Wednesday, April 29, 2020

these are the days {link up party}

Welcome, blog friends!  Grab this picture, or make one of your own, and link your blog back to mine for today's link up party.

Just like last week, these are the days I want documented forever.  I'm hopeful and prayerful that soon our lives will resume some semblance of order and normalcy again.  Until then, these are the days I want to remember.

I want to remember all the trips Todd made to Lowe's, though he would probably rather forget.  

I want to remember that though we had more good days than bad, some days were just plain hard and frustrating.  For everyone, and definitely for me.  All of our nerves are a little frazzled, and I keep trying to remember that just as God gives me grace abounding, I need to extend that same thing to everyone in the house, even if they hurt my feelings like one of my sons did last night.  (I bit my tongue and didn't say anything to him, though, because I didn't want meanness to come out.)

I want to remember all the projects we keep getting done!  This week my hubby and stepdad are working on the front porch railing and are also battling weather and work calls that my husband keeps having to go on.  (Praise God for those, by the way, the family business is struggling a bit with all this shutdown.)  

This was about what I looked like yesterday as I cleaned out a couple of boxes worth of photo albums and miscellaneous pictures.  I had to throw away some frames that were broken and I'm donating some, but I took the time to really go through all the pictures.  I figured since I was doing that I might as well start a stack of Jonah and Noah for the pictures I will submit to MHEA for their graduation next year.

I just got a little sick to my stomach when I wrote that.

Also this week, I cleaned out the dining room hutch and the cabinet in my kitchen that I refer to as the coffee cabinet.  It sits above(ish) my coffee pot and holds filters, coffee, the measuring spoon I use, to go cups, my own little Swig cups that I love, tea, and sugar and creamer.  I love a productive week, don't you?

I want to remember this time when I taught Drew to cook.  We are a homeschooling family (not just now, but always) and I've always incorporated daily life experiences into their learning.  Cooking was one such learning opportunity, and they've always been helpful in the kitchen.  A couple of them know how to cook, but a couple of them never had interest until just now.  (I need to ask Noah if he wants to learn now.)  Drew loves to eat good food, though, and I've been showing him how to make a few things.  Mainly, stirfry.  We always have leftover rice, and he just sautees onions and bell peppers in butter, soy sauce, and a little white cooking wine.  He eats that mostly for lunch sometimes, but has had it a time or two at dinner.

I want to remember the hundreds (seemingly) of times I had to repaint my nails.  I miss getting them done!  (I can't stand it when the polish starts to peel.)

I want to remember this as the time Drew made a lot of his t-shirts into sleeveless shirts.

I want to remember all the ramen noodles that were consumed in this kitchen.

I want to remember what it felt like wanting to get dressed up cute, but stopping myself, because why?  It's not like anyone was going to see me.

I want to remember all the pajama days we had.  Fun times.

I want to remember how Chip never had to go into his kennel during quarantine and lived his best life everyday.  When they go back to work, the dogs are going to miss these guys.

I want to remember the days when I didn't feel guilty about watching too much tv!  I've watched entire series and I've gone back and watched some movies I loved when I was younger but had forgotten about, like this one.

And this one, that I'd somehow missed and never watched.

Both of these were on Hulu, by the way, and this bottom movie is really cute and PG.  Movies are never rated that anymore, and I don't recall even one bad word.  I think this is based on the books by Sophie Kinsella.

I want to remember going through journal pages really fast, and having reality checks every so often.  One night last weekend I was about to have a moment (and not a good one), and sat down and started a gratitude list.  Every time I'm about to lose it, I do this, and it realigns my thinking with God and I start praising Him and thanking Him for all the things that brought a smile to my face.

I could probably go on, but I'll stop with this list.  If you're a blogger, I'd love for you to link up with me!  Thanks for reading and linking up with me.  Love to all!

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What's Up Wednesday

Happy Wednesday, friends.  I'm linking up with Shay from Mix and Match Mama and her friend Sheaffer for this blog post.

What we're eating this week:

Monday night we had leftovers, Tuesday night we had Mexican chicken with rice and refried beans, and I've got the stuff to have hamburgers one night, cabbage and sausage, baked potatoes, and chicken fajitas.  It's a good food week around here.  Mexican is what I'm craving right now the most, and I hope my family doesn't care.  Since they didn't give me ideas, we're going with what my idea.

What I'm reminiscing about:

Shopping.  Eating in Mexican food restaurants.  Chips and salsa.  Marshall's.  Basically, all the days before the stupid Corona virus.

What I'm loving:

Cooler nights and outside lights.  We're still loving our new deck.

What we've been up to:

Pretty much that.  Yup.  And house things.

What I'm dreading:

Not knowing when we can get out again in the public and with the general population.  Our state is opening back up on May 1, except for nine counties, and I live in one of them.  Our mayor can't even give us a date as to when he thinks we'll open back up.  I love a meme that my husband posted, with which I agree: let the concerned people stay home, and let everyone else go back to work and back to life as usual.

