Category Archives: Empty Nest

Football palooza is in the books <3

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So we took a road trip to Wisconsin this weekend and instead of Friday Night Lights at one of the local high schools…we packed an array of fanwear into the trunk and headed out after work to embrace our inner Cheesehead.

We stopped for dinner…

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and learned that even Subway are Packer backers.

We met up with our friends who had planned and then hosted this amazing weekend of fun…and after enjoying the most delicious Wisconsin sausage…and of course…cheese…

we headed to bed so we could hit the ground running bright and early for…

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the Badger game.

We toured around Madison a bit…

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before heading the stadium.

If you have never been to a game at the University of Wisconsin, I highly recommend it .

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Of course, I acted like I knew all about Camp Randall…but hesitated slightly to pass under that eagle because without my glasses…I thought the words under his feet said “Old Age”…and I was not inclined to want to go through to the other side…but on closer inspection…i believe it says Old Abe.

And really…I was caught up in a sea of red and white bodies by that time so I had no choice…

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It really was quite an experience to be a part of a stripe out…

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even if some people didn’t get the memo…

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nice guy though…even if he is misdirected in his loyalties.

The whole atmosphere of the game was incredibly fun…

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and don’t let those empty seats fool you. That’s the student section and they tend to be a late arriving crowd on morning game days.

All the classwork and studies from the week must have led them to sleep in a little.

Or something like that.

We did have a brief shower…

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that did nothing to dampen our enthusiasm. Though it did prove detrimental to my hair but all in all…

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Wisconsin beat Michigan…we had a blast and it was a great day that ended with the next leg of travel to “the Mother Ship”…

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We arrived before sunset and enjoyed walking around the area surrounding the stadium, though I forgot to change in my Packer wear…

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but at least I had the right state.

While we only had a brief spell of drizzle on Saturday, Sunday proved to be a bit soggy…

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so we took cover under one of the Green Bay landmarks and plotted the course of our day.

First stop was a picture of us in front of Lambeau before the humidity completely killed our hair…

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Then I had my first official Cheese head sighting…

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and found the famous “Ultimate Packer Fan” who was named in the top 25 fans recognized by ESPN in 2013 …

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I know this because I have his business card now.

And of course we had to do our version of the Lambeau Leap…

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Which I am thankful I could not see Russ’s face as we were taking the picture or I would have collapsed in a fit of laughter to the point of tears.

Thankfully I saved that for the walk to the other side of the stadium where…

the next stop was to get one of those cool rain jackets because when in Green Bay…

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As our friend Marcee said, when the rains would start up pretty heavy inside the stadium the fans never got up to leave…they just shifted positions, set their beverages down and commenced to putting on ponchos…

Go Pack Go…

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It was a great game and the fans and the players did not disappoint…

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We beat the…

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had another Best. Day. Ever.

and as we bid a fond farewell to Wisconsin, God painted this over the landscape…

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and we know the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow is found when friends make weekend memories that keep you laughing all the way into the Mondays of life <3

Speaking of sky-writing <3

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Yesterday was spent up north tending the fab four and their new puppy. 

After school, we were scheduled to go to a local pumpkin patch/play area and so we navigated the car pool lane and survived and made our way out into the country. 

As we were driving, the clouds in the sky were so incredibly beautiful I was marveling at God’s handiwork and thought I would attempt to draw my passengers into my love of our creative Creator. 

I started to make a comment that sounded almost like a Sunday School cliche and so rather than go with my first observation, I simply told them to be sure and look past the video screen production of Veggie Tales and observe how the clouds appeared to be almost like a water color painting across the blue sky.

Behind me came the voice of that firstborn boy who has been penetrating my eyes, thoughts and heart for over eight years now. 

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In the softest voice he said, “Lola, can you believe God painted that with His own hand?”

My thoughts exactly.

Coming out of the mouth of the offspring of our offspring. 

I could only manage to whisper…yes Graham. Yes I can believe He did that. 

And then I just let my heart bow in worship to the One who paints such beautiful pictures in the sky and over mankind. 

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Best. Day. Ever. 

<3

And when I say random…I mean random….<3

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We are experiencing a run of beautiful weather here in God’s country and I have a day at home to accomplish a list of tasks that are penned on the calendar and high hopes to actually finish most of them so it is a good morning for some randoms…in no particular order, of course….

#1

I am starting to put out the Fall decorations and an assortment of mums are beginning to gather on the front porch. 

They are staring down the summer flowers and the fern and it’s a little uncomfortable out there as we wait for the annuals I planted in the spring to depart from amongst us so we can make a nice backdrop for the pumpkins. 

Transition is hard and moving from one season to the next always means some things have to go.

Timing is crucial and being in God’s timing is always best. He never seems in a hurry or rushed so I rather like His rhythm…how about you?

#2

In my devotions this morning, I had several passages about work and how all the “work” we do is as unto the Lord. 

The concept is that we serve God by doing for others because He really doesn’t need us to do anything for Him. 

This is something I tend to forget.

