Saturday, September 5, 2015

Final piece of the puzzle

The first week of September always completes the schedule for us. And this year was no exception. With the preschool starting back, our family life was in absolute full motion. Before it even began, I was already grateful for the long weekend ahead and the holiday we had coming!

The start of school, well, was difficult for a few professional reasons for me, and before the week ended, we've already had a major change. 
I absolutely LOVE what I do. Each year the Lord uncovers more and more the skills He has given me and how He has equipped me to teach young people and that desire continues to grow. To think that all started from the "maybe I'll just take this church job for a year?!" Idea 10 yes ago....

Katie and I have 13 sweet 4 yr olds in class who are adorable and eager to learn. I'm so excited to see where they will be in May! 

With the start, Lydia also had her first day of her 4th year, now starting the 3s class with Mrs Kelly and Mrs Cindy. This will probably be her most loved year at EDS yet-she LOVES Mrs Cindy like her own!!! 
It's so different to just have one child at the school with me now and so easy!!!:)

This busy week also brought the start of church on Wednesday, and our circle study began on Thirsday. To add to the crazy, J was out of town (AGAIN!) and had a meeting from 7 am-6pm followed by a dinner and didn't get home til 10 that night so, we had sitters, late nights, early mornings, busy evenings. All of what will be our new normal. Whew. 

Somehow, I managed to squeeze in some 545 am runs (oh my!!) and got in 3 this week. 15 weeks of consistent training. I'm more than ready to run the half LAST week and still have two months! It's SOOOO good to be back in the swing of things, physically, but even more so emotionally and mentally. 

We have lots of projects, travel trips, friends in need in far away places, leadership trainings, Bible studies, and hopefully swim lessons/swim team for M to add in as the fall continues but are thankful for renewed energy EVERY SINGLE MORNING and that we never lack in what we need to keep us going. 
Out with the "whoa is me" mentality and in with the "so excited, what's next, and how will God provide this time" expectation. There ARE great things in store, even amidst the busyness. And it's okay to be busy-it keeps us moving forward (I get soooooooo tired of Christian help books/people telling us to stop being busy-it's the way we are now!!!!!!!) God STILL works in the busy and we can still see Him in the busy. Face it, we live in the busy, we sin in the busy, and we continue to work out our salvation in the busy. What's even better, I can EXPECT God to BE in the busy all the more-how will I see Him today?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Off to Kindergarten we go!!! (M)

Yay-it's time for Kindergarten!!!!!
M has been ready since the day she began 4k. She is so independent and a little too smart for me to handle. I've often wondered if there was something wrong with me because I didn't have all of the sappy emotional feelings to cry at her preschool graduation. I thought maybe I'd at least get a little out of breath dropping her off for the first day of school. Nope. My little girl was so stinkin' brave I didn't have a moment to be overwhelmed. She was made to shine. 

She popped in that classroom like she owned it, face lit up with a smile, and went straight to meet a new friend. 

I realized this gal has been my bosom buddy since birth. In my office for 4 months, nursed for a year, taught in class and nursery at church, then followed throughout preschool. She was in need of a break from her momma. And it's serving her well, at just a week in. 

The second day she had already worked up the courage to let me drop her off in the car line and not be walked in. She's a rock star!!! 
Hoping this Span/Engl class is a great experience for her, and not the follow through of horror stories I've heard. Really holding out for the benefit of the doubt and going for will be so helpful for Honduras :)

Meanwhile, I had to take Little Sister out to lunch that day. She had it ROUGH. Her best friend went missing for a while 7 hours!!! This transition might be the hardest for L than it is for anyone else. 
But I'll be grateful for this season with her, not knowing how long it will last. I'll take advantage of these small moments of just us while we have them. 
Both of these gals-my best friends-are such treasures to me. My life would be so quiet, and so boring and unentertaining without them!!

#fbc2015 #howdoyoubonclarken

As always, for the past four years, we get a week of work/play/fun/learning/teaching at Family Bible Conference at Bonclarken in Flat Rock, NC. I have gone for years to help with the children's program ever since the girls were babies and it's a highlight of our summer (but also marks the downslope to the end of summer ...tear....)

This year did not disappoint! The girls of course are one year older so they are one year older to manage as a single mom for the week with working and "camping" for the week. We made some great new friends, spent some quality time with some of our old friends, had some downtime to just enjoy the outdoors, and learned how hard it's going to be to go-go-go without naps once school starts (oh. my.). 

