Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Favorites


Happy Friday!  I'm linking up with Andrea from Momfessionals for this blog post.

This week was spent playing catch up from our trip.  I've been tired, full of energy some days, really happy or really sad.  To say that my emotions have run the gamut is putting it mildly.  I've been waking up at six something every single morning, thanks to my Callie girl (which is new thing she does now, apparently, and it all started when we left for the Navajo Reservation), and then falling back to sleep before my first cup of coffee in my recliner.

I am thankful for the week at home, because I leave again on Sunday, for a week of serving at Street Reach with the youth in our church.  I'm starting to make lists today, because I know that my tired brain will forget something if I don't.

Here are some of my favorite moments from the past seven days.  It's crazy to think that this time last week, I was staring at a different beautiful view.

One.


I love that view!  I miss that view and the people who were on the trip with us.  Morning worship time was my very favorite time of each day.  Keith would lead worship and we would sing, then he would speak about something each day, from a different passage of Scripture.  He is a really great teacher, and on this particular morning, my emotions were all over the place and I sat and cried almost the entire time.  I had been having my quiet time and a guy a few feet away from me heard me and started talking to me.  He told me that he assumed my tears were over my sadness because that was our last day, and he was right.  Then for the next ten minutes, he just sat and encouraged me.  It was a really sweet time, and he recognized that I was struggling over saying goodbye.

It was really sweet, and the guy who encouraged me is an eighth grade science teacher at CMS.  Graham had him for the time he was there, then we ended up pulling him out after Christmas to homeschool him.

I told you earlier this week (several times, I think), that my heart will forever be connected to the sweet people who went on that trip with us.

Two.


I loved this stop on Sunday morning, in Shamrock, Texas.  I think it's one of my favorite things that we saw, and even where we stopped to get gas, the young man at the cash register and I had a really great talk while I was waiting to get a receipt for the gas.  He was really curious as to why a big group of us were there, and I ended up telling him all about our trip and what we did, and I encouraged him a little as he told me about himself.

I've told you that I meet friends wherever I go?

I do.

Anyway, this was a fun memory, and I love all these people so much.

Three.


This was so NOT my favorite thing from the week.  I wish I could properly explain to you the amount of dust and dirt that was on our dirty clothes, thus also on my kitchen floor after I did all this laundry.  I was a little overwhelmed when Todd left for work Monday morning, but I somehow managed to get it all done that day.  My washing machine and dryer ran from six thirty that morning until after eleven that night.

I am happy to report that I'm back to being caught up on laundry again.

Four.


On Monday night we had pizza for dinner, because of all the laundry, but on Tuesday, our neighbors invited us down to their house for dinner.  I got to love on this sweet cheeked little angel and kiss on his cheeks for a good bit while they finished making dinner.  This was one of my favorite and best things we did all week.

And hamburgers and hot dogs have never tasted so good!  It was just Todd and me that went, because all the boys were at backyard kids clubs.

Five.



Speaking of backyard kids clubs, this was another favorite from the week.  I love that our church doesn't do VBS, but hosts these BKC's all over our town.  I helped at Club Walker and had a great time seeing these kids and hanging out with friends who were there.  Another favorite thing that happened Wednesday night and last night came after BKC's, but it was for all the youth workers.  We got to swim each night, afterward, and I drug Missy right along with me.  For two nights, for a solid hour, we just relaxed in the pool and enjoyed the company all around us.

I love nights like that.  I love summer nights like that, especially, because we all know that swimming is my second favorite hobby, only after reading.

Even though the heat is not my favorite, the season is, because of that.

Well.  Thanks for reading!  Love to all.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

things I love right now


I have listened to these before, but I love it right now.  It's mindless and funny and highly entertaining, and who doesn't love listening to a couple of great Southern accents?  These are the two ladies whose blogs I've read forever and that turned into a couple of my favorite authors.  Sophie is the author of Giddy Up Eunice, which I'm about to start.

Here is a link if you want to hear their podcast.


