Gratituesday: School Shopping 2016

It’s been months since I shared a Gratituesday post. Today I’m feeling all sorts of grateful, and would you look at that? It’s Tuesday.

gratituesday[2]

Last night our oldest packed up and moved back into the dorm. Over hugs, excitement, and a big sigh I was overcome by these two realizations:

  1. This year is a million times less difficult than last year. In line with her freshman son last year, I was the mom bawling hot tears like a baby while trying to sign registration papers. Me. The one moving her son five minutes away from home. We were entering a huge time of transition last year, going from The Coppinger6 to whatever it was this new thing was with only three boys left at home. Happy as I was for Asa, I cried as if I’d just closed the cover after reading the last page of my favorite book. Because I had.
  2. This year brings a whole new flood of emotions. I am so excited for Asa this year!! I remember the beginning of my sophomore year of college and it was my very favorite. There are way fewer unknowns, and everyone gets to reunite with their amazing college friends after being apart for the summer. I was practically jumping up and down in anticipation for him last night (while handing him soap, granola bars, kleenex, a pillow case…).

So here we are. We survived the first year of sending our oldest away from home. He’s grown. We’ve grown. But I’ve not gotten less nostalgic about traditions with my babies (three of whom shave regularly).

You knew this was coming, right? Year after year, we take pictures while school supply shopping. Year after year, I share the pics with you. You’ve watched these little boys grow into men.

Last year, I told the boys we had to do it just one more time. This year I told them to forget about last year being the last time because I just couldn’t not take the traditional shopping picture. They didn’t even argue – probably because we told them we’d take them out for burgers after we shopped.

First, you have to see their school shopping pictures through the years. 2008…

shoppinglunch3sm.JPG

2009

buyingschoolsupplies09sm

2010

school_shopping_10

2011

2012

2013 (The year I told them that I am going to take this picture, but you can all look the other way if you want to.)

0802131233

2014

first day of school 2014 4

2015 (The year I cried while standing with the notebooks and markers and the son getting ready to leave for college)

boys school shopping 2015

And now this year. 2016. Gone are the days we need 25 cent glue sticks. They all needed shoes and the aisle with the 50 cent colored pencils was all out of shoes.

school shopping20161

I tried to talk Malachi into a nice, normal face. He was well aware that this picture would be posted for the world to see. Second time’s a charm?

school supply shopping4

C’mon, Malachi. Give me a good one.

And so he did. But then Asa wasn’t ready, but I didn’t realize it until too late. He woulda not appreciated me sharing his face in this one, so I did what any nice mother would do. I cropped his head off.

school supply shopping2

After spending $5,824,481 on shoes, we headed out for burgers. I decided to hold my phone as high as I could over our table full of family to get a picture of all six of us.

school supply shopping6

Two and a half. Okay. Try again. Because maybe my arms are longer than they were two minutes ago?

school supply shopping7
Three of us, plus the nice family in the back. Wait, wait. I’ve got this.

school supply shopping5

I don’t even.

This is the point at which I gave up, stood up, backed up as far as I could, sat in a stranger’s lap, and took a pic of my men. Oh, these guys. How did we get here? 

school supply shopping8

When we got home, we loaded all of Asa’s stuff into his car, and sent him on his way. There were no tears this time, unless you count the ones I’ve shed since looking at these “through the years” pictures.

What a great God we serve. I see these pictures and I’m reminded of all God has brought us through. There are more than just crayons and growing boys in these pictures. These pictures are reminders of life, and sorrow, and growing pains, and struggle, and love.

We grow. God remains the constant, faithful, gentle, loving God. Praise Him for His goodness this Gratituesday!

College Students Like Easter Egg Hunts Too

This year might have been my favorite Easter yet. A great day of worship. A houseful of college students. A kitchen full of great food. Sunshine. It was a fabulous day overall.

gratituesday[2]

So here we are, celebrating Gratituesday on Wednesday – mostly because I don’t even know what day it is. If I was feeling energetic and especially clever, I’d wait and post this on Friday, April 1. You know – April Fool’s Day? Gratituesday on Friday…hahaha. Boy, that would have been a good one. {lamest prank ever}

Bare with me here. March tried to kill me. I don’t know when I’ve last had so many huge and wonderful events to take part in all during the same month. Weddings and tournaments and youth events and banquets and meetings and all of the rest of life trying to stay afloat during it all. It has been incredibly enjoyable – but the running!! The month ended with an Easter celebration. How fitting. How perfect. How necessary.

