Thursday, October 27, 2016

Retro Night (in the youth)

The Wednesday before Halloween is always such a fun night with the teenagers at church.  I wasn't going to dress up, but at the last minute, decided to dress up as the later 80's/early 90's.  I wore a "boyfriend shirt" and scrunch socks and my hair was up in a half pony tail.

Here are some other looks from the night.

Sandy, Danny and Kinickie from Grease.  (Check out the red shoes!)

These cuties were the cast from Friends.  Left to right: Rachel, Joey, Phoebe, Monica, Chandler and Ross.

The gang from The Little Rascals.  Jonah was Spanky and Noah was Uh Huh.

My boys and their best friends went as the Smurfs.  I don't know that I knew that the Smurfs had tails.  I almost spewed my cereal across the table when I saw their friend Tom (2nd from left) sit down on that tail.

Fun and sweet friends.  :)

Betty and Barney from The Flintstones.

The Power Puff Girls.  (I want to dress like that all the time.)

Pebbles and Bam Bam.  Jason and Sunday were Fred and Wilma.  They were adorable.

It was a fun night!  It was hotter than Hades with me in flannel, but it was still a great night and one of my favorites of the whole year.

Well, I have a to-do list a mile long, and I need to get on it.  We leave today for a three night camping trip to Petit Jean state park in Arkansas.  I'll be back on Monday!

Love to all.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

trip to New York, part 2

After breakfast Wednesday morning, we (with all our belongings) got onto a shuttle for the last time and went to the train station.  We arrived at our destination about forty five minutes later, then we switched to the subway.  I will stop here and say that you should have seen us.  Two adults.  Three large and heavy suitcases.  One weeny wife who needed her husband to lift the big one.  Switching from train to train was fun (said sarcastically) and none of the elevators worked.  When we finally reached our final stop, you should have seen us walking the thirteen miles (or so it seemed) to our hotel with all our junk.

I needed a serious nap afterward.  But then I saw our room's view, and I was better.  Todd hooked us up with a corner room with two walls to view the city.  It was magnificent.

We left and went off to lunch.  After walking a while, we reached where my friend Rachel recommended that we go.

Carnegie Deli.  It was delicious and we shared the hot pastrami sandwich and a giant slice of chocolate/peanut butter pie.  We earned every calorie, trust me.  After lunch, we went to the Rockefeller Plaza and to the top of the Rock.

We won't talk about how I almost threw up on the elevator because they turned off the lights and you could look up and see yourself zooming up to the 67th floor of the building.  I leaned on Todd and looked at the people around me instead.

After this, we stayed in the building for a long time.  It was like an indoor mall on the bottom floor.  Seriously.

There were all these shops and restaurants, and we managed to find another Starbucks with an outlet so we could sit and recharge our phones.  This drink you see is a venti cold brew.  No cream, no sugar.  My friend Chandler got me hooked on these in the spring at D Now, and it refueled me and kept me going for the rest of the long day.

From here, we got back on the subway and went to Central Park.

It's crazy to think of this massive park in the middle of NYC, but it was gorgeous.  We found Bethesda Terrace and just sat and people watched for a long time.

The actual terrace that you see in that middle picture is where part of 27 Dresses was filmed.

I loved this afternoon.  It was so tiring but so relaxing, all at the same time.  We just sat on a bench, Todd with his arm around me, and laughed and talked.

By this time, it was around five thirty or six and would be getting dark soon, so we left and started to make our way back to the subway.

We walked slow and took in the sights.  This church was beautiful!  When we finally got to the subway, we were crammed in there like sardines and had people shoulder to shoulder.  We reached our hotel and ordered dinner to be delivered and I was asleep by eight thirty or nine.  I'm not even kidding.

Thursday was our last day in the city, and we were up early and ready to go.  It was going to be a long day.

Our first stop was to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

It was beautiful and sobering and moving and tragic, all at the same time.  We both teared up several times, especially when seeing all the names and faces of those who lost their lives that day.

This is a firetruck that was buried under ashes and ruble.

