Women’s Bible Study Groups or Retreats

I have a problem… a problem with most women’s bible study groups and certainly retreats. I’ve been on 3 retreats and really only 1 was worth it and that was because I was with my best friend. The time spent with her made it worth plugging through the 2 day retreat.

However, I strongly dislike women’s retreats and many women’s bible studies. I’ve struggled to put into words why but this article really lays out a lot of my feelings. Mainly the part about all the emotion and shallowness of it all. I’m not lacking in compassion but I’m certainly not an overly emotional touchy-feely kind of gal either. The other retreats that I’ve been too consisted of most of the women crying about their life circumstance and weren’t truly studying God’s Word or even building each other up. I don’t understand the gather together and cry crowd but then again I’m more of a one on one kind of person.

I did attend a one day Refresh conference for ladies in February and I can honestly say I was refreshed!  We were in our bibles often throughout the day and seeking the truth of Scripture.

I am part of a monthly book study group with a handful of wonderful women and I am blessed to sit at the feet of 2 or 3 wise women who have mentored me and given me encouragement specifically over the last 4 years.  We are in our bible continually, praying for one another and helping hold each other accountable.

Like I mentioned this article really hit home for me.  Take 5 minutes and give it a read.  I agree with the article about just picking up the Bible and studying THE BIBLE.  You don’t need a canned book study to get to know our Lord and Savior.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

God Bless!

 

Coffee Bars and Fog Machines

I came across a blog post that made me cry and also had me saying AMEN!  Kevin Swanson originally talked about it on his podcast a couple of weeks ago.  I looked it up so I could read the entire post.  Suffice it to say it is a must read and you can find it here.

I believe there are far more seeker sensitive and shallow churches now then ever before.  Churches that care more about the decor and what ‘programs’ they offer then about the hurting souls within their congregation.  Loud bands/music, fog machines and the like are such a turn off for me.  I was visiting with one of my daughter’s friends and her parents.  This friend’s ice skating coach goes to a very large and loud church and when I asked about the worship he explained that although it’s really loud they hand out headphones to drown it out for those that don’t care for it.  What a shame!  I love hearing believers sing to the Lord… an preferably not a Chris Tomlin song.

Too many churches these days are more concerned with meeting a quota then they are discipling the congregation sitting before them.  The sermons are fluff and they continue to say they’ll teach new converts the hard stuff once they get them converted.  But, Christ did not die a horrible death (read Isaiah 53 for a beautiful passage describing Christ’s suffering) for the church to teach fluff.  As a side note, I took note in Eric Metaxes book about Dietrich Bonhoeffer how Bonhoeffer visited America in the 1930s and was surprised at how shallow the American churches were…  that was almost 90 years ago!

However, despite a lack of bible believing and teaching churches, as Christians we are commanded to be part of a church.  This article details WHY we are commanded to be part of a church family.

If you call yourself a Christian you should have a new life; a changed life… not the same life with a new title… hmmm, I see another blog post on that topic!

Please click on the link in the first paragraph and take a few minutes to read the words of a young mother in mourning.

A Graduation Party

Well hello!  I know, it’s been awhile!  When you are a wife, homeschooling mom to 5 amazing gifts from God, a daughter, sister in Christ, a property manager, template builder and capsule weighing expert there really is no time to blog!  There are so many things I want to say.  In fact, almost every single day I see, read or think of something I want to blog about but alas, I just haven’t had the time.

I just wanted to take a few minutes to say HI and to share a brief note on what a wonderful afternoon we had.  We were invited to a graduation party of a young man who Phil knew of while he was in the womb.  Phil has known this family for about 25 years… maybe a couple more.  Their 2nd son graduated from high school this year and we were blessed to be a part of the celebration.

It was such a joy to be around so many like minded families.  To watch kids of all ages playing together, interacting with others and all the adults, and to see the relationships being nurtured.  To see these young adults (the world calls them teenagers) behave in such a kind, respectful way to all of those around them.  To be around teenagers who actually care about other people and take the time to talk with others and invest in relationships is so refreshing.

This young man will start college this fall after being home educated all the way through high school.  He has worked hard and earned many scholarships. Because of his grades and the Godly character his parents have instilled in him, he will have nearly a full ride.  Our society needs more young men like him.  Young men, whose number priority is his relationship with God and who seeks to follow God’s will for his life, not his own will.  Young men who put faith, family and the Gospel before video games, partying and all the other priorities this sinful world puts at the top of its list.  His parents have taught him from a very young age to be wise about what he puts in his head and his heart.  To be discerning about what he reads, listens to and watches.  To see the fruit from this young man and his family is so encouraging to me.