(Technically, the month is ending with a small getaway for Matt and me. We both need it and plan to rest and not talk to people – except each other – for 36 hours. Every time I think about it, I cry. That is how I show excitement right now. This translates to, “Laura needs to get away.” Bless my husband.)

So, Easter. We were on our way home from Kansas City on Saturday after another whirlwind event for our kids. I texted Asa and told him to invite whatever college friends he wanted to join us for Easter. We stopped at the store on the way into town to buy strawberries (because, of course) and white flour rolls (because have I told you about the month I’ve had?) so we could put an easy feast on the table for Easter. I had everything else I needed in the freezer. Sunday we pulled off a grand buffet with little effort (thank you spiral cut ham and frozen vegetables for being there when we needed you).

easter 20161

We ended the meal with a Brownie Sundae Bar, of which I failed to get a picture. Here, take a look at the ham and potato bar again:

easter 20162

Elias had mixed up a Bacon(less) Ranch Hashbrown Casserole before we left for Kansas City. 

Asa didn’t hold back on inviting friends. He filled our living room with several from his soccer team, plus some of our adopt-a-students joined us. There were 16 of us altogether. God made this meal practically effortless, and I just sat back and watched the fun while they ate.

easter 20163

Then the Easter Egg Hunt began.

Five of the college guys chose to be the “hiders of the eggs.” We have a big yard (with a lot of junk all around) – making for great hiding places. The other students, plus our younger boys were handed fancy Easter baskets (plastic Walmart bags) and headed out to hunt.

easter 20164

It was ridiculously fun to watch!

easter 20165

While all of the rest of the day had been my favorite so far, then my favorite favorite happened. The students made their way back to the front of our house where they started to visit.

easter 20166

They got the loot out of their eggs…

easter 20168

Then they began kicking a soccer ball around. In the meantime, I sat on the porch in the sunshine watching and taking it all in. My college son. His college friends. My husband and younger sons. In our yard. Hunting/hiding eggs. Talking. Kicking a ball. Laughing. Bliss.

easter 20169

Because of my exhaustion, I had been hesitant to invite anyone to join us this Easter. God gave me the green light, then He provided everything to fill the day with joy. He always knows what we need. He always provides.

And now, hallelujah, He’s provided a little getaway for my hubby and me. Think of me tomorrow while I’m sitting and not moving for many, many hours. (Elias told us we should Vlog our getaway experience. Matt told him it would be hour after hour of “Sitting,” “Still sitting,” “Sitting some more,” “Laying down now,” “Back to sitting,” “Ready to sleep…”) We sure do know how to party.

What is God providing for you right now? No matter if you’re going through the good stuff or the hard stuff, God is providing. Reflect and share!

Weddings, Guns, and Green Fingernails

gratituesday[2]

Nothing much usually goes on around here, so I always have a hard time knowing what to talk about. Life is so boring. (She says, as she looks at her to-do list and passes out.)

We’ve been running and running and running since the Youth Rally in January. Life is full, life is fun, hard stuff happens, and I am forever behind. While I’ve known this for a while, I am absolutely convinced now that loving relationships are more important than keeping a perfect house or staying ahead of laundry. This is my sweet and precious way of saying, “wow my house is a mess.” Slowly but surely, we’ll get caught up. (You know, since life slowed down and we have nothing to do.)

I thought I’d share some of the fun events of the past couple weeks, and guess what? Thirty or so thousands of years after most everyone else on the planet, I am finally on Instagram! Please come follow me and you’ll be rewarded with something amazing like one photo from my life every month or two.

So what’s been going on in my life? Well, for the past few weeks, our family has been working hard preparing for an annual church event – Leadership Training for Christ. Our boys have been studying for a Bible Bowl, working on some individual projects like photography, speech, and sculpture, and getting together with groups to prep for choirs and dramas. Below you’ll see Malachi (in blue) painting a car for the “Terror 2000″ – part of the roller coaster the 3-5 graders are using for their drama.

malachi ltc

All the kids loved how it turned out, though one of the boys came in later and suggested, “It’s okay, but I think it would be better if we painted on a skull.” Yeah. I’ll get right on that.

