Tuesday, July 18, 2017

a list of random, something super exciting, and a giveaway

I have so many things rolling around in my brain, that I thought I'd just sit here and write a blog post instead of doing all those things.  This is how I always am right before I go somewhere, but more about that in a few minutes.

Y'all.  Fellow reader friends.  I left out the main book I've been wanting to tell you about, in yesterday's post.  My sister in love, Tracy, wrote an amazing book!

She texted me a few months back and asked if I would read it for her, before it was sent to the publisher.  I sat down to read it, and the rest of my afternoon was spent glued to the pages.  I don't want to give away too much information, but just know that Tracy Sterling Jones Goodwin is a miracle from God.  She should actually be dead, but God was not finished with her here on this earth.  If you take only ONE suggestion from yesterday's book post, ignore all those other ones (Don't ignore the bible, though.) and purchase this book and be amazed at God's healing touch and sovereignty over all.

Here is a little more about Unstoppable God.

And also?  I'm going to post a picture of this book on Instagram with some instructions on how you can win this book!  I've got connections.  ;)  You will receive a signed copy of this book when a random winner is selected.  I'll post it today, and the comments will close on Friday at noon.

You can purchase this online at any of your local book places.

GO.  Buy it, and read it!

Moving on from that, I changed my blog again.  I couldn't deal with the other one, it was too much of a pain to have to find the tab to click on to post.  I can't figure out how to get the picture back up at the top, but I'll have to deal with it later.

I came across this image on Instagram yesterday from Lifeway Girls, and I shared it again.

I posted it to share with my own kids, and other teenagers I consider mine as well.  Mostly, my kids' friends, and the girls I work with in youth ministry.  Lately, I have been so saddened to observe that so many people think that God's love is based on our works.

I cannot say this enough: His love, His grace, His mercy are all free gifts that He gave to us when Jesus died on the cross for our sins.  He literally took the weight of the world's sin upon His shoulders, and died for us, so that we wouldn't have to be eternally separated from God.  Because of His grace and the salvation He gives to us when we believe in Him and put our faith and our hope in Him, He transforms our lives from the inside out.

For example, I used to smoke, curse, and lived a life that looked radically different from the one I live now.  When I placed my faith in Him by believing in Him, it was like He picked me up, turned me around, and I started walking in the opposite direction.

He changed the desires of my heart, and He changed the way I lived.  My life was no longer my own, but it became His, and now, I live my life in a way that I pray will bring Him glory and honor.  That is a full transformation.  A full transformation is NOT going to church on Sunday, and then doing your own thing for the other six days, ignoring what His word says, and ignoring Him.  He wants constant fellowship with us, once we belong to Him, and He wants our very best, not our afterthoughts.  He wants our every thought, word, deed and action to point others to Him.  We were created in His image, and we are to be a reflection of Him to a lost and dying world.

I pray these words inspire you to see what the bible says about living a new life in Christ Jesus.  Don't just take my words into account, in fact, forget my words.  Just see what His word says.

Moving on again.

The reason I have so much to do today is because at seven ten tonight, my sister Trish and I are flying to Denver to see our other sisters Lisa and Debi, and their families, and to meet these precious little angels and miracles from God!  I cannot believe they're already half a year old.  Time really does fly by.  I am so excited to meet little Kinsley Anne, and Kylie Grace.

I get so choked up every time I see pictures of them, because they truly are little miracles from God.  There was something wrong with them during Erika's pregnancy, and one or both of them were not expected to live.  My niece started a blog about them, but I don't think it's for the public yet.  As soon as it is, I'll share a link to it.  These girls were born as Mo-Di twins.  Google it, if you want to know more about what that is exactly.

Lastly, will you help me pray for a friend of mine?

This handsome young man is Chandler, and he is so special to our family because of how he has invested into the lives of our boys.  He's a youth intern at church, and his family are good friends of ours.  He left last night to spend five weeks in Southeast Asia.  He is with a team, and they will be doing all sorts of things while there.  Please help me to pray for him and the other guys on the trip!  I would love to have people praying for him everyday they're gone.

The girl with him is his sweet girlfriend, Grace, and she is where I got this picture from, with her permission to share.  (Thanks, Grace!)

I would very much appreciate the prayers for him.

