This and that.

Magnificent MONDAY!
A lofty description, I know, but it sounds good!
I love the beginning of a new week. Plans on paper, but a God who directs the details, so we have no idea what will actually take place.

Last week was full of wonderful times of fellowship with old friends and new, all provided by a God who loves to give good things to His children. After nine months of semi-isolation and exhaustion due to the pressing educational and emotional needs of our children last August through May, it has been an absolute joy to connect with people once again. We were not created for isolation. We were created for relationship. With the Lord first and with others. There is a reason we are commanded not to "forsake the assembling of ourselves," - we need each other! I made the mistake of neglecting this part of the Christian life. I interacted with humans, of course, but I was not purposeful about spending time with believers who would encourage me, build me up, correct me, or simply enjoy being with me. I just kept existing, hoping I could get through another day. A mistake I will not make again this year. My school calendar has dates slated for "Intentional Fellowship" and, Lord willing, I will be able to enjoy every single one of them!

How thankful Dennis and I are that the Lord has blessed our sons with good friends.
This group here -
The Fearless/Fabulous/Fantastic Five connected the first few months of junior high and never let go.
They talk, they laugh, they roast each other, hang out, attend every youth group event, celebrate birthdays and milestones together, surf, camp, make videos ... and have a GREAT time doing all of it.
But the thing I love best about this group of guys is that when it matters, when it really, truly matters - they are there for each other.
They may drift apart as the college years pull them in different directions, but I pray the Lord will keep their connection strong so they can lean on each other - for life.

~~~ Josiah, Isaiah, Ellie, and I are reading the biography of George Müller together. This is my fourth study of this extraordinary man of faith, yet it feels like I am reading about him for the first time! Halfway through the book, I sent a text to my friend Kelsi asking, "Do you want to start an orphanage together?" The second I lifted my finger off of the "send" button she responded, "YES!" with at least thirty smiling emojis trailing behind. We spent fifteen minutes text-dreaming about our orphanage ... admin roles, age and stage of children we would start with, who would fit which roles ... it was lovely. I walked away thinking (and grinning), "I am only 45, Lord! I have PLENTY of years left to pursue this dream! Let me know what YOU think about it!"
It's nice to dream - isn't it?

What a treat it was to see THIS woman last week!
Michelle was one of the original COMMITTED members, and we have walked through a lot of life together.
I am thankful her parents trusted me with her heart when she was a young woman because the Lord has used our years together to create a friendship that is sweet and mutually desirable.
I may be almost twenty years her senior, but when we are together you would never guess it! Just two women equally investing in and enjoying one another - and thankful the Lord drew us together "for such a time as this."

~~~ Last week, while shopping at a produce store, one of my children (who shall remain nameless) stole a piece of candy from the bulk-item bins. I was not aware of the crime until one of my other children happily reported, "So-and-so STOLE, Mom!" I looked back to find said child standing in the aisle with a face as red as a tomato, so I knew he had, in fact, stolen from the store. We spent a few minutes hammering out the details and the conversation ended with me saying, "You will stand in line, look the cashier in the eye, and confess your crime. Then, you will accept whatever punishment he hands down. Understood?" Large eyes pleading back at me, "Yes, Mom."
We get in line, the child confesses, and the store clerk (who may or may not have reached his 21st birthday) looks down and asks, "You only took ONE jelly bean?"
"Seriously? Just one?"
(I am holding my tongue so as not to give him a lecture that "stealing is stealing" whether it is one bean or a Mercedes Benz because I can sense what is coming.)
"Yes. Just one."
"Well, I take a piece of candy just about every time I walk through the candy section, so it's okay."
It's OKAY?!? Come on! You just condoned the crime! <insert agitated eye-roll here>
How about, "I know it's tempting, but you are still stealing, so while I am going to show you grace this time, please don't do it again, okay?"
The child left the store relieved and lectured by me (who had MUCH more to say than "It's okay."), and I made a mental note. Note to self: Next time one of our children steals, ask for a manager or someone over the age of 40 to listen to the confession of a crime!

We are grateful to Dennis' sister, Denise, and her husband Mark, for generously giving Josiah, Isaiah,
and Ellie with brand-new iPads! After sending her a brief update on our family she asked for further details, and through that conversation learned that our kids would benefit greatly from updated technology to help them in their educational pursuits. Last year was a tremendous struggle for all of our dyslexic children, and after doing more research I discovered the plethora of options available to aid them in their learning through the use of iPads. A week later, Denise sent us an e-mail telling us that she and Mark would like to gift our children with the devices - and we were blown away! This is a game-changer for our upcoming school year!
Thank you, Mark and Denise. There is no way our children would be enjoying these without you!

~~~ I will leave you with this fantastic quote to think about as you dive into your week.
"As an ordinary Christian, go deep in the Word and prayer, 
and then go boldly into your sphere of influence."
- Steffen Mueller

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