The only reason why I am showing this picture above is to show you what my fingernails still looked like after nine days of me being really hard on them.  I got my nails done before we left for Arizona, and yesterday was the two week mark and y'all, there is still not a chip on them.  They've grown out quite a bit, but the polish is still in great condition.  I love the color and I love that fact that I've not had to redo them yet.  It is shellac, and I know there are all kinds of health concerns probably, but we'll just keep that little tidbit to ourselves.


This week is the week our church is hosting backyard kids clubs all over the town of Collierville.  We had nineteen kiddos show up last night (I missed Monday and Tuesday nights, because mission trip) and it was a blast.  I love that our church takes "church" outside the church walls.  After the BKC's were over, the youth had a swimming party.  After being so unbelievably hot, that pool felt absolutely delightful.  I forced Missy to go with me and to swim with me, and she was so glad once she got in.

I'm sure she missed me while I was gone.  :)


I'm loving my memories from our trip.  I keep catching myself going to my phone and looking through my pictures.  I can't stop looking, especially at pictures like this, of something I've wanted to see for so long and know that now, I've seen it.  This trip was special in so many ways, and this is just another small aspect of that.


My sister Debi is flying home today!  I cannot WAIT to see her!  It's been ages since she's been able to make the long trek home, and I know it'll be a whirlwind, but I will take any amount of time I can get.  My sister Lisa was home about a month ago, and I was so sad that I didn't get to see her anymore than what I did, but still...any amount of time was better than none.  (And I never told her this, but the last night I saw her here, I cried the entire way home.  The boys did not even know what to do about that and me.)

Well.  The Big Boo Podcast is almost done, so that's my queue to get off the blog.  Love to all.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

recuperated?


People keep asking me if I've recuperated from our mission trip yet.  I know they have good intentions, but I don't know what to say when they ask me that.

Do I really want to get over that trip?

No.  I think that's the answer I've come up with.  I was exhausted when we returned home and for two days, I've not done much of anything.  That part I will be glad to be over, and it'll be nice to gain some energy back.  But the rest of it?  I don't want to be done with that part.

We already are thinking about returning next year, and we keep saying, "When we go next year, we will __________."

I have to confess something, though.  I wanted to go on this trip, but the closer it came time for us to leave, the more nervous I became.  I had some responsibilities on this trip that I wasn't excited about, mainly the assignment of being the assembly leader.  I trusted God, and I trusted Keith and Kim, but I was really wondering how in the world I would pull off being front and center the way I needed to be for the assemblies each day.

And when it came time for us to leave, and then when we got there, I have to tell you that I was thinking to myself how in the world I was going to get through the next seven nights.  I wasn't sure I would be able to pull off this whole camping in the desert thing, and our conditions were less than ideal.  I would fall asleep one night and wake up the next morning thinking, one night down, six to go.  I even told Todd that first full day, that this would be my first and last trip to the Navajo reservation.

I'm not sure when my attitude and perspective started changing, but one day as we had our morning worship time, Mark (the missionary who lives there full time) said something about those of us who may be thinking we would never come back to this place.  I can't even remember exactly what he said, but I remember him saying those words and I remember feeling such conviction that it brought tears to my eyes.  Even though outwardly my attitude was fine, inside where it matters most, it sucked.

And that's when I started praying differently.  I started asking God to give me a supernatural love for those beautiful people, and I asked for Him to help me love them like He did.  (I didn't NOT love them, I think I was just too busy counting down the days until we could leave.)  And without me even realizing what was happening, He did exactly what I asked of Him.

I think it may have been Tuesday when Mark said those words, but all I know is that I was no longer counting down the days to leave.  God allowed me to love those people.  He allowed me to be able to fellowship with them.  He allowed me to be humbled by a missionary's words and He allowed me the conviction in my heart to set my attitude right again.  Even though I am not natural at standing in front of a group and leading something like an assembly each day, He allowed my strength to display His power.  And though teaching was really low on my spiritual gift test, He allowed me His wisdom and knowledge to be able to teach the little kids, and He allowed them to sit there and soak it all up.

