Turning 6 on Easter!!

We had a big, big weekend in our family – not only was it Easter and all that goes along with that, but someone turned 6 – Kinsley!

I can’t believe that this sweet, sensitive, independent, full of drama and personality little girl is 6.  What fun it was reminiscing on the day she was born – being in false labor for days, going in and having them break my water, being in labor forever and not having her come, and then having it all end in a c-section where she arrived healthy and happy.  Little did we know that the drama would continue even after she was born!  As we celebrated Easter and talked a lot about Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection, my prayer is that one day this holiday takes on a whole new meaning for her as she celebrates the resurrection of HER personal savior, Christ.  What a privilege for her to share her birthday with a day that we celebrate Jesus being alive and conquering the grave!

To celebrate, she wanted to have a My Little Pony party at our house, inviting a few friends and a bunch of girls from her kindergarten class. Ya’ll, Easter is a fabulous holiday to share a birthday with, just sayin. Talk about built in decorations and activities to do.  For instance, my neighbor gave me the brilliant idea to do an Easter Egg Hunt as an activity.  I added in buckets for the kids that I personalized with their name (have I told you I love my Silhouette machine?!?) and eggs with candy in them, and I had a perfect gift for them to take home.  We also did a jelly bean race (was supposed to be relay but trying to get 4-6 year olds to stay in groups of 4 proved pretty impossible!) and colored/painted My Little Pony sheets.

And for the cake, Kinsley had picked out this cake and said she wanted it.  No biggie, right?  At first, I thought it looked pretty dang easy, but then….when it came time to talk logistics, it was hard.  You can’t pat the sprinkles on because they will stick to your hand and make a huge mess and you can’t spoon them on because they won’t stick to the side. So, my mom, the hero she is, held the cake layers and turned them while I poured on the sprinkles and patted them to stay.  It turned out great, if I do say so myself.

As soon as the party was over, she disappeared, only to reappear dressed in her PJs (and had her doll changed into her PJs too!).  She loved that they could match and wore them all day until we made her change to go to our Easter Picnic with our church family.

Here is a picture of little man doing his first egg hunt, one that our town puts on for all the kids in the city. And one of the kiddos posing with the Easter Bunny.

My parents took Emerson back to their house to stay with them for the week, so we didn’t have her to join us at church on Easter Sunday, which meant we didn’t get a family picture of everyone (but enjoy the picture of Blake with Ed and Emerson in SC with my parents).  But, we did have a fabulous morning at church – eating doughnuts, drinking coffee, and worshipping with our church family.

Praise the Lord that HE IS RISEN!!

“Friends in Low Places”

I love concerts, but with tickets ranging anywhere from $75 to $200 these days (not counting babysitters and parking and everything else that isn’t included), my concerts are limited to few and far between.

Rewind two years:  I heard that Garth Brooks was going to be touring and doing concerts at select venues around the country.  I told Ed that if he ever came near us, he was one person I would pay to see.  One reason, I love his music and grew up slow dancing to “The Dance”, loudly singing “Friends in Low Places”, saying amen to “Unanswered Prayers”, and very poorly keeping up the lyrics of “Ain’t Going Down (Til the Sun Comes Up).”  Second reason, I hate going to concerts and hearing songs I don’t know and can’t sing along with, but I knew that his would be classic, full of really good songs, and well worth the money.  Third reason, he was touring with his wife, Trisha Yearwood, who I also love.

Rewind one year:  Garth was coming to concert in Greensboro, NC, but we had something else scheduled during this same time and there was no way I could back out (uh…I mean reschedule) on it.  So, I passed up free tickets, listened to everyone rave about how good he was, and sulked a little.

Rewind six months:  I heard Garth was coming to Raleigh, NC and tickets were going on sale.  After lots of calls to friends and lots of valuable time spent on Ticketmaster and my husband offering to help pay for our tickets as birthday presents to each other, we scored Garth concert tickets!  Only catch, the concert was the night after we returned from NYC on Spring Break.  No biggie, right?

