Friday, September 28, 2012

We will Praise Him

At the end of another week and His blessings are all around us.
The sky is perfect.
Trees are letting their colors out for fall.
Air is cool in the morning, warm in the afternoon, and cool again at night.

We will praise Him for His excellence in creation!
We will praise Him for His plan and purpose in our lives.
We will praise Him for joy and laughter and all good things He gives.

I praise Him, today, for my children.
My growing, strong, and healthy little girls... and the endless giggles that only girls can provide.
And, I praise Him that even after the yucky, hard, bearing down days...
He still loves me. 
Despite my attitudes and mess ups, failures and shortcomings.
He see's His son. His perfect, priceless Jesus. 

"We praise Thee, O God,
For the Son of Thy love, 
For our Savior who died and
  Is now gone above.

Hallelujah! Thine the glory,
Hallelujah! Amen;
Hallelujah! Thine the glory,
 We praise Thee again.

We praise Thee, O God,For Thy Spirit of light,
Who has shown us our Savior,
 And scattered our night.

All glory and praise
  To Thee, Father of love,
For through Jesus' redemption 
 Thy heart we may prove.

We praise Thee again; 
We are filled with Thy love,
And each heart is rekindled 
 With fire from above."

- William Paton Mackay, 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Oh no she didn't. The "s" word.

This girl.
She will be four in December and brings so much joy to my life.
And, so much... heartache. How is that possible?! 
It seems we butt heads on a daily basis, 
even though I honestly do feel like I'm choosing my battles VERY carefully. 

I see so much of myself in this little face - and maybe that explains my previous sentence. 
ME. Sinner. ME. I see it in my precious first born... and it literally wrings my heart out. And I see a picture of Christ's love for me every single day as I watch her struggle and fight against me. Only, PRAISE GOD, I'm forgiven and have NEW LIFE in Him! Dear Lord, please let Ava call on You as her savior someday! 

This week we had one very bad day. And I don't think I'll be forgetting it any time soon. That bad. 
It was lunch time and I called the girls out to the kitchen to eat, asked Ava to put her toys away so we could keep moving. Both girls were tired and I could feel the drama that would come about if we didn't keep this train going... Been there? We had played outside all morning and then some quiet inside play while I got lunch going. Ava had been so grumpy the whole morning despite my BEST efforts to keep the happy up. 
So, this simple request turned into a mini-meltdown, ending with my 3 year old in tears telling me I was mean. Gasp! Talk about a sucker punch to the gut. It was all I could do to keep my face from showing the hurt - my baby just said that to me!? When all I was doing was working so very hard to be the BEST Momma to her that I could be. I wanted to slouch away and go have a pity party on the couch - then remembered I was the parent. 

After the girls were settled and eating quietly... or, let's be honest, both whining while taking bites intermittently - I sat down with them to eat. I felt the wash of emotion and my heart just hurt. The defeat is so real sometimes, ya know? Like someone is actually whispering in your ear, "you are a failure, you ARE mean." I bowed my head and closed my eyes just for a minute to cry out to my God - because He cares and He reminds me of truth. Are you doing that, too, mom friends? I grabbed my little bible nearby and reminded myself of the character of God - "The Lord is gracious, slow to anger, rich in love". And the whole time Ava is watching me and I can see the question before she says it. "Mommy, what are you doing that for? Why are you closing your eyes and looking sad?" I wanted to be careful with my response. She is only 3, after all. We ended up having a good little chat about how her words had hurt me and how I needed to call on Jesus to give me strength to love and care for her. Then...she cried. Just all out burst into sobs. I'll admit I was not expecting that response. We hugged each other and asked forgiveness, and then dug back into lunch  chatting happily again. Ah, children, so resilient sometimes. I tucked it into my brain...her tenderness. Her understanding. 

