Happy Birthday Bess!

It’s your birthday our Bess! And, it’s a big birthday – 16 years old today! It’s so cliche to say, “It’s hard to believe your already 16,” but truly it doesn’t seem possible. Sixteen years ago this morning around 9am, you made your debut into this world and made it a brighter, more special place to live.

We are so incredibly proud of the young lady you’ve become. Your future is promising because of your inner strength, talent, drive, and passion. Turning sixteen is a pivotal birthday as you’ll take the next step toward independence. Car keys symbolize so much more than a means to start an engine. You’ll drive out of the driveway and take on the world. I pray you are ready, my girl. I pray God will cover you in a security hug of safety, love, and protection. Have a happy, happy birthday and know you are loved beyond measure!

Leaving the Nest

As it always seems, we’ve taken the days together for granted. The sleepy morning hugs (and grunts), time curled up on the couch, quiet time just sitting, finding you asleep most anywhere, long talks, dinner prep and new recipes, silly laughter, your never ending helpful spirit, hearing your shower each morning, listening for “Mom, I’m home” as you come in at night, watching you pray in church, seeing you hold your Bible in your hands, the very essence of you…changes drastically in a mere 24 hours. The day you’ve waited for and counted off the calendar arrives all too quickly for me tomorrow morning. We will pack the trailer with “you”. Your treasured belongings and other junk will leave here never to fully return. Being the second child to leave our warm little nest, I know you’ll be home, sometimes for long periods, but as it should be, it will never be the same. We have worked your entire lifetime for this lift-off. It terrifies me that I must help push you out in to this world, a place full of unknowns and people we don’t know. Thankfully, we have the assurance that even when dad and I can’t be there with you, our precious Lord will walk every step of every day alongside you.

I’ve tried to think of prophetic words to offer that will ring as a special way to close this chapter and turn the page to the next adventure. The words don’t come…very simply, I don’t want this chapter to close yet. You have been my little shadow since you arrived in January, 1997. Your orbit has never been far from home so it’s difficult to think about these next few weeks as we all adjust to your absence.

You, however, are going to know and live the excitement of all you’ve dreamed college would be. There aren’t many periods in my life I’d choose to go back to but college is certainly one! Oh the things you will learn in your classes and outside those walls. Your very circle of life is about to explode with new friends, adventures, quandaries to ponder, late nights, early mornings, problems to tackle, household adjustments…truly a remarkable time of growth is to come.

My precious girl, no matter where you are in this world, you are and will always be my heart. There is no distance nor time that will change our ever entangled spirits. You have been my sunshine and I’m excited to watch you fly high as you leave me tomorrow. Know that your place in our little nest will always be here for you to land in when needed. We love you sunshine baby.





There are days on ASP that reinforce why we come, why we serve. Of course there are also days that make us scratch our sweaty heads and ask, “what was I thinking”. Today was simply a day of good. Simply satisfying…simply hot…simply pleasant…simply fulfilling – you get the picture. It was a good, good day! Our team arrived on site in a timely fashion and went straight to work. Our wheelchair ramp and flooring job is well underway. We actually finished laying the laminate flooring in the bedroom and we’ve been given permission to finish the baseboards tomorrow while the guys tackle more of the wheelchair ramp.

Our special home-owner is already becoming a friend. As best as he is able, he stays right beside us all throughout the day. We’ve tried to encourage him to get off his broken hip and badly injured leg, he still stays. He’s so thankful and appreciative for the work we are doing. It must be hard for him. He was in construction for 30+ years and knows how to do everything we’re attempting. Mr. Floyd is lending a hand hauling heavy concrete blocks with his lawn mower and even let one of our team members drive his tractor. Mr. Floyd is genuinely a nice gentleman. I hope he feels cared for and a little less alone this week. I don’t think he has any family within a 3 state distance so if we can offer extra love and care, it’s our mission to do just that!

Some tidbits from our home away from home:

-the library air-conditioning did turn on Sunday night (Monday morning) around 3am.

-we did freeze (but survived)

-our guys moved from the basketball court to classrooms due to a basketball camp going on this week.

-food has been good but the high school and college guys say serving size is enough to feed a Kindergarten child – lots of bartering and begging.

-culture night tonight was entertaining as we had a husband and wife come play true Appalachian music for us.

-ice cream runs every night are marathon in length due to the team number (49) but we’re happy to be together either at the ice cream shop or here at the center.

-showers…hmmm….we are showering outside in hand-made plastic covered showers. We have been blessed with lukewarm water and ample plastic this year. Having enough plastic is important. Great wind gusts and not enough plastic make modesty impossible (as we found out last year).

-staff here is both friendly and efficient. Our supplies have come as needed and the staff have been awesome with the kids as well as our adults – not an easy balance.

