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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What's Up Wednesday


WHAT WE'RE EATING THIS WEEK
Seth is in Wyoming so that means all of our meals are kid favorites.  I've basically been eating salads everyday for lunch and supper.  But we had home made pizzas on Monday night and their favorite poppyseed chicken casserole last night.  Tonight is our four hour dance marathon so that means a trip to the drive through.  Tomorrow night will probably be tacos because that's super easy to throw together after we get home from night two of dance.  I'm not sure about Friday night.  Spaghetti and meatballs, maybe?

WHAT I'M REMINISCING ABOUT
One of the other dance moms has a little boy who just turned three years old.  He is cute as a button, and I absolute LOVE watching his antics around the studio.  He is just so much fun.  Every time I see him, I think back to when Mason was two and three years old.  He was the sweetest little boy.  Still is, but he was extra sweet back then.  Those days were just so simple!  I didn't realize it back then, but they were.  And I could use some "simple" right now!  I miss hanging out with him and doing whatever he wanted to do, playing in his room, playing on the swing set outside, watching Mickey Mouse.  Now he's ALMOST as tall as I am!





WHAT I'M LOVING
I found a new app last week, and it's just the coolest.  It's called Prisma.  I don't even know how to describe it so I'll just show you.

Do you know who this is?
I had taken a picture of Ellie, and the app fancied it all up.  There are several different designs, but I think this is my favorite.

We saw a double rainbow last week.  Here's the original picture.  I took it as Seth was driving so the cane field is a little blurry.

And here it is after I uploaded the photo to Prisma.
You can't see the second rainbow in this particular one so I did it again with a different design, and it really picked up that second rainbow.
Isn't that the neatest?!

I found these at the grocery store this week.  
And they are so. good.  I'm not a fan of pumpkin spice EVERYTHING, but I do love pumpkin spice SOME THINGS (like candles and brownies and lattes).  I usually don't eat breakfast, mainly because I'm just not a morning person, and I don't even feel like fixing something for myself after I feed the kids.  But since I'm up before dawn even thinks about it during the school year, I do try to eat a little something that's quick and low maintenance.  Usually that's a bowl of grits.  But these are my new quick breakfast favorite.

WHAT WE'VE BEEN UP TO
September was a pretty ordinary month.  We are well into our homeschool and dance routine now so that pretty much defines our lives these days.  Today Ellie will finish her third workbook since August.  She's moving right along.  I've thought about starting kindergarten with her after Christmas, but the other part of me is in no hurry.  She wants to do school all. the. time.  Nights.  Weekends.  So I finally had to tell her last week that school work is for weekdays only.  No nights.  No weekends.

WHAT I'M DREADING
I have nothing for this one.  I need to make an appointment to see my ophthalmologist for my annual check-up, but I haven't done that yet.  Needless to say, that's the doctor I enjoy going to the least because they are always so behind, and it takes forever.  Besides, I don't know anyone who enjoys getting their eyes dilated!

WHAT I'M WORKING ON
Believe it or not, I've been putting my last two valances together.  The others were finished last spring, but I had to get some more fabric to finish.  I ordered the fabric in July, hoping to finish before school started.  But then the flood came, and the shipment was delayed.  I just picked it up a couple of weeks ago.  One of them is almost complete, and the other one is already cut out.

I'm still Christmas shopping.  Almost finished!  I should be done by the end of October!

My big project this Friday is purging the kids' closets to make room for cooler weather clothes.  Not that we even have cooler weather.  But we can dream, right?  Both Hannah Kate and Mason are going to need new clothes this year.  Ellie will have a good stash of hand-me-downs from Hannah Kate.  I just need to get those boxes out of the attic.

I've decided to part ways with my beloved monogram machine.  I haven't used it since Ellie was born.  I just don't have time.  Besides, all of my children have decided they're too old to wear their initials and appliqu├ęs anymore anyway!  I love my machine, and I hate to sell it, but I know I won't use it anymore.  I'm letting all of my stabilizer and thread go with it, too.

I'm also getting rid of my infant carrier and stroller and cradle swing and bouncer.  All of those were purchased brand new when Ellie was born, and they're still like-new.  I can't imagine I'll ever need them again.

So I guess I'm fall cleaning.

