Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hello Friends

Easter was quite lovely in the sense that there were baskets and hidden eggs and the most delicious things to eat. Also, Jesus died and he lives and that's the whole point, and I love it. 

We lucked up this year and found a last year's treasure of a pink eyelet dress tucked away in little sister's closet. She had never worn it and it still fit like a charm.  She was a vision in pink.

Later in the day, she was a vision in brown. She's my frilly tomboy for sure.

In catch up news, we're hearing talk of braces coming off of our Riley boy since he teeth have all lined up and shine like stars. It's Spring Break here and I'm still working. The kids are reaping the benefits of sleeping late and being doted on by Nana. 

We've been working hard in planning a trip to the aquarium for May. It's timing is in conjunction with his next trip to Emory. This is one of the things on his "bucket list" of things he wants to see and do. We don't really call it a bucket list, because that seems really sad and morbid to me. I'm down to details now of needing a few meals covered, etc.

Riley's prize bag has sat empty for two months now. This week, out of the blue, a box arrived with three really cool items for his bag. God's timing always blows me away. Also, anonymous boxes always, always do me in.

Kelly has our trip post up and running. You can find her blog listed in my blog roll on the right side of he page under Days Like This. Say hi. 

Have a fantastic week!

God is good, all the time!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


About a year ago some blogging friends and I started gabbing it up every day on a more regular basis. One thing led to another and before we knew it we were planning a trip to spend a weekend together in Shelbyville, IL. I have so much to say about this trip, but I'm still processing how incredibly wonderful it was to be together. 

God provided every stitch of this trip from air miles to get there, to meals and hospitality. It was amazing.

Meet my friends! From left to right: Kelly, Mary, Me, and Janie.

                  Janie's Farmhouse

There's more to come, but I knew a few of you were wondering about Riley. He's holding steady for the moment as far as we can tell. We still go back in May for another check-up. Thanks for asking! ;)

I'll be back soon to send you over to Kelly for pictures of our weekend. She was our official photographer.

Have a good week peeps!

God is good, all the time!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Update on Riley

Riley's appointment went well today. His vision has not really changed but how he is perceiving it obviously has. There is a calcium deposit on his cornea that seems to be the culprit of that. It will continue to grow and will be addressed later. Riley's regular doctor was out this week. He will review this next week but I feel certain what we were told today will stand. 

Riley became a little carsick on the way this morning requiring us to pull over for some ginger ale and some fresh air. It made me realize that I need a small lunch sized hard case cooler for these trips. There are many stretches on our trip where we don't see a gas station for many miles. Thankfully, today we spotted one quickly. 

Since we didn't have much notice about going on this appointment, his prize bag was empty. He did so great during his exam and the doctor complimented him several times. After lunch I stopped to let him choose a prize for himself. He chose a small iTunes card and a pack of gum. That worked out well.

We used gift cards from his God Pocket for breakfast and lunch today and funds from it for fuel and parking fees. Everything we needed today was covered.

We stopped on the way home to stretch and took a quick picture beside this caboose we pass each time we travel to Atlanta.

We are so thankful for all of you.

I am working on a little project for Riley's prize bag for his next appointment in May. This is something simple you could do to help. If you are interested please email me at smalltownjoyblog (at) gmail (dot) com. 

God is good, all the time!

Monday, March 31, 2014


Years ago, before an eye disease, my Riley played sports. When he was diagnosed with Pars Planitis all sports fell to the wayside. He didn't miss the sports as much as he missed his friends and being part of a team.

As things are now, Riley is free to enjoy things more. Some friends started a soccer team locally and Riley was invited to join the team. Tonight was his first game, and they won! It has been a blessing to my heart to see him so excited to play again. 

Riley mentioned over the weekend hat his vision has declined. I made a call into the clinic this morning just to touch base, fully expecting them to say I was overreacting. Instead, there is much concern. We will be making a trip in to have some pictures taken on Wednesday of this week.

I'm a weepy mess over it. Nothing is ready for a trip and this just seems so out of control. In the big scheme of things, Riley played soccer tonight. That seems so normal. This eye disease isn't normal, and we're seeing it win the fight more often. 

Please pray for our trip, provision where needed, and for the exam to not be uncomfortable for him. I don't have a single thing in his prize bag and I am charging my Tom-Tom in hopes that it will work. The GPS app on my phone sucks the life out of my phone too quickly and I need to get there and back home with my phone powered up in case we need it. This Tom-Tom working would really be a blessing. I haven't replaced it from last trip when it lost power on the way.

Thanks for praying!

God is good, all the time!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Beauty From Her Ashes

I know it kind of seems like I fell off the face of the Earth. Having my computer crash has nearly done this blog in. I miss you guys. :)

I want to tell you a story. I've tried to get around it, but I shared it in pieces last week on IG and I feel like I've kind of cheated you guys out. It's a true story full of hard stuff and beauty. It's mine. So, here we go...