Wednesday looms in front of us so it’s time for bed. The “lights out” patrol are very serious about their duties and have already left me in the dark.

Feeling blessed and thankful tonight for our entire community and church as well as this team of God’s servants here. It makes my heart skip a beat to hear these children share and pray and to be excited to go out and get after it again tomorrow. I am certain there IS good in this world – our children are proof positive!

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Sunday – Fun Day!

It’s been a great day in so many ways. God has been shining brightly since we left Alexander City and today was exceptionally super sonic. Around 6am opening the curtain in the hotel room, the sunrise was stunning – enough to make you smile with anticipation for the day. God never disappoints and neither do outdoor worship services (at least in my experience). We made an impromptu visit to Knoxville First United Methodist Church worship service on the Tennessee River. The breeze was perfect, just enough to rustle the trees and cool us off. The birds were singing beautiful, perfect pitch praises. In fact, the pastor stopped to note the melody. From our seats in a perfectly situated pavilion, the river flowed in the distance with green hills as the backdrop. Sound perfectly picturesque? It was. Adults and youth alike were in awe.

We were back to tradition for breakfast with stops at Waffle House, Dunkin Donuts, and some braved Taco Bell (for breakfast??). The team at Waffle House is so engaging and remembers us from year to year. This year, in fact, we were reminded of last year’s silly picture out in front of their building. Apparently, we promised to send them a copy of the picture and never did! They actually remembered! Of course, when 40+ people come in on a Sunday morning each June, all dressed the same, for 10+ years…we’re a sight to behold. Rest assured, we have righted our oversight and sent the team picture from last year as well as the one from this year. What a fun group! Go visit a Waffle House – great folks!

Time to turn in for the night. We are settled in the center. I’d like to add that we are in the Taj Mahal compared to last year. This elementary school is quite nice and the showers have lukewarm water – woo hoo!! Currently, the girls are sleeping in the library where the air conditioning doesn’t turn on until midnight on Sunday evenings. Through sweat and minor frustrations, we have been promised that the air automatically turns on and will freeze us before morning. We welcome this plight! The boys are all in the gym nice and cool. That’s all I will say about that!

Thank you for the support and prayers. Please continue to cover us. We go out tomorrow morning with the intention to “Become”. The theme for ASP this year is to “become” more like Christ. From 1 John 2:6, “Whoever claims to believe in Him, must walk as Jesus did.” It’s a pretty tall order for Christians…we certainly claim to believe in our Lord; how certain are we that we walk as He did?

…and the Red Roof stands tall

For all concerned parties…we have arrived! It’s 6pm (Eastern time – or fast time as David Hand likes to refer to it) and we have been on the road since around 9am. Suffice it to say that large bladders are not with us on this trip. We have stopped just short of 800 times. Kidding, just four times between home and Knoxville but why not, we aren’t on a schedule today.

Tradition does not disappoint as the Red Roof is still here and is just as welcoming and accommodating as ever. We’re making a quick stop and then heading to dinner – all 49 of us. Won’t Outback be glad to see us?

ASP – 2015 Begins

Good intentions of writing more often have fallen short as life tends to take precedence. I think often of posts and memories I want to preserve via this blog but never make it to the actual “post page”…sometimes because I can’t remember the password. Oh well…

It’s ASP time again and this trip stirs my heart and soul every year. We will load up this morning and head to Newport, Tennessee. I’ve not been to an ASP center in TN, only KY, not that where we are would matter once we get there. We’re excited and have been praying for our future families for the week and this ASP team. Last year, I wrote a post about how much could change by this year, and it has. Graduations, jobs, and family will change the face of our Alexander City ASP team but our hearts go with the same intention – to touch lives and show someone the love of Christ.

Time to pack last minute items and figure out how to get this extra coffee pot on a van without too much grief from Jimmy or Chad. ;)

It’s a Good Day!

It’s Sunday…SUNDAY! This day is revered all over the world by Christians as a time to come together collectively, in their churches and in their hearts, to worship and praise our precious Lord. Today, we re-center our thoughts on what it means to be a child of God. As much as we try, the week is full of worldly distractions and we fall short daily of our best intentions to draw closer to Him. Isn’t it exciting to think that we, as one body, will be together today all over the world in Worship?! TODAY we see how it should be EVERYDAY! Think! Think about the warm and loving peace that comes over us as we take the time to come, bearing all, in worship. Oh if only we could achieve that daily!

Dear God, help each one of your children to draw closer to you every day. Continue to nudge us, remind us, that it’s only our time with you that matters. The distractions will fall away and in the end, it’s you we seek.

It’s a good day!

Baby “C” turns ONE!



In 365 days, you have changed our world, our hearts, our lives. In only 1 year, we cannot imagine a day that you weren’t here. Your constant smile, precious and infectious laughter, and plentiful kisses consume all of us. We are so thankful for you.

