Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Homework With A Smile

Surprised to see a teenager with this big of a smile while doing homework? This girl has been beaming since she walked in the door last night with her new school issued laptop. The freshman in our house got her device before her senior sister. Our school district is on it's way to accomplishing the 1 to 1 initiative it mapped out a couple years ago. Meaning, one device for each student starting with the high school. There are two reasons for Reagan's early laptop. #1 her Spanish class is a test group just like last year one of Emma's classes was a test group #2 she was 1 of 4 students (out of 2400) selected to represent her HS at the student-superintendent advisory team. YAY!

I have to admit something, there is another reason she is smiling so big...she is laughing at her mom for taking such a ridiculous picture. Hey, I'm a blogger. Gotta. Have. Pictures!

Life can be fun and exciting, even these regular moments are meant to be celebrated and enjoyed. I want to teach my girls that we don't have to wait for the monumental moments to make memories. It's the journey or as some people say it's the "dash" that matters most. Have a wonderful day and remember to enjoy whatever you are doing.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

College Roommates

Aw, the good old days of living in the dorms, playing volleyball, doing lots of stuff we shouldn't have and still trying to make it to class on time. My freshman year I roomed with 3 other volleyball players, Kelly, Julie and Rhonda. How our lives have changed in the last 20+ years which makes our brief reunions all the better. Unfortunately I haven't seen Rhonda since 1994. Between the four of us we have fourteen children ages 17-1. That would be a fun party we all could carve out a free weekend.
My setter Juba

Crooked fingered hitter and Her little guy
It was so great to reconnect with Julie an Kelly, now we have to get in touch with Rhonda. Time for a reunion!

Monday, August 15, 2016


Where did our summer go? I remember as a child wondering why old people said things like, "the older I get the faster time flies." It sounded ridiculous to me and now apparently I AM one of those "old people" because time does fly. Our summer seemed to be over just days after it bagan and I really do not want this school year to fly by quickly. (Remind me that I said that just incase life gets hairy and I'm complaining about kids, life, family, etc)

Below are a few back to school pictures. Reags and Liv started school a day before Em. What a good big sis, she crawled out of bed for a picture. Olivia was a little hesitant about her teacher but so far she has been pretty happy. Reagan was a ball of nerves on the first day. She found all her classes and even the lunch room. Whew! Emma was excited to be BMOC.

Lord, walk the halls of these girls' schools. Keep them safe. Please gently give them reminders that they are yours and you love them unconditionally. Help them remember to shine your light to the "least of these." May their successes draw them close to you in praise and their trials help them to rely on you faithfully. You are the virtues of Philippians 4:8, true, noble, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthly. Let them think on these things.
In Jesus' Powerful Name, Amen

Senior's 1st day
I love that Facebook will occasionally show me pictures that I posted 1, 3, 6, etc years ago. Look at my girls on the first day of school 5 years ago and then this year. I think I still see Liv just like that little kindergartener. Watching these girls grow and learn to think for themselves is an amazing privilege as a parent. What an beautiful gift from God!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Happy Birthday Vicki!!

I met my dear friend Vicki in 1998 when I started working at Christ Church of the Valley in Phoenix, Arizona. It wasn't until I quit working to stay home with my girls that we started talking more. And then when our family packed up and left the Valley our friendship really flourished. Vicki is a friend who is just a few years ahead of me in life and has already experienced some of the joys and pitfalls of life that I may still cross. She is full of wisdom but typically waits for me to ask for it. I truly cherish our friendship. We are sisters in Christ, wives, mothers, crafters, bloggers, suspicious, tea lovers, caring, interested in people and love to laugh. I thank God for putting us in the same office all those years ago. I am blessed beyond what words can express to have this fantastic lady in my life. 

Vicki, Have a happy birthday and know that I am praying for you my friend!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Raabe Reunion 2016

Another great weekend. 
First a few pictures.

Smelly Mud Bath

My big girls at the lake


Cousins grades 7 and down

The Warren Raabe crew
Warren and Silvia Raabe had 3 children who married and collectively had 7 children. Now we are a group of 30 Raabes. (pronounced Ray-be) No, we don't pronounce our name that way.
In this picture we are standing in Nebraska, behind us is South Dakota and off to the right is Iowa.