That night after daddy got home - we had some play time outside again. The girls rode their bikes and just walked around our yard. Ava asked to take her bike to the front sidewalk so we allowed it for a few minutes. This is a special treat for her! When it was time to come back in I stuck my head out the door and told her it was time to be done. She looked up from her bike and said, "You shut up". THE "S" WORD! WHAT?! Who IS this child? WHERE did she hear that? Oh my very word! Needless to say - Daddy and Ava had a good conversation on that one, upstairs. Later she told me she heard that word at church. Lovely. 

I'm so thankful for my Ava. She reminds me every day of my NEED for God's grace and strength in my life. I have so much to learn and so many lessons to cement in my mind. And I know so many more of these "Oh no she didn't" memories will come. I pray the Lord allows me wisdom each time they do. This parenting thing drives me to my knees and into the Word of God - and I'm so thankful we have this in our lives. 

In November I'm planning to attend the "Hearts at Home" conference in Minnesota. Some ladies from church are going and I absolutely cannot wait to just soak in all I can from that time. My hubs said I could go and now... to raise the $ to get there :) One of my favorite people in the world is speaking... MICHELLE DUGGAR and I just need a good refresher on loving and caring for my children and my home. 

So how about you? How's parenting going? Got any "Strong" kids in your house? :) 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Because sometimes we need the reminder...

Found this on pinterest this afternoon while my sweet babes are sleeping. 
I'm praising the Lord for two precious, perfectly created-just-for-me kiddos. 

And, post nap time we'll load up and spend the rest of this gorg afternoon at the park. 
Have you hugged your babies today?

Monday, September 24, 2012


Autumn is here and our home is a cozy 64 degrees inside. I think I heard our heater turn on earlier this morning... a little bit chilly. :) I love it. I love the cool mornings, being bundled in blankets at night, hot spiced cider packets out for guests and even my "Autumn in New York" music on Spotify. If you get into the jazzy sound at all - you'll like it :)

Can I share something? I have been disappointed many times in recent days. Which, seems doubly frustrating as I so enjoy this time of year. This weekend I loaded the crock pot up with steak n' tater soup, had yeast rolls rising on the stove top, and a yummy apple candle burning away making life smell grand. The dining room table was set with over sized soup bowls and a pretty basket for the baked rolls to go. Scene was set and I was so eager to share this "First day of Fall" meal with my precious family. I had looked forward to it since... May. :) 

As I ladled the soup into bowls and brought warm rolls out of the oven - a certain 3 year old child sauntered in and announced, "No thank you, Mommy, I don't want soup." So began the meltdown of the century. The dream cloud I had been waltzing on the entire day while preparing seemed to be turning to rain right under my feet. A half an hour later I sat at the dining room table, head in hands, tears flowing down my face. Our 3 year old sat in her room as she continued her scream fest. The baby babbled cheerily while shoving bits of potatoes and steak into her mouth, and my poor husband tried to keep the peace between his brood of ladies. Grrrr. My disappointment over this moment were huge. So much planning. So many little touches here and there. Wonderful smells. Happy Momma. All of this now a pile of disappointment at my feet. My husband said to me, "Remember... pay day, someday. This is just our stage of life right now." And, I knew he was right. Because someday we will have lovely, sit down, leisurely meals. Someday we'll have quiet. Someday we'll see and savor every aspect of this wonderful season... but, that's someday. All these days of training of discipline and constant whining {or so it seems} aren't going to last forever. Our pay day is someday. Not today. 

And in the last few days those moments of disappointment have come fast and often to me. Where I feel like a failure or the worlds worst mother. Moments where my children look at me and I know they see grumpy faces and hear a voice raised when I could have been cool, calm, and collected. Disappointment when my quiet time doesn't go quite as I had planned. Disappointment when my self control seems to fly right out the window. And I know many of you are in this place, too. I'm so thankful for the encouragement and prayers of dear friends who walk this road with me. 

