Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A few end of the summer pictures

I have a random handful of pictures on my phone right now that I wanted to share. I know the kids & I still have a few more days until our summer is officially over, but here's what I have for now. They are in no particular order here...just a random bunch of pictures. Enjoy!

Savannah really has no idea how cute she is! We went to the store to buy just a couple of "school clothes" items earlier this week and found this dress on a rack so I handed it to Savannah & told her to try it on just for fun. It fit her PERFECTLY!

A local church recorded a live worship CD a year or so ago. I finally got my hands on a copy of it earlier this summer. But by the time I got it, they were already working on their 2nd CD. My sweet friend Kate, the mom of one of my students this summer, got the new CD for me as an end of the summer gift. I love it!! Then again, I always love new worship music! Thanks Kate!!!

I wish I could say this is a rare occurrence at my house. But it's not. I took this one day last weekend to show my girlfriends. See the empty TP tube on the holder? And the whole big bag of toilet paper RIGHT THERE under it? It's like whoever used the last piece forgot where we kept the refills.
But the crazy this is that I found it the SAME WAY about 2 days later. Sigh. I think it's time to get eye exams for all of my BLIND family.

Don't worry....they're not really fighting. They were just laughing & wrestling around in the kitchen floor. When I got out the camera, they started giggling & pretending like they were actually pulling hair & fighting. They were laughing REALLY LOUDLY the whole time, though.

So LOUDLY, in fact, that their brother came & grabbed Savannah by the legs and started dragging her out of the kitchen so he could work on his summer science project for school without having to hear them. She grabbed onto Sarah's leg & it was hilarious watching Sam drag both of the girls out of the kitchen. ha ha!!

Monday was mine & Larry's 18th anniversary. I took a picture before he got home & texted him to show him my date night outfit. The necklace I put on shortly after this broke while we were eating dinner. least it was cheap jewelry!

Since I took the girls to look for a few school clothes items one day while Larry had Sam busy doing something else, I had to take him & get a couple pairs of jeans for school at a later time. We stopped at Whataburger for some fries & a coke while we were out. For some reason, he always thinks the ketchups on the table are meant to be used to build things...towers, buildings, etc. Ha ha!

He looked so cute in this hat, but I just couldn't justify buying it. We have no where for him to wear it.

Showing off his new haircut again. Isn't he handsome?

Laying on the couch watching TV last night, Savannah came over to snuggle & took our picture with my phone. I was trying to get her to smile in this pic.

And last but not least, I love taking part in an online group called Viewpoint Forum. It's a website where you join & fill out surveys for points. It takes a few months, but once you hit 375 points, you can choose to cash in your points for money or some other rewards. I can't remember what the other rewards are, though, because I always choose the money!!

Once in a while, they will send me a product to test for them & then I get online & do a survey about the item. One time I did a test for Bounty paper towels. This (see pic below) is the 2nd or 3rd time I've been asked to test a laundry detergent. When you test a product, it's worth more points than the once a week (give or take) surveys about random things.

I can confirm that the site is completely legitimate. I've been working with them for several years now! Check it out at They don't do a referral program right now, so I'm not going to get anything if you choose to sign up. I just want to share about a cool program!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

18 years with my sweetie!

On August 20, 1994 I wore a long-sleeved white poofy dress with a big ol' bow on the back and lots of lace. And did I mention poofy sleeves? See?

I walked down the aisle with my daddy by my side and stopped to stand in front of a crowd of friends and family to marry my best friend.

Happy 18th anniversary sweetie!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Summer 2012: Week 12

You know, I was a little sad that today marked the end of my summer....until yesterday. Now I'm anxiously looking forward to a new season of life.

But I have to be honest.

Today was my last day to teach preschool for the summer. And then it hit me as I got ready to leave. Today was really my last day to teach preschool, period. Unless God changes the course of my life (and you never know, right?) today was my last day to teach little ones. Starting a new job that will not allow me to teach in the summers means I am officially done. (since I had already given up teaching during the school year)

I walked around the building, peeking into my old classrooms...the one I spent so many years in, the ones I've worked in during the summers. I took pictures of a few things that I will fondly remember. I hugged a few people. I waved good bye. And that was it. I wasn't nearly as emotional as you'd think I would be. When I quit teaching full time a few years ago, it was much harder. But today there was a bittersweetness none the less.

