AUGUST 18, 2014

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And, here I go…adding numbers to the sixties.  Sixty-one?  Me?  How did I get here?  How did all the years before fade away so quickly?

Memories…I got ‘em!  And, I wonder if I am the only one in this world who has random memories just pop into my head.  Sometimes, some long forgotten day or person will come to the fore front and I will relive a day or a feeling from long ago.  Poof!  Then it’s gone.  I wonder where those come from and what triggers them?  Please tell me that happens to you, too.  I will feel oh so much better!

I have been enjoying the day…just me and Levi.  He came in this morning and proceeded to sing me ‘Happy Birthday’.

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We made bacon eggs…but he said they were not like Pa’s.  And, they aren’t.   Don beats the fool out of his eggs before he cooks them…I mean, beats the fool out of them!  Me, I’m more inclined to break the egg right into the skillet.  Levi put them away, in spite of them not measuring up.

Our next project was to make brownies.  Yes…I know no one in this house needs brownies.  BUT, it IS my birthday, and it’s as close to a birthday cake as I am going to get.  He stirred…I cleaned up the floor.  But, they finally made it to oven.

While we waited for them to cook, we decided a little Play-Doh was in order.  I have a box full of all sorts of goodies to work with in the dough.  He had a ball.  He even made me a birthday cake.  A tiny one…bless his heart…with 3 candles!  I will treasure it forever!  (And, it is perfectly fine that he is still in his pajamas…so am I!)

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Brownies out…and cooling.  And, we proceed to the studio, cause Levi had spied some new paints he is dying to paint with.  Yes, I am that LuLu.  I believe that any art experience is a good experience.  Thankfully, Levi agrees.  And, Suzanne is happy cause I only buy washable paint.  Because even though I know neatness counts…when we get into a project…that’s the first thing to be forgotten!  Clothes and body parts should not get in the way of art!!!

Paintings go to the drying place and Levi and I go to the resting place.  I tell him since it’s my birthday, I get to take a nap with him.  He thinks that is such a great idea.  I do , too.  And, so we nap.  After he wiggles and turns and snuggles and flips and flops and kisses again!  It’s perfect!

Up from rest…and brownies to taste.  Oh, yum! They are the best brownies ever.  EVER!  We had 3!

******And since the very first thing this morning…before I even got up…my phone has chirped and chirped and chirped.  Levi began asking what it was after he heard several.  So, I told him it was my friends saying, “Happy Birthday!”  So, each time I heard a chirp, I would hear Levi say, “It’s your friend, LuLu!”  And, then he would ask me the name.    This happened about 125 times.  So, each and every one of you who sent me a greeting yesterday on FB or message, or text mail…was thought about and talked about by this grandmother and her grandson!  (Except the ones that came after 8 pm…it was such a busy day, that I hit the hay around then.  However, I got chirps until way after 11 pm!  What a blessing you were to me yesterday!******

Soon, Suzanne came to pick up Levi.  He went to the car and came back with the most beautiful carved  wooden pumpkin!  It is so cool!   Suzanne tested a brownie and then they were on their way to run errands and head home.  I sat down at the computer and began writing this account.  Don is out of town at a business meeting so it was quiet .  And, Alex has been quiet all day.

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Then I heard a car horn and in a moment…a knock on the front door.  (The garage is forever closed off to the elements now…SSSSSS! , remember?)  When I checked, it was Suzanne and Levi…holding a box of Gigi’s cupcakes!!!  So, I didn’t have to make brownies for my cake after all!  The cupcakes were so yummy and Levi was beside himself surprising me with them!  See the great pumpkin?

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I had sweet phone calls and fun cards and a wonderful day.  No big party…no big fuss made.  Just a quiet day, full of activity and full of love from family and friends.  Just the things that really matter… home and hugs and happiness.  And, chocolate…makes any day a little more special!