Two weekends ago our family traveled to Kansas where our middle two boys competed in the NDII Homeschool Basketball Tournament. We spent three days cheering for our kids and having a blast with friends. I went all out and painted my fingers and toes green in support of our team. I felt a little sheepish about it as I pulled out my fingers to show one of the other moms at the first game. She smiled and pulled out her fingers WHICH WERE THE SAME COLOR! #momsofboys #gogreenorgohome

tourney weekend2

My dad and his wife met us at the tournament – such a blessing to have their love and support! Then my brother’s family surprised our boys and came to watch their final game. It was fun to see the boys’ faces when their cousins walked in!

tourney weekend1

tourney weekend3

The very next week, we had not one but two weddings that we were highly involved in. I had our schedule carefully mapped out so we wouldn’t miss anything and we were blessed that both couples worked around our schedule so we could make it work. The craziness began on Thursday with a bachelorette party, then a rehearsal, then a bridal shower.

So the bachelorette party. Who goes to a shooting range to celebrate her upcoming wedding? Only my friend Jen. She loves all things sports and guns. Good friends that we are, we went shooting with her.

What do you think? Do I look almost ready to shoot a gun?

wedding weekend4

There. Is that better?

wedding weekend2

wedding weekend3

I had fun for about 20 minutes, then I announced, “Ok. I totally need to go bake something now.” I don’t know why everyone laughed. I was absolutely serious.

The weekend went fabulously while we celebrated with our whole hearts the marriages of our friends. I have very few pictures so far of either wedding, but what I do have…

We took this picture of Jen to send to her almost hubby just before their ceremony started. Really, Jen we just feeling warm and opening a window to get some air. But it looked like she was scared and making a run for it, so out came the camera. ;)

wedding weekend1
After three full days of running and celebrating, as all events were drawing to a close, I asked a friend to get a picture of my true love and me. I love this picture so much I can’t stop staring at it.

my heart

This man is my best teammate and serving with him is my greatest blessing and joy in this life.

Thanks for allowing me to share a snippet of my life the past few weeks. I’ve been trying to rest the past few days while catching up on everything I’m behind on. As always, my boys have been rock stars helping me out and in general, putting up with me when I can’t finish my sentences as a result of too many days with too little sleep.

Dare I mention that soccer season began about five minutes after basketball season ended? My life is blessed, full, and God is ever showing me His strength through my weaknesses.

Care to share what you’ve been up to this month? I’d love to hear!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

P.S. Sunday after the Saturday wedding, I still had great curls in my hair (and a lot of hairspray). I spent 30 seconds to pull it up in a Flexi-Clip and it looked great! What would I do without my Flexi-Clips?? Which leads me to…

This weekend Lilla Rose is offering 30% Off Select Styles and 10% Off Everything Else!

Lilla Rose Easter Sale
Sale starts Friday, March 18 at 7am PST, and ends Sunday, March 20 at 11:59 pm PST. Get the info here!

Gratituesday on Friday

gratituesday[2]

I’ve been completely exhausted this week after our Youth Rally weekend followed by our week of crazy. I’m not sure what I could have done differently to keep myself from becoming over-tired. There was just a lot going on. My body thanked me this week by coming down with a cold. Boo.

I’ve spent the past couple of days resting, taking baths with Epsom salt and essential oils, and binge watching Netflix. Rest is good.

Then yesterday I heard the sad news that one of my friends died suddenly. She had just recently gotten her life back on track and I loved watching God at work in her. She was sweet and kind and she had my back. I’m going to miss her.

Funny (not funny) how losing someone can put life in perspective. Just a few hours before my friend died, she was chatting with others in her normal, cheerful way. A few moments later, she was gone. Life is delicate. Most of what we think matters – doesn’t really matter. All that really matters is Jesus, love, and relationships. That’s it.

Why Gratituesday on Friday? I guess because I’m a little weary and sad and reflective. And I’m grateful. I’m grateful for life and friendship. I’m grateful that God promises so much more than all we experience in this fleeting life. I’m grateful for rest. I’m grateful for reminders to keep the important pieces of life important. I’m grateful for tears. I’m grateful for people coming together as we mourn our loss.

It might be quiet around here the next few days. We’ve got a weekend full of basketball, a wedding shower, and then a funeral. <— That sentence right there is a great picture of life on earth, isn’t it? Fun, joy, and sorrow. All of the above, with Jesus in every place.

