Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas 2014 Update

Merry Christmas to all our friends and family! We have been overly blessed in 2014. Words can not express our gratitude to our Lord and Savior for all the ways He has blessed us this year and we can't wait to see what 2015 brings us.

Jason has just celebrated his one year anniversary as Student Pastor at Pinelake. He has grown so much, adjusting to a large church, learning from leadership, leading his own team and watching students' lives change. He attended the Passion conference in Atlanta with our college students in January and then left from there to go to Ethiopia. He took the middle school to Memphis and the high school to St. Louis, which was craziness with that many students. And the middle school camp, high school camp, and every Sunday and Wednesday night student services. He's been busy! But loving every minute! We had his staff over for Christmas and they spent some time reminiscing about the lives they saw changed this year. Pinelake is all about life change, and we are honored to be a small part of it.

On the same note, I was beyond grateful and excited to be asked to join the Pinelake staff in June as the Director of Childcare and Mother's Morning Out. It is my dream job and I know this is exactly what the Lord created me for. Its perfect for my family too, working 20 hours a week, so I can still be available to pick up the kids from school and get them where they need to be. And I can somewhat keep up with the house too. I love being on staff with my husband. The other people make fun of us though because you will rarely see us together. We're too busy with our own stuff! We don't even sit together at staff meetings. I am loving getting to know my teachers, families and sweet children. There is much to do and that makes me excited to get up in the morning.

I am also still working for Trades of Hope, offering fair trade accessories that help artisans around the world get out of the sex trade, poverty and sweat shops. I've been with them 2 1/2 years, and basically had to start over with the move, but my team has exploded in the last few months and I'm excited to see what 2015 will bring. I even have an ad HERE! I'm praying for the Lord to bless it. I'll be heading to FL in a few weeks for our annual retreat and can't wait to be inspired to continue to grow my business.

Cooper is in 7th grade and just turned 13 last week. How did that happen? I cannot believe I have a teenager! Crazy. He played on two baseball teams in the spring, played soccer in the fall, and is playing basketball now. He has joined a new select baseball team for this year, so we are excited to get to know these families and see how far we can go. He is planning on trying out for the middle school team in the spring, and is very hopeful. He plays trombone in the band and made the Academic Quiz Bowl Team. Yes, he's very smart. He's loving being a part of his daddy's middle school ministry. He's a really cool kid!

Cade is 10, 5th grade. He has a man teacher this year for home room and LOVES him. He makes up competitions in this classroom for learning and of course, my competitive kid eats that up! He's doing much better in school starting from the first day instead of coming mid year. He's my relational kid, and starting mid year last year was harder on him then we thought. He's much happier now. He also played two baseball teams in the spring, soccer in the fall, and is playing on two basketball teams right now. He's on a select baseball team, but is really enjoying basketball right now. He will blow you away on the court. He was elected to the school's Student Council, had to campaign and everything. And that allowed him to ride on the school's float during the Homecoming parade. So fun!

Campbell is 6, 1st grade. What can I say about Campbell? He's funny, crazy, frustrating, a debater and an instigator. But just when you are mad at him, he says something funny and you can't help but laugh. Last spring he got in trouble in school all the time, but this fall, he was the first to make the All Star wall with 10 pinks for good behavior. He played baseball in spring, tackle football in the fall (which I don't think we will do again) and basketball now.

People ask me how we handle all these sports. 1. We don't know any different. 2. I have a color coded calendar. 3. On days when we don't have anything, we are bored, and they are running around the house like crazies tearing up stuff. We need sports!

We have a new addition to our family this year. We brought our new schnauzer puppy, Sadie, into our family in October and it feels like she's been here forever. I was scared to get a new dog, but she has been a perfect fit for us. Still working on potty training, but every day gets better. If it would just stop raining we could probably get there. Cade and I are currently taking her to a puppy training class on Saturdays and we are pleased at her progress. She's very smart! But I've never had a dog before that we had to groom, and I am getting very picky about who I take my baby to. I'm not really pleased with anyone so far.

So that's our crazy, busy, wonderful life! We are so thankful for all that God has allowed us to experience this year. I think its almost been the best year of our lives, and that's a big statement! I put this verse on the back of our Christmas card, and its so true for us. "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21. God is good! We hope you are experiencing His goodness too!

Monday, October 13, 2014

My Favorites - in the Car and at Home

What I am Watching: Loving new fall TV season. My favorites have returned, NCIS, Big Bang Theory, Castle, Once Upon a Time. I watch Dancing with the Stars in fast forward, love only two or three of the celebrities. And I watch 19 Kids and Counting while I'm doing other things. But I have found a few new shows too! Not that I have time to watch anything else. But I am loving Forever, cute British coroner who can't die, and solves crimes. And I adore Mysteries of Laura, a mix of my favorite things, crime drama, a real mom and humor. Hilarious! Of course, its not getting good ratings, so I hope it sticks around awhile.

There are a few disappointments. I was so excited for NCIS New Orleans, but I don't know if its the fake Cajun accents or bad writing, but its no where near the original series. I have tried a few episodes, but I think I'm giving up. I am still watching Girl Meets World with the boys, but it is very cheesy and hard to watch. There are just enough references to the original series to keep my attention and its good lessons for the kids and something we can watch together.

What I am Listening to: The best CD we have gotten in awhile, Oxygen by Lincoln Brewster.

He's been around for awhile, but this CD is so fresh and fun and great worship! We crank it up in the car and the boys fight over which song they want first. I bought it specifically for the song "Made New" but there are so many great ones. We've actually done "Let it be Known" on Wednesday night at Pinelake. So much fun! Highly recommend it!

We also listen a lot to North Point worship, No One Higher. "Can't Stop Singing" is a favorite in the car too, as loud as we can stand it. Usually there are motions going on in the backseat.

If I only had more time to watch tv and listen to music! But at least the music can fill the time while I'm sitting in the car pool line.

Friday, October 10, 2014

New addition to our Family!

