts of home and country to make a make a better, safer world.  Wives and children have lost their mates and father's, and in these days, some  have lost their wives and mothers.  Often, they are ridiculed by their fellow citizens because of what they are doing.  Their sacrifices should NEVER be a thankless task!  I, for one, am thankful for each one of them, past present and future!
Even more so, is the price paid for us when Jesus died for us.   His was the ultimate sacrifice of all time.   Freedom is NEVER free...Freedom's price...sacrifice! Remember....

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memories...A Picture is worth 1,000 words

Shan age 1 year
 Cristofer age 13 mos.
Melynda age 2 1/2 years

Shan (22 mos.), Cris (3 1/2 yrs), Melynda (5 yrs)
Kelsey (3 yrs.)

They All Fall Down

I have been lazy about this lately, but my hubby got back from 5 weeks in the States and the young missionary family that works with us have moved into the church pending their departure for furlough...all true, but just excuses for my not feeling creative! 
As we go into Memorial weekend, I'm going to be remembering things.  The first is kind of a funny, but cool story.
Around 16 years ago, I managed to total our American car, and in the process dislocated my collarbone.  I was home when a man came up to the door and asked if he could see the pastor.  Don was at our Lieusaint work (3 1/2 hours away, in the Paris area) so I took the man's address and number and told him Don would give him a call.  When Don went to visit them, he noticed a For Sale sign at the place next door.  We had been looking for something to buy to start our church in, as our house wasn't big enough for a permanent worship place.
We ended up buying 5 garages that were back to back with a 3 room apartment and 2 parcels of land.  It was a God thing, because all of it cost under $50,000.  Through the years, we have knocked out the walls between the garages and put a door through from the apartment to the other side, built a house on the bluff over the river (just behind the church) and built another building that was initially our church, but we outgrew it so moved everything to the apt/converted garages.  Above is the final result.

Anyway, in front of us, is a house that was surrounded by all these big cedar type trees.  The trees blocked the view of our building.  PLUS...the wind would hit them and branches would drop down and they looked awful.

That house was eventually bought by the Imam's son.  He doesn't like us at all.  We are Americans and we are Christians.  The son tolerates us, but still shows his disdain on occasion.

So...back to the trees!  We wanted those trees to go!  We knew that our neighbor would never cut them down because we asked him to do it, so we started praying.  I know...some of you will probably think that is a petty thing to pray about, but God says nothing is too small for Him to attend to!  Well, God sent some really bad wind storms and those trees took the brunt and they looked awful!  They were also becoming dangerous!  One morning we got up to the sound of chain saws and sure enough!  They were cutting the worst tree down!
We were overjoyed!  You could see the church better from the street, and that was great, but it was still partially blocked from view!  We just kept on praying!  The other tree was a mess and we wanted it gone, too.  Finally, we looked out and saw the wind had made so many branches stick out the tree was a hazard!  Next thing we knew, that tree was gone as well.  God answered our prayers and now, people see the building clearly! 
Sometimes, we forget that God knows about every little thing!  I could go on forever about all the little things He has taken care of in our lives.  We often look for Him in the BIG things, but I tend to believe it is His attention to the supposedly little things that show His amazing awesomeness!
Remember all the wonderful things our soldiers have done for us this weekend, but remember most of all what God does for us every day!  Blessings to all!
             Our house

Monday, May 21, 2012

Spiderman Revisited!

So, last time, I mentioned Cris and his rooftop experience. First, you need to know a bit about Cris. He is our second child, oldest boy. For years, he was the middle child. He was a typical middle child...feeling squeezed between 2 siblings, so he was always out to prove himself, from the time he was just a tot.

I tell Cris he is responsible for me being gray haired at such an early age, and it is partly true. When he was 5, my parents came for their first visit to France. The Brussels airport was ever so much cheaper to fly into, so that is where we drove to pick them up. It is roughly a 4 hour drive from where we lived at the time. Don's bro and sis-in-law lived in a duplex with us. Carla said she would watch the kids and we went off reassured that they would be well taken care of.

After a very long day, we finally pulled into our driveway, and there was a collective gasp as we all 4 saw the most horrifying sight at the same time! There, sitting on the roof of the house, was our 5 year old son, with the hugest grin on his face! He waved to us like it was just the most natural thing in the world. We all jumped out saying, "Don't move!" He just grinned bigger and said, "Hi, Mom!'

Now to understand just what a feat this was, I will tell you the house was L shaped and part of it was 2 stories and part of it was single story. In France, there are no window screens, so he had climbed up on a chair, wrestled that window open and jumped from the window (2nd story) to the roof of the living room, which was single story.

My mama and I stood there telling him not to move while his dad and grampa tried to find someone with a ladder we could borrow. Needless to say, they got him down safe. I was startled the next morning when I went to fix my hair! There was a wide, white streak in my hair that wasn't there the day before!

It wasn't too long after that, Don came out of the kitchen and looked up to see Cris, in true Spiderman style, one arm and leg on each hall wall, had climbed to the ceiling. The problem was, he couldn't get back down. He was so proud of himself until he realized he was in a real pickle! Don wanted him to learn a lesson. He stood under him and just waited. Soon his little arms and legs started to shake. Don told him to just let go, but he was afraid to do it. Soon, he HAD to let go and Don caught him. He gave him a stern talking to about would he have done if Don had not been there to catch him!

