Monday, February 22, 2016

An Extra Day!

It's an election year, do you know what that means? It's Leap Year! An extra day has been given to us so let's do something special with it. 

It's a special gift, even though it's a Monday this year. Let's do something special with the day. Here are some ideas for how to spend our extra day, February 29! 

1. Fold clothes for a foster family. 
2. Donate $29 (for the 29th) to your local pregnancy resource center. 
3. Volunteer at a local elementary school. 
4. Pay for the car behind you in the drive-thru line. 
5. Take a dessert to your local Fire Department. 
6. Write letters to soldiers overseas. 
7. Volunteer at an animal shelter
8. Pick up trash at a park. 
9. Leave quarters on washing machines at a laundromat. 
10. Donate $29 to your church's missionary orginazation (IMB, NAMB)
11. Provide dinner for a foster family. 
12. Leave an extra tip for your waiter/waitress at lunch/dinner. 
13. Have a special dinner just for your family, no electronics allowed.  
14. Send your child's teacher, counselor, principal, school secretary a note & gift. 
15. If you know someone that has a birthday on the 29th, take them a cake, a balloon, or a gift! It's a       once-every-29 years-day. 
16. Take a sweet treat to the police department. 
17. Invite a neighbor over for dinner. 
18. Stick a $5 bill and a nice note in a Redbox movie you're returning. 
19. Send cute cards to patients at a children's hospital. 
 20.  If it's your garbage day, leave a sweet treat or a canned Coke for your garbage guys. 
21. Leave a nice card, or a sweet treat for your mailman. 
22. Visit an elderly person that doesn't have family nearby. 
24. Send a giftcard to your pastor. 
25. Have family game night. 
26. Take a sweet treat to a neighbor.  
27. Volunteer at a food pantry. 
28. Smile at everyone you see. 
29. Pray and read your Bible for 29 minutes longer than you normally do. 

Let me know how you spend your extra day this year!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Tale of Football, Baseball, and Redemption

God works in our lives in ways we can't imagine or see at the time it's happening. I've wished so many times to be able to look ahead and see how everything works out in a particular situation. I know so many times the outcome is never what I would have imagined in the onset.  This story is no different. The fact that I'm able to look back on the last eleven years and see God work is a gift from Him. I challenge you to look back on your life, your circumstances and see how God worked in your life. 

Many years ago Stephen and I made the decision that our children wouldn't play sports on Sunday. (Stephen made the decision and I agreed with it) It was an easy decision to make with him being a pastor and an obligation to be at our church on Sunday.  It was also an easy decision because the opportunity of playing on Sunday had never presented itself to us, however we saw the popularity of travel baseball teams on the rise and knew the subject would come up sooner, rather than later. 

When Samuel was 7, he made the all-star baseball team for the league he played in. We were very proud of his success in the field. It felt like he was ready to play in the major leagues! This was the first year we were brought face to face with the decision we had made. The bracket was made up so that we played a Sunday afternoon game. We explained to Samuel that he wasn't going to play that game and he was at peace with the decision.  The next three years were the same way. Our team played on Sunday without Samuel at first base. The fourth year, when Samuel was 10, our team was really good. Really good. We were playing in a town two hours away and if we won on Saturday night we would play Sunday at 11:00. We won. And we drove home, while everyone else stayed. We would drive back on Monday if they won Sunday without us there. I cried all the way home. It was dark, no one saw my tears but I was devastated for Samuel. He handled the situation with grace that belied a 10 year old boy. I wish I could have. I fussed, and screamed at God for this decision that "we" had made and let Him know of my disappointment for the whole two hours. We returned to the tournament Monday, Samuel sat in the dugout the whole game with his glove on ready to play and never got the opportunity. It was the price he had to pay for his parents decision. 

We pulled all of our children out of baseball when Samuel was 13. The league we were playing in was changing the way it had been organized for years and not playing on Sunday's was becoming a bigger complication than we cared to handle, for ourselves, our children, and the teams they were on. 

Now baseball is Samuel's first love. He was playing baseball by himself in our yard when he was 3, throwing a ball up, hitting it and running the bases. He loved the sport, and not allowing him to play broke his heart a little, but once again he handled with such grace. 

