Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Monday night sleepover

I mentioned yesterday that my hubby and two youngest sons are in Kentucky, at middle school youth camp.  I got the idea on Saturday, to see if my oldest two could stay the night with a friend so I could have a sleepover with the junior girls.  (Except that now, they're officially seniors.)

So thanks to my friend Rhonda, my two boys, and another friend went and stayed the night at their friend Zack's house.  I asked them to stay gone from seven last night until ten this morning.  We cleaned and even changed sheets so the girls could use some of the beds to sleep in.

Eleven of them came!  This was us at the start of our night.

It was so much fun!  We had tons of junk food, and for a couple of hours, they all sat around this table that you see and laughed and watched videos and looked at social media.  I know that sounds strange, but it's normal for teenagers today.  They weren't being quiet either, even with their phones, they were laughing and cutting up.  My heart was so full, having them all over to stay the night.

I love time with them.  I may have mentioned that a time or a million two.

My sweet friend Abbey sent me a text of her and my hubby last night.  My two favorites!  I sent her this picture in return.

The girls eventually all went upstairs and played Just Dance for hours.  Seriously, hours.  Around midnight my friend Missy went home so she could be up with her hubby before work this morning, and I headed to bed.  I made sure they were all settled in their sleeping areas for the night and left them watching old movies on The Disney Channel.

I watched an episode of a show on Netflix, and by one thirty, was fast asleep.

I was up at seven for coffee, and the first girl came down at eight.  I made them pancakes and turkey bacon for breakfast (well, Missy made the bacon) and had apple juice, milk, orange juice and coffee.

And by ten, as quick as they all came, they headed back home.

It was a fun night!

Love to all.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Let's Talk~Summer!

I'm linking up with some people for this blog post.  I love seeing what other people are doing with their time, so if that interests you, go check them out!  Just click here.

Here are some of the things we have going on this summer.

To start us off right, Saturday night was spent with us up late, packing Jonah, Noah and Todd for a week of middle school youth camp.  This year they went back to a place in Kentucky called The Crossings, and it is one of the more memorable camps my older boys went to.  So far they are all having fun, even if they did have to endure through watching High School Musical on the bus ride there.

Here was us Saturday night, helping Todd get organized for his week as a counselor.

I was bugging him so bad while he did this.  I love teasing him and messing around with him.  He pretends to get all huffy about me bugging him, but secretly he loves it.  He said that at that moment, he would not miss me while he was gone.  He was kidding.  He's not that dumb.

Jonah's face in the background.  Is that not hilarious?  He's been a mess lately.  All of a sudden, he loves to appear in pictures, but only as one photobombing.

So, camp is happening all summer.  Theirs is this week, while Graham's and Drew's is mid July.  For their camp, they are back at the beach.  This year they are at Daytona beach, and their speaker is David Platt.  You read right.  Can you even imagine?  I cannot.  It's going to be awesome!

Another camp that we do as a family usually is kids camp, but this year we're skipping that.  Too much other stuff is going on.  I think Graham might go as part of the tech team, and Drew might as well, but I'm not and Jonah and Noah are not.  That will be strange, not going.  I've been a counselor there every summer since Jonah and Noah completed second grade.  That's how long we've been at our church.  Five years now.  Hard to believe!

I also look forward to lazy days spent reading, preferably by the pool, this summer.  My place of choice to spend time browsing?

My happy place.

I look forward to (prayerfully) being able to go as a counselor for high school camp again this year.  I've only been once before, which was last summer.  I'd planned on going the year before, but my surgery happened and I wasn't recovered enough to go.  Here was the group that went last year.  I was the one taking the picture.

Bunch of crazies.  I love these people so much.

A fun time was had at Ridgecrest camp in North Carolina last summer.

I look forward to spending time with these lovelies.

Going to dinner, or lunch, movies, having movie nights at one of our houses, swimming, singing songs with them, just laughing and spending time with them in general.  This was us going to Jerry's snow cones Friday night in the church bus.

I love ANY and ALL time spent with these ones.

