State of the TEAM Address

My fellow friends, family, and bloggers. Six years ago, at the urging of my sweet sister-in-law, I sat down at the computer and entered the mysterious world of blogging. In the beginning, I was in a blogging groove, and it was good. But, as with so many things in this life, the blog and I, well – we lost that loving feeling. Still, I’m not ready to call it quits – so here we go again….

In the spirit of recent reflection, and in hopes of a brighter blogging future, I bring you…The State of the TEAM.

2013 was the inaugural year of life in full-time ministry for our family. Boy have we learned some things. Patience, trust, gratitude (so much gratitude), grace and humility to name a few. As December 31st rolled around, I honestly could not stop thanking God for the faithfulness He has shown us. So much more than we could imagine. My heart was overflowing with thanksgiving for the incredible ways He has proven himself trustworthy, redeeming, and involved with the details of our lives. He alone is worthy of our praise.

I feel so blessed to have celebrated so many wonderful moments with family in the past year. Parents, siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews…we’ve seen almost all of them! I do not take that for granted for a second.

Nathanael, Philip, Anna Elizabeth and Luke all completed their first semester of school with great academic achievements and praise from teachers, coaches, mentors, and peers. I say that with a heart of thanksgiving and nothing else.

In 2013, Nate was the starting center for every high school football game from pre-season, through the playoffs, all the way to the State Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 30th. It was an incredible season woven with more hardships than usual, but I know my son and his teammates came to realize they are much stronger than they imagined they were. At the Football Banquet, Nathanael received his second letter, his letter jacket, and was named Team Captain – which, as an O-lineman and a Junior, was a pretty high honor. Nathanael’s work with FCA continues to blossom, and his vision is to see a team bible study with one-on-one discipleship happening on every sports team at Carmel High School. He has plans to return with our church to South Africa over Spring Break for another short-term mission trip, and we are starting the college search process. In what may be the most exciting/scary news of 2013, Nate finally got his license on December 31st, and has been getting some great snow and ice driving practice in ever since!

Philip will turn 15 years old tomorrow. Wow, huh? He is appreciating life as a high school freshman, playing club men’s volleyball, and enjoying an active social life. Philip is blessed to have an incredible group of friends that he connects with at school, in sports, and through Bible study – and that, my friends, is a true gift. The rate at which he is growing is currently blowing my mind, and he has a new interest in music – the cajon drum, in particular. (I love that kid and all his quirkiness). Philip’s 5 year “Diaversary” came and went on December 29th and I have to admit that for the first time since he was diagnosed, I didn’t get all down in the dumps – which encouraged and confused me at the same time. Watching him be so responsible, so brave, so strong, and so stubborn when it comes to managing this disease can wreak some havoc on this Momma’s emotions. I’m so very proud of him for so many reasons. I know for a fact that in his 15th year, Philip is looking forward to taking drivers ed, playing volleyball for the high school team, returning to SOS Memphis for a summer mission trip, and Chris Dudley Basketball Camp in Oregon. Thankfully, Philip also just got a job that will help fund all these big plans! (He is joining Nate and me at Capstone Cafe and Bookstore and is learning the art of espresso making).

As for the only young lady in the house, our Anna Elizabeth is blossoming into a lovely one. That girl – I’m enamored by her. If you’ve seen her lately, chances are it has been with a book or a Kindle in her hand – she’s a voracious reader. Anna and I had the opportunity to travel to Texas in December – just the two of us (thanks again, Dad!) – and I cannot begin to tell you how much fun it was. Seeing family was awesome (especially my brand new niece, Sadie), but the travel to and from was almost as much fun – just hanging with my girl. It wouldn’t surprise me if in 2014, we start sharing shoes…she’s growing by leaps and bounds – physically, intellectually, and spiritually. So thankful for that sweet and spunky girl.

