Sixty One

That is the number of people that came to my house last week for our weekly moms group. It was larger than normal because it was our last big hoorah before school started up again.

Forty six of those present were children. Roughly we had 7 teenagers (13-16 years old),  16 middle kids (those between the ages of 6 through 12), and 22 littles (those ages 5 and under).

I live in a community that loves children. I go to one of the very few churches in our area that is family integrated…meaning we encourage fathers and mothers to keep their children with them during our service so that the family is worshipping together.

I live in a world where children matter. Where children are loved and considered a blessing.

But that world exists within a larger world where children aren’t considered a blessing…where they aren’t loved…where they don’t matter because they are inconvenient and a burden or a mistake. Statistically, it’s a world where one in three women will have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old.

I realize if you read my blog on any kind of regular basis that more then likely any information I share about the horror of abortion is like preaching to the choir.  So, why am I bringing it up? I’m glad you asked!

I want your money.

Actually I want you to give your money to the Pregnancy Resource Center of Milton. The PRC opened it’s doors in 1995 and since then have provided thousands of women with free pregnancy testing, prenatal and parenting classes, Biblical counseling, as well as meeting countless tangible material needs. They provide post abortion counseling for women that desperately need healing emotionally and spiritually and they currently reach over 2000 Santa Rosa county public school students with their Plan A abstinence program. I’ve watched this happen in person and I’ve seen how the staff and volunteers at PRC invest themselves wholeheartedly in the woman and men that come through their doors. They become friends and mentors and vital support for those who feel like they have no where else to turn.

But they need help. There is more they can do and do better if they have more resources. Do you know that it is estimated that 78% of women who are opting for an abortion will change their mind when they see an ultrasound of their baby? Imagine what that could mean for Santa Rosa county if PRC were able to have one with medical personnel on staff to give that option to their clients? And that’s not the only way more funds could be used.

Walk For Life is a family friendly event designed to raise funds for and awareness of the work PRC does in our community. Here’s how it works. Our kids are signed up to join other participants in walking two miles on Saturday, September 27th at the Santa Rosa Soccer Complex. We’re looking for people willing to sponsor them either in by making a pledge (PRC will follow up with getting the money from you after the walk) or you can go here and make an online donation to team Hadding Five. Online donations are great because that means you don’t have to be local to help us! We’re also happy to accept donations in person. 100% of your donation will go directly to PRC. Our family has a very modest goal of $250 and I’d love to see that number go higher 🙂

If you are local I strongly encourage you to sign up and become a walker and gather your own sponsors. The process is super easy. Sign up as a family or parents sign up your kids or create a team with friends. We all have grandparents, aunts & uncles, and friends that we can ask to give…even if it’s just a few dollars. The good news is that you don’t have to raise all the money. But when the money you do raise is added to the money we raise and it’s added to the money that someone else has raised it becomes something bigger. Plus, the day of the walk is going to be lots of fun with bouncy houses, face painting and snacks.

I mentioned earlier earlier that I live in a community where children are considered a blessing. It’s easy sometimes to think that while we do the hard labor of raising godly offspring that will declare His kingship over all the earth that we’re doing enough. But if we really believe that children, all children, are a blessing from God, and if we really believe that children, all children, matter then we must realize that there is more we can do. This is the something more. This is a way to put feet to our faith.

We’re Back In School!

While most kids have already been back in school for a week or so now we just went back yesterday.

For orientation and that only lasts for three hours. 
And now we have a long weekend and don’t go back until Tuesday.
Have I mentioned how much I love our school?
It was fun to see all of our friends that we’ve missed over summer break and meet new teachers and catch up with the ones that are more like extended family than anything else.
I took the annual first day of school picture but I won’t share it with you because Sam is…well, almost a blur he was so excited.
So excited that he was up at 4:15. He managed to stay in his bed until 5:30 when I let him go ahead and take a shower. 
And loud! The boy is so loud. And for some reason right now he is constantly doing his version of the seagull singing in The Little Mermaid. Loudly.
He has also fully entered the logic stage of the trivium and how that looks with an autistic teenage boy is hilarious and gross.
How ridiculous is it that I will not show you a blurry picture but will post one of our dirty white board? I clearly have issues. But in my defense, it wasn’t a full day of actual class so technically their real first day is on Tuesday. That’s my story and I am sticking to it!
It was weird getting the kids ready without Sarah but she slept in. Or tried to with a pillow over her head to block out the horrible but spot on imitation of Buddy Hackett that Sam was performing in his room. He will have an interesting year of Greek mythology and some Shakespeare, Homer, Lewis and Bunyan to name a few.
The girls all had a wonderful day and are all set to enjoy the upcoming year. Claire (2nd grade) will be reading, among other things, Little House on the Prairie and that means having fun on Prairie Day. Abby (6th grade) will be studying American History from 1815 to present day. She’ll go on a cotton picking field trip and rustle up a heehawwing good time on Cowboy Day.  Emily (9th grade) will be reading Shelley’s Frankenstein and  Rousseau’s Social Contract along with work by Austen, Twain, and Hawthorne.
I will miss the kids a bunch but I am looking forward to a little more structure and routine. I think we all do better with that in our lives, don’t you?