WHAT I'M EXCITED ABOUT
Oh, this is easy!  We have a long overdue family vacation coming up.  We're taking the kids to Disney.  They can't wait, I can't wait.  I'm not sure about Seth.  I'm sure it'll be tiring (because let's face it, Disney just is), but I know it'll be fun.  And we need some FUN!

Ellie was 9 months old the last time we went.  So, of course, she doesn't remember anything from that trip.  She knows only what she sees in our pictures.  And she looks at those pictures over and over and over.  Needless to say, there is not a word I can think of to describe her excitement right now.  It's off the charts!  And I have no doubt she's going to love every second of it!  I'm just hoping she'll be a good sport for the character encounters.  The two big kids aren't much for that anymore so Ellie is my only chance this time.  We've kept our picture in front of the Magic Kingdom on the frig ever since that trip.  I can't wait to get a new one!
WHAT I'M WATCHING / READING
Today I will finish The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst.  Last month I read Uninvited and it was so. good.  I've enjoyed The Best Yes, too.  It seems I can't read much more than a book a month these days, but I'm thankful for that one book.  Mason and I read Carry On, Mr. Bowditch.  It wasn't a book I'd choose to read myself, but I did enjoy it.  There were lots of great lessons in it, and it gave us a lot to talk about.  Now we're reading Shakespeare's tales.  All of them.  Honestly?  I'll be so glad when we're done with that.  I've been reading another book and trying to get through it for three months now.  I just hate starting something and not finishing it, even a boring book that I just can't get into.  But I'm determined to finish it.  Up next is Beth Moore's new book, The Undoing of Saint Silvanus.  I'm saving that one for our trip because the drive will be long.
Speaking of . . . did I mention I MET BETH MOORE last week?!
  Football.  It's football season.  First of all.  My team hung in there pretty good until they went to Oxford last weekend.  But I knew it was coming.  Let's just say we have lots of opportunities for improvement.  I still love my team though.  Second of all.  It just got a whole lot more interesting around here because, in case you haven't heard, Seth's team fired their coach last weekend.  I'll just leave it at that.

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO
Ellie just finished breakfast, and she's watching Mickey Mouse before she begins her school work.  So that's what I hear right now.

Besides that, I'm learning the music for our Christmas musical.  Yes.  Christmas.

WHAT I'M DOING THIS WEEKEND
Well, originally Seth's friend from Spain was coming for a visit, but he had an unexpected change in his work schedule that prevented him from traveling to the States this weekend.  So, plan B.  I'm not exactly sure what that is, but I think it involves the local annual Swamp Festival.  And I think my guys are going to the LSU game Saturday night.

WHAT I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT MONTH
That's easy.

Disney.

And maybe, hopefully cooler weather.  I doubt boots and scarves kind of weather, but I sure hope we get out of the 90s soon.  It's hot!

WHAT ELSE IS NEW
Nothing much.  It's just life as usual over here. 



Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Day I Met Beth Moore

So last Friday I met Beth Moore.  In person.  I hugged Beth Moore.  And I had a conversation, albeit 90 seconds or less, with Beth Moore.  In person.

My bestie called me this afternoon and was all like, "How in the world did you get to meet Beth Moore??!!"  So here's the story.

I've participated in Beth's Bible studies, group teachings and telecasts for over 16 years now.  I attended one of her Living Proof Live events in New Orleans about 14 or so years ago.  And I've facilitated several of her studies.  The very first study I did as a student was "To Live is Christ."  I absolutely loved it because the book of Acts is one of my very favorites in the Bible.  That was also the first of her Bible studies that I facilitated.  

My absolute favorite Beth Moore Bible study is "Believing God."  That one was originally introduced as an online study.  It came at a pretty low point in my life so I immediately signed up.  There weren't any women's Bible studies at our church so I was thrilled to be doing another Bible study with other women, even though it was an online community.  I didn't know it at the time, but that study was so on point for my life at the time, and God spoke through it to the depths of my heart that really pulled me out of a lot of junk.  I can still remember the principals from that study, and I go back to it often.

The most fascinating study of hers I've done is the Daniel study.  And I truly "studied" the most in that particular one.  Up until that point in my life, I always thought of the book of Revelation as "off limits" to me, meaning I would just never understand it or figure it out.  Well, I was wrong.  Granted, there is MUCH I still don't understand, still don't know, but I realized that Revelation was just as much for me as the rest of God's Word.  I did that study with two stay-at-home-momma friends.  We'd get together once a week to discuss our lessons and listen to the CDs of Beth's teaching while our babies played.  Mason was a year old at the time.

