Gratituesday: The Decision


I tell you what ~ it has been one wild ride having a senior in high school. I had no idea all that went into this year, not to mention the emotions that would smack me over the head without warning.

God has been so good to love me so gently this school year. As I talk to other moms who have graduated or are graduating their kids, I’m learning that I am quite normal. This is good to know. Home school mom, public school mom, private school mom – it matters not. We are Mom. We are loving our kids through making giant decisions all while preparing to launch them into all that God has planned for them. We cry a lot, not necessarily because we are sad. We cry because we’re happy. Because we’re excited. Because we’re a little bit weary. And because we couldn’t be more proud of our graduates.

Well anyway. That’s been my year in a nutshell. That, along with helping my senior through some very difficult online college courses all while trying in vain to keep up with other aspects of life like dust and laundry.

You know how some kids just know what they are going to do after high school? Our kid wasn’t one of them. He’s been searching for God’s answers all year long, not feeling confident in making a final decision for his immediate future.

The wrestling. That’s been tough to watch. And yet, it’s also been beautiful. For the first time, our 17 (almost 18) year old found himself faced with many great options and four thousand questions about what would be best. Had the answers just fallen into his lap back in September, I don’t believe the he would have experienced God’s work in his life in such a life-changing way. He had to learn to block out all the other voices and only listen to God. Then and only then did the right answers come.

As of last week, the decision has been made. Asa sees it as the one God has laid out for him in a very exciting way. And would you believe, after all the wrestling, everything came around to Asa choosing to go five minutes down the road to our very own York College? (Matt and I met and graduated from this Christian school in the 90′s.)

york college

Indeed. He is YC bound. While doors were closing on the other options, God kept paving the way to YC. The soccer coach recruited him and offered him a scholarship. The choir director recruited him and offered him a scholarship. The admissions director saw his grades and granted him an academic scholarship. In those ways and many more, God just kept making it more clear that this is the school for him.

He plans to pursue a degree in Business Communication. This is a great fit for him as he continues to develop his skills in videography to perhaps run his own video business someday.

soccer picsm

He has decided to be on the soccer team and in the concert choir. He will live in the dorm – and hopefully sometimes he will sleep. While Matt and I loved our YC experience, we were very open to other options God might have for Asa. Now that he’s chosen York College, we’re rather excited that we can be a fly on the wall during some of the events he participates in on campus. We’ll get to meet more of his friends. He can come home to do laundry and raid the fridge.

Yes, we’re all very excited. Most of all, we’re so grateful to see how God worked to pave out the path for Asa and to make it so clear to him that this is the way he should go.

And now, we carry on with the final few weeks of the school year. It’ll be a bittersweet ending this year, full of gorgeous new beginnings. God is faithful through every season of life. How exciting it is to see all He has in store for us all in the tomorrows.

What are you thankful for this Gratituesday?

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Gratituesday: Rested!


Well, hello there. Nice to see you again. I’ve had a wonderfully refreshing break – so thank you. (What, like I gave you a choice in the matter?)

What I loved most about my break was the chance to enjoy homemaking and schooling my kids without any pressure to squeeze blogging work in and around all the crazy. It was refreshing to check that off the to-do list for eight entire days. I missed writing, no doubt. But really…I didn’t. I needed to rest my fingers and my head. I’m thankful the Spirit prompted me to rest. I’m thankful I listened and obeyed. I’ve learned much.

So what have I been up to during the past week? I did some cleaning. I looked through piles of pictures for Asa’s upcoming graduation reception. I spent extra time in the Word. I sat in the sunshine. I got caught up on history lessons with Elias and Malachi. I did some baking…

rest 1

I made a double batch of our favorite Poppy Seed Bread with Orange Glaze (recipe in {Healthy} Make-Ahead Meals and Snacks eBook). Yum! We ate two loaves and froze two for another day. I also made a double batch of cookie dough balls for the freezer. The boys were excited about that, for sure. (I especially like this because they can get out a few balls from the freezer and bake them without any help or mess.) It was just really fun to piddle around in the kitchen – stirring, baking, and singing praise songs along with the radio.

rest 2
Over the weekend we drove to Kansas City for the annual Leadership Training for Christ convention our kids participate in. This is Asa’s final year – he’s been doing this since 3rd grade! He was blessed to receive a scholarship for his efforts, which is a huge blessing! Our kids participated in a Bible Bowl, dramas, choirs, and much more. It was a very full weekend with all four of our boys in a variety of events, but we love joining over 100 people from our congregation and many hundreds of people from all over the midwest at this event! Here are some snapshots of our boys:

This was Asa and Justus’ high school choir. I may have cried during the entire performance. It’s a “my son is a senior” thing. Plus, they sounded gorgeous.

ltc 1
Justus is front right – Asa is in the back, second from the right.

ltc 2
Here’s Malachi’s choir. He’s standing front right.

ltc 3
This is Elias’ crew right after they performed their middle school drama. They were awesome!
Elias is in the black striped shirt – the handsome dude with glasses.

