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The Last Three Weeks. . .

Since I don't know where to start or what to say, I thought I'd let my phone pictures do the talking :)

Thomas (he says that's what they call him at work too. . .looks so much like his dad!) began an internship at Tom's office in the shop.  Very cool to be sending them off to work together each day --   and helpful since we have four drivers and only three vehicles!  He's there for this semester of school (he graduated HS in December) and is taking three classes at the local community college, still working his other part-time job, and now doing this internship at the company Tom works for to get his feet wet in what he is going to major in -- engineering.
We had a 3-day "sick week" from school my birthday week -- almost all local schools were out -- so Marie and I got this big 1000-pc New Orleans puzzle out.  I won't lie, she did 75% of if -- I'm not even sure Margaret and I can claim even the other 25%.  It was nice not to be sick ourselves and so enjoyed the time off and all the games, puzzles, movies, etc. while Eastern TN was blessed with incredible spring-like weather in early February!
But, even though we were out of school, my school work was not on "hold" -- ha!  It was nice, though, to work at a much slower pace and actually get (mostly) caught-up.
Then this beautiful girl (in black) had her first tournament of the season in Gatlinburg that weekend.  We saw some of the destruction left by the fires last November but also how quickly the area seemed to have rallied (the sportsplex we were at had had wind damage that seemed to be repaired by then).
Pop Peth requested a picture of this one, so here it is :)  She's gorgeous too!
Margaret's spring season has also started (second from left) and this was a picture after a win in Atlanta.  She plays with an awesome group of girls!
I had a birthday (45!!!) during this time and requested a Picture of the Day with my youngest.  I won't be bending down long. . .soon he'll have to do that for me!!  I was dressed up because a close friend was taking me to lunch on my birthday.  Not often that I'm off in the middle of the week to "lunch" -- ha!  Here we were digging into dessert after an awesome meal of fish tacos for me and crab cake sliders for her :)  And, to brag on my kiddos -- they had gone out early that morning and brought Chick-fil-A chicken and biscuits home for breakfast.  It was a great day!

And here was my birthday dinner -- Olive Garden compliments of several gift certificates parents from school had gifted me over the last year.  It was a day of feasting for sure -- I *never* eat three meals a day, and most especially not three very special all-my-favorite-foods meals :)
My exciting gift was this:
So completely unexpected!!  I have wanted one for years and years, but there is always "something" else to spend the $$ on.  I'm so happy that my family all pitched in together and bought me this along with a case -- it is my new, very best friend :)
Frederick also replaced my FitBit that stopped working a couple of weeks ago.  That was so thoughtful of him -- I really liked having one and this one is a tad more upgraded.  I especially like checking my heart rate while exercising and having the time right on it too.
I love how my kiddos love their teachers.  This was Frederick and Marie V-day morning.  They got up at 5 a.m. to make fresh gluten-free donuts for Tom and a couple of Frederick's teachers.  The donuts were actually pretty good -- an apple-type batter with sugar sprinkled on it if you wanted that.  The girls also bought or made the most wonderful card for their small group adviser, Dr. Ham.  I appreciate so much their small school and the interest that the teachers take in their students and, in turn, the love that my kids shower back on them.  It is truly a unique experience.
For some reason, Valentine's Day is a "big deal" for our kiddos.  Tom and I rarely, if ever, celebrate it ourselves, but the kids almost always buy and wrap gifts for one another.  Because of this, we always try to do something for them too -- this year we got them each $20 Chick-fil-A gift certificates.  The kids always know what kind of candy to get me (!!!) and Margaret made a card for Tom since he no longer eats sugar.  Thomas doesn't look awakes because, well, he wasn't :)  Also, he was the only one who didn't participate in the gifting -- but no matter, he was overly generous at Christmas, which is the holiday when HE likes to over-do it.  Frederick is a birthday-giver, as is Marie.  She rarely forgets a friend's birthday, even if they live out-of-town.  I'm so proud of them and their hearts for others.  Margaret certainly heads the Valentine's Day celebration -- the elaborately wrapped gifts were hers :)

Can't leave Chelsea out -- she got a new bed!!

Not only did Marie (on right) lead her school soccer team this year and then play for her school's basketball team (they were short on players), but she has worked incredibly hard for their Science Olympiad team also!  Dr. Ham signed her up and she ducked out of an out-of-town soccer tournament this past weekend to compete at Lee University with CCS.  She participated in four events and took 2nd place in Rocks and Minerals.  I'm so proud of her!  Tom got to spend the day with them -- they needed an extra driver -- and although it was boring for him, at least it was science which he likes more than me :)

My dad was here this weekend, which was nice too.  We played tennis, went out to breakfast (both with and without Frederick), and played games -- dominoes and cards.  We had some Cedar Lake Camp people over for dinner Saturday night and Thomas was asked to Prom!!
M was so clever about it -- bringing Thomas a box of his very favorite donuts from our former town :)  The lid was inscribed with "Wanna Go To Prom?".  I'm so happy he has these life-long friends (it will be year 10 for both of them at CLC this summer) and that finally, after he's said "good-bye" to high school, that he will attend a dance!!!  This will be at his former HS in our former town where he mostly grew up with these classmates -- it will be a good end to this season of his life I hope.  

Not knowing how to end this post, I will with scripture that first was the passage we were studying in 7th grade this quarter, and then it became exceedingly relevant in my life (John 15:2 specifically).
Very suddenly (or so it seemed -- although the Lord has been preparing my heart, unbeknownst to me) I left the teaching world.  I know I was born to be a teacher, a wife, and a mother and the Lord has fulfilled all of those callings in my life.  I'm am blessed to have had incredible opportunities in  both my personal and professional relationships for the last 2.5 decades. . .and then I was pruned.  I don't know what is next and that is scary for me, but this year the Holy Spirit has again and again protected me in ways that I have continually acknowledged but never understood -- until three weeks ago when I submitted my resignation.  I did this with unimaginable peace and conviction, as well as tremendous support from those who love me best.   When my teammates found out I asked them to join me in prayer that my love for the classroom be supernaturally taken from me so I could move forward with "whatever" will take it's place.  The Holy Spirit faithfully answered those prayers also, without making me jaded or cynical.  I don't understand it all -- and I'm sure there are many that come alongside me in that statement -- but, for whatever reason, He has removed me from this profession.  I am starting a new season of rest, mothering, and searching.  This time, though, I will search in wait -- because I'm uncertain of the fruit He has in mind for me -- I'm clinging to John 15:4, knowing that if I remain in Him, He will guide me where He can best shine through me.

So. . .with that, I wrap up the last three weeks :)  Right now I'm looking forward to being a full-time mother and wife, maybe start blogging again, finding ways to reach out and give others a hand, work on the house that we moved in to almost two years ago but I haven't had time to invest in, and I have even been invited to a Bible study.  And guess what text they were studying last week?  Yep.  John 15.

In His Grace and Love and Service,


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