Friday, February 23, 2018

Updated Us

     Really, it has been almost 5 months since I've blogged?  That's a new slacking record for me!  Lol  What've we been up to?  Oh, you know it's just been hunting season, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Vacation to Mexico, Valentines, etc.  

  Kaley's Trip to Colorado with Papa & Cousins

 Dream of hers checked right off!

Raegan's 1st Deer

CHRISTmas Traditions

Christmas with the Walkers

Our Vacation of A Lifetime

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I love doing life with these!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

A Brand NEW Season

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     September brought with it a new season.  As Labor Day ends, our homeschooling begins.  Our oldest & youngest celebrate milestone birthdays & remind us that our time here is quickly fleeting. Between their special days, fall is officially in full swing.  The leaves begin to change & temperatures drop into the bearable range here in south GA.  Bow hunting season opens up in our area.  My crew has been preparing for hunting season for weeks now~scouting, feeding game, hanging stands, checking cameras, etc.  Customers begin to trickle in before the flood of gun season mid October.  I get itchy to get outside again, clean up flower beds, plant fall flowers, pull out the pumpkins, & even clean out rooms & closets.  I love organization.  I've been watching documentaries & youtube videos on minimalism.  Although I'm far from being a minimalist, I love the idea of keeping things that only bring joy & are useful.  For me, beautiful decor fits into that joyful category. ;)  I will definitely be focusing on getting rid of excess clothing & other things that I do not absolutely LOVE or that fails to serve a regular, functional purpose.
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Less stuff = Less time cleaning & MORE TIME
Less clutter = Less stress & MORE JOY
Less buying = Less junk & MORE MONEY

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     Any thoughts, tips, suggestions???  They are always WELCOME!

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     & just like that, our Kaley Mariah turned 15!  It fell during hurricane Irma.  We partied & shopped the best we could on her actual day.  More presents & permits the next!  I could say a million things about her.  She loves Jesus.  She's beautiful, intelligent, & kind.  We've been blessed with 15 years of amazing memories & are looking forward to many more!
& meanwhile in south GA, this is how we rang in the 1st day of fall right at 90 degrees!
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     Our baby is surely growing up on us!  Graham Jack turned 5!  He's our quiet little boy until you get him off by himself.  He definitely believes in exercising his 5th amendment right.  He gets into stuff just like the rest of the crew but when interrogated he says, "Let's not talk about that, ok?"  Here lately he has turned accident prone.  Fall has lived up to its season name for this little kiddo.  He's recently had lots of stitches in 2 different directions (sister's golf club to the eye brow by accident), a terrible looking black eye (collision with brother at the end of a water slide at a friend's birthday party), & even a 2nd degree burn (decided he would "help" & retrieves & spills HOT grits).  He's all healed up now, & we are praying for NO MORE injuries!  We enjoyed celebrating with special family & friends for daysss.  We partied on Jekyll Island at Driftwood Beach & ate at Tortuga Jacks, played at Rigby's in Warner Robins riding go carts & playing laser tag, shopped Toys R Us, met "Uncle" Andrew in Macon for Bass Pro & Wild Wings, & completed the celebration with presents & cake.  May his 5th year be filled with much learning, laughter, & LOVE!
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Embrace this new season!
Change can be beautiful!

Even the trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let things go!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Dear EVERY Mother

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     This is a must for me EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. No matter what is going on in life, how hectic & chaotic the day has been, or how late it is, I fill our bathtub up & either read or listen to my favorite playlist. On a bad day, I will find myself here earlier than usual, maybe even midday. It's a game changer for me. As the day washes away, I think of things I'm genuinely thankful for or what makes me truly happy. Sometimes I thumb through my list of gratitudes. I smile as I reflect on all of the wonderful memories penned down on paper. I'm amazed at how much I would forget & how quickly they add up in such a short time by simply jotting them down in a journal. The basket of books are my current reads. One was a gift from one of my dearest friends, several are recommendations from others I know & love. 📚 Each child's baby picture is in view on an adjacent shelf. This is my go to place each day. Dear mamas~I know you work hard too, so be sure to take care of you! Some mamas run, I soak.😂 Some arise to see the sunrise while I'm more of a night owl as our tribe peacefully sleeps. The point is, find whatever you love that works for you, & STOP to make the time. You matter.  You are loved. 💗 #lifeisshort #maketime

