Friday, March 27, 2015

going out of my comfort zone

This little blog has been quite the comfort zone for me the past several years.  I have been given a few opportunities lately, though, and I feel like the Lord is stretching me to do things I have never done before.

So, I took a giant leap of faith and joined The Today Show's parenting team.  That sounds all fancy, but it's really just a bunch of different contributors that offer advice and such to the readers.

If you would like to read about that, you can find it here.

After you read my post, would you consider voting on it?  It's under the title.

Thanks!  Have a great weekend!  Love to all.

Friday Favorites!

It's Friday!  I love Friday.  I always look forward to our weekends together and this weekend, I have so much to look forward to this weekend.  :)  But more about that on Monday.

I'm linking up with Momfessionals for the writing of this post.

And try not to be surprised, but I'm going to let you in on a few favorite things I use in my house.

A favorite thing I love to do is write, as most of you know.  I love to write on this blog, but I really just love the art of handwriting.  Because of that love, I love a good pen!  (So does Todd~do you know that one night when we were on a date, we stood and stared at the pens at Office Depot for almost a solid hour as he searched for the perfect one?)  I love a fine tip pen, because it is harder to smudge (hello, left handed girl problems?) and it makes my handwriting neater.  And I love colored pens.  These are my all time favorite pens ever, ever, ever and I have caused several of my friends to buy them for themselves!  Seriously, at least four of my friends have bought this same kind.  I have a problem, and apparently, I am not the only one!

Here they are.

Forgive the horrible picture.  There are twenty beautiful brightly colored pens in this container and I bought mine for about $13 on Amazon.  And I will use them until they're dried up, I love them that much.

Another favorite activity of mine is reading.  I love to reread the books I already have, because I only buy books by my favorite authors.  One of my favorites is Francine Rivers.  Her books are so deep, though, that I can't read them very often.  I love that her books are almost always based on a particular passage of Scripture, or a book in the Bible.  One of the best books I have ever read is Redeeming Love, based on the book of Hosea.  They are not easy reads and often times, her books keep me up at night, thinking about all I have read.  This week, I picked up a book of hers I've read before, but really can't remember.  I know that I loved it, though, so I am enjoying getting drawn back in to this particular story.

I remember reading the title and having to look up the term shofar, and the significance of it in the bible.  I won't give any of it away, should you ever want to read this, but know that if you do, it will be time well spent.

I love my bible that I got for Christmas!  I loved my old bible, too, so I have not parted with it yet, because of all the notes inside.  I once heard from a music pastor at my old church, that we should replace our bibles every so often, depending on how much we write or highlight inside of them.  The reason being that when you read something that is already highlighted, you have a tendency to skim over the verses.  I've noticed myself doing that lately, so I am considering putting up my beloved purple women of faith study bible and starting to use this one I got for Christmas.  Even though just writing that sentence makes me very sad.  I also heard Beth Moore say once that our old, highlighted, much-loved bibles can be a sign of pride.  Gasp!  I don't ever want to be considered prideful, and I have to wonder why it is that I so love that purple bible that is so beautifully highlighted?  Hmmm.  Food for thought.  Here's the new bible that I love.

It's my Crossway journal bible that is the ESV translation.  And even though it's a journaling Bible, I am trying not to underline so much.  Instead, I have been lightly coloring over passages that I've read that have jumped out at me with a colored pencil.  And I write in the margins a lot.  I've even drawn in the margins, with my favorite pens or colored pencils.  I wasn't too sure about this translation, but I love it so far!  The wording is so beautiful that it's almost poetic.  Even my sixteen year old loves this bible~I need to ask if he'd like for us to buy him one.  He loves the feel of the pages.

Lastly, a favorite moment from this week is something that happened this morning.  Graham came to me this morning and started talking to me about a book he is reading.  (Insert another GASP! here.)  Our church gave us some books a while back, called Life On Mission, and apparently my oldest son picked it up and began reading.  In the book David Platt challenges the readers to view the Scriptures as they were meant to be taken, in context, and that struck a chord with Graham.  He asked me if I knew that such and such scripture was a command to Jesus' disciples.  And though I did know that, I let Graham explain to me what he had read.