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JOY IN THE JULY JOURNEY

DOTHAN…July 1, 2014

As soon as my foot was released from its hard cast prison after 5 weeks…I progressed to an air cast.  Told to wear it all the time, except to take a bath, I took that to mean that big ole bathtub in the backyard would be fine, as well.  And, first thing Tuesday morning, I donned my swim suit and carefully waded into the pool.  Soon I was joined by the two cutest little boys in town, along with their mother and aunt.  Oh, we had such a great time!  Following are some pics from the day.

 

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Loving my new camera!

 

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It make pics underwater!  And, it will not break if you drop it!  Camera heaven!  Everyone has had a ball using my camera to make these great pics in the pool.  Today is the first day that I got to use it.  However, these underwater pics are courtesy of Suzanne…I have to practice a little more!  It probably would help if I could open my eyes underwater! :-)

LAGUNA BEACH…July 2-3,2014

Oh what fun Don and I had with Suzanne and Adam and Levi for 2 days…We crammed as much in as possible!

 

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Sweet Levi is not a fan of the ocean.  He likes to run in the sand,  and pick up shells, but does not want to touch the water.  However, he loves to swim.  A friend had told us about a wonderful public water park here in PCB.  It is the Frank Brown Recreational Complex on Back Beach Road…just past the ‘Y’” going toward PCB.  There is a website you can go to learn more info.  It is a fantastic park.  Plenty of playground equipment, picnic tables, fishing, and 2 wonderful pools.  One is dedicated for children, but parents are welcome to go in with their little ones…there are all sorts of climbing equipment and sprinklers and slides.  Such fun.  And very well kept up.  $8.00  adults…$5.00 kids.

LAGUNA BEACH/ PANAMA CITY BEACH…..July 11-14, 2014

Joy and I, along with Tara and Lori and John Thomas took a long week-end trip to the Sandcastle.  We all needed a little break from ‘real life’…and the beach seemed to be just what we needed.  We ate out and slept in.

 

 

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John Thomas and Tara and Lori took in Shipwreck Island, and Wonder Works…while Joy and I took our time on the couch and the front porch!  To each his own!  They all managed a trek down to the beach and some swimming in the ocean…my foot said,” Stay right where you are…on solid ground!”  And, so I did!

 

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John Thomas and I did a little painting.  He painted a ‘goldie fish’ to grace the walls of the SandCastle.

 

 

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Suzanne and Adam and Levi joined us for the day on Monday.  We all headed back over to the Recreational Complex I mentioned above and had a wonderful day, playing and eating and swimming…with lots of fun and laughter!

 

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DOTHAN…7/16/14

Today Levi stayed with Don and I for the day while his parents were busy.  First Pa cooked Levi his favorite, ‘baconeggs’…and then they went to ride the toys.  Finally, a little newspaper reading was in order while they cooled off! 20140716_094116-1

 

 

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Then I managed to snap some good close-ups of the little man while we played outside waiting for Suzanne to come!

 

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JULY 21-24, 2014

Officially, this isn’t on my list, because I was not there.  But, family was.  And, since this is my blog, I get to make the rules!  Love how that works out!  Anyway, Jackson and Tina were able to spend a few days at the Sand Castle.  Word from them was a great time was had, even amidst the rain.  There was still swimming and fun to be had.  And, fried crab claws, too!  I only wish i could have spent some of the time with them.  They are so dear to me!

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Today Suzanne started back to school…crazy, huh?  So I’m back to Levi and Lulu time!  It has been such a fun day.  But, boy is our schedule ever off!  We’ve got some work to do to get back in our groove! Don is out of town, so Levi said he could not eat ‘baconeggs’…so we had bananas, toast and blackberries.  He was too excited to eat, I think.  Cause he knew what I had promised him we would do when he came to stay again.  Paint! art-quoteHe had seen my paints out and had been wanting to paint and I kept putting him off…but today was the day!  First, he donned his new painting apron.  Look!  He wrote his own name!

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We started with the watercolors.  He did well for the first time.  It’s not easy to remember to dip the brush into water between each color…but he finally got it.