To add to the story, we homeschool. Which meant in Arkansas he couldn't play any school sports. That wasn't a big deal because he never wanted to play basketball or football and they didn't have baseball until 10th grade. The closer we got to 10th grade, it became a bigger deal! 

As I look back on what happened next I can see God working in our lives and in our circumstances. We had moved to a new city when Samuel was in the eighth grade. It was a bigger city, with bigger schools and we only knew very few people. The summer before his 10th grade year the organization that oversees all athletic activities for the state decided that homeschool students could play sports if they took one academic class. It was a prayer answered! I needed someone to teach him geometry and he could play baseball. 

I took him to school on the first day, met the coach, and left him for his first practice. His first high school practice and his first practice in 3 years. He made the team after a rough start, and he loved it! He loved the coaches and the sport. 

The summer before his junior year the football coach ran into Stephen and asked if Samuel could kick. Stephen said probably and he would send him to practice. He made the team as the kicker.  He made All-Conference in baseball and football his junior year while still being homeschooled except for a math class that he took at the public school. 

His senior year he made All-State in football and was recruited by 3 colleges. Our minds were blown. He signed with a Division 1 college to be a kicker! It's unbelievable. But when I look back at how God worked through everything I'm more in awe of Him than ever before. God redeemed the tears I cried on that Saturday night drive home from a 10 year old's baseball tournament. 

A decision we made as parents, ( that Stephen made as a proactive, God-honoring father), was redeemed with a full scholarship to play football in college. Now football was never a dream of Samuel's. Strangely, it was my dream. I love football, and the opening kickoff is my favorite part of the game, that my son would play is pretty perfect in my world. (And next year we'll have one playing high school football and one playing college football) Football is however, a sport with a ball, competition, and a team, all things Samuel loves with his whole heart. 

I truly believe that making and honoring a vow we made to God to honor His Sabbath day, brought all of this to fruition. We moved to a new city under some pretty distressing circumstances, the athletic director of the school district we just happened to live in, is a faithful Christian man, the football coach was a man that had umpired Samuel's baseball games and someone we had known for over five years. Lastly, Samuel is a man after God's heart. I don't write that lightly. He has never once waivered from his devotion, love, or commitment to Christ. He has stood firm with his teammates, friends, coaches and even us about his convictions and commitment to living a God-honoring life. Don't get me wrong. Please! He has made mistakes. But all in all he has stayed out of trouble and has a good reputation. 

We are so thankful to the Lord, our God. Thank you for Your watchful eye, for Your guiding hand, for Your wisdom and grace. We love you Lord, and want to do what honors and pleases You. 

Ps. I am in no way saying that Samuel received a scholarship because of the decision we made. This isn't a story of a prosperity gospel, it's a story of God working in our lives. God would still be as awesome as He is today if Samuel had not been invited to play any college sport or if he had not lettered. We praise and love the Lord no matter our circumstances. 


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas Count Down



We love counting down the days to Christmas in this house. We have advent two ways. A Chocolate advent calendar is one of then. We always had one growing up. One year mama couldn't find chocolate so we had tiny little toys in each window. It was very odd and we were ready to rush through that one! Julie and I took turns opening the days each year. One had even days and one had odd days. I was so glad when she married and moved away because it was all mine then! 
Julie and I carry on the tradition with our kiddos. It's loved by them as much as it was with us. It's so fun to keep that tradition going. How many calendars have we hoarded up in our deep freezers over the years thinking we would never find any again?! We are serious about the chocolate advent calendar. 

I don't do the Elf on the Shelf. I love admiring those that do. It's really cute. I just can't get a peace about it for us. What we do works and Henry loves it like it is...and we do too. 


At our house we celebrate the real meaning of advent with a Jesse Tree. We add an ornament a day with a family devotion that shows the lineage of Jesus. It's really great and Henry knows more about the lineage of Jesus than I ever did at his age. He looks forward to it. We read some scripture, apply the story to our lives, pray and we always sing. Tonight it was creation and we discussed that Jesus is the light of the world. We sang this little light of mine and Henry ran around doing all the motions trying to blow mine out. I love these precious times and it convicts me that we don't do it more throughout the year. 



