That Really Cool Pencil Sharpener Giveaway

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Remember when I wrote the overly dramatic post about the pencil sharpener?

I was not even kidding and my love for her is still growing strong!

It’s time for the giveaway that I promised!

Enter below!

Best wishes!

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Hello, My Lovelies.

I have sat down to write too many times to count and the words won’t come.  So, I start messy and with a blog that won’t currently let me post pictures.

 

Let’s discuss the weather first. I’m telling you, I don’t know how I lived without seasons thus far. I find them to be amazing. From a girl who rearranges furniture and paints walls as often as I change my socks, I am totally on board with the let’s change things up every three months plan. The only thing I miss desperately is that 109 degree DRY heat of summer in Cali. That does not happen here. Although it hasn’t yet, maybe it will. One thing I am learning about Missouri, is anything weather related is possible. There is snow on the ground, birds are chirping, my fire is roaring, and our less than efficient temperature readings say it “feels like” 13 even though the temperature is 19. #lifecurrently

A couple of weekends ago, I was in Joplin, Mo and ate at a Chick Fil A that was leveled by the F5 tornado several years ago. The friends we were with drove us through the hardest hit areas. You still see remnants of the path. It’s unreal. I came home and geeked out watching documentaries about it and it is hard to wrap my mind around the fact that I live 2 hours from where that happened. Spring is coming fast and those thunderstorms are coming back. I could live without the tornado possibility, but they are unbelievable fascinating. If only I could see one in real life from a place where I was 100% safe. Ya know? #talesofanearthquakegirl

 

 

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a road trip with one of my daughters. We had never done that before…so fun. We drove 8 hours down to Texas to stay with some of my people and attended the Great Homeschool Convention in Fort Worth. I went to SO many great workshops and was able to spend hours looking through curriculum. So many of the writer’s of the curriculum were at this convention. It was awesome to be able to speak to them in person and learn from them.

One curriculum I really wanted to check out was FIVE IN A ROW. I really wanted to spend some time reading through it to see if it would be a good fit to do with MY BABY WHO WILL BE STARTING PRE K NEXT YEAR. (ugh). I get to their booth only to find it EMPTY. After several attempts over the first two days, I finally track down the creator of the curriculum who was there solo, WITHOUT his books!

Long story, he says.

So, I jokingly replied, well then I won’t tell you I came all the way from Missouri to see your curriculum!

I came down from Missouri.

Wow! I am from Kansas City area.

Really? I am from Lees Summit.

Um, me too.

and we continue this weird little geography back and forth until it turns out he lives exactly 1.1 miles from me. So, I am going over next week for coffee and to look at the curriculum in their home! #bam

WHAT ARE THE ODDS?????? It might be fate. 

Other convention highlights?

My daughter met Math U See Steve. #hesreallytall

I found two new curriculum treasures. ONE THAT I WILL BE REVIEWING SOON…stay tuned. It’s adorableness can not be explained properly.

I was eating lunch alone and Math U See Steve came and sat with me and had lunch with me. (My daughter might think I am famous now)

If you don’t do conventions and you homeschool, make it a priority to get to one. I am reminded every year when I go how NOT alone we are in this journey. We are not weird, well we are, but ya know. Go to the workshops, touch the books, pet them, wheel around a plastic cart or carry a canvas tote if you need to. You won’t be sorry. Do what you need to do to stay inspired. It’s a necessary part of what we do.

This was the best one I have ever been too. SO glad we went.

…and getting to see some of my bestest people was icing on the cake. So was eating at In ‘N Out… Dear Lord, if you see fit, could you please build an In ‘n Out in Missouri. Amen.

 

 

I am not sure if I technically live in the Bible belt or not, but let me tell you many things here are a far cry from anything I would see in California. Gas stations with full racks of shirts praising Jesus, Chick Fil A plays Christian music. I mean….