I have been convicted of not discipling my kids.  So between that conviction and the conversation I had with my oldest son this morning, I am going to start scheduling a few minutes each day to talk with them individually about the bible.  It will be a time they can ask me questions or what something means that they've read in the bible, or anything else.  My plan is for them to just see how I live my life, and though they already know a lot of that, I am going to invite them further in~I want to share with them how I journal, how I take notes when someone is teaching or preaching, and I want them to know that I don't know all the answers!  They need to know that as we pray and read His word and spend time with Him, He starts to reveal things to us through Scripture.  He imparts wisdom to us.  They will see that I will NEVER arrive at a certain point when I don't need to learn anything else, but that I am always straining and achieving to knowing and loving Him more and more.  My friend and I were talking about that yesterday, before we prayed together~that each year, we love to look back on our journals and see how the Lord has grown us.

And about my friend that I pray with~that is another favorite from my week.  Recently at my Thursday bible study, our leader encouraged us each to find a prayer partner.  And not just any old someone, but somebody who can handle our good, our bad, our ugly and our messy sides.  Someone who can slap the other around, so to speak, when the need arises.  I have been praying about this for a long time, and for a year almost (YES, A WHOLE YEAR!), I have been wanting to pray with this particular friend!  Yes, I am slow.  And how we even started two weeks ago was an accident that we decided should just keep happening on Thursdays.  He gave us both that same desire.  Isn't God good?    Yes, He is...but not just because of what I just wrote about.  He cares about every single little detail of our lives and He hears every prayer we utter.  If you've been praying about something, don't give up!  Be faithful to Him in prayer, and He will always be faithful to us.  Even when we are faithLESS, He remains faithful.  That verse is from Second Timothy.

Yikes!  I just looked at the time.  I have got to get off this computer.  Love to all!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

a little bit of life and some other random things

This week has been really fast and more than a little strange.  I don't really know why.  We've been trying to get back into the swing of things and get started back up with school work.  We've also left home a little bit more than I like, which always throws our days off.  Monday was for groceries and errands, Tuesday was for Costco and taking Andy to the vet and yesterday was this:

It has been beautiful this week!  Jonah woke up and asked if we could do a little bit of school work at the park.  I couldn't say no to him.  They packed some things to do and I made us a picnic out of some healthy snack things, and we took off.  They hung around in the hammocks and I read the Bible.  Well.  I tried to, but I kept being distracted.  Sometimes I am very easily distracted.

I look forward to Wednesday nights so much!  I've decided to hang around in the youth area indefinitely.  Our church is in the process of looking for a youth pastor, and I thought extra eyes and hands might be needed.  And my boys don't care~I asked them to make sure and assured them that I wasn't there to hover around them, that I wanted them to pretend I wasn't there.  Last night was a little crazy, though, and my friend was dressed up like a piece of artwork.

I dubbed her Mona Abbey on Instagram.  She's awesome like that.  It was Trivia Crack night for the youth and all the leaders were dressed up like their categories.  (I would tell you more, but I don't play the game.)

After church some of the youth went to Chick Fil A, and I took Jonah, Noah and Alex for milkshakes.  I can't get used to seeing this:

I was NOT stalking him.  I was not.  It was purely accidental.  I promise.  He loves having a taste of freedom!  And until he proves otherwise, we are giving him some.  He's been super responsible so far and has done everything we've asked.  I'm proud of him.

How has your week been?

Love to all.

Monday, March 23, 2015

how I spent my weekend

There was a huge wedding at our church this weekend, and Todd helped out with the lights.  Part of our Friday night was spent apart~and to be honest, it was a really low-key, laid back evening.  Noah stayed home with me, while Todd and Jonah were at the church.  I don't even remember what we did for dinner, if that tells you anything.  I don't know if I was tired or anxious for Saturday to get here, or what, but we all went to bed pretty early.  Well, Jonah, Noah and I did.  Todd ended up working a shift with the sheriff's department.

Saturday finally arrived and we found out that all the people coming home from Guatemala got an earlier flight home.  That is exactly the kind of news that makes a mom's day!  It was a long seven days.  I thought two thirty would never get here, but somehow, I managed to kill time before we headed to the airport.  We stopped by the church one more time so Todd could go ahead and get the lights turned on for the ceremony.

Somebody is his daddy's shadow.  Everything Todd does, Jonah does too.  I love the bond they share and that Jonah is who everybody calls "Little Todd".  He can probably tell you what every piece of equipment in this booth does.

We headed to the airport and met up with whole bunch of our friends from church who had kids coming home.  I was so glad to see them!

I stole these pictures off their phones.  I love that my kids aren't super active on social media (except for looking) and didn't post much while they were away.  They had the time of their lives and worked really, really hard the whole time.  They got to spend the afternoons playing with kids and worked during the daytime, while they were in school.

