Friday, April 26, 2019

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, friends!  This is an odd Friday for us, because my dad won't be coming over, but I have plans to fill the time.  I'm even thinking about making a trip to Trader Joe's. !!!  I haven't been since the beginning of December.

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

I'm starting with this #flashbackFriday picture of my sister Trish and me from last summer, because that is my favorite shirt ever, my favorite color, and I posted about it on Wednesday's blog post.  Scroll down to read about it, if you haven't already.  Also, Trish is adorable.  Her party animal sign reminds me of that meme that says something like, "If by 'party animal', you mean at home and in my pajamas by seven, then yes!". 

I shared about this on Monday, when I wrote about Drew's first year of college.  This has been his current favorite breakfast for the last two weeks, and in honor of this week being his last full regular week of his freshman year, I shared an update all about him and how proud I am of him. 

Fast forward to Wednesday, when this same kid was involved in an accident.  It wasn't his fault, and it was on our street, but that kind of thing is NOT for the faint of heart.  There is no good way to call someone and say, "Hey, I was in an accident, but I'm okay.".  Seriously, there is no good way to say that without the person on the other end of the call experiencing heart failure. 

We have no idea what will be the outcome of his beloved truck, but when they put it on the tow truck that afternoon, it was all I could do not to cry for him.

This chapter in Psalm is one of my favorite chapters in the bible.  This verse brings me such comfort, and I couldn't help but thank God over and over for His hand of protection in the lives of my family members. 

Last night, some of my favorite ladies from church and I had a little girls night out at a cute Italian restaurant here on our town square.  We were the small group leaders for the bible study our church women went through together from January to April on Malachi.  (We were missing two friends, though, Carol and Eden.)  Left to right are Mrs. Sarah, Kim, Brooke, Amy, Brittany, Mackenzie, me, and DeeDee.  We are starting back up in June in preparation for another study we will start with the women in the church on Galatians when school starts back in August.  I can't wait for it to start again, I've missed being in bible study these past couple of weeks.  It is my favorite past time, and I am looking forward to reading through Galatians several times before August comes.

Today is a tiny bit crazy with plans, even though Dad isn't coming over.  I'd like to make a trip to Trader Joe's, like I said earlier, to get a few things I tried and loved from the last time I went.  It's not super convenient for me to go there, but every few months is doable.  My poor puppy hurt his back leg over last weekend, and it hasn't gotten any better yet, so Todd dropped him off at the vet this morning, and I'll probably go pick him up this afternoon.  (I love this dog, so much so, that it is borderline ridiculous.)  Noah went to work with Todd to get a replacement phone, because he dropped his last night and shattered the screen, making it almost completely unreadable.  Drew has school and work, so that leaves Jonah and me alone for most the day.  I'm hoping to talk him into running errands with me.  We'll see. 

Meanwhile, I have laundry and other house stuff to keep me busy in the meantime.  I guess I'd better go get started on it all.  Thanks for reading, friends.  Have a wonderful weekend!  Love to all. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

What's Up Wednesday

I haven't done one of these in a while, so I thought I'd participate in this linkup with Shay from Mix and Match Mama, and her friend Shaeffer.  

What we're eating this week: 

On Monday night, we all kind of did our own thing, because we were all over the place.  Jonah and Noah had work, so they went to Taco Bell with friends before that.  Graham and Todd eventually came home and had a pizza out of the freezer section from Kroger, and so did Drew.  I also had pizza, but leftover supreme from Friday night.  Last night I made chicken for shredded chicken nachos.  SO GOOD.  (I used six chicken breasts and covered them with water that I mixed taco seasoning into.  I added a jar of salsa at one, then shredded it all with two forks.  I had mine with beans and a small handful of my favorite organic tortilla chips from Costco.)  Tonight I'm eating at church, tomorrow night I'm going out with a group of ladies from church, and who knows about Friday yet.

Meanwhile, this is my favorite kind of lunch.

What I'm reminiscing about:

 Graduation!  This time of year will forever make me think of my oldest boys graduating high school.  It was such a wonderful, fun day for them both, and we enjoyed their parties afterward.  

This was the senior banquet last year, and this is Drew with our Pastor.  

What I'm loving:

Lately, I have taken to writing down everything I eat.  I started this food journal of sorts last week, when I was really sick over a night and the next day.  I'm trying to be careful with what I eat, because that was not fun.  There is something about seeing what you eat everyday that'll give you pause before you go eat anything else.  For instance, one day I saw that I had too much bread, so the next day I cut it out entirely.

What we've been up to: 

For my husband, he's been working a lot.  This is his busy time of year.  For Graham, he is always doing something to his truck and working full time.  Drew is busy with studying for finals next week, and his afternoon job.  Jonah and Noah are busy trying to finish school in the next two weeks and working their job for the town parks and rec department.  I have been trying to stay on top of everything else.

What I'm dreading:

I can't think of anything.

What I'm working on:

Spring cleaning and purging the whole house.  I still have one major closet to do downstairs, and I'm procrastinating.

What I'm excited about:

Swimming season.  I love to swim!  I also have a fun thing coming up in June (hopefully).

What I'm watching/reading:

I have been watching The Crown again on Netflix.  I am fascinated by any and everything pertaining to the Royal Family.  This show is so good.  I'm only on season one, and I had tried watching it before but couldn't get into it, but now, I'm hooked.  

I'm currently reading a book I should love, but I cannot get into.  I think I'm going to have to put it down.  

I'm still reading along in the new testament with our church family, and this week I've been reading along in the chronological bible, because I'm going to that class on Wednesday nights through the summer months.

