Vacation Day!!

Yay!!  It is finally the day we leave for the much needed family vacation!!  Our bags are packed, the snacks are packed, the ice chest is ready, and the kids are beside themselves with excitement!!  Now I just have to pray it all fits in the car (Suburban) and my SWEET hubby doesn’t go into cardiac arrest when he sees how much I am taking.  After 20 years of marriage, you would think one of us would have come around to the others way of thinking, but NO!!!  I still pack way more clothes and shoes than I need, a girl never knows what she will be in the mood to wear, and he still packs way less than I think he needs!!  The JOY - he packs less which leaves more room for me!!!  
I will be blogging some while we are gone, just probably not every day!!  I will definitely be doing my “Why I Count It All Joy Wednesday” posts, so start your lists and link up!!  I will also be having a surprise guest blogger one day, you are gonna LOVE her, I know I do!!!
I will be praying for you all and checking in as much as possible, and if you will pray for travel safety for us, that would be amazing!!  Love you all!!
Counting it all Joy!!

Welcome to Why I Count It All Joy Wednesday!!  To join in on all the JOY, grab my button for your post, make your own JOY list, and link up below this post so others will be able to find your blog!!  Don’t forget to post a link on your blog back to me!!
I am filled with JOY because God created all types of landscapes and in the next few days, we will be driving across the country and enJOYing several of them!!
I am filled with JOY because Lindsey, Ella, and I just got our fingers and toes done!!
I am filled with JOY because my wonderful hubby is going to be off work for the next 2 weeks, spending every minute with me and the boys!!
I am filled with JOY because by Saturday evening I will be laying on the beach enJOYing Jesus and my hubby and kids!!
I am filled with JOY because I started the Couch to 5K Program last week and it is going way better than I thought it would.  I am still alive AND breathing!!  Plus my hubby and kids are doing it with me!!
I am filled with JOY because I have the best family and friends who are so encouraging to me, always willing to help me and to pray with me at a moments notice!!  What more could a girl want!!
I am filled with JOY because the casting director from Food Networks Cupcake Wars called me today and asked me to be on the show!!  Crazy - don’t even know how to feel about that one, but what a compliment - really praying for direction, but filled with JOY that they asked!!
I am filled with JOY because there are tons of cupcake bakeries between here and California, between California and Nevada, and between Nevada and home that I plan on eating at and helping myself decide if my cupcakes are good enough for Cupcake Wars!!  Then I will have the JOY of working off a thousand cupcakes when I return!!!  WOO HOO!!!  The eating part of this one fills my family with JOY too!!
I am filled with JOY because the God of hope will fill us with all JOY and peace as we trust in him, so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I am filled with JOY because JOY is contagious and each week several of you join me and help spread it!!!  YIPPEE, I LOVE YOU GUYS!!!
What is filling you with JOY this week??
Counting it all Joy!!

Ready or Not...

I came in here to type up a post saying, I’m super busy and I will be back tomorrow to my JOY post, but as I sat down to type this post, my head is screaming at me to get up and get going, I have a million things to do so we can leave for vacation Thursday.  At the same time, my heart is screaming, “wait a minute”!!  We are doing all this focused preparing, planning, and packing to leave home for a couple of weeks, but do we focus that hard on the most important trip?
Are we constantly preparing and planning for our trip to Heaven to live with our Father who created us and loves us unconditionally?  Are we always focused on and doing the things necessary to get there? 
We make all our reservations and tell everyone who needs to know we will be gone, but are we that deliberate in telling people about THE TRIP we all will be taking?  We make sure the house is clean before we go, but are we constantly making sure our hearts are staying clean, preparing for our trip?  
I don’t know about you guys, but I know there are times when I get super busy preparing and planning for this life here on earth that I sometimes put the most important trip on the back burner!!  I get so caught up in the here and now!!  What if Jesus returning was the here and now, would I have told everyone I wanted to tell everything I wanted to tell them, would I have cleaned every crack and crevice of my heart, would I have blessed and/or served all the people I was supposed to, would I have sacrificed for others as much as I should have?  Would I look back on my life and know with certainty that I had done everything in my power to be prepared for this trip or would there be regrets that could have easily been dealt with?
As busy as I am, I really love it when the Lord slows me down and makes me see what’s really important.  If I forget something, there will be stores in California, if I forget to tell someone something, I can always pick up my handy iphone and call them after we are gone, if I don’t take enough money, I can always get on my computer and transfer money to my checking account and use my sweet little debit card for whatever I need!!!  But when we leave on our last trip, if any of that is forgotten or left undone, there won’t be any fixing it!!  
No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.  

"Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!'  Mark 13:32-37
Thank you Jesus for giving us all the opportunities to enJOY our lives and for always lining me back up and for always showing me what REALLY matters in the midst of all MY fun!! 

Don’t forget, tomorrow is Why I Count it all Joy Wednesday, YAY!!  I would love it if you would come help me spread the JOY!!  Make your joy list, grab the Joy button for your post, and come back tomorrow and link up so everyone will be able to find you!!
Counting it all Joy!!

Foodie Fun!!

As most of you know, I had a big wedding to cater this weekend!!  What a great day we had.  Dan, Drew, and the twins are always here helping me, but this time, my daughter, Lindsey, and Loren and her kids all came to help too, which was a huge blessing.  I had been doing some of the prep work and shopping all week, but Saturday everyone showed up in full force to help me, oh the JOY!!  Shane even came in for comic relief on occasion, but he isn’t into the whole catering thing, only the laughter and the eating!!

Even Ella needed an apron!!

Drew and Jenna having fun with the grapes!!

We had lots to do, a pretty tight schedule, and tons of food to transport across town.  Needless to say though, Loren and I can’t get together for anything without a lot of laughter and silliness from us and/or our kids!!  Such FUN!!

For once, I got a picture of Drew without a silly face, but Jenna and Adam jumped right in there!!

Lindsey isn’t into the cooking part much either, but she always shows up to help however she can.  

Everyone was working hard!!

900 Italian meatballs, 400 toast points, 2 gallons of Bruschetta, 300 Caprese Salad skewers drizzled with Basil Oil, 400 seasoned pita chips, 6 Baked Bries with Apricots and Almonds, 15 pounds of cheese, and more fruit than I could begin to weigh or count later and we were ready for the wedding!!  This is when I always pray the Loaves and Fishes prayer, just in case!!

Not the best picture, but it shows most of the table.

Fruit tower centerpiece!!  

By the time the wedding started, everyone was tired, hungry and giddy, but everything was a hugh success, YAY!!!

Hmmm, are they admiring the fruit tower or trying to decide if they could eat some without getting caught!?!

A bunch of tired feet!!  Praise Jesus for all of them and the ones that had already left!!

So this is a huge Shout Out to my wonderful family and the best friends in the world!!  You all are awesome!!  I love cooking and catering, but it is always so much more fun and fulfilling when done with the people you love!!
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, his friend can help him up.  But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Counting it all Joy!!

Friday Funnies - What talent!!

Today I am joining my friend Kim for Friday Funnies!!  
For more funnies visit her at Homesteaders Heart

If you have followed me for very long at all, you know that we are crazy.  You never know what to expect.  There always seems to be a practical joke or someone doing something silly.  Here is the latest from my sweet, but goofy, hubby.  This was just a few hours after he was home from his latest trip to China.  I would let him claim jet lag... except he acts like this when he hasn’t been traveling!!
And he claims he can’t multi-task!!

Hope you have lots of funnies in your life!!
Counting it all Joy!!

Sweet Tweet

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about Gifts, just wanted to give you all an update!  
It’s a beautiful thing.  When I sit at my breakfast room table for breakfast or coffee, I can hear the sweet sounds.  When Ella is here, she will say, “Nanny, can you hear that?”  Sometimes the boys will be playing and stop to say, “Can you hear that?”  I look out the window, see the movement, and know our time with them is about over!!  Those sweet little babies are growing and are about to be set free into the bright blue sky.  Their mama and daddy have done a wonderful job taking care of them, but this season of their life is almost over and they will move on to the next season.  They just fill me with JOY.  

