Thursday, December 12, 2013's December? What happened in November?

I did not write ONE blog post in November. :(
It was a full month.
How about a summary of November in one post...

The girls and I started November off right with a night out with friends to see Wicked.
It was my third time to see it and the second time for the girls, and we all loved every minute of it!
It just never gets old.

On the tenth, we celebrated the birthday of my oldest son. He turned 21 and is OFFICIALLY an adult.
(I know this because he recently asked for underwear and socks for Christmas.)
This picture was taken on his birthday. He's a great big brother--you can tell his sisters adore him. :)
Happy 21st birthday, Brandon!

Deer season is a big part of November if you're a hunter. Brandon took Meg to Missouri for deer season, and she killed her first buck. You can tell by her expression that it was pretty exciting. The weather was frigid, so I'm glad the thrill of the kill distracted her from the cold.

Nov. 24, 2013 -- Meg's first buck
I love having my oldest and youngest making memories together!

The rest of the family joined them in Missouri for Thanksgiving meals with all the extended family. It was nice to hang out with everyone and have some extra time with Ellyn, who had a week off from school.
The dogs thought it was nice to see Ellyn too...

In preparation for Christmas decorating, my mom and I went out on Thanksgiving day and cut some fresh cedar. It was a crisp, sunny day and the smell of the cut cedar was so fresh!

Thanksgiving Day -- Nov 28, 2013
Ellyn, Meg, myself, my mom

We headed back to Iowa for the remainder of Thanksgiving weekend and managed to take in a movie as a family. We went to see Hunger Games: Catching Fire.  

Much of the month of November was spent decorating my house for Christmas. Our home was part of a Christmas tour of homes in our little town, sponsored as a fund raiser for our local food and clothing pantries.

I will be posting pictures of my house decked out for Christmas very soon. I thought life would really settle down once the tour was over, but it hasn't at all! Besides the usual December hustle and bustle, Meg was diagnosed with mono and needs some extra time and attention when she's not sleeping.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ellyn -- turns 19 today!

Today is Ellyn's 19th birthday and I won't be with her to celebrate.
I am so glad that she is coming home tomorrow to properly celebrate her birthday!
We (the Carson girls) are going to see Wicked with friends. It will be a fun evening.

I am so grateful to be the mother of this beautiful young woman!
She has a dynamic personality and a love for people that is contagious.
I am proud of her desire to do well in school and to follow Jesus with purpose.
Have a wonderful birthday, dear daughter!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Birthday trip to Gulf Shores, AL

My hubby planned a long weekend trip to Gulf Shores, AL for my birthday this month. We invited some good friends to come along with us, which made it extra fun. Byron flew us in the plane and we stopped in Memphis for lunch and fuel on the flight down. Our time was so relaxing and fun, and it went super fast!

We had a great time and it was a very memorable birthday gift. :)

Ready for take off!

 Beautiful shot from the air:

Beale St. in Memphis
We enjoyed some great bbq.
I would like to return to Memphis!

View from our deck, Gulf Shores, AL

short flying trip to Dauphin Island:

Runway surrounded by water:

Enjoying some time for golf:

Enjoying some time relaxing on the beach:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Back to School --fall 2013

I can't resist posting our first day of school pictures--even though they were taken 2 months ago.
The two college students were pretty excited to send the younger two off to school while they stayed home for another week.

First day of school Aug. 2013
Ryan -- 9th grade         Meg -- 8th grade

And just for a stroll down memory lane...
two years ago--wow have they changed!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ryan -- birthday number 15!!!

Ryan turns 15 today!
He was my tiniest baby--hard to believe now that he has a deep voice and is taller than all the girls in the family.

He likes to play the clarinet and drive himself to school (so that he can get there early).
He has a school permit and can only drive to school. I'm glad he isn't driving everywhere yet--I'm not really ready for that emotional-mommy stress.

This year I am most proud of him for the hard work and time he has invested in preparing to audition for All State band. Auditions are this Saturday and he has worked so hard. It would be uncommon for a freshman to make it, but regardless of the outcome I know he has become a better musician just preparing for the audition, which will serve him for many years.

Happy birthday Ryan!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Branson vacation -- July 2013

Please forgive me for posting some old news.
I'd really love to get caught up with some things I have neglected to post about...

Our family vacationed in Branson for a long weekend in late July.
We went to Dixie Stampede, which was a lot of fun and had fabulous food. The outlet mall provided some great bargains. The remainder of our time was spent in a boat on Table Rock Lake. 

Most of the pictures I took were on the water, except this one outside Dixie Stampede. Love these 4!

There was a huge cliff along the lake. It made my heart race just looking at it. (I'm scared of heights.)
My oldest and youngest jumped off. It seemed like time stopped while I waited for Meg to surface!
Brandon was in the water waiting for her, which gave me a little piece of mind.
Really, I would have liked to tell them they couldn't jump. But I was super proud that they are braver than I.
They loved it and Brandon went back for a second jump, because it was so exhilarating!
I guess I'll never know about that feeling! :)

Meg's jump...

 Brandon's jump...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

College--the power of a praying roommate

This story was posted on Facebook by a friend--I reprinted here with his permission.

It is a story of random roommates and the power of prayer.

Both of my college-student kids have had random roommates as freshmen. This is so inspiring to any Christian who has prayed, only to feel like their prayers will never be answered.


