Wednesday, August 28, 2019

all about my mom

Today is my beautiful mom's birthday!  I am so very thankful for her.  I thought I would share some of my favorite things about her, some serious and some fun. 

First off, I remember her always tells me when I was a young adult that I would never understand how much she loved me until I was a mom someday.  And then when my oldest son was born, it all made sense.  I remember telling her that, and that I finally got the depth with which she loved from. 

When anything in my life happens, whether big or small, important or menial, she is the first person I want to tell.  And that is usually exactly what happens.  I pick up the phone to call her all the time, but we don't talk every single day.  I like to call her when I'm on the way to somewhere, whether to work or when I'm going out with a friend.  If I'm not praying in my car, I'm either talking to my mom, or to my best friend. 

If I am in need of advice over anything, she is always the one I ask.  Sometimes I need to "talk things out" with someone, and don't really need a response always, but just knowing I can talk to her about it helps.  And she always contributes a lot to the conversation, giving the best advice about all the things. 

When I don't know what to make for dinner and I'm sitting in the Kroger parking lot, I call her and ask for dinner inspiration.  She NEVER lets me down!

When I don't know what I want, Mom does.  Every single time, it never fails.  One of my favorite stories about her happened when I had a hysterectomy several years ago.  I was in the hospital, fresh out of surgery and still too groggy to be able to communicate.  She saw me being a little restless in the hospital bed, and nobody knew what was wrong, not even Todd.  He and the nurses were trying to help, but like I said, I was still in that anesthesia fog.  Mom just very quickly and quietly reached down to my feet and uncovered them for me.  She knows I hate for my feet to feel like they're being constricted when the sheet is tucked in too tight.  She uncovered them for me and just rubbed my legs, and I smiled. 

She makes me laugh harder than just about anyone on this earth.  Just a few weeks ago, we had the funniest moment I think we've ever had together, and I still crack up when I think about it.  It's a long story, and you really needed to be there to experience the hilarity, but it involved us in the car, belted in, with a grasshopper the size of my hand in very close proximity to Mom's leg.  When we FINALLY made our way out of the car, I was doubled over, I was laughing so hard. 

We have all these little inside jokes, too, usually consisting of dumb things I've done while in her presence that we crack up over.  Laughter is the best medicine, y'all, and we share plenty of it while we're together. 

She and my sister Trish are my favorite shopping buddies.  During the week, Mom and I run mundane errands together, but I love to shop with the two of them on Saturdays.  I don't always get to do that, but when we do, we have the best time.  It's just the three of us here now, the other half of our family lives in Denver.  We treasure these moments. 

She always lets me drive her car.  I love driving it, because it reminds me so much of my old Suburban that I still miss.  Think of Driving Miss Daisy.  ;)  She doesn't NEED me to drive her, but she knows I love to drive, so she always lets me. 

Mom always gives the best advice on what is fashionable, which jewelry I should wear with something, how I should get my hair done and what to say to my friend who colors and cuts it for me. 

Mom is always my biggest cheerleader and champion, and when I sing at church, she is always so proud and makes a point to tell me that.  I think that is the sweetest thing ever!  I always appreciate and love encouragement, and she probably tells me this because she knows that I'm hard on myself, and that I'm my own worst critic. 

I could tell her I love her and that I'm thankful for her every single minute for the rest of my days, and it would never express how much I mean those two sentiments.  I love her so much, and I am so grateful to God for making her my mom.  If I am half the mom to my sons as she is to me, then I would consider that a win.  I know you'll read this at some point today, Mom, and when you do, know that I mean every word from the bottom of my heart.  I love you and pray you have the best day ever, and that y'all have a great week in Denver.  I've already prayed for you and Bill as you travel there, back, and for a fun and safe and healthy time while you're there. 

If you're still here, and you're not my mom, thank you for reading my blog!  Love to all. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

life lately

Goodness, all the posts I've written lately have seemed so heavy.  I thought I'd lighten things up a bit today and share random tidbits about life lately, and things that have been going on around here.

I spent Friday with my dad, as usual, and I learned something new about him!  He used to love to dance.  We were talking about music, and our love for just about any kind of it, and he mentioned this guy.  I found a playlist on Spotify, and for the last hour we were together, we listened to it.  

It was a lovely afternoon.  

On the same afternoon, when I got back home, I was checking my email and found something SO EXCITING sitting in my inbox.  It was an invite from NBC Entertainment, inviting me and a guest to a private screening of the new show that is starting the second week in September that is based in Memphis: Bluff City Law.  After the screening, there will be a panel in which all the main actors will be present, and they will answer questions.  Then after that, the invite said there would be a 'Memphis style' reception.  All this takes place downtown in an old theater, and I could not be more excited.  I have NO IDEA how or why I was invited to that.  But, date night!  This all happens week after next.  

It'll be fun to get dressed up and go to this.  We don't often get to do that!

Over the weekend, I attended what is called a 'choir rehearsal camp'.  It's the third annual one I've been to, and I always love these.  It's just a Friday night and Saturday morning, and our worship pastor always brings in a guest to speak and encourage us.  They get better every year!  Then we spend time going over new music.  Dinner and breakfast are provided for us, and it's always fun.  This year, we rehearsed new Christmas music!  That thrills my heart.  

This week makes week five of me working at my church, and I couldn't love it any more.  Right now I'm working every Monday and Thursday.  I'm basically just assisting my friend Amy who is the director of the women's ministry, and I'm helping her plan events, and trying to just lighten her load.  Right now I'm doing training on the laptop they gave to me to learn the church database they use.  It's a lot, but I love it, and I think it's fun.  Ask me again when our biggest event of the year is over, and my thinking may be different.  (Kidding, kidding.)  Everyone is really sweet and helpful, and I even love getting able to attend the staff meetings.  This is just a huge blessing in my life right now, and I am thankful to the Lord for it.  

