Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday Favorites


This week has flown by!  Partly because that just happens every week it seems, and partly because I spent almost two full days out of town.  I love Friday Favorites~I love the weekend and I love writing these posts.  Hopefully, you love reading them.  I'm linking up with a bunch of people (Momfessionals), and if you want to see them, click here.

One.


I bought this journal after the new year, and I am almost done with it.  I started writing in this one on February 17, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.  I think it's my favorite journal that I've ever had.  It's by Studio Oh! and after I write this post, I'm going to buy my next one on Amazon.  I love how the pages feel, nice and thick, and I love how lays completely flat, no matter where I am in the journal.

Two.


One of my most favorite things we do each year as a church family is our women's conference.  I enjoyed myself so much over the last weekend, and it is a joy to be with like-minded women.

Pictured are just a few of my favorites.  I love that the teenagers were invited this year, and hopefully next year, more will be there.

Three.


I don't know if you knew this about me or not, but one of my favorite things to do is to cook for my family.  On this night, I was making meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans and rolls.  Drew had been begging for that meal, and I finally got around to making it for him.  For the record, they all enjoyed it, but none of them seemed crazy about it at first, then they tasted it.  I will say this~if you love to cook, chances are, you're a good cook.  Hopefully their future wives will love to do the same someday.

Four.


Scripture writing is my favorite thing to do in my quiet time.  Well, maybe it's equal to praying and reading the Bible, but I love doing this.  It has encouraged my heart so!

Five.


Being out of town with these people this week was my favorite thing.  We had such a great time of being encouraged, and Bob Goff was my favorite speaker.  I love these folks.

Six.


Also among my favorites, are these beautiful ladies that God placed in my life.  Left to right are Mindy, Kari, me and Sabrina.  Yesterday was my last day at our homeschool group, and it was sad saying goodbye to these sweet friends.  I love them!  We do have a ladies night on the calendar, though.

Seven.


Dinner with these two young-un's last night was my favorite.  These are my in-love's.  Aren't they precious?  I love a LOT of stuff about them, but my favorite is their joy.  It's contagious.  I want Todd and I to be JUST LIKE THEM when we grow up.

Well.  Thanks for reading!  Happy Friday to you.  Love to all!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

May Scripture Writing Plan & some other things

Before I go any further, here is May's writing plan, from Sweet Blessings blog.  I particularly love this one and the design and the TOPIC!  (That's new.)  I struggle with anxiousness, so I am going to get lots out of this month.


I've had many people join me in doing this, and I'm so glad!  I think accountability helps, and when I get to the end of each month, I'm excited to start all over again.  I won't lie, though~this month has been long almost every single day.  For me that is not really an issue, because I have oodles of time at home, but most of you do not, and some of you had to drop off.  AND THAT IS OKAY!  No condemnation for you.  I would like to encourage you to try again, though.  This month's seems shorter, and though May is crazy busy, that just means we could use it all the more.

Today is such a bittersweet day for me.  It's my last day at Renewed Moms, our homeschool group that I've been a part of for four years.  These ladies have come to mean so much to me over these last few years, and they have been instrumental in encouraging me throughout my homeschool journey thus far.  I'm partly excited because this last day means that we're wrapping up our school year soon and that means SUMMER!  I'm sad because I hate to say goodbye.  Seriously.  I hate saying goodbye.
I do feel like I will keep in touch with these sweet ladies.  I know that some of them are doing a study together over the summer, and I hope to go when I'm in town.  I also feel like that I may just go every once in a while during the next school year and say hello to my dear friends.  One of my dearest friends ever of all time is from this group, and our friendship was borne out of me being in her small group my first year.  That friendship will last through anything, though, and so will all of the others.  I love the ladies that have been in my small group and I just know that we will keep in touch.  I hope to even get together some, something we never could make work this whole year at RM.