What I'm working on:

I'm on the writing team with five other women from my church, and we are in the throes of writing our first Bible study together.  We're in the editing process and it will published and printed in the fall for the ladies in our church to take.  I can't wait to see it all when it's finished, but it is going to be SO GOOD!  I am not at liberty to tell you what the study is on yet, but it's on a book in the Bible.  ;)

What I'm excited about:

Going to HomeGoods.  Eating at my favorite Mexican restaurant.  Seeing one of my best friends that I haven't seen since January.  Thursday night with two other of my best friends, when we meet and sit apart and have dinner together in a parking lot.

What I'm watching/reading:

I'm reading a book right this moment, but when I'm finished with it, I'm going to start on one of these.  My friend Amy brought them by to me on Monday, and I'm so thankful!  I promised her I would pass them on when I'm finished.

My current book is Sisterchicks in Gondolas by Robin Jones Gunn.  I'm still watching Friday Night Lights on Hulu and am on season three.  Just last night I started the movie Forget Paris on Hulu, the one with Billy Crystal and Debra was so good!  I loved that movie when I was a senior in high school.  I checked the date it came out, and the year was 1995!

I love watching all the shows and movies I loved as a teenager.  

What I'm listening to:

The Revive Our Hearts podcasts and worship music.  I have a playlist on Spotify called Worship 2020 with all my current favorites.  

What I'm wearing:

Nothing but comfy and cozy everything.  And my lifesaving slippers that were a gift from my in-love's back from Christmas: Ugg slippers that are leopard print.

They may not look like much, but let me tell you something.  My feet can be killing me, and I'll come home and put these on and it's like they sigh in relief.  I have serious foot problems/ankle problems/tendonitis/plantar fascitis and these are the BEST THING EVER.  They were stupid expensive, but it was a combined birthday and Christmas present to me.

What I'm doing this weekend:

More of the same, but using our new grill that we just bought, eating outside on the deck, maybe seeing some people who don't live inside our house.  

What I'm looking forward to next month:

Life getting back to normal.  Prayerfully.  

What else is new:

Todd and Bill (my stepdad) are in the process of putting up the new porch railing.  They're almost done!  It's been a bear of a project, and then yesterday it started raining, so it's been a slow process.  I know they'll be glad to have it done.

Thanks for reading!  Love to all.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

simply Tuesday/being neighborly

I love the idea of simply Tuesday, even years later.  For anyone who doesn't know, Emily P. Freeman wrote a book years ago with this title, and the thought behind the whole book is small living moments among a very fast paced world.  This resonates with me because I am a people person.  I am an introvert, but I'm also sort of an extroverted introvert.  I love people.  I love making connections with them.  I love getting to know someone, and I love hearing their stories.

Over the weekend, I mentioned that an old neighbor had stopped by to talk while he was in town checking on his house that he owns as a rental property.  Truth be told, we didn't know him or any of his family well at all while they lived here for the two short years we were neighbors.  As our kids grew older, I stopped going outside so much.  When they were young, I was needed to monitor them as they played in the front yard with all the kids in the neighborhood.  All that started to change, though, and the owners who had lived in the house next door to us before he and his family were some of our very best friends in all of the world.  I had a terribly difficult time saying goodbye to them, in fact, I didn't.  Katie and I just looked at each other and kind of walked away, because we hate goodbyes.

When Katie and Travis lived next door, I kid you not: we were back and forth so much that there was a path between our houses.  We swam in their pool all the time, we knew the ways into each other's houses, we camped with them, we were the very best of friends.  Daniel and his wife Yvonne moved in, along with their three daughters, and though we talked some, it wasn't the same.  I could hardly look at that house without crying after Katie and Travis moved.  The "new" neighbors (at that time) were nice, we just never clicked.

On Saturday, Daniel was back in town to check on the house.  Though they moved within a couple of years, they kept the house as a rental property, and when he saw our sons out Saturday, he asked if we were home.  He said he would stop by later to chat, so we kind of carried on with our day.  He finally came over, and stayed a whopping three hours!  It was so good to talk to him and, sadly, to get to know him.  I expressed my sorrow at not having known them while they were here, but he was quick to remind us that it wasn't just us, that as dual citizens of the US and Germany (where they're all from), he wasn't used to being friendly yet at that time that they lived here.  They moved here in 2012, and he told us that in Germany people don't speak to one another, and especially not kindly.  They were very introverted when they came here, and though we did get to know them a little, it was almost too late at that point.

The afternoon was really nice, and we talked about everything under the sun.

I guess all of this has a moral to the story, and that is to not let time go by before you get to know your neighbors.  We need to take every opportunity to get to know those who live around us, because we never know when it'll be the last time we see them.  Over the years, we've had a lot of neighbors.  In our sixteen years of living here, the house next door that I'm talking about has had four families live there.  Across the street, we've had three families live there.  We've lost neighbors all around.  On the street right here around us, we are one in four who have stayed put, and we've had several deaths around us.  Our beloved friend Mr. Paul died years and years ago, and more recently Mr. Jim down the street lost his wife to cancer.  We talk to these neighbors still, when we see them. 

It's good to be friendly.  Jesus was friendly with people, and the Bible talks about how He was always moved to compassion.  For those of us who are believers and followers of Him, we need to be that same way.  I hope this was a little food for thought.  I know Saturday was for me. 

