Retreating it!

28 women, 14 beds, 5 meals, 1 house, 1 baby.  This past weekend, we had our mens and womens retreat.  The men stayed at our house in Raleigh while the women traveled to a beach house in Holden Beach, NC.  As you can expect when you have 28 women and 1 baby in a house with 14 beds – it was CRAZY!!  But so, so, so good.

The Lord did some amazing things in the hearts and lives of the women who attended, and without doubt, Satan didn’t want that to happen.  The weekend started off with multiple cars getting lost on the way there, 1 car with 4 girls getting into a car accident which prevented those girls from coming, and almost running out of food the first night. There are multiple other hiccups throughout the whole weekend, but the girls had amazing attitudes and the Lord worked regardless.

This weekend reminded me again and again of why I love what the Lord has called us to do.  One girl shared with Jenny (one of our staff women) about something horrific that happened in her past that she has NEVER shared with anyone else (and she even said that Emerson being there had something to do with her opening up – isn’t it like the Lord to use even Emerson to play a part in the weekend?!?).  One girl opened up about how much pain she has been in since her mom passed away in January.  One girl shared with me about things in her past have led to her inability to trust people and have forced her to distance herself from both God and others.  Two girls who do not have a relationship with the Lord engaged in spiritual conversations and are seriously considering making a decision to surrender their lives to Christ.  We saw the Lord changing girls’ lives right in front of our eyes.  God used the good, the bad, and the ugly to produce laughter, tears, and growth.  Praise the Lord that he brought each of those 24 girls to the retreat and touched all of them in really different, authentic ways!

Oh, and lest I forget, it was also lots and lots (and LOTS) of fun!!  Dance parties, game playing, laughter, eating, walking on the beach, bowling, playing laser tag, and just having a good ole’ time!

And another highlight for me was…OUR TEAM OF STAFF WOMEN!!  Major shout-out to Jenny, Samantha, and Kai for their hard work, dedication to the Lord, willingness to be real and share their stories, and just being loads of fun.  I slept in a room with the three of them and Emerson and while Emerson is usually a great sleeper, she wasn’t feeling it the first night.  She woke up and cried literally every 10-15 minutes or so for hours upon hours and while she eventually went longer between the waking up and crying, it was not a restful night for any of us.  They had a great attitude by saying that we were a team, we would do this together with no sleep, and affirming me in saying that I did all that I could.  And they still loved on Emerson instead of being bitter.  They helped out with Emerson when I was speaking to the girls and she wasn’t going to sleep right away, they pitched in with all the meals though I was technically in charge of that area, and they served the Lord selflessly the whole weekend.  I love having fun with them and am so excited for more time together serving the Lord!!

Whose Birthday is it?

Since Ed’s birthday was March 12 (the big 3-0!) and since we had a free babysitter (we were in Georgetown working on Ministry Partner Development for part of the week – thank you mom and dad for keeping Emerson!), I decided to surprise Ed with a trip to see the Stingrays play hockey for his birthday.  We decided to take Kinsley as we knew she would love it.

We started the evening by going to eat at the Kickin’ Chicken in Charleston.  So yummy!!  Ed and I feel in love with this restaurant when we were leading summer projects in Charleston and so we jump at any chance we have to eat there.  After eating there, we headed to the game.  When Kinsley first saw the ice, she was really excited but then she kept saying “I play too” and couldn’t understand that she couldn’t go out there with them.  Eventually, she settled into everything and enjoyed the game.  Well, as much as a almost 3 year old can enjoy the game since they can only sit down for so long and have a hard time following the hockey puck.  She did like getting a hot dog, a balloon thing, and her face painted.  Then, after the game, we picked up some yogurt at Menchies, a self-serve place and ate it on the way home.

On the way home, Ed said “Whose birthday is it?  Mine or hers?”  Oh, and did I mention that we still have sprinkles in our car from her eating that ice cream on the way home?

So last week, I showed you how Kinsley put Mrs. Potato Head’s glasses on Emerson.  This week, it was the bunny ears.  So the saga of “What will Kinsley put on Emerson?” continues.

The last day we were there, Kinsley caught a virus of some sort (at least thats what we think it is), so last night and this morning, I am comforting a baby girl who can’t keep anything down and feels terrible.  She hasn’t used the bathroom since yesterday at 1ish (it is 7:30 am now) so I am a little worried that she may be getting dehydrated. Please pray she gets better and is able to keep some fluids down.  Welcome to cold and flu season (and virus season evidently).