I start my days with a list in my head or on paper or both and sometimes on several pieces of paper and I get so caught up in the list that I forget the reason for the things I do. 

The list becomes my task master and if anything comes along to interrupt my progress in completing the list, I get frustrated and snarky and peevish and all this yuk starts pouring out of me. 

It is a struggle to remember that I started out giving all my efforts and plans to the Lord and my hope was to serve Him in whatever way He deemed fit. 

I try to remember that Jesus wasn’t running around with His nose in a planner.

I rather doubt He was overly concerned about completing a checklist but instead kept His focus on being tuned in to what God’s plan was for each day. 

Yes, sometimes that means staying on task and sometimes it means setting aside the plan and being where I need to be for someone else. 

The only way I know how to live that way is to be in constant, open communication with God and in that choice I have found a more restful and peaceful and productive way of living. 

#3

And when I forget everything I just said in the last paragraph and resort to snarky…I am so thankful for His grace. 

#4

Am I the only one who associates seasonal changes with food?

As surely as summer makes me think of grilled food and salads…fall has me craving pumpkin bread, baked apple anything and savory dishes. 

I’m digging out the cookbooks again and starting to figure out when our schedule will allow for some baking. 

#5

My least favorite housecleaning chore is dusting. 

My most favorite is cleaning the bathrooms. 

Why?

Because cleaning a bathroom lasts at least for a half a day or so…dusting mocks me. 

I no sooner lift the dust cloth away from the table top and in the faint rays of sunlight I can see it all just dancing around and making its way back to the surface of whatever table or shelf I just cleaned. 

And that’s my five randoms…I’m outta here and on to the next thing! 

Have a beautiful Thursday and I will check in with you tomorrow <3

When experiencing technical difficulties, there really is only one place to turn <3

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Well I feel I have lived a much longer period of my life than 24 hours since we last visited. 

If you read yesterday’s post, I asked for prayer for me as I tackled an issue with the website and have mercy…the Lord answered but not in the ways you may have expected nor did I hope. 

Because my idea of the answers would have been smooth sailing and a quick fix and on we go, but instead the whole operation was filled with my heart racing, my mind spinning, tears, angst, a message that said “This website is experiencing technical difficulties.” in tiny, plain type with nary a beautiful photograph to be seen and a final act of surrender where I basically came to terms with the realization that it was time to yet again to lay this little slice of the world wide web at the feet of the King of the World. 

And there is a whole lot of beautiful things that happened where four little pairs of eyes took in their Lola’s meltdown and rallied around her in ways that are too precious to even begin to expose to you…and the love of my husband and friends who dropped to their knees and prayed me through…and a song by Hillsong about New Wine that led me to the place where I was able to say…this whole blog thing…it’s Yours, God…and yes, you can take it or give it back…but it’s Yours. 

So this morning as I opened up my plethora of devotionals and such and began to pour out all the thoughts and such in my journal, I ended up with a Psalm of praise that God penned through me and that is what I will share with you today:

Lord, I worship You for who You are. 

As I drove through the fields of corn and beans and sunset last night to get home, the song playing was about how everything belongs to You. 

It doesn’t belong to You because, as a believer I say it does. 

And it doesn’t not belong to You when the world laughs at the whole concept. 

It just does. 

Whether we believe it or not, the world belongs to You and all that is in it is made by Your Hand. 

Period. 

End of story. 

This is Your world. 

And in that realization, Lord, I drove and took in the fields so wide and full of crops and the endless blue sky with the sun setting and yet rising again somewhere in the distance for other people…and I thought about all the current situations including a website experiencing technical difficulties and what that might mean for me..and a pile of merchandise that needs processing and a house that needs a good cleaning…and zero time to get it all done…and I worshipped. 

Because it’s all Yours. 

All of it.

And so am I.

What confounds me and frustrates me and overwhelms me doesn’t phase You in the least.

I do not need to apprise you of the situation, yet You lean forward and listen to me much in the same way we lean forward and listen to a child telling us in choking sobs about what happened on the playground. 

You already know the end from the beginning, yet You listen to me and hold me in the middle. 

I praise You, not for what You will do, but for who You are and who You are is what makes me who I am <3 

Thank you <3

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We finished well yesterday a journey that started 22 years ago when someone asked me at our church would I teach an adult Sunday School class and I definitely did not want to and yet I felt my head nodding yes and I heard come out of my mouth, sure…I would like to do that.

I remember vividly having a heart to heart with God as I walked away where I basically asked Him…What in the heck just happened there???? 

And thus began the thing, besides my marriage and parenting, that has been the longest straight-running and consistent commitment of my adult life. 

It couldn’t have been a more perfect ending. 

I decided to share my three favorite sections of Scripture that are my go-to’s for life strategy. Then my number one student and supporter and encourager for all those  weeks that added up to years shared some letters from former people who had been involved in our class over time and finished with his own kind words. 

We gathered last night for a potluck and the weather was even perfect so we could actually have some people sit out on the patio…this never happens when we plan a function where we have more people than tables and chairs inside. 

God is good. 

