A Little Dab'll Do Ya...

Two things make this little text blog-worthy. One is that Heather Hanks should go into the 2 year old Sunday School teacher hall of awesomeness.  As much as I'm ready for Tess to potty train and move on to the 3 year old hall where she belongs, I will miss the encouraging notes I get from Heather about my girls Sunday morning. 

The second is the fact that I dabbed a little 'perfume' on my little lady as I was getting her ready for church- and don't ya know Tess the mess wasn't such a mess today!  Props to dōTERRA Wild Orange oil! 

and then... a little PS...  I got THIS one from one of Ty's teachers...  (and yes, I oil'd him too...) These people and these oils have blessed my morning! 


Firsts: First Grade and a First Born

Just like that, first AND second days of school have come and gone and I have yet to show the world my adorable and brilliant 1st grader on her first day.  Here we go now, ye shall wait no longer...

The staff at GCA will never possibly know how BLESSED we feel to be able to send her there each day.  This morning at dropoff it made my heart swell with gratitude to see a row of godly men lining the drop-off line, waving and smiling to welcome our kids to a new day.  Thankful to them for choosing to be part of a place where they would spend their next several hours (along with all of the other teachers busy inside their classrooms already) discipling and investing Jesus in them all in the same time they're investing in their education.  (I HAVE to add in here that she started CURSIVE on the FIRST DAY of 1st grade.  I geeked out a little about that one.  It was the lowercase e.  Which is doubly cool since there are three of those in her name.)  We are SO GRATEFUL for our school!

(a little timeline here... first days of Pre-K and Kindergarten.  It's such a gift to watch her grow...)

And on a completely different note, my new baby niece finally made her Facebook debut, which means I can finally show her off in my world too...

Truly there's never been a sweeter baby named Hadley Brooke brought in to this world!  Weighing in at a whopping 8 lbs and 22 inches long, she is the first born to my sister and her husband, and the 9th born Grandbaby to my Mom and late Dad.  In the words of her cousin Peyton... 'she gots WOTS a cussins'  (you got that, right?  say it JUST like it's spelled and you can get a hint of how adorable it was when she said it...)
There they are... Ages 8, almost 7, almost 6, 4, 4, 3, 1, 1, and 0.  And I'm just gonna keep it real here for a second...  9 kids under the age of 8 is sheer insanity.  Every time they're together.  It's. Just. Loud.  But it's LOTS of lovin' and sweetness too!  And we are taking suggestions for creative Christmas celebration options/venues.

Time to get my weekend on... 5 days to Hawaii, folks! 


It's Official- I'm a Songwriter.

It just came to me.  Like a sort of epiphany.  We walked in from the grocery today and it was nap time. The kids had beaten me in the house and were living it up in my living room.  That's when it hit me... so I sang.

'all my wag'ner babies, all my wag'ner babies... all my wag'ner babies, all my wag'ner babies...
get up to your rooms, let's head on up, get up those stairs right now.'

{begin cries, whines, and pleads for re-consideration. re-sing first part of song. at least i get a laugh out of Reese}

'if you're whinin' then i'm gonna put a spank on it, if you're whinin' then I'm gonna put a spank on it.  don't wanna hear it, i'll just have to put a spank on ya- whoa--oa-oa... oa-oa-oa... whoa-oa-oa... oa-oa-oa'

And just in case you need a visual... I have to imagine it all looked something like this.  Minus the leotards.  

(you may have to copy and paste the link to view it... but it's totally worth it, trust me.)


Busy-ness: you're fired.

Facebook is wearing me out.  I'm finding that, 'when my heart is overwhelmed...' not only do I need to be led to the Rock that is higher than I am, but I probably need to stop letting my brain be overcrowded with all of the shenanigans that is making up my newsfeed.  When that little red number pops up on the screen of my phone, it seems to intrude itself right onto my to-do list... completely uninvited.  Gotta figure out how to turn those notifications off...  start bossing my phone around instead of it being the boss of me.  

