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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Missing Her

Growing up stinks :)  Sending my first born off to college was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done.  Her absence is an emptiness I can't seem to fill.  I keep wishing I could hear her laughter, avoiding her bedroom because, honestly, I'm tired of crying.

She seems to be doing well.  Hearing from her less and less which tells me she must be adjusting.  It's good.  I know you raise them for this.  It's okay, it's normal - but it's not easy.

There's really not much else to say except I miss her.  I'm not the same without her.

Children and mothers never truly part - Bound in the beating of each other's heart. -Charlotte Gray

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kingdom Minded

The political scene in America is, in my opinion, pretty divided right now.  There are tea parties, right-winged, left-winged, independents, liberal, conservative - ask - someone will tell you what they think.  In America, we are fortunate enough to be able to speak our minds, share our opinions and face almost no ill-consequence from it.  It is part of what makes this country great.

I love my country.  I love that I was born here.  I am thankful for my religious freedom.  I am proud of the men and the women who serve so I can be free.  I love that we can agree to disagree and no one has to get killed for it.  I love that we are free to choose what we believe and whom we believe.  I am glad no one tells me how to dress, what to speak and that as a woman, I enjoy the same equal rights as a man.  There are so many good things about this place and I believe this is a great country.

There is a growing mindset, however, especially in the church, that concerns me.  I don't want to offend anyone - but I feel it is something that needs to be addressed.

It is not about countries.  It is about people.  It is about the kingdom of God.  It is not about the color of our skin, the amount of money in our bank account, the language we speak, the party we belong to, the way we vote - it is about the kingdom of God.  It is not about America, India, China, Israel, Egypt, Mexico, Canada, Germany - wherever - it is about the KINGDOM.  The kingdom of God - where GOD doesn't see us as any different. 

This post is something I see go around a lot of Facebook.  I've seen it posted on friends walls, on others walls.  I want to talk about it a little if I could.  It goes like this: 

In America - We Have to press "1" to speak English. In America - the homeless go without eating.  In America - the elderly go without needed medicines.  In America - the mentally ill go without treatment.  In America - our troops go without proper equipment.  In America - our vets go without promised benefits, yet, we donate billions to other countries before helping our own.

All true.  But - let's look at it a different way.

In the kingdom - God created the languages - equally.  He speaks and understands them all.  In the kingdom - the homeless go without eating.  In the kingdom - the elderly go without medicines.  In the kingdom - the mentally ill go without treatment.  In the kingdom - in other countries besides our own -  troops go without proper equipment.  In the kingdom - vets go without benefits - if they get any at all - and lets not forget those forced to fight at the age of 12 or child solders taken from their families.  In the kingdom - it's not about taking care of OUR OWN - it's about taking care of PEOPLE - ALL of God's people!

Kingdom minded.  God created us all.  He created every beautiful color.  He created every musical language.  He created us all.  He does not see us as "American" or "Mexican" or "African-American" or "Jewish" or "Muslim" - He sees us through His eyes of love - through the eyes of our heavenly father - madly, deeply, in love with ALL of us.

And let me add one more thing.  IF the church as a whole - no matter what country or part of the world we come from - IF the church as a whole took care of the needs of the community - THEN all of those things wouldn't be a problem.  No one would go without eating because we would all share our food instead of looking down on those who don't make as much as we do - or who have made poor choices in life and are now unable - for whatever reason - to feed themselves.  No one would go without medical or psychological care - because - we - as the church - using the talents and gifts God has given us - would take care of the needs of others. 

I just encourage you to think about this.  Be kingdom minded - not country minded.  No where in the bible does it tell us to take care of "America" before we take care of another country.  That's not what the kingdom is about.  It should not be about "us" and "them" - but about the very people Jesus died for.  And that, my good friends, includes everyone.

Kingdom Minded.  A whole new perspective.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

On our way home

I shared with you some pics yesterday of our first day on campus.  As I said, we were terribly impressed with NCU.  It was unbelievably organized.  The staff/students/everyone were sooooo welcoming.  We spent the day moving her in, eating and getting familiar with campus.

Today we started the day with a convocation service with staff, new students and parents.  Again - beyond impressive.  Everything shared was further confirmation that Elyse is exactly where she belongs at NCU.  It was a tough day for all of us, however.  We did visit the mall of america (unbelievable - pics to come later) but on the train ride back to campus, Elyse sobbed her heart out on my shoulder and fell asleep crying.

I have been an emotional wreck.  I did not see that coming.  I also didn't think Elyse would struggle.  Pray for her if you would.  She's feeling lonely and although many students appear to have come in with friends - she is by herself.  She's struggling to fit in right now and although I have no doubt she will in a short amount of time - it's not easy to be living 12 hours from home in a city, state, on a campus with not a single person you know.  Reality hit hard today.

I cried.  A lot.  Actually I sobbed out loud like a 2 year old once I made it to the car.  I was crying way before that - but it was not pretty once I was in the car, out of the public eye and away from Elyse.  I had NOOOO idea that I would have such a hard time! I really thought I was prepared since she's been out of the country so many times before.  Oh was I not prepared.

My new favorite holiday is Thanksgiving and I'm already counting down the days!  The first, oh, 300 - 500 I make student teaching will be used to buy her plane ticket home!  It's going to be the BEST Thanksgiving ever!