I taught the 4th/5th graders for the week and had a blast. We learned all about camping out in God's truth....we no longer are slaves to sin, we have been set free by Jesus who lived a perfect life and died for each of us, and our sins are forgiven....that we must act with compassion, gentleness, humility, patience in our lives EVERYDAY-most of all sharing LOVE and telling others about Jesus. Such an amazing week being responsible for sharing these truths through the teachings of Go's word with these totally cool "Shooting Stars"
terriAnna, our special friend, was back with us again this year and she brought her friend Donia with her who had never been near the gospel before. What a privilege to share such truths with her!!

Our Fave Fab girls were around all week with us too, and Mr. Brent loved on the girls (and tortured me) by fixing ice cream desserts whenever the girls wanted them. 

Our accommodations weren't the most of ideal, but we made the best of it. One morning, I got up to run and found Lydia in some crazy positions. When I came back, she was using her mattress as the pillow. She, most of all, was thankful to be back in her own bed!

They have a carnival every year with bounce houses, cotton candy, pop corn and sno cones-always one of our favorite things!

On our last night, we played fun games with the kids-Oreo face slides, cheese ball throws, donut swings and the best-pie plate of whip cream with gummy worms! Can't believe Miriam actually did it. 
The girls loved being in a "class" this time versus being in childcare. They were excited to learn and meet new friends. 

We especially loved our afternoons with the Davis family!! 

Other highlights:
-I completed my 50th mile for the month!!
-coffee every morning for the bakery was on point-major props to my good friend Felipe
-first conference I've ever been able to attend a seminar myself and be encouraged
-bath time at 9/930 every night was Comedy Central in memorial hall!!!!

#fbc2015 rocked!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Closing out the summer, part 2

Once we were on our way to the beach, we didn't have a care in the world. 
Our. Happy. Place. 9th avenue. 
Three, full days of glorious sun, sand, water, waves, smiles, giggles, rest, and just us. It never fails that we learn more and more how to maximize our time on the shore and praise God for the creation before us. This time is was evident that the girls were able to join in on that same worship too. It's as if when we are there, our world stops spinning and it's just us to enjoy what is right before us. The four of us needed that respite more than anything. It was a dear reminder of how we began the summer and here we were closing out the summer sitting on the same sand. 
There was also a bit of rejoicing as I completed the longest run I've had since April 2006....10 miles in the books at 8:40/min. I'll take it. 14 weeks ago, it was difficult to run 3 miles at under 10 minutes. Grateful for the consistency and persisence in training. 

On our way home, I shed some tears, really, weeping at the happiness we had over the weekend. There have been some difficult weeks and weekends in the last year and struggles that have gone unshared but as we daily reminded that the Lord continually provides and protects us. And what has been the process of learning since Honduras, is that we gain a new PERSPECTIVE in our faith each day in our walk close to Christ like living when we die to ourself. 
When we do this, we are able to rejoice in the simplicity and in the blessing of the gifts right in front of us. 

Now that summer is over, I am Renewed, refreshed, revived, fulfilled, encouraged, grounded, and prayerfully seeking the openness of tomorrow....

Closing out the summer, part 1

Our last week of summer was a little discombobulated. We had concrete plans about two weeks out, but for some reasons they kept changing literally at the last minute. 
We wanted to do anything to take the week captive whatever we did, and of course, the beach was top priority in our list. Thankfully, the house was open and once we finally got those plans squared away we were set. But we had to do one thing first.....the FIVE YEAR OLD CHECK UP!!!

For most five year olds, the yearly check up is a breeze, but for this sweet face, she knew we were getting ready to get her final Chicken Pox booster shot in order to be ready and set for Kindergarten the following week. 

So we packed up the car (again, but this time for good!) and headed to our favorite room to visit our favorite doctor and played a little game of hangman to pass our time waiting for said shot. 

M was a champ, didn't totally freak out like last time, didn't need a straight jacket, and only cried after the shot. MUCH better experience. Whew. BEACH BOUND!!!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Service week with the Ghent girls

We've been on the go all summer, between fun, work, travel, and work/travel/fun, and with a few more desires on our bucket list before school started back and only two weeks left, we spent the other week in full on service ministry mode. I wanted some quality time with the girls and with others, teaching them all about giving back, being sacrificial, praying for others, sharing laughter and love, and reaping joy alongside other servants. So we had something each day in mind to reach out to others. 

It was the week of preparation for our annual church yard sale, so we spent most of Monday assisting CheleMomma with the sorting of "goods" - the girls are great at sorting and stacking!

