Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Coke Tabs for Camp

Tina and I have been finding joy in an unlikely source - coke tabs.

On the search for a fundraiser that the kids might like, I came across bracelets made with the tabs from soda cans.  Of course only one child, the girl, got excited, but all it took was the mention of crafts and she was set to go!  In fact, she wanted to head out that night for supplies.

I managed to refrain her excitement for the weekend.  You would've thought we were knee deep in a candy store though when I took her down the ribbon aisle.  Squeals and jumps and a cart full later, we were ready to delve into our project.

In the process we've learned quite a bit about ourselves - and each other.

We're both visual learners. 
Both stubborn. 
And artistic.

I printed instructions that we both tossed out the window about five minutes in.  Tina set off to figure it out on her own, while I searched for a video that might show me better than tell me.  Within the first hour, she'd made three or four and I was still frustratingly on my first. 

Determined.  That we both are too.

Ten coke tabs and strand of ribbon was not going to get the best of me.  Tongue set in concentration, I tried again.  And again.  And finally....I mastered the technique!

Tina on the other hand couldn't sew buttons.  Or rather, she'd never been taught.  Yet, after only a few attempts she was a seamstress pro.

We both went to bed that first night feeling accomplished.

not too shabby for our first try!
Since then, it has been a fun way to spend time together.  Creating.  Teamwork.  Brainstorming. 
Tina already has a few sales under belt.  Which reminds me, that'sour next project to tackle!

My hope is that when she gets to camp this summer, paid with money she worked hard to earn, it will have even more meaning.  And we'll have the memories of nights spent making the bracelets to add to it.

Do you involve your kids in fundraising or earning money for big ticket items they want?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Faithful Friday: Bossy Pants

Tim and I shared a sweet connection the other night.  Finished with our devotion, we were facing each other in the bed, with the soft glow of the lamp cast around us.  I asked him why he first fell in love with me and was surprised with his answer.

"Your personality," he said without a pause.

Really? I thought and exclaimed.  For whatever reason, this just shocked me. 

Maybe it is just because God's really been working on me.  Since selecting my One Word for 2013, he continually speaks to me on submitting.  To him.  To my husband.  And I know that I haven't always done this.  Especially with Tim.

It seems backwards but sometimes our family gets the worst of us.  I'm comfortable with Tim and I'm 100% me - all my faults laid out on the table.  I'm stubborn, opinionated, and bossy.  Yet, he loves me anyway.  Not just in spite of but maybe even because of my weaknesses?  Or perhaps love is blind.

Whatever the case, I know I'm blessed.  And I know without a shadow of a doubt that Tim is exactly who God meant for me - and I for him.  He paired us together in his perfect plan.  We balance each other, which is perhaps why our relationship has not just survived but thrived through the years.

After our Lifegroup tonight, I thought more on my sometimes bossy and persistent nature and when I've been the opposite.  Being married so long with Tim, I know where to push and where to let go and let God. 

Though we've always followed Him in our marriage, Tim and I weren't always in the same place in our walk with God.  At times, I longed for Tim to take the lead as the Christian role model in our home.  I saw the greatness that God had gifted in him long before he did - even now Tim doubts at times his potential and part.  I know God still has great plans for him though, but I've learned that I can't push this along on my timeline.  God will work on and use Tim in His timing.

But it's amazing to look back and see God's handiwork from our prayers. For years, I prayed that He would speak to Tim concerning Sunday school.  Tim just never found his place there.  Out of his comfort zone, he just didn't see the point.  Though I wanted him to be a part of it, forcing it wasn't the answer.  So I simply prayed. 

In God's timing, now in our new church home, I'm seeing a change in Tim.  He not only attends Sunday school now with me, he enjoys it and participates.  We are growing together, drawing closer to Him, and each day is even better and new.  And I'm praising God for answering this plea.

God has a beautiful plan for all of us, yet he calls us to pray for our spouse and lift them up.  Maybe some of these scriptures below will help you in praying for your husband. 

1. Romans 10:9-13 – Pray that he will confess with his mouth and believe in his heart that Jesus is Lord so that he will be saved. His salvation is God’s will for his life!

2. Ephesians 5:25 – Pray that he will love you as Christ loves the church and that he will sacrifice for you and your family just as Christ did.

3. Colossians 3:23 – Pray that in his work he will be devoted to working as unto the Lord and not to simply please man. Pray that by him doing so, he will be a light for Christ in his workplace.

