Wednesday, July 29, 2015

road trip

We used to have the greatest neighbors in all of the world.  We've spent lots of time with them over the years, swimming with them, grilling out with them, watching movies (Katie and me), studying the Bible (Katie and me again), we've even gone on several camping trips with them.  

And then, when school let out in May, they moved.  I do not even want to talk about how hard I cried.  I couldn't even say goodbye to them, and Katie doesn't like goodbyes, so they just quietly left.  

A few weeks ago, Jonah and Noah were talking to me about them, and how much they missed them and their nephews, who were around the ages of Jonah, Noah and Alex.  On this day, they asked if they could call Myles and talk to him and Zander.  And then I invited ourselves there for a visit.  

Today is the day we leave!  

We're staying with them tonight and tomorrow night, and we'll be home on Friday.  While we're gone, Graham and Drew are staying here.  Todd will be here at night and tonight and part of tomorrow they'll be at a friend's house, so I know they'll be fine.  

I woke up extra early this morning to read my Bible (I've been reading in Acts lately) and to paint my fingernails (priorities, people) and to start another couple of loads of laundry.  My goal is to eat some grilled sandwiches around ten thirty, and to leave right after that.  It should take us about three and a half hours to get there.  I'm really excited!  I have so missed these sweet friends.  


This was me enjoying the quiet early this morning.  I won't be around on the blog until the weekend, so I hope the rest of your week is great.  Love to all. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bible Study

Last week, a small group of my lady friends started studying First and Second Thessalonians.  This is a study by Beth Moore, called Children of the Day.  I love starting a new Bible study.  This is a sweet group of God loving women, and I am thankful to my friend who opened her home for us to have this study.  I can already tell, just from the first week, that it's going to be great.

I don't know about you, and if you've ever participated in a Bible study, but I have learned that I need to constantly be studying the word of God.  I cannot imagine what my life would look like, if not for Him, and His inspired word.  Thankfully, I don't have to.  There is nothing good about me, but He abides in me, and He is good.  I am a wretched sinner, who deserves nothing but death because of my sin, but thanks to Him sending His Son, we who believe in Him will not get what we deserve.  We will get eternal life with Him when we die.

He is my hope, my strength, my song and my joy.

In this dark world, I find none of that.  He alone gives life, and He gives it abundantly.

The thing about Bible study that I love is this~I always get so much out of it.

Before I start a study, preferably one with homework because that's where the meat is, I pray Ephesians 1:17.  "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better."

I pray that each day before I start the homework, and I ask Him for wisdom.  I also pray that He would always give me a soft, teachable heart.  I don't ever want to think that I have arrived at this place in my life that I don't have to study the Bible anymore.  I certainly don't ever want to think that I am beyond what is being taught.  Even tonight, I caught myself wandering and prayed quickly that God would reign me back in and help me listen.  And sure enough, He did just that, and what was being taught spoke volumes to me.

If you're reading this and have never done this, I want to encourage you to start somewhere.  This is a good time of year to jump in, with school starting in a couple weeks, lots of churches are going to begin their fall Bible studies.  Here's the one we're doing right now.


This isn't a study affiliated with my church, just one that a group of us picked out together, and it's at my friend's house each week.

Thanks for reading my blog.  Love to all.



Monday, July 27, 2015

the weekend

Compared to last weekend, this weekend was a bit more low key.  It was still fun, though.

On Friday night, I made a giant-sized trip to Costco.

Drew drove us.


On Instagram, I jokingly said that I might die, but really, he is a good driver.  He's a bit jerky and more nervous than Graham was, but the more he practices, the better he gets.  

It was a giant trip because I never really went to the grocery store last week, except for just a thing or two here and there.  While we were there we ate dinner.


After coming back home, Graham went and bowled with some friends and Drew went swimming at a friend's house.  Since Todd was working, and because my sister was house and dog sitting for someone with a pool, the boys and I went and swam with her for about an hour.

This was the sunset that happened while we were in the pool~it was beautiful!


