"Stop staring at him!"

I want to scream it to the world every day. To the man in the trucker hat at the gas station. To the little black lady at the grocery store. To the lady who has perfect hair at the nail salon. To the little boy wearing Spiderman swimtrunks at the waterpark.

"Just stop staring at him!"

I haven't spoken about this before online.
So this is new territory. For most of you.
But, it is something that is frustrating me to my very core. And I feel like I need to voice my feelings, as well as just ask for prayer.

If you have been hanging around these parts very long at all, then you know this little guy.

Meet Keaton. My 9 year old (in 3 days). Counting the months I held him in my belly, I have known this little person for close to a decade. Unbelievable. A decade full of precious laughs, smiles, and tears.

And my precious Keaton is perfect to me.

So my heart breaks for him. Because of this.

You see, Keaton has Vitiligo....a skin disorder which basically boils down to the fact that some of his pigment cells don't produce pigment, therefore leaving portions of his skin white.

This disorder is not harmful; it is purely a cosmetic issue, which we praise Jesus for every day.


But my heart breaks for my child. Because he has an imperfection....that is only skin deep.

I hate it when people look at him and their eyes drift immediately to his leg. I hate that people stare. I hate that kids ask him if he has a disease. I hate that sometimes adults are even more cruel than that. I hate it that in his prayers he asks his Jesus to take the spots away. I hate that his child heart is fearful that the spots will spread to his face.

I hate feeling like Keaton was cheated. Like I was cheated. Because I know that as I type this there are mothers who don't know if their children will even live through the night. And that there are mothers who are grieving the fact that their children will never live a life that will be filled with what we all call normal. And that there are mothers whose hearts are heavy because they haven't yet been blessed with a child to call their own.

But I can't not voice my feelings any longer. I feel selfish. And insensitive. And greedy. But I made a promise to always be transparent and real on this blog, and I'm lying if I say that I'm okay that Keaton lives every day with questions as to why God made him have spots. And I'm lying if I tell you that I'm okay with being the mom of a kid with spots. I'm not.

It hurts that my child is the one that others stare at.
It hurts that the doctors can't tell me what causes it.
It hurts that there is nothing we can do.
It hurts that there are kids who are cruel enough to exclude him because he is different.

I've cried many a tear over those darn spots. I hate them. I have screamed "Why?" more times than I can count.

Because those spots matter.

They matter to my baby's heart. They hurt his feelings. They hurt his esteem. They hurt his heart.

And I'm doing everything I can to reassure him of his Father's love for him so that those darn spots don't hurt his faith.
Because when you are 9, God is supposed to answer prayer.
And so far, God hasn't answered his.

Because the spots are still there. Every morning, they are still there.

My bitterness is still fresh. My tears still flow freely. And my frustration and anger is still very close to the surface. I'm doing my best to not show Keaton my hatred of his spots. To make our lives normal. To pretend like the stares at the swimming pool don't bother me. To not weep when he prays to Jesus that He won't let the spots get on his face.

But, I ask you for prayer. Prayer for healing, sure. But even more than that, prayer for Keaton's heart. That he will find himself drawing close to the One who created that perfect skin of his. To the One that knows those spots inside-and-out. And to the One that loves Keaton more than even this mama does.

Biting the Bullet, but Escaping the Birthday Party Black Hole

And you told me that I would HAVE to give that boy a birthday party.


I laugh in your face.

Because I escaped the wrath of birthday party doom for yet another year!
MUUWAHAHAHAHAHA! (said in my best bad guy voice while wringing my hands)

And it only cost me one of these:


We did it.

Our very-soon-to-be 9 year old has his very own computer. In his room. And I only had to barter the birthday party for it. NICE. (And, yes. Those are deer horns on his wall. Because they are better in there than in my living room.)

And he couldn’t be happier.

It goes without saying that since his daddy set it up for him night before last, we have seen neither hide nor hair of the poor boy, because he is pouring over game after game after game. And writing stories. And making charts.

