Let the summer begin!

We have had a busy few weeks.  On top of figuring out our transition to NC State, we have been having recitals, end of the year school parties, graduations, and trying to fit in ministry partner visits before we start sabbatical.

We have heard great things about the NC Zoo, so we knew we wanted to make that happen sometime this month before it got too warm.  It was a LONG day, but we had a great time (minus the occasional whines because of the walking or the heat or being afraid of this animal or that).  Favorite animal for them:  Giraffes and zebras.  Favorite for me:  Monkeys – they kept pushing each other off a sharp rock incline and trying to catch each other before they fell – it was quite amusing to watch 🙂

Then, Kinsley had her preschool graduation and end of the year picnic.  She thought she was big stuff graduating and we loved watching her enthusiasm. She is short, so we could hardly see her when she stood on stage and did the singing with the other students.  She also couldn’t find us in the crowd for a long time, but she kept looking and when she did, she didn’t stop waving.  I think we have a drama queen in the making. She is also real excited about going to kindergarten, especially after visiting her school and meeting her teachers.  She starts in July, since it’s year-round school.

After her graduation, we headed down to my parent’s house for the week to meet with ministry partners, have a few new appointments, and take a little vacation time.  It was a busy, busy week, but so fun.  My parent’s house is like heaven for my kids – between swimming in the pool, playing with new toys, feeding the fish in the pond, going to the beach, going out on my parent’s boat, eating at their restaurant, etc, they are NEVER bored.

In addition to a few appointments with potential ministry partners, we got to visit one of our sending churches, Pawleys Island Community Church, and host two desserts for current ministry partners to visit us.  We really value connecting with our ministry partners in person at least one every year or two, but with 3 kids, going to their houses and sitting down with them is not practical (envision two bulls in a china shop while the shop owner tries to talk about serious business).  One of the nights, we graciously had some ladies from another of our sending churches fix the food and drinks for us.  Let me just tell you…they were not only a huge blessing in doing this, but they outdid themselves.  Check out this spread they prepared (and this is only half the table!):

At the other dessert, we provided everything, including a cake that is considered my grandmother’s speciality – a 14 layer chocolate cake – yes, it is bad for your hips but oh so good!  Thank you Granny!  It was so good to visit with partners and be able to hear how they are doing as well.

The rest of the week was spent swimming (beach and pool!) –

Eating (and I am not exaggerating when I say my dad cooks for an army – the 2nd picture is only half the food) –

Visiting with family (love that we get to see brothers. sisters, nieces, aunts, uncles, my grandmother, etc) –

Enjoying scenic views while I run –

Ed and I took a day trip to Charleston, SC to celebrate our 10 year anniversary (thanks Mom and Dad for watching the girls!).  We got to eat at two of our favorite places – Fleet Landing and Kickin Chicken.  Fleet Landing is the only place in downtown where you can eat on the water – check out our amazing view we had at lunch.

Despite the fact that the bridge was closed because of an accident and we had to go the long way around along with everyone else in the world and it took WAY too long, it was a good, relaxing day reminiscing with Ed (and Blake because he refuses to take a bottle…oh men!)

One thing we learned during this trip – Kinsley hates alligators (and lizards and snakes and frogs and the list goes on and on) and Emerson loves them.  My dad and his friend killed one (they had tags to kill one and a friend of theirs who oversees a plantation called them to get it) and Kinsley was terrified to see the dead alligator and Emerson kept asking to see it.  The gator was 11.5 feet long and was monstrous.  They processed the gator’s tail (I can say that I actually like fried gator now), but dad kept the feet to show people how big they were.  Emerson kept asking to see his feet, talked about the “crocodile” (since she refused to call it an alligator) all week long, and even told a whole table at our ministry dessert about it.  If I don’t hear alligator or crocodile mentioned again in the next year, it won’t be long enough.

Our most favorite thing we did while we were there was go boating in Pop-Pop’s boat.  We loaded up everyone and took the boat out to North Inlet, which is right where the inlet meets the ocean.  We pulled the boat up to our own private beach, let the girls play, and educated them on jellyfish (since there were tons in the water).  The girls had a blast and I think its safe to say it was fun for everyone.  Going out in the boat to the inlet is so calming, peaceful, and relaxing….I would easily say its one of my favorite places in the world.

Yes, we are exhausted.  Yes, my children are breaking down as I write this.  Yes, I need to sleep….

State Bound!

Big changes are happening in our house this next year.  No, we aren’t leaving staff or moving or having any new babies.  But, we will be transitioning.

When we moved to NC 3.5 years ago, we moved here to work as part of the Eastern NC team, specifically for Ed to help co-lead that team.  We have a huge heart to reach smaller campuses because 1- these campuses normally don’t have any ministries on them, especially evangelistic ministries and 2 – Ed and I went to a smaller college and are so thankful someone took the time to reach out to them.  We have loved our team doing that here in NC and have seen the Lord move in amazing ways, which we could talk about all day.