I love this pool.  The lady who lives in this house is a friend of mine.  She is the grandmother of a girl who was in Jonah's and Noah's grade while they were at CES.  We used to come here one day every week in the summer time, and while the kids played and swam, we would talk and talk for hours.  Literally.  I love their family so much!

On Saturday, I spent the day doing Bible study.  A friend of mine is offering a Beth Moore Bible study at her house, and I had to miss the first night of it last week when Graham graduated from his police academy class.  I watched the DVD and caught up on the homework on Saturday.  I also did our study that we're doing with our community group girls and I read through our lesson for our Bible fellowship class.  While I was doing the Bible study on First and Second Thessalonians, this verse jumped out at me from Romans.


This study is so good!  We meet tomorrow night, and I am already looking forward to our time together.

Saturday afternoon, we went back to the pool we swam at the night before, and we grilled hot dogs.  My mom and step-dad were there as well, and we all swam together.  That was a rare moment, and it was a lot of fun.  I stayed in the water so long that I came out looking like a prune.  I could literally swim all day long.

The best part of the weekend for me, was on Sunday morning when four girls from our Bible fellowship class got baptized!


It was awesome and I am so proud of all of them.  God has done a mighty work in all of their lives, and it's exciting to get to be a small part of it all.  We had a cookout for them later that afternoon to celebrate, then the boys and I left for community group.  After community group they had some friends over and I watched a couple of recorded shows on our DVR.

That about sums up our weekend.  I hope yours was great!

Love to all.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Favorites


It's been forever since I've done one of these posts.  We have been crazy busy over here all summer!  I am linking up with Momfessionals for this post.  

We have had a really great week.  It's been nice to be at home all week, and though we haven't done a lot of things, it's been good.  On Monday, we cleaned all day.  I cannot even remember when we last cleaned this house from top to bottom, but since it was just the four boys and me that day, we took advantage of the opportunity.  One favorite thing of mine is having a clean house!  I even cleaned out some of the kitchen cabinets.  Before we start school again, I need to do that same thing with our homeschool bookshelf.  I've got a plan as to what we're using as curriculum, but I have to order a couple of things, mainly math and science.  I need to start a list of things I'd like to accomplish before I forget.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we stayed close to home and I did laundry.  Lots and lots of laundry.  I posted this on Instagram, and people seemed surprised that our laundry was nicely folded.  Here is the thing about me that is weird~I do not iron.  If I don't iron, then I must fold our clothes when they're hot out of the dryer.  So that is what I do; I wash, I dry, I fold immediately and make nice piles for everyone to grab and put away.  Folded laundry is definitely one of my favorite things.  (I even love folding it all!)


This is what a day's worth of laundry looks like in my house.  Just a day!  Graham and Drew worked on the yards they are paid to mow while Jonah, Noah and I stayed home.

On Wednesday afternoon after lunch, I got to meet up with my best friend, her little girl and her mom for some afternoon swimming.  Definitely a favorite moment from the week.


This child is precious.  She says funny things like, "Don't take me!" and, "I need Drew, I need Drew!".  She literally repeats any and everything you tell her, and some things you don't.  She is smart and beautiful and hilarious, and I am pretty sure she knows all of that.  I love her so much and glad that I get to be her Auntie Jen.

We went home around three to shower and Christa and I met up for dinner while my kids were at church.


I feel like I've been on vacation after I've seen this girl.  She fills my heart up so much when we're together and I feel like I am good to continue on in my journey until the next time I get to see her.  We might not talk all that often and we certainly don't see each other a lot anymore, but we will be forever friends.  She is my favorite.

Yesterday we swam in the morning and a bunch of boys were here.  I made us all lunch and myself a taco salad while another best friend of mine came to eat with me so we could catch up and pray.  She is going through a really rough couple of days and just needed someone to love on her and pray with her.  We watched an amazing afternoon storm roll in, and while we wanted nothing more than to watch a movie in our pajamas together, she had to return to work.  I am just glad I got to spend a few moments with her~she is another one of my most favorites.

One last favorite thing from this week is the fact that Uverse got the Hallmark channel!  Guess who watched two movies last night?!


This girl.

How has your week been?  Share some comment love.  Please.