I love that through everything, there are reasons to be grateful. Hang on to that as you enjoy a blessed weekend!

Sick Kid, God’s Care, and Last Day for Real Food eCourse Sale

I’ve got some fun posts in the works for you, but I have been running and running and running…

Yes, definitely picture me actually running. Like, in tennis shoes, across miles of terrain, with a pink head band catching my sweat, while I look adorable and perky in a cute athletic outfit. Picture that. That is definitely what I mean by running. I just can’t stop running. I am such a runner.

Now, if you’re realistically thinking, “Yeah right, Laura” then you can instead picture a more accurate description of my running which involves barely being home during the past few days and if I was home, I had guests. I have posts in my head that have not yet come out of my fingers and onto this screen. Now that I’m finally sitting here at my keyboard, I’m too tired to write actual words. Therefore, I’m going to take a couple of days off to rest and find some complete sentences. I know they’re in there somewhere.

Before I sign off, I wanted to share a little Gratituesday with you, and also offer you a “last day of sale” reminder.

First, Gratituesday.

gratituesday[2]

Part of my running recently has been in the form of caring for a very sick boy. Most of us had a stomach bug a couple of weeks ago, which is no fun at all, of course. But one of our sons got a seemingly weird version that has been hanging on for way too long. When a teenage boy doesn’t feel like eating day after day after day, you know something is wrong.

It was beginning to get scary for us and for him. I am grateful to share, though, that today we got some answers. I was able to get him into our natural doctor in Lincoln who discovered the root of the problem and provided treatment solutions. He’ll likely still be weak for a few days, but I’m confident now that nothing is seriously wrong with him and that he is on his way to recovery. I don’t think any of us knew how worried we were until we got home from Lincoln and his brothers met us anxiously at the door asking for answers about what we learned from the doctor. (This is significant because these are boys who would normally say, “Oh were you gone? I didn’t realize. What’s for lunch?”)

I am so thankful for God’s provision in this. It is extremely difficult to get an appointment with this doctor right now as she just had a baby and is only back for very limited hours. In fact, I’ve had my next appointment scheduled months in advance. The fact that I called at 8:01 and got in because “there was a last minute cancellation” is amazing to me. Praise God for opening a slot that worked perfectly for us on the very day we needed it, and for providing answers that will put our son back on the road to good health.

Soooo after I got my sickie settled back at home in the recliner with food and drink and remedies, I got into the van again and headed south to a ranch with Malachi for a horse class he’s taking right now with some fellow homeschoolers. This class has been so fun and fascinating!

As you can see, I’m very gifted at photography with my phone camera. Also, you can see that as much as Malachi enjoys horses, he likes dogs even more.

horses1

horses2
Praise God for Make-Ahead Meals. Wearily, I slid a prepared casserole into the oven when I got home from the ranch (which we will eat with a salad consisting of whatever greens and veggies we pull out of the fridge). Then I plopped onto my computer chair to try to find some words (which I obviously found, thank you).

Thanks for letting me share. It’s great to reflect on God and His work and to be able to share it with people I care about (you!).

More fun posts coming back after I take a short Sabbath rest. :)

Gratituesday: Why I Will Always Have Coffee in My Fridge

gratituesday[2]

Remember that one time my oldest son graduated from high school and moved all the way to the other side of town to the college dorm

I am one spoiled mama, that’s what I am. While Asa is super busy (16 mostly upper-level credit hours plus work study) and super involved (soccer, choir, club, and everything else fun he can squeeze in) and is barely getting any sleep – every once in a while we do get to see his face. I love those moments. 

We get to see Asa at church most Sundays. We go to his home soccer games and the away games that are close-by. He comes home to do laundry every week or so. I feed him whenever a meal at home can be worked into his schedule. Sometimes he referees one of his brother’s soccer games. See? I am super spoiled. I know many moms who said goodbye in August and won’t see their son or daughter again until Thanksgiving or beyond. I’m blessed to see my boy here and there. 