This was the same thought that I was having as I was in the Target bathroom and all of a sudden a song blatantly praising Jesus came on. I didn’t even realize Target played music. WOW. Totally not in Cali anymore. I closed my eyes for a minute and thanked God from the bottom of my heart for this little known gem I live in, in the middle of America. Fourteen months into this cross country move thang and I still mostly feel like an alien, but hearing this music…somehow just feels like I belong. So great.

Then I realize it was coming from my purse. From my phone. My make up case had decided to turn on my music.

*flushes toilet*

I can’t even…

 

 

Y’all things have been difficult around here. I want to fill endless posts of stories of beauty and there is beauty, but the truth of it is telling it has simply been too much some days and that is ok for now. My pride struggles a bit as well because I am tired of saying things are hard, but they are what they are and I have to be ok with that too. #toeverythingthereisaseason

I honestly can say that I have never been through a season in life where I feel quite so certain that Satan is so after my family, my home, our hearts, and our minds. 2013 was a brutal year and at the end of that year God in His sovereign mercy chose to swoop in and protect my family in ways only He can. So, I mapped out in my head what the next steps were going to be. I need to knock that off.

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I would like to say that 2014 has driven me to my knees. You know a pretty picture of rays of sunlight streaming in and there I am kneeling by my bedside, eyes softly closed and lips forming words to a prayer pleading with God for wisdom and help.

But no. It has been one where there is no energy for kneeling, so you lay bloody on the floor face down. Eyes swollen from tears that are just about to do you in and lips that are still because your soul is doing all the talking, the screaming really. Silently, yet louder than any noise heaven has heard before.

“I always thought that desperation was to be avoided at any cost. Now I am learning that being desperate isn’t always a reflection of a disaster but an attitude to cultivate. Desperation for God is a good thing. If you became desperate for God, do you understand what that could mean for the rest of your life?” 

“The kingdom of heaven means being near to the presence of God. The kingdom, the presence of God, is a blessing that comes to the poor in spirit. Poverty of spirit comes to us after we have tried to do life on our own and realize we cannot be enough. We have looked inside our souls and seen that nothing good is there. We have owned up to our sin and fessed up to our motives. We have yelled and cursed and screamed. We’ve finally let the truth of our insides out; into the light comes the reality of poverty. We come to see our emptiness for what it truly is: the absence of God. “

~Angela Thomas

 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

And so the ah ha moment produces a different course of action. One that is not furiously scribbling out plans and to do lists of how to turn this mutha out. You know all the Pinterest inspired ways to be a better wife, a better mom, more clever, more organized, and more holy. All intended to get my junk together. Nope. It’s one I call the #bestill plan. One that is completely enveloped in one thing and one thing alone. Crawling up into the arms of my Savior and staying there in the shadow of His wings.  A longing that is felt in a way unmatched, other than when it is produced from complete and total desperation.

There is so much praise in pain.

Faith adds its “Amen” to God’s “Yea,” and then takes its hands off, and leaves God to finish His work. ~Streams in the Dessert

There is so much glory in pain.

 “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”

He’s doing just that and I have a front row seat.

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and with that…I swim.

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Green Jeans Photography. 2014. Missouri.

 Some 2014 highlights from sessions in Missouri.

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Green Jeans Photography. Fall 2014. California.

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It was an absolute blessing to be able to see 23 clients in a whirlwind week home to CA this past September.

A trip I am hoping to repeat yearly each fall.  I hope you enjoy a few of my favorites from each session and thank you to all my sweet clients and friends who came out.

I so enjoyed seeing each of you.

See you next year!

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Four Years Old.

 

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…and just like that he is four. Absolutely one of the brightest spots of my life.

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This fall has been crazy. Emma turning 10, Greyson turning 4, my oldest turning 16, our 20th anniversary next month, along with all the regular holidays at this time of year. Not to mention we are grieving and adventuring our way through our year of “firsts” here in Missouri. So, on a Sunday I was like, “aaaah I want to have a party for Greyson”. We were so happy that with six days notice we had a houseful of friends young and old to help celebrate our little man. We had a little breakfast party using some 90% superhero decorations that I ridiculously moved from California to Missouri, hoping I would use them one day.