So many thoughts and emotions today.  I'm not one to live with regrets, but I spent at least an hour on the way home chastising myself for not spending more time with my daughter, for the many times I blew it as a parent and said stupid things, for not being perfect.  My husband is an amazing man and looked at me and said "uh Tam?  Did your daughter grow up like you did?  Was she sad to say goodbye today?" to which I had to answer, no she did not grow up like I did and yes, she was sad to say goodbye.  He then said "you have done a great job as her Mom, now stop blaming yourself for stupid stuff."  What did I do to deserve such a loving husband?  Nothing.  That's just the blessing of my Savior.

Anywho - before I start crying about THAT - I'm just thanking Jesus tonight.  As I said on facebook - today was both the best and hardest day of my life.  Best because we got to see the fulfillment of many of the promises of God in Elyse's life.  We got to see His faithfulness and His great love for her.  The best because my daughter is in a Christian environment surrounded by people who love and serve Him passionately.  We know she is well taken care of.  The hardest because we had to say goodbye to our first born.  The hardest because she is our light, our chill, our laughter.  The hardest because - well - we just plain love her more than anything.

We are now in a hotel north of Chicago, I'm sitting on the bathroom floor typing and the boys are asleep.  I am emotionally exhausted yet unable to sleep.  I'm wondering how my girl is doing and whether or not she's getting any sleep.  Her room is like 5,000 degrees - sooooo blasted hot!!  I realize, it's Minneapolis, it won't stay hot for long - but I'm feeling bad for her tonight.

Pray for her.  Pray for us.  Pray God shows Himself to her loud and clear.  Pray she makes friends, is able to get some sleep, is safe and healthy.  Pray God gives her wisdom, discernment and love.  Pray He pours His spirit out on her and continues to burn passionately in her heart.  Pray she embraces this new life and runs hard after all God has for her.  Here's one you won't hear from me very often - but pray God gives me the strength to stand.  Pray that God shows me what I'm to do now that she is away.  Pray for wisdom for us as parents as we move into a new phase of life with our beautiful girl.  Pray for her safety and for our mental stability - lol :)

Thanks my faithful readers.  Thanks for listening to me work out the things in my heart tonight.  Where would I be without you?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wisconsin Dells, Happy 18th Birthday and Hello NCU!

Here are some pics of the awesome place we stayed in the Dells (Mount Olympus/Hotel Rome), Elyse's 18th birthday dinner at a yummy Italian restaurant with a sweet chef, and her first day at NCU.  We were incredibly impressed with how well today went at NCU.  They really know how to welcome new students!  Registration couldn't have run smoother and we are super duper grateful for all of the amazing students that moved her stuff up 4 flights of stairs!!  Anywho - here some highlights in photos.

 All packed in tight!

 5:30 a.m. is a taaaaddd bit early!

Hotel Rome/Mount Olympus!
 Marty was in love with the decor...

 Happy 18th Birthday!  Below is a pic of the chef/owner of the restaurant.  He came out to sing to Elyse - we thought that was cool :)

 Cool rock formation somewhere in Wisconsin

 Kids are sleepy.  Above is Elyse, below is Jon :)

 We have arrived!

 Lol.  There is a story behind this picture that I'm not allowed to tell.  Ha ha Elyse!  However, for everyone else - this was WAAAY cool.  The boy on the left was a guide for us - and they are walking up to her dorm.  What you can barely see is a line of upper classman forming an arch and cheering her in.  It was so awesome.  I was crying - lol!

 Miller Hall - it's beautiful!  (well, outside anyway!!)

 The wonderful welcoming kids who graciously carried all her stuff up the 4 flights of stairs!  I was so thankful :)

 Her new home :(

 NCU's anti-freeze walkway... (she'll be grateful for this soon I'm afraid!)

 Elyse and her new roomie!


 She is so beautiful.  I am going to miss her like crazy.

 Where has the time flown?  I'm so excited for her - and so sad at the same time.  It feels like yesterday when I moved into college - I just can't believe this day has arrived for my girl.

 View from her campus

Daddy's girl.  Not sure what this expression is on Marty's face - lol!

40 in 40 - Final 10

31.  No eating out for 30 days - Yeah right.  Not even close.

32.  No shopping for 30 days - What was I smoking when I came up with these last two??

33.  Practice 3x a week for 2 weeks (clarinet) - When I was playing,  I did this - and then some.  I was obsessed and humiliated.  In some ways, I hadn't lost as much as I thought - in other ways - yikes. 

34.  Private Goal - Lol - it says "complete" - and for the life of me - I can't remember what this was!  So, I guess I did it!!

35.  Read the word 30 days in a row - Yep - and I'm better for it!!  You should do this too (and then some!)

36.  Scan all pics into computer - No.  Scanner broke and I didn't have money to buy a new one.  This was a bummer when we had E's graduation party!!  I'd still like to do this - but again - trying to follow the budget and there is no room for a new scanner!!

37.  Serve somewhere on a monthly basis - When I originally wrote this, I was thinking like in a homeless shelter or something.  Although we have not done that - helping others has always been a part of who we are.  I don't want this to be a bragging thing so I'm not going into all the different things we love to do - but we have been consistently involved in serving people.  I love it - it's not even hard!

38.  Take a digital photography class - Again - money.  Still want to do this - but really need a better camera in order to work this one out.

39.  Take a dinner train.  WHY does everything have to come down to money???

40.  Week long vacation with hubby.  Money?  Time?  I wish :(

SO - I think I'm about half for half.  Yikes!!