What I'm listening to:

I wrote about this last week, but I love worship music.  I am so glad for Spotify.

What I'm wearing:

My favorite kind of outfit is jeans, a flowy shirt, cute jewelry, and wedges.  It's kind of like my new uniform.  (The jeans are what make the outfit, you know you look cute when teenagers give you compliments.  They're called "boyfriend jeans".)

For instance:

This shirt is my favorite.  (I'm on the right.)  How fun is this picture?  This was at my nephew's couple's wedding shower last summer.  It was HOTTER THAN HADES, and outdoor.  

What I'm doing this weekend:

All the things.  Not really, I can't think of anything in particular.

What I'm looking forward to next month:

School being out for Drew, Jonah, and Noah.  That means less work for me.  :)

What else is new:

I think that's all.  Well, I'm thinking of getting my hair cut soon, in an angled bob, and going a tiny bit shorter.  Exciting!  

Thanks for reading!  Love to all.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

a year later, and an update

On this day last year, Drew and I were picking up his cap and gown for graduation.  It's crazy to think how fast an entire year went by, when I thought it would go on forever.  I remember all the feelings that I had regarding him graduating, and also, from when Graham graduated the year before Drew.  Those days are so sweet, and I have such fond memories of both graduations.

I wasn't really sure of what to expect with Drew attending Southwest Community College. (Mostly free school?  Yes, please.)  I know people who have gone there, or did dual enrollment there, and I had heard horror stories about the place.  But you know what?  This past year is proof that when you treat people kindly and communicate openly about what you're needing to find out, people treat you that same way in return.  We have been very pleasantly surprised by how well the year has gone.  Everyone has been incredibly nice and helpful with Drew, and he had lots of questions going in to this year.  Treat others as they want to be treated, and you will be repaid that kindness in return.  Drew has made friends with the women in the admissions office.  They love him, and he loves them for helping him through this year.  The same is true for the academics adviser office.  His professors have been so good, and they have looked on him with favor, because he shows up to every class and they see that he tries his very best.

If I could tell parents one thing, it would be to encourage your kid to do something against the grain of what all their friends are doing.  College is college, and it does not have to be a university.  Most teenagers pick big schools because of the "college" experience.  They want away from their parents, out of their house, and freedom.  (My own wanted this same thing, and I wanted this when I was that age.)  We did not want to load tons of student debt upon Drew, though, so we encouraged him to stay here and take this route.  I think a year later, that he is glad for this.  (I could be wrong, though.)  Also, if they decide not to go to school, work is work, or training is training.  Help them find what they love to do and encourage them.

We told him that we would not be the kind of parents to hover over him (actually, we've never been those parents), and that he would have all the freedom he wanted.  He has been in charge of all his own stuff.  We don't ask him if he has done this or that, we don't force him to go to every class.  He is responsible for his own self, and he knows that.  He has missed a class here and there over this year in school, but he knows he can't miss too many or he will lose the Hope Scholarship. 

I know of many people who have gone to universities and have finished those four years strong.  I also know of a lot who have gone away, and then have come back home.  Many go on to work in the area they received their degree, but so many do not.  Just know this: there are options for everyone, and you do not have to let your own kids do what everyone else is doing.  Talk to them, help them to try and figure out their future plans, even if they're unsure.  Sometimes when you point out something they've always been interested in, it can help them to decide to pursue that path after school. 

If you have a student who hates school and tries, but has trouble with grades anyway (this was me), they may decide that school isn't for them, or at least the traditional idea of school.  For instance, we have a school in Memphis that someone can go to and be certified in three months.  It is very affordable and has to do with computer programming.  Or, they may decide to jump into full time work.  I know so many people who started at FedEx on the loading dock, and moved their way up in the company over the years.  Not everyone needs a college degree.  If that were the case, we would be without plumbers, electricians, and contractors.  There is nothing wrong with pursuing any of those things!  Those people will never be without a job, because they are in high demand.  (The same thing can be said for welders, forklift drivers, or heavy machinery operators, or truck drivers.)

We also encouraged them to pick a major they would have no problem finding a job in.  (One could clearly tell us, and one could not, and that one decided to skip the school part and go into full time work, and it was the best decision ever for him.  We are equally as proud of him as we are the other.)  All of his life, Drew told us he wanted to be a pediatrician.  Then in his junior year of high school, he decided he wanted to pursue a nursing degree instead.  We were all for whatever he wanted, especially because he can take that degree as far as he wants.  He may stop after the four years of school, but he may also go on and do more with it someday.  The point is, he has options, and he will never have a hard time finding a job.

Not everyone knows what they want to do at a young age, though.  I prayed and prayed and prayed, and asked God many times to show them His plan for their life, and in His own perfect timing, He did just that.  I believe He will always do that.  He did the same thing for Graham, changing his mind completely about everything he though he had figured out.  He will do the same for Jonah and Noah, I trust.  I cannot tell you how many times I've prayed for God to give them an inspiration or an idea they could then work off of.  God is Creator of the universe, He can do this, if we ask and trust.  He may do that through a person, or in a dream, but I have experienced this myself and know it to be true. 

Many of my friends have kids in big universities and away from home, and they are thriving.  That is awesome!  Just know, each student, each experience is different.  Don't be so fixed on one idea that you can't be flexible.  And if they try school and do not succeed and end back home, there is no shame in that!  That was me, halfway through my freshman year of college.  My parents did not shame me even one time, but recognized that school wasn't for me.  So I started working full time and continued to do that until I was about to give birth to my second baby (Drew).  What they DID do was support me, encourage me, and help me find full time work.  I remember talking to my mom for hours on end about where I could get a job. 