This weekend our Pastor taught on 2 Peter 1:5-8 and we learned about the things we can practice in our life to show real and alive fruit for Christ. Today, as we enter another week, I'm calling to mind those things...
virtue, brotherly kindness, perseverance, self control... Because, it's the ONLY way. And, I'm casting those disappointments and moments of chaos as my Saviors feet - because He cares, and He uses them in my life. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Have you heard? And, some recipes.

Have you heard Downton is back on? Well - at least in the UK.
A few weeks ago a fellow blogger posted a link to watch Downton Abbey SEASON 3 in the UK when it aired, on the 16th. I spaced and totally forgot to plan for it... oh well, there is more to life. I'm not sure if you can watch it re-run style yet, but, thought I'd share the link in case you can. Check that out here if you are fan... and just itching to know what happens to THESE two. :) By the way, thank you Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for the link! We love you!

And please accept my apologies for any crude or just plain gross side bar commerical things - whatever they are called - some can be inappropriate {to say the least}. I, in my limited internet abilities, don't know how to rid them. 

Have you heard of Nascafe's newest product...Memento?
Yum. I'm enjoying a Mocha Memento right now as we speak, er... type. They are instant coffee which I do turn my nose up at usually - but, for some reason I really enjoy these. They are quick, delicious, and even have the frothy yumminess you'd get from a coffee shop. :) Even my black-coffee-only-loving husband enjoys them. Ah, if I only I was paid to say all of that - but alas, I am not.

I'm ending this post with a few recipes that we've tried out recently. With this 60 degree weather this momma is aching for soups, breads and all things fallish-creamy-fatty-goodness-ish. Which, funny how "comfort foods" seem to ease all comforts minus the one on the scale... hmmmm. But, seriously, we have had some yummy things lately and I'm all about sharing!

Favorite Salisbury Steak
For the patties:
1lb ground beef {xtra lean if you can}
1/2c unseasoned bread crumbs
1/2c milk
1 egg white
1/4c fine chopped onion
1t worcestershire sauce
1/4t salt
1/4t pepper

For the gravy:
3/4c beef broth
1/4c beef broth in addition (or, dry red wine if you use it)
1T cornstarch
1/4t dried thyme
Jar mushroom {however, you know we don't even go there} 

1) In medium bowl combine all patty ingredients: mix gently. Shape into 6 oval patties, about 3/4in thick.
2) Spray skillet with nonstick spray. Heat over medium heat until hot. Add patties and cook 3 mins each side or until browned. Remove patties from skillet and drain if necessary.
3) In small bowl combine broth {and wine if used}, cornstarch and thyme; blend well. Pour into same skillet. Cook over low heat until mix boils and thickens, stir constantly. {stir in your mushrooms if used} Return patties to skillet. Cover; simmer about 15 mins or until no longer pink inside.
*I served this with mashed potatoes and corn! Good all American meal.

Beef Stew
1 1/2lb beef stew meat cut into cubes
5T flour
1t salt
1/2t pepper
1T oil
1lb small, red, potatoes, quartered
1 1/2c frozen pearl onions
1lb package fresh baby carrots 
12oz jar beef gravy
14.5oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4c cold water

1) On waxed paper, sprinkle beef with 2T of the flour, salt, and pepper; toss to coat. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add coated beef; cook and stir 4-6 minutes or until browned.
2) In 4 to 6 qt. slow cooker, layer potatoes, onions and carrots. Add browned beef; sprinkle any remaining flour (from the coating step) and browned pan bits. Top with gravy and canned tomatoes.
3) Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours. About 10 minutes prior to serving, blend water and remaining 3T flour until smooth. Stir into stew. Increase heat to High, cover and cook 10 mins.
*We didn't include the pearl onions because... that's a battle I just will not wage with a 3 year old. And, we totally skipped step #3b - just ate it before whipping in that extra flour. Just as good. :)
*Serve sprinkled with some sharp cheddar.

