Gratituesday: Special Choir

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Every year since our oldest was a 3rd grader, we’ve headed to Kansas City each spring for a big event called Leadership Training for Christ (LTC) that our church participates in with other churches in the area.  Our kids work super hard ahead of time preparing for Bible bowl, skits, puppet shows, choirs, sculptures, paintings, stories, poetries, speeches…and the list goes on.  It is a lot of work for parents and kids alike, but the fun we have at LTC is so worth it!

This year, our family and some friends of ours decided to team up and put together a special choir.  Why?  Well, let me give you a little background:

Matt and Tim played soccer at York College together for four years.  At the time, Tonya and I sat in the stands together during every game – so proud of our boyfriends.  :)  Those boyfriends became our fiancés, then in 1994, those fiancés became our husbands.  Yep, we got married the same summer.

The years went by, and babies were born.  They had a girl, we had a boy.  They had a girl, we had a boy.  We had a boy, they had a girl.  And then, last but not least, we had a boy…and they had a girl.  Yep, every time one couple had a baby, somehow the other couple had a baby.  We began to wonder if we were drinking too much of the same water.  However, they seemed to have all the girl-flavored water, while we had all the boy-flavored water.

We’ve loved raising our kids together, going to the same church together, and of course, playing soccer together.  This year, we realized that this would be the first and last year that all eight of our kids would be in LTC together.  Our youngest kids are finally eligible, as 3rd graders, and their oldest is a senior.  This is it.  That’s why we signed our kids up for a small choir together.

For several weeks our families have gotten together to practice the songs.  Tonight was our final practice.  This weekend is the real deal.

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Here’s a picture I snapped on my phone tonight while the kids were practicing. 
I have got to remember to turn the volume down on my phone as the “snap” was completely distracting.  Sheesh.

I’m so grateful for friendship and the joy these kids bring to us.  Can’t wait for the fun this weekend!

Now your turn.  Share what you’re thankful for!  Leave a comment on this post letting us know how God is working in your life.  If you’ve written a blog post about what you’re thankful for, leave the link in the comments so we can visit your blog to read about it.  We love sharing and reading about God’s blessings!

Gratituesday: Connecting With Gladis By Studying Maps

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Once again, today proved that ministry and school can collide, and that no matter what we’re doing, we can learn something meaningful.

After breakfast this morning, the three younger boys and I mixed a geography/history lesson with our outreach to Gladis, the girl we sponsor through One Child Matters.  We did a little research on Honduras, where Gladis is from.  We printed out and colored maps and flags to send to her.  We talked about the distance between our home and Gladis’ (roughly 1900 miles).  And we marveled at how big God is to connect us to her in this awesome way.

maps for gladis 1

I should make something clear:  My three younger boys are 9, 12, and 14.  They don’t sit and color pictures anymore…ever.  But when I told them we were making these pages for Gladis, they ran for the colored pencils – even discussing how colored pencils would be better than markers for this assignment because it would look so much nicer and Gladis could see the maps better.  Anytime I mention doing anything for Gladis, their response is always joyful and eager.

Maybe I should ask them to fold and put away their clothes in the hallway/do the dishes/pick up sticks in the yard…for Gladis.  Think it would fly?  ;)

The end results of our creations are simple.  We thought maybe Gladis would have fun coloring the rest of the maps, so we left a lot for her to fill in.  But we wanted to show her where in the U.S. we are located (Husker red, of course).  Do you see the blue shaded areas on the world map below?  That’s to show her that she is there, in Central America, and we are here in Nebraska, USA.  We’ll be writing a note at the top of that map, letting her know that we are praying for her, that God is taking care of all of us, and that we are sending our love from our home to hers.

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I always wish I could see her face when she receives our packages.  I’m told that pictures and maps like this are a treasure to these sponsored kids as they typically don’t have many items like this in their homes.  How wonderful that such a simple school lesson for our family will be such a wonderful blessing to Gladis and her family.