Luke turned 8 years old on the 11th of January, but for days before, and several days since, we have heard phrases like, “but it’s my birthday” when he’s wanting to drive home a point or sway a decision in his favor. Luke favors the birthMONTH over the birthday, and no one really has the heart to tell him to give it a rest because he’s so passionate about it. Since he was intent on doing a flag football party at the stadium for his birthday celebration, and that field has been under snow a majority of the time since early December (including today), we are postponing the party to a date “yet to be determined.” Unfortunately, this means that in Luke’s mind the whole birthday thing isn’t over until he cuts the cake with a sweaty group of 2nd and 3rd grade boys wearing detachable plastic flags around their waists. Since it looks like winter is serious this year, we may still be in “Luke birthday season” come mid June. We’ll see. In other “youngest child” news, he has yet to cut his hair. It seems the longer it gets, the more attitude he acquires. I have recently been tempted to take my kitchen scissors (that can barely cut paper, mind you) to those golden locks in hopes to turn back time – maybe get a glimpse of “baby” Luke again. I keep stopping short since all he really asked for at Christmas were headbands and Nike socks – and if I cut off all his hair he would have no use for all the headbands he received, and that just seems like a waste. Seriously, underneath the “too cool for school” front, Luke is a super sweet boy who adores his family, cares deeply for his friends, and continues to grow in the nurture and admonition of The Lord.

When I look at our 2014 calendar I could easily become overwhelmed, but I am choosing to see opportunities instead. Opportunities to draw closer to Jesus, to one another, to extended family, and to our local church body. I see TEAMThompson taking the hope of the gospel to the world around us both near and far. I believe our family is going to be stretched this year in ways I can’t quite explain, and I trust our faithful God will use all of these opportunities to make us more into His image.

3 Comments

Filed under Birthday, family, holiday, Missions, sports

Pondering in my heart

It takes a special movie, a very special movie (Toy Story 3 to be exact), to get the tears flowing, and flowing, and flowing – until I’m in all out ugly cry mode, and my children are disturbed (and slightly amused) by the fact that I can’t catch my breath and I’m pinching my nose until I think I might explode to try and stop the floodgate.

It happened at the theater 3 years, 2 months and 5 days ago when we took the family to see it on Nate’s 13th birthday, and the thought of him turning into Andy and leaving for college seemed far too close for comfort. That seems like yesterday.

It happened again tonight when Anna E., Luke and I watched it, and I realized in less than two years this would be my reality.

Although I wanted to crawl in the bed, pull the covers up over my head and pretend this will never happen (quick disclaimer – if Wayland were in the country and able to pick Philip up from his friend’s house tonight and give Luke his breathing treatment and put the kids to bed, I actually might have done this), I have instead decided to let my emotions out by pounding on this keyboard and giving some time to this poor neglected blog, which is actually quite therapeutic to my soul.

I say it over and over – maybe because I still don’t understand it, but how is it that at one time in my life months seemed to pass like decades, and now years pass like days?

At the end of July, our family was incredibly blessed to be able to experience a true family vacation. Now don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some incredible trips together visiting amazing places and dearly loved people – mostly long weekends that we tacked on to Wayland’s work schedule, or trips back to Texas to visit family which is wonderful, albeit a bit exhausting. But to actually take an entire week, get on an airplane – all six of us, and fly across the country to one of the most incredibly beautiful and serene places I’ve ever been??? That was a first. And it was every bit of incredible that you can imagine it would be. We laughed, we learned, we experienced, we marveled and we made wonderful memories. Wayland and I were both overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude that the six of us were able to have this experience. At one point I remember thinking, “I wish this could last forever…” and about that time Philip upset Luke, or Nate upset Philip, or Wayland upset me, or Anna was upset because Ruby wasn’t with us, and I realized that it’s far more important to live and enjoy the moments…moments that are meant to be wonderful for a while, but will eventually change. Moments you’ve maybe waited years for…that come and go. I’m learning to not mourn their passing, but to store them up in my heart and ponder them – just like the bible tells us that Mary did. (Luke 2:19).