I think the main idea of this post is this: I thought I was relying on God for this trip.  But then I got there and saw the conditions around us, and I realized that I was relying on my SELF for things I thought I'd given to Him.  I thought that if I could just do something a certain way, or if I could just make it through this day, that it would be enough and that I would survive.  But as the week went on, we were finding out that God was moving among us and that the enemy was not happy with what we were doing.  The things that happened on this trip are things that have never happened on this trip before.

There were so many incidents involving the team that was there with us: the first night of bible school, some of our team interacted with a combative drunk woman.  Another night, there was a man outside a grocery store that threatened some of our team, referring to them as "angels of light".  There was a group of Navajo men in a truck that came and hit drums and chanted outside of our gate for five minutes while everyone in the campground slept.  One lady fell and thought she had broken her arm.  Our team was dropping like flies and kept getting sick, almost one right after another.

But God gave us the strength to continue on and to pursue.

Was it always pleasant?  Absolutely not, but look at what our Lord Jesus had to endure for us on the cross.  I think if He could do that for us, surely He would give us strength to endure a few nights in tents in crazy winds.  I learned some things about myself and about God and prayer while I was there.
I learned that when I pray according to God's will, He will answer.  (I did know this before, but I need to be reminded of it often, apparently.)  My most repeated prayer the entire trip was this: "Lord, please help me to love You with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength, and help me to love my neighbor as I love myself."  How do I know if what I'm praying is God's will?  Well, if it's in the Bible, it is His will.  John 1:1 tells us that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The greatest commandment in the Bible is to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as our self.

I knew that my repeated prayer was His will.  Because it was His will, He answered it.

Another thing I learned is something that I read in the Bible before we left home for this trip.  In Acts chapter two, the Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as a mighty, rushing wind.  Well, we had some mighty, rushing wind on this trip.  I'm not trying to be all weird, but as I would sit and have my quiet time each morning and the wind would whip my Bible pages back and forth, I couldn't help but think of that wind as the Holy Spirit.  I know that God gave me that mental picture, because how strange and like Him, that I would remember what I had read in Acts right before our trip?  So I began to pray that like that wind was blowing all around me, that I would be filled with His Spirit continually, and that I would live and move and operate within that power of His Spirit.

And lastly, speaking of His power, I remembered the verses that talk about His power within us.  Acts 1:8 says this about power: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

2 Timothy 1:7~"For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love and sound judgment."

Ephesians 6:10~"Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength."  (Some translations refer to His strength as might.)

Ephesians 1:18-19~"I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength."

For those of us who are believers in the glorious Lord Jesus Christ, His power is within us.  But we forget about that.  This is what I refer to as putting God in a box.  I often forget to pray with that power of the Holy Spirit within me, but on this trip, He reminded me of that power again.  So I began to use that power.  I was asking some pretty difficult things of God while on this trip, but I knew that in one way or another, if what I was asking was in His will for us, that He would answer.  I prayed and asked things that I knew only He could do, and He reminded me yet again, that His hand had been upon us since the very beginning of the planning stages for this trip.  I prayed and asked the Lord to help me to give Him all the glory and honor for the things that were happening.

I don't write this to tell you of my great and spectacular prayers.  I write these things to tell you to NOT be like me.  Don't forget that the power of the Holy Spirit is within you.  Don't forget to pray with that power.  Don't forget that God is bigger than the box you sometimes put Him in.  And don't be a chicken and not offer to step out of your comfort zone occasionally.  (I was ALL THE WAY OUT of my comfort zone from June tenth through the nineteenth.)

I am guilty of all those things, but one last thing that He taught me this week is from 2 Corinthians 12:9 and 10.

But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness."  Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Love to all.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Navajo Mission Trip Part Two (The Kids Edition)

I loved these kids so much.  I was with the preschool kiddos everyday, along with my friends Amy and Shari.  They were a huge help to me in keeping them all in one place and helping them listen to the teaching each day.

A lot of the kids that came knew each other, or were related, even.  Some would come by van or bus that our team would pick up each day, some would be brought by parents, and some would come walking down the road everyday at three thirty.