I look forward to swimming with my mom-in-love.  Tomorrow is the first day we'll be going to swim together, and I can't wait!  I need some vitamin D!  The sun always clears up my dry skin.  I have no idea why or how that works, but I'm looking forward to spending time with her, catching up.  I feel like I haven't seen her in forever.

Every summer our youth has inner city mission type trip called Street Reach.  This might be the favorite thing we do all year.  I cannot wait to go again this year!

Here are a couple of pictures from last year.

We go and stay at a school in Memphis, then go out into the surrounding neighborhoods and give bible clubs at sites designated by Street Reach.  That happens after breakfast, from about ten till twelve thirty, then we go back to the Brinkley (the school we sleep at) and eat lunch.  After lunch is a service project each day, except for Wednesday, when we have to be out of the school by three for them to have church there that night.  On that day, we leave and go to a movie, then dinner at Stevie B's, then to a park and back to Brinkley at nine.

I LOVE going to Street Reach!  This may be our last summer going there, so I plan to soak it up while I can.

Other things I look forward to are some traditions we do each year, like walking to our community center park and watching fireworks with our friends, Thursday night summer concerts on the town square, Friday or Saturday nights spent with our friends, picnics and just relaxing.

Because we homeschool, we are going on our family vacation at the end of August, so I look forward to that as well.

It's going to be a great time!  I don't think I ever tire of this season.  As long as there is time to be spent with the ones I love most, I will always look forward to the summer.

Thanks for reading!  Love to all.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday and SCHOOL IS OUT for summer!  This is the last day for public school around these parts and I know of four boys who are THRILLED to have their friends readily available all summer.

To top off this great (and insanely busy) weekend, two of their best friends just got here to spend the next twenty four hours.  Our dear friends and old neighbors, Katie and Travis, are here for the weekend.  You should hear all the talking coming down from upstairs.  I love it.

You know that having a full house is one of my favorite things.

This week has been filled with lots of these moments that I love.  It's also been unusually busy, and I don't really know why.  I have had lists on top of my lists.  Seriously.

I'm linking up with some people for this post.  Click here to see Momfessionals and all the links that are posted.

Here are some highlights from the week that stand out.


Last weekend, my mom, sister and I went and ran errands on Saturday, and one of our stops was Barnes and Noble, and I bought this book from their clearance section.  I read the first four chapters really slow, but all of a sudden it picked up and I couldn't put it down.  I stayed up until almost midnight reading every night this week and I finished it last night.

Good books are a favorite of mine.


This tree has always been one of my favorite trees.  It is huge!  It also resides on my mom's and stepdad's property.  Isn't she lovely?  I'm stunned by her brilliance every single spring/summer, when all of her greenness comes back out.

And, their house and spending time out there is one of my favorite things ever.  It's so relaxing!


This lady is one of my favorite people ever!  Missy and I are soulmates and we laugh because we are basically the EXACT same person.  Except with ten years difference between us, but who cares?!  Age is only a number.  This lady is my best friend!


Hello, lovey.  Who knew that grilled pineapple was so delicious?  It's my new favorite thing to make on the grill.  Well, technically, Graham made it, but holy guacamole.  It is so good.  And also?  That chicken was equally yummy.  I enjoyed it for dinner one day and lunch two days in a row.

I love cold chicken....isn't that strange?


It wouldn't be a typical favorites post without me mentioning my love of writing out Scripture and how it's my favorite.  And look what came out today!

If you are wanting the printable version, go here to the sweet blessings blog and find it in a folder.


This might be my favorite picture and moment from this entire week.  I wrote about it yesterday.


You all know, most likely, that Barnes and Noble is my happy place.  I finished that book above last night, at seven forty five and had to run upstairs to get dressed again (I was in my pj's already) and went to B & N to get another book.  While I was inside, the sky dropped and it was pouring, so I took my time perusing the aisles of the store, and met a new friend named Jessica.  I told her we should be best friends and we might have hugged before I left.

I'm not even kidding.

I bought three more books last night by the same author, but one book is a volume with two book inside.  AND, I used a gift card I found a couple of weeks ago and didn't have to use any of our own money.  Even better.

