Wednesday, July 29, 2015

road trip

We used to have the greatest neighbors in all of the world.  We've spent lots of time with them over the years, swimming with them, grilling out with them, watching movies (Katie and me), studying the Bible (Katie and me again), we've even gone on several camping trips with them.  

And then, when school let out in May, they moved.  I do not even want to talk about how hard I cried.  I couldn't even say goodbye to them, and Katie doesn't like goodbyes, so they just quietly left.  

A few weeks ago, Jonah and Noah were talking to me about them, and how much they missed them and their nephews, who were around the ages of Jonah, Noah and Alex.  On this day, they asked if they could call Myles and talk to him and Zander.  And then I invited ourselves there for a visit.  

Today is the day we leave!  

We're staying with them tonight and tomorrow night, and we'll be home on Friday.  While we're gone, Graham and Drew are staying here.  Todd will be here at night and tonight and part of tomorrow they'll be at a friend's house, so I know they'll be fine.  

I woke up extra early this morning to read my Bible (I've been reading in Acts lately) and to paint my fingernails (priorities, people) and to start another couple of loads of laundry.  My goal is to eat some grilled sandwiches around ten thirty, and to leave right after that.  It should take us about three and a half hours to get there.  I'm really excited!  I have so missed these sweet friends.  

This was me enjoying the quiet early this morning.  I won't be around on the blog until the weekend, so I hope the rest of your week is great.  Love to all. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bible Study

Last week, a small group of my lady friends started studying First and Second Thessalonians.  This is a study by Beth Moore, called Children of the Day.  I love starting a new Bible study.  This is a sweet group of God loving women, and I am thankful to my friend who opened her home for us to have this study.  I can already tell, just from the first week, that it's going to be great.

I don't know about you, and if you've ever participated in a Bible study, but I have learned that I need to constantly be studying the word of God.  I cannot imagine what my life would look like, if not for Him, and His inspired word.  Thankfully, I don't have to.  There is nothing good about me, but He abides in me, and He is good.  I am a wretched sinner, who deserves nothing but death because of my sin, but thanks to Him sending His Son, we who believe in Him will not get what we deserve.  We will get eternal life with Him when we die.

He is my hope, my strength, my song and my joy.

In this dark world, I find none of that.  He alone gives life, and He gives it abundantly.

The thing about Bible study that I love is this~I always get so much out of it.

Before I start a study, preferably one with homework because that's where the meat is, I pray Ephesians 1:17.  "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better."

I pray that each day before I start the homework, and I ask Him for wisdom.  I also pray that He would always give me a soft, teachable heart.  I don't ever want to think that I have arrived at this place in my life that I don't have to study the Bible anymore.  I certainly don't ever want to think that I am beyond what is being taught.  Even tonight, I caught myself wandering and prayed quickly that God would reign me back in and help me listen.  And sure enough, He did just that, and what was being taught spoke volumes to me.

If you're reading this and have never done this, I want to encourage you to start somewhere.  This is a good time of year to jump in, with school starting in a couple weeks, lots of churches are going to begin their fall Bible studies.  Here's the one we're doing right now.

This isn't a study affiliated with my church, just one that a group of us picked out together, and it's at my friend's house each week.

Thanks for reading my blog.  Love to all.

Monday, July 27, 2015

the weekend

Compared to last weekend, this weekend was a bit more low key.  It was still fun, though.

On Friday night, I made a giant-sized trip to Costco.

Drew drove us.

On Instagram, I jokingly said that I might die, but really, he is a good driver.  He's a bit jerky and more nervous than Graham was, but the more he practices, the better he gets.  

It was a giant trip because I never really went to the grocery store last week, except for just a thing or two here and there.  While we were there we ate dinner.

After coming back home, Graham went and bowled with some friends and Drew went swimming at a friend's house.  Since Todd was working, and because my sister was house and dog sitting for someone with a pool, the boys and I went and swam with her for about an hour.

This was the sunset that happened while we were in the pool~it was beautiful!

I love this pool.  The lady who lives in this house is a friend of mine.  She is the grandmother of a girl who was in Jonah's and Noah's grade while they were at CES.  We used to come here one day every week in the summer time, and while the kids played and swam, we would talk and talk for hours.  Literally.  I love their family so much!

On Saturday, I spent the day doing Bible study.  A friend of mine is offering a Beth Moore Bible study at her house, and I had to miss the first night of it last week when Graham graduated from his police academy class.  I watched the DVD and caught up on the homework on Saturday.  I also did our study that we're doing with our community group girls and I read through our lesson for our Bible fellowship class.  While I was doing the Bible study on First and Second Thessalonians, this verse jumped out at me from Romans.

