Monday, April 30, 2018

when my heart is overwhelmed

My heart was so full on Thursday night, after Graham's graduation service from the sheriff's department.  Do you get like that sometimes?  I know I'm not the only one.  I love the verse James 1:17 that says this:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

I love that verse because it reminds me that everything that is good comes from the Lord.  I say it all the time, and I pray it all the time, when I'm pouring out thanksgiving to Him.

Back to my feelings of overwhelming gratitude.  I do get that way pretty often, and when I do, I love to turn to scripture.  I usually make my way to somewhere in the book of Psalm, because that book is full of praises to God.  I did that on Thursday night before I went to bed, and I just read a chapter out of the book aloud to Him, changing the pronouns and making it personal to me.

I woke up feeling that way still on Friday morning, so I went back to the same chapter and did that all over again.  I love what the verses say, and it was perfect for me to pray in gratitude.

I was in Psalm 92, and it starts off  by saying how good it is to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to Him.  Isn't that perfect?

It ends by saying the righteous thrive like a palm tree, and that part just about undid me.  Because really, who am I that God would even be mindful of me?

I don't know the answer to that.  I do know that I love Jesus.  My husband loves Him.  My boys love Him.   We spend time with Him everyday (most days, anyway) and He knows my heart and the way I pray over my family.  He knows.  He hears my prayers.

I know that no matter what happens, He is so good.  He is full of loving kindness.  He is faithful.  He is Redeemer.  He is my strength, my song, the strongtower that I run to continually.  He is my help and the lifter of my head when I'm weary and worn.

He gives wisdom to those who ask Him for it, He leads us in being the parent to four teenage sons, He guides us in how we guide them.  He knows when I am frustrated with one of them for being a little too much like a busy-body and He often shuts my mouth before I can say anything too damaging.  Because really, though the teenage years are fun, they are never easy.

He knows when one of them hurts, and He knows how much my heart aches over seeing them so hurt.  He strengthens us, though, and gives me words to say to encourage them.

I cannot imagine being a parent without Jesus in my life.  It's hard, period, but I am so thankful that I always have Someone to pour my heart out to, and who helps me through these years.

Thanks for reading my rambling thoughts today...none of this is new, I just thought I would share a little of what was running through my head on Friday morning, and really, every single day of my life.

Love to all. 

Friday, April 27, 2018

a proud mom moment...wait...a thankful to God moment (Friday Favorites)

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

Happy Friday, friends!

Last night was a graduation ceremony for Graham, and the class he's been going through with the sheriff's department since January.  Beginning at the start of January, he attended a class every Tuesday and Thursday night from six until ten.  Beginning in April, that stretched to Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  They have been trained in childbirth, driving, how to direct traffic, how to deal with mentally ill patients, how to take blood pressure, and a million other things I'm forgetting.  He can operate a lot of different types of vehicles (ATV's), and they were trained on how to drag a lake when searching for missing persons.

At the end of the ceremony, Chief Barlowe was giving out awards, and my Graham received the Outstanding Recruit of the year award!  I gasped out loud when she called his name.  I had no idea, neither did he, and neither did Todd.  We are so proud of him!  The award means that he is the one who consistently did the best, even though he was the youngest in the class.  One gentleman from his class came up to me afterward and told me what a wonderful father figure Graham had been to him throughout the last four months.  The man was probably in his sixties.  I died laughing and told him Graham had definitely always been bossy.

Here are some pictures from the night.

We live in Shelby County, and this our current sheriff, Bill Oldham.  (Graham looks so handsome!)

How fortunate are we, that all six of the grandparents could come and participate in this night with us?!  The top couple is my mom and stepdad Bill (Big Daddy), the middle is Dad and my stepmom Sandy, and the bottom is Phyllis and Wiley, my in-love's.

I am so thankful that they were all there, and for the part each of them played in helping us raise our boys.  It does seriously take a village, and they all played a HUGE part that is specific to each of them.


In this top one, Drew photobombed them.  Hence the look on my husband's face.  I cracked up when I saw how this picture had turned out.

Dad and son.  (Exploding heart emoji should be inserted here.)

The boys.

The doodlebops, back when that was my nickname for the four of them.  Y'all.  Shouldn't they still be this little?!?!  Excuse me while I go cry again.

And perhaps the most important picture of the night, Graham and his love.  The people who talked to the graduates talked to the families as well, thanking them for their time that they gave up with them, so they could be in this rigorous class, and I kept wanting to turn around and make googly eyes at Rach.  I know it was a huge sacrifice for them to not spend so much time together, but now he's done!  She was very sweet and patient as she waited on him and prayed that he would get out of class earlier than the predicted ten o'clock dismissal time.  Some nights he did get out early.  Most nights he did not.

I share all this because though my heart is overflowing with all the mom feelings, I have to boast on my Savior.  I was reading in Colossians one this morning, trying to put into perspective a little of what I am feeling, and for how He has blessed my family, and how full of thankfulness and gratitude I am for all He has done.  Here is a bit of what I read out of Colossians 1:9-17.

"For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven't stopped praying for you.  We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him; bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power; according to His glorious might, so that you may have great endurance and patience, joyfully giving thanks to God the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints' inheritance in the light.  He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.  In Him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together."

These verses have been my prayer for all four of my boys (and their future wives) since they were born, and I have to give praise, honor, and glory to Whom it is due.  Yes, we have raised these boys into young men (well, two of them...the other two are fifteen), but the Lord Himself has guided us, given us wisdom, and has strengthened us and helped us.  To Him be the glory, forever and always.

