Baseball Time!!

It’s that time of year again. Baseball time! And to get it kicked off, I wrote a story about our baseball experience this year over at Coach Daddy.

The title is “How the Army took Baseball from Us”, but allow me to add that it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. If Caleb had played on a team here, he would have had either a practice or a game every single night of the week! What!!!! I’ll do that for a kid who loves it. I won’t do it for a kid who doesn’t love it.

Here’s a snippet:

Okay. Now, first of all, the Army did not literally take baseball from us. And yet it did. We didn’t have to let it happen, but we’re tired people, and so we did.

 

See, we have four sons, between the ages of 11 and 3. It’s exhausting, but it’s adorable. It reminds me of when I was little and living in rural Alabama and our dog would have puppies. Those puppies were work, but they were so cute and cuddly it didn’t matter.

We have played tee-ball and baseball over the years, ever since they were each 4 or 5 years old…..

Click here to read what happened.

Oh!!! And heads up, y’all. I’m going to do a Facebook live un-boxing of the Daily Goodie Box I got in the mail today. I’m aiming to do it around 1:15 pm this afternoon, with my sidekick, John David.

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36 Reasons I Love Being 36

This month I turned 36 years old. That sounds so weird to me, so I took a good hour to sit down and think about things I like about being 36 and also things I have learned.

Some of these are memories I love that I have, some are lessons that I’ve learned, and some are just good sense. And I can combine that many different things because after all, it is my list.

Mom and me. Due to the fire, I only have a handful of photos from my childhood. I found this one in a box in my living room. Thankfully, Mom had made us a box of old photos a few years ago.

 

1. I was there for the 80s…granted I was too young to understand it, but by golly I was there.

2. Free range childhood. No one used the word play date back then.

3. Swinging from vines in the forest.….That was part of the free range childhood.

4. 3 major bicycle injuries under my belt….Okay 1 was roller skates…There was the time my failed bike-stunt attempt resulted in me riding my bicycle up the front door, the time I flew downhill straight into a fence, and then the time I thought I could do some Nancy Kerrigan jumps in roller skates. Yeah. Lots of bleeding.

5. I’ve learned that People DO change with their life circumstances. For example, alphabetizing and re-alphabetizing, categorizing and re-categorizing my book collection…….That used to be me. Now I just shove them onto shelves. I can’t find any of my books at all, but the older I get the more responsibilities I have, and there is not time for perfecting. Priorities change.

6. The older I get, the less I care about what anyone thinks of me. (Mostly, no one’s thinking about me anyway!) If you are going to have a blog, you have to let go of that mess.

7. I’ve given birth 4 times, but actually that didn’t make me invincible or super-tough. It just means I’ve experienced a lot of things that can go wrong with child-birth, and I now know that all that matters in the end is delivering the baby safely. That’s right. Your birth plan does not impress me. Your living baby impresses me.

8. I finally know how to tame my own hair. 

First, I use a shampoo + conditioner twice. THEN I use conditioner. Whatever I do after that doesn’t matter so long as I use a straightening iron. If the air is cold and dry enough, I can skip the straightening.

9. I’ve learned that a degree or a trade of some kind is definitely worth having because life throws unexpected curves, and at some point you are going to need to make some money.

10. Mama Bear syndrome totally applies to humans. Do not mess with my kids. Do not mess with anyone’s children. In fact, there’s a Bible verse about that.

And whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name welcomes Me. 6But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7Woe to the world for the causes of sin. These stumbling blocks must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!…       Matthew 18:6-7

11. Having 1 child was a big adjustment. Having 2 children is much more difficult than having 1. Having 3 is way more work than having 2. Having 4 children almost killed me (the stress!), and having 5 children is something I will never be able to tell you about because I hit my medical, emotional, physical, and everything else limit at 4. But I love it. I love every single one of them more than anything in this world, and as far as I am concerned they are perfect. They are my happiest moments and thoughts.

12. I’ve been through depression before, a couple of times, and I now know what works for me to come out of it. The only way I know how to come out of it is to focus on serving other people, open all your blinds/curtains everyday, play upbeat music, pray on your face for help, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. And if it gets bad enough, you may have to take antidepressants.  I’ve taken them before, although for me it was actually for anxiety.

sharing my love of sea mammals, boats, and the Pacific Ocean with my children. They loved it.