I feel so blessed (#blessed) (that made me laugh), though, to have so many such godly friendships.  I was always the one in school that struggled in this area.  I never knew who I could trust and I really couldn't stand the fact that girls were so mean to each other.  (That still rings true today, and God knew to not give me girls so that I wouldn't kill them.)  Because of those things, I was always the one who hung out with the guys.  All of my best friends in youth group were the guys, and my parents knew them well enough to let me hang out with them.  Once you're married, that is no longer appropriate, though, and I started to pray for friends.  Well, at least at the point when I turned back to God, because for a while, I turned my back on Him.  Church had really messed me up and some of the sordid things that I found out went on inside the walls and because of one pastor's blatant disapproval of my marrying Todd.

But God drew me back to Him, and that's when I started to pray for friends.  And you know that verse that says that God will do abundantly more than we can ask or imagine?  Well, He did just that.

That verse was Ephesians 3:20.

God has answered my prayer time and time again.  All of my friends come from how I spend my life.  In Bible study with like-minded women, from church, and from this homeschool group He has put into my life for a season.  I wouldn't have it any other way, and I would never do one thing differently.  Because of my struggles throughout life, I am who I am today.

I don't believe that God causes bad things to happen, but I surely believe that He will use any means He needs to draw us back to Him.  I also believe that He uses those hard things in life in us to minister to a watching world around us.  My prayer today is that this is speaking to someone who needs to hear these words.

Have you turned your back on God?  Have you quit being faithful in attendance in church?  Have you given up on praying for your kids?  Have you been talking to someone that you shouldn't in an inappropriate way?  Texting them or stalking them on social media?

Please, if you never get one thing from this blog, get this: IT IS NOT TOO LATE.  If you are alive and breathing, God is only a whisper away.  Ask Him to forgive you!  Confess your sins to Him and He will forgive you of them.  Ask Him to change your heart from the inside out, making it soft and teachable again.  Ask Him to change you.  I promise you that He hears every single word we utter.  And even before a word is on our tongue, He already knows it!  The Bible tells us that in Psalm 139.
Even if you feel beyond hope and that you can never have these godly friendships that I speak of, I promise you, you can.  Go back to church!  Or go for the first time.  You don't have to come to my church, though if you want to, I'd love that.  But find a church home.  Get plugged in.  Volunteer.  Serve.  Join a Sunday school class.  It may take a while, but keep at it and stay faithful.  It will come.  I promise.

Well, that wasn't quite what I'd had in mind to share today, but it works, so I'll keep it there for whoever needs it this morning.

Love to all.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

youth pastor summit 2016

What a fun couple of days away with some of my favorite people!  Every year, Student Leadership University puts on a FREE youth pastor summit in a few locations across the United States, and this year it came to Nashville (Franklin).  Last year we went to the one in Dallas.  It is totally free.  It's for youth pastors, workers, volunteers and anyone who does anything with youth.  (Students.)

We made the trek to Nashville on Monday morning and were there when the doors opened at two thirty.  And thus began a whirlwind of amazing speakers.  With each speaker, they got better and better.  The worship was led by Liberty University Worship Collective, a group of college students who lead worship for their school and for events like these.  They reminded me of Hillsong and were amazing.

Front to back: me, Abbey, Missy and Alexa, a senior about to graduate.  Jason drove us and his son JM came with so he wouldn't be the only guy.  Why, yes, my hair looks purple.  Or, according to JM, yellow or black or red.  

The event started at three thirty and went for the next two hours.  We broke for dinner at around five thirty, and we went to a nearby Mexican restaurant for dinner, because they love me.  :)

Jason may or may not have referred to Abbey as the birthday gal to our server a few times, and before we knew it, this happened.


She shared her dessert with us.  It was really good.  She was properly embarrassed.  We were cracking up over this whole thing.

We went back for part two and ended again at eight forty-five.  Then we went to the hotel we were staying at in Brentwood.  We talked some and laughed some and ate some, then went to bed.  