Love to all.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Graham

I haven't done a post about my kids in a long time, and since we celebrated him last night, I thought I'd take advantage of the opportunity.

As my oldest son, he is the most responsible.  He always has been, even when he was a little bitty thing.  I was always having to come up with ways for him to help me, because it's what he always wanted to do.  In the years since, that is one thing about him that has never changed.

He's the one who always shakes a service man's (or woman's) hand and thanks them for their service.

He is not shy when it comes to speaking to people he doesn't know; he's been found talking to our town's mayor, policemen, the sheriff, the district attorney, and many others.

He has a lot of common sense.

He's a great driver.

He is really smart when it comes to math.  Actually, he is really smart, period.

He is the one guy at community group that always offers to pray.

He has been known to make friends mad when he catches them being mean around girls.


He also has always had friends who were girls.  This is him and a couple of girls who just graduated this year...but they had just finished the eighth grade in this picture, and he had just finished the sixth.


He's still friends with them, but nowadays, he's bigger than they are and he sometimes carries this one around.  (Not really, except for this one night when she didn't think he'd be able to do it.)

He always has such initiative.  For instance, in May, he found out about a citizen's police academy class he wanted to take.  Jonah is the one who told him about it, without knowing details, but Graham researched it and talked to a police officer friend of ours and signed himself up.  Without knowing anybody going, I thought that was pretty impressive.  He said the first night that he walked in, he was praying, "Lord, please let me see someone I know!"  And he did!  Not that he would have been lonely for long~he always has an easy time of getting to know people.  But his friend Cameron was there, so they sat together.  They met for the first time at age four.

And a few years later~


Graham really isn't that short, but Cameron is that tall.

Last night was the graduation of his class.


I'm so proud of him!  And his friend.  It makes this mama's heart very happy and full, knowing that he is such a responsible and trustworthy young man.  (He can still fight with his brothers like nobody's business, but this isn't a perfect world.)

Something else about Graham that makes me proud is that he filled out an interest form for being a summer missionary next year at Brinkley Heights Urban Academy, where we have Street Reach every year.  That was something else he did all on his own.  Last summer he talked to the guy who runs the place and Jason promised him that when he was old enough, that they would definitely consider him.

He would live there from the end of May until around the time that school starts back, only able to come home on weekends.

Gulp.

A hard thing about being a parent is the process of starting to let go of them.  I've learned to hold onto my children with open hands~because they are not mine, but God's.  I asked Him a long time ago to use them for His glory, and as I am beginning to see His plans for them unfold, I know He will continue in that.

My days with this one are numbered~I don't see him sticking around long after graduation.  I don't know what his future looks like, but I am soaking up all my moments with him.

Thanks for reading about my Graham.  Love to all.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

lending a helping hand

Last year at the homeschool group we belong to, Renewed Moms, the moms in Bible study studied the spiritual gifts.  Before we studied these gifts, we took a test to see what ours were.  I don't remember all of my top three or four, but one of my top gifts was helps.  The only reason I even mention these gifts is to let you know that while helps is high up on my spiritual gifts, I realize that not everyone has that.  And though I never head things up at church to do things for people, I am always willing to help out anyway that we can.

Though not everyone has that gift, we are all responsible for taking care of those in need.  

'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'  Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go visit you?'  The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'

Matthew 25:35-40

We are all capable of lending a helping hand.

Todd and I decided when our boys were little, that we would show them what serving others looked like.  A couple of years ago, we were presented with an opportunity to go see what the life of a child in poverty looked like.  This event was set up by Compassion International, and as we walked through trailers of what the life of a child in need looked like, I knew I wanted our family to be involved in some way.  We came home and browsed the Compassion International website for a boy (because we have boys) to sponsor.  We decided on a little one who was four at that time, and we filled in all of our information that was required, and that night, we made our first donation.

And every month, for almost two years now, for just around forty dollars a month, we have been donating money for Woazian to live a life that all kids should have the opportunity of living.  The money goes to his education, health care and a few other things.  To read more about this wonderful organization, click on this link.

Also, every month, we write to him he writes to us.  It gives us the opportunity to pray for him, for his family and that he will always know the love of his Creator.