That's it on the 40 in 40.  Hope it didn't bore you too much!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

40 in 40 Review - Third 10

21.  Give up pop 60 days in a row - Oh yeah baby - I DID it!  This was, by far, one of the most unrealistic items on my list in the beginning.  I was a Mt. Dew ADDICT.  The cravings were pretty bad for 28 days (yes, 28 days) and then it was no big deal.  I have, however, gone back to my old habits although not at the level I drank it before.  This is something I'll do again.  I was mad though 'cause I didn't lose any weight from it.  That was a bummer.

22.  Have family pictures taken - Yeah, sorta.  We did take family pics at the open house.  That doesn't really count and I'm mad I didn't do this now that Elyse is heading to college.  I think we'll do this at Thanksgiving.

23.  Host a neighborhood barbecue - Haven't done this unfortunately.  This summer has really gotten away from me.  It was unrealistic to begin with considering we had gradation and an open house this summer.  I've also been a bit chicken....

24. Join a community band - I did this.  I didn't last long.  It was a combination of frustration with my lack of talent anymore and the time commitment.  I discovered as much as I still sort of enjoy playing - I don't enjoy playing when I stink and I don't have the time to practice like I once did.  So, I did do this but I'm not doing it anymore!!

25.  Join a women's group - sort of :)  I have joined a group of ladies working on fitness on Facebook.  In addition to that - I've also hooked up with some of those same ladies - just recently - doing a couple of ministry type events.  I'm hoping this continues in the future as I just love them and what they are doing for the city of Toledo!

26.  Less Serious/More fun - My kids used to call me the "fun sucker".  I have worked on this and I haven't heard that phrase for a long time.  I'm not perfect and I have a long way to go - but - this summer - I road a roller coaster.  I almost died, but I road it :)  It was a horrible experience - lol!

27.  Let go of community bitterness - Oh my.   Great strides have been made in this arena.  I don't want to go into great detail here - but I am happy to say there has been growth.  There are still some things in my heart I need to work on (as evidenced by dreams of fighting with certain people - lol!) but we are moving in the right direction!

28.  Lose 40 pounds.  I've lost 5. That's a long way from 40.  This goes on the next list.

29.  Meet with friend about groceries - I didn't actually meet with her, but we talked over the phone.  I also did a tremendous amount of research and as said in one of the previous review posts, I've cut the grocery bill by over half.

30.  Missions trip out of country - not yet.  HOWEVER!!  There is a trip in the planning stages for next summer to Guatemala.  Didn't see this one coming - but it's on the books!  Have I mentioned how excited I am about this??  We have met some incredible people through the planning process.  We're going with Champions in Action.  Your welcome to join us!!

Final 10 coming up tomorrow.


We're hanging out at Wisconsin Dells, Mount Olympus, Hotel Rome.  Pretty sweet deal, very cool place.  We have to check out in an hour, and I'm blogging.  At Mount Olympus, they have a theme park - both indoor and outdoor - and a water park - again - both indoor and outdoor.  They also have 4 go-kart tracks - sweetest go-kart tracks I've ever seen.  All this for a total of 132.00 buckaroos.  That includes the hotel and tickets to all of the above.  Yeah, we got a sweet deal.

Last night the kiddos decided they wanted to split up.  Dad and Elyse headed to one go-kart track, Jon and I to another.

Jon and I headed over and got in line.  Earlier in the day, we watched this - oh - 10 year old or so - girl come into the go-kart line after she was finished - full speed - and totally crashed into the stopped person in front of her.  I'm really surprised the guy didn't have whiplash.  She hit the gas instead of the brake.  It wasn't pretty.  That made me nervous.  So, as I was standing in line with Jon, I was thinking about the incident, the fact that there are no seat belts in these go karts and the fact that safety doesn't seem to be much of a priority here.  It's a cool place - but - I think a litttttllllee training needs to be done with these teeny boppers on rule enforcement.

Anyway - so.  Jon and I get in the go-karts, Jon in front of me.  We take off.  I get behind this kid who's about 12.   He's weaving all over the stupid track.  I try to wait him out a bit - I want to get around him, but I don't want to crash.  Finally, I get sick and tired of waiting, decide to take him on the inside.  I outweigh him - but honestly - not by much.  Well, just as I try to scoot on the inside of him, he cuts me off.  I hit him on the back side corner (actually, it reminded me of those cool police videos where they bump the back end/side of cars they are chasing to get them to spin out), he does a little spin, and I totally t-bone him.  Now, the rules at the park are - one bump - your outta here.  I apologize to the kid, tell him I didn't mean it, the guy comes running over and sets us back on the track.

I wish I could say it ends here - but it doesn't.  He's with a family.  A family of elephants.  Not really - but they all outweigh me - Mom, Dad, Aunt, Uncle, brothers, sister.  There seemed like 20 of them.  Really it was more like 5 - but it seemed like more.  We pull back into the "station" and I hear Mom yell "LET'S TAKE HER OUT!".  The kid, who I'm sitting behind, because after we got set straight on the track, he continued to weave all over so I couldn't pass him, turns around and says "MOM - that was actually FUN!" - but she's hot and they are behind me discussing how they are going to smash me on the next go around.

Now, you all know I'm not one to walk away from a fight.  Not even close.  However.  These were biker type of people and there was me - and Jon.  He, of course, wants to stay and duke it out.  Me - no thanks - not this time - I'm out.

Nothing more came of it, we walked away, I stayed off the go-karts for the remainder of the night, that was it.

The moral of the story is - be careful who you smash on a go-kart track.  There just might be a family of elephants waiting for you at the end.