I got to create my first event last Thursday that we have coming up soon, and I survived!  I mean, I had help, but still.  I am enjoying learning things and making a different part of my brain work again.  It's been a minute since I've done any type of office and computer work, but with the Lord's help, it'll be second nature before too long.  

I've been submitting articles to an online magazine pretty regularly lately.  It's Tirzah Magazine, and they put out some really great articles.  I don't say that because I've written for them, I say it because there is a lot of talent there.  They published one of my submissions already, and I've sent in at least four more.  They were looking for monthly contributors, and the lady who emailed me asked me specifically to write some more.  So, every few days, I write something the Lord places on my heart, and I submit it to them.  I have no way of knowing when or if they'll publish it,  but if they do, I'll share it on here.  They usually contact me by Instagram, and they'll tag me in a picture that they put with what I write.  

It's fun, and the Lord has been good to give me things to write about lately.  I have no idea where any of that will go, but it'll be fun to wait and see.  

Speaking of not knowing where things go, I have come across this verse TWO times today already, and it's not even ten o'clock.  It's Proverbs 16:9, and I love the reminder that though we can make our own plans, God determines our steps.  He is the one leading me, and I ask Him everyday to help me to submit to His will for my life.  That's not always an easy thing to ask Him for, but I know it's what I need to be praying.  I feel like exciting things are happening in my life right now, after years of time off, and I am just waiting and hoping with anticipation of where He will lead me next.  

Lastly, Drew started nursing school yesterday!  If we can survive the cost of his books, I am excited for him.  (The price is NO JOKE.)  He is excited too, and I know it's a long and challenging road ahead of him, but the Lord will help him.  It's what he is called to do, and anytime you walk in that obedience to God's call on your life, He will be there to lead and guide.  Also, Jonah and Noah started their junior year of high school.  I won't even pretend to have asked for a picture, because I know what the answer will be: a resounding NO.  

And Noah starts a job today!  He will be working at Papa John's pizza.  He's pretty excited about regular income.  

See what I mean?  There is so much going on right now, but I am loving it all.  And just trying to survive it all and be present.  

Thanks for reading!  Love to all.  

Monday, August 26, 2019

encouragement and a favorite sermon

I love this passage of scripture that I read today.  We are in Ephesians this week, which is one of my favorite books in the bible.  Or New Testament.  Either way, I have always loved this passage of scripture, and this was reinforced about a year ago, when my friend sent me a link to a sermon by Francis Chan on this same passage.  I'll write more about this in just a minute, though.  (Also, this is why Missy and I are best friends.  We listen to sermons on YouTube in our spare time.) 

I love these verses, because several years ago, the Lord led me to start praying these over my family.  Having boys is so different for a mom.  I have mentioned on here that I once heard someone say that the most effective parent is the same sex parent.  Meaning, Todd is most effective in the lives of all my sons.  Back to why being a mom to sons is so different, though....I have always said that I'm not just raising sons over here.  I'm raising future husbands and fathers.  That is a huge responsibility!  I don't know if you've noticed this, but we are living in a time that men are constantly being undermined.  Their value, in terms of the world around us, is diminishing before our very eyes.  Their roles are not as important anymore, at least, in the eyes of the world around us.  But nothing could be farther from the truth.  Men are to be the spiritual leaders and the head of the home, but the later the time gets, the less this is so.

God knows all of this, none of it is a surprise to Him.  He knows the day and time with which we live in right now, and that is why these verses are so important.  As parents, as moms, we MUST pray over our kids.  And what kinds of things should we pray?  Well, it's written out above, in that picture.   I pray that the Lord Jesus would dwell in their hearts through faith, and that they, being rooted and grounded in that love, would know the breadth and length, height and depth of God's love, and that they would be filled with all the fullness of God.  Praying that alone puts perspective all the other things we pray for, as parents, but really, the prayer I just wrote out is the most important thing we could ever pray.  If they know that, if they know and are filled with the fullness of God, then everything else in their life will just fall into place. 

It's that simple.  We don't have to fret and worry about the's already been determined by God.  If you have some time on your hands, I encourage you to listen to this sermon by Francis Chan that I love.  I listened to it again, just now, as I wrote this post. 

Thanks for reading!  Love to all. 

Sunday, August 25, 2019

book review

Every so often, a publishing company will reach out to me and ask me if I'm interested in being on a launch team for a certain author.  I don't know how this all started, but I've been doing this for years now, and I've had the honor of reading and review advance copies of books they send to me.  Usually my review is only on Amazon or GoodReads, though.  I thought I'd share a blog post about this one, this time around.

When I was asked to review David Platt's newest and yet-to-be-released book Something Needs to Change, I jumped at the chance.  I've read several of his other books, and one year, he was the speaker at a student life camp I was a counselor at in Daytona Beach, Florida.  I love his heart, and the passion God has given to him for spreading the gospel.  He has a been a church pastor, and was recently the president of the IMB (International Mission Board) for four years.  Now he pastors McLean Bible Church in Washington D.C., and very recently, President Trump made a surprise visit there and David Platt prayed over our President and our nation.

This book is unlike the other books he has written.  Without giving too much away, this book reads as his journal, during a trip to the Himalayas he took with a couple of other guys.  On his trip there, he encountered severe poverty, famine, sickness, human trafficking, and a burial ritual that left him speechless.  By the end of the week he spent there, he found himself alone and crying out to God why.  Where is He, amidst all that suffering?  Why does He allow severe poverty and hunger?  Why does He allow young girls to be sold as objects in that part of the world?  Most importantly, he asked God why He would take him there to see that, and what should he do next?

