Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The New Address...

Hey y'all!  

And by "y'all" I really just mean my mom. 

Hi Mom!

I know.  It's been a long time since I've visited this little address.  

For years, I dreamed of changing internet address.  Moving all of this over to some place more professional and swanky.  Only problem is, I'm neither professional nor swanky.

So instead, I simply started over.

Yep.  I moved.  

My new address is here

Got started in January and just kept it quiet.  I wanted to see if I remembered how to write.  Like real words with purpose and hope and meaning instead of just a recap of my kids' activities.  I mean, that's the exact intent behind this blog.  Keeping our family and friends updated on our little life from half a country away.

But I need to do more.

And I've begun the work of doing just that.  

I hope y'all will follow me over there at the new place.  If you follow, you'll get a professional and maybe swanky looking email telling you there's a new post.  No more randomly wondering over to the blog to see if there's something new to read.  

For now, this blog will stay up.  One day, I'll get it all converted into books and then delete it all.  But that's likely years from now.  So this will likely be the last post here.  

It's time to move.  

And y'all know, I've had lots of practice with that.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

When Goals Fail...

Foolishly, I set up a goal to be completely done with Christmas by December 1st.  That included buying, crafting, wrapping, and decorating.  It did not include baking and partying.  


Every year, it feels like the three weeks we have between Thanksgiving and leaving for Alabama get shorter and shorter.  Add in Chris' annual trip to Chicago and it's ridiculously short.  (I may be foolish enough to set a goal but not foolish enough to think I can accomplish jack squat as a single parent.)  

Honestly, I was doing so, so, so, so well.  For the first year in our entire marriage (almost 16 years), Chris agreed to let me decorate the house for Christmas BEFORE Thanksgiving.  

That's HUGE.  (Please read that in a Trump voice.)

Chris had to work the three days before Thanksgiving leaving the kids and me on our own.  Christmas decorating was a planned activity for the week.  And since this is a new house, I had to figure out how to decorate it.  

This year, we decided to give the kids their own Christmas tree.  We normally have a long garland hung up somewhere (double doorway, stair railing) but there isn't a large enough spot for it in this house.  The garland has typically been decorated with Chris' ornaments from his childhood, ornaments students have gifted to Chris over the years, the kids' godchild ornaments from Mrs. JT, and their handmade ornaments we've collected in a mere six years. (How can six years give us two gazillion ornaments????)

Without the garland, we needed a place for those ornaments.

Kids' tree it is!

I found a precious six foot tree at Target for almost nothing.  Aubrey Kate begs every year for us to decorate using multicolored lights.  Apparently, she feels they are prettier than the white ones I prefer.  

Pretty or tacky.  It's a fine line.

Thus, the kids' tree has lots of "pretty" colored lights.  Hot pink, blue, green, yellow and red.  

Clearly, I owned approximately zero hot pink, green or yellow Christmas decorations.  The blue and red, I got.  The kids put their ornaments on the tree (in the complete WRONG manner but it's fine.)  (IT'S FINE.) and then I decided to go ALL IN with the kids' space.  So I crafted and cleaned out the Target Dollar Spot and up cycled and reimagined my entire Christmas mantle and general living room decor.

Of course, I'm not completely done.  I'm never really done.  Not really.  But it's as done as it's going to be for this year.  Next year, the trees are getting painted hot pink, green and red.  That would be just super cute.  But there's no time for that this year.

I managed to get all of that up and ready before Thanksgiving.  Plus the dining room tree.  Which is MINE.

With my two little "helpers" around, can we all agree MIRACLE?

We decided to invite any of the marching band kids who didn't have any where to go for Thanksgiving to come have lunch with us.  In the past several years, we've had friends over or gone to friends' houses.  But this year, our closest friends here either had a large family here or travel to large family.  And our closest friends in the north were all traveling or had family in town.  

It made sense to open up our home to people who need someplace to go.

College kids always need someplace to go.

Only two came.

And up until about 12:30 pm Thanksgiving Day, we weren't sure even that many were coming.

We were ready though.  A sixteen pound turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, green beans, rolls, chocolate cupcakes and sweet tea.  It wasn't fancy, AT ALL, but it was yummy and warm and, well, free.  

Those two kids ate three helpings of everything.  I mean.  There was a moment when I was fearful I might actually run out of food.  For the first time.  

