Friday, July 27, 2007

Momentary Light Affliction

JUST KIDDING! We are home from PA safe and sound. We had a GREAT time - hard to believe a part of me wasn't ready to go! This blog may be long - I wish I could have been blogging while I was there - it just wasn't possible because you HAVE to see the pictures! A picture is worth a thousand words, right?
Well, I have taken everyones advice and thank God for you! Because the shower caddy came in VERY handy! We were some ways from the bathroom/shower. Flips were my shower shoes of choice! Air freshner was nice! Abbey, Jason kept saying - why body splash - how does that make you feel better? But before the trip was over he had his own "body splash"!
The camp went GREAT! We got to PA Saturday and spent the night with the Pastor of Fairview Church. We stayed up until 11 PM talking with them. At that point, it hit me how awkward it was to have someone we have never met before welcome us into their home - they made us feel very at home. I started to ponder the bond that us Christians have with each other! I think only through Christ can we welcome strangers into our home and dine with them! They had kids that were our age with families of their own and kids that were Noah and Anna's age! They were all so friendly! They live in an old house which is pictured below - it was beautiful! The church was RIGHT NEXT DOOR! We just walked over Sunday morning. Jason preached their and the people were wonderful - very responsive (couple of Amens). Then we had lunch with the Raines family and headed for camp!
Like I said previously, I had NO IDEA what to expect and at Church Sunday people kept saying - "It's Rustic"! Well, it was RUSTIC! I took a picture of the cabin the picture didn't seem so bad! When we opened the door to our cabin I wanted to cry! I couldn't see us spending FOUR nights out there. Everyone else seemed unaffected! I swallowed the lump in my throat - confessed to Jason I did want to cry but I was going to LAUGH! I was going to make the best out of this! I kept pretending that I was a house guest at Ginny Saint's house in Ecuador - which I'm sure was 1000 times worse that what we had! We at least had screens on the windows - no huge bugs flying in on us!

So Sunday we didn't know ANYONE and it was next to impossible to go to sleep - then once asleep - I was awoken by the BITTER COLD - I squeezed into Jason's side of the bed and we huddled trying to keep warm! Monday was MUCH better. Everyone pretty much sat in the same seats and the cutest girl - Shannon sat by me! God bless her - she fell asleep during Jason's talks and I would finish her notes for her! She was 12, and Amy she was a piece of home for me - she looked so much like Ivey! I don't know what it was - maybe her eyes but we clicked almost immediately! She has such a servants heart and she was so funny! Also on the other side of me was John - who wished he was Amish! So, of course, we gave him a hard time about that! So we were meeting people - which helped with the feeling of were 800 miles from home!
Jason and I sneaked off Monday and went to PNC Park - home of the Pirates - we aren't Pirates fans but we are LaRoche fans! We looked for him but didn't see him! We had no plans to do this but it's so neat the way the park is set up! There is an Outback right on left field, I told the host that we were "tourist" and asked for a seat by the window! So, we ate right at the window and the catcher and two others players (not Adam :() came out to practice a little. Which was neat! We walked around a little and then went to Barnes and Noble to check on Laine's adoption - which was exciting, and then we headed over to Target to take care of the "bed" situation! We got a Queen blow up bed and two sleeping bags! It was so cold up there to us! I wore my one sweatshirt all week - the Lord prepared me for this because it was just recently that I started wearing a sweatshirt to bed - crazy reason why but so glad I started that tradition because I would have been so cold without it! I NEVER SWEATED - which I did refuse to hike or play football with the kids because I wanted to come back and say "I didn't even sweat!" It was getting warmer the day we left though! I could tell because I didn't have to wear my sweatshirt to chapel that morning! So, I think the Lord took care of that too! It's the little mercies he gave that made me so thankful. Sure, he didn't give me a hotel to stay in, my own shower, or toilet - but he allowed us to stay warm, have cool days, meet great friends, see beautiful scenery, mostly sunny days, with a sprinkle here and there, he changed my heart from sadness to joy! God was for me not against me. One more thing about our blow up bed I failed to mention! It had a slow leak - Jason had to get up at least twice each night and blow it up! It was still so much more comfortable than the other set up we had!
While we were out Tuesday we passed a Candy store but Jason wanted to get back and study - I was talking with the cooks about what we had seen and one of the counselors Melissa was there too! I was telling them I wanted to go by that candy store and pick the kids up some "treats"! Melissa is a chocolate lover like myself and said - I'll go with you - let's go! That was just a really nice gesture - because I was going to have to occupy myself while Jason studied - which was fine but it's fun to do girly things! We got giddy about getting away from camp and finding chocolate! She was so sweet 19 - great gal - she told me that her mom was worried about me and how I would like the camp - she had met me at church! Then I started to think - I'm sure I was a DEAD GIVEAWAY - city girl - I wondered if I was making some kind of face or worried look or something! But here is another small mercy the Lord lavished on me through Melissa! While Melissa and I were out getting chocolate - Jason was in our cabin studying, and he heard this squeak! Looking up just in time to see a BAT flying around in our cabin!! Can you imagine me - bat! Jason kept this a secret until the last day during the last chapel he said "Oh, by the way...". Thank God for Melissa and her willingness to go with me to find chocolate!
It was an adventure I hope to never forget! I hope to see some of our new friends again some day! The leadership was GREAT - Ric, Jason R, Chuck, Melissa, Matt, Caroline, Erin, Pastor Tom, esp. John! If anyone is reading this from camp - really we had a GREAT time! Thanks for having us and making us feel so welcomed!
I was kidding about the "Momentary Light Affliction" but really the verse made laugh out loud when I looked it up tonight! It really is a good camp verse for all you city folk out there! I know it's out of context, I know it's not talking about camping but it was my little note from God!