That was my week, in a nutshell.  I hope you have a great day!  Love to all.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Wednesday Night Fun (Church)

It seems like all my posts lately have been about church.  Maybe not all, but most of them.  Are you seeing a pattern in our life?  Our church family and home are very important to us.  It's not necessarily about the programs, but just the way we do life together.  If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: I am so thankful for my church family.

Wednesday nights at church are fun for me, they always have been, even when I went to different churches.  Wednesday night was always a big youth night for me growing up, and now that my boys are at that stage of life, the same is true for them.  I had amazing youth pastors growing up, and I can say confidently and with all of my heart that the same is true for them.

These people are part of the village it takes to raise our boys.  We count on them being there for the boys when they need a non parent person to talk to, and they have never once let us down.  We love these people so much and I pray for them everyday in my quiet time.

That being said, last night, we had a really fun youth event at church called Post Exam Jam.  It looks a little different each year because of the weather, but this year it was held in our church gymnasium and we had a Memphis icon popsicle truck from a place called Mem Pops.

The flavors are different and strange combinations, like some of the ones you see listed in the picture above.  Because they were free to us last night, we had a handful of choices to choose from, but I tasted three.  The strawberry, the blackberry and Greek yogurt was DELICIOUS, and I got the Mexican chocolate.  It had CAYENNE pepper in it, y'all, and it was amazing.

Also available for the students and friends they bought were a bunch of fun games that don't get pulled out that often.  My Drewby was there helping set up yesterday afternoon, along with some student interns that have recently been hired.

I love nights like this because I love to fellowship, and I love being with these teenagers.  As in, I prefer being with them over adults, because sometimes I'm awkward around grown ups.  Not even kidding.  I don't just love one particular grade, either, but I love ALL of them.  I had so much fun going around and just getting to catch up for a few minutes with the ones I don't see that often.  I am so thankful that I get to be a part of youth ministry!  I could have come home and cried, my heart was so overwhelmed with gratitude.

I don't love just the youth at our church, but I love our church pastors and staff.  Look at these guys!

How many pastors of huge churches and worship leaders/choir directors do you know of that would willingly just came and hang out with the youth on a Wednesday night?  And not just hang out, but learn to play crazy games like Spike Ball?  I know many, and not many I know would be willing to do this.  I love these guys so much!  Left to right are AJ (our awesome middle school youth pastor), Brother Chuck (head pastor), Chandler (cool youth staff person and one of my most favorite people of all time) and Travis (our new worship leader/choir director).  I love that they commit to spending time with our youth and that they hang out and get to know them on their level.  Because of nights like this and their antics that you see above, this is why all of my kids would go knock on our pastor's door in a second if they ever needed anything or a listening ear.

They're just there and they're available.  They admit they're not perfect and they're all humble about it.

We are so fortunate to have found the beloved church home that God placed us in.  When we first started here six years ago (WHAT?!), I never thought I'd fit in here enough and love it enough to call in my beloved church home, but I am here to say that those are true words.  I hold these people in high esteem and I pray for them all the time.

Well.  I have to run!  I have a busy day, all of a sudden.  I'll explain more about that tomorrow.  Love to all!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

things that make my heart happy

Have you seen the newest video that went viral and practically broke the internet?  The mom with the Chewbacca mask?  Well.  I am slightly obsessed with this video.  Y'all, my sweet friend Katie sent me that video in a Facebook message on Friday, and I (might have) watched it five times.  It makes my heart so happy!  I said at the very end of it that I want to be Candace's best friend.  (See?  I know her name now.)  I knew when I watched that video, that this was a lady who loved the Lord with all of her heart, soul, mind and strength.  Because when you love Him, how can you NOT be full of inexpressible joy?

To prove my point about her, I'm giving you a link with an article that I read this morning.  Click HERE and watch for yourself.  She says some really great things and she issues a challenge to those of us who are believers in the glorious Lord Jesus Christ.

The coolest thing about me knowing that she was believer is this: the Holy Spirit within us connects our hearts to like-minded people.  Have you ever met someone and had an instant heart connection?  I have, with several people, and that is why.  I love how He knits our hearts together.