He was a very inventive little boy, and was always coming to tell us about something he was going to invent. Truthfully, he amazed us sometimes with the bright ideas he came up with. Lyndee, being the typical big sister, thought it her duty to keep him in his place. He would tell us something he wanted to invent and she would smirk and say, "Uh,'s already been invented." A heated word battle would then commence, with Lyndee egging him on with her mischievous grin!

Somehow, we all survived those days, though there were times we did wonder if Cris would, with all his exploits! I am now completely gray, and I still tell the kids they did it to me! We all laugh, but I can't help wishing we could go back to those crazy days! Time has moved on and now our oldest grandkids are almost grown. The circle of life...

Have a wonderful day! God bless you one and all!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Way Back When

I haven't been on for a few days because I have been a bit sick.  Two years ago, I suffered a brain hemorrhage and the scar tissue from it aggravates the headaches I've always had, so when that gets to going, I am not worth bo doodly!  But...headaches are a small thing compared to what could have and should have been the result of that incident!  So...

I was remembering back to when we were preparing to leave for France the first time.  It was such an exciting, yet frightening time!  We had to wait a bit longer than we planned because when we applied for passports/visas, we realized they had made an error on Lyndee's birth certificate and listed her dad as David instead of Donald.  We had to get a corrected birth certificate, and then go through all the applications again!  This meant, instead of being able to wait for the consulate in Chicago to send the passports back with the visas stamped in them, we would have to go by the consulate during our layover in Chicago.

The afternoon before we were to leave, Lyndee was running across my parents living room and tripped.  Her head slammed into the piano bench, which had no give because her big, pregnant mama was sitting on it!  We had to head off to the emergency room to get her head x-rayed, and, though there were no fractures, there was still danger of concussion, so we were told to wake her up every hour and ask her our names, how old she was...things like see if she was cognizant.  Needless to say, we were about dead the next day as we took off for the airport!  Lyndee looked like an abused child!  Her forehead was swollen out and she had 2 really bad shiners!  You can just imagine the looks we got from all and sundry!

The trip was...well...long.  As I said, we had to go to the consulate in Chicago, and that meant getting a taxi!  I don't think I have ever prayed as fervently as I did on that cross Chicago taxi trip!  That taxi driver was a total madman and I know he scared Don an me both out of a good ten years of our lives!  Then, when we got to the consulate, we were a bit shocked to find it was housed in the Playboy building!  NICE!  Loved taking our 2 little tykes in there!  NOT!

Anyway, we finally got to France, and as I said before, we were quite taken aback!  It was not this really modern country like we had imagined!  And things were outrageously expensive! 

The first few days were spent running around, getting all the paperwork done for our Carte de Séjour.  You must have that to stay in the country!  Then, we needed a washer, so we went washer shopping!  We came with $2,100 to buy everything we needed.  The washing machine cost over a thousand of that sum we thought was sufficient!  It was a 4 kg washer, which is a bit over 8 lbs., and the shortest cycle was 2 hours.  Dryers were pretty much non-existent.  With 2 toddlers and soon to be newborn, you can just imagine!

Anyway, as we were doing all the running around with the kind missionary who helped us settle in, we stopped to eat.  Lyndee's head was just beginning to look better and her eyes were beginning to get that yellow brown around them that says they are healling.  She needed to visit the little girl's room, and just as we were going in, a very tall, very thin woman slammed out, pushing the door forcefully, and whacking Lyndee right in the forehead...on the same spot!  Instantly, the knot popped back out and the swelling started up all over again!  Lyndee cried very briefly, then looked at me with disgust!  She said, "That lady was tall as a tree and she hit my head!  Why did that tree lady hit my head?"  I felt myself turning red, and then I remembered!  No one understood what she was saying! YES! 

We had many more crazy adventures as we began our new life...some fun, some, not so fun!  One of these days, I will tell you about the American football game we went all the way across Paris to see!  Until the next time...happy trails to you!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Two Other Mother's

I have written a tribute to my mama, and to my mom-in-love, so now I want to write about 2 other 2 precious daughters! 
Lyndee made me a gramma when I  was 41.  She had Meaghan when she was 21.  Today that seems young, but 18 years ago that wasn't so young.  Lyndee had been through a couple of years of college and many years in the school of life. 
She was the oldest of 4 and she was the "boss" of the kids, until the boys got bigger than her!  She was always mature for her age, which I think is a characteristic of an oldest girl.  Her having to deal with diabetes at the age of 13 contributed to her being more mature, too.  When one deals with a life and death illness, it tends to mature you quickly!
Her life was on the line during each of her 2 pregnancies, but she wanted babies enough to take the risk!  Parker came into her life through her marriage to Phil, and you would never know he isn't her birth son!  She treats him with all the love of a real mom!
Lyndee is a beautiful, gifted person!  I love her tender heart!

I told you Kelsey's story just the other day!  She was our little miracle baby.  She was a fun, funny kid and was the complete opposite of Lyndee in the fact that she was definitely the baby of the family.  As a tot, she had everyone wrapped around her little finger, but yet, she was still a very loving, generous little person!  Like Lyndee, she is also a very beautiful, gifted person.
Through an unfortunate circumstance, she became a single mom last October.  In a day an age where people choose to NOT have a baby, she chose to go through with her pregnancy.  She is a very attentive mom and is raising a precious little boy. 

I am very proud of both my girls and the wonderful, loving mothers they are!  Happy Mother's Day Lyndee and Kelsey!  I love you both!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

My Other Mother

I have mentioned that my husband is an Alabama boy (well, I guess at 63 he no longer qualifies as a boy) and he comes from a long line of Alabamians.  My mother-in-love is my other mother.  Not too many people are blessed to have not only a great mother, but a great mother-in-law as well.  If you read "A Fish Story", you have already made acquaintance with her!

My m-i-l is Miss Flossie to many people, Florence to others, mom to Don and me, and mamaw to all her grands and great grands.

Miss Flossie is the epitomy of the southern lady, with her gentle, drawling voice, her mannerisms, as well as her kindness to all and sundry.  She has been a joy to me since the day I met her a few weeks before Don and I married.
So many times mothers-in-law are pictured as bossy, imposing women who are bent on interfering in their children's marriages.  That has never been the case with Mom!  She has always had our back when things were tough, but she doesn't poke her nose into our affairs. Because she knew we had given our lives to be missionaries, she has been especially thoughtful towards us.

When we started out, and unfulfilled promises found us in a leaky, toiletless, furnitureless/applianceless house, Mom packed up a U-Haul of stuff and sent it up with Don's dad.

When we moved back to Alabama to help Don's older brother get a church started, she again got together a trailer of used furniture and things for us.  She would drive up every so often with her car packed with groceries and clothes, and when it was time for #2 baby, she loaned us the money to get me admitted to the hospital.

Even though she is getting older and in much more pain, she has always come to visit us, be it here in France or wherever we might be staying for any length of time when we are stateside. 

She is a role model in almost every way.  I don't think I have ever met anyone that really didn't like her right off the bat! 

I just want to say thank you, Mom, for being the world's greatest mom-in-law!  Also, I want to say thank you, Lord, for giving me my 2 moms!

To all mom's out there in blogland...Happy Mother's Day!  May it be a special, blessed day for each of you!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Stop and Smell the Roses

Today, Kelsey put on one of my old albums from way back when her sister and brothers were just young kids.  Suddenly, tears filled my eyes.  It just hit me just how fast time has sped by.  It seemed like it was just yesterday they were all kids at home, doing all those things kids do that gave us joy or drove us nuts or made us laugh.

As the music played on, I remembered so many little things...the time when Lyndee was almost 3 and was hospitalized because her white count was so elevated they told us she had acute leukemia.  It was on my dad's birthday, and we were so far apart and I called to wish him happy birthday, but couldn't stop the tears when he asked how the babies were.  How hard it was to tell him our precious baby girl was in the hospital, so very sick!  But, oh what joy when 5 days later, her blood count was back in the normal range and they determined she had had a near fatal reaction to a medicine...not leukemia.

I remembered tough little guy...playing in the living room of the badly furnished rented house we had when we first came to France.  I remember the latch of a drop dpwn cabinet door giving way and splitting his lower lip open down to where his chin creased.  He cried at the moment, but when we got to the emergency room, that tough little guy never cried a tear, even when they injected each side of his lip and then sewed him up!  He was only 2, and yet he was a little trooper!

And Shan...the time he ate the shoe polish when he was 9 months old when I was home alone with no car.  One of these days I will tell you that story in detail, as it was crazy and, in the end, very funny!

And Kelsey!  She was the baby!  REALLY the baby.  Her siblings were all in their teens when she came along!  She had everyone's constant attention, but managed, one day, when she was supposed to be napping, to climb up a bookshelf and get my allergy pills and swallow half a dozen of them!  That also was a trip to the hospital!

They were funny kids!  Lyndee lined all her dolls up all around her every night, and she loved to help cook in the kitchen!  Her first cookies salty as she put in 1/2 cup of salt instead of a half teaspoon!  But she turned into a champion cookie maker!

Cris...he was always up to something!  When he was 5, we got back from the airport and saw him sitting on the roof of the house!  I will also tell you that story another time!

Shan...he took on a car with his new bike and came up losing...his tooth!

Kelsey was the queen of "Achy Breaky Heart" and a real "Wild Thing"!

I am a music person, so they all grew up with music and we would sing crazily together!  They are all very talented in so many ways!  The older 3 homeschooled, and that was!  I have stories galore about those days!  I have to admit that there were times that were stressful, too, and there were times we didn't take time to stop and smell the roses...and suddenly the petals had fallen to the ground and winter is upon us!

Mother's day is coming up, and with it comes a bittersweet feeling!  I look back on my own childhood, and I realize that I didn't truly appreciate, back then, what a blessing it was to have a loving mother who was a Godly, dedicated mom.  Now, she is almost 84.  I wish I could see her and my dad more often, but only get to every other year or so.  I miss them more all the time!  Just as I reminisce about my own kids, I know my folks are doing the same about us!  I hope their memories are as tender and pleasant as mine are about my kids.  I hope my kids, now that they are parents, are stopping to smell the roses in their own kids lives, because all to soon, those kids are up and grown and walking out the door!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kids Say the Darndest Things!

