Friday, May 25, 2018

Can I Wear Pants and Still Love Jesus?

...or listen to pop culture music...
...or watch movies...
...or play sports...
...or wear make up...
...or have tattoos...

The list goes on and on, right!?

We have talked about modesty here in the past several times.  As a matter of fact, our most read post of the blog history is a post my oldest daughter wrote years ago called Modesty- a Command, Not a Conviction. Obviously it struck a chord with a lot of people.  Two other posts that sent people thinking was  What ARE You Wearing and Where Did Modesty Go?

Some people know exactly how they feel about the subject of modesty.  Some are just searching for answers and quite frankly, some of us are just terribly confused.

Modesty in the way we dress is pretty easy for me to understand.  Don't dress in a way that shows personal parts of your body to others.  Period. As we tell our kids, there is more than one way to share your body.  Low necklines and tight clothes often do that.  But after that, the lines get a bit more fuzzy.  Where do jeans fit in, and pants and shorts?  Does wearing those things make you love Jesus less?

How about music and movies?  Yes, things with filthy language and sexual themes are an easy out.  But what about sweet love songs, or timeless operas or old movies?  I may decide to avoid them, but do they somehow make you love Jesus less if you choose them?

And playing sports?  And wearing makeup?

See where this could go?

I do not claim to have all the answers.  Trust me I have been looking.

What I am here to say is don't be quick to judge!

It's that simple.

We can think we know the hearts and minds of others based on what we see and what we think, but the truth is no one can do that besides Jesus.

Don't mishear me.  God's rules are GOD'S rules and they are to be followed.  But man made laws based on personal convictions and ideas are a different thing.

Just think of the people we may miss in our lives because of quick, un-informed judgements.

I can love Jesus and not be JUST like you.  And vice versa.  Praise the Lord for those who understand that and love regardless.

May I continue to learn to love regardless!


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

It Is Done!

Five days post retirement and it still seems surreal.  Yesterday we went to the base here one last time to all get retirees IDs.  So very weird.  I have known this one way of life for the past 26 years and it is all my kids have ever know.  To say that it will be an adjustment I believe is a huge understatement. 

The day of retirement was lovely.  The whole week was, really.  It was great to have family, several sets of dear friends from out of state, and of course our incredible friends here in Omaha join us.  These precious people have been through a lot with us and we will be forever grateful for their friendship and love.

The AF community did a beautiful job organizing the ceremony and our friend and mentor of 30 years was able to be here to retire Clarke.  He is the same one who commissioned him 26 years ago!

Because Clarke works worked in a secure area, cameras and phones were not allowed, so we have had to rely on the pictures I took at the house ( a BIG fail on my part) and ones that were officially taken.  They were a bit disappointing, but here are a few to give you a peek into our day!

Ashton spoke on behalf of her siblings- I am hoping to get permission to share it soon.  Lots a laughs and lots of tears! Wish I had it on video!

If you think of us in the next few days, would you whisper a prayer on our behalf please?  We are being packed up this week, currently by only one poor guy, the moving van is supposed to arrive on Friday, and our caravan pulls out Saturday morning for the three day trip to AZ.  Oh, and we still have a house to sell before we can buy, so you can find us in an AirBNB.  Hopefully not forever! ;)


Friday, May 18, 2018

Thoughts on Our Air Force Life

And just like that, the life we have known for the past 26 years is over.

Prior to the actual retirement date, I tried to think through what this change will mean to us and how it will affect us.  The truth is, I have no idea to both of those quite yet.  There is still a lot to process and quite frankly I am so tired I am having a hard time putting complete sentences together.

I don't want to forget a thing, about the actual retirement certainly, but about the past 26 years especially.

26 years ago, two young people stood before God and friends and family and committed their life to each other.  Days later they headed off to pilot training, eager to see what the Air Force had for them.

For the next year in Columbus, MS, days and nights were filled with studying but also fun with friends, buying a puppy, and getting pregnant.  Our oldest was born just days before our first AF move.

We proceeded to helicopter training in Albuquerque, NM, where we rented a furnished apartment for 4 months.  Add in a newborn who never slept, a new dog, a husband learning to fly a new helicopter, and one car, well, let's just say, fun times. 