After they hit the highlights of their trip, they showered and were really quiet for a long time.  And all of a sudden, I noticed this:

They were exhausted.  They slept for about four hours, then finally woke up for dinner.  I had a bowl of cereal while I waited on them to wake up.  They went to bed right after they ate, then slept soundly till eight o'clock the next morning.  After church, we came home for lunch and then left again almost immediately.

Last night was Winter Jam and only for one lady and a whole bunch of teenagers that I love, would I ever consider to going to such an event.  Concerts are NOT my thing (hello, introvert).  I loved all the bands, though, and even the one that I was dreading the most (Skillet) was amazing.  That's not my kind of music, but I can appreciate talent when I hear it.

I loved the band, Family Force 5.  It kind of surprises me that I liked them so much, but they were amazing and extremely entertaining.  :)  Those guys jumped around so much that it made me tired just watching.  We got home way late and we all crashed.  It was just Graham and Drew that went~Jonah and Noah had CAMO at church and Todd stayed for the business meeting.

Today we had lunch with my sweet mom.  I made a big dinner and thought how sweet it was to have all of my family back around the kitchen table.  Even if the oldest two are gone again, I am glad to have all of us back under one roof.  And now?

Toddley and I are enjoying Guatemalan coffee out of the new coffee mugs Graham and Drew brought home from Antigua.  The one on the left is mine.

It was a great weekend and today was the same.  Love to all.

Friday, March 20, 2015

things I've learned since last Saturday

I have a new key phrase in my life to keep things in perspective that I will explain later, but it's not my own thought.  I got it from someone else and I can tell you more about it later, but for now, just know this: some things in life we should consider "on the beam" and some things should be considered "off the beam".  As in being a gymnast~she's on the beam, or she's off the beam.  On the beam are things that are important.  Off the beam are the things of little or no importance, at least in the grand scheme of life.

With that being said, I have learned that trusting in God's divine plan is on the beam.  Having it all together at church when my friends ask me how I'm doing~totally off the beam.  My example is that I bawled all over my friend Kim last Sunday.  I didn't mean to, and I cried so much that I made her cry!  But what is on the beam is having friends who don't mind seeing my real side~my sometimes ugly, messy and downright unpleasant side.  I thank God for those friends~and I have a few of those types of women!  I could name them for you, and they might not fit on one hand.  Trust me when I say that I thank God for these women in my life~I have prayed for good friends my whole life and I've never really had that until adulthood.  I pray the same for my kids, that God would give them just one good friend.  They can make all the difference in the world.

Another thing on the beam is making memories and spending time with my family.  Off the beam is tonight's example of my craving a combo meal from McDonald's, buying it and considering the super size (but restraining myself), eating every last crumb of the fries and NOT FEELING GUILTY.  Praise God and hallelujah.

Two of my kids have been out of the country without me this week~mess with me.  I earned this meal o' grease.

On the beam is sitting in the same room with my kids, watching them play Minecraft while listening to every cover song Anthem Lights ever performed and writing this blog post.  Off the beam is the fact that I am watching my kids play Minecraft on the X-Box.

I made my own self grin.

On the beam is that my husband has a wonderful hobby!  He volunteers as an Emergency Services guy with the sheriff's department.  This has given him purpose and has added richness to his life and bonus!  It provides us with wonderful medical insurance.  Off the beam is the fact that I have to be okay with him being gone several nights each month in order to get his shifts in.  We've all adjusted to the varying schedule he has each month and we make the most of our nights alone.  We usually eat while watching television on these nights and sometimes we rent movies.  Tonight Jonah and Noah played outside extra late and now we're inside, relaxing.  Sometimes we have teenagers over and one time, we had a dance party in the living room.  Not really, but some of them did learn some new dance moves.

On the beam is our love of music!  Off the beam is that not all the music we love is Christian.  We all love any and all types of music and I consider us a musical house~someone is always singing and sometimes you will find me sitting at the piano playing a worship song that I've recently taught myself.  Because yes, I took piano lessons as a young girl.  And didn't learn much except where all the main keys are~C,D,E,F,G,A and B.  Don't get me started on the black keys.  I have no idea.  But guess what I did at all the recitals?  I sang.  Maybe that should have been our first hint that I sucked at playing  the piano while reading music.  But I sure didn't mind belting out a song with the microphone in my hand.

