Friday, July 27, 2007

SOTO '07

Three words:


This past week, we joined several other families from our church at Family Camp at Shepherd of the Ozarks retreat center...SOTO for short.

Five Days of Playing.
Five Days of Laughing.
Five Days of Swimming.
Five Days of Staying Up Late.
Five Days of Fun.

The most wonderful thing about SOTO was getting to know the stories behind the faces we see almost every Saturday/Sunday. Like physical growth spurts, church growth spurts come with growing pains. Though the past four and a half years have been amazing, Matt and I have grieved the fact that we don't know everyone. We know it's impossible, but if it were possible, we'd love to sit down and have dinner with and hear the hearts of every person that walks through the doors at The Village.

This week, we got to indulge a bit into that dream. We got to hear how the Lord is stretching and loving the people at The He is glorifying Himself through these "oaks of righteousness." Thank you, families at SOTO, for letting us indulge.

SOTO itself was beautiful. Set in North Central Arkansas, resting quietly in the Ozarks, SOTO is everything camp-ish and more. The lodges are comfy and roomy. Audrey loved finding sleeping nooks and lofts nestled in the most unlikely places. Tadpoles, frogs, crawfish and minnows abound in the crystal clear creek. A ride on Milkshake the pony or the old-fashioned yellow fire truck was the perfect ending to a play-filled day. And the food. Much better than decent! We even had incredible steaks on Wednesday night...with a III Forks salad to boot. Needless to say, we will be back for SOTO '08, Lord willing!

Trip pics...

Holly, Kinsey Grace and Audrey

The flowers were her idea :)

After our horseback ride. Didn't have a free hand to take a picture on the horse!

Reid's favorite activity: throwing rocks into the creek.

(UGH! I can't get this pic vertical!...too cute to not post!)

The swimming hole.

Mountain view of the swimming hole...hope your neck doesn't cramp up!!

Reid on the stairs to our lodge. We were on the bottom floor of the 3-story lodge. Bottom floor pow-wows rocked :)

Asleep in the car...hallelujah!

Lunch on the way home at Firehouse Subs in Little Rock. Hannah, Mia, Audrey, Ryan, Holly and Maddie Grace.

I'm already missing family camp!!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Our Sno-Cone Saviors

Monday night Matt was speaking at a singles' event at our church. I cooked dinner for our whole family (yay for me...I've actually been cooking dinner!) and then we parted ways - Matt to church while the kids and I ventured to Bahama Buck's. My new favorite addiction. We roll into the parking lot and see our friends Angie and Philip enjoying their frosty cones on the patio. We waved hello and felt blessed to have caught a glimpse of them that evening. Little did I know, they would be our sno-cone saviors.

I order, I pull up to the window and I wait. The pleasant young man at the window hands us our sno-cones - one baby white coconut, one baby cherry, banana, pina colada, and one baby cotton candy (I'll let you guess who had what). I start to pull away.

Something is not right.

Something is definitely not right.

I steer our vehicle to the side of the parking lot. I step out and survey the damage. Yep, a flat tire.

I can count on NO hands how many times I've changed a flat. I've always had dad or Matt with me.

Suddenly, a heroic anthem strikes up behind me. The music grows louder and louder as I sense it approaching me. I turn around and soak up the vision of my heroes arriving. Thank you, Lord!

Angie and Philip then proceed to change my tire for me amidst sweat and melting sno-cones. I don't think I did anything to help other than acting as their grateful cheerleader. Angie even took Audrey to the restroom while I kept watch on Reid as he kept watch on Philip changing the tire!

In honor of their valor, I have written them an ode:

Ode to the Sno-Cone Saviors

Whilst venturing out
To enjoy
A treat
So sweet and cool
With the humble
Portion of
My kindred,
A villain
So sharp
And uncaring
Its cold
The pliable flesh
Of the soles
Of our vehicle.

And disabled
We could not
Go on.
We lamented
Our fate
And bellowed
Our distress.
Who would save
What gentle soul
Would heed
Our cry
For help?

Our pondering
To ourselves,
Two heroes
Of such
Noble stature
Flew to our side,
Working feverishly
And with
Little care
For themselves
Or the quiet evening
They previously

Because of
Their kindness,
Their timeliness,
Their skill,
We were
Safely off
To our abode
And free
To proclaim
The greatness
Of their

To whom
Can we
Compare them to?
A super hero?
I think not.
For never
There was
A super hero
With such
Such speed,
Divinely appointed presence.
They are
Our saviors,
Deliverers from distress.
They are

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Reunion

So this is what 500 miles...8-ish hours...with two kids under 5 looks like...

Crossing the Red River...only 7+ hours to go!

Where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain.

No tears yet. Reid's scarce moment of contentment and Audrey in her perpetual state...watching a movie on the DVD player...thank you, Stankowskis!

He drove almost the whole way there and back...such a sweetie.

First pit stop: Super Target in Norman.

Finally! Almost there.

The most popular spot at Aunt Betty's. Audrey and her cousin Kamryn.

Audrey and Kamryn again!

Another popular spot: the porch swing. Amazingly enough, it wasn't too hot the first day.

At the motel...early in the morning. After playing so hard during the day, Audrey actually slept in!! A major feat.

The lake!

He was throwing rocks so cutely until I got the camera out...then he just got mad.

So...what do you think about this thing they call "reunion"?

There's a picture I would have liked to have inserted here but it's against Mennonite beliefs...I think. We went to a Mennonite bulk food store. So quaint. The young woman behind the counter was just beautiful in her Mennonite garb. It felt like going back in time. Though I hardly said a word, I felt so loud and obnoxious in my modern clothes. There was just something quiet and graceful about the clean white bonnet and perfectly pressed periwinkle dress. Wish I could have had a picture of it!

Instead, I have a picture of my mother-in-law and sister-in-law at Mr. Ed's drive-in...the next best thing! I am privileged to have a wonderful family-in-law!

The real reason we made the trek out to Missouri...Grandma. She's 88 years old and loves Jesus.

Freedom Baptist Church...that church I was talking about in the previous post. Their high attendance Sunday was minus the Chandler sad.

That's it!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Here We Go

No fun photos today. But, oh will I have some come Sunday. We're headed to Matt's mom's family reunion in Missouri tomorrow. A nice long 8 hour drive. Should be all roses with a 20-month-old.

Seriously though, it will be fun.

The only sad thing is that we're coming back home before church on Sunday. Historically, church at the reunion has been a family affair. Matt preaches, Matt's mom plays the piano and Matt's sisters and I sing the special. (Keep in mind this is for the 20 faithful members...we more than double their attendance that fact, being the good Baptist church it is, they've designated it as "high attendance Sunday." Just kidding. Sort of.) What a sad day it will be.

All this to say, the blogging front will be quiet until Sunday. But, doesn't the anticipation just add to the excitement???

I'll miss you all.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Welcome to the Land of Unfinished Projects

At least until now.

This weekend was actually very fruitful, domestically speaking. Matt only preached Sunday morning at the new campus. This opens up a full weekend for us. We're almost like normal people! Almost.(For those who don't know, Matt preaches 4 of our 6 weekend services. The other two are video, a.k.a. Flat Matt.) Because of this, we were able to finish some work on the outside of our house. Matt's inner carpenter is really starting pound and saw its way out! He and my dad made exterior shutters for our windows! They're amazing. Here's what our front porch looked like before...

And after...

Amazing! You'll notice that our porch is bigger and covered in stone. Matt and Dad poured the concrete, