Saturday, March 17, 2018

Nailed It!

Soooo, maybe regular blogging hasn't happened yet, but two weeks is a lot better than two years, right?

Things are just rolling along pretty normally around here.  Spring Break is creeping up on us and I CANNOT wait!  I seriously never appreciated the awesomeness of Spring Break until I was back in a traditional school setting.  Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell Mother Nature that Spring Break is just about here, so Chris and Coop are helping some local people pack a moving truck in the snow today!😁

I, on the other hand have stayed toasty warm inside cleaning the house like a boss!  That is, after spending half the morning watching mindless shows.

Saturdays, Chris and I have started a little tradition of coming down before the kids get up, fixing coffee and watching a house show together...we ,unfortunately, started referring to this as our Saturday morning adult cartoons and really did not realize how bad that sounded until it was kind of a habit to say...I promise, it is totally PG!  Our current series we  have been watching is Hometown, which is about some people in Laurel, MS trying to revitalize their small town by fixing up the old houses.  It is so fun to see the transformations and dream of all the things we could do to make our house cute if we had money!  😀

After Chris and Cooper headed off to help people move, I totally intended on getting up and going to the grocery or cleaning house or exercising, or something productive, but Lilly introduced me to another show that you totally need to watch.  It is a Netflix series called Nailed It.  It only has 6 episodes so you can totally binge watch it today and not even waist a whole weekend.  The premise is that they take amateur bakers and give them challenges to recreate cakes or baked goods done by professionals.  Y'all, it is a HOT MESS!  I sat on our couch, totally by myself laughing until I is funny because it is so accurate, those total fails are totally what would happen if I tried to bake that stuff.  I stopped watching after 2 episodes because:

  1. I wanted to be a responsible home owner and mother and gift my family with a clean house and possibly even groceries for real meals this week (still on the fence about that last part). 
  2. I felt that, as a loving wife, denying Chris the enjoyment of watching this with me was just too cruel...even after almost 23 years of marriage...I am a keeper, y'all!  
In complete honesty, number 2 carried a lot more weight than number 1.  Please, set aside some time this weekend to just try out 1 can thank me later!

So now, I SHOULD be sitting down to meal plan for the week and go shopping.  Instead, I am typing a blog.  Because, priorities!  Honestly,  Chris and I did something that we have been saying we were going to do for over a year but we finally bit the bullet and did it this week...we joined a gym!  BLAH!  I know this is a good thing, I know it is necessary for health, I know this should be considered a good use of money...but y'all, I hate gyms, and exercise, and eating healthy!  I just want to be little and cute and still eat yummy food and binge watch Nailed It.  But, since that hasn't really worked out for me, we are trying to be good and eat right and go to the gym...although, today, we are feeling several days of gym membership and may skip a day or two.  But, if I am going to spend money and time in a gym...I guess I should make better food choices as well.  I told y'all last blog that I was doing a weight loss Bible Study but that I was struggling with it.  Still struggling...still on day 10 after starting a month ago.  I was thinking about it this week and wondering why it is so hard for me.  I honestly get angry when I open it up and start working on the Study and trying to decide where my boundaries will be.  Why do I react like that?

This is what I have been wrestling this week and this is where I have landed...the last almost three years have been rough for me.  I had this picture of what life would look like doing ministry in SLC...but our actual life looks a lot like those fails on Nailed It.  I pictured walking along side Chris, hand in hand doing ministry together.  I imagined a church that embraced us and wanted to minister with us.  I imagined doing women's Bible Studies with our leaders and becoming a second mom to them.  I imagined using my place in a school to help make connections and build a bridge between life and ministry.  I imagined nights around a fire singing "Kumbaya" and kids in and out of our house constantly with fresh baked treats.  The reality is, being a full time working mom is HARD!  I can remember breaking down at one point when we were looking for houses here.  The market in SLC is so ridiculous compared to Jackson, TN  and the houses we could afford were depressing.   Not only that, we were restricted to living in a certain area of town.  Then, something happened at work that left me without a job for the next year that I thought I was going to have.  I remember just bursting into tears in the classroom saying I was just so sick of not being in control of anything...and I guess, in a way, I am still having that temper tantrum.

