"Your greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise." ~Andy Stanley

December 31, 2017

Cruising with the girls

After Thanksgiving, Joy and I went on a mother/daughter birthday cruise with a bunch of our friends. The moms were in one TINY cabin and the daughters in another. It was kind of like a big 4 day slumber party! 🎉

Cozumel had a Starbucks!

It was a very relaxing way to vacation, that's for sure and the food was amazing.  -BTW, never go jeans shopping right after a cruise! LOL 

It was actually a pretty economical vacation.  We picked an older ship so we got a great deal and then we split that four ways! -That cabin for four was smaller than any hotel room or bed and breakfast I've ever stayed in! LOL
It was fun but in the future, I think I'm more of a cabin-in-the-mountains type of person. 

Take a cruise ✔️

December 26, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Hope you had a wonderful day with your loved ones! 

Ugly sweaters care of Aunt Jenny! 
 Since I don't have any grand-babies to buy for yet, the grand-dog had to do!

                                        Here's Khloe in her Christmas dress!
(I never thought I'd be buying a Christmas outfit for a dog but its whatever! LOL)

Nathan was here for a quick visit. Having him home with all of us is always the best gift!❤️  Watching all of our kids interact as adults is such great fun for me.

We all entertained him in shifts since we were all working.
On Christmas Eve Eve, we had Tiffany's parents over for dinner and enjoyed comfort food and played a game that had us laughing until we cried. It was a great break from all the busyness of the season.
We were late to church on Christmas Eve morning and that somehow got us seated on the front row! So, I plan to be on time for all of 2018! LOL 
Our Christmas Eve services that night were absolutely beautiful! Always a highlight of the season for our family!
Then Nathan and I blasted the sound track to the Sound of Music and sang at the top of our lungs all the way home! : )
We had our traditional steak dinner that night and then started watching everyone's favorite Christmas movie -White Christmas, which we never finish. 

It always surprises me how laid back Christmas is now that the kids are young adults. The guy who used to get us up at 6:00 AM had to be woken up this year! 
All the gift giving happened, the ugly sweaters were worn until we got too hot and the Christmas casserole was inhaled! 
We had a quick Christmas dinner and then Nathan and Zac headed to the airport where they plan to road trip around CA to see all our relatives! So jealous! 
Later that night, Andrew's best friend flew in from CA to spend his Christmas vacation with us! 

I have the week off, so I'm planning not to do much of anything and it sounds just glorious!

December 17, 2017

A quick hello

Nathan comes home tomorrow so I've been cooking and making some of his favorite things. ❤
I was making those jalpeno stuffed bacon thingys and I forgot all about the oil in jalpenos and the need to wear gloves. And then I had to blow my nose... and before I knew it I had not only burning hands, but a burning face but burning nostrils too. LOL -What a night!

The first thing the kids have planned to do when we are all together again, is to see the new Star Wars movie. I feel a little lost when it comes to the sequences of all the Star Wars movies. LOL
But we are all excited about having some family time together this week. And then on Christmas day, when Nathan goes home, Zac will go with him for a week of fun seeing all our CA relatives. Yay!

The serial killer that was in the news recently was in our neighborhood! I can't even tell you how stressful that was! So thankful the suspect was arrested! I do love our quirky, historic neighborhood.

I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season with all the people you love.


November 28, 2017

Remembering and celebrating

Last Saturday was THE day.
The anniversary of the day that my hubby went to be with the Lord.
I think all of us thought about it, the moment we entered the month of November. And it was just kind of weighing in the back of our minds for weeks until it came.
The kids weren't up for commemorating the day together in any way, so we all did it on our own and in our own ways. It was a heavy-hearted couple of weeks for all.
But we try to bounce back fast for Joy's birthday a few days later and we always have a great time.
Her wonderful brothers and friends made her wish to once again have a trampoline in our backyard, come true! Even though it took them four hours to assemble it! LOL
Some lovely people didn't want to pass up the opportunity to celebrate her, so she had several celebrations! And if you know her, then I'm sure you'd want to celebrate her too. ❤️

Then Thanksgiving came! The holidays are way easier than they used to be. We've all kind of come to grips with the fact that they will never be the same and we don't put quite so much emphasis on how we spend them as long as we are with family.
We sure missed Aunt Jenny who couldn't make it here this year. She has saved the day and blessed us for the past two Thanksgivings!
Joy, Tiffany and I had fun sleeping in since we weren't hosting it at our house this year. (most relaxing Thanksgiving I've ever had) and then we all cooked our assigned dishes and then we all went to enjoy the evening with Tiffany's family and a bunch of our friends. It was really was a great day.