We’re going to institute a whole time schedule thing after the initial getting-to-know-you-period, but this is brand new territory for us.

All of our electronics are in the living room, so they are VERY easily monitored as far as time and equality goes. But this whole in-your-own-room thing is SO new. And a little terrifying.

So…here’s my question. What do you do at your house (as far as time limits go for computer time, etc.) and how do you keep super eagle eyes on the private computer (we have all the filters and stuff, but I’m still find myself a little nervous)? And if you don’t have this specific issue….what do you think you would do? I’m open for ANY help at all.

Now I’m thinking I should have just sucked it up and done the stinkin’ party. Who knew this little black box would be so stressful?!


We Are Family...Day 3, 4, and 5. And a Disclaimer.

Dear Sweet Precious Readers,

My family vacation is drawing to a close. It is 1:30 in the morning of our last night together, and we are all exhausted. I haven't posted in 3 days, but I did write out my blog posts in the car today. I had second thoughts of posting all 3 days, because they are so long and wordy and pictury, and I didn't want to bore the stink out of you. And I also know how highly irritated some of you become if you have uber-long posts to read or more than one post in a day in your Google Readers. But, then I decided that as much as this blog is about you, it is really about my family. And about it being a journal of our lives. And so, I'm going to post all 3 days. So that one day I can remember the Dude Ranch discussion. And Caitlin and her ponchos. And what I ate.

So please know that you won't hurt my feelings if you don't read it. Jim-Dad will. And that is good enough for me.

The missionary reunion ended Sunday morning. We had an outstanding time of worship together, and everyone headed out with sweet memories and anticipation for the next reunion in 2011….which I somehow was suckered into organizing again. How this happens to me, I’m not sure. I checked the mirror before I went into the meeting where they discussed the plans for ’11, but apparently I missed the big “SUCKER” stamp that was plastered on my forehead.

After our cars were loaded and everyone was buckled in, we headed out. For Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. And all things Smokey Mountain and Dolly Parton related.

We were going to all stop at the tattoo parlor across the street from our hotel and get matching Dolly tattoos, but Jim-Dad was a party pooper and nixed the idea. Too bad. My mama was really aching for one on her arm.

We poured over tourist brochures, and we finally decided on a visit to Wonderworks.

The sign out front said that it was an amusement park for the mind….and that it was. It was this hugacious, nifty interactive museum/playground/crazy-lose-your-parental-mind place. There were simulators and rock walls and crazy optical illusions and bizarre hands –on exhibits. Wanna see?
And then my mom played laser tag.

And apparently was really sneaky and stealth-like.

Go Grammy. It’s your laser tag birthday.

And then we were hungry. And we ate at Happy Days. Yes. Happy Days. Think Richie Cunningham and the Fonz and Chachi. Only minus Richie Cunningham and the Fonz and Chachi. I was slightly disappointed that Fonzie wasn’t there banging on the jukebox, but my Cadillac Cheeseburger and Loaded Fries brought me right back to my place of ‘50s blissfulness.

And then, when Elvis wanted to take his picture with me, I was over the moon. Because you know how I roll with the King.
Oh….and that tramp Marilyn went and hung all over my husband.
Oh wait. He’s hanging on her. And SMILING!!! Hurmph.

And then it was back to the hotel for working on the computers….in the lobby. Still find that weird. And the kiddos all went swimming in the nifty hotel pool with the father figures.

We Are Family is shaping up to be a true adventure. But we are all having a blast and enjoying just doing what we do best….being family.


Do you know how many times Dolly Parton songs get stuck in my head?

JOLEEN. 987 times.



9 TO 5. 602 times.


That chick’s songs just stick. And I dig her gnarly hair, and her very blingified outfits. Because I just think if you can pull off all of that Southern Belle glam, then you must be something.

So, when plans were struck to head over to Dollywood for the day, my heart skipped a beat. Because the idea of a day spent bleach blonde wig deep in all things Dolly just sounds like good fun. And I’m all about some amusement park bizness, so I was all over this trip. Like sequins. On Dolly.

