Good Things Out There

LOVE this way to recycle an old sweater. I doubt I'll ever do it for me, but would someone make me one, please?

I really like the thought and individualization put into each friend's birthday and gift. Very sweet.

Very detailed tutorial about color splashing your digital pics. I think even I could do this!

Another great inexpensive and recycling idea for clothing -- that I would probably never take the time to do.

Amanda has done it again. If you only read one thing today: READ THIS. No kidding.

Listening to a great series from Andy Stanley out of Northpoint. The one that I listened to most recently opened with this testimony. Very powerful.

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Any morning, our house.

Riley dousing his frozen waffles in syrup.

"I'm going to drown my sorrows in syrup."

Me: "Riley, you don't have any sorrows."

Riley: "No, but I do have syrup."



originally in Abilene Families

I have recently graduated to a new phase of parenthood. I am learning that parents in this phase are easily identified by blood-shot eyes punctuated with dark circles underneath, death grip on a cup of coffee, sensible shoes, and even a fanny pack for the die-hards. Yes, we are the sponsors for the overnight events when your teen travels.

It doesn’t matter if it’s for a church event, sports, band, choir, drama, FFA, or any of a million other activities that may require competition or conferences for teens, we all look and behave the same.

We are the parents traveling on buses that smell like diesel or in vans the size of a roller skate, eating food that tastes like the styrofoam packaging it comes in, popping ibuprofen like Pez, and breaking up fights and overly intimate teenagers all in the name of social responsibility... or sheer insanity.

These are the people who willingly give up a weekend or vacation time to ride on buses or vans. Occasionally they stand on the side of the road entertaining teens while a mechanic works on the bus or van, or they help to change the flat tire. The sponsor thinks the trip is luxurious if sleeping accommodations are under a roof and no sleeping bags are required.

These people get sucked into teen drama not of their own family, offer a shoulder for the latest break-up gone bad or when the competition goes awry, and cheer like nobody’s business during competition, even when it garners wave-away hands and eye rolls from the very teen that caused the sponsor to be on the trip in the first place.

Of course there are fun times. There may be an amusement park in July or camping in August, or a ski trip in February, whether or not snow has fallen that winter. I confess I walked on the beach on South Padre last summer as a sponsor, but never got in water deeper than my ankles since I was holding 4 cameras, 3 phones, and 2 pairs of shoes of kids who were in the water.

After a typical trip I return home to mounds of laundry from our suitcases as well as mounds of laundry and dishes from those left behind. I’m several pounds heavier from eating cold pizza and drinking warm soda late at night for dinner for a meal or two, wondering why the miles of walking didn’t seem to cancel out those calories.

I’m in desperate need of a trip to the salon for a massage from the bus trip and sleeping arrangements, as well as to cover all the new grays that have sprouted. I generally spend the first day or two at home in bed with a migraine from being sleep deprived.

But then I hear those precious words from my child that make it all worth it: “Mom, I need money for the band trip to Six Flags. You aren’t going, are you?”


Testing God -- in a Good Way

Sometimes social media is too much for me. Too much pain, too much suffering, too much information, just too much. That's one reason I have started having my weekly technology sabbath -- on Sundays I take a break from computers and cell phones to shut down and spend time with the Lord and renew.

Facebook has reconnected me with people that I love, and connected me with people I have never actually met but have now come to love. Each of them has hurts and concerns and struggles and prayer needs that they share. Sometimes I am BURDENED with those -- my heart aches for those of you that hurt, and I do pray fervently for each of those.

One thing that social media has brought to my attention that I can't get out of my head via Trey Morgan is the people (okay, really it's the children that haunt me) of Honduras that live at the dump -- because that's where they can find some food. Last December when Trey was in Honduras, his mission team had a banquet for these people -- at the dump. (Seriously, you HAVE to see that blog post. I dare you).

So May 5th, Trey celebrated Dump Day. He raises money for those people to get them fed and have clean water as much as possible throughout the year. This was the 2nd annual Dump Day and Trey was hoping for at least as much response as last year ($12,000). Trey has confessed that his faith was too small -- and I am so thrilled to have been able to witness what God did through the power of social media and generous people around the globe. Just WOW.

If you are moved to still give to this worthwhile project, you can find out how here.

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. Malachi 3:9


Teacher Appreciation

This month includes teacher appreciation week. Every year I promise myself that starting in April I will get all of my ducks in a row and do something excessively wonderful for all of my children's teachers. And every April looks just like the last where I finish out the month with disheveled hair and wild eyes screaming, "What was THAT??"

I rarely do anything excessively wonderful for my children's teachers but I do appreciate them.

I always tell people that my philosophy on choosing how to educate your children (public, private, or home) is to do it prayerfully and carefully, and be willing to admit at any moment that it is no longer working for your family and change gears.

Thus far, we have been in public schools. Thus far, I still cannot believe how blessed my children have been with teachers and administrators. I do not request or choose teachers for my children, I pray and let the One who knit them and knew them before I did choose my children's teachers for them. He has never failed.

Yes, my children are my responsibility. Beyond my responsibility, they are little pieces of my heart out walking around on this planet. But research tells us that the more adults my children have that take an interest in their lives and have a relationship with my children, the more successful they will be in all areas of life. My children's teachers have not disappointed.

To you, precious people, words are not enough. How do you say 'thank you for being a brush stroke and background lighting for this masterpiece of a human'? How can I tell each of you that your delight in my child's successes fanned into flame a passion that will carry them into adulthood? You have pointed out strengths and pushed them along and kept them from doing 'just enough'.

None of you have let my children blend into the background. You have encouraged and cheered, praised and prodded, expected the best and never accepted the worst.

I have done your job. That is why I am now not doing your job. It is NOT for the faint of heart (or weary of foot). It is for people with tender hearts, thick skin, and a million hugging arms. It is for people with cast iron stomachs, bladders of elastic, and Solomon's wisdom.

I know that by this time of year you don't want to be appreciated by any way other than a day away from these people and you wonder if you would actually come back. But for some crazy reason, back you come. Sometimes you wonder if it's just your car coming out of habit.

Even at middle school level, you wouldn't believe how much I hear about you and how you touch my child's life and shape their values by what you find funny, the way you treat other students, and even the music played in your class; how your sad days will make my tender-hearted child's heart ache until you are smiling again.

You live in my neighborhood, worship at our church, exercise at my gym, shop at my grocery store. We see you and feel like a part of your life. You are a beloved part of my family, but not the crazy faction that we try to abstain from visiting. And I am part of yours -- if for no other reason than the fact that you have given your all to my children and there is little of you left by the end of the day. Thank you, and thank your family for us, too.

I can't say thank you enough or adequately. But I do thank you, and pray frequently for you. This time of year, my prayer is "strength for the journey". May you truly have strength for your journey, and countless blessings in your life for the blessing you are in mine.

I thank my God every time I remember you. Philippians 1:3

(check out this post for some PRAY-shus teacher gift ideas that I won't be doing)
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