13. It took me 24 years to realize that what I really wanted to be when I grew up was a mom. Anything else was just a bonus.

14. I’ve sent a husband off to war 3 times, and I know that if I have to, I can do it again. But man, I hope I never have to!

15. No one tells me how young I look anymore, but I’ve made my peace with that.

16. I’m not poor-skinny like I was at 20, but that’s fine. Poor-skinny is when you are underweight, and it’s because you actually are having to save money by eating less food. That’s what I did in college.  Happy people are not poor-skinny because happy people aren’t hungry.

17. I have tried about 5 different kinds of jobs that I didn’t like, but that doesn’t mean I’m flaky. It just means those weren’t my callings. Why live miserable? Move on and try something new.

Caleb and me on the flight out to California 3 years ago.

18. Living all over the country was the hardest thing bout the past 15 years, and yet it was the thing I LOVED most about the past 15 years. Living in a place takes traveling to another level. It gives you understanding of other places and cultures, and the amount that you learn is just mind-boggling.

19. I killed a snake. Sure, it was a tiny snake, but still. I, April, who is terrified of all creepy crawly things, killed a snake because I thought it was necessary to protect my offspring. See, I told you #10 is a very real thing!!

Caleb, creating snow angels in Virginia. He was 6.

20. Virginia got in my blood. Someday I want to go back. I felt like I was with my people there. I can’t explain it.

21. I don’t have to do nursery duty anymore, and that is so freeing for me. I don’t have to spend my entire week dreading Sunday because I know I have nursery duty. My arthritis saved me from signing up for this task that I never liked. I love babies, but nursery duty KILLS me. I am unable to sit in the floor, bend over tedious activities, and the younger the babies the more it hurts my back, my shoulders, my neck, my legs, EVERYTHING to hold them. It used to take me a couple of days just to recover from holding them.

22. My children possess completely different talents than I do, and I’ve learned to appreciate everyone’s different gifts. We learn so much from our children!

23. I love that Jesus saved my whole entire family, and now I’m watching each of my children, one at a time, become believers too.

photo courtesy of Stephanie DuBose

24. I fully embrace celebrations! I love good ol’ American holidays. So what if they’re “commercial”? Have some fun already. Life is short. The only one I have a hard time always embracing is Christmas because it’s so much work, and plane tickets are expensive, but I do it anyway.

I believe you should never be too righteous for fun. Did you know that most of the feasts and holidays set up in the Old Testament were actually invented by God? Celebrate!

25. I’m focusing more on listening to women who are older than me and have already done what I am doing. I have many mentors, and sometimes those mentors have no idea that I think of them as a mentor, but there is so much wisdom to be gained from people who have already done what we’re doing.

26. You can’t beat a mini-van for a family of 6. Sure, giant SUVs are hip, but they guzzle the gas, their doors don’t open with a button, and nothing is as practical or affordable as a mini-van.

27. I stop for garage sales. One should never pay full price for kids’ bicycle helmets, tennis rackets, bunk beds, or board games.

28. Peanut/cashew allergies are terrifying. Sometimes I wonder how he will survive, but then I remember that that’s what Emergency Rooms are for.

29. You know how some people feel about Windex? That it can fix everything? That’s how I feel about Benadryl. Miracle drug.

30. I have now been to Disney World twice and Universal Studios twice. This makes the little girl inside of me beyond happy.

31. Eventually skinny jeans will go out of style. Thank goodness because they are not flattering for me. I rarely wear them.

32. Home schooling: I came, I tried, and I can honestly say that it’s simply not for everyone. 

33. I love that I got to live in California for 2 years and see the incredible beauty that is Big Sur, the Pacific Ocean, Monterey, San Francisco, and sea mammals! I will always cherish my memories of seeing a whale feeding 10 feet off the shore. Splendor.

34. I have 4 boys. That’s definitely not something I’d have never dreamed of in my 20s!!! I can’t tell you the wonder and adventures we are having. I love it. Love, love, love it. And to think, I only had girl names picked out. Ha!

 

35. My marriage. I’m so thankful we both stuck it out together because our marriage is so much greater now, in our late 30s, than it was in our 20s or our early 30s.