Happy Birthday College Girl!!

Today is my "baby" girls 18th birthday!!  And today we are in Minneapolis, MN dropping her off at college.  :(  My how time has flown!  She is so beautiful - inside and out.  I can't wait to see what God is going to do in her life.  She makes us proud.

Happy Birthday Beautiful!!  Love you :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

This is how I feel right now

40 in 40 Review - Second 10

We'll just get right to it today:

11.  Eat clean for 30 straight days  - For those of you who don't know what eating clean means - basically, no processed foods, no white flour, no white sugar - fresh, fresh, fresh.  I did this for about a month prior to making this list and felt GREAT.  I was boxing (really), eating clean and losing weight.  My "issue" with eating clean is it's expensive - and hard to do with 2 teenagers in the house.  We have such an insane schedule and eating clean requires some serious commitment - at least for me.  I have not done this yet - but I am not giving up on it either.

12.  Exercise 3x a week for 2 months - Another no.  I'm a sporadic exerciser - all or nothing.  That boxing I mentioned above?  I LOVED it - and then my wonderful instructor fell down a set of stairs, ended up in a coma, (she's okay now) and lost her gym in the end.  That was the end of my boxing "career".  That was also the end of consistent exercise.  I have done good for a week or two here and there - but not 2 months straight.  There are no excuses and if I ever want to lose weight - this is something I must get serious about.

13.  Finish a 5 k - Well - uh - that would require consistency in the above area.  My sister started doing 5k's this past year and has finished several and even got a medal in one.  Does that count???  Lol!  This is something I've always wanted to do - and this next year - I'd really like to accomplish this once and for all!

14.  Follow budget 4 months in a row - I must say we have KICKED IT in this area this past year.  It's been oh so tough at times - but God is faithful.  We just made our first college payment for our girl and I'm proud of how far we have come.  We still have work to do - but I am really pleased with how much we have grown in the past year.  God is good!!

15.  Follow Flylady for 1 month - Flylady who??  Wow.  This is not a good set of 10.  Nope - haven't done this.  HOWEVER.  My house is clean 80 percent of the time without flylady.  Working threw me for a loop at the end of the school year.

16.  Frame photography and hang - Sigh.  No money to do this.  Would love to - but that budget thing screwed this one all up :)

17.  Get a job - Done.  I'm a substitute teacher and I love it.  Wasn't so sure about this in the beginning - but I really do enjoy it - especially 4-6 grade.  I stayed pretty busy last year.  This year I'm adding Marty's school to the mix to try to stay busier.  Gotta keep paying for that college bill (donations accepted - lol!!) :)

18.  Get one child licensed and off to college - Almost!  She has her learners permit and we drop her off at school this week.  Child number two has started driving now :(  Yes, you should feel very sorry for me....

19.  Get over stage fright - no sirree.  No opportunities to practice.  Well, wait on that - I DID do a 3 minute thing earlier this summer.  I survived, my voice was strong.  I thought I was going to pass out - but I didn't :)  It's a little progress, right???

20.  Get something published - No again.  I did see something the other day I wanted to check into.  You had to, however, only have 150 words or less.  Yeah right.  If you read my blog - you KNOW how long winded I am!!

Well - this was not a good list!  I have work to do people :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

40 in 40 Review - First 10

If you are a new reader to my blog, you'll notice over on the left hand side a list called "40 in 40".  I do believe I originally borrowed the idea from my friend Jackie.  The idea was to do 40 things this past year (the year I turned 40).  I have to admit - focus has not been there!!

Anywho - let's take some time to review.  I think for the next 4 days, we'll review 10 things.  That should take me through Saturday - at which point I'll be dropping my baby off at college and an emotional wreck - which tends to be the time I do my best posting ;)  Plus, this way, I can focus on my girl between now and then.

Moving along - lets take 10 the first 10 of the list.

1.  Attend a marriage conference:  Sigh - didn't make it.  No time, no money.  However - we do, of course, have the best, most awesome marriage EVA so I think we'll survive :)  Gonna add this to the list for next year though.

2.  Blog 30 days in a row - YES!  I accomplished this one!  It was back a while - but I actually did it!!

3.  Blog 3 times a week for a year - well.  um.  Nope :(

4.  Clean out attic - not yet - but I still have 30 days!!

5.  Clean out shed - YES - it looks great.  And we didn't even find any big ole creepy crawly spiders.  Plenty of mice - but no spiders.

6.  Coach Special Olympics Soccer Team - This is a new development!!  Back in, oh, March, we checked into this and there were no openings.  Just two teams and they already had coaches.  A couple of weeks ago, I received an e-mail asking if we'd like to take a team after all.  We have completed the application process and will be beginning in the next 2 weeks.  We are excited about this!!

7.  Complete 4 chapters in a book I'm writing - Down 3.  One more month to throw another one in there.  I think I can do this!!

8.  Complete a craft project - hmm.  I'm trying to remember.  I'm thinking this was a big fat no - but for some reason, something is tickling my brain that I must be forgetting.  Well - there's no time like the present - another one I can complete in the next month!  (wow - this next month is gonna be BUSY!!)

9.  Cut grocery bill in half - DONE!  This took some work and some getting used to - but I have managed this one most of the time.  My advice??  Stick to the list, shop according to sales and know that mac and cheese and pb & j are perfectly acceptable meals!!

10.  Donate 1.00 per unfinished item to charity - Can't really do this 'till this is over - but maybe we should pick a charity?  I got one.  It'll be The Daughter Project which Marty and I work with.  If you have any questions about that, leave me a comment and I'll respond.