DSCN6860

DSCN6904

DSCN7042

familypicoregon

One day, Wayland and I will go back to Oregon with no children in tow, and we will have an amazing couple to welcome us, spend time and make new memories with. My cousin Emily and her husband Mark took our trip from excellent to outstanding with their amazing hospitality and genuine friendship. They are easy people to love.

Home only a couple of weeks from our trip, and I had the opportunity to do some more “treasuring and pondering” as I sat watching my husband being ordained as a pastor on August 18. The thoughts kept scrolling through my mind: “How did we get here?…How did we get here?…We serve an amazing and incredible God whose plans for us far exceed our own limited ones…I just witnessed a dream come to fruition…I JUST WITNESSED A DREAM COME TO FRUITION!”

A few times during the service, Wayland and I locked eyes and we both shared those same thoughts with one another, and our eyes filled up with tears until one of us had to look away, and I was humbled, and honored, and more in love with my husband and my God than ever before. It was a very powerful and emotional ceremony (it reminded me in many ways of a wedding), and the fact that both Wayland’s mom and dad, his sister and our three nieces, and his brother were here to witness and experience it with us, made it incredibly special.

The days we had before and after the ordination to reconnect with family and make some awesome memories were great. Even though they occurred smack dab in the middle of the start of a new school year, and there were 13 of us squeezed into our house all sharing 4 bedrooms and 2.5 baths, it was another opportunity to live and enjoy the moment!

First Day of 2nd and 5th Grade

First Day of 2nd and 5th Grade

Two High Schoolers: Freshmen and Junior

Two High Schoolers: Freshmen and Junior

Granny and some of her "grands..."

Granny and some of her “grands…”

Snuggle time with Laine Grace

Snuggle time with Laine Grace

Sweet cousins: Luke and Rynn

Sweet cousins: Luke and Rynn

Special school lunch visit from Uncle Landry. Her friends weren't the least bit jealous...

Special school lunch visit from Uncle Landry. Her friends weren’t the least bit jealous…

So sweet

So sweet

Anna and Reece - she may be holding one, but that girl's no chicken!

Anna and Reece – she may be holding one, but that girl’s no chicken!

No sooner did we get the Thompson and Riddle clan safely back to Texas, than we packed Wayland up and sent him off to India where he has been the past week. I will be happy to have him home soon and look forward to hearing the incredible stories of how God is rescuing, redeeming, and restoring lives there just as He does all over the world. Something else I can treasure up and ponder…

Pastor Wayland and Pastor Vivian. Humble servants

Pastor Wayland and Pastor Vivian. Humble servants

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Summer 2013

Y’all. July is almost over.

I’m not going to lament over how quickly time is passing. I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that not only does time march on, it charges forward full speed ahead.

Long gone are my days of blogging several times a week – or even a month for that matter. From my recent history, it is easy to surmise I’m not even a monthly blogger. It’s pathetic really. Still, I’m determined not to let this die, because it’s the only chronicle I’m keeping of our days as a family of six. Days that are flying by much, much too quickly.

For the first time in the history of this blog, I neglected to acknowledge one of my children’s birthdays. Nathanael turned 16 the end of June and we celebrated having him home on his birthday for the first time in three years. Nate turned 13, 14, and 15 in Memphis, TN while serving on a mission trip at SOS and LOVED it. Both he and Philip were so disappointed to have to miss this year, we knew we needed to do something extra special to celebrate. Wayland worked hard to put in a fire-pit in the backyard and we christened it the night of Nate’s birthday by throwing him a surprise party. He was completely shocked, and there was much laughter and many smiles to be had by all. Wayland and I are so very blessed to have Nathanael as our first born. He is truly a joy – my “ray of sunshine” as I like to call him. (Just like my Momma called me).