Ask God to help you with all of this, He will.  If your kids are little, ask Him to let His will be done in their lives.  Drew is awaiting on finding out if He was accepted into nursing school for next semester.  I know that if he isn't accepted for next semester, that God is in control and has a plan already put into place for Drew.  It's not always what we want, but it is always far better than anything we could have concocted on our own.  I pray this every single day of my life: Lord, help ME get out of Your way.  I want His best for them, and they're His, and He wants the best for them even more than me, especially when it brings Him glory.  I don't regret any of how my life turned out, and I know I had parents and grandparents praying the same thing for me.  Don't ever forget the power of prayer.  Pray with them, for them, and ask God to start to develop in them what they want to do forever.  Ask Him to show them.  He will, I promise. 

Thanks for reading my blog!  Love to all. 

Friday, April 19, 2019

Friday Favorites: Good Friday edition

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

This day is the start of my favorite weekend of the entire year.  My kids always used to ask me why this day in history is now called Good Friday.  (It was terrible in that Jesus, the only perfect Man to have ever walked on this earth, and sent from God, died a horrible death on behalf of all the sin in the world.)  But I would tell them it is now called "good" because on that day, it wasn't over. 

After His death and burial, He was resurrected from the dead three days later, and walked among His disciples for a short time again, then ascended into heaven, where He sat down at the right hand of the throne of His Father, God.  And now, because of His death, burial, and resurrection, those of us who are followers and believers of the Lord Jesus will never be separated from God again.  We will have life with Him for all of eternity, after our last breath is breathed upon this earth. 

Because of all this written above, we know that life doesn't end for us here on earth.  In fact, it's just the beginning, life on this earth.  This is why we are able to grieve the loss of loved ones we know were believers and followers of Jesus with hope: we know they will be in heaven with us someday.  It's why I always write about this, because I want everyone I know and love to be there with me.  If you have not placed your faith in Jesus, if you haven't admitted your sin to Him and confessed to Him your need of a Savior, what are you waiting on?  No one is ever promised even another minute on this earth, and what if you died today?  Do you know where you would end up? 

It's so easy.  Please, don't wait another minute.  Let today be the day of your salvation. 

On a lighter note, if you are local to me, and in need of a service to attend over the weekend, I would love to invite you to join me and my family.  We attend Collierville First Baptist Church, and we will have TWO services on Sunday.  The early service starts at eight thirty, and the second service starts at ten.  These two services are the most attended services of the whole year, competing only with Mother's day and the Christmas eve candlelight service. 

If you decide to come, let me know so I can find you afterward!  I would say I'd find you and sit with you, but that's difficult because of choir.

Now for the rest of this blog post...and about Friday Favorites...

I'm still reading along in the new testament with my church family, and this week has been so good.  We're in John, but I think the tenth chapter in John is one of my favorite chapters in all the bible.  I love the picture of Jesus as our Good Shepherd.  He knows His own, and His own know Him, and His voice. 

Once we belong to Him, no one can ever snatch us out His hand.  Isn't that beautiful?  Sin separated us from God, but when Jesus came and died for our sin, He bridged the gap between sinfulness (all of mankind) and God.  Once we belong to Him, we are His forever.  Nothing can ever separate us from the love of God, Paul says in Romans 8:35-39.

Like I said, John is one of my favorite books in the bible.  If you haven't read it recently, you should give it a try. 

My mornings with Jesus are always my favorite part of my day.  This is my bible and morning cup of coffee number two.  

Speaking of Jesus and new life, this is what spring reminds me of.  I love all the new life I see in nature, after a winter full of drab and dreariness.  It's so good to see all that lush green after a rain, too, and while rain isn't my favorite, it is definitely necessary to give us all these beautiful plants, bushes, and trees in nature.

This song is currently my favorite, and I posted about some other songs I always have playing as well, on yesterday's blog post.  Scroll down a little and you can see for yourself.  I posted videos of the songs from YouTube.

Well, it's Friday, and my dad will be here in a couple of hours, so I need to get up and do a few things around here before eleven thirty.  Thank you for reading!  Have a blessed weekend.  Love to all.  

Thursday, April 18, 2019

a day with my dad

Dad and I always wonder when this Friday tradition started.  I can't for sure pin down the year, but I know Jonah and Noah were young enough to be in diapers, and they were out of them before their third birthday.  Before it became a thing, though, and even long before I even had kids, we were always meeting for lunches whenever we could.  We started that when I first got married.  I worked full time in those days, and he would come near me, because he had a longer lunch break.  Sometimes it was for thirty minutes, sometimes it would be closer to an hour and a half.  I always loved bagels for lunch, and had a couple of spots in Memphis I loved to eat at, so we would always go to one of those.  Even long before these days, and before I started driving, he drove me to school every single morning, unless he was out of town.  So, we have always been close and we've never run out of things to talk about.

If I'm remembering right, Jonah and Noah would have been about eighteen months old when we started making Fridays a consistent weekly thing.  When the kids were little, we would always go somewhere fun, like the zoo or to the children's museum of Memphis, or to the fireman's museum downtown.  We liked the Pink Palace, too, though not quite as much as all those other places.  Sometimes we would go on long picnics, or we would just go to the park.  We used to take them to this one park nearby so they could play soccer or football, and we'd sit in the suburban and watch them as we talked. 