Gotta get back to the things I love.  Painting.  Man I haven't painted a picture or a piece of furniture in FOREVER.  And dedicated time with the love of my life and my sweet babies... Reese got the whole American Girl Samantha book collection for Christmas.  I can't wait to watch her dig into that now that she's starting first grade.  Samantha was my favorite when I was a girl...  probably because she was so close to her grandmother.  I'm still very close to my grandmother.  We had a great week when I stayed at her house with my kids last week...

With school starting back this week, I'm so burdened about being intentional to rule my schedule with things that matter this semester, instead of letting our schedule rule me.  I don't know how many of you find yourself feeling like this- but it seems as though I wake up with ridculous expectations for myself and for my day, and they're not just ruling my time, they're ruling my heart... ruling my mood and my emotions.  And here lately I look around at this AMAZING family God has blessed me with and... I feel like I'm easily grouchy, treating them at times like they're imposing instead of brightening my life like the jewels that they are... and I just want more of them.

I feel like I got it right today.  Wake up, eat breakfast, put cute clothes on my cute kids, and go BOWLING.  Celebrate their strikes thanks to bumpers and those awesome ramps that Ty and Tessa bowl with.  Target run for new arm-floaties, because IT'S STILL SUMMER and my boy loves to swim.  PB and J for lunch, and a momentarily quiet house while they nap.  Then thoughts race through my mind of a woman on the other side of the world who is desperately trying to protect her babies from those that want them all dead because of their faith.  And I'm humbled and I pray for her and I'm overwhelmed with the thought of how good life is today.  And I'm so grateful for it.

As far as 'summer' goes, I'm glad to see the busy-ness winding down.  The Lord has given me a lot of grace just as He's allowed a lot to be put on my plate over the past 3-4 months.  Between losing my dad, (I mean can we just get real for a second and ask HOW in the world he's already been gone nearly 3 months?!?) two camps, two mission trips, the amazing-ness that is VBS, baby-showering and baby-welcoming a new niece, all while still juggling work responsibilities and being wife and mama, my head has been spinning for weeks now...  The Lord has been so faithful to keep me in perfect peace throughout every step of it, when I've kept my mind on Him, but I think I'm ready for my mind to be allowed a little more of the being still for a bit!

So here I go.  Granting myself, (and you if you need it- ha) permission to close the book on and reject busy-ness at a time when it should seem like the opposite would be occurring.  Permission to embrace a new school year instead of dreading it.  Busy-ness is a state of mind.  I want to choose to be present instead... with the grace of God, I wanna drink in each opportunity that's put in front of me.


#CrossCampID2014 - Passing the Torch

In the eleven years I've been out to Camp Linden now, we've had some pretty great weeks of CrossCamp, but this week held a pretty special uniqueness to it.  The 'passing of a torch' in a sense from Pastor Eric to the (almost) Pastor Mark.

TSC, let me tell you that I've watched Pastor Eric, with the utmost grace and maturity, love kids and be present in their lives this week, while at the same time totally promote Mark and encourage kids to love him and be engaged with him this week in light of his upcoming role.  And I've watched "coach montgomery" (as so many of these kids have known him) step into it effortlessly. It has just been seamless and exciting to see. 

This weeks theme has been all about teaching these kids to know that their identity lies in Christ.  I don't know about you, but if you ask me who I am, I'm gonna tell you I'm a wife, mom, piano teacher, photographer, and 'hippie oil' seller... ;)  Pastor Eric's 'ID' for the past four years has been 'children's pastor' at TSC.  Don't get me wrong, there's no question that he knows WHO his identity lies in...  but anyone could agree it's gotta be an emotional and bittersweet thing to be handing over your job to someone else.
Things that are growing are always changing. (I mean, if you've ever watched me in 9 months of growing a Wagoner baby, you can definitely agree!)  ;)  I think in lots of settings a competitive vibe could easily show it's face and tension can arise when a change like this is taking place. I absolutely respect and admire the hearts I've seen in both of these men this week.  Mark respecting who Eric has been, and Eric respecting, encouraging, and believing in who Mark will be.  Their unity has brought about such a sweet, sweet spirit. It's very apparent that they know who their "ID's" lie in.  What an astounding example they've been to our kids.

