Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today's the day!  The day we get to think on all that we have to be thankful for.  I have a lot to be thankful for, and I have my thankfulness notebook to prove it ----- the notebook I started at the beginning of this year ---- and I know there's a lot more I could add to it!

I'm thankful for such a smooth day yesterday that is allowing me a little play time on the computer this morning.  We're having Thanksgiving at my house this year, and that's something I really enjoy.  Almost as much as I enjoy not cooking when it's my sister's turn. ;>)

I was blessed to be able to get the house cleaned early yesterday - leaving time for me to do a good bit of cooking into the evening.  I only have a few simple things left for this morning!

It also helped that my two little ones spent the night with my sister and her husband last night.  I know they had fun!

In the midst of my thankfulness, there is a great sadness of knowing it's the first Thanksgiving that my mother will not be here.  She was truly the queen of our family, and I am realizing that more and more.  But, I had a dream - a really bad dream - on Tuesday night that showed me I need to be thankful for who is here and not be overwhelmed with sadness about who is not.  We've been living a sort of "bad dream" that we're not going to wake up from.  But thankfully, I did wake up from that terrible dream on Tuesday night, and everything was okay.  I feel like God showed me that yes, we did lose a huge part of our family, but there could be more than one empty chair at our Thanksgiving meal this year.  Last time I checked, there's no limit to how many family members can pass within a year.  One of my husband's co-workers can vouch for that.  Within a span of about a year's time, he lost his mom, then his dad, and a few months later, his wife.  And he's my age or just a little older.

So, today I am extra, extra thankful for every person that will enter my house today - or wake up in my house today.  Every day is truly a gift from a gracious God, and I don't want to take any day or any person in my life for granted!

So, so much to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Time or Money?

Time or Money?  That's a question I've been wrestling with for the past few weeks.  Why you may ask?  Well, I recently went from having more money than time to having more time than money.

My medical transcription work has been super slow to nothing of late - mostly nothing.  With all the new healthcare garb and regulations that doctor's offices have had to adjust to, most of them have had to find ways to cut costs, and medical transcription has been a good choice for most of them.  There are cheaper ways to accomplish that task - (cheaper quality as well most of the time) - and most of them are taking a turn down that road.  Not sure where it's leading, but that's where they're going.

Up to the point where it came to a stop, I was working like crazy and by the time I finished in the mornings, got school work up and going and finally finished, it was close to supper time.  I was beginning to think that some extra hours in my day were much needed.  Then, that's exactly what I got.  It was nice for a few weeks, but as my bank account has dwindled from the final paychecks that are coming in, I'm now asking myself again which I like best.

There has to be a happy medium.

Sometimes too much time is not a good thing.  If I'm not careful, I can get lazy.  I thought I wasn't getting much accomplished when I was working so much, but I think I may have gotten at least the same or more done at times when I was working!

When I have MT work, there's motivation to get up early and get going!  When I know I'm not accountable to anyone to get up extra early and get work to them, do you know how easy it is to stay in that warm bed on a cold morning?  Sometimes I stay too long!

So after praying about which direction to go, I'm now actively trying to find work again.  God has been very gracious to my family in providing my husband with an awesome job with amazing benefits, but I feel like I've been "nickel and diming" him to death!  That's just the way it is when there are teenagers in the house.  My little part-time paychecks were used to take care of things like that - our fun money.  So, here's to praying for a new job that will be just what I need!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Just Hanging Around

This week, we are taking a break from school work and enjoying Thanksgiving.  It's really cold here in Georgia this week, and I'd be happy to hibernate for a few days, but I guess I'll have to do it in allotted time slots. :)  I thought it would be a slow week with no ball games of any sort and such - well, a few practices but no games - but I think we already have plans for each day.  But that's okay.  They're fun plans and nothing too strenuous ~ just mainly spending time with friends and family.

With this little break we're taking, things are a little slow this morning, so I guess it's time for a family sports update ..............

Cari had her last volleyball game of the season this past weekend.  She enjoyed playing and really did pretty good for her first try at it, but I think she's glad it's over.  She's pretty social, and it was kind of getting in the way of her social life.





 Madison had her final softball banquet last Monday.....

Had to post this before-banquet photo :)

Waiting on the banquet to start - doing what teenagers do best

Receiving certificate and not facing the right way ;)

The seniors

And then the next day - basketball started.  I do love watching basketball, and I think I will miss it more than softball when it's over.  Some aspects of what she has experienced, I will not miss, but I'm trying to keep things positive, so I'll stop right there.  Watching her play - that I will miss.  So, I hope I don't have to miss a game and can just soak in what's left.