Because, after a trip like that, you're never the same.  Something needs to change, after all, so what now?  The point he brings home in this book is that no matter where we are in life, God can and will use us for His glory.  We live in a world full of people who have never heard the name of Jesus.  In my own hometown, this is true, here in middle America.  He challenges us to count the cost, and to consider a life laid down, all for the sake of God's great name. 

Each chapter is written as a day, as in Day One, etc.  At the end of each "day" (chapter), there are questions for you to ponder.  This book is not yet for sale, but it releases on September 17.  You can pre-order the book at any of your local or online bookstores.  Here is a link to the book on Amazon.  This would be a great one to read with some friends and to meet and discuss it with afterward.  Mostly, it's a book that you can read that will really cause you to evaluate your life, and to make some changes.

Thanks for reading!  Now, go check it out for yourself.

Love to all.

Friday, August 23, 2019

highs and lows

It's been a bit of a roller coaster type week, with some really hard moments, and some really great moments.  Most of you know me and you know that a family in my church suffered a tremendous loss this week.  I don't know that I've ever prayed so much in my life, and I don't know if I've ever been woken up in the middle of the night to do the same so many times.  I was struck with that thought last night, how sweet it is of the Lord to wake us up out of a sleep, even, to pray for our friends who are suffering. 

A sweet moment the Lord gave me this week was reuniting me with the small group ladies I had last semester at church on Wednesday nights.  I am a small group leader for a study on Galatians we started this week, and we meet twice a week, to give every lady an option of coming.  We have a Monday morning option and a Wednesday night option.  Originally I was going to lead on Monday mornings, but that group is much smaller in size than our Wednesday night group, so I was switched around to that night.  And as a reward, I got to see almost my entire old small group!  I love that, and it was a really sweet night.  We had a few new ladies who joined us, and only one that I didn't already know.  I look forward to getting to know her, though, and growing closer together both in our walk with the Lord and with each other, along with all the other ladies. 

I also treasure the moments when I get to sit and talk with the other small group leaders.  This is all of us from last semester, one night when we went out to dinner to end our time together in leading the study on Malachi we had completed.

Talk about the type of friends that are the iron that sharpens iron type of friends...that is what they've all been to me, in the last year. 

Through all the moments in the week, both bad and good, I have been thinking on the characteristics of the Lord.  He is faithful.  He is our Healer, even when He may not heal in the way we pray.  He is trustworthy.  He is sovereign, even when we may not understand His plan.  His ways and His thoughts are higher than ours.  He is good, no matter the circumstance, because He is God.  Those are His truths, His promises that I am standing on and praising Him for. 

Will you help me pray for my friend Brooke, her husband Josh, and their other daughters, Harper and Ollie?  They're facing a very long and difficult weekend and days, weeks, and months.  I know the Lord will carry them through, and I pray that He will comfort them like only He can, and bring them peace.  (Brooke is pictured here, third from left.) 

Thank you, in advance.  Love to all. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

a dinner favorite in our house: a recipe and picture for inspiration

We are Costco members, and it's one of my favorite places to shop for the meats I use to cook with.  That being said, I don't go there most of the time to buy meat, but yesterday was one of those days when I needed to grocery shop, and I needed to make a Costco run, so I combined the two and will make it work for this week.  I may have to add in a trip to Kroger at some point, but for now, this is me, actively trying.

One of our favorite things to eat for dinner every so often is salmon.  I used to buy just one giant fillet and that was enough for us all to have plenty.  Then all these boys started turning into men, and that became not enough.  So instead of looking for one huge fillet, we started looking for two smaller fillets.  It is priced really reasonably there, and we have plenty, usually even a lot leftover.

The freezer fillets that are small in size and individual do not compare with these at Costco, and I feel that it is much more fresh.  I usually buy it and make it that same night.  I always put it with roasted potatoes, and this time I made asparagus, though I've also paired it with broccoli.  This is all extremely easy!  I thought I'd share it with you, in case you're in need of some dinner inspiration.  I am always needing that myself.

Ingredients needed are:
olive oil
salt, pepper
dill weed

potatoes cut in cubes all the same size (washed first)
olive oil
salt, pepper
Tony Chachere's creole seasoning

olive oil
salt, pepper

I place the whole thing (or two on one big pan) on a baking sheet, drizzle it with olive oil, and sprinkle it with salt, pepper and dill weed.  I roll around (under the palm of my hand) some lemons on the counter top so that the juice will be able to be squeezed more easily, then I cut them in half and squeeze out all the juice.  Sometimes I leave the lemons on the pan to let more of the flavor absorb into the salmon.

I roast it in the oven, at four hundred degrees until the whole thing is light pink in color.  Even for two huge fish last night, this only took twenty minutes.  You can test whether or not it's done with a fork, but when it starts to flake, pull it out, or it can become rubbery.  Let it rest for at least five minutes, then slice and enjoy.

For these potatoes that you see, they're a variety of small roasting potatoes.  Cut them in cubes that are all the same size, toss them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and Tony Chachere's creole seasoning (about one tablespoon).  Roast in a four hundred degree over for one hour.   These are so good dipped in homemade ranch dressing!  That is also very easy.

Ingredients needed for the ranch dressing:
sour cream
salt, pepper
worcestershire sauce
taco seasoning 

For the ranch, mix together one cup of mayonnaise, and one cup of sour cream.  Add in about six dashes of the worcestershire sauce, one package of taco seasoning, and sprinkle in some salt and pepper.  With a whisk, and stirring constantly, very slowly drizzle in some milk until you get it to the consistency you like.  We like ours about medium...not too thick, but not so thin it'll make a mess every time you dip.

