Thursday, August 21, 2008

For those who read my blog and don't have one of their own, I have adjusted my settings so that "anonymous" people can comment on my posts. Just don't forget to sign your name so I know who you are!


Friday, August 15, 2008

Tale as Old as Time. . .

Well I'm at it again - itching seems to have become a constant companion of mine. This spring I had bed bug bites, earlier it was summer mosquito bites, and now I have poison ivy. We think that I got this when I was picking blackberries . . . but strangely enough it has appeared all over my face. Once again I find myself being given a wonderful opportunity to practice both self-control and patience. I'm so fortunate! :) Truthfully, I am quite thankful it is finally starting to disappear.

Actually, probably the best lesson that I've learned in this is how our problems affect other people. We went to an English Country Line Dance last week (which was quite fun by the way - you really missed out if you didn't come!) and it was so hard to remember not to scratch! Several times I forgot and did scratch - then I had to go wash my hands before dancing, so that I wouldn't spread it throughout the crowd. :) It was a good way for me to remember that always in life I need to put others above myself . . . after all, it would have been so much easier to scratch away, but it was in the best interest of others for me to practice self-discipline. It's almost always easier to satisfy our own desires than to look out for the comfort and long-term needs of those around us.

"Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand." Philippians 2: 4 (The Message)

Zeke says: "community underwear", "I want a blog", and "why is this a Brazilian sword?".

Okay, following are photos of some of my poison ivy. I apologize if you find this gross - please don't feel under any obligation to look at them. :) I will probably take them off at some point like I did with my bed bug photos.

In Him,

See my amazing collection of remedies? All of them work . . . short term.

My neck

Some of it on my face

My leg

My stomach

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A brother, a friend

Well, it's finally happened. When I was younger, I really looked forward to this moment - to sitting in my room, knowing that Andy was living hours away, starting a new life far away from me. To be the oldest one at home, and have all the privileges that come with that. Now that it has actually happened, I find myself fighting tears.

Andy and I never got along very well when we were younger. (What brother and sister do?) He would tease me to no end, and I would whine, complain, and annoy him in payback. I was always wanting to hang out with him and his friends, and he was always trying to get rid of me. And then there was the stage when all MY friends wanted to hang out with him more than me. (I don't see why, he wasn't THAT cute. lol)
But as we've matured some, things have gradually changed. While he still teases me all the time, I am finally able to see it was his way of telling me he loves me (it's a way he can do it without sacrificing his "coolness"). And I think I've started to lose that little sister annoying-ness and to become more of a peer or even (dare I say it?) a friend. Okay, so I'm still working on that.

I think what draws us together the most is our value of silence. Both of us enjoy being quiet and on our own at times, so we can understand the other person's need for this too. Because of this, those times when we do talk are more meaningful. I'm going to miss the car rides with our random conversations. :)
You know, didn't really realize how much I valued him as a friend until now - isn't life like that? You don't appreciate things until their gone. But I knew this was coming. And now, I hope and pray for him and his new life. I pray that our friendship will continue to grow, despite being 2.5 hours apart, and mostly, that both of us would keep on growing in our faith and walk with God.

We took him down on Tuesday. . . here are some photos of the campus and his room. We didn't get any of his roommates, but they are super neat guys, and I think the four of them will have a wonderful time together. I will post his address when he knows it, so that you can write to him if inspired. :)
The Baseball field - he'll be spending a lot of time here

Baptist Student Union

Random Motorcycle that caught on fire while we were helping him move in

His apartment building. His room is on the far right of this photo, but the other side of the building.

His room - trust me, it won't be this messy for long!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

August 9th - Friends over, Alida's Birthday, and Dance Preparation

So talented!
Alida talking to Esther
lol. So cute.

hehe. She fell off the stool and I captured her expression at exactly the right moment.

"Are you kidding me?"

Attractive, huh?


Getting ready

The clothing selection - we dressed three girls using my wardrobe.

The mess created. . . lol.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Such as these. . .