EVERYTHING is hard here.  Getting immersed in a church while also doing a parachurch ministry is hard.  Finding a real friend in the midst of a totally different culture is hard.  Working in a Title One school is hard.  Trying to help Annet in school when she just keeps falling further behind is hard.  Trying to find leaders that will just commit to leading is hard...and forget any community building or group Bible Studies.  Rejoining my family and trying to figure out where I fit in after being away for 20 years is hard.  Trying to fix supper and spend time with my family and get homework done and still find time to do Bible Study and have a little needed quiet time (Hello, introvert) is hard.  I am soooo tired of everything being hard.  So, as I realize that I NEED to be healthier, I want to look and feel better, and I need to make better choices...I also resist because I am TIRED OF EVERYTHING BEING HARD!  I really do not want to think about whether I am making a good food choice.  I do not want to count calories or resist my craving for chocolate...I just want something to be easy.  However, I also want to look not disgusting for Brooks' with that picture in mind, Chris and I are trying to be encouragers and not enablers and we are trying to be serious about exercise and good eating....except part of today...because 50 cent corn dogs at Sonic today, let's just be real!

So, this week, I am trying to happily embrace the hard.  I am going to try to remember that things that are hard are the things that are most worth it and that victory after a hard fight feels so much more amazing than something easily won.  And if I'm not as successful as I hope, I can find friendship in the Nailed It contestants!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Back in the High Life Again???

Soooooo, the Neely family is still kicking.  I know I am always saying that I am going to get back to regular blogging...I just never seem to be able to manage it.  However, the other day, I got onto the blog and was just rereading posts and I loved seeing the journal of where we were and what was going on in our lives and I miss that I haven't done that in the last couple of years.  So, once again, I am going to try to get back in the saddle.

This time around, I am a little more comfortable with these interwebs and I am just embracing our names and online presence because, frankly, I am just too tired to try to remember nicknames, etc.

So, quick update.  We are living in Salt Lake City and Chris is working for Young Life.  Chris has taken up downhill skiing and is totally in love with it!  He loves the northwest, the mountains and the cool, dry weather.

I am teaching 1st grade at a local elementary school.  I don't cry every day this year and sometimes, I don't even have to bring work home with me.  I am a Wyldlife (for the middle school kids) leader and official chauffeur for YL kids.   There is a rumor I will be moving to second grade next year and, honestly, I am not super excited about that but, I will survive!  I am also trying to get wedding ready before July which is totally not going is so much more fun to put weight on than to take it off.  I am trying to do a weight loss Bible study to renew my mind and perspective but I am honestly going into it kicking and screaming.  Why oh why can't carrots taste like chocolate?

Brooks, our oldest, is attending college in TN and is on track to graduate in December, along with his fiancé.  Their wedding is planned for the end of this July and contrary to how that appears, I am totally NOT old enough to have a child who is graduating college and getting married!  He is graduating with a degree in Christian Studies and is planning to attend seminary and also has a side business doing videography...he is quite talented and not just because I am a proud momma! 

Adam is the next in line, and will be graduating high school in May, refer to above comment about age!  He has waffled a little in what he wants to do as a next step but hopefully, plans will be solidified soon.  Adam is also a talented photographer and videographer and can rock some graphic design...I really do not know where my children got their artistic streak.  I, for one, cannot draw a recognizable stick figure and the one beautiful picture I ever took we had put on canvas and is hanging on our living room wall because it is an anomaly!

Anywhoo, I digress.  Lilly is about to be a sophmore in high school and will be moving to the high school campus next not even talk to me about the fact that my daughter could possibly asked to a dance by a punk boy next year!  She continues to be a friendly, out-going girl that loves to do hand-lettering, sewing and all things artistic...again, where did this gene come from?

Coop is in fourth grade and goes to the school I teach at.  He LOVES Legos and plans to be a world traveler, in between being an archeologist, Lego engineer, a sound effect guy for movies, a Lego designer, a chef specializing in quesadillas, a paleontologist, a geologist, a horologist and he may throw in being a blue cow just for old times sake!  :) He also loves to ski and has his own YouTube channel about all things Lego.

Nettie is in third grade, also at the school I teach at.  She LOVES her friends...a lot.  She likes to talk to them before school, after school, at recess, during school...she really enjoys talking, much to the frustration of her teacher...we are working on that!  She has plans on being a chef at a Mexican restaurant when she grows up...the girl also likes food!  Talking and food, life is good!

Nettie has also asked me to include the newest member of our family, Malibu.  She is a fourish year old Poodle/Shitzu mix that we adopted almost 2 years ago.  She is my little lap baby and may or may not be my favorite child.  She is the one animal Annet actually likes...other than her pet fish, Sharkey, who met an early end a few weeks ago.

Life in SLC has been a weird adjustment.  The culture here is unlike anywhere else.  It has been super hard to find a church and even harder to find good friends.  Ministry here is tough.  The number of Christians is tiny and churches have not totally embraced YL.  With so few Christians and very limited resources, I think churches and other christian organizations feel threatened that we are trying to take their workers or their money.  There isn't a lot of unity among christian organizations here and the work is SLOW and hard with very little encouragement.  Sometimes, the disappointment and frustration is overwhelming...but the fact is, there are people all over the valley that desperately need the hope that Jesus offers so, we just keep plugging away!

Tonight, we are celebrating Adam's 18th birthday, which means I was like 10 when I gave birth, right?  We had a little Chili's and will be hitting some cake and ice cream soon but the highlight of his birthday is that his high school just won the state championship for basketball...there was more basketball talk than birthday talk at dinner!

Anyway, just a little Where are They Now post that will hopefully become a little more regular.  In the meantime, feel free to continue praying for the Neely family and for the young people in SLC that we are trying to reach.  Also, pray for our volunteer leaders.  Again, ministry is tough here and leading is often very unglamorous.  Pray that they will be strengthened and encouraged and that they will not burn out.

Thanks all!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Quick Hello...Quick Goodbye

I has been forever...again!  I really though I would be so good at updating this blog.  I was wrong.  We have now been in SLC for almost ten months.  That is so hard to believe.  It seems like years since we have hugged the necks of dear friends and only moments ago we were registering for school.  Our kids have survived their first year of school in Salt Lake.  My parents have survived nine months of 6 extra people in their house.  Chris has survived his first Young Life season.  So much has happened!

I have been shocked at how hard this life change has been for me.  I mean, for the first time in over 20 years, I live in the same state as my parents and one of my sisters...I didn't assume it would be seamless, but I never imagined it would be so hard!

To be perfectly honest, this year has been spiritually really hard on me.  While Chris has thrived and loved every minute of his job, I have felt like I have barely kept my head above water.  I have been through every emotion, but  have spent most of the last year in a pretty low place.  I have cried more  in the last 10 months than I have in the last 19 years of parenthood...and THAT is saying a lot!  My faith has swung from amazing highs to amazing lows and is resting somewhere on the lower side of normal right now.  I love being a part of a church plant...but I miss the encouragement of like-minded women.  I love the opportunities that abound (and I mean ABOUND) to share truth with people...but I get tired of being the only Christian in most settings I enter.  I love seeing Chris' excitement in his job...but I am having a hard time finding the balance between supportive wife, loving volunteer, and a working mom.  I totally realize that this year has been FULL of answered prayer...we were fully funded before starting the job, we sold our house despite a lot of unexpected issues, we found a house in our ministry area despite a ridiculous housing market, all of our kids flourished in school, I found a part time job for this year and have a full time teaching position next year, my family has completely blessed our socks off with hospitality, Chris' family has been beyond supportive despite the fact that we moved 2,000 miles away from them, we have seen God provide over and over in our ministry, we have watched Him provide full scholarships for kids to go to camp...I could go on and on.  And yet, I struggle.

That is part of the reason the posts have been few, because I felt like if all I could do was whine, it was better to be silent.  But, I think the fog is beginning to lift and I hope that in a month or so, I can come back and not be a big baby.

However, I wanted to get on here to let my few sweet readers know what we are doing and how they can be praying.  Chris and the two big kids left today headed for Seattle.  The Littles and I will get on a plane Wednesday morning and meet them there.  We will then head 5 1/2 more hours to Egmont( I think), Canada where we will get a ferry that will take us to Malibu Harbor where we will get a water taxi and travel another hour to Malibu Club in Canada where Chris is on Summer Assignment for the month of June.  He will be head leader at the Young Life camp there for the first four weeks.  Our family gets the privilege of going with him and loving on the volunteer leaders that are bringing kids to get to know Jesus!  We are super excited!  (We are also super stressed because we just started moving into our house 2 weeks ago).  Please be in prayer for our family and for all the kids that will be introduced to the amazing love of Christ during this time.  We will be almost totally out of phones and super limited internet access, so there will be no updates or social media posts...but we will be sharing a lot when we get back in July!

Also, please be in prayer for Adam.  He is struggling spiritually.  This is a hard place to be and he hasn't had anyone besides Chris and I to pour into him and that has been hard.  We are praying that this summer at camp he will make some connections and maybe get some encouragement but he could use the prayer support.

