The Good Things in Life

When I plug my phone to the computer and it says that I have 464 pictures to download. . .well, it's been awhile.  I promise that I won't share them all ;)  AND, I take 50-80% less pictures now then I used to -- I catch myself all the time thinking, "I should take a picture" and then remembering that I also need to LIVE IN THE MOMENT.  So, there's that.

These kids -- the heartbeat of my life.  One of my all-time favorite posts is this one from September 30, 2011.  I'm so glad I have it to look back on -- nothing earth-shattering, just a reminder of how much I love the life God has given us.  (And, if you are a family member, you should go back and read it -- amazing how much is still the same. . .and how much the kiddos have grown!)

I know the accusation of having a "Pinterest" life or "Life on Facebook" and real life is completely different.  I was questioned last spring about my "Pollyana" outlook on life and marriage -- luckily Laura was with me and laughed at my friend, assuring her that we have struggles and I am NOT the "perfect wife".  Ha!  I will admit, first world struggles. . .and that God gave me a personality that prefers to look at the good and beauty in life. . .but I am NOT without hurt, pain, denial, mess, bad decisions, and icky days.

Just to share, because it makes my heart happy and reminds me to be grateful.  And, who knows?  Maybe, like the above post, I'll be looking back on this one in 7 years and marveling where life has taken us.

This was today.  Dropping our last child for the last year he is eligible to be a camper.  What an amazing place Cedar Lake Camp is. . .every single time I go there I am awed by how the Lord has blessed this little place in the middle of Tennessee.  My friends from Ohio brought some of their kiddos to camp also --
And, not only that, that sibling group has one of their big brothers working as a CIT (Counselor-in-Training) this summer for the first time AND
these brothers are together -- counselor & camper (1/2 my heart, in Flying Squirrel this week) AND
that beauty in the middle (blue shirt) with her very first ever cabin of girls, serving as a Junior Counselor this summer.

C'mon, I can't make this stuff up.  I can't even DREAM this stuff up -- it's all the good Lord and His blessings bestowed upon this family and on these hearts to want to serve in this way.

And, beyond all that, the above picture was sent to me last week on banquet night. . .only God can put that kind of love into these two.

The other one decided she wanted to devote her summer before senior year to soccer and work so here we are, heading off to work together this week. . .
. . .it is NOT a glamorous job, but she is a hard worker and making the best of it.  It's kinda fun going to work with her most days (the days she has HS soccer training we drive separately and she comes in later).

Speaking of work, I still love my work family. . .this was a picture from an event the company president and I did last week:
I think, if I were younger, I would love marketing. . .now I'm just hoping we hire someone soon to do it because I'm really looking forward into moving into client service. . .

This amazing niece of mine graduated from HS last weekend!  She is a wonder -- champion swimmer, captain of her tennis team, cords for all her honors. . .and heading to Elon with a huge scholarship.  She is amazing. This is a picture of her at Robert's graduation last year --

And now she's the graduate!  We got to put her table together at her party. . .

And, although two of her Bell cousins couldn't be there, we got a picture with the two that were. . .

. . .and me!!!
I couldn't love this girl more if she were a Bell. . .she is going to do great things with the skills and abilities and heart God has given her.

Tom, Stephen, and I had a super-cool tour at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory yesterday.  A tennis friend who works there alerted us to their 75th anniversary and that they were giving 4,000 tickets out to tour the facility on June 8th -- we jumped online and reserved our tickets (good thing, they were gone within days) and have been looking forward to it for awhile.  It was well-worth it!!  We never guessed when we were eating lunch that we would be one of the very last groups out -- there was so much to see and take in. . .I really like doing things like this.  It was a beautiful campus and amazing city secured out there in the "middle of nowhere". . .truly a rare experience.

Just moving backward through the month of May. . .
This girl turned 16. . .surrounded here by her VJ family. . .this is what she wanted for her Sweet Sixteen -- to celebrate with them :)  She also brought her neighborhood BFF along who also happens to have been turning 16 also. . .
They had a great time with the soon-to-be graduate taking them to Cincinnati for the afternoon shopping, making candles, and getting gelato.  Nana and Grandpa also hosted a birthday dinner while we were up there --
AND, as it just so happens, Laura's travel soccer team was also in the same city so Grandma, Nana, and Grandpa were all able to come out to the fields to watch her (and she didn't have to take the bus home with her team -- she just hopped in the car with us) play.
It was a really rough season (coming down from winning state last year) but she is such a good sport and already heading out to get ready for her HS season.  This was a picture on the way home from that trip:
If you peek in the very back the birthday girls are also fast asleep :)

The very next weekend this one (and one of her HS and travel teammates) went to the state tournament seeded #1 in their division. . .and lost in the first round.  That was a disappointing end to a pretty good season.  As of right now she thinks she's going to take a break from soccer this HS season and maybe try her hand at tennis. . .I'm trying not to smile too hard at this turn of events. . .

Speaking of tennis, this kid had a great freshman year with his HS -- the coach picked him to play in a varsity match at the end of the season, meaning he lettered.  Of the four athletes we have in this house, incredibly he is the first to receive a varsity letter.  Kinda crazy. . .all of our school moves these last 3-4 years really put the older ones at a disadvantage that way.  But oh well. . .onward and forward, as I always say. . .my girls were thisclose to those soccer letters last year -- they missed them by ONE DAY.  Sigh.

Looking forward to what else we have on the calendar this summer:  I play in my first state tennis tournament this weekend. . .Tom & I have a possibility of a get-away the following weekend (thank you Nana & Grandpa Fred!). . .a FL trip for Laura, Canoe Camp for the older two with Tom, Junior Team Tennis for Stephen all summer with a state tournament in July, trips to OH for the two kiddos who aren't serving at CLC this summer, hopefully some college visits (and decisions?) for Laura. . .maybe some more days at the lake. . .and not wanting to miss a minute of this fleeting time with our children under our roof.  As I looked back at pictures while putting together AVJ's table, I was reminded of why I take pictures (to capture those memories because my brain can't hold them all!) and to have a history to show our kids. . .where they came from, how much they are loved, and, let's face it, to swoon over the cuteness that was the first decade of  the 2000's. . .

Susan, Thomas, Marie, Papa John, AVJ, Margaret, Frederick

I will end this post how I started it -- with my heart out there for all to see.  What great joy it is to be a mother, wife, sister, daughter, aunt, friend. . .there is so much to be thankful and joyful about.
Frederick, Margaret, AVJ, Marie, Thomas, Susan, 11 years later


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