Have a wonderful Tuesday! If you, like me, are enjoying these cool temps - keep on enjoying. I hear we may hit 80 again tomorrow :/

Monday, September 17, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday

Let me set the tone of this day for you... from where I sit. It's in the upper 60's, raining, gray, and you can see the faintest tint of yellow starting to show up on some of the leaves. I have an apple cinnamon candle burning in our kitchen, and the cider and cocoa packets came out at lunch time. Blankets were rolled up and put in the blankey basket near the end of the couch, some autumn decor is up, and my kids are now asleep.
I couldn't enjoy this more. Happy Monday!

The Weather :: Upper 60's, and I hear a rumor it will stay this way most of the week! Woot Woot!

On my reading pile :: Started Nancy Guthrie's, "The Wisdom of God" book for our church's ladies bible study. Super good! Finishing up: Strong women soft hearts, made to crave, and still working on some Nook books as well.

On my TV :: Off and lovely. However, I am asking hubs to bring home his computer so we can try and watch Downton season 3. Unless I totally missed it!

On the menu::
Monday - Ground beef and something. {gotta use up some leftovers before shopping}
Tuesday - Crescent Chicken squares
Wednesday - Cheeseburgers
Thursday - Buffalo chicken sandwiches and sweet potato tots
Friday - Steak and tater soup with rolls
Saturday - Autumn pork roast with sweet potatoes
Sunday - Left overs

On the To-do list:: Laundry and some general tidying. House is super clean from being gone and having company over last night. Print some preschool stuff for the big girl and I to start on.

What I'm sewing, crocheting, creating :: Finished my pinterest project of the candy corn burlap banner! Now looking for some orange buttons to make the button pumpkin in the frame.

Homemaking tips :: Vinegar. White vinegar. I've always heard about it...but always doubted it in exchange for my chemicals! Ran out of windex this weekend so I used vinegar instead and WAY cleaner, smells better, and just felt better about the whole experience! Might be time to put the blue chemical away and buy an empty spray bottle for my new fave!

Looking around the house :: Dining room chairs all out in the living room from our post-church guests :) Toys here and there. Very dark inside thanks to this lovely rainy day :)

From the camera :: Ladies night with some of the most amazing women I know :)

On my prayer list :: Youth ministry. My husbands car died this afternoon and now we for sure need to buy a new one - with little money saved. Bah.

Bible Verse, devotional :: Loved the reminder of Christ as our mediator, the propitiation for us - He bore all the wrath of God in my place! Praise the Lord!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Slight distraction

It was supposed to be, "Clean up the bedroom" day for this Momma. Our bedroom never seems to feel like anything more then a giant laundry hamper - blah. For the majority of the morning I cleaned, folded, put away and sorted - while the little girls played, wrestled, giggled and dressed up. But apparently, after so long, play between sisters gets old and they need something new to do. So as I turned to put yet another stack of folded clothes neatly into my drawer - I found... well, my Auggie. :) She makes me smile. Just a little tiny thing chillen' in my bottom drawer, happy as a clam. And even though I had several more things to fold and sort and put away... I figured, that was probably good for the day - and we went downstairs and did something else. Slight distraction.

It must be in the air to be random today. I've read several friends posts and they are all feeling random and sharing lots of fun different things - and I plan to do the same. :)

Upon checking my email this afternoon I was reminded that comfort food season is quickly approaching. {standing ovation} Panera let me know this was back - their fall soups are...amazing.
And, I read they now offer a PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE. Hmmm... yes, I think I will! 

This afternoon our toilet got put back into our bathroom. We've been out of commission for a whole day - which - makes life interesting, to say the least. The new vinyl floor is down and we'll have some sheet rock put in behind the shower tomorrow. Then it's time to paint and decorate! Hubs even suggested "finally getting this room decorated" yesterday. :) I've been scouring some websites looking for deals on a new shower curtain, bath mat, wall decor, and storage ideas. We shall see how this goes down. 