Y'all.  This red ball makes my heart really happy.  I know, I know, it sounds silly, but this is something that my kids have had forever, and we have gotten rid of almost every toy they have ever had.  We still have sports equipment of course, because boys, and we still have Lego's.  But this ball just randomly appears all over my house, all of the time.  I walked into the kitchen Wednesday before leaving for church, and there it was.  Drew was the culprit.  He bounces it, he sits on it, he throws it against the wall, he just walks around with it constantly.  I love how something so cheap and seemingly meaningless makes him so happy.  I think that, technically, this ball belongs to him.  I don't even remember where it came from.

Graham made our dinner last night, or most of it at least.  He grilled this chicken that you see and the delicious pineapple that you see behind it.  I want to try and find a more healthy version of it, but I sprinkled brown sugar (maybe two tablespoons worth) and cinnamon over the top of it, then he grilled it in a foil packet, for thirty minutes.  He flipped it at the fifteen minute mark.  Look at that chicken, though!  He is such a great grill master.

Now, to teach the other boys to follow in his footsteps.

I love these boys and their sweet friendship.  It makes my heart so full to know that they have such a wonderful group of friends.  My prayer is that they always have friends that are edifying to God and satisfying to them, and that they stir up or provoke one another on to love and good works.

(I posted a picture with that verse on it earlier this week.)

Teenagers make my heart so happy.  This includes all our teenage girls in the youth, but most of the others aren't in this picture.  I look forward to a summer spent with them all!

It is a joy and a privilege to be able to lift them up to God each day.  What a gift for them to know that someone other than mom or dad is praying for them.  I didn't have an older woman investing in me when I was growing up.

Speaking of joy and such, it's biblical.  This is one of my favorite passages in Scripture.  I memorized it a long time ago and I pray everyday that God will manifest these within me.  Happiness is a feeling, but JOY is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.  I am not always happy, because some days are terrible, but I am always full of the joy that God has given me.

I was aggravated when I started praying this morning, but very quickly, He convicted me and softened my heart toward Him and others as I prayed for them.

The last thing I had in mind to write about is something you know about me.  I started writing out the book of 1 Peter this morning.  I have been "stuck" in this book lately in my quiet time, and I keep hearing or reading or seeing images with passages from this book.  I figure that God wants me to just plant myself here for a while, so this morning I started writing it out.  I also read it while I write, and something new jumped out at me.  I love that about the Bible.  It's truly living and active, just like His word says.  I am writing out this book, along with the passages I write out daily as a part of writing plan that I always post about.

Well, the kids are all up and at 'em, and we're going to have a little family meeting around the kitchen table.  Nobody is in trouble, I just want to touch base with them.  That's getting harder and harder to do, the older they get.

Thanks for reading!  Love to all.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

some things I aim for

I thought I would share with you some things that I pray about daily and ask God to help me with.

I am a work in progress, and I am being changed and stretched and molded every single day of my life by my Creator God.  In part of my quiet time spent in prayer each morning, one thing I always ask the Lord is that He will convict me when I sin.  I don't want to sin easily, and without regret.  I want to feel an instant check in my heart when I do something or think something or say something I shouldn't.  Sometimes it's not an instant thing, but it will occur to me days later.  Just yesterday I had to apologize to a friend about something I had said to her about someone.  I didn't mean to be gossipy when we were talking, but all of a sudden, it took that path.

See?  I'm just keeping it real here.

I am striving towards my life verse daily, sometimes, minute by minute.  What is my life, verse, you wonder?

I love this verse for so many reasons.  It reminds me to not talk coarsely with someone.  Our words should build up, not tear down.  Our words also need to be graceful and grace-giving.  Nobody in this world is perfect, and I need to be reminded often to give grace.  Our choir director challenged us with this when he first came to our church in January.  He admitted before us that he was a flawed person, and he asked us to give him grace when he messed up.  It was so humble of him to say that in front of us, and I want to be like that!

And speaking of that, I want to be humble.  I think we all have tendencies to be a little boastful.  Whether we boast about performing, or our lives, or all that we do or have, the Bible warns us about being too prideful (boastful).

James 4:6 says this:

"But He gives greater grace.  Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

Some translations use the word "opposes" where you see "resists" above.

I pray and ask Him daily to instill a humble heart within me.