When I was a kid, there was a show called "Art Linkletter's House Party."  The show ended with him interviewing kids and led him to eventually write a book called, "Kids Say the Darndest Things."  This part of his show was a hit because kids do pop out with some of the funniest things ever.
My mama was a kindergarten teacher and she certainly heard it all!  One child, in a fellow teacher's class drew a picture of someone driving a car with 2 figures in the back seat.  When the teacher asked her if that was her family, she replied, "No, teacher!  That is God driving Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden!"  She later submitted that to Reader's Digest and it was published. 
When I was a pre-teen, mama started a kindergarten in Springfield, MO, and one day as the bus driver was dropping the kids off, my mom noticed her laughing her head off.  She asked what was so funny, and had to laugh, herself, at the answer.  In those days, teens loved to TP people's houses.  This generally wasn't a sign of unpopularity...just kids out having fun on their friends or teachers.  As the bus drove by, one child looked at one yard with really high trees that had been papered quite thouroughly.  He wasn't the brightest little fellow, and as he looked at all the TP he said, "Gee...I wonder who got up there and pottied?"  I have never seen a TP'd house without thinking of that sweet, slow little boy's comment!
Our own grandchildren have given us some laughs, too!  One time, Melynda had flown down to North Carolina with her 2 little ones.  Meaghan was a very precocious 3 year old, and we were riding in the car with my mom-in-love on our way to where the Cabbage Patch babies are "birthed".  Meaghan was on one this particular day and constantly repeated the Humpty Dumpty poem from start to finish.  After awhile, we were all slightly crazy from hearing it, so I tried to switch her to a song she had been constantly singing the day before.  A few words into the song Meaghan says, " Mary Poppins!  Listen!  Do you hear that?"  I stopped to listen, and with an impish little grin she said, "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall..."
Another time on that same trip, Lyndee and the kids were in a car with us as we cut across podunk holler trying to get to the Autoroute.  Meaghan was recently potty trained, and as we were going across that backwoods stretch, she informed us she needed to go potty.  Sadly, there was no place to stop!  We pulled into the first service station we saw when we finally got to the Autoroute.  Meg had fallen asleep, and when we woke her up, she realized she was wet!  She growled, "Hey!  What's the big idea!"  We took her into the bathroom and she was crying all the way.  As we were getting her wet clothes off, she started wailing at the top of her lungs, "NOOOOOO!  Don't take my shoes off!  Please don't take my shoes off!"  We finally got her changed and in her jammies and as we were coming out out of the bathroom, a trucker was laughing himself silly.  He looked at us and snorted out, "Whatever you do, please don't take her shoes off!"  Lyndee and I just assumed she must have been dreaming about her shoes or something.  She was so dramatic about it, though, that we were fighting grins ourselves!
Our next oldest grand-daughter, Jordan, was one of those giggly toddlers you love to make laugh.  We didn't meet her until she was 2 because she was born while we were in France.  But, as can be expected, we fell in love with her, just as we had with Meg.  Jordan fell in love with her gramma, too, and followed me or sat in my lap constantly.  The night before we were to leave, Shan had put her to bed and started down the hall to iron his Army uniform.  I had gone to bed early because I had slîpped and fallen on their terrazo bathroom floor, and was pretty sore and banged up.  Don was sitting there reading beside me.  All of a sudden, this perky tot is standing in the doorway, a 100 watt grin on her little face.  She says, "Gramma!  I'm here!"  We heard Shan come tromping down the hall.  He picked Jordan up, put her back in bed and started back down the hall.  Two seconds later..."Gramma!  I'm here!"  Again, steps came thundering back down the hall.  This went on several times and finally Don and I were about to roll off the bed laughing.  We had the covers over our heads so she wouldn't see us and think it was okay.  Shan put her to bed again and glared at us!  "Glad you think it is so funny!" he commented!  This just made us laugh harder, and I choked out, "Retribution!"  He glared some more, and finally, when we quit laughing enough to talk, we told him how, when he was a tot...barely past one...he would do the same thing!  His dad would tuck him in and before he got back to the living room, Shan would be right on his heels, grinning for all he was worth!  Ah!  Payback is sometimes...great!  Haha!
Ya'll have a great day!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I Believe in Miracles 2

To continue with our baby girl's story...
As soon as Don told me his decision, I called the family doctor who put me in touch with the top urologist in the Paris area.  Amazingly, he gave us an appointment for 3 weeks later.  We were surprised, because we were going into summer and everything generally just shuts down (except for emergency stuff) when summer hits. 
When we saw the specialist, he told us the surgery was doable, but because it had been 12 years, there were no guarantees!  We told him to do his part, and God would do the rest!  He looked at us like we had lost our minds! 
Again, God intervened because the surgery was set for 7 July!  We couldn't believe it!  The surgery over, we were warned it would probably take at least 6 months before we would know if it was a success.
About this time, my best friend called from Belgium.  She said to me, "Joy!  This is all your fault!"  I was, like, "Huh?  What is my fault?"  She says, "I am pregnant!  And it is your fault!"  I laughingly told her it was NOT my fault, but if I got the blame, then I got  the baby!  She insisted it was power of suggestion.  We had talked babies so long while we were trying to adopt for those 2 years, that she was pregnant because of the power of suggestion!  Of course, it was a shock for her...she had just had her 40th birthday! 
I must admit, even though I was happy for them, I was a bit envious!  In my heart, I knew that God was going to do something, but the concrete fact that she was having an unplanned baby when I wanted one so much...well...
Three months after the surgery, I had a dreadful pain in my lower abdomen.  It was late at night, and, frankly, if it had been the right side, I would have thought my appendix had ruptured.  My Dr. wasn't in the next day, so I saw his replacement, who was really a nutcase!
She sent me for a sonogram, which revealed a large pocket of liquid, so they sent me off to the hospital.  They naturally did a blood test and the next day informed us we were expecting a baby.  The kids were beside themselves, and Don an I were awed at God's grace.  I was in the hospital all weekend and expected to get out on Monday, but Monday morning, a Dr. sailed in and informed me they were going to operate!  I called Don and told him to please hurry and get to the hospital!  The idiot Dr. had decided that the "foetus" was no good, and he was going to abort!  I can tell you...there was a mighty ruckus!  We insisted on another sonogram, and sure enough...though it had only been from Thursday (when there was no visible baby) to Monday, there was now a perfect little heartbeat blinking on the screen!  The idiot kept telling us it was no good!  Finally, the chief of staff came in and she reassured us that they did need to do a laproscopy to find out about the fluid pocket, but promised me they would not touch the baby!
Needless to say, she kept her word!  Eight months later, exactly 1 year and 9 days after Don's surgery, we had a beautiful, tiny baby girl!  She was perfect in every way!  I have often wondered how many little lives have been snuffed out because some doctor decided they weren't viable!
The real miracle in all this is that 2 years later, I had to have surgery, and the doctor told me he couldn't understand how I had ever had any children because I had such severe endometriosis.  He was a sweet Christian man, and when I told him about our baby girl, he just smiled and said, "God must have truly wanted you to have that baby!" 
Yes...I really DO believe in miracles!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I Believe in Miracles