36. I love the things about me that are still young. That’s something to be THANKFUL for. I don’t have to color my hair yet. Menopause is still 10 years off. My freckles help me look young, and I still have my morning energy. Gradually, these things will change, but today they are still mine.

 

We might as well enjoy life, right? It all goes by so quickly.

We might as well be happy with what we have because it is what we have. The grass may always be greener on the other side. Whatever. That probably just means they spend way too much money on fertilizer, which smells bad anyway!!! So it’s all good.

 
Oh yeah!!!! And in case you missed my most recent Facebook live video, about trying to learn how to use essential oils. Here it is!

Thanks for reading, y’all! Thank you for being a part of my first 36 years! Love y’all!

 

 

 

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It was not a failure, though I thought it was at the time.

It was not a failure.

*This post does contain some affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through my site, I receive a small percentage.*

I’ve been dealing with my own feelings of failure for a while now. Have you ever felt that way? I read this story this week, and I poured tears as I contemplated my own “failure.”

There was this man. He was from out-of-town. He wanted to teach people about Jesus. That landed him in prison, and not just prison. First, he was stripped and beaten, and then they put him in prison.
He got out though.
And then you know what he said about that trip? He said, “It was not a failure.”

Public humiliation. Beaten! Imprisoned!

That was not a failure?? He was basically chased out of town. He can’t go back there.

But that man was Paul, and that town was Philippi. You can read more about that story in Acts 16:16-25 and 1 Thessalonians 2, all of chapter 2.

“You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.”    1 Thessalonians 2:1-2

It was not a failure because they STILL did share the gospel, as they set out to do. When we tell people the good news, that Jesus loves ALL of us and wants to save and be a friend to ALL of us, we aren’t responsible for how people respond to that. That doesn’t mean be a jerk and don’t care. That means don’t be obnoxious. Share it, and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

Public disgrace does not equal failure.

Things not ending as planned does not mean we failed.

Being physically destroyed is not failure. It’s not.

You are not a failure either. Think of your most recent failure, and then consider. What did you learn? What good came out of that?


I was reading about all of these things in Children of the Day, by Beth Moore. It takes books like these to help me understand things like Acts 16 being tied to 1 Thessalonians. Believe me, I’d never figure that out on my own. Every single Beth Moore Bible study workbook I have ever read has been a massive blessing to me.

This one is no exception. She just HAD to go and ask us what our most recent failure is. She left a little blank space for us to write about it. Ha! I got out my spiral notebook and filled up a whole PAGE.

I wrote, and I thought, and I cried, and I prayed, and in the end I was reminded.

“Though a righteous man falls 7 times, he will get up, but the wicked will stumble into ruin.”  Proverbs 24:16

Failure stings when it’s something that means the world to you. It stings like getting stung by a HIVE OF BEES  or 50 fire ants.

I set out to home school those two years with two objectives:

  1. I wanted to give them that one-on-one boost with their academics.
  2. I wanted to improve their character. No, I can’t improve it myself, but I wanted to promote it. I wanted to provide the right environment and the right tools for the boys and God to work that out.

I was not able to accomplish what I wanted, academically, and to make it worse trying to be a teacher, homemaker, blogger, and mom all at once made me MISERABLE. It was heart-breaking. Even as I write about it again, it’s like my heart is all ripped up and bleeding. I want to pound my fists to the wall and then lay my head against it and cry until there’s no water left because no matter how hard I tried, everything felt like failure.

I love these children with such intensity, I want to fix every single problem that they have, but that’s not possible, is it? The ability to fix everything was so far beyond my control.

So I failed. Or so I thought. But you know what? I did not fail. They didn’t fail either. Nothing failed. There was nothing wasted here.

In those two years, I saw their character bloom. I saw love, humility, honesty, justice, kindness, and goodness in my boys.

Caleb was saved and baptized, of his free choosing during that time at home with me. I even heard him teaching his friends about Jesus.

There was spiritual warfare waged over the souls of my children those two years, and God won.

I grew to understand the boys’ strengths and weaknesses. I came to terms with my own limitations. We emerged a different family than when we went into this.

I failed in some ways in order to learn. Sometimes we have to fall to learn, to grow, to become.