One thing I noticed right away about these kids is that they are fiercely protective of one another.  They are not mean, they don't fight or say cutting words, they don't tease or make fun of the ones who are a little different than them, and they help each other.  For instance, one day while the kids were all there, a little boy fell off the swing.  (They all LOVE to swing and would say constantly, "Will you push me?!")  Several of them ran over to dust him off and check his head for a knot.

It was this little guy, Kushon.



He was such a little turkey!  Cute as a button, but a strong willed little boy.  None of these kids were heathens, like we have here in our city that we minister to at Street Reach each year, but they were kind and compassionate and very accepting of one another.  It was refreshing seeing them in their environment.

Not only were they the nicest little things, they were happy.  None of them came mad or sulking or were unappreciative.  Some didn't listen that great (this little Kushon was one who didn't listen very well, and there were a couple who were in 2nd or 3rd grade that I'm thinking of), but they were still sweet.


This little angel, Erika, fell asleep in her crayons one day.  She was exhausted!  We let her take her nap while we played outside, and my friend's husband, Jeff, came in to sit with her while we took the others to the swing set.

Erika not only loved to nap, she loved to hide from us.  One day we could not find her anywhere, and it took another kid telling us that she was behind the door before we found her.


Haven fell off the swings one day, and she broke her glasses.  I felt so bad for her as she cried and cried.  The glasses had already broken once before we had her at bible school, but when she fell off the swing, that really broke them again.  We did find her lens, though, thankfully!


Todd and Jeff were in charge of recreation each day and did a phenomenal job.  The kids loved the games that pointed back to the lesson we taught every day and Jeff would teach a little right at the end.  I loved that the games were not just games~they went right along with what they were learning.

Another thing these kiddos loved to do was to color.  Each day after they were finished with their craft, they would take my markers and make marker towers.  They were so easily entertained and enthralled, because they don't have much.  There was no sense of entitlement with these kiddos, even the little bitty ones, and they were super respectful to all of the adults.




They loved the piggy back rides our team would offer them, and they loved eating the dinner we would share with them each night.  We ate with them every day that they were there, and they seemed to love the interaction and attention we showered on them.



They listened so intently each day, to the lesson I taught them.  Kids here are NOT like that.  I loved this little tidbit about them, that they would listen so well to what was being said.  We even had a couple of three year old's thrown into our room, and even they (for the most part) listened.




The little one that Noah is pushing above, was Aiden.  He was so precious!  So young and little, but he talked and communicated really well and he loved to have draw pictures for him.

One thing that we had been told to expect was the way they would look at us.  I guess in this culture, they don't smile or seem like they're enjoying themselves, and we were all told to not be discouraged by that, even the little ones were this way.  But none of these kids were like that!  They all seemed to enjoy themselves so much each day, they appeared to be listening, and they would smile back at us and laugh with us.  That warmed my heart so much, because I often look at facial expressions of the ones I talk to.  And even the adults were different than what we thought they would be like.  The adults loved the craft time as much as the kids, and that was so surprising to all of us.  And next year, we will be even more prepared with more intricate crafts, because they are smart.

Needless to say, this entire trip was so different than how I thought it would be.  I was very pleasantly surprised, because I think I expected the worst.  I was blown away by all the angels we had the privilege of teaching each day, and even as I write this, my heart thrills with how quickly I came to love them all.  As they left us on Friday night, a lot of them told us that they loved us.  I had tears as I watched them go.

It was such an awesome week.  I'll keep saying that as long as I live.  I can't wait to go back next year.

Love to all.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Mission Trip to the Navajo Reservation (the missionaries edition)

On Friday morning, June the tenth, we pulled out of the church parking lot at five thirty a.m.  We met up with the other missionaries in Wynne, Arkansas for breakfast at McDonald's and began the long drive to Amarillo, Texas.  Along our way, we had air conditioning problems and had to have the bus serviced somewhere near Sallisaw, Oklahoma.



The picture above is everyone (mostly) waiting in the customer area.  The people at this Ford Fleet place were so nice and accommodated us with tons of bottled water and nice restroom facilities.  Soon after this, we were on our way once again.  Because of that long stop and one other, we didn't make it to Amarillo until close to eight or nine, then had dinner at a Mexican restaurant, then finally got to our hotel at eleven.