Next up: Drew graduates from high school.  He is now officially done with his high school career.

Thanks for reading my blog, friends, this was my favorite night of the entire week.

Love to all.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

an update and an awesome movie coming out soon

On Sunday, it will be five weeks since my sister-in-love Tracy received her new heart.  Just to keep things in perspective for you, and how serious things were with all the ups and downs and major setbacks that kept happening, they had said that when heart transplants go well, the patient could go home in as little as eight days.  And here we are, almost five weeks out, and as I write this, she is still a patient at Vanderbilt. 

There were so many things that happened that most of you know about, after her surgery.  One major thing was that they had to open her back up two additional times, and after that second time, they kept her open for a few days to keep a vigilant eye on her.  They did finally close her back, though, and she started making forward progress. 

She suffered a stroke at some point, sometime during that Sunday of the transplant and the Friday after that, if I'm recalling correctly.  The stroke caused her to have some vision problems, mainly her not seeing at all out of one eye and the other eye being blurry.  She has already learned to compensate for that one eye not being able to be used, and we are hopeful that her vision will return.  She experienced some memory issues as well, I think Tim called it aphasia, in which she mixes up words.  That will get better, too, with therapy, and she has learned to laugh when she gets words wrong. 

I'm writing this today, because FRIENDS.  Today is the day she gets to leave Vanderbilt hospital for the first time since March 15th.  Praise be to God!  I do not say that lightly, most of you know that.  Once again, this amazingly strong and fierce warrior named Tracy has overcome obstacle after obstacle.  (I think I forgot to mention on here that her name actually means "warrior" or "fighter".)  God, in all His sovereignty, has performed many miracles in her life, almost too many to even count.  I mention God's sovereignty because remember, even if things had turned out very differently, He is always good and loving and faithful, and because He acts only in the way that is His will.  I will say again, that things could have turned out very differently, and we all kind of thought that was the way this was all going to happen several times during these last few weeks.  I do not know why some people survive such things, and some do not, but I will tell you this: He will get the glory and praise from all that He has done in Tracy's life.  She has already written that one book that I mentioned in my last post about her, Unstoppable God, and we've all been taking notes for her to write that next book.  (Who knows if that will happen, but I think it should.)  We just know that God is sovereign and He is trustworthy.  You know I say that because so many times, situations don't have happy endings, and I want to be sensitive to those who have had things go terribly wrong. 

She doesn't get to go home quite yet, but they are releasing her to an in-patient rehab facility.  I don't know how long she will be there, but she has some pretty intense days of rehab ahead of her.  She will also continue to have weekly heart biopsies, to make sure her body is not rejecting the heart.  She still needs prayers, because of these things and for supernatural strength for her to get through this next phase.  To my knowledge, they have removed all or almost all of the tubes that she still had attached to her, and they have her up and walking laps.  Look at this picture that Tim shared on Facebook yesterday.

She will be super susceptible to sicknesses for a while, I'm sure, and that's why she had the mask on.  I know their goal is to keep her as healthy as possible.  But doesn't she look amazing, after all that she has been through?  I don't know why I expected her to look very differently, but this made my heart leap with joy when I saw this yesterday. 

I know so many of our friends were praying for her throughout this time, and I want to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart.  I do not know how people get through life without Jesus and the hope He gives us when we become believers and followers of Him.  I don't ever want to know.  I believe in the power of prayer, too, and have seen with my eyes what happens when believers gather to pray in His name.  So thank you, again, on behalf of the entire Goodwin and Jones families.  (The Jones family is Tracy's mom and dad.) 

On a totally different note, I saw a preview a couple of days ago for an upcoming movie that I wanted to share with you.  I love faith based movies, and I believe it is so important to go see such movies on their opening nights so they will be in theaters longer.  Those are pretty much all of the movies I ever see these days, unless it's another amazing musical, and I wanted to share this with all of you.  It's a great movie for everyone, but one that I feel all parents should see.  Here is a link you can click on to watch the trailer for yourself. 

Thanks for reading, friends.  Have a great day!  Love to all. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

a letter to my mommy friends

Dear Mama to little ones,

I know it's so redundant that you're probably sick of hearing it, but I'll say it again: the days are long, but the years are short.  I was reminded of that statement again yesterday when I took Drew to pick up his cap and gown for his impending senior graduation.  It seems like I blinked, and nineteen years of mothering flew right by.  I remember those long days well.  I had four kids in four years, so of course I remember them well.  I counted every minute of sleep I got.  When I was ultra tired in the afternoons before their daddy came home, I would lay down in the floor of the living room, on my stomach, and let all four of the kids crawl over me like I was their human jungle gym. 

I remember being so tired of teaching them their manners and repeating things all the time, things like the golden rule, and paraphrasing one of the verses I always said to them out of Proverbs about how pleasing to the Lord it was when brothers lived in harmony.  I remember them wrestling all the time and telling them that someone would get hurt, and they had been warned to not do that, so unless blood was present, don't come tattling to us about who got hurt. 

I also remember making them get out of my house.  I say that with a smile.  When I had absolutely HAD IT UP TO HERE of four screaming, wild banshees running circles in this house, or when I had heard enough bickering, I would make them all go outside.  "GET OUTSIDE NOW, AND DO NOT COME IN UNTIL I TELL YOU YOU'RE ALLOWED."  I said that too many times to even count.  We lived in a neighborhood conducive to this, though, the street was FILLED with kids around their age.  I sat out there with them most of the time, but once the little ones turned four, I would let them go out with their older brothers watching over them.  I would keep my front door open, so with that and all the windows on the front of our house, I had no problem keeping a watchful eye over them all.  Our yard, backyard, and driveway were the hangout spots, though.  We always made sure to have plenty for them to do: sports equipment, bikes, an awesome swingset and fort thing, and in later years a basketball goal and trampoline.  They practically LIVED out there, and many nights, asked to sleep out there.  We always said yes, they always changed their minds. 