Want to print out similar pages to do something like this for your sponsored child?  Here are the links for where I found ours:

World Map Coloring Page

US Map Coloring Page

Honduras Flag Printables

United States Flag Coloring Page

Check out this cool Distance Calculator to discover about how far away your sponsored child is from where you live.

If you’re not yet sponsoring a child, please join us!  I’m celebrating this ministry for Gratituesday today, because of the blessing it is to my family.  I want you to experience this too.  Bless a child – be blessed.  What a rich gift.

Now your turn.  Share what you’re thankful for!  Leave a comment on this post letting us know how God is working in your life.  If you’ve written a blog post about what you’re thankful for, leave the link in the comments so we can visit your blog to read about it.  We love sharing and reading about God’s blessings!

Gratituesday: Winter Jam 2014

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Winter Jam, a huge concert which features several popular Christian artists, was coming to Nebraska.  We were able to go to Winter Jam last year, so this year, we didn’t really even look into it.  What were we thinking?

Thankfully, our friend Gage had big ideas.  He’d never been to a concert, and decided he would do what he could to make it to see some of his favorite Christian bands.  Gage has special needs and isn’t able to get around by himself.  But he knew our family would surely enjoy the concert.  Maybe we could head there together?

Great plan!  It was a night filled with praise and excitement.  I don’t think Gage stopped smiling the entire six hours we were there.  Who am I kidding?  I don’t think any of us stopped smiling the entire six hours.  What an amazing night!

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Here’s Gage and three of our boys in line waiting for the doors to open.

It was a packed house – thousands of Christians gathered together for this concert!

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One of the highlights for all of us was jamming with the Newsboys…

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We’re so thankful our boys have such fun and talented artists to listen to which fill their minds with a Godly message.  We are already making plans for Winter Jam 2015.  :)

Now your turn.  Share what you’re thankful for!  Leave a comment on this post letting us know how God is working in your life.  If you’ve written a blog post about what you’re thankful for, leave the link in the comments so we can visit your blog to read about it.  We love sharing and reading about God’s blessings!

 

Gratituesday: The Girls In My Life

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“So Laura, don’t you ever wish you had little girls?”

People ask me that question quite often as they observe my boy-filled life.  My answer is always “no.”  God knew what He was doing when He gave me all sons and no daughters.  Plus we snatched up little Gladis, who gets to be our daughter/sister/friend/delight in Honduras.

I didn’t have any sisters when I was growing up either – just one brother.  You know what I have now?  All kinds of sisters!  My brother’s wife, Matt’s sister, Matt’s brothers wife, plus all the Christian sisters God has put in my life.  So, do you know what I might have someday?  Four daughters, if God sees fit that all of our boys get married.

Guess what else I have?  Several nieces.  Precious, sweet girls who give me excuses to buy pink, giggle, and talk about fingernail polish.  Girls who tell me, “Hey, cute jeans” and “I like your sweater.”

I do sometimes wonder what my daughter might have looked like had I actually had one.  I usually look no farther than my brother’s girls.  If I had a daughter, I’m pretty sure she would look a lot like this:

niece

This niece of mine looks so much like I did when I was little. 

I got to see two of my Kansas nieces briefly this weekend.  My oldest niece, who is 12, and also a lot like I was when I was her age, spent some time in the kitchen with me, helping me and chatting as we worked on lunch.

niece 1

Yep, except for the braces, I bet I could find some
12 year old pictures of me that would look a lot like this.

While we worked, she asked me, “Do you ever wish you had girls, Aunt Laura?”  It was a moment I had not planned, but it was the perfect opportunity to stop my work and look right into her eyes.  “Not even a little bit, Kailey,” I told her, “because God gave me nieces like you instead.”

You should have seen her smile.  She’s old enough and mature enough to hear my heart.  I’ve said it to others, but there was something pretty special about sharing it directly with her.

