Thursday, August 4, 2016

Spring Soccer, 2016

Ben and Luke continue to play soccer. Ben plays primarily mid and Luke plays defense or back. I'm not too sure about the correct title of that position. In any case, I took my big camera with me to a couple of soccer games this Spring and happened to capture similar positions from the brothers. Maybe you can see the resemblance as well.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Prom, 2016

We're going to play catch-up for a while.

Prom 2016. It was a good one. It started with a text to me from Audrey saying that she may or may not be going to prom with Ryan. Okay. Well, since the decision seemed to be made by other friends during an honor band lunch, I suggested that she and Ryan might want to work things out themselves. A few days later Ryan formally asked her to prom with coffee and lattes and such. A dress was donned. A group was gathered. And prom was underway.

This year only a few girls came to the house to get ready. It was a blast as the girls put the final touches on each other. 

 The back of Audrey's hair. 

A rush to Ryan's house for flowers and pictures. It was a rainy day and outdoor pictures were postponed. Here are the girls all dressed up.

Uploading the pictures just now and this is the first I've really seen of the girls' corsages. They are really pretty. We have always gone with flowers from the Chicken Shed here in town. 

Audrey's poppy is darling but delicate. 

Audrey and her date, Ryan. 

Look here. Look at your mom. Everyone, look at me. Group pictures are a little chaotic. The behind the scenes picture is 8 sets of parents and siblings crowded into a small space. 

The night has hardly started and someone is already losing it.

I love these candid pictures I found. Ryan and Matt. (Let's briefly discuss how amazing some high school boys can turn out. Yup.)

And Sara and Audrey. Friends from birth. (Let's discuss our big feelings about lifelong friends. Again, yup.)

Pretty fitting that the group ends up at Burgie's coffee before supper.

Sneaking in this one since last year Bill got the good picture with her. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Bigger Last Time

Audrey is a senior and since graduation is essentially a month away we've begun the firsts of the lasts. Actually all year has been a series of little lasts. Last first day of school, last marching band, last pep band, last musical, last play, last something or other. but this afternoon a red-faced, watery-eyed daughter made her way upstairs because tonight was the last time her church small group would meet together for the school year and she would not be a part of it as a student after this. This was a bigger last time.

After some spectacular teenage feelings (they can be big at times) and a good sit on the back of her car listening to moody music, I beckoned her to come out to the garden and just be with me. Her dad was doing some extra special work for me and I was digging in a fair amount of compost and peat moss and really, there's nothing better to soothe one's feelings than a good dusting of garden soil and the ear splitting sound of a drill into metal. After that, she summoned the mental and emotional strength to play a little catch with her brothers (and then I had all the big feelings).

It's a bit hard to wrangle one's thoughts and feelings in the kind of days we are now walking. After getting on her reminding her about her laundry (Dear Lord, the laundry. Amen.) I pulled her aside for a few thoughts. 

I told her that this is what she had been working towards for the last seven years in youth group and small group and that God has been faithful in all these years. I borrowed from this morning's message of excitement, fear and gratitude and showed her that the same holds true for her. She is so excited for college and the next part of her life (journey, path, all the hip words). She is fearful. You don't show up for college knowing how to do college. I told her to be honest with the other girls in small group about this. Don't we all believe that somehow, if we could just get to this X marks the spot place, life would be smooth going and then we get there and there is still fear and still faith to step out on? Yup. So ask the girls to pray for her to be bold and courageous. And then there is gratitude. I didn't have to explain this aspect to her.

Then I shared from my recent readings in Matthew 8 and gave her three more words. Faith, obey and unbelief. These were my simplified thoughts of the stories in that chapter. Again, returning to faith- believe. The man with leprosy. The centurion with the sick servant. They had a lot to lose (fear) but their faith in Jesus saved them. Obey- Almost all of us usually want some perfectly scripted scenario played out before us in a vision, dream or text with cute emoji's but Jesus tells us to obey. Read the Word. Do what it says. There are so many questions teenage girls ask and want to know and want to know the will of God and pursue God and on and on (I love them bunches.) but, goodness, the answer is usually to obey. "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what is says." James 1:22. Finally, the opposite of faith and obedience is also true- unbelief. The last scene we are left with in Matthew 8 shows the townspeople driving Jesus away because their fear lead to them unbelief instead of faith. That can be true of us, as well.

Those things said, I gave her another encouraging, understanding hug and let her get her thoughts settled before leaving for small group. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Maple Cookies and Candied Bacon, Oh My!

Oh my! may have been your first words after seeing theses pictures. I totally get it. I do. 

Vanilla Chip Maple Cookies from Taste of Home. The first time I made these, I thought they were my favorite candy, maple nut goodies, but in cookie form. The link will take you to the recipe I use but here are a couple of tweaks that I think would elevate this cookie even more. Toast the pecans before adding them to the dough and on top. A toasted pecan is just a gift and would add a bite of crunch. The second tweak would be to add a bit of coffee to the frosting, a la Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls. 

The next one with the bacon? Well, friends, this is something worth trying. This is what I call Candied Bacon. I used this recipe. What is happening on the right side of the photo is this- I dipped the candied bacon into melted chocolate. Yes, yes I did. A bunch of us did and none of us are sad about it. (Jessica and I hosted a shower for Danny's bride, Morgan, and served chocolate fondue.) My only advice about the candied bacon is to watch it very carefully towards the end of its baking time otherwise there is a high possibility your neighbors will witness you flying out the front door with a smoking baking sheet in an attempt to keep the smoke alarms silenced.   

(Also, let's do a little tiny handclap because I figured out how to post pictures again!)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Boys, They've Been Racing

The racing season has started. If you're new here and wonder what racing season I'm talking about, its the IERA hare scramble series. We ride dirt bikes in this family and we like it.