Well - that's that!   Do you have a list something like this?  I'm making this a yearly thing.  Goals are always good to have.  I'll spend the next month or so creating my new list.  Whatever doesn't get finished on this past list will move to the new list - unless it just doesn't apply anymore.  Anyone wanna make a list with me???


Warning - this article is graphic, disgusting, horrifying, guaranteed to make you angry and feel like throwing up.  No, I'm not joking.  I debated posting it.  However, although a horribly difficult read - this is the reason we need tougher laws.  This is what happens when people selfishly give into their own lust and desires.  This is what happens when evil wins and satan smiles.  This is one of the many reasons the world desperately needs Jesus.  My heart grieves for a world so incredibly lost in sin. 

James 1:14 - 15 states :  "but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."

This scripture fits the article so well.  Oh how my heart hurts.

Here is the article - again - please know it is graphic and terrible.
Michigan Man accused

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Worth a re-post

I wrote this back in March.  I need to dig this book out again - it so spoke to my heart at that point.  God has been calling us to serve a lot lately in a few new areas.  These are words I need to be reminded of myself - and to share it with others.  Having said that - here's the repost.  It was called "You are stunning".  Enjoy.

Yesterday I posted this from Lisa Bevere's book Lioness Arising:

"You are stunning.  You were born for this moment.  Don't be afraid of your strength, questions, or insights.  Awaken, rise up, and dare to realize all you were created to be."

Now I'd like to write it like this:

"Daughter - I think you are amazingly beautiful.  I have created you for this moment in time!  I have given you strength and insight.  Ask me anything you want!  Wake up!  RISE UP!  I dare you to realize what I have made you to be!"

I can't get this quote out of my head.  It has clung to me like dew on the grass in the morning.  It has saturated my spirit, fed life into these dry bones.  It is as if the heavenly Father reached down, picked me up, set me on my feet, whispered this in my ear - and then set me free to fly.  I can see him, hear him, feel his proud smile, hear his laughter, his joy, as I realize all he has made me to be.  I can't explain it but it has set me free.

I hope it does the same for you.  In a single moment, one paragraph spoke, no, shouted, to me.  I am excited!  I can't wait to see what God has in store.  All the striving, all the being rooted to the cares of this world - just thrown off.  I'm excited - and allowing myself - to dare to believe - that THIS year - something is going to break, something is going to set free, some dream He has planted in my spirit, in my soul,  will spring forth and I will finally get to see clearly what He has planned.  I can't explain it and I can't wait for it to happen - but I know, I know, it will.

You are stunning.  Let that sink into your spirit.  You - daughter of Christ - are exceedingly beautiful, amazing, better than you have ever dreamed - inside and out.  He made YOU for this moment - whatever that moment is for you!  All of time, He was waiting - waiting for this moment in time - for YOU.  Do you understand that?  Can you feel that?  For you!  He has given you strength for today!  He has equipped you for the task ahead.  He has given you wisdom, insight - knowledge to accomplish whatever he has for you.  If you are asleep - wake up!  Listen!  Your father calls your name! Do you hear Him?  Can you heart it??  He's calling you!  It's time!  Time to get up - time to rise from your slumber!  Believe it sister in Christ!  He has created you to be something great in His kingdom!  Dare to believe it.  Great may be defined differently - maybe you are raising the next Billy Graham- wiping his snotty little nose right now - but you have been called to be the mother of someone who will bring thousands - millions - to the feet of Jesus!  Maybe your marriage is created for this moment - for something great - to pull others out of the pit!  Maybe you are a teacher and you are touching lives - SAVING lives - for the kingdom!  Maybe you are a student, studying diligently to find a cure for cancer or move out on the missions field to tell people who have never heard about Jesus!  Whatever it is, wherever it is, God has called YOU for this moment in time!

Isn't it exciting??  Can you hear Him call your name?

I stand amazed.  He is oh so worthy.  Oh so mighty.  He is Savior, Friend, Rescuer, Redeemer.  Almighty God.  I am so in love with him.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thank you, Judge Joslyn

Here's the article I'm referring to:  Defense Lawyer:  Sex case victim, 14, will forget.

I'd like to slap this defense lawyer upside the head.  Really??  Forget??  Maybe the accused and convicted coach will forget - but - it's highly unlikely - no - impossible - that this 14 year old will ever forget.  I hope this defense lawyer never has to personally deal with someone he loves going through something like this.

Thank you Judge Patrick Joslyn of Caro for standing up for the rights of victims.  Good for you.  It's good to see justice carried out!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

God - you are AMAZING!!

Hola amigos :)  Today - has been a good day.  Thought I would share it with you, my faithful readers.

First - for those of you who didn't know, my little man, despite his best and amazing efforts, did not make the soccer team up at his new school.  He tried hard, scored some goals - but he didn't make it.  There were 80-100 kids trying out for a whopping 38 spots.  I imagine he did well, but it's hard to get noticed with numbers like that.  It was tough stuff for him.  All he's ever wanted to do was play high school ball - and now - that's not going to happen, at least not for this year.  That was hard to take.  At this point last week, he'd decided he wasn't playing soccer - ever again.  That was really too bad - because - he is very talented.  Remember, I'm not just his Mom, but a varsity soccer coach for 15 years, twice a coach of the year.  I know my soccer and I know the kid is more talented than your average joe. 