Tomorrow night hubs and I head out on our annual youth leaders retreat with some of the coolest people I know. Seriously, we have the best youth leaders! I'm looking forward to time playing volleyball, swimming in the ginormous pool, walking the camp grounds, and enjoying some camp food! It's just an overnight trip - but - has such a lasting impact on our team for the whole year. This year we have 5 married couples serving {along with our wonderful singles}and hopefully soon we'll be able to start meeting together for some small group time. Really looking forward to the new relationships. God is so good! 

It's a cool, gray, rainy type of day and I love it. My children have been sleeping all afternoon and I scrubbed all the windows and doors down with vinegar. Feeling like a super mom today. :) It's the little things, right? 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I want to get beyond imagining.

Life is so weird. And grand. A weird grandness. Maybe the word is just bittersweet. Life is bittersweet. We praise the Lord for life and the blessings that every day holds. But then the bitterness of pain, that comes in this life, raises its ugly head. Tempts us to turn our eyes and hearts away... from the other blessings still there. Tempts us to turn our eyes away from Christ. Tempts me to focus on... well, me feeling sad. 

In the last month my heart has been wrung out like an old soppy wet wash cloth. I have cried over babies passing into heaven, miscarriages, broken marriages, broken relationships, frustrations in ministry, frustrations with people, parenting struggles, relational struggles, a messy home, grumpy children - and really, can't we all just keep going with a list like that? In many ways this constant wringing has been good - like dross being melted off in a fire. I have learned so much of the Lords plan in my life and have had many good days of reflection and rejoicing because of that. "Oh, so that's why" moments. Priceless. But then, some things I just have to let the Holy Spirit cover for me {as if I had control over that, right?}. Pains and prayers I want to cry out but don't know how. Situations I want to sweep into and "fix" but can't. I feel soppy wet and useless. Just sitting there off to the side.

In her book, "The Wisdom of God", Author Nancy Guthrie has a great little snippet in the first chapter:

"Can you imagine what it would mean for you, like Paul, to put Christ crucified at the center of your life so that everything else revolves around it and emanates from it? How would it impact your Facebook status, your credit card bill, your vacation plans, your marriage or singleness, your parenting, your professional pursuits, your political involvement? Does not embracing this wisdom impact and inform every aspect of our ordinary lives?

Light bulb moment. Sitting in bible study this morning and then going over this paragraph again this afternoon - something clicked. When our eyes are on Christ and we are eagerly living out HIS plan for our lives there is IMPACT in our day to day. We are wrung out and then renewed. We see purpose in pain. We rejoice in the grand and the bitter. I sit here and think... I want to get BEYOND imagining. I want my life to look like this - like Paul's did. My life needs to revolve around this truth of Christ Jesus. And maybe... stop caring so much about MY heart, MY pain, MY whatever - and remind myself daily that I'm a small part of this big story - but still a part. Nancy says a few sentences prior, 

"My friend, you are part of a much grander story than just your little life. And the more you see your life in the context of this much bigger story, this much grander plan, the wiser  you become as you live it."

And maybe none of this even makes sense when I try to sit here and put it down in words. I'm just thankful today for the reminder that it's right and good to weep and mourn and care so much that it hurts - but, it's even greater to remember God's plan and the roles we each play in it. Get beyond imagining what life would like with a right focus - and, instead pray and ask God to transform you into a woman with that focus! 

Monday, September 10, 2012

.:A little crafting:.

It's done!
My first home made fall decoration for this year is complete. Well, at least completely painted. I still need to sew it up and hang it up :) This weekend my girls and I had a lovely little craft time around our dining room table. While they were napping I made my way out to Hancock Fabrics to grab some burlap and paint brushes. I had a gift card! Thank you to my sweet friend, Krista, for such a fun birthday gift! On the way home I grabbed a Pumpkin Spice Latte {it was, afterall, in the 70's and felt very fallish} and on my way I went.