Thanks for reading, friends.  Love to all. 

Monday, April 27, 2020

weekending/Hello Monday

Happy Monday, friends!  I'm linking up with Tanya at The Other Side of the Road for this blog post.

It was such a good weekend.  The weather was beautiful, we were around people who are not part of our family, we ate good food, I watched some good television, and I was able to comfortably wear a hoodie without getting hot.  It was lovely. 

On Friday, I told my hubby to see if his friend Chris wanted to come over to give his wife a break from him.  (I'm laughing as I write that.)  Throughout this quarantine, Todd has seen his friend and partner on the sheriff's department several times, so there was no hesitation about him coming over.  He lives a good bit away, but when he had a delivery out close to us, he took Todd up on his offer and came over around four thirty.  Once he got here, they sat outside for a while and we ended up ordering Chinese takeout for dinner.  After dinner, the boys asked them to go to a local school to play wiffle ball with them.  They were gone for a couple of hours, then all came back here and sat outside on the deck.  I was thrilled to have some quality time with my newest favorite show, Friday Night Lights. 

 It was a blessed night.

We didn't do anything most of Saturday.  Well, I didn't.  The boys left to play tennis several times and were out and about getting food and bringing it home.  Graham, Jonah and one of Graham's friends drove downtown to take pictures of their trucks. 

I saw this Saturday and cracked up.  True story.  My best friend and I have this thing in our texts, where we send bitmojis of ourselves and funny Corona memes to each other everyday.  This was one that was new to me.

Also on Saturday, an old neighbor came by to check on the house he still owns but has as a rental property, and we got to catch up with him.  I'm so sad that we weren't closer to he and his wife and family while they lived next door, but it's a great reminder to be friendly to our neighbors, and to our best ability, to get to know them.  I'll write a little more about this on Tuesday, though...

We sat outside for a while Saturday night, just my husband, me, and our pups.

I eventually got really cold and then came in.  We would have had a fire in the firepit, but we are currently out of wood.  Todd stayed out there, and I came in and watched an episode or two of FNL, and then I went upstairs to shower and go to bed.

Church was so good yesterday!  I miss my church family I almost can't see straight.  I'm so ready to be back in person and to worship collectively with the body of believers of where we attend.  I think we're in the process of maybe thinking about starting to open the doors back up soon, because we were all sent a survey to fill out last week.  Needless to say, I marked that I would be there lining up outside the doors on the Saturday night before.  

That's about all we did all weekend!  Noah worked a shift last night, we sold some things on Facebook Market, Todd made a trip to Lowe's, I read my book, and enjoyed multiple phone conversations.  It was a great weekend and the weather was mostly perfect.  How was yours?  I'd love to hear about what you did with your time over the weekend.  

Thanks for reading!  Love to all.  

Friday, April 24, 2020

Friday Favorites {edition fifteen}

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

Isnt' it funny how even though it's Friday, it doesn't feel like Friday?  At this point, all the days keep running together, and we all struggle from knowing what day it is.  Just yesterday, Jonah told me he didn't bother to ask me if I minded that he ate out for dinner because I never cook on Friday nights.  I looked at him and told him it was Thursday, and he died laughing. 

And for the record, I made a delicious dinner last night and he missed out. 

I wrote a blog post yesterday on a house update, and I think it was one of everyone's favorites, thanks to all the comments on social media.  It was another post I wrote for me, honestly, so that I can have it to look back on. 

This is my new favorite view.  Our deck area has come along so nicely, and I love that it's (mostly) done.  Todd has a few things to do it, but nothing that will affect the way it looks or us sitting out there.

I wrote a blog post with this title earlier in the week and held my first ever link-up "party".  Three people linked up with me!  I'm laughing, but've got to start somewhere, right?  This post was about all the things I don't want to forget during this time we were all stuck at home together.  I plan to do this every week or so, so if you're reading this and are a blogger, make sure you come back and check on it next week!  I'd love for you to add me to your blog roll, if you have one, because I update pretty regularly and that way you can see when I post.  (For the two of you who read this.)

I loved writing this post, and I laughed several times while I was writing it all.  We've definitely made some memories during this time, and some of them we'd probably like to forget. 

I have made a couple of really good dinners this week, and I thought I'd share them with you in case you're like me and are on the lookout for some dinner inspiration.

One is this recipe for chicken fajitas.  I made this last night, and it was delicious.  I used this as a loose guide for my fajitas, and because I didn't have fajita seasoning, I used taco seasoning and added in extra ground cumin.  I used white cooking wine and worcestershire in the chicken while I was cooking it, to deglaze the pan and to add flavor.  I cut the chicken into strips and kind of halved them once they were all done so that I could make sure they were fully cooked.  Because people are picky in my house, I did mushrooms and onions next, using olive oil, butter, and worcestershire sauce.  I did bell peppers last, using the same ingredients and I had that all seperate for people who wanted to pick and choose.  For mine, I put it all in a bowl with smoked provolone on top it all to smother it, then used rolled up tortillas to help me scoop up each bite.  Like I said, it was delicious.