I won't ever be signing in here again.

I won't ever be gathering up supplies for the day in here again.

I won't be taking kids out to this playground any more.

And somehow, for the first time ever, I can say that's okay.

Life moves on. Seasons change.
I'm embarking on a whole new adventure in a couple of weeks.
The kids are starting new school years soon.
So much can change in a short time.

No doubt I will miss my preschool babies. Sometimes it's easier to work with 2-5 year olds than it is to work with adults so I'm sure there will be days when I long to go back. But for everything there is a season.

A time to laugh, a time to cry, a time to mourn, a time to rejoice, a time to dance....a time to teach preschoolers, a time to work in a law office.....a season for everything under heaven. (that comes from the New Liz version of the Bible -- wink!)

{Note: Showing my age here! Anybody else have trouble hearing that passage without thinking of a particular 80s movie where the main character quotes this to a pastor & slaps the Bible on the desk stating "....and there is a time to DANCE!"}

I hesitate to shout from the rooftops that we have finally conquered our money problems and that life will be great from here on out. I've made that mistake too many times before and God has quickly reminded me that He is still in charge---good or bad! (Plus, the idea that life will be great from now on solely based on a new job & more money is ridiculous.) I realized recently that sometimes God gives us a little taste of what eternity will be like, completion, not wanting anything, complete rest in Him. If that's what this season of life is---just a taste of Heaven, I will trust in Him to take care of us into the next season, and the next, and the next.

My kids and I have 1 more week of summer. I'll report in 1 last time next weekend. Hard to believe Summer is nearly over, but wow....bring on the Fall! But in the meantime, I've gotta get me one of these before I can't use the intense heat as an excuse for it!

[And for any of you who have been wondering, 13 weeks of summer=91 days. Once again, I've proved Phineas & Ferb wrong....or they live in a magical place where their summers are about 20 days longer than ours.]

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Enough. And more.

A few weeks ago, one of my favorite singers and bloggers (who happens to be a hometown boy who grew up at the same church I did!), Shaun Groves, posted a printable poster on his website. I printed it out and hung it on my bedroom door. I needed to see it often, a reminder to pray not for great wealth, but just for God to meet our needs. In searching for a job, I was growing weary of the financial struggles we've battled for the last several years. Each of the kids, at one time or another, have asked about the poster and read it themselves. This is it:
Over the past couple of months, Larry and I have looked at our bank account over and over, trying to decide the best way to get out of this bottomless pit, this endless, hopeless cycle we've faced for the last few years. The answer seemed to be bringing in more income. Yesterday, after every job I've applied for had fallen through and hope seemed to be lost on me finding a new job, we thought maybe a loan from our credit union would help break the cycle--if we could just get on top of things for one month, it seemed that we could finally get past this hurdle we keep facing over & over. At our wit's end, we felt desperate for a solution, so we called the bank & got things started on that. (After all, the payment on a loan would be less than all the overdraft fees we've been paying month after month for the last few years. Surely we have financed at least one of the bank executives' kids through college by now!)

Teacher inservice starts in a few days and nothing seemed to be working out for me job-wise. We decided that I would just go back to work at the school and wait for something to work out. But I'm a planner by nature so that really scared me as much as continuing the job hunt did. I kept hoping something would change, praying that something would open up in the school district at the last minute. But cutting it so close, getting down to the wire like this without feeling like we really had any more of an idea how to get by than we did a year ago was draining both of us. Truly, financial problems can take a toll on even a very healthy & happy marriage.

In trying to encourage my worried husband, I kept saying we needed to be patient & trust that God would work things out...that He has a plan for us....that He would provide our every need....that His timing is always perfect. Of course, I could only encourage him in that way because I had about a gazillion people reminding me to wait on God's timing and rest in knowing He would provide a few days ago on Facebook! I *knew* He would provide, but I was having a hard time living it.

Yesterday, Savannah asked me why I even needed a new job. I reminded her that we didn't make enough to pay our bills at this point in time and we really needed a job that pays more. She said (get this....) "But mom, we've always been okay. We've never missed eating because we couldn't afford it and they never turned off our electricity or anything." I responded that those things were true, but it was because God always took care of us, always provided in some way. She just shrugged & turned back to what she was doing and said something like " I said, we've always been OK. God's taken care of us."