We have been without a dog for 4 years, the longest period in my life without one. And I will admit, I have enjoyed it. Its been nice not having to clean up after one, feed one, and most importantly, worrying about one when we are away from the house. And I was heartbroken after my Gabby passed. I just wasn't ready. But starting a week after Gabby was gone, the boys started asking for a new dog. And I came up with amazing excuses and put offs for a good 4 years. But after we moved, I had run out of excuses. So whenever they asked, I would respond with, "have you prayed about it?" I'll blame God, that works, right? But I really did want to wait on God's timing, even for a dog. I was worried we would get a crazy one, and I wanted the perfect dog for our family. I think it was August the last time one of them asked, and I said "October, we'll get a dog in October." I don't know why I said that, just wanted them to stop asking. Well, October arrived.

Last Thursday night, while the boys were getting ready for bed, I for some reason picked up my computer and searched for schnauzer puppies. I was appalled at how much some people were asking. $1200 for a puppy! Please! But one breeder was only asking $250, much better. They had a few pictures, so cute. So J texted them at 9 PM, thinking we wouldn't hear back until the next day. But within a minute, they called back. J asked if they had any black puppies left, and the breeder said he had sold the last one the day before, but strangely, the lady had just called him back and wanted to return her. The puppy was bothering her allergies. So within 3O minutes we had bought a dog. And I realized I must have been ready because I was jumping up and down and clapping my hands with joy.

We had so much fun Friday buying all the fun dog stuff while the boys were at school. I wanted to buy a collar with a bow, didn't happen.  And then we met the lady in the Kroger parking lot to get my sweet baby. I was in love from minute one. She is the most adorable thing I have ever seen. She immediately curled up in her new bed and conked out. And we got to surprise the boys, which doesn't happen often. We videoed it, but it wasn't as exciting as I was hoping. They were very excited, but they were quiet because she is so little and was sleeping. Awesome!

Then the name discussions began. The last time we got a puppy, there were just two of us to make the decision, much harder with 5 people. We wanted something Disney, something Texas, and something not too girly. After three days, we finally agreed on Sadie Belle Wattly (in honor of JJ Watt). And yes, after the decision was made, I realized the Gone with the Wind reference. Hilarious if you catch it! And then I added on Ghirardelli at the end because she looks like dark chocolate!

She is the bestest little thing! I was dreading having a whining puppy all night, but only once in the whole week has she woken me up to go outside. She sleeps in her crate like a champ. She is almost perfect on #1 outside, but we still have a ways to go on #2 (TMI?) but I am so thankful that she is doing so well. We took her to the vet and they said she is great! The boys love playing with her! We bought some fun pink toys and she chases them around the house. I have never really dressed my dogs, but this may be the closest I get to dressing a girl, so I may have to this time. Her only downfall is, because she is so small and black, she will fall asleep somewhere and then we can't find her. Her favorite spot is between the ottoman and chair, I don't even know how she gets there sometimes.

Cade told me the other day that if we had gotten a dog four years ago, we wouldn't have gotten Sadie. And how God must have let that lady give her back for us. And how crazy it was that I just happen to look online Thursday night. Way to grow your faith buddy! See, prayer does work. Meet Sadie.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

My ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I was challenged by my sweet friend Lindsey Simmons to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. She later made it up to me with two pumpkin cupcakes which I did not share. I don't know if I will ever get around to actually dumping ice water on my head. Jason did it with the high school staff at our church in an over the top ridiculous way, very entertaining. And Coop did it in our back yard. We are donating money for research because I do want them to find a cure, but I just don't know if I will actually dump water on my head. And I don't know who I would challenge, because everyone I can think of has already done it. But it is important to me because this horrible disease has affected me personally.

My grandmother, Maree Cross, passed away from ALS in 1987. We were very close. As the oldest grandchild, we had a special relationship. Yes, I'll just say it. She spoiled me rotten. I spent many a night in her California king size bed, staying up past my bedtime playing Atari. She would always ask me right before I fell asleep what I wanted for breakfast. And it was usually the best cinnamon toast you've ever tasted. We would eat Hershey kisses and play Skip-bo. She taught me how to throw a bridge party, how to properly set a table and how to make peanut butter fudge. She introduced me to split pea soup.

My Memaw took me clothes shopping, buying way more than necessary. She had an oil painting made of me for her living room wall. My mom still has it. Its creepy. She loved to talk and I still remember how she would twist a piece of paper in her fingers while she talked on the phone. She would always have a Whatchamacallit candy bar waiting when she picked me up from school in her little sports car with no seat belts, or take me to Swenson's to get an ice cream sundae. We would sit outside and shell pecans or break the ends off of green beans. She had a birthday party for me where all the girls came dressed up, brought their dolls,  and we had tea and she taught us how to play Shanghai.

One of my favorite stories was when I was in 4th grade. She picked me up from school and I told her I wanted Tretorns. She asked what they were and I said I didn't know, but the other girls in school were talking about them. She picked up the phone and called her favorite department store and asked what they were. They were shoes. So we got in the sports car and drove directly there to get a pair with a turquoise swish. Did I mention I was spoiled?

She was President of the WMU at her church many years. And while sometimes, church was just what you did as a Southern Baptist lady, she also had a heart to serve missionaries and pray. She started the prayer ministry at her church and supported my grandfather as he served as deacon and in the media ministry. She worked hard.

She was diagnosed in January of 86 when I was in 5th grade and she died one year and two months later during spring break of my 6th grade year. She went down really fast. She took me shopping for back to school clothes in Aug. but by Christmas was confined in a wheel chair. I didn't see her much after that Christmas because it was too painful for me to see her. I do regret that. At the end, she couldn't move at all. But she would ask the ladies from the prayer ministry to bring her the prayer request list and tape it to the wall next to the bed so she could be praying. The day she passed away and my mom came home to tell me, I can still remember where I was standing in our kitchen. And I grabbed a sponge and started cleaning off the counters. I guess I clean when I am grieving? Even though we knew it was coming, I was devastated.

I remember her funeral like it was yesterday. The church was packed. She had touched many lives. Because it was spring break, I had spent much of the week with my friend Ashley while all the adults were taking care of things. And strangely I can remember what Ashley was wearing at the funeral. Isn't that weird? Ash and I had a great week and we were closer friends after that. She helped me grieve and tried to distract me from it all. I remember going back to my grandmothers house after the funeral and it was packed with people who felt sorry for me and pot luck food. And I quickly returned to Ashley's. Very overwhelming.