The day after Thanksgiving is when Christmas starts at our house. Joy stepped in to be by my date for the annual breakfast/Christmas tree shopping fun. Did anyone else think the trees are shorter this year? LOL

On Saturday, she invited me to hang out with her, quite literally, in an Eno between two trees. LOL How fun are hammocks? Especially cute, little, portable ones that set up in less than five minutes when you live close to the water and it is lined with palm trees growing all in a row for you to use! What fun!

It is officially the Christmas season now and I'm soooo glad! Who doesn't love this time of year?
I hope you can see the goodness of God in it and rejoice.


November 20, 2017

This and that

Joy recently found out that most recipients of blood donations are cancer patients going through chemo and needing transfusions. And she decided she wanted to give back! Her dad received several blood transfusions during his fight. And it was literally like watching someone come back to life after wards. What a blessing. Proud of this girl! 
And how cute is that band-aid?! 

I went to the beach one last time before it gets too chilly to read the newest Mitford novel. Love Jan Karon! 

Six months or so ago, Joy and her friends decided they wanted to save up to go on a cruise for their 21st birthdays. And that very night, we moms of these sweet girls, decided we'd go too because sometimes motherhood requires sacrifice! LOL
 (but mostly because there was no way we were letting them go alone!) : )
A few minutes later one of them found us a GREAT deal and that is how it happened that in less than one hour, 7 of us decided to take a mother/daughter birthday cruise in November! Yay!

I saw this quote on a beautiful silver bowl in a store I can't afford to buy anything at,  
and asked my very talented friend to write it out for me so that I can frame it.
Didn't she do a beautiful job? 
This quote reminds me that God has placed a lot of 'family' in our lives. 


November 15, 2017

Wednesdays in the Word

Acts chapter nine reminds me that sometimes our pain propels the kingdom of God and changes lives.

After a startling revelation of Jesus,
Saul suffered for "three days without sight and neither ate nor drank." (v.9)
And after that experience:
"Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that Jesus is the Christ."
The results:
"The churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied."

Next, Aeneas, was a man who suffered by being "bed ridden eight years and was paralyzed" and then everything changed when Peter said "Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed. Then he rose immediately."
The results:
"So all who dwelt in Lydia and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord." (v.35)
As in, every single person living in those cities! Amazing!

And then there was Tabitha. This woman "was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died."
Peter prayed for her and he said "Tabitha arise! And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up." And then he "presented her alive" to all of her friends.
The results:
"And it became known throughout all Joppa and many believed on the Lord." (v.42)

I have a feeling all three of them would say their suffering was totally worth it!


November 8, 2017

Wednesdays in the Word

In Luke 18:1-6 we see the parable of the persistent widow. In verse one, Jesus tells us the reason for this parable is so that we would "always pray and not loose heart."

The unjust judge "didn't fear God or respect any man" and the widow kept coming to him over and over again for justice. And for a long time, he wouldn't help her because he didn't care enough to actually bother. But then he realized that the best way to get rid of her, was to get involved, "because I am tired of her coming all the time."
Then Jesus invites us to compare this unjust judge with God, the Father. And obviously, there really aren't any similarities between the two!

Jesus said "Won't God make things that are right come to His chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will He wait a long time to help them? I tell you that He will be quick to help them!"
I love that!

Now here's the rub. Do we have the PASSION to actually do it?
Will we be like the widow and patiently and passionately pester God?
Will we get outside of ourselves and choose a need in someone else's life to hammer heaven about?
What might happen if we do?