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*that empty plate soon held a yummy stack of quiche :)

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On Greyson’s actual birthday, Grandma J was in town and Shawn was able to take the day off. We went to “high town”, which is Greyson’s name for downtown Kansas City. We played at the park, visited Union Station and his beloved trains, and ate Chipotle.

Just a couple weeks after his birthday, we snuck in this quick Pinterest inspired little photo shoot.

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It was 22 degrees and downright unacceptable weather for a photo session outdoors, lol. BUT we made it happen.

Happy Birthday Little Man.

Your mommy absolutely adores you.

Greyson’s Birth day

Greyson’s First Birthday Monster Party

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The Wordless Post

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100 Days of Real Food Cookbook – GIVEAWAY

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NUMBER ONE on the New York Times Best Seller List! Congratulations Lisa!

 

Unknowingly, to me in March of 2012, our lives were about to change for the better. I participated in a 10 day challenge to eat real food. I had NO CLUE what was about to happen. NONE.

 

Read as we began our challenge here including a sample of our menu.

Read our experience here, including the changes we saw in our health.

…and a month after we completed the challenge here, how I was feeling and what we were doing.

 

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The changes are real, long lasting, and profound.

Yet, this last year our family made a move from Ca to Missouri. It was an incredibly difficult time leaving the only home we had ever known and venturing over half way across the country. During these weeks and months, cooking meals from scratch and paying high attention to what went into our bodies took a back burner, AND BOY did we see the effects of that. It is amazing what happens when you start putting Taco Bell burritos and Chick Fil A sandwiches back into your body. No good can come of that, I assure you. It didn’t take long to get a hold of things again.  We are back on track.  Thank goodness.

If you hear nothing else, please hear this.

I urge you to try the 10 day challenge. Just try it and see if it makes a difference. Prior to this challenge, I fed my kids what I thought was “healthy” off the grocery store shelves. We had chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs, cereal, and soup that cost $.19 cents a package. I thought I was doing well, as a mom feeding my kids. Little did I know that 2 of my children, in particular, have a HUGE negative reaction to what I was feeding them. Want a true test? Take all the processing, chemicals, and absolute fake food away and then give your child a bag of “dark skittles” (skittles that have extra food dye in them, basically). I watched my child turn angry, withdrawn, and miserable within hours. It’s the worst feeling as a mom. Absolutely horrible. Yet, if you think about it, I basically fed my child a bag of chemicals that are also some of the same ingredients that they use to make gas, like the gas you put in your car. Why would I ever do this, I wonder? Well back then, I didn’t know any different. Knowledge changes you.

I just didn’t know that this was happening.

Now I do and I have to do something about it.

“The ugly comes when I haven’t grocery shopped and the house is EMPTY and the kids need lunch NOW because they have been at church all morning and are starving. Ordering Mountain Mikes Pizza just may mean a day of stomach pain and feeling like a huge blob with no energy. I am guessing when you maintain a steady stream of highly processed foods that involve sugar and other additives, you become used to it. When you are truly eating clean and you put some of those processed foods back in your body. Watch out. I am sure everyone responds differently, but it’s not a fun thing. Trust me.”

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It is a constant learning curve to navigate all the situations you encounter as a busy family living in a society that demands instant gratification and has deep emotional connections to food as an intregal part of our daily lives and celebrations. It is work to change these things. Work that is WELL worth it.

Lisa, writes a story about my son Cameron and what our family has been through in the beginning of her new book. Honestly, it is so exciting to be a teeny tiny small part of this amazing project. I had always been intrigued with healthy eating. Lisa’s blog breaks it down and makes it something you can understand. She has helped my family tremendously. Thank you just isn’t enough.

This book is phenomenal. It is a must have.

Look here to see more about what is inside!

Lisa has sent me TWO copies to give away!

