Wednesday, November 25, 2015

our week so far

We didn't do a whole lot of anything on Monday, except for going to Costco for some much needed supplies, and coming back home and changing back into pj's.  (Did I mention how tired I was that day?)  It was a quiet day, because Jonah and Noah were with Todd at work that day, then at Pipes and Drums practice later that night.

The other boys ended up being at the church when they were done with school work, and then they ended up eating dinner at Chick Fil A with friends, so I had the whole house to myself and watched Christmas movies all the day/night long.

That is a good problem to have, my friends.

Yesterday morning I got up and made Monkey Bread for my family.

And proceeded to start a fire inside my oven.  I always forget that when I bake this, I have to sit it on a baking sheet in the oven, because the biscuits rise and the juices drip all over the place.  Hence the oven fire.  It was yummy, but that burnt smell made me feel sick to my stomach and I was forced to take a nap so that I could feel better.

(Another good problem to have.)

I woke up after twenty minutes and felt a little better, but my house smelled bad all day.

The boys all got their school work done (we only did math and science this week, to make it easy on them) and after lunch, they went and played soccer.  Then they went to the church to finish up Christmas decorating in the youth room, then they went and ran an errand, then were back home by five.

I read and watched movies all day again, with some housecleaning thrown in for good measure.  (Actually, we all really cleaned, because on Thursday night, the halls are getting decked!  I love starting with a clean slate.)  After the cleaning and laundry, while I was in the living room, these two kept me company.

They're really cute, even though they BOTH get on my nerves with the cats.

We had dinner at a Mexican food restaurant last night, in celebration of a really sweet girl turning fifteen.

Emma is one of my favorite teenagers in all of the world.  She is funny, sweet, beautiful (inside and outside), and she loves my family and Jesus with all her heart, soul, mind and strength.

Here's another one.

If I had a daughter, I would want her to be just like Emma.  She is precious and wonderful, to quote Jonah's kindergarten teacher.

This morning is lazy.  Coffee abounds.

And when my husband leaves in a little while, I will be doing laundry and watching Christmas movies again.  And enjoying the scent coming from my favorite candle, the one that this boy can't seem to put down.

I am guessing a lot of you are spending your day cooking today, but I don't have to, since my mom and step-dad do all the cooking.  (For the record, I have once cooked an entire Thanksgiving meal, and I love making all of the trimmings, but I am never asked to take anything.)  So in lieu of cooking today, I will be spending a quiet day at home again, and later today, I get to see my best friend and her hubby and their sweet little girl.  Can't wait!

Happy Wednesday and Thanksgiving eve to you.  Love to all.

Monday, November 23, 2015

the weekend {girl's retreat edition}

This weekend was so much fun!  I spent it with a good bit of my favorite people ever, and after two good nights' sleep, I am finally feeling a little bit recovered.  Here's what went on:

My friend Missy picked me up at 2:45 Friday afternoon, and after loading a ridiculous amount of stuff for only one night away, we left my house and went to the church to pack some last minute supplies.  These are our excited faces that we were finally there!  It's beautiful out at this campground that's only a twenty minute drive from home.  It's called The Grove at Red Oak Lake.  If you're from around these parts, it used to be called Camp Cordova.

We helped unload some things, we had to figure out registration things, then we went to our cabin to claim our beds and to make them up, then met back up to pray before the girls started arriving.

It was almost dark when the girls started arriving.

We checked them all in, then told them their cabin assignments, then met back up for dinner.  After dinner was worship and session one.

The theme of the retreat was I Am.  As in God, who calls Himself The I Am to Moses.  Friday night was all about Who God is~what He calls Himself in a passage from Exodus and Who He is to us.  Abbey taught and did a phenomenal job.  I know it wasn't her, but God at work within her.  After session one, we had a game planned for them~life sized foosball.  Why yes, that is a thing.

It was absolutely hilarious to watch our adult leaders participate in this and ONE PERSON (ahem, Cathy Phillips) is EXTREMELY competitive and almost took down a couple of girls.  She is the one in the picture above, in the Alabama sweatshirt.

