Gratituesday ~ Today and Every Day (Plus come see my pretty bathroom!)

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Why yes. I did just invite you to go to the bathroom with me. That’s what girls do, right? They go to the bathroom in pairs?

I’m ever so grateful for your input and thoughts about my blogging schedule (or lack thereof). Gratituesday will remain. But if sometimes I post something else on Tuesdays instead, so be it. And if sometimes I post what I’m grateful for on a Friday, so be it. And if we can all focus on giving thanks to God every single day, especially when we are tempted to grumble – well then God be praised!

So back to my bathroom.

You guys!!!!!! My husband has worked so hard and has done a beautiful job transforming this room. It is finally almost completed. Just a few small-ish details (hang the mirror, etc.) left to call it “finished.”

Before I show you what it looks like, first let me remind you of the before pictures. It may not look “so bad” but trust me – this bathroom was 40,000 years old (or so) and had some – shall we say… issues. Issues, I’m telling you.

bathroom 1

So Matt gutted it and started from ground zero.

bathroom 2

Then he managed to get the shower installed before we had a houseful (and I do mean house FULL) of teenage boys for an entire weekend.

bathroom 3

Then slowly but surely, Matt continued to work for hours over the past months replacing the toilet, installing a fan, installing a light fixture, putting up drywall, tiling the walls and the floor, grouting, painting, and installing a new sink (with silly plumbing issues).

bathroom 8

And now LOOOOOOK!!!!!!

bathroom finished 1

I cannot tell you how fun it is to go pee in there, and that’s just the truth.

bathroom finished 2

The room is so pretty, and I just love it! I’m so thankful for my husband’s hard work, and I’m very grateful that it’s ready before we have a houseful of out-of-towners coming for graduation. Phew!

Here’s to one more house renovation (almost) in the books.

Now your turn! Leave a comment to share what you are thankful for this Gratituesday!

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Gratituesday: Survival and Sunshine

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April showers bring May flowers. This is good! Very good.

But silly me. April showers have also brought on dreary days with no sunshine, and I just don’t like that very much. This time of year becomes a little harder for me as the winter has seemed to go on forever, and the sun is still having a hard time shining consistently. I need sunshine!!!! {insert crazy Laura face here} {on second thought, don’t. no one wants to see that.}

So yay for rain, and in particular the rain that came so fast and hard that it rained out soccer games on Saturday so that I could stay home and get much needed work done!!  Rain is good for so many reasons, and I’m grateful for it.

I’m just thankful that today the sun decided to shine. It is a breath of fresh air (literally) for me when I step outside. The flowers are blooming everywhere. There is a gentle breeze. THE SUN IS SHINING!!!!  {insert Laura’s happy face here.} {except that she doesn’t have time to stop and take a picture of it because she’s breathing in the brightness and the fresh air.}

In other news related to Laura’s crazy face and the absolute need for sunshine – we’re down to just about 11 soccer games remaining in the season (no wonder I can’t get anything done around here), we got Asa’s graduation announcements almost all ready to send out, the bathroom we are remodeling is this close to being finished, and this is our last week of school. Asa is actually taking all college-level courses this year (love getting dual high school and college credits, but phew!) so he will complete his course work and finals the middle of next week. What a huge relief!

asa grad announcement

The plans for Asa’s graduation reception are well under way. Then we will be welcoming guests into our home who are coming from out of state to celebrate with us. There is much to be grateful for, and today, I’m thankful that the sun is shining on all there is to do so that we can not only survive the next few weeks of extremely full schedules – we can love every minute of the ride!

By the way, if you’ve emailed recently and I haven’t responded – just know that I’ll work at getting back to you the end of May when the rest of life settles down a little bit and I wake up from a nap.

Share with us! What are you grateful for this week? How is God working in your life? Isn’t it wonderful to see God’s hand in every bit of our lives?

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Gratituesday: Spring Formal ~ Fabulous Friends

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Today I am overcome with thankfulness when I think of the teenagers (and their families) God has put in our lives to be a blessing to our children. This is no small thing. That my teenage sons have so many in their church community and homeschool community to encourage them in their spiritual walk is a tremendous joy to me. This past weekend was once again a great reminder of how wonderful it is that my boys have such great friends and opportunities to grow.

On Saturday night, high school aged homeschoolers all over our part Nebraska were invited to attend the annual Spring Formal (similar to prom). Asa (a senior) and Justus (a freshman) got all fancied up and headed out for the evening.

asa justus spring formal 2015

Asa’s friend joined them. (Yes, she is gorgeous. Her heart is beautiful as well.)

asa brittany spring formal

They met up with a group several miles down the road, then all drove together to meet up at “The Barn” for the Formal. They had sooooo much fun. We keep hearing more and more details of the night. They loved it.

spring formal 2015
Most of the kids in this picture are a part of our homeschool basketball team.
I loved seeing these kids who are usually in uniforms on the basketball court all dressed up posing for a picture together.

I’m so thankful for opportunities like this for my boys. I’m thankful for their friends. And I’m thankful for how God is working in these kids’ lives to grown them up His way.

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

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Just a quick note (okay, three notes):

  1. Today is the final day to grab a free case of diapers. Use these to bless your family or someone else!
  2. Don’t forget to join us on Thursday for Day 1 of our six-week Surrendered Heart class. It’s free! We’ll all grow together.
  3. Read more about this year’s Ultimate Homemaking Bundle being offered this week. I love this.
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Gratituesday: The Decision

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

falcons153

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!”

falcons152

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!

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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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