Matthew 19:14
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Family Reunion and 50th Anniversary

My dad's parents (Grandma and Grandpa Hall to us kids) are having their 50th wedding anniversary this summer. Well, 50 years married is certainly nothing to sneeze at, so we celebrated with style. Family from both sides gathered at Camp Windemere for a weekend of fun, fellowship, and remember 50 years of God's faithfulness. They are certainly the best example one could hope for in grandparents, and I am thankful for the blessing that they have been in my life. We so enjoyed our time spent with family, especially with all the cousins - first cousins from Georgia and Minnesota, and second cousins from Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan.Because Mum offered to organize this whole event, we were both pretty busy, and didn't get a chance to take many pictures. But here are the few we took, and if you are really interested in seeing more, let me know. :)

Grandma and Grandpa

The Cake

Signing a contract for "50 more years". :)

You can't really see it, but my Uncle Pete has a banjo, and adding to that Karlee on the piano and Dad on the guitar, we had some pretty fun dancing music!

Karlee on the piano

We did a Talent Show at the request of Grandma and Grandpa. This is Mum and all the younger kids, illustrating the recipe for 50 years of marriage. It was quite creative, and cute to see all the kids mime baking a cake!

The big cabin where we did meals and where the adults slept. Us kids had "bunk houses" down below. We all appreciated the air conditioning! I believe the boys' cabin had their thermostat set at 50 degrees all week. . .

Grandma and Grandpa with their siblings and spouses

Grandma and Grandpa with all 20 grandkids, ages ranging from 20 years - 18 months

Grandma and Grandpa plus all their kids and families - 28 people in all!

Ha Ha Tonka

Our day at Ha Ha Tonka was incredibly hot! But everything was still amazingly beautiful and our family is looking forward to going back in the fall when things cool down a bit. We actually got all the kids to sit still at once for a group shot! Hurray!

Looking into the Ruins

Our heroes! They brought our lunch down so we could eat under the shade of the natural bridge.

The whole group under the natural bridge. Elizabeth was running away so we said, "Stop and smile Elizabeth!" and she did. :)

The Spring from above

Fun with Cousins



Isaac and Simona

Heidi, Isaac, and Simona

Elizabeth and Michaela

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Lessons in a Bottle

A few days ago, I was trying to open the plastic wrap around the top of a bottle of vanilla extract. After sitting there for about 5 minutes working on it, I finally decided to find some scissors to assist me in my endeavors. ;) But before this, as I was getting incredibly frustrated by what should have been a simple task, I held the bottle right up to my face to take a closer look. (I think I was looking in vain for some slit or perforation that would make my job a little easier. No such luck.) Anyways, the plastic said "sealed for your protection". At that point I just laughed - believe me, I was kind of wishing that whoever had sealed it didn't care so much about keeping me safe and healthy.

But as I stopped to ponder it more - well isn't that what life is like? Vanilla is an interesting flavoring. Does anyone else remember when you were young, begging your mom to let you try just a bit of it? It smelled so good . . . surely it couldn't taste bitter like she said! Inevitably, she decided to let you learn by experience, and you got your first (and probably last) taste of vanilla. (Now I know that the seal on the vanilla is not meant for keeping us from experiencing it's bitter taste. But all analogies break down at some point, so bear with me.)

How many times have your parents or God said no to you? Sometimes they tell you why, sometimes they don't, but we all have been refused something in life. Often that's really hard to swallow. It's hard to comprehend how something that seems so right to us can be so clearly wrong in someone else's eyes. (And when that someone else has authority over you. . . well that just makes it even harder!) But this little bottle gave me the insight as to why - remember? Sealed for your protection. I know that a lot of the time, I really don't want to be protected! I want to get right into things and experience them for myself. But, as with the bitter taste of vanilla, what seems so good and "tasty" beforehand will most often leave a bitter taste in my mouth. The authority figure is who is saying "no" knows this, and is trying to keep me from having to go through it. But the more I sit there and struggle with my protection, the more frustrated I'll get. Strangely enough, there is often something far better that I am allowed, a path God has for me that will be so much above and beyond what I can imagine - for example, has anyone ever seen plastic protective wrap on the sugar jar? ; )

So next time your parents or God set limitations on you that you can't understand, remember the vanilla bottle and that annoying, but oh so necessary "sealed for your protection" plastic wrap.