Sometimes we would go and see a movie, but we couldn't talk, so we only did that a handful of times, if even that.  I can remember clearly three we saw with him: Yogi Bear in 3D, We Bought a Zoo, and for my birthday one year, I wanted to see Frozen with the boys, so we did that.  Once we started homeschooling all the boys, we would purposefully finish with all the work before noon every Friday.  Being with Dad was like a living history lesson for them each week, as he would tell them tales of his youth.

As the boys have gotten older and started driving, we've done less activity and more lunches and talking afterward.  My love language is quality time, and I think it's his as well, in case you can't tell.  We just love spending time together, and I would say we are firmly almost twenty three years strong of this lovely tradition (from my early married days to present day).  I wrote all that to say, that a couple of weeks ago when Drew came down a stomach virus on a Friday, I called Dad to tell him that I thought we should cancel.  I hate sharing germs with anyone, much less my eighty-eight year old dad.  He insisted he still wanted to come eat lunch together, though, so I just told him not to come inside when he got here.  We left right away, and he wanted to go to a little place out in Rossville, that's known for their catfish and good breakfast foods.  He really wanted breakfast, but they'd stopped serving it already.  Instead we both had one of the best burgers we've ever eaten.  Who knew?! 

I love the area we were in, it's in an historic area of that little town, so after lunch we drove around and looked at houses for a bit. 

I love church buildings, too, especially with their Gothic styles and stained glass windows. 

After we drove around for a few minutes, we headed back to my house.  We decided we would drop Jonah and Noah off, and that we would continue our day together outside on the town square (the boys didn't want to come).  It was beautiful that day, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time together, as usual.  We decided we would have to do this more often, before it gets too hot. 

We were looking for tulips, but found these gorgeous azaleas instead. 

I caught Dad watching this train full of army tanks.  He has always been borderline obsessed with trains.  He loves to ride them, and until a couple of years ago, he and Sandy would take the train to a certain area they were going to vacation, but Amtrak changed their departure and arrival times and no longer serve meals, so they haven't done that in a while.  One is never too old to train gaze, though. 

After that, we saw that one of the trains that stays parked on the tracks was open that day, so of course, we went on board.  My sister Trish was in Denver on this day and sent me a picture of her heading to a baseball game, so we took a picture together and I sent it back in response to her.

We were on the train when I took this. 

After this, we ended up sitting on a bench and talking for the next two hours.  Imagine that.  ;)  It was a great day together, and nice and different.  I'm looking forward to doing this again soon.  We stayed here until a little after three, and then I drove him back home.  (He's not really driving much anymore these days.)  I always love the drive to his house, and I was excited to see his azalea bushes, as well.  They line their house, and the view from their bedroom is my favorite.  It spans the house, yard and lake, and with all the blooms on the bushes, it is beautiful. 

Here is one at the end of the drive, from last week.  The ones in front of the house are all shades of pink.  Their hydrangeas are started to bloom, too, and are equally as pretty. 

Well, thanks for reading, though I really wrote this for myself so that I would always remember this day, or have it to go back and read about.  (A lot of my blog is for that reason, I just share it with others, too.)  I just texted him as I was writing this, to tell him I was glad that it's almost Friday.  He immediately texted back that he was so glad, too.  (How awesome that he texts?!) 

Love to all. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

music & such

I love music.  I always have.  I remember being a young girl and always participating in kids' programs at church and singing my little heart out on a stage for all the world to see.  I loved the movie Annie so much, that I owned a wig to match her hair, and would sing all the words to any of the songs for anyone who would stop for five seconds to listen.  I was never shy about it, either, and was encouraged by both parental units to do all that to my heart's content.

I still love music, and I still love to sing, and I still use a microphone, but it's always when I'm singing with other people on a praise team at church, and I am very shy about it nowadays.  I get stupid nervous anytime I'm put on the spot (which is why I usually feel sick most Sunday mornings when I'm helping lead worship and our worship leader is SO GOOD at catching me off guard and unprepared), and though I never mind singing in a group or a duet, I do not love solos, nor ever ask for one.  And also, God keeps me humble in this way, I think.  I know He does that for people in various situations, and this one is my area. 

These days my musical tastes are all related to worshiping the Lord Jesus.  I love singing to Him, in fact if it weren't for Him and who He is and all that He has done in my life to save me, I don't know that I'd even sing.  He is my reason why, and I pray that He is always lifted high in worship anytime I'm given the chance.  I say all this to say that I always have music playing in my home.  I have a kitchen radio that I've talked about for ages, and anytime I'm in there, it is playing K-Love. 

Thanks to my hubby, I also have a small bluetooth speaker upstairs in our room, and when I am up there folding clothes, making the bed, cleaning and dressing for the day, I have it on and Spotify is playing.  I thought I'd share a bit of what I love to listen to the most.  (We pay monthly for our Spotify account, and it's a great way to listen to new music legally and all that I want.  Though I use Spotify while I'm home and even in my car sometimes, for this blog post, I'll use YouTube for videos of the songs that are always playing.)

This first one is my current favorite and it's played on K-Love right now.  It's called Build My Life and it's by Pat Barrett.  (He led us in worship one year at a Student Life camp, and all the girls had a crush on him.  I think that's adorable.  He has such a great voice.)

He is also the writer of the song Good, Good Father that Chris Tomlin made known.  Another fun fact.

This next one is Chris Tomlin, and is off his newest album, Holy Roar.  I Stand In Awe is the name of the song.

Here's another by the same artist off the same album, called Praise is the Highway.  I love these words!

I love to sing along with worship songs, so that being said, I don't usually listen to Kari Jobe, because her voice is sky high.  But I love this song and these lyrics by her on her latest album The Garden.  It's called The Cause of Christ. 