After this game, we had a bonfire, and when our girls said they wanted to go back to the cabin, we left the bonfire as well.  Missy and I had a little something up our sleeves for them, and our friend Renee got in on it.

Renee is in the monkey suit.  This was after we scared the daylights out of them (and a couple more times after that).  We took the monkey back to the bonfire and scared a few more girls, then went back to our cabin for the night.

We ate some snacks that we'd all brought with us, then we talked some before finally turning in sometime after midnight.  They all slept, though I didn't much, and we were up by six on Saturday.  I had quiet time on my bed, but we also had a scheduled quiet time later in the morning after group pictures and breakfast.

 I sat under the gazebo and gazed out at the view while I prayed.  After this we had session two, and my friend Sunday (our youth pastor's wife) taught on who we are in Christ Jesus.  All of the sessions were wonderful and so, so rich in content and Scripture.  We had a small break, and I had to make a run back to my cabin, made more fun by my friend Renee driving me on the golf cart.

See?  So much fun.  This one is crazy.  And so much fun to be with!

Here are our girls.

Aren't they beautiful?

I adore them!

Session three was my favorite and we did it as grades with the girls and the leaders.  We had a little time of blessing them and then we prayed for them individually.  The blessing was something that we told them God had given them (certain characteristics or spiritual gifts), then we gave them a challenge, then we prayed.  We all cried like babies.

Right after this last session, I had to pack up and leave.  Sweet Emma had an All West choir performance and I rode with her mom Laurie to go listen.

This is Emma and Emily.  Also not pictured is a sweet girl named Anna, who is also in the choir.  It was a beautiful performance!  We only almost fell asleep twice.

I was glad to be back home!  But we had no water in the house, because we had another leak, this time in the downstairs bathroom.  That was repaired fairly quickly, and Todd went to ride with the sheriff's department that night.  Noah made us a yummy dinner for him, Jonah, Alex and me, Graham went to a speaking event with Jason (their youth pastor) and Drew went to Emma's house for dinner and a movie.

They played outside and I watched Christmas movies until falling asleep in my recliner.  We had church yesterday (best sermon ever!), then we came home for lunch and a nap (me) and some coffee, then I was back at the church by three for choir practice.  Last night I watched another Christmas movie until Todd got home from church, and I was in bed by ten.

I am feeling much less tired and less sore (my everything ached), and I am looking forward to a quiet and laid back day.  The only thing on my to do list is Costco.

Happy Monday to you!  Love to all.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!  This week went by with lightening speed.  Can you believe that this day next week is the day after Thanksgiving?!  I cannot.  My dad always warned me that this would happen~that I would get older and that the years would start flying by.

He was so right.

And speaking of that day next week and my favorites, this time next week, I will be blaring the Christmas music and decking the halls!  It's the day we always decorate for Christmas, and I cannot WAIT!

This week was really good, and I am so excited about upcoming events this weekend, but I'll tell you more about that at the end.

I'm linking up with Andrea from Momfessionals for this post.

I mentioned on Monday, I think, the sweet time that the girls from community group had in my home Sunday night.  It had nothing to do with my home, or me, but about God, and how faithful He is.  This moment has been one that I have thought back on often this week, and was definitely a favorite.

I love our youth, y'all.  I mean, I really, really love them.  They amaze me every time I'm with them, and I love how open and honest most of them are with each other.  I am so thankful I am able to be a small part of their lives.  I also love my fellow youth leaders.  I feel so fortunate to get to walk alongside them in life, and they are always provoking me on to good works.  (Encouraging me.)

Happy sigh.

Another favorite moment was from Tablescapes at our church Tuesday night.  My whole family was there with me, either serving or helping with technical things, and I was with all of my favorite people.  Our table was so much fun, and the event put me right in the Christmas spirit.

As if I need to be in the Christmas spirit any more than I already am.  ;)  What can I say?  It's my favorite time of year!