Since August, 2013 (365 days ago), you have mastered eating, crying, sleeping, smiling, laughing, rolling over, sitting, screeching, talking yourself to sleep, crawling, walking, dancing, running, and now talking! You’ve been loved by your family, Miss Clara, Miss Marie, as well as lots and lots of other people. You’ve traveled to church, Gatlinburg, Birmingham, Fairhope, on Lake Martin, Destin, Gulf Shores, and Orange Beach. YOU HAVE GAINED ABOUT 16 POUNDS AND GROWN ABOUT 6 INCHES!

When I look back over the past year and the thousands of pictures we’ve taken, it’s hard to comprehend how much you’ve changed. In only a year, you’ve gone from depending on those around you for everything to already insisting on doing things for yourself.

Coleson Adam Wendling, you are an angel on earth and have filled our family with excitement and another level of love we could not have dreamed possible. As much as we would love for you to stay little forever, we’re excited to walk & run every step along side you in the years to come. Praying for God’s many blessings for every breath you take.

Love you so much!


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Exactly as I feared

Is it the mattress? Am I just getting old? Maybe I need to exercise more – ahem…maybe I should exercise period? MY BACK HURTS EVERY MORNING!! Even after purchasing a new mattress, which now I wonder if we even needed, my entire back aches every morning. I was so very excited after finally making a decision to buy the ridiculously expensive mattress. (It took me a year or longer to decide.) After the purchase, I “dreamed” of climbing in to bed and floating on dreamy clouds all night. So now what? Should I have gone with a softer mattress, a different pillow top, firmer?

How is it that anyone knows what mattress will be the best, I mean, you can’t spend the night in the mattress store, right? The 2 minutes I stretched out in the store was awkward enough. Maybe I should have asked to be left alone for awhile and taken a nap.

What am I supposed to do with this bad purchase NOW?!!

The Days Come and Go

Early morning sounds (really early morning…) are bringing the house alive. Once again, we find ourselves at the beginning of another school year. Once again, my three girlies will soon head out of the door. Once again, the day has come to begin yet another chapter.
Thirteen school starts ago, my AM was still sleeping, not quite as ready to begin her adventure in to Kindergarten as she is her senior year. Her little backpack was packed, and that hasn’t changed. Her lunch and snack sat on the counter, that hasn’t changed. Her clothes for the first day of school have been picked out…that hasn’t changed. Many days have passed all too quickly, and she most definitely has changed. The big hair bow is gone and the smocked dresses are hanging in the closet. The tears and leach-like creature that wrapped herself around my legs will confidently walk out of the house this morning for her last first day of school. Yes, the days continue to come and go. The anticipation of starting her senior year is here. This is the day that seemed too far away to think about, too far away to get emotional and yet, here we are. All of the days that have come before us brought us front and center to this day. Lord, please cover this child in your love. Let her share Your love with others throughout today and the rest of her life. I pray she has an amazing last first day of school.

As it happens around here with four kiddos, one pivotal year rarely stands alone. Our SB has an adventure of her own beginning today. We all can remember the first day of high school as one of the more nervous and exciting days in all of our school career. From elementary school we all look at the “big high school” kids with wide-eyed amazement. Today, our little SB, will step on to a new campus thrilled to finally have arrived. This morning, she will bounce down the stairs like always but today…the bouncing blonde curls will have been replaced with straight, big girl hair. As much as some things change, SB’s love for learning has been with her from the beginning. The “thinker” in our family will have a mind full of questions and thoughts as she prepares for her day. Her young mind will be on overload today as she tries to find her way. Poetic and ironic at the same time, this is another practice day for the rest of her life. Find your way my sweet girl with the Lord walking with you every step of the way. He will never leave your side.

And then there’s Kee…left alone to finish up at the middle school. Little Kee will hop out of the car on her own this morning to take on a school year without a big sister close by. Sad? Not a chance! This is her time to shine. Much like the rest of her life, this joy filled child will take on this day with excitement and thankfulness. Her backpack has been packed and zipped for at least three days and her first WEEK of clothing have been picked out for even longer. Being the baby of four, Kee sees life a little differently than the others. She doesn’t mind being away from me for she’s seen that she can always come home. There’s no need to overthink anything…life is good and everything will work out. She revels in the joy of each day and lives life to the very fullest, challenging each of us to do the same. Our Lord knew exactly what we needed in this happy spirit. Please protect that spirit Lord and continue to grant her a contagious happiness.

So, the days do come and go all too quickly. We’re thankful for each minute we all have together but as it goes, I think we take many for granted. Sitting here this morning listening to the beginnings of another adventurous school year, let it be Lord that we realize and give thanks for each other and for each minute.