The Boy Who Brought Thousands to Their Knees

You know what I’ve really appreciated the past 8 days? My dirty kitchen. It is so normal. The laundry pile. School work. Soccer practice. Vacuuming. Messes. Sibling arguments. Busy schedules. All of the normal.

When there is a tragedy, normal tasks are a blessing. Does this even make sense? It’s just that the things I might normally complain about (dirty dishes and all of the above) became something I was so thankful to be dealing with this past week. After all, my cousins were in the hospital watching their 16 year old son fight for his life. Just days before, they had been doing all of the normal. How we long for the normal when suddenly nothing is normal.

Friday, September 11 our 16 year old cousin sustained a head injury on the football field. He slipped into a coma, underwent surgeries, became weaker, continued to lose ground. I’ve never been so obsessed with Facebook. It was my link to my cousins in Oklahoma when all we could do here in Nebraska was pray and watch for updates from those who were at Ben’s bedside.

Here’s what I watched transpire: All of us who knew Ben were praying. We all asked others for prayer. Others began praying. Word spread. People who didn’t know Ben began praying. In just a few days, I watched as thousands and thousands of people shared that they were praying. Most were praying for a family they didn’t know and for a boy they’d never meet.

This is love, this is Jesus in the heart of people, and this is powerful.

God answered our prayers, but He didn’t let us keep Ben. He healed Ben fully, but not in the way we all asked. Ben is whole again, but he’s not home with his family. He is in his new home. His forever home.


Should we ask why? It never hurts to ask. Will we ever know? Does it even matter?

God’s plan for our lives, for Ben’s life, for the life of Ben’s family – God’s plan is absolute. Even if it hurts and even if it doesn’t make sense to us. We choose to trust God through the pain.

As we mourn our devastating loss of Ben, we are in awe of the beauty of God and His work in and through His people.

Because of this one boy – this boy and his family who are so loved by so many – thousands and thousands of people got on their knees and talked to the Creator last week.

Because of this one boy and his family, thousands of people are still on their knees, pleading for comfort and peace for Ben’s family. Tears are being shed, love is being shown, and Jesus is being glorified.

Praise be to God for the heart of His people.

May we not wait for tragedy to renew our relationship with our Creator. May we stay humbly and joyfully on our knees as we recognize the truth of the strength this provides.

Praise God with me for the life of this one boy – the one who brought so many into precious communion with others and with the Father this week.

We’re gonna miss you, Ben.

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Would You Like an Update on the Cat?

Read the one about our garden and our cat, at which time I wasn’t sure we really had a cat. And now an update:

Actually, how about I just show you what happened last Sunday after Matt fed the cat some milk on Friday night, and then I fed the cat some chicken and tuna from our fridge on Saturday morning…

cat food 1

Who is that lady and why is she holding that? 

You know what they say about feeding stray cats and how they don’t leave your property once they’re fed? That is indeed a fact. I would add to that fact that not only does the cat stay on the property but within five minutes of consuming the first meal, said cat becomes convinced that your property is not your property at all but her property. Napping in the sunshine on the porch (which now obviously belongs to the cat, and here you thought it was yours all this time) becomes the cat’s favorite thing to do (aside from eating, of course), because even though you pay the mortgage, you certainly only do it so that the cat can have a porch.

So anyway, the bag of food. After one and a half days, I stopped liking the idea of spending a lot of money per pound on organic, free range chicken and humanely caught tuna only to serve it to a cat (who is supposed to be taking care of our bunny issues). I am so, so nice…but I’m just not that nice. This means that Malachi and I found ourselves on a walk to the dollar store Sunday to see what we could find in the way of decent cat food at a decent price. All the way there, Malachi chatted on and on about Wiggams (owner of our porch) and how excited he was to finally have a pet and please don’t ask any more neighbors about her because we don’t want any of them to actually recognize and take the cat away because that would just be so sad.

cat food 2

Would you look at that.
There is a 10-year old photo bomber with a crazy face.

I have no idea where he gets his personality.

