Monday, July 29, 2013

Goodbye to July

It's been a busy few weeks since we've been home from our trip out West!  
We finally got to do some 'summer' things, including just hanging out at home doing silly things like dancing around to our favorite music, costume changes mandatory of course.  :-)

We were so excited to get up early one morning and see Miss Katy off to her medical mission trip to Kenya!  We have prayed for her and this trip from the very first days when she thought God 'might' be calling her to go and use her gifts as an ultrasound tech.  We watched in complete awe as God opened every door for Katy over the last year and then it was finally *the* day!  Katy is home safely now - she had an uh-mazing trip!  God is so good.

We helped Grandma tend to her blackberries way out on the edge of their property.

And there have been lots of celebrations!
Birthday parties,

and weddings,

and taking the kids to their first spend the night camp(s)!

They had a fantastic time, but we missed them so much!

Luckily, for my peace of mind, my sweet friend from college was one of the directors for the week while my kids were at camp - yay!!!  I posted this on FB, but who knew all those years ago that one day she would be in charge of my kids for a whole week?  Certainly not this girl!  Again, I say, God is good.  :-)

And then we were back to birthday parties:

And baby showers:

And the triplets turned 1!!!  Already!

And playdates:

And football practice:

And seeing how our BFF's hard work all summer paid off in the local production of The Music Man!
Can't believe July is almost over, but it has been such a great month!  So thankful.
Friday, July 26, 2013

SUYL - Favorite Charities

Linking up with Kelly's Korner for Show Us Your Life.  I love to read Kelly's blog, but rarely link up to SUYL because this blog is more of a memory book for me than anything else, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to read about people helping other people.  It seems this world wants to tell everyone that everything about life on this planet is dark, and getting darker, but that is so contrary to what I see every day.  I see light - and everywhere that light is spreading.  Of course that might have something to do with the grace of God working in this poor sinner, but I digress...... :-)

When I met Big Daddy, I was a tither (tithe-er? tithe-ing-er?  You know what I mean....Ha!)  Big Daddy likes to tell the story of the first time he saw my 'budget' on my fridge and was shocked to see that I, a church employee, had my tithe written down first.  Big Daddy introduced me to his ideas on tithes and alms (to him, you gave 10% at minimum to the church and anything you gave to another organization was 'alms' :-)   And so we began our marriage with that mindset.  We'd tithe, but we'd also support other organizations as much as we could.

Of course, if you know us, you know that always dear to our hearts is:
Habitat for Humanity 
Big Daddy worked for Habitat for the first year of our marriage.  Big Daddy was fortunate enough to spend time with Millard Fuller in Americus, Georgia and his "Theology of the Hammer" and belief that every person deserves "a simple, decent place to live" helped shape Big Daddy's heart in many ways.  We loved our time with Habitat and one day I can totally see us buying an RV and joining the ranks of the 'Blitz Builders,' traveling around the country helping with one Blitz Build after another.

(Big Daddy in the 'office' - that's what his volunteers jokingly called the port o potty when he was on the jobsite. :-)

Compassion International

Compassion International is another organization that was a part of our early marriage.  When Big Daddy and I met, I sponsored Akhil in India

I was lucky enough to be Akhil's sponsor for more than 11 years.  (Look how much he grew!)  I treasure every one of our letters and was both sad and elated when he graduated from Compassion's program just over a year ago.
Big Daddy, of course, has always had a heart for Haiti, so he began sponsoring a little girl, Stephany, from Haiti a few years ago.  We love everything about Compassion - how transparent they are with their finances and how they work so closely with their sponsors.  After the earthquake in Haiti, they were quick -under the circumstances- to notify us that Stephany was safe and well.

Now our Compassion family tradition continues.......  JR now uses his allowance to sponsor Sonavai in Togo, Africa.  JR chose Sonavai because they are the same age and one of his best friend's parents spent many years in Togo as missionaries.  He is so excited about the possibility of meeting Sonavai one day.  He talks about it all. the. time.  :-)  But I've told him, I'm not quite ready for him to set out for Africa all alone yet.  Ha!

Food for the Poor 

Finally, I can't forget to mention the organization that is so much a part of our lives right now.  Food for the Poor is the non profit that Big Daddy has partnered with to build the houses in Haiti.  For every home he builds here in the US, he is donating to build a house in Haiti.  His trip to La Hatte, Haiti the first week of June to see the neighborhood they have built there with those donations was amazing and life changing for him.  Even though it was his second trip to Haiti, he still said it left him forever changed.
Just like Compassion, Big Daddy and I are so impressed with how transparent Food for the Poor is with their finances.  We have complete assurance that the money we donate goes to those who need it.