Well, I guess I need to get a move on and start on all my lists of things to do today.  Thanks for reading my blog!  Love to all.

(I won't see you back here until next Tuesday.)

Monday, July 17, 2017

the books I've read lately

I am a bookworm.  I have been since I was in the first grade, and my teacher, Mrs. Shawl, introduced me to reading.  My very first book was a Garfield the cat book, and I've not stopped since.  Over the years, my love of reading included Sweet Valley Twins, and then Sweet Valley High, any little $2.50 teenage romance I could find at Kroger, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, The Babysitter Club, and many, many more.

I've told you before that I would ask Dad to drop me off at my favorite book store, The Book Depot, and four hours later, he would come back and get me.  I would go through every single book in my section, and I spent literally eons of time there during my teenage years.  Those were the days.

Fast forward years later, and here I am now, a homeschooling mom with four boys who hate to read.  I am appalled by that fact, and I have threatened to disown them.  They will read, but they don't do it for fun.  To this day, give me a good book, and I'll stay up half the night reading it.

That being said, I post lots about the books I read on social media.  Here is what I've been reading lately, and know that most of them can be found in the local library, or on Amazon.

I have been in a book rut lately, and my last trip to the library produced these two books by Katherine Reay.  The first one I read was Lizzy and Jane, and I started Dear Mr. Knightley last night.  The author loves Jane Austen, and all the books relate to her books.  I have never read Jane Austen before, but after reading these two and the one more I have waiting on me by her, I am adding them to my collection.

Last night I bought another book on Amazon, by an author that is new to me.

I follow a lovely blogger and fellow booklover on Instagram named Anne Boegel, and she recommended this one that her son recently finished.  The plan is for me to read it, and then I'll make it recommended reading for the boys, once our school year starts back in a few weeks.

I cannot wait to read this one, I LOVE a good suspense book.  I used to love to read mysteries by James Patterson (I still do, actually!) and Mary Higgins Clark, and this one has that vibe to it.

When I was a teenager, I started reading books by Robin Jones Gunn, the Christie Miller series.  I never finished them all, so several years ago, I bought them all, and read them, some for the first time.  My best friend is currently reading them and loves them just as much.  So, I recently read books by that same author, The Married Years, which is three books that go together.  These were super fast and easy reading.  Even if you're an adult, I recommend reading through all these books by this author.  Start with the Christie Miller series, then read the Sierra ones, then the Katie Weldon ones.  Then there are the college years, the married years, and now, the baby years.

You'll never regret reading them, and I love a great Christian fiction book.

I love Karen Kingsbury.  This is her latest book, in the Baxter series.  If you've never read one by her, start with the Redemption series, then go from there.  This is the latest Baxter family book, but the next one is in the making as I write this post.

I recently read Where We Belong, by Emily Giffin.  It was okay, but honestly, I had to look it up, to remember the details.  I do love Emily Giffin, and so far my favorite has been The One and Only.

Another one I recently read was Silver Girl by Elin Hildebrand.  It was really good, but she doesn't have chapters in her books.  That drove me bonkers!  I do have another of her books on my to-read list.

Lastly, I cannot write this list without including my bible.  I read it every single day, and I love the one I am currently using.

It is the HCSB Women's Study Bible.  I love that it's is big and thick, with margins wide enough for me to write in.  I love that it capitalizes the pronouns when speaking of God, and that His name in Hebrew is used.  Yahweh in the O.T., and Yeshua in the N.T.  Those names aren't written every time, but some of the time.  I love this bible.  Also, in it are good study notes at the bottom, and sometimes on a page, you'll see a word in the original language (Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek).

I cannot recommend it enough.  It's pricey, but Lifeway is good about putting them on sale for half price a couple times a year.

Well, that's what I'm reading, or have read lately.  I hope this inspires you to go get lost in a book of your own.

Love to all!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!  I'm linking up with Andrea from Momfessionals, and her friends, for this blog post.

This week has gone by surprisingly fast.  Graham was gone all of Monday and Tuesday, to a nearby lake for Senior Summit.  All the graduates and several of the pastors at our church spent two days doing devotional type talks together, and eating and playing on the water.  The girls had a house to stay in, and the guys had another.  It looked like everyone had a blast, according to the pictures that I saw.  