Two things about this cat food, as shown in the above picture. First, it comes from “Local Family Farms” which is an obvious good choice because the word “local” always means good and wholesome things, right?. Never mind the ingredient list the size of my hand. I just can’t go there with cat food. I’ll pretend the word “local” here doesn’t actually mean “some faraway factory you’ve never heard of.”

Second, you wouldn’t believe how amazed Wiggams was when she saw that the food was in the shape of tiny fish and miniature chicken legs. This is the only reason she ate the food. In fact, Wiggams was so thrilled that she snapped a selfie with the food and posted it to both Instagram and Pinterest in hopes of this novel idea going viral. The shape of a cat’s food matters more than anything, perhaps even more than owning a porch.

Our three older boys were able to meet Wiggams on Saturday when they came home from camp. All combined, they had about four words to say about her, most of which included “hmm” and “well.” I think that means they like her.

So welcome to the family, Wiggams. We think you’re pretty neat. If it’s okay with you, sometimes we will walk across your porch to get to your van (the shady spot underneath appears to be her second favorite spot) when we need to go somewhere. Thank you for understanding.

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Graduation Party A’ La Awesome

You know how boring I am when it comes to picking paint colors for my walls? (“Eh, should we go with white…or off white?”) That’s pretty much how I think when it comes to throwing parties.

For our son’s graduation party last week, I was thinking of serving something exciting like eh…cake and punch? Thankfully, I teamed up with two other moms for the occasion, celebrating our three graduates together in our church fellowship hall. This meant that the buffet table was amazing and if you can believe it – since mine wasn’t the only brain involved in the planning – the tables featured none other than…decorations. (I mean, I would have at least pulled out some table cloths. Though I would have had a very difficult time choosing between white or off white.)

Aside from pitching in on the overall cost and the work involved in putting something like this together, my only food assignment was to order a cake and cupcakes and to arrange for a popcorn machine.

Check out these cupcakes! We were soooo pleased with these – and would you believe, they were made by a 10 year-old girl who is already running her own business? These trays were completely empty within 30 minutes of the party starting. Obviously, I didn’t order enough. They were incredible cupcakes!

grad party 1

We chose to put a scripture on the cake instead of the graduates names. Asa’s biggest request was that he didn’t want a freaky frosting color that would turn all the guest’s teeth freaky colors. Therefore we went with white frosting with a white border. Hmm. Now I’m wondering if we should have gone with off white. (Relax. I’m kidding.)

grad party 2

The popcorn machine was running the entire two hours of the party, and our friends set up a fun stacked oreo cake.

grad party 3

The most amazing part of the food buffet was the Crostini Bar the other moms came up with. I’d never seen anything like it. It was gorgeous!

grad party 6

The table featured crusty breads, meats, cheeses, dips, spreads, grapes, and meatballs.

grad party 4

See how much better that is than a simple table of cake and punch? Though I will say that I’m noticing several lovely shades of white and off white in the bread baskets there.

grad party 5

Last but not least – my favorite part of our graduation party: Our very own godly graduate:

grad party 7

Asa was so honored by all the people that showed up to celebrate with him that day. Over 200 people came and went. It was every kind of awesome.

I cannot tell you how much we loved this day. God is so good to bless us with such a wonderful celebration with so many wonderful people. I’ve been reveling in the memories all week long (in between taking naps).

So, what’s your favorite: white or off white? (That is soooo not a real question. I just couldn’t resist.)

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To My Mom On What Would Have Been Her 66th Birthday

Hey, Mom.

I woke up thinking about you today. It’s funny that even though you’ve been gone for almost 11 years, I still have to stop myself from picking up the phone to call you on your birthday. I smiled knowing that you would have chuckled at the thought of that, but then reality and irony hit about the whole situation so I got teary-eyed. Then I teared up again later on the soccer field watching Elias play (tears and timing rarely make sense, right?). So now I’m writing you, not because you’ll ever read this, but because I need to write it.


I remember loving that your birthday and Mother’s Day were so close together – kind of like May was your month. Now I sort of hate it because it almost seems cruel to be hit so hard all at once with missing you on all of your special days all at the same time. But shoot. If I’m going to get weepy out on the soccer field anyway, maybe it’s better to just knock it all out at once instead of dragging it all out.

