Friday, August 16, 2019

Five Things Friday-August 16

We made it to Friday! It always feels like a huge accomplishment to get to Friday on the first week of school. To all the momma's needing a high five or fist bump at the end of a short, but long week, I'm here for you! I can't wait to soak up and savor the time off this weekend. Here's to hoping it doesn't go too fast! Let's jump into five things from me this Friday.

First week of school. New school. New teachers. New schedule. New, new, new! The clean slate of a new school year is nice, but all the newness can leave even a mom who likes change feeling overwhelmed. Max is at a new school this year, and it's exciting but I've also been thinking about him a lot during the day. Will he find his class in a timely manner, get his locker opened, find someone to talk to at lunch, and adjust to the workload of eight classes? All the things that a mom worries about when their kid goes to a new school, and out of elementary school for the first time. That's been where I'm at this week, and it can be draining. I just have to keep reminding myself that God is in control and to give all my worries and fears to Him.  Max will figure it all out, just like I did when I was his age. I'm thankful for a few days off before Monday! 
The boys have had a great week and are enjoying their new teachers and classmates. When we walked into Jack's classroom on meet the teacher night, his desk was right beside his good buddy, Nolan's desk. I'm not sure how long that will last, but this momma was so thankful that on the first day of school he would have someone he knows so well sitting beside him!

If you read my post from Monday you will remember that in tip #4, I talked about the key to keep first day of school nerves at bay was to stay busy. Well, this year I stayed busy cleaning/organizing my laundry room and now I have a laundry room refresh planned. This project makes me laugh because I didn't even sit down to plan what project I wanted to keep me busy that first day of school. Just like "nesting" kicks in before you have a baby, this same subconscience urge to jump into a project happened in my laundry room. After the boys were at school and I was busy working, I thought to myself, "Okay, laundry room it is!" Phase one of cleaning and organizing is complete. With a family of seven this room gets used a lot. Since I spend so much time in here, I want it to be an inviting space. So, stay tuned to see what i come up with! I've got a few ideas rolling around.

Ruth Chou Simons. I'm excited to announce that Ruth Chou Simons will be speaking at our women's event at Fellowship Church this November 9th. Ruth is a bestselling author, entrepreneur, and speaker. She shares her journey of God's grace intersecting daily life with word and paintbrush through an online shoppe at and her Instagram community. I have been following her  on Instagram for sometime. When I discovered she has six boys, I knew we would be kindred spirits, and have so much in common. With eleven boys between us, I'm sure we could swap some good stories! Through her Instagram posts she shares from her heart and always has just the right thing that encourages me in such a timely manner. I can't wait to hear her speak. I hope you will join me this November for, "An Evening with Ruth Chou Simons!"

Strawberry Shortcake. Food brings people together. I've had the strong urge to cook meals and desserts for my family in the last few days since school has been back in session, and I attribute it to the fact that food brings people together, and innately I wanted my family to feel happy to be at home after a long day away. One of our family favorites is strawberry shortcake, and my favorite recipe can be found on the Bisquick box. It's such a fun summer dessert, and it was nice to have a special treat after the second day of school (and Max's first full day).

With the big boys back at school, there's not as much action around our house, and as many people to play with. When you've had three months of fun and excitement chasing your heroes around, and now it is quiet, it called for us to find a little excitement. We headed up to check out the action at our church. We are building a children's wing and they were pouring concrete out front today. Then we popped inside to check out the new classrooms and theater. I cannot wait for these little guys and many others to learn about Jesus in the new building very soon.

Happy Friend Friends! I'm praying you enjoy friends, family, and find a slower pace these next couple days! What are you looking forward to this weekend?

Monday, August 12, 2019

Tips For Easing First Day of School Nerves: Mom Edition

First day drop off can be extremely hard on a mom, no matter how many years you have under your belt. Try a few of these tips to ease the back-to-school nerves on the first day.

1. My kids elementary school allows parents to come in the building and walk their kids to their classroom on the first day. This helps both kids and parents ease those first day fears. It's comforting to see your kid in their seat and enjoying whatever activity your child's teachers has them doing as you leave the room. If you child's school does allow you to walk your child in on the first day, I highly recommend you take advantage of this opportunity. It has become a fun tradition in our family.

2. Meet up with friends at a coffee shop or park. I did this a few years ago and it was a great way for all of us to get our minds off of our kids and their first day at school. Our younger kids all played on the playground while we chatted and before we knew it, it was time for lunch. If you are heading to work after first day of school drop off, call a friend who is in the same boat as you as you drive to work. It's a nice way to take your mind off things.

3. Stop for a special coffee drink or breakfast treat to reward yourself for making it through the first day. The year my second son started kindergarten, my husband drove me straight to the coffee shop and got me my favorite coffee drink. He was heading off to work and knew it was just the thing to help brighten my spirits after leaving Cooper at school for the first time. Having a little pick-me-up to look forward to can help ease the back to school nerves.