I am so glad we did this.  With the exception of Sunday, this was my favorite part of our trip.  I cannot recommend enough that you do this if you ever get the chance to go to NYC.

After this, we made our way to the Hudson river, where we thought we would catch a boat tour of the city.  We ate at a Subway along our way, and fifteen minutes after leaving, found the Hudson.

However, we walked to the wrong place and did not find the boat tour.  It was beautiful, though!  We walked slowly back where we came from and finally reached the subway again and called it an afternoon.  We went back to the hotel for naps and to change before our evening out.

This picture above was actually called a park.  And the pigeons?!  Goodness, you might trample them, because they do not move!

I liked the look of this building.

I actually slept on the subway ride, with my head up and bobbling around and people everywhere around me, and before this trip, I never would have believed one could do that.  It was a nice fifteen minute nap, though.

We left refreshed and ready for a late night out in the city.

We ate dinner at a place one of my girls from community group recommended.

It was really good!  We shopped for souvenirs for the boys and I stood in front of The Majestic and waited for Todd as he came back from the M&M store.

We talked to people in line before us from Tennessee and got thoroughly homesick while doing so.

We saw Phantom of the Opera, and it was amazing.  Seriously.  I did not want it to end!

We found another Starbucks on our way back to the subway and our hotel and crashed the minute we got there.  It was after midnight.  And this city literally never sleeps.  Look at all these people out so late!  Amazing.

The next day we slept in, had breakfast, I took an epic two hour nap, then we packed up and left for the airport.

This was the greatest trip I have ever been on.  My sweet husband planned this for two years and made sure that all the things on my list got checked off.  He researched and worked himself to death to make sure that it would happen, and I can never thank him enough.  He did a magnificent job of making me feel cared for, safe and protected and thoroughly treasured.  If you're reading this, thank you, Toddley.  I love you more than words can express.

Even though it was wonderful, I have never been so glad to be back at home in the South and to see my boys.  There is no place like home.

Love to all.

Monday, October 24, 2016

trip to New York, part 1

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate saying goodbye?  And how much I hate flying?  I do.  To both of those.  I did cry (only a tiny bit in the car and I hid it on the way to the airport) but was quickly fine after saying goodbye.  Todd had Graham drive us to the airport and after they dropped us off, they went to his parent's house to help them with something.  From there they came home to let the dogs out, then went to Mom's and Bill's for dinner.  They stayed alone the first night and all camped out in my room, with the exception of Graham, who slept in the playroom.

We made it to Long Island (Commack) around seven, got to the hotel and were eating dinner by eight thirty.  There was diner in the parking lot of our hotel, and we just walked over to eat and walked back.  It didn't seem like a diner, because the food was fancy and the atmosphere was nice.  We shared a meal, complete with dessert, and there was so much food that we took it back with us to the hotel so I could eat the leftovers for lunch on Monday.

We made our plans and figured out where we were going for the next day, and we called it a night.  I fell asleep so fast, I didn't even watch Gilmore Girls for more than twenty minutes.

On Sunday morning, we got up and ate breakfast and had the hotel shuttle take us to the train station.

This was Deer Park train station (they said it like dee-uh pah-k).  We boarded the train and headed into the city.  The destination was Penn Station.  From Penn Station, we switched to the subway (all underground at this point, and there are multiple levels of the subway station) and got off somewhere in Brooklyn.  Because we were going to church!

For YEARS, I have been watching the Brooklyn Tabernacle choir on YouTube videos, and I've sung so many of their songs in my church choirs.  It was totally surreal being there and worshiping alongside so many people of different races.  I crave that kind of service, and I spent a good portion of that morning in church moved to tears.  I know you find that hard to believe.  ;)  The church has three services: nine a.m., eleven a.m. and one p.m.  The seats are all taken too, and fills from the front to the back.  Todd was in heaven because we sat right behind the tech booth.

We sang so many songs, and it was an amazing morning of worship.

Right before we left, the lady that had sat next to me hugged me and told me she loved me.  I said it back to her, of course, because I do love everyone, and I will see her again someday in heaven.

