Monday, January 30, 2017

January Books

I kicked off 2017 by promising myself I would read more (and watch Netflix less), and I think I've done pretty good this month.  There were a rough couple of weeks, when I couldn't get into one of the books, but I just decided to put it down and give up.  (I HATE quitting books, but I just didn't like it.)

Also, I need to say that these books are not my typical Christian fiction that I read, and some are rated PG-13 for language.  You probably want to know that before committing to one of these.


Technically, I started this around December 30th.  I kinda forgot that I borrowed Christmas books from the library to read during the Christmas season, and before I took them back, I wanted to read at least one of them.  I love Debbie Macomber and have been reading her books for years and years.  There is no better author to read at Christmas than her.  I started on her Cedar Cove books (you should consider reading them first if you haven't already), then I read all the Blossom Street books, then The Rose Harbor Inn series.  There are so many wonderful books she has written.  Here's her website, if you want to look through all the series.


I started this one back in November for a book club I was going to, but I didn't quite finish it.  I did read most of it back then, but I needed to finish it and see what ended up becoming of the main character.  This was a fascinating book.  There are some scenes in it that I could have done without, honestly, but I did enjoy seeing the woman's journey through her life.  This is the first book I read by her and I most likely won't see if she's written others.


Book two was really heavy at times, and I was in the mood for a light read again.  I love the books by these two ladies!  The first one I read was The Year We Turned Forty (appropriate), and then I read The Status of All Things.  This one was every bit as good.  Keep in mind: language.


I went to my happy place a couple weeks ago and borrowed three books to read.  I read two of them and found out the third didn't interest me.  I love Emily Giffin.  Her books are so easy to read, and the story always keeps me interested.  This one is fairly new and I read it in three days, or a little less.  If you read her books, make sure and pay attention to the order they're written in.  For a couple of them, it matters.


I have read Kristin Hannah's books before, but it's been a while.  Fly Away is a sequel to Firefly Lane, but I didn't realize that and thought I was reading a book I'd already read.  It was good, but really heavy a lot of the time, and there was a lot of going back in forth between present day and years ago.  At the end, the author started telling the story of the main character's mom, and I could have done without all of that.  It ended in a way that tied everything up nicely and everyone had figured out their lives and gotten out of the messes they'd made.

The book I couldn't get into was by JoJo Moyes, and it was After You, which is a sequel to Me Before You.  (I know, I know...all the controversy.)  I tried to read this book two different times and it just did not keep my interest.  After making it halfway through, I put it down and moved on.

I just remembered a book I bought in the Denver Airport, so I'm going to read that first in February.  I'm excited to start a new book, and look for new titles.  I read pretty fast, so I can usually get through at least five books each month, sometimes more.  I read a lot in the day time while the boys are working on school, I read at night if they're watching something that doesn't interest me, and I read in bed sometimes.  It's one thing that is pretty mindless to me, and sometimes I prefer the light stuff to the heavy.  I am also super picky about books and if the first chapter doesn't grab my attention, the book won't hold me at all, and I move on.  I only buy books I know I'll love, and I borrow the rest from the library.

I'm hoping to read some books by a couple of my favorite authors this month, but I'll save that information for another day.

Love to all!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

things I love right now

It's been a while since I've done one of these types of posts, so I thought I'd make a new list.  For anyone who cares.

You have heard me say so much how much I love the winter, and the cold, but I confess that lately, this nice weather has felt so good.  With the exception of having to mess with the thermostat constantly, that is.  It gets stuffy, so we leave the fan turned to "on" a lot on these types of days.

I loved that yesterday my stepdad called and asked if he could bring us lunch.  Um, yes please!  So he came with two pizzas and I made salads for Noah and me.

I also love that he wants to help Jonah and Noah paint their room.  This is totally something we could do, and would, but y'all...he WANTS to do this.  I am so excited for them, and Jonah hasn't stopped talking about it yet.

I'm pretty sure we have the paint picked out finally.

I love the book I'm reading right now and I am almost finished with it.

I love my new glasses.  My prescription had changed JUST enough to be seriously annoying, and I can see so much better with my new ones.

I love these flowers that have been on my table for the last two weeks.  I'm thinking that when these die, I'll just go buy some more.  For four dollars a pop, I can swing that.  They make my kitchen so much happier.

I have not loved the headache I've had since Saturday, but finally I woke up feeling better this morning.  I'm so thankful for that.  The medicine I've been taking for it hasn't helped much.

I love receiving emails from Revive Our Hearts.  This is a ministry that Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth leads, and every day of the week, there is a podcast.  I don't always listen to them, but today I noticed the topic was friendship, so I listened and took notes.

There's more on the back, and it was only part one, but it was so good!  This is something I'll tuck away to maybe talk about later with a group of teenage girls, or my own boys.  I have a folder with that kind of thing in it, because you never know when you need to talk about a certain topic.

I love taking notes.  (You already knew that.)

Last night while the boys were all at church and Todd was working late to play catch up at work, I had a little snack of some M&M's and coffee and when I was trying to get situated, I put the bowl down and thought that it looked pretty.  So I took a picture.

I love a nightly cup of coffee.  I also love the colors of the M&M's.  I think they're pretty.  Right after this, I watched this week's episode of This Is Us.  I love this show!  It's been AGES since I've had to watch something in real time and wait for the next episode.  Though I don't love that part, the show makes up for it.

I love to be cheered up by things on social media, not weighed down, so I have found this week that I have been on Instagram more and Facebook less.  I do not love all the politics and all the junk I've been seeing on Facebook.  Two times this week, I tried to do my part at cheering up other people's newsfeeds, and I shared adorable videos.

I love to fold laundry...have I ever mentioned that?  I do.  Especially towels.  I used to work at Eddie Bauer Home, and I was always refolding towels and measuring them to fit into the bins designed to hold them.  It's so satisfying.  Speaking of that laundry, I need to start on some.