On the beam is that my oldest boys ARE COMING HOME TOMORROW!  Off the beam is that I know they'll be leaving me again to do the same thing next year.  I'll  cross that bridge when I get there, but now that I've done this once, I'm thinking each time might get easier.  Unless I was to go with them.  !!!  I have already been thinking about doing just that.  Another off the beam is that this week has been just a touch of what will most certainly be my future.  Letting go of them has been hard and relinquishing that control I always have over them has been an experience.  On the beam is that God is good.  His ways and His thoughts are higher than our ways and our thoughts and His plans are always better!  I hold these kids of mine loosely~not with my fist clinched tightly closed, but I hold them out, with open hands.  They are not mine, they are HIS.  And as much as I love them, He loves them even more.

Now that you get the hang of on the beam and off the beam, what are some of your things?  Do you hold too tightly to anything?  Share the love.  I don't much love the sound of crickets chirping.

Love to all.

The above image is from MK Hill.  I saved it to my phone when she posted it on the Facebook page.

The below image is from my friend Belinda.  I did the same thing with this picture that she took of them jumping off this ledge.

Friday Favorites

I am linking up with Andrea from Momfessionals for this post.

It's my favorite weekday again, and I am particularly excited that today is Friday, because tomorrow Graham and Drew come home!  Although, I am sad for them, that their mission trip is drawing to a close, and I know they're not ready for it to be over.  I remember that feeling all too well, and what it's like to leave a piece of your heart with a people God makes you fall in love with.


In a really sad moment last Saturday, my friend Lori sent me this picture in a text.  I died laughing.  She shares my hatred of all things of the eight legged variety and is one of the few people who has seen me go ballistic over a spider.  In fact, she has seen me lose it over a spider not once, but twice.  Last summer when we were doing Street Reach, she witnessed me freaking out over a huge spider that was crawling towards one of the girls with us that week.  I went into protective mama mode and I might have screamed bloody murder.  The other time was (with teenagers again) at community group.  One of the boys was chasing me around with a container holding a very large wolf spider.  I almost punched the boy chasing me.  He finally stopped, when one of my girls jumped in his path.  :)  Needless to say, this picture perfectly conveys how I feel about all things creepy crawly.



These boys.  I am so glad that I had the thought to save Jonah's and Noah's birthday sleepover until the week Graham and Drew were gone.  I think that if not for these friends (and especially Alex), they would have been more than a little lost over their big brothers being gone all week.  This was a really fun day, and when this bottom picture happened and Cole spilled several hundred (thousand?) air soft pellets, we laughed and laughed and laughed.  I love moments of laughter.  I also had moments of frustration, though, lest you think I am saintly and have tons of patience.  I don't.  Those moments of frustration happened when they repeatedly tracked mud all over the downstairs of my house and garage and a lot of the same pellets were all over my garage floor.  I am human and I am definitely flawed.  Todd is really good for me in these situations of having to talk me down.  (Similar to calming me down.)  Because let's face it~these moments ALWAYS happen when he's nowhere near.  Keepin' it real.


I have loved getting updates from the team in Guatemala!  I've been stalking the Facebook page since last Saturday.  This picture was taken by MK Hill.  I saved a lot of the pictures to my phone so I would have them forever.  I also loved talking to Graham and Drew on Wednesday night and Thursday!  Graham is the one who loves to talk~he had lots and lots of funny stories and details.  Drew, on the other hand, though he is the loud one at home, is quite different on the phone.  He is very short and to the point and more than a little frustrating.  What I mean by that is that he kept on trying to get off the phone, and I was still talking.  He did call again last night when he had a little more time.  It's funny how different their personalities are.


I pulled out my spring nail polishes this week.  :)  This one is what I'm wearing this moment.  It's by Essie and it's called Bikini So Teeny.  I got this image from a website called Polished Cousins.  I painted my toes with a color (also by Essie) called Geranium.  I am so ready for Spring!  And speaking of that~happy first day of my second favorite season!  Fall is my first choice, followed closely by Spring.


Last night when we got home from my in-love's house, Jonah found a package on the front porch containing this!  Because I am on the launch team  for this book coming out in August, I got my advance copy in paper form.  I received it digitally last week and devoured it in two nights, but you all know that I am a paper girl and love a good smelling book to hold in my hands.  I cannot wait to tell you more about this book, but I don't have permission from Thomas Nelson publishing company yet. looking for that in a month or six weeks.  I can tell you this~this book is awesome and you won't want to put it down.  It is available for pre-order from any of the places you would normally do so, like Amazon or Christian Books.  I can't encourage you enough to do that.