20130721-140607.jpg

20130721-140639.jpg

Aside from Nate’s birthday celebration, the summer has consisted of LOTS of football (this will forever be remembered as the “football card” and “5:00 am” summer of 2013), volleyball tournaments, nature camp, a wonderful visit from my uncle Jimmy, his wife Jolie and their great kiddos – Cade and Cole.

lukeflo

natestrongman

annacreek

20130721-141403.jpg

philipvolley

20130721-141349.jpg

And while our summer is already starting to wind down (school starts August 14), we have a family trip to Oregon to still look forward to. I cannot express how very excited we are. When Wayland left his job in the insurance business to go into full time ministry, I’m not sure I was prepared for what our new normal would look like. What I’ve learned – very quickly, is that there is a great need to protect our family time and disconnect from the demands that accompany our normal day to day routine. This opportunity for us to go to Oregon is a leap of faith in many ways, and we plan to soak in every last memory making event.

I promise to be back with a recap. Hopefully it won’t take me two months…

Leave a comment

Filed under Birthday, family, random

All Caught Up

Wow. Close to two months have gone by since I last blogged and more things have happened than I will ever be able to remember, so I better just cover the high points.

“When we last left off…” (Insert dramatic music here)

…we were planning a super quick trip to Chicago.
I was sure this excursion had been documented, but that is because (once again) Instagram fooled me. We were there just over 24 hours but had a blast as evidenced by the following pictures. Also, God completely blessed us in an amazing and very personal way with tickets (and line cuts) to the Shedd Aquarium while we were there. The whole story is too long to tell, but it will be one of those happenings I will remember as a “total God thing” sprinkled all over with His indescribable love.

20130531-004622.jpg

20130531-004113.jpg

20130531-004323.jpg

20130531-011658.jpg

20130531-004512.jpg

20130531-004951.jpg

…my oldest son was in South Africa.
This could have an entire page to itself, but simply put – Nate’s first international mission trip experience was worth more than any of our words can sum up. It’s true what they say, you come away forever changed. He left a good portion of his heart with the people in South Africa and he laments often of how much he misses being there. I have no doubt at some point he will return and it will almost be like he was never away. That’s because he continues to live his life “on mission” here at home…we are blessed.

20130531-005106.jpg

20130531-005207.jpg

20130531-005255.jpg

20130531-005333.jpg

…Wayland was planning a return trip to India.
At the end of April, Wayland tagged along with a group from a Cincinnati church to continue the partnership our church started with a ministry that provides aftercare to girls rescued out of the sex slave trade. On this trip, in addition to working with the girls, the group was also able to do a pastor’s retreat for around 20 local Indian pastors and their families. It proved to be another incredible experience for all those involved. We continue to pray for India; the local church there, the thousands enslaved in abhorrent evil, the precious lives that have been rescued and are being restored, and those in ministry to free and rehabilitate the broken.

20130531-005429.jpg

20130531-005521.jpg

20130531-005625.jpg

…I came close to losing my mind.
Honestly. While Wayland was in India I experienced a spiritual attack like I never have before. It was in some ways a “perfect storm” – my body was weak from battling an illness for several weeks, my mind was exhausted from responsibilities at home, work, and school, and I was not “prayed up” at all. I mention this only to serve as a reminder that even in our darkest, most desolate places, God sustains. He upholds. Sometimes He even picks us up and carries us when we can’t come close to uttering a prayer for help. He also raises up incredible people to come along side of us to encourage us, meet simple but important needs, and most importantly PRAY us through. So thankful He carried me up and out of the pit I felt like I was trapped in. He is good.