Our storyline started early. We met in college. Fell head over heels. We made plans, talked babies and adoption. Our childhood life stories were similar. And so we met at the chapel one Spring and tied the knot. Within the year we were expecting our first baby.

Jordan came too early and rattled some of our plans. We settled in as a family of three, but we were unsettled. Something was missing.

God stirred our hearts during that first year and just before his first birthday we were called to be cottage parents at a local children's home. Overnight we went from being the parents of one boy, to being the parents of one boy and 8 teenaged girls.

Our lives over the next six years would be serving and loving 26 of these beautiful girls in foster care full time.

We even added another boy, our Riley into the mix half way through.

It was so clearly ordained by God, and it made our definition of family look more like the family defined by our God.

Our girls taught us how to love them, how to be brave, how to overcome, how to not take no for an answer. They also sometimes gave us sleepless nights and long days. The good came sprinkled in with spotted pasts and broken promises. It was better than we could have ever planned on our own.

When your everyday moments are spent with a child and days turn to months and the months to years, a bond is formed. Some of our girls resisted love. Some sought it. When you sifted through the pain in their hearts you could sometimes find yourself in there. Sometimes you were welcomed and sometimes you never made it in at all.

In the grand scheme of 36 girls, we loved them all, but some were willing to love us in return, to allow us to be their parents. Our Rena was our leader in our bunch. Our strong-willed child, our fighter. Always the one with the best comical response. We grew close through the daily struggles of her everyday life. She carried a greater burden than the others. She was so careful to let us in, but once we were in she brought a new joy to our home.

Our girls grew up before our eyes. We celebrated birthdays, shopped for prom dresses and ordered graduation announcements. The church bells marked the passing time and each day we laughed and cried and prayed and thanked God for the gift of them. Then the Fall came when they all went off to college and we went back to being our little family of four. We had weekend visits and nightly phone calls, but our girls were gone and we felt their absence. Our house seemed so empty.

In the Winter, Rena came home from college sick on a Tuesday. Overnight the ICU became our home. One little complication turned into another. She died a few weeks later in emergency surgery. We weren't there, so many things went wrong that day. We didn't get to say good-bye.

The details sit parked in a spot between haze and disbelief. It was St. Patrick's Day, March 17th, but I don't remember that at all. Our children are not supposed to die. She was so full of life. Promise. Potential. There were tears. Sorrow. We lay her body to rest on the grounds of the children's home across the way from where we had all called home. The place where she found hope and love. The place where we found her.

There were dark days and long nights. We mourned. We grieved. But then, there is hope. There is always, always hope. Her life was short, but her legacy remained in our hearts.

"and provide for those who grieve in Zion-- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.: Isaiah 61:3

Years later our hearts turned from grief to hope to purpose. Her life should be honored in a way that changed lives. Classes were taken and records reviewed. There were two tiny foster children followed by a failed adoption. Then an eye disease made time stand still. And then, eight years after her death, a social worker delivered our brand new  baby girl to our doorstep.

There were hard days of foster care and the fight was long and wearing. But, just as he had promised, there is beauty from the ashes. Twelve years and one day after Rena's death, we finalized the adoption of our Kendra girl. March 17th was a day to weep and mourn, but March 18th is adoption day in our home! A day to rejoice! Praise God JOY comes in the morning! It is a day of joyous celebration of healing, redemption and adoption. It is a day where our hearts feel and see the significance of the pain in the journey.

God was faithful to see his plan through. It began with a death, that another ONE may have a chance at LIFE.  A family tree, a story to tell, a heritage to pass down. God wastes nothing. We are so humbled to have been chosen for this journey. Because God brought us Rena Necole, we now have the honor of being parents to Kendra Nicole. Our Kendra girl shares the same spunk our Rena did and we are reminded everyday of her presence in our lives. There is beauty from her ashes. Her spirit dwells with her Redeemer. Her legacy lives on in our home. God is faithful.

"Weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5

God is good, all the time!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Celebrating one year of adoption today with our precious girl!

God is good, all the time!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sketching out a Plan

Each time we return from one of Riley's medical appointments, we go back to the drawing board for the next visit. His prize bag comes back empty. Generally, his God Pocket is depleted. Always, he has a new appointment set to return.

This time is no different. We have eight weeks until he returns for yet another check up. I mentioned before that his next appointment is on a Friday. It is also an early morning appointment. Riley has had his hopes set on taking a trip back to the aquarium for quite some time. He also loves camping. 

I talked with my Mama, (Nana), today and it looks like we may be able to travel along with my parents in their RV, taking our car for medical appointments and such) and spend a few nights camping at a state park near the hospital. 

This means that Little Sister can also go along and we will not need a sitter for her at home. 

Our hopes are to be able to take Riley to the aquarium and out to eat for one nice meal. This will be a nice change for him following several unpleasant medical visits and give him something to look forward to in the meantime.

It will also allow us to take along more snacks to supplement our day and our fun.

It will certainly be something exciting for him to focus on rather than another eye appointment. 

Thank you for your continued prayers for Riley and his eyeballs.

God is good, all the time!