I pray everyday that God will give me opportunities to serve my husband and my boys.  This is such a little thing, in the grand scheme of life, but it keeps me humble before them, which goes along with what I said above.  One little tiny thing I do for my husband each morning is making his coffee to go.  He takes two travel mugs of coffee with him each morning and just a couple of weeks ago, he started taking a container with ice water in it.  I fix these for him, because he doesn't delay when he gets up.  He wakes up, gets dressed, comes down and puts on his boots, goes out to start his truck, comes in to drink a protein drink and then leaves.  Me doing this little mundane task for him is one less thing he has to do before he leaves, and though he has never said this, I think it makes him feel loved and cared for.

Those are just little things than anyone can do.

I aim to be the kind of friend that I want to have.  I love my friends so much, and I need them to be there for me.  I need them to pray for me, I need them to sometimes just let me cry on them, and I need them to be faithful in friendship.  Therefore, I try to be all of that for them.  Just this morning, I got a text from someone I would love to get to know more.  She texted me and told me that God put me on her mind this weekend and then asked how she could pray for me.

The fact that I don't know this sweet lady that well and the fact that this was so random, means the WORLD to me.  God did that, and she obeyed Him.  There is something I told her that I could use prayer for, and she promised me to pray daily for that, until after a certain date, when it would all be over.

I love this image that I saw on the internet not too long ago.

I aim to be this for my friends.

I also want my words and my life to point to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I want to be the kind of person that does exactly what this verse below says.

Last summer during Street Reach, our annual inner city mission trip, one of the youth pastors, AJ, used this verse as an example of how we should be.  In the translation he read from, it used the word "provoke" where you see the word "stir".  When we hear of provoking someone, usually it's in a negative connotation.  He challenged us to provoke one another to love and good works, though, and had us go around the room and call out things that we saw in people on that trip that were positive.  It was such a beautiful and meaningful moment to do this, and I was the recipient of some of it.  A college girl that was there as a counselor challenged me with her words, and from that moment forward, my eyes were opened to how I could love more fully like Jesus did when He walked on this earth.

None of these things I've written about are rocket science, y'all.  But they are just little things that we can do each day that might make the difference in someone's life.  I always pray and ask God to use me, and I know He does.  He is faithful and He knows my heart.  If you're interested in hearing anymore of this type stuff, please reach out to me.  I am stopping for now with this post, but I have lots more to say on this subject.  You can reach out to me on here in the comments, or on social media or you can email me at allboys@gmail.com.

I love to talk about Jesus and His power at work within me.  Thanks for reading my blog!  Love to all.

Monday, May 23, 2016

weekend update

This weekend was so good!

On Friday night, we wanted something different for dinner, so I suggested Milano's.  That's a locally owned Italian restaurant that has a very simple menu.  The choices are pizza, stromboli, and calzones.  When we left our house, I pulled out right behind my friend Missy.  When she turned on to her street, so did I.  I told her to just get in the car and come to dinner with us, but her husband was already home from work (which I'd forgotten), so she needed to get him first.  They met us at the restaurant and we enjoyed an unexpected little night out together.

Missy and I ALWAYS have fun together.

On Saturday, I had a few errands to run while my family was gone all day, so we split up and I ran those errands with my mom and sister, Trish.  One of the places we went to was one of my happy places~a bookstore.  I bought a new book by a new (to me) author.  I have had a few people recommend her books to me before, so when I saw this one on clearance, I snatched it up.

I wish I could tell you I'm halfway through it, but I'd be lying.  I finished season six of Army Wives, and I haven't read it much since Saturday.  I'm still on chapter three.

Another place we went was to the beauty supply store.  I got a new nailpolish that I love.  It's fun and summery.

The family all came back home and Todd worked that night with the sheriff's department.  The boys and I went to my mom's and stepdad's for dinner.  After dinner, we love to go sit on the back porch and talk.  And gaze.  I love this tree that's in their backyard.

It's so pretty out there and the weather that entire day was perfect.  It was almost a little cool, which I never mind.  I love these times I spend there on that back porch.