I have told you about our first 3 children and some of the fun things (and not so fun things), so now I think it is time to tell about our number 4...our miracle baby. 
After I had our 3rd baby (4th pregnancy), I was not in very good shape physically.  Four pregnancies in 4 years took their toll on my body.  The OB/GYN I was seeing was a total maniac, but we didn't know how to find another one.  When I went to see him for a check up, he told me to never get pregnant again.  The pill was still illegal here so that left one option...tubal ligation.  When I asked him about it, he grinned an evil grin and told me I was too young...I was only 24, and what if my husband died or we divorced?  I would certainly remarry, and then I would owe my new hubby at least 1 child!  His logic left me a bit frustrated!  He had just told me to never have any more kids, and now he was saying BUT....
So, I asked about Don having surgery.  All smiles, he said that was okay...because he was a man, thus he was choosing if he wanted to not have children (in the event of my death or our divorce).
Now, I am as far from being a women's libber as you can get, because I feel free in the life I have, but that really was a shock to my mind!
Long story short, against my better judgment, that is the direction we went, though I knew in my heart, someday I was going to want more children. 
Several years passed and I was really sad, because I wanted another baby.  The surgery had been a nightmare for Don, so I didn't ever say, "Hey!  How about we reverse your surgery!"  But, I started praying.  I had read articles where the surgeons had goofed, or that the surgery had repaired itself, etc., and I was confident God could work a miracle like that for us!
Eventually, 10 years had passed and we tried adopting for the next 2 years, passing all the different approvals until they found out we lived in France.  We were told to either go back to America for 2 years so we could be "controlled" with an agency there,  or we had to become French citizens so they could control it here.  Neither was a viable option.  I was very discouraged, and then one day, while sorting through some baby clothes someone had donated for the needy, I just prayed, "Lord, you said you give us the desires of our if you put the desire for a baby in my heart, then please give me the baby, or take away the desire!  I don't want anything that isn't in Your will!
Not 5 minutes later, Don walked in the room and asked, "Do you still want another baby?  Because I have been thinking.  The kids are going to be leaving one right after the other, and we are still young.  So, I think, if you are good with it, I will get a reversal!" 
I nearly fell over!  God was just waiting for ME to surrender MY will so HE could show me HIS will.
I will tell you the rest of the story...later... blessing to all!

Saturday, May 5, 2012


It's Mother's day in the States, and once again I am far from my mama and can only wish her a Happy Mother's day on the phone.  We have been in France over 36 years and in all those years I have gotten to spend 2 Mother's days with my precious mama.  So I thought today, I am going to tell you about her, in honor of the day!
Mama was born 20 September, 1928.  She was the youngest of 9 children.  Her mom was 43 when she was born, and was worn down by life's hardships.  But Mama was much loved by her family, and her older brothers nicknamed her Dink because she was just a little thing! 

She was a star athlete in High School, playing basketball for a team that went to the championships several times, but she was still a lady, in every sense of the word.  She kept her life straight and clean, waiting for her Prince Charming. 

When she first met my Dad, he was the preacher's son.  She didn't like him, but when he came back from military service he had matured, and she fell in love with him and they got married when she was 19.  My sister was born 11 months after they married, and my Dad was in University in Georgia studying to be a lawyer.  Due to a thyroid hyperactivity, Daddy nearly died so he had to drop out of school.  They moved to Miami and while Dad got a carpentry business going, Mom went to school to become a teacher.  They had many difficult things happen, but they were tough. 
Soon, along with everything else, Dad was leading the music and working with the teens at our church.  Before long, when I was 11, Dad surrendered his life to be a preacher, so we packed up and left everything familiar and headed off to Missouri for Dad to go to school. 