From church, we walked around Brooklyn.  We found a place to go for pizza and just went by foot.  It was gorgeous that day, and about sixty five degrees outside.

I loved Brooklyn more than any other part of the city.  Everything was so pretty and quaint, and we had the best lunch that day at some little pizza place, and we ate outside.  From lunch we found a Starbucks, because Todd's phone was dying and we sat at the window and people watched until we had a hundred percent charge on our phones.  A strange man yelled at me for skipping line at the bathroom (I didn't SEE a line, so it was accidental).  #rude

We walked around the city for the rest of our time in Brooklyn, and at about four, we got on a subway and headed to upper Manhattan.

I decided that I hate Times Square.  It's for the partying type of people, and the only type of party I enjoy is at home, in my pajama's and with a good movie on the tv.  We somehow managed to walk through there twice, and it was more than enough.

I loved Rockefeller Plaza.

Here we are, about to video call Jonah.

We walked all around the Plaza for a good long while, and we went in the Lego store, which was amazing.  We finally found a good place for dinner, but when we got there, the line was too long to get in, so we went to plan b and ate at a place with no line.  My foot that I fractured last year was KILLING me and I needed to just sit for a long time.

We got back on the train around seven and got back to the hotel by about eight thirty, after a scary shuttle ride in which the driver took us through the property of a mental hospital.

On Monday and Tuesday, Todd had class and I stayed at the hotel.  I read, I watched a movie and shows that I like, I caught up on Bible study and I read an entire book.

On Monday night for dinner, we ate at a Japanese steakhouse.

We had another interesting shuttle ride, in which Todd had to navigate our driver, because he was new to the area.  Try doing that with someone who speaks very little English.

On Tuesday night we walked to Chick Fil A nearby us, but it was not open for business yet.  We continued walking around the block, going to Lowe's and then back to the hotel, before deciding on going back to the diner we ate at on Saturday night.

The next morning we had plans of eating breakfast and heading into NYC for the final part of our trip.  I'll write about that tomorrow, though, I have a list of things to do that's a mile long.

Love to all!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

a rare Saturday post

It's been a week.  Alternately fun and busy and then slow and relaxing.  The kids enjoyed fall break this week, so with Graham and Drew being gone for part of the time and us getting ready for the weekend, it's gone by really fast.  Last night (Friday) was the first time IN OVER A WEEK that the six of us sat down together for dinner.  These days are strange!

This is how Jonah and Noah kept busy this week.

Today Toddley and I are boarding a plane and flying to New York.  (Well, Baltimore first, THEN New York.)  I have not packed the first thing.  So, I jumped on this really quick to tell you that I will see you (figuratively) in a week.

I will be glad to get there.  (I hate flying.)  And I'll be glad to have the goodbye's behind me.  I also hate saying goodbye.

Well.  If you're on social media, please still like me when I get home.  I'll be posting lots of pictures.  (For the record, I cannot even remember when the last trip we took as just husband and wife together.  This is like a second honeymoon!  I am so thankful for the chance to be able to go.)  Todd has been planning this trip for TWO YEARS.  I am not even kidding.

Love to all!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Christie versus the calf/Spirit versus flesh

Meet my friend Christie.  We first met when our sons were in kindergarten.  We haven't spent real time together in years, but I like to still consider us really good friends.  She's often an encouragement in my life, and I am thankful that I got to know her.

She posted this picture on Instagram last week, and with her approval, I am using it to write this post.  Also, she said to me, "Why don't you write about it?", after reading my comment of what this reminded me of.  So, here I am.

This is what she said on Instagram about this picture:

"She broke my arm.  I broke her will.  We're calling it a tie."

And just like that, her words and this picture had me all weepy.

You probably remember me saying that every thing in the physical is a picture of the spiritual.  I believe that this is something God has given to me.  That statement about things being a representation of something spiritual is not scriptural, but I truly think that upon the studying of His word and getting to know Him through the reading of it, that He often gives me illustrations of His word through everyday things like pictures, movies, and what I see around me.