On Sunday we were at church all the livelong day.  Seriously.  I was there from eight thirty until twelve thirty, then back at two fifteen until seven.  It was an unusual day~as busy as Sunday is, we're never all there that long.  I had a meeting, then choir practices and then a children's play that night.  After the service, this one and I went to eat with some cool teenagers finishing up their junior year of high school.

These are our excited faces.  We were excited about the ADORABLE kids musical that just happened at our church, and the fact that summer is almost here!  We look forward to spending LOTS of time with our favorite kind of people to be around.  (Teenagers.)  We have lots and lots of fun plans and, God willing, camp at the beach.  We are thrilled to be doing this stage of life together, too.  We always have fun together, Missy and I, and I thank God for her friendship.  Never in a million years did I know, that soon after I would meet her, that she would be become one of my very best friends ever of all time.  I love her so much.

I hope you had a great weekend!  I'm leaving you with a video to watch that I am obsessed with.

Enjoy!  Love to all.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday Favorites

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


This is from a couple weeks ago, but one of "my" girls from church gave me this amazing candle on Mother's day.

This scent is my favorite!  I can't even describe the smell, but it's everything summery wrapped up inside this candle.  I've been enjoying this little beaut almost every single day.  I LOVE Yankee candles.


This park in The Ville (Hinton Park) is our new favorite place to hang out.  My kids, in some form or fashion, went there four times in the last week.  I took Jonah and Noah and some friends there for a picnic Friday night and we had a great time.  The scenery is beautiful!


Prom last Saturday night is definitely in my favorite memories from the week.  When I saw Graham in his tuxedo, I couldn't help but get all teary eyed.  He looked so grown up and I cannot BELIEVE he will be a senior in high school this fall.  That group of kids that went together are definitely some stellar teenagers.  I love every single one of them.


This moment on Sunday is hilarious to me.  My newest favorite contraption in the house is the iRobot we bought from Costco.  It's wonderful to get the floors all vacuumed while being able to sit and watch from my recliner.  These are animals trying to stay out of its way while it was on its path to clean floors.  This is a rare moment of cohabitation.

Notice Callie and how she seems relaxed.  She was ready to pounce on poor Twinkles the cat the second she moved, and Crash was just on guard in case the iRobot decided it was going to attack us all.


I've said it a thousand times.  Writing out scripture is one of my favorite things to do.


This is my favorite thing I saw all week on the internet.  I love this quote by Dave Willis.  Do you follow him and his wife (whose name I cannot remember) on social media?  You should, if you don't.  They give great marital advice, and they each have a blog they write on.


Topping off our wonderful week were these moments we spent with my extended family yesterday.  My beloved step-dad, Bill, retired from his job and his company gave a really nice retirement lunch for the company and their families at The Hard Rock Cafe.

We took some time for a photo opportunity outside while waiting for our food.  This is to represent his new "relaxing" phase of life.  Yeah, right.  If you believe that, DON'T.  My mom has a to-do list that is a mile long for this man to do now that he is retired.

Can I never have a picture with me in it without Drew in the background?  And not just Drew.  The other mischievous one you see is Trey, my step brother who came in town to surprise his dad.

We love Big Daddy!  (That is what the boys call him.)  This man is some kind of special.  He has a heart made purely of gold, and he has loved on my boys well in the seventeen years we've had them.  He tops their list as one of their most favorite people ever to live.  He is the one who, right when we got married, started inviting Todd and myself over every weekend for a family style dinner.  That has evolved into us spending most Saturday nights with them, even if it is becoming a little more rare for all of us to be there.  We are so thankful for his presence in our lives, and for ALL of the wonderful other grandparents as well.  I feel very fortunate that my kids have such great relationships with all of the parentals.

He is definitely one of our favorites.

I hope your day is great.  Thanks for reading my blog!  Love to all.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

What are YOU reading?!

I love books and even more than that, I love reading them.  I have read sixteen books since the first of January.  I told you.  I will forever be a bookworm.  When I go places and see people reading, I have this insatiable curiosity to go over and talk to them about what they're reading.  I always want to know.

That being said, this post is all about books.

I told you about reading one a couple weeks ago that left me frustrated at the end.