With the upcoming IOWA STATE vs. IOWA game, and the stories I've been hearing about new college students and their "bad" roommate assignments, I just can't help but sharing how God used those 2 things in my life. I too had a "horrible" dorm roommate matchup 30 years ago at ISU. Yes, they put me with the most geeky, nerdy, non partying Christian on the whole floor! You couldn't have found a more opposite pair of kids on that dorm floor. Scott R. and Scott T. He wasn't who I desired in a roommate and I wasn't the roommate he had prayed for. And I know the situation was most difficult for him. He courageously even gave me a bible at one point, but my ears were deaf to God's word. We made it through one semester somehow, and then we parted ways.

I ended up in a treatment center about one year later. Coming out of there all "cleaned up", I felt a bit of remorse towards Scott R. about the way I may have treated him when we lived together. So I located him, still at ISU, and took him to the ISU vs. Iowa football game in Ames, 1985. He was appreciative of the gesture, and we parted ways again.

About 23 years later, 2008, by the grace of God, I was given the ability to believe in Jesus for Who He really is. To come to understand that our relationship with God was severed the day we were born due to the sin we inherited from Adam and Eve. That Jesus truly is God...Who came down to this a man...born of the Holy be sacrificed for the forgiveness of our sin so that we can be reconciled back to God. That Jesus is the ONLY allowable sacrifice for our sin, and that He rose from the dead back into God's presence in heaven, as an example that we can be raised Gods heavenly Kingdom!...only through a belief in Jesus!  And without Jesus, hell is the alternative.  Ok, I digressed, it's just impossible not to get caught up in the moment typing the gospel!! Oh it is sweet!! Back to the story......

Shortly after this coming to faith, I was following a 30 day prayer journal that our church put out. One of the days it asked me to write down the names of people I'm thankful for and pray for them. To my surprise, I found that Scott R.'s name was high on my list. It had been 25 years since I've had any contact whatsoever with him! Why was he on my list!!?? All I remembered was that he gave me a bible, he stood out as a CHRISTian, and I was thinking of any such people over the course of my life. 2 years went by and this still puzzled me. So....I went to Facebook to try to find him, no luck. Then I just googled to try to find him and finally found an email address that was his and we reconnected! He replied and confirmed we were roommates, was hoping all is well, and that he's "been praying for me for years". Thinking to myself, SERIOUSLY....praying??!! for "years"!!?? I could maybe imagine praying a bit for me after we parted ways, but for 25 years!!?? Well, we then talked and I let him know about how I had recently truly come to know Jesus and his name came up on my prayer journal, and that was why I was contacting him. To tell him how thankful I really am for him, the simple gesture of giving me that bible and just being a Christian presence in my life. Then about the "praying for years", he wasn't kidding, HE STILL HAD THE TICKET FROM THAT ISU vs. IOWA GAME WE WENT TO 25 YEARS AGO!!....IT'S IN HIS BIBLE AS A REMINDER TO PRAY FOR ME! Wow....was I humbled! And would you believe that about one week before I contacted Scott, he just happened to be talking to his pastor about unanswered prayers by God. And specifically like his prayer when he headed off to college and just asked God for a nice Christian roommate....why didn't that happen...he got about the opposite. Well, Scott got the answer the following week from me...God had a different plan for Scott! Scott told me he's wondered for all these years just what that first year at college was all about..."but now he knows". Scott R. was an awesome servant of God! And in God's time....he found out how.

This story is certainly not about me, but God, and how He can use any situation or person to His favor. I hope it's helpful to you. God bless, Scott t.

* Never stop praying for people.
*Never doubt your situation, and if you're not getting exact answer to prayer that you desire.
*God may be using you and you don't even know it.
*Pray feverishly for the Christians in your life that have had any bit of an impact on your Christian life.

(Go Clones! Oh....and never mind googling the score of that 1985 game. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

College--she flew from our nest

A few short weeks ago we dropped our oldest daughter off at college.

This was my Instagram post that day. It said, "She's ready to fly from my nest...we will miss her so."

Our son started college two years ago, but he is only 15 minutes away. Ellyn's college is two hours away, which isn't terribly far, but we'll see her much less than we have been accustomed to the past 18 years.

In the weeks prior to her moving, I tried not to let my mind spend much time thinking about her absence from our home. Instead, I tried to enjoy each day with her and remember that this is what we raised her to do. I am so excited for her to grow and mature in her passion for life and people.  I won't pretend that tears were not shed on multiple occasions. Her fun and fiery presence in our house is huge, and I knew all along that she would be greatly missed by our family.

We took the whole crew along to move her into her dorm room. After assembling the futon, unpacking her boxes, and getting her settled, we took her out for supper. Then it was time for the hugs, tears and goodbyes.

In these first few weeks of the semester, we have spent a lot of time keeping in touch with our phones. I am grateful for the option of hearing her voice and seeing her "selfie" as she heads off to class. She sends random pics that make me smile and feel connected with her.  It is fun to hear her excitement as she experiences college life for the first time.

Or this one that said, "I miss my pets."
She is adjusting really well, like she always does with anything new and exciting. She is making great friends and getting plugged in with a church and campus ministry. We are super proud of her!

I miss her like crazy and count down the days until I see her again, but there is no doubt--
she was born to fly!