For the asparagus, just cut off all the bottoms, place it all on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Roast it in the same oven as the salmon, on the bottom rack, for twenty minutes.

Let me know what you think, if you make this!  You can substitute the asparagus with broccoli, done the exact same way.  On the potatoes, you don't even half to turn them over.  Once I put mine in the oven, I leave them.  If you like them more crispy, you can add time to the roasting in increments of ten minutes.  Because of how small I cut them, an hour was enough for these last night.

Thanks for reading!  Love to all.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

walking in faith

I'm reading along with my church family in the New Testament in 2019, for anyone who doesn't already know that, and right now, we are in the book of Galatians.  This is such perfect timing because I'm also studying the book of Galatians with the women in my church.  I've been studying this book ever since the beginning of summer and I'll continue on through May of 2020.  It's an in depth study on this book, needless to say, going verse by verse.  I love studying that way, because I get so much more out of it. 

Today I read in Galatians chapter five, and verses 16-26 are some of my very favorite verses in all of the bible.  I remember when all these verses hit me right in my heart.  This passage, in my bible, is subtitled as Spirit Vs. Flesh.  We all, if we are believers and followers of Jesus, have a very worldly, fleshly side to us, and we also have a very spiritual side to us.  It's up to us, how we walk in our day to day lives.  We will always struggle with this, too, but the key is praying and asking the Lord to help us.  When we ask that, He does!  The day that this passage went on like a light bulb in my head is also the day I tried to start being aware of how I act in my day to day life. 

Here is what Galatians 5:16 says:

"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh."

In verse sixteen, when Paul mentions walking by the Spirit, he is talking about the Holy Spirit.  The S is capitalized, for one thing, but also, as believers, we have the presence of the Holy Spirit inside of us.  That word he uses~"walk"~in the original Greek means that this is a continual motion.  As in, this is a daily thing we are to do, this walking by the Spirit.  If you go down to verse 17, Paul tells the church of Galatia that the desires of the Spirit are against the desires of the flesh.  He writes that these two things are in opposition against one another, and the desires of the flesh keep us from doing what we want to do.  Then, he lists out the desires of the flesh in verses 18-21. 

"Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.  I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." 

I don't know about you, but some of those things above are sometimes things I do...sometimes I am jealous.  I really try to not be this way, but every once in a while, it rears its ugly little head and I have to seek the Lord and ask Him to forgive me of this and to change me.  I want to celebrate my friends and their accomplishments, not be envious of them!  This could play forth in seeing their pictures while they're on some exotic vacation while I'm stuck at home, or if "that girl" got (yet) another solo in choir, and I didn't. 

(I have to say right here that singing a solo FREAKS ME OUT, and I will never ask for one, because of that.  Every once in a while, though, my worship pastor will pick me to sing something in church, a duet part maybe, or a verse in a song...and I'll do it because he asks me to, but it is so against my tendencies of shrinking back that I shake like a leaf.  I know the Lord gives me opportunities to grow me, though, and I'm grateful that He does that.  If He didn't, I would never do anything outside of my comfort zone, and to be that way is to actually repress the growing process.  We should ALL always be doing something in our life to stretch ourselves.)

I use that solo one as an example, and because if I am not careful, that could easily become a real thing in my life.  (My intention in writing that, again, is to just be real with you...please do not think I am looking for a compliment, I'm not!)  I can also have fits of anger in my life.  I'll just continue on to be real with you here and say that a couple of weeks ago, the Lord gave my husband and I another growth opportunity, and we had words.  (We fought, people.  I said it that way to be facetious.)  I was being SUPER critical of a mess that he had left in the kitchen, totally ignoring all the things he had just done for me to repair something.  I am rolling my eyes at my own silliness, because this was not even worth exchanging words.  I had to apologize for my behavior, because he was totally right, even though I didn't first see it that way.  I've been trying ever since then to remember what the Lord showed me that night.  (This is also a great point to interject this truth: the only perfect person to have ever walked on this earth was Jesus.)

Then, in verses 22-23, Paul goes on to list fruits of the Spirit.  I like how he calls the opposite of this the "works of the flesh", as if we are striving to be something we're not, thus carrying out those things I listed above.  I'll write out those verses about the fruits of the Spirit below.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." 

I would be telling you a very bold lie if I said that to walk in that way is easy.  It's not.  It is in direct opposition to the nature we were born into.  Because of sin, and when it entered in back in the days of Adam and Eve, we will always have sin and brokenness in this world.  God had compassion upon His creation, though, and sent a way out of that sin and brokenness through His Son Jesus.  When Jesus died (for OUR SIN), was buried, and resurrected and then ascended into heaven, He sat down at the right hand of the throne of God and became our mediator, our intercession.  The writer of Hebrews refers to Him as our High Priest. 

Walking by the Spirit means we are continually having to lay aside our fleshly tendencies.  Meaning, if I am crabby when I wake up for some reason, I need to ask the Lord to help me not give in to that, and to help me walk in the ways of His Spirit.  It's not easy, like I said, and against our nature, but with the Lord's help, we can. 

Paul finishes out this passage by saying this:

"And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another."

That phrase "crucified the flesh" means that the ways of the flesh have been put to death.  This doesn't mean that we will never again sin, though.  We are still human.  John MacArthur puts it this way: " walking in the Spirit, we can please God in this world."

You might be wondering, "How can I 'keep in step with the Spirit'?" 