We’re adjusting to life with just three boys at home. We’ve re-vamped the chore list and shuffled around beds in the boys’ bedroom and even figured out how to play games and watch movies without Asa being here. <— that part was so weird and hard at first. “We can’t watch that because not everyone is here!” had to be replaced with a sniff from Mom and an “I guess we’ll watch that without Asa.” Who knew that would be a tough adjustment? (It’s a “We love our family time” thing. That’s when we miss him most. That and when it’s his turn to take out the trash.)  ;)

Do you remember what it’s like to be a college student? We all stayed up way too late most nights and still got up for early morning classes. Somehow we survived. Now that I’m 42, my body is like, “It’s almost 9:45 and I might pass out if I don’t go to bed soon.” But 9:45 pm is still mid-afternoon for college students. That’s the time they have meetings, write papers, and hang out with friends. Night life in the dorm begins at midnight. But still there are 8:00 am classes. This is what motivates a college kid to begin drinking coffee, am I right?

So guess who likes coffee now? 

It happened like this: 

Asa’s girl, Brittany — Yes, Asa has a girl. Has had for over a year. I’ve respected her/their privacy by not going on and on about her here, but then I asked and she said it was okay so there you go — Anyway…Brittany has liked coffee shop coffee for quite some time. Asa teased her about it until the morning after the twelfth night in a row he hadn’t gotten enough sleep. That’s when he said, “I sure could go for some coffee” and she fell out of her chair. (See, this is why people shouldn’t give me permission to write about them on my blog.) 

She didn’t fall. She just hopped up and ran to our local coffee shop.

Long story short(ish) – now they both love fru-fru coffee but aren’t enjoying paying high prices or drinking oodles of sugar. They have loved my Frappes when I’ve served them, so recently when they were here, I said, “Anytime you want coffee, text me. My coffee will cost you nothing and it’s not full of sugar (plus then I’ll get to see you both which will make my day so please want coffee often and text me daily).” 

coffee for asa and britt

Lookie there. Frappes in to-go cups. 

I will stop here and tell you the specifics of my favorite way to make a delicious Frappe, because everyone needs to know this.

How To Make an Amazing (Much Healthier) Frappe

1. Grind some of the best coffee beans in the world. (I discovered these beans from Guatamala and I can’t stop loving how good the coffee is.)

2. Brew coffee as normal or make some via the cold brew method. By default, I usually brew coffee to drink in the morning, then cool and refrigerate leftovers to use in Frappes.

3. Make coffee ice cubes

4. Make Chocolate Frappe as directed here. Or this: Put cold coffee, a few coffee ice cubes, some cream, and a few squeezes of this amazing stevia sweetened chocolate syrup into a blender. (Note, that stuff is not cheap, but is still much less expensive and absolutely healthier than coffee shop coffee, so I grab some when I have Amazon or Vitacost credit.)

5. Blend until frothy and serve. 

Stevia Sweetened Chocolate Frappe

Starbucks is jealous of how delicious this is. Asa, Brittany, Matt, Justus, and Elias all love this drink. I’m still in the “plain coffee with cream” camp because it is so delicious as-is. It is so much fun to drink coffee with my people! (Malachi will come around, and for now will stick with hot chocolate.) 

The above combination of ingredients also tastes delicious as a hot drink (minus the ice cubes, I hope that was obvious). This is why I grabbed to-go coffee cups with lids because it is getting chilly outside and cold frappes for the college students probably won’t cut it much longer.

coffee cups

So there you go. I will always have coffee on hand so that I’m ready to say “Yep!” whenever I get a “Can we come get coffee?” text. For the record, I will also always have food to warm up (do not ever question this), fresh fruit, boxes of kleenex, an assortment of natural remedies, and if ever there is a request that I cannot immediately fulfill, I will put it on my Walmart list because I can’t even help it.

I’d love to hear what all of you are thankful for this Gratituesday!

Gratituesday: My BFF Jen Hatmaker

Did you know? Jen Hatmaker is my BFF. So what if we’ve never actually met?

gratituesday[2]

This message brought to you by a refreshed and relaxed me who just returned home from…wait for it…a girl weekend.

wof2015

I know. A little get-away like this doesn’t seem like much. But remember who I live with. I love all of my many male people so, so much. But this weekend I got to go to where there were all women, all the time. For 26 hours.

Here’s part my private Facebook thread conversation with friends before leaving Friday:

Tonya: What are you guys wearing tonight/tomorrow?

Emily: Jeans, tennis shoes…

Me: Capris and comfy flip flops. Debating on a bra. #girlweekend

Of course I was serious. So off we went to the Women of Faith conference. (Fully clothed, with all appropriate underthings in place.) The closer we got, the more excited we got.