For a Florida girl, Missouri was a shock!  It was hot as everything in summer and colder than cold in winter.  I can remember watching Mama bravely face each day, getting up to go teach in the kindergarten she started in our church.  Dad worked 3 jobs and was going to school.  She didn't get to see him much, but she was tough!  She helped him through.  During the 3 years we were there, her Daddy died.  She was heartbroken, but she kept going.
Those are just the basic facts in her life, but Mama was unique to my sister and myself!  She didn't entertain us like psychiatrist tell mother's they should do nowadays.  She wasn't our buddy, our pal...she was our mother!  She worked a job that would have her home when we got home from school.  She kept an immaculate house, kept us well fed with 3 square meals a day.  She loved us unconditionally, but would whoop our backsides if we needed it.  She was the kind of mom I always wanted to be!
Two incidents come to my mind when I think of mama at her best and worst.  The first happened when we still lived in Miami.  It was Wednesday night, supper was over and we were getting the dishes done and would shortly be leaving for prayer meeting.  Mama was worn to a frazzle, and for some reason, my sister and I had the sillies that evening.  Some of our biggest fights happened while doing the dishes, but that evening, we were a mischievous duo.  Mama warned us and warned us to stop being jack donkeys and to get done.  We just kept giggling and being dumb.  Somehow, we ended up over by the table, laughing our heads off, and a big splash of cold water hit us both square in the face!  We gasped and started to laugh again when Mama hollered, "Now look what you made me do!  You made me lose my testimony!"  then tears ran down her face.  I had never seen my mama cry...and there she was, crying, and our silliness and selfishness had caused it!  We quietly finished the dishes, and she hugged us and apologized, telling us she loved us!  She should have whacked us a good one, but she felt bad because she lost her temper!

The second time, we were on our way back to Missouri from a trip to Miami.  We were extremely poor in those days, so my mom and dad took turns driving straight through.  It was, at minimum, a 26 hour trip.  The last stretch was through the twisty, turny mountains of northern Arkansas.  This particular time, the car was acting up, so Dad found an "open all night" gas station in Podunk Holler!  There we were, around 12:30 AM, broken down, tired and stuck in a car that was up on the grease rack.  Now, we have a family trait.  The more tired we get, the sillier we get.  We were very tired...Mama was exhausted, and thank the Lord, Daddy was below us, outside the car!  Lynn and I were singing "Bye, Bye Love" and trying to get Mama to sing the 3rd part (she usually did), and when she wouldn't we got sillier and sillier, again, laughing like hyenas!  Mom picked up a rolled newspaper and said, "If ya'll don't stop, I am gonna knock your kneecaps off!" know how that ended!  We howled with laughter at the idea of Mama knocking our kneecaps off with her newspaper!  She turned around and was whacking us!  We were jumping around, still laughing like crazy, the car was bouncing around on the grease rack, and now Daddy knew we were misbehaving!  Deep doo!  We have laughed many times over that, but since becoming a parent, going through some stiff times, I look back and think just how brave my mom was! 
One other time, she faced the test and came out shining!  That was the day she said good-bye to her baby girl and her son-in-law and her 2 grandbabies and the grandbaby that would soon be born that she wouldn't get to see until he was 2.  We stood in the airport, surrounded by a huge crowd of people from our church.  They sang "God Be With You Till We Meet Again" and we really didn't know when that would be.  I saw my beautiful mother try to smile, but she couldn't.  She had given me back to God, to be used in His service, and she didn't take that gift back, but it was very hard for her.  36 years later, it is still hard, but she has always been there praying for us.  She is always there to welcome us when we are able to see her.  She will be 84 soon.  Our earthly time is running out, but I have the joy of knowing we will be together forever when this life is done!
Mama, I love you!  You are a treasure!  Have a wonderful Mother's day and know I am thinking of you, praying that I will have you for many more years!

Neighborhood fun

When I was a kid, we lived in Miami.  It isn't my favorite place.  We lived through the days of the Bay of Pigs, the missiles that were aimed at Miami, the onslaught of Cuban refugees,the whole shebang! 
We lived in a good neighborhood that ended in a cul-de-sac.  Almost every family had school aged kids around our age group, some younger and some older.  We would be out all day long, every day when school was out, and during school time, it was rush in to do the homework and chores and then rush back out. 
One family lived across the street from us and became our family's closest friends.  My parents started out playing games with them, and gradually, the became curious about Dad's ministry, and before long, they had come to know the Lord, and were faithful members of our church.
Their 2 girls were just stairstep younger than me, and my big sister was 2 years older than me.  We were pretty much always hanging out, carpooled to school, etc.  We would hold prayer meetings sitting in a big ficus tree, which was our favorite hangout!  We also did a circus, a talent show, and every other kind of thing kids do.

In Florida, they have a type of cherry that grows on bushes.  They are a deep reddish orange, and they don't taste anything like a tree cherry.  We loved them, but one day, when a whole gang of us were hanging out, someone got the idea that throwing those cherries at each other would be fun.  It really was!  We stripped every bush on our end of the block during the battle royal we fought.  When the firing stopped, we all looked at each other, and I think it hit us all about the same time that we were in super big trouble.  We, along with our clothes, were stained from head to toe.  Even our hair was full of the mess!  Those were the days when very few people had dryers and stain removers, as such, didn't exist, and people were careful with what they had...things weren't so easily disposable to people as they are now!  We knew that when we got home we were going to have to face some irate parents!