That is a really good thing to wonder, it means you're looking to change.  The answer is so simple!  You read His word, and you pray.  Reading the word of God is life changing.  Romans 12:2 says that, that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds.  That renewal process takes place by reading His word every single chance we get.  Praying is also very important.  The Creator of the universe knows every little thing we go through.  We might as well talk to Him about it all.  You know how when you're really upset or overwhelmed, and you just need to talk things out with a trusted friend?  God is that, for us, all the time, but especially when our hearts are overwhelmed.  Praise Him for who He is, then thank Him for all that He has done.  Ask Him to show you your sin, so you can confess it to Him and repent of it, then intercede for those you love, and for your own self.  (Don't neglect praying for yourself!  It is crucial and we are the only ones who know all that we walk through, meaning that if we don't pray about those things, who else will?)

Through all of this, the Lord helps us.  He guides us, and He is constantly refining us to look more and more like Him.  We should not look the same in our walk with Him from year to year.  Each year that passes should make us look more like Him.  If you're not close to the Lord than you were this time last year, you might want to take a good, hard look at your inner life.  I love studying the word of God verse by verse, and that is why I also love reading through the scriptures slowly.  If I read too fast, I'm not really absorbing all that it says.  Reading quickly also can tend to look like me just doing it to check it off my daily list of things to do.  I never want that.  I want to read it and understand and apply it to my life.  And I ask God for that, too.  I never just jump in to read without first praying.  It helps tremendously, I promise. 

I pray this encourages someone to pick up their bibles today.  Start in Galatians five!  It's all so good.  One tip in reading: always be looking out for the who, what, when, and where.  Who wrote the book, what was being talked about, when did it take place, and where did it happen?  That just helps you put it all in context. 

Thanks for reading!  Love to all. 

Friday, August 16, 2019

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, friends!  It has been a minute since I've done a Friday Favorites post, because life has been new and different and more than a little busy.  After a very long season of not doing much and not knowing why or knowing when and if that would ever change, I can say that things have definitely changed, and days go by before I'm able to sit down and write on this blog.  I'll write about all of this later on, though.  In the meantime, I am linking up with Andrea from Momfessionals, and her friends Erika and Narci, for this blog post. 

I'll start with last week, because I feel like there were things that happened that I never mentioned on the blog. 

Every August, a local church here in Memphis has what is called Awesome August.  Bellevue has been doing this for fourteen years now, I just heard the pastor of that church Steve Gaines say that last week.  Missy and I have been going for a couple of years, though, and this year was our third year.  Each August, their first guest is always Jim Cymbala.  He is the pastor of The Brooklyn Tabernacle church in NYC.  Todd and I got to attend a service there when we were there almost three years ago, and I've heard him speak three times since.  He is an amazing preacher.  If you ever get the chance, listen to some of his sermons.  You can tell right off that prayer and worship are his heart.  I love that about him.  This year, though, he brought along with him the Brooklyn Tabernacle Singers, and it was phenomenal!  Teresa came with us this year, and we all left with full hearts.  Also, it turns out this was her birthday kick-off celebration.  This night will always be a favorite memory. 

This time last week, one of my favorite couples ever celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary!  This is my in-love's, Wiley and Phyllis.  We threw them a party to celebrate, and I know they loved seeing old friends and family who meant so much to them over the years.  It was a great day, and I think it all turned out beautifully, thanks to my husband, mom, and sister, who helped me tremendously.  Seriously, they were life savers that day to me. 

This was the one decent picture of human beings I took on my phone.  It seems appropriate, though, since Sherri is one of my favorite people of all time.  She doesn't live here anymore, and she lost her husband recently, so it was really good to get to hug her neck.  We used to sing in choir together, but the connection goes way back to when Todd used to babysit her (now adults) twins. 

This picture is one of my new favorites.  On Sunday we went to TWO church services.  Part of ours, and then this one at our old church, where my in-love's still attend.  This precious lady, Mrs. Joanna Coscia, taught all of our sons their first grade year of Sunday school.  She is in her nineties now, and her husband is nearing his one hundredth birthday, and they STILL attend church faithfully every week.  I mean, is that not an example to us all, or what?  It shows that if we keep our priorities right, we can drag our lazy selves out of bed and out the door and get to a church service. 

For anyone who doesn't know, my sons are (left to right) Noah (16), Drew (19), Graham (20), and Jonah (16).  Aren't they handsome?  I sure think so. 

As if the weekend wasn't crazy enough, we also had a big birthday celebration Sunday night with our Sweet T, as we lovingly call her.  She was celebrating number fifty, and in honor of her special day, her best friend Mylinda drove in from Miami to help celebrate.  This was all a huge surprise to T, and I know she is probably still processing it all.  We picked her up at four and spent a night in downtown Memphis.

We started the night off by going to The Peabody to watch the ducks, which even I have never done.  We were thrilled when a gentleman who works at the hotel told us we could go up to the rooftop for a few minutes, since we had friends here from out of town, even though there was a sign that said it was closed due to a private party.  Missy went up and asked him...I don't know that I would have thought to ask that, since there was a sign out.  The Lord just led her to do that, though, to make the night more memorable and special. 

After this we walked around a bit and window shopped their gift shop, then we walked to dinner.  In a thousand degree heat and almost died.  Not really.  We had dinner at The Majestic Grille and had the greatest time sitting and getting to know each other.  It was so fun meeting Mylinda, after hearing so much about her.  We are all so much alike!  Isn't that neat, how the Lord does that?  He connects the hearts of His people together. 

After dinner we drove to Graceland and then to The Guest House, which is the new hotel by Graceland.  We had thirty free minutes of parking, so we took advantage and went inside to look around.  And use the little girl's room.  (Hello, midlife.)  We laughed about that.  It was such a fun night, and I know this will always be in the bank of favorite memories in my mind.  (And on this blog.)  I posted more pictures from that night in a previous can scroll down to see more, if you're interested. 

I was supposed to work at the church on Monday, but I woke up feeling terrible, so I stayed home.  I did have to leave to get groceries, though, and then later on I met a young lady for coffee before she heads back to college.  On Tuesday I was home most of the day, then left to have lunch with a really sweet new friend from our church, then I was back home and made a yummy dinner. 

