Hilton Head 2014

The House


Y’all,  we had been looking forward to our beach vacation for forever.

We were headed to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

A place that feels warm and tropical. A place filled with fond family memories.

We chose a house that had plenty of room for us all!


16 Mallard Hilton Head


Dining Room/Entry Way


A house with an enormous kitchen and spacious living.



Living Room


Overcrowding and lines for the shower, would not be a problem.




There’d be bedrooms and bathrooms galore!


Girls' Room



Boys' Bunk House


We would live in our bathing suits and flip flops for an entire week.  It would be paradise.


Joe Cool


This getaway would consist of  leisurely walks on the beach and lots of relaxation by the pool.




Kin Kin


Gav Floating


The whole family together, not a care in the world.


The Gang


Then, in our final countdown week, my hubby got sick.

Hospital sick.

I told my kids that going on this vacation might not be God’s plan.

Getting their daddy better had to come first.

We’ll have to take it one day at a time, I explained.

You could see the apprehension in their eyes.  The way they clung to a hope they were afraid to trust or believe in.


Beach Bound!!


He was discharged home from the hospital and felt somewhat better,

but was still completely debilitated the day before departure.

I ultimately left the decision in my husband’s hands.  I knew the many forces of guilt that tugged at him.

He didn’t want to disappoint, but feared the burden it would place on everyone.

We would go, he decided!

The kids and I rallied together to make it happen.


I knew it wouldn’t be the same escape we had hoped for.

I needed to prepare my heart and mind.


My Niece


This life…


Kin and Alana


our happiness and joy,


Gab Gab


it depends a lot more on our expectations and choices,


Water Wars


than it ever has to do with circumstances.


Hot Tub


Because don’t we all face endless challenges and disappointments?


Pool Time!


And isn’t it all about how we choose to respond?


Me and my "Baby"

I choose to honor God.

I choose my husband.

I choose my children.

I choose my family.

I choose to make this a joyful memory.


Walk to the Beach


Now don’t get me wrong.  I initially had myself a little pity party when I realized this vacay wasn’t going to turn out exactly the way I’d hoped and dreamed it would.

But then God struck me upside-the-head with Mark 10:45-

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served,

but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”


And let me tell you, this mindset makes all the difference when you embark on an adventure with seven kids and one incapacitated husband.

I’m not saying it was easy.

I’m not saying my attitude was always perfect.

Gracious, no!

I even had to put myself to bed early one night fearing I couldn’t be kind and loving to another single soul.




But it was totally worth it!

The memories we made were priceless.


Boogie Boards 3


Cousins riding in the waves together…


Oh Yeah!Catchin' Waves


Boogie boards all around.





These were truly awesome times.


Boogie Boardin'

Fun in the Sun


Billiard tournaments,



Mimi Brings it!


an 81st birthday party,


Happy Birthday Pop!


and lots of pool fun!


Water Bug



Pool Games


These Three!


These children will grow up right before our very eyes,


Boogie Boards 4

playing in the surf,


Surf Fun

drying off,

My Nephew


and building sand castles.

Li'l Ladies


They just don’t stay young forever.


Water Retrieval


He's Strong, Tough, & Brave


We don’t stay young forever.


Sand Creations!


Not one of us knows how many days we will be given,




yet each of us knows the days are numbered.




Choose joy.




Live with gusto.


Snagged it!


Aerobie Fun!


Reach for your dreams.


The Reach


Do not let go of the day.




Surround yourselves with the ones you love,


Lowcountry Backyard Restaurant


and live without regret…


Mimi and Gab


Because your destination may not wait for perfection.




My Brother’s Wedding

Oh it was going to be a doozy.  I knew this heading into our travels.

We were planning to hit Boston and Connecticut in a whirlwind trip totaling 6 days.

We would pick Maddie up from CYT (Christian Youth Theatre) about 10:00 PM, van fully loaded, and head north on the interstate.

I expected to be the primary nighttime driver since Duff intended to put in a full day’s work the day of our departure.

No worries.  I had a plan.

I would take the five youngest to Pullen Park that morning.

Pullen Park

[Read more...]

Update on the Joyners

It was difficult to celebrate Father’s Day over the weekend without thinking about the Joyner family.  I first introduced you to them here.

James and Tracy Joyner have nine children.  They live in Selma, NC in a modest older home in need of many repairs.

James was diagnosed over a year ago with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and underwent radiation treatment. Recently it was discovered, through tests and biopsies, that the cancer has returned very aggressively throughout his body.

He completed chemotherapy at the end of May and doctors are considering an autologous bone marrow transplant as the next step.

This week James will have a PET scan completed 6/17 and a bone marrow biopsy on 6/19.

After the results of these two tests are in, they will meet with the bone marrow specialist on 6/26 for a work-up appointment to begin the transplant process.

They will really not know anything for sure until then, but if this transplant is the Lord’s will for James, it’s looking like July could be the big month.

During treatment at Duke, James would need to live off campus in Durham (in case of emergencies) and have a 24-hour caregiver. The duration of his stay could be from 6 weeks until only the Lord knows when, depending on his response to treatment. Insurance has already approved the transplant and will provide a spending allowance for James’ daily lodging.

The only question on James’ mind is, “How can my family be up here with me?”