(Do you happen to remember my blog post about the movie Cinderella and how I wept through the entire movie?  This is the same thing.)

When I saw this picture, I immediately was reminded of how much we wrestle against God.  I don't know the circumstances that happened when my friend took this picture, but it's safe to guess that a struggle was involved.

Galatians 5:17 tells us this:

"For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don't do what you want."

Galatians five goes on to explain what some of our fleshly works are: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealously, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar (verses 19-21 of Galatians 5).  That's a pretty large list of how horrid our sin nature is.  (We have all sinned, Paul says to us in Romans 3:23.)  Our sin nature is the same thing as our flesh.

Paul also says in this same chapter, that all who practice these things will not inherit the kingdom of God (verse 21).

But because of the cross, this is not the case for those of us who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is the simplicity of the gospel of Christ Jesus.  God sent His one and only Son to this earth, as a baby and born of a woman.  He lived an absolutely perfect life, meaning that He had NO sin.  He was from and of the Father, so He was blameless.  He was despised and rejected and accused of many things that were not true, and He was crucified on a cross.  He was punished for our sin.  Our past sin, our present sin and our future sin.  He died and was buried in a tomb, but three days later was resurrected from the dead.  He walked on earth for a short time after He was resurrected, but was taken up into heaven to sit at the right hand of the throne of God the Father.  He is still there today, interceding to Him on our behalf.  When He was taken up into heaven, His Spirit was left in those who believed in Him.  Today, for those of us who are believers, we have His Spirit in us.

That is the Spirit that Galatians five speaks of.  When Jesus died on the cross for our sin, grace entered in.  This saving that takes place once we become believers in Him is something that is free and not anything that we have to earn or work towards.  It is free.  But how hard we must wrestle Him when He is drawing us to Him!  I know in my life, at least, that I wanted to do things MY way, not His way.  I didn't want to submit to His authority in my life.  I wanted to love Him and serve Him on my own terms, not His.

Don't you think this little calf is that same way?  I don't even know what my friend was doing with her to get her to struggle so hard, but I know this about my friend: she loves that little thing and was doing what was best for her.  Without the care that my friend bestows upon her, she would likely die.
I'm going to write that again.

Without the care that my friend bestows upon her, she would likely die.

Without the saving grace that my Lord Jesus gave (GIVES) to us, we die a sinner's death.

This I know: there is a heaven and there is a hell.  Heaven is for believers, hell for unbelievers.  It is not His will that any of of His children should perish without knowing Him, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

He wants what is best for us.  With this struggling calf, Christie broke her stubborn and obstinate will.  She got a little hurt in the process, but I am confident that she will heal in a couple of weeks and be fine.  Just like that calf was stubborn and obstinate, we are that way with God.  But He changes us.  How does He change us?

His word transforms us.  (Romans 12:1-2)

Praying changes us, and aligns our heart with Him.  (Here is an example of what I mean: have you ever been so mad at someone that you prayed furiously for that person to be changed?  And then, did you actually see that change in them?  I have prayed that way for someone, and you know who the Lord changed?  ME.)

He revives us.  He softens us.  He smooths away those rougher edges that we have and gently rounds them out.  His word filters our mouths.  Well, that should be the case anyway.  ("May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer."  Psalm 19:14)

Like my friend was injured in this process, He knew was suffering was, and endured that for us.  Who better knows hurt, then, than Christ Jesus?

"He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.  He was like someone people turned away from; He was despised and we didn't value Him."  Isaiah 53:3

(Read the rest of that chapter, though!  It goes on to say much more about Him.  This chapter was written by the prophet Isaiah, in the Old Testament.  This was before Jesus was born, but it was a foreshadowing of what was to come.)

Lastly, like my friend has her arms wrapped around this little calf, that is how He loves us.  He lovingly parents us and is infinitely kind with us when we fall away in our sin.  He keeps on forgiving us, though and He keeps on loving us.

I talked about Galatians five a lot, but the last few verses are my favorite and are my instruction guide for living.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self control.  Against such things there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit.  We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another."