I remember YEARS of struggling with what in the world to make for dinner for all my picky little eaters.  Their childhood pediatrician was correct: most of them did outgrow their weird food quirks.  (Most of them, I said...Jonah is still one to drive me bonkers about dinner.)  There were times I wondered if we would eat macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, and chicken nuggets for every dinner for the rest of our lives.  (We didn't.)

I remember so well the days of hating Sunday mornings.  It was so hard to get them all out the door, and we always had wayward hair to deal with.  I remember riding to church thinking to myself how awful I had been to them in the middle of that frustration of trying to leave, and then hypocritically walking into the church doors.  The Lord was always so faithful to deal with me about that.  Later on, I learned to apologize frequently, because none of us are perfect. 

Funny story: one time we made it ALL THE WAY TO CHURCH with one kid who forgot his shoes.  I do not remember coming back home, because our church was in Cordova, a good twenty minutes away.  I guess he went with no shoes.  (It was Noah.)  He did that later on, as well, in elementary school.  Because I always dropped them off in my pj's, I had to come home, get dressed, and take him back and check him in late.  (I'm rolling my eyes.)

I remember (not with fondness, necessarily) being so frustrated while trying to clean the house.  You know that meme that says cleaning a house with kids is like brushing your teeth while eating oreos?  Yup.  That is so true.  I would be thrilled to just get one area cleaned up.  Five minutes later the living room was overrun by toys again.  And oh, the toys.  Having four boys that close together, you can imagine all the junk we had everywhere.  For those of you who always admire me for my clean(ish) house now, it was NEVER that way until the youngest two hit twelve.  We had toys all over every surface.  I eventually added a toy box downstairs so we could at least put them away quickly when people came over. 

I loved dressing them all somewhat alike.  For ages you could look into their closets and see all the blue shirts.  I loved for them to coordinate for pictures, and man did I take a ton of them.  I knew the day would come when they would no longer be so willing to smile for me, so I'm glad I had the foresight to do that.  I'm pretty sure someone told me that. 

I remember very, very inconsistent quiet times.  I never could get it in every single day, because life and young kids.  So for those of you who are reading this and struggle with that, know that it's okay.  Have a little grace for yourself.  I know now that I could have prayed and asked the Lord to give me little pockets of time throughout the day to spend with Him, but I didn't do that.  I was doing great to not forget a kid when I left, and I actually did that one time.  But have some grace for yourself.  The Lord wants any amount of you He can get, and whether it's in the morning or at night, or while you're hiding out in the bathroom with little ones fingers sliding under the door to see if you're still there, it's okay.  He is gracious to us, and in the years to come for you, He will redeem all that time that you missed out on. 

I will say that once mine all turned four and up, I taught them to not interrupt me (unless it was an emergency) if they saw me praying and reading my bible.  They were old enough to understand, and it never hurt anyone to wait an additional fifteen minutes for that glass of chocolate milk they were screaming for.  I always let them "catch" me having quiet time, too, because I wanted them to know what I was doing and I wanted them to remember that as much as their mom loved them, she loved Jesus way more.  I wanted them to remember seeing me at the kitchen table spending time with Him every single day. 

I remember hearing that these days would go by very fast, and I was always careful to not say "yes" to too many things or activities.  I would definitely get out every once in a while with a girlfriend for a little girl's night out, and my husband encouraged me to do that, but I made sure it wasn't too often.  I figured I would have the rest of my life to do that kind of thing someday.  (And I was right.)  On that same note, Todd and I decided while the boys were two, four, and five that going to church would never be an option.  We made the decision that we would go every time that we were able to, and the boys would grow up knowing that.  And that worked, friends.  When they're little, there is such a small window of time that they're excited to go, and if you get them in and used to it during that time, they will never think any differently.  Now there did eventually come a day when they started asking if we had to go anymore.  It had grown boring to them, and we knew then that it was time for us to make a change.  So seven years ago tomorrow, we started attending the church we are at right now.  That does happen sometimes.  It doesn't make us church hoppers, but the kids need to be happy in church.  If they're not, they will rebel and someday they will stop going altogether.  I've seen in a million times.

It wasn't always easy and there were days that it was definitely a sacrifice to live that way, but I would never change it for anything, even if I could. 

I make all this sound like I'm done, and though I am not at all, my time with them is growing shorter.  With them being nineteen, eighteen and about to graduate high school, and the twins being fifteen, it'll be here before I know it.  My life already looks so different.  More often than not, I find myself alone at home.  Todd will be working, and all the boys will have made plans.  I get time to myself so often that it makes me wish for the opposite.  (I NEVER thought that way when they were young!)  I watched Drew walk in to get his cap and gown yesterday, and I was so overcome with emotion all of a sudden.  It doesn't matter that he is my second one to graduate in a year's time, it never gets any easier.  I am so excited for him and his future, so don't get me wrong, it just went by so quickly.  It proves that Karen Kingsbury's book was right: we need to not keep track of what they do FIRST, but what they do for a last time.  I cannot remember the last time Drew covered my face with lotta kisses.  (Yes, he would do that, and that is what he called it.)  I can't remember the last time I held them in my lap.  They all were so lovey dovey growing up, and were always in my lap or right next to me.  One day, I woke up, and that was no longer the case. 

