End of the Year Celebration

I know, I know…technically it is not the end of the year.  But given what we do with college ministry, our lives are measured in semesters.  So, for us, it is the end of the year, the school year that is.

Our team got together the end of last week for our spring planning.  During spring planning, we talk about successes/praises/wins for the semester and we talk about improves/things that didn’t go well.  We talk about we were are at our current campuses and dream about where we want to be next year at this time.  We look at our prayer goals for this semester to see where we landed and we put prayer goals on paper that we will trust the Lord with for this next semester.  We also talk about focuses for the fall, schools we want to go after, and what the first two weeks of campuses will look like.

It was super encouraging looking at how the Lord has grown our ministry this past year – changed lives, increased numbers, answered prayers, and spiritual growth.  Just to give you a taste through the numbers (though I know numbers aren’t everything and aren’t always healthy indicators) – We went from 30 students at Fall Retreat to 62, 10 students at Encounter to 24, we went from 1 student at Nations Conference to 10, 1 student on a stateside project to 10, 0 short-term international laborers to 2, 15 decisions to trust Christ to 17, we went from 11 leaders to 25, 5 movements on campuses to 8, 16 engaged disciples to 38, 1 volunteer to 13, and 80 students involved in movements to 150.  Praise the Lord for blessing our ministry – only through his grace and Him working does any of this happen!

And look at this cool visual – the first pic is a map of all the campuses we have been entrusted with to reach in Eastern NC (all the little tags – about 35 campuses), the second picture is showing everywhere we currently have movements as well as statistics about each (the bottom left is UNCP where we currently have 3 ministries and are looking at launching 2 more!).

Then, after all the planning, was celebration time!  We headed down to North Myrtle Beach and spent a few days at this gorgeous beachfront condo relaxing with our team and celebrating how the Lord has moved (and trying not to think about being apart all summer or all that we have to do to get ready to leave for NYC).  The part three years that we have done this, we have had bad beach weather – either rainy, cold, or both – so this year the weather was beautiful and we soaked it up.

We love our team, we love our family, and we love the beach, so this was a win, win, win!!  Now we are home and busy tying up loose ends with campus, attending end of the year celebrations on campus, planning and getting things in place for the fall, meeting with current and potential ministry partners, evaluating new staff applicants, and planning for NYC summer project.

Easter and Wedding Festivities

While this past weekend was Easter, it looked way different for us than it normally does.  No visiting family or family visiting us, no big home-cooked meal, no Easter dresses and attending Sunday church, no Sunday afternoon egg hunts.  Why, you may ask?  Because my cousin went to the chapel and got himself married!  Here is a picture of the sweet bride and groom to be at their rehearsal dinner.  And one of Kinsley with my mom (we did get one of her looking at the camera but I love this picture and the way she is gazing so lovingly up at her).  And one of the gift they gave Kinsley for being in the wedding (so, so, so cute and such a perfect present for her!)

Growing up, Craig was one of the cousins I was the closest to as he is only a few weeks older than I am.  I remember summer after summer spending weeks with him and his family and vice versa.  Needless to say, I am so excited to now have Janie in our family as well.  She has fit perfectly since the get go and glad to finally see them make it “official”.

Kinsley was a flower girl in the wedding and did a fantastic job!  I wasn’t too worried about her making it down the aisle as she loved her dress and she is all about weddings.  I don’t like to bribe my kids but desperate times call for desperate measures.  So, it didn’t hurt that we were bribing her with Disney’s Frozen shoes to make it down the aisle (which, come to find out, are not as easy to find as you would think….we could only find them on Amazon and Ebay and light up Elsa shoes were $45 and Anna shoes were $18…I will let you guess which ones we bought!)  I didn’t know whether she would be able to stand up front the whole time but she sure did.  Other than lots of moving around, trying to steal the little ringbearer’s pillow, complaining that she was cold, a little humming, trying to take the matron of honor’s flowers, telling the matron of honor that she was getting Frozen shoes, and jumping up and down quietly saying that she needed to go potty and she wanted Gammy to take her, she did great.  Seriously, what more can you expect from a 4 year old?