Several of her studies I simply did by myself.  I bought the student book and then her teaching on CDs as opposed to the DVDs.  I've not always been at a church where women's Bible studies are offered so this was always the perfect option for me if I couldn't find a friend or two to join me.

The last study of Beth's I did was the Psalms study.  I actually did it twice because I later facilitated it.  But not long after that, I started going to BSF so that became my primary "Bible study" the last five years.  I haven't done the Esther or Thessalonians or James studies.  But up until Esther, I've done them all, some of them more than once.

I frequent my local Lifeway bookstore often, especially during VBS season.  So it was earlier in the summer that I realized Beth was about to release a novel, her very first work of fiction.  I was immediately intrigued, but then I got really busy and kind of forgot about it.  Three weeks ago I received a flyer in the mail from my store inviting me to attend a book signing and meet Beth in person.  Sign me up!

I thought long and hard about my decision.  I really wanted so badly to go, but I just wasn't sure.  I knew I'd have to take the children with me, and since I've never been to a book signing before, I wasn't sure how it would work or how long it would take.  But I figured it would be awhile.  The flyer sat on my counter everyday for three weeks.  I finally decided to go.  I knew I would probably regret it if I didn't.  The book signings were limited to Houston (because that's where Beth lives) and Baton Rouge and New Orleans.  We aren't far from Houston, and the setting of her book is actually New Orleans!

To make it a bit more interesting, we had invited Mason's friend over to spend the night last Thursday night.  They've been buddies ever since we started Sequitur last year, but we'd never had him over to our house before.  So now I was going to have not only my three children but Mason's friend, too, to meet Beth!  Welcome to the family, kid!

When we woke up Friday morning, it went a little something like this:

"Hey kids, I'm gonna take you to Area 51 today.  And we'll go eat lunch wherever you want.  But first you have to do some school work.  Oh, and we're also going to meet Beth Moore."

Of course, they had no clue what I was talking about or who Beth Moore even is.  At one point, Mason asked to go to the water fountain, which was on the other side of the store from where we were.  He walked right behind Beth.  When he got back, he whispered in my ear, "Mama, is that lady famous or something?  There are a ton of people taking pictures with her!"  So when he asked me what she was famous for, and I told him, he said, "Oh.  So she's not like an actress or anything."  I mean, she did have a little cameo on War Room!

What I really should've said was, "We're going to go sit at Lifeway for TWO HOURS while Mama waits for Beth to sign her book!"  Yeah, I'm pretty sure Mason's buddy is NEVER going to want to come over again!  Ever!

The signing was from 11:00-12:30.  We got there about 10:45.  One of the store workers met me at the door and handed me a ticket with a number on it.  He explained that they were going to call everyone up in groups of 30, and we would then line up according to the number on our ticket.  I was in group three.  I was really excited about such an "organized" and "easy" and "fair" system.  I went ahead and bought my book and directed the kids to the kids' section to hang out.  Even though it wasn't 11:00 yet, it was obvious that group one and then some had already lined up.  And it was a LONG line.  I had my number.  I knew I was in group three.  So there was no reason for me to stand in that line.  I went to the kids' section and sat down with the girls.  The boys were entertaining themselves.

Sure enough, they called group one at 11:00.  I showed utmost restraint and stayed in my spot on the floor.  I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  They finally called group two at 11:45.  So by this time we'd been there for an hour.  The kids really were doing great, all things considered.  But, do the math.  If things continued like they were, group three wouldn't be called until 12:30.  I though briefly about leaving.  I was beginning to feel so guilty that the kids were just sitting there trying to entertain themselves while I was waiting for 90 seconds with Beth Moore.  And Ellie was about to hit meltdown mode.  I was trying to read books to her, trying to have fun with her.  But she would have NONE of it.  I tried to see if Seth could come get her, but that didn't work out either.  So we just sat.

Around 12:15, I started hearing some of the ladies saying that Beth wasn't going to be able to sign everyone's books.  It also seemed like group three should've been called.  I decided to go ahead and get in line, regardless of the group I was in or the number I had.  What I didn't know was that someone their "organized, easy, fair" system had failed, and I could've been in line a long time ago!  Most of the ladies in front of me either had numbers greater than mine or no number at all!  So I stood there and waited.  Some were still saying that she wasn't going to sign books after 12:30.  I knew that if that were the case, my book would not get signed.  But, fret not.  It's Beth Moore.  Besides, I'd been there since 10:45, and I had my ticket, and, being the rule follower I am, I'd done exactly what they'd told me to do in order to meet Beth!