I told y'all that I won a Yankee candle while I was there, and you had better believe that I've been enjoying it.  It's my favorite thing in my house right now, and I've been lighting it early in the mornings, as I sit in my recliner and talk to God and read His word.

It smells just like Christmas.

Happy sigh again.

I don't have a picture of this, but my favorite man made it back home safely last night!  We were all glad to see him.  He had a fun couple of days with Jeremy and the other guys from church that went to the conference in Nashville, and he even won something!  Wow...we usually never win anything!  His prize was a really nice pair of headphones.

The past few weeks, I've given up Netflix and have been reading in its place.  I picked up one of my favorite book series from one of my favorite authors (The Baxter Family series by Karen Kingsbury) and was trying to get through the first five before Thanksgiving.  I finished the last one Tuesday night, and I went and fished these out of their hiding place.

I LOVE CHRISTMAS BOOKS.  They are my most favorite ever, of all time.  But even though I just pulled these out, I made a trip to the library yesterday and got a whole new stack.  I checked out titles from Debbie Macomber and Richard Paul Evans.

Happy sigh, yet again.

This afternoon starts one of my favorite events with our youth that we do every year.  It's our annual girls retreat!  I am riding out to the campground with my friend Missy pictured above, and we will be spending tonight in a cabin with our girls.  I get to spend lots and lots of time with all my favorites, another of whom is this girl below.

I am so excited.  I have a busy morning planned, then lunch with my dad, a Kroger run and home to pack.  I cannot wait.  Would you do me a favor and pray for all of us?  The girls and us leaders?  There are a few girls going that I am really praying God does a mighty work in.  I would so appreciate those prayers.  Thanks, in advance!

Well, speaking of my busy morning, I have to run!  Have a great day and weekend.  Love to all!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Life This Week

Good morning and happy Wednesday!  I have accepted the fact that this is just the busy season for my family.  I don't know if it's going to last a couple weeks, or if it will be this way until after Christmas.  Either way, I'm good with it and I accept that fact.  I will tell you one thing, though~I am always super thankful that we homeschool during the month of December.  Our habit in years past has been to do extra work in the months before December so that we can enjoy a day off here and there between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I love that little tidbit, and I am thankful for the flexibility we have with schooling for our family.

Here is a little bit of what we've been up to so far this week.

On Monday morning, we were straightening up before the kids started with their school work, and in doing that, Noah asked if we could put the Christmas flannel sheets on his bed.  You know me, and you know that I was MORE THAN HAPPY to oblige his precious little heart's desire to spread Christmas cheer.  :)  So we dug through the boys' linen closet in their bathroom, and we sure did pull out those cute little sheet sets.

Noah's bottom bunk has the polar bear and snowflake sheets, and Jonah's bunk has Christmas reindeer.  They also decided that they not only wanted the fitted sheet, but also the flat sheet and a real comforter.  {They usually sleep on the fitted sheet with just a warm and cozy blanket covering them.}  I love how cute their room is!  They don't love the yellow walls and are begging for new paint, but we'll have to wait and see.  I know it won't happen until after the new year, but maybe in time for their thirteenth birthday.

Shortly after I took this picture, my friend texted me and told me she was ready for me to come to the church and for us to pray together.  {She'd had a morning meeting that got pushed back.}  I love this precious friend!

Last year and at the beginning of this year, God started birthing an idea in both of our hearts, and little did we know that He had done that until a few months later, about the time that spring time rolled in.  We were talking and catching up one day, and when we discovered that we BOTH WANTED A FAITHFUL PRAYER PARTNER, we made the commitment to just start.  So we did, and we haven't looked back.

{I do have to confess here, though, that this was difficult in the summer months, when she is crazy busy and again from August until just a few weeks ago.  She is going back to school, so we will have to continue to move around and be flexible with our time, but it's something that we are committed to doing faithfully each week, and it's one of the first things each week that we both do.  That was another thing that was important to us both.}

If you do not have or have never had a prayer partner, may I encourage you to find one?  Make it a weekly commitment and stick to it.  Satan wants us to forget commitments like this and he wants to distract us and keep us busy.  Don't let him.  I urge you to find someone!  There is nothing quite like praying with another like minded believer, my friends.  God will knit your hearts together in a way that only He can do, the way He has done for my sweet Abbey and me.  You can have that, too!