One was from Oregon and one was from Nepal.  Sherpa from Nepal was just beside himself with the whole thing.  It was his first American Thanksgiving and he had no ability to hide his excitement.  They were both a delight.  After lunch, the guys played with the kids while we cleaned up.  Such a treat!  They earned their lunch with that play time.  For sure.

We're hoping the lunch will grow as Chris is there longer.  He'll be more familiar and they'll come to expect the invitation.  

Maybe we'll try it for Easter.

Shopping happened after Thanksgiving.  Both Thursday night and Friday morning.  Listen.  The sales are hard to ignore.  Especially as a family on a tight budget.  Most of our gifts could be bought online.  A few couldn't.  

Including a trip to the Habitat Resale store for teacher gifts.  I thought I had it figured out how many teachers I needed to make a gift for but I was WRONG.  After two days of crafting, AK tells me she has not one but TWO music teachers.  So I was short one gift.  


I bought unfinished cabinet doors.  I just love the raw wood.  They were a dollar each.  

A few coats of chalkboard paint and some fabric rosettes in festive Christmas colors created some cute chalkboards.  This is the second time I've done these for teacher gifts and I love it.  Although, I'm short a board.  

I had intentions of heading back out to Habitat but...


On Tuesday.

I missed my goal by two days.

TWO DAYS, y'all.

Instead of finishing up the crafts and getting the rest of the presents wrapped, I was snuggling a feverish little boy for two days.  And then Aubrey Kate got it.  And then me.

And, well, Merry Christmas.

I am definitely feeling the pressure of a week less time now.  

Also feeling like I've been trapped in this house for a month.  Or at least longer than the week of Thanksgiving followed by the week of strep.

Thanks to strep and being unaware there are two music teachers, I missed a goal I probably should have never created to start with.  Someone remind me not to make the same mistake next year.  Thank you in advance.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The End of Pumpkin Season...

Nothing like getting an email from my mom at 5:28 AM on a Saturday morning reminding me I might want to consider putting up a post.

Because, as she noted, she might be the only one reading and commenting but she still misses the updates.

At this point, Mom, you are very likely the only reader.

So this one's for you!

Honestly, the past month has been both busy and not busy.  After my birthday weekend celebration and then Halloween itself, I just needed a break.  And for me, a break is not so much of a break as much as it is a change in creative outlets.

Thus, after swearing it off, I have started scrapbooking agin.  In a short nine days, I managed to finish August 2013 to August 2014.  A whole year, an entire scrapbook.  

In nine days.

And then, when I could have taken a break and started writing again, the computer died.  It spent a week at the Computer Hospital.  So a bazillion dollars later, we have it back.  Supposedly, it will last us another three years.

Too bad there's nothing in writing to guarantee that.

So I kept right on scrapbooking.  I've not gotten caught up through Aubrey Kate's fifth birthday party in 2015.  I have pictures printed for the rest of that year till August 2015.  I'm hoping I can finish that next week.  Then I'll only be a year behind and honestly, I'll have likely hit the end of my scrapbooking creative well and be ready to move on.

I tend to get singularly focused on projects.  I'm never focused on one type of thing all the time but whatever cycles around, I get fully committed to for however long the urge lasts.  So if I'm moving in to a house, I am singularly focused on moving in and decorating.  If I'm crafting to holidays (that's coming up), I dive in fully.  And if I'm scrapbooking, I just get it in the book.  My decorating, organizing, crafting and scrapbooking are not AT ALL perfect but it's done.  If I don't like something, I change it.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  It simply needs to be done.

So these scrapbooks I finished, it's not the best I've ever done.  Or even the second best.  But the photos are printed, paper cut and journals done.  I can't complain.  Another year and a half of our little family's life documented.  

Anyway, for Mom, and any other member of our family reading this, let's post some photos and recap  THE LONGEST SEASON.  Halloween season.  Or Pumpkin season.

Not sure why, but it is the longest, busiest season.  More so than Thanksgiving (the easiest, shortest season) (although that's largely because we stay home).  Even more than Christmas.  Most would argue that.  But I promise.  For us, it's Pumpkin season.

Maybe it's the costume issues.  

Or that every single business/church/school in ALL THE LAND has an event.  Free, nonetheless.  And the kids want to do them all.  Leaving us with enough candy to last for a year.

So here we go!