After that we got stationed in Spokane, Washington.  We moved in the same day a B-52 crashed and just days after a devastating shooting at the base hospital.  It was a hard time to arrive on base, but the community embraced us and we loved our short time there.

Back to Albuquerque, NM we went for more training followed by our first long separation - Clarke's first special ops assignment to Korea.  Ashton and I moved to NC to be near family, we got pregnant during mid-tour leave, bought a house, and moved to Florida to await daddy's return.

Three years in Florida brought the sweet birth of our second child, Riley. It is a time spent with dear friends, fun times at the beach, oh, and a dad who was rarely home.  Praise the Lord one of my dearest friends also lived there.  We raised kids together and sat in closets through hurricanes together.  She was my rock when my husband could not be due to travel.  Lots of bittersweet memories from that assignment.

Back to NM we went, landing at the most amazing church that grew our faith by leaps and bounds.    We learned to camp with sweet friends, enjoyed the Balloon Fiesta, and ate our fair share of Mexican Food and Rudy's BBQ.  Again, we were blessed by a new baby- Salem!

Off to the AF Academy in Colorado!  One of my favorite locations ever!  Such fun being a part of cadets' lives, living near Clarke's beloved mentor, and my mom joining us for two of the three years. Three of us were baptized in CO, along with my mom. The kids got to experience so much there and we loved every minute.

We were surprised by a school slot for a year in Montgomery, AL next.  Admittedly, not one of my favorite places but I survived.

Another surprise was moving to Minot, ND next.  Yes, why not, Minot?!  And yes, it is cold there.  Like so cold it hurts!  But we made amazing friends there that we will cherish forever.  My eyes well up with tears at the beautiful memories of that assignment, as well as the hard 7 month deployment to Africa.

Cheyenne, Wyoming came next!  A fun place of living in a 103 year old historical base house, Cheyenne Frontier Days, and the most fun group of base friends ever!  We finally brought our fourth child, Colby, home from Guatemala and deemed our family complete!

Off we went to Suffolk, VA, finally back in the same time zone as family.  We were able to spend lots of time with them as well as at the beach while Clarke toured the world for three years.

That took us to Brooking, SD.  You are right, there is no base there.  But there is a great college, SDSU, and a great ROTC department Clarke had the privilege of heading up for a while.  Someone must have decided we were having too much fun, so in the middle of our non-deployable job he got deployed for a year- to Afghanistan.  Despite one of the hardest years of my married life, God was kind and gave me some of the dearest friends ever.  They held me up during that time and were and are truly a God-send! (They also happen to own the best little Indian restaurant ever!)

I bought a house in Omaha, NE next and we welcomed Clarke home after his year away.  Here, in a place we NEVER thought we would live, God redeemed all the past years' YUCK and set us right down in the middle of the most loving church and church family ever.  These God-loving people do life together and it is beautiful!  We were reunited with old friends and have made even more amazing new ones.  It has been a place we could call home.

And now because of God's sovereign plan we are headed to Arizona after retirement to begin a new chapter.

My heart races with excitement for the new things ahead, and at the same time mourns the things we are leaving behind.  It is always hard to leave, but this one is even harder.  A chapter of our life is ending.

I close my eyes and I can see...

the many friends we have made
the AF wives I have walked this journey with
the pride in my husband's eyes as he left for work each day to protect his country
my children standing at attention with each playing of the National Anthem
the pinning on promotion ceremonies
the places we have been blessed to visit and live
the many helicopters taking off with my husband in them
the planes that brought him safely home from three deployments

Memory after beautiful memory!  I pray I will always remember them, and I thank you all who have been a part, whether big or small, of them.

YOU will always be in my memories and in my heart!  May the Lord bless you as you have blessed us!


Friday, May 11, 2018

We Have Officially Lost Our Minds!

So let me give you a quick update of our crazy lives.  Just know I am not complaining (mostly) but just keeping it real.  I would not want anyone to think the family behind the blog has it all together.

Or even partly, some days.

Last week we put our house on the market.  It sold in less than 24 hours.