I am so thankful for the way that He works in my life, and how He gives us desires in our hearts that will honor Him.  I don't ever want to take a day of that for granted.

After we prayed, my kids stayed at the church to go eat with their two favorite guys, and a couple of my favorites as well, our youth pastors, AJ and Jason.  I am so thankful for these additional Godly men that God has given to my kids.  They can never have too many.

I came home and finished up dinner and by the time we were all back together under one roof, I discovered that my dinner was, in fact, terrible.  I threw it all down the disposal and Graham went out for pizza.  We had a Beethoven movie marathon, then the boys watched football for the rest of the evening.

I did my bible study homework.  My homeschool group wrapped up our study in 1 Peter last week, and this week we started Daniel.

I know I've said it a million times, but I love studying the Precept Upon Precept way.  This is how I do it!  I get all my colored pens and I color all over the observation sheets.  {Not really, I mark them up to see all the words that are repeated over and over.}  Needless to say, I love Daniel, and once I started, I couldn't stop!  I proceeded to sit there and do all five days of the homework.

It. Is. So. Good.

On Tuesday morning the boys all finished up their school work and we went and had lunch with my mom at a yummy Mexican restaurant.  After lunch we went to our church, to decorate a table for that night's women's event, Tablescapes.  I'd promised to help my friend Sunday, and since my sweet mom is the queen of all things decorative, I enlisted her help as well.  We had so much fun doing this, and the event last night was so much fun!  Here is my sweet friend, Sunday.  {She also happens to be the wife of our new amazing youth pastor.  I am so thankful to God for their family!  They love my boys so much and we love them and their family so much!  God answered every single prayer I ever uttered about them, and even above and beyond what I prayed and asked.}

And our beautifully decorated table is behind us.  :)

I came home afterward and painted my fingernails while Noah watched another Beethoven movie.  Then last night we went to church.  It was such a fun night!

The tables were gorgeous and the fellowship was even better.

We had such a great time!  And the stage in the fellowship hall was stunning.  I love Christmas time!

We had tickets at our table with numbers on them, for a chance to win several door prizes.  I usually never win anything, y'all, but I won last night!  I know there were some more elaborate gifts, but I'm not that fancy of a person, and I was thrilled with my gift!

A Yankee candle!  I love candles so much, and as much as I love this brand, I never buy them.  I could, I know, but I have a hard time spending so much money on something that I can buy for a fraction of the cost at Walmart.  {Have you tried the candles at Walmart?  You should!  They're amazing!}  But I love this.  It smells heavenly.  It's burning, as I write this.  I got up early this morning to send Alex home, and decided to watch a Christmas movie since the house was so quiet, and I lit the candle then.

After Tablescapes last night, my hubby and his friend Jeremy left for Nashville for two nights.  There is a technical conference going on, and that's what they'll be doing today and tomorrow.  They'll be back home tomorrow night.  I am thanking God that the weather wasn't bad last night, and that they didn't have to drive in rain the whole way there.  They were able to stay ahead of it and arrived at their hotel by midnight.

Well, that's been our week so far.  I am so excited to stay home today, and in my pajamas!  We have church tonight, but that is all.  I hope your day is wonderful!

Love to all.

Monday, November 16, 2015

the weekend

Before I even get started on this light hearted post, I was shocked to hear of Friday's events in Paris.  I'm not terribly surprised at yet another terrorist attack, but my heart breaks for them.  I remember how I felt after 9/11, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone.  But one thing I know:

"For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control."  2 Timothy 1:7

These are not the days to be timid in our faith, my friends.  We need to be bold and we need to get serious about things with eternal value.  I see apathy and warfare all around me~in church even~and I know that the enemy is after us.  Not the enemy as in terrorists, but the enemy as in Satan.  I am praying for my unsaved family members, I am praying for the apathy I see all around me, and I am praying for this world and our country and leaders.