We came home in time to celebrate Easter along with several college students we invited for the day. We put out a big spread of ham, green beans, asparagus, corn, rolls, cantaloupe, and pineapple. Then we followed it with a brownie sundae bar. Here’s part of our buffet:

easter dinner 1

It’s been a delightful week. I’m thankful for the rest. I’m glad to be back.

A bit of encouragement for us all: If the Lord prompts you to do something – listen and obey. He knows what He’s talking about. :)

So now you’re turn: What have you been up to? What are you thankful for this Gratituesday?

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Gratituesday: The Lego Message


You know Malachi.  He loves his Legos, and even hopes to have a Lego business some day.  He spends hours most days building and creating.  It’s always fun to see what he comes up with.

I knew he was up to something “secret” last night, but I didn’t ask too many questions because I could tell he was working on a surprise.  This morning when I went down to the kitchen (before anyone else was awake – bliss), I was greeted by this:

lego message

Actually, the I Heart You message was in the kitchen and the other creations were waiting for me in my coffee-drinking-God-time chair.  I love that he surprised me with this, but I love even more that he knows the first places I go each morning.

He asked if I would share his creations on my blog, and I could think of no better slot than Gratituesday.  We may not always check everything off our daily to-do lists, and we certainly have our share of discouraging parenting struggles – but sweet reminders like this prove that God is working in the hearts of our kids. :)

What are you thankful for this Gratituesday?

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Gratituesday: Nap in the Sunshine


The past few weeks have brought too much sickness to our family.  The six of us passed around influenza, then some got round two of it, then some got the stomach stuff, then once we all started feeling better, I got a respiratory infection.  Blech.  It goes to show – we can do all we can to stay healthy, but we live in a fallen world.  Sickness happens and it is not fun.

I’m still not back to 100% so today after school work was (mostly) completed with the boys, I needed a nap.  The sun was beaming outside, and you know me – I love sunshine.  It’s the perfect medicine for a sicky, right?

Matt and the boys, who all know how much I love sunshine, got me this gem for Mother’s Day last year:

nap outside

Today I took it outside and took a delicious rest in the sunshine.  I didn’t actually nap, I think because I was enjoying the feel of the warm sun beaming on my face.  But it was perfect – just what I needed.

Hope your family has stayed healthy.  This winter’s sicknesses have been tough on almost everyone I’ve talked to.  Hang in there, everyone!

What are you thankful for this Gratituesday?

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Gratituesday: Basketball, New Toilet, and McFarland USA


What should I talk about first – our basketball tournament or our new toilet?  Both are so very exciting.  We’ll go with basketball since that involves my boys and as much as I love my new toilet, I do love my boys more.

I always enjoy our big end-of-year homeschool basketball tournament in Kansas.  This year there were 7 states represented and 74 teams.  It is so great to be a part of this!  This year was just a little bit more special as it is Asa’s final year to play.  I might have been teary-eyed all weekend.  Shoot.  I’ll probably be teary-eyed from now until we drop him off at the dorm in August.  It’s a mom thing.  I’m just trying to avoid doing the ugly cry in public.  This was not easy when he came off the court for the last time on Saturday.

bball tourney 2015

No doubt, Asa was feeling it too.  He has loved being on this team.  What a gift from God this has been – in so many ways.  A friend of mine captured this after our last game:

bball tourney 20152


 This man I used to read Curious George to is an entire head taller than me.

Since we got home, Matt has been finishing our (grueling) tax paper work, working on the FAFSA (gag me), and continuing work on our bathroom.  Ladies, I have a new toilet.  It flushes.  It is white.  It makes me smile.  (I also have a sink, but I do not have a faucet.  No matter.  That makes me smile too.)

bathroom 7


Knowing that the toilet will never again be this clean, I might have lingered a bit, just staring at the clean.  Stay clean, toilet.  Stay clean.  (If you look real close, you might notice that there is a ladder inside the shower.  This came as a surprise to me when I tried to slide open the shower door and the door fell over.  Shucks, I forgot that it’s not attached.  Matt’s been pulling it back and forth as he works on tile and as he needs to get it out of the hallway.  Do I really need to explain this?  Just whatever.  My toilet flushes!!