And one night, I made this recipe for a homemade version of hamburger helper.  For us, I doubled this recipe and if you don't have beef broth on hand, you could definitely use chicken broth.  I had to use a mixture of the two because I didn't have enough of the beef.  I omitted the ketchup, because that would make it sweeter, and I hate ketchup.  This was delicious and will definitely be on repeat around here.  It was gone the night after I made it and my husband was the one who finished it off, which is rare for someone who usually doesn't eat a lot of leftovers.

Please excuse this horrible picture of me, but last night was my favorite night of the week.  For the past couple of weeks, we've been meeting (while being six feet or more apart) on a Thursday night and taking our own dinner to eat together.  We were forced to meet under the roof last night because it was raining when we first got there.  We sat there for over two and a half hours and thoroughly enjoyed catching up and laughing our heads off.  And also, we miss going to church!  This was like us being in line for when the doors open back up. 

It's been a pretty great week, one that felt almost normal.  Todd went on a call out this week to do a search and rescue on someone who was missing (they were found), he and Graham both worked some, and it just seemed like a normal week.  I saw my mom and stepdad, my sister, my dad and stepmom and two of my best friends.  I can't ask for more than that! 

How's your week been?  I'd love to hear!  Thanks for reading.  Love to all. 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

an updated house post

Please keep scrolling if you don't want to read this boring post, it's mostly for me so that I can have it as a memory on what we've done to the old house in the last seven months.

We're getting so close to finishing off the giant list of things we had planned on doing to our house, and it's so exciting.  We'll never be fully finished, because our hope is to continue on with home improvements as time goes on.  We would still love to replace our kitchen countertops, I'd love a tile backsplash in here, I need to paint more and freshen up several rooms, we need new carpet upstairs, and we need to replace some of the wooden banisters on our staircase.  We'll get to all of that eventually.

We've come a very long way, though.  The huge things are done: new pipes, new siding, new windows.  We're enjoying every bit of all of it, too, and love utilizing all the windows when the weather is nice.  My favorite thing to do is to open them all up on a cool day and get a breeze blowing through the house.  I love the new flag pole that Todd put up a couple of weeks ago, and I didn't think I'd love it that much.  I think it's the perfect addition to the front yard.  Hopefully today or tomorrow we will add porch railing back to the front porch, he's been letting himself recover for a day, and he's having to dodge the rain.

We also have landscape stones (?) to place around the flower beds eventually, and we hope to do that in a couple of weeks or so.  I don't know if either one of us is sure when it's the best time to plant things.  His thumb is more green than mine, honestly, and I know little to nothing about that kind of thing.

Our newest favorite thing is the deck, though.

I have never loved our backyard because of the old deck.  It was gross and rickety, and though I was glad to see it be torn down before they started with the new siding, I missed having something out there.  I jokingly said to Todd that we should just pour a concrete pad instead of the deck, but that got us to thinking about something lower and closer to the ground.  Our old deck was equal to the backdoor of the house and the stairs were right against the house.  So, last Tuesday, Bill (my awesomely talented stepdad), Todd, Graham, Drew, Jonah and Noah all started on this deck and it's mostly finished six work days later.

Where the lattice railing is on that one side, there is now a ledge that goes all the way across it, where people can put their drinks when we're outside.  Todd trimmed up a couple more posts, and I think he has a tiny bit more there to do, and then he wants to put lattice around the bottom to skirt the whole thing to keep leaves and critters out from underneath.

The gray you see in the flooring are concrete pavers with concrete board underneath them so that the firepit can sit safely on the deck.  We added these new chairs last weekend, and the string lights were 100% Jonah's idea.  He asked for tall posts just for the purpose of hanging lights from them.  I wholeheartedly agreed with his wish and so did Todd.

This bench that they built is so comfy!  I never thought a wood bench could be that comfy, in fact.  We're going go buy some pillows to put out when we're outside enjoying the deck, and we're going to buy some more of those Adirondack style chairs.  We were going to put our picnic table and chairs on the deck, but I didn't love the way it looked, and even when we eat out here, we'll never keep the food out here because of flies, so we decided we really didn't need a table.  We can make our plates and just carry them outside, and we can use the rail that goes around that lattice work railing to place our drinks on, if we need a place to do that.

Todd ordered a new grill that should arrive soon, and we'll buy an outdoor storage bench to store pillows and such when we're not out there using them.   

I look forward to spending a lot of nights out here.  We've already sat out there, and when we haven't one or two of the boys have.  We couldn't be happier with how it all turned out, and it's not too shabby of a job they managed to pull off in just six work days.  ;)  Bill may never come back over again, but we're so grateful to him and his expertise as he was the mastermind behind it all.  He's been wanting to do this for YEARS.  He also built that roof structure you see over the front porch, along with Jonah and Noah.  

I'm so glad we're just about done!  It's been a long process, but it was worth every second.  Todd doesn't agree with me on this, but this is our forever home.  By the time we're done with it, it'll be our dream home.  I'm good with that!  It's the best location ever, in my my opinion, because we're thirty seconds away from our church and Byhalia Road, which is the road you need to be on to access most places in The Ville.  