4. Philemon 1:6 – Pray that he will have boldness in sharing his faith with others, bringing many to faith in Christ.

5. Acts 16:31 – Pray that his faith in Christ will pave the way for the salvation of his entire family. God is able to soften the hardest of hearts!

6. Romans 12:2 – Pray that he will reject the ways of this world and cling to Jesus Christ so that his mind will be renewed by truth and he will be able to know and understand God’s will for himself and your family.

7. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – Pray that his love would be patient and kind, and that as he loves like Jesus loves, healthy relationships in all areas of his life would be the result.

8. Galatians 5:16 – Pray that he will daily walk in the Spirit and by the fruit of the Spirit so that he does not fall prey to sin and its temptations.

9. Ephesians 5:1-2 – Pray that he becomes increasingly more like Jesus Christ, imitating Him in all that he does so that his life will leave a lasting impact on others.

10. Philippians 2:3-5 – Pray that in all things, his attitude would reflect Christ’s and that he would live a life of humility, never seeking personal gain at the expense of others.

*Scripture Source:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

2000 Baby

When Noah was born, the Harlem Globetrotters ran a promotion that gave all babies a Lifetime ticket to their games.  It was a novelty of the year, being 2000. 

Though I didn't know if it were even true, I signed him up online, thinking it would be cute for a scrapbook.  A month or so later, a small card in patriotic Globetrotter colors arrived in the mail.

For years we'd hoped to go to a game but they always came to our area in January.  Between birthdays, winter weather and budgets, it just never happened.  This year, with the big 1-3, I was determined to work it out. 

After recovering from the cost of tickets for "best available seats" for a family of four, I signed up for free tickets on every site or contest that could be found.  Each day I'd hope for a call or email but none came.  Last Friday, Tim called me giddy with excitement and instructions to stop by a local radio station.  He'd won tickets - but only two!

It was then I remembered Noah's lifetime pass.  Digging through his baby book, the card appeared and the belated birthday plans began.  (We surprised him with the tickets at his party on Saturday.)

Because he can only pick up the "2000 pass" at the ticket window, we knew we'd probably be in separate seats.  We decided to make it girls vs guys, letting Tim and Noah have their choice of seats. 

Personally, I think Tina and I got the better deal in the end, as we were only about 10 rows back from the Globetrotters benches. 

And inches away from the confetti bucket they tossed on the crowd near us.

In fact, there was so much going on around me that this people watcher had a hard time concentrating.  I'd be busy watching the guys on the bench that I'd miss a play.  Or something funny would happen on the other end of the court, and I'd miss a trick on the other.  At least enough that I didn't have time to get out my camera to capture it. 

We ended up being on opposite ends of the court, so Noah and I would text each other shots.  He caught much better ones than I did.  Again too much to focus on!  Even though we were rows away from the guys, I could still see them  both and most importantly Noah's reactions.  It was obvious he and his Dad were having a blast.  Noah was 100% into the game.  They were so wrapped up that neither of them thought of taking a pic like we did!

At least they did go out and get Noah a basketball to keep as a souvenir.  He was thrilled to run down on the court at the end and stand in a forever line to get each player to sign it.  Jumping into the last spot at the buzzer, we were all excited to see him make it.  That is, until we remembered that two of the main guys - Big Easy and Scooter - weren't on the floor because they had moved out for photos.  Wah. Wah. Wah.

Even though we were pooped when we pulled into the driveway, and even more so into bed just a hair shy of midnight, we were grateful for the fun-filled night.

It's so good when life is good

Monday, January 21, 2013

Birthday Hangover

I slept TEN solid, glorious hours last night.  Hard, deep sleep, where my muscles were actually sore from lack of movement.  My body needed to catch a breath from all the festivities of the weekend, celebrating Noah's 13th birthday.

Luckily, his birthday actually fell on Saturday, which hasn't happened in some time.  It also started EARLY, as he had an Upward basketball game scheduled to start at 8:30 in Owensboro, about an hour away.  This resulted in me being up well before the sun, preparing for our day.

Truck packed and details done, I finally dragged Tim out of bed 30 minutes before wake-up call to decorate his door.  Noah awoke to this....

We rushed ourselves out of the house on a Saturday, as if it were a school day, hitting the road to make it in time for warm up and to save enough seats for the family I hoped would arrive.  Tim, Tina, and I all sat "big and greedy" sighing thankfully as familiar faces started to arrive and fill our spots.  By game time, a third of the bleacher was there to cheer on Noah.  He came back from prayer with a big smile and took time to hug each member.  At the end we even got an "Austin hug" as Noah scored the last shot at the buzzer, changing the score to 23.