God bless them all.

On a MUCH lighter note, it was a good weekend around these parts.  I got it started by doing one of my favorite things~Christmas decorating!  This wasn't at home, though, but at our church.  It was a choir work day, and I was excited to not be the only one there.

We had fun, even though we all got a little cut up.  We all look like we've been in a cat fight.  We did this for two hours, while listening to a Christmas music station on Pandora.  :)

And since Jonah and Noah were with me and worked so hard at helping one of the men in choir, I took them to lunch at their favorite place.  (Chick Fil A.)  But look at what I was dealing with on my mirror as I was trying to order.

Yuck.  It was a spider on the top right corner of my mirror.  I was ready to poke him with a pen if he came any closer than this.

I went out to dinner with my best friend Friday night, and we had a great time catching up and spending time together.  Even though she gave me news that I didn't want to hear, it was a fun night.  I never get pictures with her, because we're always so busy catching up.

Saturday morning the boys and I loaded up and picked up my sister and went out to Dad's for the second Saturday in a row to put out his Christmas lights.  It was so much fun!  We are fast and were all finished in two hours.

Drew took a picture of all of us when we'd finished.  My dad and Sandy had laid down all the lights at the base of each tree that we decorated, so they made it easy for us by doing that earlier in the morning.  And all the chords are always laid down a couple weeks in advance as well, so there is no last minute scrambling.  I am telling you, my dad has this thing down to a science, and Trish and the boys and I have our routine by now and always do the same things each year.

Graham figured out that we strung over five thousand lights.

It was a fun day, and by one thirty, we were all back home and chilling out watching football.  Well, not me.  I was staring at the backs of my eyelids.

That night we went to my in-love's house for dinner, then back to my dad's to see the lights all lit up and sparkly.

It was beautiful.

We were back at church on Sunday morning, early, and then home for a quick lunch and then we all split up for the rest of the day.  Todd and Graham had a technical meeting, Jonah and Noah had a party and I had a Hallmark Christmas movie to finish.

I was at church again at 3:45 for choir practice, then at five, I was with our Children's Worship Choir, practicing and sound checking for their six o'clock performance.  I was back home by six fifteen for community group and for our taco bar.  I love when we have something OTHER THAN pizza on these nights!  It was delicious.  I was hot after cleaning up in the kitchen, so I took the dogs and went out to the back porch.

While there, I was so blessed in watching what was unfolding before me.

These girls are so loved by their community group leaders.  For this group each week, I am only the provider of the home, but these girls know that no matter what they face, we are all only a phone call away.  One of their friends is going through a really hard time right now, and they were talking about struggles they face each week, and they ended in prayer.

My heart was so full at the end of the night.

I am so fortunate to be involved in our youth at church.  I pray over these girls every single day.  There are some REAL struggles in our youth, and it's something I am always talking to God about.  I love all the girls in our youth, not just the ones I'm involved with.  We have an upcoming retreat with the girls this weekend, and I would love your prayers.  For softened hearts and for some of the girls' eyes to be opened.

Thanks in advance.  And thanks for reading this ole blog.  Again and again.

Love to all.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!  This week has been one giant whirlwind, so I am thankful I have this weekend to unwind a bit.  (Who am I kidding?  It's going to be busy again.)

I'm linking up with Momfessionals for this post.

My favorites from this week are all coming from one day of the week, and that was this Wednesday, Veteran's day.

That day also happened to be Alex's twelfth birthday!  He has a sweet little set up each year, being out of school on his big day.  We used to always love going downtown for the annual Veteran's day parade, but it's been a couple years since we've been.  Just last week, my kids all asked if we could go again, with Pappaw.  (We always go with him.)  He is our favorite veteran to honor.