Anywho - so.  We've been working through all this.  What do you tell a kid who has poured almost everything he is into something and now - not only is he moving to a new school - but - he has had the one thing he loves, esentially (in his mind), taken away?  That's hard when your 15.  WE know he is more than soccer - but convincing HIM of that - it's been a challenge.

After the tryouts, we headed up to his Grandparents.  Needed to get him out of town, away from the kids from his old school who were all finding out what team they had made.  It was good to get away and gain some perspective.

While away, I received an e-mail from the Special Olympics coordinator for our county.  Last, oh, March, or so, I had contacted them to see if they had any openings for coaching soccer.  They didn't.  They only had a team and they had a coach already.  They also played in the fall.  Back in March, Marty was still the varsity coach locally and we had no idea Jon would be enrolled in another district.  That pretty much eliminated the possibility of us coaching SO.  The last day of being up north, I got word from the coordinator that they had a second team - and they needed a coach.  Well - I don't believe in coincidences.  I believe in God-incidences - and I can't deny that this - was an act of God.

Another opportunity has also opened up.  If you are a reader of my blog, you know we work with something called The Daughter Project.  Marty does some speaking for them, I have worked on the website and done some different stuff with them.  The house is almost built and the girls will be coming soon.  I wanted to be a mentor - but with working this fall, Jon playing soccer, Marty coaching - etc - I knew I wouldn't be able to do it - so I didn't apply and they filled all the positions.  I also got an e-mail last week from Jeff, the director of The Daughter Project.  A position opened up - that I now have time for.

We're also going to make it to Guatemala next summer on a missions trip with something called Champions in Action - teaching soccer to kids in soccer.

When God shuts one door - sometimes He throws open others.  I have no doubt in my mind that all of these things are of God.  Jon will be helping us coach the Special Olympics team.  He will be able to take his love for the sport - and his compassion for people - and combine them.

Finally - this morning - we had this conversation:

Jon:  Mom - your going running with me.
Me:  I'm not running buddy, I'll start by walking.
Jon:  But Mom, I have to train.
Me:  For what?
Jon:  For soccer - I'm not quitting.  I'm going to train and try out again next fall.

Last night we watched Soul Surfer.  I didn't think the kid was paying any attention at all.  I was wrong.  As a side note - if you haven't watched the movie - you should.  Sometimes life is hard and God is not understandable - but - as the word says - He takes ALL things and turns them for His good.

Today we also got an opportunity to serve with The Lewis House, packing backpacks for kids stufed with school supplies.  We'll be handing them out on Saturday to kids who need them.

Sometimes - when things hurt - we just need to pour our lives into others.  I don't know what it is about that - but it makes you feel - fulfilled.  It feels good to help others.

Okay - this has gotten longer than I wanted and far more scattered than I planned on.  Sorry - the boys need my help with something so I'll have to be more coherent in a different post :)

God is good!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I love you, always - forever

One week from now will be the last official night Elyse will be home.  Sigh.  Too many emotions to deal with here and now.  I'm in denial and I'm gonna stay here until I get in the car and drive the 12 long hours back home.  Then I'll probably spend a few nights sleeping in her bed balling my eyes out - but, for now, a song.

When Elyse was just a little kid, we would sing this song super loud when we heard it.  I don't know if she remembers it - but we would yell it, especially in the car.  I remember looking back at her in the rear view mirror as we sang it together as she smiled and sang along.  I'll never forget.  Special memories.

And I just looked up the lyrics - and Lord knows I don't remember them the way they are - it's kind of a bad song!  We liked the chorus and would sing it to each other - so lets just share that part!!

I love you, always forever
Near or far, closer together
Everywhere I will be with you,
Everything, I will do for you (well, that's the way we would sing it - looking at the lyrics now, it says "Everywhere, I will devour you" - yeah, that's NOT what I remember!!)

Tis true.  No matter where she goes - no matter where life takes her - I will always love her.  

Sigh.  You know - you raise them - to give them wings to fly.  She's ready.  She's sooo very ready.  I have no worries, no fears, no concerns that she is not prepared for this moment in life.  She's more than prepared and God, in His goodness, has prepared me as well.  Yet - the moment I walk away from that dorm room -  I know this one is gonna hurt.

Anyway - thanking Jesus today for a special girl.  We sure are blessed.  She made our job as parents - easy.  She truly is/was a great and easy kid to raise.  I'm super duper proud of the Godly woman she is becoming.  She passionately loves Jesus.  She could care less what kind of money she makes in life - but she is gonna lead people to Jesus - and THAT, my dear friends, is so much more important than any dollar amount she could ever bring home.

Love you Lysie Bug - always and forever.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Freedom's Stand Book Review

Freedom's Stand is a book I've been reading for the past week now.  I didn't realize what an impact it was having on me until I went to the mall today.  Let me explain.

Freedom's Stand is a fictional book based in Afghanistan.  The product description on says this:

"Jamil renounced a life of jihad when he encountered the life-changing message of Jesus Christ, but villagers and authorities in the hills of Afghanistan respond with skepticism . . . and even violence.
Relief worker Amy Mallory is shocked by the changes in her organization-changes with dire implications for the women and children under her care. And concern for her former assistant, Jamil, weighs heavily on her heart.

Former Special Forces veteran Steve Wilson faces off against the riots and corruption of Kabul's upcoming election. He's looking for something that will give his life purpose but is confident that he won't find it in Afghanistan.All three are searching for love and freedom in a country where political and religious injustice runs rampant. But when religious freedom becomes a matter of life and death, they discover that the cost of following Jesus may require the ultimate sacrifice."