Thanks for reading!  Love to all.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What's Up Wednesday

Since this week has been so low key around here, I thought I'd link up with one of my favorite bloggers for a little What's Up Wednesday post.  Click HERE to access the Mix & Match Mama blog. 

1.  What we're eating this week:

On Monday night, I made a giant pot of potato soup.  The last time I made it, I didn't season it properly, and it never tasted right to me, but this time, I did much better.  I'll most likely be having that for dinner tonight before church.  Last night we had hamburgers that I bought at Costco yesterday, and tomorrow night we're going to CiCi's pizza with my in-love's.  I don't know what's happening Friday yet.  Also?  We have food again!  I made a giant Costco run yesterday.

2.  What I'm reminiscing about:

My friend Tarin.  The one whose funeral I attended with my son Drew on Saturday.  I cannot get some things that were said of her out of my mind.  One thing is that often times she told her friend Ingrid how thankful to God she was for the cancer that ravaged her body.  She knew that God had given it to her so that she could minister to those around her that were in need.  We were not best friends, she and I, and quite honestly, we lost touch when our sons stopped hanging out, but I prayed for her almost every day and I followed her journey on her Caring Bridge site.  

Life is fleeting.  I want to make my every moment count.

3.  What I'm loving:

Bible study.

Last night we started Finding I Am, by Lysa TerKeurst.  It is going to be so good, and I can't wait to dig into the word of God.  I have missed my Bible study people.  I was reminded of this when we were sitting around the room sharing prayer requests.  I love studying the word of God with like-minded ladies.  We had a great turnout!  

4.  What we've been up to:

School.  Cleaning and vacuuming the ever present dust and dog hair.  Grocery shopping.  Cooking.  Watching movies (Todd and the boys).  Reading (Me).  Quiet time.  Pretty much the usual.

5.  What I'm dreading:

Nothing that I know of, honestly.

6.  What I'm working on:

Getting prepared to redecorate Jonah's and Noah's room.  Years ago, while they were away for a couple of days, my mom and I surprised them with a new room designed for older boys.  In doing that, I do not know what in the world possessed me to pick pale yellow for their paint, and though they loved it then, they've come to not like it in the years since.  My stepdad is retired now and he want to paint their room with them, teaching them how to properly do this task.  While I was at Bible study last night, Todd took them to Lowe's to pick out paint chips, and they've narrowed it down to two choices.  I love them both honestly, and want to leave it up to them.  

Hopefully we will buy the paint this weekend and start on it next week.

They each want a letter over their beds and we need to purchase a new dresser for in between the beds.  Hopefully we can do that this weekend, too.  We found one from Ikea that will fit (their room is tiny) the small space it will go and it's only $40.  

7.  What I'm excited about:

The same as above.  I love redoing things in my house.  

8.  What I'm watching/reading:

Army Wives.  Again.  I love this show!  It's so mindless, and I love the thought of military's always been fascinating to me, ever since I first visited a military base in North Carolina as a teenager.

I'm reading several books and plan on doing a blog post on this next week.  Right now I'm reading First Comes Love by Emily Giffin.

9.  What I'm listening to:

I love this movie and the music that goes with it.  Also, I'm listening to Travis Cottrell on Spotify, and our latest choir cd.  

10.  What I'm wearing:

Clothes that are thin, because it's been unseasonably warm, and though I want to dress for winter, I'm forced to dress in layers.  :/  I loved what I wore yesterday and got compliments on the outfit, and it was perfect for the day and the temps.  It's a struggle, honestly.  I do not love Memphis weather.  Also, I'm wearing my new glasses.  I can see again!  My prescription had changed enough to be annoying.

11.  What I'm doing this weekend:

Hopefully going to hang out with some teenagers, seeing some family and going to church.

12.  What I'm looking forward to next month:

D-Now!  I love this weekend at our church for the youth.  It's disciple now, and it's like a retreat, but we stay in host homes nearby.  It begins on Friday night and ends Sunday afternoon.  It's so much fun, and I'm praying for the youth who will be in attendance.

13.  What else is new:

Not much.  My life isn't super exciting these days, just pretty predictable, but I'm thankful for where we are right now.  

Thanks for reading!  Love to all.  

Monday, January 23, 2017

the weekend

It seems like I blinked and the weekend was over.  It's funny how some are just like that.  On Friday morning, Drew and I went to an eye doctor appointment.  I picked out some new frames, with updated lenses (mine have changed a bit), and we found out that he is slightly nearsighted, but not enough to make him wear glasses if he doesn't want.  So, he decided to wait on those for now.  They can be a crutch if you wear them when you don't absolutely have to, and I appreciated the doctor saying that.

I can't wait to get mine!  Hopefully tomorrow or Wednesday I'll have them.

My dad was here right after I left and while Drew and I were gone, the other three boys and Dad watched President Trump be sworn in to office.  I'm not discussing politics on here, but what a cool thing for them to experience.  I loved that they watched with Dad...with him being typical Dave, he interjected thoughts and little mini lessons for them throughout.

That night we went to dinner at my in-love's house.  We had a sweet family member in town for one night as she moves from Maine to Colorado and is driving across country.  Jan is a sweet, sweet girl, and we got to hear some of her stories about how she hiked the Appalachian trail this past year.  All two thousand one hundred and eighty nine miles.  (I think that's accurate...we talked about this Friday night.)  When we came home, the older boys met their friends at the movies.

On Saturday, Drew and I went to my friend Tarin's funeral.  It was such a beautiful service, and I plan on sharing some about it later this week.  I'm so glad we went, and that Drew saw Cannon and that I saw some sweet friends who I've not seen in ages.  This was a ribbon they handed out.  Tarin was passionate about ovarian cancer awareness, which is where hers started.