Chris' parents will come spend the last week of camp with us and then drive back to UT for a few days.  Then, Brooks and Hannah will be coming to visit on July 6th (Yay!).  The last week of July, Chris and Adam will be heading to Arizona for our kids' camp and two weeks later we will be taking our Jr. High kids to CO to camp.  Our niece will be getting married right after that and then school starts back again and I will be starting a full time life isn't really going to slow down any.  Please be in prayer for a little bit of rest and recoop time...I don't handle change well and we have had a lot in the the last year!

Please also just continue to be in prayer for this area and our ministry.  There is just SO MUCH NEED and so much opportunity but funds and volunteers are limited.  Pray for direction on what opportunities to take and what to table for the time being.  Pray for the planning of some fund raisers and that God will provide all necessary funding for the work He has planned.  Finally, and selfishly, please just pray that I can get back to the person I used to be.  I know that I have lost a lot of my sense of humor.  I am cranky more than I laugh.  I am cross with my children more than I want to be.  I am cross with my husband more than I want to be.  As an introvert, I know I need time alone to process and refresh and that has just been impossible for many months.  Pray that I would learn to manage my time in such a way that my soul in being nourished so that I can continue to serve those around me.

I love you, sweet friends...Bye for now and I'll "see" you in about a month!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Longest. Post. Ever. God Bless You if You Hang on Until the End!

Yep, we are still here!  We are almost 5 months in and we are settling in to a new normal.  I was looking back at the few blogs I have written over the last few months and it is really neat to see what God has done and how prayers have been answered.  We miraculously got 100% funded in a matter of a few weeks.  Our house did sale, although the selling price, fees, etc. we had to pay left us with almost nothing to put towards a new house.  Our son has completed his first semester in college, and so far, we have been able to pay what we need to...but he will have a LOT of student loans to repay :(.  Our kids are all enrolled in school and thriving and our daughter even got a chance to witness to a student at her school a couple of weeks ago.  Chris' parents are doing well and we are hoping that they get to come visit us in the not too distant future.  Clubs are going well and we have had a lot of growth in the number of students that are attending.  We are on a little break until February, so hopefully we will see a return of all of those kids.  Chris is LOVING his job and feels completely confident that we followed God's will and are doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing.  We have even found a church plant that we are getting involved with that we are loving!

We had a great Christmas and loved Brooks being home!  We had a VERY white Christmas, took the kids sledding, ate way too much, had TONS of family time, took some great family photos, worshipped together as a family and a church and Lilly and I watched a LOT of Hallmark channel!

All that being said, I still find myself struggling.  This is so frustrating to me because my husband is over the moon happy in his job, I live close to my family for the first time in over 20 years...really close to my, in their basement, and my kids are thriving.

I think of the words of Paul in Philippians 4:11-13, "Not that I am speaking of being in need for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me."  That is where I want to be, I want to live victoriously no matter what situation I am in...and yet, I find myself fighting feelings of defeat and frustration almost daily.

I am frustrated with my "career".  I like my job...for those who do not know, I am working as an aide in an Autism support classroom.  It is really a great job.  I love my students and I feel like I have learned so much from them and have learned to be a better parent, teacher, etc. as I have learned to deal with and embrace their "quirks".  In a way, I think I have a pretty good thing going...I am in a classroom and enjoying the kids but I never have to bring work home with me because I am not the main teacher and I do not have any paperwork, conferences, etc.  However, I cannot help but worry about finances.  As an aide, my job is discretionary from year to year and I will not get paid through the summers.  I have tried to find out what it would take to get certified to be a traditional teacher in Utah but, despite reaching out to several people both at the state level and through my school, I can get no one to tell me what to do.  I know I would have to take classes and we would probably have to take out loans and I am not sure we can afford to do that...I'm not even sure I want to, but it would be nice to at least know what would be required.

As I said, we did sell our house, which was a HUGE relief, but we came out of it with very little to put toward anything here.  House prices are so much higher here, and the area that we have been asked to live is one of the most expensive in the valley.  Occasionally, I will get a crazy whim and look on the real estate is depressing and scary.  I figure, if we live in my parents' basement for about 5 more years, we might be able to get into a little shack!  I MAY be over dramatizing a little bit, but that is what it feels like.  Again, I know I should have faith and Chris tells me all the time not to worry (oh, how the tables have turned) because if God brought us here, He has a place for us to live...and I do believe it is true, I am just afraid it may be my parents' basement and that is not a fun thought!