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Our Raegan Amily's 8th

     We had a BLAST celebrating our Raegan Amily's 8th birthday this past weekend!  She is our living reminder that miracles still happen & happiness abounds!  She's our little survivor of brain surgery as a baby & more recently a severe, life threatening seizure.  Nothing ever ruffles this girl's feathers.  She's as carefree as can be & lives fearlessly!  She loves big & we love her even larger!
     There are definitely perks to living close to Jekyll & St Simons Islands!  We love staying at the Days Inn on the beach.  TBH, usually Days Inn is NOT our choice for a hotel.  However, this one has just completed a huge remodel & everything is new.  So for $109 per night through their golf package online, you can get a new, beautiful room with 2 beds, a galley kitchen, huge bathroom complete with dressing table, a den with a pull out couch, 2 large closets, desk, table with 4 leather chairs, beach front patio, & a safe for valuables.  This beach front property sports free breakfast, 1 Olympic sized pool, another large pool, a 1 ft kiddie pool, a hot tub, a volleyball court, a fire pit & the most luscious grass ever!  We always enjoy eating outside at Tortuga Jacks & also visiting the neighboring island for shops & dining as well.  Because of the celebration, we planned this trip to include Summer Waves water park.  We ran into friends there & had another amazing adventure!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Are There Things I Shouldn't Share?