What if we pester Him for prodigals to come home?
What if we beg Him for His strategy to reach the hearts of the not-yet-Christ-followers in our circles? What if we cry out to Him about the violence in our country?
What if we pray for teens who don't have parents praying for them?

What if we pick one thing to passionately pester God about for an entire month and see what He does because "Men always ought to pray and not loose heart." ~ Jesus


November 4, 2017

Tying the knot

I'm blessed to have several kids in my life, who've always felt like family  ❤️ 
and one of those is getting married soon, 

to this beautiful young lady! 

And it was a gorgeous day 

for celebrating!


November 1, 2017

Wednesdays in the Word

"Let us therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Heb. 4:16

And grace! Yes, please!
What a wonderful promise!
When we boldly ask,  He pours out both and helps us in our times of need!
What do you need His grace to help you with today?
Come boldly.
"Let your requests be made known to God."
Phil. 4:6
He is "our ever present help"
Ps. 46:1

Have a blessed day!

October 31, 2017

October fun

So, you know you are excited about Stranger Things 2 when your kitchen looks like this!
This was Joy's handiwork for our little family viewing party on Friday night. LOL

How good was it?! Ahhh!!!! 
Whenever I tell my friends about it, they tell me they can't handle things that are scary. Then they realize WHO is saying it is scary and they decide that if I can handle it they surely can. LOL 

Sunday night, our small group had a party. We ate homemade empanadas and learned to play the card game, Dutch Blitz. I had trouble paying attention to the directions because right then my phone blew up with pictures of my brand new, absolutely GORGEOUS great-niece! ❤️  I'm a great-aunt! 
The pictures of my parents holding her, almost made me cry on the spot. Soooo sweet! 

Tonight, Joy is an owl and Andrew is a guy from the 90's.  

Happy Fall, Y'all! 


October 23, 2017

I'm back

You know you are a nerd when you sit down at your computer and tell it how much you missed it. LOL  It works again! Yay!
 One of our dear friends popped over today and fixed it! And let me know that in exchange they expect some blogging to take place! LOL So, here I am!

This will be summer that we remember that our whole family experienced what it is like to grab all our belongings and evacuate. We did it here in FL due to Hurricane Irma. And recently in California, Nathan had to, due to Canyon Fire 2 in Anaheim. He actually had to leave his school and his condo. Bless his heart! How scary were those brush fires!? Just tragic! And since someone I know had her daughter die in one of the fires, I may have texted him way too many times to make sure he was OK. 

I went to the movies for the first time by myself last weekend and it wasn't bad. I may do that more often! 

I fixed my weed-eater and found the part I needed in one of the aisles of Home Depot all by myself! Major win! 

The wedding we were planning to go to in December in CA has been postponed. -What a wise and brave thing for a couple to do in today's society. May God bless them as they pray their way through to find His will.
So, our family isn't going on vacation at Christmastime, but we already have the week off of all of our jobs, so I'm trying to talk the kids into helping me paint the exterior of our house that week! Because that totally sounds like just as much fun as being with your best friends in California, right? LOL -Ummm, no! But here's hoping they go for it. : )

Our women's small group is studying Battlefield of the Mind and I'm helping to teach it. (I still am trying to figure out how that happened since I'm shy! LOL) 
But what a great book! A must read for all believers! 

And speaking of books, there isn't one that helped me more through the grieving process than Levi Lusko's Through the Eyes of a Lion. If you've experienced any kind of loss in your life, please read this book! And if you have struggled with the question of why some people receive healing and others don't, then Read this beautiful article by Ann Voskamp.

That's all for now! 

October 5, 2017

Counting my blessings

I love my job and that I get to be involved in ministry every day. What a privilege!

I love that my kids' friends consider me one of their moms. They are a special bunch!

I love my new friend M and all the fun she and I have. What a sweet blessing the Lord sent me the day we were seated next to each other at a luncheon and hit it off like we'd known each other forever.