The underlying theme is about the plight of women in a country such as Afghanistan - a country under Sharia law.  The book is a bit long-winded and at times, I have struggled through it.  The print seems sooo small - or is it that I'm getting older??  Lol.  I probably need glasses.

Anyway - the first time I spoke in tongues was over this same issue - the plight of women in these countries.  I had been watching something on TV about it and suddenly, in the privacy and darkness of my bedroom, I cried out to God in a foreign tongue unknown to me over these women.

It makes me mad.  I know, I'm American.  What could I possibly understand of another person's country, it's laws, it's traditions, it's religion?  I don't know - but my heart breaks over the lack of women's rights.  I'm no feminist by any stretch of the imagination and I fully believe in submitting to my husband.  My husband who mutually respects me and my opinions.  One who treats me better than he treats himself.  But the treatment of women in these places - I find inexcusable.

We were at the mall today when a lady and her family walked past me.  There had to be 10 kids with her, boys and girls.  Her husband was with her - well dressed.  She, on the other hand, was in a black robe - I don't know what they are called officially - Chador's?  Burqa's?  I'm not sure.  All you could see was her eyes.  It was all I could do not to go smack her husband upside the head.  I mean really - here he was all dressed comfortably, colorfully - free - and she - restricted - unknown - faceless.  It made me angry.

I don't know how accurate this book is - and I'd like to know.  I'll be doing some research.  If it is based on fact - it's just sad.

Anyway - this wasn't much of a book review I guess - more of a "personal opinion" kind of thing.  I'm enjoying the book even though it does run a bit slow sometimes.  There are quite a few characters to keep straight which is made tough only in that these aren't names we are necessarily familiar with here in America.  I would recommend reading it :)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sometimes, I don't understand

Sometimes, I don't understand God.  I know I'm not the only one.

Life can be tough.  I consider myself a survivor.  A pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps kind of girl.  I get knocked down, but I get up again kind of chick.  I'm stubborn, opinionated and bull-headed.  I can just shove my way through most situations.  It's difficult to change my mind once I've set course.  I don't back down easily. These are all traits that have helped me through life's difficulties and I don't apologize for them.

Yet, at times, I get tired.  Weary.  Like I would love to climb in bed, pull the covers over my head, and forget the world exists.  Times I'm sick and tired of dealing with life.  Times I just don't get this God I serve.  Times I would really like to have a few words with the man upstairs.  Am I alone in this?

Sometimes - even I - ask why.  Why do children suffer?  Why does God not always choose to reach down His mighty hands?  Why does He seem silent?  Why does He say no when yes seems like the better answer?  Why does He not always rescue? Why does He not always answer prayer?  How can He sit up there and see the tears streaming down the faces of His children and do NOTHING?  Why?

I know all the "right" answers to these questions.  I've spoken them myself.  I believe them.  I know Jesus suffered so we would not be alone in our suffering.  I know we can not see the big picture.  I know we don't know the future.  I know sometimes I have to withhold what may seem like good in the eyes of my children in the moment because that is what is best for them - even though they don't understand.  These are all things I know.

Yet, still.  I don't always understand.  Sometimes I don't want to sigh and say "okay God, your will be done."  I would rather kick and scream and shake my fist in the face of the Almighty.  It's wrong - but sometimes it's seems easier than yielding to His good and perfect will.

Sometimes, I don't understand.  Yet I know I would go to the ends of the earth for my children.  I know I would die trying to save them.  I know the love I feel for them is beyond any words I could ever speak.  I know I would deny myself anything if it would make them happy.  I know that I know that I know how much I am deeply, madly, insanely in love with them.  I can't imagine a greater love than what I have for my children.

That is the same love our father has for us.  Sometimes I don't understand.  But I know He does - and yes, even in my darkest hour, even in my deepest doubt - I still choose to bend my knee to Him.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On my reading list

I don't know about y'all but I switch back and forth between reading fiction and non-fiction.  I'm in a fiction mode right now.  Have I mentioned how much I LOVE my local library??  Do you know I can get online and order ANY book I want - and if they don't have it - they will get it for me (most of the time)??  (as long as your account is in good standing - they will do the same for you!!).  Well, I'm flooding my local library with Christian books!!  I'm like a kid at Christmas some days.  I literally could spend hours requesting books from the library.  Sometimes I wonder what they think of me over there....

Anyhow - I was hoping to get this stack BEFORE vacation but as life goes - I ended up with no reading time anyway.  Now I have a nice stack to finish off before school starts and my life goes back into the chaos mode.  Half of these books were ones the library didn't have and they generously got them for me.  Again - love, love, love my local library.  One day I'd like to meet that wonderful person who orders them for me...

Okay - lets move on 'cause there is a STACK to share with you.  Hope you enjoy my reading list (in alphabetical order 'cause I'm just cool like that ;) ) - now what's on yours?

Healing Promises by Amy Wallace

And the only non-fiction of the bunch - Zealous Love by Mike and Danae Yankoski - this is actually my second time reading this one.  Love it!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I was glad to see this article on Toledo 11 news about Warren Jeffs.  I thought the article did a nice job of sharing some information but yet not being too sensational about it thus protecting the girls involved a bit.  It's good to know the jury nailed this moron and I hope it scares the daylights out of any other wanna-be psychos.