If you're still here, thanks for reading.  Love to all.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

These Are the Days

Thank you, Google, for your image.

I never want to forget these days and times~the days of squeezing around our dinner table, of hearing the laughter upstairs, of the endless meals here together, of all the things we got accomplished.  Well, them, not me so much.

Before we blink, it'll be life back to normal.  I want to remember Jonah not being able to sleep one night and staying up until four a.m. watching YouTube videos on how to build garage shelving.  I want to remember how much Todd and I laughed our heads off at the dumbest of things, and how we marveled at how weird and hilarious our dogs are.

I want to remember Zoom meetings and the day I hid in my car so nobody would find me and I could have peace and quiet.  And then, when Drew found me and asked me what in the world I was doing, I couldn't contain my laughter.  I want to remember how I got "better" at Zoom and had to set up in my bedroom and close the door so nobody would interrupt, but how they still would pop their heads in and ask me what I was doing.

I want to remember how we dreamed up plans and then watched them come to life in the form of our new deck and the boys learning how to operate power tools, and me watching with bated breath, praying they didn't saw their own fingers off.  I want to remember that one week when they did the majority of the deck when we went from four loaves of bread down to just one half by the end of the fifth day of work.

I want to remember how it felt to check on people and picking up the phone to call instead of to just text.  And the hours I spent on the phone with my mom, my best friend, my dad, my sisters.

I want to remember what I looked like, which is why I'm about to post this next picture~to document that day I remembered how to fully dress with makeup, cute clothes, and jewelry, and then how my earlobes turned all red and started throbbing because I hadn't worn earrings in so long.

I want to remember what my hair looked like, and how I considered growing out the blonde highlights and letting the new "natural" ones take over.  (They're gray.)

I want to remember the day we allowed our friend to come in and cut the boys hair, because she hadn't done that since they were little bitty and when Andy the Wonder Dog was still wandering about the house.

I want to remember all the great shows I watched.

I want to remember how anxious I felt when this first started, and how even though I was just about overcome with anxiety, I'd never felt so close to Jesus.  It's funny how that happens, when things are stripped away from you, and He is the only One who understood what I felt.  Other people think anxiety is nervousness, but it's way deeper than that.  I wasn't scared, and I'm still not, of getting this virus because I'm not scared to die.  I know that the moment I breathe my last breath here on earth, I will enter into my Forever Home in Heaven and will worship Jesus for all of infinity.

I want to remember all the church gatherings and teachings I watched online, and how all those godly women so inspired me in my own walk with the Lord.  I don't want that to end!

I want to remember to not ever buy things to hoard them, but to buy just enough for what we need and no more or less.  God is our Provider, and I literally would sit in my car and praise Him after I'd made a trip through the grocery store to replenish the meat we'd used up.  I never want to forget these days of extreme generosity that is so evident within my family and friendships.

I want to remember this feeling of closeness I have with my husband, and remembering that we're always on the same team, no matter what.  Even when we don't like each other too much because of all the togetherness, we love each other and our relationship has never been stronger.

This idea is not original with me.  Emily P. Freeman, founder of Hope Writers, came up with this writing prompt.  If ever there were a time to remember all of the present day things, it is now.  What do you want to remember about this time?  I'd love to hear.  Consider linking your blog up with mine to share about the things you want to remember in this time, and feel free to grab that image at the top of this post for your own blog.

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Thanks for reading, friends.  Love to all.  

Tuesday, April 67th~the weekend and some other random things

I jest.  It has been a long, long, long twenty-one days of April.  And quarantine.  I'm in my sixth or seventh week of staying at home mostly, and when I saw yesterday that our governor has decided to start opening things back up in the next week or two, I was delighted.  I'm ready for things to be normal again. 

We didn't do much over the weekend, but we enjoyed our new deck!  Todd and a couple of the boys finished off the last deck board on Saturday, trimmed the posts, and strung some brand new lights. 

It was wonderfully cool Saturday night, so this was us out there enjoying it and being quiet. 

Church was so, so good on Sunday.  It always is, but this week was even more so than usual, I felt.  I'm ready to be back for live worship, but I am so appreciative of my pastor and the tech team who have done a great job of keeping us plugged in each week. 

I had a Zoom meeting yesterday for a couple of hours, and it was good "seeing" my friends who are on the writing team with me at our church.  I cannot wait for the day when we can all be together again in person! 

(An inside view of part of our deck and firepit.)

I'm going grocery shopping today, and I'm kinda excited.  Isn't that dumb?  We need some things we're almost out of, and I need some things to make for dinner. 

I'm also going to see my dad today since it's nice outside, and we'll sit in his driveway at a safe distance apart and catch up.  It's been weeks since I last saw him.

I also have plans tonight to go and record our worship music for this coming Sunday.  I have no idea what dinner will be tonight because I have to be there at five thirty, so it'll be quick and easy for everyone to do on their own, whatever it is I decide to go with.

