"Enjoy the little things in life ~ one day you'll wake up and realize they were the big things"







Sunday, April 19, 2015

Homeless

Homeless.

Thankfully we aren't.

We aren't even planning to move right away (in fact, we might be approaching record time, for our family, living in the same house!)

The word "homeless", however, evokes a host of feelings and mental images. In our years downtown, we spent plenty of time around those who truly were without a place to lay their heads.  Their worldly possessions were few, their hope and their dignity far less. 

Homeless. It's a word that has danced about in my head throughout the past few years. Not because we've been without a home, but because we've been without a church home.  

I've told friends (on more than one occasion in the past few years) how I am convinced that I'd rather be without a home than without a church.  Really!  If you have never been part of a church family, maybe you just can't relate to that.  If you have, perhaps you share my sentiment.  

For 16 or 17 years we were intimately involved in Open Door Fellowship (downtown Denver), our world revolved around that body of believers, where we served and loved and lived. Where we struggled through years of infertility, where we later brought each of our newborns (when they were just days old) ~ and passed them around to excited friends, where we loved on the mentally ill and the drug addicted, where we served alongside the like-minded, where our daughter danced with passion and abandon during worship and our son tried out the drums after the service . . . where we lived life in community and wept and rejoiced.  Where our family was embraced and we felt accepted and loved and fully alive. 

When we moved to Castle Rock in 2008, we began looking for a church closer to our new home. It took a little while, but eventually we found a wonderful little church, "Generations", which we called home for nearly three years.  We were part of a small group, Emily sang on the worship team, we felt connected, we made some neat friends, we served in meaningful ways. 

Until the summer of 2012, when we moved to Jellystone. As much as 'the spirit was willing', it was very difficult for us to make it to church (consistently) that summer and fall. We returned in the winter, but several months later (on Easter Sunday) Generations held its last service and closed its doors.  Our life & schedule at the campground from May-Oct makes attending church very, very difficult and looking for a new church home nearly impossible.  In the off season, we had a little more freedom. We visited several churches and greatly enjoyed some of them . . . but we just never found one that "fit".  Peak season returned at the campground and our search fell through the cracks once again.  I prayed that somehow, at some point, God would weave us back into a church family again. 

During those busy summer months, we participated in (or led) various devotional services at the campground.  It was something.  It was what we could manage. God was not disappointed (with us). 

But I was.  

An uneasiness was gnawing away at my insides, an uncomfortable reality, an unwelcome truth - we had ended up, much by default, raising our children outside of the church . . . without the benefit of an "extended (church) family" ~ who knew them, loved them, watched them grow and spoke truth, conviction and encouragement into their lives.  

I wanted that for them. 

I wanted that for us. 

We had become an island unto ourselves.  Doing okay, certainly not void of all Christian input or activity, but as a family ~ coming close to starving spiritually. That is NOT where I ever dreamed we'd end up, it was not the vision I had for our family . . . much like I imagine is the story of each tattered soul who stands behind a cardboard sign on the street corner.  This is not what they ever dreamed they would become.    

This past November, once our weekends were freed up a little, we began visiting churches again, intent on finally finding a place to call home. One Saturday night (about five months ago) as we were preparing to return to a church the kids and I had visited the previous week, I decided to do one more (internet) search.  I happened upon a website (I'd actually been there once before, but had dismissed it for whatever reason).  This time the words on that page struck a chord.  The description reminded me of our "home church" in Denver.  We made a last minute decision to visit Pathmakers the next morning, before returning to the 'other' church. 

From the moment we walked through the doors, we felt at ease. Exuberant children greeted ours, friendly faces and open arms embraced us.  Genuine people, Real. Raw. Relevant. Balanced. Servant leaders who refused to talk in titles or advertise (their) positions. Members of a body, working together, serving one another.  Love.

We could be ourselves there.  Our kids told us how much they enjoyed it. We returned the next week. . .  and the following week.  We prayed for strangers, we gushed over newborns. We had real conversations, We stood in the chilly winter air witnessing outdoor baptisms! We made dinner plans with Joe & Beth (and then re-scheduled them at the last minute . . . two or three times). We brought our injured puppy to church! (and no one condemned us).  We participated in outreach events and youth events. We were offered opportunities to serve.  Our kids have shared in that privilege too. They have a role and a purpose. Somewhere as the weeks ran together, we stopped feeling like visitors and began feeling like family.  There are still plenty in the family we haven't met yet, we are looking forward to hearing their stories and getting to know them as the days unfold.  For the first time in (too many) years, we are looking forward to finding a way to continue being part of this family THROUGHOUT the craziness and busyness of 'peak season'.  

THAT is an answer to prayer! 

We have seen God's faithfulness (once again)  

We are no longer homeless.  

We are home

 . . . and home is a wonderful place.

(Oh . . . , and when we finally managed to have that dinner with Joe & Beth and the kids ~ it was genuine and fun and memorable.  And, well, you'll just have to ask Joe how ~ um ~ dog poop made its mark on the evening  smile emoticon   I'm waiting for it to find its way into a sermon!)