It was a long day.

The next morning we left at seven and once again, began the long drive to Ganado, Arizona.  Along the way, right outside of Amarillo, we stopped at a place I've been wanting to visit.

Cadillac Ranch.






I am positive that everyone enjoyed the cool photo opportunities this cool place gave us.

My sweet Abbey is right above~I loved every second of being on this trip with her, plus all the other amazing people.

We had some stops, one of which was to pull over on the side of I40 to sit with a trailer that one of the vans had to leave behind because of a flat tire.  We were given more photo opportunities and a chance to stretch our tired legs.


This was right before we arrived in Grants, New Mexico.

(The order of the states traveled across were Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and finally, Arizona.)

We had one last bite to eat in Grants, NM, then stopped at Walmart for more water and supplies, then began the last two hours of our journey to Ganado.


Finally!  Our home away from home for the next seven days.

The weather was amazing the whole trip.  The high would be in the eighties, but thanks to the severe winds that were constantly blowing through (a record for this trip we were told), it was much cooler.  It was crazy how hot you would get in the sunshine, but stand in the shade, and you needed to add a layer for warmth.  I was constantly taking my sweatshirt off and putting it back on again.

Because of the tent situation with five air mattresses and a bunch of containers we had to live out of, I actually ended up staying in the camper of my sweet friend and her husband (Cathy and Carl).  We are the new kind of close friends, thanks to sleeping within five feet of one another for seven nights in a row.

On Sunday we had breakfast, then a church service, then we went out to canvas the area to invite people to bible school.  Bible school was for preschool on up through adults, and it was every night from four to eight.




The sweet older lady in the middle picture above was chasing after us, yelling, "Don't forget me tomorrow, don't forget me!"

Alex and I had to hang in the bus for a bit~he had a headache, and I couldn't breathe and walk, thanks to the six thousand and something feet above sea level altitude.


Once we were finished canvassing, it was almost dinner time.  These two cuties were my view for dinner.

Every morning, we had a worship service at eight thirty.  Check out our view!


The assembly leaders (Cathy, Shelley, Abbey and myself) helped lead worship along with Keith and the band each morning.  We had three guitars, and some drums, one of which, Graham played.

Very quickly, we were getting to know the other people on the trip with us.  Some of us were from my church, some of us were from Central, and some of us were from a church near the Gulf in Mississippi.  Never in a million years would I think that we would come to know and love a group of complete strangers so quickly, but this kind of trip does that to you.  It quickly bonds you to those around you.

Sleeping in tents nearby and using six portable toilets for a week will do that to you as well.

I'm laughing as I re-read that.

After morning worship, we would have site team meetings.  There were three sites of bible school each day~Klagetoh, Steamboat and Cornfields (where we were and where we all slept).  There was originally a fourth site, Nazlini, but they had to cancel having bible school there so they spread that team of people among the other three.  I'm so thankful that all of my family was together at Cornfields.

After those meetings each day, we had free time, then lunch, then we would all prepare for bible school that night, the other two site teams would leave, then our team would meet up to pray before leaving to pick up people on the bus and vans.  They had to leave around two thirty or three each day to  begin picking people up.

Once they were all back at Cornfields, bible school would begin.  We would welcome them and play outside games, then we would have our opening assembly, then dismiss to groups.  My little preschool group would go straight to dinner from the assembly, then to our class for the teaching time, then recreation, a craft time, more teaching time, then one last craft or activity time.  I had kids ranging in age from three to six.  It was interesting wrangling that age group and keeping them occupied while I taught each day, but thanks to Amy and Shari who were my co-teachers, we managed really well.  Some days we would change up our scenery and get out of the little room we were assigned, and when we realized how much they loved to swing, we would allow additional time for that.

It sounds like we had them for a long time each day, and you would think that I would have had tons of time to teach them (maybe TOO much time), but believe it or not, I didn't.  I tried my best each day to get through the teaching material (which was a TON), and almost every single day, I ran out of time before I'd made my way through.  I learned quickly to hit the highlights and to go back and review each day, to really hammer home the points I needed to make and to help them remember.