I held dinner off until he got home Tuesday night, and we had three extras who ate with us.  There was NO food left, not even a crumb.  I'm guessing it was either really good, or they were all really hungry.

Our days have been pretty carefree.  Graham went back to work on Wednesday, there was church, there were friends over, and yesterday was spent with my in-love's at their house.  

In honor of these lazy days, here are some of my favorites about this current season.

I love folding towels, and even after they've been washed and dried, they come out smelling like sunscreen.  That is my favorite scent of summer.

Summer community groups are my favorite.  We swim, we talk, we laugh, we eat more pizza.  What's not to love?  I adore teenagers, and time spent with them.  

This summer I have spent one day almost every week swimming with my mom-in-love.  This is her neighborhood pool, and usually we have almost the whole thing to ourselves.

These days have been some of my very favorites of the summer.  We always talk to other people, too, and we have fun talking and catching up with one another. 

This is my beloved church home, where I pulled over one night to take a picture of the magnificent sky and sunset.  Sunsets and summer night skies are also some of my favorite things about these hotter months.

Night swims are another favorite of mine.  This picture wasn't actually taken during a nighttime swim, but it kinda looks darker.  The water feels cooler at night, but I know it's just the air around it, not the water.  

This picture has no significance of summer in it, but it's one of my favorite memories lately.  We were irritated with one another and I tried to hold his hand.  He gave me his finger to touch instead.  The same thing happened last night on the way home, I was irritated because I was tired and ready for bed (not at him, though, or anyone else, just at the fact that it was almost ten at night and I still wasn't in bed), and he forced me to hold his hand and then he kept making me laugh.  I took a funny video of him that afternoon trying to kill a fly and posted it as my story on snapchat, and he kept playing it for me.  It worked, and I wasn't grumpy by the time we got home.  



The library might possibly be my favorite place in our town.  It's definitely my happy place, and I've been frequenting the doors a lot lately, on the hunt for new authors and books.  I got in a book rut, but finally think I've pulled through it now.  

Another (I'm serious) exciting thing happened this week, and that is that we bought a refrigerator.  It'll go in our kitchen, the one in the kitchen will go out in the garage, and the one in the garage will be hauled away by the kind people at Lowe's.  Woohoo!  I'm excited about having matching appliances.  It's old fashioned, freezer on top, fridge on the bottom, and it's black.

Well, that's about all I've got for this edition of Friday Favorites.  Laundry is calling me, and I've got to hurry and get dressed and go pick up some history curriculum I bought off of a homeschool group on Facebook.  I cannot believe it, but it's already almost that time again.  The week after next is when I plan to get our 2017/2018 school year planned out, us registered with our umbrella school, and all the curriculum planned out and some more bought.  I'm already dreading Drew being a senior and having to go through all of that all over again.  It's so emotional!  Bleh.  

But God is my strength, and I do not say that jokingly at all, I promise you.  He is literally my strength, my portion, and the One I constantly run to with all the issues on my heart.  

I cannot get through a day without Him.

Thanks for reading!  Love to all.  

Thursday, July 13, 2017

life lately

First things first:

I redesigned my blog and I'm not sure whether or not I like it.  It's been a few years since I've changed it, and I was inspired by another blogger.  I like the little picture windows, and that it allows me to see more of what I've posted lately, instead of just mostly words.  To navigate it, click on a picture, or hit the read more button.  I don't like that I have to go down to the very bottom to write a new post.  Maybe that can be moved, though.

Feedback?  Yay?  Nay?

I was just in the mood for some change.  I miss this picture at the top, though....so I am making it my first picture, so I can see their smiling (and one unsmiling) faces.

These are the BEST ice cream bars ever ever.  They're the Skinny Cow brand, and it's salted caramel ice cream dipped in chocolate.

It is currently hotter than Hades here right now (unless you live in Texas) and this was how I spent part of my afternoon yesterday.

Also, notice my blanket.  It may be hotter than the surface of the sun, but you can bet your sweet little self that inside my house it is cold enough for me to need a blanket.  Praise the Lord for wonderful air conditioner.