At 12:25, one of Beth's staff members came through the line and told us that Beth was indeed going to stay as long as it took to sign our books.  Not only was she signing books, she was taking pictures with each and every lady, too.  I really didn't think she would do that considering the amount of time it would take.  She was on a tight scheduled because she had to be at the Lifeway store in New Orleans later that afternoon for another signing.

At 12:45, it was finally my turn.  Beth gave me a big hug.  Y'all, Beth's staff was phenomenal.  One of them held your purse so it wouldn't be in the picture.  One of them immediately took your book and quickly opened it to the page she was signing.  Another of them took your phone for pictures.  I didn't know until I later looked through my pictures that she not only took a picture of us looking at the camera, she also took candid shots of me actually meeting Beth.  (And why are my eyes closed?!)

She asked to meet all of the children, and she shook each of their hands.  She insisted on another picture with all of us (even though Ellie was NOT at all cooperating).

She signed my book.  And I wanted so badly to say something to her, something she would remember, something that would encourage her, something that would let her know how much her ministry has meant to me and impacted my life.  But I didn't want to say anything, you know, STUPID.  I mean, I'd been thinking about it for THREE WEEKS.  And, I obviously don't really have a shortage of words (why is this post so long?!).  But I didn't. know. what. to. say.  I'd also told myself to smile normal and tame it back a bit.  Fail.

She signed my book, and as I was walking away, I told her "thank you" and that I wished God's greatest blessings over her.  Lame, I know.  The lady in line behind me had already begun making her way towards Beth so I really didn't even think Beth heard me.  

While I was herding corralling guiding my three children plus one towards the exit, I heard Beth say, "You keep on doing what God has called you to do!"  She said it in her "you know what I'm talking about, and I mean it" voice (if you've ever heard Beth teach, you know that voice!).  I really didn't think she was talking to me.  My back was to her.  I turned around anyway, and she was looking right at me.  She nodded her head at me and then quickly greeted the other lady that had already walked up to her.

You keep on doing what God has called you to do!

Huh.  

I'm so glad the children were with me because I really could've just cried right there in that store in that moment in front of everybody!  But I didn't.  Those precious children waited TWO HOURS for their mama to meet Beth Moore and get her signature.  But I know for a fact now that it really wasn't about that at all.

You keep on doing what God has called you to do! 

And, Beth, if you're reading this (who am I even kidding?!!), thank you!
   

Monday, September 19, 2016

Please pray.

I really had no intention of blogging again about the flood.  But there's something that's been stirring in my soul for almost three weeks now.  

It's been a month and a week.  It's been a month and a week since the waters came and filled homes and businesses and churches and schools.  It's been a month and a week since the highways were turned into rivers passable only by boat.  It's been a month and a week since thousands watched helpless as the waters rose higher and higher, swallowing everything in its path.  It's been a month and a week since families trudged away (or swam or boated) from their homes in knee deep, or even chest deep, water, leaving behind heirlooms and furniture and vehicles and family photos and the entire contents of their homes that would be destroyed by the waters.

A dear friend called last night to chat.  One of the questions she asked me was, "How's it going out there?"  I realize that people who don't live here don't realize, don't know . . .

This has been a very long, very hard month.  

People are still living in shelters.  Several shelters closed last week, and those "residents" were moved to other shelters still open.  But now those shelters are supposed to close this week.  I don't know where those people are going to go.  I heard earlier today that 600 people are without shelter right now.  Many of these people are disabled and/or elderly.  Many of these people are not only homeless, but they have no jobs, no transportation.

People are homeless.  People are living in hotels or apartments or rentals, although those options are now scarce.  People are living in campers.  People are living with friends or relatives.  People are living in their gutted out homes.  Yes.  People are living in their shell of a home without walls and appliances and cabinets and flooring.  Because at least it's a place to stay, a shelter.  People are sleeping on lawn chairs because they can't afford to buy a new bed.  That's a true story.