 

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I title the above finished painting…”Just A Little Brown”. ( The bottom pic in photo below).   After he had finished painting such a pretty mix of blues and greens, he looked at it and said, “Gotta put some brown right here.”  And, so he did.  Wonder what that thought process was.  Maybe he just has an artist’s eye!

 

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His second attempt turned out beautifully, I think.  I think it looks like wet cupcake sprinkles!  Don’t you just love how the colors blend in together…no matter what color is used? Next we moved on to fingerpaint.  He was not quite as sure about this.  After he realized it was just fine to get paint all over his hands, he began to enjoy it.  We eventually moved it to the floor.  And decided the best picture of all was Lulu and Levi’s hand prints all over an old towel!

 

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We decided then that the best way to celebrate our art was with a swim!  And even Uncle Alex and Finn joined us for a while!  Such a beautiful day to be in this glorious world created by the Master Designer!  After all that and a quick lunch, I was ready to rest.    I was just happy to put my feet up!  Well…at least this little man got some dream time in.

 

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And so ends our short journey through the month of July, 2014.  Could life be any sweeter?  God is just so good and gracious to our family.  All is not roses and candlelight…and we go through our tough times.  Things happen that we want to run from.  We are affected by circumstances that we have no control over.  We still deal with illness on a daily basis.  But through it all…God brings the joy!  We are not thankful FOR all things we go through…but we are thankful IN all things.  Because the only way you get to appreciate the joy…is to taste some of the bitter.  The promises of God are always true and always steadfast.  He will never fail.  Thank you God, for allowing me to know this in my heart of hearts!

 

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I LOVE A CROWN…

Last week, Levi came to stay with Don and me for the day.  We have missed having him here every week, as Suzanne is out of school.  Don cooked him his favorite, ‘Baconeggs’…one word…and toast and fruit.  They ate and then got busy.  First they had to fill the bird feeder.  Levi and I have 2 special birds that visit everyday…Mama and Daddy Redbird!  And, their food was getting low.

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Then Pa let him ride his tricycle down the lane for a little bit…even though he (Levi) was still in his pajamas!  He didn’t mind!  We didn’t either…just don’t tell Suzanne!  :-)  I couldn’t walk with them…this FOOT!

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After their workout, they decided to sit a spell and check the paper to see what was going on here in Dothan…not much.

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Pa had to leave for work, and Levi wanted to ride some more.  But, first, he had to take a potty break and get on some cooler clothes.  Even at 9 AM it was very humid and sticky outside.  I pulled up the rocker so I could watch him, and put out his barricade.  Our driveway has a steep slope to it…and once he gets past a certain point…there is no stopping till he gets to the lane!  And, since I couldn’t go after him…I gave him a stopping point before he hit the slope.  Then I sat back and watched.  He had such fun filling up the back of his train…which he is really too big for now…but he loves it the best… with leaves and pinestraw and rocks and bringing them to me and making a little pile of the most interesting things.

Why are these long?  (pine straw)

They stick together.  They pull apart.

Why is that leaf yellow?  Why you have no red flower? (hydrangeas will have to do)

What is that sound?  (weed eater)  What is that?  (garbage truck)  I hear music.  (wind chimes)

Big rock…little rock…WHY?

Is the sky blue today? (no it is sort of gray)  Why?  (because it is hiding some rain)

Rain and thunder?  Storm?  (maybe just some rain today) Welcome to summertime in the South, my boy!

We get wet?  (No, we will not)…but maybe we would if I did not have this cast on my leg…one day we will)

Oh the delightful mind of a three year old!

 “Stand still and consider the works of God.”     Job 37:14

 

He made a few more trips and then stopped to rest awhile right by my chair…so I took the opportunity to snap a few pics.  He wasn’t really in a smiling mood…obviously all this nature play had started his mind rolling!  I did manage to catch a few poses that brought some thoughts to mind as I looked back over them…

 

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A little boy is full of energy! What a joy that is! God has blessed him with a strong body and a strong will. It is important that he has plenty of time to run that energy off. Running and riding and playing and swinging and swimming…all so wonderful to build up his little body and mind to stay strong.

