Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Upward and Onward

Last night was Noah's final Upward practice and Saturday will be the last game of the season.  It's always a little sad to see an end to something we love to do as a family.

While my gas tank will appreciate not having to drive to Owensboro two additional days each week, there are so many things about Upward I'm going to miss.

If you didn't catch my post last November, you can read it here from the beginning and what this program means to us.

For the rest of you, I'll carry on.

Every Monday night for the past several months Noah and I have made the trip for practice.  It has given us at least a four hour block of time to be together each week and above all that has been a joyful blessing.  We've had great conversations on our commute, laughs, and inside jokes along the way.  I've also enjoyed watching him grow as a player under the leadership of his coach. 

Last night, I treated Noah to a sushi date prior to his practice, to celebrate the end of a season.  We both shared a first, eating at the sushi bar, and it was such fun watching Noah watch the chef make our meal.

Eavesdropping on their prayer circle each week at practice has also been an encouragement to my soul.  To see Noah growing as a Christian and building on his faith is probably one of the proudest mom moments I can have.  I've watched him willingly and openly share prayer concerns and offer to lead the group in prayer several times this season.  I have no doubt this also falls on the leadership of our church home, as the strong examples he has there for role models.

At the end the coach asked each of them to share two things they learned - one athletically and one spiritually from Upward this year.  Noah's warmed my heart.  He said the one thing he took away from their devotions was to always follow God's path, not the world's, for his life.  How I prayerfully wish he holds on to that throughout his teenage years.

May he always look Upward to God to direct his life.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Faithful Friday: Spring Cleaning

Today is a vacation day for me, but I'm not traveling anywhere.  In fact, one might be surprised how I've spent the morning.

Though I did leisurely enjoy several cups of coffee and am still in my pjs, the bulk of my day off so far has involved some deep cleaning.  A mixture of being behind from not feeling well and having spring fever has set me off today on a mission. 

This morning, while making said coffee, a smile soon erupted on my face.  Tiny little buds were waving hello to me from my kitchen window.  Our pear trees are shaking off their winter coats!  And I'm seeing other signs of my favorite season, from tweeting birds to sprouting green shoots in my flower beds, spring is around the corner.

Something about that knowledge, just adds a little spring to my step and makes me want to get my house in order.  Sadly, this also means saying goodbye to my chubby little snowmen.  They've hung around my kitchen and dining room since Christmas but it is time for them to fly away before the sun melts them.

Obviously I'm on a break, as I'm writing this post, but soon I'll get back to it.  There's an air of accomplishment, a refreshing quality to a clean house.  While I sometimes moan about the need to do it, I always feel better after it is done.  Later today, when my hubby comes home, I'll know he'll join me in soaking up the comfort and freshness of my work.  It's also an added bonus that I expect it to stay this way much longer than normal, provided the kids are away on a youth retreat with church!

Just like we can spring clean our homes, we can also dust the cobwebs from our lives.  What have you swept under your mental or emotional rugs lately?  As it continues to pile up, we can easily get tripped on what we've failed to deal with.  Has your relationship with God gathered dust?  No matter the dirt or baggage, God welcomes us always.  Maybe this weekend can spur you to cleaning up something internally, which always brings more joy.  Praying a renewed and refreshed spirit to each of you, friends!

Create in me a clean heart, O God;
and renew a right spirit within me.  Psalm 51:10

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

You've gotta read this!

Don't you just love a good book?  You know, the kind that sucks you in, where you can't wait to turn to the next page?  Or, where you feel like the author has peeked into your life because the pages seem so real? 

Do you prefer romance or action?  Self-help or inspiration?  Historic or worlds that seem to stretch the imagination?
Want to know something?  You can get all of this from one book!

Now, I know I'm teetering on sounding like an infomercial, but this too can be yours.  All of these stories and more can be found from the only book you'll ever really need- the Bible.

My daily readings have just jumped out to me this week and revealed so much.  After each reading, I find myself wanting to go further, dig deeper.  I hear God speaking to me and I'm soaking it up like a sponge.  And, I guess I want to shout it from the rooftop too! 

What's so amazing to me is that the story never ends.  You could never read this book and just be done.  Even a passage that is so known, you can recite it without looking, can speak to you again. 

