"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Back to School 2016

I have said it before, and I will say it again.  I hate back to school!  I like my kids HOME - but since I do not feel home schooling is the right choice for our family, and I DO value education, back to school is inevitable!

This morning, I sent three smiling and hopeful young people off to continue their educations.  Not one tear was shed.  (Not even by me!)

 Sierra is a junior in high school.  She has a pretty tough academic schedule this year.  She is also working at an after school program each day, and she is playing recreational volley ball a couple of nights a week.  She also participates in and volunteers at many church activities.  She is a busy girl, and she loves it that way.  The shoulder injury she received freshman year was life altering.  In all reality it took her a long, long time to recover emotionally.  She will never be the same physically.  BUT at this point she can see God's handprints all over it.  He did render her physically incapable of some things - cheer included.  However, He also met her in the pain and confusion and showed her to a new path.  She would tell you that her focus is now on better things and for that she gives Him all the glory.  
 Brenna is in eighth grade.  She has a varied schedule which includes both choir and band and advanced math.  She is running cross country this fall as well.  It feels as though she is on the edge of so much.  High school with all its fun and freedom and added peer issues is just around the corner.  I am trying to spend as much one on one time with her as possible.  I am very intentionally trying to pour into her, connect with her, and enjoy her every chance I get.
And this stinker is in second grade.  Though he looks like he is very sad, he was ready for school.  He even spoke with his teacher at the open house yesterday!  (I know that doesn't seem like a big deal, but trust me, it IS!!!)  Joshua does not love school.  The structure, focus, and constant demands are hard for him.  He does not like to read or write.  He is a capable student, however he reluctant, maybe even resistant, rather than passionate. My prayer for him this year is that he begins to love learning.  Thus far he has done what is asked, but he has NO joy in anything he has accomplished.  I am trusting the Lord to change his heart and create a love of learning.  I would be thrilled if you would join me! 

Mataya thought the world had gone mad when she woke up this morning.  We were all up and dressed at dawn, AND it was cold outside.  (It was very chilly.  Unseasonably so.)  She was NOT impressed!  She perked up after everyone was gone though.  She loves to have me to herself!  We spent the morning running errands and working at my office.  We also had lunch, played play dough, watered the flowers, took a nap, and made supper.  

Looking back, summer was exactly what I needed.  It was so healing.  I was absolutely depleted when it began.  I needed rest, sunshine, flexibility, quiet and the love of my family to help me find me again.  God used each of them to love me and support me in very specific ways.  I am so thankful for the way He (and they) love me.

And now. . . I am ready to take on routine again.

For everything there is a season. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Our Home with No Teenagers?

It has been the weirdest week.  Jamison moved into the dorm; meanwhile, Sierra and Brenna flew to Arizona to visit my aunt.  So, for the first time in nearly 17 years, we have only had two children under our roof.  You would think it would be fun. . . and it was, in a way.  But it was also quiet and foreboding.  Time passes so quickly.  In a blink, the girls will be heading into the world as well.

It is the strangest feeling to have our household shrink.  For 22 years it has been growing.  Every year I have needed to plan for more.  Krissy left home so soon after Mataya was born that our numbers felt steady, rather than shrinking - so this is new to me!

Having Jamison leave is so good!  We are so proud of him and his choices.  I could not be more comfortable with his plan.  It feels natural and right.

And yet it is just sooooo weird.  Knowing he's "off" is totally rewarding.  He was an (almost) complete joy to raise.  Yet layered into the pride and excitement and joy is grief.

He's gone.

His bedroom smells like clean sheets.

His closet is nearly empty.

There is no reason to leave the outside lights on when we head to bed.  He's not coming home.

And even though that is as it should be, there is a part of my heart that is so very sad.  How can that time when "under our roof" was where he belonged be over?

(OK, enough of that!)

Here he stands in his dorm room, surrounded by all of his worldly possessions!

Moving him into the dorm was blessedly simple.  He moved in a couple of weeks before the rest of the Freshman class because he will start training with the cross country team.  There were only 12 guys moving into his dorm the day he was.  We pulled up to the door, carried up all his stuff, fixed his bed, took a quick look around the building, and he hugged us good-bye.  He didn't want help unpacking or decorating - so we were in and out of the University in 45 minutes!  He is rooming with a high school buddy, and with practice starting the very afternoon we dropped him off, I know he will be busy and developing friendships.  I am very grateful for the simplicity!

So - you can pray that his legs hold up!  He has not been able to run the same mile-age as his teammates over the summer because his stress reactions are still healing.  He seems to be solid, but the true test will be when quality workouts start.  His coach has successfully rehabilitated other runners with similar injuries and for that I am thankful.  I am most certainly praying that the stress reactions are behind him once and for all!

You can also pray for him as he adapts to working during the school year/athletic seasons.  He has never worked during the school year in the past.  Learning to juggle harder classes, athletic responsibilities, and a job will be a challenge - but I also think it will provide some balance. 

With all the older kids away, I had planned several activities with Joshua.  But, in the end, he didn't like my plan.  Instead, he had a play date with a buddy and a sleepover with his Grammy.  We did spend one morning riding horse at my dad's, and we snuggled up to watch a couple of movies.  (Movies are his love language.)

Joshua is loving horseback riding lately.

Mataya, not so much.  She thinks the horses are awesome. . . from the road.  When we get close, she clings to me like a suction cup.
When Joshua was at Grammy's, I took these two cuties to the zoo.  Mataya loves the zoo; Wyatt loves anyplace with a bunch of people to smile at, so it was a hit!

One thing we learned this week is that we  LOVE teenagers.  We have missed their chatter and drama and intelligent conversation so very much.  Even Chad has said, "I really miss the kids!" And he usually makes fun of me for that!  Ha!!  Four more hours and the girls will be home!  

I can not wait!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Girls Getaway 2016

I believe that sometimes we need to be intentional about bonding. So, last year I decided to take my girls on a little getaway once each summer.  These getaways are not fancy or extravagant.  Just me and the girls, alone in the camper doing girl stuff.

We sleep late.  Eat specially planned meals - everyone gets a pick.  Give each other pedicures.  Watch chick flicks.  Nap in the sun.  Spend time together reading scripture.  Take walks.  Skip stones.  Kayak.  Swim.  Play cards.  In all reality, what we do is not as important as the fact that we choose to carve out a few days to just BE together.

I don't have a sister, and one of my heart's desires is that my daughters treasure each other.  That they love deep and stick together through thick and thin.  My girls are all very much their own people.  They each have different strengths and weaknesses.  If they choose to, they balance each other well.

It makes my heart happy to see my girls together.  When they laugh together I feel as if I may burst.  When I see them listening to each other and sharing advice, my heart sighs.  And when we all snuggled up together on the couch to watch "Little Mermaid" I wished that time could stand still.  There is no greater gift than time.  I pray that these girls will always choose each other as friends, confidants, mentors, and co-conspirators!

My girlios indulged me in a "sister-shoot."  And I am sharing all my favorites.  (Yep!  I have a lot of favorites!!)

I also took a few candid shots throughout the week.

 Little Mermaid snuggles

 Mataya's first pedicure.  She said, "That tickles!"

I soooo appreciate the way the older girls include Mataya.  They never complain when we need to spend some time doing "little" things.  They are the sweetest of mentors, and I am so very thankful!

(Krissy was not able to be with us much because of her school schedule, but we did drive to her small town for ice cream.  Hopefully next year, she and her baby girl, can spend more time with us!)