My grandfather passed away two years ago, and even though he was remarried, he was buried next to my grandmother. And even though I had learned later that she wasn't the easiest to live with, I was glad they were reunited.

I've been trying to decide what she would think about the ice bucket challenge. While I know she would be so grateful for all the money raised that will hopefully find a cure for this horrible thing, I can't decide if she would think the actual bucket of ice water on my head would be funny or improper. She had a little bit of both in her: Southern Baptist grandmother who had bridge parties and set correct tables mixed with a funny lady who drove a sports car with no seat belts and talked too much. That was my Memaw.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Back to School Update

It has been a crazy couple of weeks! I don't think I have ever looked so forward to Labor Day weekend before. I was asking myself the other day when was the last time I was this tired. And I think it was summer before last, during the week of VBS and All Star baseball. But its the good kind of tired, when you are working hard at what God has called you to do. I started my new job mid July and have worked a lot getting fall events ready. Everything started last week, and its all going pretty smoothly with only a few minor kinks, so I can take a breather and get myself into a routine. I still am in awe that God has brought me to my dream job. Its an amazing place to be. Now, my house is a wreck and is currently paying the price for my dream job, but it will get taken care of soon. I've taken spare moments to keep it picked up, but don't look too deep at the bathrooms or dust. The never ending struggle for working moms I suppose.

The boys started school Aug. 7, really early. But we were ready. Summer flew by and we didn't do all that we had thought we would do, but the boys were bored of being home and tired of each other. They were ready for purpose and routine for sure. They are doing really well so far, loving their teachers, making new friends. Coop is much happier in middle school, playing trombone again. Cade is much happier this semester. We knew he wasn't happy last spring, but until you see happy Cade back, we didn't realize how sad he was. And as always, life is a party for sweet Campbell. Cade and Campbell both received the character award for their class this week. Very proud of them.

Sports are starting back. Coop and Cade are both playing soccer, which they haven't played in years. And they are both on select baseball teams, but fall is a little slower baseball wise. Campbell is playing tackle football. Hilarious to see him in his helmet and pads. We'll see if it resembles football at all once they get going. And of course, hubby will help coach whenever he can, and I fill up those water bottles!

Church is still an amazing place to be. We love the worship and teaching each Sunday. Jason's student ministry is busy but life changing. They had a back to school bash this week, and there were 50 decisions made, 10 first time believers! Last Sunday our church had a baptism service at the local reservoir, baptizing 191 people who wanted to identify with Christ. We are so grateful to be in this place, no matter how tired we are. God is good.

Monday, July 28, 2014

More Favorite Things...

Yes, I know I have been doing a lot of these posts, but they are fun to write, and I'm just happy in my life right now, so everything makes me happy. Its a good place to be.

1. Map My Walk... I kept buying cheapo pedometers that were so unreliable and just way off. But then I found this app on my phone and I love it. It maps my route of walking, times me, counts my calories burned and tells me the distance. It really tells me the distance! When I hit one mile, it speaks over my music to tell me that I hit a mile and how long it took me. Its so cool! It is using up my data to have it on, but its worth it. Loving it!

Its just a fun turquoise stapler, bought at Target.
3. Fun new hairdryer. Last week, half way through drying my hair, my hair dryer started smoking and had a nice plastic burning smell. I could not for the life of me remember how long I'd had it. So after it cooled, and my hair finished air drying, I went and bought this beauty at Walmart. Remington. It said on the box that it actually dries hair faster because of some ceramic part in it. I didn't believe them, but it REALLY does dry my hair faster. And for this red head with really think hair, that is a God send. And its a fun color.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Six Months In! Things I Love

I missed writing this a while back, but July 4 was six months since we had moved into our new home, seven months since Jason has been in his new job. And if you read my last post, then you know I now have a new job at Pinelake too. If I think about it too much, I can get overwhelmed with the goodness of God. Some days we still feel so new, as we are continually meeting new people and still trying out new restaurants, stores, etc. But some days we feel like we have been here forever, in a good way.

We are loving the weather. We haven't had to turn on a sprinkler yet it rains so much. And there have only been a handful of miserably hot days.  If you follow me on Facebook, you have seen too many pictures of the sky. I just can't get enough of it.

We are loving the people. The people's southern hospitality even carries over to driving. When you get to a four way stop, people go over the top trying to get you to go first, even if it wasn't your turn.

We are loving living in a smaller town. We rarely have to go over 55 mph on the roads, just no reason to. There are traffic jams, but only getting to school and getting out of church. When you mail something local, it arrives the next day. I called the other day to get an orthodontist appointment and got in the same day!

We love our church so much! Our pastor is starting a new sermon series on prayer. And this past week they started opening up our prayer room on Wednesdays over the lunch hour for people to come and worship and pray. I went for a few minutes and was struck with how grateful I am to be in a church where the staff and members were gathered in a room, sitting on the floor, standing, hands raised, worshipping and praying for God's will to be done in our lives, our community and our church.

Our church also places a great importance on staff having their families as their top priority. One of our TX friends asked J what was the best thing about our church and he said being able to go to worship with his family. Its been about 10 years since Jason has been able to sit with us in worship. Our leadership tells our staff that they need to sit with their families for a service, and that doesn't mean joining some time during but being at their seat when it starts. As a mom who has been trying to keep control of three boys in church by myself for years, it is heaven!

At lunch Sunday, I was telling J about one of the songs we sang this morning and how I cried. One of the boys asked why I was crying. Another one said "Mom always cries in church." Its not every week now, but most weeks something in some song strikes me and I shed a tear of thanksgiving. He truly has done more than we could ask or imagine.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


When I was in Shreveport this past week, I was in the Lifeway store and saw a girl that I went to high school with, but for some reason I didn't speak to her. At first I said it was because I wasn't sure it was her, but that wasn't true. I knew exactly who it was. I don't know if she saw me, recognized me or not. My hair makes it kind of hard to not recognize me. I had flash backs to when I was in high school and I went to get a Mother's Day card at a drug store and saw a boy that had been my "boyfriend" in 3rd grade. He even looked at me and neither of us spoke. What is up with that? But what really struck me about seeing this high school friend was, we are "friends" on Facebook. I can go right now and look at pictures of her three kids but I wasn't comfortable talking to her in person. I currently have 752 "friends" on Facebook, and yet how many of them would I speak to in person if I saw them.