Along those same lines, I am always thinking about school next year.  We know that Adam is set, but Lilly is in her school on a provisional contract that we will get a house in that district.  So if we do not have a house in the district by next year, I am afraid she will have to change schools and start all over making friends, etc. I also have to think about the littles.  This year, they are going to school with my mom but she is retiring after this year so we will have to do something different.  I can petition to get them to go with me to my school next year...but I am not guaranteed to have a job at that school (in all likelihood I will, but you can only request one time, so if I did and then changed schools, we would be in a predicament).  If we did find a house and move, it would be ideal to have them go to their assigned school, but if I am still at my school, the schedules would not match up.  We are doing four different school schedules this year and  it is about to kill me!  Everyone starts at different times, ends at different times, has different days is crazy town!

So, I was in the shower having a nervous breakdown the other morning thinking about all this stuff.  Oh, if only you could see into my crazy would all feel so much better about yourselves.  Let me give you a little view into one of my "prayer times" in the morning.  It begins with a little praise and recognition of who God is and how big He is...sometimes it goes on for a LONG time because I have to convince myself that I really believe that  (just being real).  A while back, I realized that I really do believe that...I was going through a crisis of whatever and I really WANTED to be mad at God and question him but I realized as much as I wanted to doubt or feel angry, I couldn't, I just felt sad and frustrated.  Anyway, I do my little praise thing and then start the juicy stuff!  I pray for the kids and for our YoungLife kids and begin to pray about a place to live...then, I begin to feel guilty about praying for a place to live...I mean, we do have a place...we aren't homeless, exactly, so then I wonder if I should even be asking; God never made us promises for a house and there are MANY people in the world that faithfully serve God without anything!  So, I wonder, should I even pray about this, shouldn't I just be happy with the blessings I have...but then I realize that we are so far from our ministry area here and we don't really feel settled so I should be praying that we find a place in the East Bench area that we can get settled in and do a better job at bringing people into our home, maybe host small groups, etc. so I pray some more... but than I realize that if we do move, what will I do about my job and the kids...I would have to leave EARLY every morning to get the littles to school but would then have two hours of nothing before I went to work, then we would get home late every what should I do about my job?  Then I start praying about my job and then I feel guilty for not appreciating that job I have and being whiny about driving.  That brings me to wondering about next year.  Should I go to back to school or try to stay with what I am doing?  Or should I try to get on in one of our high schools in an office or something so that I could meet students, etc.  Then I begin to stress about not getting paid through the summer and begin to wonder if I should get a supplemental job (you know Tupperware or something :))  but that would be really hard to do and still support Chris with club, etc.  Then I think, maybe God has something totally different, I used to always want to write, maybe I could do something like that, but I have NO inspiration right now and am pretty sure I couldn't make enough money to be helpful...then I begin to wonder what my calling in life is and wonder why I haven't figured it out at 40+ years old.  By then, I am a totally mess and have wasted A LOT of time in the shower so I just give up and feel like I do not even know how to pray or have a relationship with God.

So, I was having one of these breakdowns and I felt God saying "Be Still".  In our Jackson house, we had the words to Psalm 46:10 on our wall, "Be still and know that I am God..."  I also love Exodus 14:14, "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."  I say these verses, but it is so hard to do it, but I really felt God saying, "Just be still, I've got this." It felt so good, and for a couple of days, I had such a peace and felt relief that I didn't need to DO anything, just trust God.

However, I am back to my crazy.  I have been reading For the Love by Jen Hatmaker and, while I love her style and her humor, I have felt so frustrated reading it..I mean, people, I have issues!  She even has an essay where she talks about your "calling" and discusses how God is not going to drop opportunities in your lap.  I almost threw the book against the wall...I am DESPERATE for God to just drop something in my lap, or send me a flashing sign, or something!  Isn't that what being still is?  Anyway, as I was mentally yelling at Jen Hatmaker, I had to remind myself that she is not God.  She is a funny, wise author but she isn't writing scripture and I should probably spend more time in scripture than reading an entertaining book of essays, which promptly made me feel guilty again, which sent me back into my crazy cycle...I need help, people!