One more item of note.  Our family pretty much never goes to the movie theater.  Cha-ching, right?  BUT, all six of us went to the theater tonight to watch McFarland USA.  We were happy to pay the fee.  Why?  Because this movie was made about a man who is a friend of Matt’s family.  In fact, for one week during the summer of 1990 Matt was privileged to train with coach Jim White’s cross country team.  Seriously.  We highly recommend this movie and love that Disney made a movie about a Christian man like this.  (Christianity wasn’t brought into the movie, but the goodness of this man was.)

So basketball, toilets, and a movie.  We’re celebrating it all this week!  How about you?  What are you thankful for this Gratituesday?

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Gratituesday: Lasts and Firsts


So here we are.  There are eleven weeks before graduation weekend.

Our senior in high school continues to recognize more and more “last events” before graduating and moving on.  Last youth rally, last year to be a camper at church camp, last few months to be a part of the church youth group.  Tuesday is his very last basketball practice.  This weekend is his last basketball tournament, thus his very last games.


I get teary-eyed when I think about it.  I am so excited for whatever is to come for Asa!  But tears come anyway – a mixture of “I am so proud of that kid,” “I am so gonna miss having that kid around,” and “Wow, it’s going to be fun to see what God is going to do with this him!”


It occurred to Asa recently when he and his brothers were divvying up chore responsibilities for the week: “I’m not going to have to scrub these toilets many more times!”  So true.  Oh, but the toilets that are to come…  Son, there will always be toilets.  <— surely the wisest words I’ve ever spoken.

So many lasts.  And now the start of many more firsts.  A dear friend just wrote in an email to me, “I know it’s hard to believe, but parenting a young adult gets even better.”  Mmm, I believe it.  There is so much to look forward to.

For today, I am treasuring each moment.  I’ve cut out many outside commitments this year – partly because life with so many teenagers is very busy and it’s important that I devote most of my time to keeping up with life.  But mostly – I just don’t want to miss a moment.  We’re just about to close a chapter and begin a new one.  The last few pages of this chapter are sweet and joy-filled.  I don’t want to miss any of it.

So here’s to the lasts.  And here’s to the firsts.  And praise God for being who He is yesterday, today, and forever.

What about you?  What are you thankful for this Gratituesday?

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Gratituesday: I Don’t Do Anything Around Here!


Our family has stayed pretty healthy during the past year.  But this achy-fever-flu stuff that’s going around finally caught us.  :(

It hit my husband and our boys one by one – then I caught it too.  Boo.  As each person took his turn, the rest of us stepped up to take care of all the day-to-day needs, doing what normally might not have been our job.  (We’ve also watched way more Netflix than normal.  Getting back to reality will be lovely, as I’ve caught myself holding onto items just in case I need to “take it back to the lab as evidence.”  Can it be that Mom watched too many detective shows while she had a fever??)

At this point, only the two youngest boys are still sick.  The two oldest are over it now, but as high schoolers (one who is doing all college level courses) – they are also much busier.  Do you know what this means??  This means that I had to switch out the laundry by myself today!  It means that I had to help clean out the dishwasher!  And this morning – I had to take out the bathroom trash.

Obviously, the statement “I don’t do anything around here” as my post title states, isn’t even a little bit true.  But climbing up to the top bunk to put on clean sheets – a job I haven’t needed to do for a couple years now – made me realize how many simple household chores I’ve been able to hand off to our boys through the years.  It made me appreciate them, and then it made me a little bit nostalgic.  Oh my little boys.  Your huge feet hang off the ends of these beds now… 

It’s funny what can make a mama’s mind take a trip down memory lane.  I rather enjoyed putting clean sheets on all their beds today, savoring the memory of the days they got to choose between Blue’s Clues and Soccer Ball sheets.  I’ll be thrilled to get these boys completely healthy again.  But it was nice being able to serve my boys-turning-men today.  They might be passing me up in height, weight, and tech ability  - but I’m still their mama.

Had they still been in the drawer, I may have been tempted to surprise one of them with Blue’s Clues sheets…

What are you thankful for this Gratituesday?

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Gratituesday: 15 on the 15th, 2015

Sunday was a pretty big day for our second son, Justus.  He turned 15 on Feb. 15, 2015.

Even more fun?  One of his very good friends from church camp shares his birthday – as in – they were born just hours apart, 15 years ago.  Since we live over two hours away from this friend, the two of them have been plotting for months about how they could spend their golden birthday together.  Amazingly, plans all fell into place, thanks in part to willing parent drivers from both locations.  The two boys met half-way and spent the afternoon and evening hanging out.

justus and chase 1

On the home front, we celebrated by making 15 birthday cakes (just kidding) and giving him 15 gifts (just kidding).  He was given a present and a cake, and his choice for meals – just like all birthdays around here.  Later this week, he’ll go get his driver’s permit.  Here we go again with driver training!

