Friday, May 30, 2008

School's Out!

Today marks the beginning of a lot of activity in our home. School is OUT! Whenever people ask if I'm ready for it to be over, I say, "give me a week with the girls and then I'll tell you." I am sure that sounds a bit harsh, but life gets a little crazy for this routine lover whenever the girls are home. I love having them home, though. We make special breakfasts, stay outdoors, grill, go to the free movies and have one on one tea time. There is lots to keep us busy, for sure!
I find myself just staring in wonder at each of my girls lately. They change so much each day. I am enjoying some more "grown up" conversation with McKenna. Bailey and I are hanging out in the kitchen together cooking. Avery and I are giggling more and more everyday over something silly she says or does. Quinn is becoming more independent and adventurous. Life is changing.
I long to see my life change each and everyday to become more like that of Christ, which is why I want to be intentional in the lives of my girls this summer as they, too, become more like Christ each and every day. After all, that is why we are here, right? It is a thought that has invaded my morning today. I look around and see people that do not have a notion about Christ at all and they are living some pretty fun lives, and yet I find I get bogged down by the details and miss out on the adventure of living each day with my Lord. That stops now. Today is the last day of school and, yet, a beginning of showing the world that walking with God is more fun than anything.
I choose to look for God in the laughter of my girls while they are splashing around in the pool. I will see Him in the excitement of going on vacation soon. I will smile a big smile when I walk hand in hand with my Jeff on our date nights. God is in the details. He speaks life each day to me as I open my eyes to start a new day. Oh, the anticipation of the thrills He wants to bring my life today and in the days that follow. Yay! School's out!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mis Hermanas

I realize that most of you reading this don't even know what "Mis Hermanas" means. Well, it means "sisters," of which I happen to have two! I have had them on my mind the last couple of days because I spent the weekend with both of them at my parents' house. Very rarely does that happen, so maybe that's why it was extra special to me. I love being around them, but it occurred to me that maybe I have never really told them, so in hopes that they may read this blog, I'm telling them now...and you, the blogging world, too! "Missy and Katie, I love you and I love hanging out with you!" I know that the big sister typically is the one that is probably the least liked, and maybe that is true for you, but I like you, so take that! I am blessed to have you both in my life and the time I spend with you is priceless to me." Let me sidetrack here a bit and say that if there was a price on our time, my time would cost less than Missy's time, and well...that's all I'm sayin' about that!

Missy and I are 23 months apart, but I'm proud to say that most people think she is older than me. Nope, Missy, it's not because of your maturity level. It's simply because you LOOK older than me!! :) Anyway, that's how far apart we are and in many ways, we are much farther apart. I am the frugal one. Missy is the one that likes to spend money. I am the one with no talent. Missy is the one that sings like an angel. I am the reserved one. Missy just likes to fly by the seat of her pants! We are, in so many ways, different as day and night, yet we are kindred spirits. I am sure that it was all the years of having to share a room that made us that way. Sharing a room, for us, was sheer torture. I didn't like her touching my stuff, and she didn't like me touching her stuff. Yet, when the time came, she and I could have a good time like no two other people. How I long for the days of playing our 45s of "Mickey"...sing it with me, "oh Mickey, you're so fine. You're so fine you blow my mind. Hey, Mickey!" Or the times when we would play in a playroom that was so junked up with toys and food, and well, things that used to be food, but we could find some fun anyway with our Donnie and Marie dolls. Fun were the days when we would be lying up in our bedroom that faced the church cemetery and we would see "ghosts" arise from those graves. It would scare us half to death and it would take forever for us to go to sleep. Missy would laugh at me and call me names. She still calls me names, come to think of it! :)
Our memories are abundant and we are still making them. I remember being at Charleston Southern and wondering who my new suite mate would be, and low and behold, it was Missy! What? I couldn't get away from my little sis to save my life. That time, for me, was a gift, though. Let's just say that prior to h
er coming to CSU, I pretty much couldn't stand her. The time we had as suite mates was a time to grow stronger as sisters and discover a lifelong best friend. That friendship is stronger today, I think! :) I have seen my sister marry, have kids and try all sorts of new ventures. She just loves life! She is a hoot to be around. We have tons of fun. We call each other everyday...ok, I call her everyday lately! She lives near me and there's just something about knowing that she is there. I love Missy and I'm thankful that God saw fit to give her to me as a sister. She reminds me to always laugh and love.
God gave us Katie when she was just two days old. She was small then and is small now, really, but she has a whole lot of personality. She and I never really lived in the same house for very long, but when I did live with her, I was always laughing. She, too, just loves life and lives it to the fullest! She has talent. I do not! She is young. I'm, well...not so much! She is a fashionista. I am not, so much. She is DRAMA. I am, too, but not the way she is. She can act like crazy and sing even more so. She is the girl that you meet that makes you want to know God because she is exuding His love. I like to talk about what God is doing in her life, because He is blessing her so much. She makes me want to know more about Jesus, just because I know her. We may not spend a lot of time together, or talking, for that matter, but I love her dearly. I sometimes feel jealous of the time that she and Missy have had together. They share a special sort of bond. I can see why. They are so much alike. But no matter which sister I share memories with of a certain time, I love them both the same. They are the completion of ME. I would be only half a person if it were not for them. I love you!!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mommy, Mama, Mother, Mom!