My sister and I slipped into the house and changed clothes.  We put our dirty ones in the laundry basket out by the washer.  When Mama came in, for some reason she went straight to the garage to get a load of clothes going.  She looked down and found our clothes, that looked like they were blood-covered, and she let out a shriek!  I really do believe she was scared!  When she found out what we had done, we were in the doghouse for sure!  I don't remember what punishment we got, but I do remember feeling very bad because our mom had been so scared. 
The next day, I looked like I had been through 3 world wars!  I have always bruised very easily, and the pits inside those cherries were hard!  Being one of the younger ones, I received a lot of direct hits!  You can just imagine!
Needless to say, we never did have cherry fights again ( least none in our good clothes), though there were some papaya and guava fights! 
I must admit...I wonder if my parents went in their room and laughed hysterically over the dumb stuff that we did!  I know that we have done that many times, when our kids pulled stunts!  I'd ask, but think it unwise!!  They may be in their 80's, but I bet they could still swing a mean switch! 
Below is a picture of the cherries...if you are ever in south Florida, try some!  They really are good!  Surinam /Pitanga Cherry
Surinam Cherry/Pitanga,Harvest:March-Dec.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Fish Story!

Lyndee asked me to tell the fish story.  I think it was one of the kids favorites when they were little guys.  So, here's the fish story!
When we had been in France about 8 months, the in-laws came over to meet their newest grandson and to visit us, and see the sights, of course.
We borrowed a church van and took them around to many places we had a great time.  The night before they were to fly out, they wanted to take us out to eat, so we went out to a cozy little restaurant that we had passed many times.  It was very homey looking outside, and when we went in, we found it to be even cozier on the inside.  We were there a good 1 1/2 hours before any other clients, because the French don't usually eat until 8 PM or thereabouts. 
The owner was on hand, and he was so thrilled that we, as Americans, had chosen his restaurant, that he was extra attentive to us.  We were pleased that he made efforts to communicate with us, because our French was a long way from being perfect!
We looked at the menu and one of the meals listed said, "Poissons en friture."  Poisson is fish and friture means it is fried, so Don's dad, mom, and I ordered that.  Don, ordered something else, because he wasn't a big fan of fish. 
All this time, the owner carried on a conversation with us.  He brought a special salad that wasn't included in the meal, and was really just amazingly kind.  Mom told him she was sorry she didn't have her camera because she would have liked to take pictures of him and his restaurant to show people in the States.  We told her we would just leave early for the airport and stop in on the way, since we passed right by it.  He was thrilled!
When the food was ready, he brought it in and set it before us, with grate pride and delight!  WE, on the other hand were kind of in a state of shock!  The fried fish was...breaded, fried minnows!  Piles and piles of them...heads, tails eyeballs and all!  I felt queasy just looking at it, and Mom looked like she was, as well.   Dad W. took it a bit calmer.  He pinched the heads and tails off and ate them, also giving them to little Cris, who could have cared less, and seemed to really enjoy them.  Fortunately, other clients had come in, so the owner was occupied for the rest of the evening. 
Now, I am blessed with the sweetest mother-in-love you'd ever want to meet.  She is always kind and considerate.  She didn't want to hurt the man's feelings.  I watched as she scooped up a few fish at a time and reached down to put them in the diaper bag.  Cris ate most of mine, so I wasn't worried. 
We finished eating, said pleasnt good-byes and went to get in the van.  Mom immediately grabbed the diaper bag to get all the fish out...and there weren't any!  She had missed the pocket and dumped them all on the floor of the restaurant!  We laughed and laughed, but she was so worried because she didn't want to hurt the man's feelings!  Needless to say, we did NOT stop on the way to the airport! 
I have always wondered what the owner must have thought about those strange Americans that left a pile of fried minnows under the table!
Blessings to all!  Have a great day!!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Best Hamburgers Ever!

I told you about the first adventure with champagne, so thought I should give you the funniest!  It was our son's 5th birthday, and we were celebrating it with a barbecue.  There was a new couple on the field whose son shared the same birthday, and they wanted to come and celebrate the boys birthdays together.  We had another young couple working with us that were like family to us, and they were there as well.

Now remember, I told you we were totally ignorant about alcholic drinks, so after I nearly broke my thumb when the cork came out, I figured it out that that cork was not going back in that small bottle opening!  So, I stored the rest of that champagne in a clean glass jar.
When I bbq'ed, I would pour some in a bowl and sprinkle it on the coals and brush it on the meat.

This particular day, our friend, Donna, was standing outside in the driveway with me helping me cook.    Donna, Dale, Don and myself had had some laughs becuase the new missionaries were New Englanders.  They had very broad New England know...they pahked thehre cah!  All the rest of us were deep south Southerners!  Get the picture?  Anyway, their brogue was cute to us and fun to listen to, most of the time.

While I was industriously brushing on the champagne, out pops the new missionary wife.  She was kind of "blond"!  She sees me brushing the burgers and she squeals out, in her best New England accent, "Wahter!  Yohr puttin' wahter on yohr heamburgers?  I neavah sawr anyone put wahter on thehre heamburgers befohr!"

Dale was in the kitchen at the open window.  He had just taken a big swallow of water when she said that!  He choked on the water so bad that Donna went tearing in to help him.  Don had just walked out in time to hear the question.  He looked at me, I looked at him.  We didn't really know these missionaries...we didn't have a clue if they would be upset over the champagne marinade!  I read in Don's eyes the same thing that was going through my mind!  So we thought it wiser to just not say anything.