Well, we returned from Spring Break absolutely exhausted and on the drive to the concert, Ed and I commented to each other that we may have to work hard to make sure the other didn’t fall asleep.  Little did we know, this was no problem at all.  The concert was absolutely AMAZING!!  I have been to quite a few concerts in my life, Kenny Chesney being one of my highest ranked because he is quite an entertainer, but Garth definitely topped even that.

He played for a solid two hours and belted out hit after hit after hit, and even played for 40 minutes after he left the stage the first time.  Trish also didn’t disappoint and I loved seeing them interact with each other.  And when a band has played and toured together for over 20 years like they have, something just fits.  Seriously, who has the stamina to do the moving around that he did for that long?  I. Can’t. Imagine.  He sang songs that people requested in the audience (impromptu, might I add) and even gave a little boy his guitar and pick because the boy asked him to wish his dad a happy birthday (he told the boy that it was a gift because he asked for something for someone else and that was the best thing he could ever do).

And even better than just the concert?  Getting to go with awesome friends.  We are so thankful to have shared this really fun memory with ya’ll…thanks for making it so fun…couldn’t have imagined doing it with anyone else!  Lets do it again soon, okay?

Spring Break in the Big City

Shew, what a week!  In a very good way, but a very tiring way.  We traveled by car the 9.5 hours to NYC (make that 10.5 hours on the way home because of traffic delays) to participate in a Spring Break trip with 90 college students (14 of those were from NC State).  I realized a few things while we were there:

1.  I am not as young as I used to be – man, I struggled to keep up with them as they went on campus all day, went all over the city at night, and walked tons and tons.

2.  My daughter is a trooper.  We left Blake and Emerson with Ed’s parents, but since Kinsley was tracked out, we took her with us.  She not only kept up with us as we walked around the entire city (we didn’t take a stroller so she didn’t have much of a choice), but she endured many late nights and did a great job sitting through meetings and being drug around the city.

3.  I love this city.  Seriously, knew this before, but realized it all over again.

So, rather than just bore you with writing through all the details, let me share some highlights of our trip through pictures.  And know that this doesn’t even scratch the surface of the trip, but that I am just really bad at remembering to take pictures.

Our NC State group the first night in Times Square.  Ed traveled with them this night, but after being awake since 3 am that morning, I was happily in bed 🙂

A phenomenal picture of this city that I know and love.  We stayed in Long Island City, which is technically in Queens right across the river from Manhattan.  While I wasn’t super familiar with Queens, seeing this view when I was running in the mornings won me over.

This guy, whose name is Chris, was a student leader at a college in Brooklyn and is now on staff with Cru in the city.  Wanna know how he came to know the Lord personally?  Through hearing the Gospel through a Cru group who came to the city for Spring Break.  He shared his story as a great reminder of the impact these students can have as they are used by the Lord, even if they are only in town for a few days.

We had a few different trainings/meetings during the week – a few on crossing cultures and valuing diversity, a few on learning tools that you can use to initiate spiritual conversations, and a few on how to effectively share your faith.  Here is a picture of Ed doing a training on how to share the Knowing God Personally booklet.

This is a picture of our group at “Top of the Rock” observatory in Manhattan.  We had a half of a day where we visited this location as well as a local church and used a printed list of prayer requests to pray for the city.  Very sobering to look out over this city, to realize it’s influence, to think of the massive number of people here who don’t know the Lord, but yet encouraging to know that God is still and will always be the God of this city.

Our students spent two whole days sharing the Gospel at college campuses all throughout the city.  One day, Ed went with a group of students to Queens College, pictured above.  Our students and staff had great conversations with people of all different ethnicities, from all different countries, and of all different beliefs.  One of our NC State students shared with us that one day, she had three different conversations – one with someone from Albania, one with someone from Niger, and one with someone from Argentina.  Such a great example of the influence NYC can have in reaching the world!

These pictures show students actually sharing the good news of Christ with students that they met.  We saw 3 students trust Christ this week, which is almost unheard of in NYC – to see fruit like this on such hard soil.

And, because we can’t come to NYC without enjoying all the good food, entertainment, and fun happenings, here are a few pictures of some fun things that we did.