Our caravan then headed to Shoney's for a breakfast buffet feast.  Knowing we'd take up the back half of their room - and that I had a hungry teenage boy - I was kind enough to call ahead and warn them.  They had mounds of eggs, biscuits, gravy and bacon awaiting.  They even surprised Noah with a hot fudge sundae and a song at the end.  We laughed that his first stop though was the strawberry shortcake!  All of us ate well beyond our fill, knowing we'd soon work it off. 

Stuffed and happy, our mini parade weaved our way to our final group destination - Laser Tag!  Even Mamaw and our littlest, Allen, joined in the fun.  We wondered how he'd do, only being 4, but he surprised and outplayed most of us.  At one point, I ended up teaming up with him and laughed way more than I shot. 

He'd crouch down on his tiny frame, and in a shouting whisper would say, "Move, Move, Move!" while frantically waving me along.  Whenever we'd successfully attack he'd say, "Man down!" and once when I shot him by accident, he pouted, "You can't shoot me, Aunt Heather, I'm the hero of this game!"  I do think he enjoyed it thoroughly, as he asked his mom, in the midst of another round, if he could have his happy birthday here tomorrow.  Sadly for him, his celebration isn't until October!

Noah, the birthday boy, aka "Voodo" was thrilled he won three of the four rounds.  I was just happy I didn't have a negative score, like my Aunt Becky!

The highlight, for everyone except Haylea, was her escape from the laser tag hallway.  Not realizing the glass door was shut, she barrelled down the hall, excited from the match.  One big cartoon splat later, her face left an imprint on the door, and all of us peed our pants in uproarious laughter.
We opted to play so much of our allotted time, that Noah had to speed race through his gifts and cupcakes.  He did pause long enough to gasp, mouth wide open, at the surprise Harlem Globetrotter tickets inside what he thought was only a card.  At the end, Noah and Tim decided to just wear their cupcakes, instead of eat them.


The crowd dispersed quickly, as another family had the room reserved next, but Noah was happy to head to home.  The night before Tim had given him a new shotgun and he had clay pigeons calling his name.  They spent the last hours of daylight tossing orange disks into the sky and blowing them into smithereens. 

We had a final stop at a little convenient store on the outskirts of our county, that happens to make the most yummy burgers and cheese balls around.  True to tradition, Noah was master of the remote, as we enjoyed our grease feast in front of the tv.

All said, I think he had a very happy and memorable 13th birthday celebration!  At least this exhausted Mom hopes so. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Faithful Friday: Teenage Birthday

This is the last night my little-big guy will be 12.  Saturday I will awake to a teenager.  Big. Sigh....

Of course, to look at him, one would already think he was a teen.  I look up to him (literally and figuratively) already.  All 6 ft and size 13 shoes of him.

Hard to believe he's so grown up.  I feel his childhood slipping through my fingers. 
Twelve years so short but so far away. 

Noah.  Our little lifesaver.  God sent him at just the needed moment for our family. 

We'd tried for years until we just stopped trying.  (Knowing what I know now about PCOS, he's even more of a blessing) But one day, unexpectedly, he appeared.  In two sweet little blue lines.

Our lives have been a whirlwind of joy and laughter ever since.

You have filled my heart with great joy. - Psalm 4:7

Noah.  Our funny guy.  Our little tornado.  Our heartbreaker.

From the moment he was born, a handful of spunk and wit. His crib was positioned in his room that when he awoke he could see us in ours.  He'd jump up alert and happy, smiling, "Mama, Dadda" until we put him bed with us.  As a baby, I'd tried to sneak in veggies, peas mixed into potatoes, but he'd swirl and spit the peas out rapid action. 

A toddler, little mind full of imagination, he was a different superhero everyday.  When mad, he became the Hulk and with a scrunched face would say, "my getting mad!"  Aggression moved to passion as a youngster.  In the first grade he kicked off the first week of school by getting a different girlfriend for each day.  This concept backfired the next year, when two girlfriends showed up at his birthday party!

Throughout his life he's been our jokester, the family comedian.  Always filling our home with laughter. 

Like the day we took him for shots, a recap in his words:..."When I got in the room I was getting a little freaked out. I told the lady, I don't think I can do this today. Maybe we should reschedule." :)

Or the time he found this adorable black hat that looked even cuter on and had to have it.
He said, "Mom! It is a deal, only $3 normally $15!" How can I say no to that?!

A 10 year old convo:
Me: Are you about ready?