Anyway, as I have said before, this is really just my brain dump place and I kind of feel guilty and embarrassed even opening up my crazy self, but I also think that in the Christian community, we often put our best face forward and try to paint a picture of beauty and serenity and Heaven on earth and that just isn't the truth.  Sometimes life is hard and being a Christian is a little dirty and gritty and we are not doing anyone any favors by pretending that life is rosy and wonderful and we never struggle or question.  The truth is, I have been a Christian for almost 40 years and sometimes I feel like I have no idea what I am doing!  I want to spew out words of eloquent wisdom and be an inspiration to masses...instead, I am tempted to curl up in my bed, cover my head and block everything out.

So, that is how we are starting 2016...I'm not sure what this next year holds.  I hope we get to meet lots of new kids and share with them the love of Jesus.  I hope my kids get a chance to be the hands and feet of Jesus to people that have never experienced true love that is based totally on grace and not on works.  I hope we get to be a part of encouraging our leaders.  For myself, I pray that I would trust more, believe more, love better and learn to just "be still"...and if I could overcome just a little bit of my crazy, maybe I could reduce the MASSIVE amounts of medicinal chocolate and Diet Coke that I have been consuming the last few months!

And finally, my inspirational quote of the day.  I read this in For the Love, but it is not by Jen Hatmaker, she is quoting another author, Scott Stratten who says, "Don't try to win over the haters; you're not the jackass whisperer."  I am taking this into the new year, you know, for those that choose to hate on my crazy!  :)

Monday, August 31, 2015

From a Momma's Heart

Wow!  By the end of this week, we will have been in SLC for one month.  In a way, it feels like it couldn't have possibly been a whole month already and in a way, I think, how could we have possibly done all we have in only a month!

We are starting to get into a routine...and that should be good, but to be honest today, I am feeling a little sad and nostalgic.  Forgive me for the emotions, but this is my journal spot so I want to put down everything and one day look back and see how God used even the not so pretty.

I don't like change.  I am a creature of habit.  I go to the same restaurants and order the same meals, I read the same kinds of books and my furniture never moves once I have placed it...which was quite obvious when we began to move that furniture out of our house!  :)  I knew that this adventure was a BIG change, but I was excited about it.  I was excited about living close to my family again and I was excited to be a part of a full time ministry.  I was actually embracing change!

But change is just really hard for while parts are good, I find myself still struggling.  I LOVE being near my family and even have loved being in the house with my parents again...that could  have been all kinds of bad but so far, it has been nothing but a blessing.  I have been blessed to get a job really easily...I didn't even interview!  My kids all got established into their schools and we couldn't be happier with their teachers.  So, I should be ecstatic.  But I am struggling.

To be honest, I haven't really even shared this with Chris much.  He is LOVING his job and loving being in ministry.  He is probably becoming a top customer at half the area coffee shops and he is in his element planning and talking and doing.  He is so excited to get clubs off the ground and really pouring himself into the people here.  I am finding myself a little...lost, maybe?

Part of it is just the change, but part of it is the busyness.  I have not worked outside the home in many years and I have had my children close to me all the time.  Things are different here.  The big kids have to leave the house by 6:45 to get to school on time and the little ones leave with my mom at 7:00.  I don't have to be to work until 10:30 so I have been trying to do a little work for my dad, do some housekeeping, run errands, etc.  I work from 10:30-3:30.  Chris picks up the big kids from school and my momma has been getting the little ones.  They get out at 2:40, but my school does not release until 3:30 so they just have to hang out in my momma's room until I can come get them.  We then go home and start homework and get supper and do laundry and before I know it, bedtime has come and I haven't had even a moment to just sit down and enjoy being with my kids...AND, I am tired and cranky so I'm often not very nice to them.  I know this is every working mom's dilemma, I am just new to the game!  Cooper cries before school every day and it is just completely breaking my heart.  I feel so bad abandoning him to traditional school and feel guilty for the short time I invested in home schooling him...yet, I know that is what we have to do right now and it is probably good for him because he is REALLY attached to me.

Chris has me signed up as a volunteer and is encouraging me to get started and to begin to invest in discipling our female volunteers and begin planning the Wyldlife meetings and maybe go with him to the Young Life meetings...but I am just tapped out.  I know this is why we are here.  I want to be in this ministry  and yet I am already finding myself so bogged down in just living that the ministry feels like a burden.

So, sorry for a depressing post, but this is where I am right now.  I know that some of this is just the growing pains that we experience when we start a new period of life but please pray for my attitude and that I will find the joy of ministry.   Please pray that I can work through the changes and find a love and passion for the people that we are here to serve.