They say a good book is one you'll want to read over and over and this is so true about reading the Bible.  Years ago, it was something I wanted to check off as having done it, to have read it front to back.  What I've learned is that as long as you're breathing, you should be reading.  If you open yourself up to hearing what God wants to say, even something as familiar as the 23rd Psalm has relevance, meaning, and wisdom. 

Tonight four simple, yet powerful, words jumped out from that familiar song... "he restores my soul."  And it had great meaning to me because of the women's Brave study I'd attended just a few hours before.  It was all about being weary and finding rest in the only place that would truly give you strength and restoration - with God.  So to come across this scripture, on this night, was just like the last piece of the puzzle.  A God wink, whispering, "I'm here, just come to me!"

Are you with me or am I totally rambling now?  Have you ever just stood in awe of the presence of God? Humbled and amazed that he took the time to show little ol' me something.  Thankful that I paused to hear it.  And excited to seek him tomorrow...and the next day...and the next.

Wishing you a joyous, God-filled week!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Faithful Friday: All you need is LOVE

Even though it is post-Valentine's, I couldn't resist writing about one of my other favorite topics - LOVE; because, of course, you can't have JOY without it.

At least the sweetheart day started and ended well.  I can't say much for the middle.  But, as I always try to do, I'll focus on the positive...

The morning began with a sweet treat for the family - breakfast!  We don't normally have breakfast on school mornings, at least a sit down together moment, because it's too crazy busy.  To show my family some love though I opted to set my alarm clock before the sun rose and actually cook a yummy breakfast for us to enjoy.  That meant I also had to wake them up a little early, but the scent of coffee, french toast and sausage was enough to pull them out of their warm beds.  Sitting around the table together was actually a wonderful way to start our day.

We ended the day in the same way, though a little lazier, comfy on the couch with a big decadent plate of pasta and some tv time.  Prepping the meal was made even better by Noah joining me in the kitchen doing his homework on a bar stool while I cooked.  It reminded me of sweet grade school days where homework time was a daily occurrence.  (heart sigh)  And just as we were about to devour surprise cupcakes I'd hidden, one of my favorite littles came through the door.  My niece Bryanna (and her momma) came bearing annual gifts from my mom.  A ball of energy, she rolled and wrestled on the floor with Noah, a princess and a giant, as our night was iced with giggles.

And the middle?....I'll just say it was less desirable and it made coming home to my family all the more easy to love.  Isn't that always the truth?  Family is what grounds us.  No matter what we face, we know they'll be there to accept us, support us, and love us.

Just like Jesus.  Even if you aren't blessed with a family to come home to, He is always there.  Even when we don't deserve it, even when we let him down, He's always there with open arms ready to love us through it.  And that's the best Valentine's gift I could ever receive!

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. - Ephesians 2:4-5

Grace. JOY. & Love to you, friends!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Teeny Tiny Joy

When the boys were little, knee high and chubby hand in mine, we'd go for walks around our house.  One of my favorite parts of our walks was when we'd stop so they could explore something that caught their attention.  Very often, it involved bugs.

They loved ants.  I can still vividly recall when each of them first discovered this miniature world.  Remembering their excited and astonished faces, as they squatted down next to those hill homes, brings joy to my heart to this day.  We would sometimes sit criss-cross applesauce on the sidewalk where they discovered the ants and watch their busy lives.

Last night all those sweet memories came pouring back to me as Noah opened his mail.  A tiny tube of ants had finally arrived!

For Christmas, on a whim, we'd picked up a glow in dark ant farm looking for stocking stuffers a teenager might enjoy.  I don't know why I assumed the ants would be frozen in time within the box, but we were all a little disappointed learning it was only an empty farm that holiday morning.  With instructions in hand, I placed the order online for our tiny friends.  Weeks passed.

And more weeks.  An email arrived, letting us know it was too cold in our area and shipping was delayed.  More time passed and another email, adding more waiting time.  Finally the news arrived that the ants were marching home!  But, because Noah had a game an hour away last night, the ants were put on hold. 

Though we arrived home late, I let him prepare their farm for inhabitation.  We all hovered around the coffee table watching him gently shake them into their new home.  I chuckled to myself, thinking of the lengths I've gone to rid the house of ants each spring, yet I was now willingly allowing some to live here.  As Noah headed for the shower, I held the farm and again became absorbed into their world. 