I finished my first book of the month on Sunday night, which may seem strange, but it's because I've been watching shows on Hulu.  That consumed all my time this month when normally I would have picked a book up to read.  I'm okay with it, though, because it was a good show.  I'm onto a new one now, and it's proving to be just as good.  Also, Todd and I started and finished a fascinating show on Hulu yesterday, McMillions.  It's about the Monopoly game scam that took place at McDonald's in the nineties.  I am shocked that I don't remember this, and Todd said the same thing last night, but it ws rivoting.

That's about all we've been up to.  How are you all holding up?  I'd love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading, love to all. 

Friday, April 17, 2020

Friday Favorites {edition fourteen}

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

It's been an alternately busy and slow week.  All the men in the house have been busy, so that's made it go by fast, and that is a great thing.  It's always good to stay busy in times like these. 

So, about this week...

Bonfires are always a favorite pasttime around here, and this was how we kicked off last weekend.  Not too long after this whole shelter in place thing took effect, we bought this firepit.  It's been used several times throughout these weeks, and it's been a nice little getaway from the typical activities inside.  The boys have been used it several times on their own, but last weekend Todd started this one.

A lot has changed in the backyard this week, and that is always exciting.  That first picture you see above this is from last Friday.  My stepdad came over and he and Todd mapped out where the new deck would be.  And we are minus one tree now in the backyard.  The picture right above this is the truck that hauled off the dead tree we had cut down last Saturday.  That was kind of a mess, because we had to take down a section or two of fence (that needed to be repaired) and the piece of equipment they used to grind down the tree stump made big tracks in our yard when they came back on Monday.  But, it's finished now, and as soon as this first project in the backyard is done, hopefully we'll put back that fence that we had to take down.

And by "we", I mean "them".

Our second major project has been the new deck.

My stepdad is such a talented carpenter, and a huge blessing to us.  He, Jonah and Noah built the new roof structure over our front door and stoop back in the fall to replace the old and tired awning that had been there, and now he and all the men here in our house are building this new deck.  They made a ton of progress yesterday, even though they had to re-do part of what had been put down on Wednesday.  They're about to get out there and get back to it today, and I can't wait to see how far they get.  It'll be so nice once it's finished.  I snuck this picture of Jonah yesterday as he measured that board he was about to cut with the saw you see in the picture.  All the boys have been operating that thing this week.  I love that they've learned new skills in this process. 

Last up for today is this podcast series I've been listening to this week.  It's my new favorite series, and it's all about having transformed speech.  One day in particular was so good, and mentioned a couple of my favorite passages in the New Testament about how we speak and act: Ephesians 4 and Colossians 3. 

Other things we've done this week include shopping for toilet paper (we struck gold on the third attempt), shopping for groceries, making lunch AND dinner for everyone all week, seeing a couple of friends at six feet apart and having a picnic style dinner in the process (in our church parking lot), losing Todd's keys, and about a million trips to Lowe's for supplies. 

I also finished the series I was watching on Hulu and am need of a replacement.  I was watching Counting On, a show about the adult Dugger family kids as young marrieds and parents, and would love a similar show.  I am not watching the news at all anymore, and this is for me to watch early in the mornings and at night when the guys in the house are occupied.  I'm open to suggestion!  I love fictional shows, but I am really loving documentary series and cooking or home design type shows right this moment.  We have Roku, Amazon Prime, Hulu and Netflix, so please comment with some suggestions!

Well, I will wrap up this post with that.  Thanks for reading!  Love to all. 

Monday, April 13, 2020

Hello Monday/ weekending

Happy Monday, friends.  I'm linking up with Tanya from The Other Side of the Road for this blog post.  It was a good weekend, with more of the same as the last few.  This quarantine life is getting pretty old around here and I know you all feel the same.  Here is a glimpse of our time spent at home this beautiful weekend.

My stepdad came over and he and Toddley mapped out the plan for the new deck.  They measured and talked and laughed and laughed, and it was a great afternoon.  When Bill left, Todd and I ran to Lowe's to pick out stones to border our new flower beds, and we bought all the lumber we'll need for the new deck and we also bought our new porch railing.  It's getting delivered today!

I can't wait to have porch rails again.

Jonah asked if we could have tall posts so that we can hang those Edison lights from, and we were all on board with that idea.  I am glad he mentioned it, because I had meant to but kept forgetting.

I had leftovers for dinner, and all the boys went and grabbed food to eat at home.

We also did this.

It was much cooler here on Friday, and we took full advantage of the nice weather and sat around this fire.  I came in early, but Toddley was out there till close to midnight.

On Saturday, I survived a needed trip to Costco and then made it back home in time to watch them cut down a giant tree in our backyard that we shared with our neighbors.  We split the price to get it cut down and it's gone!  They have to come back to grind the stump, but it's nice to have peace of mind that it won't fall on our roof.

That's it that you see in the back of this truck.  I was amazed at how fast they worked, and they had a crowd watching them.

I watched several movies this weekend: Bridget Jones' Diary, Dirty Dancing, Good Will Hunting, and Murder on the Orient Express.  Our next movies are Dead Poet's Society and The Greatest Showman.  We streamed our church service online yesterday and had a lazy, easy afternoon at home.  It poured rain, so it was the perfect day to stay home.  And then I made a good dinner last night for Easter to celebrate, and fed my people and my nephew Tyler.  It was a great weekend.