Good luck! If you don’t win it, buy it, or put it on your Christmas list. Lisa’s recipes are a regular part of my cooking and have been for two years. They are delicious.

You won’t be sorry.

Best Wishes!

 

 

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Go Buy This Pencil Sharpener…No, Really.

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I tend to get overly excited about what one might consider a small issue in one’s life. For example, I titled a post once How Sam’s Club Changed My Life. When I like something I like it, all the way. So, let me tell you about the world’s most amazing pencil sharpener.

I have had children in school for the past 12 years and I have been homeschooling for 6 years. I now have four children and we go through pencils! Lots and lots of them. Over the years, I have had several utterly useless pencil sharpeners. I was about to resort to chiseling pencils this year with a knife, when I had a suggestion to try this one.

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First let’s discuss color. They have color options. Not only do they look amazing and sort of vintage like, but you can choose from Midnight Black, Firehouse Red, Groovy Green, Cool Blue, or Precious Pink. The groovy green was it for me. Love at first sight.

Next, let’s discuss it’s function. No batteries and no plugs! THIS was a HUGE selling point for me.

It’s whisper quiet.

The pencil actually get’s sharp.

I haven’t had one pencil break yet.

My 3 year old can work it.

It’s easy to dump the shavings.

It has the option to clamp to a table top.

It definitely feels “sturdy”. No flimsiness in sight!

They even have videos on their site of how to use it. Which is amazing because I learn best that way. It is SO easy.

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Honestly, there is not one thing I would change or say doesn’t work correctly.

It is amazing!!!

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…and my love of pencil sharpeners has been restored.

Hallelujah.

One more thing. It’s just $24.99. Can you believe that?

Please go buy one! Like right now.

 

CLASSROOM FRIENDLY SUPPLIES

 

Watch for a giveaway coming soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Vulnerable Strength

Last Sunday, I sat in tears in church listening to my pastor recount a story of a competition that he did years ago. It ended by going up Heartbreak Hill. He described how spent he was and how he doesn’t do endurance things well. He talked about how his lungs were burning and he was tired and weary. As his body was shutting down and his legs wouldn’t move, one of his team members came back for him. He helped him, pulled him, and pushed him up Heartbreak Hill. (You can hear the sermon here.)

That is what Jesus does for us. When you come to Heartbreak Hill. He’s there. 

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“Just when you think you couldn’t be anymore tired and you don’t think you can take one more thing, you come to Heartbreak Hill. It’s the place where dreams die, where people stop. You kick and claw and you just can’t quite get ahead. You start to go forward and slide right back down.”

Grace is God hanging on to you when you can’t even hang on to Him.

Keep your eyes on the prize, not the pain.

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This has been an unmatchably difficult year or two and I have struggled in some very deep ways. Dealing with death and life and everything in between. Life is beautiful and yet I find myself at the bottom of Heartbreak Hill. Truly, down in the depths of my soul.

February 7th, my dear friend Joany passed away and when she died a very deep part of me awoke. It awoke with a pain that was too deep to smother and pretend that everything was ok. It was too deep.

God works in layers on our soul. Praise Him for His grace. Layer by layer, He has gently been working on me to let go and live without fear. While the pain that I experience with her dying was deep, I felt it…and that my friends is trust. That, is courage. For this world, as I am continuing to learn takes a healthy dose of both. For a woman who was such a blessing to me personally through her life, even in her death, she helped me.

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For a girl who has spent a great deal of her early life flying around about a million miles an hour to stay busy, to avoid feeling, to avoid hurt, the Lord is healing me of that over the last several years. When you live like that you may escape some deep pain, but you also sacrifice deep joy. It is no way to live. God does not want that for me or anyone else.

I am clawing, and kicking, and screaming and there is fight in me that comes straight from Him and I am grateful.

He is hanging on to me…

The desire for authenticity in this life runs deep. It is my fuel and my lifeline and the more I awake the more I crave and the more I see it everywhere.

We need each other in this lifetime. We need to tell our stories.