…we were getting ready to pick up a new sport: volleyball.
Both Anna E. and Philip entered the world of setting, spiking, serving, and digging this Spring. Anna’s game started off “shaky” (and that’s putting it nicely), but by the end of six weeks she had made some considerable improvements. It was a challenge at times, but she worked hard to overcome her insecurity and she was able to end the season with a smile on her face. Anna also did a short track season this year. At one meet she was able to have a conversation with the girl next to her while running the 100 m. I’m no Usain Bolt, but I’m pretty sure that if you’re able to chat about the weather on the way down the lane, you’re not giving it your all. We encouraged Anna to run like she was chasing down someone trying to steal Ruby. That helped. At her final meet, she placed first place in her 400 m heat by about 40 meters. She crossed the finish line with a huge smile on her face, so I’m guessing she chased down that dog-napper in her imagination.
Philip’s only motivation, on the other hand, is always F-U-N. For Philip, starting a new sport is always that…a challenge and fun. He started his volleyball season off strong and continued to get stronger each week. It was great watching the kiddos play something new. Philip plans to continue through the summer with the hopes of seeing some sand action. That, in addition to football workouts and squeezing in as much frisbee golf as is possible with his dad and brother, should make for a perfect school break.

annaruby

20130531-005956.jpg

…Luke was getting ready to start soccer.
What a blast it has been to watch our little Luker enter the wonderful world of sports. In addition to spending countless hours tossing the football and shooting the basketball each week, Luke has taken on soccer with a vengeance. His enjoyment for “ALL things sport” is uncanny, and his passionate reaction to almost all competition has resulted in the shedding of many tears as of late. (The latest being tonight’s performance by the Pacers). I am trying hard to remind him, “it’s only a game!” Although, this may be a tough lesson to learn if he’s anything like his father and two older brothers.

20130531-010918.jpg

…we were continuing our fight against Type 1 Diabetes.
It’s been three years since we’ve participated in the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes at Holiday World, so we made sure not to miss it this year. Through the sales of PHILIPSTRONG shirts to many friends and family, we raised over $800 for JDRF and the fight against Type 1. Praying someday very soon we will see a cure for Philip and the many others we know and love that fight this battle all day, every day.

20130531-010227.jpg

So now that we are relatively all caught up, I can talk about the very thing I actually got on this blog to commemorate. Another school year has passed. Yep, it’s true…time just keeps marching on. All four kiddos ended the year strong. I always remind them that although I’m thankful for their great grades and many accomplishments, they don’t have to do anything other than exist to make me proud to be their Momma. I’m looking forward to some good memory making summer time with each of them. Trying to focus solely on that instead of the fact I am now the mother of an 11th, 9th, 5th, and 2nd grader. Please time…SLOW down already!!! Take a look at how much TEAMThompson kiddos have grown and changed this year. It’s amazing!

20130531-012153.jpg

20130531-011042.jpg

4 Comments

Filed under family, Missions, school, sports, The Affliction, Travel

And by “___” I mean ___.

It’s Tuesday morning and we finally found that last Easter egg that eluded us all Sunday evening. This is such a relief for me because I KNEW I hid 37 eggs, and when we only came up with 36 I thought I might be losing a little bit more of my already scattered mind.

We celebrated our Savior’s resurrection in a brand new way this year. Let me say up front that our Easter Sunday was wonderful (aside from the fact that all of us except Wayland had on shoes that were just plain wrong – and by “just plain wrong” I either mean too little, not matching the attire, or I should not have worn those heels knowing I would be on my feet for the better part of 5 hours). Yes, it was a good day, just a very different day. Five services in one weekend and one child short kind of different. After finally eating lunch at close to 4pm, and then visiting with our “Indiana grandparents” next door for a while, we had a very impromptu hunt on Sunday night that was restricted to inside the house (downstairs only) because it was getting dark and sprinkling outside. By then, we were all in our pj’s because our feet hurt and we were tired enough to cry. I am not at liberty to tell you if all three of our children who happened to be home participated in this egg hunt, but I can tell you that one of them thought he was too old until I told him there may be an egg with a couple of dollars in it. AND that he better not try and eat one piece of his younger siblings candy if he wasn’t willing to hunt for his own. That did the trick.

