Category Archives: Relationships

Monday reflections <3

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This weekend our women’s ministry team hosted the first ever retreat in a local setting. 

We kept it in house, with speakers from our own church and the whole theme was about pausing from our busy-ness to connect and refresh and get closer to God and each other. 

It was lovely. 

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Let’s just say when you bring 80 plus females together on a beautiful outdoor campus in perfect fall weather…there will be a lot of personalities, sharing, talking, eating, laughing, crying and all the feels.

Our three teachings centered on removing distractions so we can fully worship God, coming to terms with repentance from ways we have walked away or refused to obey and then just being still and knowing His voice. 

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I was made aware of some heavy needs and longings that have been added to my prayer list and I feel like I know some of the women who attend our church in a deeper and better way. 

Yesterday as we sat in service and I saw several new friends and old friends and pondered what it means to be in community with the Body of Christ, there was a point where the children were brought from their classrooms and led up on the platforms of both meeting places so that our pastor could pray a blessing over them. 

We watched them in all their wiggly cuteness as they climbed up on the stage and as always, I loved watching them as their eyes scanned the many faces out in front of them.

As one by one they recognized a parent or grandparent, a huge smile and wave would indicate they had found them. 

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I was reminded of a time when Sarah was in high school and I attended a huge concert at one of the local school auditoriums. I had gotten there early and found a seat near the front. 

The rows filled up quickly all the way to the back and there was a large number of students who had attended as well as families. 

As the orchestra eventually came in, Sarah was seated in the front row and I watched her as her eyes scanned the rows above me. She was looking for someone and I wondered if she had some special friends who were attending or perhaps a fellow who had caught her eye at school and she was interested in seeing if he came. 

I could tell she was searching and then lo and behold her eyes rested in front of her own chair and she saw me and her smile brightened and chased away the furtive searching look. To this day I am humbled to tears that it was me she had been looking for. 

Notoriously late, she would have assumed I had to sit way up at the back…so she had been looking to see if I was there. 

I have always been reminded of the joy that swelled in my heart when she found who she was looking for and it was me. 

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I think how God, our Father, must sit at times waiting for our eyes to finally search Him out of the crowd of options and faces and what sweet communion it is for Him and for us when finally we focus solely on Him and we cease all striving and just take Him in. 

Be blessed today on your journey. 

You will find what you seek. 

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Seek Him with all your heart. 

He is right in front of you <3

Saturday night live <3

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It’s a foggy and overcast Monday here in the Midwest. Yesterday was an absolutely perfect fall day and Saturday was a super-soaker. 

It was raining when we woke up and I don’t think it stopped the entire day. 

I worked downtown and listened to it hitting the back door and watched it splatter on the sidewalk out front and conversed with customers about how miserably wet and cold it was from 10-4. 

Russ was up north since Zach was working as well on Saturday.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to attend services Sunday morning due to travel so the plan was that I would go the 5:00 on my way home and we would meet up after that to eat leftovers together.

Thankfully the typical gale force winds did not accompany this day of showers and so I was able to use my umbrella to get safely to the truck two blocks away. 

But as I unloaded my bag in the back and climbed up in the front seat, I felt the chill of dampness down in my bones. I turned on the wipers and engine and turned the heat up high as I navigated away from downtown. 

Every ounce of me wanted to just head right on past the puddled parking lot as people were making their way into our church. 

I was alone…it was dark and soggy…and I had worked all day.

Besides, we have a live feed of the service now and I could just sit in the comfort and warmth of our home and watch that while I waited for Russ. 

But I felt drawn to go to real live church and so I told my flesh to hush and I pulled into a space. Before I could change my mind, I grabbed my dripping umbrella and headed in. 

Not seeing anyone I knew, I took a seat by myself down front but then I saw someone across the way I have been trying to track down.

I went over and chatted with him. One of the couples I know well were sitting in a pew right in front of that conversation. They spoke and the husband greeted me and as he shook my hand, he slipped me two little Hershey’s Pot-of-Gold bars. 

They laughed at my surprise. 

I went back over to my lone seat just as another friend and her husband came down the aisle. I asked if they had room and moved my stuff to sit by her.

I don’t get to see this friend as much these days and my heart filled to the brim to be able to just stand shoulder to shoulder with her and sing words of praise to our God. 

We know quite a bit of each other’s stories. We know the deep cries of each other’s hearts and we also know some of the incredibly amazing ways God has done the impossible. 

Behind me was another family of friends. They were celebrating their son’s birthday, just as we were celebrating Joely’s fourth on the same day. 

Again, my heart was filled with gratitude for the lives and ways God has worked in that friendship. The way He weaves our stories together.

And I would have missed it if I had just driven on and tuned in on my computer while I sipped a hot tea. 

I am thankful for the technology our church has been able to acquire so that when we are sick or traveling we can “attend” church. 

Last Sunday Russ and I listened to the service as we got ready in a hotel in Austin. 

But an online church will never take the place of the living Church – the Body of Christ. 

Flawed, yes.

Made up an odd mix of people? 

You betcha. 

Imperfect men and women and children, seeking to know and serve our Perfect God. 

Being perfected and transformed more and more into the image of His Son. 

This is the Body of Christ.