While Mom and Dad were here, we went to the little pumpkin patch down the street from us.  It's the Methodist Church and I'm assuming it raises money for something but I have zero idea what.  Regardless, it was precious.  Aubrey Kate did not want to go.  Rhys, as with all things, was super excited.  The ying and yang of life.

That night after the pumpkin patch, we all got dressed up for Aubrey Kate's elementary school Pumpkin Party.  Both kids were crazy excited for this.  Nana and Puddin went with us.  We walked to school with our neighbors and it all felt very small town precious.

I worked so hard to get this mermaid costume just right for AK and her sensory issues.  I must have done well because she proceeded to wear it for the next three days.  Solid.  It could have walked on it's own by Sunday night.

This is AK's sweet teacher.  And yes, there's a baby in there.  She'll be out from Thanksgiving to February.  I was initially concerned but AK seems to approve of the long-term sub who just happens to be Kathleen Kelly.  I have yet to meet her but if she's as amazing as the stories of her in "You've Got Mail," them I am ALL IN.

And here we all are at the end of the night.  Rhys really did have a blast.  He just didn't want his picture taken.  Sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn't.  Other than being tired, I can't predict when he'll be one or the other.  AK had a blast and I got to meet some of her sweet friends she talks about from her class.

The next day was our little Pumpkin Block Party.  Our neighbor asked if we would be interested in helping her throw one and I enthusiastically said Ummmm, YEAH.  We served hotdogs, chili, cookies and waters.  Several of our neighbors came by and we got to visit and get to know people.  Like neighbors are supposed to do.  Nana and Puddin were here to help.  

And while the adults visited and ate, the kids (and Chris) carved pumpkins in the garage.  It was BYOP and the kids had a blast.  I was going nowhere near them, after last year when I did it ALL BY MYSELF.  Because my kids didn't want to get their hands dirty.  Fool me once...

That night, Chris pulled off the surprise party to end all surprise parties for my 40th birthday.  It was so precious.  I'll have to post separately on that.  It was good.

Sunday, was family day.  With much more family than I was expecting when the weekend started!  I have a whole post on this picture too.  You'll be completely NOT surprised to know I've given that moment in the photo a whole lot of thought and prayer.

Monday, Mom met AK at school for lunch.  Aubrey Kate was over the moon excited to have Nana with her.  There are not enough of these moments.  Just not.  But I am grateful for the few we have.  They are treasures.  

While Mom and AK were eating, Dad and I had ourselves a little In and Out Burger date.  Although, we didn't take a selfie of the moment.  

The next week brought, finally, the actual day of Halloween.  AK could wear her costume to school.  Which would have been fine.  Except something set her off about her shoes and I found her in her closest bawling.  At about the exact moment we should have been walking out the door for school.  

I have bought her, no lie, EIGHT pairs of shoes in the past month to try and find a pair that fit her.  Her sensory issues extend all the way down to her toes.  Most of the shoes I could return but there were a couple she initially loved only to decide they hurt when it was time to actually wear them.  


So Halloween morning did not start out well for us.  Both of us were crying.  Her because her shoes hurt (or itched or just felt "weird") and me because I was exhausted from giving this issue my all and still failing.  These issues aren't just hers.  They extend to the whole family and I was just bone tired.

And, that brings me to the Reese's pumpkins.  I ran and then went to Target to walk around and just breathe.  I found these sugar, chocolatey masterpieces and ate them almost in two bites.  

They were fabulous.

Don't let anyone tell you food is not medication.  It totally is.  Maybe it shouldn't be.  At least not all the time.  But that day, after Aubrey Kate threw her shoes one by one against the wall of her closet and I could do ZIPPO to help her, I needed chocolate medication.

That night, Chris was actually at home.  For the first Halloween in the kids entire lives.

I'm not kidding.

The kids and I have been doing Halloween by ourselves for six years.

He took them out Trick or Treating.  I stayed on the driveway.  In a chair.  And passed out over 500 pieces of candy to our neighborhood full of precious children.

Chris says they went to every house in the neighborhood.  And they LOVED IT.

I got to tell kids how awesome and beautiful and strong they looked in their costumes.  Give out more than necessary.  Tell their mommas and daddies to have a great night and thank them for coming by.

Halloween.  The only night of the year people come right up to you to fill up bags and hearts.  I love it.