Consignment Junkie

It is one of my favorite times of the year?  Why, you ask?  Because spring is on its way and temperatures will soon be getting warmer?  Because it is almost Easter, and we get to celebrate that Christ is risen and has overcome death?  Because it is time for your birthday?

While all of those things are true, the real reason is because it is consignment sale time!!  I love garage sales (yes, I am one of those), clearance deals, thrift stores, and consignment sales.  I would not say that I am cheap and love to get something for nothing – I just love being a good steward of what the Lord has given me and seeing how far I can stretch a dollar.  I have to admit I get a little high when I find a really good deal!  With kids constantly outgrowing clothes and two girls that are not wearing clothes in the same season, consignment sales are a great place to stock up (especially when I don’t get to garage sales as much as I would like because having two, with one of those being a little, makes it a LOT harder).

So, if you want to know where the really good consignment sales in Raleigh are, or if you want to join in with me, let me know – I am happy to share my not-so-secret secrets.  And if you see me out and about at garage sales early Saturday morning, just wave but know that I may be too busy shopping to even see you.  🙂

In other news, we stumbled upon a kid’s workshop at Home Depot this past weekend.  We went Saturday morning to pick up a few things and we saw kids painting and doing crafts in the back.  Kinsley was all about wanting to paint, so we took her over and learned they were making picture frames and wooden race cars.  Of course, she wanted to join in!  I had read that they did things like this for the kids, but it was way fun trying them out for ourselves.

Here is Kinsley completing the project and her finished look:

And I have to include this picture, just for kicks and giggles.  Poor Emerson – she just never knows what is going to happen with Kinsley as her big sister (that is Mrs. Potato Head’s glasses).

Mountain Getaway

You know how there are certain places that just do your soul good?  The mountains is one of those places for me.  I love looking at the scenery and marveling at how the Lord created it all and listening to all the sights and sounds that are so much different then here in the “suburbs.”

We took a quick weekend trip with my parents, brother, and sister-n-law to my aunt’s house in the mountains to get away, get refreshed, to visit with each other, and to celebrate my birthday as well as Kristin’s (my sis-n-law) birthday.  It has been a really long time since we saw Alex and Kristin and Alex had never been able to meet Emerson – so it was great to be with them.

The view from the mountain house.

The house is right next to this open pasture area and every day, sometimes twice a day, wild turkeys come to eat the corn we throw out.  One morning, when mom and I were up early before everyone else, we saw the hens come running for the corn and when I looked past the hens, I saw the gobbles standing up the hill with their feathers put out like a fan.  They were strutting their stuff for the females!  It is so neat to see wild nature at its finest.

We had a birthday party for Kristin and me (our birthdays are 6 days apart) complete with WAY too many good desserts.  Kinsley LOVED having a party, made everyone wear the tacky birthday hats, and kept saying she was having a party.  The morning after the party, the first thing she said when she woke up was “I want to party.”  She is so excited for her birthday in a month and keeps saying “My birthday is almost ready.”  She has definitely reached the ‘I will tell you everything I want and don’t want as I have opinions about everything from my clothes to the cup I use to which cartoon I want to watch’.  As of late, she wants candy for her birthday with a Princess cake and a big girl bike.  When her birthday comes and goes, she is going to be so devastated to learn she has to wait a LONG time for her next one.

Two other fun/crazy things to share this week:

1 – Kinsley, when going down for her nap, will sometimes get up and play with her toys (which she isn’t supposed to do).  This is how I found Jessie one day after she got up from her nap.  Quite creative.  Guess Jessie was super hungry.

2 – Last night, we were getting dinner ready which consisted of Ed grilling a turkey burger for us.  Ed called Kinsley outside for her to see the helicopter overhead and she ran back inside telling me how she wanted to ride in one.  Then, I saw a police car speed down our street in front of our house where it dead ends and then turn around and head back the other way.  About the same time, Ed came inside and told me to keep Kinsley inside because he thought the police were searching for someone behind our house in the woods and that is why the helicopter was circling and the police were out.  I called our neighbor across the street to tell her and she shared how she had heard that the bank around the corner from us had been robbed, the guy was on the loose, and they were searching for him.  Sure enough, they were searching in the woods behind our house where he ran to when he left the bank and we saw the police and the dogs running behind our fence in the woods and a cop was planted outside the front of our house.  Later that night, when we went to the store, we saw them down the road from our house searching with flashlights and the dogs.  It was a little tense night for me listening for every sound and double-checking that every door was locked.  Ed called me a nosey scaredy-cat because I love to see what is going on and to be in the know but when something happens around me, I freak out a little.  Crazy times in Fuquay Varina!