If you were here, I would have bought you a new blue shirt – because I always got you a new blue shirt for your birthday and you always loved it. Matt and the boys will be grilling burgers for me tomorrow; then we’ll play some Mother’s Day soccer. It’s our tradition. Who knew, right? Yep. That’s my life. Boys, boys, boys…and sports. And also food, of course.

You would be so amazed at these boys, Mom. Every day we see God working in them to grow them into Christ-like leaders. They are getting crazy tall, too. You knew that would happen though, right?

boys at wedding

And Asa. Your oldest grandchild. Well, he’s graduating from high school next week. (With a 4.0 I might add, which truly is neither here nor there, but I know you’d be proud because he has worked so hard, and also – scholarships!) Lots of people are coming into town to celebrate. We’ll miss you. I’m making your dip for Sunday night.


Grammy and Asa, June 1997

I’ve pretty well got the kitchen thing figured out, but sometimes I wish I could ask you stuff, and I still can’t turn out a Sunday roast like you could. What in the world was your secret?

You would love seeing how many ladies God has used to bless me at times I miss you the most. So many ladies – because God always knows. My aunts are the best, and so are many others from church, our community, and even online (that’s a thing now). Dad’s wife, Tacy, loves us so sweetly (is it weird to talk to you about that?). Truly, the two of you would have been friends. Well, anyway. Just know that, while of course no one will ever replace you, I am well cared for.

Uncle Richard and Uncle Wayland joined you this year – a rough few weeks for the Hamm family. This summer’s Hamm Bash won’t be the same, but we’ll just love on each other and appreciate each other all the more.

One last thing. I love coffee now! I knew you’d be tickled about that. Had I learned to love it earlier, we could have enjoyed it together. But hey, since I never learned to like quilting like you did, at least I learned to like coffee. It’s a close second, right?

So Happy Birthday and Happy Mother’s Day all right here two days in a row. I’ll smile now as I celebrate your life and the gift of motherhood. And if I ever take up quilting (don’t count on it), I’ll be sure to let you know.

All my love,

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Did I Really Spend THAT Much On Groceries Last Week?? (Plus Final Day For Bundle Offer! Get it now, get it now, get it…)

In my house, I usually have to say everything at least twice. In my house, I have to say everything at least twice.  (I couldn’t help it.)

Even when I repeat myself, I still hear, “Mom, you never told me that.” Oh my goodness yes I did do not even tell me you didn’t hear me now just go find your shoes we are late.

What I mean to say is: my boys are darlings who will never drive their future wives crazy.

You all, though. You’re much better listeners. I appreciate this (so much, like, you have no idea).

Still, you’re busy. You have a lot on your minds. You have a long to-do list and you likely have mud to clean up. (Just a hunch, since there’s been a lot of rain lately.)

If you’ve heard me talk about the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle (collection of 99 eBooks and eCourses and bonus items worth $1200, yours forever, discounted to just $29.97!!), and you just haven’t found the time to go get it, I understand. I haven’t minded mentioning it over and over because I feel that it is important enough to share with you as many times as necessary.

BUT. Today is the last day it is being offered. Today is the last day it is being offered. Today is (okay, you get it. you heard me.)

Tomorrow it will be gone. So stop whatever you’re doing right now (as in – stop reading this post mid sentence) and go get the bundle before you do anything else. I realize you want to read about how much I spent on groceries last week, but that information will still be here when you get back. Go! Get the bundle. I’ll be waiting for you. You won’t miss anything while you’re gone. Then come on back and read about how broke I am because of all the mangoes and chicken.

Bundle, Bundle, Bundle, Bundle, Bundle. Laura loves the Bundle.
Today is the last day it is being offered.
Today is the last day it is being offered.
Tomorrow it will be gone.
Go get your bundle.
Today is the last…

(The sale is over now. If you want to be sure to be informed of other sales and great deals in the future, sign up to receive our free daily newsletter~)

So about my grocery spending this week…

The good news is, I got great deals. The other good news is, I got great food. The other other good news is, I won’t have to spend as much money next week. But chokety choke – I spent a lot of money on food this week.