I love that I have a group of ladies to do Bible studies with. They are a blessing to my life and so are the books we've studied together.

I love that I get to see my CA friends and relatives in December! Whoo-hoo!

I love that it actually feels the tiniest bit like fall in Florida. ♥️


September 24, 2017

All the celebrating

I've jumped on Andrew's computer to catch up here. My monitor may not have made it through Irma. -But all that happened to it was that we unplugged it and wrapped it in plastic. LOL
So, go figure! : ) 

Last week, was my wedding anniversary. It would've been our 26th. (my hubby went to be with the Lord in 2015) 
Joy and one of my friends and her family all surprised me at work with bouquets of flowers and chai tea! It was really the sweetest thing! My friend reminded me that "love should always be celebrated," which really touched me since I wasn't so sure how I wanted to spend that evening. After work the kids and I did celebrate together, which was a lot of fun. And then Nathan blessed my socks off by sending me a recording. On it he said, "This is a song that my dad used to sing to my mom, but since he isn't here..." And then he sings Annie's Song by John Denver  to me while playing his ukulele! Oh my stars!!! It was so beautiful! I cried a million tears all over again and made everyone around listen to it. LOL Such a thoughtful gift! His dad would be SO impressed.

Saturday, I went to see how my favorite beach fared through Irma. And it was a short visit because there was seaweed everywhere and it smelled like dead fish. LOL 

Then Sunday was my birthday! And my kids spoiled me!
 Joy made me breakfast in bed! Chicken and waffles! Then Andrew took me out for a coffee date before church. After church all the kids took me to lunch and gave me gifts. (How fun are grown up children?!) And they took me to the movies and invited one of my friends and her kids to join us. Then we went to the evening service at church and then out for frozen yogurt where a bunch of kids who are like my own, joined us. It was a HUGE day, and I have the sweetest kids ever! 
Today, we celebrated Zac's academic success over breakfast. (Sunday mornings are the only time to catch my busy college kids, who have more than one job!) He is in the top 7.5% of his class and was invited to join Phi Kappa Phi. Whoo-hoo! His dad would be so proud but not a bit surprised! : )


September 11, 2017

The weekend of Irma

Thursday night I spent the evening finding all of the important papers in my life that would have to come with me if we evacuated. It was just surreal to have to pack up my life in one Tupperware bin and a suitcase and be ready to go. I was so thankful to have the day off on Friday for final hurricane prep. We spent a low key evening Friday resting knowing that on Saturday around noon we would know the final track and have to make a decision.

Then at midnight, all of our phones went off giving us a hurricane warning. It sounded like an Amber Alert and was terrifying. I knew in my head that it was only just then hitting Cuba but since I was only half awake, I thought it had arrived in FL that very minute. Scary!

It was such an emotionaly exhausting wee. It was also emotional for me since I don't have my hubby to make these kinds of decisions for me anymore.Then Zac stepped up to the plate and led our household in such a way that made me so proud and took a lot of the stress off of me. I took to calling him Captain Zac all weekend! : )

So, after seeing that Irma was coming over our city as a possible CAT 3 or 4 we decided to evacuate. Mostly because of the huge oak trees in our yard and the fact that every other day or so, half of our street already floods. We were invited to stay with Zac's in-laws in a house which is farther inland. What a blessing!

It was so hard to leave my house and not know what I would come back to though.
And I shed some tears because I kind of think I've been through enough in the last few years without adding the loss of a home due to hurricane damage and displacement to the list. LOL
But the minute we drove away from our home, I had a total peace about leaving and a peace about whatever we would face next.