The event started again at nine the next morning and there were more speakers and break out sessions and they provided us with lunch from Chick Fil A, then we met up one last time in the main sanctuary for the last part.  The last speaker was Bob Goff, the author of the book Love Does.  He is the best speaker I have ever heard, and funny as anything.  He just loves people the way Jesus loves him.  


He is also an attorney, a pilot and the diplomatic consult for Uganda.  We asked if he'd take a picture with us all, and after warm squishy hugs from him, he was happy to oblige.  His joy is contagious.  

After this, we headed home.  

It was a great two days full of being refreshed and encouraged.  God willing, I will get to go again next year.  On today's agenda is school work for the boys and laundry for ME.  They took excellent care of the house while I was away, but laundry is piled up.  

Happy Wednesday!  Love to all.  

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Weekend

Friday was sort of a sucky day, I am not going to lie.  Things didn't happen as I thought they would and it almost stole my joy on that day.  I will write more about that later, though.  Needless to say, by the time the afternoon rolled around, I was thrilled that it was the women's conference weekend, because I really needed it.  This is the third one that I've attended, and this is the third time I've helped lead worship.  It's always a joy and an honor to be a part of something like this, and the weekend didn't disappoint.

Here are some of the other ladies who helped lead worship, though two of them had to leave early and are not pictured.


I love spending time with like-minded women of God.  It does my heart so good.  I am so thankful for my church family, and for all the people who put this event together.


I love the picture of those two sweet girls reading in Emma's bible together!  No event is complete without a picture of this sweet friend and me.

I went to the visitation of a friend's mom after the conference and then I had to run to the grocery store.  For dinner I was making meatloaf, something Drew had been asking for, for at least two weeks in a row.  He currently has a cracked rib, and I feel so bad for him...and as much as I didn't feel like cooking dinner, I made the boy his dinner request.


Meatloaf, homemade mashed potatoes, green beans and rolls.  Drew was in heaven, though you should see what his plate looked like.  He just mixed it all up together.

It was a low key night at home, and Todd worked.  I watched a movie then went to bed early.

On Sunday morning, we went to church, and we celebrated this girl's birthday in class, with birthday cake for breakfast.


From front to back are Ellen (the birthday girl), Eryn and a visitor we had yesterday, Missy.  Who doesn't love birthday cake for breakfast?!

Our pastor preached the BEST sermon yesterday.

I loved this quote he said, from A.W. Tozer.


The whole service was wonderful, as usual.

After church, the boys all went to Wendy's, then we had a meeting from two to four.  We are going on a family mission trip this summer, to Arizona, to a Navajo reservation.  I'm  really excited about it.  And kinda nervous, but mostly just excited.

After the meeting, we rushed home to straighten up a bit before community group, and while I made the drinks for our night, these three did this:


They're so cute.  And the best of friends.  Alex is also going on this trip over the summer, and I'm so glad.

It was a really good weekend.  I'm about to leave for Nashville for one night for a conference for youth leaders, and I'm excited about that.  So, I need to stop with this post and go pack.  Have a great day!

Love to all.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday Favorites


Happy Friday!  I am linking up with Momfessionals for this post.

This has been a great and busy and productive week.  I love weeks like this!  I'm excited about this weekend, though, and the days that follow it.  Here are some of my favorite highlights from the week that has gone by.

One.


I clarified that having community groups at my house this school year has been my favorite thing ever.  I love these kids and will be sad to see them go when summer starts.  Usually they swim all summer on this night.  Pizza and Bible study still take place, but since school is out, they usually swim each week and then stay a little later.

Two.


Not only are these boys my absolute favorite, but so is my church family.  My friend Kristy posted this on Tuesday, while they were up there with other youth in the afternoon.  They're "reading" the book written by the author that's coming to speak at our women's conference that starts tonight.  Also, this book is great.  The title threw me off, I won't lie, but once I got into it, I couldn't stop.  I'm two chapters away from finishing.

I still smile every time I see this picture.  Jonah told me they were all laughing really hard while she took this and were trying to pull it together.

Three.