Thanks for reading!  Love to all.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Good Friday

I'll never forget when Noah was about seven or eight, he asked me on this day, "Mom, why do they call this day Good Friday, when it was the day Jesus was crucified on the cross?"  I thought that was such a great and wise question from such a young person.  I told him the answer was because the day was good because Jesus didn't stay dead. 

Before I start, I want to let you know that there are certain people I'm writing this for.  It's for the ones who I know who may see it on social media, who are not believers.  I don't just mean they're not believers in that they don't believe in God; I mean they've never placed their faith in God and they've never surrendered their lives over to Him.  One way a friend of mine always put it when he was the children's pastor at our church is that when you do this, believe and place your faith in Jesus, that He becomes the boss of your life.  If this is you and you're reading this, I am praying for you right this very moment. 

I'll start at the beginning and show you an illustration that Noah drew several years ago.

When God created this world at the very beginning of the Bible in Genesis, He made it perfect.  This is the story of creation in Genesis, and God walked among Adam and Eve in the garden.  They had their pick of any tree to eat from in the garden except for one~the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  A serpent (Satan) came and tempted Eve, though, asking if God had REALLY said not to eat from that tree, and when she justified that surely He had not meant what He said, she took some of the fruit and ate.  She convinced Adam to do the same, and the minute he did, their eyes were opened and they were aware of their nakedness, or shame.  And that minute that their eyes were opened and they were aware of this, that is when sin entered into the world.  God called for them and asked why they were hiding.  When they said it was because they were naked, He asked them who told them that.  He knew, though.  We read that God made them coverings to wear, and that is when we first see that the blood of the innocent must be shed to atone for the guilty.  Meaning that when that innocent animal was found by God, He killed the animal and skinned it to make coverings for Adam and Eve.  The animal had been innocent, Adam and Even were not, but He made those covering to cover their shame.

The perfect world before sin is represented by that circle with the heart inside of it.  Looking from there to the right, that is when sin entered in, and this is where we've been trying to get back to perfection since those days of creation.  The arrows you see on that top circle on the right are ways we've tried to fill up the void in our lives caused by sin.  Have you ever heard the phrase that everyone is born with a God-sized hole in their heart?  Nothing but Him could ever fill that hole, and the same is true for us trying to fill up our sinful lives with other things to cover up that sinfulness in our lives. 

The next circle on the bottom is where Jesus entered the picture. 

If you read in Genesis, you'll see that Jesus was always around even from the beginning of creation.  You'll see the usage of words like "we" and I believe that it is the Trinity that is talked about there, and scholars agree, or maybe it's that I agree with scholars.  The Trinity is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and while I'll probably never understand all of this until the day I get to Heaven, they are all One and the same.  Jesus left the glory of Heaven to be born of a woman and to enter into the world as a baby.  He grew up like you and I did~He had other siblings and He had to learn to walk and to talk, but He never sinned.  He was perfect.  He was different, and I love the recounting of how when they were making a pilgrimage back home, His parents couldn't find Him and it was because He had never left the synagogue.  He chose to stay behind and to sit among the teachings of the rabbis in that day and time.  He did leave, though and go back home with his mom and stepdad.  (Have you thought of that before, that Jesus's Father was God, making Joseph His stepdad?) 

When He was around the age of thirty-three, He was betrayed by one of His disciples (Judas Iscariot) and handed over to governing officials to be tried and crucified on a cross, and though Pilate wanted to let Him go, the people chose to save a criminal and crucify Jesus.  And He willingly went to the cross, because He always knew that would be what would happen.  He went like a lamb to be slaughtered, we read in Isaiah 53, and He endured the shame of the cross.  He could have escaped it any time, He could have spoken one word and the whole crowd could have been obliterated in one second, but He hung there and when He cried out to ask God His Father why had He forsaken Him, it was then that we see that God poured out His wrath upon His innocent Son and Jesus breathed His last breath and released His Spirit back into Heaven. 

It's then that we read that the earth shook and the curtain was torn into, and that is when a high priest was no longer needed.  Until that time, in order to access the Father, a high priest was needed to enter into the Holy of the Holies in the tabernacle, but the second Jesus breathed His last breath, that curtain dividing the Holy of Holies from the other parts of the tabernacle was torn into.  We read about the recounting of this in Matthew 27:11-54 or in three of the other gospels. 

This is where Good Friday comes in, because He didn't stay dead!  When one of the women went to check on His tomb, Mary Magdelene found that where they had placed His body inside and rolled a stone in place of the opening, that the stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty.  He had risen from the dead and appeared again on earth for a short while and walked among the disciples, and then He ascended into Heaven.  And it's where He is right now~sitting at the right hand of the throne of God.  Scripture tells us that He intercedes on our behalf.  He won't stay in Heaven~someday He will return once more to the earth, and that is when His second coming will occur.  Revelation tells us that when that day comes, He will come riding in on a white horse, and the words "FAITHFUL" and "TRUE" will be written on his thighs.  And someday, we will reign with Him in the millenial kingdom, or the "new Heaven".  When that happens, the earth will once again be like it was when God created it~it will be perfect and without sin.  That's where those arrows lead you back to in that picture that Noah drew. 