If what I have written about has struck a chord within you, please consider becoming a sponsor for a child in need.  There are so many!  Too many.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.  Colossians 3:17

Love to all.

*I wrote this post because I was asked to by Compassion International.  Please consider going to their website and becoming a sponsor.  Also, consider stopping by their new blog and looking around.  It's called Step Into My Shoes.









Monday, July 20, 2015

the weekend

I spent time thanking God for the wonderful weekend we had....it was one of the best we've had all summer long, and I didn't want it to go unnoticed as I spent time praying this morning.  I love this verse in James:

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."  {James 1.17}

We had some extras over the weekend.  Alex stayed with us all weekend while his aunt and uncle were out of town, and as usual, we loved having him here with us.  He's such a part of us that I miss him when he's gone.  Anyway, what prompted our night out was tennis shoes.  Because they're expensive and because we have a lot of boys, we buy for them two at a time.  Friday night was Drew's and Noah's turn.  And Todd's.  He hasn't had new boots in about a year and a half, and that is the only pair of shoes he wears.  We had dinner at Taco Bell, to get our night started.


Drew is my only child who will always, always pose for my pictures.  It's not that I love him more, I promise, just that he's the only willing participant.

After dinner we decided to go to the new Bass Pro in downtown, Memphis.  I love our city!


Bass Pro closes at ten, and even though we got there at eight, it wasn't enough time.  We decided that we would definitely be going back on a night when we had more time.


You should see all the pictures I have of these two on my phone.  The one where Drew has on a pink cowboy hat is my favorite.

Graham bought a really nice fishing rod and Andrew bought a fishing shirt.  Todd bought some new boots.  And the rest of us just had fun looking at everything, including thinking about a room makeover for Jonah and Noah for Christmas.  They want a camouflage room.

It was an awesome night, one filled with laughs and feelings of blessedness.

On Saturday we stayed close to home.  I got caught up on the Bible study we're doing with the ninth and tenth grade girls in community group.


This is from a page in the book called Dwell.  I don't know how much these girls are enjoying it, but all of us adults are loving it!  I did this in the midst of laundry.  Shortly after I finished catching up, my friend Missy came and got me and we ran a couple of errands together.  We had to go to Lifeway (my favorite!) and then to Costo, then to a pool party.  I got a book from Lifeway for $5 by Lysa TerKeurst, and I got a cheesecake from Costco for the second pool party that day.

The first pool party was to meet our new youth pastor and his family!


This was a youth event, and the parents and siblings were invited to stay and meet them.  I was in the pool, because it was hot!  My friends swam, as well.  I thought, at one point on this afternoon, that it was a little strange to talk to my pastor while in my swimsuit.  But then that made me remember why I so love my church family!  We just do life together.

After this pool party, we had another one to go to, for the technical team and their family members.  It was a busy, but really fun day.

On Sunday morning we went to church and enjoyed donuts there, then after church, we had lunch at one of my most favorite places.


I have never had anything from here that I didn't like.  Yesterday I got the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich.  Drew enjoyed going and getting the Suburban and driving up to us.


I don't know that I will ever get used to seeing this.  He got a lot of drive time in yesterday, and he was really excited about it, except for when both Graham and I were both counseling him on his skills.  (He scared Graham once.)

After lunch at Huey's, we went to the botanical gardens here in Memphis.  Todd's cousin had some photographs in a restaurant there, and we wanted to go see her work.  The photos were beautiful!  I picked out my favorite one.  :)


We came home for just a little while, I took a nap, then we were off again.  We went to the same home we had been at the day before, but this time for community group.  I had Jonah, Noah and Alex with me, and they enjoyed the very bouncy diving board.


See what I mean, about our weekend being so great?  It was.  I am thankful.  Especially because summer is flying by and I am just trying to enjoy every single moment, and all the extras I have at our house.  All too soon all their friends will be back in school (and we will too) and the weather will start to change.  And though I love the cooler weather, I do love to swim, and miss it when the season is over.

How was your weekend?