Now I’ve got to tell you something before going any farther. I am not one to be star struck. Our family has been to Newsboys concerts in which Michael Tate was close enough that we could reach out and stroke his hair (which we did not do). All my guys were like, “Dude, that is Michael Tate!!” and I’m all chill with, “Now which one is he again?” We’ve been to a Toby Mac concert where we were sitting so close that the sweat from his brow could have sprayed our cheeks. We rocked out with Lecrae and loved it. But hey. These are just regular (very famous) people. No need to get all silly about it.

But…Jen Hatmaker

All that went out the window though, because this weekend, here’s what I discovered. Sometimes you just need to get silly. Need I remind you of the lack of male people in the arena this weekend? Not to mention my complete lack of any responsibility or need for thinking, answering questions, or any other such mothering or wifing on my agenda for 26 hours. This brought out my silly. I’m not even ashamed about how totally age 12 I was acting half the time. For real – laughter is so good for the soul, as is quality time with girl people who speak my language.

So guess what? My favorite author and best friend, Jen Hatmaker, was going to be speaking at the conference. If you do not read every word that she writes, I encourage you to change that immediately. I adore her writing style, but mostly her heart for Jesus and people. I’d never heard her speak before (which is so odd seeing as we are best friends and all.) While I was looking forward to many things about the weekend, I was really looking forward to seeing and hearing Jen. (I dropped the last name here because we are on a first name basis, obviously.)

Here’s where I started to get silly. I mean, I already was silly, because #girlweekend. But as my friends and I were talking more and the conference was about to start, our hashtag turned from #girlweekend into #mybestfriendjenhatmaker (because my friends claim her too).

When we first saw her come out to be introduced with the rest of the speakers, I got so excited I actually jumped up and down and pointed (see age 12 behavior admission above). This is when I knew, whoa, I cannot even believe how excited I am that she is here. I now want to turn into a weirdy weirdo about this. I just love her so much.

At this point, since she was so closely in front of me, I decided I’d best try to get a picture. It was either that or holler her name, jump over eight people, and grab her into a big bear hug so we could start catching up on the past 40-whatever years we’ve missed out on together. I totally could have done it (like a weirdy weirdo), but I settled for a picture. (You’re welcome, Jen.)

Allow me to now present to you, the Jen Is About To Be Introduced and I’m Seeing Her For the First Time Scrapbook. What? The only reason I took so many shots was because I hoped to get at least one good one (which I did not). It’s okay though. I don’t need no stinking picture. To be star struck is sooo silly.

Here is #mybestfriendjenhatmaker standing beside another conference speaker when she first came out from back stage and stood eight people in front of me:

mybffjenhatmaker9

Here’s another of her smiling and talking to that same other conference speaker. Told you I didn’t get any good pictures. Being a groupie is not my gift.

mybffjenhatmaker4

Here’s another in which she continues to talk expressively with her hands. Isn’t that so endearing? Yes. It is very endearing.

mybffjenhatmaker1

Jen, pointing to the left.

mybffjenhatmaker3
Jen linking arms with other speakers while the lights went down.

mybffjenhatmaker6

Jen sitting in the chair farthest left by the stage where she would later impart wisdom and humor and blessing.

mybffjenhatmaker7

The evening continued with worship, fun, and speakers. And also #mybestfriendjenhatmaker was there.

By the end of Friday night, I was at a high point of silly and decided to just go with it because it was #girlweekend and I was having so much fun. This is why, as my friends and I were leaving the conference arena and we walked by the very chair where #mybestfriendjenhatmaker had been sitting, I was all, “Ooh, there’s her chair, I’m going to touch it!” One thing led to another and well, I have no idea how I ended up sitting there, but would you just look at that?

mybffjenhatmaker8

There’s me. In the very chair #mybestfriendjenhatmaker had been sitting on.

Well anyway. I had a super fun weekend. It was a blessing to see #mybestfriendjenhatmaker and hear her heart on stage. If you haven’t already, go right away and read her new book, For the Love.

Now I am back home and no longer acting like I’m 12, nor am I speaking girl language because of all of the obvious male household mothering and wifing reasons. (Spell check does not like the word wifing. I think it is a brilliant word, so you just need to get over it, spell check. What makes you think you are the spelling authority? My brilliant words trump your red squiggles of dismay.)

While I found the Women of Faith conference to be less meaty overall compared to last year, I still feel filled up because I had so much stinkin’ fun. I have not let my guard down and laughed so hard in months.