That night I made a GIANT pot of taco meat (like more than five pounds) and we had nachos that fed SIX teenage boys and Todd and me.  We had a tiny bit of meat left over, so Drew added it to the Rotel.  After dinner, they had some friends over, but I ended up going to bed with a headache.  (Crazy Memphis weather!)

Yesterday was spent at church in the morning and afternoon for choir practice, and we had community group last night, where I talked about my personal quiet time.

This is basically what I shared with them last night.  I pray that all those sweet girls know the importance of spending time with God each and every day.  I am accountability partners with one of them, and love that she came to me.  I want them all to come to one of us for this, because it's hard to develop this habit.  I know it'll be much harder for them in the future, though, if they don't.  So that's my prayer for them.  That they would all know that Jesus is the treasure, and that it's so important to spend time with Him each day in prayer and through reading His word.

I am so thankful that God gave me such a longing for Him and His word, and I pray that He does that same thing for them.  

It was a great weekend...I hope yours was too!  Thanks for reading my blog.  Love to all.  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!  This week hasn't been super exciting here, but I'll recap some of my favorite, simple moments from throughout the last seven days.  I'm linking up with some other bloggers at Momfessionals for this post.

Journaling has been a favorite activity of mine as of late.  I love these little journals that came in a three pack from Lifeway, and have already filled up half of the first one you see sitting atop my Bible.  What do I write inside?  Well, I keep track of where I'm reading everyday in my quiet time.  I write down the verses for that day's scripture writing plan.  I write out five things I'm thankful for everyday.  If I listen to a podcast, I sometimes take notes inside.  I make notes from nonfiction books I read.  I write down ideas I have for blog posts.  I keep a list of books I want to read.  I take sermon notes on Sundays.  If I see a quote I love somewhere, I write it down.  I sometimes write out the lyrics to songs.  See?  I fly through them.

One favorite thing I've written are the five things I'm grateful for throughout the day.  I have a bit list in a spiral notebook that I add them to from my journal, but I love doing this.  It helps me find moments of good throughout even a bad day.  There is ALWAYS something to thank God for, right?

I don't have a picture, but a favorite thing of mine from this week was at our church on Sunday and Monday.  We had Bryan Osborne here from Answers In Genesis, and he spoke for two days at a conference on how to defend our faith.  It was wonderful, and by Tuesday night, I missed it.  My kids loved it too, and we went to every session.  That is six sessions in two days, seven for Noah, because he went to an early morning one on Monday that the rest of us did not attend.

Tuesday had us shopping for shirts for Drew, Jonah and Noah, and running to Kroger.  I made my family's favorite dinner on this night, and that is how much we had left.  ZERO.  This is Dorito chicken casserole.  It's so easy to make, and it's delicious.  Basically it's shredded chicken, cream of chicken, sour cream, milk, rotel, cheese and it's covered with Doritos.  You layer it like you would a lasagna, starting with the Doritos and keep going until it's full.  It was a hit.

With teenagers, you know how good it was based on how much is leftover.

This tops my list of favorites this week.  My niece Erika had twin girls on Monday, and they're all doing so good!  They're still in the NICU, but they're little miracles.  Praise God!

One of my favorite things to do is study the Bible, and on Tuesday night, we are starting this study with a group of ladies at church.  I'm so excited!  I went to Lifeway on Wednesday to pick up my copy, and I went to Costco for a few essentials.

So, we saw this bed at Costco, and bought it for our cat, Twinkles (no, we did not name her).  She hates it, I'm fairly certain, and it might have to go back.  But what kitty wouldn't love this amazing bed?  She's crazy.  It has a roof thing, that I figured she would love, so the dogs would leave her alone.  She has been in it a few times....I'm hoping she'll come to love it.  It's so soft.  This was Jonah's idea, by the way, for our most favorite cat ever.  She is such a cuddle bug, so that was why we bought this thing.

Crash has only tried to lay in it once.

I think I've posted a similar picture every week of this year so far.  I can't help myself.  This is my favorite planner I've ever had, and it's the least expensive.  I love how it's so blank when you get it, and you get to fill the pages and be creative.  This definitely makes my heart happy, sitting and writing and decorating this thing.  I'm pretty sure the family thinks I'm weird, but that is okay.  I write down every little thing for a few reasons.  For one, you never know when you'll need to know when something occurred.  I write down meal plans, too, to help me be more organized.  I want to buy some more fun things to use in this soon, with some of my leftover Christmas money.

It's Create 365, and it's called The Happy Planner.  Google it.

I love this old church that's now a museum.  I love our town square.  It's one of my favorite things to do in our little town...walk around the square, or drive around it and take pictures.  It never gets old.

This is one of my favorite things I saw online all week.  I've had lots of good stuff flood my social media outlets, and I am so thankful.  I'm so tired of all the usual garbage that the news shows always talk about...I choose to keep my social media outlets uplifting.  I follow a lot of really inspirational people, and this is probably where I saw this and shared it from.

Well, Drewby and I have eye doctor appointments this morning, so I need to wrap this up.  Thanks for reading my blog!  Love to all.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

encouragement in prayer

I thought I'd hop on here really quick and share about prayer, and how important it is in my life and how to keep going on praying, even when you don't feel like anything is happening.

Lately, God has been showing me that I need to be more quiet.  Not necessarily in the way you think, but in my talking to others.  I love having friends in life that I can pour my heart out to, and I thank God for the ones He has given me.  But sometimes I pour out too much of my heart, and I don't take it to God in prayer.  I've been trying to continually be in communion with Him over every area of my life.  If something bothers me, I go to Him.  If I'm frustrated with something, I go to Him.

You get the idea. I do this throughout the day, often retreating somewhere to be alone for a few minutes so I can pray.  (The laundry room, my bedroom with the door closed, the kitchen while I'm cleaning up from a meal or while I'm preparing a meal.)