This year I'm adding this reading. It's serving as my daily advent devotion as I prepare my heart for Christmas. I remember ugly sob crying to Randall one year not long after we had married because I missed christmas. I let the stress, the planning and the activity keep my heart from experiencing Christmas that year. Ever since that year he watches me and prods me away from the traps that can grab me this time of year. I am also more aware since then. I am going to enjoy this book as part of my advent this year. 


What advent traditions do you have? 
How do you count down the days to Christmas? 

Abby

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Judgement House

This time every year the church our kids attend for children and youth functions has a drama called Judgement House. It's a walking drama with several scenes that tell the story of several people and their decision to accept Christ or not. 

Many people make a life changing decision during Judgement House and accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. The boys have been involved in some way every year since 2012. They love being a part of something that has a lasting impact on people, and they love being with their friends!

This year, Daniel played a lead role (he did last year also), David played a Roman guard, and Samuel had a one line role. Daniel practiced his lines for weeks, he always wants to do the best job possible, and he delivers! David is the tallest of our three boys, and was an intimidating figure as a Roman guard. Samuel had a busy week with Homecoming festivities and was only able to be at JH for two nights, but his one line was a needed one.  

We've been through a lot of changes as a family the last few years, but one thing that has not changed is the love our children have for the Lord. They desire to spend time with people that love the Lord, and to learn more about Him. Don't ever underestimate children/students. When they can see evidence of God at work, they might just want to know more about Him and be a part of His work. Whenever possible make sure your children see you give God the glory and praise for what God does in your life. Whether it's a promotion at work, money for a bill that needed to be paid, or a prayer that has been answered, share it with your children so they can see God at work around them. 

Julie

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Parent/Teacher Conference

Now that all of the boys are attending school in some way or another, parent/teacher conferences are a real thing for us this year. 

For the last two years Samuel had one class each year so our parent/teacher conferences were quick and easy, not too painful. 


This year Samuel is taking a full days worth of classes, so I had several teachers to meet and visit. I enjoyed meeting them, putting a face to the name and figuring out how best to help Samuel do well this year. 

I visited with David and Daniel's teacher, and she made me smile. She has worked really hard at telling them apart and getting to know their personalities. I can't tell you how much that meant to me. Public school teachers get a bad rap, they have a tough job, but the ones I met last night have the best interest of our students at heart. 

Our boys are doing good in school, they've made the transition well and have good grades. So far so good. 


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Awana Anna

Anna loves Awana. She has been in it since Cubbies, when she was three years old. She learned to memorize short parts of key verses in the Bible. As she got older and progressed in Awana the verses got harder and she heard the words "word perfect."  

Word perfect is how she insists on saying her verses to her leaders. The rules for memorization allow he students to have two helps when reciting the verses, but that will not do for her. She must recite me with no helps and no mistakes. 


She has memorized over 100 verses and has truly hidden them in her heart. When we have Bible study she can give book and chapter to a lot of the subjects we cover. It's amazing! 
 

Today we were checking out at Dollar Tree and talking about memorizing verses and having to miss church and the Bible lesson that was going to be taught. The clerk stopped us and let her know how special she thought Anna was and how refreshing it was to hear a teenager speak of Christ and learning about Him. Oh, how my heart smiled. I love what the Lord is doing in her heart and I pray that she keeps Him close to her. 

The Year of Samuel

Our favorite sit-com right now is The Middle. Do you watch it? It could be based on our little family. We call Samuel and Stephen by their tv counterparts names most of the time. The daughter on the show is having The Year of Sue, Sue is her name, and that made me think that this is the Year of Samuel. 

Please don't think I'm ignoring our other three children. They are being loved on, given attention to, praised, and adored. It just happens that this is Samuel's senior year and it takes up a lot of our thought and time! 
 
Saturday we found out he has been accepted two colleges, Sunday he turned 18. I'm not emotionally stable enough for these things to happen so close together! I cry. A lot. 