I’m so thankful for all the girls God put in my life to love on.  Bring on the shopping trips, hair styling, and shared smiles as we watch the boys race through the room at lightening speed.

Now your turn.  Share what you’re thankful for!  Leave a comment on this post letting us know how God is working in your life.  If you’ve written a blog post about what you’re thankful for, leave the link in the comments so we can visit your blog to read about it.  We love sharing and reading about God’s blessings!

Gratituesday: This and That

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I couldn’t come up with any one thing to write about today, so I decided to share several things I’m thankful for:

~ A week of down time. 

Basketball season ended, spring soccer season hasn’t started yet.  I’d go into detail about how lovely it is to have several nights off all in one week, but I’m too busy enjoying the (relatively) empty calendar.

~ Boys who are creative and fun. 

I just went to check on the kids, and they are all working together to create music and put together a new video.  I love watching them (not argue while they are) having fun together and using their talents.

~ My Amazon Subscribe and Save order came today. 

We got to unpack big boxes, then I got to stare at my bulk purchases for a while and get them all organized.  It was super fun.

~  Our basketball award night is Tuesday night. 

This is always such a wonderfully fun night.  We eat together, give awards to the athletes, then play young sibling vs. young sibling, Moms vs. Daughters, and Dads vs. Sons basketball games.  I’ve been talking to my muscles, trying to prepare them for doing what they aren’t used to doing.  I hope they’re listening.

~ A variety of food

I just love food.  I’m so thankful God blessed us with such great variety.  I do not take it for granted that we are so privileged to have such bounty.

Now your turn.  Share what you’re thankful for!  Leave a comment on this post letting us know how God is working in your life.  If you’ve written a blog post about what you’re thankful for, leave the link in the comments so we can visit your blog to read about it.  We love sharing and reading about God’s blessings!

Gratituesday: Just What We Needed

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I have been craving sunshine like crazy!  Maybe you can relate?  Those of us who live in colder areas have been deprived of warm rays and Vitamin D for quite a few months.  Just about the time I thought I might go stir crazy for lack of sunshine – God gave us a hint of summer!

It hit the 70′s outside both yesterday and today.  We opened up our door and curtains, brightening up our house with sunshine.  We set up a table outside to eat our meals.  We took our math book and read-alouds outside.  We put on shorts and short sleeved shirts to get as much sun on our skin as possible.  We pretty much didn’t come into the house all afternoon.  The warm weather and sunshine was too hard to resist.

Tonight we fired up the grill to make Italian Chicken (Let’s Do This eCourse, Lesson 1  ).  Mmm, that grill and the chicken smelled so good!  Don’t worry, that little chunk of chicken you see on my plate was just my first helping.  :)  —>

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The entire day was glorious.  It was just what we needed.  Maybe, just maybe, we can all survive the remaining few weeks of crazy winter-to-spring weather.  Praise God for sunshine!

Now your turn.  Share what you’re thankful for!  Leave a comment on this post letting us know how God is working in your life.  If you’ve written a blog post about what you’re thankful for, leave the link in the comments so we can visit your blog to read about it.  We love sharing and reading about God’s blessings!

Gratituesday: Shopping With Boys

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I used to love clothes shopping with my mom.  We’d skip everything at the front of the store and head directly for the clearance racks.  We’d find great bargains, which made the shopping so much more fun!

My four boys aren’t so much into shopping with me.  When they were little, they hid in all the racks or tried to stand up in the cart, making my shopping experience more than a little bit stressful.  As they got bigger, they just stood by the racks, bored out of their minds.  “Do you like this shirt?” I’d ask.  They’d answer with a blank stare.  I gave up, deciding I’d just need to wait until they got married, then perhaps my daughters-in-law could go shopping with me.

But over the weekend, I actually experienced about twenty minutes of enjoyable Mother/Son shopping.  (Yes, twenty minutes.  Total.  I know better than to push a good thing.)  We were in a city, and our oldest needed new indoor soccer shoes, so we briefly hit the mall.

