#926 - The Word

His Promises

My parents live on the fourth floor of a condo building. They have a back porch that faces some woods, and I have so enjoyed going out there in this AMAZING fall-like weather (is it really August??) to spend time with the Lord.

Today my eyes fell on this verse. 

And I am SO thankful!


#927 - Nephews

These Boys

I live 1,000 miles away from my two nephews. It stinks. I'll just be honest. I'm thankful for airplanes, cheap Southwest flights, and a husband who agreed to let me come by myself for a week. A WEEK, y'all! I'm halfway through the week, and loving all of the time with my precious nephews, yet also missing my sweet husband and beautiful babies.

Here I am holding baby Jack for the first time. What a blessing he is to our family!

 "For this child I prayed..." 1 Sam. 1:20

And then there's this firecracker! CJ and I have had a great time together. I brought him this Jenga game and he loves it!

Goofy boy!

I'm so thankful for this time to spend with my nephews, sis, brother, and parents! It will be even better next June when my whole family is here to visit with me!


#928 - Well Done...

...good and faithful servant

 This is my friend, Jon, and I can guarantee you that he heard "Well done, My good and faithful servant," on August 9, 2013. Jon was born 33 years ago (he was exactly 364 days younger than me, born on March 27, 1980 and I was March 28, 1979) with congenital heart disease. As with all of us, no one knew how long he'd be on this earth. The difference, though, is that Jon lived as if every day were his last. He was a wild and crazy kid, and then when Jesus took control of his life, he became what some would call a "Jesus Freak." He loved the Lord so much, and he dedicated his life to serving him through youth ministry. 

Jon and I were in the youth group together in high school. We had a very strong youth group, and we didn't all just see each other on Sundays and Wednesdays. My closest group of friends was from that youth group. We hung out together all of the time doing crazy things that teenagers do. Many times, Jon was the one to come up with the ideas of what we should do. I'm so thankful I was able to know him. His funeral was this afternoon at 2 pm in Jacksonville, FL. I am currently in Maryland visiting my family, so I could not attend the service. However, thanks to Facebook, around 100 of us from the high school days have been writing back and forth in a group message remembering Jon stories and sharing photos. I know Jon would be so excited that we've all been reconnected thanks to him. 

I don't understand why things happen the way they do. No one does, really. But, what I do know is that our God is sovereign, faithful, loving, and all-knowing. His plans are absolutely perfect. He sees the BIG picture. And ultimately, He wants to receive the most glory. A week or so ago I was talking to my best friend on the phone. She didn't know Jon, but she's been praying for him (he was in the hospital in Nashville for over a month before dying) and his family throughout this journey. I was telling her about how I was praying - "Lord, please heal Jon! If you heal him now, everyone will know that it was only You who could have healed him, and You will receive SO much glory!" And then the Lord spoke so clearly through my friend. "Laura, don't you love how we try and tell God what He should do? You do realize that no matter what happens to Jon, God is still going to receive glory." (She's always been the honest kind, and for that I am so thankful!) Um, yes, you are absolutely right! Why do we so often feel as though we need to tell God what to do through our prayers? I mean, there was no one there in the beginning saying, "Oh, those flowers are a little too pink...maybe you should add some purple to them," or "I'm not so sure about that weird looking animal called a rhino." And somehow, God did just fine creating everything! I say all of this to say that I was alerted that day to the way I can tend to pray, even when I'm not trying to enforce my will on Him. Thank you, my dear friend, for allowing the Lord to speak through you to me! It certainly wasn't the first time, and I know it won't be the last!

As you can see in the picture above, Jon left two beautiful girls (5 and 3) behind along with his precious wife, Lindsay (who was also in our youth group). Please pray for them in the days ahead as they adjust to the "new normal" of life without their husband and daddy. I just can't even begin to imagine. Pray, also, for the middle school students from Chets Creek Church in Jacksonville, FL as they begin a new school year without a youth minister. 