I hope it was great.  Love to all!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

when others are watching

How do I look?
How do I sound?
How do I handle less than ideal situations?

I was forced to think very intently about these questions a few years ago, when someone very close to me questioned my integrity.

I wasn't necessarily guilty of what the person said/thought about me, but what they said made me really step back and evaluate the way I did things.

Did I seem fake, or put-on?
Did I act one way at church, and another way around family and friends?

I think that was the day I started praying in a different way.  That what I did and said and thought would honor God.  And all these years later, I still pray that way.  In looking back, I am glad that person questioned me.  It wasn't pleasant at the time, and I spent probably what was way too much time being hurt/angry at them, but now that years have gone by, I am thankful.  Because it made me different.  I started praying differently, and I probably started acting differently.

Which leads to this post, and how I live my life.  I am by no means perfect, in fact, I am as far from that as one can be.  But I try to live my life in a way that the Bible tells me.

Philippians 2:14-16 says this: "Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.  Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life."

And, in 1 Timothy 3:2-4, we are told this:

"Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.  He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect."

I know those verses in 1 Timothy say "he", and "overseer" (deacon), but I definitely think they're applicable to anyone in a position in which they lead others.  I think it's also good to be careful about how things appear to others.  For instance, I have a friend who is a youth leader who will not ride alone with just one teenage boy.  She always takes at least two kids with her if she's driving someone somewhere, because she never wants to put forth the wrong impression.

If you're reading this and don't have a group that you lead, you can still live your life in a way that pleases God and that points others to Him.  Why?  Because He desires that everyone would come to know Him.  We all have people in our families who we can witness to, that are not believers.  At least, I do.  I'll end with a picture from Thursday night.  We had an all girls pool party with our 9th and 10th grade girls, and all of us leaders swam with them.  (We usually do not.)  It was so much fun!  We laughed, we talked, we played silly games, and we all just got caught up with one another.


These girls are a few of the ones who keep me on my toes.  They help hold me accountable, and I do the same with them, as well as the other ladies who lead.  I am so thankful that God has given me this group of people to be with and to live life with.

Love to all.

Friday, July 17, 2015

quiet time

Those are words that I hear about or read about all the time.  "Quiet time".  It's different for everyone, isn't it?  I thought I'd share a little about my time with God in the mornings, and how I sometimes mess it all up or accidentally skip it all together.

They say the hardest thing about forming a new habit is actually making it a habit.  I've read that it takes twenty something days of doing something in consecutive order to make it a habit.  When you get to that point, though, having gotten through the twenty something days, it literally becomes second nature.  Like breathing.  But miss a day or two, and guess what?  It gets out of whack and you have to begin again.

I am speaking from experience.

I am one that cannot do the same thing each year.  Last year I read the Bible all the way through chronologically, and I was going to do that again this year, but I discovered quickly that I wasn't necessarily paying attention to what I was reading.  For instance, one day in March, I couldn't remember from which book I had read that morning.  I kept at it for a while, hoping to get past that, but I couldn't.  So I picked a new reading plan and started fresh.

But then that didn't last either.

Most mornings, I read from the book of Psalm and Proverbs.  I've also been reading through a lot of the New Testament.  I've kinda been all over the place, but as long as I am reading the word of God, it's okay.  There is not a way to mess that up.

I am also reading a book by Elizabeth Elliot, called Keeping A Quiet Heart.  I pray, I read in the Bible and I usually write in my journal about what stuck out to me, or where I've read.  I use the journal a lot to reflect back on, and to keep up with things like prayer requests, or something special that happened that I don't want to forget.

This morning my quiet time looked like this.


The book by Elizabeth Elliot, my journal and my Bible, all from the comfort of my recliner.  I spent the first part of my quiet time praying, and before I knew it, I'd accidentally prayed myself right to sleep.  Crash moved, though, and his nails on the floor woke me.  I started praying again, then read in 2 Corinthians, Psalm 149 and 150, and Proverbs 17.  I almost always read the chapter that corresponds with that date in Proverbs.

The reasons I write to you about this are simple.