You often hear people say, "once I became I mother, I knew what love really meant." I have a different outlook on things. I say, "once you have a mother, you know what love really means." From the moment of our birth, and even before our birth, we are loved by a mother. She doesn't even really know us, and yet she loves us. It's a pure, unconditional love that means no matter how much we may mess up, we will still be loved. My mother is the most perfect example of that. I am sure there have been many times that she would like to have pulled her hair out over some crazy thing we did, but more often than not, I've seen her just let us live our lives, mess up from time to time, and wait for us with open arms and an open heart. She has shown so much grace and dignity to us girls in the Cashion family that, in turn, we love her the same way. She has become a best friend, a confidant, someone to laugh with (and at!), our model of Christ's love, and one who cares enough to discipline us to give us wings to soar. I have written about my Mama before, and yet words never do her justice. She is just, quite simply my Mama. I love her with all my heart. No greater example have I had in my life than my Mama. She has taught me to love my husband, my children, but most of all my God with great passion. I continue to want to be just like her when I grow up.
This is a difficult season for my Mama. She is enduring great trial with her health, and even though I know that she is ready to pull out her hair, she still goes through it all because she knows that God is refining her in the process. I don't like to see my Mama hurting, just like she doesn't like to see me go through hurt. I know, though, that God has promised us that He will never allow us to endure more than we can handle. Sometimes I think that the harder the trial He allows us to endure can almost be a gift - as though He is saying, "My child, you have been obedient in go be obedient in much." That's my Mama. She is a person to do whatever it takes to have her life point to Christ. I ask my Father God to ease her pain each day, all the while rejoicing that people are seeing Christ in her life, even in "such a time as this."
What will come next Mother's Day? Who really knows! One thing I know for sure is that my Mama will always be my Mama. She will always be loving me, guiding me, sharing life with me!
Today, I celebrate the one who gave life to me, and who continues to give life to me. I am a better person for having had a Mama like her in my life. I love you, Mama.