We visited a church Sunday that the kids really seemed to like...pray that we will be drawn to the church family that God wants us to be a part of  and that I will make that decision unselfishly.

Please also continue to pray for the sale of our house.  We are still waiting on some of the improvements to be is frustrating not being there to push things along.  Our realtor is not going to officially list the house until the work is completed, so right now, we are just at a standstill.  This is so frustrating and I have to keep reminding myself that God is bigger than these tiny circumstances that seem insurmountable...he can send someone to that house whenever the time is right so I just need to calm down and trust His goodness, but that is hard.

Pray also for Brooks and Chris' parents as they are still there.  We talk to Brooks at least once a day and he is loving school but is really wishing he lived on campus and at those times when there are resident life activities that he isn't a part of, he starts feeling a little lonely.

Despite all the depressing, we are abundantly blessed.  The people here are amazing, I get to be close to my family and we are meeting some great kids!  We also get sweet, encouraging messages from TN friends so often and it is good to know that we have not, yet, been forgotten.  We love all of you who are praying and encouraging us.  Thank you!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Quick Update has been awhile since I posted but things have been CRAZY!!!   I still don't have a lot of time, so I am going with the short version (for me) of life right now.  My mom and dad came to TN to help us get packed up and moved.  The 26 foot moving van that we rented was not big enough and we had to rent a U-haul trailer to pull behind my car...and leave a lovely little stash of goodies in the garage for whoever wanted to come claim them.

On August 2nd, we said a heart-wrenching goodbye.  I knew it wouldn't be easy, but leaving Chris' family and Brooks behind was AWFUL, the children were devastated to say goodbye and LOTS of tears were shed.  We got a late start and didn't roll into Lincoln (our first night's stop) until about 1 am...I won't even go into detail about Chris' "short-cut" by-pass through Kansas City!  :)

We arrived in SLC on Tuesday, Aug. 4 and I promptly went the wrong way to my parent's house!  Thank goodness for GPS or I would be a hermit now!

We took a couple of days to FILL a storage unit and every nook and cranny in my parents' house!  My sisters are now making fun of the huge amount of clothing we have and we are learning to live minimally, sort of!

Chris then settled into figuring out this job of his and I began trying to get the kids registered for school.  Oh. My. Goodness!  Why didn't someone tell me how hard it was to get kids into school?  I had no idea how easy home schooling was until I tried to do something different!  Yikes!  We  finally have everyone a home!  Brooks started Union today (sob!).  Adam and Lilly will start tomorrow, Adam at Olympus High School and Lilly at Olympus Jr. High.  Cooper and Annet start next week at the school my mom teaches at.  Everyone, including momma is excited but have some butterflies about this new step!

I have a new school home, too.  I am working a little for my dad but I also got a job as a 4-6 grade aide in an Autistic Unit at one of the local Elementary schools.  I am a little nervous but it is a great way to get my foot in the door in the area and the hours are good.

We have had a couple of chances to meet some of "our kids".  We attended a camp reunion party and last night Chris and Adam went to play Ultimate Frisbee with some of the kids.  I hear that Adam is quite the Ultimate Frisbee player...I had no idea!

I know that as school starts and I start working, things are bound to get even crazier, so I wanted to just check in and let everyone know what is going on.  I hope to be able to find a window to do updates at least once a week.

For our TN friends, we miss you like crazy!

How can you pray for us?

  • Pray for Brooks as he begins classes at Union.  Pray he adjusts to his new schedule and school workload...and Jackson peeps, feel free to make sure he is doing homework and getting to class!
  • Pray for the kids as they start school.  I know they are a little nervous.  Pray especially that each of them would find at least one person to begin building a friendship with.
  • Pray for our house to get finished up and officially listed.  We have people coming to do work that are not being really quick about it...we NEED to get this house on the market!
  • Pray for the sale of our house.  Lilly has been allowed in her school under  provisional enrollment.  If we do not move into the boundaries, she will not be allowed to attend next year. I do not want her to have to make another BIG school change.  This is the one that is really stressing me...I know, God's timing, just being real.
  • Pray for Chris as he figures out what he is doing...things are a little overwhelming now and he is still trying to do fundraising as well.
  • Pray that God will lay on the hearts of people to give.  This ministry is not possible without the support of our financial partners.
Please let me know how we can be praying for you.  More stuff soon...maybe!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Two Weeks and Counting

Two weeks.  In two weeks, we will be loading up a moving van and heading west.  It still isn't real.  It should feel real because we live in a state of utter chaos right now.  Two rooms are full of packed boxes and every other room in the house is in a state of half packedness (I coined yet another term).  In an effort to "get ahead", I have packed everything I think we will not need in the next couple of weeks, but obviously, some of our stuff we do need.