I am very excited about the book that should be arriving at my doorstep sometime today!  Melanie Shankle is the author of the Big Mama blog, and I've been reading her laugh out loud content for years now.  I love every book she's written, but one of my very favorites of all is the book, Nobody's Cuter Than You.  Imagine my excitement when I found out she had a new book coming out in October, then multiply that by 100 when I was told I had been selected to be on her launch team.  Once this book arrives, I'll be out of commission, most likely, until I'm finished reading.

You can pre-order the book on Amazon, or any other book seller.  It releases October 3.

I came across a great article this morning, and thought I'd share it with you.


It's exactly how I feel about using the Lord's name in vain.  It is well worth the read!

And lastly, we are going to my in-love's house today!  I haven't seen them in a couple of weeks, and we are swimming and visiting with them all day.  We'll eat dinner with them as well, which I'm also excited about.

Aside from all this, I've been spending time with Mom lately.  We were together Tuesday and Wednesday, for several hours each day, and I so enjoyed that time!  She's been home a lot because of a hurt knee, but thankfully, she is so much better now and can get out once again.

I've also done a lot of laundry, I've cleaned house, and I've read a book I'm trying to finish.  It's been pretty slow and mundane, but I like it that way.

Thanks for reading!  Love to all.

Don't forget to let me know about whether or not you like this new design...I'm contemplating changing it back.  Also, what are some things you'd like to read more of?  I need some ideas.  Blogging for almost a decade can get pretty redundant.  Thanks in advance!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

how I read and study the Bible

I have been asked recently, the question of how to go about this reading and studying the bible.  I am certainly no expert, but by now, I do know my way around the bible.  If you're one who regularly reads my blog, and this is redundant to you, then you might want to leave now.  If you're newer, or if you're one of the ones who has been asking me this, this is for you.  I won't name names.  You know who you are.  Some of you are older than me, some younger, some the same age, and some of you are teenagers.  I say that because this can be for anyone, of any age.

For me, all of this passion came from when I joined a bible study for homeschool moms five years ago.  The boys went to classes and the moms studied the bible.  We did this type of study called Precept Upon Precept by Kay Arthur, and though it took me FOREVER to "get it", this became my favorite way of studying.  Before I did these Precept studies, I had done only studies already written for me.  The Precept studies teach you to read the word of God (and then do that over and over and over again until it sticks), and to come to your own conclusions on what the text is saying.  I have nothing against studies already written out, by the way, and I am currently doing a Beth Moore one on my own.  Those are wonderful and are what initially ever got me into the word of God in the first place!  There are tons of options, but I'll list those later.

My way of reading and studying is so simple that you might not believe me.

It starts with prayer.  When I read the bible first thing in the morning, I always start by praying first.  Sometimes I pray a long prayer and list out all my requests before God.  Other times, like this morning, I wasn't focused enough to pray that way yet, so I committed this day to the Lord.  I asked Him to give me pockets of time to talk to Him throughout the day, and I asked Him that as I read His word, to teach me through it today.  I always ask Him for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of what I am about to read, and I ask Him to speak to me through His word.

And then, He always does.

I started this morning by reading Psalm 5.  (I seem to always be reading in Psalm.)

This is a short chapter, twelve verses to be exact, and I read them aloud.  Sometimes I love to pray them back to Him as I'm reading.  While I'm reading, if something jumps out at me, I'll underline it or highlight it, and I might even draw a heart next to it, showing me that I loved what that particular verse said.  When I finished the chapter in Psalm this morning, I got out my journal, and I started writing out things listed about God.  I wrote out a verse or two that I really liked also, so that I can go back and revisit it later.

This was what my journal page looked like after I'd read that Psalm.  I blocked out an answer to prayer for someone, to protect their privacy, but I always write down things like that too.  Prayer requests and praises when He answers.

You can read for yourself, but I'll list it here too, what Psalm 5 said about God.

He listens to our words.

He considers our sighing.

He pays attention to the sound of our cries.

He hears our words.

He does not delight in wickedness, evil cannot dwell with Him.

The boastful cannot stand in His presence, He hates evildoers.

He destroys those who lie, He abhors a man of bloodshed and treachery.

I love verse seven: "But I enter Your house by the abundance of Your faithful love; I bow down toward Your holy temple in reverential awe of You."

He leads us in His righteousness, He makes our way straight before us.

All who take refuge in Him rejoice.

