It’s Official…

Well, it’s official…..I am now the mother of a teenager! The key word here being “A”. “A” meaning singular; one. Yep, last week Emilie celebrated her 20th birthday and just like that, I went from being the mother of two teenagers, to being the mother of one teenager. How did it happen so fast?? I remember when my children were all so little and I could not even imagine being the Mom of a teen. Then it happened…Katie turned 13. And two years later, Emilie hit the teens. As Jake approached the big 13, I remember thinking, “I am going to be the Mom of THREE teenagers! How can that be? Just yesterday, I had three babies!”

Well, I survived the years of having three teens at one time and two years ago, I was back to being the Mom of two teenagers and now….here I am again…the Mom of “A” teenager. If you might have forgotten, may I remind you…time is fleeting. It doesn’t stand still. It never stops. At times it makes me sad to think about all of my children growing up and beginning independent lives of their own. But isn’t that what our job as a parent is all about? Raising, nurturing, teaching and instructing our children so that they will grow up to lead successful, independent lives. It’s exciting to see what the Lord is going to do in each of their lives! This is what it is to be a parent.

The Lord has used this example to show me something else about life. With the condition of our world right now, it makes me sad to think about all that is to come in the days ahead. I truly believe that we are entering into the Last Days that the Bible speaks of in Revelation. It’s scary and sad to think about all of the things that the Word says is going to take place in these days. But as I have been studying and pondering these things, the Lord has shown me this: Isn’t that what being a Christian is all about? Isn’t that what we, as Believers, are living for? Isn’t that the purpose of our journey here on earth….to get to the end? To come to the end of this life as we know it and to live for eternity with our Heavenly Father. It’s exciting to see God’s plan unfold. This is what it is to be a Christian.

So, just as getting to the end of parenthood (although we never really get to an end :) ) is scary and somewhat sad, getting to the end of this life as we know it is also scary and somewhat sad. But that’s the way God designed it..it’s His plan. And His plan can ALWAYS be trusted!

Emilie and I celebrated her birthday, by taking a trip to Nashville. The weather wasn’t the greatest, but we still had a great time and I enjoyed spending one on one time with my favorite Middle Child! Here are a few pictures from our time away.

First order of business...a treat from King's Donuts!

First order of business…a treat from The King’s Donuts!

We enjoyed visiting the life-size replica of The Parthenon.

We enjoyed visiting the life-size replica of The Parthenon.

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Enjoyed some awesome BBQ at this little hole in the wall!

Enjoyed some awesome BBQ at this little hole in the wall!

Had fun walking around the beautiful Gaylord Opryland Hotel

Had fun walking around the beautiful Gaylord Opryland Hotel

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Enjoyed some beautiful views from the pedestrian bridge.

Enjoyed some beautiful views from the pedestrian bridge.

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Can't go to Nashville without spending an evening at the Grand Ole Opry!

Can’t go to Nashville without spending an evening at the Grand Ole Opry!

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The Willis Clan

The Willis Clan

Thompson Square

Thompson Square

Ricky Scaggs

Ricky Scaggs

We also went to two different McKays and got many (like our trunk was full) books for free or low-cost.  Yes, we are book geeks...we both love to read!!

We also went to two different McKays and got many (like our trunk was full) books for free or low-cost. Yes, we are book geeks…we both love to read!!

Happy 20th birthday Emilie!

Happy 20th birthday Emilie!

A Word To All The Dads On This Father’s Day

Are you a Dad? Do you love your children? Do you really? A better question might be…..do your children KNOW that you love them? If you were taken from this world today, could your children say without a doubt, “I know my Dad loved me.”

Today has been a hard day. Today is the second Father’s Day that my children have gone through without their Dad. My heart breaks for them as they look around at all the other kids celebrating with their Dad and all the pictures and posts about Dads.

But the thing that I am thankful for today is that all three of my kids will tell you with certainty that their Dad loved them and was proud of them. No having to wonder….they knew. They knew because he told them all the time. But more than that he showed them. He spent time with them. He talked to them. He listened to them. He did things with them. He laughed with them. He taught them. He instructed them. He disciplined them. He played with them. He went to their events. He sent them emails and texts. He talked to them on the phone. When he was at work…he was 100% at work, but when he was home…he was 100% at home. He made it a priority to spend one on one time with them. He played ball and tennis with them. He rode bikes with them and hiked with them and swam with them. He played in the ocean with them and made sand castles with them and surfed and boogie boarded with them. He played in the snow with them and made homemade ice cream with them. He put their needs and desires above his own. When they were babies, he fed them, he rocked them, he changed them, he read to them, he bathed them and dressed them. As they got older, he guided them and advised them and taught them about the things that were important in life. He shed tears over them. He shared his love of music, and baseball, and the outdoors, and humor with them. He marveled at stars and sunsets with them. He would discuss things with them and challenge their thinking. He helped lead all of them into a relationship with Jesus. And always, always….he prayed for them. He loved them and was proud of them…and they knew it.