Debris is still piled up in front yards exactly where it was left a month or more ago when homes were gutted.  A friend told me last weekend that she doesn't even go back to her gutted house anymore because she just can't stand to see the pile of debris still waiting to be picked up.  And the stench from these piles is just overwhelming.  The trucks are rolling daily, but it's estimated that not quite half of the debris has been picked up at this point. So we're still looking at it, still smelling it.

The last school system finally welcomed students back last week.  Many of our schools were so badly damaged that they are unable to open right now.  So that means campuses are actually hosting multiple schools.  Flood damage to Denham Springs' schools is currently estimated at $100 million.  Denham Springs High was not able to reopen because of the extent of the damage there.  There is no estimate for when it might reopen or if any of the buildings are even salvageable.  So those 3,000 students will attend Live Oak High this school year.  Live Oak students attend school from 6:30AM until 11:30AM.  They leave, and Denham students arrive at 12:40PM.  Their school day ends at 5:30PM.  Several schools are platooning students on similar schedules.

It seems like we'd be so much farther along at this point.  Even those who are motivated and wanting to rebuild and repair are at a stand still.  Their homes are gutted.  They've been dried out and treated for mold remediation.  They're ready for drywall.  But there's so much uncertainty regarding building permits and elevation requirements.  Homeowners are still waiting on FEMA and local governments to decide if their homes will now require elevating before they rebuild.  And, for many, that's a deal breaker.  

I saw a sweet friend for a few minutes last week.  She, her husband and their two small children have been living with friends.  The Lord provided a rental for them so they were supposed to move this past weekend.  They were just waiting on appliances to be delivered.  They were given mattresses, bed frames, a sofa and a table and chairs.  She said they have been abundantly blessed and have all they need.  Can I just tell you how much she encouraged me?!  She even said this has been a "good thing" for her family!  Yes.  Those were her exact words.  Every single time I talk to her or hear from her, she's just glowing with the peace and love of Christ, even in the midst of a horrible situation.  I asked her how the repairs were coming on her house.  They took on between four and five feet of water.  She said they aren't.  They aren't doing anything.  They still don't know yet if they're going to be required to elevate.  The cost of doing so would be around $167,000 for them.  And keep in mind they still need sheetrock and insulation and flooring and cabinets and everything else!  She said if they are required to elevate, they will have no choice but to put a for sale sign in their yard.  That's only one story of many.  

A lot of families have already decided to sell their homes "as is."  Many businesses are not going to reopen.  I've even heard of several of the smaller churches that most likely will not open their doors again.  So these are hard times for so many.  Just hard.

There were two times that the reality of this hit me so hard that the tears came.  The week prior to the flood, I had deactivated my Facebook account.  As we watched the news and heard what was going on, I quickly began trying to contact all of my friends who I knew lived in the affected areas.  Some I heard back from but many I did not.  And then we lost cell phone service for a couple of days.  I was still trying to get in touch with so many.  So I activated my Facebook account.  I was in shock.  Utter shock.

This is one of the first pictures I saw.  This was the first time I cried.

Obviously, this was Judah's bedroom.  He's six years old.  His mom is a dear, sweet friend of mine.  We first met about four years ago at BSF.  She joined our class in the spring, and she was in my small group at the time.  The following year I served as a children's leader.  I had the honor of teaching her twins.  They were two years old at the time.  The next year I taught the four-year-old class, and I had the honor of teaching her sweet Judah.  I know these children.  I taught these children.  I gave them hugs and played beside them and with them.  And their mom, my friend, well, she's a gem!  She's one of the most humble, gracious, godly women I know!  She and her husband relocated here a few years ago from the northwest.  Her friendship has been a treasure.  When I saw this picture of Judah's room and that "Happy Birthday Judah" sign floating on the thigh-deep water, I cried.  Yes, it's just stuff.  Yes, it can all be replaced.  Yes, this family is safe, and the Lord has provided mightily for them in the days since.  But I just couldn't help but think about that birthday and the gifts Judah had been given . . . what a happy, joyous day that had been.  And I couldn't help but wonder how this sweet boy feels now.

This sweet friend also had a piano in her home.  It succumbed to the waters, too.

And the second time I cried?  Well.  A sweet friend posted a conversation she overheard between her children.  They were playing a game outside.  Here's what she said:

Our kids have walked through this flood so courageously; far greater than I. But to hear them outside playing "flood" as if it was the norm, simply wrecks me in a way I cannot explain.

