Thursday, May 26, 2016

Hydrate & Motivate: Set yourself up for success!

     Need a simple yet profound way to start your day?  Drink a bottle of water, & write a few items in your gratitude journal!  It starts your day with a SMILE!  We all know the importance of hydration, especially during these hot summer months.  Proper water intake awakens your body to it's fullest potential.  This will start your metabolism with a boost!  Not just thinking about but writing down a few blessings each day can really change your life!  Your perspective on life will prosper & your mood will be elevated.  Open your eyes up to the beauty in front of you & celebrate it!  Everyone around you will take notice & benefit from your catching smile.  It's simple too!  Just keep a pen & paper beside your bed & put out a fresh bottle of water the night before.  Your mind & body will be glad you did!  We only live once, choose healthy & thankful, & you choose happy!
After all, this is the way God designed us!

3 John 1:2 "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper & be in health, 
even as thy soul prospereth."

Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, 
whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of a good report; 
if there be any virtue, & if there be any praise, think on these things."

"A faithful man shall abound with blessings"  Proverbs 28:20

A peek inside my pages:
     Notice it's definitely not my best handwriting but they are my heart's thoughts!  Some are very general (Bible verses, salvation, Youth Services, birthdays, flowers, health, happiness) while others are more specific & detailed (Psalm 37, Clay's laugh, Granny's recovering health, tomato sandwiches, bright starry nights)!  What I also love is that I can look back & remember Graham sitting in his high chair entertaining us by making all his silly faces without saying a word, remember how exciting it was building Nathan's dream shop, or remember how prayers have been answered!  Count it all JOY!

  It’s habits that can imprison you and it’s habits that can free you.
But  when thanks to God becomes a habit —  so joy in God becomes your life.  ~Ann Voskamp

Monday, May 23, 2016

& The Sheriff Came

     As the school year comes to an end, burnout & lazy seem to find their way of hanging around.  In the beginning, we are refreshed & renewed, ready to roll.  It is new & fun to start our routine schedule after a few months of summer relaxation & more laid back learning.  As the year progresses into spring & the weather warms up, we all get a little more antsy to be outside.  Regular "chores" begin to lack.  I got so tired of us loading up in the van with the last ride's purses, toys, cups, shoes, etc.  I get weary in reminding everyone that the floor should be free of your dirty clothes, your toys should be put away after you are finished playing, the snack & drink you're currently consuming doesn't belong all over the house but at the table, beds need to be made, the couch is not a trampoline, shoes belong on your feet or in the closet, the list goes on...ANYONE ELSE HAVE THESE ISSUES???
     I decided I would stop.  No more reminders.  The sheriff would just have to come, & that's how the big idea began!  I rounded up quarters from our loose change stash.  My idea was to have each a cute little mason jar but I didn't have 5 small empty ones on hand.  I had to improvise with antique glasses.  Each child chose their own shape & color.  The kiddos cut them out & fixed them with stickers, excited to hear what would take place.  An even number of 8 quarters were added to each cup.  The youngest, Graham, was sworn in as Sheriff 1st.  Each morning would mean a new Sheriff would come to "town".  The little ones really loved it!  If your things were left in the vehicle, your clothes in the floor, etc the Sheriff would fine you & then you still had to make it right (enters the teaching moment for God loving you enough not to let you continue in sin).  Different times during the day when toys would begin to get strung & strewn & left out, I would set the kitchen timer.  The Sheriff had to set the best example in order to do his job.  When the timer would go off, the Sheriff would be turned loose to hold those accountable who had left their messes.  A fine would be paid to the Sheriff.  Then, the offender would be sent back finish the task (enters love, mercy, grace, pardon).  Yes sometimes hard headedness would kick in, but it only worked against them.  Soon they figured that out at their own loss.  The new Sheriff didn't tire as Mommy sometimes does & move on to something else.  The new Sheriff stuck it out & earned the other's quarters while I happily went about my business.  Win!  Win!  The only looser was the one who wasn't minding & only harming himself/herself.  Yes, there were also opportunities to gain quarters.  I would catch someone being good & give an extra to the Sheriff to reward to the proper citizen.  The game was catchy!  Soon our little soldiers were falling in line again in the name of fun without the constant reminders & me having to do all of the mundane discipline.
     The rewards & fines began to stack up!  They enjoyed peeking into the cups to see who seemed to have the most.  I wouldn't let them count them until the week end to see where they stood.  Marianna was in the lead.  The others would tighten up & readjust.  She kept on shinning!  At the end of 2 weeks, we counted & evened out the money once again.  Everyone seemed excited to start over, determining that she would not beat again & earn the SURPRISE.  2 more weeks passed.  Guess who the winner was?  Marianna!  What's so funny is that she is normally our slacker.  She was rewarded everyone's quarters!  It was almost $50!  I took her to cash it in & pick out a prize.  They all enjoyed it & keep begging to do this again.  The change was some we weren't using & will probably never miss, but I pray the lessons learned will stick around a while!  If not, I may have to call the sheriff again!  