A mom can do all she can to keep her grocery spending down. But when it comes down to feeding a houseful of teenage boys (who are very active), it’s just going to cost more than it cost back when the boys were little.

I got two co-op orders this week, an online order, plus I went to the grocery store twice. My total expenses? Somewhere around $550. Praise the Lord, I do not have to spend that much each week. In fact, if I can get away with it, I may not spend any at all next week. Maybe? (I giggle inside at the very thought.)

Here are a few pictures of all our food. I ordered cocoa, salt, and whole wheat spaghetti noodles from iHerb. Random? Yes. It’s what I needed. ;) Then in my Azure Standard co-op order I got a case of mayo (cha-ching)…

groceries april 221

…50 pounds of potatoes,

groceries apr 231

many pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (three times more than what you see in the picture – I refuse to show you my entire, messy freezer right now), 5 pounds of peanuts, and a couple other small items I already put away and can’t remember right now.

groceries apr 232

Then I went to the store for fresh produce and some dairy. I came home with a few treats which we took on a much needed (and couldn’t be avoided because we had an out-of-town appointment and soccer game) day-trip. We also got our fresh milk and eggs from our local farm friends – I just didn’t take pictures of those.

groceries apr 233

Last but not least, I got a big Bountiful Baskets order this week. Along with fruits and veggies, I ordered tortillas and bread. ANYTHING to make the next few weeks leading up to graduation easier. I can’t believe how much there is to do right now. (Not complaining. Just loving and living and trying to breathe.)

groceries april 25
Regarding that crazy to-do list, I have not even had a moment to make a menu plan. Fruits and vegetables, plus meals involving chicken and tortillas – that’s what we’ll be eating this week. I’ll probably make burritos sometime. Scrambled eggs. Creamy Mac and Cheese. Recipes involving Whole Wheat Quick Mix. See, I can’t even write a complete sentence right now. We’ll eat. Somehow. The boys are a great help. (When they hear me. See beginning of post.)

Enough about my cheese, veggies, bags of chips, and enormous grocery expenses this week. Did you seriously not go get your bundle yet? Did I not make it clear that this is the final day it is available? The countdown is on.

Let me make this a no-brainer:

Laura’s Top 10 11 Reasons to Buy the 2015 Ultimate Homemaking Bundle #hashtagsincluded

11. The contents of this bundle are brand new. The bonuses are different than all other bundles you’ve seen before. The ebooks and ecourses are a brand new collection. You get to keep them forever. #alwaysimproving  #somuchgoodness
10. The (regularly $99) A Parents Guide to Natural Remedies course alone make the $30 purchase price worth it.  #parentempowerment  #myfavoritepartofthebundle
9. The From Blah to Blazing audio download will be a huge blessing to you and your husband. #oohlala
8.   The Coffee Filters to Cheese Graters book will give you loads of really fun and really easy ideas to make your kitchen life easier.  #whydidntithinkofthat
7.  You get a really pretty free scarf! #girlystuff  #didimentionitsfree  #morewherethatcamefrom
6. You get a completely free (with free shipping) book sent to you (of your choice) from Tyndale.  #lovereading  #putyourfeetup
5. The package and all that is offered is gone after today  #prettysureisaidthatalready  #notgoingtotellyouagain
4. The bundle includes something for every kind of homemaker. Whatever your needs. Whatever your strengths. Whatever your weaknesses.  #gotchacovered
3. Your purchase helps support the work it takes to keep my blog running.  #truestory
2. I wouldn’t talk about it so much if I didn’t love it.  #whohastimeforthat
1.  You, your family, and your home will be blessed.  #bestreasonofall  #withoutadoubt

This post contains affiliate links.  #thanksforyoursupport

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5 Things You Probably Want to Know About My Week ~ Especially the Part About the Chicken

I have taken several pictures this week, knowing most certainly that you would want to see them and learn what’s been going on at our house. Haven’t you just been wondering if possibly I came across a new chicken recipe that was delicious? Yes, that’s exactly what you’ve been wondering. Let’s start with that picture then:

april 165

That, my dear ones, is called Chicken Lazone. A friend of mine posted the recipe to Facebook, and since I saw that it had both butter and cream in it (and sure, chicken too, but whatever), I knew it was a “must try.” We had it for lunch today. It was awesome (and easy too). Find the recipe here.