That being said, we also see the need to reach bigger universities and the manpower that is required to run these types of ministries.  This next year, we are excited to grow in our ministry skills by getting to be a part of the NC State team, along with continuing at Campbell University (in partnership with our church)!  Altogether, Cru at NC State has over 800 students involved and over 150 student leaders.  It is a vibrant ministry where lives are being reached and changed with the Gospel.  From weekly meetings to Bible studies to sharing the Gospel to conferences to the Barn Party to women’s retreats, it seems like something is always happening.  We are excited to be working on East Campus along with a few other staff members, and to see what it is like to do ministry on just one campus.  And, being that NC State is a hub school where many NC students (and students from abroad) come to school, we are excited to see the impact these students can make during school and after graduation.

The exception to that will be that we will continue what the Lord has started through our church at Campbell University.  At Campbell, there are 10-12 guys involved and 4 girls, two Bible studies (and potentially a third one starting), and we have made inroads with quite a few non-believers (a few of these are even involved in Bible study).  We are excited to continue in partnership with our church at Campbell towards the goal of everyone knowing someone who truly follows Christ.

We are spending this month tying up loose ends on campus, meeting with current ministry partners and trying to raise some new support, taking a little vacation, and then next month, we will take sabbatical as planned.  In July, Ed will attend our national staff conference in Colorado (I am staying behind to be with Kinsley during her first week of kindergarten!) and then upon returning, we will only have a short amount of time before campus kicks into full force.  Please pray for our family through this transition and that God will continue to work through us to turn college students into Christ-centered laborers.

Dancing the weeks away!

As I pulled pictures off our camera and phone to write this post, I realized it has been a long time since I wrote a post updating you on our family happenings.  So, grab a cup of coffee, sit somewhere that is comfortable, put your feet up, and enjoy my many, many pictures. 🙂

Blake turned 3 months (and we have a 4 month picture a little later in the post – yes, its been that long since I posted pictures of the kids!) – he is a happy kid who loves to smile and laugh, especially at his sisters!  He is holding his head up so much better, so we upgraded him to the bumbo.  Apparently, its a tough job, because it wore him out, literally.

Back in April, we went to an activity fair/carnival at Wake Christian school.  Robin (who works at Wake Christian) and Josh, we help lead our small group, graciously gave us tons of tickets so that we could take the kids and let them enjoy everything.  There were tons of games, face painting, sand art, inflatables, a silent auction, a cake walk, lots of food, etc.  The girls had a blast and wait until you see what Kinsley won 🙂

Yes, that amazing cake was Kinsley’s surprise from the cake walk.  We went over to do the cake walk and the first cake they had up for that turn was a caramel layer cake, which looked delicious.  While we were waiting for people to join the walk and to start, we perused the cake table and saw this amazing cake sitting there.  We heard someone say that it was up for the next round, so we decided that if we didn’t win that turn, we would wait and do it the next time to try and win this cake.  We didn’t win, so we waited for the next time, which came quickly because EVERYONE signed up and wanted to win this cake.  After the music ended and they called a number, Kinsley was the lucky number 13, and she was thrilled with her prize.  Mom and Dad were too 😉

Kinsley had her first ever dance recital.  The theme was the Circus, and different classes dressed up from everything to popcorn to lions to clowns.  Kinsley’s class dressed up in the outfit above, as well as elephants.  It was the cutest thing ever!

Kinsley did really well at the recital, especially considering she had to sit through all the classes performing, which ended up being two hours.  At the end, when she got a prize from her dance teacher of cotton candy, and then flowers from us and my parents, and she kept saying “Look at what I won.  I can’t believe I won all this.  I am so impressed.”  Bless her sweet heart.

The next week, Kinsley went strawberry picking on her class field trip.  She got to learn all about how strawberries grow, when they are ready to be picked, and how they keep them warm in the winter.  She also got to enjoy some of their delicious ice cream.  I will let you guess which part of all of it was her favorite.

Last week was also teacher appreciation week, so Kinsley helped me thank her teachers.  What does everyone love?  Chocolate chip cookies, of course.  The teachers loved them and said they were addicting….yes, I bet they were.

Last weekend, we loaded up the whole family and traveled to Greenville, SC to visit with ministry partners and meet a few potential ones.  It was a quick trip that was jam packed, but we got to visit with quite a few people.  This little man turned 4 months old while we were gone.

He now weighs 16 lbs 12.5 ounces (86 percentile), is 61% for height, and 83% for head.  He is almost rolling over but can’t get that big head around!  He is sleeping like a champ through the night in his crib and napping 3-4 times a day.  He loves his sisters, but definitely has a special bond with Kinsley.  In this picture, Ed and I couldn’t get him to smile, so we called Kinsley over, and she did it right away.  We love this little chunk of love!