I just came across this one last week.  It's Defender, by Francesca Battistelli.

This is an older one, but I still love it and play it often.  It's by Matt Redman featuring Tasha Cobbs, and it's called Gracefully Broken.

I always love when I hear this song.  I don't play it often on Spotify, but I hear it on K-Love occasionally.  I love all of Crowder's music.  This is Red Letters.

I'll leave you with one last song, and this one is by Michael W. Smith, and is called Surrounded.  I LOVE this song!

That's a good start, but I could go on and on.  If I'm on an airplane, this is some of what you would hear if you listened in on my headphones.  I also love Elevation Worship, the newest Brooklyn Tabernacle album I Am Reminded (specifically Psalm 34, Psalm 23, Thank You, Jesus It Is You, Pleasing), and Travis Cottrell.  Those are always my go to albums, so much so that Jonah and Noah should know every word by now.  I'm always open to suggestion if you have more that you think I may like. 

Thanks for reading!  Love to all. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Friday Favorites [all about books & some light spring cleaning]

Happy Friday, my friends!  I'm glad it's the weekend, where everything feels more lighthearted and casual.  I am linking up with Andrea from Momfessionals, and her friends, for this blog post. 

Back in December, when we kept having the problem of the data in our house running out each month, I decided that in 2019, I would read way more and watch less Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime/Roku.  I have always loved to read, ever since the young age of about seven, but I have phases where I'll read everything I can get my hands on, and then for a month or two, I won't pick up a book.  I wanted to change that this year, and I wanted to keep track more accurately, of what I read and who it's by.  My bestie Andrea gave me a really cute journal that I use for this two birthdays ago. 

I made this goal, not thinking I'd keep up with it, but lo and behold, I have.  I've far exceeded the amount I thought I'd read each month, and I'm still going strong.  I think I read eight books in January, six in February, another eight in March, and I'm currently reading book number five or six in April.  I think that's accurate, I'm not checking, but if it's off, it's only by one or two books. 

People always ask me how I do this, and how I read so many books.  The main way I do this is simply by making time to read.  Every single day, I read.  If I skip a day, it's only a day.  I want to do this, and so I just schedule that time into everyday when I make my to do list.  Secondly, I've loved to read since age seven, and my mom always also would set this example for me as a young girl.  We could sit in the same room and read for hours, not saying a word, and did that many nights.  Thirdly, I've read so much my whole life that I am now what some people call a speed reader.  To make sure of this, last weekend, I timed myself in the book I was reading on Saturday.  (I know, I am rolling my eyes at my own self, but I have always been happy to be a bookworm.)  I read one hundred to one hundred and fifteen pages in one hour.  The amount of pages varies on how much I love the book.  The more I love it, it's more like one hundred and fifteen.  That being said, I can read a book in two or three hours, depending on the length.

The last thing I do is that I always have a book (sometimes two!) going, and I always have more waiting for me when I'm done.  Ask my dad.  Most Fridays, we go to the library, because I hate the thought of being stuck without a book.  I have favorite authors I always gravitate towards, but I like to try new ones, as well.  I may not always love them, though, and I have no problem at all with putting a book down.  Who has time to read a book they don't love?!  Life is short, friends.  Read only books you love.

Here are some of my favorite ones that I've read so far in 2019.  Or April.  (Laughing.)

This is my current read.  I started it last night, and I'll finish it tonight.  I love Robin Lee Hatcher!  She is a Christian fiction writer, and I've read almost everything she's written. 

Karen Kingsbury also writes Christian fiction.  This is my favorite book that she's written in a very long time.  I love all her books, but over the years, they've all started sounding the same.  I know, I may get some disagreement on this, and that's okay.  I've read every book she's written.  This one is the best book!  It just came out on April 9, so you should read it for yourself. 

This one was amazing.  Jodi Picoult is known for writing books that are sometimes to read, apparently.  This is only the  second or third book I've read by her, but I'll definitely be reading more.  This book was all about some issues that could have been plucked from any news channel, and she addresses the topic of racism.  I loved this book, and it definitely will keep me thinking about how I see things or how I respond to things around me for a long time to come. 

I recently discovered Katherine Center, and love her books.  Same for Jane Green, I came across a book of hers in the library recently, and it was one of the best books I've ever read. 

I think I posted this same picture last week, but a quote I read about reading a few years ago really stuck out to me, and that is, we should visit many good books, but we should LIVE in the bible.  I am always making sure I don't ever put reading above spending time with the Lord each and everyday.  I'm not perfect, and some days I skip this time, but I really try to not miss out on this each day.  The bible is my plumb line for how I live my life.  

And now about that spring cleaning....

My hubby bought me a new recliner this week, and it prompted me to rearrange and clean things up a bit.  I thought I'd share some of the pictures I took after I finished this yesterday.  (This was all I did yesterday, all day long.)

There used to be a desk on the wall where the bookshelf is, but I sold it yesterday and made the shelf catty corner.  I also got rid of a TON and made the shelves mine.  (They used to be all for homeschooling, but now they keep their stuff upstairs, so I claimed them.)  I have a book problem.

I love how it looks now!  

I bought this lamp from HomeGoods after Christmas, with some money I received as a gift, and I've had seasonal things inside of it.  But yesterday I got to thinking about all the rocks the boys collected for me over the last twenty years, and I put them inside.  This is now my favorite thing in the entire living room, because it's so sentimental.  

I also thoroughly cleaned everything in this room, and simplified some of the decor from the shelves, the top of the piano, the computer desk and the little chest with drawers this lamp sits on.  I'm probably going to tackle the dining room next and the hutch that's in there.  