It got me to thinking about friendships. Don't get me wrong, I love Facebook. I'm addicted. Especially since we have moved, Facebook lets me stay connected to people that I really do want to stay connected to. But how many of those 752 people would I say were really my friends? Moving makes you consider who your true friends are. Who do I miss talking to? Who do I take the time to call or check up on? And who takes the time to check up on me?

Its funny about making new friends. Its easier to make new friends when you have kids because you hang out together at sporting events, you have those kids in common, and yet having kids makes it harder to have free time to spend together to build your friendship. I feel like I have made three good friends here already, and other ladies that I have enjoyed hanging out with. But moving and making new friends makes you examine yourself and wonder what kind of friend you want to be. You can start from scratch and be whoever you want to be. I had a new friend tell me this week that one of the reasons she liked me was because I was real, and that was a huge compliment. I want to be real, and be a good friend. I want to be encouraging and fun to be around. I want to be friendly even to people that may not be a friend. And I am praying to get over my social anxiety and speak to people that I may not know, or may have not seen in years and run into at a store. Praying for God to make me the kind of friend He wants me to be, on Facebook or in person!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

My Favorite Things this Week...

1. My IPhone. I got Jason's hand me down last November when he upgraded, and compared to my flip phone it was great. It started telling me to update pretty quickly after I got it, but I never had enough space on it to update. I was going to have to delete my music and I was afraid that I wouldn't have space to put it back on after. And yes, my music is on my computer, so it shouldn't have bothered me but my music is like my babies, I felt bad deleting them. But my tech savvy brother explained I had nothing to worry about and once I updated it, oh my gosh! I LOVE my phone now. It does the coolest things! I'm still exploring all it does, and of course, there is room for even more music.

2. My new Texas stuff. When we lived in Texas I didn't want to have anything Texan in my house, but now that we are gone, I was needing something Texan. So while we were in Dallas I thought I would run by Hobby Lobby and got exactly what I wanted! I'm going to add some things around the big circle star. Love them!

3. My new tote bag! When I started my job last week, I knew I needed a bag of some kind to haul my stuff to work, but I am not a tote bag person. I'm more of a back pack person. So we went to Academy that night (because with three boys we are there quite often), and I headed to the back pack section. But then I found this! Only $15! So I became a tote bag person.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Summer Vacation 2014

Don't get too excited. We didn't go anywhere exotic or new. We decided pretty last minute we needed to go somewhere, and for some reason if we aren't going to Disney, we just can't make a decision of where to go. So we spent a few days at my moms in Shreveport. They put in a pool this past winter so my kids want to live there now. And then we went to Dallas. The two big boys were 2 and 4 when we moved away and we don't remember that they had ever been back, sadly. We showed them our house where two of them lived, and neither remembered it. :( We went to FBC Richardson Sunday morning for church. Jason warned the boys that there might be lots of people who knew them and wanted to pinch their cheeks and give hugs, and they wouldn't remember any of them. I was not sure that would really be the case, since we've been gone for 8 years. But as usual, he was right. There was almost a receiving line of people who wanted to say hi. It was a special time to see so many people who had been a part of our lives and ministry. We had an amazing lunch with some awesome friends and their kids, a sweet dinner with some other friends, and some pool time with a great family. It was so great to introduce our kids to so many people that we love and mean the world to us.

On Monday, we went to Six Flags and the Rangers game. Yes, we did both in the same day. But it was pretty good, not huge crowds, not too hot. And the Rangers were playing the Astros, convenient. We were torn, not sure who to root for. Astros won, surprisingly. Needless to say, by the time we got back to the hotel, and we had to have baths because we were all stinky, it was really late and we were really tired! But we had a blast!

Six Flags was a study in the differences in my kids personalities for sure. My sweet middle child would stress in every line about the plan of who was riding with who, and how many could be in each car, and what if we get separated. So cute. Little one never ran out of energy, could have stayed all day, riding the biggest roller coaster that he was barely tall enough for, or the ones made for toddlers that only went around in a circle. He didn't care. Just keep moving. My oldest, calm, even keeled, no, I don't want to ride that, I'll just hang here. Two of them took a turn with Daddy riding the Texas Giant. One of them got off and was pale as a ghost. I think it broke him because he didn't talk for about 20 minutes after. The other got off and said "that was awesome!", and one said, no thank you. I'll let you figure out which was which. And yes, I also said no thank you.

On our way back we spend one more night in Shreveport and got to see my brother which doesn't happen often. I think we had Tex Mex four times in a week, and saw lots of great people. Here are some pics for your viewing pleasure. Great memories for a last minute trip.

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Thursday, July 03, 2014

My New Job...

I have accepted the position as Director of Childcare and MMO at Pinelake Church. Even as I type those words, I am overwhelmed with the responsibility and with gratitude to God and many ladies in my past that have brought me to this place. Some of you might just think, its a part time job, what's the big deal. But if you have been even a small part of my journey the last 12 years of my life, you'll know what a big deal this is to me.

When Cooper was a baby, I attempted to be a full time stay at home mom. It didn't work, for financial reasons, but also for mental reasons. I was bored out of my mind. So I asked our preschool minister at FBC Richardson, Tedye Schuehler, if I could put Cooper in the MDO so I could go back to working at the call center I worked out before I had him. She said I should just come work for her so he could be with me. She saw something in me that I didn't know was there. I started out as the Special Event Childcare Coordinator. Joyce Patterson was the main Childcare Coordinator and trained me how to do my job. It was more than training though. Joyce showed me what it looked like to love on babies, love on teachers and love on parents. Ironically, I signed my offer letter for my new job last Monday, and found out that night that sweet Ms. Joyce passed away the day before. I almost cried at the deeper meaning that had for me. I hope to pass on the legacy she left as I minister to the babies, teachers and parents I begin to work with.

At FBCR, I had to step into an MDO 2 year old class mid year as the lead teacher. I laugh now looking back. I had no idea what I was doing. I made those sweet little ones sit in chairs for circle time, and forced them to make their crafts look just like mine. I had a college and seminary degree, but in 8 years of education, had only had 2 semesters of childhood development and ministry to children, which included all ages. I had worked extended session in church and babysat for years. And I had an adorable, perfect one year old at home. But that was the extent of my childhood understanding.  But again, Tedye saw something in me that I didn't know was there.