     Maybe this day is the day for saying things most people won't & don't.  Instead the majority posts pictures on various social media sites of their fabulous lives in the only corner of their dream home that is actually clutter free & clean.  This gives the appearance of perfection.  But maybe, just maybe nobody's lives are picture perfect.  As humans we all cycle through emotions, battle situations, & struggle through fears.  We all have questions & decisions that we don't have the answer to.  That's ok.  That's actually normal.
    Let's face it, no one's home is spotless 24/7 unless they have an extremely dull & horrible life.  I'm positive that if we had a live in maid, we'd still manage to shake foundations & pile up junk.  As I've said before, I have a sad case of OCD, but 7 real people live in our home (5 of which are tiny humans that rather NOT clean if ever given an option not to mention my dear husband).  Therefore, I have to let some things go.  No, I don't post the huge mess they made eating, leaving crumbs all over the carpet or pictures of the wrecked bathrooms when they "forget" for the millionth time to pick up their clothes after bath time.  Then later I find them wet from them stomping over the pile while drying off.  I surely don't snap a reminder for later years that someone recently broke a toilet seat in the house, & we keep forgetting to replace it.  But maybe I should...
     I've also admitted time & again that our vehicle is merely transportation.  It's not our pride & joy, not our castle to keep spotless.  Just the other day I had 3 drinking chocolate milk, & guess what?  Only 1 was spilled this time!  Yay us!  Still, I wouldn't post that.  But maybe I should...
     Many times what I share revolve around our kids.  I'm not into sharing every sickness with the world.  I cringe as I read about others with vomiting &/or diarrhea.  I wonder what people are thinking that post that stuff.  Anyways, I'm more into making picture collages of our trips.  However, I conveniently leave out the part where someone pooped their pants which stopped the fun dead in its tracks until we could go buy the ugliest attire EVER sold at the nearest Dollar General to make do.  But maybe I should...
     I'm big on appearance.  I'm not really sure why.  I guess it's natural.  Don't misunderstand that.  I'm not big into spending thousands on certain brands.  I'm more into being neat & clean, ironed & hair combed when in public.  Therefore, I don't take or share the pictures where we didn't exactly get ready today, but maybe I should...
     We have a new pool this summer.  I take pictures way too much.  You know, the ones where they are in their cute little swim attire at the beginning of the season.  I don't ever think to snap those where they ran out in whatever they had on, shucked part of that off, & dove in.  Ok, so maybe I shouldn't post naked pictures of kids because of all the creeps in the world, but maybe I could share an image of clothes all wet & nasty by the pool that get left overnight...or a few days...
     Guess what?  Today I woke up in a bad mood.  Yep, me!  Somedays are just that way.  This is life.  Hormones are real.  Everyone doesn't always get along.  Peer pressure doesn't end with high school.  Can I get an amen?  I have kids that ask for cell phones before the age 10 as well as $500 hover boards that I am NOT about to deliver on.  Bills are a reality & even worse are how fast they can pile up.  Money is easier spent that earned.  Having a compassionate, giving heart can cripple you down to your core. Maybe someone, somewhere needs to post about those things.  Those are the real deal.  Everyone was needing me in every different direction before I even got myself together this morning.  Finally, in my desperate attempt at self preservation, I gave into my fight or flight responses by covering my ears & closing my eyes.  I wasn't even dressed yet.  They all got the message & backed up right out of the room.  Now that would've made a picture worth going viral.  I didn't even yell & yet scared my own crew.    I surely could use that in my reminder of memories.  That could work again!
     I have accepted some things in this life~the fact that bad things happen to good people, some people & things we cannot change or reason with, injustice is often served on silver platters & forced down our throats, jobs end, defenseless ones get mistreated, diseases exist, debt grows more often than eliminates, ignorance abounds, suicide happens, laws we may not like dictate our lives, & I could go on & on & on.  Those things we deem as unshareable or unworthy.  The fact that they even exist is unthinkable.  Maybe if we don't highlight those bad moments, we can pretend like they don't matter.  Maybe that's the logic...
     But sometimes just maybe we lose a battle to win a war.  I loose the battle of pride today.  Today I will be honest & speak out.  My heart hurts.  Life isn't fair.  I choose comfy pjs, warm covers, & pillows to handle today.  My favorite blanket is worn out & sporting a hole.  It also needs a bath.   Ironically, it is an old gift from someone that doesn't even like me anymore.  Surely I shouldn't share such as that.  Surely that is TMI for hundreds to read.  I meditate.  I pray.  I read.  I type it out into words that will never be read.  I even eat, lots.  I did get some clothes on for a second to dash to the Piggly Wiggly for an imperfect attempt to handle stress with snacks.  I choose to believe that failure & tears today is not failure forever.  Today will not define my every single day.  It is packed with fleeting emotion.  It will tarry for a season, & it will soon disappear into history.  I've "shared" my 35th birthday weekend with the violence & tragedy of Charlottesville, Virginia.  That surely wasn't my choice.  It just happened that way.  I cannot put all of those feelings into words right now.  Maybe that was the beginning of this sad day in the making.  I grieve not only for the hatred in our world but also the hatred that continues to endure in America.  After all of this full day has been spent, I still have no answers.  I don't know what to do except allow myself space to grieve for now with a plan in mind to lace up my boot straps & hold my head high for tomorrow.  Today I grieve & fight in solace, warring with God over the hard questions.  Tomorrow I continue the search to find my place to stand & fight in this world.
     I may never make much of a mark in the eyes of this world.  I refuse to let that cripple me from what I can do.  I can make a difference to at least one person in one family, & those acts will change their ENTIRE world.  In that way we are all equipped to change someone's future.  I refuse to teach hate to these 5 little beings that God has entrusted us with.  I pray that they never waiver from showing love.  Just yesterday as we were all riding together to accomplish errands I asked them what we should look for in a new church to attend.  We've enjoyed visiting around lately.  I was surprised with their profound yet simple answers.  Clay chimed in 1st with kindness & sharing & caring.  This mama's heart smiled.  Those are happy moments to grasp a hold of.  That is share worthy.  Ugly happens, but LOVE wins...someway, somehow!
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Learn LOVE!  Show LOVE!  Teach LOVE!
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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