Oldest sibling to younger ones: "Okay. We need to talk. We have to move this tree and I need your help. And it's real so I really need your help."
Praying that our Father would protect their tender hearts through this, that they would come to know this isn't normal and that they would see God's restoration and that His plan is far greater... Beyond what we can grasp.  His way is perfect.

Again, I know these children and this precious family.  I taught these children at BSF.  Their momma is one of the best!  And my heart just aches for them.  Oh, how it does.

As I've been thinking about all of this, processing all of this . . . and wanting to DO SOMETHING but not knowing what in the world to do and not even having the resources with which to do it, I've been reminded . . .

Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with the voice of triumph!
For the LORD Most High is awesome;
He is a great KING OVER ALL THE EARTH.
He will subdue the peoples under us,
and the nations under our feet.
He will choose our inheritance for us,
the excellence of Jacob whom He loves.
~Psalm 47:1-4

The Lord brought me to that Psalm about two weeks ago.  And I couldn't help but recall Natalie Grant's King of the World . . . that song has spoken to me so powerfully, so deeply this past month.  The Lord has used that song to encourage me, to quiet me, to still me.  The Lord has used that song and that Psalm to speak into circumstances in my life that I'm so frustrated with, so discouraged by.

If you're reading this, and you are struggling through a flood . . . whether that's a result of the waters on August 13, 2016 or because of some other hard place in your life, this is for you:

KING OF THE WORLD
Natalie Grant
I tried to fit you in the walls inside my mind.
I try to keep you safely in between the lines.
I try to put you in the box that I've designed.
I try to pull you down so we are eye to eye.

When did I forget that you've always been the King of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the King of the world.
How could I make You so small
when you're the One who holds it all?
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?

Just a whisper of Your voice can tame the seas.
So who am I to try to take the lead?
Still I run ahead and think I'm strong enough
when you're the One who made me from the dust.
When did I forget that you've always been the King of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the King of the world.
How could I make You so small
when you're the One who holds it all?
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?


Oh, you set it all in motion . . .
Every single moment . . .
You brought it all to me.
And You're holding on to me.
When did I forget that you've always been the King of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the King of the world.
How could I make You so small
when you're the One who holds it all?
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?


To all of my friends who are struggling because of these waters . . . I am praying for you!  I have not stopped praying for you, and I will not stop praying for you and your families and your children!  If you have a specific prayer request that you would like me to pray over, please call me or text me.  I'm here for you!

To all of my people who are reading this from outside the borders of the state of Louisiana, will you please join me in prayer?  I know you haven't heard a single solitary thing about what's going on here lately.  I know you don't know about the struggle.  But it's real.  I've seen God provide EXCEEDINGLY ABUNDANTLY MORE than we've asked and imagined (Ephesians 3:20) . . . will you please keep asking and beseeching the Father on behalf of these families?  Please pray for quick resolution regarding all of the elevation and permit issues, please pray for shelter for those who don't have it, please pray that God will sustain these families and give them the strength and grace to persevere through this, please pray that He will continue to provide the needed financial and physical resources, please pray that souls will be SAVED and that God will be glorified in and through this.


Friday, September 02, 2016

What's Up on a Friday

I know it's not Wednesday.  But I just never got this one finished.  Until now.  So here we go.

WHAT WE'RE EATING THIS WEEK
Monday night we had hamburgers.  Seth once told me that if he could eat only one thing everyday of the rest of his life, it would be a burger.  That wasn't the answer I expected.  But Monday night I reminded myself that I sure could make meal prep a whole lot easier and less time consuming if I remembered this one little tip and took its advice!  Tuesday night we had grilled chili lime chicken fajitas.  I also made homemade guacamole.  Really and truly, I can't think of much better than that!  Last night we had the kids' favorite poppyseed chicken casserole.  I rather enjoyed the speckled butter beans and roasted cauliflower.  Tonight we had fried fish.  But what I was most excited about this week was my chicken and dumplings.  For the first time ever in my entire life, I made chicken and dumplings.

In Louisiana, folks talk about food all. the. time.  I used to not understand it, but I guess I've gotten used to it now.  I never could figure out why, at lunch time, we'd be talking about what was to eat for supper!  I mean, we weren't even finished eating lunch!  The kids, especially Mason, are always asking what we're going to have to eat.  It usually never fails that, during supper time, Mason will ask what's for supper the FOLLOWING night.