In doing this more, He is expanding my trust in Him and His timing.  I love the song "Good, Good Father", and the line that says, "You are perfect in all of Your ways."  He really is perfect in all of His ways, His timing being one of them.  There have been so many things I've prayed for, and I never stop going to Him with those things.  Sometimes I see answers.  Sometimes I don't.  When I don't, I ask Him to show me my heart, that if it's selfish to ask what I'm asking, to change my heart, to forgive me.

I recently had a conversation with someone about how often we pray for the same thing.  That person said that they only go to God once for something, and they don't pray for that again.  I kind of see that view point, and how they could think that it's a lack of faith if you keep praying the same thing.  But from my point of view, I know that God knows what is in my heart.  If something is bothering me, I need to just lay it before Him.  He wants us to cast our cares upon Him, and I don't think it's wrong to keep praying the same thing.  I don't think it means that I don't trust Him, either, just that it's on my heart and I need to give it to Him.

I don't want to condemn that person for that way of thinking; that is between them and the Lord.  I just know that for me, I have to confess all that is in my heart.  Often times, it's the same things.  Some days it's different.  One thing I do know: God knows what's in our heart and He hears every prayer that we utter.  I love that Jesus is interceding on our behalf (Romans 8:34).

If you're praying for something that you've been praying for forever~keep it up.  Don't stop!  What if the prayers we pray are holding off battles in the spiritual realm that we don't see, according to Ephesians six?  I love that picture that someone shared with me.

I love this image that I saw on social media a few days ago.

That kind of wraps up what I'm saying in this post.  I am always desperate for God, for more of Him.  Even when things are going great in life, I would be lost without Him.  I pray for my family, myself, that we will never forget our need for a Savior.  If you need encouragement in your prayer life, just don't give up.  If you're going through a rut in your prayer life, mix it up a little, and try praying using the ACTS method.  (Adoration, which is praise; Confession; Thanksgiving; Supplication, which is praying for others.)  I've been doing that lately, actually, thanks to the youth pastor at our church.  He shared on this very thing a week or two ago, and I was so thankful for him saying it, because I'd been in a rut in my prayer life.

Just keep praying and know that God hears.

Love to all.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Life Lately

Before I forget, I'm sitting in the living room with Jonah.  He was up earlier than his brothers today, and he came down, made breakfast, and then sat with me in here while I listened to a podcast and now, as I listen to music and write on this blog.  About the podcast, it was by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, and it was called, The Joy of Devotions.  After it was over, he asked who was speaking in it.  I told him and he said, "That was GOOD."

I love that he listens to things like this with me.  Even now, as I listen to praise and worship music with my handy dandy little bluetooth speaker, he told me how much he loved the music that was playing.  I love this kid, and his heart.  (Even though yesterday I wanted to leave him at the store we were shopping in because of his stubbornness.)

Here's what I'm listening to right this minute.  Awesome (My God), by Travis Cottrell.

These are not bad lyrics to have stuck in my head all day.

Did I talk about memorizing scripture again on here recently?  I try to do this all the time, but right now, I am checking in with an online community of women (and my bestie) twice each month with verses that I'm memorizing.  So far I've memorized 2 Corinthians 12:9, and I'm working on Psalm 112:7 right now.  I love them both.  What I'll do is work on these for two weeks each, then move on to a new verse.  So on the first and fifteenth, I'll pick new verses and continue on in reciting those I've already done to keep them fresh.  It gets harder with time.

Psalm 112:7

He will not fear bad news; his heart is confident, trusting in the LORD.

Isn't that amazing and worthy of repeating over and over and over again?

Look at my precious twin great nieces.

Their mommy posted this today, bright and early, as she cuddled these angels.  Today is Erika's birthday...what a gift, right?!  I love this picture, and I thank God at how good they are both doing.  They are truly miracles.

I am simply in awe of my God sometimes.  Most of the time, really, but I've been moved to tears so many times this week already, and we're only three days in.

The miracle of life is breathtaking, and I was thinking on Psalm 139:13-14 this morning.

For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother's womb.  I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.  Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.

I also read in Psalm 90 this morning, and I loved what verse two said.

Before the mountains were born, before You gave birth to the earth and the world, from eternity to eternity, You are God.

I didn't think I'd like these little journals after I brought them home, but it turns out that I do.  They're a little thin, but I will leave them out with me until I've finished all three, so I can look back for where to write each day in my scripture writing, rather than having to keep taping the plan in there.

I've had a lot to write inside them lately, more than ever it seems, so I'm flying through the first one.  I'm almost halfway through it already.  It's funny how it seems I go through seasons of writing a lot in my journal, and some I don't.  I am thankful for this season, seems that God is keeping me more on my knees than ever before.  One thing I have been doing is writing five things each day that I'm grateful for, I think I mentioned this yesterday, and I love looking back on what I've already written.  I try to write things pertaining to that day.

I love to write out verses that jump out at me each day.  I read in Psalm 90 this morning, and then Colossians 2.  I'm going through that book with one of the teenage girls at church, so that we can hold each other accountable, and texting her pictures everyday to motivate her.

She asked for this, and I said I would.

I love when they reach out to me for things like this...some do and stick with it, some do and then it fall off after a short time, or I fall off.  I pray that the Lord would keep me faithful in this.  Sometimes I put too much on my own plate, and I can't keep track of it all.  I really, really try to not do that, because if I do too much, nothing I do is effective.  I went through a phase a few years ago when I had to drop some things.  I was doing too many things and not doing any one thing well.  Because of that time a few years ago, I try to never over commit myself to things.  I pray before agreeing to something...which reminds me that I was asked to do something new and I've not prayed about it yet.  Wow...I'm thankful for that reminder from the Lord.

Sometimes my rambling on and on is put to good use.

Well, I need to start on this day now that I've done just that.

Thanks for reading, and love to all.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

yesterday and today

Clever title, right?  I do not know why I never think of good and catchy titles.  But, I digress.

Yesterday was so much of a roller coaster type day of emotions.