Drew's not going anywhere, by the way.  It's just (yet) another end of an era.  He will be attending Southwest in the fall, and staying home while going.  This will be the first phase of his next four years.  Lord willing, he will be pursuing a career in nursing.  He takes a test in June to see whether or not he qualifies for the nursing program at Southwest.  If he does, that's great, if not, he will go there for two years and then transfer to another school to finish out his degree.  Graham didn't go anywhere either, last year after he graduated.  But in that one year, so much change has happened.  Graham went from being a teenage student to a full grown man, it seems.  He works full time and makes really good money to be so young, he's in a serious relationship, he makes his own plans and schedules and pays for his own hair cuts.  He does fill me in on things occasionally and is always so kind to ask if I mind if he does something, but he doesn't have to do that.  He just does, out of respect, I guess.  I appreciate it more than you can imagine.  I can count on two hands the times we have all sat around the dinner table together, just the six of us, since Christmas.  It's not many. 

It's been an awesome past nineteen years.  I cannot wait for the rest of them, to see where the Lord takes them all.  It is so exciting to begin to see His plan for their lives unfold.  I love seeing that light in their eyes when they start to get an inkling of what they might want to do for the rest of their lives.  Jonah and Noah are even starting to get that about them now, and I love it.  I never want to stunt their growth, because as I have said for a sweet forever, I'm not just raising sons.  I'm raising future husbands and fathers, and at some point, I have to start to let go.  I never want to hover over them, and I don't want to handle their business for them for too long.  They have to learn to do all that for themselves.  We are always around if they need us, of course, but we let them start to do these things early.  (Graham has been dealing with his own bank account since he was fourteen.)  I don't want them to think they need us to do things for them, so that is why we have done what we have.  I lean on Todd's expertise in this all the time, because that is how he was raised to think by his dad, and we are basically just doing the same. 

I'll leave you with a few of my favorite pictures of my (almost) graduate.

Drew as a young toddler.  He was two in this picture and was crying over not wanting to sit on Santa's lap.

He was second grade in this one, I think.  We were on a boat in Hot Springs, Arkansas. 

Drew LOVED baseball...playing, watching, collecting cards.  This was in his fifth grade year. 

And Drew in high school, a few years ago, doing what he loves most, pouring into little kiddos.  He is such a magnet for any and all of them. 

Thanks for reading, friends.  Love to all. 

Monday, April 23, 2018

the weekend and a few other things

I love the weekend.  Who doesn't?  I love the (mostly) easy, relaxed pace, and I love the extra time with the six of us under this roof.  It doesn't happen that often these days.  (However, after this week, Graham's life will slow down considerably.)  We got our weekend kicked off by going to my dad's house for lunch on Friday.  We ate his yummy barbecue-slathered hot dogs that he burns on the grill, and chips and dip.  Shortly after lunch, Drew had to leave for a haircut, and Noah went with him.  Jonah and I stayed, and while I caught up with Dad and Sandy, Jonah cleaned San's car. 

She was so excited about him doing that, and he was in his happy place. 

I love this room in their house.  It's filled with treasures they've collected from traveling over the years.  They've been to so many places, but my dad's favorite is anywhere out west.  He loves Route 66, and was once inspired by the movie Cars when he and I watched it with the kids.  (I'm not even kidding!  That movie inspired a huge trip they made that way.)  Dad also loves a good beach, preferably Destin, though he is not one to sit and watch for long.  One day will do it for him.  He loves Hot Springs, Arkansas, and D.C., as well. 

On a side note, I loved traveling with him, when I was young.  We went on three cruises together, and those took us to the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Jamaica.  I've eaten crazy foods that he talked me into trying, one of which was frog legs and snails, and I've hiked up and back (partially) a waterfall.  When I was about seven and in the throes of my Annie days (I wore the red wig everywhere and when people commented, I would break out in song for them), he, my sister Trish and I flew to California and drove all the way up the coast.  It seemed like it was two weeks, but I'm sure that's not the case.  I remember being mesmerized by San Francisco and Carmel.  We went to MGM and rode the ride that took us by where part of the movie Jaws was filmed, and I almost DIED when said shark jumped out of the water at me.  Unfortunately, I was the one sitting closest to the water.   We spent one week every summer in Jacksonville, Florida, and about a weekend or two a month in Hot Springs, Arkansas. 

But my FAVORITE trip was when he  took me to Hawaii when I was in seventh grade.  We were gone over a week for that trip, and we stayed at the Ka'Anapali Beach Resort on the island of Maui.  The ocean was right outside of our window, it seemed, and it seriously kept San awake all night.  I remember discovering that I loved the mahi mahi fish, guava juice and jam, and pineapple everything and anything.  We were down the road from a Haagen Dazs ice cream shop, and we probably went every night after dinner.  I attended a luau and was enthralled from the very first gong of the drums that came in off of the water.  (They rode in from boats in the ocean for the performance.)  I did NOT love poi, which was a gray looking sauce they ate on things.  I discovered, perhaps for the first time, how insanely car sick I become when traveling in the backseat on mountain roads.  We went to Hana on that trip, and though the ride was gorgeous and laden with tropical rain forests, I have NEVER in my life been so glad to have arrived at a destination. 

Y'all, as I've been writing this, I've been looking at Google images for that resort, and holy cow.  It's still every bit as nice and beautiful as it was sometime in the early nineties.  It looks exactly the same! 

Anyway, back to this blog post. 