So since we can't all come to camp, I thought I'd do my best to make sure the friendship, grace, unity, and excitement your kids have seen this week was hopefully somehow communicated in a small way back to you and had a chance of making an impact on the hearts of their parents too.  Get excited with them!  It's been a GREAT week!!!


Georgia On My Mind

Step back a couple days to Monday June 24.  I'm sitting in the airport composing a blog, eager with excitement...  Here's how it started.

"Flashback October 2008....

...first time i left my kid behind for a "trip" overseas.  (I say 'kid' because she was the only one I had at the time... funny to think about that, because I can't even remember what that was like anymore...)  In this picture I was just seeing her again for the first time in a couple weeks.  Here we are, 5 years later, and I'm super excited to be taking her along for her very first trip.

And so far, before leaving the airport, she's only asked 4,192,736.3 questions.

My brain is tired."


Little did I know that at that point, it was far from the state of tired that it was going to reach...

Before you go any further, just like the past two days I experienced, this is VERY long.  And I probably sound like I'm complaining a bit from time to time, but I want you to know in the midst of not liking what was going on, I felt the hand of God on us the entire time, and knew He was among us, knitting together every detail.  I can say without hesitation He was completely sovereign in this. But if you wanna know the details of what kept us from our trip, I invite you to keep reading... there's a great story at the end you don't wanna miss anyway...  ;)

That sweet little excited face up there, (and Reese's face too of course...) ;) never made it to our desired destination.  Instead it made it to Chicago O'Hare Airport, home of the friendliest and most helpful airline employees that anyone could find in the world.  (insert thick sarcasm here)

We didn't make it to the precious church awaiting us in Gori, Georgia.  We didn't make it to the sweet Douglas family and their 5 kiddos. We didn't see Warsaw, Poland like we had planned to do during our 9 hour layover.  

 Instead we saw a bunch of this...

Just to put you right into the story I should let you know the first (and possibly only way so far) that we can now say that, in hindsight, we could see and understand God's hand in all of this, started with the first... well the only... flight we made it on.  The first leg of our trip found our team of 16 taking two planes to Chicago, first 9 of us leaving at about 545pm, then the other 7 of us around 640pm.  Before we left TSC at 3:00 we already knew that the 640 flight was delayed and would prevent 7 of us from reaching Chicago in time to make the connecting flight to Poland.  And so began the phone calls to airlines and travel agents...

To make this long part shorter, God did an amazing thing and worked it out that all 7 of us were put on standby and were miraculously able to take that first flight (which, did I mention was itself delayed and didn't take off until 8pm) all together.  After it was all said and done, we quickly realized how blessed we were that he allowed us all to stay together.  

So we land in Chicago about 940.  Frantically checking flight schedules we learned that our flight to Poland had been delayed as well.  Whew...  Until we were informed that there was no gate for us to pull into so we couldn't get off the plane.  Uh-oh.  Oh wait, our flight to Poland has been delayed yet again.  Whew.  

Oh wait, we are going to have to sit on this runway for. an. hour. before someone finally gets us inside that airport.

Hour goes by.  We are all finally of the plane and had been told on the phone by American Airlines to book it to talk to someone at the Polish Airlines desk, that even if we had to rebook, we would have to do so through them.  Quick, 16 people, leave terminal 3 to find the trams that will take us to the International terminal 5.  

Wait 15 minutes for tram.  Run some more to terminal 5.

International terminal is nearly empty.  :(

One lady is left at Polish Airlines desk.  "I'm sorry, that flight has just left.  Please go back to terminal 3, AA will have to rebook your flight."

are. you. kidding. me.

back to tram.  wait some more.  run some more.