One, God is good.  He deserves the best part of our day, but He also deserves our attention first thing each morning.  I realize that a lot of people are not morning people, and that's okay.  But even a non-morning person can get out of bed, have a quick time of prayer and read a few verses in the Bible.  There is always later in the day to go back and do more and dig deeper.  But God is good and He is worthy of praise and honor and respect, and we should always make Him our first priority each day, even if that means we have to sacrifice a bit of sleep.

One thing that my missionary friend Sheila in Iceland did when I was there stuck out to me, and I have since began doing the same thing each morning.  We shared a room with her while were in Iceland, and I noticed that each morning before her feet hit the floor, she would talk to God.  She would say, "Good morning, Lord!  Thank You for this new day."  That is such a simple thing, but it really stuck with me over the years, and I have taken to doing that same exact thing each morning.

Two, the Bible tells us to seek God first.  I take that literally, as in first thing each morning.  Matthew 6:33 says, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Before that verse, Jesus was preaching the sermon on the mount, and He was telling them not to worry about their lives, that if the heavenly Father loved the birds of the air, He would care that much more for His people.  (The precept student in me always has to explain a verse in its context, in case you were wondering why I wrote about the verses before verse thirty-three.)

The last reason I wanted to write about this is to encourage you.  Don't let sleep or Netflix or staying up late or texting or social media become an idol to you.  Don't let it take over your life, or replace your quiet time in the mornings.  It is never too late to start doing this.  If you feel like this is an impossible task, pray and ask God to help you.  When we ask Him to do things for us that help us grow closer to Him, and if it brings Him glory, He will answer that prayer.  For instance, He knows that I love to memorize Bible verses, because when I do that, the verses are literally on my mind all the time.  I have a hard time remembering sometimes, though, and when I go over the previous ones I've memorized, when I practice saying them out loud, before I start, I will ask Him to help me.

And He always does.

That's what I meant by asking Him to help us grow closer and bringing Him glory, and then Him answering that prayer.  I am not at all saying that God is like a heavenly genie in a magic lamp who answers every prayer we utter the way we want.  God will always answer prayer according to His will.  His will for us all is to know Him and love Him and to bring Him glory and honor.

(Unfortunately, that last part I had to write, because there are people in my life who think God is like that genie in a lamp.  And then when their prayer keeps going unanswered, their faith grows weaker and weaker until it may go away totally.  God will never ever leave us or forsake us, but we most certainly are able to turn our backs on Him.  So please know that God is just.  He is sovereign and His ways are far better than our ways.  He only answers prayers that line up with His will for our lives.)

I pray that this encouraged you in some way.  Love to all.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

First Kids Camp 2015

First Kids Camp is always fun, exhausting and one giant whirlwind of activity.  It's hard to believe, but this was my fifth year to go as a counselor.  That's how long we've been at our church now.  I still can't believe after being there for just over one month, I jumped in and went as a counselor so fast, but I made friends quickly by doing that.  That will be my advice for this post~if you want friends at your church, get involved and serve!  Nothing will make you bond with someone faster than that.

We left our church at 4:30 and arrived at The Country Place at five.  We got our cabin assignments and went to unpack.  Dinner was at six each night, and before we ate every meal, we had to sing for our food.  :)  Here's the fifth grade girls from cabin 5B.



Left to right are Rebekah, Taylor, Grace, Madelyn, Hannah and Shea.  And that's our cabin.

One of my cabin mates was Laurie, another friend Lindsey, and one of the girls from our Bible fellowship class, Eden.


One of the most fun parts of camp as an adult is hanging out with sweet friends, like this one above, and this one below.



This guy is someone our family loves to pieces!  Mike helped out with the technical things and came all three nights.


We were really excited over his being there with us.  He doesn't go to our church anymore, but we still consider him a part of our church family.  :)

On the first night after dinner, we had a camp meeting at seven, then snack, then late night, which was Minute 2 Win It.

In the mornings, breakfast was at eight and morning watch was at nine.  There's this beautiful amphitheater by the lake where we meet each year.  It's one of my most favorite parts of camp.  Austin provides the passage for them to read in the Bible in their camp folders, and then we break off and have quiet time.