A tiny family, each caring for the other.  Helping them grow accustomed to this unfamiliar place.  Busy, organized, each having a purpose and a plan.  Holding that glow in the dark square, I was again amazed at the beauty of life and how awesome our God is.  Joy from an ant farm.  What a gift.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Faithful Friday: Belated

Pears would be on the list of my all time favorite fruits.  A pear shaped organ under my right rib cage...not so much my fave right now.

This FF post is coming to you a day late because that little organ has been on a rampage the past couple weeks.  Who knew something so small could do so much damage?!  ...Or so I thought.

I've been ill, and in sometimes excruciating pain, since the end of January.  After a gamut of tests though, the only culprit (for at least some of my issues) is my thyroid.  This would explain how, despite the fact I've barely managed to get in 1,000 calories a day, I've still not lost weight.  That makes me a feel a tad better.  Now, if I could just figure out why my gallbladder didn't play nice during the tests.  Because believe me, I'm not imagining this pain or the symptoms!

Funny how something so small and aggravating can upset life.  As if illnesses ever pre-schedule with you, this little guy couldn't have gone kaput at a worse time.  One of my biggest attacks happened during Tina's birthday weekend and it was everything I could do to suck it up and function through it.  It's also not kind or professional to double over in pain during a business meeting, so it's not been fun at work either.  And at home, I'm just blessed to have an understanding and helpful family because this usually organized mom has not had it together.  My house is in disarray, I'd be wearing pjs if my sweet hubby didn't do laundry, and the kids would be starved if they didn't have some kitchen skills.

Despite all the chaos, I have kept up my Bible reading and continue to draw closer to God.  In fact, He's the only thing that got me through the HIDA scan.  Whoever invented that machine must've never had a gallbladder attack, because telling someone to lie still for an hour and half - on their back no less - is not fun.  Not fun at all.  But I just prayed and was actually grateful for the block of time to devote to it.  It reminded me though I shouldn't have to be holed up in a radioactive tube to get that deep in prayer each day.  Regardless how long we pray, isn't it a blessing to know He is always there, ready and willing to hear us?

If you wouldn't mind, say a quick prayer for me this week that my doctor and surgeon find answers.  While I'm textbook symptomatic, I hate to have unnecessary surgery.  On the other hand, having a knife throwing ninja in my ribcage is also not in my plans.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


I've never been the girl surrounded by a big a group of friends.  Sometimes I stand in amazement at Tina, who to the outside world can seem somewhat quiet or shy, but has dozens of friends.  It was difficult for her to weed down a friend list to invite to her last birthday party.  That was never me.

I solidly had one "best friend" from elementary to high school.  By the time middle school arrived, I branched out a bit and had a good handful of friends.  It wasn't that I didn't want more, it just seemed difficult for me to make friends easily.  At least more than what I considered to be 'high friends' - the familiar faces you'd chat in class with but never hang out or sleep over.

Perhaps it's because I can be perceived as shy.  And anyone who knows me well, will tell you that is just not the case.  As one friend put it, I'm an onion.  Those true friends, angels God has put in my path, just had the bravery to peel back my layers.  And I was brave enough to let them.

Even now, as an adult, who often longs for a few BFFs, my list of friends is rather short.  Tim is my best friend, something I love about our relationship, but as a woman, I still wish for a female version of that role.  Someone to shop or go out to eat with, someone to confide in, someone to just be a silly girl with.  Sometimes.  And then at other times the thought frightens me.  Because being that close to someone other than family opens myself up.  Scary vvulnerability.

I have been blessed with new friendships and close relationships since moving to EHBC.  I'm continually amazed at what God has brought into our lives through this church.  Strong women, faith-filled families, and I'm grateful for each smiling, caring face I've come to know. 

But my preacher put a kink in things when he asked me - and others in our group - to find an accountability partner last night.  Someone you could open up to, share with, pray with.  That's difficult for a girl who hasn't a long list to chose from.  I'm trusting God that he'll send someone my way or reveal the friend I'm meant to have in this role.