Madison and Maci.  Two great friends.  Seniors.  Basketball Captains.

Shooting the free throws - she made'em!
At least Amelia loves to play basketball, so I get to look forward to watching her play for several more years!  She has started practicing with a different recreation department than the one she played with last year, and she can't wait for her games to start.  Her best friend, Millie, is on her team, too, so that just makes it perfect in her big brown eyes.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Birthday Boy

Matthew turned 5 last week!  To celebrate, we invited family and friends to our home on Friday evening for a birthday supper - complete with an awesome Spiderman cake and my daddy's delicious chocolate cake that at Matthew's request is always covered in M&M's. 








We've had many different kinds of parties over the years - some at home and some not - but this is my favorite way to throw a party, which is to invite our family along with families of my children's friends to come over for a meal.  This gives the adults opportunity to talk and enjoy each others company while the children can play.  It's a win win.  :>)

The birthday meal this year consisted of spaghetti and hot buttered rolls, chili, seven-layer taco dip and chips, and corn dogs.  A little variety goes a long way!

Matthew had a lot of fun and received several new items to add to his Spiderman collection.  Yes, he's pretty crazy about Spiderman right now.

Before the party on Friday evening, we spent the morning and early afternoon shopping.  The grandparents had given him money for his birthday, and he knew what he wanted to do with it.  It was a fun morning followed by a fun evening!






Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Our New News

With a five-year span between being a pastor and not, we have been blessed to be asked to become part of the congregation of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church.  We are so excited to be a part of this loving group.  They ministered to me in so many ways during my mother's illness and passing, and I was going to be very sad if we were not going to stick around.

Several months ago, after a few years of having no God-given desire to pastor a church, the desire came back.  Not only to Brad but to me as well.  After we left the congregation in Alabama that we loved so much, we had a hard time finding our place.  We tried home church for a few months but soon realized that it was not for us. We visited another church for a year or two and then later ended up at First Baptist, which was an excellent fit for our family.  Then in the late summer of 2012, Brad was called to be interim pastor at a local church that was searching for a full-time minister.  We stayed there for eight months and were a little sad when it was over.  We realized just how much we missed it.  About three months later, we were at Mt. Carmel as interim, and now we officially get to stay.

Last Sunday, they welcomed us with a huge banner on the side of the church -



and a lunch after morning services - complete with a Texas Longhorn cake.  :)



These people have huge hearts, and I know that it's not just my family that they minister to - they take care of anyone that they know has a need.....

John 13:35 ----- > By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

We're looking forward to loving others with them and pray that God is glorified in all things.

1 Chronicles 10:31 ----- > So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Volleyball

My second oldest, Cari, decided to try out a new sport this year ~ Volleyball!  This is the first season for the local rec. departments so everybody is learning together and having a lot fun while doing so.  She had her first game on Saturday ~ her team won the first set but then lost the second and the tie breaker.





Thursday, October 17, 2013

Signs of Fall

Even with all that has gone on this fall, it is still my favorite season.  There's just something about fall that makes me feel good, and thankfully that has stayed true this year and been a help during these tough times.  After putting life on hold for a few months, we're slowly coming back around.  Like I told my sister, our mother is experiencing happiness like we've never known, so we shouldn't feel guilty about finding happiness again.....

On Saturday, Matthew, Amelia and I went to the local Methodist church's pumpkin farm and brought these home.  Brad decided it needed to be carved with a Texas Longhorn.  Not too shabby.   Afterwards, we sat in the front yard with a small fire and made some S'mores.  Our little dog, Missy, got too close to the fire and caught her tail on fire.  It didn't burn long enough for her to feel anything but what a sight!  Crazy dog.

Mailbox decoration

Attempted to make some caramel apples using THIS recipe.  Yep, it was a little runny but tasted amazing!

Amelia with proof of the "runny"

It's homecoming week at school.  On Tuesday, she was Pocahontas.  She told me on Monday evening that she needed a Pocahontas costume and did I have any ideas.  I went to Pinterest of course, and it didn't take long to find something.    We found a long sleeve brown shirt in Brad's closet and went to work. 
Yesterday was decade day, so she was a 50's girl.  Today was nerd day or 'Merica day (they always give two choices), so she was basically an American nerd.  Didn't get a picture, but it was cute!  Maybe she'll post one later that I can steal.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Senior Year

Madison is halfway through the first semester of her senior year.  Softball season officially ended on Wednesday as they fell out of the region tournament.  They didn't have such a great year, but oh well.  I think that makes it a little easier to move on.  If they had a winning season, I might not have wanted it to end, so I guess it's all for the best.  Lol!  The senior night was a little sad, but I had so many other things on my mind that it wasn't as sad as I had imagined it would be.