Locally, we love to volunteer with
The C.A.R.E. Center (click on name for link) and their various community programs, including my favorite back pack program Bags of Blessings or B.O.B. for short.  :-)
And The New Hope Children's Clinic is just amazing.  We have loved watching our friends create this amazing, much needed medical ministry.

Thanks for letting me share about my favorite non-profits!  I'm loving reading about all of yours too!  Love all of these organizations that are spreading the Light!
  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God........In Him was Life and that Life was the Light of all mankind.  The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it." - John 1:1,4-5

Saturday, July 20, 2013

North by Northwest - June/ July Trip - Final Days

 On Day 8, we drove from DeSmet to Omaha, Nebraska.  Omaha is a nice place!  We stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites directly across from the baseball stadium and we had a wonderful stay.  We arrived around 8 pm, but we still hadn't eaten dinner, so we headed down to Old Town and found a wonderful restaurant that was still seating on the patio:

After another great night's sleep, we hit the road again - our only interesting stop was The Gothic Tea Room in St. Joseph, Missouri, which was well worth the stop.   Fantastic lunch!

And as we passed through St. Louis, this was my final photo of the trip:

What can I say about this trip?  
I would do it all again.  I still can't believe I got to see this in person:

Absolutely beautiful.  Breathtaking.  Totally worth it.
So thankful that I got to visit South Dakota and see it in all it's beauty.  
So very, super thankful.  :-)
And that's a wrap on our North by Northwest trip!

Friday, July 19, 2013

North by Northwest - June/July Trip - Day 8

The next morning, we left the Hampton Inn in Mitchell, SD after a really nice night of sleep and headed due north for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead in DeSmet, South Dakota.
 When I was a little girl, my grandmother would send me one of the 'Little House' books every year for Christmas.  Starting with Little House in the Big Woods and ending with These Happy Golden Years, I read each book cover to cover, totally mesmerized by the story of Laura's life on the frontier.  I still cherish those books, only now I read them out loud to my own children.

I could hardly believe that I was going to visit the actual land that Pa, Ma, Mary, Laura, and Carrie had homesteaded all those years ago.
I was totally geeked out!  :-)

The only buildings on the land that aren't reproductions are the church and the school house.  The church has nothing to do with Laura whatsoever, but was instead placed on the land for it's historical significance and the school house wasn't one Laura attended or taught at, but it was one where one of her pupils eventually taught.

The visitors center was nice and they had an informative movie playing about the land, DeSmet, and all the Laura Ingalls Wilder attractions in the area.

They have every stop on the homestead mapped out in a nice circle.  First you visit the first school building, which houses a Laura Ingalls Wilder museum of sorts.

Next you visit the hay roof barn.  For me, it was so cool to compare the visions in my mind of what a hay roof barn looked like to an actual hay roof barn.

They had a calf, a few chickens and even a barn cat here.

Next were the dugout and the shanty.  It was neat to compare the two and consider the question, "Which would I have wanted to live in as a homesteader on the prairie?"

More chickens/ chicks:

Super cool heirloom vegetable garden:

Outside of the home rebuilt to look exactly like the home the Ingalls built on the land (even facing the same direction and in the exact location!) ML got to wash clothes the old fashioned way!

 And there were cart and pony rides:

And then we hitched a ride in the covered wagon over to the school house:

Inside the schoolhouse volunteers, ours was a retired Kindergarten teacher, talked about and demonstrated what a school day was like over 100 years ago in DeSmet, South Dakota.

 So fun!

After our wagon ride back, there were lots of fun things to do - button necklace making, fabric rug braiding, rope making, corn husking, corn husk doll making, etc.  While everyone else was busy with those activities, I took the walk down to the church by myself.

I was still in awe that I was standing on land Laura once looked at with her own eyes!

The church was beautiful and had a really neat history typed up inside:

Sadly, it was soon time for our visit to come to an end.  We needed to get on the road toward home and I had a goal........... one more thing I wanted to see before we left DeSmet........

 We went by the Surveyor's House, an ACTUAL house where Laura and her family lived during the 'long winter' on which her book The Long Winter is based.  So cool.  But what I really wanted from the visitors center here, were directions to Silver Lake!

I went and stood on the shores of Silver Lake and texted my sister, so she could share in my joy.  :-)  And then we were off toward home!
Up next:  Final day(s) driving home!