4. Stay busy. If you are headed to work after first day send off, it will be a great distraction. If you are heading home, find a project to keep you busy. Organize the problem drawer, or run some errands that you have been putting off. I've found, over the years, the more I stay busy that first day, the better things go for me! One year I organized the junk drawer, read about it HERE!

5. Plan a special surprise for after school. Last year, I ran to a cupcake shop right after drop off and got cupcakes for the boys as a special after school, first day treat. They were so surprised and it was fun to hear about their first day as they enjoyed their "out of the ordinary" treat. They have already asked me several times if I'm going to get them cupcakes again this year. I guess it was a hit!

6. Pray. Praying for your child and their first day of school is probably the best thing you can do. You can download a free copy of a back-to-school prayer guide I put together HERE to give you some ideas of things to pray for your child, their teachers, and the staff and administration of your school district. There is no better way to help calm your anxieties and fears than to take your requests before the Lord.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6

Before you know it, you will be picking up your kids, or they will be getting off the bus, and you can look forward to hearing all about their day! More often than not, they are all smiles! So, take a deep breath and remember as your kids head back to school this year, to give yourself grace. Back to school hits each of us differently. Some sail through the first days, while others have a hard time adjusting. Give yourself time to adjust to the new schedule. After the first several days we tend to get in a groove and get used to a new routine. Have a great first day back-to-school and be sure to tag me on Facebook or Instagram if you try any of these back-to-school distractors, I would love to see!

What is your favorite thing to do after first day of school drop off/send off?

Friday, August 9, 2019

Five Things Friday-August 9

Happy Friday! The last Friday before school starts, say it isn't so. I have loved this summer and it has gone too fast. It's time for Five Things Friday, so here we go!

Stride for Life 5K. Last Saturday Chris, the boys, and I ran the Stride for Life 5k benefitting Rachel House Pregnancy Resource Center, one of our church's ministry partners and the premier pregnancy resource center in our state. I took 3rd place in my age group, taking home the bronze medal with a time of 25:56! That was a fun surprise. 

Cooper and Jack crossing the finish line!

 Getting Away...Branson.  We took a quick trip to get away for a couple days to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary and enjoy time as a family as summer is quickly coming to a close. We had the best time soaking up the last days of summer together.

School Supplies and Popsicle Parade. For the second year in a row, I shopped for school supplies online. I used Target's handy school supply list tool, put in my zip code and the boys schools popped up. I clicked on their grades and added all the supplies we needed to the cart. It was so simple. I let the boys pick colors of notebooks, etc. Everything showed up at my door a few days ago. The boys had fun opening all the boxes and sorting their supplies. We didn't miss fighting the rush in the school supply aisles one bit. Thank you Target and online shopping for simplifying my life!

Our elementary school did a fun new thing this year. They had a popsicle parade and set up locations in all the neighborhoods that feed into our elementary school. One site in our neighborhood happened to be the on the corner by our house! Score. What a fun way to get the kids excited to find out their teachers today and head back to school next week. It was fun running into some of our favorite teachers.

Paleo Running Momma. Sweet Potato Hash with Kale and Bacon.
Paleo Running Momma has a lot of recipes I love, but lately this Sweet Potato Hash with Kale and Bacon has been our favorite. I had passed over it several times on her blog, only because I thought I would be the only one in my family to eat it. However, when she answered a question one day from a reader who asked her favorite meal on the blog, and she answered this one, I knew I had to make it. I made it for myself, one night when Chris was not home for dinner. I loved it. So, I made it for both of us and he loved it to. Now, most of my boys enjoy it as well. We've had it at least five times in the last several weeks (it makes a great lunch). Give it a try, it's a healthy meal that tastes good too (Paleo and Whole 30 compliant).

Afraid of All the Things, by Scarlet Hiltibidal. I received this book at a Pastor's Wives Luncheon I attended this summer. I enjoy reading, but don't find as much time to do it, #momlife. However, I'm halfway through this book and can't put it down. I thought it would be a great one to share with you today. With school starting next week and entering a new phase of life, having one in junior high, and two in elementary school, I've been having some back-to-school fears creep in, and maybe you too are dealing with fears and anxieties. Throughout the book Scarlet shares about her fears and anxieties, but life changed when she learned to hold the gospel up to her fears. She realized that though she can't fix herself or protect herself, Jesus walking into this broken, sad, scary place to rescue, love, and cast out her--and--your fear. She says, "Seeing life in light of the cross will help you avoid fear, overcome fear when you can't avoid it, and live beyond fear when you don't overcome it. You don't have to be afraid of all the things."

The part of the book that has stuck out to me the most so far was "Single-Mindedness As a Remedy." "Our minds tend to focus on the ten million stressful things rather than the one singular thing we can put all our hope in. The opposite of anxiety is single-mindedness, and the opposite of peace is worry. God wants us to stop thinking about ourselves so much. He wants our thoughts to be singular. He wants us to think about Him. He tells us to think about Him in His Word, and He knows that if we are single-minded, if we are spending brain power thinking about Him, preaching the gospel to ourselves, reminding ourselves of the Father's goodness and our already approved status in Christ, only then will be live in freedom from fear."