I was so irritated by this book that I had to go and get another book immediately, one that I knew I loved.  This reminds me of trying to get a bad taste out of your mouth.  It was that way for me.  I did enjoy this book right up until the end, but the end.....aauuuggghhh.  I won't spoil it for you.  I also still want to see the movie when it comes out in June.

So that same day, I started to read (again) one of my most favorite series of books.

I think this is the third time I will have read this series of books, The Sisterchicks series by Robin Jones Gunn.  I love all of her books, but these are funny and entertaining, and all about friendships.

If you're looking for a good series to read over the summer, these are great.

Do you have any recommendations for me?  I don't want heavy books and I prefer to not read smut.  You know what I'm talking about.  I am also all about a great memoir of sorts.  I pre-ordered Sophie Hudson's newest book last week, Giddy Up, Eunice.  She is the author of the Boo Mama blog, A Little Salty To Cut The Sweet, and Home Is Where My People Are.

Do you have something you've read lately that you loved, and it meets all these specifications?

I'd love to hear about what you're reading.  Seriously.  Share some comment love for the sake of a good book.

Thanks in advance!  Love to all.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

on church and having a relationship with God

I've been wanting to talk about church for a while.  I know most of you probably all attend a church, but I know for a fact that some of you who read this are just on the fence about going.  I will say this: it does not say anywhere in the Bible that you will not get into heaven if you don't attend church.  But there is a verse that says this in Hebrews 10:25:

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.

I would love to share with you about my life in church and what that looks like and what that means for me.  This post was inspired by one of the new friends I met at the gym yesterday, and the conversation we had about church.

The reason I go to church is simple: I go to be fed spiritually every week.  My dad once equated this to running out of gas in a car~when you're running low, you go and fill your tank back up.  Church is that way for me.  My pastor is a wonderful shepherd of his flock and the words that God gives him are life giving and replenishing.  Quite simply, I am fed spiritually by his preaching every single week.

I go to learn more about God.  

I go to learn how to live life~I learn how to disciple my own children.  I know that not all churches are this way, but my church home is big on equipping us with the tools we need to raise Godly kids in a Godless society.  My family is my top priority.  Well, in order it goes this way: God, husband, kids, everything else.

I go to fellowship with like-minded people.  Let's be real here for a minute: everywhere I go, I come across people who are not believers.  I pray and ask God for the opportunity for Him to use me daily and I ask Him to allow me to share my faith and His gospel with those I come across.  Sometimes that does happen, like in a doctor's appointment I had a few weeks ago, when the technician and I ended up having a great conversation about God.  Sometimes, though, it doesn't happen.  In those times, I have to pray and ask God to continue to give me opportunities to share His love with others.  We don't have tons of people getting saved at our church each week, but we do have people who flood the altar every single week, begging God for a miracle in a lost loved one's life or for another personal matter.  Our pastor makes sure that we are doing our job as believers~focusing on our own families and spreading His gospel with those who do not know Him.

My most fun and memorable times have come from being in a church.  All of my friends have always come from church, and that still rings true today.

Here are a few examples of this:

When I was looking for pictures for today's post, I didn't have to search and search.  Most of what I post to social media is from a church event or with my friends there.  And y'all.  We have FUN together.  More fun that I've ever had with anyone else.  Some people think that church has to be structured and stodgy, but that is not true!  It is okay to have fun while being in church.  Of course, the fact that I volunteer with our youth helps in this area.  Nobody knows how to have fun more than the youth.

For me, being a church goer and believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, also means that I live by a very specific book: the Bible.  I've read it through from cover to cover several times, and though I am nowhere near perfect (just ask my family), I am certainly a work in progress, and I try my best to please God in everything I do.

This means that I am careful with my words.  I try to live my life verse every single day, and that is Ephesians 4:29:

No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear.

I try not to gossip, and I try my very hardest to stay away from those who do.  That means I've been known to walk away from conversations or to change the subject really quickly.

I try not to tell a lie or to stretch the truth or have flattering words come off my tongue.  (Yes, there is a verse that talks about flattering speech.)

I have recently been convicted (just to keep things real) about how I've not been honoring God in my body and in the way that I was eating.  So, I have made some changes, as you know.