(Galatians 5:22-26)

None of that kind of living is possible without Jesus.  His Spirit helps us to walk in those ways, but we must submit to Him, and we must "crucify our flesh".

Without Him we can do none of that.  And apart from Him, we are nothing.  It is all because of Him that I live and that I do this life that I live out on my blog.  He perfectly loves all of me and all of my many imperfections.  He sanctifies me daily.  Sanctify is a fancy way of saying that I am a CONSTANT work in progress.  I will never achieve my goal at being godly.  That is why I read my bible, that is why I pray, that is why I live my life for Him.  I am so thankful for Him and for how He loves me, even when I mess up daily, even minute by minute sometimes.

I will end this for now, but know that these words have been prayed over.

If you want to find out more, please, reach out to someone.  Do not wait even one minute longer.  You do not have to get your life more in order to reach out to God.  You do not have to clean things up, even, He wants you just as you are.  If you had to do any of those things to have a relationship with Him, then that relationship would not be about Him and His work in your life, but it would be about you.  And that's not how it goes.  He draws us to Him, we come to Him, then He does the rest.  He does that so that our lives would point others to Him!  The gospel is all about Him and it must be shared with the world.

Thank you for reading.  Love to all.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

the weekend

I love the weekend.  Even as a homeschool/stay at home mom, the weekend coming up always excites me.  I think it's because I keep pretty busy all week that it's nice to have a full day of rest on Saturday.  This weekend was no exception.

If you don't know me, I know it sounds dumb and trivial, but I love painting my fingernails.  This was how I started off the day Friday.  While I was letting them dry, Graham and Drew were getting their things ready for the work trip they were going on that day.  (They left at 3:30.)

We had lunch with my dad at Booya's.  Jonah and Noah went to work with Todd this day, because he needed an extra set of hands, or two.  After lunch, we ran to the bank to get cash for their trip, and I made a quick stop at Kroger.  When we got home, they finished packing and I made some brownies for us to take to our friends house later that day, and then my dad left.  When he left, I went to visit a friend who had surgery last week and took her a little happy.

I came home, and it was time for us to head to church to send the teenagers off.

I knew I could get Emma to pose with me, but not my boys.  They did hug me, though and publicly told me they loved me.  (I'm kidding...they ALWAYS tell me that, regardless of who hears.)

I came home and watched Gilmore Girls until Todd, Jonah and Noah got home, then we all went to our friends' house for some Friday night lights.  (Their house backs up to the high school's football field.)

Such a fun night!  The boys were cooking and Tiffany and I were setting things up.  And talking.  Always talking.

We didn't stay too late, because we were all sleepy.

On Saturday, my mom and I enjoyed the morning together.  Jonah and Noah had a friend stay the whole weekend, and I left them all at home with Todd playing the X-Box.


We stumbled upon the cutest shop ever.  They sell fabric and completed hand-sewn items.

I have always LOVED looking at fabric.  We went to two fabric stores on this day.  We had lunch at Heavenly Ham and did a little bit more shopping, then we eventually made our way back home.

It was a fun day!  When I got home, I was the only one here.  They got back about half an hour later, after taking Ben to a game and going to Costco and Pet Smart.  Look what Jonah found while he was at Pet Smart.

It's a 901 Rock.  There is a Facebook and Instagram community called 901 Rocks! and people hide painted rocks all over the place.  This talented person painted this and hid it outside the pet store.

Jonah's day was made.

The boys and I went to Mom's for dinner, leaving Todd at home to watch the football game.

We spent Sunday morning and afternoon and evening at church.  Well, it was broken up, but while the boys were at CAMO at church, I had some of the community group girls over to watch movies.

They came in pj's and they watched Halloweentown 1, 2 and the highschool years.

There were more girls here, but these are the only ones pictured.  How adorable are they?!

This week is fall break around these parts, and we are participating in it with their friends.  It's a great week to be lazy and get things in order before Toddley and I go to NYC.

Well.  Laundry and Bible study homework are calling my name.  Thanks for reading!  Love to all.