In other news not at all related to chicken – flowers are popping up all over our yard. On Wednesday, my husband sent me a picture of 2lips while he was working outside. What? That’s what he called them in the email he sent me. I thought it was cute.

april 166

I had already taken the following pictures of my very favorite purple wild flowers that spring up all over the yard.

april 163

april 167

They are so very pretty to me. Sometimes when I am singing worship songs, I pretend I’m dancing in a field full of these purple flowers. Alone. Just me and Jesus. No one else wants to see me dance. No one.

One day this week was especially sunshiny and lovely. I made myself my first iced coffee of the season, then sat outside shivering while I drank it. Apparently it was still not warm enough to drink iced coffee. Oh well. At least it tasted delicious.

april 162

Arm yourself for iced coffee this summer. Learn to make Coffee Ice Cubes. Learn to Cold Brew Coffee. I do both of these, then add just a little bit of cream to my glass. It is iced coffee perfection.

What else? Well, my Amazon Subscribe and Save order came in on Monday. It was a fun one: two cases of Izze Sodas that I got for less than $9 each. A case of organic corn starch. A box of Larabars to take to soccer games. A big box of Bearitos Organic Tortilla Chips. We love Amazon Subscribe and Save deals paired with online coupons. (I just updated our Amazon Deals page with the latest and greatest.)

april 161
Tuesday we made homemade pizza for lunch. Well…it was mostly homemade. I’d ordered the crusts from Bountiful Baskets to give myself a little bit of healthy convenience. It was worth it. The boys did most of the work putting the pizzas together. We added fruit to the meal and had a delicious lunch.

april 164

Yes, I just buy pepperoni from the store. Not the greatest, for sure. I do usually buy turkey pepperoni – which is really only a little bit better. Is it possible that if you don’t read the list of ingredients before eating something then it won’t hurt you? If only.

Many soccer games and practices, too many loads of laundry, hours of school work, and many other blessings filled the week too. And how about you? What are some of the highlights of your week? Have any flowers blooming in your yard? Tried any great new recipes?

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Merry Christmas From the Coppingers!

From our family to yours – Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas!  We pray rich spiritual blessings on your holiday season.

Merry Christmas from the Coppingers 2014

I know.  It’s hard to take us seriously when we look like that.  But really, Merry Christmas and we mean it.  :)

Don’t forget to take advantage of our fun gift to you – a free $5 gift certificate for everyone!  Oh what fun it is to grab a free eBook from our shop!

Also – don’t forget that today is the final day Tropical Traditions is giving away free jars of coconut oil.  That’s a very healthy and delicious Merry Christmas!

Have a lovely, wonderful day of celebration!

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When Thanksgiving and Christmas Collide ~ And It’s a Good Thing

give thanks

Today, my family is celebrating Thanksmas. Hey, it’s a real thing. It’s when Thanksgiving and Christmas collide because of travel plans and family circumstances. We won’t be able to see my Kansas family on December 25. Instead, we’re celebrating both holidays together – today, at the same time.

“Oh no!” one might think. “We should never skip through Thanksgiving and jump into Christmas, forgetting to be thankful.”

I’ll agree with you completely on one point:  We should never forget to be thankful.  Never, ever.  But blending the two holidays? I have decided that it’s perfect. I’ve also decided that this same concept is perfect in the middle of February, early in April, and during summer break. After all, if I only choose to consider “what I’m thankful for” during Thanksgiving season and “how wonderful it is that God sent Jesus to earth” during the Christmas season – I have completely missed some major Truths in the Bible about who I’m called to be, and where my heart should be focused.

Hooray for holidays that bring our attention back to these important areas of focus! But not only do I disagree that we shouldn’t blend the holidays, I believe we’ve actually missed something very important if we don’t.

Our God is an amazing God – today, on December 25, and even on Black Friday, if you can possibly imagine. But, ack! What about all the commercialism?! Marketing tools! Flyers and ads and sales – they are everywhere this time of year! That is a true fact.