He shelters those who love Him, and for the righteous ones, He surrounds them with favor as a shield.

All of that came from those twelve verses of Psalm 5.

See how simple it is?  I sometimes like to pray this out to Him, praising Him that He blesses His righteous ones, and that He surrounds them with favor like a shield.  Especially because right now, I have a dear friend who has cancer, and she reached out for prayer last night.  I know that no matter what, God is in control, and He will surround her with favor as a shield, because His word says that.  Now that doesn't mean that bad things won't ever happen, it just means that when or if something scary or unexpected happens, He is still our shield, our refuge for those who place their faith in Him.

If I'm reading in the New Testament, where the chapters are a lot longer than in the book of Psalm, I like to read and study section by section.  If you'll look in your bible at Ephesians 6 (where I was this morning in my quiet time), you will see that verses one through four are under the subtitle, Children and Parents.  Verses five through nine are under the subtitle, Slaves and Masters.  Verse ten starts under a new subtitle, Christian Warfare.  When the bible was originally written, it was not broken up by chapters.  That's why I like to read by sections, because sometimes you'll reach a new chapter, and you'll see that the writer wasn't quite finished with that topic being discussed, like in Ephesians 5.  So on the day when I was reading there in Ephesians, I went from chapter four verse seventeen (under the subtitle, Living the New Life) through chapter five verse five, before a new section began again.

It is so easy, and it has made a huge difference in how I read and learn.

Always when I read, I use my journal to jot down what I'm learning about.  This morning in chapter six verses one through four, I wrote down what Paul (the writer of Ephesians) was saying to children, then to parents.  I did the same in verses five through nine, when he is talking to slaves and masters.

If I write things down like this, it helps me absorb what I'm reading.

I know not everyone is a lover of writing and journaling, but even if you make short bullet points, it helps tremendously.  It helps me remember what I've read, which is what I pray each morning.

So, that's it.  It's so simple that teenagers can quickly grasp this idea, yet it's so good that it makes your quiet time much more rich.  I know that I've been guilty of reading the bible just because I know I should.  And I've gone through it pretty quickly, too, so that I could check it off my list.  I don't want to do that anymore, though.  I want to read slowly and steadily, and I want to learn as I go.  I believe that's how we're supposed to read, so that what we're reading seeps into us.  We are also supposed to live out what we read so that the world will know we are different.  We should look NOTHING like the world, but pretty much, polar opposite.

Here are a couple of more pictures from recent quiet times.

I love to have a candle burning while I read and spend time with the Lord.  I like my space to look pretty, and I want to be drawn to spend time with Him each morning.  That helps me; having an inspiring space to sit and soak.  You will see that I write in my bible.  I mark it all up, I draw in it, I underline in it, I talk to God in it, and I write things to my boys in it.  I want them to have my bibles someday when I'm gone.

I like to use colored pens more than highlighters in my bible.  Highlighters usually bleed really bad, and these Papermate Flair felt tip pens do not bleed as much.  It does show through a tiny bit on the back of my bible pages, but that doesn't bother me.

I pray that all of this inspires someone to jump back into reading God's word, or to maybe start for the first time.  If that is you, a great place to start is in the book of John, in the New Testament.  It tells of how Jesus came to be, and who He is.

One last thing I do in my quiet time is writing out scripture.

You could even take this page and use it for your quiet time.  I told a teenager that last week.  Quiet time with the Lord each day doesn't have to be an hour long.  It could be praying, then reading a few scriptures.  That would take about fifteen minutes or so.  You can make it as long or as short as you want...the point is not quantity, but quality.  So this scripture writing plan is also a good plan to read by, and it's all themed.  I share these every month, from Sweet Blessings, and will continue to do so.

Thanks for reading my blog!  Love to all.

Monday, July 10, 2017

the weekend

After the last few weekends, this one was pretty low key.  To kick off the start of ours, my dad came over for lunch on Friday, as usual.  When we came home, we went into the kitchen for a bit, so he could look over something I've been working on, and I took this picture without him knowing.

Isn't it precious?  Per the suggestion of a sweet friend on Facebook when I posted this yesterday, I'm thinking of printing and framing it and hanging it nearby my spot where I like to have quiet time.