Have I mentioned lately how fantastic teenagers are?  The older my kids get, the more I understand the verses about Mary watching Jesus grow and “treasuring these things up in her heart.”  Watching my boys grow into godly manhood, surrounding themselves with godly friends, and being open to God’s leading in their lives – well, there is much to be treasured.  I’m also obviously relying on many other scriptures for mama encouragement as without a doubt, raising kids in this world is very hard work.  I have to daily surrender the worries and fears that threaten to take over my heart.

God is big.  God knows what our kids need.  God loves our kids unconditionally.  God has plans for our kids that He has worked out in advance.  My job is to simply trust the Father to protect my kids and to be their loving mama.  Like I said, daily surrender.

I’m praising God today for the privilege of being Mom to my four incredible boys and for His constant guidance.  And how about you?  What are you thankful God for this Gratituesday?

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Gratituesday: Even the Sound of My Clicking Keyboard is Loud!!!!


Figuring you’d rather read about my exciting produce purchases, my fun new recipe discoveries, and my exciting life with teenagers – I have spared you the details of my silly but very annoying physical malady of the past few weeks.  But, lucky you, now I’m going to share.  It’s Gratituesday, after all – and this is something I’m very thankful for.  Praise God in everything, right?

Christmas day (yes 6 weeks ago), which also happened to be the day we left for a long road trip to California, my left ear plugged up.  Typically when an ear plugs, you can yawn to pop it, right?  Not so for me this time.  Figuring it would pop any minute, and knowing my chiropractor was closed for the holiday, I did nothing but wait (and yawn a lot).

As it was, my ear remained plugged through our entire drive and visit to California.  I went to my chiro immediately after returning home.  He adjusted me.  He did acupuncture.  I went to my homeopathic doctor.  I went back to my chiro.  I did ear candles.  I used essential oils.  I went to my massage therapist.  I stood on my head (not even kidding).  I prayed.  I prayed.  I prayed.  My ear remained plugged.

I had not been sick.  I was not in pain.  I simply couldn’t hear well in my left ear, and every time I talked I heard my own voice loudly inside my head.  Argh!  So annoying!  I gained a new appreciation and compassion for those with hearing loss.  No wonder they struggle to be in large crowds of people.

Bless my family for having to say everything twice.  Matt would whisper something sweet into my left ear and I would respond with a blank stare.  Poor guy.  ;)

Finally I recognized that my ear issue had nothing to do with drainage or lack thereof.  Took me long enough, right?  Hey, I’m not one to just run to the doctor for every little thing.  Typically ear issues can be treated easily and entirely by the chiropractor or with a specific ear draining massage.  I wanted to exhaust all other possibilities first.  So I did.  Since nothing else worked, I finally went to Urgent Care.

This turned out to be an ear wax impaction.  They flushed my ear out and two minutes later I was a new woman.  The nurse yelled, “THERE NOW, IS THAT BETTER?”  Come to think of it, she probably used her quiet inside voice.  It just seemed so loud and clear to my freshly cleaned out ear.  (You’re welcome that I’m not going into detail about what was flushed out.  Wow and wow again.)

So yay for me (and for my family)!  I can hear again!  From typing on my keyboard to hearing trains go by, I am noticing all the sounds I’ve been missing the past several weeks.

Of all things, today I am thankful for conventional medical treatment and a doctor who didn’t question me or suggest that I take some sort of medicine that would only treat the symptom and not the real issue.  That is, after all, why I had avoided going in the first place.  Had I known 6 weeks ago that none of that would happen and that all I needed was a date with a high powered water blast through my ear….

In the meantime, my chiropractic adjustments and massage benefited my health, so nothing was lost on those appointments.

So please, leave a really loud (or really soft) comment telling me what you’re thankful for this week.  I’LL BE ABLE TO HEAR YOU!!!!  How great it is to be reminded of the little things (like hearing) that we take for granted.  