We spent the next 2 days with Tiffany's family which was such a blessing. We helped prepare their house and then in between weather reports, we just had a fun time together like we always do.
-And we ate lots of hurricane snacks! We only went without power for a good 30 minutes or so. During which time, we realized that we had not charged any of our laptops, just our phones. When the power came back, everyone screamed and went running for their chargers. LOL

I have a slightly crooked pot holder I crocheted during the wait and we played games, colored, and watched lots and lots of Fixer Upper. 😀

Andrew had fun sleeping in their stairwell, which we cleared out for the tornado warnings we were hearing about. He felt just like Harry Potter. When he was face timing several friends while in there, I would walk by and it would sound like there were 4 people in the closet with him.LOL

The storm finally hit last night and by God's grace it was a 2. The whistling sound of the wind was pretty awesome to hear. It didn't get worse and so I ended up sleeping through most of it.
It went right over our county and by the grace of God, those windows and trees that I had been praying for, stayed in tact. Our street did not flood. AMAZING!
And the two spots in our roof that leak twice a year, did not leak at all. AMAZING!🙌🏼

At this moment our house still without power but we are just too thankful to let that bother us. I could've and should've by call accounts been so MUCH worse.

The curfew was lifted this morning and people are starting to get out and about again. Some of us have to work tomorrow. Schools are cancelled for the rest of the week.. And six million Floridians are without power. It is going to be quite a week.

Keep in prayer those who lost so much this weekend,


September 9, 2017

Prepping for Irma

Hurricane Irma is on her way!
Thank you to all our family and friends who are checking on us and letting us know that they are praying! We are grateful!

In between going to and from our jobs all week, we have been getting prepared. We have our supplies. Our back windows are boarded up and we have sand bags outside our sliding glass doors.

It has been a tense week. The stores are out of most things and it has been a big challenge to find gas and water. (I got kind of a kick out of seeing what people had in their carts to survive on. One lady had bananas and lots and lots of wine! LOL)
But despite the it all, everywhere that I went, people were kindly helping each another with advice and info. Yay, Florida!
Yesterday, when I was a work, Andrew let me know that he and his friend had gone over to our 80+ year old neighbor's house to prep her yard for the storm and it turned out that she also was in need of water and food, so they took care of that and shared half of our sand bags with her. Proud of them!

I took this the night we bought plywood and I love how the light shines on the flag!

May we all keep shining, and loving our neighbors.


September 8, 2017

Before Irma was a thing

We had fun watching the eclipse through a cereal box and sheets of paper at work a couple weeks ago. But not as much fun as Nathan, who drove to Oregon and saw the whole thing in totality! So amazing. He has so many fun adventures!

Last week, my friend's hubby's company gave them tickets to a pre-season Bucs game. My friend's hubby and son couldn't attend so she invited Joy and I to go with her and her daughter. It was great fun! I forgot that teams don't play very hard for pre-season games though. So, there really wasn't much action on the field, which worked out just fine because we were busy chatting anyway! LOL

When my hubby was in college, there was a year that he was in at least 4 weddings!
Andrew has at this point been asked to be in 4 weddings this year! The other day, this caused him to proclaim "I'm just like Dad!"
(Yes, you are, but for SO many more reasons than this!) LOL
It is a crazy thing when your youngest son's friends start getting married!
Last weekend was wedding #1 and it was beautiful. (even though I didn't get the best pictures of it)

My cute guy and a couple others didn't have their complete outfits until the day before the wedding, which was stressing me out! LOL But it everything came together and it was perfect.

Then I spent the rest of the weekend with a touch of the stomach flu.  And on Labor Day, we went to Zac's in-laws for dinner and had a great time.
And then on Tuesday, life became all about Hurricane Irma and getting prepared. It wasn't even a topic of discussion on Monday, which later amazed us.


September 6, 2017

Wednesdays in the Word

I had never noticed the context of one of the most quoted verses in the Bible before and it surprised me.
It is: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phil.4:13

And guess what Paul was referring to being able to do?
Be content! 
It isn't something that we humans are naturally. He said he had to LEARN it.
This helps me when I realize my discontentment.
We learn it.
And if that sounds impossible or hard remember that learning it is one of the many things he says we  can do because of Christ's strength.

"I have learned in whatsoever state I am to be content. (even geographical -LOL)
I know how to be abased and I know how to abound.
I have learned (there's that word again)
both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."