First off, my niece that I posted about?  Erika?  She delivered the twins at 9:43 and 9:44 that morning, and they both weighed in at three pounds, fourteen ounces.  This was a good weight in our eyes, because they were born at 36 weeks gestation.  One was doing well from the start, and one had to be placed on oxygen right away.  Also, the one that had been doing better was also put on oxygen because of how pale she was.  And then last night,  right before eight o'clock my time, I got a text that said both babies had been taken off the oxygen!  She got to hold them BOTH yesterday.  The one that struggled from the start was the one she didn't think she'd get to hold for a few days.

I really believe that God performed a miracle in this.  Some may not agree, but my God is a God of miracles, and He is our great Physician.  To Him be the glory.

I know that yesterday could have looked a LOT different for my family, but God is sovereign and His plan is perfect.  I don't say that lightly, either.  I have a friend who had a baby last Monday, and the baby only lived a few hours.  Please pray for her.  Her name is Rachel, and she is so brokenhearted over the loss of precious Lyndi.  I do not understand how God works, and why things happen the way they do, but I do know this: He is good.  He is sovereign over all.  He is faithful.  He is Creator and Author of life.  Even if our day had looked very differently yesterday, I would still say all of this, that God is good all the time, in every circumstance, not just when things turn out good.  He is good all the time.

I have said that a million times, and I will say it a million more until the day I die.

Yesterday I also received news that a sweet friend of mine had passed from this earth into heaven.  Tarin and I met six years ago, in the midst of a tragedy at our local elementary school.  A teacher there had two sons (out of three) that were killed in a plane crash, and a group of us moms met in the back of the school parking lot to pray for her.  Tarin was there that day, and the next week, we started a new location for Moms in Touch (now it's Moms in Prayer).  To my knowledge, we were the first group of moms that started that up, and it is still going strong today.  We met every single Monday for the rest of the time my kids were in that school.  Jonah and Noah only attended through the third grade, and the next year I started homeschooling them.  For years, then, Tarin and I prayed together weekly.  We saw her sick and we saw her healthy.  I never knew her without cancer, though for a short while, she was in remission.  Her son Cannon and my Drew and Graham played lacrosse together for two years, and Drew and he were best friends for a while.  She has two more kids, Katie, who is a freshman in college, and Kari, who's in the seventh grade.

The life of this dear woman of God impacted so many lives all around her.  Mine is just one.  Her faith in God never wavered, and even on her sickest days, she was full of praise for Him.  I've never known anyone who loved like Tarin loved people.  Her kids, her friends, perfect strangers.  She ministered to so many around her as she fought off this wretched disease in cancer clinics.  God strategically put her in specific places during her sickness so that others could come to know Him.  She used everything that God allowed her to go through for His glory.  I have never met anyone else like her.

A sweet memory of her was one time when she invited me to a womens conference at her church.  I didn't want to go, I didn't feel good, and I basically fought her over this.  She refused to leave my driveway until I got in her car and went with her.  It turned out to be one of the best weekends I'd ever had, and I was so ministered to as I sat under the teaching of Priscilla Shirer.  Another time I remember, the only time I ever saw her like this, was when I stood with her and then held her as she screamed, and begged God for a miracle to heal her of cancer.  She was so tired of fighting, even back then, and she was so scared for her kids.  She wanted reassurance of seeing them grow up.  We stood in her front yard that day, after her screaming stopped, and just held each other and cried together, because words failed me.  And she didn't need my words, anyhow, all she needed was someone to hold her tight.

I said this before: God is sovereign.  I don't always understand His plan or how He works, but I know that He is trustworthy.  I know now, that God kept her here so that some things could be fixed, relationships could be restored.  I know without a doubt that her kids will be in good hands with their dad now.  God healed her broken heart, I know, and He gave her sweet assurance that they would be okay in the restoration of a friendship between two parents of teenaged kids.  God is good, all the time, in every circumstance.

Please help me to pray for her family here.  I don't know of other family members, just of her kids and her church family and friends.  I am so thankful that God is close to the brokenhearted.  He comforts and He gives peace.  Drew said he would attend her funeral with me whenever it is this week, so that he can be there for Cannon.  I pray that God can help them to be friends to one another again, they just grew apart eventually, as teenagers often do in their friendships.

I have written all of these things out to God.  I have told God how thankful I am for His hand in these circumstances I've written about today, and I have found many things to be grateful for in all of this.  I'm trying to practice gratitude every day this year, and each day, I write out five things to be thankful for.  Some of are silly, some are very serious.

I've written lots over the past couple of days, needless to say, because that's just what I do.  When words fail me in coming out of my mouth, they flow easily out of the ink of my pen.

On a much lighter note, I finished my journal this weekend.  I am sad to see that one go, the Lord and I had some great quiet times together in the past couple of months, and the pages were so full of my heart poured out to Him.  As sad as I was to put that one away (I haven't actually done that yet), I am always excited over the prospect of a new one.  Thursday night after dinner, my mom-in-love and I went to the Lifeway by her house and I bought these.  They were all bound together, and though each one is thin, together, they're a lot of pages.  Aren't they beautiful?

I'm using the one sitting on top of my bible first.  I have already written so much because of a conference we've had at church the past two days.  In two days, we've attended six sessions of the Answers In Genesis conference, and it was amazing.  I'm so thankful we went!  And my kids are done with history and science for the week.  (Kidding, but not was a LOT of information.)  Homeschooling perks.

Well, I have a lot to do in the space that is called today.  Thanks for reading my blog and for being in my life...I know a lot of you don't comment, but I know you're there reading, because I can see it in the stats.  So, thank you so much.  Also, so many of you commented on social media how you were praying for my family or me, and I cannot say enough how much I appreciate those prayers.  If I can pray in any way for any one of you, please tell me how.  I promise to keep it between God and me.

I am so thankful that we can be there for one another, aren't you?  God's gift of fellowship is just that...a gift, and I am so grateful for it.