This study is so good!  We meet tomorrow night, and I am already looking forward to our time together.

Saturday afternoon, we went back to the pool we swam at the night before, and we grilled hot dogs.  My mom and step-dad were there as well, and we all swam together.  That was a rare moment, and it was a lot of fun.  I stayed in the water so long that I came out looking like a prune.  I could literally swim all day long.

The best part of the weekend for me, was on Sunday morning when four girls from our Bible fellowship class got baptized!

It was awesome and I am so proud of all of them.  God has done a mighty work in all of their lives, and it's exciting to get to be a small part of it all.  We had a cookout for them later that afternoon to celebrate, then the boys and I left for community group.  After community group they had some friends over and I watched a couple of recorded shows on our DVR.

That about sums up our weekend.  I hope yours was great!

Love to all.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Favorites

It's been forever since I've done one of these posts.  We have been crazy busy over here all summer!  I am linking up with Momfessionals for this post.  

We have had a really great week.  It's been nice to be at home all week, and though we haven't done a lot of things, it's been good.  On Monday, we cleaned all day.  I cannot even remember when we last cleaned this house from top to bottom, but since it was just the four boys and me that day, we took advantage of the opportunity.  One favorite thing of mine is having a clean house!  I even cleaned out some of the kitchen cabinets.  Before we start school again, I need to do that same thing with our homeschool bookshelf.  I've got a plan as to what we're using as curriculum, but I have to order a couple of things, mainly math and science.  I need to start a list of things I'd like to accomplish before I forget.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we stayed close to home and I did laundry.  Lots and lots of laundry.  I posted this on Instagram, and people seemed surprised that our laundry was nicely folded.  Here is the thing about me that is weird~I do not iron.  If I don't iron, then I must fold our clothes when they're hot out of the dryer.  So that is what I do; I wash, I dry, I fold immediately and make nice piles for everyone to grab and put away.  Folded laundry is definitely one of my favorite things.  (I even love folding it all!)

This is what a day's worth of laundry looks like in my house.  Just a day!  Graham and Drew worked on the yards they are paid to mow while Jonah, Noah and I stayed home.

On Wednesday afternoon after lunch, I got to meet up with my best friend, her little girl and her mom for some afternoon swimming.  Definitely a favorite moment from the week.

This child is precious.  She says funny things like, "Don't take me!" and, "I need Drew, I need Drew!".  She literally repeats any and everything you tell her, and some things you don't.  She is smart and beautiful and hilarious, and I am pretty sure she knows all of that.  I love her so much and glad that I get to be her Auntie Jen.

We went home around three to shower and Christa and I met up for dinner while my kids were at church.

I feel like I've been on vacation after I've seen this girl.  She fills my heart up so much when we're together and I feel like I am good to continue on in my journey until the next time I get to see her.  We might not talk all that often and we certainly don't see each other a lot anymore, but we will be forever friends.  She is my favorite.

Yesterday we swam in the morning and a bunch of boys were here.  I made us all lunch and myself a taco salad while another best friend of mine came to eat with me so we could catch up and pray.  She is going through a really rough couple of days and just needed someone to love on her and pray with her.  We watched an amazing afternoon storm roll in, and while we wanted nothing more than to watch a movie in our pajamas together, she had to return to work.  I am just glad I got to spend a few moments with her~she is another one of my most favorites.

One last favorite thing from this week is the fact that Uverse got the Hallmark channel!  Guess who watched two movies last night?!

This girl.

How has your week been?  Share some comment love.  Please.

Love to all.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


I haven't done a post about my kids in a long time, and since we celebrated him last night, I thought I'd take advantage of the opportunity.

As my oldest son, he is the most responsible.  He always has been, even when he was a little bitty thing.  I was always having to come up with ways for him to help me, because it's what he always wanted to do.  In the years since, that is one thing about him that has never changed.

He's the one who always shakes a service man's (or woman's) hand and thanks them for their service.

He is not shy when it comes to speaking to people he doesn't know; he's been found talking to our town's mayor, policemen, the sheriff, the district attorney, and many others.

He has a lot of common sense.

He's a great driver.

He is really smart when it comes to math.  Actually, he is really smart, period.

He is the one guy at community group that always offers to pray.

He has been known to make friends mad when he catches them being mean around girls.

He also has always had friends who were girls.  This is him and a couple of girls who just graduated this year...but they had just finished the eighth grade in this picture, and he had just finished the sixth.

He's still friends with them, but nowadays, he's bigger than they are and he sometimes carries this one around.  (Not really, except for this one night when she didn't think he'd be able to do it.)