He was never too busy for them. He was never too tired for them. He never had too much work to do that he couldn’t spend time with them. He chose not to take better-paying jobs that required more time away from the family..he chose the family over the money. He gave up golfing and hunting to spend time with them. He wasn’t perfect, but he loved them and they knew it.

So Dads, I ask you again….do your children know that you love them? If you were suddenly taken from this world, would they know with certainty that you loved them, or would they wonder? Would they wonder if you loved your job more than them? If you loved your sleep more than them? If you loved your television more than them? If you loved your drink more than them? If you loved your money or your toys more than them? If you loved your hobbies more than them? If you love yourself more than them???

Yes, today was a hard day. But, praise God my children know that their Dad loved them.

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Jake, Katie, Dad and I

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

Who Is Your Travel Companion?

For the last 18 months or so, I have felt lost. Like I’m wandering aimlessly, not really knowing where I’m going. I’m traveling a road I don’t want to travel….a road that is leading me through a place I don’t know and I am not comfortable with; unfamiliar territory that is often lonely and frightening. And the really hard part is this: I don’t even know where this road is taking me. I don’t know the purpose in taking this road, this journey. Do you ever feel that way? Like you’re on a road that you aren’t comfortable being on, but there’s no way to turn around and take another way? The only way to wherever you’re going is down this frightening, lonely, frustrating road. We all find ourselves on these roads at times in our lives. Maybe you’re like me, and the death of your spouse has put you on this road. Maybe it’s the death of a parent, or child. Maybe it’s a failed marriage or relationship that has you on this lonely road; or maybe the lack of a marriage or relationship. It could be difficult financial situations that has you on a road filled with hardship and frustration, or a physical condition that has put you there. Our lives are made of up many of these difficult, scary, lonely roads. I believe that the only way to get safely to the end of these roads is to travel with a companion. That companion’s name is Faith. Faith to know that there is a purpose, there is a reason, there is an end. Faith to know that we are not alone and that Christ has already gone down this road ahead of us to prepare the way. Faith to know that even though the whole world may seem like it’s against us, He is for us. Faith to know that everything that happens to us is for our good and His glory. Now, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I didn’t say that our companion’s name is Understanding. Because I don’t understand the purpose or reason for being on this road. Nor do I understand how traveling this road can be for my good. What I did say is that our companion’s name is Faith. Faith to believe all these things, even when I don’t understand them. Faith to believe that even if I never fully realize the purpose of my journey this side of Heaven, one day I will understand. I was reminded of this in my time with the Lord this morning. I was reading Hebrews 11….often referred to as the “Hall of Faith”. I was reminded of how Abraham was called to travel a road that he knew nothing about and to go, not knowing where he was going. God called him to leave all that he knew and was familiar with. It wasn’t an easy road for Abraham…it was a long, difficult journey. But, Abraham was blessed for his faithfulness. I feel just like that. I’ve been called to leave a place that I never wanted to leave, a place that I loved and was comfortable with and secure in, to go to a place that I know nothing about. But just like Abraham, I am choosing to take Faith as my companion, trusting that the Lord is leading me into the land of promise! I pray that if you are one of the many who are on a road you’d rather not be on and you don’t even know where you’re going, that you will also choose to take Faith as your companion! By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise. Hebrews 11:8-9 Trusting His Plan, Sandra

Celebrating With Hope

Yesterday was Greg’s 51st birthday….his second birthday in Heaven and our second without him here. Just like last year, it was a bittersweet day for us. Maybe even a little more bitter because Katie couldn’t be here with us. She is working at Winshape camps again this summer and had to be there on Monday.

Last year we remembered Greg on his birthday by doing two of his favorite things: eating and watching a Braves game! As we left the game last year Jake said, “I think we should make this a tradition and do this every year on Dad’s birthday.” And so we did! Yesterday evening me met most of Greg’s family at Johnny’s Pizza on Virginia Avenue, because in Greg’s mind, there is no Johnny’s Pizza except the one on Virginia Avenue! We had tried some of the other Johnny’s locations and Greg thought there was NO comparison….so to Virginia Avenue we went!! We enjoyed our pizza and then headed to Turner Field. We had lots of fun at the game even though the Braves lost. But that was okay…..the main attraction may have been my six month old great-nephew Zachary anyway! :)

It was a hard day, but we were blessed to be able to spend it with most of Greg’s family. As I mentioned, Katie couldn’t be there. We were also missing my nephew, Michael and his wife, Molly. Greg’s dad did join us for dinner, but didn’t feel up to going to the game.

It’s hard to celebrate when you’re grieving and feeling sad. Especially, when the one you’re celebrating is the same one that you’re grieving for. But birthdays are about celebrating someone’s life and Greg’s life is certainly worth celebrating. He may no longer be here with us, but we still remember and celebrate his life and thank God for the time that we did have with him. We celebrate because our hope is in the Lord and because of that, we know that we will see Greg and celebrate with him again some day. Greg’s legacy lives on. He was a difference-maker in this world. We look forward to that day when we will be reunited with him and be able to celebrate an eternity of birthdays together!!

Happy Birthday Greg! We love you and can’t wait to see you again!!

Here are a few pictures from our night.

The ONLY Johnny's Pizza!