Her favorite part by far was not the walking down the aisle or eating the cake and candy, but the dancing.  Yes, my child is born to be a dancer.  She danced to EVERY song even if no one else was on the dance floor and even if the song was one intended for couples.  Seriously. Every. Song.  And when she saw the cameraman taking pictures of her…she turned it on even more.  Emerson pretty much was right along side her dancing too.  They were adorable and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  Here are some pictures from the wedding:

In the midst of this crazy weekend and little sleep, Easter was spent in the car on the way home Sunday morning (and then with our church family for a picnic that evening).  I was reflecting on the resurrection of Christ with Ed on the way home Sunday and started to beat myself up a little that we hadn’t talked much that weekend with the girls about the true meaning of Easter (though we have talked about it in the last few weeks).  When I asked Kinsley something to the effect of “What happens on Easter?”, she replied “Jesus is alive.”  Thank you Lord for the way you are working on the heart of my child even despite the fact that I am weak, a sinner, and forget to tell her all the right things.  Thank you for reminding me that it isn’t about me and that you are the one who changes hearts and reminds us the reason for Easter!

And this is how you wear your kids out during the day when it is raining outside. Send them to the hotel’s gym!

We pray you had a great Easter reflecting on the death and resurrection of Christ and that HE IS ALIVE!!!



Spring has Sprung!

Now that the weather is getting warmer, I have been doing all kinds of fun things with the girls.

We visited something called “Farm Days” that NC State hosts where you see and pet all kinds of farm animals and get ice cream, we took a gymnastics class with our church friends (we opted to take a good friend of Kinsley’s who is 4 and to leave Emerson behind because she is so young), we went to an Easter egg hunt our town hosted for kids, learning with our resurrection eggs, lots of play time with our neighbors,

and we have been to the park and Chick-fil-A lots.  But I guess you will have to take my word for it, because I keep forgetting to take pictures!  I need to get better at this, but I have also been one to opt for living in the moment rather than behind the lens of the camera.  And without a smartphone, remembering and lugging a camera around is a lot of work!

But, I did get these pictures – Ed loves keeping our cars clean and this time, someone else wanted to help.  Yep, she LOVED the water and getting sprayed.  Love this kid.

One of the fun things I did recently was run in a 5K race.  I was supposed to run with a good friend of mine, but the night before/morning of the race, she came down with the stomach bug.  What a bummer!  So, we loaded up the family and went to the race together.  Kinsley brought her cheerleading pom-poms to cheer me on, and Ed brought lots of snacks to keep them occupied 🙂

I had no intentions of actually placing in the race, but only to make it through.  I was so exhausted through the race and when it was over, I kept beating myself up that I was so worn out because I had run 3.1 miles lots and knew it shouldn’t be a challenge for me.  However, when I looked at my time, I realized I ran a whole minute more per mile faster than I had been running.  I saw this and thought “No wonder I am exhausted and worn out!”  I even placed eighth in my age group (this may not be a big deal but from the girl who just wanted to survive, it was!).  I love running and really enjoyed the race and am praying that my knee (I have a bad knee and am not supposed to be running at all) will hold up for it to continue.  Not only has it been refreshing and challenging, but it has even helped with weight loss!  Here is a pic of me crossing the finish line.

I have tried lots of fun recipes this month and done a few DIY crafts, so I am looking forward to sharing them with you in the next post!  Hope you are enjoying the warm weather as much as we are!!


Chore Charting

Way back when, before I had kids, I would take one day a week or so and clean the house.  Every room, every floor, every surface, etc.  I loved the smell and feel of a house that was completely ceiling-to-floor clean.  But with each kid that got added, the harder this became to do.  Find 4 hours to clean the entire house?  Yea right.  And the mess didn’t decrease…in fact, it increased.

So, a few years ago, my Type A self decided to figure out a more manageable way to keep my house clean.  Especially since I love a clean house.  Enter Money Saving Mom (I know, I know…I reference this site a whole ton!).  She had a binder that she uses to keep her home organized.  Now that is a little much, even for me.  But one of the things that she does have in that huge binder is a chore chart that tells her what to clean when and helps her do a little each day.  She posted a code that her readers could use to get a discounted price on this downloadable chore chart from Motivated Moms.