After that night, I was done.  Well, okay.  I was pretty much done that morning when we all walked to school crying.  But I managed to pull it together and enjoy the excitement of the night.

I woke up the next morning just flat super grateful to be done with the whole thing.  

November, you are welcome here.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Gratitude Friday...

I am missing my babies today.  Everything about my babies.  Don't babies just have the most amazingly sweet smell?  Heaven must smell like that.  

I can't even with those faces.  So sweet and chubby.

And you know the best part?  Limited vocabularies.  

I mean, sure, we weren't sleeping through the night.  There were bottles and going poor buying formula.  And poopy diapers.  But heavens, they were so precious.

Not once did those babies, when asked to let me take a picture of them, say, "Okay but prepare yourself for the Shopkins poster to be it with me."


Aubrey Kate has been having a rough couple of weeks.  She's doing well in school.  Great, in fact.  But all that keeping it composed and under control at school seems to equal outbursts and tantrums at home.  

I had read about this happening so mostly, I've been doing what I could to keep her calm.  But honestly, it's not helping.

Now, let's define an Aubrey Kate "tantrum."  It's approximately zero what you're thinking.  

What it is though is one part complaining...about all the things...ever, one part over-dramatic...about all the things...ever and one part sensory over-load...about all the things...ever.

She's complaining about everything and it's the sassiest thing you've ever seen.  

Oh no.  I mean SEEN.  Sure, you get to hear her too.  The people next door can hear her.  But to the extent she talks with her hands and facial expressions, it definitely has to be seen.

We are on our fourth mermaid costume.  Trying to find something without velcro, zippers, seams that touch us, straps that sit at the exact right spot and tulle that doesn't touch are feet...well, it's a challenge.  The first three were thrift store finds.  I actually thought that would be better.  They'd been broken in.  

I was wrong.

This fourth one is brand new from Target.  It's one piece and the tulle is lined with a poly satin fabric so it doesn't touch her feet.  I had to cut off the embellishments on the straps and I'll have to sew some soft felt on to the back of those straps and along the front seam.  BUT it works.  

Also, oh yeah, there's an also, we finally found a new pair of slippers for school.  The sixth pair.  


I think what's going on here is, in addition to her tantrums, her sensory issues are hitting a high point too.  

We are both exhausted.

The other night, we had a heart to heart talk.  I wanted to see if she could express in words, non-dramatic words, what she was feeling.  We talked about complaining and being frustrated and things not going our way and our choices in all of those.  

I admitted I was tired and not feeling like myself either.  Told her I had been complaining too much and was certainly frustrated.  

We made a deal.  Each time she hears me complain, she's to stop me and ask, "Momma, what are you thankful for right now?"  And I would do the same for her.

After our deal, we decided to go through our list of thankful items for the day.  She, as usual, could not think of a single thing.  

So I listed things for her.  

We had gone to the Pumpkin patch that day.  Met some friends sweet friend there.  They'd gotten to go play at an indoor play place after the pumpkin patch and lunch.  Grabbed ice cream cones on the way home.  Walked to the park and played at TWO parks by our house for almost two hours.  Then she got to play with her friend across the street before dinner, bath, book and bed.  

That was quite the list.

After I went through all of that, she said this...

"Momma, why is it that your heart can see God and all the good things to be thankful for and my heart can't?"

And then my heart broke.

I kissed her head and thought for a minute.  

"Baby, one day your heart will absolutely see it.  One day, when Jesus comes into your heart, He will whisper to you and you'll see.  He will be all around you.  And you'll see even more than I see."

We talked for a little while longer.  She seemed comforted by our talk.  And, thankfully, this week has been getting progressively better.  

And I have been on my knees praying for her.  

She is right there.  Right at that moment when she's ready to start seeking.  All those parts of her that make shoes and costumes and socks hurt also make her crazy intuitive and perceptive.  Her question blew me away but it's not unlike her.  She's watching and processing and learning so very much.  Every second of every day.  

For all the parts and all the ways my little girl is made, I am grateful.  

For all the precious whispers from my Savior I can pass along to His beautiful child He has loaned to me, I am grateful.  

For His whispers to me, at all, in all my mess and frustrations and failings, I am grateful.

Raising little people, it's hard.  There's zero easy about this.  Well, other than falling madly in love with them.  That kinda came easy for me.  Did you see those adorable faces?  