Also a true fact:  There are gimmicks and commercials and marketing ploys 365 days of the year – all of which are insisting I need their product in order to have a full and happy life. The only difference right now is that commercials slap the words “gift giving” on the reason they’re asking us to buy stuff. At least it’s better than telling us to buy something for ourselves because “we’re worth it,” wouldn’t you say?

Are we losing Thanksgiving because of all the Christmas hype? My thought is that it’s not up to what time the stores open their doors, or the fact that some are not closing theirs at all. It’s not up to sale flyers or commercials.  It’s up to you and me.  It’s about our heart focus.  Nothing in our lives can be separated. I don’t care when you shop, what you buy, how much you spend, or whether you ate turkey or ham. Jesus and a thankful heart go hand in hand, every single day – no matter the holiday, season, or date on a calendar.

For the record, today, not only am I celebrating Thanksgiving (so much to be thankful for!) and Christmas (how exciting that God sent His Son!) – I’m also celebrating Easter (praise God, Jesus died and rose again!) and Valentine’s Day (Love you, Matt!! XOXOXO). I’ll celebrate it all over again tomorrow. And since tomorrow just so happens to be Black Friday, I might also pick up a good deal or two. Bonus!

Have a blessed holiday season! May our hearts yearn for Truth, may our souls find peace, may we always be grateful.

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What Are Your Favorite Family Games?

Our family loves playing games, especially now that all four kids are old enough and able to play games we all enjoy. Finding a chunk of time that works for all six of us to sit down and play together is rare, so when we find it, we jump on it!

What Are Your Favorite Family Games

We are trying to come up with a new family game or group game to get our kids for Christmas this year. Because you are all brilliant and always full of great ideas, I thought I’d ask you what games you love at your house. First, I’ll give you a list of what we already have and enjoy together:

Wow, after making that list, it kind of makes me wonder if we actually need another game this Christmas. We have oodles in our closet! Still, tell me your favorites. Our lives may just not be complete yet without one more game. :)

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Our 20th Anniversary Trip – And What We Came Home To

Floating down a river on a raft for hours, staying overnight in a family owned bed-and-breakfast type lodge, sitting on the patio relaxing for hours – this is what Matt planned for us on our anniversary.

I loved our getaway so much – I am still flying high from it. We only had to drive a little over two hours to our destination, which was perfect since both of us are a little “traveled out” after this very busy summer. I’m amazed at what Matt found for us to do, right here in Nebraska. It truly was perfect.

anniversary trip 141

The lady who owned the lodge where we stayed set up an anniversary breakfast table for us. It was beautiful!

anniversary trip 142

What were our boys doing the whole time we were gone? Well, we left them with long school work lists and chore lists. We bought food we don’t normally buy – as a special treat and to keep things easy and fun for them (making them promise to eat at least one fruit or veggie with every meal). :)  The college grad living with us made sure all was well with the boys overnight.

But beyond that? Well, we had no idea what these boys were really up to. We trusted that they were being responsible and wise with their time. And just what did they do with their free time?

Amazing. I’m telling you – this is amazing. We thought our welcome home “gift” looked like this:

anniversary trip 143

Truly, homemade cookies, a homemade card on a piece of notebook paper, wild flowers floating in a cup of water – it was much more than we expected. We were simply hoping the dishes would be done. (They were.)

What we didn’t know was that there was more waiting for us than the surprise cookies and card. We sat down to an incredible music video, made entirely by our boys.

Before you watch it, you have to know what all went in to this.  Our boys created the music and beats to this rap/song on FL Studio, our music creation software.  Our boys wrote the lyrics (which is evident in the fact that you may not “get” some of the inside family jokes). They planned all of this on their own.  They spent hours filming, and even more hours editing. I have watched this over and over. I am amazed by it. Our boys used their gifts, they worked together – well, let’s just say this video does my heart real good.

If for no other reason, you should watch this video to see the JUNK our boys ate while we were gone. They certainly enjoyed themselves, and who can blame them?! :)

Thank you for your sweet comments this week as we celebrated our 20th anniversary. Thanks for letting me share a bit of our lives with you in this video. It is so much fun to see our boys growing and creating together! I’m thankful for the family God has blessed me with. I do not take this for granted.

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