Tuesday we teamed up with the older elementary kids from church and joined their "Mission Possible" trip and helped with more sorting, fixed lunch, then traveled to Westminster Towers to play BINGO with the residents and visit with some of our own members there. What a fun time we had!!

Wednesday, we tried something a little different: Loads of Love-we made cookies the night before and drew some colorful happy pictures and decorated them with stickers. We also purchase a container of laundry detergent and we headed over to our local laundromat across the street. While we had a vision of what it might would be, it was quite a hysterical experience and ended up being quite awkward. We actually didn't get to share our gifts of love personally with anyone, but we were able to just leave them on a table-hoping that they brightened someone's day while they spent time there that day!
(I love how Lydia's people have "smiley" faces!:))

Thursday we were back at the church EARLY for a prayer meeting and more yard sale fun, then we did some more visiting and dropping notes and spreading cheer for all the world to hear :)
We always love gifting our sweet mail carrier notes of thanks every now and then. 

Our best laid plans for Friday turned out to be on hold, since we feared Lydia might be coming down with something, so instead of doing our one day road trip and serving some more folks in Charleston, we stayed in town, ran to Charlotte to pick up some important things for the Ghent house and geared up for the weekend. 

The girls love being active, with a purpose each day. It was a great week to focus on teaching how small acts of service are ways we to share God's love with others. And by doing this, we are learning to clothe ourselves with
“compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,”
(Colossians 3:12)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Weekend camp out

It's been a hot summer (for which you won't hear me complain about-i LOVE the heat!!!) but we haven't done a few of our bucket list items like nature trail hiking or much bike riding his without training wheels, but we did manage to plan a weekend camping trip with our cousins this past weekend which was another highlight of our summer. We have done nothing but make the absolute BEST memories this summer and I love that they are mostly happening at the lake. 
This is definitely our family's go to spot for calmness, solitude, rejuvenation, laughter, and we've been building some great relationships with the people we've had join us this season, not to mention completely soak up every waking moment with J's side of the family. This weekend, his sister, her husband andtheir  family (three boys ages 9.5, 8, and 5) came for the weekend. We were camping out. Oh. My. 

We didn't even own a tent, an air mattress or anything of the sort. But by Friday afternoon, the tent was ours, we opted for camping with sleeping bags only and we were packed and set for a full weekend of lake fun. It was on!!!
Our little silver tent, brand new, was a fabulous use of J's cabelas gift cards. It sleeps 5 sleeping bags, and we know for a fact it keeps the rain out. 
Friday night we played with glow sticks and made smores. Goofed off with flashlights and went to bed extremely too late. And watched our five kids enjoy being together as they always do. 
We even caught fireflies again!

The sun rose early the next morning and it was time to play. Sadly, both of the moms needed coffee so we made a trip into town, but once back the rest of the day was spent in the water. Until these clouds rolled in...
At the lake, when clouds come, it shouldn't dampen your day. Typically we have "rain parties" but we saw some lightening so we were out of the water for a bit. Underneath a tiny square foot of shelter on the dock for about 30 minutes we had fun laughing and singing and counting down the minutes before we could play again. 
At least one of the kiddos took a nap with the live sound machine!! Once the lightening stopped, rain party was on, and kids (little and big, young and old were in the water swimming. It's so much more fun, apparently to run and jump off the dock when it's raining on you. 

And since I had been "practicing" how to ski the previous weekend, they all thought it was time for me to go out and try again before the day was up. Sure enough, I had a few good runs, got up immediately on the ski rope, and a lifetime bucket list item was accomplished (actually two-camping with my famil AND skiing!!!!) so much fun!!!! M and the boys all went tubing too. 
After another night of camping, the kids woke up to another beautiful morning, played a bit before Em had to take back her crowd. 

J and I stayed the day with Gerald and Qunicy and Breanna along with Nana and Tripaw for most of the day. We grilled dogs on the infamous grill, 

splashed in the water, 

barehanded caught a large bass,

 and made memories that will last. All just 15 minutes from the house.

We praise God every day for that place and the opportunity to be out in it. We are grateful our girls have the chance to appreciate it and love being in the outdoors and aren't afraid of bugs (well, except for Lydia and the occasional freak out...) and fish and the lake floor (which I think is icky!!!). Most of all, we treasure the moments with our family, knowing those won't always be forever. That is so special to us now. And we already can't wait to do it again next time.