But the rest?  Heavens.  I'm hanging on for dear life.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Will the Real Rhys Please Stand Up...

I ate an egg today.


AK asked for eggs and grits for breakfast this morning and, well, if I'm gonna make her one, I might as well make another one for myself.  

So eggs and sausage it was.  

But I didn't really enjoy it.  

In case that makes my emphatic use of the word "never" from yesterday any better.

(It doesn't)


Sweet Rhys.  

The weekend AK lost her first tooth, Rhys had himself a...surprising weekend.

We started with the Fire and Police Palooza in our city.  There were lots of emergency vehicles, men descending down the building, bounce houses, food trucks and plenty of candy at vendor booths.  

Basically, a wonderland of fun for little boys.  AK tagged along because she's too young to stay alone in the house.  Although, don't think she didn't ask for just that.  

The first order of business, obviously, was the obstacle course bounce house.  We got to the event early but we still ended up having to wait in line.  Once we got to the front of the line though, Rhys decided he didn't want to go in.  He'd done these types of bounce houses before.  Strange, I though, but oh well.

He did bounce to his heart's content in the next one.  AK eventually joined him.  Once she got over having to take off her shoes.  

Then we decided to get a snow cone and try out sitting in a fire truck.

Aren't they cute?

But sitting in the fire truck was the last thing we actually did.  We stood in line for lots of stuff  but once we all got to the front of the line, Rhys didn't want to do the activity.  AK never wanted to do the activity to start with but that's not new.

We left after the fourth thing we'd stood in line for but didn't do.  I was kinda over it.

The next day, we went to a friend's birthday party.  It was at a trampoline park.  One we'd visited this summer so it was familiar to us.  I wrongly assumed we would have a blast.  

Rhys bounced zero times.

Instead, I held him for two hours.

Believe me, I put him down plenty.  Or at least I tried.  But he'd just start bawling.  He seemed genuinely scared.  He kept telling me there were too many people there.  I've never seem him like that.  Little arms wrapped around me, holding on for dear life.  

Aubrey Kate, SURE.  Rhys, nope.

The other day, while we were at the park, he wanted me right by his side, holding his waist, while he climbed up...everything.  He cried when I let him go.  Which I only did because he got too tall for me to reach.

Listen.  I don't know what happened to my fearless little man, but I'd like him back.

Apart from those instances, he's been his usual happy, snugly kid at home.  But he definitely seems more fearful and cautious when we're out and about.

If someone has been praying for his fearlessness to just go away, please stop.  I mean, I appreciate the intent but I like Rhys being fearless and brave.  Especially considering Aubrey Kate is cautious enough for both of them.  

Here's the truth:  fearless risk-takers change the world.  And from the minute Skillet kicked his way into the world through my uterus, I knew he was meant to change the world.  I've been telling him that ever since.  "Good night, Little Man.  You're gonna change the world."  And I whole-heartily believe that.

But this scared version of Rhys?  The incredibly heavy one who doesn't want to be out of my arms at a TRAMPOLINE PARK?  This is most definitely not the little guy I know and love.  This is a version of Rhys I might enjoy in the moment (because who doesn't love Rhys snuggles?  Nobody.  That's who.) but not for forever.  I mean apart from the fact he's crazy heavy.  All that fearlessness up until this point has put on a good amount of muscle on the boy.  He's just stout.  

However, I do realize, if no one has been actually praying for his fearlessness to disappear, then I have to assume it's some sort of weird phase.  A new phase for sure.  It's not like AK ever went through a random fearlessness phase.  I would have taken her to the doctor straight away.  That girl is often still too scared to go down an unfamiliar slide at a new park.    

And if this is a phase, I would ask we all pray it ends soon.

Really soon.

I miss my fearless Skillet.  Like a lot.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Sugar-free, Gum and Chocolate Bunnies, Oh My...

I realize the first thing you are wondering is, "How's the whole sugar free situation going?"

And the answer is, Meh.

I'm still on it.  Or off it.  Not sure which IT it is at this point.  But either way, I'm powering through.  

The muscle weakness and exhaustion are gone.  That kicked my tail for a solid ten days.  

What hasn't happened, however, is a reduction in the craving of the sugar.  Supposedly, I'll reach a point where I'm not even hungry.  Where I might actually FORGET TO EAT.  Considering I spend a rather embarrassing portion of my mental energy thinking about, planning for and physically indulging in eating food, I believe 100% that will be a bonafide miracle should it actually happen.