That night, Graham and Drew went to a concert with some of their friends, so Todd, Jonah, Noah and I went out for dinner.  Noah was dropped off at a friend's house later on in the night, and Todd and Jonah stayed upstairs and played Fortnight on the X-Box while I sat and watched When Calls the Heart on Netflix.  I was in bed at nine thirty. 

Saturday was beautiful, so even though I hate to shop, I went out and shopped for tops.  I had great success and bought several, including the cutest dress ever, and then I came home and prepared for dinner that night.  Todd rode with the sheriff's department and the kids all stayed in for dinner (well, minus Noah, who ate with his friend).  I also started and finished this delightful book.

And proceeded to laugh out loud through the whole thing.  Lincee is my age, and I could have written the entire thing myself.  No joke.  If you're a memoir type gal, I highly recommend this book.  The fact that you don't know who she is is irrelevant, because she is hilarious and now I want to be her best friend. 

I was in bed early again, and up at dawn the next day with Chip.  We had church most of the day (for me, anyway, with choir practice) and then I came home and ate leftover pasta for dinner afterward.  I was in bed at nine last night, because Sunday's are rough on this girl.  Singing WEARS ME OUT.  I have no idea why, but I cannot sing quietly.  When our choir director says, "Sing!", I go at it with gusto.  And even though I'm tired afterward and have practically no voice left, I still sing like a fool during praise and worship in church a half hour after practice has ended.  It is physically impossible for me NOT to sing during praise and worship at church.  That's why if I'm sick, I don't go.  I can't just sit there and listen.

It was a great weekend.  This week is slightly crazy, busy wise, and I have since started a rough draft of a list of things I cannot forget.  My Drew finishes high school this week.  I turn in his grades on Friday.  I know it'll be that day before I can even blink.  (Insert crying face emoji here.)

Thanks for reading!  Love to all. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

life lately

I can't believe it's already Thursday.  Even though it's not been too terribly busy, the week has gone by really fast.  I have several things to do before the end of this month, and I just realized yesterday that next week is practically the end of the month.  Well, maybe not, but my deadlines hit next Friday for several things I've had on the calendar. 

On Monday I played catch up from the weekend.  That is always what I do on Mondays.  I usually don't like to schedule things on that day, because surely, the laundry has gotten out of control, the house is in disarray, the kitchen needs to be put back together and the pantry organized, and I need a day of not much to do.  I have come to love Mondays, especially after my busy Sundays.  (Sunday is the longest day of the week for me: up early to be at church by 9:15 or sometimes 8:30 if I'm on praise team, home after for a quick lunch and nap if I'm lucky, back at three for choir practices, then Sunday night or community group services at church.) 

The biggest accomplishment of that day was that I cleaned out our refrigerator.  That night, three of the boys and Rachel and I went to CiCi's for dinner with my in-love's.  It had been a couple of weeks since we had seen them, so we enjoyed catching up with them over dinner at a favorite restaurant of ours. 

Oh, and Todd worked that night, which was really random, but whatever.

On Tuesday, Drew had a class at his weekly tutorial, and when he got home, we met Mom for lunch at a yummy and new to me Mexican restaurant.  I could eat Mexican food every day of the week.  It was really good.  After lunch the boys headed back home, and she and I went and ran some errands together.  I've mentioned before how much I love doing mundane things together with the ones I love.  It makes running errands so much better.  I also love catching up, because I hadn't seen Mom in about a week. 

Our last stop that day was at a local nursery.

I LOVE tulips.  There were plenty to gaze at that day. 

That night all the boys (minus Graham, who was in class) went to church to watch some basketball games that were going on.  Todd and I watched The Voice, which is INCREDIBLY painful to watch this year, because all the contestants are picking their own songs and the songs aren't great.

Yesterday, Jonah and Noah and I made a quick Costco run to pick up a few essentials, then came home and put it all away.  I had bible study that afternoon at four, and then church was last night. 

Meanwhile, and having nothing to do with anything I've written about so far, look at my great-nieces.

I could eat them up!  Kinsley is on the left, Kylie on the right.

I can't wait until I can see them again. 

Also, Drew turned in an application for a mission trip this week.  Here's a picture of him and some pretty great Navajo kiddos from last year.

I posted this on social media to ask for prayers as they prepare to go in June, and to say that he is currently fundraising.  He's gotten a couple of calls this week already for some odd jobs, so if that was you who called him, thank you so much for thinking of him! 

I loved these verses from Psalm this week, in my bible reading. 

This was me on Tuesday night, searching for a particular verse in Psalm, and I just sat and poured over several chapters that night while I was looking.  I love this page in my new bible from the front of the book.  My bible is the She Reads Truth bible, and it is the most beautiful one I've ever owned.  I have loved marking it all up since November.

And, finally, this call came yesterday.  It's getting real!  It'll be here before I know it, and I know these last weeks before graduation are going to FLY BY.  That was the case last year. 

I also have to take a few minutes to tell you about Graham.  Since January, he has been taking classes at night to be on the sheriff's department as a volunteer, just like his dad.  Someday this will provide insurance for Graham and his family, which is really a huge benefit.  (This also provides our insurance.)  Anyway, since April, the classes have been every night and every Saturday.  If all goes well, he will graduate from these classes one week from tonight.  I am so proud of him for being so diligent in studying and going.  He's only missed one class, and it was when we were in Nashville for Tracy's surgery, but he has since caught up again.  Today at noon, he will be taking the National Registry test, which will give him his license in Emergency Medical Response if he passes.  I'm confident in his ability to do so, and while he's been in class, he's been either one of the top students, or THE top student. 