(are you tired yet?)

arrive at AA counter.  very helpful, warm, fuzzy, loving supervisor says... why yes, i do see that I have about 6-8 people at the ticket counters, but they're tired and ready to go home so I will not let them help you.  i will however, put you on cots here in the airport and let you talk to someone again at 330 am when we re-open if you'd like.

so there you have it.  I wish this were the part of the story where it totally takes a turn for the better and everything works out.  but it didn't.  we booked hotels (thank you, hotwire) and were shuttled to our rooms for the night. my sweet husband was on the phone with airlines all night.  no really, all night.  with a heavy heart he woke me at 330... "baby, i've talked with every airline that could possibly fly us somewhere in Europe that would get us to Georgia.  i can't believe i'm saying this, but i don't think there's any way we're going to make it.  I'm gonna go wake up a few of the guys and talk to them about it."

He did, and at 5am he and Jason Darby were shuttled 30 min back to the airport to spend about 3 hours with a ticketing agent, and were told that they could possibly get us all there, if some people went through Germany, some through France, some through Jordan, and the list went on to about 3-4 other countries... and it would probably take about 45 hours and a few flights in between before we all made it back together.

that is of course, if everything works like it should.

I know this is getting long. I wish I could say it was nearly over...

they made the very tough decision that in the interest of everyone's safety, and not getting lost or stranded amidst several countries in Europe, that we would rent cars and return home.  

so about 830-9am or so i hear a tap on the door.  it's superman, coming to, after over 24 hours, finally catch a little sleep.  he also learned while at the airport that polish airlines had our luggage, and since their next flight didn't leave until 550 that night, they wouldn't open until 2pm.

breakfast, a meeting to break the news to the team that we would be trying to reschedule in a month, and lunch commenced, then we were on our way back to O'Hare to retreive our luggage.  We were informed by the same agent that had spoken to us the night before that she felt there was a good chance if we waited a couple more hours, we might make standby and get there just a day late after all.  Trying hard not to get our hopes up, we decided to wait and see if indeed the Lord would open the door.  But since I'm here in my bed typing right now, you have probably figured that we did not.  Luggage was finally retrieved, and by 7pm we were headed home.

I should include, though, a very big highlight of this two day fiasco...  

Monday morning while getting ready to leave, Reagan and I were discussing the possibility of sightseeing in Warsaw during our layover, and I had the thought of four of us making the "O-H-I-O" like any good Buckeye would do in a foreign place.  Then it ocurred to me... "reagan, we have GOT to trick Andy Willett (Michigan fan extraordinaire) into being the 'I' in that picture!"  So it was decided...

Waiting at the ticketing counter to either get on a plane or get our bags back, I decided it was now or never.  Four of us were at the counter, Reagan, me, Chad Whittenburg, and Andy.  So I filled Chad in on what we needed him to do.  He said it was a tough thing to participate in being an SEC man himself, but he decided to take one for the team.  Sam Smith gladly took my phone to snap the shot.  I said to the three of them... "here, let's get a shot of the deliberators here at the counter" and when I gave the cue, reagan, myself, and chad put our arms in the air...  

by the time he realized what was going on, he tried to run, but it was too late...  16 voices began filling that terminal with crazy laughter.  I couldn't believe we did it.  I might just frame this shot of the four of us and put it in my office.  right next to pictures of my kids, showing one of the proudest moments of. my. life.

I've gotta give him credit... he took it like a man.

In fact, in light of every circumstance that we were faced with over the past two days, everyone of the 16 people on our team of adults and teenagers (and reese) :) handled themselves remarkably well.  I was so impressed by their attitudes, their respect for and trust in reagan as team leader, and their ability to keep pushing through no matter what. 

We know God's hand was on us, from tangible ways like keeping us together when we were supposed to have been separated (which would have ensued even more chaos.)  And in other ways where we can't see and have NO idea why he didn't let us get there, we've had to trust that there is a reason that we very well may NEVER know this side of heaven.  We know we did everything in our power to get there, so at the end of the day we can say with confidence that HE very firmly closed the door this week and just did not let us through it.