The ONLY Johnny’s Pizza!

Waiting for the rest of the family to join us.

Waiting for the rest of the family to join us.

My niece, Amanda and her husband, Ryan with Zachary.

My niece, Amanda and her husband, Ryan with Zachary.

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Zack was decked out in Braves gear...even down to his shoes!

Zack was decked out in Braves gear…even down to his shoes!

All tuckered out and getting a little spoiling from Mama Carolyn and Jacob.

All tuckered out and getting a little spoiling from Mama Carloyn and Jacob.

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All the gang!

All the gang!

Two of my three greatest blessings.

Two of my three greatest blessings.

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Hug the ones you love!

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

“What Are You Reading?” Wednesday

I just started reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I’ve heard really great things about this book and since I’m the quiet, introvert type, I’m really looking forward to seeing what it has to say! Have any of you read this book? If so, what did you think?

What are you reading this week??

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

(This post contains affiliate links)

A Weekend Of Celebrating!

We had a busy fun-filled weekend! Katie came home this weekend, and cooked me a delicious Mother’s Day meal on Friday night! Chicken, fettucine alfredo, salad, garlic bread, sweet tea and key lime pie for dessert!! It was delicious. Saturday was Jake’s 16th birthday! He started the day with his weekly Bible study with a group of guys. In the afternoon, we celebrated a sweet friend’s high school graduation. Then, Saturday night was his birthday dinner…he chose to eat at I-Hop. Then it was back to the house for presents and dessert!

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They sang to him and brought him a birthday dessert!

They sang to him and brought him a birthday dessert!

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Chipper even got a gift!  He fit perfectly in his food bowl!

Chipper even got a gift! He fit perfectly in his food bowl!

The Birthday Pup!

The Birthday Pup!

On Sunday morning, the kids and I had the honor and privilege of being asked to share our story with the Stone Church in Cartersville. It’s always so hard and emotional for me to share about our pain, but I really believe that the Lord has called us to tell others about His goodness and faithfulness even in the most difficult of circumstances.

We so enjoyed being a part of the Stone Church’s service and felt so loved and welcomed there. John Orr is an excellent teacher of the Word and we enjoyed his message. If you live around the Cartersville area and are looking for a church home, I highly recommend that you check out The Stone Church!

Later in the afternoon, we spent time visiting my Mom and then Greg’s Mom. I am so very thankful for both of these ladies. My life is better because they are in it! Hope you all enjoyed celebrating Mother’s Day and remembered to thank God for the Moms in your life!

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

Meet The Newest Masters!!

We have a new addition to our family! He is cute and cuddly and oh, so tiny! Meet Little Chipper….aka Chip! Yes, Jake named him and yes, he is named after Chipper Jones! :) Jake will turn 16 on Saturday, and Chip is his birthday gift. And of course, there is a cool God story that goes along with Jake getting this puppy!

For as many years as I can remember, the kids have always wanted a dog. Greg and I always said no. We felt bad about saying no, but just couldn’t bring ourselves to make the committment. With Jake’s birthday approaching, I really felt the Lord leading me to let him have a dog, and again I pushed back. I kept arguing with God..I have enough to take care of already. I don’t want my carpets messed up or my furniture chewed up. I don’t want to spend money on a dog. And the Lord kept answering…Jake is responsible, he’ll take care of the dog. Carpet and furniture are just things. Just trust Me!

As I continued to think about it and pray about it, I really felt like the Lord was impressing on my heart that Jake needed a dog at this time in his life. Greg was his best friend, and he’s gone. Katie is away at school. Emilie is rarely home, due to her work and school schedule. That leaves just me here with Jake, and honestly, I’m just not that much fun or entertainment for a 16 year old boy!

So, I decided that I would bite the bullet and tell him that he could have a puppy for his birthday. But….there were a few restrictions. Since he wanted an inside dog, it had to be small and it had to be a low-shed/no-shed dog. I wanted him to have a puppy, not an older dog. He agreed and so we set out to find a puppy that would meet these requirements. Once I found a puppy and how much it cost, I again began talking to God! I struggle a lot with spending money on what we need versus spending money on what we want. I told God….we don’t NEED a dog! But the Lord just kept impressing on my heart that at this time in Jake’s life, he does need a dog.

After a few days, I hesitantly mailed off the deposit. A couple of days later, I received an unexpected refund check in the mail from our orthodontist! AND…the amount was within $25 of the full price of the puppy!! God did that for me!! It’s like He was saying, “See. I told you to trust Me!”

Now, if I can just make it through the puppy stage without having to replace my carpet and/or furniture, we’ll be great! ;)

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

When Jake and Chip first met!

When Jake and Chip first met!

Emilie and Marleigh meet Chip....or Little Chippy Jones, as Marleigh calls him.  :)

Emilie and Marleigh meet Chip….or Little Chippy Jones, as Marleigh calls him. :)

We are already in love with this cute guy!

We are already in love with this cute guy!

Working out those puppy teeth.

Working out those puppy teeth.

Sooo cute!

Sooo cute!

Chip helped Jake with his Spanish project.  :)

Chip helped Jake with his Spanish project. :)

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