Senior night = Brad didn't quite make it there in time, so Matthew helped me escort her
The Seniors


Her first travel ball tournament is coming up in two weeks.  We get to spend the weekend in Tennessee at a college showcase tournament.  She is really hoping to play ball in college, so we'll see how that all works out.  Travel ball is much more fun than school ball, so we're looking forward to that.

Basketball is also around the corner.  I have one last chance - one last season - to behave at basketball games.  Not making any promises, but I'm going to try my best.  :>)  I never say anything at softball games, so softball parents can't believe I lose my composure at basketball games on occasion.  Just the nature of the beast I guess.

She had her senior pictures taken several weeks ago.  Here's a sampling....





This past week, she and a group of 10 to 15 seniors were chosen as the best in her class by the teachers.  I asked her if it was the "Outstanding Seniors" award that is given every year, but she said no. ?  So I'm not sure what that was or if she was mistaken.  Anyway, we count it as an honor.

That's all the senior year highlights I can think of for now, but I'm sure there will be more to come!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Time to Start Breathing Again

I can't believe this post is taking place, but as a follow-up to my last post almost three months ago, today we laid my mom to rest.  After suffering with the terrible evil disease that cancer is for what seems like a few short months in some ways and an eternity in others, she is no longer suffering and is now with Jesus.  Breaks my heart to even say it, but it's the truth, and even though it seems so very unreal, it is indeed time to face the truth.  I'm sure over the next few days, weeks, months, and even years, I'll be facing the truth many times.  She was a wonderful mother who loved her husband, her daughters, and without question adored her four grandchildren.  It's unbelievable how she's going to be missed.

Life has been put on hold for the past few months as my dad and my sister and I have cared for her the best ways we knew how.  Without a doubt, she left this temporary home knowing that she was deeply loved.

Now it's time to find normal again, and I hope to find time to blog more about our daily life as I've learned through this and understand more than ever how important it is to document our lives and keep those memories in plain view.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Where to Begin...

For the most part, in my opinion, my blog has been a happy place.  A little section of the web where I can post about the good memories that I don't want to forget.  So, when things happen that I'm not sure I want to look back on and remember, the blog sort of goes silent for a bit.

I'm just not crazy about those kinds of memories.  When Amelia went through her ordeal at one week of age, I didn't want to hold on to much of anything associated with all that.  We did keep the cute little monkey she received on the helicopter ride, which she still has, and she knows she got that because she rode on the helicopter when she was sick.  We kept a blanket that some kind, talented, crocheting lady donated to the hospital to give to a patient.  But that's about it.  No pictures taken of the event, and I remember when we were discharged to go home, the nurses asked if we wanted any of the cute stuff hanging on the door, and I emphatically said "no."  I don't regret any of that.

When my dear friend Terri passed away, some of her things were shared among us.  I kept very little.  I just didn't want the reminders staring me in the face when I wasn't expecting it.

And now........my mom is sick.  I guess it's time to write about it because that's about all my summer has consisted of, and there's not much more to write about.

She was diagnosed with cancer over a month ago, and we're still not in the "treatment" stage.  It seems each test has thrown a curve ball into the situation and held things up a bit.  But we're getting there.

Turns out she has a uterine carcinosarcoma, which is a rare form of uterine cancer, that has metastasized.  Now we're in the hurry up and wait stage while the oncologists determine the best course of treatment.  As we wait, we pray and do all we can in the meantime - exploring nutrition, alternative medicine options, supplements - anything that might help.

I've mentioned on here several times how I love the 1000 Gifts book by Ann Voskamp.  It has come to my attention that it is indeed now time to practice what I have believed to be true in regards to true thankfulness.

My first thought ~ "How do I find thankfulness in this horrible situation?"  And my second thought ~ "Can my mom find thankfulness in any of this?"  I haven't asked, but I'm not sure it would be as easy for her to find thankfulness in the midst of her great pain and nausea that she is experiencing at the moment - but maybe she could?  For instance, a husband and daughters who are doing whatever it takes to get her well, doctors who are working to get her the best help for her situation, kind nurses, pain medicine!, etc.....

As for me, I've had so many situations occur throughout this relatively short time that I just knew were God moments - blessings He has sent my way to remind me He is always here and that He is not surprised by anything that is happening right now.  He has caused things to happen that have directed our steps in ways we otherwise might not have walked.  I wish I would have wrote them down because there have truly been too many to remember.