2 Cor. 4:17-18
"For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
So, I see the cabin, bed, bugs, bats, frogs, shower, bathroom - temporal things REALLY temporal - 4 days temporal! But pray that eternal seeds were sown in the hearts of the people there at camp!

Friday, July 20, 2007

What a DRIVE!

We had a GREAT drive today! The kids are with Pop and Mawmaw having a BLAST! Anna was already dressing up before we left!

Amy, you'll enjoy this - Jason's mom has a VERY GREEN THUMB! Her house is in bloom. It's beautiful. This is Anna in the midst of it!

We are spending the night in Beckley West Viriginia. I've been as far as Knoxville but after that it was all new - and GORGEOUS. I was taking pictures from the car - so there are spots on the pictures but you can still see just how beautiful it is! I'm pretty excited about seeing more tomorrow.

Jason and I have really enjoyed each others company today. We've sang some of our favorite old songs, listened to Chris Rice's new CD - (we like it!) I read my book to Jason and we had some good discussions. It was talking about serving others while your "on your way." We looked for an opportunity, and actually found one but it was on the opposite side of the HWY - FLAT TIRE! Oh well, our eyes were opened. I also did a few Suduko puzzles. Late lunch at Cracker Barrell, neither one of us had to take the kids to the bathroom - all around GREAT - so far so good.

And a beautiful sunset to close the day!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I'm Nervous

Friday we are leaving for PA. We finally got word where the camp is in PA. You ready for this!?!

Raccoon Creek State Park

If you know me - I'm not the "outdoorsie" type. I have no idea what to expect. I enjoyed Ponderosa because Jason went before me and told me everything to expect. We are in a small place, it has air conditioning, we have "free time", the meals are good, etc. minus the rattlesnake story...I was excited to go.