When we "camp", we do it in style

And I won! Which means I got a nasty old tarnished trophy...totally worth it!
We stacked marshmallows, chop stick race, cup stacking, gum in flour, donut on a string, puzzle and then several we didn't get to. I am a bit competitive so I'm proud to say I won all but the first race I was in. In the children's division Emma and Reagan did well. #braggingrights #familyfun

Blowing a bubble with flour in your mouth is tough

Biker Babe
Emma was so excited that Uncle John rode his Harley this year. Lucky for her no one else wanted a ride so she wiggled her way on the bike every opportunity she could. 

This was one of the best reunion weekends we have had in a long time. About every 3 years we change locations. We have been to Lewis and Clark State Park outside of Yankton, SD, Kansas City, MO, some farm house in Iowa, Platte River State Park in Lewisville, NE, Honey Creek State Park in Iowa, and now Ponca State Park. In order to get 3 cabins together we have to book a full year in advance so we didn't know what it would look like when we arrived. The cabins were the best we've had so far...clean, spacious, great amenities. Even though I worked a bunch I still felt like I had plenty of time to hang out with the family around the fire. And the best part for me, this year the food prep and clean up was a shared effort. 

It's hard to believe next year may be Emma's last, who knows what her schedule will be like after she graduates from high school. On a walk she talked about being older and bringing a husband and children to the reunion. WHAT? Ha I guess those days are coming. She is such a great girl (young lady), this is going to be a fun journey.

Family doesn't look the same in all groups or even seasons of life. When we lived 1800 miles from our biological family we relied on friends to be our "family." Now that we are near by we recognize how blessed we are to have these people in our lives on a regular basis. We don't always see eye to eye...it was important to avoid all talk of the presidential elections. And even though Warren and Silvia were strong Christians unfortunately we can't always discuss religion either. I suppose that's typical in most families. What isn't typical is the bottom line, we love each other and want to spend time investing in one another. I thank God for this group.

True Beauty Shines from the Soul

My first Baby is a Senior!!!!!!!!

You will have to excuse me...there are no words.

Kelli G Photography has once again blown my mind. We haven't gotten all the pictures back, these are just a few of the snapshots she text to me while we are at the family reunion. I hope this child knows that her beauty originates from deep in her soul. What you see on the outside is just a sample of the beauty God placed within her. Baby girl...oh I have no words. I love you!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Summer College ID Camp

College ID Camp? Really? She hasn't even started high school. Oh please slow down the clock and help me enjoy every moment God gives me with these precious gifts.

The last two weeks of July are packed full for this soccer stud. Reagan played in a national championship tournament in Colorado, had a couple days of R&R then attended a College ID Camp here in Omaha, tomorrow we have a 3 day family reunion and then she flies to San Diego for the SoccerLoco Surf Cup. Is that too much? The kid eats it up. She has goals and dreams that include soccer and wearing a US Olympic soccer jersey. So no, this is not too much. I would be lying if I said I had no concerns about burnout or exhaustion. What I have noticed about Reagan, if we remove her completely from soccer for 2 days she is dying to get back at it. That shows me she is fine.

This ID camp was right in the hottest week of the summer with humidity in the 70% range. Last night Reagan asked me if I walked at the track during camp, I told her, "no it was too hot." I think she may have rolled her eyes at me. And I deserved it.

Battling her own teammate and friend for possession of the ball

Ready to go down the line
The Elite Girls Academy players are so fortunate to have a Director of Coaching who is interested in seeing them play at the next level. Marcus Kelcher, founder of EGA and DOC puts countless hours into promoting his players whether it's at tournaments, bringing in Division 1 college coaches or taking countless phone calls and emails from coaches, parents and recruiters. A typical college ID camp on a college campus can range anywhere from $400-$800 but for $150 we had coaches from Nebraska University (UNL), Kansas University, Kansas State University, UMKC, Minnesota University, Creighton University, Auburn University, Hastings College, Nebraska Wesleyan, pretty sure I missed some. This is why the number of EGA girls playing soccer beyond high school is 70% higher than the average youth soccer club. We are a small club but we are mighty!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Rocky Mountain National Park

First let me say, if you have a 4th grader you can get into ANY NATIONAL park for FREE! Woo Hoo! Yes I said free. Go to this web page to learn all about it and print your pass. "Every Kid in a Park" is an initiative to get 4th grade kids and their families outside exploring our natural riches.