And because he is so cute, I'll leave you with a picture of Chip.

The new chair is his favorite, so he can do this in my lap.  :)

Have a great weekend!  Thanks for reading the blog.  Love to all!  

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Life Lately

Because of sickness, our whole weekend was spent at home last week.  I was so glad when Monday came, when my mom called me and asked if I wanted to do my grocery shopping with her that day.  I did!  Grocery shopping is always so much better when you do it with someone.  

We enjoyed our morning out, running a couple of errands first, having breakfast for lunch at Perkins, then ending at Kroger.  I made an easy (bland) dinner that night, because of said sickness, and our night was easy.  

Todd texted me that afternoon, with a picture of two recliners, asking which one I liked best.  We ended up talking about it, and decided to get a new chair for the living room!  I already had a great one that I love, but it swivels (which I dislike), and the part that reclines isn't solid.  When I knew he'd be coming home with it, we ended up cleaning and rearranged the living room some.  

We switched the short couch and the recliner and moved around two end tables, and cleaned.  I love the new chair, it's a Lazy Boy recliner, and is so comfortable.  Funny fact, though, the animals have all lost their minds over the new arrangement of furniture in this room, and Chip hates the new chair, because of the noise it makes when it reclines.  

I love rearranging furniture and pictures and such in a room.  I have more that I'm doing today, but more about that in a minute.   

Callie always gets her day started by hugging someone.  Jonah was her favorite on this day.  (He is probably going to be so mad at me for sharing this on here, but I don't think he ever reads it, so, ssshhh.)

I spent the morning hanging around the house doing laundry and things around here, then that afternoon I met with a sweet young lady at a nearby (adorable) coffee shop.  We spent THREE HOURS sitting and catching up on life, and then I had to leave to come home to put the baked potatoes we were having for dinner that night in the oven.  After I did that, I made a quick run to the library to return a book and check out some more, since I'm making my way through every book I've bought lately.

This is the stack I read last week alone, and I needed some more.

And here are the ones I brought home on Tuesday from my happy place.  (That one on the bottom I've been wanting to read for MONTHS!)

We finished our Malachi bible study yesterday, and I was so sad to go through the last day.  Here are the two groups, or some of us...we were missing a bunch of folks yesterday.  There were close to eighty or ninety of us when we first started.

The top one is our morning group, and the bottom is the night group.  I have come to know and love these ladies so much, and I am looking forward to August, when we start over in the book of Galatians.  

Today I am catching up on laundry again, dusting and rearranging a couple of things in the living room again.  I have a bookshelf in this room that I want to go through and organize and then use it more as a bookshelf for me.  It was where we always stored all the curriculum we used in homeschooling each year, but as the boys have gotten older and more independent, they've kept more and more in their rooms.  With it just being down to Jonah and Noah now, we really don't need it as this anymore, and I have too many books, so problem solved.  I can't wait to start!  

I saved this one for last, because this was a GREAT book I read on Sunday.  (I read TWO that day alone.)

This book released this week, and if you haven't already, read this!  It's all about love, redemption, and the sanctity of life.  I love Karen Kingsbury books, but this one is my favorite that she's written in years.  It felt fresh and new, and we were introduced to new people.  It says "Baxter Family" on the cover, and it is, but it could be read as a stand alone.  If you've never read the Baxter family series of books, do yourself a favorite and read them all in order.  

Well, I need to get moving, so I'll stop there.  Thanks for reading!  Love to all.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

dear senior mom

Dear Senior Mom,

I sympathize with you not wanting to think about your baby graduating from high school.  Why do you need to do that right now, don't you still have a month left?  But that is why I write.  Having two kids in the past two years graduate, I learned a thing or two.  I thought I'd share. 

First, take some time to process all the emotions.  In hindsight, I wish I had written in my journal a little more of what I felt in those sweet days.  Know this: while it does effect everyone differently, in case you think you may be one to cry buckets of tears, get you a support system put into place.  Call your mom, your sister, or your best friend, and ask them to sit beside you, and if necessary, hold your hand.  Your husband will be there, but it's not quite the same, since they're not as emotional as us moms.  He would also be a great hand holder, but truth be told, Todd didn't understand why I couldn't stop with the tears.  And no disrespect to him for that, dads and moms are just way different. 

Here is a little snippet of what I felt last year, when Drew graduated, and we had just picked up his cap and gown., and here is the picture that inspired what I wrote that day. 

We picked up his cap and gown today, Drew and I.  Truthfully, he could have driven himself to do this, but when I offered to take him, he didn't balk at the idea.  He made me laugh really hard when he tried it on, but I didn't cry.  Not yet.  I didn't ask to take his picture, because I'm not ready for that.  He doesn't talk much, so much of our drive consisted of me talking at him.  

When I told him I loved him, and that I was really proud of him, that's when the tears came, but I hid them.  I encouraged him to keep being the good example to others he is, and to not let any ungodly friends lead him astray.  I pray that over him every single day of his life, and though I know the Lord will never leave or forsake him, Drew could certainly stray from the Lord.  I pray that is never so.  

Three and a half more days, and his high school career will be a thing of the past, and though I am so excited for him and his bright future, I know how much change this next year will bring, and he's staying home and going to school.  Graham never left either, but so much has been different in that year since he graduated.  

This phase of letting go is not for the faint of heart, so if you see me out and about and crying during the next three weeks, don't mind me.  My heart is so happy, but I know I will be so overwhelmed with all the emotions.  I'll be okay, I know.  You don't have to try and comfort me with words, because I know things will be alright.  It's just that I keep thinking of how nineteen years of my life flew right by, and I miss the days of having four young boys.  

