Saturday, March 31, 2012

Oh, My Heart

We have often said the Megan was born for Clara. Don't get me wrong. Megan has been an absolute blessing in the life of our entire family, but Megan and Clara....those two are something special together. We were well aware something was going on with Clara months before Megan was born. While it made it extra difficult at first having two babies, one newborn and a one year-old with gross motor developmental delays, as the years have passed, they have become best friends. Megan has been a source of comfort and strength for Clara on many occasions. And while Clara is "different" from her sisters, physically speaking, we have always tried very hard to find the balance between letting her try anything and putting limitations on her. Mentally, Clara could conquer the world....and she just might, but physically, she definitely has her limitations. Even so, we never want her to feel disabled.

This morning something happened that melted my heart and encouraged me greatly! In our dinig room we keep a box of "stuff". It's the "stuff" that doesn't get picked up before bedtime when we tell the girls to pick up everything that belongs to them and put it away. The stuff that's left goes into the "stuff box", and after a period of time, the "stuff" goes away.....bye-bye....hasta la vista....later tater.... The only way to rescue the "stuff" is to work for it, usually in the form of jumping jacks. For Megan, our little bundle of endless energy, this is no big deal, but for Clara, it's a little more of a challenge. Especially lately as she seems to be in more and more pain, despite our best efforts to make sure she is getting plenty of rest. To compensate for their physical differences, we give them differing numbers of jumping jacks, depending on what they're earning back, while also giving a lesser amount to Clara without her noticing (She would never want to do less on purpose....she is rarely aware that she has a weakness, little Napoleon that she is.)...which brings me to this morning.....

When the little girls woke up, Megan came down from her room with her hands full of stuff (as usual), one of the items being her very favorite V-Tech computer that her grandparents got her for Christmas. Clara came down sucking her thumb and wanting to cuddle, also very typical. After some cuddle time, they both went to sit at the bar in the kitchen, waiting for me to cook their breakfast (what a life), but before I got in there, Megan ran into the dining room, unbeknownst to Clara, to ask me how many jumping jacks she had to do to earn Clara's computer back for her. heart. I really thought I was going to cry. So, so very sweet, and to me, the perfect example of true love.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (or sister, in this case). Considering the verbal abuse the older two have been giving each other, and subjecting the entire family to lately, this sacrifice was extra-precious to me. To pull on this Mama's heartstrings even more, Megan has (very sneakily) been taking stuff out of the box that belongs to Clara this morning, trying to earn it back for her. She has no ulterior motive.....she just loves her sister, and despite us never telling her anything about Clara's medical history, she is so very sensitive to the needs of her sister.

God knew Clara needed this precious younger sister, and He also knew this Mama's heart needed some encouragement today. I am so thankful for such a loving Heavenly Father!

Have a blessed day!!

Much Love,

Saturday, March 24, 2012

My Husband is Spending the Weekend in Prison

Yes, it's true. Wondering why?

When my little girls told our little neighbor friend, who is three years old, that their Daddy was going to prison, he said, "Oooooh....did he get in a fight?"


"Oh. Did he just yell at someone?"


Finally, I jumped in and told him, "Their Daddy is not going to prison, he is just going to a prison. He's going to tell the men there about Jesus." I will say that I got a little chuckle out of his other suggestions...knowing Jeff, those things are not even imaginable!! He's the most gentle man I know.

A few weeks ago, Jeff told me that he had the opportunity to go to Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary, for a weekend conference. The ministry he is there with, called 'Turn", goes in to turn the hearts of the fathers who are inmates there back to their children, based on Malachi 4:6:.....and He will TURN the hearts of the fathers to the children. And the hearts of children to the fathers. One of the directors of the ministry has his office at the Life Action National Ministry Center, where Jeff works, and as a 'thank you' to the ministry, offered five scholarships for men of Life Action to participate in a conference there this weekend. I don't know much about it, but based on the Participant Guide that Jeff gave me to read (and I sort of wish he hadn' seemed like a good idea until I read it), here are some things I do know: (Taken directly from the guide)

     No prison in the United States houses more life-tern inmates than Louisiana State Penitentiary,         commonly known as Angola. So large that it has its own zip code, Angola is the nation's largest maximum security prison, housing roughly 5100 inmates. Of this number, 86% are violent offenders, 74% are serving life sentences, and roughly 85% will die within the confines of Angola's barbed confines.

    Up through the 1960's, Angola was and infamous blood-drenched hell-hole, in which only the strongest and most violent criminals could hope to survive. This began changing in 1972, when newly elected Gov. Edwin Edwards appointed reform-minded correctional officials. Reform gained further momentum with the 1995 appointment of Angola's current warden, Burl Cain, now the prison's longest serving warden.

It actually has a neat history and does a lot to reform its prisoners. They keep their prisoners very busy farming 18,000 acres of farmland and cattle to supply food for theirs other correctional institutions - a total of 11,000 people, every day, year round. For more information, go to

And to explain a little further why I sort of wished I had not read the Participant;s Guide, here are some of the guidelines in the handbook for the men coming in for the conference:

-While your cell will be provided with a very uncomfortable pillow and a very uncomfortable pillowcase (They know how to sell it, don't they?), you might want to bring your own pillow/pillowcase. Turn attendees should not dress similarly to the inmates. While you can wear blue jeans, you should avoid white, grey, or denim shirts.

-You should always carry your ID in case you are challenged by a guard.

-And my personal favorite....Do not take your cell phone or a camera inside the main prison. To do so would violate a law and there is nothing we can do if you get caught.

Needless to say, I was tempted to do a little "double-check" on Jeff's suitcase, but I refrained. He's a smart man. :-)

Jeff was very excited to have a chance to talk to the men in the prison. Although they are violent criminals, they have to earn the privilege of being a part of this conference, which would indicate to me that they want to be there. They have to maintain good behavior to stay. Jeff has such a heart for father's and their children. My contact with him is extremely limited, but he texted me this morning to say that God has already shown him a few things. It will be exciting to hear about his weekend.

I will give you more details when he returns, but I left a lot of people hanging when I posted pictures of the prison and his cell, on the old death row, on Facebook. :-)

So, no, Jeff isn't in any trouble....not that anyone is surprised about that. Hopefully he isn't in any danger, and in three days, he will be back home in the safety and comfort of his home with his wife and four sweet girls, and a very comfortable pillow and pillowcase.

The Entrance

His cell on death row. Nice, huh? It's actually better than I thought.

Have a Blessed Day!!