We saw it happen with my children too. We watched them overcome the kind of adversity that would have CRUSHED me at their age. I would not have handled it with the strength, dignity, and courage that I watched my son display.

That’s not actually failure is it? But it sure feels like it when you’re laying in a wad on the ground.

So no, we have not failed. We have only fallen and gotten back up again, and we too shared the gospel in the process.

All of these thoughts led me to this song, and I can’t get it out of my head. Its “fall down and get back up” message resonated with me. Yes, we are trying EVERYTHING. It’s a fun song, and my favorite line is this one:

“Birds don’t just fly. They fall down and get up.”

You’ll have to click the link below to go to YouTube to see the lyrics and hear this song. It’s worth it.

 

Ok. Your turn to answer Beth Moore’s heart-wrenching question. Failure. When did you last feel it?

“Ask yourself: Did we do the will of God as best we perceived it? Were we authentic before God and man?”    —Children of the Day, page 41, Beth Moore

And I would add, what did you learn? Then maybe it’s not such a failure after all, and even if it is, get back up again.

 

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REAL life starts again tomorrow. Oh, yes, the kids are going back to school!

REAL life starts again tomorrow. Oh, yes, the kids are going back to schoo

Yes, my dad let my three-year-old drive his wheelchair. But boy, did he have fun!

We just finished the longest Christmas vacation ever. 3 weeks!!! Full weeks!! It was a blast.  It was genuinely fun because we didn’t spend the whole 3 weeks in any one place. We went south, then we went north, then we went home, then we went back south, then back home. We had a good time with it!

REAL life starts again tomorrow. Oh, yes, the kids are going back to schoo

We watched pretty much every Christmas movie ever made.

And we were terrible.

Truly terrible.

We let the kids stay up as late as 10 some nights. I know. The shame! Other nights we put them to bed at 8, but there was one night we were at a big reunion party. It was an hour and a half from home, and by the time we got home and got the boys all in bed, it was after midnight!

I know!!! We are never this shocking. We are such boring people normally.

REAL life starts again tomorrow. Oh, yes, the kids are going back to schoo

Some people skip stones…..we chunk boulders. (Don’t worry. Only into the water, and no one got hurt.)

I don’t think I got out of bed before 7:30am a single morning.

Discipline? I would say we were the opposite of disciplined…

We took the kids to two different movies. We let the boys sleep as late as they wanted, and for some of them that was actually until 8 or 8:30am!!

A disproportionate amount of corn dogs, candy canes, and chicken fingers was consumed.

JD has about quit napping completely.

The boys played so much Skylanders they’ve already beaten the new game twice.

 

REAL life starts again tomorrow. Oh, yes, the kids are going back to schoo

decorating the Christmas tree cookie cake

We built Lego creations, we colored, we ate ice cream, we played with cousins and friends. We got spoiled by grandparents. We completely forgot about reality.

I kept saying things like, “Tomorrow we HAVE to get back on schedule. Tomorrow we’ll all go to bed at 8, and I’ll set alarms and get up at 6….”

Never happened. Never.

REAL life starts again tomorrow. Oh, yes, the kids are going back to schoo

Dan and I found this centipede(?) on a walk. I’m not a bug expert. Centipede was my best guess.

And so tonight we didn’t even bother to put everyone to bed until 9 or 9:30. I made coffee and did the dishes. You will be happy to know that we did actually make them shower.

Alan is furiously re-immersing himself in work emails. He took a ton of time off too.

I laid out my clothes but totally forgot to lay out THE BOYS’ clothes. Who knows if we’ll be able to find anyone’s shoes or belts tomorrow.

I set my alarm for 5:30am…..but you know I’m the worst EVER at getting up when my alarm goes off. I set my alarm, and Alan actually laughed. Sigh.

I’m scared y’all. I think we actually had too much fun on our break. I don’t think we can go back to real life. I’m afraid no one will be able to wake up tomorrow morning!!!

I don’t think this is an irrational fear.

We played Star Wars. Ha! Just kidding. THEY played Star Wars. I’m not that cool.

Why does real life have to be so very very real and strict and work-like???