Those boys were and will forever be the beat of my heart, and I poured everything I had into them, and still do now, or try to, at least.  So instead of words, maybe just offer me a shoulder to cry on, a listening and sympathetic ear, or maybe a hug.  That would be the one I would most appreciate, most likely.  Don't take this advice and use it just for me!  

If you know any moms with a kid graduating, even if it is a preschool, elementary, or middle school graduation, treat them the same way, knowing that they probably feel these exact same emotions, and that they blinked, and their kid was half grown.  We may look okay and happy on the outside, but on the inside, we are one millisecond away from reducing to a puddle of tears.   

On a much lighter note, secondly, get you some waterproof mascara and the good little pack of tissue, maybe even the ones with lotion.  I promise you, you will never regret either purchase.  I stopped wearing mascara on my bottom eyelashes ages ago, because I so frequently cry.  It sucks being a girl, sometimes, but the tears are also part of this whole thing we call life and parenting, and they're not always sad tears.  In fact, usually I cry out of overwhelming love for Jesus, or a family member, or a friend. 

Tears are tears, though, and you'd be shocked at when a moment will just about knock you down with a flood of emotion.  This happened to me during church, multiple times when I was singing on the praise team and held a microphone in my hand even!  It happened when I saw the cap and gown, when I looked back on pictures of years gone by as I pulled together a slide show, and the morning of the graduation, when I just could not believe  that one of my "babies" was this old, or even just when I was talking to someone about the graduation ceremony or what he was doing after high school.  Consider yourself forewarned, on this topic or frequent and unexpected crying. 

Third, don't stress about the graduation party.  We have three dogs in the house, and my house was nowhere near as clean last year as it was the year before when Graham graduated, and the tornadoes named Lisa, Debi, Trish, and Geraldine came into my house and started vacuuming and dusting and taking charge.  (And I say that with the biggest love in my heart for all of them, because I needed that, and didn't even know it at the time.)  You know it's bad when you catch your husband upstairs hiding from them all.  (Not even kidding.)  Schedule a gathering, or a reception that is informal, and people can freely come and go.  We did snacks and desserts and a cake, and we had paper products, balloons, a banner and cups for the guests to take home.  It was casual and sweet.  And it helps when your sisters plan the entire thing.  Praise God for a sweet mom and sisters!  Or schedule a barbecue and grill burgers.  We did the reception thing, at the recommendation of one of my sisters, and I am so glad she was there to give me advice, since she had been through it three times with her own kids.

Lastly, don't worry about taking all the pictures.  Hand off the camera or your phone to someone you love, and trust them with it.  Put these things down and cherish the moments.  Graduation has been one of the best days of my life, now twice, and every single memory I have I hold dear.  I don't even think I took pictures of Drew's reception last year, unless it was before the guests arrived.  I simply sat back and walked around, visited, and enjoyed all the moments.  The day flies by, so I promise, you'll never regret this decision either.  The ones we did take were of him with family members before the ceremony and with friends outside afterward.  Get those, definitely get them, and then print them out and put them in a book, especially if they're going away in the fall.  If you do that, you might as well print one for yourself to keep, and cry into later.  (I'm laughing.) 

I'll leave you with this picture above of Graham, two years ago.  See how blurry it is?  My sister Lisa took this, and it's blurry because of how fast he was walking.  How significant this picture has become, to show  me how quickly the years go by.  Cherish them.  Relish in them.  Cry, laugh, hug, and talk.  You'll never get another day quite like this one. 


An always emotional and sympathetic crier of a mom.

confession time

Lest anyone think I have all of my life perfectly together, I thought I'd share something that happened to me over the weekend.  I have to back up and say first, though, that sometimes I do not love social media.  When I get like this, I am always tempted to delete Facebook.  For some reason, that one social media outlet is so much worse than Instagram.  Instagram is all pretty pictures and little words.  I didn't delete it, but for a whole day, I uninstalled it from my phone.  (I do this periodically, I just don't usually share about it.)  It helped tremendously with what I was struggling with, and I immersed myself in reading for the rest of the day.  (I read TWO BOOKS on Sunday alone, if that tells you anything.)  Much more importantly, I spent time in prayer and in the word of God.

Hello, my name is Jennifer, and I struggle with envy. 

In my heart, I know this is so wrong, and I think I may battle this sin until the day I die.  How do I know it's a sin?  Let me show you what Colossians 3:1-5 has to say. 

(1) So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  (2) Set your minds on thing above, not on earthly things.  (3) For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  (4) When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  (5) Therefore, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. 

Envy can also be described as something that is impure or even greed, when you want what someone else has (whether materialistic or a situation).  I realized what was going on in my brain when I figured all this out on Sunday, and immediately, I confessed it to God and I prayed and asked Him to forgive and change me.  I didn't feel better instantly, though.  And here is the thing: we may not always feel better instantly when we pray about something like this.  It may be an ongoing struggle for a bit, but when it happens, we need to immediately take it to God in prayer.  That's what I did.  That's what I keep on doing.  I do feel much better about it now than I did on Sunday, but I had a moment again on Sunday night, and then another one yesterday afternoon.  I may have another one today or tomorrow, who knows.  I will continue to surrender it to God, for as long as it takes. 

What triggers this?  I think that social media is the biggest factor.  It's convicting to me as I write that, because it makes me wonder, why do I post things on there?  Am I intentionally trying to make someone envious?  In my heart, I don't think that's the case, but I know it'll make me think the next time I hit that "post" button.  I also think an earthly focused mind causes this. It'll also make me pray right after I write this sentence. 