Morning quiet time is my FAVORITE!  I look forward to going to sleep each night so this part of the day will hurry and get here.  I love to get up in the six o'clock hour (I know, I know, it's not that early, but we are homeschoolers, for goodness' sake.) and spend time with Jesus.  I always get started by praying, then I read in my Bible, I journal about what I've read and I usually write down a verse that stuck out to me, and then I write out my Scripture passage for that day.  Sometimes I read more and sometimes I read less.  And sometimes, before I know it, more than an hour will have passed, but then on days like yesterday, I only spent about half an hour doing all of the above.  I don't think there's a time limit, but I know it should be more than just a few minutes.  I believe that we should give Him our best, just like He did for us.

I don't get my coffee until I'm done, because I don't want any distraction.  And yes, coffee is a distraction for me.  After this time, I get my coffee, fix Todd's coffee and make another half pot (teenage coffee drinker problems), then come in the living room and get on the computer to check emails, Facebook and I blog.  I do all that while listening to K Love.  I haven't been watching the news anymore, not even my favorite Today Show.

Four.


Rearranging furniture (and knick knacks) is one of my favorite things to do!  I also love cleaning and organizing.  We did Graham's and Drew's room on Wednesday.

And...


Jonah's and Noah's room yesterday.  Don't they look great?  We took the bunk beds apart and made them single beds and they are currently loving their rooms.  Also, we got rid of the furniture in the playroom (an old sectional) and replaced it with two futons.  Todd bought two new futon mattresses and they are loving that room as well.  I love spring time!  Cleaning and changing things up in our house is usually how it goes around here.

Five.


Drew's favorite thing in the whole world is this dog.  And Callie, the one who claimed him as her own.  I was laying on Graham's bed and Drew was on his, and we were just hanging out.  I did the same thing in Jonah's and Noah's room later.  I love my boys and genuinely love being around them.  I always have.

Well, that's about it for this post.  Have a great day!  I have a doctor's appointment to get ready for and then lunch with my dad and then our women's event tonight and tomorrow....it's a busy day.

Love to all!


Thursday, April 21, 2016

our home

My afternoon yesterday is what inspired this post.  I have said before on this blog how much I love our home.  I really do.  I don't see us here forever, but I don't like to think about the day when we move.  I know we will, eventually, because I can't see me loving stairs when I'm older.


The thing I love about our home is that it's not that big.  I know that sounds opposite of what it should be, but it's true.  It's plenty for our family.  I like being around my kids and I love that our home isn't so big that we have to be far apart.  The only time that happens is when they're in the playroom playing the X-Box and have the music loud.  Then I have to yell or text to get them to come downstairs.

They have always shared rooms, and always will.  We could move one of the bigger boys into the playroom, but that would not go over well with just one boy having a tv in his room, while the others did not.  (We have two tv's in our house: one downstairs in our living room and one upstairs in the playroom and will not be having anymore.)  So, I don't really see them ever not sharing rooms.  They complain about this occasionally, but I know they don't mean it, because they sleep in the same room most nights.  Whether it's in a bedroom or in the playroom, they always ask for this.

I love that being in shared rooms has created a friendship type bond between them all.  I go to bed every single night, hearing them talk and laugh in each of their rooms.  I think because of this fact, they are closer than they would be, if we had a bigger home.

I will say that the only thing I would change about our home is that I would add a whole bathroom.  But even in our two and half baths, it's still plenty.  I know of bigger families who live in less space than this, so I certainly can't complain.


This is Jonah's and Noah's room.  They have the smallest room in the house, and just last night, we were trying to figure out how to reconfigure their room to change it up.  We do this all the time, this rearranging of the rooms.  A few years ago, they were all happy with their twin size beds (four) and started asking for two sets of bunk beds.  This was after we sold one set that Graham and Drew had at one time and promised to never want again.  So we bought these two sets of bunk beds.  And for over a year, they all slept in the smallest room in the house.  And loved every second, until one day, very suddenly, they were done.  Soon after we rearranged for Jonah and Noah and for a while now, nothing has changed.