Anyway, we've had lots of conversations during the past year about chicken and dumplings.  Seth's dad has mentioned on more that one occasion that he sure would love some chicken and dumplings.  But, apparently, just like everything else, there's more than one way to make chicken and dumplings.  And, it's my understanding that here it's eaten over rice.  I just can't imagine that.  I'm pretty sure it's starchy and hearty enough without rice.  But whatever.  So before he had open heart surgery, I promised him I'd make chicken and dumplings after he got home from the hospital.  Seth suggested I wait a few weeks so he could actually enjoy it.  That day was today.  I even used bone-in, skin-on chicken that I boiled to make the stock.  This is a huge deal for me.  My father-in-law is always poking fun at my boneless, skinless chicken.  Anyway, I also made the dumplings from scratch, too.  It really wasn't difficult at all and not as time consuming as I thought it would be.  I guess it tastes like it's supposed to.  Hannah Kate really enjoyed it.  Ellie ate it, too.  So I might do it again.

WHAT I'M REMINISCING ABOUT
Goodness.  I'm really not sure!  My mind and my time has been so full of homeschooling and the flood that I really haven't thought about much else or even had time to think about anything else.

WHAT I'M LOVING
Oh my goodness!  I don't think I have anything for this one either!  I guess I can say I'm loving that today is September 2.  That means, according to the calendar at least, that summer time is gone.  And, let me tell you.  I'm glad for that.  Really glad.  This was definitely not my favorite summer.  It also means that fall is on the way.  At least in theory.  We won't really enjoy a fall in south Louisiana, but the day is coming when it won't feel like 105 degrees outside.

WHAT WE'VE BEEN UP TO
We are finally back into the routine of homeschool and dance.  I say that.  It's taken awhile to get here.  We started school and then had a week of due to the flood.  So now we've been back at it for two weeks.  Mason and Hannah Kate both LOVE Sequitur (the classical Christian "school" they attend two mornings a week).  Mason is so excited to see his friends again.  He's also really enjoying history this year.  The main focus is US history with Bible and world history intertwined.  I have to admit that I'm really enjoying it, too.  Hannah Kate said the only thing she doesn't like is that she goes to Sequitur only two mornings a week and not everyday!  She is thriving, and I knew she would.  I'm so excited for her!  

We missed the first week of dance because we were volunteering for disaster relief.  Needless to say, both girls couldn't wait to put on their dancing shoes again.  Hannah Kate has dance on Wednesdays.  She's taking jazz, ballet and lyrical this year.  She's been waiting two years to take lyrical, and she says that's her favorite right now.


Unfortunately, the girls do not have dance on the same night this year.  So we have to go back to the studio on Thursday for Ellie's class.  She has been ready since the recital!  As a matter of fact, she was so ready for her first day back in class that she wouldn't put her dance bag down, not even while she was doing her school work!  

Ellie didn't quite understand why Miss Jade isn't her teacher again this year, but she quickly fell in love with Miss Jillian.  I told her that Miss Jillian was the teacher's assistant in Hannah Kate's class her very first year of dance six years ago, and Miss Jillian is Miss Jade's sister.  But it made all the difference in the world when Miss Jillian told her class of little ballerinas last week that they were princesses when they dance and that they needed to dance with good posture so their crowns don't fall off.  Well.  That did it for Ellie.  She's reminded me MORE THAN ONCE now that she's a princess when she dances.

Seth and I spent the last two weekends mudding out a couple of houses.  I've washed laundry for four families now.  Seth asked me when I first got started how many loads I'd done.  I told him I wasn't keeping count.  And I didn't.  So I have no idea.  But I can tell you I've used over a jug of laundry detergent that says 103 loads, and I've used three bottles of pinesol.  But, really, it doesn't matter.  I've never enjoyed doing laundry so much in my life!  And that's a fact!

WHAT I'M DREADING
Well, I don't really have anything here either.  Traffic has been really bad lately so I guess you could say I pretty much dread it every time I have to drive to Baton Rouge.  And that's four days a week, twice a day.

WHAT I'M WORKING ON
I don't really have any ongoing projects right now.  I did start my Christmas shopping in July and have made pretty good progress.  I would love to finish that up by the end of the month, but it might not be until October.  We're going to Disney in just over a month so I've been making reservations and working on our fast passes and such.  We're about to start rehearsing for the Christmas musical at church so that will be a pretty big project this fall.  Maybe I DO have ongoing projects!