They have five girls and four boys but their oldest daughter would be living at home with Tracy’s sister.

Tracy says, “We know that a plan is already mapped for the journey, so please pray with us for direction. Please do not hesitate to pass this email along to anyone that knows someone who has already been through this and could direct us to the resources that can help with financial and lodging needs for a family of 11.”

If you have any friends or family living in the Durham area, who might be able or willing to help this family, please contact me so that I can put you in touch with Tracy.

Let’s lift this precious family up in prayer, as they travel along this most difficult path that the Lord has set before them-

Lord, I lift up the Joyner family to you.  I pray you would direct each and every one of their steps along this journey, that there would be no doubt, only certainty, as to which way they should turn at every juncture.  

I pray you would grant them Your perfect peace, that which surpasses all understanding.  I pray this testing of their faith would draw the entire family closer together and closer to you.  I pray this valley would build their faith and trust in your ways, that they may never question them.  I pray they would run to you with every problem big or small, resting sure in your promises, Lord.  

I pray also for the healing of James’ body in the name of Jesus.  I pray James would become a living testimony here on Earth, letting his light shine before men and glorifying you in Heaven.  

Lord, I pray you would specifically minister to the Joyner children.  I can’t imagine how heavy or confused their little hearts must be seeing all that their daddy has had (and will continue to) endure. I pray these little eyes would not only see the difficult parts of this trial, but also see your goodness in and through all of it. Please wrap them in your love.

Lord, I pray you would handle every detail concerning the Joyner’s housing needs.  I pray you would make a way for this family to reside together during the bone marrow treatment process.  You are the “Master Landlord” (as Tracy pointed out), we place our trust in you, Father.  I also pray that you would provide for them financially during this most difficult time.

Asking that you would mightily use the Joyner’s story to reach the lost of this world, Lord.  

I know you have a plan, something bigger and better than we are even capable of imagining, and all of it will work together for good.

I praise You for your never-ending love and faithfulness.

Matthew 6:25-27 (NKJV)
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?”

Romans 8:28 (NKJV)
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

My Dad


Pop and Gabby

You watched countless soccer games.

You organized backyard baseball.

You attended recitals.

You let me pretend to shave with you in the wee hours of morning.

You took me ice skating.

You let me pick out my favorite ice cream flavor at the Friendly’s take-out window.

You took me to father-daughter square dances.

You looked forward to family vacations.

You sang ‘Barbara Ann’ at the top of your deep voice.

We went fishing and actually caught fish.

We rode bikes in Cape Cod to pick up the morning paper.

We body-surfed the waves and leisurely walked along the shore.

We collected golf balls and used the driving range after-hours.

You took us for nighttime swims. [Read more...]

Rising to the Call

My Crew

People often tell me…

You’re an amazing mom. 

I don’t know how you do it. 

You must have the patience of a saint.

Bless your heart.

And if you know anything about that last one (a notoriously southern phrase) it can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. ;)

[Read more...]

Hands and Feet

Hands and Feet

Have you ever noticed that emotional arousal creates incredibly vivid memories?

When your body’s stress hormone is released, memory making is kicked up a serious notch.

That’s why when something really amazing, terrifying, or shocking happens, you often remember what you were wearing, where you were standing, the music that was playing, and the smells that surrounded you.

I have many intense, detailed memories from the years when my Gabby was her sickest. [Read more...]


Photo Op


We headed out to the zoo on Friday after a week of standardized testing, obligations, and a handful of appointments.

We were sad that Duff and Maddie couldn’t join us, but they apparently had more important things to do. ;)

We didn’t have to be anywhere at any certain time.  We left when we were ready and came home when we were done.

It felt positively wonderful to be free from any schedule or time frame.  <deep sigh>

Just a happy-go-lucky day with my children creating memories.  I had been looking forward to it for days.

[Read more...]

Angels Among Us- My First 5K

Let's Do this!

I’m not a runner.  I’ve never really been a runner.

Even back in the day when I played soccer, I detested running.

I believe the fact that my face consistently turns an alarming shade of red, after even moderate exertion,

Tomato Face

is a bit disconcerting for everyone involved.

[Read more...]

How I Recharge

I think because I presently spend an obscene amount of time at home,

escaping from the house is the very best way for me to recharge an extremely dead battery.

During the week I’m running on a hamster wheel, furiously motoring toward a destination I will never reach.

You know what I’m talking about moms- the maddening cycle of cooking, feeding, cleaning, bathing, dressing, picking up, and putting away.  It never ends.

The moment your kitchen floor is mopped, a child crosses it in dirt-filled shoes.  The second your washer is empty, the diaper fails during nap time.  You bathe your little one and dress him in clean clothes, only to find him covered in food, dirt, or art supplies a short time later.

Can you tell I desperately needed to escape from within these four confining walls?  I wasn’t well.

I needed a short hiatus away from it all, to catch my breath and simply enjoy my family.

[Read more...]

Do You Know What’s Sexy?


Young ladies, you can chase anything in a pair of snug-fitting blue jeans.

You can find a set of diamond-cut, blue-green eyes that pierce right through you.

You can seek out a hard body at the gym that ripples with muscle.

But let me tell you what’s really sexy.

[Read more...]