We entered the athletic store, and saw that they had a total of two varieties of indoor soccer shoes.  One pair was $55, the other $65.  Not terrible for high quality shoes, it’s just that we have a lot of kids and they have a lot of feet and they play hard and it just all adds up.  We told the salesman what we were looking for, and asked if these two varieties was all they had.  He replied with a yes.  And then as an afterthought he said, “Oh, except for whatever we have in the back on clearance.  But those are for really big feet.”  Um, hello?  Have you seen my son’s feet?  Big.  Show us the shoes!

Would you believe this?  They had one pair of men’s indoor soccer shoes on clearance.  One.  And guess what size it was?  Asa’s size.  And guess how much it cost?  Ten dollars.  Seriously.  Who has name brand, high quality shoes for a big footed boy for just 10 bucks?  What a blessing.  They fit perfectly.  We were so excited.

That all happened within the first seven minutes.  The rest of our time was spent at the clothing clearance racks I had found by the shoes.  Everything was half off of the clearance price, which, if you can even believe it, got my two older boys excited about shopping with me.  Long story short (20 minutes, remember?), we walked out of the store with a pair of shoes, two very nice hoodies, and a pair of high quality athletic shorts for less than the cost of the $55 shoes we had originally found when we walked in.

In conclusion: I shopped with two of my sons, and we all had fun.  It may be a miracle.  Let us all take a deep sigh and hold these memories in our hearts as they may never happen again.

Now your turn.  Share what you’re thankful for!  Leave a comment on this post letting us know how God is working in your life.  If you’ve written a blog post about what you’re thankful for, leave the link in the comments so we can visit your blog to read about it.  We love sharing and reading about God’s blessings!

Gratituesday: My Prayer Mugs

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Through the years, it’s been interesting to discover what items trigger a memory of someone I care about.  The laundry detergent I use makes me think of one of my sisters-in-law, because she is the one I purchase through.  My painted toe-nails remind me of my cousin, Carie, who paints a fun design on my nails each summer when I see her.  And last summer, someone at church comment on my flip-flops.  From then on, every time I put on the flip-flops, I think of her.

Why am I telling you all this?  Because I believe that when someone comes to mind, that is the Holy Spirit prompting us to pray for that person.  Therefore, doing laundry reminds me to pray for my sister-in-law.  My cute summer toe-nails remind me to pray for Carie.  And my flip-flops?  Well, it just so happens that the person I had that conversation with and that I always think of now when I slip on those shoes moved out of state a few months ago.  She and her husband are away from family for the first time while she is in grad school.  She and I weren’t close really – more like acquaintances.  But I tell you what.  She is very dear to me now, through the power of prayer.  I believe God has used each of these “silly little things” to remind me to pray for those I might not likely think to pray for throughout the day.  Isn’t He cool?

At Christmas this year, our family carried on our tradition of “Mom taking each of the boys shopping, one by one, to shop for each other.”  It’s a riot, it’s a little bit exhausting, and I absolutely love it.  Each boy has a set budget, and an idea of what he’d like to buy as a gift for each of this brothers.  He and I have one-on-one time while we shop together and he makes his purchases.

Last year, Malachi had a difficult time figuring out what to purchase that would fit into his budget and that his brothers would enjoy.  He finally spotted a variety of mugs – gift packaged with marshmallows and hot chocolate mix.  There were four different colors, so he could pick a mug for each brother based on what color he might like.

There was just one problem though.  If he got one mug for each of this brothers, everyone would have a mug but him.  I mean, he was in the giving spirit of Christmas, but still.  He thought maybe he needed one of these cool mugs too.