It unsold 72 hours later.  Yep, not good considering we cancelled showings.

Manged to get it back on the market the next day and it has only shown twice since.

But never fear- it is staged and ready when the perfect buyer comes.  Just waiting on God's timing.


OK, that might not be exactly true.  (Remember the whole we do not have everything together part!)

That brings us to this week.

Our college daughter came home from college for the summer.  A fun 4 day trip to Mississippi and back.

The following day (yesterday) my hero husband had hernia surgery.  (He is recovering well because I told him I did not have time for this nonsense!)

One week from that surgery, that is next Thursday if you are still reading and trying to keep up, we have a retirement ceremony for said hero.  In between, we have friends and family arriving here in Omaha on Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to celebrate this event.

Most of those people leave on Saturday.

Then on Monday and continuing until Thursday (are you still with me?) our packers arrive to start to box up most everything we own.  The loading truck loads on Friday and on Saturday we head out of town.

Three days later on Memorial Day, God willing, we arrive in ARIZONA, where we will stay in an Airbnb for at least 6 weeks while we try to find a house to buy.  Just to make things fun, we will begin that search the day after we get there.  You know, because who needs rest, right?

And on June 4th, hero hubby begins his first job outside of the military.

Who knew retirement could be so crazy fun??!

If you think of us during the month of May, whisper a prayer for us, ok?


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

What's on My Nightstand in May

Welcome to May, a few days late!  Ya'll where is the time going?  Things are crazy here (you can read about that on Friday) and time needs to slow down please!

Last month's reading about got the best of me.  I did manage to finish two books, but I am still reading Why Can't I Get My Kids to Behave?  I am determined though, because I love being able to recommend resources to new, struggling mommas out there.

Crenshaw- Good book, but I still liked Rain Reign better.  This one is not as emotional though and it is tucked into our travel bag for Colby to read during our move and transition time.  It is a fairly easy middle grade read and deals a lot with how kids handle stress by way of imaginary friends.

The Whole Town's Talking - I will tell you right off this is a rather odd book, but I really liked it.  It tells of many generations of families beginning with a man and woman who settle and start a town.  Each section goes through a generation basically and I loved seeing history evolve through their stories, from buying store buildings out of a catalog to the invention of the plane to wars.  It is sweet and sentimental, but does have a silly twist at the end that lends itself to new age stuff.  If you can just enjoy the humor and move on, you will enjoy it.

So what's next?

Here ya go-

I know, I know, there is only one.  I am trying to think ahead with this month of retirement and moving and not bite off more than I can chew.  I am not sure about this one yet, but I have and love Jennifer's Quilt series books so we will see about Enchantress by Numbers.

Actually, there is one more- Life in Community by Dustin Willis, but my daughter who is currently on the road has it in her possession.  Well, it is her book, after all.  But she highly recommends it so I am adding it to my pitiful stack.  She picked it up at the Together for the Gospel Ministry Conference and says we should all read it.

There ya have it!  I will need to pick up a book or two for June while we sit in an AirBNB waiting to find a house in Arizona, so if you have a book you love, share with us please!


Monday, May 7, 2018

May 34 Weeks of Clean Assignments

Wow, how is it that May is already here? 

Welcome back to 34 Weeks of Clean!  I hope you had a good week off.  Whether you got the week off or plowed through your house trying to catch up, I am glad you are back with us.  If you are new here, just pick up where we are and finish the first half later.

This month is actually one I think is fairly easy, so throw open your windows, enjoy the sun, and get busy taking your house back, one room at a time!

Remember- no matter how tempting, do not work ahead.  Once you are done for your week, just enjoy your work well done.  The next assignment will come soon enough, I promise.

Week 19- Bedrooms 1 & 2
Week 20- Bedrooms 3+
Week 21- The Hall Closet
Week 22- The Laundry/Mudroom

And is it worth it?  Let me share a few pictures of our kids' bedrooms to encourage you.  Now I know we do not have little ones in our house anymore, and these have been cleared a bit more than normal for staging to sell our house, but even my oldest son has commented on how much he likes a clear and clean room.

You can do it, friends!!


Menu Masterlist: Odds and Ends

Happy Monday!