Sigh. Yes, He has. Sage wisdom from my 16 year old. (Thank you, Lord, for this kid! I don't deserve her.)

This morning, I had no idea how the day would look by the time I went to bed. You see, today, a friend from our old church called and offered me a job.

A job that meets every single item on my wishlist. And then some. Perfect hours, more than perfect pay, great family-friendly environment, lots of fun little perks.

Oh my goodness!

When I was telling the kids about it, Samuel stopped me when I mentioned the pay and said "But mom, isn't that MORE than you were hoping to make? Isn't that more than ENOUGH?"

I remembered the poster on my bedroom door.

"Yes, baby. It is MORE. It means now we can GIVE more. We can HELP other people more. God loves to do things like that."

He smiled, nodded in agreement and said "cool." (After all, that's how 12 yr old boys show their enthusiasm for Providential intervention in life.)

Savannah just grinned & said "You know, you just can't point to anyone but God in this! It is everything you've prayed for!" Then she asked if we could pray and thank God for providing. The three kids and I circled up in the living room and praised God for giving us more than our heart's desire.

And somehow I kept it together and didn't completely melt into a puddle right then & there. Thank goodness my kids have turned out like this despite the many times their dad and I have fouled up over the years.

I'm still feeling a little stunned, shocked, amazed. I know my sweet friend who called to offer me a job today has no idea how HUGE a difference he just made in our lives. I know he has no idea just how deeply he impacted our family today and how many things about our lives will be affected by his actions. I know he acted because he saw that I was looking for a job and he had one to offer, but he doesn't realize how long that job offer was prayed for, how deep the callouses are on my knees. But I'm going to send him this blog link so he can see! Thank you, friend. From the bottom of our household's collective hearts, thank you.

As always, I won't go into detail here on the blog about exactly where I will be working. (Gotta be safe!) But I can tell you this much --- I will be an assistant to our friend who is a lawyer. It will be a whole new adventure for me since I have never done this before, but I am confident I can figure it out & do it well. I have plenty of clerical, computer, people skills, so I will be fine. Change is always scary, but this is a *very* good change. I will be able to wait until after the kids start school in a couple of weeks to start the job, so I have a little more summer left! Yahoo! A little more time for swimming, eating ice cream, taking pictures of summer fun, sleeping a little later and enjoying time with my kiddos.

"Oh, my God, He will not delay
My refuge and strength always
I will not fear, His promise is true
My God will come through always, always.

I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord
From You Lord, from You Lord"
(part of the lyrics from Kristian Stanfill's song Always)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer 2012: Week 11

This week has been full of uncertainties for me, mostly surrounding the unknown of my future. In fact, my immediate future.

We determined last month that it's vital for me to find another job where I can get a bigger paycheck because, unfortunately, we can't pay our bills at this point in time. It's not just something that would be's really crucial that I find something. Soon.

Last month I approached my boss about the possibility of turning my part time job into a full time one. It was a long shot, but I had to at least ask. As expected, she stated that it wouldn't be possible for me to go full-time. I applied for a different position within the school system that would be full time and interviewed for it, but didn't get the job. And so, over the course of the past week, I've been running full steam ahead, looking for a job, putting word out to friends, networking as much as possible, searching the ads on our local newspaper website & Craigslist daily.

Today was a very full day, but one I feel pleased about. In the last 24 hours or so, I've applied for or had contact with a lot of places for jobs. They include:

1. Day care #1 --- applied for a morning teacher job at a privately owned/operated center.
2. Day care #2 --- applied for a morning teacher job at a church day care. (To be honest, if I had to choose, I'd like this one better because I would be allowed to infuse my faith in Christ into all my lesson plans, but hey...beggars can't be choosers!)
{Note: I have no idea if either day care center will be able to afford to pay me what I need to make....we'll see! I would love to be back in a preschool classroom!}
3. Day care #3 --- it was determined that the hours they are offering for teaching positions is not enough hours for me to make the $$ I need, so I am not pursuing this one.
4. A nanny job --- I have talked to the mother of this family by email, but have not heard back from her yet.
5. A test proctoring job at the local junior college --- I have emailed with the director of the department & will talk to her about the schedule, times, etc on Monday. This job will not likely be one that would be enough $$ to be considered a full time position, but it would be great for a little money on the side.
6. A school photographer job with a company that travels to area schools to take student pictures. The pay is good & they pay for mileage. I've emailed and called the contact person for this. Still have lots of questions about how things work, but it would be a FUN job if it works out.
7. A receptionist job at a local doctor's office.
8. Another job on Craigslist that I can't remember at the moment. ha ha!
9. Another full-time position within the school district --- I have only emailed with the department head. No idea if it will turn into anything or how many million people have applied for the job.
10. Online application completed for 2 area school districts