We drove to Denver to watch Reagan play in the National Premier League National Championship Tournament. Can I brag? She played awesome! We had so much fun watching her play. Well, Olivia didn't really watch but she did go. ;) 

Once a family gets to Colorado it would be a shame to turn around and go home just because soccer is over, so we didn't. We spent two days with the Percival family...LOVE THEM! Jeff is the worship leader at Southeast Christian Church in Parker, Colorado. Hearing his voice on stage takes me back to the glory days of CCV. Thanks Percivals for making us laugh and feel so loved.

The last day in Colorado was spent in the Rocky Mountain National Park. The pictures below show some of our adventures but none of them capture the beauty of God's amazing design. Our first adventure was buying chicken in Safeway. Here's a sidenote, I remembered our AZ phone number so I could get the store discount...saved $4. Once we got through Estes Park the real journey began.
Our first waterfall. I can't remember the name of this fall
but it was formed in 2008 after a flood.
Emma was obsessed with all the big rocks
"Oh look, there's a big rock!"
Yep, here's another
Mom and Eldest Daughter
The air was thin but I climbed to the top with my girls.
Bear Lake
My zany girls
Our extra mile hike up, up, up to Alberta Falls
Alpine Tundra 11,796ft
Notice the jackets, it was chilly up there
Aw, the beauty!
No wonder he's afraid of heights!
We all wanted to stay longer but reality was calling us back home. Both of our summer jobs were screaming at us, demanding our attention. The trip home was not terrible, which I guess it means it was pretty good. We are truly blessed to be able to spend time together as a family. On our way home Chris & I began to realize that next summer Em will be in Europe, then off to college. Thus begins mom saying, "this is the last time we will..." I hope it doesn't get annoying.

A quick shout out to my Uncle Gavin in Washington turning 81 years young!
Much love to you.

I pray for those of you I know as well as the friends I have not yet met. We all can do something small to help out our fellow neighbors. Be a Blessing this week to someone new.

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 
Ephesians 2:10

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Happy Birthday Danielle

I love parties! 
I love birthdays! 
I love my friend Danielle!
What a privilege it was to celebrate another year of life with my dear sweet friend Danielle. As the party kicked off, we went around the room sharing something special about this amazing woman. The stories nearly brought me to tears. I knew only 2 other women of the 20 sitting in the living room but each of us told a story that described a lady full of strength, love, compassion, fun and spirit of God. Another highlight of the party was eating the best ever homemade chocolate cake!

Seven years ago on crisp Halloween night our families ended up at the same party. We talked and laughed as we followed our little ones from house to house asking for candy from strangers. I was hoping for almond joys, not sure if I got any. I don't believe I saw her again until several months later when I offered to bring her dinner after she had a baby. Is that weird? Maybe but I like do that for new moms. From there I don't know when we moved from being acquaintances to friends but I thank God for putting Danielle in my life. This lady makes me want to be a better person. Danielle has beaten breast cancer once and is now in her second battle. She and her family have traveled down some pretty challenging roads and all the while she praises God for his faithfulness and provisions. Happy 35th birthday Danielle, your friendship is a gift!

My scrapbook group. I'm not good at taking selfies
You are invited to pray for Danielle's health and all that comes along with the journey of fighting cancer. I don't care if you pray for her daily or just today. If you read this post two years later, please still pray for Danielle and her family. God knows every detail!

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 NIV

Friday, July 8, 2016

Camp Rivercrest

This is a super busy time of year so I really don't have time to blog but I need a break from the crazy soccer registration I have been doing non-stop for 7 days. But praising God for this work He has blessed me to do...pays the bills.

All three of our girls have gone to church camp since they were in primary grades. Camp Rivercrest in Fremont, NE is an outstanding Christian camp. As the older girls get busier each year they find less and less time for summer camp. However Olivia and her best friend of eight years spent this week at camp. I love hearing the crazy stories, the stories of faith building, the stories about stupid boys, the stories about the amazing food and of course gaga ball. This year's key word was PERSEVERE. The girls had a great time and already look forward to next summer. In the meantime, I will be praying for the Holy Spirit to do a beautiful work in the lives of these sweet girls.