I love the verse that the image above says:

Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth.  (Colossians 3:2)

A bad attitude can also trigger this feeling and the many negative thoughts that can quickly follow.  By the way, those many negative thoughts are right about where the enemy loves to hover in my life.  He does not know what I am thinking, only the Lord Jesus can know my thoughts and heart, but somehow the enemy can cause all of those feelings to escalate.  It's like a snowball effect: it starts small, but grows into something overwhelming.  When this happens, the only way to fight back and to gain control again is to read the word of God and to pray.  I cannot tell you how many times I have picked up my bible and read aloud from Ephesians 6:10-18, which is the spiritual warfare chapter.  It helps, I promise.  I don't just read it, I turn it into a prayer and personalize it.  I also speak aloud to the Lord.  I may say, "Lord, the enemy has no place in my life.  Thank You for showing me that he is at work.  Greater are You that is in me, than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4)." 

Another thing that I think can be a trigger, at least for me, is when I am home alone for too long.  I was home, and alone a LOT this weekend, because we were passing around a 24 hour stomach bug, and we quarantined ourselves.  We didn't even go to church on Sunday, and unless we're out of town, the six of us never miss all at the same time.  (A sweet young lady texted me to make sure we were all okay, because she noticed we were all absent, isn't that precious?)  Nobody on earth except my best friend completely knows and understands how nobody can introvert like me.  But there is a fine line between what is heavenly, and what is too much.  I think this weekend was too much.  After Friday afternoon, I didn't leave my house again until Monday morning. 

I know I am not the only one who struggles with something like this.  Anyone who says they don't struggle with some form of envy or impurity or anything of the like is lying.  We all do it, and while it's normal for us all to be like this, what matters is how we deal with it.  If you are a believer and a follower of Jesus, we are to deal with this sin.  We are to set our minds on things above (heavenly), and we are to live and act like the image bearers of Him that we are.  We are all created in His image, and it is not His will that any one of His creation would perish without knowing Him, but not all of us are believers in and followers of Him.  That means, not all of us have prayed to receive Him in our hearts and lives as Lord and Savior.  Once we do that, we undergo a radical change, evident to anyone and everyone around us.  It's what happened to me when I was in my twenties, and I became almost unrecognizable to anyone who knew me before. 

Romans 12:2 talks about being transformed by the renewing of your mind, and that means by the word of God.  Once you read His word, it should cause you to reflect upon your own life.  If your life doesn't mirror what the word of God is talking about, then sin is evident.  It's like what I talked about above when I was having feelings of envy that were impure.  I know what the word of God says on this topic, because a few years ago, I memorized the whole chapter of Colossians 3!  See how that works?  Read the word, be transformed.  I love to read y'all, you know that, but I read a quote once that is so true.  It said, "Visit many good books, but LIVE in the bible."  I don't know who it's from, and I could Google it, but I need to wrap this up.  I pray this encourages someone today!

Thanks, as always, for reading, and for the sweet words of encouragement lately.  It means a lot to me, and always refreshes my soul.  I consider you all invisible friends I know who read this, but never that I never see.  Know that I appreciate you and that I pray for you.  Love to all. 

Friday, April 5, 2019

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, friends!  This weekend is considerably less busy than last, and I am glad.  I anticipate lots of reading, a little bit of laundry and other mundane house work, a great Sunday at church, and maybe a Saturday outing with my mom.  I'm sure my hubby will work at some point, but I don't know when yet.

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

Last weekend/week was so busy, but it was so much fun.  I thought I'd share some highlights.

I spend Friday night and part of Saturday with two sweet friends, a a women's conference.  The worship was my favorite!  I came across this verse in scripture writing that Friday morning, and loved what it says about the Lord satisfying our every need. 

We spent the night together at my in-love's house that Friday night, because they live close to the church.  We had a great time together, and I'm glad we had the time away. 

On Sunday morning, while the boys were at church, Todd and I packed up and left for the Nashville area for one night, to celebrate the one year anniversary of my sister in law getting a heart transplant.  We had a huge family style dinner together with other family and their friends, and it was a fun night.  Todd took me to my favorite used bookstore first, though, and I picked out some books to bring back home.

I love this place.  Even though it doesn't look busy in this picture, it was a fluke, because people were EVERYWHERE.

(Jane Green is my current favorite author, and I bought four of her books.)

Current favorite hobby and book stack. 

And also, I love a new month!  Because with it comes a new scripture writing plan.

We were back home Monday afternoon.  Tuesday was a normal day of playing catch up, and Wednesday I had bible study twice that day.  After bible study that morning, I took my birthday boy out for lunch for his birthday. 

He picked Chili's and stuffed himself full and came home and crashed until he had to go to work later that afternoon.  Drew turned nineteen on Wednesday, and we will eventually do a big dinner out for all the boys, but school, work and basketball schedules did not permit us to do so this week.

Yesterday I was home again all day, but that night I got together with three sweet friends from my old church (only one of them goes there now), and we had a great night of catching up.  It's been YEARS since we've done that, and it was a really sweet night.  We promised not to wait years until we meet again.

(Left to right: Tammy, Rene, me, Lisa.) 

Nights out with friends are my favorite. 

Also, on Tuesday night, I talked to these angels over Snapchat, and my whole night was made.  Kinsley and Kylie are getting so big!  I miss them. 

It's been a great week, and I am looking forward to the same kind of weekend.  I hope you have a great one, as well.  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...