I only got a few minutes into crafting when the girls woke up. So, it became a family event. I set Ava up with some paint across from me - and, little sister is never far away.
 August is in an especially sneaky stage lately - it's adorable.
We got our craft on and I really enjoyed the time spent with my girls going crazy around me.

And there's a sneak peak at the work in progress :)
Pics to come soon of the finished project!
Crafting with my girls - it's for sure a whole new experience. Something I hope to do WAY more often.

Friday, September 7, 2012

September is here - Thank you Lord!

Does anyone else feel like the end of July and all of August just kinda dragged on and on? Maybe it's just me. Anywhoo, September is here! Right now my dining room table is covered in every fallish decoration I own. I always love spreading them out and trying to think of creative ways to display them. I'm still not sure, so they still sit down there. I did get a wreath on our front door! 

This morning I got up before my family, went down and drank some water {trying to do a full glass before coffee}, made a cup of coffee, threw some clothes in the dryer,  and then headed to my porch chair. It's the first day in the 70's and I hear we have another one coming tomorrow - wooot! 

I'm reading through a little devotional type book called, "Moments of peace for the morning". It has beautiful pictures of nature and what not each paired with a devotional and some scripture. Super simple and perfect for 10 minutes first thing in the day. 
This morning the topic was on remembering what Christ has done and teaching it to our children. I love what Deut. 4:9 says - 

 "However, be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you don’t forget the things which you have seen with your own eyes. Don’t let them fade from your memory as long as you live. Teach them to your children and grandchildren."

Moses was speaking to the children of Israel and wanted the point to be heard that THEY MUST tell their kids about what they see God doing in their lives. They couldn't forget how He had provided for them, led them, taken care of them... 

And that good word is still for us today. I think maybe even more so today because we don't always get to follow pillars of cloud and fire, see burning bushes or watch people cross over on dry ground seconds after watching a SEA part! Ok...we NEVER see those things.

Today I'm challenged to be intentional in speaking about Christ in our home. "Thank you God for this beautiful, cool, day." Reminding Ava that every interesting thing she finds outside has a creator, God! Praying out loud when something comes to mind - or just pausing to talk about how the Lord has worked in our own family. My children are 1 and 3 and a deep theological discussion is not yet necessary - but these little reminders here and there DO stick with them.

Because the thing is... just like Israel - our memory fades, and we forget to give thanks and praise to Whom it's due. We forget to glorify and we forget all the Lord has done for us. 

September is here! Praise the Lord! And, explain to your children why we celebrate a new season and what God has done in the season past. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

My corner of the world

There is one particular spot in my home that I love most. It's not the cleanest, by any means, nor the nicest. You can see here that coloring books, crayons, and kids "stuff" has currently taken over. But, I enjoy it probably above other places. It's my front porch over sized chair. In the mornings it's cool and quiet - faces our street and I can see whats going on in the world around me. At least, our world on 1st Street. My bible, journal and the window ledge are there - which acts as my coffee table. On mornings before kids are awake I sit out there with my hot mug of coffee and prep for the day. Sadly, I don't do this often enough. To be honest, I haven't gotten up before my kids... in... a while. So my porch time has been lacking. And that would also include my bible time, journal time, and prep time. Argh.

This morning while the girls were sitting quietly for longer then 2 seconds...
I made my way out there. I held my coffee in one hand and just sat. Breathed. The air was cool and a few leaves have already fallen on the road - it made me tear up and I have no idea why. I think I'm crazy. No, the reality is that life has felt so difficult lately. So a few moments in a chair, on my porch, felt like healing.

Our bathroom is under construction, er... reconstruction, after finding water and a basically ruined sub floor under our vinyl. We've had an industrial dehumidifier and "mega" fan in there to get the moisture out of the floor so the business that will do our repairs can rip it all up and lay down new. We have been so thankful to work with this team of men who are excellent at what they do - and have been so kind and helpful to our family. This is our only bathroom - and, the unexpected need for repair has all but thrown me off. It's hot upstairs from the machines and pretty loud. It takes some getting used to.