He always has such initiative.  For instance, in May, he found out about a citizen's police academy class he wanted to take.  Jonah is the one who told him about it, without knowing details, but Graham researched it and talked to a police officer friend of ours and signed himself up.  Without knowing anybody going, I thought that was pretty impressive.  He said the first night that he walked in, he was praying, "Lord, please let me see someone I know!"  And he did!  Not that he would have been lonely for long~he always has an easy time of getting to know people.  But his friend Cameron was there, so they sat together.  They met for the first time at age four.

And a few years later~

Graham really isn't that short, but Cameron is that tall.

Last night was the graduation of his class.

I'm so proud of him!  And his friend.  It makes this mama's heart very happy and full, knowing that he is such a responsible and trustworthy young man.  (He can still fight with his brothers like nobody's business, but this isn't a perfect world.)

Something else about Graham that makes me proud is that he filled out an interest form for being a summer missionary next year at Brinkley Heights Urban Academy, where we have Street Reach every year.  That was something else he did all on his own.  Last summer he talked to the guy who runs the place and Jason promised him that when he was old enough, that they would definitely consider him.

He would live there from the end of May until around the time that school starts back, only able to come home on weekends.


A hard thing about being a parent is the process of starting to let go of them.  I've learned to hold onto my children with open hands~because they are not mine, but God's.  I asked Him a long time ago to use them for His glory, and as I am beginning to see His plans for them unfold, I know He will continue in that.

My days with this one are numbered~I don't see him sticking around long after graduation.  I don't know what his future looks like, but I am soaking up all my moments with him.

Thanks for reading about my Graham.  Love to all.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

lending a helping hand

Last year at the homeschool group we belong to, Renewed Moms, the moms in Bible study studied the spiritual gifts.  Before we studied these gifts, we took a test to see what ours were.  I don't remember all of my top three or four, but one of my top gifts was helps.  The only reason I even mention these gifts is to let you know that while helps is high up on my spiritual gifts, I realize that not everyone has that.  And though I never head things up at church to do things for people, I am always willing to help out anyway that we can.

Though not everyone has that gift, we are all responsible for taking care of those in need.  

'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'  Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go visit you?'  The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'

Matthew 25:35-40

We are all capable of lending a helping hand.

Todd and I decided when our boys were little, that we would show them what serving others looked like.  A couple of years ago, we were presented with an opportunity to go see what the life of a child in poverty looked like.  This event was set up by Compassion International, and as we walked through trailers of what the life of a child in need looked like, I knew I wanted our family to be involved in some way.  We came home and browsed the Compassion International website for a boy (because we have boys) to sponsor.  We decided on a little one who was four at that time, and we filled in all of our information that was required, and that night, we made our first donation.

And every month, for almost two years now, for just around forty dollars a month, we have been donating money for Woazian to live a life that all kids should have the opportunity of living.  The money goes to his education, health care and a few other things.  To read more about this wonderful organization, click on this link.

Also, every month, we write to him he writes to us.  It gives us the opportunity to pray for him, for his family and that he will always know the love of his Creator.

If what I have written about has struck a chord within you, please consider becoming a sponsor for a child in need.  There are so many!  Too many.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.  Colossians 3:17

Love to all.

*I wrote this post because I was asked to by Compassion International.  Please consider going to their website and becoming a sponsor.  Also, consider stopping by their new blog and looking around.  It's called Step Into My Shoes.

Monday, July 20, 2015

the weekend

I spent time thanking God for the wonderful weekend we was one of the best we've had all summer long, and I didn't want it to go unnoticed as I spent time praying this morning.  I love this verse in James:

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."  {James 1.17}

We had some extras over the weekend.  Alex stayed with us all weekend while his aunt and uncle were out of town, and as usual, we loved having him here with us.  He's such a part of us that I miss him when he's gone.  Anyway, what prompted our night out was tennis shoes.  Because they're expensive and because we have a lot of boys, we buy for them two at a time.  Friday night was Drew's and Noah's turn.  And Todd's.  He hasn't had new boots in about a year and a half, and that is the only pair of shoes he wears.  We had dinner at Taco Bell, to get our night started.

Drew is my only child who will always, always pose for my pictures.  It's not that I love him more, I promise, just that he's the only willing participant.

After dinner we decided to go to the new Bass Pro in downtown, Memphis.  I love our city!

Bass Pro closes at ten, and even though we got there at eight, it wasn't enough time.  We decided that we would definitely be going back on a night when we had more time.

You should see all the pictures I have of these two on my phone.  The one where Drew has on a pink cowboy hat is my favorite.