Friday, May 20, 2016

Our Little Pre-K Graduates

           We are very proud of our Clay Walker & Raegan Amily!  The top picture definitely shows the personality of these 2!  Clay is super excited while Raegan is a wee bit nervous. They both contributed to a great performance though.  Our children have all loved attending McRae Methodist Enrichment School.  They offer small classes in 3 age groups, 4 days a week, 3 hours a day.  We are not the most faithful students.  Life happens.  Homeschool field trips or church events sometimes conflict.   What is so neat is that the same teacher that taught me as a toddler has also taught each of our children.   It is such a loving atmosphere that encourages play & learning that won't break the bank.  It has allowed me to homeschool our oldest 2 with much needed 1 on 1 time.  Next year with be a whole new ballgame for all of us.  We've always homeschooled while the littles were there.  Now we'll have everyone at home.  I will instruct the 3 littles in Kindergarten.  That may be a challenge with Graham Jack only being 4.  I'm up for the challenge though!  I think they will love learning together even if Graham can't do every single thing that they can.  Sadly, I will put Kaley & Marianna back on the A Beka Dvd programs.  It breaks my heart that I will have a high schooler already mailing in accredited work.  How did that happen so fast?  Thankfully they are excited & looking forward to the new changes.  Marianna can always use any extra motivation.  She was bored with the Dvds before we quit them but expresses lots of excitement as we discuss beginning them once again.  Let's just pray she pays attention!  She has really thrived with me working with her one on one.  I am interested to see how much she has matured & if she can be responsible enough to be studious without my leading every single moment.  It shall be interesting to witness!  So, if you see me next school year & I'm acting a little crazy or look out of sorts, just remember I have 3 Kindergartners, a 5th grader, & a 9th grader at home!  I'm super excited though!!!      

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Waves of Pardon, Mercy, & Grace

     Growing up, Fernandina Beach was my family's go to place.  To be able to share that my children is such a blessing.  Mother's Day began with the usual handmade gifts from the kids, church services at our favorite little country church, a delicious southern spread at Mama's, gifts to Mom (& from her to us), but ended with my loves on the beach.  This would be our home for 7 days!
     The very first morning, Nathan & I enjoyed the sunrise together.  I am not naturally a morning person, but waking up to the perfect view of sea shore right outside your window has it's ways.  
      No matter how many pictures I took of this sunrise nor where we travel to on this earth, I fail to capture His glory.  It's uncontainable & indescribable.  Yet, being at the beach fills my heart with pure joy.  I don't know if it's the quiet, peace with only the sound of the waves kissing the shore or the newness of each day as it reminds me of His everlasting love every morning.  Heaven just seems a little closer in a house by the sea!
     One evening we opened up a discussion about sin & the things God doesn't like.  We talked about how He can wash those things away forever just like the waves.  We went out & wrote different words on the shore.  The littles drew sad faces, & we helped them write too.  In no time, the waves had washed them all away.  I am so thankful for the opportunity we have to share with our children the love of God, how He pardons with His mercy & His grace, how He died for our sins to be forever gone, & how He replaces those things in our life with everlasting goodness!  Only He has the power to replace hate with love, suffering with healing, pride with humbleness, sadness with joy unspeakable & full of glory, etc.  He is a good, good Father.  He doesn't withhold any good things from His children.  Psalm 84:11 plainly states, "For the Lord God is sun and shield:  the Lord will give grace and glory:  no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly."  Psalms 103:12  "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us."  & verse 17-18, "But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and His righteousness unto children's children.  To such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His commandments to do them."  The prophet Jeremiah penned the words of Christ referencing the sea in 5:22, "Fear ye not me?  saith the Lord: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it:  and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?"  Nothing has power over my God!  Though the devil with his waves toss against us & roar, they CANNOT overtake us.  God holds us in His palm.  He controls our atmosphere.  The world may be raging, but our comfort is knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that God reigns supreme!  When we finished our illustration, I turned to see Nathan had written me a message.  So yes, here is our cheesy beach picture for all the world to view!   :)
A cousin (& one of our BFFs) brought her kids to play too!     
A few fun beach pictures:
Nighttime doesn't even slow this crew down!
& then to top it all off, my Daddy's company has their annual convention at the Ritz Carlton, & we invade the pool!  #grandkidperks
Our favorite twin nephews came to "slum" it at the Ritz too!
Just because I have pictures on this same anchor when I was their age  #preciousmemories
& the pirate statue too:
      We watched the sunset on our way home together, relishing every moment as a family, & already missing the sand between our toes, sun on our faces, & salty kisses!  Some of the best soul therapy ever is spending time with our Creator & those we love on the beach!  Counting down the days until our next sea adventure...Saint George Island, it won't be too much longer now!