The nest isn’t nearly as pretty with all the poop on it, (YUCK) but we are still so fascinated by it all!!  Can you believe how much they have grown in a little under two weeks?  
They are all four in there, two on top and two on bottom, I just hope and pray they trade places some!!  I know the day is coming when we get up or go out to check on them and they will be gone, off to do what birds do and eventually build a nest and bless some special family with the experience we have been blessed with!!  
You would think as excited as I have been about these little guys that I had never experienced anything like it!!  It’s not that, it is just that I again stand in awe at all the wonderful examples of how awesome our God really is!!
Thank you Jesus for being so amazing and allowing us to experience all the JOYs of life and this world, big and small!!
Believing you all will have a fabulous day!!
Counting it all Joy!!

Why I “Count it all Joy” Wednesday

Welcome to Why I Count It All Joy Wednesday!!  
To join in on all the JOY, grab my button for your post, make your own JOY list, 
and link up below this post so others will be able to find your blog!!  
Don’t forget to post a link on your blog back to me!!

I am filled with JOY because Jesus loves ME and wants to spend time with ME!!
I am filled with JOY because the Lord made such a wonderful husband just for me and he is home from China!!  WOO HOO
I am filled with JOY because Monday when my electricity went out for hours, and I was so worried that the hundreds of dollars of food I had already purchased for the wedding I am catering this weekend would be ruined, and Dan was still out of town, Loren’s sweet hubby called and was all ready to bring a generator and hook it up for me and save the day!!  Praise the Lord the electricity came back on and he didn’t have too!!  THANK YOU BRIAN!!
I am filled with JOY because Loren and Jantzen are coming to hang with us and help with the wedding catering preparations Saturday!!  
I am filled with JOY because a week from tomorrow we are leaving for our much needed vacation to the sandy beaches of California!!  I have never been there, I am soooooo excited!!
I am filled with JOY because my sweet granddaughter, Ella, tells me daily how much she is going to miss me while we are gone!!  I love how much she loves me!!
I am filled with JOY because Shane was supposed to leave for his next deployment training while we were in California and we wouldn’t get to see him before he leaves, but he found out yesterday that he won’t leave until a week after we are back now!!  Have to cherish every minute until he leaves in February for Afghanistan!!
I am filled with JOY because I have just about finished picking our curriculum and deciding what all we are going to do in school this year!!  You would think after 11 years it would be a NO-BRAINER, but it’s not!!
I am filled with JOY because there is a new yogurt place in town!!  It has like 12 different flavors and tons of toppings and you get to serve yourself, toppings and all!!  We went, it was so YUMMY!!
I am filled with JOY because JOY is contagious and you guys are helping me spread it!!

What has been filling you with JOY lately?
Counting it all Joy!!


What a great day today is!!!  Dan is home, Praise the Lord!!  We picked him up at the airport late last night, we were so excited!!  Adam and Isaac made a sign to hold up for him, just being silly!!  The funny thing is sometimes when kids ask Dan what his name is, he gives some silly name, it’s always so funny!!  The boys decided they would use one of those names on the sign - LUTHER!!  So when Dan came, there they were, standing at the gate, holding a sign that said LUTHER!  My guys are always up to something!!

Goofy Boys!!

Dan when he saw the sign!!  (Sorry it was really dark)

The rest of the week is going to be extremely busy!!  I have a wedding to cater this weekend!!  I love cooking/catering, pretty much anything to do with food, especially eating it, LOL!!  Loren and her son are coming to help, that will be lots of fun!!  Will definitely take lots of picture!!
Don’t forget, tomorrow is “Why I Count It All Joy Wednesday”!!  Make your JOY list, grab my button, and come back tomorrow and link up so others can read your JOY!! (you can link up after 12:00 am CST)
Now off to spend the day with my honey!!
Counting it all Joy!!

It's Never Too Late!!