What does all that have to do with having a relationship with Jesus, you wonder?  Well, first you must believe that all of this is true.  For the skeptical person, who wonders if I'm wrong about all this...wouldn't you rather to believe and have faith like me, than to NOT believe and not have faith  and find out I was right?  Secondly, you must acknowledge that you're a sinner.  In Romans, we read that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Sinners need forgiveness, and that's when you would ask the Lord to forgive you of your sin, to change you, and to give you a "new" heart.  And then you just place your faith in God.  You believe all of this to be true, and you start praying and reading your Bible.  Much like a friend must communicate with another friend to have a relationship, so it is with us in our relationship with Jesus.  He speaks to us through His word and He hears every prayer we utter.

Know this: the Bible is clear about what happens after death.  You'll either go to Heaven, or you will go to Hell.  Hell is real, and it is a place of unending torment forever and ever.  It is an easy choice, in my humble opinion.  Why not trust me and act today?  Let TODAY be the day of your salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).  Life is still going to be full of ups and downs~just because I'm a believer doesn't mean I don't struggle.  I still have issues with anxiety from time to time, I may experience trauma of some sort in my life, but here is the difference: I know that even in spite of all that I struggle with or all that could happen, God is good, He is sovereign, and He loves me.  And for the ones who have died before me and who had faith like I do, I know that I will see them again!  Isn't that sweet and full of hope?  Life with Jesus is hard still at times.  But life without Him?  Oh, friend.  It would be impossible.  I cannot even imagine living one minute of this life without Him.  He is my hope, my salvation, and I trust Him and His perfect plan. 

I leave you with a couple of questions, and after that, a powerful video. 

If you died today, where would you go?  Heaven or Hell.  Think about it, and if you feel a quickening in your heart or spirit, that could be the Holy Spirit drawing you to Him.  I would love to pray with you or for you, if that's you.  Reach out in any way you choose to, I promise to stop whatever I'm doing and talk. 

Is anyone reading this that is a believer, though, and struggling in their faith?  Have you neglected your relationship with Him, or just not walking with Him on a daily basis?  Or are you stuck in a rut and haven't thought about Him in years?  If it is, take some time right now to pray and renew your relationship with Him.  Ask Him to help you have a fresh start with Him.  And commit today to start over in your walk with Him, making Him the priority once more.

I have so much more to say, but I'll wrap this up.  If you need some help with what comes next, I can help there, too.  Just reach out to me or to someone. 

For that video, click here to watch it and spend some time with the Lord today.  For the rest of you still around, I want to encourage you to read in one of Gospels about the recounting of all that took place on this day a couple thousand years ago.  Google it or use that reference in Matthew I mentioned in one of the paragraphs above.  And spend some time with God today, thanking Him for all that He did for you and for me.  It was our sin that held him that cross, He literally took the weight of the sin of the world upon His shoulders so that we could live with Him someday eternally.  And though thank you might seem inadequate, say it anyway and really ponder what took place.  Just a hint, though: if you make it through that recounting of His crucifixion without shedding tears, read it again and again and again until the gravity of His death hits you.  Maybe read it out loud a few times...I promise, you will see more clearly what He did for us when you really take the time to consider. 

Listen to some Good Friday worship music today~Spotify has several playlists to choose from.  The point is, spend some time with Him today.

Love to all. 

Monday, April 6, 2020

the weekend/Hello Monday

Happy Monday, friends!  I'm linking up with Tanya at The Other Side of the Road for this blog post.  It was a really good weekend around here, and somehow, it all felt normal.  We had things that kept us busy, so I know that's why it felt that way.  Also, it was GORGEOUS outside all weekend!  Two times the forecast had rain in it, and both times it missed us.  I'm so grateful for that, because our yard is more dry right now than it's been in weeks and weeks. 

I thought I'd share some highlights from the weekend.

We ordered this for dinner Friday night and it was so good!  It helped make Drew's birthday a little more special, I feel like.  And it was really nice not having to clean up any dishes.

The guys pulled out some of the old sports equipment over the last few days.  This was them one day in the afternoon throwing the baseball around.

Todd was finally able to put up this flag pole!  This took up a lot of the time on Saturday.  I love how it turned out! 

Here it is at night, with the light on top shining. 

The new and normal online church service yesterday. 

Please note all that was going on in this picture.  This was during the communion part of the service yesterday and they were irritating the daylights out of me.  Just being honest here, friends.  Also, please notice the sunglasses Drew was wearing and the fact that all the dogs were in there and trying to steal their communion elements. 

I loved this image I saw on another blog this morning.  I think it's really important to always look on the bright side of things, but especially right now.  I don't want to complain about these times too much, and I really try not to do that, because I know I'll look back soon and miss all of us being together so much.  This just resonated deep within me today when I saw it, and I wanted to share it here. 

Well, I need to go get dressed for a Zoom meeting I have in half an hour.  Thanks for reading!  Love to all. 

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