One particular "small" moment that comes to mind is one morning when I was on the way to the hospital, I stopped at Chick-Fil-A for breakfast.  When I pulled to the window to pay, she said the driver ahead of me had already paid for my meal.  I nearly started to cry because their kindness was extra meaningful that morning.

Another ~ The work for my job has been coming in exactly as my schedule has warranted - lots of work on the days I'm home and the days I need to be away, either no work or just enough to accomplish in the spare time I have.  Not to mention caring, understanding employers who are willing to do whatever they can to help.

And another ~ Friends and family that have taken care of my children and done things for them that have helped them have a nicer summer than they otherwise would have had.

Also in the grand scheme of things, our vacation was planned at the very beginning of summer - before we knew of any of this.  Not a coincidence.  Nope, I don't believe in those.

I serve a great God who is in control of everything.  I read a rather sad blog post the other day by a "pastor" who believes just the opposite.  He seems to believe that everything is up to us.  He even went so far as to tell one of his church members whose husband had been killed in an accident that God did not have anything to do with her husband's death.  Seriously?  But we are talking about a health, wealth, and prosperity congregation where anything less than that cannot be of God.  Thankfully, he went on to say he never heard from that lady again.  Smart lady!

God is not the author of evil, but He is certainly sovereign over it.

Sort of reminds me of that movie "The Avengers."  You know, that part where the Hulk picks up the little guy who thinks he's a god and throws him around like he's a rag doll.  Afterward, he makes some comment about him being a "puny god."  To me, to say God is only control of the good things that happen is doing just that - making Him a puny god.  A God that is not all powerful.  One who is in control until something bad happens and then He just steps off His throne and sits back and waits to see what's going to happen next!? To see what WE are going to do?!?  How do you find peace in that?  I find peace in knowing that even when things don't go "my way," it is what is best because God is in control of my life and His ways are not my ways. All things are working together for good.

I know, they say it's all about faith.  I heard a good illustration the other day about that.

Two people are in the hospital.  One has been in a serious accident and is near death and the other is near death awaiting an organ transplant, which the person in the accident could provide.  How does God "decide" what happens?  Does He give each family a few moments to see who has the most faith or prays the hardest or the longest and then declares a winner?  That's just ridiculous.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.  Proverbs 16:9

God has a plan, and He's not waiting on us to decide what to do next.  Have I got God all figured out?  Absolutely not.  Am I sitting back, hiding in a closet, waiting to see what is going to happen and not praying for my mom?  Absolutely not.  I am pleading with God to heal her because He alone has the power to heal, and I am seeking His direction in every suggestion and move I make regarding this.  Once again though, I know He is not surprised by what is happening right now.  It's happening for a reason.  Nothing is wasted with God.

Another thing to be thankful for?  It's drawn me closer to Him.  I've become a stronger person through this as I have felt His strength when I have been so weak.  Believe me, I'm not strong all the time, but at the times when I have needed to be, He has provided.  This has given me the opportunity to see Him in a way I could not have seen Him in health, wealth, or prosperity.  We draw closer to God in our pains more than we ever could from any of that.  I don't think we're smart enough to figure that out on our own and Satan would not stand for it, so where else could these things come from but from God allowing them.
  
“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” C.S. Lewis

No matter what, God is good.  He has a plan, and sometimes we absolutely do not understand it.  But He does.  And, I'm going to say it again, He's not surprised by anything that happens.  It's all in His hands. 

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works ALL THINGS according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.  Ephesians 1:11-12

Even still, there's another thing to be thankful for.  My mom is still here.  Treatment is on the way, and there is still the opportunity for healing.  I have faith that my God can heal her if that is His will, and that will continue to be my prayer. My main motto during all of this has been to not "borrow trouble."  It can be very easy to let my mind wander to places it shouldn't, but the best thing I can do is take it one day at a time and trust my Savior with each step.

In the meantime, we can definitely use and appreciate your prayers so much!

I think I just made up for not posting for over a month. 8>)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

I always have a menu plan for our suppers throughout the week, but I've been lacking in a plan for breakfast and lunch, and because of that, some days we come up short and end up at the local fast food joint.  This week, I have a plan, and it is posted on the 'fridge for all to see.  Let's see how this works. :>)  Grocery day was Friday, so I'm backing up and starting there.