That's really all the time I have to blog. Three Hundred and Fifty youth soccer athletes depend on me (even though they don't know it) to do the behind the scenes work so they can do the thing the love most...play soccer! GO EGA!!

Speaking of soccer...kind of have some cool updates but I can't release them for a while. Stay tuned!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Visiting Dad

The last year has been fairly challenging for mom and dad. This guy, whom I have loved and respected all of my 43 years of life is blazing a trail that no one dreams of traveling. Over fourteen years ago dad was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. At that time I envisioned my dad would turn into some version of Muhammad Ali or Michael J Fox only not nearly as rich. As it would happen, his disease has not mirrored theirs at all. Because my dad has such a positive attitude and has stayed active all these years, the progression of his disease has been much slower. Mom and dad also researched many alternative treatments because what the doctors know to do is just mask the symtoms, it's not a healing at all. Obviously, they followed the doctors orders but used nutrition and some other treatments to keep dad healthy. Just in the last 18 months dad has really taken a major turn for the worse. Dad has now been diagnosed with Lewy Body Disease. We won't ever know if he really had PD, his current doctor says probably not. Knowing he ingested toxic, damaging Parkinson's drugs for 14 years that weren't needed is just too much for me to think about. This has got to be left in God's hands.

Dad is now in a nursing home which is better for both mom and dad. No one truly understands the life of a caregiver until they have lived it themselves. It's hard to accept that dad will never be in my home again nor will he attend a concert or game. However, mom now has a little more freedom and as wonderful as that sounds, it is difficult for her too.

In May Emma and I visited dad with her cello and prom dress. He was thrilled to hear her play. 

Dad, thank you for teaching us that hard work, honesty and respect for others is important. You are a great man and I love you dearly. You shirt is right...This Grandpa Rocks!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Student Takeover 2016

I love to serve.
I love to serve.
I love to serve.
Everyone is different and have been given different gifts but I feel closer to God when I am serving Him by serving others. I am so proud of how our youth ministry at Christ Community Church is focusing on helping kids connect to God through service. This can look different for everyone but certainly our children need to understand that this life is not only about them.
Reagan is completely out of her comfort zone in this picture, shaking hands with a man she doesn't know is frightening for her. So this may not be the place she wants to serve long term but it's a great first step. Side note: most people don't wear suits to our church.
Emma on the other hand is in her happy place, on stage with her cello in hand playing worship music. She has found joy in volunteering at church both with the worship band and toddler room.
This makes my heart overflow!
The girls made fun of me for taking this picture but truly, I love having my girls (plus 2) sitting in church with us. My number one goal as a parent is to I introduce a life with Christ to our girls. Then teach them how to engage with Christ, to know Him personally and put Him in the center of their lives. We encourage the girls to bring friends to church, attend fun activities and ask lots of questions. I grew up in a time when kids went to church because their parents told them to. There was very little dialog about the whys and what ifs of my faith and heaven forbid having fun at church was not even a concept. The result is a generation of people who don't personally know Christ, who attend when it is convenient and live their lives just like everyone else. I do believe whether I am an adult or a child there should be something about me that seems different, and that difference is Christ.

As the Scriptures say, "People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. But the word of the Lord remains forever.
1Peter 1:24:25 NLT

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Rotary Scholar

******Just found this...forgot to post it in May******

This week, four hundred twenty-seven Omaha area students who embody the traits of leadership, character, scholarship and presence came together to be recognized by the local Rotary Club. These remarkable kiddos represent the top 5% of Omaha eighth graders. I love that many of Reagan's close school friends are all part of this group. Not only does she have awesome parents but her friends are pretty great as well.
The Crew from Reags middle school 
Proud Mom and Dad
Nana and Papa
Two of her besties
Reagan, remember that great things seldom just happen to people. It takes hard work, perseverance and good character to achieve your goals. But also remember, you don't have to be perfect and it's okay if plans change from time to time. Your mom and dad are proud of you and love you dearly.