South GA Sweet Summer Time

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     Wow!  What a summer!  We've done so many fun things!  This year we added a back deck & pool.  If I recall correctly, we've spent every single day that we were home in it except for 1.  Oftentimes, we swim multiple times per day!  I'm sure the kids would all proclaim that it's the best $88 gift they've ever received.  I found it so cheap on clearance Christmas shopping.  The deck & fence we built ourselves didn't set us back too much either.  We were able to use some materials we already had leftover from various building projects & only buy a portion.  Nathan has a nice place to grill while we all swim & hang out each afternoon.  The dog also gained a new pen if necessary.  We fixed up a cute little clothes line for wet suits, hooks & baskets for towels, & containers for toys, flip flops, chemicals, & sunblock all from the Dollar Tree.  We already owned some beach chairs.  I bought a few plants & mixed them in some pots that were hanging out in our barn.  They've grown tremendously & turns out I've only had to water them once due to our unusually rainy summer.  An outdoor shower is in the works as well for the completion!   
As you can see, we thoroughly enjoyed hosting an extra for about the 1st 3 weeks of summer!
They played hard & swam!  We even loaded up & all went on a road trip together!
She enjoyed our family cabin at the river, fishing & riding in the boat as well!
     Next we slipped in a mini vacay to the Carolinas with just our 2 oldest.  Nathan attended some Taxidermy classes & bought supplies & we tagged along for the shopping & dining!  As you can see, he even let Marianna paint in his truck on the way!  Ridiculous, I know!  That's just Nathan!  As long as their requests are not seriously dangerous or dealing with an area of needed discipline, he believes in allowing them be kids & have FUN!  I am so thankful.  These kids have no idea what an amazing dad they have!
Thanks to our local library, we checked out FREE tickets & took the kids to Cheehaw Park 
& The Flint River Aquarium for a fun day trip! 
June also blesses us with Father's Day which is always spent celebrating
 the many loving father figures in our lives!

Then, YOUTH CAMP~our favorite week of the year!
Record attendance was over 500 campers, not counting those that just pop in for night services!
The 2 most handsome little boys there:
     & sometimes when us moms wonder if all of the million things we do are unimportant, something GREAT happens!  For instance, are trips to the library for the summer reading program worth the time & effort?  I read to them anyways.  We have books everywhere, frequent book stores, read aloud as we travel, & google & discuss anything imaginable.  In fact, I seldom every have all of the laundry done.  Usually all baskets runneth over.  Even with a good case of OCD, my house is never perfect.  Adventure awaits & is much more exciting!!!  Then, I receive this call!  Clay's 1 entry into the drawing for reading lands him this:
Effort does matter long after the gold coins for reading logs are long lost.  It's been hilarious to watch all 3 little ones learn that there is still a such thing as a desktop & mouse!

VBS is always a must!  We attend at least 2 in our area.
The kids always LOVE it!

July has always blessed us not only with a special celebration of our country
but also with Nathan's birthday.
My parents also treated us all to a vacation in the mountains!
Our brave zip lining crew:
Anna Ruby Falls
The Indian Museum & drama "Unto These Hills" are both AMAZING,
& a great end to a fun time together!  If you plan a trip, check out the living village as well!
If you haven't already picked up on it from my blog, my parents are definitely irreplaceable,
& we can never say enough about them & their love & support for our family!  
If they had 1 dime left, I can guarantee they'd spend it on us!