Thank you, Pathmakers, for welcoming us into your family!




Thursday, April 16, 2015

Auntie Penny's visit

Emily wrote on her Facebook page (earlier today) this quote from Winnie the Pooh!: "How lucky I am to have something (someone) that makes saying goodbye so hard". What a poignant and fitting description. We weren't even back to the car yet after saying goodbye in the airport when Sam said "I miss Auntie Penny, who votes that we go back in and get her?!"

We are so thankful that we were able to have almost a whole week together!  Several of the kids (and Penny too!) commented that it felt 'just like it used to', when she would come visit for a long weekend, tell stories, hang out and we would all enjoy her company greatly.  It's been three years, I think they all felt like too much would have changed to just "pick up right where we'd left off" . . . but God is so sweet and we truly did just pick up where we'd left off.  What a blessing!  (Now to get Grandma Shirley or Taylor out here for a visit . . . )

Some highlight pictures:























Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Beautiful dancers . . .

Anna's worship dance performance was last night.  We were excited that the timing happened to work out for Penny to be in town for it.  Anna did a wonderful job!  (and she LOVES getting flowers afterward!)  Normally Emily would be dancing in the same performance, but sat this semester out while she continues to work on getting her foot healed from a stress fracture.




Monday, April 13, 2015

It's my "oil-a-versary"!

A year ago today, after weeks and weeks of debating with myself, I took the plunge and ordered a Young Living starter kit,  I am SO glad I did!  I very quickly fell in love with essential oils and all of the possibilities they hold.  It wasn't long before family and friends (and even random strangers on the street!) were hearing "there's an oil for that" in response to every imaginable situation.  I've seen some fun things in the past year and I'm still amazed and learning new uses for oils on a daily basis. God, in His great wisdom, built more healing properties into the humble plant world than most Americans (especially) ever give a second thought to.

Contact me if you want to dive into the super cool, awesomely intriguing world of essential oils . .. if you decide to get your own starter kit, just mention this blog (and my "oil-a-versary"!) for a 10% discount.  With 11 incredible oils, an awesome diffuser, several sample packets, wholesale pricing on future orders and no minimum monthly commitment ~ it's the perfect way to get started!  smile emoticon 





















Sunday, April 12, 2015

Celebrating our Levi . . . can't believe he's 14!

We had some friends over last night for a belated celebration for Levi's birthday.  Fun at home, at the gaga ball pit, the jumping pillow and with Yogi & Boo Boo!  (See if you can find the birthday boy in the group hug with Boo Boo!)  So thankful for an awesome teenager, good friends, nice weather and such a fun place to live!  No pix of a cake, because Levi wanted homemade fudge instead (and I forgot to get a picture) . . . but it was yummy!













Friday, April 10, 2015

Surprises!

Our sweet friend, Patty Tague, died on Good Friday (succumbing to a rapidly growing tumor which was attacking her brain stem).  It was sudden and shocking.  A faint glimmer of silver lining emerged from that dark cloud with the arrival of our "Auntie Penny" - in town for the memorial service.  Our kids haven't seen their beloved Auntie Penny for about 3 years (since she moved to Kentucky).  I had the GREAT fun of surprising them a few hours before I went to the airport to pick her up.  I LOVE surprises like that!




Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A step ahead of allergies . . .

April is traditionally a miserable month for my allergy suffering hubby (and at least one of my sons) . . . I mixed up some roller ball 'potions' and capsules this morning with essential oils, hoping to stay a step ahead of spring allergies this year! . . . "ain't nobody got time for that!"






Monday, April 6, 2015

He is Risen!

This year I finally remembered to attempt these cute little deviled egg peeps.  We had beautiful weather, but Easter didn't really "feel" like Easter this year.  We normally do something with extended family (and weren't able to this year).  Church has always been a family priority on Easter . . . the kids and I went, but Kevin had to miss church because of work :-( and our "Easter Saturday" was extremely busy (so I was exhausted by Easter morning) . . . BUT Easter is not about feelings anyway (or even about family for that matter) it's about the power and redemption displayed in the resurrection of Jesus. He is risen INDEED!







Saturday, April 4, 2015

The bears woke from hibernation this morning at Jellystone (to gorgeous blue skies and sunshine). Stretching and yawning and roaming around in their jammies, but awake no less! There were lots of guests on hand to enjoy them (gorgeous weather AND a holiday together will do that!).

Our little Selena cutie pie wanted to help us fill LOTS of plastic eggs for two different guest egg hunts. Messy egg dying activities, egg-a-pult crafts, flag raising, candy bar bingo, guests on golf carts, flashlight egg hunts at the playground, the smell of campfires (& a very busy Saturday!) . . . a sweet taste of summer (a bit early)!