After starting to pack up the kids' rooms, I realized, if there is any chance I will retain any amount of sanity, I actually have to allow  them to have a few of their toys, games, etc.  Although, for a couple of days the perfectly neat rooms were amazing!  I did however, have to break into some already packed boxes and give them back a few items so that I did  not end up in jail after reacting to the favorite saying of mothers everywhere, "I'm bored!"

Needless to say, things have been a bit crazy around here!  Chris is still working a full time job while trying to fundraise, which is also a full time job.  He works a full work day each day and then disappears upstairs to make calls until bedtime...and he has not complained once.  I know he is exhausted, but he has pressed on.

I confess, this fundraising has to end soon, or I will weigh 300 pounds!  As often as possible, we are taking people to coffee or dessert or doing dessert in our four or five times a week, I am eating/drinking about 5 million calories and I haven't exercised in two weeks.  So yes, if you see me...I am packing on the pounds.  AND, I have discovered that when you stress eat, you NEVER accidentally find yourself munching on a carrot!

Honestly, this has been just an amazing time of seeing God work.  Chris was released about a week and a half ago to begin fundraising...and we are at 64%!  That is just so amazing to me.  Knowing we had to raise our own funding was so intimidating to me and I just did not see how it was possible...but, I am telling you, we have the most amazing group of friends, family and church members.  We have been floored and humbled and left speechless by the generosity of people!  We still have a LONG way to go...but our faith has been bolstered by how people have stepped out, have made sacrifices and have believed in this ministry enough to support us.

We were blessed again last night with another answered prayer.  Adam (our 15 year old) was accepted into the high school he wanted to go to.  That is one area that I have continued to worry and pray about.  We had no idea what we would do if they denied our request to get him in.  When I heard the news, I cheered, did a little dance, praised God and ran in to tell Adam.  His response?  "Oh."  I asked him if he was excited and his response, "I guess...about the non required classes."  Welcome to 15 year old boy land!

So, for those who are coming here to see how they can pray:

If you ask Chris, he will be very spiritual.  He will ask you to pray for the kids we will be ministering to and for our volunteer leaders.  The kids will be going to camp next week, so pray for them as they travel and that they would listen as God speaks to them.  Pray that, as we hit the ground in SLC, we will be able to meet kids and that we would be able to establish relationships with the schools.  Pray for the committee and those already in the area that we would be able to blend ideas and visions and work together to reach the kids.

I am not so spiritual right now.  Please pray that we can get our house to an acceptable place to put on the market and that it will sell.  Chris is really stressed right now with work and fundraising and he just does not have time to work on home improvements.  He is having trouble getting people to call him back and it is just more stress he doesn't need.  I, being the more emotional one, am just scared to death of the what ifs...I love this house but know it needs work and just have trouble imagining someone who will love it enough to take it on.  I can't sell this house, but God can!

Pray for Chris' parents as they prepare to send us off and welcome our oldest son into their home.  Brooks is going to live with them and attend Union so that will be a HUGE change for both of them.  We are so grateful for all they have done for us over the years and it is going to be so hard to say goodbye...we are just hoping for some long visits eventually.

Pray for Brooks as he starts college on his own.  In a way, I am so excited for him...this is a big growing up stage, but I am so sad to know that we won't be experiencing it with him.  This is what we raise our kids for, but it is HARD!

Pray for our other kids as they move to a new place and have to start over meeting new friends, new schools, etc.

Well, I could list a million things because I am worrying in advance and have a million what ifs that run through my mind daily.  For now, just pray that I would keep focussed on the eternal.  My tendency is to get bogged down in the practical and forget the kids that we are going to minister to.

Finally, please just give thanks with us, because we serve a good God!  He has been so faithful.  One thing I so want to share with these kids is that He loves us not because of us but because He is LOVE!  I find myself striving to earn that love and I just can't.  Any success, any good you see in us, is just God working in us.  We are so amazed at what God has already done and cannot wait to see how He continues to work!

"Lord, you are my God;
    I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
    you have done wonderful things,
    things planned long ago."

                                        Isaiah 25:1