Those are the little, less obvious sins that I struggle with.  Sin is sin, and one is no worse than the other.  To me, the bigger sins (like murder, adultery, taking God's name in vain) are not as difficult, but in God's eyes, they are all equal.

I am certainly not suggesting that I always succeed in trying to live a life pleasing to God.  But in so doing, I've learned to pray and ask Him to convict me quickly when I sin.  That means that I get an instant little check in my spirit when I've done or said something I shouldn't have.  He keeps me humble in this way, and I am thankful for that.

I pray daily, and multiple times throughout the day.  Being a stay at home wife and mom have enabled me to do this over the years.  It is not at all unusual for a kid to "catch" me in the act.  I know that not everyone can do this~because you would most likely be fired if you walked around talking to God out loud every day.  But God can work through us no matter what our lives look like, whether that means doing like I do and praying throughout the day or if you're able to pray with a co-worker once a week.  He gives us moments to do this throughout our hectic schedules.  If you don't already, please consider praying every single day!  It doesn't have to take an hour, but it doesn't need to be us just giving God a laundry list of things we want.  We should always pray according to His will, and His will is His word.

I also make the time every morning to read my Bible.  On some weekend days, I might skip this, but I always end up feeling so blah and mundane when that happens.  I really do try to read it every single day.  (Today I was in 1 Peter.)  This is one reason why I love the Scripture writing plan I do so much.  Some days that may be all that I do, but usually I read something else on my own.  I want to encourage you in this: READ YOUR BIBLE!  It has everything we need pertaining to life and godliness inside the covers.  (2 Peter 1:3.)

More of how I live is from the Bible.  The more I read His word, the more I want to know of Him and the more I aim to be like Him.  Just this morning I read that I am to be holy, because He is holy.  I put Him very first in my life and everyone and thing falls after Him.

All of this is made easier for me by attending my church.  That was what I started this post with, and it's what I will end with.  Find a church home.  Just make sure it is a Bible believing church.  Do your homework and see if what they believe lines up with God's word.  We have this wonderful internet at our fingertips, so use it to study up on their core beliefs.

Just a warning, though: no church is perfect.  Within every set of church walls is a very flawed people group.  If you're looking for perfection, look no further than God.  He is the only One who is that way.  We sin.  We mess up.  We say things we shouldn't and sometimes we can just be jerks.  But if God can forgive us, shouldn't you forgive the one who did you wrong?

And once you find a church, don't just GO to church.  Find a place to serve and get yourself plugged into a good class or small group.  Yes, it's a commitment, and yes it takes time to find a class you might love, but it is well worth the time.  I promise.  Find an area to serve!  Be a greeter, be in a prayer group, consider teaching a class, or just assist someone else.  But serve wholeheartedly, as working for the Lord, not for man.  (Colossians 3.)

Make this a priority.  You can still have your kids play sports and you can still go to the lake in the summer, but make Sunday's a priority and don't miss!  We have done this with our kids their whole lives, and they do not feel abused or neglected.  In fact, it's the opposite and they hate missing a Sunday.  Even when low on sleep, they still love to be there, like when Graham went on Sunday after prom.  Just put God first and let everything else fall after Him.

Commit to live your life for God.  Commit to being in a church.  I promise you, it is not something you will ever regret.  People say sweet things about my boys all the time, and when they want to know what we've done to raise them that way, our answer is simple.  We have committed to raising them to live their lives for God and we have been consistent in every aspect of their lives~in discipline and in church attendance.  And you know what?  They don't hate us.  In fact, even when they're upset with us, they are respectful toward us to their peers.  I am thankful for the village of people we've had to help us along our way, though.  This includes family members, friends and Sunday school teachers, community group leaders and our pastor.

If you're reading this and feel panicked at the thought that it's too late for you, take a deep breath.  It is NEVER too late to decide to live a life for God.  It is never too late to start praying for your kids.  Whether small or grown and married or single.  God wants you to come to Him just like you are.  His death on that cross paid the price for our past sins, our present sins and our future sins.

Just decide to make a change and commit to following through with it~whether in how you're living life or in deciding to finally start attending a church.

I promise you will never regret that decision.

Love to all.

Friday Favorites, 7.12.2024.

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