Then Drew started hating his top bunk and for a long time, has been asking us to separate the beds in their room.  In order to do that, we had to sell a ping pong table, move the drums back to the playroom and THEN separate the beds.  All of that was done Monday night and yesterday afternoon (for FIVE HOURS), Graham and Drew thoroughly cleaned out their room and closet.  They were so overwhelmed at one point, that I had to go up and intervene and for two hours, the three of us worked together until all was spotless.  When we got home from church last night, Todd took the beds apart in less than five minutes, and just like that, everyone was happy again.

Until Jonah started thinking that he wants the same thing, but that's for another day.

One other thing about having a house that's not huge is that we are always maximizing our space, and we are always cleaning things out and purging.  I love doing that and could stand to do lots more.  Just don't go in my attic...it gives me anxiety just thinking about it.  I say every year that THIS is going to be the year we clean it out, but not until it's cold and the bugs are gone.

I love having a clean and organized space, don't you?  Drew was in his happy place last night.  Unfortunately, Graham couldn't care less about a mess, but surely after the way I had to get onto them for their pig sty of a room yesterday, they'll be better about keeping it clean.  Surely.

Then again, maybe not.  I do love these days.

Stay tuned, another rearranging of the rooms will soon take place.

Love to all.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

things I'm looking forward to

I was complaining about the rain to my husband this morning, (keeping it real) and he brought up Houston to me.  I instantly felt really bad for even complaining.  Is it just me, or have we had insane amounts of rain the last two months?

Anyway.

There's nothing too exciting happening in these parts today.  On my agenda for this day are painting my nails, praying with friends at twelve thirty, bible study homework, and church at five thirty.

Because of that, I thought I'd share another post on what I'm forward to.

One is this weekend!


My church is having it's annual women's conference on Friday night and Saturday morning.  Tickets are only twenty dollars and the author of The Accidental Feminist (Courtney Reissig) is our guest speaker.  I'm really excited about this~it's one of my favorite things that we do as women at our church every year, and I always come away so refreshed.

These crazy boys of mine posed while "reading" her book yesterday.

If you are local to me and are interested in this, I wish you would come!  Here is the link you can go to sign up and purchase tickets.

I am looking forward to getting the playroom and Graham's and Drew's bedroom situated again.  We have been redoing things up there, and are almost done.  We got rid of the sectional that was falling apart and shedding and replaced it with two futons.  Todd just bought new mattresses for them and we sold the ping pong table.  When the mattresses come in today, we will get things set back up in there and start on their room.  The bunk beds have to be taken apart and we will rearrange furniture, more than likely.  I'm excited for them!  I used to love rearranging my room.

I am excited about next week!  On Monday and Tuesday, a small group of us from church are going to something in Nashville called Youth Pastor Summit.  It's a two day conference and I know it'll be great.  I love being with my church family.

I am NOT looking forward to next Thursday, when it will be my last day of bible study at our homeschool group.  I will miss meeting with those ladies each week!

I know my husband and boys are looking forward to the first weekend of May.  If you're a local, you know that date means music fest.  Todd is working, and Graham and Drew are going with some of their friends and their parents.

I, on the other hand, have absolutely zero interest in something like that.  I hate big crowds of people and would much prefer staying home and watching movies.  :)

Well, that's all I can think of.  Have a great Wednesday!  Love to all.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

a day in the life, Sunday edition

It's Show & Tell Tuesday on Momfessionals blog, and I am linking up with her for this post.  

On my weekly planner, every Sunday, I write the letters CHURCH really big, across that whole section.  This post will show you why.  I only have two pictures, so bear with me, as you'll have to envision the crazy.

I try to wake early each week and maximize my time alone in my bathroom.  We only have two full baths (plus one half bath) and we all share.  So three of us use mine and the other three use theirs.  In my bathroom are Todd, Drew and myself.  I'm almost always the first one up, so I get it to myself.  On this particular day, I woke up at six and showered and somewhat dried my hair before coming downstairs.  I let the dogs out and grabbed a cup of coffee and came into the living room.  I watched a bit of the news, then wrote out my scripture for that day.