I want to tell you a little bit about my Papa Johnny!!  This papa was my mom’s dad.  He was born 91 years ago today.  Unfortunately, by his early teens, he had no parents, was living on the street or staying with friends, and eventually getting into trouble.  By his late teens, he was drinking way too much, living way too rough, and ended up in jail!!  Some of this the result of bad decisions made by others and some because of bad decisions made by him.
After his jail time, he met and married my sweet Granny and they had seven kids, my mom being the second in line!!  He loved his wife and kids, but by this time, he was an alcoholic and in some ways, couldn’t/wouldn’t let go of who he had been before.  He was hard and from what I hear not very nice.
Those are the facts I learned after I was grown and had kids of my own.  
I was the first granddaughter and what I knew of Papa was that I had stolen his heart.  When I was a few months old, I got the whooping cough and had to go live with them.  Apparently Papa would sit up with me, holding me and making sure Granny was alerted if I was choking.  This is the Papa I knew, a little rough around the edges, but loving to his grandkids.  He always had a paper bag of candy bars hidden just for us.  He always had fun with us, and he spoiled us.  
As I grew up, I became aware of the fact that he drank, but never realized how bad it was, or how he acted when he was drunk.  All I knew was how much he loved us.  He was harsh sometimes, but he always made sure we knew he never wanted us to drink, he taught us to be respectful, to have good manners, and he made sure we all new he wanted us to be “better people than he was”!!  
After I was grown and not quite so naive, I saw and heard things that surprised me, but I knew he had always loved me and my sweet Granny loved him and no matter what anyone said about him, she saw something worthwhile in him that no one else did.  She believed in him, she loved him, she stood by him when no one thought she should, she prayed for him when he didn’t want her prayers.  
As they aged, he mellowed out a little and she continued loving him and praying for him for about 55 years and then she went to be with Jesus. 
After Granny passed, we started having big reunion/birthday parties for him every year.  The great grandkids were the life of the party by this point and he loved them.  Some of the grandkids and great grandkids would talk to him about Jesus and sing songs for him about Jesus, he would listen and enjoy, and he always told them to live right and to stay in church but that it wasn’t for him.  I always knew he thought he wasn’t worth the love of Jesus.  He felt he had been so bad, there wasn’t much left to love.  There didn’t seem to be anything we could do to convince him otherwise except pick up where Granny left off in the prayer department. 
We watched as Jesus softened Papa, he would just cry like a baby when we were all around.  He would listen to us tell stories of when we were little and he would laugh until he cried and he would say how much he loved his kids (which meant kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, and great, great-grandkids)
Five years ago, at the end of our weekend reunion, after three days of being with the kids who shared Jesus with him year after year after year, he was finally convinced that he was worth it and he asked Jesus into his heart at the age of 86!!  What a MIRACLE!!  What a time of CELEBRATION!!  I know my Granny wasn’t here to witness it, she never saw the fruits of her labors on this earth as far as he was concerned, but I know she was enJOYing the Angels singing that day, she was having her own heavenly party.  
He started out a blessing from God even if he didn’t know it.  The enemy used him and tried to destroy him, but in the end Papa and Jesus won!!
Unfortunately, Papa didn’t make it to his 91st birthday today, we lost him in December.  I sat with him just days before Jesus took him and listened to him tell me what he was going to do when he got to Heaven.  He thought there should be a sign that says “All Boyles Welcome”  (Boyle being his last name)  He didn’t want anyone else thinking they weren’t worth it.  We laughed and we cried, ALOT!!  I really love him and miss him, the best part though is that I can just see him walking/dancing on the streets of gold with Granny and Jesus!!

This picture was taken a couple of months before he went to live with Jesus!!  Isn't he the cutest!!

Here he is laughing at something silly I said!!  I loved laughing with him!!

All this to say, no matter how bad a situation is, or how many years you have prayed that same prayer, when you feel like giving up, or like He isn’t listening, don’t give up, don’t quit praying and remember NOTHING is impossible for GOD, His timing may not always be what we think it SHOULD be, but if we give it all to Him, His plan is always better than anything we could have hoped for!!

Happy Birthday Papa - I sure miss you!!
Thank you Jesus for giving me Papa!!
Counting it all Joy!!

Friday Funnies - JOY

Today I am joining my friend Kim for Friday Funnies!! With Dan being in China right now and since so many told me I got the JOY song stuck in their heads once this week, I couldn't resist!! For more funnies visit Kim at Homesteaders Heart

Believing you all have the JOY down in your HEARTS!!
Counting it all Joy!!