In the fall of 03 I became the Director of First Kids Younger Preschool, helping the MDO become licensed by the state. I think Tedye could tell I was a rule follower to a fault, and that's what you need when you have to study a binder of the rules set by the state of Texas to run a childcare center. I loved my job! I loved building relationships with the teachers, meeting parents and hugging on sweet children. It was a great three years. And then we moved to Houston.

I met Melissa Dutton before Jason even took his new job and she asked me what I would like to do in UBC's weekday. There wasn't anything administrative open, so I told her I would love to teach babies. Not sure where that came from, but I taught in the baby room for three of the next seven and a half years. That taught me a lot about recognizing that we are never just "babysitting," we are always teaching. Every time we talk to a baby, their brains grow and change. What a huge responsibility! I had flash backs to my physiological psychology class in college that I barely made a C in. But now I had a passion for how our brains work, and how God created this amazing thing! Melissa also knew about my background in those testy Texas laws, so I began leading at teacher training each summer about them, and I realized my passion for teaching teachers! I was able to do some different topics throughout the years and was always excited about that week. I am grateful to Melissa for trusting me with that training time. She taught me a lot about how to appreciate and encourage your teachers.

After my sweet Campbell was born, I took a little time off, and at that point April Lemley left the program and I took her position as Spiritual Curriculum Coordinator. I learned from April how to "send Jesus home" with those kiddos, even the unchurched ones, so their parents learned about Jesus too. And then my last year and a half, I was the younger preschool music teacher. And it turned out to be one my favorite things I did! I loved seeing how music got their brains and their bodies moving, and how excited they were to see me. My friend Laura Davis, who was the older preschool music teacher, said we were the "preschool rock stars"! My friend Colette Whitlock was the music teacher that came to my baby room the first year I was there, and I learned from Colette how to get those sweet ones moving and how to teach them spiritual truths through music.

In the meantime, Terri Neal came on staff as the preschool minister and we became fast friends. While at UBC, Vacation Bible School became my other life and I helped Terri by directing the preschool VBS for a few years. It was tough and stressful and time consuming, but I loved it. Terri taught me about volunteers, how to work with them and support them. And then, this past winter, we moved to Brandon, MS.

After a month or so of getting settled, I began looking for a job. I started working childcare at Pinelake one morning a week just to get out of the house. But I couldn't find anything else. I interviewed at another church and really enjoyed the process, but sensed from God it wasn't what He had for me. I felt that He was telling me just to enjoy the rest time, and He already had something picked out, it just wasn't time yet. And then this job became available. And God said, "that's it." So I applied and went through the interview process really not nervous, because I felt so strongly that God had called me to this place. I knew God had used the last 12 years to prepare me for this. A friend said this job "fits like a glove."

Our calling as a family to Pinelake has been so clear and amazing and God continues to blow us away at His power and goodness. I am overwhelmed at the size of my new job. Our church is so big! And yet, I know that God wouldn't bring me to it, and then leave me. I start next week, and I'll be working three days and one night a week. Its perfect for my family. I am not a good full time stay at home mom, but I also don't think I would be a good full time working mom either. And the fact that I got a whole semester to get my home and kids settled before starting is another testament of God's perfect timing.

There are lots of other details of the last 12 years I left out because this post is already so long as it is. But the point is, that God used every moment to prepare me. Our pastor Chip preached a sermon a few weeks ago about how God moves "upstream", preparing us for things we don't know are coming later. And then we sang "Never Once" by Matt Redman, and I cried through the whole thing out of amazement and gratitude. Our God is so good and big and kind and faithful!

Standing on this mountaintop 
Looking just how far we've come 
Knowing that for every step 
You were with us 
Scars and struggles on the way 
But with joy our hearts can say 
Yes, our hearts can say 
Never once did we ever walk alone 
Never once did You leave us on our own 
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Walking... Part Two

I'm at my momma's but I have walked twice already. Its hard when you travel, having to find a different route. When I got ready to walk last night she asked me if I was going to take a stick. Why would I need a stick? Snakes. Excuse me! I don't think so. She said she had seen two dead ones in the road the past few weeks. Ok, then the snakes are dead. That is what I chose to believe as I headed out, stick-less. I prayed that if there were snakes, the Lord would keep them hidden from me. Two walks so far, no snakes. Fingers crossed.

I have discovered that the key for me to keep my pace up when walking is a good play list. And I am a believer that there is plenty of great Christian music to walk/work out to. You might as well be building up your spirit as you are building up your body. On my playlist right now are four songs from Hillsong Young and Free, two songs from Hawk Nelson, and For King & Country, Capital Kings and Unspoken.  Other great options would be The Afters, Sidewalk Prophets, Citizen Way, Toby Mac, Audio Adrenaline, the Newsboys and classic DC Talk. I'll probably change out some songs next week to keep it fresh. My playlist is 33 minutes long so I strive to get through all of the songs to time myself. Every day I feel better, walk faster, and I've lost another pound. Lets just hope I don't gain the weight back while I'm on vacation this week. The other question is when I start my new job next week, will I be able to keep up my walking schedule. New job? Yep, and that will be my next post! ;)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Observations of Walking

I've been walking almost every day for the past few weeks and really enjoy it now. I've made a few observations as I walk my subdivisions and the three around us.
1. I need to get a college banner, sign, statue something for our yard. We are in the minority without one. People have warned us that when college football season starts in the fall, we will be shocked at the craziness that will ensue around us. We are LSU fans, so I guess I need to go buy something to show our allegiance.
2. If I don't go college, then I need to go Saints or buy a big "G" for our front door. Yes, this is the Saints emblem in Christmas lights.

3. There are 14 houses in our subdivision for sale, including our next door neighbors, so you should move here.
4. There are these things here called "hills". They make it much harder to walk. Dallas and Houston did not have these strange things. My legs are jelly today.
5. I love walking at night. Its much cooler than the morning and I make sure I am walking facing the sunset. Its beautiful and the sky is huge.
6. This is what it look likes if they take out your driveway. This is one of the houses for sale. I'm sure they will put the driveway back if you decide to buy it.