Noah: Well, I'm a little frustrated right now, so no.
Me: (trying not to laugh) Why?
Noah: Tina came in to get me and didn't knock or anything - just walked right in. And then she just walked on into the bathroom all the way to the shower!
Me: (laughing) Did she see more than she needed to?
Noah: well I should think so! I'm going to have to go so I can pull myself together because they're waiting.....but I'm gonna have a talk with her about men and privacy!

Oh, so many funny moments.

Twelve years old saw the return of baseball...our first camper camping trip...a broken finger, we didn't think was broken (he will never let that go)....Andy Griffith...Middle school...First deer, second deer - same day.

How I wish, I pray, I hope that his teenage years are filled with just as much fun, as much laughter, as many memories and as much JOY as he can hold.  And then some.

However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all. Ecclesiastes 11:8

Happy 13th Birthday, Noah.  We love you so!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Comfort in a Bowl

How could I....lover of soup, hoarder of recipes, connoisseur of chicken noodle, and self-proclaimed culinarian, never have attempted to make the Campbell's classic?

This dawned on me as I stood in my kitchen desperate to find something to comfort my sick boy. 

Noah, who would happily live in boxers, because he's so hot natured, kept asking for us to turn up the fire Sunday afternoon.  That should've been my first clue.  After he requested another blanket and I turned from my book to look back at him, his face said it all.  Flushed, damp eyes, and just an "I don't feel well" look didn't require my hand for a temperature check, but I did it anyway.  Moments later we were staring at a digital display of 101.5.  (Two days-and many prayers it wasn't the flu-later we learned it was strep)

On Monday, with my throat sharing sympathy pains, I decided chicken noodle soup was the answer.  We both needed comfort in a bowl, but the convenient red and white can didn't speak to me.  Knowing I had all but the noodles to make it myself, I began to simmer some chicken while browsing through cookbooks and pinned recipes online.

Seriously?  I'd never made chicken noodle soup?  Truly, I don't know how I've let this happen!

Soup is one of my most beloved meals.  I've long called them "hugs in a bowl" and believe there is not much better on a cold night.  Our family has many favorite recipes and we look forward to the first soup of the season.  In fact, it led to the creation of our annual "Souper Spooky Sunday" each October. 

And although we have tried and true faves, I also enjoy finding and making new creations each year.  Noah joins me in our love of soup, as he's recently been deemed the best chili maker in our family.  His concoction even placed 2nd in a recent church cookoff!

Anywhoo, once I found a combination of recipes I liked, a steamy pot of goodness soon found everyone sniffing around the kitchen.  It was just the right mix of broth, veggies, chicken and noodles, though Noah said he'd be fine with tossing the mirepoix out with the bones next time.  It most certainly was worth a repeat, and given the sickness-infected season we're in the midst of, my pot may stay busy.

Nevertheless, I enjoy nothing more than cooking up some comfort for those I love.  My thank you though, this time, came in the form of sharing the strep with my boy!

Health (and JOY) to you....

Friday, January 11, 2013

Faithful Friday: Submit

In case you missed it, my word for 2013 is SUBMIT. 

I've certainly had many lessons already on this word and we're only a week in.  For one, I was unable to "submit" this post last Friday.  Truly, it was a bit of funny irony that my first FF post of the year, on this very topic, could not be submitted...due to technical difficulties!

It could've been posted late, but not without this picture, as that was one of the problems Blogger was having, and this picture was important to my post.  I saw it as I raised up from getting a drink of water after an impromptu workout. 

When I first selected my word, a scripture came to mind (that scripture above) and I've been amazed at how many times it has appeared to me. It's like a little hello from God every time I see it and I'm reminded of how great and big he is.

I'm also reminded at how much I fail when I resist or try to do things on my own. 

We all started the year with a new devotion book.  Santa left them under the tree, because he's tight like that with Jesus.  Tina was given a girl's devotion written by teens, Noah's was specific to boys, and ours was for couples.  Actually, Noah accidentally opened ours Christmas morning and was puzzled at why he'd been given a couples devotion book.

Yet all of us were eager and excited to kick the year off right by ending our evenings submitting to God.  So far we've done well to keep up the habit, Tim and I only skipping one night (my birthday) because it was late when we got home.  Even though it's only a one page read, old age apparently set in on me and convinced us we couldn't muster through.  The next morning, as I read it, we were floored with the message.  The subject was exactly what we'd dealt with on the way home and I could envision God chuckling, "See, you needed to hear from me last night!"  We agreed then to hold each other accountable to read, regardless of how tired our eyes are.