Wednesday was church night and I spent that afternoon catching up and finishing my bible study homework.  It was a glorious morning spent with the Lord, and I needed that time with Him.  I always pray and read my bible everyday, but on this particular day, it was good, quality time, which you know is my favorite.

This was me, with all my stuff laid out on the table.  These times are always my favorite.  I feel so privileged to be able to study the word of God, and I love when He starts connecting dots within His word.  He did that for me that day, and He prompted me to reach out to one of the girls I used to help lead, and we made plans to get together that night after church. 

I did go in to work for a bit at church yesterday.  I have to do some computer training, so I started that and learned a lot and then actually did some productive things.  After that I came home and ate lunch and did some more things for Amy who I help at church, then I wrote an article submission, and by the time I finished all that, it was time to get changed for a night out.  This was the second year the company my husband and his dad own got invited to something called Sight Night, which is put on by the World Cataract Foundation.  This night is a huge fundraiser for them, and then we see a production put on at Theatre Memphis. 

It was this one, which I loved so much more than last year's Newsies, though that was good, too.  It was a fun night, even if I did come home hungry and way past my bedtime. 

Yesterday, an article I wrote for an online magazine got published, and I feel so honored to be able to write like this.  I think yesterday was my favorite day of the week, and seeing the article I wrote featured was so affirming to me, along with really sweet comments people made when I shared it on FB.  I plan on writing some more for them, the lady who I was communicating with asked me to, so that was what I was writing yesterday afternoon.  If you want to read the article, you can click here, which will take you to Tirzah Magazine. 

One other thing I wanted to share is the sermon my pastor preached on Sunday.  It was about spiritual warfare, which you know is one of my favorite topics to hear sermons about.  If you'd like to listen, and I encourage you do that, you can go here to watch. 

I'll leave you with this, which was one of my favorite passages of the week in my new testament reading.  I am currently reading in the new testament with my church family, and just on Wednesday, we started in Galatians.  If you're interested in doing that with me, now is a great time to jump in and read alongside us. 

Well, I need to do some laundry, clean up a bit and vacuum before my daddy comes over in a couple of hours.  I pray you have a wonderful, restful weekend!  I am looking forward to one, in light of how crazy last weekend was.  Also, if you'll say a prayer for my older two sons today, Graham and Drew, I would appreciate it so much.  They're traveling to Hot Springs in Arkansas tonight to spend the weekend with a good friend.  They'll come back late late Sunday night, so keep that in mind when you pray.  I am a mama still, even to mostly grown sons, but the worry never really stops. 

Thanks!  And thanks for reading.  Love to all. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

a fun birthday celebration with friends

After a busy Saturday, and Sunday at church, after lunch that day I came home and took a nap for about an hour.  The naps are never long on church days, because the boys are in and out all day long.  I was resting up for a night out on the town, in celebration of our friend Teresa turning 50!  We surprised her with a girls night out, and her reaction when she saw us was priceless!  I wish I'd gotten a picture. 

Her best friend came in town for the weekend, also as a surprise, so it was just a great weekend for her.  We had the BEST time.  We went downtown and did touristy things, some that even I have never done.  We went to the Peabody to see the ducks, then we went up to the rooftop to admire the views.

It was hotter than Hades.  It's been that way ever since Sunday here, and I kid you not when I say that you cannot even stand outside doing nothing, and break out in a sweat.  It also makes it incredibly difficult to breathe, if you have any breathing issues at all.  I came home that night and took a cool shower.  It was glorious.  But look how fun!  The rooftop was actually closed because of a private party, but one of the gentlemen who works at The Peabody told us we could go up and do this really quickly. 

My boys always like to go in these phone booths when we go there.  I love this picture.  When I say we had the greatest time that night, I mean that we really had the greatest time. 

After this, we walked to The Majestic Grille, where we had dinner reservations.

We had a yummy dinner, even an appetizer and dessert, and just sat and enjoyed being together.  T's friend Mylinda was fun getting to know, and after hearing so much about her the last couple of years, it was so good to have a face to put with her name. 

We were going to take a trolley ride, but on Sunday nights, the trolley shuts down at six.  I didn't know that, but that will be a fun thing to do on another day.

We walked back to the car and drove to Graceland so Mylinda could see it in person.  Had it not been a thousand degrees, we would have walked up to the mansion, but this was okay, too.  We took a few pictures, then went to The Guest House, the hotel that is right by the mansion.  It's beautiful!

We parked and went inside to see what it looked like, because we had thirty minutes of free parking.

You know how much I love colors, and this hotel did not disappoint.  Everyone should go and visit, if they get the chance.  I would also like to visit Graceland, because I've never been inside.  I am not a fan of Elvis, but I was born and raised here, so I should do this someday. 

After that picture of me with Missy, I put my hair in a ponytail.  You can judge the humidity by how big my hair gets.  I'm rolling my eyes. 

It was the best night!  We kept saying how perfect it all was, and how much fun we were having.  I'm so thankful for godly friends!  I love that we got to meet Mylinda, and I love to sit and talk about the Lord and how good He is. 

I never take friendship lightly, because during my growing up years and into my early adulthood, I struggled with not having good friends.  I remember what that was like and I am often reminded to pray for ladies I know who do not have this.  My closest friends are always ladies I've met at church.  Plugging into a small group brings that, which is one small reason why I think it's so important to be a church goer.  Attending church also brings accountability, encouragement, and a lighter heart.  I cannot imagine a life in which I would be unable to attend, and because of that, I also am reminded often to pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ across the globe who face persecution for their beliefs, and who do not have the luxury that we have here in the States. 