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There is a great big wonderful world that God made for him to explore. We must teach him some of the things we can do to take care of it. Watering the flowers, feeding the birds and taking the time to marvel at the size and colors of the leaves and rocks!

“You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.”                 Nehemiah  9:6

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We must also work on his interpersonal skills. Children need to be taught to be obedient. We say, “OBEY…RIGHT AWAY!” Now he and I do not always see eye to eye on what is acceptable and necessary. But, this is where we have to bring in a little discipline. Usually TIME OUT works really well! Adam and Suzanne do such a good job raising him. He loves to attend church and gets excited retelling the Bible stories. We always look for those ‘teachable moments’ to teach him about respect and good manners and politeness.

My personal philosophy is this…God made this fantastic, wonderful world for us all.  He put so many things in it for us to delight in.  I still discover new things everyday.  Wonderful and amazing things.  It even can be overwhelming to me when I think of all I don’t know and wish I did.  And, how do I even know what else I’d like to know?  Even at 61, I want to know and see all that I can.  I want to experience things I have only heard of!  (Well, not everything…but some sound amazing!)  So just imagine how a little one feels thrust into this same big, wonderful world!  They have to learn to navigate it as well.  It is so much easier when you take it a little at a time.  But they do not know that.  And, jump with boundless energy from one thing to the next…overloading all the circuits!  We must teach them to slow down…take time to really see…really feel.  We must teach them the ‘rules’ for the best path through this life.  We need to teach them how easily doors can open with the right words and actions.  And, how quickly they can close to those who don’t appreciate how precious are our hearts and minds and feelings.  We must tell them that it is OK to travel over the same path several times if we are happy there…but there are so many other paths that lead to equally wonderful times.  How sad to not at least try.

(Like asparagus and beets…I tried them both.  And now I know I NEVER want to go down that path to their garden again…ever!  I will stay with my friends broccoli and fresh corn and sweet Slocomb tomatoes).

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Isn’t it amazing how we, as grandparents, have so much more patience than when we were raising our own?  I guess that is what is meant by all the things I hear people say about being grandparents…’you really haven’t known of love til you have a grandchild.’  Of course it’s the children…they are so adorable.   But so were yours and mine.  I think we enjoy them so much because we have time to be quiet and watch and discuss and explore.  And, wisdom!  We have so much more of it now, don’t we?  We can give them that most valuable commodity…time.

I find myself thinking back to when we were raising our 3 boys.  Oh how I wish I had taken more time in some areas.  Life gets so full and unexpected sometimes that the best you can do is just ‘get through it’.  But, I don’t think that’s what God intends.  How sad we come to this realization later than sooner.

 “Let us be concerned with one another in order to promote love and good deeds.”     Hebrews 10:24

 

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“Thank you God for this precious boy…and all the precious grandchildren those of us ‘of a certain age’  are blessed to love and guide and enjoy.  Thank you that we can play ‘Follow the Leader’ with them to some wonderful discoveries.  And, how blessed we are to watch them make others all on their own.  I, for one, continue to take your command to ‘train them up’ as a necessary part of my job as a Lulu.  And, I am so grateful for this precious gift you have placed in our lives.”

“Grandchildren are the crown of the aged…”  Proverbs 17:6

 

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And, aren’t crowns just the most delightful of accessories?

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THESE BOOTS…

“You shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the lands which you shall possess.”     Deuteronomy 5:33

Pop was born with a sense of adventure and growing up in a family of 6 brothers and 1 sister, he learned to fend for himself early on.  Even though he didn’t always use the best judgement, he always went, with gusto, into the task at hand.

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Having a love of motorcycles, he seized the opportunity to buy a motorcycle dealership when he was very young.  And, his love for motorcycles and the open road have filled his soul all his life.  He set about to make his dream of seeing the world come true…just he and his motorcycle…and lots of faith in God.

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His first trips took him north through the Unites States and Canada on the AlCan Highway, to Fairbanks, Alaska. One hundred miles north of Fairbanks is Circle, Alaska…the northernmost point of the Northern America Highway System…The End of the Road. Heading southward, he arrived at the End of the Road once more…40 miles above the Panama Canal.