We had teenagers here with us that day, and we stayed and visited in the kitchen for a while.  Eventually they all went across the street to swim.  I thought it was hilarious that Graham and Drew both had friends who were here at our house, and neither of them were here.  Graham was working that day, and Drew had left to go spend the night with a friend in Nesbit, Mississippi.

I love that they are comfortable enough to hang out here without them.

I ended up alone that night.  Todd was working, Drew was gone, and Graham took Jonah and Noah with him for the worship service out at kids camp.  I had cereal for dinner, and then my friend Marissa came over and hung out.  I don't remember us really doing anything except talking.  And laughing.

Saturday morning I got up and had quiet time.  I loved where I was that day, and it was sort of an accident on how I got there.  First, I posted this picture.

And the wording reminded me of the verse that talks of how we speak from the overflow of our hearts.  That led me to digging a little deeper, and I ended up reading most of Matthew 15.

When I found the verse I had been looking for, I wanted to read it more in context with what had happened before and after.  It was really sweet time with the Lord, and I am thankful for what He showed me in scripture that morning.

I'm going to share more about this tomorrow, though, on how I study scripture, and how I read.

The rest of the day was spent going to Costco, reading, and then cooking a huge, delicious feast for my family.  Todd, Graham, and Jonah went to kids camp to tear down the stage after the service, and Drew and Noah stayed home with me.  Marissa came over again, but this time we watched Moana.  It was so, so good!  I'd been wanting to watch it.

Sunday morning was church, then afterward, Todd and I went to lunch with a couple friend of ours, Matthew and Lorri.  We ate at Huey's, and then we went Lowe's and bought a new refrigerator.  We will put the new one in our kitchen, the one in the kitchen outside in the garage, and we'll trash the one that's currently in the garage.  It'll be here a week from tomorrow.

Then last night was community group for the high school.  We swam at a friend's house, and ended around eight.

I loved the view walking back out to my car, with the sun setting.

I love summer nights, especially when they're spent in the pool.

It was a great weekend.  I hope yours was too!  Love to all.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!  I'm linking up with Andrea at Momfessionals, and her friends, for the writing of this blog post.

This has been a WONDERFUL week.  I'm not kidding.  First off, I cannot describe how (mostly) happy I am that all my boys are back home under this roof.  There was definitely a void in the noise (and attitude) while they were gone, and I've only had issues with one of them being back, but after our talk and some prayer with my friend yesterday, we're both much less cranky now.


I'm being serious.

Also, we all know how it's my favorite when my house is full again.  I love all the energy that teenagers bring into a space, and I love all the noise.

When I was praying yesterday morning, and talking to the Lord about some things, He showed me that for now, this is our ministry.  We always have people in our home.  For a while now, I've wondered what our ministry would be, if we ever focused on that as a couple, but the Lord was so sweet to show me this yesterday morning during my quiet time.  Not everyone can have extras in their house all the time, and I don't know that we would be able to, if this wasn't a ministry that God has given us.  These teenagers know that they're always welcome here, and they're all free to eat and drink to their little heart's content.  I always have stuff ready, and this is why I cook enough to feed an army, because some nights, I do!  Over the years the people have changed some, because friendships often ebb and flow, but the fact that they're always here has never changed.

Also, in being in prayer for helping out with youth ministry again next year, the Lord just kinda confirmed that I am to keep on going with it.  I already knew that this was His plan for me again, but how sweet of Him to confirm it once again.

I love how He works, and I pray that you (yes, YOU!) have a relationship with Him.  You know you can always reach out to me on here if you have questions, and I've had a few people do that.  I would love to talk to you more about this subject, and how you can have this kind of relationship with the Lord.

Moving on from there, the week has been so great.  It started off when my kids came home early last Friday from camp, and when we ate together for the first time in forever, and then swam that night after dinner.

We NEVER get to do that, and it was heavenly.  Our neighbors have let us use their pool all week while they've been gone, and I am so grateful to them.

I thought I had a picture, but I don't.  Just know that night swims are my FAVORITE.

We swam some more on Saturday, and that night we went to my mom's.  Well, Drew, Jonah, Noah, and I did.

Country life is my favorite, y'all.

Big Daddy, Jonah, and Noah were feeding the fish in Mr. John's pond in that top picture, and I can just never get enough pretty pictures of the landscape out here.  I love it.