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…and today as we celebrated my daughter’s 10th birthday and carnivaled it up at my church all afternoon, I teared again.

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This time watching my other daughter on stage with a ministry she is involved in. They lead worship for the kids at our church and they were doing shows throughout the afternoon at the carnival. I am so grateful for this group of kids and the people who started this ministry. I am so grateful that she wants to spend her time singing and dancing and proclaiming God’s truth. I am so grateful that God has given my girl a place to make friendships and belong.

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…and they sing. Big or small, Jesus Heals it all. #amen

I cry because today is also Joany’s birthday and I can’t imagine the way her family misses her on this day particularly.

There is a time for everything. Ecclesiastes 3:1

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I know that these last months God is working in my heart in ways I have yet to understand and my head trusts. Yet, it has left me bloody and bruised, for real. You know those times in life?

I head out Monday morning to go back to my Ca people. I am flying out alone for a week. A week  jam packed full of therapy that my soul needs.

I also can’t wait until I am on the plane coming back home to my family. I am already dreaming of the moment that my three year old will run to me and scream and give me that amazing hug he gives. I can be sure of this because this is the response I get when returning from the grocery store, the post office, or on most days even the bathroom. I can’t wait to be back under the same roof with the five most important people in my life. To continue this journey that the Lord has me on.

I am ready to climb.

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A Big Giant Update

1. It’s customary that when I return from a blogging break, I make a list. Too much in my head to try and tie it all together in pretty paragraphs.

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2. I have jumped in the essential oil world with Young Living Oils. I can’t say emphatically enough that I wish I had tried them sooner. I kid you not. If you want any more information or have questions, please comment below or email me. I would be happy to share my experiences. We have seen significant improvement from things such as allergies (took my symptoms away 100% within a minute, I know hard to believe, yet true) to headaches, to drastic improvement with some issues with sensory processing with my children. I adore them. I’m all in. #wouldntyouliketobeahippietoo

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*totally loving when there are awesome friends who give your kids a fire station tour, complete with putting out the fire (or knocking over the cone), just because they’re cool like that.

My guy still talks about this, weeks later. Thanks Jeremy.

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3. I have been able to do a bit of photography. My calendar is starting to fill. It’s nice. I have missed it, yet enjoyed my time off as well. So many new places for photography. Seriously inspiring. When we first heard about the job opening in Missouri, I have to admit I had to look up exactly where it was. I just knew it was in the middle. This place is absolutely gorgeous.

leessummit Collage*head on over to Green Jeans Photography on Facebook to see more highlights from these fun sessions

4. How are we REALLY doing? My kids are adjusting. My church is seriously unbelievable and has taken my kids in and grabbed their hearts right quick, my whole family really. Don’t get me wrong, this move from Ca to Missouri has been incredibly challenging at times, but that much more rewarding as well. Every single thing is different. It isn’t just the obvious things like leaving family and friends, etc. Everything, everything here, is unfamiliar. The clouds are lower and the formations are incredible,  there are weird bugs, the sky moves (the clouds, like a lot) while the earth stays still, green is a whole new shade of green, the weather really does change every 5 seconds, it’s humid sometimes, it smells different, it feels different, and yes it looks different; mainly it’s flat, well not flat, but rolly like. I don’t see the Sierras here and there isn’t a palm tree to be found. There are no spare the air days. There are water towers everywhere, it rains in the spring and summer, I have seen more lightening here in the past five months than my entire life combined previously, times 10, people say “pop” for soda, they ask what earthquakes are like, I have had to explain smoking to my littles (it’s way more prevalent here than where we came from), lightening bugs rock my world. Even the Carl’s Jr. here is called Hardee’s. Go Figure. Cicadas are ridiculously loud as is the thunder. I have learned more about hunting, than I ever thought I would. I never get caught in traffic. Our house is the same size here as in Ca, just 3 stories instead of 1. 8 ft ceilings instead of 10-16 foot ceilings.

Different.