This time - we've been told just about NOTHING! We found out the name of the place, we know we need to bring everything we think we might need such as towels, linens, pillows, ??? We will shower in a COMMUNITY SHOWER (and Heidi and Helga - I have NOT lost my 10 pounds - just 3) - probably potty in one too! Thank goodness my "Red Headed Grandmother" won't be in town!! The Lord has found mercy with me there! There are about 40 kids signed up to go, I have no idea about our free time or the schedule we will have. I'm not one to go headstrong into an "unknown" situation! I'm REALLY NERVOUS! We are traveling 12 hours to PA to stay in a "camp" and I have no idea what to expect. Is it hot up there? I asked Jason yesterday - "Do we need to bring a tent?" Honestly - I have no idea! He told me we are in a Cabin - again - Thank you LORD! I feel bad for being so nervous because Laine is living it up in CHINA! I'm still in the US! It can't be that bad right!

Mostly it's the "Wildlife" that freaks me out! Here's what the website said:

  • Many opportunities exist at Raccoon Creek State Park to see a variety of wildlife. When observing wildlife, remember to maintain a safe distance and never feed wild animals.

  • Deer and raccoon are common throughout the park. Most of the larger stream valleys have active beaver, muskrat and mink. In the more remote western side of the park you may encounter the elusive red fox, skunk and opossum.

There is going to be a lot of FUN things to do! They have swimming (kinda like Oak Mountain State Park beach area), Boating, Hiking, Horse Back Riding (I think - I hope we don't have to bring the horse), and other stuff like that! I'm looking forward to the trip, really I am. Pray I am a good camper for Jason! I by no means want to be a drag! We will also probably go site seeing in Pittsburgh!

So all you folks who love the outdoors please let this city girl in on what I might need to bring! Pray for us! Not so much for me and the accommodations but for the effectiveness of this mission! May we make an impact on the kids lives with the Gospel, may we encourage and stimulate the minds of the young people there, and may God find favor with us in PA!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dance Anyone?

Shalita this is for you!
This is a blog by Brian Branam - pastor at Ridgecrest Baptist Church! I LOVED IT!

Learning to Dance
by Brian Branam

2 Samuel 6:14 says that “David danced before the LORD with all his might.” If David were a Baptist the Bible would have said he made a casserole before the Lord. If David were Baptist he would not have danced.

I can’t dance. But that’s O.K. because I’m Baptist. Being Baptist takes some of the pressure off people who can’t dance. Baptists are not much for dancing. I have never read the official doctrinal position on dancing, but from everything I have heard said about dancing through the years, I’m pretty sure we’re against it. Honestly, it is not hard being against something you can’t do. Calling your lack of talent sin can actually work to your advantage.

I have always hated the people who put pressure on you to dance. In High School I enjoyed going to dances and standing, just standing. I was awesome at standing while everyone else danced. As long as I was standing “at” a dance I felt cool. But someone would always destroy my cool standing by putting pressure on me to dance. Some lame Junior High DJ who made me feel convicted because I wasn’t dancing. When they call for dancing it scares the cool standing people. Because you know as soon as you start dancing everyone will know you’re Baptist, and you don’t do much dancing. But if you stay off the dance floor and convince people it’s a doctrinal problem and not a total lack of muscular control, you’re good, people will leave you alone. You let those people who can dance, dance. You just stand there; you are Baptist, you have an out.

I hate not being able to dance because people who can dance are cool. John Travolta, I think he is a Scientologist, which is weird, but as for dancing, he is very cool. All those kids in High School musical, extremely cool, and probably not a Baptist in the bunch. Remember Michael Jackson in the ‘80’s? He was Jehovah’s Witness and a great dancer. My wife likes old musicals. There is a ton of dancing in old movies. There are probably a lot of Episcopalians in old musicals. Baptists are fine with riding horses. There were probably a lot of Baptists in westerns.

Doctrine aside, for me dancing is more of a physical issue than a doctrinal one. There is something wrong with my right foot. I played a lot of soccer growing up and actually still have a strong right foot. My right foot is good for jogging, walking; performing most normal right foot functions. But when it comes to dancing, my right foot won’t move. It gets real heavy. I am not sure if it is some sort of selective palsy, but when it comes to dancing my foot just gets heavy. When you can’t move your right foot it takes several dance moves out of the arsenal. Actually, it takes every dance move out of the arsenal.