It’s so refreshing….  we were surrounded by teenagers who didn’t act like ‘teenagers’ but who acted as though they belonged to the Lord.

Psalm 119:9-16  
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.
10 With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
11 Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.
12 Blessed are You, O Lord;
Teach me Your statutes.
13 With my lips I have told of
All the ordinances of Your mouth.
14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
[e]As much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on Your precepts
And [f]regard Your ways.
16 I shall [g]delight in Your statutes;
I shall not forget Your word.

We Have An 8 Year Old Again!

We celebrated Alex’s 8th birthday this month with lots of food, family and friends.  For her birthday party dinner Alex requested chicken cordon blue, butter noodles with garlic and parmesan and salad… well Grandma Joanne added the salad!  Thanks Grandma! It was such a fun day.

Alex is a smart, funny and beautiful girl.  We love having her as part of our family!  She’s really enjoying American Heritage Girls (more on that later!) and having lots of fun this summer.  She choose The Rock again for her birthday dinner; I think it’s the 3rd year in a row!  For her cake she said I could surprise her with any cake I wanted so after doing lots of research I settled on an Elsa and Anna birthday cake.  Below are just a few pictures.

Mommy and Alex at her birthday dinner.

Mommy and Alex at her birthday dinner.

Elsa and Anna doll cake

Elsa and Anna doll cake

Daddy and Alex on her birthday dinner.

Daddy and Alex on her birthday dinner.

Family Camp – LONG but stick with me!

It has been so long since I’ve shared anything on my blog but have no fear a lot has been happening around our house!  We were incredibly blessed to have most of our family able to go to family camp in Nebraska during the first week in August.  Unfortunately, Phil was unable to get the time off of work so I took our 4 oldest children and hit the road on August 3rd for Maxwell, Nebraska.

We were all set to tent camp for the week when Phil’s brother Andy and his lovely girlfriend Renee offered to let us use their RV that they had just purchased a couple of weeks before.  Check out this beauty!

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Yep, I drove that about 600 miles round trip to Nebraska!  It is a 26 foot RV that sleeps 6.  The kids LOVED taking this to camp and we were truly blessed to be given the opportunity.  THANK YOU Andy and Renee!

Once we made it to Maranatha Camp we checked in and made it to the section of the camp where the RV’s were able to plug in to full hook-ups.  Fortunately, our RV neighbor was able to help me back in the RV and he and his sons did all the hook-ups for me.  Shortly after their help we discovered that they live not too far from us here in Lakewood, CO!  I was so grateful!  Besides being a little overwhelmed with wanting to make sure I got it all hooked up correctly, I was sick and was feeling terrible.  The help was so much appreciated.

Once we got settled in to our RV spot we made the trek to the dining hall for dinner.  I say trek because the tent and RV part of the camp was .66 miles from the dining hall, chapel, gym and most other activities.  Needless to say I got my 10,000 steps in every day at camp having to walk back and forth!

After dinner on Monday I was feeling quite terrible but the girls really wanted to go to chapel with the Davidson girls (they went to Russia with them earlier this year) and I was completely comfortable with sending them half a mile away to the chapel with a walkie talkie in hand and instructions to return to the RV the minute chapel was over.  Jonathan and I stayed at the RV so that I could rest and he watched a movie.

All 3 girls wanted to sleep in the space over the cab.

All 3 girls wanted to sleep in the space over the cab.

I woke up Tuesday still feeling terrible but we made it to breakfast and the morning chapel session.  It rained all day Tuesday so for the free time after lunch Scott Davidson (camp coordinator) hung out in the gym with lots of kids for a few hours and I got to go back to the RV to rest.  The gym is set up with a large climbing wall on one end that the camp staff’s with 2 employees helping the kids with harnesses and climbing up the wall to ring the bell.  Natasha, Mikayla and Jonathan all loved the climbing wall.  They also have roller skating in the gym with free rentals of skates.  All the kids loved the designated skating times.  I met the kids at the gym after resting and then we headed to dinner.  After evening chapel we headed back to the RV to get a good nights sleep.  Tuesday was also Alex’s birthday so I brought along a small cake and we sang to her after dinner and had cake.