 Wednesday night Samuel was inducted into the National Honor Society. When we first got the letter saying that he was eligible to be in the NHS, Stephen and I looked at each other and just laughed! The kid has been homeschooled for 11 years! Taught by me! I couldn't imagine that he could be honored in such a way. We were so proud. (We won't talk about the 60 pounds Stephen has lost and that those are David's pants he's wearing)


If you've been reading here anytime at all you'll know that my picture taking skills are, well, not very good. This is the picture I got of him shaking hands with the principal. I'll enter it in the fair next year! Ha!


These two. Aaron is the 3rd baseman and Samuel plays 1st, we never see these two together without hats on. His mom and I were so excited to see them both with hair we had to get a picture!


And if you know my in-laws at all, you aren't surprised that when Charlie found out around noon that this was happening at 6:00, he hopped in his car and came on down. 

So the year of Samuel has begun with a bang! He's still kicking the ball on Friday nights and was 3rd in the state for last weeks games. He's loving life! He's loving school! And he's loving Jesus! The last one is the one I'm most proud of. 

Julie




Sunday, October 4, 2015

Aunt Abby's Girl



I had a fun 48 hours this past week with our best girl, Anna Kathryn. Julie and I met in Beebe for the exchange of our sweet little princess. Everyone asked her "what about your school?" while she was with me. She and I would answer, "the perks of homeschool". 

I exposed her to the chiropractor. She watched my chiro twist, pop and electrically stimulate me. I told Anna that Mawmaw used to make me go to the toning bed with her and I turned out just fine...she'd be ok! Then I had to explain to her what a toning bed was. Fun times. 


Henry loves his "Milky" and couldn't wait to get out of school to see her with me in carline. His sweet OT that sees him at school two days a week for fine motor therapy told me he was excited about Anna coming all day. It made me smile. He sure loves his cousins and he and Anna have a special little bond. 


Anna loves Chic fil a. We got cupcakes and went and ate the Christian chicken before church on Wednesday night. Anna is in Awana also so she went with Henry and was able to do her book work with our TNT girls. She had a lot of fun. Henry was so proud to have her with him at church. He won candy for bringing a visitor too. It pleased my heart also. I just love being an aunt to Julie's children. 

The real reason Anna was with me was for the Toby Mac concert tickets I had purchased for she and I to attend in Memphis. The girl is cray cray about some T Mac. A few months ago I called to tell her I had purchased the tickets and she squealed and cried. She is such a girl. 


We went to the new Cheesecake Factory in Memphis before the concert and to get her a halloween costume. She's gonna be Snow White. We had some fun girl time together. I had aunts who invested in me, I want to be guilty of doing the same for my sister's children. Being their only aunt, the task is big.  I'll also need a girl to take care of me when I'm old too...let's be real here! ;) 

We did a dirty deed and texted Marmie and Julie and told them Anna had thrown away the tickets by mistake and we couldn't get into the concert. We laughed so hard at their responses, then we said "just joking". When my sister's children describe their aunt, they usually include the word "crazy" in the description.


We made it to the concert 1 hour before it started and all was right in Anna's world. She was so glad to finally get there and find our seats. I loved watching her excitement. I texted Julie and said , "oh to be with an 11 year old girl at a concert". Nothing like it. 


I never felt like a middle aged mom until this concert. When the smoke and lights and bass started booming it confirmed to me I am truly old. I loved watching her though. She stod for 3.5 hours and sang most every song Colton Dixon, Britt Nicole, Hollyn and Toby Mac sang. I knew more than I thought, so I joined in when I could. She isn't old enough to be embarrassed yet, thankfully! 


Anna with Toby Mac's drummer. She goes "he was rubbing my back like the whole time!" LOL. I made the night with this picture. We had no idea who he was but I could tell he was somebody important by the crowds around him and those shoes, so I scurried her over to him and said "smile". Later he came on stage and gave his testimony and we both looked at each other in awe. Score! 


I was sad to meet my big sister back in Beebe to trade her off, but homeschoolers have to school still yet. Henry got home that night from school and declared he missed "Milky" and we agreed we missed her too. I'm so glad we had this fun time together to remember forever. 