Anywho - I do have to say this though.  Why is our justice system sooooo inconsistent on how it handles sexual abuse?  Some people get nailed, some people get a slap on the wrist.  Shoot, you can write a bad check and serve more jail time than someone who rapes a child.  (I know some of you might take offense to how I just worded that.  However, that's what it is and sometimes we need to face that harsh reality.  It should make us mad enough to act.)   It doesn't make sense.  I'm all for tougher laws and life sentences.  Actually, I think we should just add one thing to the life sentence - and that would be removal of certain body parts.

Okay, I did not just say that on this blog.  But, I did.  Some things just make me angry - and this would be one of them.

Way to go jury in Texas for standing up for those little girls.  They needed someone to speak for them - and you spoke loud and clear.  I applaud you. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Vacation 2011

Anybody still out there???  I will be surprised!  Sorry folks - it's summer, what can I say?

We were able to get away this past week to have a little camping vacation.  I LOVE CAMPING!!  What I love even more than camping - is camping on Lake Michigan.  If you've never been there - then I suggest you go!!  It's truly beautiful.  Sand dunes, white sands, clear and seaweed-free water, nothing to bite you, sting you (well in the water anyway) or poison you.  Pine trees, blue waters and the sound of waves - it truly doesn't get any better than that.  If I had my way - we would camp for the entire summer.  My kids, however, have not inherited my love - at least to that extent - of the beach so we don't go quite as long as Mom would like.  We spent a significant amount of time in the water and we are all darker than we've been in years.

We also had some excitement with friends.  We were able to visit with some college buddies, the Knapps for a couple of days.  We stayed up late playing games and Sarah and I spent a night crushing the boys in Euchre.  Oh yeah, I went there :)  Unfortunately while we were at PJ Hoffmaster State Park, a woman ran up to us with her baby in her arms asking for help.  He fell in the water and had inhaled some water as far as she knew.  He was having a difficult time staying awake and was super lethargic.  He was not well.  We called 911 and the paramedics arrived to help him.  He kept going in and out of consciousness.  They whisked him away in an ambulance.  Please pray for the little guy and his family if you would.  We do not know how he is.  Later that same night, we went out to get some ice cream.  We had heard some sirens and when we turned the corner, a building a couple of doors down from the ice cream place was engulfed in flames.  It was a donation center for the church next door and provided clothing for the people in the community who needed it.  Please also be in prayer for this church and community as the building was totally destroyed.

It was a good vacation.  Now we're back to life and reality.  Please also pray as we have to come up with the first payment in these next 2 weeks for Elyse's college.  I am not ashamed to say we need a mighty move of God.  The money is not there and without God's hand, I don't know what we're going to do.  Also pray with us as Jon has tryouts this week for the soccer team at Pioneer.  He is terrified.  As I have explained before, making a soccer team there is a totally different story than making the team at his old school.  They do not have a freshman team and he will have to make JV or not play at all.  At his old school, it was lucky to get 40 kids coming out for the team.  At his new school, there were over 60 kids at conditioning alone.  There will most likely be close to 100 kids coming out for around 40 positions.  With Jon being the new kid on the block, not playing for travel teams in that area, and being so small - it will be hard for him to get noticed.  He is an excellent player and I say that not as his Mom, but as a varsity coach of 15 years.  However, this will be very hard for him.  Please pray with us that God's will be done and that whatever that will is, Jon will be able to handle it without too much disappointment.

We also have some other things going on that we need some prayer for.  I won't say what they are here - but just be in prayer if you would.  I appreciate it.

This has been a very long post and now I would like to share some pics of our vacation with you.  Thanks for sticking with me through months of dry time in my writing.  I will try to do better.  I hope you are all enjoying your summer vacations and please drop me a comment if your still here :)

 Doesn't get anymore beautiful than this!!

 My blueberry pickers.  First time picking blueberries.  I think they are only grown on the west side of the state because of the sand.  Not sure if that's accurate or not - but I've never seen a blueberry farm here.

 Kids not paying attention, Dad tired of trying to get a pick = this!!

 They are not only good to eat - but pretty to take pictures of!

 Another cool shot of the berries.

 Elyse says she's the best blueberry picker ever.

 The most handsome blueberry picker ever.... :)

 The most empty bucket blueberry picker ever (since he eats them instead of putting them in the bucket)!

 So beautiful.  That's Jon and Marty way down by the water.  These stairs, however, are killers.  I would have never gained weight if we hadn't moved to this side of the state!!

 My college girl.

 Oh how I could get used to waking up to this every morning.

 Another shot.

 And another.  I can't get enough of this place.

 Jon taking a nose dive attempting to run into the water.

 My beautiful girl.

 Swimming in Lake Michigan is the best!  Clear water.  You can see all the way to the bottom.  No seaweed = happy Mom!

 Never too old for this.

 Seriously - just look at the color of that water - in MICHIGAN!!!

 Sorry folks - are you tired of the beach pics yet???

 This kind of creeps me out...

 My boys.

 The kiddos headed out to the lighthouse at the city park.

 Lighthouse view

 Up close and personal.  Pretty, isn't it?

Match made in heaven :) 

 One more...

 Love these guys.  Hard to believe the one on the left will spend the next school year living in another state.  Where has time gone?

 Cherish the time.  

 Home for a week.  Love this tent !!

 The amazingly free food tent given to us by our camping neighbors who had no desire to drag it back to Chicago!  It was funny 'cause I said to my MIL the first day we arrived before I knew it would be mine "it would be so nice to have a food tent like that!".  God hears our every word!

The blazer and trailer - so awesome for camping!

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