Friday - 
Breakfast - Immaculate cinnamon rolls 
Lunch - Homemade chicken salad on croissants
Supper - Chicken strips sauteed in butter and olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika, oregano, ginger and anything else that looked good in the spice cabinet!, greens salad with red peppers, red onions, carrots and cucumbers, sauteed zucchini and yellow squash in oils and spices leftover from chicken, sweet potato casserole

Saturday - Crazy day, no plans

Sunday - 
B - cereal
L - Spaghetti, same salad as on Friday
S - Church fish fry

Monday -
B - cereal
L - Cheese quesadillas, homemade guacamole w/chips
S - Roast beef, sauteed cabbage, and provolone cheese in whole grain tortilla wrap, carrots & celery

Tuesday - 
B - Sprouted whole wheat pancakes w/dark chocolate chips and maple syrup
L - Snack lunch w/boiled eggs, cheese, crackers, and apples
S - Stir fry w/grass fed beef, kale, carrots, cabbage, onions served over organic brown jasmine rice

Wednesday -
B - Muffins 
L - Turkey and avocado wraps, carrots & celery
S - Salmon served over creamed spinach, Spanish rice (recipes from Great Physician's Rx by Jordan Rubin)

Thursday -
B - Baked oatmeal
L - Chicken & broccoli casserole
S - Mexican Omelet (from GP Rx), muffins, fruit 
 
Head over to Organizing Junkie for more meal plans!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

First of the Lasts

I'm guessing this will be the first of many "last" posts throughout this coming year.  With an upcoming senior in high school, that's just the way it is.  This week began Madison's last opportunity to play high school summer basketball.  Every year, as soon as school has ended for the year, sports begin again.  Basketball in June - softball in July.  The past two summer ball seasons have been practically the whole month for each, but this year they're getting a bit of a break, and next week will be it for basketball until sometime around October when they meet up again for the "real" season.  Basketball isn't Madison's favorite, so she seems quite happy about it.  Of course, it makes me a little sad, but Amelia informed me yesterday that she intends to play every year and even in college so I still have plenty of years to watch one of my children play basketball.  ;>)



Summer ball is exhausting for the girls ~ six games in two days!

This doesn't qualify as a last, but here are some pics from the powder puff football game that took place at the end of the school year.  Madison was quarterback, and her team (the juniors) won!  This was quite entertaining - especially the football player "coaches" on the sideline.  They take it quite seriously!



Sunday, June 2, 2013

Daytona Beach - 2013


This time last Sunday, we were just checking into our condo at Daytona Beach.  After a week of fun in the sun (and lots of wind!), we returned home on Friday evening.  We spent a lot of time on the beach and playing in the sand.  I love to play in the sand!  We got in the ocean a little bit - Cari even rented a surfboard for one hour and tried to do a little surfing, but the waves were crazy rough.  In fact, there were red flag warnings all week, and we even witnessed a rescue - thankfully the man appeared to be okay as he was being loaded into the ambulance.  All the beach-goers were strongly cautioned to not get in the water above their waist, and around knee level was fine with me! Besides the fact that the riptide was so dangerous, that water was cool!, and the strong winds ruled out any danger of getting hot.  Getting hot is sort of a prerequisite for me to get into cold water. LOL

We also spent some time at the Boardwalk, and on another day we enjoyed one of Brad's favorite past times of playing video games.  We raced around the local go-cart track (Matthew enjoyed bragging that he and daddy were the big winners), and one of my favorite things that we did was the experience of a dolphin cruise where we did actually get to see some dolphins.

Last week flew by super fast, but it was so nice to get away with the family and have everyone in the same place for a few days.  Very thankful for this blessing!








The beach can do crazy things to hair!


Brad and Matthew on the Ferris wheel.
My girls and Madison's friend Caitlyn about to experience a "hurricane."
 I had this experience two years ago and had no desire to "go green" again,
if you know what I mean....


Lazy River time.

I lost count of how many times Amelia went down this slide.
 I'm thinking this was her favorite part of the trip.
  I went down it a few times myself.  It was pretty fun!




My mom gave the kiddos spending money for souvenirs,
 and this is what they bought.
 Dogs.
 I'm thinking this phase is not going away any time soon.  ;>D


The pelicans we saw nesting while on our dolphin cruise.


We watched a crab race while waiting on the dolphins to appear........
The two in the middle were not very motivated.
I guess that trip was the signal that summer break has officially begun.  I'm hoping the next several weeks do not fly as swiftly as last week did because when the school year begins, I'm gonna have a senior!!  I don't think I'll go there right now.  I think we should just concentrate on enjoying the here and now.  :>)

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