Aunt Abby 








Sunday, September 27, 2015

We Faired Well


The White County Fair in Searcy on Moster Truck night is a tradition for we 3 Lee's. It's a 1hour 20 min drive for us. Randall's plane from Iowa landed in Jonesboro around 5:00 and we ran home for him to change his clothes....he picked his best redneck shirt for the occasion to ensure he fit in real good. That's my man! LOL . We rolled in right as it started, after stopping off at the Bulldog in Bald Knob for supper, of course. 


This guy was more into the rides than the monster trucks this year. He was so fun to watch. Everything was exciting to him. I love living life through him sometimes. Oh, to be a child. 


Dude would not ride this last year and this year he took the front seat with a smile. So cute! 


He smiled the entire ride and put his hands in the air and everything. We got such a joy out of watching him. 


When Henry walked up the steps to that slide and went down by himself I shed a tear. Crazy, I know. This boy is blooming right before my eyes in so many areas. It's overwhelming at times. His daddy and I are so proud of how brave he has become. 



We always take a selfie at the a White County Fair and usually in the petting zoo for some reason. We love seeing "Llama Llama red pajama" each year. It's a book we have read since he was 2. I love that he will always think of that book everytime he sees a llama for the rest of his life. He's my funny boy. 



What's a visit to the fair without seeing someone you know! We ran into a sweet friend of my mother-in-love's and Julie's boys former Sunday School teacher while living in Augusta. We love Tammy and her crew. Henry had scored a Gideon Bible and was showing it off. I loved this picture. 

          ----------------------------------------------------------------

And then we faired it up in Jonesboro with friends the following week at the NEA District Fair


Quinn and Henry buddied up for Buddy night. Quinn is 8 and so sweet to Henry. Henry loves him. We go to church together and his parents are good buddies of ours. James and Emily had extra passes and invited us to go with them.  Randall was shelling corn in East Tennessee that night so we faired on without him. 


This is what we saw all night.... Hand in hand. Precious. We couldn't keep up with them! 


Henry said this was his favorite ride of the night. They laughed so hard and smiled the whole time. 


I loved this because Henry wanted to do bumper cars at the a White County Fair but no one else was in line. Pure excitement to get bumped by Quinn. He laughed so hard. 


I still laugh with snort and all when I see this picture. James and I had to ride the big Ferris wheel with the boys.  (Emily couldn't ride with him because she's having a baby! ) So, in true Lee/Adair fashion, we cut it up the entire ride. We sent this to Randall and he sent us a picture from his combine. Emily was on the ground acting like she didn't know us. I love having Jesus-loving friends with a large sense of humor. 

Oh but these guys.... They were the best part of that Ferris wheel ride. They loved being high over the midway. They said the ride wasn't long enough. The good ones never are. 

Emily snapped this of us before we got off. Such fun. 


We faired so hard we wore her out. I told her earlier that day I keep forgetting she's pregnant! Lol.  I'm so excited for my friend. 


Henry found the slide again at this fair and loved it. They went down it 4 times. Henry saw several new friends from school and it was cool to see how friendly and outgoing he is with all of them. I love this age because there is no bias, prejudice or inhibition. I wish it could always be like that. 


When you are at the fair calories don't count. My swollen hands told me different the next day, but it was worth it! My daddy always bought me a carmel apple at the fair so I took this to send to him. He loved it. I have great fair memories with my daddy. 


Feeding the animals carrots in the petting zoo. Henry was so funny to watch. He had never done that before. Quinn helped him use all his carrots. We would have been there until breakfast if not. He fed  "llama llama red pajama"  the last of his carrots and that made him happy. 


We are so glad they asked us to go with them to the fair. Henry will have great memories of the fair now because of Quinn. I enjoyed laughing on a Monday night with friends and watching our boys have fun. 


This guy talked me into paying to play a game before we left. I started feeling bad about him not ever experiencing it. So I caved.  The lady tried to keep my change and when I called her out on it she awarded Henry with this little ole Nemo instead of the big prize he probably should have won. I reminded him that this is why we don't pay to play the games. Ha! He loved it though just like it was a giant Nemo, so that's all that matters. 


 I went with $55 to the fair that night and came home with $1.50. I have no idea how people with more than 1 child afford the fair. The excitement on their faces, dirty hands, sweaty heads and muddy feet and fair stories for days make it worth every dime though. 