WHAT I'M EXCITED ABOUT
You know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words?  Well, here you go!

I have to be honest though.  I haven't thought about college football at. all.  Until today.  Seth asked me Monday night at supper who Georgia plays this weekend, and I didn't even know!  I've been so distracted, mostly by the flooding, that I haven't read anything, watched anything, thought about anything football.  So here's where I am.  I'm not sure about this year for my team.  Usually, I'm cautiously optimistic.  But right now I'm neutral.  I'm hoping all of that will change come tomorrow and that I'll officially be in the "football mood."  

WHAT I'M WATCHING/READING
I just read Lysa TerKeurst's new book, Uninvited.  It is, hands down, one of my favorite books of the year!  I highlighted pretty much the whole thing!  It spoke to places and spaces that needed speaking to and really encouraged me.  Seth brought in a whole stack of mail tonight.  I didn't even realize that we hadn't checked the mailbox since last week! Well, there were several unexpected happies, including Lysa's The Best Yes that my mom sent me.  I've been wanting to read that book for many, many reasons, and now I can see it's time.  I'm sure I'll devour it quickly, and I'm excited about what the Lord has for me through that book.  Mason and I are currently reading Carry On, Mr. Bowditch.  I'm enjoying it thus far, and I think it has a great lesson to teach.  And, for a biography of sorts that my 6th grades is required to read, it's pretty interesting, too.

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO
My dishwasher.  Yes.  My dishwasher.  It's really noisy.  I'm not sure if that's because it's in the kitchen island or because it's just a noisy dishwasher.

WHAT I'M DOING THIS WEEKEND
Football.  

We could probably just leave it at that.  But Troy, April and the boys are coming into town tomorrow for the long weekend so we'll be spending time with them.  The kids and I made some little mini key lime pies today.  Tomorrow morning I have to go to the grocery store (which I NEVER do on the weekend, but traffic was so bad this week that the two times I tried to go, I couldn't get there), but I'm also planning to whip up a couple more of my pinterest recipes, including dark chocolate coconut blondies (these sound SO GOOD to me) and salted caramel pretzel mini cheesecakes (cheesecake and caramel and sea salt . . . yes, please!).  I'm not sure why I'm on such a baking frenzy.

WHAT I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT MONTH
Well, that would technically be this month now.  I think I've already covered that.  But just in case you forgot . . .

WHAT ELSE IS NEW
As difficult as these past couple of months have been in and around the Baton Rouge area, there is no doubt that I see the hand of God working mightily here!  It's discouraging.  It really has been.  But times like these open the door for God to do something big.  That's what I'm looking for, that's what I'm praying for.  I mostly pray that hearts will be changed and lives will be saved, that people who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior will indeed come to know Him and enter into relationship with Him.  He's doing that.  He's calling people to Himself!  This flood has been absolutely horrible and devastating and truly catastrophic and unbelievable, but in the midst of it all, there has been so much GOOD.  

You know what God did this week?  He called one of my college roommates, whom I haven't seen in ELEVEN YEARS, to come to Denham Springs with her church in North Carolina to serve in disaster relief.  Never, ever saw that coming!  So Wednesday night I picked her up and we ate Mexican and spent four hours catching up.
 
Y'all.  It was such a sweet time, such a NEEDED time for me!  We saw each other a handful of times during the five years after we graduated, but it was always at a wedding or baby shower or funeral.  Of course, I moved away right after we graduated.  She and her husband, Gerald, eventually moved away from Georgia, too.  Gerald is a full-time worship minister.  They were called to Florida for several years and then to North Carolina.  So it's been difficult for our paths to cross because our trips "home" to Georgia never coincided.  We made the most of our four hours and caught up as much as we possibly could.  It was so exciting to hear how the Lord has worked in her life and in Gerald's life following the years we graduated.  It was so exciting to hear about their ministry now and their children and their home in North Carolina.  It was so nice to just catch up and simply be with a friend who was such a big part of my life during one of the most favorite times of my life.  We both agreed that there was still so much more we wanted to talk about and that we would do a much better job of keeping in touch.  I am just so grateful that the Lord sent her here this week, not only for me but for the families whose homes she mudded out, who she gave Bibles to, who she shared the love of Christ with.  Because who would've thought that it would be here in south Louisiana that I would catch up with my roommate and friend who now lives in North Carolina?!    

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