Timely that I'm starting a women's bible study tonight, appropriately named - BRAVE.  I'm excited and eager for the class.  And I'm boldly going into a church full of females, many of whom I don't closely know, and putting myself out there.  Bravely submitting to whatever God has in store.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Non-Stop Weekend

Whew!  I don't know that we ever stopped this weekend.  From the moment the kids arrived home from school on Friday, it was go, go, go....birthday party style.

Tina was also fortunate to have a birthday weekend, celebrating since the midnight stroke, coming home from the concert, to a late Sunday night home from a Super Bowl party. 

Oh, to have a teenager's energy!

She'd asked for a hotel pool party with friends on her actual birthday.  Tina brought two bubbly, giggly girls home with her and Noah was thrilled not to be invited.  We weren't settled into the hotel room more than ten minutes, before they were changed into swimsuits, ready to soak in the pool. 

I think we made a total of four trips back and forth between the room and the pool that night, amid snacks and a pizza delivery.  Just about the time I'd get into my Kindle, they'd be ready to move to the next spot.

The lack of sleep from the concert the night before made lights out arrive early though.  Yes, midnight seemed early with three teenage girls - and this tired momma was happy!

We didn't get to sleep in on Saturday morning, due to Noah having a basketball game.  The complimentary Sleep Inn breakfast made up for the early wake-up call.  Tina was in breakfast heaven, having a sampling of all her favorites - french toast, apple juice, boiled eggs and yogurt....all free!  She cracked us up by commenting, "we should come eat here more often!"  Somehow I don't think SI would approve.

Tim got the easy shift, taking Noah home after the game, and I drove away with three excited teens on a trip to the mall.  After about thirty minutes, I was bored of browsing and treated myself to a mint chocolate chip waffle cone.  Comfy seats by Sears beckoned me and I caught up on emails and Ruzzle while letting the girls get their shop on.  Every so often Tina would text me an outfit, asking my opinion.  She's actually a savvy shopper, sticking to a budget and never paying retail if she can help it.  In fact, her skills got me out of my spot to pick up a score on a jeans deal for the guys.

Sunday found us at early service for church, so that we could arrive home to prepare lunch for Tina's family party.  We feasted on her faves - potato soup, fresh strawberry cake and apple cider and spent time laughing, dancing and playing games.  And no sooner had we hugged everyone out the door, than we headed out ourselves to our dear friend's house for some Super Bowl fun.

I'll admit I enjoyed playing games, snacking, and big belly laughs much more than the football, but it was fun to watch the guys rib each other.  Wobbling into the house and plunging into bed at nearly the very end of a Sunday night, meant we soaked up just about every moment the weekend had to offer.

Hopefully our sweet girl went to bed tired but with a smile on her face,
knowing in her heart how loved she is.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Faithful Friday: WinterJam!

The kids didn't come home until after 1:30 this morning.  On a school night. 
And I couldn't have been happier.

For that matter, neither could they.  When Noah and Tina and burst through the door, all of their excitement spilled out into the kitchen.  Tina kept sticking her hand out and showing me, as if I could see the residue of the lead singer of RED who touched her.  Noah came in actually glowing, having bought a multi-colored glow stick Mohawk. 

Even though I could barely keep one eye open, I really wanted to sit down and hear every bit of bubbly news they had to share.  I knew though 6:30 would come very early for them so instead I put my "mom hat" on and sent them to bed.  Though I didn't get the play by play, I knew they had an amazing night.

And I knew I could ask them a few hours later, hoping it would perk them up for school.  At least that plan worked for one of them!

So, why were my kids out so late?  They went with their youth group to a Winter Jam concert, getting to see such Christian artists as Matthew West, New Song and Toby Mac.  For Tina, it was her first concert ever.  What a first concert to experience!Noah's first concert was a Christian group as well, seeing Casting Crowns in 2010.

It just fills me with complete joy to see the kids not just going to this concert but knowing the artists and songs because they live them.  We listen to them at home, in the car and at church. 

While I'd be right there in the stands, jamming to some Bon Jovi, or even more modern day artists, I know nothing compares to worshipping God in a crowd full of believers.  That goosebump, spirit filled experience is priceless.  I'm grateful they both got to spend a night praising God, surrounded by Christian role models, youth leaders and their friends.

Shout to the LORD, all the earth; break out in praise and sing for joy! 
- Psalm 98:4
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