So Fast

Can you believe this lovely child wears a ladies size nine and a half sneaker? I couldn’t either except that we just bought new school shoes and sure enough that’s the size we had to buy.
It happens at the end of every summer. Even though I am with them day in and day out, watching them and feeding them, I am still surprised by how much they’ve grown in these barefootin’, sunscreening, beach going, pool swimming summer days. It catches me off guard every single time.
And it reminds me that I only have them for a little while. That the goal and purpose is to raise strong and steady warriors, arrows that we launch into the world to go further and do more damage to the enemy in the name of Christ than we have.
Sometimes the responsibility feels too heavy. But I’ve learned to accept that weight…it’s good. It reminds me that I cannot do this apart from His grace. And in His graciousness He lets Claire announces that we’re out of toilet powder (Comet cleanser) when she’s cleaning the bathroom or Abby gives me that sweet precious smile and both of those things make the weight somehow a little easier to bear…a little lighter.
He is indeed gracious and kind and considers our frame.

Test Kitchen # 66 ~ The It’s So Easy I am Almost Embarrassed to Share It Edition

Seriously, this could not be any easier to do but when my friend first shared this little secret treat I was amazed. Since then I’ve not shared it with anyone who wasn’t also impressed with the quickie treat. It’s the little things and attention to detail that make things stand out and this stands out.

fresh, fruit, raspberries, chocolate chips
What you’ll need:
raspberries
chocolate chips
What you’ll do:
Stuff a chocolate chip inside the raspberry.
chocolate chip, fresh fruit, raspberry

See?

Ridiculously simple but takes the yummy factor up a notch or two and looks a little more fancy than just a regular bowl of raspberries. You can use either white or regular chocolate chips too.

chocolate chip, fresh fruit, raspberry, raspberries

Titus 2 Tuesday   Tuesday’s Table

What Are You Carrying Around?

Let’s play a game!

It’s called the “What’s In Your Purse?” game. (Bonus points if you read that question in a Samuel Jackson what’s-in-you-wallet voice.)

Here’s how you play. Find a table suitable for the size purse you carry and dump everything out of your purse onto said table top. I had to use the dining room table, y’all.

stuff in my purse, trash, receipts

Seriously, it was ridiculous the things I had in there.

I had noticed my purse gradually getting heavier and heavier but I just didn’t stop long enough to tend the gathering mass of stuff.  So I ended up with four old grocery lists (all on 4×6 note cards…I love using index cards for lists!), a thank you card a friend gave me after shooting some maternity pictures for her ~ ahem, back in April, a postcard from a field trip I took with Abby and one from The Art of Brick exhibit that I saw with Sam ~ both in May. And store receipts! My goodness, I must have had a dozens. Not to mention my regular wallet, change purse and various other odds and ends you can see here.

Six water bottle lids. Six! I like drinking bottled water and any time I get in the van I usually take one with

me. And when I open them I usually just toss the lid into the change holder thingie. Where they were bound to fall out and end up on the floor of the van. Something which my love’s soul doth hate. So I got in the habit of not actually throwing them away but periodically putting them in my purse so that he wouldn’t find them and be bothered by them.

Most of this stuff had already served it’s purpose and I didn’t need it anymore. But there I was lugging it around and while on their own none of it was really heavy or bulky, it all hindered me from easily finding the things I really needed and I was surprised by how much lighter my purse was when I cleaned it out.

Cleaning out all the junk and clutter and I couldn’t help but wonder at the junk and clutter we carry around in our hearts and minds. How many lists do you have in your head? The list of things you regret or wish you’d done? Possibly a list of all the things you have to do because you delight in letting everyone know how very busy you are. Or maybe a list of offenses, things you are keeping filed away against someone.

Maybe you have a couple of postcards of happy things in your life…not so bad unless you are living in the past, constantly comparing the now to the then and reminding yourself of all that you used to have. Maybe the thank you cards are your way of boosting your ego and you are forever pulling them out to prove to yourself that you are important and needed.

Do you have any receipts tucked up in that heart of yours? A running tally perhaps for your husband and children of  all the ways they owe you? Is there one for your co workers and friends that is always at your finger tips, ready to be pulled out and gone over so they know just exactly how much you’ve done for them?

Do you have a bunch of bottle lids rolling around in your heart and mind? Little things that annoy and bother others that you just won’t really stop doing but try to limit how much they annoy and bother someone. Your little sins that you try and cover up with the dried up container of mascara that doesn’t really work anymore.