September 1, 2017

In Him we triumph

"God doesn't expect you to be happy about what has been torn from your hands...whether it's a marriage, your health, a job or someone you love, but if you are willing to trust Him, he can turn trash into triumph ." ~Levi Lusko

August 30, 2017

Wednesdays in the Word

The will of God:

"Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the willl of the Lord is." Eph. 5:17 

This verse caused me to look up all the verses that refer to the will of God and since I'm a person who love lists, here is a very simplified version of His will for our lives:

Never stop praying and to be thankful in all circumstances   1 Thess. 5:17
Be sanctified (set apart) and avoid immorality   1 Thess. 4:3
Do good  1 Pet.2:15
Know that He will equip us with everything necessary   Heb. 13:21
Persevere and receive what He has promised  Heb. 10:36  

It really is all Him! 


August 27, 2017

Nathan's stay

I don't think my boys look that much a like but people mix up Nathan and Zac all the time when Nate is here. And they think that because he lives in CA he must be the oldest. LOL

He was able to stay here for a couple weeks after our trip and it was so fun! (expect for the part where he had oral surgery, I mean)
He needed his wisdom teeth out. Bless his heart. He'd been in pain for weeks!
For the first time ever in my life I have dental insurance! Whoo-hoo! Big fan! So, it was pretty thrilling to save over $2000 on this procedure!
He couldn't feel anything but he could HEAR it all. And he heard when the drill stopped working and he heard when the oral surgeon got mad and left the room!
(Yikes!) And then he felt them give him lots more laughing gas. It was all a bit disconcerting!
He came out telling me he was 'high as a kite.' LOL

Then I got to take care of him!!! Yay!!!
I made mashed potatoes and mashed sweet potatoes and lots of smoothies and bought blueberries and every soft flavored blueberry thing I could think of.
It was so much fun to care of my grown up kid, who has lived on his own for the last 4 years. And he was THE most grateful patient. : )
He was sure he wouldn't have survived on his own. Aww!

When he felt better he threw a little beach BBQ to watch the sunset. Then he and I had a date night to eat crab from a crab shack. (that was an adventure!) Next time I want a crab-opener-thingy! LOL

 We went to the movies and caught up on our superhero  with our dear friends a couple times.

So, including this fun and the 19 hours we were driving together on the trip chatting and listening to each of our favorite books on CD, I feel like I had a lot of quality time with my sweet boy that I hadn't seen in 8 months! Yay!
And now the countdown to Christmas begins!

A dear friend bought me this mug after he left, which I LOVE!

I'm so proud of who he is and what he does.
He leads a youth ministry, goes to school and he wants to use his future marketing degree to support himself as a missionary to Iceland someday.
(but I'm totally OK if that Iceland thing doesn't actually work out -LOL!)


August 22, 2017

Photos of the fun

So, today was the first day of college for Andrew! Whoo-hoo!
Now, my homeschooling season really feels done! 
And here are the pictures from our celebration!
 (AKA my home school retirement party)

Road Trippin' with my girl!

Our cabin in the woods! 

This is where I get to joke that my kids are brighter than your kids! Just kidding!
The sun was setting and they look photo shopped in! LOL but they were all there! Being the shortest I ended up in someone's shadow.

They took me our to dinner to celebrate! 

We visited a National Park and these two did some Pokemon hunting

 Nathan and Andrew did the full 3 mile hike up to the waterfall because elevation is apparently not a thing when you are young and in shape! : )
 -Unlike when you are not so young and not so in shape! And you think you might pass out after walking up these steps. LOL

This is us looking down from the very top of the waterfall

And this is our top-of-the-waterfall-selfie

And here it is in all its majesty from down below

Then there was a day that we rented a pontoon boat because we got a partial refund on the cabin due to the broken hot tub. Yay!

Joy and Nate spent a whopping 10 minutes getting certified to drive boats in Georgia and did a GREAT job! This girl loved it!

I forgot to ask the question all Floridians know to ask! So, as we were driving around this gorgeous lake, I was calling the marina to find out about ALLIGATORS! LOL

And since they had never seen even one, we spent the day diving off the boat and swimming! Something we will never do in our state! : ) 

Happy New School Year, Everyone!