This kid has grown up a lot in the year since this picture was taken.  He decided to forego college for now, because he was never certain what he wanted to do.  I applaud his decision, for a few reasons.  College isn't for everyone, being one of them.  Another is that he didn't want to waste time or money, if he didn't have a  particular path he wanted to pursue.  So, since he decided to not be in school, we asked him to work full time.  In July he went to work for my husband, for the family business, which is repairing medical equipment and doing electrical safety checks for certain types of equipment.  Graham has excelled in this, and has not missed many days in the almost one year that he's been working.  I know it hasn't always been easy for him to step into this very adult role in life, but he has done amazingly well at it all, and we could not be more proud.  Their customers ADORE him, and he is very responsible.  He lives at home still, but he comes and goes as he pleases, even though he will still ask me for permission to go somewhere.  (He does NOT have to do that, but I know he does it out of courtesy and respect.)  I haven't seen him much since January, I won't lie, and I cannot count how few times the six of us have sat around the kitchen table.  When he has an off night, he goes out to the country to spend time with his other family, also known as Rachel and her parents. 

Will you help me in praying for him today?  We would greatly appreciate it.  You should see the book that he's had to learn!  It's about four inches thick and he's marked it all up with notes as he's studied since January.  Once he graduates from this class, his life will free up considerably.  He is trained (and will be certified) in everything from how to drive emergency vehicles all the way through how to deliver a baby.  (Eeeks.)  I'll keep you posted on the results of the test as soon as he hears.  I know it'll be a few days, at least.  Thanks, friends! 

And thanks for reading my blog.  Love to all. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday Favorites

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

This has been a really great week.  I've been moderately busy (as in, I had somewhere to be almost everyday), but not so much so that I'm tired from it. 

Monday was the only day I actually stayed home all day.  I caught up on the mountains of laundry that I had neglected all weekend, I vacuumed the floors, I read my bible plan from Sunday and then also from that day, I cleaned a bit, and I can't remember what all else.  I felt like it was a productive day, though, the kind that I most love. 

Also on that day, I started memorizing Romans 12, one of my favorite chapters in the bible.  I love to memorize scripture, and it's been a couple of years and I really feel the need to sharpen my brain again by stretching it.  That just means that this no longer comes easily for me, so I have to work at it.  I made notecards, one per verse, so that I can grab them and go if I am going to somewhere that I might have a wait.  This verse stopped me in my tracks on that day.  It was after a particularly discouraging conversation I'd had about my sister in love that is still in Vanderbilt because of a heart transplant.

I needed to read that so much on that day.  I know that the Lord had me read that.  He is so good to me, and always so kind.  I texted this to someone I thought could also use the encouragement.

I love to do that, by the way, encourage people along the way.  I know that not everyone is made like that, but sometimes I think we should all make the effort more than we do.  It takes less than two minutes to do something like that.  I am all about affirming people, and I try to do this a few times a week.

 I got to attend a music reading this week at a local church.  I love being in choir, and I LOVE music.  Some of my favorite music is put out by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.  This is their newest release, and it was awesome getting to hear it and sing it.  I went to this with some friends from choir, and our worship pastor. 

Also, last night, I watched the live stream of the Brooklyn Tabernacle singers debuting this at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee.  It was over an hour, but all my family was gone, and what better way to spend an hour and a half on a Thursday night than worshiping the Lord?  It was so good.

You can listen to some of their songs on YouTube.

Psalm 23 is one of my favorites.

Unfortunately, later this day, I started feeling so sick.  My throat felt like it was on fire, so rather than cook, we had pizza for dinner, and I went to bed early. 

It's official.  All my boys are drivers now.  Noah got his permit on Wednesday!  I'm so proud of him.

Also, on this day, I started a prayer wall under this sign in my kitchen, and these are the family members whose pictures I already had printed.  I'm working on the rest of them. 

This will end up being my favorite spot in the house, I'm sure.

Later that day, Missy and Rachel came over for bible study. 

I also made two lasagnas- one to give away and one for us to enjoy.  They both ate with me that night.

This is one of my very favorite memories!  It was five years ago when we went on a field trip with Big Daddy to Shiloh.  It was so much fun, and we made so many memories. 

This is my favorite neighborhood in all of The Ville.  And it just so happens to be where one of my best friends lives, so at a stop sign on my way to her house yesterday, I took this picture.  It was gorgeous outside, so rather than pray in a room inside, we sat in rocking chairs on her front porch and talked and prayed together. 

My favorite new shoes that kill my feet.  Actually it's just the left one that hurts so bad.  I broke that foot three years ago, and it never healed right, so the strap around my ankle makes it throb by the end of the time that I wear these.  I honestly don't care that they hurt, because LOOK how adorable.  I love them. 

I am so glad it's Friday for a few reasons.  I get to see my dad, and I'm making one of his favorite things to eat- egg and olive salad.  It's Drew's and Noah's favorite as well. 

I am getting my hair cut!  I can't wait.  I'm going to try something a little different that we talked about when I saw my hairstylist friend a couple of weeks ago.  She thought it would work really well for my hair, so I'm excited to see the end result. 

And, finally, I get to see ALL of my family all weekend.  Graham is so busy these days, between work and classes he's been taking at night since January, so I love when I can see him for days in a row. 

Thanks for reading!  Love to all. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

worship songs I have on repeat

I love worship music.  Love, love, love it.  Honestly, I love music in general, and I cannot imagine living in a world where I couldn't have music.  For years and years (at least eighteen), I have had a kitchen radio mounted under the cabinets.  I listen to K Love all the time.  Sometimes I switch over to their sister station, Air One, but if I am in there doing anything, the radio is on.  I do (very occasionally) listen to pop or country, like when I'm in the car and my kids force me, so I do know some of those songs, but I prefer K Love. 