     The Outdoor Blast in Atlanta, GA provided us the opportunity to not only to support Nathan's cousin who qualified with a huge buck for the GON truck buck shoot out but also a trip for the boys to have us all to themselves!  This was such a fun weekend!  We even sported our shirts to represent our business!
     We enjoyed the show & also the beautiful pool at the resort we scored through Priceline!  It was lots of fun & relaxation!  You better believe this mama is trying her hardest to teach these 2 how to spoil their future wives with dessert in bed one day!  I don't know if they will ever heed my advice or not, but they were so excited & loved it!

We all enjoyed both of these restaurants!
Cheesecake Factory is a family favorite!
& thanks to FREE tickets from McDonald's happy meals, Legoland was AWESOME!
     As August is now upon us, the summertime is far from over here in south GA.  We plan to celebrate several more birthdays, swim a ton more, & maybe even hit up another getaway before the new homeschool year starts full swing.  Our goal is to resume our normal school schedule closer to September.  That's one of the many perks of homeschool.  We fit school into our everyday lives of what works for us.  We can complete 2 or 3 lessons in 1 day, school on a roadtrip, or skip a day all together for some family fun.  Learning opportunities are all around us if we just take the time to dig in!  
     I wish everyone a happy August!  We are excited as we begin a new chapter of our lives.  We resigned from pastoring.  As much as we have loved it, it was our time to depart.  We have a desire for ministry that reaches out into diversity & helps others in need.  At 1st we were 2nd guessing ourselves as "Christians" attacked us for following our hearts, but we KNOW that was the very root of Jesus' ministry.  It's not about our exclusive little group.  It's all about OTHERS.  Going forward, we have no big plans set out in stone, & that's ok.  It seems logical to shut one door before opening another.  We are currently in limbo.  We are taking a much needed break, NOT FROM GOD but from such a rigorous schedule of responsibilities.  We are waiting on His leadership & resting in the faith that He will guide our footsteps.  I'm not even worried about it actually.  All we have to do is follow.  God's plans are best!  We do covet your prayers going forth!  Uncharted waters await!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Love Has NO Bounds

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     Love is not bound by language, culture, religion, or anything else!  In the times we are living in, I am super thankful to watch these boys grow up as best friends since birth!  I love watching them run, play, laugh, & hug all day long & never let differences hold them back.  Love is their common language.  Love doesn't require anything of us except opening our hearts & minds.  These boys could definitely teach life lessons to many!  We couldn't imagine our lives as anything but broken without their family living near.  We've prayed together in different languages & probably in totally different ways.  We've shared thousands of meals (at least 5 days a week for 5 months out of every year) & even tears.  We've suffered with them through 2 tragedies of loosing children.  They've given us their baby gifts & rocked our Clay that was born just a few weeks after burying their own.  We've embraced & celebrated with them the 3 living they have.  We respect their desire to work any days except Saturdays because that's what they believe in.  We've learned more from them than I can tell you.  They are much more than our friends; they are our family.  I can promise you that if we need them for anything, they are here & ready to help in any way to lighten our load for they showed up tirelessly when our Raegan was having seizures & hospitalized.  They didn't just call or text, they showed up!  I'm certain that Jesus came to tear down walls, not build them.  America was founded for those seeking freedom & a better life.  That's what they came here looking for as well.  No, they are not sponging off of the food stamp or medical care situation (not that that's anyone's business or that they are not deserving of them).  They work harder than most everyone any of us know.  They pay taxes & contribute to our economy.  They provide for & love their children just as any of us love our own.  Their oldest daughter has worked extremely hard to earn a scholarship for college.  I've seen the parents run ahead of us to scoop up one of ours that was crying & hurting to comfort them.  I think oftentimes people forget that they are humans with real intelligence, love to give, & contribute to make our world a much better place.  I know we are blessed just for knowing them.  If you never have, I encourage you to reach out, laying down all of your fears of differences & the unknown.  I cannot begin to tell you how abundantly blessed your own life will be!  It's our job to speak up for those who cannot voice their own concerns.  We are privileged with the opportunity to see & know, to be part of their strength, to make a difference in real lives.  Choose love!