That is my favorite tree, also, on the right of the work building.  It is majestically huge and grand, and when you see it in person, it almost takes your breath away.  Or it does to me, anyway.  I love nature, and I love admiring the handiwork of God.  He is quite the artist.

One of my favorite teenagers (I say that tongue in cheek, they're ALL my favorites) brought me home this gift from her vacation last week.  Was that not the most thoughtful thing ever?!  I love a good smelling candle, and this one by Yankee Candle is my absolute favorite.  It's burning in the kitchen behind me, as I write this.

I have two dogs, and a cat, and I do not ever want my house to smell like them.  Because of that, I am always spraying room spray, or burning candles, or spraying down the cushions with the new Febreeze that is safe for the air and fabric.  I'm super self conscience about what people think and smell as they walk into my house.

Hands down, this was my favorite picture from social media this week.  These are my beautiful twin great nieces, Kylie (on the left) and Kinsley.  My niece Erika is their pretty mom, and I borrowed this picture from some she posted earlier in the week.  They're twenty four weeks old nowadays, and literally, miracles from God.  One or both of them were not expected to survive because of a condition she had while pregnant, but God is our Healer, and He is the Great Physician.  Praise His holy name.

Every single time I look at their pictures, I smile and thank Him once again.

I've been in a slump with my quiet time lately, and I've been asking God to pull me out of it so that I can get back to a regular time with Him every morning.  I am so thankful to say that He answered that prayer this week, and He has been reminding me of obedience, as I've written out scripture on this topic for the month of July.  This happens to all of us, I know, but I am so glad He has changed how I spend my mornings again.  This passage above is one I read on Sunday, and it's one of my favorite passages to pray over my kids, my husband, and myself.  Here's how I do that, and it's taken form Ephesians 3:14-21.

"Father, I ask that you help us to be strengthened with power in our inner selves through Your Spirit, and that the Lord Jesus Christ would dwell in our hearts through faith.  I pray that, being rooted and firmly established in Your love, we would be able to comprehend what is the length and width, height and depth of Your love, and to know that the love of Christ Jesus surpasses knowledge, so we may all be filled with all the fullness of You.  You are able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think, and to You be all the praise and glory.  Amen."

Praying scripture is so powerful!  And it is within the will of God, so He always answers according to what is written.

I realized this week, that although I love to watch fireworks from afar, they're not my favorite when I'm close by them.  I have been this way since my childhood, and Drew and Noah have inherited this trait from me.  I think it's that they're not always predictable, and we are not careless.  We like to be in control, and to know what is going to happen.

I sure do love them from afar, though!  Our town outdid itself once again this year.  My neighbor said, as we sat and watched together, "There goes our water bills!"  I never thought of that before, but she is so right!

One of my favorite views.  X-box controller, coffee, a great book.  I posted this picture yesterday, and talked about how delightful this book is.  The author is Katherine Reay.  I highly recommend it!

Also, speaking of X-box, playing Forza is my kids' current favorite thing to do right now.

I needed to get some money to this dear friend of mine on Wednesday, and we decided a girls night out would be a good way to accomplish that.  She is one of my closest friends, and I am so thankful for her!  This is Andrea, and when I met her years ago at Renewed Moms, our hearts clicked.

We laugh and laugh and laugh when we're together.

Girls night out is my favorite!  We ate at my favorite Mexican restaurant, and I had my favorite soup, then we ended at Starbucks.

I'm currently reading through Ephesians again, and it is seriously one of my favorite books in the bible.  This was my quiet time this morning.

Well, I need to get up from here and send my man and my oldest son off to work for the day.  Thanks for reading!  Love to all.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

catching up again and the weekend

I forget how to blog regularly in the summer months, apparently.  I thought I'd catch up on here what we've been up to in the past week or so.

Last Tuesday afternoon, Jonah, Noah, Alex. and I went to my mom-in-love's house.  We had sandwiches and/or chicken salad for dinner, which was quick and easy, so that we could go play miniature golf after dinner.  There is this golfing range off of Macon road (for you locals) that I've always admired.  A few months after they opened, they added a miniature golf course.  I've been wanting to try it for a while, so when my mom-in-love mentioned going, we jumped at the chance.  It was so much fun!