"It is not how long you live but how you live and who you live for that makes all the difference..."
Glenn Reese (one of my former pastors who spoke at Jon's funeral today)


#929 - Picture-taking

Future Photographer?

Riley loves to take pictures. I'll give you one guess where he gets that from! I usually don't leave my camera just laying around because his little sister also believes she's entitled to carrying it around. Apparently, the other day, though, I forgot it was sitting out, and Riley took it upon himself to try his hand at photography without my chaperoning. I had no clue he was doing this, so when I turned my camera on the next time and found the pictures, I couldn't help but laugh!

This one really made me laugh!!

I'd say he did a pretty good job for his first solo photo shoot! :) Thankful for a boy who is creative and wants to try new things!


#930 - Books

Childhood books

I don't remember how old I was, but as a child I decided I wanted to keep all of my children's books so I could one day give them to my child(ren). The other day I was reading one of my Berenstain Bears books to Riley when he noticed the writing on the inside front cover. He asked what it said, so I told him it was my name. He said, "This used to be your book??" When I told him yes, he looked back at me with the sweetest face and said, "Mama, thank you for giving me your books!" Melt. My. Heart. 

When I was little I believed that one day I'd have children to pass my books on to, but I never dreamed they would be so grateful for the gift! Thank you, Lord, for sweet moments in the day when You remind me of Your perfect plan and the amazing blessings You've given me!

#931 - He's 4!

I Can't Believe He's 4!

It's hard to believe we've gone from this...

to this in 4 years!

Up until this point, we haven't had a "typical" birthday party for Riley (a theme, friends, party favors, games, etc). We've always just done family parties. For some reason, this year I really felt like we should have a party, and I'm thankful we did! It was so much fun!

Riley loves all things sports, but especially football, so it didn't take long to figure out the theme for the party! When I mentioned it to my mother-in-law, she started telling me about all of the decorations she had left over from a work event that was football-themed. With all that she had, I only had to order/buy a few extra items. We could not have decorated the way we did without her huge contribution! Thank you so much, Beckie!!

Riley LOVES the Hughes Springs Mustangs, so red and black was everywhere!

Favors table - red pom poms and goodie bags with fun football toys inside

This inflatable field is one of the decorations my m-i-l provided. Isn't it perfect?? Daniel and I made a pull-apart cupcake football cake. And then there were lots of 'players' surrounding it.

The healthy table :)

The table decorations...thanks to a friend whose husband is a football coach, we were able to borrow some helmets for the centerpieces.
On Pinterest I saw the idea to have all of the party guests sign a football as a keepsake for the birthday boy. I'm excited that he'll have this ball for years to come and be able to look back on how loved he was on his 4th birthday! We also provided eye black for all of the kiddos to wear. Instead of presents, we asked everyone to donate to an orphanage we're supporting. Our big boy has PLENTY of toys and 'stuff,' so we wanted to help other children on his birthday.

There's the birthday boy in his football gear!

 And his cheerleader sister :)

Riley and some of his friends (and Ya Ya!) running through the maze of cones


 There was also a football toss

Bean bag toss

And field goal ring toss

Ella with one of her favorites, Lena

Early on in the planning I thought how neat it would be if a few of the actual Mustang football players could show up at the party. These three awesome guys agreed to it, and actually seemed excited about it! Chad McKinney (on the left) is Riley's idol favorite player, and then there's Austin Calcote in the middle and Blake Smith on the right. They were so gracious to get up on a Saturday morning and come play with 3 and 4 year olds!

Miss Cheerleader had to take a goldfish break :)

Riley had to wave the finger while we sang "Happy Birthday" to him.

Blowing out the candles

I know one little boy who was READY to dig into that cupcake!

Not only Ya Ya, but GiGi was able to be at the party, too!

Playing football toss with THE Chad McKinney :)

Some more adorable cheerleaders!

A little post-party fun as we were cleaning up

So proud to call this 4-year-old my son!

We love you SO much, Riley, and we thank God for the 1,460 days He's given us with you so far!