My daughters love to dance; and with the shades drawn I join in. My youngest daughter, she’s three, has never said anything about it, but she knows I have a problem with my foot. Sometimes she stares at it. For our ten year anniversary my wife and I took a cruise. One night they offered Salsa dancing lessons. The instructor was a Latino guy named Elvis. He was a great dancer, very cool, and more than likely Catholic. His job was to teach me to dance. It didn’t work. Salsa is very hard to do with palsy in your foot. Elvis was smooth. I looked like I needed to go to the doctor. I think I embarrassed my wife. When I walked off the floor a lady smiled at me and said, “I saw you out there dancing.” I just smiled back and said, “I’m a Baptist preacher.”

If I took the time and learned the steps, when and where to place my heavy foot, I am confident I could learn to dance. I may be as smooth as Elvis . . . the Latino version. If I learned to dance, and this pastor thing does not work out, I could probably get a gig on a cruise ship.

In 2 Samuel 6 David danced, but a man also died. David had placed the ark of God on a cart pulled by oxen, and when the oxen stumbled a man put his hand to the ark to steady it. When he touched the ark God struck him and he died. The music stopped and David was afraid of the Lord. He wondered, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” He needed answers. Later, he realized his mistake, “the Lord broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order (1 Chronicles 15:13).” David had forgotten the steps. So he read the Word of God, found the order, and danced.

Learning to dance is about knowing when and how to move. Dancing is coordinating movements with rhythms, a body with music. Dancing is paradox. It is a constrictive way of learning to move freely. Reading the Bible is like learning to dance. It is about learning the things the Lord despises, and equally as much about learning what the Lord loves.

We should not have sex outside of the covenant of marriage.
God wants us to learn to truly love.

We should not murder.
God wants us to learn the value of life.

We should not make the name of God meaningless.
God wants us to learn what it means to be completely His.

Reading the Bible is taking the time to learn what the Lord loves. It is consulting order, law, and doctrine. It is about learning the steps. It is about learning to coordinate soul and body with the rhythms of life. It is about learning how to respond to things in such a way that you can stand before the Lord and dance. When the things you believe move your feet, that’s cool. Because David consulted God’s Word, 2 Samuel 6 moves from a man dying to a man dancing. The Bible is paradox. It is a constrictive way of learning to move freely.

Reading the Bible is like learning to dance and I desperately need some lessons.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Survivor - Mentone

We just got back from Ponderosa Bible camp! First of all, I'm a bit mad a Craig for not letting me go the whole week! The kids and I went up to Mentone Wednesday after work! We got there in time for dinner. Which is a very unique experience - every meal for that matter. I thought it was so fun! The kids sat a table with a lot of kids their age. And we sat at a table with our friends - All adults except Noel - but she was VERY good! The campers give everyone time to eat before they start asking people to sing - in the loudest voice possible. They asked the "Dollar family" to sing - we sang Amazing Grace and Noah loved it! We got a standing ovation too! Jason and our friend Luke are BIG 3 Amigo fans. So for the talent show that night they reincted "My Little Buttercup." HILARIOUS!

Our friends Luke and Naomi were there - friends from SEBC. They were the missionary speakers for the week! Luke has started a ministry called Time on the Mountain, where he takes youth groups, families, or church groups on hikes and teaches them survival techniques, team building, and bible studies. They have 3 kids: Ethan, Adaline, and Noel. Our kids got along GREAT. I was so glad they were there. I really enjoyed talking with Naomi too, we have a lot in common now that we are missionary wives. We shared a lot of laughs with them. You'll see why in the pictures below.

Jimmy was also there - another SEBC friend. I was so excited to see him. It's been years! He's a great guy - Jimmy if you're reading this...Thanks for having us...We had a BLAST.