7. Walking has become imperative as I am home all day with the kids. It gives me 30 minutes of peace. And I have great music on my phone, so it lifts my spirits at the same time. Very proud of myself!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Special K Diet

I am doing the Special K diet for two weeks. It says replace two meals with their shakes or meals, have two of their snacks, and have one healthy meal. You can also have fruits and vegetables. I have also been walking 30 minutes everyday. It says you can lose 5 pounds in two weeks, and I have lost 3 pounds in 10 days. Four days left to lose 2 pounds. Now, I know I could have lost that on my own just eating better, really watching my calorie intake, etc.  But this has made it easy to make those decisions. I haven't had to think about it, what I'm going to eat. And most of what I have tried has been really good.

I love the Breakfast sandwiches. The protein shakes are pretty good. I've had the strawberry, chocolate and the coffee flavors. I also like the chocolatety caramel pastry crisps. Helps my sweet tooth. Did not love the protein cereal bars. The texture was weird and they are really small. Did not love the cheddar cracker chips. They went stale really fast and I didn't love the flavor. I may try a different flavor. I love the cinnamon pecan cereal and the chocolatety delight cereal. And the maple brown sugar hot cereal was really good!

So yes, I have spent a lot of money with Kellogg's the last two weeks, but its still cheaper than lots of other options. And again, for me its about convenience and not having to think about it. I haven't been starving myself, and have enjoyed most things. I have cheated a little bit, but not as much as other times I've tried to lose weight. They do have a plan on their website where you can make a personal plan and check out healthy recipes, but I haven't done any of that. So I'll keep going for another week. We are going on vacation soon so I'll have to watch myself or I'll gain it all back. Apparently its true that when you hit 40, gaining is way easier than losing. I'm 8 months away from turning 40, but I guess my body is already there! One day at a time.

My Three Favorites:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My favorite things right now...

Didn't enjoy my blog the last two days? What? You didn't read it? Didn't you know there is a special code to read my invisible blog posts from the last two days since I am writing 7 days in a row? No, I didn't write them. I did do the other two things on my list which were more personal. My blog is kind of just fun! I have a really good one ready to write, but I have to wait for the right timing. I'm hoping I can before the end of my 7 days.

So, my favorite things for this week:
1. My brother got me a Target gift card for my birthday. And yesterday I was working on my computer, clicking the buttons on my wired mouse, over and over again to get it to work. And I thought, I am done with this, got my purse, got in my car and went to Target and bought this beauty with my gift card. WHY did I wait so long to get a wireless mouse? Its awesome!


2. Listen to the sounds outside my back patio. I am 99% sure its frogs. I am not really a fan of frogs in general but the sound makes me feel like I'm in the country.

3. I have struggled with dark circles under my eyes forever, and found this a few weeks ago. Its done the best job of anything I have tried.

 4. I love the gas lanterns outside my house. A lot of the houses in our subdivision have them. We don't keep them lit all the time, but we had some people over the other night so we lit them. And the next night when I got home from my walk, I took a picture. They just make me feel so welcome!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The next seven days...

Our busy summer has now slowed way down as baseball has ended this weekend. My boys are already bored and wondering what we will do with our free time. Oh my friends, Mommy has plans. Reading, cleaning, learning to ride bikes, etc. Don't tell me you're bored. I will find you something to do!

But I have also found myself kind of bored, and I need to get my creative juices flowing. So I'm going to do a few things for the next seven days. Hopefully that will keep me focused, disciplined and not bored.

1. Blog everyday. This is day 1. I don't know what I'm going to blog about, but I'll think of something. When I'm really into blogging, my head is constantly filled with ideas. But when I've been out for along time, my brain gets mushy and dull. Hopefully each day will get better as the week goes on.
2. Walk. I have been walking a lot the past two weeks. I think I finally passed the point where I want to do it now. I had to skip a few days because of scheduling and baseball and I missed it. I've walked the last two nights and realized how much cooler nights are than mornings. I'm feeling better. I have more energy. I'm also doing the Special K diet (maybe that's another blog post) but I think the walking has been doing more than the diet.
3. I have a pretty large team of ladies under me in Trades of Hope and we have our own Facebook page where we share things. So I think for the next 7 days I'm going to post a verse and prayer we can pray over our team, our goals, our callings, our work. I'm excited about that.

I think that's it for now. That's only three things, but the discipline to actually do them is a big task. I have now done #1 and #2 for today. One more to go! See you tomorrow.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Summer is here again...

I am about to get in the car to go pick up the boys from their last day of school. They get out at 10 AM, what is the point of that I don't know. They didn't want to go this morning, but I made them. One, because I'm a rule follower and two, because Momma wants my last three hours of peace before summer. Summer always scares me, trying to keep three energetic boys busy for months in the heat of the south without letting them sit for hours on end in front of the TV or computer. Of course, the summer always goes faster than I think it will and I wish it would last longer, so I need to remember that and take advantage of each day. Our neighbors say summers are fun here because the kids in the neighborhood just wander from house to house everyday. A new friend told me this week to always have popsicles in my freezer so the kids in the neighborhood want to come to your house. I bought popsicles yesterday.

J and I had lunch yesterday and were reminiscing that it seems in some ways that it was 20 years ago that we dropped them off for the first day of school. Its been a crazy year, moving in the middle of it and all. But I am so proud of how my boys have done adjusting here. They all did great grade wise and have made a few friends. All of my fears and worries about how the move would affect them did not happen (as is the case with most parent fears). We have had a few behavioral issues with little one, but I think that was 5 year old boy, not the move. And my emotional middle one got through his grieving stage. He went back a few weeks ago to visit friends and I was afraid he would be sad all over again. But in some ways I think it helped to have some closure and to come back to his new "home" and know he has friends here too. And Coop did fine having one more semester of elementary. He was a little bored but he did ok. The two things they miss about Houston are Westbrook and NASA baseball. Well, we all miss those things. But we are each day getting more settled and finding new things that are filling voids. God is good. And I am looking forward to summer in some ways. So, here we go. Ready or not!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

My Favorite Things... Tonight

1. I was having a pity party morning the other day, and my momma happened to call. And as momma's do, she wanted to make me feel better. So she transferred me some money to go treat myself to something fun. I fully intended to buy some clothes with it. I even went to a store, bought two things, but returned them the next day. Just wasn't feeling it. But yesterday I went by a friends house to pick up something, and she was in the middle of wrapping a wedding gift, and had the most adorable, awesome whisk. WHERE DID YOU GET THAT? So today, I took myself to Belk and bought myself a new whisk. And hey, the whole line is half off. So I had to buy myself a new casserole dish because just the other day I went to make a casserole and realized my one good dish was sitting in the fridge with leftovers in it. So I NEEDED a new casserole dish, right? I LOVE them! And they made me happy, which was my momma's intention. But I got such a great deal that I still have some money left to go buy some clothes, if I can get in the mood.