So, I bit the bullet, paid the money (I think it was only like $5 at the time, which to me was worth the gamble), and downloaded it.  Not only did I like it, I LOVED it!  Now those of you close to me have probably heard me rant and rave about it, and if so, please feel free to close your browser, but for those who haven’t, tune in and let me share with you the reasons for how it moved me from the “love the whole house clean at one time” person I was to the “love doing daily cleaning” person I now am.  See the sample below for a visual.

1.  I love that it keeps my house feeling clean and that if I am having company or have an unexpected guest pop by, my house isn’t filthy and I don’t have to have a day scrubfest to get it clean.

Case in point, when we moved Kinsley’s birthday party from the park to our house the morning of her party (not to mention we had church that morning and had maybe 2 hours before people arrived to do everything to get it all ready), I didn’t stress because I knew the house was clean except for just sweeping the floor and picking up toys.  Without following this chart, I would have been a frantic mess trying to get everything clean!

2.  I love that is lists spring cleaning tasks and things I always forget to do.  Vacuum out the car, change the air filters, refill the soap dispensers, change the kitchen and bathroom towels often – oh how I slacked on these things before because they are things you always forget about doing until it is nasty or they are well past due.  With this, I never have to wonder how long that goldfish has been sitting on the floorboard of my car or how many months ago I changed the air filters.

3.  I love that it goes heavy on the weekdays and then is very light on the weekends.  Seriously, who doesn’t love having weekends off?  And that means off from cleaning the house too.  While there are a few tasks and routine things to be done on the weekends, it is really light and allows me to spend time with my family instead of in the shower cleaning it.

4.  I love that it is so flexible.  While I am Type A and love lists, this chore to-do chart is so flexible.  If I have a busier than normal day or am traveling for something related to ministry, I can move chores around to best fit and am still sure that everything gets done.  So for those of you who feel stifled by having a certain day above it, don’t!

5.  I love that I feel like I am accomplishing something.  In the monotony of motherhood and the demands of children, other to-do lists may sit forever.  For me, even if all I do all day is tend to my family and check out these 5 things, I can still feel as though I am doing something good.

6.  I love that others can help.  When my mom was here after Emerson was born, she could easily chip in to help me clean by following the chart and not have to feel as though she was scrubbing toilets the whole time.  And Ed, my sweet servant-hearted husband, does a great job of helping me get things done, especially when I may be gone all day and he is home – and lets be honest, who doesn’t love a honey to-do list already written out instead of having to write it out for them every time?

So, if you are looking for a system to keep your house clean, try it.  The worst that can happen is that you don’t like it – you can tell me just that and my feelings won’t be hurt.  The best is that it works for you and helps you to juggle the many responsibilities you have!

12 Months to a Healthier You: April’s Challenge

As I shared here, I am joining Crystal from Money Saving Mom for this 12 Months to a Healthier You Challenge.  At the beginning of the month, she’ll introduce the focus area and encourage you to set a small goal for that specific area and she’ll share her goals.  Then, every Friday, she’ll have a check-in post where she’ll encourage you to share your progress & struggles and she’ll share hers, as well. If you want to blog about your progress, she’ll include a link-up at the end of the post so you can share your blog posts on this challenge.

The challenge for January was to exercise regularly by getting active 5 days a week.  I have kept this up through March so yeah for that!  The February challenge was to eat more fruits and veggies.  The March challenge was to drink more water by drinking at least 8 glasses of water per day.  How did I do?

I hit this goal on most days in March.  Lets be honest, this one wasn’t that hard for me.  I drink water for every meal and in between most times anyways, so this goal just required me to be a little more diligent to make sure I was getting what I needed.  It did cause me to think about it more though, which was great.  This month’s challenge, though, will be way harder for me.  Like even harder than eating more fruits and veggies.

The goal for April is to cut back on sugar.  Ugh, I love my sugar…lets be real.  But I am in this for good or bad, and lets be honest, it is good for me and my weight loss goals to cut back.  So, that being said, I intend to only have something sweet once a week and also think more about cutting back on things I eat that contain lots of sugar (think trail mix, cinnamon crunch bagels, and packaged foods).  So, lets do this thing!