Well, I need to get moving on this day, I just wanted to share more about the weekend before I forget.  I never posted it to social media yesterday, but I also shared about our Saturday.  It was a busy weekend!  Thanks for reading, friends.  Love to all. 

Monday, August 12, 2019

anniversary party

I have never been so glad to see a weekend finished.  I think my body is tired, and though I felt sick a little on Saturday morning, and again yesterday morning, this morning I woke up for real sick and will be staying home most of the day.  I have two things I need to do today that have to be done, but other than that, I'm here for it.  (I am grocery shopping today at some point, and getting together with a sweet young lady before she goes back to college.)

It was a whirlwind weekend, one that I've been planning for months, it seems.  When you throw a huge party like this, or a wedding, reception, or whatever else, it is all a waiting game,and then the week of the event is crazy busy.  We celebrated the 50th anniversary of my in-love's Saturday with a few family members and some of their closest, lifelong friends.  There were a couple of people there who were in their wedding!  It was so special, and very small and intimate. 

I thought I'd share some pictures for anyone who wants to see, but really, I'm writing this for my own memories.  I don't want to forget the details from the weekend, and that's a huge reason why I even have this blog.  I know I've said that before, but it's always worth repeating, in case you don't know why I write on this little online space.

These crazy balloons would not stay still, and we had to resort to tying them together with balloon string.  I don't know if it was the balloons or the helium, but you have to do what you have to do.

That cake  topper on the right was their wedding cake topper. 

We set all this up on Saturday morning, and what you don't see pictured are all the tables that I didn't take a picture of. 

My husband, my mom, my sister, and Phyllis' friend were my lifesavers.  I could not have done any of this without them.  Planning it and ordering #allthethings was one thing, but getting it all set up and transferred from my mind to real life tables was totally different.  They seemed to know exactly what I had in mind and did an amazing job!  My mom did all the flowers.  I bought several large bouquets of flowers from Costco (roses, and several white flowers mixed with greenery), and then Mom took them apart and made arrangements for each table. 

I love all the pictures Phyllis gave me to set out.  It was fun looking back on all the memorabilia she kept. 

Our friend Jerry was there to take pictures for us, and these are all from his camera.  I appreciate him doing that for us!  All the Goodwin grands. 

I took ONE decent picture on my phone, and this is it, below.

I was so happy to see this sweet lady!  She is a lifelong friend of the family.  Todd used to babysit her kids when he was a teenager, and though her and her late husband lived here for years, several years ago, they moved back to Jackson, to be closer to family.  Her sweet husband is missed and often talked about. 

After the party, we cleaned it all up and went to Phyllis and Wiley's house for dinner and to visit.  We didn't stay long, though, because I was done for the day and just wanted to go somewhere to put my feet up.  It was a great party, and I think everyone enjoyed seeing each other. 

Thanks for reading!  Love to all. 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

(more) life lately and a busy week

I have barely seen my family this week!  This was a week I knew would be crazy, and I was anticipating it being this way, so at least it hasn't taken me by surprise.  However, add to that working two days (which is still so new to me) and three other things going on during the nights, and's Thursday and everything hurts.  I'm laughing.  I'm really looking forward to a little pampering today.  I didn't mean for a whole week to go by, but life is like that sometimes. 

I was home on Monday night, and this used to be the day I grocery shopped, so I still have to figure out when to do that now.  I could still go after I leave our church, if I can make myself take lunch with me.  (I always need to make sure I've eaten before I shop!)  Since I didn't grocery shop, we just ate things here that were leftover from the weekend.  We had plenty, trust me, and it all worked.  I did make some fresh garlic bread to go along with one thing, so that helped.

 The reason this week is busy is because tomorrow is my in-love's 50th wedding anniversary.  We are hosting a party for them on Saturday, and I've been planning it for months.  I'm glad it's finally here, though, after all the planning.  I know I'll be so glad when the weekend is over, too.  I ended up doing things for that on Tuesday, and I have to do that again tomorrow, but tomorrow will be my last trip. (PRAISE THE LORD.  You know I don't say that lightly.)  Speaking of Tuesday, though, my mom was with me when I did this running around, and she has helped me so much this week.  I don't know what I would have done if she hadn't been available to do favors for me, and helping me out with the party on Saturday. 

We had a really fun women's event at our church Tuesday night.  Every fall we do a kick-off to introduce new bible studies, ministries and mission trip opportunities being offered, and it's always such a sweet thing to hear what God is doing outside our church building walls.  And things being offered inside those walls are pretty sweet, too.  We have a ton of class options to choose from on Wednesday nights this semester, and so many of the studies sound so good.  I'll be in Galatians, though, and I'm excited about that, too!  I went through it this summer, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. 

These are some of the pictures I took from the event.  I love "our" verse to encourage the women. 

Some really sweet ladies set up this photo booth for us. 

It was a fun night!  I left with such a full heart.  I love hearing the hearts of different women, as they lead other women.  So many of them have such powerful testimonies, and that is always so great to hear.  I think it's encouraging, but it's also faith building.  We need to share our stories more often!  I don't know too many people who've had an easy life as a believer.  I know for me, and for just about every woman I know, that God used a very painful season to draw me to Him, closer than ever before.  He uses pain, and brokenness to get our attention, and any time we can share that to encourage someone in their walk with the Lord, we need to do just that.  I don't just walk up to people and share my story, but to anyone who asks, I will.  I also always like to share it when I lead a small group of women.  I just always want people to know that I don't lead them because I'm someone who has it all together.  I was a mess until Jesus intervened, and I've never been the same since, praise His holy name. 