Honestly, if none of these things works out, I will take that as a VERY STRONG sign from God that I need to stay exactly where I am and wait on Him. Something is BOUND to turn up or work out with all these jobs...but if it doesn't, I know He will provide!

In other non-job hunt related news, Savannah started back to summer band practices this week. She's thrilled. (major sarcasm) And I picked up Sarah's clarinet for beginner band from the music store today. Thank goodness for sweet grandparents who are able to help with big investments like this!!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Back to the monkeybars

I remember stretching out my hand, reaching for the next bar. With calloused palms, I'd grab it & try to hold on. Sometimes if my palms were sweaty, I'd slip off the bar. Sometimes it was hard to reach it at all if the bars were spread far apart. If I could swing my body just right, I could grab the next bar without much trouble, looking like a monkey swinging from branch to branch. But sometimes I missed the bar and would have to swing backward, gain some momentum and try again on the next swing. Sometimes I still missed the bar and in exhaustion, I'd just drop to the ground. Swinging back and forth for too long without something to hold onto and support my weight was tiring and before I knew it, my fingers would slip and I was forced to just let go.

I've kind of felt like I'm climbing the monkeybars for the last couple weeks. Like I can feel the weight of my whole body straining against my weak, sweaty fingers. Like I'm swinging back and forth over & over, reaching for the next bar, but it keeps moving out of reach.

God has reminded me to be calm & wait for Him. But I keep reaching for the bar anyway. I'm impatient. I want answers to questions now. I want clear, specific answers. I want to find a place of security & safety to rest and trust Him. I want to grip that next bar firmly.

Because after all, when I am safe & secure, I can trust Him fully. Until then, I need to take care of things.

Oh wait.

Didn't I just teach my 4 and 5 year olds something different a couple of months ago in Sunday School? I seem to recall a memory verse about trusting God in ALL things. The kids didn't know it, but that one was as much for me as it was for them. I can trust God in ALL things...even finances, jobs, bank accounts.

Haven't I written this blog post before? I keep having to learn this lesson over and over. (and over and over and over and over and over) Seriously, self....get with it! Hasn't He proved Himself enough times to recognize that He will take care of things? Enough for me to know I can rest & wait on His timing? Honestly, I get sick of hearing myself say it so I know you must get sick of reading it. But here I am, once again, relearning the same lesson.

I think the heart of the fears and doubts is a lack of control. We panic. We fret. We worry. We start seeking out ways to solve the problem ourself. We start searching for answers on our own. We start swinging furiously, arm outstretched, searching for the next bar. If we can just grab hold of it, we'll be safe.

But, God, if I don't know about this by this date, things will fall apart......
But, Father, I really need her to ......
But, Lord, I know I said I'd trust you, but.....
Jesus, have you seen the numbers in my checkbook? I know you already know this, but I really need a job......

Back & forth we swing, the weight of the world pulling against our hands as we reach & stretch & strain for the next bar. Sweat drips from our brow as we peer up at the bars, searching in the sunshine for the next spot to place our hand to get control over the situation.

All along, all He's asked is for us to let go.

Father, forgive me for doubting, for not believing, for working through my own strength, my own power. Show me how to rest in you, to quit striving, to stop reaching for solutions on my own. Show me again how to trust you.

Psalm 31:14 But I trust in you, LORD; I say, “You are my God.”

Psalm 9:10 Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 25:1 In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.

Summer 2012: Week 10

I wish I could say that this week was full of adventure and fun and excitement....but it wasn't. There isn't really much to report, except that we've passed through yet another week of summer. It's nearly over, folks. Sigh.