No trip would be complete without a visit by Two Little Red Hens – one of our favorite bakeries in the city.  Man, it would be dangerous to live close to this place!

We took Kinsley to visit the American Girl store and she even brought “Ginger” her Target brand American Girl doll.  She loved walking with her through the store, using the doll holder in the restroom, and buying her an ice skating outfit.  What a little girl’s dream (and a frugal parent’s nightmare!)

At the suggestion of many people, we went to dinner at Ellen’s Stardust diner – a restaurant where many Broadway stars work.  They play fun songs and the servers take turns singing the songs for those who are eating.  It was definitely entertaining and the food was okay, but super overpriced.  Kinsley loved watching them sing and had to eat her food back at the hotel since we was too busy watching to eat at the restaurant.

Walking to dinner one night in Queens, we passed this TV set.  It was really fun to see all the people there for the filming (who knew it required so many people?), the food spread for the cast and crew, and to be mesmerized by all this.  We found out the filming was for the show “Mr. Robot”, which I had never heard of, but apparently, as we asked around and checked, it is a BIG deal in the film world.

Like I said, this girly was a trooper.  She hardly ever falls asleep anywhere other than her bed, but a few nights she passed out on the subway.  We had lots of fun being with just her, and she had a great time in the city with students, staff, and visiting a few fun friends.

While we were in the city, we got to see my brother and his new apartment (he is only a half block or so from the High Line and can see it from his window – talk about fun!), see a few staff friends and their kids, and visit their small, but fully functional and well organized apartments.  We also got to eat at a few of our favorite restaurants and soak in great views (have you seen the Manhattan skyline from the Brooklyn riverfront at night? – absolutely gorgeous and nothing like it).

Now to spend the next two weeks recovering…..

On the Road Again…

Whoa, the traveling.  Last week, Asheville, NC.  Last weekend, Charleston, SC.  This week, NYC.

Last week, I attended a conference Cru hosts for the staff women in our region called Women’s Getaway.  The day before, my friend Jenn (who was directing the conference) swept me away with her to the hotel a day early to spend quality time together.  It was very fun, life-giving, relaxing, expensive (we made a trip to Gymboree for their after hours sale – really, really great sale but definitely not cheap!), and I love spending time with her.  The older I get, the more I appreciate good, quality time with my girlfriends.  I think its because I have learned that having a few friends who I can go deep with and know well is much more life-giving to me than having tons of friends who I don’t know and don’t know me well.  Knowing myself better and what gives me life is the one good thing about aging!

On the way home from the Women’s Getaway, Jenn and I got caught up in some really bad storms that were coming through NC.  I have been in bad weather and tornado warnings before (hello? I grew up around hurricanes my whole life), but I don’t know that I have ever been driving down the road when my phone started blaring a siren and saying “Tornado Warning in this area”.  Can we say scary?  We kept our eyes on the skies and the road, prayed like crazy, depended on lots of weather updates from our husbands, and did a happy dance when we got home.  One of the coolest parts of the drive?  Seeing a double rainbow in the midst of the storm.

Then, I unpacked, did laundry, repacked, and headed with the family to Charleston, SC.  Ed’s cousin from Ohio had a gymnastics meet in Charleston, so his whole family (parents, brother, and cousins) headed down for the weekend to spend it together.  We absolutely love Charleston and this trip was no exception.

Of all the times we have been in Charleston, we have never done a horse drawn carriage tour – not until now, that is.  While the kiddos were sleeping Saturday (and Ed’s parents were watching them lest you think we left them alone), we took a carriage tour with the rest of Ed’s family.  It was fun to see parts of Charleston that I didn’t even know existed and hear more of the history.  We also loved walking through the market, eating lots of good food, and running downtown early Sunday morning (seeing a Cruise ship as you are running is definitely fun scenery!).  It was a really fast weekend, but everyone had a blast!

Check out Ed’s cousin with her many medals from the meet – so cool!

Please pray as we get ready to head up to NYC this Friday for Spring Break with 18 other NC State students and staff.  On the road again….