Also, I really recognized the value of enjoying friendships this weekend. While I’d love to have a sit down with #mybffjenhatmaker sometime because I appreciate her Spirit-filled life and work – lemme just tell you how blessed I am with the women right here in my life, right here on my porch, right here in this very place.

I am loved by many. I have many to love. Life is fun and full and rich.

May we live life entirely. May we see people through the eyes of Jesus. May we love and be loved, bless and be blessed.

And every few months, may we all have the chance to act the part of a silly 12 year old, laughing for hours until we almost pee (because you are – in real life – much older than 12 and your bladder does not agree with your choice to revert to that time of life).

Gratituesday: The Beginning of the Next Chapter

gratituesday[2]

So it’s for real. Our oldest son has moved out and is living in a dorm. I learned that one can prepare for it and know it’s coming, but when it really does – well now that is something else.

asa dorm 1

asa dorm 2

Some of the mothers (okay fine, only me) were crying like babies in the registration line. Well c’mon. If all the people would have stopped being so nice and just looked at me with emotionless, cold eyes saying, “here is a pen. sign this form.” it would have been much better. Instead, they were all, “Oh here you are! Big changes for your family, huh? How are you doing with this, Mama?” Seriously. All the nice people were so mean. They made me cry. They are so heartless. (Love them.)

It wasn’t so much the fact that I knew I would miss him (even though I already do). I mean, he has been gone most of the summer so I’m used to being away from him. And good grief, he now lives a grand total of five minutes from our house and we’ve already seen him at church. My tears came from a place of joy mingled with sadness as I look back on the last 18 years.

This is the kid who made me a mother. Our family grew to include four brothers – all of whom have shared a room, shared the love of sports, shared hobbies, shared books, shared inside jokes, shared games, shared music, shared their school hours, shared so much over the years. This isn’t the end of the world – but it is the end of the lovely, beautiful, delightful chapter of life that has been The Coppinger6 for so many precious years.

The next chapter is sure to hold even more amazingness. I know it’s true. But I always cry at the end of a good chapter of a book. The same goes for this.

Remember our “back to school” tradition? For the past 10 years, we’ve made school supply lists and headed to the store together, then splurged on lunch out afterward. I’ve taken a picture of them with their baskets in the aisle since 2008. Would you just look at these sweet little boys? (More yearly pictures here if you want to take a walk down memory lane.)

shoppinglunch3sm.JPG

Silly as it was, I asked if we could do it one more time before Asa moved out. None of the boys even really needed any school supplies. Sweeties that they are, they posed by the crayons for their sappy mom.

boys school shopping 2015

I told them afterward that I’d decided that this wasn’t our final year of doing this. We’re going to keep doing this, year after year, until the entire aisle is filled with my daughers-in-law and all my grandbabies. Yep. This is written in stone. The tradition must continue. This means, of course, that they must all settle with their families right here in York. All of them. Their wives will love this. None of this is unrealistic.

So the next chapter has begun. Asa is all settled in and consumed this week with three soccer practices and work-outs every day. Classes begin next week. He’s doing great.

asa soccer 2015

There he is, at one of his first soccer practices. This picture was courtesy of my friend, the coach’s wife. Receiving this picture via text sure was a fun gift the night after he moved in!

We look forward to watching God at work in our kids as we begin this new chapter. And now I’d love to hear what you’re grateful for this Gratituesday. :)

Gratituesday: How Much You Mean to Me

I decided it’s high time I wrote another Gratituesday post. Please join me today as I celebrate God’s goodness in my friend Edith.

gratituesday[2]

She first emailed me in 2009 to say, “I want to tell you how much I enjoy your blog newsletters. I have shared many of them with our two daughters.”

That email came when my blog was a baby. She was one of my first blog followers. Her name was Edith. She was from Ohio.

Edith and I continued to email from time to time during the next few months. Then something I said in one of my posts sparked an interest, and would you believe? Her husband was born in the very same town where I grew up. Wonderful thing, this internet – connecting people who otherwise would not have met.

The email she sent in June, 2010 took our relationship to a new level. I had just written a blog post about our oldest son becoming a teenager. She wrote to tell me how wonderful teenagers are. Then she went on to say:

“Count your blessings every day – treasure every moment. And I know it’s trite, but do live each moment as though it truly were the last moment you have with your loved ones. We recently unexpectedly lost our elder daughter at age 36 in a matter of just a few hours.”