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Gratituesday: Snow Day


Phew!  This weekend has been incredibly fun and exhausting.  I was too busy to take pictures so I will instead give you a bullet point run-down of our past four days:

  • Friday evening, 140 teens and sponsors arrived at our church building for a weekend youth rally.  Matt was home working frantically to at least get our new shower in place since we were housing boys all weekend.  I stayed at the building and helped organize housing for all the people.  THAT is a job.
  • 17 teenage boys came home with us to “sleep.”  They found our drum set.
  • We fed the boys snacks, even though they had just eaten at the building.
  • I accidentally said words out loud about the smell of the feet.  All of the boys blamed all of the other boys.
  • Matt stayed up until 4:30 in the morning trying to understand instructions about installing a shower that read something like, “Put the white thing with the other white thing, then slide it onto the round piece.”  There were a lot of white things and different sized round pieces.  God bless him.  He got it up and running.
  • I slept from about midnight to 1:30, then could not go back to sleep until 5.  What in the world???
  • We delivered the boys back to the church building at 8:30 (it took three trips to get them there).  We dropped Malachi off at a friend’s house, then Matt and I headed to the rally to teach classes.
  • Matt and I enjoyed teaching four sets of teens throughout the day – Matt with mixed classes and me with roomfuls of girls!  It was wonderful and fun.  What great youth!
  • We finally got back to pick up Malachi at 8:00 pm.  He was thrilled that he had been able to play with his friend for “over 10 hours, Mom!”
  • We made three trips to get all the boys back to our house.
  • We fed the boys snacks, even though they had just eaten at the building.
  • Somehow after the full day and lack of sleep, the boys still didn’t want to sleep.  They have so much fun together and have limited time together throughout the year so it would seem that sleeping would waste their precious together time.
  • We woke up to snow.  Lots and lots of snow.
  • Matt has a snow removal business.  He bundled up and headed out for what would be a very long day.
  • We called for help and got all the kids to the building for brunch and worship.
  • It became very clear that no one could drive home as had been the plan.  Several other moms and I worked frantically to pull out leftovers to warm up to feed everyone.  After church, we had a huge spread of random but tasty items for the kids to eat while we visited with sponsors about driving conditions.
  • 110 of the youth and sponsors needed to stay an extra night.  The kids were thrilled with the extra together time and the fact that they would miss a day of school on Monday.  Phone calls were made, youth leaders talked to all the parents.
  • Housing arrangements were made yet again for all the youth.  We shuffled them around so that entire youth groups could be together, making it easier on the sponsors/drivers to get up and go on Monday.
  • We needed more food!  And a Super Bowl Party!  What to do, what to do?  Adults made plans.  Kids hung out, fell asleep on church pews, headed across the street to play in the college gym, or played board games.  They were loving life.
  • A man from church with “connections” came to the building with the hugest TV I’ve ever seen.  He set it up in the fellowship hall, and fixed it up to stream the game that night.
  • Several adults headed to the store and came back with 48 frozen pizzas, a ton of popcorn, and stuff to make 14 batches of party mix.  We got busy in the kitchen.
  • We had a fabulous party, the kids loved it, they were very gracious and seriously – I think this turned out to be the kids’ favorite day of the entire rally.
  • Matt had been moving snow all day (that continued to fall and blow).  I texted him to let him know that we’d be having 12 extras that night and to please put sheets in the washer when he went home.  (I hadn’t been able to stop and go home all day.)

Let’s pause now so that I can tell you that Matt called around 6:30 to tell me that:

Our washer had busted.  We could do no laundry.

I giggled because I was loopy, exhausted, and giggling sounded like the best response.  As I hung up the phone, I looked straight ahead of me and realized there was a washer and dryer right in the kitchen I’d been working in all day.  I called him back.  He brought the sheets to the building.  We washed them while we worked.  Perfect.

  • At 10:00 we made it back to our house with the 12 extra people.
  • You guessed it, we fed them snacks, even though they had just eaten at the building.
  • We had a great time getting to know our new guests (a few girls and a mom this time, yay me!).
  • We went to bed at a more reasonable hour, like 12:30.  It was bliss.
  • I made a big breakfast before sending everyone on the road this morning around 10:00.  I was so thankful for bags of muffin batter in the freezer!
  • We declared the day to be a “snow day” even though as home schoolers, we never take snow days.  Most of us stayed in our pj’s all day.  Bliss.
  • Matt picked up the piece we needed to fix the washer and had it ready for me by early afternoon.  Then he went out to do more snow removal.  Love him.
  • The afternoon and evening has been spent making broth and soup (perfect for a cold day like today!), doing laundry, and reading quietly.  I took a really long nap and woke up as a new woman.
  • OH!  And our internet has been out since last night and none of us had the energy to do anything about it until this afternoon.  It was a wireless router issue, and at this point, everything is working except for my work computer.  Oh well.  :)  We’ll get it figured out when our brains work again.

So there you have it.  It was truly a wonderful weekend.  We love these kids!!!  I’m pretty sure they will remember this youth rally for a very long time – hopefully the spiritual parts too.  :)

What did you do this weekend, and what are you thankful for?  You must leave a comment to share!  (I’ve missed hanging out here the past few days.)

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