After morning watch, we went back to our cabins for half an hour, then we would meet back in The Big Room, where we had all our meetings and services.  Creative track came next.  The kids are given choices for this: puppet team, drama team, sign language team, creative movement team or craft team.  On the last night of camp, back at our church, they would showcase what they learned throughout the week.  After that was snack again (we eat constantly at camp), then Bible study time.


Bible study time always begins with lost and found items~for the kids to gain possession of them again, they have to do the hokey pokey on stage.  It's fun and loud and they love it.


We would meet and watch a video leading up to our Bible study discussion, then break off into our small groups.  After this was lunch, Siesta (!!!), then swim/canoe time.  Snack followed again at three, then more swim/canoe time, then back to cabins at 4:30 to clean up for the afternoon and evening activities.  We had another Bible study time at five, then dinner at six, then it starts back to where I started at the top of this post.

See what I mean, by this being a whirlwind?  Austin keeps us so busy that none of us ever have the time to be tired!

Here are some more pictures from the week.


Weston and Noah were a part of the technical team.  This team of students worked like dogs to set up and tear down repeatedly the whole time we were at camp.  I was so proud of them all!


This is Holly.  We were so tired when she took this!  I was really sunburned too, thanks to not rubbing in my sunscreen well enough.  :/


During snack times, all the kids would go play basketball.  This is just a few of them.


Eden and Hannah getting her hair braided one day during the line for one of the meals.

On Tuesday, we had the mud slide and shaving cream war.



Pictured above is our pastor, Brother Chuck.  I don't know of many pastors who would come and hang out with us all week at camp, but he did.  He ate with us, preached at the services each night and stayed overnight in one of the nicer cabins with his wife and granddaughter.  We love our church family so much!  This is a huge part of why that is so.

Also on Tuesday, after the night service, is skit night.  The cabins each come up with a skit and perform in front of judges and campers.  This is always a fun and crazy night.


Katie and Emma, the M&M eating minion.

On Wednesday we leave camp at 4:30 and arrive back at our church by five.  We eat dinner with the families of the campers, then have a giant, end-of-camp service in the main sanctuary.  We worship, the kids perform and our pastor preaches one last time.


Now that is a sweet group of boys!  We had so much fun going as counselors this year.  We are always ready to be back home by Wednesday night, though, and spend the next day doing absolutely nothing.  Well, nothing much more than laundry.

I love our church family so much!  I know I have already said that, but it's true.  Our church is different than a lot of churches in that we don't have a weekly kids service, and we don't have vacation Bible school.  We have "family worship" each week, and the kids are a huge part of each service.  Our pastoral staff does an amazing job of providing parents with what we need to disciple our own kids.  And instead of doing VBS, we take Bible clubs to the streets of our neighborhood and invite them to our yards to talk about Jesus.  More unsaved are reached by doing this, and each year the response is incredible.  I feel fortunate to be a part of a church that is so much more than just a church~it's a place for us to go and filled up and then go out from to take the gospel outside of the walls.

I am so thankful to be a part of this church, and if you are local to me and don't have a church home, you should consider mine.  I would love to have you.

Thanks for reading yet another long and drawn out camp post.  :)

Love to all.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A re-post from four years ago, on this day, and because I get to see her next week!

She would come over and eat a yummy dinner with us, we'd make cookies for usthe boys, and we would just hang out and talk.  Sometimes we would watch The Bachelor (or The Bachelorette), and sometimes we would watch a chick flick.  It never mattered.  I just liked to be with her.

I miss her hugs.  She gives really great hugs (for a girl).  ;)

I miss her laugh...we would laugh together at the silliest, sometimes dumbest things.  And she has a great, loud, contagious laugh.

I can't eat peanut M&M's without thinking of her.  Or Chex Mix (homemade, of course) or chips and salsa.

I miss my Madea-watching buddy.  We even got yelled at one time by some random man in the movie theater that thought he was being cool, I guess.

I miss my midnight-movie-going friend.  Yes, we went to see the 2nd Twilight movie at midnight.  And we wore "I Love Edward" pens.  :)

I miss doing Bible study with her.