We concluded our Easter Sunday by watching the finale of The Bible. As I watched the crucifixion scene, I kept thinking over and over, What kind of love is this? What kind of love is this? It’s indescribable, really. Impossible for us to wrap our human minds around. I realize the only reason I can love, is because He first loved me – when I was completely unloveable, no less. (1 John 4:7-21). I am so very, very thankful.

And that’s not the only reason I’m thankful. Since Nate left homeThursday morning, I have had an amazing amount of peace considering my 15 year old son is halfway around the world. We know he made it safely to Johannesburg, South Africa on Friday evening local time. On Saturday he and his team traveled to the Limpopo Province, about six hours away, and are presently doing a spiritual retreat for some of the AIDS orphans in the area. At some point this week, Nate will have the incredible opportunity to meet Sello – the young man our family has sponsored the past five years, which will be nothing short of awesome, in my humble opinion. I cannot wait for pictures. From meeting up with another youth group on their way to Africa for a mission trip and doing bible study on the plane together, to hearing the heartbreaking stories of some of the youth at the retreat, I know Nathanael is being stretched in his faith, and learning to submit wholly to the work of the Holy Spirit to strengthen and sustain him.

Even though I’ve experienced a great deal of peace with Nate away, I still miss him. His absence is particularly felt when I’m folding laundry. I just can’t quite reconcile myself to five stacks. Or five place settings, for that matter. In an effort to even the scales, we’ve opened our doors for extra kiddos to join our happy, loud, and often crazy household. Still, it will feel good to have our own boy home next week. It will be amazing to see that beautiful smile light up a room and hear him say, “Hey Momma! How was your day?” when he walks in a room.

In the meantime, I’m going to be soaking up time with my three other precious babies over this super laid back (and still pretty cold) Spring Break. Way and I have plans to take the kiddos into Chicago one day this week which should be mucho gusto (and just so you know, by “much gusto” I mean “very fun.”) (Nate isn’t here to translate for me – sorry).

Leave a comment

Filed under family, holiday, Missions

A Decade in the Making

Today our daughter turns ten. In-stinking-credible, isn’t it?

Anna Elizabeth, born a West Texan surrounded by a large and loving family, celebrated her first birthday in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and has celebrated the following nine in Indiana.

Here she is blowing out her candles at age four…
IMAG0072

And today…
anna10

That makes me smile so big.

I’m blown away by my girl. Her maturity. Her selflessness. Her heart for the poor, the needy, the afflicted. Her spunk. Her love for nature. Her vision for the future. Her ability to look for the unexpected in almost every situation. Her perfect balance of warrior, advocate, nurturer, and young lady.

If we lined up every girl in the whole wide world and had to choose just one, we would choose you, Anna E!

Happy 1st Decade Birthday, my girl. We love you!

1 Comment

Filed under Birthday, family

Awakening in the Sanctuary

I sit, with my quiet and my coffee, raindrops spatter the gutters outside providing the perfect soundtrack for my slow morning. Ruby sleeps three rooms over, still unwilling to bond with me despite my best efforts. It’s Monday. Kids are back in school, and I push back the to-do’s on my calendar for this precious time of decompression. Much needed after such busyness of the past few weeks. Mindless distractions vie for my attention. Morning news programs, social media; endless talk with little substance. I pick it up and set it aside more than once.

How can my mind be stayed on you, Jesus? Do I trust in you? (Isaiah 26:3).

My prayers seem to hit a low ceiling. Please burst through. I have a long list, Father. I know you know it. I believe you see. Will you intercede on my behalf? Yes. (Romans 8:34).

My heart, overflowing with gratitude. My heart, heavy with concern. This struggle of emotion and truth. I know you are moving, God. Stirring things inside my heart. A holy unrest; spurring me onward.

You are faithful to teach me. In my moments of distraction, you speak through the tappings of a keyboard; through the scribbles of a journal. I open my eyes, surprised to find myself in your sanctuary.

Psalm 63:1-8
Oh God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

1 Comment

Filed under random, Uncategorized