After he was satisfied that he had seen the End of the road…he set his sights away from the USA and into 15 foreign countries. If he could ride his motorcycle there from Dothan, AL, he did. But, if not, he shipped it in and then picked it up and rode throughout the countries. Many times, he would exit the country the way he came in…and leave the missionary with a newfound and reliable method of transpiration. Kenya, Tanzania, Venezuela, Argentina, Peru, Guatemala, Honduras are just some of the countries he spent time in. Not speaking Spanish, he quickly learned the most important words to safely navigate his way. A place to sleep, a place to eat, and a safe place for his machine. Many nights he kept it in his motel room with him ! He made a total of 7 trips, 5 solo and 2 with a buddy. Most lasted for 2-3 months. And on every trip, he wore boots….these boots to be exact…

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These boots were made for riding…and hiking through jungles…and catching alligators in the Amazon River. They were made for wearing while missionaries homes were tinkered with by the ‘missionary man’ from Dothan, AL. He calls himself ‘the missionary to the missionaries’. Always traveling at his own expense and providing his own tools and work gear, he left tiny snatches of his heart throughout South and Central America, and parts of Africa. His work over the years included building radio stations, churches, helping visiting medical teams, traveling with the missionary on the field to remote villages to check on new churches, pray with them and encourage the ‘brothers’. He fixed cabinet doors in missionary residences, repaired washing machines so they wouldn’t scoot across the floor, and built rabbit hutches for a young missionary kid. He patched roofs and fixed doors so they would swing freely. He went to be a friend to those who were called to serve. He befriended missionary kids and made lifelong friends.

[Missionary Dick Greenwood center back in brown jacket...Pop in front gifting this church with a generator...] generator...Honduras

These years were full of close calls, brushes with near death, and an angel visitation. But, for a man who felt a calling on his life…he viewed it as one big adventure. My Mom supported his trips and we daughters were in awe of the man who would pack a few bags of supplies on the back of his Honda, tie them down with several bungee cords and take off for parts unknown.

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Some called it folly, others a great witness and testimony. But, he calls it “just one little man doing his little part in the great big world.” There are missionaries all over who know today that they were cared for and loved and respected by him and his family. If they had a need and it was in his power, he met it. God’s grace and protection abounded everywhere he went…and the stories he can still tell could fill a book…which I hope to write one day.

This is my Daddy…my Pop… and if you want to know more…just ask him. But, you better be prepared to sit for a mighty long spell! They are as fresh and alive in his 88 year old mind as they were when they happened!

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Happy Birthday, Pop! You make me proud!

 

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BLESSINGS, ANYWAY!

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I was really just trying to be funny.  And, now I feel guilty.  Because this is a wonderful, day!  My neice, Lori, and Suzanne and Levi all came to swim this morning.  I went outside to sit and watch for a while.  I love seeing Sweet Levi practicing his swimming and getting braver and more confident in the water.  To our surprise, Alex came out and said he wanted to get in for a while.

Those of you who know us know that this is a rare treat!  Usually he is not even well enough to get out of bed.  But, God granted us a beautiful day…blue sky, white clouds, little breeze…and He granted Alex the strength to enjoy it!  You can not even imagine how it makes my heart fill with joy to see him able to enjoy himself for a little while.  Of course, his buddy, Finn, will not leave his side…even if he is in the middle of the pool!  So, here comes Finn, too!  It is amazing how he never takes his gaze from Alex’s face!

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Lori helped him get in and down into the water, but once in…the limitations are gone!  He can move freely and without falling.  The bouyancy of the water supports him and he can swim and float and play.  Just enjoy the day!

Since I was only a ‘watcher’ today, I had brought my camera out with me to snap some pics.  Now, me and technology…even cameras…do not go well together.  This was my newest camera that I got when an unfortunate ‘accident’ happened to my last one at the beach.   When that occurred, Adam went with me to get another one.  He picked this one out and said that I would like it, because, ‘it would not break if dropped and would not die if it got wet’.    But, here’s the thing.  Every camera I have ever had immediately died when it was dropped…whether on a tile floor, a dirt and rock driveway, a sand dune, or a hardwood floor…or into a dishpan of water.  I have had much experience with cameras.