I went back upstairs with cup of coffee number two and finished drying my hair and woke everyone up.  Todd, in his usual Sunday morning fashion, fixed his hair, brushed his teeth, threw on his clothes and left for the church.  He has to be there by eight or so, and some weeks, I have to be there by eight thirty, when I sing on a praise team.  This was not that week, though.  

The kids all woke up and I finished getting dressed.  I made my bed and straightened up a bit and came downstairs to wait on the boys.  I drank my breakfast that morning, and the kids had goldfish and chocolate milk.  (Weird, I know.)

Also, on this day, all four of our vehicles ended up at the church, and that won't always happen.  Drew and I left at nine ten, he and Jonah and Noah in his vehicle, me in my mine, and Graham met us there twenty minutes later.  He doesn't move quickly in the mornings, like his dad.

Sunday school is from nine fifteen until ten thirty, but I have to be in choir by ten fifteen, so Abbey and I walked together.  We put our stuff down in the sanctuary to save our seats, then headed up the stage stairs to the choir room.  Church lasts until just after twelve, so afterward, we usually end up going different ways.  Graham went to lunch with some friends afterward, Drew went to his friend girl's house for their lunch, Todd stayed at the church for some huge project and I went to McAllister's with some friends and Jonah and Noah.  

After that, they wanted to go over to their friends' house, so I brought them home to change and took them over there, and then I took a tour of their house they just moved into.  Graham was coming home as I was leaving.  I was there for thirty minutes, maybe, then had to come back home for a few minutes before going to church again.  I have to be there at three on Sunday's, for praise team practice, then regular choir practice starts at four.  It goes until five thirty, but I leave at five fifteen, so I can come home and make sure my house is presentable.  I host the ninth and tenth grade community groups at my house each Sunday night.

On this day, it was not, but the boys came home at five thirty to fix that.  We have to put the cats in my room and feed the dogs, and the playroom needs to be straightened up, because all the boys go up there during community group.  I have to make the drinks and put out a trash bag and get all the plates, napkins and cups set out, and I always make a pot of coffee.

On this particular night, the junior boys were joining us, because their leaders were not able to be at their group that week.


And starting at five forty five, kids start arriving and some don't leave until close to eight.  This was only a small portion of the kids that were here this week.  I would guess that about twenty were here this week.  Also, there are five leaders~four ladies (two for each grade) and one man for the guys.  This is one of my most favorite things ever each week.  I love having a full house!  My heart is the happiest in these moments when it's bursting with life and energy.  I also happen to love all the leaders that are here each week, and most weeks, they stay longer while we talk.  I am only the host each week, I don't do any of the leading.  

On this night, Graham and Drew went to the church to play basketball in the gym with friends, but it was closed, so they came back home with Jonah and Noah and three or four friends and played here.  Todd found his way back home after being at the church all day, and shortly after that, I was done with the day and headed upstairs.  I grabbed a bag of animal crackers and a glass of milk and took it up with me.


And Skippy smelled the milk and wanted some, so I poured her some and proceeded to hold it for her until she was full and happy again.  She is really old, and sometimes I think we need to have her put to sleep, because I think she might be really sick, but we HATE saying goodbye to our pets and are procrastinating.  For now, she's okay, though.  

I went to bed and watched an episode of Army Wives, and fell asleep.  I woke long enough to put my tablet on the nightstand, and then I fell right back to sleep.  

And that is almost every single Sunday.  I am so thankful we live a couple blocks from church, that makes it so much easier not having a long drive time.  Also, I love this day of the weekend and I love my church family.  I feel so fortunate to be a part of such an awesome group of believers, and I love all the teenagers God has placed in my life.  That's where most of my friends have come from, and I have so much fun with them.  

Thanks for reading about that exhausting day.  Love to all!