Thursday was a VERY fun filled day. We went swimming and canoeing. And we did a few crafts in between. I've never been canoeing and Naomi and I need a lesson in team work. We worked against each other, which I will have to admit I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I got out with Anna and Adaline - it was fun but once around the river was enough for me, Anna, and Adeline. Naomi perfected her canoeing skills once I got out of the boat! My fears were heightened because this is where Jason saw the rattlesnake. Thursday was topped of with Jason getting pied. Poor thing. We can't seem to figure out if that meant they liked him or hated him?!?

Jason's lectures were so good. Jason seemed so comfortable and he was very clear in his presentation. He looked at home! I see why he wants to do this ministry. I felt like the new "life adventure" was going to be worth it.

I hope you enjoy the pictures!

And for those of you who want Jason to have hair - PLEASE THINK AGAIN!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Girls Just Want to Have FUN!

Just the mention of their names makes me want to Jazzercise! Some of you may have heard of Heidi and Helga - especially if you LOVE Jazzercise. They are very famous sisters (I think) from Germany or Austria. In February they came to America and awarded me with the Jazzercision Award. Oh, they would probably take it from me if they only knew I've gained 10 pounds.

Well, the Lord is always guiding our thoughts and steps and I had a "God Moment" today. For the past week I've been miserable with my weight and I've been saying -"I'm going to go back to Jazzercise!" But I have failed to do so. I have though - started doing crunches for the past couple of days. That's a start in the right direction! Well, today I was reading my friend Laine's blog - (everyone should read her blog by the way) and she mentioned Helga and Heidi. It was just what I needed to get back on my Jazzercise KICK! It was confirmation that I need - Yes, I need to go back to Jazzercise! So, I'm going tonight and tomorrow night! I've got to lose this 10 pounds before it kills me! I wish H&H could be there tonight to get me through this class! It's going to be tough!

So Jazzercise "It Shows"

**One more thing on a more SERIOUS NOTE! We got our first support today! I couldn't have been more excited and it came from a VERY SPECIAL friend that I know is praying for us - and if she isn't then I'm going to beat her up! Just kidding - you know who you are! May the Lord bless your sacrifice! Thank you! Keep praying all you prayer warriors out there! The Lord is our Provider!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Happy 4th of July!

We are a festive bunch! Anytime we can celebrate we do! 4th of July is no exception! We had a GREAT relaxing day. Thank you Sally for the CLAPPERS! Nothing can get on my nerves more.

For the past 4 years Sally gets us GOOD seats at the Barrons game - through her work! Usually we are BURNING HOT until the sun goes down and in the past we didn't have ANY money so we would have to just watch the game without enjoying all the ballgame FOOD! AND, my sister and her family usually go too. This year we missed them! And hope they can go next year. But the weather was PERFECT, the food was YUMMY...AND the Barrons WON!! We even saw 2 homeruns and the manager from the other team got into it with the refs over the homerun - he thought it was foul - WHATEVER! That was exciting but he didn't get thrown out - I think he should of - I even hollered "THROW HIM OUT!" - Funny huh! We also brought our new baseball gloves (courtesy Pop and Mawmaw) - but no foul ball was caught - thank goodness - that makes me so nervous, I tend to freeze and not protect my children!

They do fireworks every 4th after the game and Noah HATES them. Last year he absolutely FREAKED out and has remembered it all year and DID NOT want to go to the game! Well, that's my FAVORITE part. They almost make me want to cry! I feel so patriotic they play all the good songs and the fireworks all go off in perfect timing. And they are BIG! So, he did better this year but the anticipation basically gave him a panic attack! They kept the lights on in our section which they have NEVER done before and I think that helped him. Anyways, we had a GREAT time and after the game the traffic getting out is AWFUL! So, Jason and I tried to work a DIABOLICAL Sudoku! It was too hard! We got some of the answers but I'm just not ready for the "difficult" ones! It was a GREAT family fun! Here are some pictures that capture the day!