I was at the church again yesterday the first part of the day, and then home for a bit, and THEN my friend came to pick me up and we went and got another friend, and went to a church in Memphis to hear one of my favorite pastors preach.  Every first Wednesday night in August, Jim Cymbala preaches at Bellevue.  This year, he brought along the Brooklyn Tabernacle singers, and it was such a sweet night of worship.  I have been looking forward to this for so long!  We ate dinner at Chili's, then waited out a thunderstorm, and then went to get good seats at the church in between showers. 

This has been the week of the three of us.  So fun!  I love these ladies so much. 

Several people from our church were there as well.  I am so thankful I got to attend The Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York when Todd and I went a few years ago.  I look forward to going back someday.  I really want to attend their Tuesday night prayer meeting.  After the service, we got ice cream from Sheridan's Custard.  And Missy MIGHT have left me there when I got out to throw something away.  I'm rolling my eyes as I write that.

Today I'm spending the day with my mom-in-love.  We're going to get manicures and pedicures, and then going to lunch.  I'm excited!  I haven't spent the day with her in ages, it seems like.  We've not been swimming that much, either, except for a few weeks ago. 

That pretty much sums up my week.  Tomorrow is more running around the first part of the day and then Saturday will be crazy.  You'll probably find me in bed by seven on Sunday night.  I kid, I kid.  I'd love to make it to choir practice that afternoon, but I'm not promising myself this yet, I'll just play it by ear.  I know it'll be a great, fast weekend for us, and I'm looking forward to seeing family and friends from out of town. 

Thanks for reading!  Love to all. 

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Life Lately

Before I start with this post, I have to say thank you for all the sweet responses I got regarding my last blog post.  These posts always go directly to Facebook and Pinterest, and all the responses came through on is really sweet of you all to encourage me in this new thing I've got going on in my life.  I just wanted to tell you thank you again (I said that on FB), and tell you how much I appreciate your kindness and your excitement for me.  :) 

That being said, in looking back on social media, I've not been very present there this week, and it's been kinda nice, if you want to know the truth.  Being "busy" isn't always a bad thing.  I will tell you, though, that since this week has been busier than my normal, I am SO looking forward to not leaving my house today.  There are several things I have to address around here that I've been neglecting (clutter areas, cleaning in my bedroom, vacuuming up more dog hair, LAUNDRY), and I have to get some things in order for Jonah's and Noah's junior year of high school.  I have to enter in grades and submit a lesson plan to my umbrella school for this year, and I've been seriously procrastinating. 

I'm also looking forward to finishing the book I started last Friday, doing bible study homework, and checking my huge Amazon order that came in for my in-love's 50th anniversary party next weekend.  (FIFTY years!  Isn't that amazing?!  Tim, Tracy, Todd, and I are hosting this party for them next Saturday, and I've been in planning/ordering mode for the last two months.)

Now, for the blog post I intended to write, about life lately.

This was Todd and me, last Friday night, on a date.  He was craving sushi and was really hungry and didn't want to drive to our normal spot in Memphis, so we decided to eat at our local Chinese buffet.  They also have sushi, and it's all delicious.  This is one of those places that every time I go here, I get something different.  Their egg drop soup is so good, and it could be a hundred degrees out, and I'd still want to eat it.

We went to Walmart after this, and then ended our night at Lowe's.  We were trying to walk off some of what we had eaten.  I was miserable, but I really didn't eat that much.

On Saturday, Todd, Graham and Drew were gone all day, as were Jonah and Noah, but they were at a different place.  I started cleaning in the dining room and moving things around a little to make them look better, and before I knew it, I was re-purposing things left and right.  Do you do this?  All that is, is taking what you already have and moving it from one place to another.  For instance, where this  turquoise sign is in the pic above, it had been on top of my refrigerator.  What had been in its place was a green plant, and I moved that into the dining room as the table centerpiece.  The counter needed something green still, so I grabbed that little plant beside the sign from the three tiered stand I have on another kitchen counter and moved those cookbooks from another spot, and this was how it turned out. 

I had washed the tablecloth on the dining room table, because Drew and Noah eat lunch in there all the time, and that is what started this whole process.  I had to put the tablecloth back on the table and then I dusted and vacuumed and moved Callie's kennel to the opposite corner of the dining room, too.  It sounds very disjointed and confusing, but really, that is how I work in my home when I'm doing this kind of thing.  It makes sense to me, and I almost always work in two rooms at a time. 

Chip (top dog pic) and Callie are always living their best life.  So is Crash, but I don't have a picture of him.  Chip lays on my bed when I go upstairs to get dressed for the day.  I had spread out that blanket for him, because his favorite thing to do is to be cozy and curled up on a blanket.  Do you see why I so love this dog?  And this was Callie, just this morning, looking at me while I drank my coffee.  She is really sweet, even if she does make me crazy half the time.  (Her hair.  It makes me lose my mind.) 

This is so random, but y'all.  New jars of spreads/condiments are so satisfying to me.  I love being the first one to use a new jar of something!  So does Noah, by the way.  Every morning I make lunches for the people working outside of Collierville for the day.  This was me making their lunches yesterday.

I loved what I read in 2 Corinthians chapter 4 yesterday!  Verses 16-18, in particular.  It's been so good reading along with my church family.  I love hearing or seeing what other people pick as the verses that jump out at them.  I love to talk about this with other friends.  I have never really heard of a church doing this kind of thing before, but I love it and think others should follow this example.  There is something about how it also brings the body together in unity, too, and that is so important.  Speaking of that, it's what I've been praying for pretty consistently for my church family for quite some time.  The enemy loves to stir up dissension and cause turmoil and division, and I really believe that this is something we should all be praying for within the body of believers we worship with each week. 

Well, my list is awaiting me.  I hope your day is wonderful.  Thanks for reading, and 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...