Last year my husband bought me a little bluetooth speaker, so I also now have that in my bathroom.  While I'm upstairs making beds and folding laundry or cleaning or getting dressed I use Spotify to listen.  I have some favorites that are always on repeat.  I thought I'd share them with you today. 

One side note, I love worship music, but I like the songs to be about God.  Either who He is or what He has done, like this first song I'm going to share.

This is Thanks Be To Our God, by Travis Cottrell.

Sometimes this song makes me weep.  Like last night while I was getting ready for bed after my shower.

I was introduced to this song pretty recently on the radio, and immediately, I loved the lyrics.  This is So Will I, by Hillsong.

I love Chris Tomlin's newest album, and this is one of my favorites.  Come Thou Fount.

Same album and artist, but this one's First Love by him and with Kim Walker Smith.

This one takes me back to high school choir.  It's the same album, and artist.  This one's Kyrie Eleison.

One song I love to worship to and cannot help but lift my arms to Jesus is This Is Amazing Grace by Phil Wickham.

This last one was one we sang on Resurrection Sunday, and it makes me want to jump.  Glorious Day, by Kristian Stanfill.

I love most any and all worship music.  I'm somewhat picky with the lyrics, though, and I don't like singing about how we can overcome or how we're strong, or how great we are.  I only love the songs that sing about who God is, and what He has done,

I love to worship my Jesus.  I close my eyes and imagine me in heaven at the foot of His throne, worshiping Him and singing it all for Him.  He is the one I sing for and to.  I love Him so much and cannot imagine a life lived without Him.  I hope you enjoy these songs!  They're all so good. 

Happy Tuesday, friends.  Love to all. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

the weekend and a little of this, a little of that

I have such a God story that happened on Friday.  Drew and Jonah left in Drew's truck to go get Chip from the vet (he was neutered that day) and they stopped at our church to meet a friend first.  As Drew was backing out of the parking spot, he heard a loud noise and felt his truck do something weird.  He got out to see what had happened, and the tired looked as if it was disconnecting from the truck.  His steering wheel was straight, but the tire was turned severely to the right.  Todd told me that had that happened while he was driving at a normal speed, he would have probably wrecked.  And if he had wrecked, who knows what would have happened. 

I do not believe in coincidences at all, but I do believe that in every single second of our lives, the Lord is watching over us and protecting us from who knows what.  Psalm 91:11 tells us that He gives His angels orders concerning us.  I love that!  I also believe that we should all be on the lookout for things like this that He does everyday.  It is strengthening to our faith, and when we look for Him and His hand, we can be sure to find it.  If you are in need of some encouragement that the Lord is always close, ask Him to help you see Him as He moves.  And then watch for Him.  I also love to fill my journal with stories such as this one.  It is biblical for us to look back and remember.  All throughout Deuteronomy, we are told that.  I can't even remember how many times it says that in that book.  Remember.  Remember!

Todd worked Friday night, so I invited ourselves out to my mom's house.  We had the most delicious tacos!  And homemade guacamole.  Oh, my soul.  I love guacamole.  When we came home, three of my sons went midnight bowling, and one went to a friend's to spend the night.  Chip and I were alone all night, so I watched something.  I cannot remember what it was for the life of me.

On Saturday, it was so cold!  I had plans to go buy some soap for our bathrooms, but I called it a day and changed back into yoga pants and my coziest sweatshirt.  Also, I was so tired.  Todd and Graham left at six thirty that morning to go work at the sheriff's department, and so I just stayed home and watched Netflix.  All day long.  Also, I was very emotional all day and not fit for company.

I was so glad to be back in church yesterday!  I know I say it repeatedly, but I am so thankful for our church family.  I love the pastors and staff so much, and I can't tell you how many times we were asked about my sister-in-love yesterday.  Todd and I both were in tears last night, as we talked about this and appreciated them for how much they care and that they pray so faithfully for the needs of the people in the church family.

Today the laundry and I have a date.  Also, I really need to do some sprucing up and cleaning in our bedroom and bathroom.  I'll be doing that and some other little house things throughout the day, and then tonight we have a women's event at church, my favorite kind, called Girlfriend's Cafe.  We have dessert and coffee and are always uplifted by whoever is speaking that night.  I'm excited to hear my friend speak tonight, and this is reminding me that I need to get off of here and go pray for her, because she didn't feel the greatest yesterday, and I promised her I would pray for her off and on all day. 

I'm including a link to one of the best articles I've ever read on friendship.  I came across this last week and was immediately so thankful for the godly women I have in my life.  I'm so fortunate to have a handful who point me to Jesus.  I thank God for them.  Click HERE if you want to read it. 

Happy Monday, friends.  Love to all. 

Friday, April 6, 2018

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, my friends.  I feel like there were a lot of different readers this week, according to blog statistics that I see, so welcome back, if you're new and reading again.  I'm linking up with Andrea from Momfessionals for this blog post. 

It's been a week.  To read more about all that has commenced since the weekend, click here, where I wrote a giant post about all that has gone on.  We were gone from Saturday night until Tuesday afternoon, very unexpectedly, and on Wednesday afternoon, I felt as if I hit a brick wall.  I guess I experienced a "let down" from all the emotional distress that the weekend brought.  I was strong while we waited, and even on Monday, when I wasn't being strong, I still held myself together pretty well, but on Wednesday, it all came out.  I cried a lot.  I prayed a lot.  I read the bible and did my bible study homework, and then I prayed some more.  I talked to my mom-in-love several times (more than usual) to get caught up, and tried to keep up with things while being back at home.  It was a really weird day, but yesterday was so much better. 