Heading into the school year focused on Christ, keeping Him as my focus!
"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7

In case you missed it this week:

Have a wonderful weekend! What are you enjoying most these last days of summer?

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

14 Years of Us. A Walk Down Memory Lane.

Today we celebrate fourteen wonderful years of marriage. The above photo was taken the night of our wedding rehearsal. After a fast paced and hectic day of final preparations Chris and I found a quiet moment at the end of the evening.   In only a few short hours we would be making one of the biggest commitments of our lives. The two of us sat there with such anticipation and hope for the future, but honestly we had no idea the life the Lord had planned for us! It's so fun to look at this picture and think, "If they only knew!" 

 The above photo is my favorite photo taken on our wedding day, 08.06.05. After our wedding reception we headed down to Kauffman Gardens, near the Plaza, with our photographer to capture some outdoor photos of just the two of us. So, here we are newly husband and wife. I'm so thankful we decided to do this, because these are some of my favorite photos of our wedding day. It was a hot August day, and when we were done with pictures we were hot and thirsty. We spun through the drive-thru at Culver's and got an ice cold drink. Chris and I still laugh when we think of the moment the employees opened the drive thru window to hand us our drinks.   The stunned look on their faces as they saw us in full marriage regalia as they asked, "Did you just get married?" They must not get many "just married" couples in the drive-thru line!

The original "selfie" taken in 2005 on our honeymoon, where you had to point your camera at a mirror and take your picture in the reflection.  As I was sorting photos I realized, we have been doing this ever since.  So glad the Smart phone has made it easier!

We honeymooned in Chicago, IL. Dinner at Gino's Pizza, a Chicago favorite.

Our family grew by one. Baby Max was born in 2007. Watching our family grow has truly been one of the highlights of these early years of marriage for me and I count each one a grace of the Lord Jesus. Chris and I laugh that we never could have dreamt we would have five kids someday, let alone all boys. We truly have loved these early years of building our family. They have been precious days full of wonderful memories.

All our boys have loved to "ride high".  This was a phrase coined by Max to ride atop his dads shoulders and each subsequent son has carried on. This was the very first "ride high" ride of our five boys, and I know I will be sad in a few years when they are all too big for this. Chris is a pro and can even get two to ride high at once!

Taken in October 2009, one of the most beautiful falls I can remember, the trees were glorious! Two short months before baby boy #2, Cooper was born.  Recalling our life together as I write this post has been such a reminder of God's goodness to Chris and I.  He has extended us so much grace.  
"Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above" James 1:17

Taken July 4, 2012. We had experienced our first loss, our first valley of sorrows in this life, a miscarriage, a few months before this photo. Chris was my rock, comforting me, and helping point me to Jesus during my time of grief. I'm so thankful to have him by my side in the good times and bad. 

Before we had kids, I had an inkling that Chris would be an amazing Dad, but our kids really hit the Dad jackpot! I picked well! Our boys love him and look up to him, and I am so thankful that they have a wonderful example of a godly man and father.  My prayer is they will follow in his footsteps as he pursues Christ.

There is no one I would rather have by my side on this parenting journey. We have fun doing this parenting gig together! The above picture accurately dipicts parenthood, someone always seems to be crying or need cheering up, or a little coaching to fall back into line, but together we got this.  Together, Chris and I can handle anything. As we begin to head into the next parenting stage, the teenage years, it's been neat to start to see the benefits of our parenting take root. Our oldest boys are growing into wonderful young men who love Jesus, and genuinely want to live their lives for Him.  Chris, thank you for leading our family well.

When we were dating I remember thinking that if Chris were the man I would marry, that I would always have lots of fun. Chris always has a way of making me laugh, and I love to laugh. And I was right, 14 years later and I am still loving life and laughing along the way. I'm so thankful I get to do life with my best friend.  We have prayed from the beginning that the Lord would grant us a marriage characterized by oneness, one that is filled with friendship, fun, adventure, and a deep love for one another.  On this 14th anniversary, I believe I can say confidently, Jesus has answered that prayer.  May He continue that for the next season of marriage.  

From the very first meeting, Chris and I have been doing ministry. As you may know, we met while serving on a church staff. One of the constants of our life, is serving Christ and His people. I absolutely love this picture as it highlights our life, ministry and marriage. Chris standing by my side encouraging me to lean into my gifts, believing in me before I believed in myself and doing it together. Chris has been my greatest cheerleader and champion. He makes me believe I can do anything, and with Him next to me rooting me on, I'm willing to step out of my comfort zone and try just about anything.

 "Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be." Robert Browning

Happy Fourteen Year Anniversary, Chris! I love growing old with you! I truly believe that the best is yet to be.