I'm not holding my breath.

But, I can say, I've figured it out.  At least for now.  

Breakfast was the biggest challenge.  For sure.  I may never eat another egg, in any form, again.  For as long as I live.  But some turkey or chicken sausage with strawberries and a glass of unsweetened almond milk serves me well.  I can even do bacon.  I don't mind some good bacon.  But I can never do eggs again.  

It's kinda like gingerale.  I drank that stuff exclusively for almost 20 months solid of my life.  

I'm done with it.  For forever.

As for soda, I have had a couple of those.  Well, literally two.  Mrs. JT and I went to the movies (a REAL, LIFE MOVIE THEATER) last Friday and instead of diving headfirst into a warm bag of buttery popcorn goodness, I drank a Coke Zero.  A small consolation.

Then Monday, while my children slurped their way through vanilla ice cream cones in the back of the car, I drank a small Diet Coke.

Listen.  I do what I can.

Other than that, it's been water and a combo of half water, half sweetened with Stevia tea, which is allowable on this diet.  

I've lost almost ten pounds.  Which was not the whole point AT ALL but it helps.  I've kinda stalled out there.  Which is fine.  My jeans fit again and I'll take that.

Although, I've only been able to wear jeans twice.  Because it's still 88 degrees here.  

But when fall temperatures actually arrive, I AM READY.

With that out of the way (which was obviously, the most important part), let's recap last week.

Last Sunday was an eventful day.  First, Aubrey Kate got gum in her hair.  At church.  She does not remember how.  Only that it was at some point in her mouth and then it wasn't.  So we had to get our hair cut.  By several inches.

There is the gum, in all it's glory.  

And here's her before and after.  She lost probably three inches.  Now in my opinion, which we all understand means zippo, she needed the hair cut.  Her tangles were getting out of control.  But Pumpkin wanted to grow her hair as long as Rapunzel's.  And that is hard to do when you get gum in your hair at church though some magic no one can explain.  So she'll just have to try again.  

Aubrey Kate also finally lost her first tooth.  That thing had been hanging on for dear life for a week.  Chris noticed the permanent tooth coming in behind it so he took matters into his own hands.  Or his own string.

He told AK he could pull her tooth with a string, and true to her strong-natured self, she said, "No you can't!  PROVE IT."

And really, she had no idea who she was dealing with.  Apple.  Meet THE TREE.

Took him a couple of tries but he got it out.  

I would like to say she won't be asking for proof of anything again but that's a lie.  She needs proof for everything all the time.  

The tooth fairy visited that night and left her a dollar.  

Now listen.  I'd done my due diligence here.  I'd asked around to other mommies about what their tooth fairly had left.  Our's was in the right ball park.  One to two dollars.  

But when she woke up, and I have no idea how early because she was one the couch when I got up at 6:30, she was less than thrilled with her dollar.

Apparently, she'd been expecting enough to buy the Barbie Dream House she'd seen at Walmart.

That costs $189. 

One hundred and eighty-nine dollars.

Her exact words were, "But Eva had a 'generous tooth fairy!'  She got a chocolate bunny!"

Yes.  And I believe Walmart does not accept chocolate bunnies in exchange for Barbie Dream Houses.  This is not a barter system, girl.

(Side note:  Eva got the chocolate bunny because her tooth fairy did not have cash but she did have left over Easter candy.  So "generous.")

By the end of the day, Aubrey Kate announces she doesn't believe the tooth fairy exists at all.  If Tinkerbell is not real then neither is the Tooth Fairy.  

"I think you and Daddy snuck into my room, took the tooth and left them this dollar.  That's it.  End of story."

I neither agreed nor denied her allegation.  I find it's better just to listen and let her vent.

Regardless, she won't turn down the next Tooth Fairy visit.  

So instead of the Barbie Dream House and instead of saving her dollar, she opted to buy some fake, plastic food at the Dollar Store.  

Clearly the better choice.  

This way, I don't have to twitch every time I come into her room and see a blasted Barbie Dream House.  

And, yes, I realize Christmas is coming.  And it's one of the only things her list.  So twitching WILL happen.  Eventually.

Also last week, Aubrey Kate got her Star Student stuff in the front of the school on display.  She picked one of my favorite pictures of her to go along with her trophy.