Because I know some of you who read this were once in our class, I am including a letter I wrote to share but I wanted to add a couple of thoughts before I close with that. 

Just things on my heart about this opportunity I was given and what it has meant to us. 

<3 People are so sweet and keep encouraging me that God has something for this new season, but I think it is important to remember…it’s okay if what I have is just more time to devote to the other things I am already doing. Or maybe my assignment was finished. And there really isn’t a reason beyond that. And that’s okay.

<3 One of the things that I always questioned was the Scripture that says in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 that Paul did not allow a woman to teach or have authority over a man. I questioned all of my pastors at various times regarding this and each time I was told I was under their authority and that of my husband. I taught what God laid on my heart and it humbled me that both men and women got something out of it. I am thankful to God for the opportunity He gave me and the wisdom and discernment to serve the Body of Christ and I am thankful for the love and support of my husband and the pastors of our church. 

<3 I am deeply thankful for the friendships gained through a weekly commitment to show up and be the constant for a group of people. It wasn’t always easy but God gave me strength every single time. It is so cliche, but it is the absolute truth…He doesn’t call the equipped…He equips the called. 

<3 I am thankful for Russ who scheduled vacations and activities around the class as much as possible because he believed what I was doing was important for others. I am thankful for the Sundays he got me there and dropped me off and walked in late because of my tardiness…and I am thankful for his grace toward me when I felt like I had said too much or shared too much or was too transparent. I am thankful for the times he took a pass on doing some kind of something on Saturday so I could work on the lesson some more. I am thankful for the times he took over the prayer because I was a mess and couldn’t do it and the ways he would give me advice and counsel when I needed guidance.

and with that…here is the letter…and I used twenty years because I am terrible at math so here is the edited version of the one I handed out yesterday <3

Dear class of friends who are part of our family <3

In some ways, I want to reminisce and so I hope you will indulge me. 

Twenty-two years is a lot of life we have lived together. Your stories are part of our story and we have walked through much of life together. 

Twenty-two years ago John was 7, Sarah 9 and Rachel 12. 

In that time we have, among other things and in no particular order:

Brought my aunt and parents here and walked through dementia, Alzheimers, strokes and three deaths and funerals, made multiple trips to Iowa as Russ’s parents health failed and then said goodbye to them. Got three Reimer’s through Jr. High, High school sports, show choir, choir, band, orchestra, youth group, proms, homecomings and drama. Obtained and then said good-bye to our Mitzi. Had three high school graduations, went through college applications and graduated three from Millikin, Greenville and ORU. Two weddings, one divorce, four grand babies, two surgeries, two bouts with depression. Moved us to a new house. Started the newsletter and then the blog. Added substitute teacher, classroom teacher, cheerleading coach, gift wrapper at Von Maur, assistant manager at Talbots, Tournesol and Sensory Panel at ADM to my resume. We visited each other in hospitals and attended funerals for parents, spouses and sadly, children of class mates. 

Subs I can remember: Chris Peterson, Tom Howard, Tom Pistorius, Russ, Tabitha Bilyeu, Dave Campbell, Jonathan Grunden, Ron Black and even Jimmy Peck, bless his heart <3

Lessons I can remember: Ruth, Jonah, David, Job, Psalms, Minor Prophets, Celebration of Discipline several times! Harmony of the Gospels, Fruit of the Spirit, Traveling Light by Max Lucado, Pottery Class, Prayer – multiple times, Spiritual Warfare, Parables, Sermon on the Mount, Random rabbit trails from my journal, Nehemiah, 2 Chronicles 20, Moses, Exodus, Passover, Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Prayer of Jabez book, Easter, Old Testament Feasts, Isaiah, Christmas stories, Bible Stories for grown ups with Jon Keck one summer, Current events, Studies based on sermon series, Small group studies we were given, Islam/Qureshi, 1 Thessalonians, Names of God, multiple walks through books of Bible that took forever. 

I have quit at least fifty times in the wee hours of the morning on our living room couch and still well remember working on lessons as I waited up for a teen to hopefully make curfew. I walked away from watching a movie in the family room some nights and wrote some in the car as we drove. 

I never ever felt I really put the time into them you deserved and I always struggled with wanting to convey every single thing God showed me so you could have the full experience.

 I am forever grateful for the pastors who helped me not quit, learn and mentored me in the pitfalls of teaching: Wayne Kent, Darren Embree, Brian Talty, Tom Sager, Jon Keck and Jonathan Grunden. 

Looking at your faces on Sunday morning has been one of the greatest joys of my adult life and the fact that you all would come back Sunday after Sunday blew me away. The words of love and encouragement you have given to me and to our family – the prayers you have prayed over us – the acts of kindness you have extended to us – the relationships from this class that have been the friendships of our past twenty plus years…these are treasures stored up in heaven for sure. 

Moth and Rust cannot destroy what God has given to someone like me and it literally takes my breath away sometimes that He has allowed me to do this for Him. 

I can assure you, I gained far more than I ever gave. The way you all love each other has been icing on the cake. You are the beautiful Body of Christ and we love you and thank you for being part of our lives and family <3