Nothing BIG is necessarily different. It’s just a thousand little things.

I get asked these things all the time. Yes, there are “regular” stores in Missouri…Target, Chipotle, Office Max, and Hobby Lobby. All the same things we were used to.

For a girl who lived a 40 years in Ca. I was ready for a change. So as different as it is, it’s been fun too. I guess it’s the season of dual emotions coexisting constantly.

Happy/ sad. Adventorous/ fetal. Excited/ homesick. Confident/ terrified.

No big deal. No wonder I am tired.

It has been an unbelievably stretching year for all of us. Because a million little things make up your world and when they almost all disappear, it takes some time. It just does. God never wastes an opportunity. He takes every challenge, every heartache, every new experience and works them all together for good.

It’s been 9 months that we have been here. The time that it takes to grow a baby, or the time it takes to move a family of 6- 1770 miles away and create a new life.

There is freedom here. Watching my husband be loved on and trusted and free to do and be who God has created him to be means the world. It is a gift that I watch unfold a little more each day and one that I cherish. I would follow this man anywhere…and the parting words from my dentist in Ca was, “you must love your husband if you would follow him to Missouri.” lol.  Turns out he led me to a little well kept secret in the midwest.

Don’t get too comfortable. Comfortable is no way to live. No way at all. God is the Master Creator and He molds and stretches and changes. Sometimes He reaches down and grabs you and moves you and does it quick. Sometimes He allows you to come all kinds of undone and puts you back together in the way you didn’t know you needed. It’s incredible. I trust. I am grateful. There are no words to express how grateful I am.

To. Be. Here.

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5. I am heading back to California soon for a visit. All by myself. I feel like I have lived an entire lifetime since I left. I can’t even handle the fun I have planned and the way I am going to miss my people that will be staying home. I can’t wait to hug my people in Cali…and I might be visiting a certain magical mouse. Seriously. We left so quickly I didn’t get a chance to say a proper goodbye. To the mouse, not the people…

 

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6. We have been exploring. Mansions, tea houses, antique and thrift stores, neighboring towns, parks, Truman’s house, and our lake. Kansas City has an amazing zoo. My high schoolers went to camp. I went to a retreat and had the opportunity to speak at a workshop there and be in some fun skit type things. My hubby attended and led worship at Man Camp. My daughter turned 14. My parents came to visit. My Nicole has come to visit. My Betsey has come to visit. My Ashley and her amazing family have come to visit. We have also rested. A ton. This summer has flown by and I am so ready for fall. We first came to Missouri last October and it was incredibly beautiful. I can’t wait to see it again.

 

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 *photo credit to Abundant Life Facebook page.

7.  Our church just broke ground on a new building recently. Today I was excited to see the first wall up. Frequent overflow lobby seating, which is way less than ideal, just prompted the launch of another service on Sunday @ 4:30 pm, as we wait for the completion of our new building. We now are busting the seams at a total of 8 services on Sundays and are anxiously awaiting the opening of the new 2100 seat auditorium in the fall of 2015. This church is so exciting. You know why? It’s not because of what they do, it is because of who they are. Followers of Jesus, and Jesus brings people here in number. Jesus changes lives and when you walk in the door you can see it on these faces. I’m so blessed to be here and learn, grow, serve and be a part of what God is doing here.

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*surprise phot0s on my camera rock

8. I ran my first backlight 5k. Well truth be told we walked it under giant lightening and big fat thunder. As if a backlight run isn’t enough, we did it with a thunderstorm. We were drenched to the core and very colorful. It was amazing. Like a therapy session but 1/10th of the price…and I still am finding color in places…

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9. I will leave you with this thought. Please tell me why we have a Bank of the West here in Missouri, when we are more on the east than the west…and furthermore why isn’t it called the mideast? There should be an east, mideast, midwest, and west. Don’t you think that makes more sense? Because it’s current set up is weird. I give you exhibit A….

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and that’s what’s up…

Happy Sunday…More on our first week of school coming soon!

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