Why I “Count it all Joy” Wednesday

Welcome to Why I Count It All Joy Wednesday!!
To join in on all the JOY, grab my button for your post, make your own JOY list, 
and link up below this post so others will be able to find your blog!  
Don’t forget to post a link on your blog back to me!

I am filled with JOY because the Creator of the Universe knows my name and loves me flaws and all!!
I am filled with JOY because even though Dan’s trip to China is 9 days LONG, it is the shortest trip he has made in the last 2 years and he will be home Monday!!
I am filled with JOY because some smart person invented Skype which allows me to  not only talk to Dan when he is in China, but I get to see him too!!
I am filled with JOY because I have some wonderful boys who step up to the plate when their daddy leaves to take great care of me!!
I am filled with JOY because I am getting my hair done today!!
I am filled with JOY because we leave for vacation to the sandy beaches of California in two weeks!!  YIPPEE!!
I am filled with JOY because even though Adam and Isaac need allergy shots and the insurance company is calling all of their allergies pre-existing and refusing to pay for anything, God has a plan that is way better than any insurance company and their needs will be met!!
I am filled with JOY because we read together, laugh together, act silly together, love Jesus together, and when Dad is gone camp out in the living room together!!
I am filled with JOY because when I was a little girl, I had a Sunday School teacher who taught me the song - I’ve Got The JOY, JOY, JOY, JOY Down In My Heart.  I have been singing it for 40 years and nothing can take it away!!
I am filled with JOY because together we are spreading the JOY and others are catching on!!  Remember it is CONTAGIOUS!!
(Romans 15:13)  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 
What are you JOYful about today???
Counting it all Joy!!

He Made It!!

On the day Dan arrives in China I always feel so much better!!  It is such a long flight and I am not used to not talking to him every couple of hours.  We have always been so blessed no matter where he has worked, we have been able to talk periodically throughout the day.  We are very spoiled and I love it.  I know God always has that plane in the palm of His hand, but I also know I feel way better when it is on the ground.  By the time he gets through customs and meets the driver that takes him the 4 hours to the city he stays in, it is about 5 or 6 in the morning here, its been about 22 hours since I talked to him, and I finally hear from him.  Huge Sigh!!!  Thank you Jesus for safe travels and Skype!!!

I just love this guy!!!

I just wanted to pop in and let you all know he made it there safely!!  Thank you all for your prayers!!  
I am super busy getting ready for a wedding I am catering next week, but I will be back tomorrow with Why I Count it All Joy Wednesday!!  Grab my button, make your JOY list, and come back and link up so everyone can find you!!

Praying you all have a very JOYful day!!
Counting it all Joy!!

Fun, Food, and A Prayer Request!!

After a week of rain and storms, I decided since we couldn’t be outside swimming or riding our bikes or anything else, we would bring an outside activity in!!  So Friday evening I broke out my kitchen torch, marshmallows, graham crackers, and hershey bars, and we all gathered around the kitchen island and had Smores Night!!  Oh what fun and how YUMMY!!

Saturday we met our friends, Loren and Brian, for dinner/date night with our hubbies!!  We met at a wonderful little cafe in one of my favorite parts of town.  As usual when Loren and I are together, there was lots of laughter.  We all ordered our dinners and were completely surprised when Loren and I got our meals, they were HUGE.  We had both ordered a strip steak served over twice baked home fries, now these people mean business, we so should have SHARED!!  Dan and Brian, on the other hand, had normal sized meals, then helped us with ours, and we still both took some home!!

Loren and I being our goofy/cheesy selves with our MAN-sized meals!!!
Here we all are posing outside the restaurant!!!

After a great weekend of family and fun, we had to head to the airport Sunday for Dan to go to China, AGAIN!!  The kids came over in the morning for a while and brought our granddaughter to see him off.  Please keep him in your prayers today, he left Chicago about 10:30 this morning and his flight is about 15 hours long, so he will be in the air until sometime around 1:00 AM CST.  
"May the LORD keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other.” Matthew 31:49
Believing you all had a great weekend!!
Counting it all Joy!!