Tuesday, August 4th, can't even see the lake.

Tuesday, August 4th, can’t even see the lake.

Belle on the climbing wall.

Belle on the climbing wall.

Jonathan getting ready to go up the wall.

Jonathan getting ready to go up the wall.

Wednesday was such a fun day.  After breakfast the camp coordinators organized the families in teams of 12 for family olympics.  We competed in 3 races.  First, we had to blow up 12 balloons and run one by one across the field to a chair and sit on the balloon to pop it.  Second, we had to carry a plastic plate like a fancy waiter with a ping pong ball across the field and back without dropping the ball.  The third race was all of us on the team got on our knees in a row.  In front of the first person was a bucket full of water and a sponge.  She had to soak the sponge in the water and we had to pass the soaked sponge over our heads to the last person who would ring out what water was left in a bucket until that bucket it was full.  We were soaked by the end but it was so much fun!  Our team did not win but we sure had fun trying!  After those races they had 50 yard dash races based on gender and age and then they played big ball with different age groups.  It was a very fun day and the sun was out and it was very warm and humid.

After lunch there was a boat building contest that Belle wanted to be a part of.  I was able to add her to a team with the Swanson family.  I think there were 12 teams and their goal was to build a cardboard boat with 2 roles of packing tape and then their boat had to make it around the lake with 2 people in it.  It was so much fun to watch.  Belle didn’t get to rid in the boat but she was able to help build it and she really enjoyed the event.   After the boat race we had free time and since the sun was out we headed to play in the lake and pool.  Natasha and Mikayla spent much of this time in the pool but Jonathan and Alex played in the lake and had so much fun.  I sat on the beach and watched.  I was feeling much better with just a sore throat, no head ache or body aches.  It was then time to clean up and head to dinner, then the evening chapel session.  Mike Chapa spoke and he is such a wonderful, encouraging and convicting speaker.

Jonathan swimming in the lake.

Jonathan swimming in the lake.

There were these large swings all up and down the lake.

There were these large swings all up and down the lake.

Wednesday, August 5th

Wednesday, August 5th

Thursday was a bit cloudy and rainy but we sure did have fun again.  Between fun meals with other families, chapel, playing in the gym and wonderful fellowship it was another joyful day.  We were even able to hit the archery field and try hitting targets for about 30 minutes.  Friday came and we got the RV packed up, headed to breakfast, chapel and then lunch and then said goodbye.  I was ready to get home but I truly enjoyed every single minute of camp… even being sick.

Jonathan trying archery!

Jonathan trying archery!

Natasha trying archery!

Natasha trying archery!

Belle loves Archery!

Belle loves Archery!

As for chapel, you might be thinking that 7 chapel sessions in one week would seem like too much but Scott and Andie Davidson really put a lot of effort into reaching all age groups with minute-to-win-it games, musical entertainment, speech and drama and overall interaction with all of us.  The kids actually did really well with all the chapel sessions and I couldn’t be prouder of them.

I loved the people watching…. I saw families with 2 kids, families with 10 kids and everything in between.  One family in particular caught my attention.  One of their sons who was 16 invested a lot of time into his 4 year old sister.  I watched as he helped her do all kinds of things from getting her breakfast plate of pancakes and sausage to her taking a nap on his shoulders.  I watched as other families poured into each other and genuinely enjoyed being around each other.  Now, before you go thinking that this poor 16 year old boy had to raise his 4 year old sister, I also saw him playing board games with his parents and volleyball with the other teens.  I loved seeing this group of people with TEENAGERS who loved to be around their parents and siblings.  Who, although still have to deal with teenage hormones and attitudes, have parents who are teaching them to navigate all the feelings of this season of life and yet still treat their parents, siblings and others with respect, kindness and love.

The drive home wasn’t bad except hitting Denver during Friday rush hour but we still made it home without incident.

Alex and Jonathan sleeping on the drive home from camp.

Alex and Jonathan sleeping on the drive home from camp.

We are already praying about going next year but with the whole family.  I was so blessed to be able to take our kids and enjoy making memories with them.  A big thank you to my mom who paid for all of our meals so that I had a week off of cooking.  And another big thank you to my dear friend June and her 2 sons who did our paper route for us so that we didn’t have to do it when we returned Friday evening.