So let me tell you why this is posting late.  Nothing like driving yourself crazy looking for the last list and not being able to find it, to then remember that you had worked ahead and actually already typed it up.

It's been that kind of week, folks!  And when all of your desk has been packed into a briefcase things get a little crazy.  More of the crazy talk on the blog on Friday! ;)


This is actually one of my favorite lists.  It does include breakfast foods which we try to do once a week.  It is just a fun break, my husband often cooks it, and it saves money.  Win, win, win!

I pray you have a blessed week!


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

YWAM for the Win- A Homeschool Review Crew Review

You know that you have found a winning series when your stack looks like this.

 Well, actually this is about half of our stack of YWAM books, the others have been already packed away for our upcoming move.  But since our whole family enjoys the Heroes of History and Christian Heroes: Then & Now series from YWAM Publishing, we jumped at the chance to review two new ones- Milton Hershey and Harriet Tubman.  

You do not have to be a homeschooler to enjoy these awesome books, but a bonus for those of us who are, is that you can also purchase the additional unit study/curriculum guides available for each.

YWAM Publishing prides itself on making solid Christian resources available to families.  Their Heroes of History and Christian Heroes books tell "exciting true stories of men and women who changed the world."  Notice the word TRUE?  That is what we love about these particular books.  We learn about the lives of amazing people in history through a story, but one that is true and not highly embellished. While written in story form, the authors work hard to stick to the facts.

Because all four of my kiddos are history buffs they are quite picky discerning about the biographies they read.  Though written at a upper middle school level and are recommended for ages 10 and up, all of our kids, ages 24 - 10 years old,  have enjoyed reading the YWAM books. There are even times we have read them as a family... this is not one of those times.  Like the last time these showed up in our mailbox, Colby, age 10, quickly grabbed the Milton Hershey book and read it in a few days and Salem, our 16 year old started the Harriet Tubman book soon after as he has been studying slave trade in his history.

So did you know-
  • Milton Hershey only had a 4th grade education.  (A fact my 5th grader tried to use against me!)
  • Milton Hershey actually started his business with caramel.
  • Milton had a contest to name his now famous town and the winning name was- Hersheykoko.  Eventually the postmaster rejected the name and Hershey settled for Hershey!
  •  When WW2 began the military ordered 1 billion chocolate bars from the Hershey Corporation. 
  • The Army  named a B-26 Bomber The City of Hershey.

  • Harriet Tubman threatened fellow slaves with a gun if they tried to turn back.
  • She suffered a severe head injury while helping a slave escape. 
  • Harriet Tubman herself was set on the underground railroad by a Quaker woman.
  • Harriet Tubman lived to be 93 years old. 
  • She made 19 trips south and freed over 300 people.

So let's chat about the unit studies for a second.

These downloadable guides for each book have separate sections for classroom, homeschool, and small groups that help the teacher or leader determine goals, the best course of study and other helpful hints.

The unit studies are then broken down into two parts.  The first has sections of quotes, chapter questions, ideas for student displays if you wish to do that type of project, and all types of extra project ideas.  Social Studies ideas and related themes are also discussed as well as a thorough additional resource list included.  An example of a project suggested for the Milton Hershey biography was to use modeling clay to depict your idea of an ideal town, similar to the one Mr. Hershey tried to establish with Hershey, PA.  If you were actually doing a unit study based on the book, I think a fun math project would be to graph the favorite Hershey candy bars of the people you know.  The ideas are limitless.

The second part of the unit study has a notebooking page of Hershey, maps of the area discussed, and a timeline- all of which are printable.  The same holds true for the study guides of the various books.

Because we use these books for free reading time, we tend to not dive too deeply into these unit studies, but I do often ask my youngest the suggested questions from random chapters to see if he is understanding what he is reading and for fun we fill out the notebooking pages to add to his book list.

Whether you're looking to enhance your current History lessons, complete a unit study, or just find a good biography to read to inspire you and your family, I highly recommend picking up one of YWAM's Christian Heroes or Heroes of Faith series.  

Christian Heroes, Heroes of History & Study Guides {YWAM Publishing  Reviews}
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