Ah, but it does. You can’t train children for the world without upholding standards in their childhood. You can’t expect them to go to college if you don’t first teach them elementary math. And have you seen elementary math??? It’s not all that easy!

Tomorrow is the big day! Are you ready?? Were any of you as big of slackers as we were??? Tell me we are not alone!!!

Well, if you were, we would like to wish you all the best of luck. I’m sure everyone’s shoes will be clean, dry, and easily found. Everyone will be on time, and no one will cry. Well, maybe me at 5:30am. I might cry. I’m just not so sure I “got this”!!!

Okay. Deep breaths. We’ll be fine. What’s a good verse we can recite to ourselves?? Oh yeah.

Joshua 1:9

 

Have not I commanded you? Be strong and of good courage. Be not afraid neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Gotta go. The Benadryl I took to make myself go to sleep earlier is finally starting to kick in…

 


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This Christmas: 1st Year at Home, 1st Non Disaster Story

I guess you know which stocking is mine.

This might have been the easiest Christmas in 14 years of April and Alan family Christmases. We only had to travel two hours, and we woke up on Christmas morning IN OUR OWN HOUSE. Have you ever??? I mean, we had almost never!! Do you do this? Do other people do this every year??  It was so nice!

I mean have you read my other Christmas stories???

Our Nightmare Before Christmas

The Funeral, Christmas Trip

New Years in San Francisco

Well, I’m happy to tell you this is NOT one of those stories. We did go and see our families, but we were able to do all of that and still be at our own house on Christmas morning.

Around 7 or so a.m., we heard Boy #1 begin talking to Boy #2. They simply chatted calmly in bed. Some of the boys woke up the other boys. I don’t remember who got up first, but a miracle happened…..

No one came and jumped on us…..

They gathered themselves in the living room, just the four of them in the living room to patiently wait for their parents to get up.

Whaaa???? We were so pleased with all this that we didn’t make them wait. We went ahead and joined them.

My heart brimmed over with awe at the fact that they were all sitting in the living room, waiting patiently.

I love watching my children open their presents. Christmas is a whole other level of special for children. When is it that we lose that? Let’s get that back.

Caleb, opening a present they WEREN’T expecting: Lego Dimensions

Yes, he’s actually CLAPPING. He’s so excited. There were a few To: Caleb and Daniel presents this year. They may look ages apart, but it’s actually only a 3 year gap. Some kids are tall. Some kids are shorter.

SO HAPPY

Be sure to see the 50 second JD video on Facebook, and share in the excitement.

We all went to church together. It was nice, though nothing topped the Christmas Eve service.

Christmas Eve service

There was something about the meaning in lighting these candles and taking communion with so many fellow believers that made Christmas more real to me this year. We sang Silent Night, and I wanted this moment to never end.

Too quickly, we were all headed back to our houses when so often I just want to curl up at the altar and soak it all in…

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”       Luke 2:10-12

…But it was back to Christmas as usual, and I can’t help but wonder. Are we entering a new phase of our lives?  There simply isn’t a BABY anymore. JD is 3 1/2 now. No one is a baby. Life is c-a-l-m-i-n-g down. No one wore a diaper, no one carried a sippy cup, and no one got out of their seat. No one even colored on himself.

Wow.

I think I might cry!

No one was sick this Christmas either. JD caught a cold, accompanied by a very pink eye, but even that ended in two days.

OH, and guess what! Once Christmas day was over, Alan took my minivan to the shop, and I now have a clean minivan, with a heater that heats, and a functioning defroster! Somebody get this man a trophy!!

I feel like we just had the perfect Christmas. I can safely say that because Christmas is fully over. Saying Christmas was perfect can’t possibly jinx it now.

Of course, I did find one baby to hold.

Ah, sparkling pretty lights. I may never take my Christmas tree down. Plus, I’m hoping Alan will do it for me. Hmmm…I wonder if Alan is hoping that I will do it. I seriously don’t even want it taken down. Let’s just leave it up until next Christmas!

Hallelujah! And may we never forget what it’s all about. This is an incredible excerpt from the Passion of the Christ. You do have to click the link to YouTube to watch, but it’s so worth it:

 

Wishing you all a blessed 2017! May your kids behave. May your rain be snow, and may all your prayers be answered.

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”        Luke 2:13-14

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