Love to all.

Monday, January 16, 2017

the weekend and a special favor

This was a very chill weekend.  Todd and Graham were out of town since Thursday morning, and with it being just the other three and me, things were pretty slow.  On Friday, Drew made plans to go see a movie with friends, so Jonah, Noah and I invited ourselves over to my mom's house for dinner.  When Todd's gone, I miss the company of adults.

I ran a couple of errands on to my favorite shop on our town square, CJ Lilly.  I found this adorable sign that I bought with some of my Christmas money.

It's the one that says bless your heart.  (I always say that!)  I love it and I was pleasantly surprised at the size of it.  If it hadn't been so big, I wasn't going to buy it.  In the hanging of this, I re-situated some of my other pictures, and cleaned things up a bit.

I couldn't resist snapping a picture of one of my favorite spots on the square as I was waiting on the light to change to green.

This used to a church, but is now a museum.  I even attended a wedding reception here, back in the day.  I love this beautiful, historic building.

The day started out so pretty, with sunshine, but ended up drizzly and dreary.  I miss the sunshine.  Even now, it's drizzly with the sun peeking through the clouds.  This weather is as confused with itself as we are.  All the ups and downs in the temps are enough to make all of our heads ache.

We had a mini-family reunion with Todd's family Saturday night, which was fun.

Yesterday our church started an Answers In Genesis conference, and it was yesterday morning, afternoon and evening, with more of the same today.  I'll be honest and confess here that I was going to go just to the Sunday one, but y'all, it's been so amazing that I'm going all day.  And the boys want to, as well.  The speaker is Bryan Osborne, and he's speaking on all sorts of topics, like dinosaurs, evolution and the age of the earth.

It's been phenomenal.

Here's the special favor portion of this post.

This is my beautiful niece, Erika.  She's pregnant with identical twin girls, and since about the twenty-six week mark, she has struggled in this pregnancy with her baby girls having a rare blood disorder syndrome.  The pregnancy has been full of uncertainty and anxiousness, not really knowing what the outcome would be.  Well, today, she is delivering these sweet baby girls.  I know she's nervous, and if my timing is right, she'll be in surgery in about an hour.

Will you please help me pray for her, and her babies, Kinsley and Kylie?  We would SO appreciate all the prayers we can get.

Thanks, in advance.

I need to get moving, so I'll keep this post short and sweet.  Love to all!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday Favorites

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

This was actually from last week, but it's one of my favorites that I forgot about.  I'm so happy for him!  This is Drew, and for the SECOND YEAR STRAIGHT, he won the fantasy football league at church in the youth.  I don't know how he does it, but once again, it came down to him and this guy Mark.  Same two guys, two years straight.  Isn't that crazy?

He even got a trophy, which will be given to the next winner, next year, but hey!  It's his for the year.

Yesterday I had to get out and run a few errands.  One was to Pet Smart to replace a warming bulb for one of Jonah's and Noah's critters (I can't keep them straight, honestly, but I think it was for the lamp that sits atop Pascal's cage...that's their bearded dragon.) and one stop was Michael's.  I have not stepped foot in a Michael's in forever.  I was on the hunt for a new journal, but I got slightly sidetracked.  Remember the planner I got for Christmas that's my favorite thing ever?

Well, you can buy tons of fun things to go inside of it like what you see hanging in the picture I took yesterday at the store.  Isn't it so fun?  I love things like this, and I was definitely in my favorite kind of happy place.

In a discussion about bibles this week, I thought I'd share about mine.  First, it's my favorite one that I've ever owned.  (I'm pretty sure I say this about every bible I ever buy.)  You know I don't keep the same bible for long.  I love to write in mine and mark it all up and take notes in the margins, and because of all that, I go through them pretty quickly.  It goes with me EVERYWHERE, too, so the binding usually gets pretty loose after a few years.  I also want my boys to have these someday to remember me by.  So, last Christmas, my dad and stepmom  bought me a bible, but it was one that I had to return.  With that money, I picked this one.  Here it is on Amazon, if you want to read about it, but it's a women's study bible and it's HCSB.

Here are a few reasons why it's my favorite.

There are PICTURES inside, y'all.  Like of where Paul was believed to have been in prison, and what things would have looked like back when that particular book was written.

It is so close to the original language (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek).

There are word meanings inside that shows how to pronounce that word in the original language it was written.

All the pronouns that talk about God~He, You, Yours, His~are capitalized, just like I did in my example.

There are tons of study notes at the bottom!  This makes my heart so happy.

Here's what the inside looks like.

I believe that teenagers need good study bibles, once they become a certain age, like sixteen and up.  That being said, I'm on the hunt for a new bible for Drew.  Graham has one and now Drew needs one.

This is my best friend's daughter.  This was exactly how I felt about going to church Wednesday night, and getting hugs from all my favorite teenage girls.

This color might be my new favorite.  It's similar to the color Nicki Minaj by OPI.

(This actual color is a number, so I can't give you a name.)

I've had black with sparkles for the last two weeks, so I was ready for something more fun and bright.

One of my favorite moments from the week was this moment, sharing lunch with sweet Noah.  He stayed home with Jonah last Sunday and watched out for him and even watched our service on live stream.  He told me all about it when I came home.  Bless him.

I visited my favorite room in the whole church this week.  I love that there is this room, so hidden and so inner (if that makes sense) that people go to pray.  You should see the's worn, I would imagine, from people getting on their knees and praying.  I am so thankful for the power of prayer and that the body of believers we belong to is so prayer dependent.  I do not take this lightly, I promise.  It is such a privilege to do this every single day of my life.

What hope we have, those of us who are believers in Christ Jesus!  I cannot imagine my life with Him.