We woke up early early early Monday morning and headed to the pancake house next door to our hotel. You talk about some deliciousness. Oh my stars.
I ate every single last syrup drenched crumb. And mulled licking my plate over in my head, but decided against it.

After eating, we headed out to the big D. And we did it all.

Here….just look at all this family fun.

We rode roller coasters, got drenched on water rides, and screamed like little girls while doing it.

And we listened to a concert. Of, of course, Dolly music.

And I bought this.

Yes. That is a bag of kettle corn the size of Nebraska.
And, yes. It was yummy. And yes, we still have it and are still munching on it.

After buying our obligatory teeshirts (I opted for a cutesy teeshirt instead of the gaudy black one emblazoned with Dolly’s face….although it was a hard decision), we went in search of dinner.

And because Jim-Dad deserved it, we went to the Golden Corral. And loved on the 3,389options for food we had on what just might have been the largest food bar I’ve ever seen in my life.
Look at Jim-Dad. Pleased as punch, I tell ya. Pleased as punch.

After dinner, we all waddled back out to our cars and headed back up to the hotel. No computering in the lobby. No watching tv. Just showers and straight to the covers.

Because wagging around kettle corn is exhausting, y'all.


What do you get when you have 11 people in a family who refuse to make a decision because they are afraid to hurt someone else in the family’s feelings?

Uh….you get my family.

Minus the husbands and the children. Because the husbands and children aren’t afraid to speak their minds.

The parents, my sister, and I….um...we would be the people pleasers. Heaven forbid we do something that would make anyone else feel uncomfortable.

And so went the decision making process for Tuesday morning. What to do? What to do? After each of us uttering, “It doesn’t matter to me” and “I don’t care” 203 times, we FINALLY did things the democratic way and took a vote. Only we didn’t ask the children. Because they don’t count. Only because their choices would have only included overpriced go-carts and mini-golf. No thank you, small people.

Vote came out:

Go in a cave -- 2
Go to a Civil War Battleground – 3
Go to the hotel and sleep/swim/read/blog – 1
Go to Loretta Lynn’s Dude Ranch – 1

I was the vote for the Dude Ranch. Shocking, I'm sure. I thought it sounded fun, and I thought the idea of Jim-Dad on a horse would have just been good blogging material. But no one else saw things my way. So much for saddling up with the Coal Miner’s Daughter.

We decided that hearing “I’m bored” all day didn’t sound like a ton of fun, so we scratched out the history lesson, and that left us with cave dwelling.

My three boys don’t do caves. Remember?

So….then Rock City came up in conversation. And just like that....our decision was made.

Rock City, it was. We hopped in the cars and skidaddled on down Chattanooga way. I fell asleep for 3 seconds in the car. 3 seconds. And when I woke up, I found us in the middle of a downpour. Ummm…Rock City is outside. And we didn’t have a backup plan.

I called up Caitlin, who works at Rock City, and inquired of what the weather was doing up on the mountain and what exactly the good ole’ folks at Rock City do when it rains. Miss Caitlin, who loves her job very much (I could hear her ponytail swishing, she was so perky), told me that they “just hand out ponchos!” Thanks, but no thanks, Miss Caitlin McPoncho, I might mess up this fabulous hotel bedhead ‘do that I’m sporting today.

So. Back to square one.

Stuck in Chattanooga. In the rain. With our hotel reservations 4 hours away…..completely out of our way.

We did a little digging around and discovered a gold mine. Who knew. I’m sure that Rock City would have been fabulously amazing, but this place rocked our eleven-people-roadtrip world.

Drumroll, please.

The Tennessee Aquarium.


It was the most intense aquarium I’ve ever been to. Very cool. We saw huge fish and tiny fish. We saw funky fish and normal fish. We saw scary fish and friendly fish. We saw jellyfish and crabs and seahorses. We found Nemo. And Nemo’s dad.