I am thankful that it's the weekend, almost, and that I can get totally recharged before Sunday.  I can't wait to go to church and be with my church family.  My pastor is starting a new sermon series called Fighting For Family.  Or something like that.  My pastor is my favorite preacher, y'all, and I so appreciate that man of God.  We have talked to him several times this week, and never have I been so thankful to be where we are, at Collierville First Baptist Church.

I'll get on to the post of my favorites from the week. 

We took this picture Saturday at Daddy's house.  Left to right are me, Daddy, Trish, and Paul.  My brother looks so good!  I haven't seen him in a few years, about three or four, and it is always great to see him, talk to him, hug him so big, and hear him tell stories.  He has the gift of story telling, just like Daddy.  I think this is a really great picture of them all!  (Truth be told, I look at myself, and all I see is HAIR.  It's really big right now.)

That time with them all was definitely a favorite moment from the week, and one that I needed before all that would be to come in the following days.

Also, we were celebrating my dad's 87th birthday. 

I've had to use our church's livestream so many times lately, that it has become a favorite part of our new church website for me.  I'm so glad we have that option for when we have to miss going.  I HATE missing church!  Funny fact: this is the fourth Resurrection Sunday I've not participated in.  Turns out that this our sick time of year, so I've been sick the last three, and then this year we were in Nashville.  Isn't that kinda funny that I've missed that many?  That is my favorite Sunday of the entire year.

While waiting in the hospital for Tracy to be out of surgery wasn't a favorite from the week, being with family and her friends was.  She has some pretty amazing friends, and one of them (Natasha) took this picture.  I texted it to myself from her phone on Sunday while we were waiting, so I could share and so that people would have a face with the name I was asking them to pray for.  (Also, please keep praying for her!  She is doing so well, but she has a long, long road to recovery before her.  And pray for Tim, her hubby, and their boys.  This is birthday season for all of them.)

Her shirt is so appropriate.  Strong and fierce. 

A huge bright spot on Monday was eating dinner at one of my favorite places to eat.  Honestly, I love the atmosphere probably more than the food, but Drew was in heaven.  We had a big family style birthday dinner for him, because the next day, he turned eighteen!

The picture of him on the right is my favorite picture of him from all time.  I can't believe that cute little guy on the left is now eighteen years old.  Moms of littles--I know you hear this all the time, but once they're finished with elementary school, it feels like you blink and they're graduating from high school. 

Also thanks to my sister Debi, it hit me yesterday that in three weeks, Drew will be finished with his senior year.  I have to turn grades in for him at the end of this month, and that did not dawn on me until I was talking to Debi on the phone yesterday.

When we got home on Tuesday, my mom and stepdad had brought over a full dinner for us and a birthday cake for Drew for us to enjoy that night.  That was my favorite part of the day.  The food was amazing, and I might have cried over their thoughtfulness.

I'm doing the armor of God bible study by Priscilla Shirer, and this little sticky note is posted on my bathroom mirror to remind me to pray on the armor every single day.  I don't always remember, if I'm honest, but I need to pray that on more than I need makeup.  This study is my favorite bible study of all.  I've done a TON of them, and I can honestly say that about this one.  It's my second time through.

Insert the emoji that shows me being sick.  This one drove us to church on Wednesday for him to be dropped off.  Noah is going next week to get his. 

Teaching teenagers to drive is NOT my favorite, nor is it for the faint of heart.

Oh, friends.  These angels are my great-nieces.  They're twins, and they're fifteen months old this month, and their mommy posted the most adorable video I have ever seen of them yesterday.  They were in the bathtub, and Kylie (on the left) kept sticking her finger in Kinsley's mouth.  The second time she did it, Kins bit her finger.  (I'm laughing.)  At the end of the video, this is them kissing and making up. 

I've watched it a shameful amount of times.

This picture is my new favorite of them.

Last but not least, I used to get my nails done every two weeks.  I miss going, but my nails were being destroyed by that gel polish and how it had to be scraped off.  My nails became thin and flimsy, so I quit going (I love where I went, though, so I told them all this so they wouldn't think I stopped on bad terms) and have gone back to doing my own.  In doing that, I've realized that a lot of my polishes need to be tossed because they're old and gunky and no longer able to be thinned out.

So yesterday I went to Walmart on the hunt for more.

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a new (to me) brand that is VERY inexpensive. 

The brand is Salon Perfect, and it cost about $3.  I LOVE the colors.  That one on the left is what I tried first, and is my new favorite color.  It's a dark periwinkle blue.

It goes on weird the first coat, but it all evens out by the second coat. 

I always get asked how I do my own so well, but this next picture is the answer to that.

Seche Vite is the best quick drying topcoat I've ever used.  I buy mine on Amazon for about $7.  That bought me two bottles and because it gets thick pretty fast, I shared a bottle with one of my best friends who also loves to paint her nails.  That's my only complaint about this polish: once it gets thick and gunky, you have to toss it.  It gets that way when you're down to the last third of the bottle.

I also got this cute color by Sally Hansen.  I was wanting some fun and bright colors for spring and summer, and I'm pleased with what I got. 

I like to keep my nails polished because I live in a house of boys and because it keeps my nails strong.  When they're not polished, they break easily and seem thin. 

So there you have it. 

Thanks for reading!  I hope your weekend is great.  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...