....And just like that we enjoyed our fair season. It's always a fun way to usher in fall. 

Abby Jo 
















Saturday, September 19, 2015

Let's Go Racing, Boys!



Several months ago Randall saw a $99 NASCAR experience deal online at the old Memphis International Speedway. He had me purchase it for any Saturday in September. Today was finally the day. Henry was so excited and he was convinced that he was going to be his daddy's 1 man pit crew. He was hoping he might get to change a tire. Oh, to be a 5 year old boy. Just precious. 


The speedway used to have several large races but now it simply houses the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience for guys and gals looking for speed. Driving up to it sort of reminded me of present day Dogpatch USA. That's not a good thing. We found where we needed to be and felt better about the situation, thankfully. 



Others were already on the track driving. We stopped and observed them for a while. We were sizing up the cars hoping Randall wouldn't get a "root beer" car (what Henry calls beer bc he has no idea what it is. He is really quite sheltered and I'm really quite ok with that). Henry wanted him to get the yellow Dollar General car. As you will see, he did indeed get a "root beer" car. 


Randall had a 45 minute class to sit in. Henry and I stayed on the track watching the others who were driving. Henry tried on his daddy's helmet as he was getting suited up after his class. Henry was none too happy to hear there was no need for him in the pit crew area. 


Randall chose a ride along option with a pro driver before he drove the car himself. After sitting in class and the instructor scaring them all into a pro ride along and an extra insurance policy....they were all lined up at the registration desk adding to their tickets. I said that instructor needs to come sell houses because he's got game! Suckers. Seriously, those cars go fast and the pros are driving on the track alongside them to give them the "experience". Not leading them like the Petty driving school.... These pros drive all around them on the track. It's intimidating and the ride along makes them more confident. I was glad Randall got "sucked in" because it really did make him feel better about getting in the car alone afterwards. 


Henry loved coaching his daddy as he got in the car with the pro driver. He liked looking like he was in a pit with the tires beside him too. Henry Lee was on cloud 9 in that environment and he honestly thought Randall was on TV in a NASCAR race. He wondered who all might be watching and went down the family and friend roll asking me. I just went along with him. You are only 5 once and most daddy's never do this or only do it once. This is the good stuff that gets stored up tight in his childhood memory bank.
 ( His wife will hear about this 874 times if he turns out anything like me. I replay my best childhood memories so much randall feels like he lived in Sutton Estates with me.)


Our Big Daddy was all ready to get in and take his 8 laps around the track. I made him pose for me. He was a good sport about it. When we were newly married we watched NASCAR races on Sunday's because we didn't have cable and he grew up watching it on and off. I had never watched races. My daddy watched golf on Sundays and napped through it. Anyway, my cousin Hollye and her husband watched NASCAR because they wanted to and used to say they thought Randall looked like Kasey Kahne. I never really saw the resemblance but today I said "pose like you are "Kasey Kahne". It's a wonder he did it. I embarrass him from time to time. Can you Imagine that?! 

He got secured in the car just like a NASCAR driver would. It gave me closterphobia just watching it. 


He looked like a natural. He really enjoyed it and by lap 4 and 5 he was flying on the track. Henry would wave and say "He isn't waving at me!" And "wow, he's really speeding!" It was fun to watch him drive. 


That's my #2 in that "root beer" car, ladies. Step off! ;)
I told Randall before he drove that I really felt like I should sing the national anthem and kiss him before he gets in the car. He made me assure him I wouldn't do either.
 It was a fun experience and if your man likes speed and racing, you should give him the gift of adrenaline one weekend!



We spent 3 hours at the race track. We were hungry and thirsty. Henry asked if he could go to Huey's and color on the wall. He said it had been awhile. So, we did. 


We took a shortcut through the Peabody lobby for a little A/C action. It was hot today. Randall decided to get "duck headed" in the gift shop. Henry did not care for that very much. He doesn't do masks well. 


Randall snapped a picture of me with the ducks in the fountain. I posted it so you would know I was really there today because there was no other proof of that. I love my little family and the fun we get ourselves into. 

Abby Jo