I love playing that game and the views around were pretty spectacular, especially as the sun began to set.

It's very reasonably priced~six dollars for one game, but we had a coupon and got a dollar off.  The place is called Vantage Point.

I confess here that I've been so bad at quiet time lately.  I've been in rut again, but the one thing I consistently do is write out scripture.  So I've been doing this plan, and I love the topic of the month, obedience.  I cannot encourage you enough to do this, if this is appealing at all to you.  One year I did this on notebook paper and kept up with it all in a big three ring binder, but now I write it in my journal.

I may have posted this last week, but I love all my curly headed boys!  This one is Jonah, and though he fights his hair to make it straight, this is what he always wakes up looking like.

Lunch one day last week consisted of this avocado.  I love to eat these!  I season it up with a little salt and pepper, and eat it straight out of the skin.  I've been lazy and have been drinking protein drinks for lunch (as well as breakfast), but I don't love doing that, because by dinner, I feel like I'm too hungry.

My friend Marissa tried a new phone (the Samsung S8) for twenty four hours before taking it back to get the latest iPhone, but she still had this case and gave it to me.  I love it!  This is the color I'm currently obsessed with.  It's even on my nails.

Last Thursday I went out to my mom's house to visit with her.  I hadn't seen her in forever, it seemed, so it was good to catch up and help her out a tiny bit around the house.  She's recovering from a fall and a messed up knee, and she needed someone to sit with her and help her out a little while Bill cut their grass.  (It takes him several hours.)

I love how pretty and fresh everything in her house looks.

I can't remember what else we did Thursday.

On Friday, Graham and Drew got home around four, and I started on piles of camp laundry for the last time.  That night I had a bowl of leftover taco soup, and then we all went swimming.

I must have REALLY been craving this soup, because it tasted extra delicious this time.  The fresh cilantro helps out a lot, though.  And about the swimming~Jonah and Noah are dog sitting for two families right now, and one of the families has a pool they said we could use.  So after dinner we all went over together.  Graham didn't swim, but he did eventually come over and sit with us and talked while we were in the pool.  It was so much fun, and so, so relaxing!  Does anyone else feel that way about swimming?  I sleep so good on the nights I swim.

We swam some more on Saturday, and then that night, we were out at my mom's again for dinner.  Todd and Graham were working, but the other three and myself had no plans.  We had wings for dinner, and Drew was in his happy place.  I love it out there!  Bill, Jonah, and Noah were feeding the fish at the pond in the one above.

Part of my quiet time has been spent reading through Ephesians, and this was what I read Sunday morning before church.  This is one of my favorite passages of Scripture to pray over my kids.

Sunday was church, and community groups were that night.  Todd and Graham worked at a fireworks show that night, and Drew and Jonah went to see those, while Noah was with his friend Weston.

On Monday, we enjoyed a lazy day.  I read my book, and did laundry and cleaned a little.

Look at my beautiful little great nieces!  Kylie is the one on the left, and Kinsley is on the right.

I could stare at these sweet faces all day long.

A really, really sweet teenage girl brought me this candle from her vacation this past week!  This is my very favorite scent of summer.  She gave me an identical one last year on Mother's day, and I burned up every ounce.  I've already been enjoying this thoughtful gift.  She is a very special girl, and I am so grateful that she thought of me.

We swam more on Monday, and then watched some fireworks.  They were gorgeous!  It surprises me every year, how beautiful they are, but the town outdid itself once again.

Yesterday was more of the same~relaxing, swimming, and fireworks.  We went to Mom's again for dinner (ALL OF US!!) and they hurriedly shot off some fireworks before the rain came.  Once it started raining, we came home so we could get the dogs outside and fed.

I watched the season finale of The Good Witch on Hallmark, then went to bed.  It was a great weekend, and I am so thankful that even my husband spent a good amount of time relaxing and having fun.  It's not often that he unwinds like that, but it was much needed.

Well, my daily to do list is calling my name, and this floor isn't going to vacuum itself, so I'd better run.  Thanks for reading!  Love to all.

a list of random, something super exciting, and a giveaway

I have so many things rolling around in my brain, that I thought I'd just sit here and write a blog post instead of doing all those thin...