Our church is reading the Bible in a year again.  I failed last year, falling behind and never catching up.  Last week I did amazingly, devoting time each day and feeling like a proud student come Sunday morning.  This week...not so much.  I've let life get in the way.  We'll blame it on the massive birthday festivities (ha ha) and pray for better results the rest of the year.

I don't want to take God for granted.  While I know he's always there regardless of how I fail, my desire is to proactively submit to him.  My soul speaks to me, this I need.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. - James 4:7

What have you learned about your word so far this year? 
How are your resolutions going?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Birthday Blessings

My birthday will always be shared in a way with my son, Austin.  And that's why it's bittersweet.

You see, my birthday (Jan 8) is six months from his birthday, July 8.  As such, he deemed this day his "Happy 1/2 birthday" years ago and it stuck.  It was a running joke every year.  Never mind it was my day, or that Noah's was a mere 11 days away, it was the kickoff to his birthday.  I gladly share this day with him, I just wish he could be here to celebrate with me.

I try very hard to live in the celebrate TODAY'S joys.

To be grateful for the surprise breakfast in bed, cooked by my hubby,
who breaks out the skillet only about once or twice a year.
For the precious moment of snuggling with Noah
on the couch this morning as he chomped down his cereal.
The sweet "Happy Birthday!" from Tina as she frolicked out to catch the bus.
For the many well wishes this morning from friends and family.
The anticipation of the yummy steak dinner we have planned tonight.

But it's hard to not think of him on this day.  To not wish, for a moment, to have him here with me.  And so I'm celebrating with him in the only way I know how.  By giving back.

My sweet boy was known for helping others.  It was his legacy.  What many may not know about him was his great love of books, something else he shared with his momma. 

I began reading to him while he was still in my belly.  After he was born, we spent family time in the bed each morning, and it included reading a book.  As he grew older, our nightly ritual contained a bedtime story. I still recall his proud face the first time he read a book to me on his own.  As a young child, we'd increase the size of the books with his age.  He loved big chapter books because it meant more one on one time with mom.  And I remember fondly as he grew into a teen and we began to share and recommend books to each other.  I loved discussing books with him, listening to them on tape in the car, and quietly reading next to him on the couch.

It's no surprise that he had a large collection of books.  He'd saved every book he'd ever owned since birth.  After he passed away, and we transitioned his room for Tina, I stacked most of those books into totes for storage.

Something whispered to me when cleaning over Christmas break that it was time to find those books new homes.  Austin would want them to be shared.

This is how I'll spend my birthday this afternoon.  Donating over 100 books, from chunky wooden toddler stories to thick, dog-eared novels.  Each one being sent with love - and a big Austin hug from Heaven.

Happy 1/2 Birthday, sweet boy.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013: Submission

As a new year begins, and fresh opportunities await, I can't help but pause to look back.  Perhaps it's the writer in me, but I need to reflect, examine, and preserve the memories.

Pondering on 2012, one fact stood clear.  My walk with God was never closer  - but different. 

This past year, God worked through me more than ever before.  And I realized bit by bit, piece by piece, what a change he's made in me.

In the beginning God worked on me.

He molded and shaped me, pruning me for the person I would become.  Bumps in the road built a hard exterior, self protection.  Stubborn independence.  Strong willed.  Yet, God had a plan in all that mess.  With every imperfection, it taught me lessons, even if years later.  Even if sometimes, I still forget.

Over time, his whispers became louder.  Unfortunately, for me, it took two tragedies to wake up and hear him.  During my recovery from our wreck, God's role in my life again changed.

Through pain, he began to work in me.

I learned to Be Still.  To be grateful for each sunrise.  To count my blessings.  To listen for his voice.  Through him, I became stronger than I ever could on my own.

In great loss, I learned again to lean on him.  To fall at his feet.  That peace - and even joy - could only come from his loving hand.  I learned to let go...

And now, this past year, in giving him the reigns, He began to work through me.

It's been amazing to see what He can do, when I just let go and let God.

Submission is probably one of my greatest faults.  But God knows how to take all our weaknesses and build them up with his foundation.  It just takes us having the faith to trust him.  For someone who likes to be in control, this is not an easy task.  I don't even like the word - submissive.  But I dislike the opposite of it even more.  I don't want to be disobedient, fighting, intractable, resistant, or unyielding with God.  Because of this, I willingly submit to him.

I'm far from being finished, this I know.  God's still got a lot of work to do on me, in me, and through me. 
Facing this year, in total submission though, fills me with hope and, maybe, even a little bit of joy.

So, what's your word for 2013?
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