Below I have posted both Ben's and Luke's latest races from Prophetstown, IL which was held in March. March. I can't even remember March anymore.

First off is Luke's race. He's going to be racing more this year. He's fitting the 65 bike better and has gained quite a bit of confidence in just a short amount of time. His race is much shorter than Ben's but more importantly, Ben helped him record a voice over for the entire video, which is about thirty minutes long. If you've watched any of Luke's other races, you know he is vocal during his rides. He talks, he sings, he makes motorcycle noise while on the motorcycle so thirty minutes of commentary is no problem for him. He would be thrilled if you would leave comments or likes on his video. Yours truly makes a vocal appearance as does the vacuum. It's just the sort of high quality you expect from top film makers who still live with their parents and have chores to do.  

Ben's race video, while not long in words is just longer, around an hour. Ben likes to sum his up as quickly as possible. Most notably for his race this time is that he got the hole shot* and rode the entire race up front with no traffic to pass. All is good until his rear brake fails and he discovers that his kick start is missing and that's it. The end. He didn't even finish. I'm telling you now just in case you don't want to spend an hour of your life watching trees whiz past you from a helmet's view. I should know. I've spent many an hour doing just such. The boys, particularly Ben, can spend hours watching the same race they just raced

To prompt you a bit more, Ben has extra stuff added to his video. They show the speed he's going and also the route. To do so requires him to ask for special permission to wear my Garmin watch which is now dirtier in two races than in the last two years and sync it to an app or something or other. I don't know. I discovered what it was that Ryan Dungey was using and told the boys. That's when the whole watch thing started. A bonus is that I might get a new running watch out of this. 

Bill is also racing but doesn't wear the GoPro. Instead you can use your imagination that he sits on a bigger bike and the view is higher up but the view is the same. 

As the race season continues, Ben will be uploading more of the races onto this YouTube channel. You'll get to see more of the race course than I do. 

*hole shot- to be the first rider past a designated hole, pole or other such thing 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Power of... Something

I cannot, for the life of me at the moment, figure out how to load pictures on this here blog o'mine from certain spots on my computer. I think it has to do with the fact that I'm playing hop scotch with where the pictures are located in which programs and how I've uploaded or downloaded them to begin with. It's a hot mess over here. It also has to do with the fact that several years ago I requested a Mac instead of upgrading my PC and I've never quite figured out the fastest way to go about the whole photo thing. To top it all off and from what I can gather, Blogger and Apple aren't simpatico and most bloggers switch to WordPress, which isn't free. Since I'm making zero pennies from this endeavor, Bill is less than eager to shell out more of his hard earned money. That is, unless we here, this gathered, albeit small, community raise our collective voice- 
"Do you hear the people sing? Singing a song of angry men. It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again!"
I believe in the power of a good broadway song.

This song or musical has nothing to do with my photo uploading skills but somehow I can embed a YouTube video. 

I present to you Do You Hear the People Sing? from Les Miserables

Let us hear your voice. What say you about, well, anything really? What musicals or songs pop into your head at random? I can't even begin to name all that come to mine.  

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Working on Work

Hey, there! Audrey happened to mention the other day that my last post was in 2015. Yes, I know. I know!! Can someone stop this crazy train so I can blog? No? Fine. Again, I make no promises or guarantees. I'm here now and being in the present, the here, the now is a big theme these days so let's just roll with it. (P.S. I really hate giving that little speech over and over again. This might be my last apology.)

Well, stuff has been happening over here. It turned into a whole new year a couple months ago, however before I catch you up with stories and pictures, I wanted to share my word of the year. My word for last year was engage. It always amazes me that a word pops into my head and heart and I can be reminded to look for it and seek it out throughout the entire year. I never had a face to face confrontation with a crazed waiting in line customer but I don't count that as a failure. I looked for it, prayed for it and God showed me engagement in friendships and relationships. 

This year the word that comes to mind is work. It could be that since Audrey is graduating and there will be a party here, I know that I will have to put some hustle into some projects. It could be that for me to get to the next level of running will require me to dig in and put some major work down. It could be that some outstanding projects from last year required me to buckle down and finish them up since many people were relying on me and to not finish them would be disastrous. But I think, more deeply, the reason for the word work is that I constantly find both in people and in myself the strong draw of the easy, quick fix, minimal work solution. It is what I want in pretty much every situation. 

Don't you? I mean, there are lists of life hacks and quick fixes and lists of 2-5 ingredient recipes and 24.37 days of the best moves for the awesomest abs and for dropping twenty pounds and six phone apps for being the best Christian ever. I've seen, read, torn out of magazines and downloaded them. Don't get me wrong. There's (mostly) nothing wrong with them but what it boils down to in the end, when all the shiny newness has worn off is work. You still have to do. 

That's just a macro-look at things but there are so many smaller choices I make that are really just lazy. I'm asking the Lord to show me where I need to choose work over avoidance. Since I like to swallow things whole, I tend to take on the whole universe and try to champion it and in return feel overwhelmed and then run even further away. I don't really have a plan for that other than to recognize that that is my tendency and then to start chipping away at the pieces right in front of me.  

I am in constant progress but I am not dissatisfied with who I am and want a whole new me. From time to time, I am swayed from that truth and then am easily suckered into looking for the new trick to get me right again. My confidence, hope and salvation are found only in Christ and His saving work. This is the "anchor for my soul". From there, I work.   

"Sheesh", you say, "So deep." Well, I have had a couple months already to think about it and look for it. This might be the first and last time you hear about my word of the year but just know, I'm working on work.