And I touched a frog. (Oh…he’s not real. Are you nuts?)
And I found this out. And wasn’t really sad about it…..at all.
And we petted sturgeons. But passed on the caviar.
And we petted sharks. And sting rays. And the kids petted a snake….a real one. Michele petted one, too….only hers was fake. Because she and I….well....we're chickens.

And Keaton was a little nerd. He carried around a notebook and took notes. (And I have a picture, but it isn't uploaded yet....but just imagine Bill Nye the Science Guy in a Razorback teeshirt....that would be Keaton.)

It was an amazing place. Highly recommended.

And probably better than the Dude Ranch.



Dear Sweet Precious Reader,

If you hung in here this long, then good for you. Our trip was amazing, and I'm glad that you could come along with us.

If the only one reading this is Jim-Dad.....well, just know that I heart you like crazy, Daddy. And know that you hanging with me in cyberspace is pretty darn funaliscious.



We Are Family -- Day 3

I'm usually not short and sweet.

But tonight I am taking on a promise to myself to be both.

Because I'm tired. And I'm sitting in a hotel lobby. With my computer in my lap. And my family is upstairs probably wearing tomorrow's clothes, because the husband was responsible for getting their jammies out of the suitcase. And though he can solve equations as long as California and would be able to fix the Eiffel Tower if it broke, he somehow wasn't blessed with the talent of deciphering night clothes from day clothes. I've explained the simplicity of the matter eleventy hundred times. Teeshirts that are permanently stained with spaghetti are jammies. Those that still appear clean from three feet away are daytime clothes. This is not rocket science, Mr. Physics.

Anyway...because I'm sleepy and blogging in a lobby with big cutouts of Dolly Parton littering the VERY rustic decor, you're just going to have wait on Day 4 of We Are Family, and just be satisfied with Day 3. So sorry.

Day 3 was spent in meeting after meeting after meeting at the missionary reunion. I had been put in charge of creating a blog especially for our missy family, so I parked myself in the back of the conference room with my trusty pink laptop bag and all of her precious cargo and worked on my project. Although the presentations were interesting. It is always good to hear how the Lord is working in this little country that helped shape a chunk of my life. Our God is good all the time. And this weekend's testimonies of present and past missionaries is proof of that.

Here are a few picts from the reunion.....

The Group Picture from the weekend. Have a little fun playing Where's Waldo.

Here I am with all the other MKs (missionary kids) that were at the reunion.

My two favorite ladies....my sister and my mama.

Look at Jim-Dad and my sister. Precious.

This is Carla. She and I were suckered graciously blessed into putting together this whole shindig. She is a great lady, and a former MK. Love her.

And we ate Bengali chicken curry for dinner. Oh blessed day. I was so darn excited about the curry love, that I forgot to take the picture until I was halfway through my meal. So you are getting the half version of the curry. My plate was PILED. And I was sitting fat and happy. The only thing that might have possibly made it better would have been if I had been eating it off of a banana leaf while sitting on a dirt floor while eating the curry with my hand. Oh....and while sipping on a hot coke. Because that is just how you are supposed to do it. And that is just good stuff right there.

And then I had to play MC. Which should mean that I was Mrs. McChatty. But instead it meant that I was Mrs. McCringified. Seriously. As much as I like to run my mouth, microphones and crowds are not my friend. No way. No how. No thank you. But because I'm a people pleaser, I do it anyway.

Yep. That's me. About to pass out.

But I was rewarded for my efforts by my precious Aunt Guin. She gave me an ENTIRE bag of ChanaChur. (chA-nA-choor). That would be Bengali for heaven on earth....otherwise known as the most delightful snack mix created on the face of this planet. You only think Chex Mix is good, y'all.

The reunion was fun. The people are amazing. And just being with my entire family makes it all the better. And like I mentioned yesterday, the bringing up of all the sweet memories has made me sleep awfully peaceful these past few nights.

So, I'm telling the Dolly cutout goodnight and heading up to the bed.

We Are Family....over and out.