But, Alex, seeing the camera, and being in the water, said “Give me the camera, and I’ll make some pics of Levi under the water.”  (Well, he might as well have said, “Why don’tcha just throw your camara up against that brick wall?”)  “Oh, I don’t think that’s a good idea, Alex”, I countered.  “Mother, I told you it was water proof!  Besides, this is the most’ Tonja-proof’ camera Adam could find!”, he said.  “OK…but it’s coming out of your pocket if it drowns!”, I told him.

And, I hobbled and staggered over to the pool and handed it to him.  I cringed and closed my eyes and said a quick prayer….and wonder if I had totally lost all the good sense I once had. He snapped pics, and they played and Levi swam and Suzanne and Lori  and Alex and Levi laughed.  Finn would dive for toys and Levi tried to wash off his spots!   It was pure joy!  What a blessing for me to just sit and take it all in!  God is so good, friends.  Days can get weary and hard and unhappy things can happen.  But, right in the midst of it all…God comes in and just throws a big ball of HAPPY into the mix and things are seen in a much better perspective!

And, on top of that…Alex made some great pics…UNDERWATER!!!!

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“YEAH!  THE CAMERA IS FINE!!!!!

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Then, my sweet boy, Adam, graciously gave me some time on his day off to come over and get Finn to the Vet for me.  He was past due his shots and meds, and needed a good pedicure!  It is hard for me to get him there on a good day…but with this cast…would never happen!  Another blessing on this day.  Thank you, Adam for blessing me with your time and strength today.

 

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A WEED…TRULY?

When you encounter the everyday, the ordinary, the annoying…do you see it for what your eye beholds quickly?  Or do you stop and take in the glorious wonder that is the natural world?  Perhaps these few pictures will show you a different way of seeing this mundane little weed we yank out with a vengence and toss in the trash pile.

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If you truly look…

 

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JACKSON TURNS SIX

Early Saturday morning, Suzanne and I turned our car toward Birmingham.  The occasion…Jackson’s sixth birthday party.  We arrived before lunch and let Jackson dive right in to the presents we had brought from family in Dothan.

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A stop for a quick photo with Lulu, and then off to the YMCA for an afternoon full of festivities!

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The weather was just perfect for the party.  There was a wonderful tented area in the back for the cake and ice cream, and around a corner was a pool just fit for a group of 30! kids to spend a warm…quite warm…afternoon!  Jackson had requested a Lego Star Wars Party and Tina went all out to insure it was one of a kind!  Following are the cake…yes, it’s ALL edible!  Then the cutest accessories for the table that Tina fashioned herself!

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Colorful table cloths and loads of balloons finished off the decor!  It was a little boy’s dream!

 

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Then, on to the pool…

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Ian was called into duty by Jackson….

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…and to help little Levi…

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Someone HAD to do it…the ladies were too busy getting aquainted and visiting…under the only shade in sight!  It was wonderful spending some time with some of those who are so close to Tina.

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A picture of this new sweet family…

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We were all hot and tired, so pizza was the order for supper.  Tina kept the boys entertained while we waited for the delivery man to arrive.  ( Levi couldn’t wait, and we had to dig out some chicken nuggets!)

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Then none of us lingered long…our beds and couches were calling us all!  Levi was the first to awake this morning and that meant soon we were all to follow!  A few quick pictures and it was time for Suzanne to drive us back to Dothan!

Cousins…on Jackson’s sixth birthday

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My own two sweet ‘daughters-in-love’…

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I grabbed a quick moment with my boy…

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As we travelled, Suzanne and I replayed the fun we had at the party and the sweet time we had visiting with Tina, Ian, and Jackson….

Levi, however, had a better way to spend the time driving home!

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“God has given us these times of joy.”  Nehemiah 12:43