They surprised me and did so well, and listened intently and seemed to learn a lot.  I am thankful to God for that, because I do not profess to be a teacher.  It's quite low on my spiritual gift test, actually, but I know that God strengthened me and allowed me to speak the words He wanted.  All praise and glory to Him.

After bible school each day, we would clean up and shower and hang out and talk until the rest of the teams came back, then we would go to bed.

Some other fun memories:


I. LOVE. HER.  My sweet Abbey, and one of my very best friends.


The sanctuary where we had opening and closing assemblies each day, and where all the adults were taught.


On this morning, Graham got up to give a word of encouragement from Joshua one to the group during morning worship.  The night before this (Tuesday), we had a group of Navajo men beating drums and chanting outside our gate during the early morning hours while most of us slept.  One man said he felt such an evil presence during that time, such that he had never felt before while on that trip.  People were scared to go to bed that night, so starting that night, all the men took shifts to stay up all night to keep watch over all of us.  We were in a vulnerable position, being in tents, with only an easily climbable gate separating us from the road.

During this moment, Todd and I might have cried.


Left to right: me, Abbey and Marissa.  Marissa is our newest adopted Goodwin.  We fell in love with her, all the boys included.  She and I sat and bawled Friday morning over the fact that we had to say goodbye to not only the beautiful Navajo people, but to each other.  It makes me tear up just to write that.  She is coming here in July, though, so I look forward to seeing her soon.  (She's one that lives near the Gulf in Mississippi.)




On our day off, we went to Canyon De Chelly.  (Pronounced Canyon De Shay.)  It was a mini Grand Canyon.

The height almost made me throw up.  Seriously.  Every single time someone went near the edge, AHEM TODD, I almost died.

Part of our group hiked down the mile and a half to the bottom, but I took some pictures then went back to the bus and took a nap.  I'm not kidding.  I was beat.



Our last morning meeting and picture time.  I was still crying at this point.

Every single day, God stretched all of us to new strengths that only He could accomplish.  We had warfare moments along this entire trip (vehicle problems, people accusing and threatening us if we stayed, major sicknesses, people chanting outside our gates, drunk people trying to get onto our vehicles), but that only fueled our prayers.  We knew the enemy was NOT happy with what we were there for, and we knew that God was up to something huge.

I am so thankful for the opportunity that we had to go on this trip and to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  Through us, He showed His love to the Navajo people and His word was taught.  I will continually be praying for these people and for the full time missionaries who are there, Mark and Penny and their family, and for God's glory to be shown to this Navajo nation.

After many more tears Saturday morning, we were off, heading back east toward home.


Poor Bonnie Kate.  Sicker than a dog most of the way home, and never once complained.  I stayed on the bus with her while others shopped.


We stopped at Window Rock for more pictures.


We had lunch in Old Albuquerque and some of us nearly died from being too hot during lunch and suffered the next couple of hours.




After another really long day of travel, we stopped to sleep again in Amarillo, then left at seven the next morning (Sunday).  We made another photo opportunity stop in Shamrock, Texas, one of the towns that inspired the movie Cars.  We saw Mater the tow truck and the body shop that inspired Ramone's body shop in the movie.

I LOVED this stop and checked (yet) another item off my list of things I want to see.

We made quick stops for lunch, bathroom breaks, gas and dinner, then FINALLY made it back to our church at seven forty-five last night.  We were greeted by friends and family and our DOGS!  Thanks to my in-love's for taking care of our dogs while we were away, and thanks to my sister Trish for taking care of our home and for allowing me the blessing of coming home to a spotless home last night.  I'm still enjoying it.

And in the meantime, I love this guy and am thankful that every day we get to honor him for being such a godly husband and father.


I love him so much.  He drove almost the entire way there and back, except for two hours that I drove us through Oklahoma yesterday.  I thank God for him.

And in the meantime, I have to go wash every stitch of clothing we own.

Tomorrow, you will be shown the Navajo kids edition of this same type of post.

Love to all.