Graham bought a really nice fishing rod and Andrew bought a fishing shirt.  Todd bought some new boots.  And the rest of us just had fun looking at everything, including thinking about a room makeover for Jonah and Noah for Christmas.  They want a camouflage room.

It was an awesome night, one filled with laughs and feelings of blessedness.

On Saturday we stayed close to home.  I got caught up on the Bible study we're doing with the ninth and tenth grade girls in community group.

This is from a page in the book called Dwell.  I don't know how much these girls are enjoying it, but all of us adults are loving it!  I did this in the midst of laundry.  Shortly after I finished catching up, my friend Missy came and got me and we ran a couple of errands together.  We had to go to Lifeway (my favorite!) and then to Costo, then to a pool party.  I got a book from Lifeway for $5 by Lysa TerKeurst, and I got a cheesecake from Costco for the second pool party that day.

The first pool party was to meet our new youth pastor and his family!

This was a youth event, and the parents and siblings were invited to stay and meet them.  I was in the pool, because it was hot!  My friends swam, as well.  I thought, at one point on this afternoon, that it was a little strange to talk to my pastor while in my swimsuit.  But then that made me remember why I so love my church family!  We just do life together.

After this pool party, we had another one to go to, for the technical team and their family members.  It was a busy, but really fun day.

On Sunday morning we went to church and enjoyed donuts there, then after church, we had lunch at one of my most favorite places.

I have never had anything from here that I didn't like.  Yesterday I got the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich.  Drew enjoyed going and getting the Suburban and driving up to us.

I don't know that I will ever get used to seeing this.  He got a lot of drive time in yesterday, and he was really excited about it, except for when both Graham and I were both counseling him on his skills.  (He scared Graham once.)

After lunch at Huey's, we went to the botanical gardens here in Memphis.  Todd's cousin had some photographs in a restaurant there, and we wanted to go see her work.  The photos were beautiful!  I picked out my favorite one.  :)

We came home for just a little while, I took a nap, then we were off again.  We went to the same home we had been at the day before, but this time for community group.  I had Jonah, Noah and Alex with me, and they enjoyed the very bouncy diving board.

See what I mean, about our weekend being so great?  It was.  I am thankful.  Especially because summer is flying by and I am just trying to enjoy every single moment, and all the extras I have at our house.  All too soon all their friends will be back in school (and we will too) and the weather will start to change.  And though I love the cooler weather, I do love to swim, and miss it when the season is over.

How was your weekend?

I hope it was great.  Love to all!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

when others are watching

How do I look?
How do I sound?
How do I handle less than ideal situations?

I was forced to think very intently about these questions a few years ago, when someone very close to me questioned my integrity.

I wasn't necessarily guilty of what the person said/thought about me, but what they said made me really step back and evaluate the way I did things.

Did I seem fake, or put-on?
Did I act one way at church, and another way around family and friends?

I think that was the day I started praying in a different way.  That what I did and said and thought would honor God.  And all these years later, I still pray that way.  In looking back, I am glad that person questioned me.  It wasn't pleasant at the time, and I spent probably what was way too much time being hurt/angry at them, but now that years have gone by, I am thankful.  Because it made me different.  I started praying differently, and I probably started acting differently.

Which leads to this post, and how I live my life.  I am by no means perfect, in fact, I am as far from that as one can be.  But I try to live my life in a way that the Bible tells me.

Philippians 2:14-16 says this: "Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.  Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life."

And, in 1 Timothy 3:2-4, we are told this:

"Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.  He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect."

I know those verses in 1 Timothy say "he", and "overseer" (deacon), but I definitely think they're applicable to anyone in a position in which they lead others.  I think it's also good to be careful about how things appear to others.  For instance, I have a friend who is a youth leader who will not ride alone with just one teenage boy.  She always takes at least two kids with her if she's driving someone somewhere, because she never wants to put forth the wrong impression.

If you're reading this and don't have a group that you lead, you can still live your life in a way that pleases God and that points others to Him.  Why?  Because He desires that everyone would come to know Him.  We all have people in our families who we can witness to, that are not believers.  At least, I do.  I'll end with a picture from Thursday night.  We had an all girls pool party with our 9th and 10th grade girls, and all of us leaders swam with them.  (We usually do not.)  It was so much fun!  We laughed, we talked, we played silly games, and we all just got caught up with one another.

These girls are a few of the ones who keep me on my toes.  They help hold me accountable, and I do the same with them, as well as the other ladies who lead.  I am so thankful that God has given me this group of people to be with and to live life with.

Love to all.