This picture is my very favorite, and it's one I'd totally forgotten about.  This was Todd and me twenty years ago, on our honeymoon in Banner Elk, North Carolina.  I found this at my in-love's house yesterday when the boys and I went there.  Actually, Noah found it and died laughing, but whatever.  We were BABIES!  We were nineteen years old when we got married.

I loved everything about what I had on, I do remember that clearly.  I think my shoes were Berkenstock, and my socks and flannel were from Eddie Bauer (I worked there before we got married), and I m pretty sure I thought I looked similar to Annie from the movie Father of the Bride.  (What was it with me and "Annie's" from movies?!)  Also?  We had on matching coats.  Insert laughing face emoji here.

Todd does not have a black eye in this picture, but in 1995, he was in a really bad bike accident and skidded down a hill on his face.  He had a TON of stitches in his face, and this was when the scarring was still fresh.  You can still see the scars today, but not like you could here.

We have grown up together, he and I.

Lastly, this was my quiet time space this morning, and I did not "pose" these items.  (I do that sometimes.)  This was how I'd used all these things, and as I was finishing up, I noticed how neat it all looked.

If you do not already, it's important to have a space for a consistent quiet time.  Mine changes, but lately, it's been at the kitchen table.  I need lots of room to spread out.  I don't always have candles lit, and I don't always have instrumental music playing on my bluetooth speaker, but today I had both.

Quiet time each morning is my favorite thing to do.  I love to pray and I love to read the word of God.  I hope this encourages you to start this on your own, if you're a believer.

Thanks for reading my blog!  Love to all.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Thursday and what I am learning

I've mentioned before how I am always reading through the book of Psalms in my morning quiet time, but this morning I started reading Philippians.  I recommended that one of the girls at church start there in her quiet time, because it's a small book, and not overwhelming.  (I do recommend that for those who are interested in a consistent quiet time....start with a small book in the bible and just start reading it.  Sometimes the thought of reading the bible more can be intimidating and overwhelming.)

Anyway, I had the thought that I should read it too, so she would know that I walking through it with her.  For some reason, though, when I started reading this rich New Testament book written by Paul, I started reading it out loud.  Have you ever done that?  There is something so powerful about reading the word out loud.  I find that I pay more attention to what I'm reading, I really absorb what is being said better, and I use inflection in my voice.

I promise you, that in doing this today, God showed me something.

But first, I need to rewind a bit.

Lately I keep finding myself in really uncomfortable situations.  Situations where I have to face something or confront something.  If you know me at all, you know that I really struggle with being a people pleaser.  I want people to like me, to not have reasons to talk about me, and I want people to like my family.  It's so dumb, I know, but I really struggle in this, even when I pray for myself all the time to be changed.  I know God hears me, but I keep bearing this burden, and I can't seem to help it or be able to stop it.

I know that nothing I struggle with is an accident, though.  In fact, the bible tells me in Romans 8:28 that, "We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose."  He takes what we go through and He refines us.  (A fancier word for this refining process is sanctification.)  I'll be honest here: I seem to rely more solely on God when I face times like this, times that make me uncomfortable.  I do not know why that is, except that I am a human being and I have a sin nature.  I don't want to rely more on God in these times, though.  I always want to rely on God.  In praying with a friend this week, she said something similar, and it struck a chord with me, even more so right now.

I want to ALWAYS rely solely on God.

So this morning in my prayer, I asked Him to change me (AGAIN).  I feel like I am always confessing things to Him that He reveals to me, areas of sin that I struggle with, and I am always asking Him to change me.  Don't get me wrong: I am so thankful that He convicts me of my sin...I ask Him to always keep it before me, lest I become too prideful or boastful.  When I ask Him this, He is faithful to do it!  (Probably more than I'd like...kidding, kidding...but not really.)

Back to Philippians and this morning, though.  I started reading and finished the book and I noticed that several times Paul mentions anxiety or peace or worry or how to think on things differently (1:17, 2:28, 4:6,4:7, 4:8, and 4:9).  In noticing this, I realized that Paul, the main writer of the entire New Testament, must have struggled with anxiety.  And in thinking on that shocking truth, I think that people pleasing tendencies and anxiety are closely connected.

I struggle with both of those things, and it can be quiet debilitating.  I don't want to be clenched in the imaginary fists of these issues.  I want to live my life FREE of these struggles, a victorious life.  And guess what?  I can.  It's right there, within my grasp, but sometimes I can't reach it.  Why?  Because I don't pray for it.  Prayer dependency is the key to many things in the life of a believer.  If only I would always remember this.  I don't, though, and I won't always remember this day...all too soon, I'll forget it happened and once again, I'll find myself back in a rut.

The good news in all of this here is that God will continue to refine me.  When I struggle again with this problem, I know that He will be faithful to remind of this truth that I realized today.  I know that He will forgive me of human nature and He will change me again.  He is a God of second chances, and third chances and fourth chances and so on and so on.

My verse that I'm memorizing right now ties in so beautifully with this blog post.  (Isn't it so cool of God to do that?  His word is living and active!)    In this verse, Paul asked God THREE TIMES to remove the thorn (figurative thorn) that was in his side.  Three times the Lord did NOT remove that thorn.  Here's what He had to say to Paul:

But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness."  Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more in my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may reside in me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

One last God thing: This month in my scripture writing, guess what the theme is?


Of course I'm not going to write out those verses without God allowing me to go through a few trenches along the way.  My friend Denise said that about teaching bible study: God never allowed her to teach others without first showing her how desperate she was for Him in her life.  Meaning, before she would teach us, she would seriously walk through some warfare and fiery paths along the way.

God is ALWAYS good.  In the good times, the bad times, the happy times, the sad times, the mountain top times and the valley low times.  He is good and His word is true.

Love to all.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

show and tell Tuesday

Happy Tuesday to you!  I'm linking up with Andrea from Momfessionals for this new year of "show and tell" blog posts.