This began a friendship that was absolutely God given and beautifully selected. You see, the daughter Edith had lost was just my age. And my mom. Well, my mom had been gone already for a few years.

No one takes the place of a lost loved one. But Edith and I – well, I suppose we needed each other. She continued to send me emails of encouragement every few weeks, often to let me know she was praying for me. She sent me beautiful eCards for every holiday, which she personalized.

Edith loved me. Her love blessed me in ways I cannot describe. She was on my team. She was my prayer warrior. She was my friend. I loved her so.

Edith died unexpectedly last week. When I received the email from her younger daughter, who was so kind to think of me and share the news, I fell tearfully onto Matt’s chest. Not my Edith. I need my Edith.

I am going to miss this precious lady. Edith – the lady I never met face-to-face. The lady I could count on hearing from every few weeks as she cheered me on in my parenting, my writing, and my Christian walk.

My dear readers, I share this to let you know how much you mean to me. You’re not just “some people out there who read my blog.” You are a part of my life – a God given part that I do not take for granted. I treasure you and I am thankful for you.

When her oldest daughter died in 2010, this is what Edith said to me in her email:

“We are truly at peace even in our sadness. We know she’s having the time of her life in the presence of her beloved Lord and Savior. As her sister said, ‘She beat us home.’ And in that we rejoice.”

Now I say goodbye to my dear friend Edith, using her very words.

Thank you for loving me, Edith. Thank you for allowing God to work through you to be such a blessing in my life. I miss you already. But you’re having the time of your life in the presence of your beloved Lord and Savior. You beat us home. In that, I rejoice.

How About That? God Really Does Work Everything Out.

gratituesday[2]

Remember this post? You know, that one post I wrote last September? The one where I shared this:

I hate to spoil the ending...

The one where I talked about how we had no idea how everything would work out for our oldest son at the end of the school year? How we didn’t have any idea what would be best for him? How if he chose college, which one would it be and how would we work that out financially? How there were so many unknowns and what ifs and major decisions to make?

And more importantly, the one where I shared that God was teaching me to trust – like for real.

Last school year was wonderful and exhausting in countless ways. In the midst of it, we knew God had a plan and would roll it out for us in His timing. But when I wrote this post, we had no idea how the story would end. I just knew that it would…end. And that the ending would be good because God was writing the story.

In the midst of the waiting (we all know what that’s like, right? no matter what it is we’re waiting for) – our minds can turn toward all kinds of doubt and worry. We can invent scenarios that may or may not happen and then create all sorts of responses to the made up scenarios.

Unless any of those thoughts are Spirit led, they are absolutely pointless and completely exhausting. When I look back on our school year and how we watched our son learn to listen to God as he made his decisions, I am…

1) Really glad it’s behind us because it was just hard. Good, but hard.
2) So excited to realize God’s absolute promises and His guidance in everything. Everything. All of it. Every single bit.

We should never doubt. Never, ever, ever.

Not sure about an employment situation looming in your future? God does. Wait for Him to show you. Listen to Him and trust.

Not sure about a decision you’re making about parenting? God does. Wait for Him to show you. Listen to Him and trust.

Not sure how you can possibly afford whatever that need is that there is no money for?  God knows. Wait for Him to show you. Listen to Him and trust.

Not sure what to do about forty different questions floating in your head about everything from little to big? God does. Wait for Him to show you. Listen to Him and trust.

God never asked us to get it all figured out. He only asked for our faith. If you don’t believe me, go read all the words of Jesus in the gospels. All of them. They will change your life.

And oh yeah – about this post. The one where I wrote about how we had no idea how the story would end, about what would be best, about how we would survive such a major change in our lives (yeah, I know, all the parents do it, but it’s hard and that’s just the truth). Go back and read this.

Then. Then read this one. Seven months after I wrote the “we have no idea” post – I was blessed to be able to write the “well look at that. now we know” post.

There is always an ending to the story. If we’re seeking God, the ending is beautiful. If we’re not, well, God can still work and God is always lovingly waiting for us to turn to Him.

I write this as a reminder. To you – to me. Trust God. Where there are question marks, trust God. There will always be question marks. But there will always be answers because God is God and He is faithful. And because of that, there can always be peace.