That morning when the boys woke up, Jonah asked if we had a poster that we could use to make a sign for the veterans in the parade, and I found this giant tri-fold board that my neighbor gave me a year ago.  You can't tell, but it says, "Thank you for your service."  Alex drew the stars and the stealth bomber at the top.

I look at my big kids and am shocked that they're all as old and as big as they are.  I was so excited that my sister Trish was able to go with us this year!  And even Todd came~he met us there after it started as a surprise to the boys.

Are you ever too old to enjoy a military vehicle passing by?  I don't think so.  I was as fascinated watching as my boys were.

After the parade, we went to eat lunch at our favorite downtown restaurant, The Arcade.

 Left to right are Trish, Daddy and me.  We love him so much!  I love spending time with all my sisters.  They're some of my favorite people to have fun and laugh with, and I miss seeing all of them!  I am very thankful that I have at least one sister near me.  Just a funny fact, when Drew was a baby, she moved to Michigan for about a year.  At the time she moved, we lived a couple of streets away from each other.  I could not drive by her street without crying, and I was an emotional wreck the entire time she was there.  We went and visited them that year, in Michigan, for Thanksgiving, and it's one of my most fun memories of all time.  We got there and were basically snowed in the whole time, but it was fun being together.  I love you, Trishy!

After lunch, we did our usual thing and went across the street to the Amtrak station.

The boys love to go out and look at the railroad tracks.  I threatened some of them, AHEM, ALEX, within an inch of their lives if they didn't smile at me.

And the big boy (Todd) had the idea to put pennies on the track, because for the first time ever since we've started going there, we had a train come by.

This was them picking them up and seeing where the pennies were imprinted into the train tracks.  It was really cool.  Right after this we left, and Todd, Graham and Drew went out of town for work, for one night.  The rest of us headed back home and to Academy (Alex had birthday money burning a hole in his pocket!) and later that night, Jonah and Noah went to dinner with Alex and his family, and I went to church.  I was there for FOUR HOURS.  Choir practice lasted an eternity that night, and I could hardly talk when I was done.  I was with our children's choir for one hour and then with mine for three.  Part of that was practice for the praise team that's singing Sunday, and we learned a new (to them, not me) song, so it took an extra long time.

Yesterday we skipped our homeschool group, and I didn't feel good, so I slept almost the whole day.  We had dinner with Todd's parentals last night and this morning, I am thinking that is the best and most true picture I've ever seen.

Especially because I have to leave and go work at my church from ten till twelve.  I need all the magic bean potion I can get.

Well, have a great day!  Love to all.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

a couple of things & Veteran's Day

I saw this image on social media the other day and shared it on Instagram.  It jumped out at me because of all the hoopla going on over the red cups from Starbucks.  Which I am O.V.E.R. by the way.

Let's all just stop attacking everything and being offended over every little thing and carry on with our lives and the important things in life.  A Starbucks cup is not important.

I saw this on my Timehop app yesterday and about died.

This was five years ago, and it was Graham's and Drew's first ever concert.  The guy in the picture is Matthew West.  We have always LOVED him.

I walked into my beloved church building last night and was saddened over the fact that we only have ONE MORE WEEK of our bible study!

I hate ending a good study.  This one that I'm talking about is Armor of God, by Priscilla Shirer.

And about today, happy Veteran's day!  My sweet daddy is a Korean war veteran, and we get to honor him today.  I am excited about our plans~we are going downtown to the Veteran's day parade.  After that we'll go eat lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, The Arcade, then we'll ride the trolley, go visit the Amtrak station and head back to the Ville.  It's also Alex's twelfth birthday!  So I'm fairly certain a stop at Academy will be made, too, so he can spend his money.

By the way, the last time we attended this parade was about four years ago.  But look at the picture I found last night.

This seems like it was about a minute ago.  They were so little!

Todd and the boys went and bought a green light last night, to honor the veteran's.  (Google it, if you don't know what I'm talking about.)

And finally...

Thank you for serving.  I am thankful for all who did.  God bless and love to all.