2. McAlister's sweet tea... that's just all there is to say about that.

 3. Tomorrow is my middle angel's 10th birthday. Double digits! But he's already had his party (sleepover, that's another blog), he's already had cupcakes at school and a cookie cake at home, he's not getting any presents because he's going on a trip next week as his present and tomorrow is Easter. So I felt like I needed to do something fun to acknowledge the day. So I'm making these blue cupcakes with orange icing to take to our Easter lunch to celebrate my boy! How fun are these? They make them in four colors that you could stack into layers for a rainbow cake. If I was a better mother who planned ahead, that would have been really fun.

Ha ha! I put the blue cupcakes with orange icing in the red pretty dish, and I'm bringing them and the sweet tea to Easter lunch tomorrow. They are going to love me! ;)

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Putting it on a shelf...

I started journaling when I was in elementary school. Probably "journaling" is not the right term for then. I had a cute diary with a lock on it, and wrote about what I did during the day. In middle school it moved to who liked who, what boy I thought was cute, etc. That really important stuff! But finally in high school it moved to journaling, what I was thinking, dealing with, what God was teaching me, prayer requests, etc. And I slowly transitioned to really reading scripture and digging deep and processing God's word. I have piles of them in a trunk upstairs and would be really upset if we ever had a fire and lost them. Its years of my story in books. I want my boys to read them someday and learn from my mistakes, my failures and successes.

When I finish one, I write the beginning and ending dates at the front of it and put it on a book shelf in my closet so I can pull it out soon if I need it. And I get a pretty new one and I love opening it and having a fresh empty page waiting to be filled with new wonderful things. But I finished one yesterday and I got teary eyed at the thought of moving on from it. I have used it for the last seven months. So much has happened in the last seven months. I am so thankful for our move, our new house, our new church, our new friends. But I am even more thankful for all that God taught me over the last seven months. I have so much stuff in this journal about His faithfulness, His goodness, His love for me, His encouragement, His guidance, His forgiveness and His Provision! Those things are way more important than a job, house, church and friends. Those things will last eternally!

I printed out devotionals that spoke to me and taped them in my journal. I have scriptures where His word was so alive to me and so personal. I read two or three books in the last months that I felt that God had written just for me, and have lots of parts of them taped in. I have print outs of lyrics to songs that encouraged me. I have prayers written out where I poured out my confusion, impatience and questions, and answers where He told me what I needed to hear. I have lots of sermon notes from Pinelake or ones I heard online where I heard a message for me so clearly. God talked to me so many different ways in the last year and I love that so much of that conversation is in my journal. Many times I read back over my journal during my time with the Lord because it reminds me and encourages me again! But its full now, ready to be put on a shelf. And I'm sad. I went and bought a new one yesterday that is beautiful and I am excited to open that blank page, but I don't want my old one to go far so I can reach for it when I need a reminder about God's faithfulness.

If you don't journal, I encourage you to try. I know its not for everyone. I took a personality test once that said I was "literary". Obviously that's one reason I blog. I love getting my thoughts out. But go get a notebook and just start. If you need a pretty one to motivate you, I find mine at TJ Maxx or Marshalls where you can get a great price. I also suggest getting a spiral one that you can fold back or lay flat, it makes it much easier to write in. Its something to leave for your loved ones, but its also something to remind you of God's faithfulness and goodness when things around you try to get you to forget that. I will go this morning and get my new journal out and try to start with a scripture of His goodness on the front cover. And then I will fill it again! I can't wait.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Three months in... Things I Love

Three months ago today we moved into our new home in Mississippi. Overall we are still loving it here, so thankful for God's plan for us.

1. My house. Its about 99% done and unpacked. The rest can stay in boxes for awhile and I wouldn't miss it I'm sure. I love the details in our home. Its cozy and practical and beautiful and I'm happy here. I had a sweet friend come help me finish the master bedroom and I love it! I don't think I have ever loved my bedroom and thought it was decorated well. So excited about that.

2. Baseball. If you know the Gadman boys, we are a baseball loving family. I think the only thing we were heartbroken about leaving in Houston was our baseball family. They don't have official Little League here, only a rec league. And we knew that it wasn't as competitive as we were used to and most older boys play on select teams but we didn't have that option at first, so all three are playing in the rec league. Within a week of practices, Cooper was recruited for the Swamp Dogs, so there is team #4. And now Cade is trying out for a team, playing this weekend with them to make sure its a good fit. So there will be team #5 at the same time. Yes, five baseball teams at the same time. But aside from me not being in the routine of washing uniforms on time, we are handling it well and the boys are loving it. They needed to be needed, as we all do. They are making friends faster that way and need to be active. Sweet hubby, who said he was taking the spring off from coaching to get settled in his new job, because of some unforeseen circumstances, is now Cade's head coach. And don't let him fool you. He is thrilled about it. So aside from little one who hasn't gotten to play a game yet because of rain, baseball is making our household much happier!

3. Our neighborhood. We loved our neighborhood in Houston, but we lived on a busy street and really didn't feel comfortable letting the boys wander around. It was so cold and nasty here the first two months they didn't get out much. I was going to take them to the library a few weeks ago and went outside to get them from playing on our basketball goal, and there were 5 kids from the neighborhood playing in our driveway. I was so excited for them! Library can wait. New friends are way more important. Campbell has a best buddy from his class right across the street, and there are two more a few houses down. We have been told that during the summer, kids are all over the neighborhood. I can't wait!