I miss praying with her...we had this thing that every time we prayed together, we ended up in tears.  Together.

Choir was never the same once she left...we would often crack up laughing at the most inappropriate time...especially when we saw the word retard.  I know...so juvenile.  Don't judge.

I miss our long, drawn out emails...she was quite bored at her job and we would email back and forth all day long, talking about everything...but always giving each other encouragement.

She is my friend who sticks closer than a brother.  My spiritual sister in Christ.  We are the "iron sharpens iron" type of friends.

She might be the only other person as in love with God and his word as I am.

My sweet, precious Christa.  I love her, and tonight especially, I'm missing her. 




Saturday, July 11, 2015

a few of my favorite moments from the week

(Since I didn't participate in my usual Friday Favorites.)

On Wednesday, my sweet daddy called me and asked if I would bring Jonah and Noah out to his house the next day.  He also asked if I would let them start cutting his grass with his riding mower.  (I've only been offering the use of my kids for five years, but hey, better late than never!)  So I drove them out there, along with Graham, Drew, Ben and Alex who had all spent the night, and they played and ran around and hung out and picked up sticks for him while we were there.  Dad gave Jonah and Noah a training session and agreed that they would start working for him next week.


He was demonstrating on how to back the mower up.  I told him that they would just do this because he is family and you don't always do things for money, but he wasn't having that and is insisting on paying them at least a little bit each week.  In his mind, he's either going to pay someone else, or he can pay his grandsons.  Of course, the thought of earning a little money each week thrills them to no end.  I am really proud of my boys, and the work ethic they've learned from their dad.  He has always taught them the value of that, and I know that someday they will grow up and be wonderful husbands and fathers, who carry on that tradition.

That afternoon, all the boys were gone and Todd called me to ask me to come pick him up from Costco.  He was having new tires put on his truck and thought it would take about three hours.  I let Crash go along for the ride, and he was in doggy heaven.


He really loves Todd.  This was after my darling hubby put gas in the suburban for me.  :)  It turns out that I did not bring him home, though.  They took his truck back faster than they had said, so he knew it wouldn't be too long.

I came back home and for the first time since June 25th, I made a really yummy dinner.  We had grilled Teriyaki chicken, broccoli with cheese and pasta.  It was delicious!  Graham always grills for me, and he gets better and better at it each time.  It was perfect.

On Friday, Drew and his friend Andrew helped out at church all day.  It was for Camp Big Enough, and this is the third year he's helped.  It's one of his most favorite things to volunteer for.  Graham, Jonah and Noah went with the youth to play laser tag.  While they were all gone, my dad and I went and had lunch at one of my most favorite restaurants, The Silver Caboose, a cute little place here in The Ville, on the town square.  We came back home and talked after lunch.

For dinner last night, I invited us along with my in-love's to their favorite little place for dinner.


It was all the way out in Brunswick, at this cute little hole in the wall place called Brunswick Kitchen.  They have one entree on their menu: catfish.  It is delicious!  The breading is what makes it so yummy.  We were in great company.  We were back home by nine, or a little before, and I settled in with a good book.


This is the second book I have read by Melanie Shankle, and it is as great as the other one, Nobody's Cuter Than You.  I've been reading the Yada Yada Prayer Group books again and made it to book five of seven, but I needed to switch it up a little bit.  These books by her are lighthearted and easy to read and laugh out loud funny.  Seriously.

It's been a pretty good week.  I am looking forward to today and tomorrow and this week.  Tonight I am going with my friend Missy and some teenage girls to see the new minion movie.  And tomorrow, at about four o'clock, the boys and I leave to go help out at kids camp.  It's a little strange that they won't be participating, but it'll be fun to help out in a new way.  They're all doing that today, as well, they're going out in a little while to set things up.  I will be at home, cleaning, vacuuming and doing laundry.  And getting a new phone~the face of my phone is lifting and I need a replacement.

So that's been about it~my week in a nutshell, in the past couple of posts.  I hope you've had a great week.

Love to all!

what's up Wednesday

It's been a while since I've linked up for this what's up Wednesday post, so I thought I would do that today, since it'...