Therefore, into the cart went four different mugs.  Under the tree went the gift wrapped mugs: “To Asa, From Malachi”; “To Justus, From Malachi”; ”To Elias, From Malachi” and in true Coppinger silliness, “To Malachi, From Malachi.”  They had a blast opening their mugs and enjoying their hot cocoa packets.  Anytime I make hot drinks for the boys, I serve them in their special mugs.

boys mugs

But here’s what I love best about these mugs.  In the mornings, while the boys are still sleeping, I get up early to have my coffee and time with God.  Each day, I choose a different color mug.  Each mug represents the boys who owns it.  The morning I am drinking from their mug, I pray very specifically for that particular son.  Obviously, I pray often for all my boys.  But there’s been something very special and powerful about spending specific prayer time for the son whose mug I am enjoying that morning.

I’m so grateful for the way God works.  If He can use coffee mugs, flip flops, and even toe-nails to accomplish His purposes – I’d say we serve a pretty awesome God!

Now your turn.  Share what you’re thankful for!  Leave a comment on this post letting us know how God is working in your life.  If you’ve written a blog post about what you’re thankful for, leave the link in the comments so we can visit your blog to read about it.  We love sharing and reading about God’s blessings!

Gratituesday: Monday Nights

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Tuesday and Thursday nights the older boys have basketball practice.  Wednesday night is Bible class.  Fridays and Saturdays include basketball games.  Sundays are full of fellowship and worship times.

And that leaves Mondays. 

Once basketball season ends and soccer season begins, we’ll shuffle everything around and our evenings will be full in different ways.  But for now, I am really appreciating our Monday evenings off.

Monday nights lately have been so enjoyable.  A fun dinner that we can enjoy together for longer than a “hurry and eat so we won’t be late.”  Board games.  Snacks.  Movies.  And the past two Mondays?  We’ve gone to the gym together and played three-on-three basketball.  So what if I’m stiff and sore for days afterward?  Playing basketball with all six of us has been sooooo much fun!

Next Monday, we’ve invited a young college couple over for dinner.  The Monday after that?  Well, who knows?  But it’s nice to know that we can look forward to being intentional about family focused time that evening too.

This season in life, with our teenage and pre-teen boys being so active in sports and church activities, we are having a blast.  I love watching their character develop as they listen to and work hard for coaches, as they juggle responsibilities, as they interact with friends, and as they minister to others.

Monday nights bring moments with few distractions and lots of crazy goofing off.  I cherish it all as I soak up my time with these amazing boys.  (And I will continue to talk smack when we play games, because as much as I love them, I still like to win.)

Now your turn.  Share what you’re thankful for!  Leave a comment on this post letting us know how God is working in your life.  If you’ve written a blog post about what you’re thankful for, leave the link in the comments so we can visit your blog to read about it.  We love sharing and reading about God’s blessings!

Gratituesday: Kitchen Time

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Many people assume that since I love to cook and since I focus on feeding my family healthy food, I must spend hours and hours in the kitchen.  Quite the opposite.  Sometimes days go by and I’ve barely found time to pull out a freezer meal and throw down some vegetables.  (That’s okay though – that’s what the freezer meals are for!)

As I talked about in the Let’s Do This! eCourse, I have to grab any spare moment I have to try to get ahead in the kitchen.  Working ahead is the only way I’m able to keep up with all these big appetites and our full schedules.

After several weeks of barely keeping up because of basketball game travel, colds and flu we’ve been passing around, and just life in general – I finally found some time this morning to get a few extra recipes whipped up.  Wow, that felt good!

monday cooking

I got out my cookbook (so handy to flip open and use quickly instead of running back and forth to the computer) and made two batches of Whole Wheat Quick Mix.  I made a double batch of Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie dough balls for the freezer.  I made two batches of Homemade Instant Oatmeal.  I made a big mess.  I cleaned it up.  The short time it took to make these simple recipes will save me a lot of time during the next couple of weeks.

Hooray for time in the kitchen!  It’s therapeutic for me and productive too.  :)

Now your turn.  Share what you’re thankful for!  Leave a comment on this post letting us know how God is working in your life.  If you’ve written a blog post about what you’re thankful for, leave the link in the comments so we can visit your blog to read about it.  We love sharing and reading about God’s blessings!