Dale was finally over his choking spell, the burgers were done, and we sat down to eat.  As soon as the blessing was over, the wife takes a big bite of her burger.  She swallows, turns to her hubby and says, "That's the best heamburger I evahr ate!  And she made it with wahter!"  Thankfully, none of us 4 had water, tea or or coke in our mouths at that moment, though Dale was on the verge of it.  His glass went down on the table, hard and fast!  I always wondered if the new couple wondered why all 4 of us scattered rapidly to take care of the kids! 
So, that's the story!  And if you want the best burger ever, don't forget the...water!

PS.  Actually, I use an herb mixture that I pour on the coals and as they burn, the smoke is seasoned, and that is the real secret!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Boys and the Rhubarbe

My mom-in-love came over and lived with us for 6 months, and Butch and Carla's crew were over and as usual, the boys were outside playing.  We had a huge yard, no neighbors, and lots of interesting things to get into trouble with!  Not deliberately, just the usual boys being boys things!

They had climbed the pear tree more than once and eaten wormy green pears, they had destroyed my green bean plants (one of them didn't like green beans!), but they also just had a lot of good, old-fashioned boy fun.

Their mamaw had mentioned someting about the pie plant we had growing in the yard.  The plant had been there since we moved in, but the fact being that we didn't like rhubarbe, we usually just let church members pick it and use it.  When Mom W. said "pie plant," well you can imagine what went through their minds!  Pie's good, right?

One day, after they had all been out for a good while, it was time for gouter, which is afternoon snack absolute must for all French raised kids!  We called them in, and they were all looking not so hot...and very guilty!  They didn't want their gouter, so we knew something major was wrong.

Suddenly, one of them bolted for the bathroom.  Soon there was quite an epidemic and our one bathroom was much in demand.  We finally figured out they had a joint secret and got it out of them.  They had decided to eat the rhubarbe!  They had eaten every stalk...and it was still not ripe!  And it was a VERY large rhubarbe plant! 

I can tell you this, God does take especial care of His little ones!  Since then, I have learned green rhubarbe can be toxic!  They all survived, though they were dog sick for a bit, and none of them ever wanted anything to do with rhubarbe ever again!

We did take the precaution of digging the plant up and giving it away!  Who knows but what some other child would decide to do the same thing!  As we had church in the bottom part of our house, we felt that was the wisest move!

Ya'll have a blessed day and remember, God loves us, even when do the not so smart things!

Oh Those Boys!

Tonight, Lyndee and I were talking on the phone and we started remembering some of the crazy days back when they were kids!  Plus, for this particular story, Don and I had just talked about it because he is in the States, and just happened to run into one of the participants!

Don's baby bro and family were also missionaries over here for awhile.  They had 3 boys, 2 of which fitted into the stairstep ages of our older 3.  So, at this particular time, Lyndee was about 10 1/2 and the boys were around 9,8,7,and 6, with Marcus being about 2.

We had a group of people over from one of our churches in the States and it was their last evening.  We were also keeping our 3 nephews for a couple of days because their folks had gone off.  Five little boys can come up with all sorts of mischief!  I should say 4, because Marc was to young then to be in on most of what happened!

Anyway, evening was coming on and the older 3 boys were out in the yard.  We had tilled up our vegetable garden, but hadn't gotten to the breaking up of the dirt clumps.  I was busy trying to help the visiting ladies pack the tons of French crystal they had bought, and had put the 2 younger boys in the tub to get cleaned up.  It was very hot, and the bathroom window was open.  Because we lived in the Paris area, some of the windows were barred on the ground floor.  The bathroom window was one of them. 

Now, one of the men who was visiting was rather a pompous fellow.  Single dad...with a perfect son, according to him!  Anyway, he came storming into the room we were packing in, and huffs, "You will NEVER believe what those boys just did!"  In my mind I was thinking, "Wanna bet?" 
Now, the preacher's wife, who is such a fun person, looked up and, with a glint in her eye, replied, "No, but I bet your going to tell us!"  I nearly choked, trying not to hoot with laughter!
"WELL!" he continued, unperturbed, "I was coming by the bathroom and just as I passed the door, a large dirt ball came flying through the window, hit the wall behind the tub and fell in!"

I didn't get in a dither, because boys are boys...they will do stuff even though they know they will get in trouble!  It is the challenge of boyhood.  And really, it was quite a feat for little guys like that to have actually succeeded such an accurate throw!  I fully intended to deal with them, but Mr. Pompous took things into his own hands.

Sudden shrieks from the bathroom sent me running.  Young Marcus had always had fear of water on his head, and his folks had finally gotten him to be calm during the hairwashing process.  But I recognized those shrieks!  Mr. Pompous had gone in there and taken it on himself to wash the boys off himself and had washed Marc's head and just dumped the water on it!  I wanted to whack him a good one!  Now, it would be to do all over again getting Marc to let us wash his hair without screaming!

We ladies were NOT happy about it, but it was too late.  Cris, Shan and Nate, were skulking in the yard, because Mr. Pompous had implied to them that they were on the verge of, at least, the death penalty.  Bless their little boy hearts!  Neither Don, nor I, had the heart to lay into them because of that ridiculous man's interference, but we did have to deal with it.  They got scolded very sternly, told never to do that again, and the next day, when the visitors were gone they had to help in the garden to break up the dirt clumps.  Deep down, we still had to laugh at the idea of them actually throwing one through those bars, and hard enough for it to cross the bathroom and hit the wall!
I tell them I am white headed because of all the things they put us through!  But, I wouldn't have missed out on any of it, because they were great kids usually, and so much fun!
One of these days, I will tell you the rhubarb story!  Until then, have a great day, and God bless!