Our hearts and minds can get cluttered up pretty quickly and that can keep us from serving others as quickly and fully as we possibly could.

So what are you carrying around? Maybe it’s time to dump it all out and get rid of somethings you’ve been thinking and dwelling on.

You’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel.

Tim and Chrisann

One of the hardest things for a photographer who wants to share their work is choosing which images to post. Especially when there are so many good ones to choose from which is certainly the case with Tim and Chrisann’s engagement pictures. They are both photogenic but it really is the way their happiness and delight with each other just shines through every image that makes narrowing them down difficult. 

Except this one. This one is easy to share so that we can collectively enjoy the awesomeness that is Chrisann’s hair. Gorgeousness. 
Pensacola photography, engagement pictures Pensacola Beach
We started our time together in Gulf Breeze on a giant sand cliff and then moved on to Ft. Pickens. I ended up with way more images than I normally deliver and if the light had lasted longer probably would have ended up with even more. Here are a few of my favorites in no particular order.
couple photography, engagement pictures, Pensacola Beach portraits

couple photography, engagement pictures, Pensacola Beach portraits

couple photography, engagement pictures, Pensacola Beach portraits

couple photography, engagement pictures, Pensacola Beach portraits

couple photography, engagement pictures, Pensacola Beach portraits

couple photography, engagement pictures, Pensacola Beach portraits

couple photography, engagement pictures, Pensacola Beach portraits

couple photography, engagement pictures, Pensacola Beach portraits

couple photography, engagement pictures, Pensacola Beach portraits

My goodness I just love this one.

couple photography, engagement pictures, Pensacola Beach portraits
couple photography, engagement pictures, Pensacola Beach portraits
 
Tim and Chrisann, may the Lord continue to pour out His generous blessing upon the two of you as your love for each other declares His goodness and faithfulness. May He bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you.

Pinterest Test Kitchen # 65 ~ An Apple A Day

Right now is the beginning of my favorite time of year. Like the very first threads of light dawning across the sky herald a new day, the kids getting ready to go back to school announce the coming of Autumn. 

I start to feel a sense of anticipation and I can almost feel a crispness in the air. I day dream about opening my windows and seeing the leaves start changing colors. I love the feel of fall…the smells and colors. Just love it.
Of course this also means that we are smack in the middle of getting ready to start school. I love the school my kids attend but I sure will miss having them home with me. It’s still a little new to me not having kids home during the day. When Sam started last year after being homeschooled the longest it was the first time in eighteen years I didn’t a child with me.  With my sudden childless state last year I found myself being a little indiscriminate with my time, and coupled with Sarah being a senior, found myself a little over extended. This year I am committed to being more productive and purposeful with my time. I’d rather do less and do it well than do a lot and feel utterly frazzled so that it all suffers.
One thing I want to do this year is be more intentional in showing my appreciation and care for the teachers of our school as a whole, and of course my kid’s teachers specifically. To that end I found a nifty little welcome back treat on pinterest to make as they began their teacher training.
welcome back teacher gifts
These little guys weren’t hard to make…just labor intensive and a little pricey if you are making a bunch. Thankfully, a friend and I did it together to offset the cost. I used a variety of apples since my grocery store didn’t have enough granny smiths.  
I don’t have a recipe per se for these but they are pretty self explanatory.  I tried a few different recipes for homemade caramel sauce before I just settled in unwrapping several bags of Kraft’s caramels and melted them with some heavy whipping cream. (You can find the recipe here.)
However because I love food photography and the light in my kitchen is fabulous I do have lots of pictures 🙂
caramels, candy, homemade caramel sauce
homemade kraft caramel sauce
We used the cute little four ounce canning jars…just the right amount for generous single servings. And may I just say that I think raffia ribbon is a pseudonym for hair of the devil? It sure adds a nice touch but man is it a pain to work with!
They bagged up nice though and I was pleased with how they looked. This would make a great back to school gift your child’s teacher or even the whole class.
apples with caramel dipping sauce
 
Whether or not you make this or something else, I hope you take the time this year to let your child’s teacher know how much you appreciate them and the work they do.

I Live In A Beautiful Place

I really do. The beach is less than an hour away and it just doesn’t get much better than that around here.
I also have some really wonderful friends in my life that I am so grateful for. A couple of months back those two things came together for a lovely afternoon. I shared some of the pictures on facebook but had a few more that I just loved.

The kids just have such a good time.

Sam loves the beach and he will come up with some of the funniest sand creatures.

Pensacola Beach

On the sound side you can see a lovely sunset and then turn around to look over the gulf and see a beautiful moon rise.

See? A truly beautiful place.

Photo Story Friday     1440