4. Still completely in love with our church! I can't say enough about the power of God that we see, feel and experience weekly. So honored that He allowed us to come here. I am making friends working in childcare once a week, and going to a Bible study on Mondays. And my kids love going to church on Wednesday nights. Cooper and Jason went to Memphis over spring break with over 200 middle school students on a mission trip and had a great time. I am now volunteering on Sunday mornings in preschool which makes my heart happy. Cooper even helps in preschool with the sound and video for their worship time. God is opening some doors for some further service so we'll see where He takes us.

5. Our library. Yes, its a little smaller than the one we went to in Houston, but not much. And they have great stuff crammed in there!

6. Coffee. We have Seattle Drip coffee here. Its in little huts in parking lots. I love the Southern Pecan coffee and yesterday had a peanut butter iced frappe. Oh yes I did. And it was wonderful! The only Starbucks is inside the Target. But Seattle Drip has Bible verses on their windows and the sweetest girls working there, so I love it even more than Starbucks.

7. My free time. God is opening some doors for jobs for next school year, but for now I'm enjoying the time at home, running errands, trying to get my Trades of Hope business growing, keeping a clean house, not keeping up with washing baseball uniforms, spending some great time with the Lord. I'm feeling some creative juices flowing that I haven't had time for in a long time. I'm getting my camera out of the top of my closet and making some pictures plans. Now, if I could just get motivated to go exercise.

I do not love the lack of really good Tex Mex. Having major withdrawals from Gringos and Chuey's. Still do not love how early school starts. But those are small sacrifices to make for the good stuff. Although Tex Mex is a pretty big sacrifice!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Can I redo March?

Ok, not really. I don't want to redo March, but I do want to delete the blog post I write last month about getting healthier, losing a few pounds, etc., because well, it just didn't happen. I did well for the first 10 days, and then spring break hit. I went to my momma's, and even though I did refrain from gorging myself on El Chico's chips and queso and I did not have any Southern Maid donuts, I still gained the two pounds I had lost back. And then since we got back from Spring Break, we have had visitors almost constantly since. Which was great, don't get me wrong. We loved taking friends to Pinelake for three weeks in a row, and I loved having family and friends see our new home. But we ate out a lot and I had to cook bigger, more impressive meals. Lots of excuses. No good reasons. Bottom line, until I am willing to get off my tushy and start exercising, its just not going to happen. And apparently I'm just not there. When will that miracle occur? I don't know. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

"Marching" into Good Health

Cheesy title, I know. But its a good description of my current goal. For the month of March I am striving to make some changes to get in better health. We were obviously a little busy Jan. 1 moving when most people start with health goals. So I told myself a few weeks ago that starting March 1, I would for a month strive to be healthier. I remember seeing somewhere that if you say a date you are going to start, instead of just saying, I'll start tomorrow, you are more likely to actually start. Otherwise you just keep saying tomorrow. And I figure I can do anything for a month.

I told someone a few weeks ago that I drink entirely too much coffee and not enough water. So goal 1 is to only have my 1 cup of coffee in the morning and water the rest of the day. I'm on day 6, and that has been the hardest thing to do so far. Right now I'm craving a 2nd cup and in the afternoon, I'm having a hard time not having that cup to get through the evening. But I'm feeling better because that 2nd cup always makes me feel crummy after. I had a hard time not going into the coffee shop at our church last night, especially when I saw all the cute tiny teenage girls with their frozen coffee drinks. But I'm doing it!

Goal 2 is to walk 30 minutes 3 times a week. That has been harder this week because of the weather. I finally walked yesterday. Did you know there are hills in MS? We didn't have hills in Houston. I'm sore today. And its raining. I'll try again tomorrow.

Goal 3 is making better eating choices. I'm writing down everything I eat which helps because I don't want to write down that I ate an Oreo. I have gone 5 days without any sweets except the granola bars I eat in the afternoon but they are a pretty good sweet option.

I am hoping to lose the 5-10 pounds that I have gained over the last 6 stressful months, since half the clothes in my closet don't fit right anymore. But really its more than that. Its about my self discipline and bad habits and self control. Do I have self control to say "no" to myself? Can I really meet my goals for a month and break some bad habits so that when the month is over I don't go right back to eating a whole bag of Kit Kats in 2 days? Can I learn to pick healthy choices when we go out to eat instead of a plate of cheese covered yummy enchiladas?

Six days in I'm doing well. But next week will be the test when I go see my momma and want to eat at all my favorite places. Self control! I can do it! Luckily I don't have to do it on my own. Prayer helps too!

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

One month in... Things I Love!

One month ago today our moving truck rolled up with all of our belongings and we moved into our new home. After a month, I have discovered some things about Brandon that I really love!

1. The sky is huge here. I know I'm not realistic, but I believe we have the prettiest sunsets and sunrises here. And I can see so many stars at night! Amazing. This is a picture I took the other day sitting in the car pick up line. No big buildings in the way!

2. My new Walmart. Its only three minutes from my house and its smaller, which bugged me the first visit. But now that I'm used to it (I have been there MANY times over the last month) I love it. I can get what I want and get out. They have a large canning section and a sewing section.

3. The trees! I have missed trees! I grew up in LA and went to college in East TX. This feels like home. And so far, knock on wood (HA), they haven't bothered my allergies. We'll see in Spring time.

4. I'm am almost to the place where I'm loving my house. My momma came last week and helped me hang pictures and bought me some new furniture. That helped it feel more like home. Here are pictures of the boys rooms finally finished. I'm not showing them to you necessarily. I just want proof for myself in the future that at one time they were clean and organized. Its been a week since I took the pictures and they are already messy.

5. The people. The people here are just so nice! The checkers at the store, the waiters, the drive through people, the bankers, the dry cleaning lady... everyone is so nice and talks to you like they have known you forever. Yes, there are a few that haven't been, but overall, I am loving southern hospitality!

6. Our church! I cannot say enough how much I love our church. This is the first time in my life that I am sad on Mondays, mainly because that means there is a whole week until I can go back to worship. And I am loving going to church on Wednesday nights too! Who knew? Worship is amazing. If you are on Spotify, you can get our playlist for the next few months. Its SHIFT song list by Pinelake. And Chip's sermons are great too! You can get them here,

Of course there are things that I don't love, but I'm not going to focus on those. No where is perfect but being in the middle of God's will feels good!