I feel like that this is not going to be a helpful post at all, because saving money on groceries and such with four teenaged boys is a funny concept.  I will say that once the boys stopped eating the kid sized portions in restaurants and even fast food chains, we stopped eating out.  Even going to Chick Fil A as a family of six costs us almost sixty dollars.  And honestly, if I'm going to spend that much money, I'd much prefer a REAL meal, not fast food, even Chick Fil A.

I cook.  All the time.  Some weeks it's more, some weeks it's less.  Last week I cooked almost every night.  I made dinner five nights out of seven last week...this week it'll be more like four.  Here's how: on Wednesday nights, we eat a light meal.  Graham and Drew always go out with friends after church, and sometimes Jonah and Noah do as well.  Thursday nights are nights we try to spend with Todd's parentals.  It's on the calendar every week, but some weeks we miss.  (Not so far this year, though!)  Saturday nights we go to my mom's house.  Not every week, but most weeks.  Sunday nights are at church and food is always provided.  The Southern Baptist folks like to eat, I have found out.

I also make lunch a lot, since we homeschool.  My kids have never liked sandwiches and easy stuff, always preferring a hot lunch.

That is the food portion of the post.

The other way we save money is by not shopping and buying a lot of things we don't need.  When we were first married, we went through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace university, adapting what he taught as our new lifestyle.  We haven't had credit cards since our first year of marriage.  We only have cards that can be used as credit or debit through our bank account.  I don't buy a lot of things (well, books, sometimes) and we don't buy a lot of things frivolously for our boys.  We wear clothes that we've had forever, and we don't have a lot of extras.

Not having credit card debt has been amazing.  The boys now understand the way we live, but when they were little, we had to teach this to them, because they didn't understand why we couldn't just put it on a credit card, if they wanted something extra.

Of course we buy their clothes and their shoes and all the necessities, we just don't go shopping for new things that often, unless your name is Drew and you can't stop growing.

The things we have always splurged on are shoes.  We do not buy cheap shoes.  We buy them in pairs, from the Rack Room, because it's always buy one, get one half off.  We have lots of rewards through them.  We splurge on groceries, because we eat at home all the time.  If I'm going to make food, I'm going to make good food.  (Meaning, I do things from boxed meals for us, and I even make a lot of my own spice mixes.)  We splurged on our televisions, because we only have two, and we want them to last.  That being said, Todd still found a deal on them and we didn't pay near what some people do.  Also, we do this because we don't go to movies.  We prefer watching at home.   And yes, our surround sound is as good as a movie theater.

We drive my car forever.  His is a company car.  We haven't had a car note in years.

I always pray and ask God to help us be good stewards of what He has given us.  Meaning, I don't work, so we live on one income.  I cannot be frivolous with what we have if that is the case, and my husband has always said he would work three jobs if it meant I could stay home to raise the boys.  I also will say that the Lord has made me content in our life.  I don't try to keep up with the way people look or how their homes are decorated.  We do not have the newest of all the gadgets, but we don't need that.  God has given me contentment.  I cannot write this post without saying that, and it's not just a way to tag this blog post.  I really mean that, and I ask that the Lord would always be honored in our lives, including our finances.

God has always been gracious to provide us with everything that we need (NEED, not want), and He is faithful.

Love to all!

Monday, January 9, 2017

the weekend

We had a WONDERFUL weekend.  I love when it snows, and for Memphis, we had a good little bit fall in the early hours of the morning.  It's beautiful waking up to, and the boys were thrilled.  

This was on Saturday, and a lot of it had already melted.  

And then, as I drove to choir practice yesterday, I took this picture.

It was beautiful!  I love this cold weather.

On Friday, we allowed Graham to drive.  They wanted to go sledding and Todd felt wretched all day and I don't drive on this stuff, so that left Graham.  Todd just instructed him on what to do and when to brake and when NOT to brake, and they left.  They communicated with us all the time throughout the times they were gone, so they were all super responsible, and I was proud.  

They went and got one of their friends and brought him back over to hang out that night.  This was them gathering snow for the snow cream they asked me to make.  

It was a glorious day, not having to go anywhere or do anything.  

Saturday was pretty much more of the same, though we got out during the day.  Jonah had an appointment to get his hair cut, so Todd drove us, then we went to Kroger.  That night we had a game night with our friends, the Essarys.  

We were all up early for church yesterday morning, but I had to bring Jonah back home, because he felt bad.  (Sinuses.)  Noah ended up staying home with him, making himself breakfast and watching our church's service on the online streaming test site.  

I was so proud of him!  This was us eating together when I got home.  He had taken care of his brother, too, and told me Jonah took two naps while we were gone.  

Todd worked last night and went in early in the afternoon for some extra time, and when he got there, his partner showed up wearing this shirt.

That is my husband on that shirt, when he was a toddler.  Chris had it put onto a tee shirt and Todd sent me this picture.  These guys are crazy!  They have fun while they work together, though, and I know it makes it more enjoyable for Todd, to have such a great friend to work with.

While this was going on, I was at choir practice, then dinner, then a high school and college girls event at Square Beans, a local coffee shop on the square.

Abbey's friend Grace Thornton wrote a book called, Why I Don't Wait Anymore.  It's a book about life and what it looks like when you live it remembering that the treasure is Jesus, and not your own hopes and dreams.

It was a great night with a lot of my favorite people, and I walked away with a new book to read. 

It was fun meeting one of the girls I've heard Abbey talk about for so long, too, and so we ended the night by taking this picture.  It was a great night, and a great weekend.  This week is busy, with Todd and Graham leaving town early Thursday morning and returning late Saturday night.  And tonight is like the superbowl for college football fans, with the BCS Championship game coming on.  I anticipate an early night for me, and a night of them yelling at the tv. 

Well, I need to get started on this day!  Thanks for reading.  Love to all!

Friday Favorites, 7.12.2024.

  Hi, friends! As you can tell, I'm forcing myself to be here often, because my life needs to resume some sort of normalcy right now; th...