 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday

Below is a link to a song that I remember listening to shortly after I became a Christian, if you haven't heard it ~ it's worth a listen.  Sometimes, our failure to answer a question ~ IS our answer.  As the world commemorates "Good Friday" today and the death of Jesus on the cross, have you answered the question of what you will do with Jesus?  Never in life will you encounter a more important question.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAHtQgcbbgc

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mr Math!

Our "math teacher and tech support guy" is cuter than yours!!  . . . so thankful Kevin is willing to fill in these VERY vital roles in our homeschool, he does an INCREDIBLE job!  smile emoticon 




Monday, March 30, 2015

Sunny South Padre!

We are driving back home from a great week at South Padre Island. The kids are currently harmonizing in the back of the van ~ Maroon 5, Imagine Dragons and . . . Backyardigans (!) songs ~ even Emily! (but don’t tell her I told you) . . . They spent an hour or more bursting into belly laughs over the old home videos that Emily was sorting on her computer! Glorious moments. What a treasure listening to them laughing together ~ no bickering, no hurt feelings or harsh words, actually enjoying being together. I long for more of those moments in our everyday lives.

We’ve been looking forward to this trip for quite some time. We are on our third attempt (third time’s a charm? . . . ), having had to reschedule twice in the past few years. For over a year I’ve been selling things on eBay and stashing away “fun money” ($5 & $10 at a time) JUST for this occasion. The kids created a jar many months ago to start contributing to the “fun money fund” . . . they gathered a little over $100 in coins and $1 bills alone.

We were overdue for a road trip and long overdue for the beach! I love Colorado, but the beach is truly my “happy place” . . . the sand between my toes, the waves lapping the shore, the sandpipers scurrying, the seagulls soaring, the sun (aahhh! the sun!), the smell of salty ocean air, the relentless breeze, the moonlight dancing on the water, the horizon a distant ripple on a sea of waves. The solitude, the beauty, the big-ness of God manifest at the edge of the known. I. LOVE. The ocean.

Our trip thus far has been smooth in every regard. We left (on Kevin’s birthday) before sunrise, made good (drive) time, even with some rain. Emily shared in the driving rotation ~ we are still adjusting to that reality! (she did a great job). We stopped for the night at a hotel with an indoor pool and went out to eat (since it was Kevin’s birthday, we splurged and even went somewhere with silverware!) and then returned to the hotel to play in the pool. We woke up Sunday, ate Texas shaped waffles at our hotel and finished the second half of the drive. We arrived Sunday evening, found our timeshare (a very generous gift from my mom), checked in and went straight to the beach! (after everyone excitedly claimed their bed or corner - or closet! - and set up their spot for the week . . . ) Anticipation grew as the waves lapped the shore and the kids splashed about in the cold, salty water. Laughter, giggles . . . . unity. Beauty. Wow.

Since moving to Jellystone, it has been a challenge to get away, we used to go on road trips in the summer, it is now nearly impossible to go anywhere during the summer months.  Last year I became determined to change that ~ and we found a way to weave “mini road trips” into our summer . . . but an actual family vacation to the beach has been a long time coming . .. so I've been praying for this trip to “feel” like a summer vacation even though we had to do it during March.

It did!  smile emoticon

The weather actually exceeded my expectations! I’ve been praying, specifically for the weather, for several months – it has been rainy, foggy, cool and downright mucky much of the winter in SPI . .. until the day before we arrived! Thank you, Jesus, for caring about the little things . . . for this crazy blond chick with an abnormal obsession with the very mention of sunshine!

We allowed each of the kids to choose one “bigger” outing (in addition to the things we did as a family). Anna chose riding a horse on the beach, the boys all chose para-sailing and Emily chose jet-skiing. (Emily also bought herself a horse ride and joined Anna on her adventure). Each one of those experiences was wonderful . . . expertly staffed, excellently done and greatly enjoyed. One of our family adventures was a snorkeling/lunch cruise. Awesome choice! It was near perfect and a great introduction to snorkeling for the kids (and one of the best hamburgers I've ever eaten). Later in the week, we also enjoyed a sunset dolphin watching cruise. We went with one of the less expensive dolphin boats, but were in NO way disappointed, they did an awesome job finding the dolphins! It was great fun.

In addition to the “big stuff”, we enjoyed playing in the surf, walking on the beach, building sand castles, playing tennis, playing cards, playing in the pool and relaxing in the hot tub, watching “Dr Who” in the evenings, visiting the turtle rescue center, eating ice cream, taking night walks on the beach, kite flying, kayaking and canoeing (on the bay side of the island), exploring the beach with a metal detector, recreating photos from our last beach trip, eating seafood and Sushi (for Levi’s bday) and even making homemade donuts in our cute little kitchen.

I’ve spammed Facebook all week long with pictures of our adventures (sorry, probably went a bit overboard!) . . . but for those of you not on FB, here are a few (okay, more than a few!) of the highlights.

We plan to be back home later this evening and will likely hit the ground running - gearing up for Easter weekend activities at Jellystone, the arrival of baby goats, the home stretch of the school year and the ramping up for peak season at the campground.