My children, especially my biggest girl, seem to take every opportunity to choose wrong lately. I told my husband this morning - I feel like my entire day is spent disciplining, redirecting, warning & feeling upset. It's so difficult! I'm constantly fighting for joy. I never understood that phrase more clearly then I do lately. It IS a battle to choose joy in the midst of circumstances you'd rather not deal with. And in typical stress induced Mandi fashion... I have gained weight, again. We won't even go there in this post. Just, argh. Time and again I end the day feeling like a failure in every area. All the intentions have flown out the window and nothing I wanted to do was done. It's Sept. 6th and I don't even have any fall decorations up yet. And I know that's not the most important thing...but, just saying.

So, back to my porch chair.

I have met the Lord there on so many mornings. Poured out my heart on rainy days, and rejoiced on the glad, sunny, ones. I've journaled a hundred entries and underlined many bible verses... and some days just sat there praying in silence - or, out loud if my family wasn't around. It's my corner of the world where I feel like I can really put my feet up and pull myself together. Or should I say, let the Lord pull me together!? I'm eager to get back to it... consistently. Next week I begin a ladies bible study at church and I can't wait to curl up on my big ol' chair with my bible open ready to drink in the truth. I need it. I'm thirsty for it. Prepping in that chair and learning what the Lord has for me is something I look forward to - am eager for. My corner of the world. Such a blessing in my life. Now I just need some of those 70 degree days... once these 80's and 90's move on. :)

Do you have a spot? Where do you go to set the world aside and focus back in? I'd love to hear about it.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Day Away

The fam and I headed to a local camp for an overnight getaway on Thursday. We have started up with fall ministry and the entire month of September has already filled up! My husband was wise to schedule our mini trip before the busyness caught up with our young family. Love him.

Our cabin in the woods was perfect. Serene. Had everything we needed...and then some.
It was a two bedroom, full size cabin. We had our own kitchen, living room, fireplace, bathroom {with jet tub} and enclosed front porch. We felt like royalty as we enjoyed the keurig, flat screen tv, leather recliners and humongous king size bed. The camp had taken such measures to ensure their guests were comfortable and really got rest.

I couldn't have asked for a nicer place to stay. :) And, once again my 3 year old felt like such a big girl as she got to sleep in a bunk bed. On top of the nice acommodations we got to enjoy the massive indoor pool and hot tub, walk the grounds and enjoy creation and play some in the gym. The girls loved running around {as you can see with August above}. Ah, we had a great trip. On the way up we stopped and had dinner at Pizza Ranch and the girls loved all the options. {never mind that most of us ended up getting sick later... ugh.} Perhaps the BEST part of all of this, aside from the time spent together, was that it was FREE. This camp serves Pastors and their families by allowing them FREE stay in the cabin. :) What an amazing blessing!

Last week we discovered that our bathroom had extensive water damage under the vinyl flooring. So we have an industrial sized dehumidifier and fan in their drying it out. It will take an entire restoration - involving ripping up the sub floor, reinstalling a new one, putting down new vinyl, and trim and then painting. We've already had some plumbing done and there is a lovely large hole cut in the back of the shower - where a leak was found.  We have been amazed at the skill and care that the team who is helping us out has shown. The Lord has given me a great peace and while I know it will cost... that He will care for us!

This coming week we will attend the funeral of a precious 4 month old who has gone to Jesus. She lived 133 days in the hospital and now we mourn her loss - though we rejoice she is pain free and perfect. My mom heart has been all over the place grieving and feeling the hurt for this young family going through the loss. Yet, I realize, that as the body of Christ - we are all feeling the loss. That's what a family does. 

All this to say...The Lord knew we, as a family of 4, needed a night away together to regroup and prep for the ministry that is placed before us. I praise the Lord for how He constantly provides and cares for us - and I'm so thankful for places that take such care of Pastors and their families.