We missed daddy, Katherine and my mom but I know my mom took good care of them.

Thank you for hanging in there on such a long blog post!

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A New Hair Donation!

Back in October of 2013 Natasha and Mikayla cut 12 inches of their hair and donated it to Wigs 4 Kids.  Two days ago Alex asked to do the same so I cut 11 inches of her hair and will donate it to the same organization.  Alex looks so cute with short hair!  Now Natasha and Mikayla are ready to cut their hair again but it’s not quite long enough to donate yet.

Check out the new Alex!

Alex July 20, 2015, before the big hair cut!

Alex July 20, 2015, before the big hair cut!

After the big haircut!

After the big haircut!

This is the hair being donated!

This is the hair being donated!

A Last Minute Gift

Back in January I heard that my absolute favorite Christian band was going to be playing at Red Rocks in June.  It’s been 7 years since I’ve seen Third Day in concert so I desperately wanted to see them again.  Plus they were playing at Red Rocks!!!  There is no better concert venue in Colorado then Red Rocks and it had been years, like 20, since I had been to a concert at Red Rocks…  we won’t talk about what band that was… something to do with not driving 55 or something like that ;-).

Anyway, the company that Phil works for during his 2nd job occasionally gives out free tickets to various events around the Denver Metro area and in March Phil submitted a request for 2 tickets to Third Day.  After several follow ups with the company we never heard anything so we assumed that our request was not granted since the concert was Sunday, June 14th.  I was very disappointed!

Sunday turned into a very lazy day with church at home, lots of napping, playing and some work around the house.   I resigned myself to watching Third Day youtube videos with the kids.  Phil, who has been fighting a cold, took some medicine and went to bed at 6:30.  The rest of us were downstairs playing and watching music videos when I hear Phil coming down stairs at 7:30.  His company had called him and was wondering if he was going to pick up the Third Day tickets for the concert that started at 7:00!

Because I never miss an opportunity to see Third Day I grab Natasha and we run out the door to go to the concert.  There were 5 artists playing so I figured Third Day had not even started their set yet.  Because we were so late parking in the usual lots was not an option and we basically had to park at the bottom of Red Rocks and walk up.  If you’ve ever been to Red Rocks you will know that this is a very long walk UP HILL.  Because we left so quickly, I had forgotten that I had not showered that day and my hair was up in a clip.  This wasn’t a cute, sassy up do, no no no….it was a I hope no one notices I didn’t comb my hair today do.  Seriously, I looked like I was going to do manual labor somewhere, certainly not going to a concert.  By the time we reached the top to get the tickets and head to our seats I was drenched in sweat and stunk more then I had at the bottom of the hill.  I was praying that whoever was unfortunate enough to have to sit/stand next to me would have a stuffed nose.  A side note…  before we left I only had 500 more steps to meet my daily step goal of 10,000 and I figured I would finish those up on the treadmill before I went to bed.  By the time I walked in the door at 11:15pm I walked 15, 714…. a reflection of how far we had to walk to see Third Day!  It was worth every step.

We missed Brandon Heath, Phil Wickham and most of Peter Furhler’s performances.  However, we were able to hear 3 songs from Matt Maher before they started changing the stage for Third Day to come on.  Third Day started around 9:30 and Peter Furhler came out and did 2 of his songs with Third Day.  Natasha hung in there until about 10:45 and then we started down the mountain.  I’m guessing Third Day played until at least 11pm.  It was quite a show and one that Natasha and I will never forget.  Natasha was surprised at how loud it was and kept covering her ears.  I was in my early 20s before I made it to a concert at Red Rocks but Natasha’s very first concert was at the most beautiful concert venue in the state.

It was so wonderful to watch thousands and thousands of people lifting their hands up to God and singing His praises.  Thank you Lord for blessing us with this amazing opportunity.

A big shout out to my husband, Phil, for staying up with the rest of kids until their bedtime while he was sick.  Natasha and I made some pretty fun and special memories!

As Matt Maher played.

As Matt Maher played.

Gorgeous!

Gorgeous!

Right when we first go to our seats.

Right when we first go to our seats.

My sweet concert buddy!

My sweet concert buddy!

As we were waiting for Third Day to start.  About 9:00 pm.

As we were waiting for Third Day to start. About 9:00 pm.

Rocks to the left of us.

Rocks to the left of us.

Rocks behind us.

Rocks behind us.