The scripture that kept ringing in my ears over these two days was Proverbs 16:9...  "We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps."  So we are going to try to make plans again... hopefully in a month, we'll see...  in the end, I'm finding a really big security in seeing just how big my God is.  At any moment he could've calmed the weather and gotten us where we needed to be at the time we needed to be there.  But He didn't.  And while some people might question Him, (and understandably so) I'm finding peace in just saying 'ok', and in seeing the ways instead, that He chose to show us just how large and in charge He is.  Thank you, Lord, for graciously allowing me to see your hand on my life over the past two days.  In your hand is exactly where I want to be.


one for the win column....

Disclaimer: what you are about to read is not always the norm when it comes to how I handle stressful situations.  I've been asking God to do a work in my life and in the ways in how I treat my husband and kids when I'm stressed, and I've felt so incredibly blessed by how I have seen his hand in the past week that if for no other reason than using this as a reminder of his goodness to me, I just had to write it down!

ok, carry on...

So I've already said a little bit about what the rest of my month looks like.  It's full. It's busy. It's definitely not chillin at home, cooking on my grill, playing cards on the deck, and watching my babies play together in the backyard.  (I love our backyard by the way...  it's way too much work, but its one of my most favorite things about our home.)  One of the most exciting things about this month to me, is the arrival of not one, but TWO new baby girls into our family, and even more exciting to me is the fact that I'm not giving birth to either of them!  ;)  And more than ANYTHING I wanna be there to see them come into the world.  (I know that's a private thing for a lot of ladies but for me, I'm all like 'gather all the girls in my family, bring on the popsicles and let's have a party!  Yea babies! Time to celebrate!')  With all that is going on presently though, as much as I tried to work and re-work the schedule, I've had to come to terms with something...  I might. have. to. miss. it.  (Unlike the birth of my own children, who had to be medically coaxed from my womb, my sister spits em out in a matter of hours it seems. So wrong...)

This means something that I reeeeallllly really (really) want is out of my control.  This tends to make me grouchy and unpleasant to be around. 

Hey it's not something I'm proud of... but it is what it is.  Being unable to control things has proven time and time again to be one of the greatest joy robbers in my life. 

And you know who usually takes the brunt of my pouting? Yep... my three sweets.  And I just didn't wanna be that lady today. 

So, I made a list of exactly what needed to be done today, (aka a list of things that I COULD control) turned my brain off to everything else, (including the nagging tug that keeps screeching in my ear, what if you miss it, what if you miss it?!?) and made of point of trying to be patient and thoughtful of them, enjoying those sweet cherubs today, in spite of the chaos of packing us all up and getting us out the door for camp.  By some miracle, I didn't yell at Ty when he spilled 75% of his 'swuffee' in his car seat after I told him not to take the lid off.  I didn't kill myself at dinner time because I didn't pack their dinners and chose to let them eat the camp food instead.  And I let Reese have candy like all the other campers during the movie night even though it was nearly 10 o'clock.  Let me tell you what happened as a result...

My kids hate HATE showers because they don't like water spraying in their faces.  All three of them showered without a single tear or a whine tonight.  (Well, except for Tess when I pulled her out...) When I made a big deal out of what a good job Ty did , he even gave me an overjoyed 'you're welcome Mama!' And somewhere in there was a '  you're da best mama in da world.'  All three kids went to sleep with giggles and smiles instead of fussing over bedtime.

I have to think its because their hearts were full (instead of nagged and torn down by a grouchy mama not getting her way...)  which has in turn filled mine up.  

If there is one thing that I want to do well in this life, it's that I want to look back on the few precious years I got to raise my babies, and know that I didn't miss anything about them because I was too caught up in lesser important things... (like obsession about things out of my control)... For them to know how great I think they are... And to know that I have their hearts, but even more than that, that Jesus has their hearts.  I just want to know that I enjoyed them to the fullest and gave them the best in me that I had to give.  

As far as this week goes, I feel like we're off to a good start...