Sweet Noah.  And Jonah, just to be fair.  Though I've missed the two oldest, I have so enjoyed having quality time with my youngest two this week.  It's been a great week of spring break for us, and I am thankful we've had a great time together.  Noah was the only one willing to smile for my camera this morning, but don't you love how bright and cheerful he looks?  The shorts were a birthday gift from Alex (Jonah got a matching pair) and the sweatshirts from my mom.  I love his smile and his wit and his sensitive and caring heart.

Well.  I have laundry calling my name so I had best stop here.  Thanks for reading!  Love to all.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Guatemala and spring break update

Good morning!  I slept in until nine a.m. this morning.  I can't even tell you when the last time that happened was.  I was up late and then I was up in the middle of the night.  Before I fell asleep (a.k.a. while I was watching Netflix in bed), Graham called me!  My heart skipped a beat when I heard his ringtone, and when I heard his voice, my eyes filled with tears.

I miss my older kids!  I finally stopped with all the crying, but I miss them so much.  I don't want to say that I'm counting down the days till they return, because I know they don't want this time to end, but I am anxiously awaiting Saturday night.

Their time there has been amazing so far, and the Lord has heard every single prayer we have uttered.  They have all been healthy and they have worked really hard.  On Monday they painted walls all day and got to play a little soccer with some of the kids at Casa afterward.  On Tuesday they moved cement pavers all day and they were all exhausted.  Yesterday they went into a village that was about two hours away from Casa, for a block party of sorts.  There were bounce houses, they painted faces and they played games with all the kids.

(I got this photo off of their Facebook page and the credits go to M.K. Hill.)  After the block party, a family made them all lunch~they each got a whole fish, rice and a salad.  It might not sound like much to those of you reading this, but I read this morning that this is the equivalent of us giving them each a steak.  There were forty people they fed!  What sacrifice and generosity!  On their way back to Casa, they stopped at a black sand beach and played in the ocean.  And in the distance, they saw a volcano puffing in the distance.

Today is their day off, and they will travel in Antigua.  It's an hour and a half away from Casa, and they are looking forward to it.  And I look forward to hearing from both of the boys today.  I told them both to call me when they were choosing gifts.  :)

In local news, we've been hanging around our house.  Yesterday we went to lunch with my mom, and the boys played outside all day.  The weather has been amazing this week!  Today we are going to make a run to my church, we're going to Costco, then we're going to my in-love's for the rest of the day.

It's been a great week.  Love to all!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

what we've been up to~birthday party edition

With Jonah's and Noah's and Graham's birthdays being so close together, it's always been tricky scheduling parties for them.  And when I say 'party', I mean 'sleepover'.  We've never done parties, because hello?  Four kids?  So we have always let them invite their friends over and I make it special by letting them choose the menu and dessert.  Graham and Drew stopped wanting parties and started wanting special nights out for dinner, with just themselves and Todd and me the year they turned thirteen and fourteen.

I am so embarrassed to admit that in all my years of being a mom (sixteen), I have never once thought of letting my boys use my dad's land for a party.

When I realized that Graham and Drew would be gone this week and that Jonah and Noah would be a little lost without them around, we started talking about having their sleepover this week.  Jonah came up with the bright idea of having an air soft gun war at my dad's house, on his eleven acres.  And my dad loved the idea of having a bunch of boys play all over his land.

So after a huge breakfast of leprechaun pancakes yesterday morning, we loaded up my Suburban with all the necessities and headed to Eads.

They look kinda gross, don't they?  I spilled a lot more food coloring in the batter than I intended, but it sure did make them green!  When they said they were going to pinch me for not wearing green, I threatened to sit on them.  I did not get pinched one time, I am proud to say.  ;)

The weather was perfect!  Breezy and a little overcast so the boys didn't get too hot running a round in all their long sleeved pants and shirts.  My dad and step-mom and I enjoyed sitting outside watching and listening to them.  It was good to just sit and visit, too.

I had packed the makings of a picnic, so they ate outside and played for another couple of hours.  All in all, we were there from eleven fifteen till three forty-five.  They walked every square inch of my dad's land at least twice, probably more like three times.  They were exhausted!

Can you even stand how cute they are?  I love them so much.  These are a great group of friends to my boys, and I thank God for them.

It was an awesome day.  Thanks for reading!  Love to all.