I love her "interesting facts" about herself. "I love to dance.  I like art at school.  I have a little brother."

She's awesome.  

Strong-willed.  Highly sensitive.  And awesome.  

(Side note:  I've linked up "highly sensitive" there in case you wanted to read more about it.  Took me hours upon hours of researching all her delicate sensibilities to come to this conclusion.  Although, I do have a pediatric occupational therapist friend who knows AK well and 100% agrees with me on my Google MD diagnosis.)

(Also, if you're wondering how she scored on the test, 100%.  Because the girl does nothing half way)

And that brings us to the end of the update on AK.  I'll have to save the update on Rhys until the next post.  This is getting long.  And he deserves his own post.  

AK got to share her post with sugar.  Maybe because she's all the sweet I need?  

Meh.  I'd take a big bowl of ice cream regardless of how sweet my daughter is.  ANY. DAY.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Gratitude Friday...

It's been a big week.  Lots to document.  

But, not now.

Something different now.

We've been visiting churches.  Obviously.  I think we've crossed off at least one for sure.  Maybe two.  The third one we visited this past Sunday.  They have an interesting set up with multiple services occurring simultaneously with various styles of worship.  The church was busting at the seams.  People every where.  They host traditional Sunday School classes on campus.  And have lots of community service opportunities.  The church has multiple teaching pastors preaching in their services with an executive pastor at the head.  He was the same pastor we heard, oh, eight years ago.

Then, if we remember correctly, we decided against the church because of the contemporary worship.

My, my, my, my, my.

I really enjoyed the service.  I felt at home there.  Oddly.  Since I've never had the experience of walking into a church and feeling like THIS IS IT.  I know people who have had that and I've always been a little like, "Well, isn't that special."  (Yes, please read that in your best Church Lady voice.)  So it felt nice to have a sense of home.  

The sermon was on 1 Kings 19 when Elijah runs from Ahab and Jezebel.  

Our previous pastor preached on this passage in one of my favorite sermons.  Ever.

Listen.  If you are walking a season of discouragement, when nothing seems to be going your way and you feel as if it's not worth it, stop what you are doing (reading this) and watch this sermon.  

Like, right now.

I believe I've listened to it a dozen times.

So, yes, the passage is kinda familiar.  

Hearing a different perspective on this moment in Elijah's life was welcomed.  Although, I suspect I listened with more...intensity...than I would have prior to memorizing our pastor's sermon.  

And for sure, the two sermons hit on several of the same points.  It's kinda hard not to.  But one thing I knew as the pastor started teaching...God was there.

The worship had been wonderful for me.  And it must have been for at least one other person in the room because, whew.  It's been too many Sunday's since I've felt The Comforter so strongly.  

As the sermon began, I just whispered, "What do you want me to see, Lord?"

And started listening.

Most of the passage and sermon were refreshing and filling.  I adore the lesson of God's voice not being in the big and powerful but in the still and quiet.  I love God providing food and comfort.  And I love Elijah yelling his resume at God about all he's done and IT'S NOT ENOUGH.  

Not that I've ever done that.


Near the end of the sermon, we got to the part where God says, "Go back the way you came..."  Verse 15.  

Go back the way you came.

And I started thinking about the past five years.  The years where I really did feel so discouraged.  So lost.  So...absent.  It felt as if I had been dropped in the middle of an island.  With a Threenager and a baby who ate every 90 minutes until he was four months old.  Chris was gone.  Most of the time.  Leaving me a single parent six days out of the week.  

(However, let me say, the last year of that, the year we spent in the last house.  That year was not a year of discouragement.  It was a year of rest.  A much needed year of rest.)  

At the end of all that, here we are.

Back the way we came.

And nothing has ever felt so right.

I've spent most of the week meditating on those words.  "Back the way you came."  I'm not sure what God has planned and that's okay.  I know I'm doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.  Meeting my neighbors, ministering to my family, finding a church home.  The world would change dramatically if we all basically truly loved our neighbors.  I'm seeking to do just that.

But I also know those words jumped off the page because God said so.  They are the answer to my prayer for Him to show me.  

I feel such peace simply knowing we are "back."  

Peace and incredible gratitude.  

Time to release the hurt and bitterness and shame of the season of discouragement.  And move on to getting into the Lord's presence, listening to His whisper and allowing Him to show me the full way back the way we came.