And it is too beautiful to miss for any reason <3

Our a-maze-ing Tuesday <3

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Thank you Auntie Lisa for telling us about this find at TJ Maxx…huge hit!

On Tuesday I spent the afternoon with these gems and what a day we had!

Due to the driveway being blocked for some work that had to be done in yard, PLUS the fabulous fall weather, PLUS a puppy and two school boys with excess energy to burn….

we packed up water for everyone…must stay hydrated…

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loaded up the crew….

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and then realized why Lola was having a terrible time rolling this party van out of the driveway…

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So plan B…we had the men move their equipment, transferred everyone to the motorized vehicle and headed off to pick up Thing one and Thing two.

We had planned to go to the pumpkin patch anyway so we headed there and on the way Joel asked if we could do the Corn Maze.

I said I thought it cost extra and so, no…we would not be doing that. He insisted it was free…the older two started telling him it wasn’t…Joel hadn’t napped…long story short, Lola had to pull the van over and do intervention.

Which means I put on my mom-voice and said, if it costs we aren’t doing it – if it’s free, we are. End of story. Period. We are done with this discussion.

Well we got to the gate and asked and sure enough it was free.

Joel led the way to the maze…which turned out to be the large silo filled with corn kernels…which IS free and would have made my life much easier if he had not thought that this little diversion is NOT a corn maze but a grain bin….sigh.

Too late for us though because the woman at the gate had made us sign in for participating in the corn maze so that if we got lost and didn’t come out they could send a rescue squad.

I have no idea why she thought we would get lost…they gave us a map…

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According the nice man who sent us on our way, we just needed to enter at #3 and follow the clouds and around through the barn and it would lead us right back out in 20 minutes.

Right.

I can’t read a real map…take a gander at the pic in Joel’s hand and imagine navigating it from this vantage point…

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After the first few times they asked me which way to turn, I gave up and said…go with your best instinct boys…if we aren’t out by dark they will come find us.

We turned one nightmare corner after another….with Joel constantly reminding me not to step in the mud…thanks Joel…

and finally, with great rejoicing in my heart I heard the boys holler that they had found it!!!

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Turns out what they had found was this outlook post that supposedly is like the “halfway” point….

this was our view…

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I started laughing uncontrollably as I realized how far we were from the start/exit…and how hopeless the whole prospect of getting out of there before bedtime was…and what in the world had prompted me to think we could do this…and best.day.ever. all rolled into one hilarious moment.

I felt we should just go back from whence we came…but my navigators insisted we blaze on down the other side of the stairs and so we did and eventually…

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we made it out.

And don’t worry….

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this one did too, but she was no-how and no-way going to stick around for a picture because the band of brothers was making big talk about doing the challenge path next….

another day boys…another day.

First day of fall done up right <3

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Good morning! 

I had so many things I could have done to catch up on the piles around the house yesterday but took advantage of a school holiday and beautiful weather and played hooky from my responsibilities so I could hang out at the pumpkin patch with this crew.

I have a sweet memento of the day to share with you at the end but here are a couple of things I am currently working on, and if any of them are mildly interesting please consider yourselves invited to check them out and if not…scroll down to the pic of Caroline. 

If you follow Instagram, I am doing a writing challenge by Hope Writers…I don’t subscribe to their community but the challenge is open and I love a good challenge so for ten days I will do a microblog post centered on a daily theme. Yesterday was “Start” and today is “Angle.” 

You can find my posts for the website at journey.onward … you have to request because as with all things social…I tend to be cautious.

Good news is, as long as you are not a creepy guy who claims to love Jesus, follows 10,000 people, has 15 followers and 2 pics of himself in military uniforms or a woman who claims to love Jesus but all posts are about the product you sell…I will probably accept the request <3 

Another thing I have in mind to do (and keep in mind, I do reserve the right to switch my mind and bail on the whole idea)…my cousin Kenny suggested I do more videos and since he is an unpaid consultant on my blogging career, I thought I would give Facebook live another try whilst doing the Joseph study. 

I briefly thought about doing a summary post of each week of the study, but have been praying about the possibility of doing the recap via Facebook live. 

The first one will be tomorrow morning unless I chicken out. 

Or my family bans me from it like they did the # debacles of my early Instagram years…turns out some #’s have double meanings…whoops…and I am somewhat gifted at finding the worst of them.

Ok. Enough announcements…

Here is Caroline’s pic and my cute story and then we can all go on our merry way. 

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I have mentioned before that Joel is my Achilles Heel and the child knows how to work it. 

Yesterday as we were making our way from the pumpkin donut/apple cider break towards the goat barn, he grabbed a hold of my leg and declared he was going to hug me. 

I stopped to receive it and he looked up at me with that one-tooth missing, red round cheeked, sweat dripping from his hair cuteness and thanked me for coming to the pumpkin patch. 

As my heart was dissolving into a complete puddle of mush he put the cherry on the sundae and told me he loved me. 

Worth every gallon of gas, load of laundry still sitting, paperwork piled on dusty counters and empty fridge that needs some TLC.

Is there someone who needs to know you love them to the moon and back today? 

If appropriate, grab them by the leg and make them stop long enough so you can tell them <3

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