I also celebrate the lives of my daughters today - McKenna, Bailey, Avery and Quinn. You are the sunshine in my life, girls. Just waking up every morning to be your Mama is the greatest gift I could ever be given. I love making memories with you. I love driving you to school each day hearing your chattiness in the midst of my tiredness. I love watching you come up with reasons why you can't clean your room, but why you can go outside and play instead (by the way, you need to clean your room!). I love seeing you wake up in the morning in mismatched PJs and seeing your hair in your eyes, all the while asking for a Pop Tart and chocolate milk. I love how, out of the blue, you want to cuddle with your Mama even though most all of you are BIG girls. I love how you help me with Baby Quinn because you want to and not because you have to - how you just want to spend time with your baby sister because you love her. I especially love how you love your Daddy and how you see him as a BIG MAN with an extra BIG HEART. But more than anything, girls, I am so very proud of you for making Jesus your Lord and Saviour. You have received the greatest gift this life can give, and my prayer for you is that you live out your faith each and everyday...that it truly becomes who you are, and not just what you practice. I pray this same prayer for Quinny's life, too. Never be too "cool" to follow the Father's hand. He will always lead you to all of your hopes and dreams. And, while He does, your Mama will be right here cheering you on. I love you with all of my heart!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Funny from Bailey

As we were in the car running errands on Saturday, Bailey was asking for food every other breath she took. Now, Bailey is a "stick," and you wouldn't think she would eat so much, but let's just say her Mama used to be a "stick," too. We were getting a little put out with how frequently she wanted to eat, and I said, "Bailey, you just had food. How could you possibly be hungry?" She replied, "Mama, I am trying to eat a whole lot today because I need to store up. I'm getting ready to hibernate." There you have it! If you were looking for an excuse as to why you want food all the time, feel free to borrow Bailey's! :)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Happy Birthday Jeff!

Thirty-six years ago today, the love of my life was born. At a whopping 9lbs + some, he came into the world ready to tackle it...literally! According to reliable sources (his family) there has never been a dull moment as far as Jeffery Walton Hickman has been concerned. Word has it that he required some frequent medical attention, caused quite a bit of terror from time to time, and yet, he's always been a great source of humor and lightheartedness for everyone.

I met Jeff the winter of 1992. He had just transferred to Charleston Southern University, where I was a freshman. He pretty much captured my attention from the very get-go. He was suave, a flirt, and a gentleman. He was the first guy I had met at school that really seemed to want to know me...the real me...the one that felt out of sorts because she had grown up in another country, much differently than anyone else. He always gave me an attentive ear - was always a wonderful friend. Soon after we went on a mission trip together, and he asked me to be his "prayer partner" we came back to Charleston and began dating. Jeff had not been a Christian very long, but his fervor and passion for the Lord was contagious and REAL. I didn't know a lot of long-time Christians that were so committed and genuine. He spurred me on to grow in my relationship with Christ, and because he had us put Christ first in our relationship, we fell more in love with our Savior, and with each other. We married in December of 1994 and from that point our lives have been the best years of our lives. God has tremndously blessed us and have given us the privilege of serving Him and others in ministry. Watching Jeff become who God has created Him to be has been the greatest joy of my life. He is a man of great integrity, great determination and great passion. His only desire in life is to see people saved and lived unashamedly for Christ. He is not willing to sit on the sidelines and not get his hands dirty. "Whatever it takes" is a motto we live by in the Hickman Family. No matter the work, the sacrifice, the cost...we will serve the Lord. Jeff leads our family in that each and every day. The person you see in public is the same person that we have the honoring of living with. No other person I know loves the Lord and people like Jeff.

Aside from being the best husband in the world, Jeff is a tremendous father. God has blessed us with four beautiful daughters. He raises them to be Godly women. He spends time with them individually. Many joke that they bet he wishes he had boys, but Jeff is not that way. He spends time with our girls just as he would if we had boys. They play in the yard together, work together, and joke around together. He is my partner in taking care of them, coming home from working hard to still help me here at home. He serves us and tends to us as though we are all his princesses. Our girls see Christ in how their Daddy serves. They see him serve their Mommy, and they know how Christ loved us the exact same way. No four girls could have a better Daddy!
Today, we wish you a wonderful birthday, Jeff! I know that you don't care much for birthdays, but the nice thing about today is that we can show you just how much we care about you! You are the guiding force in our family. We are proud of you. You are a true man of God. You lead your family in righteousness and the people God has given you to shepherd, you lead in heart, soul, mind and strength! All who know you are better for having had you in their lives.
Happy Birthday!!!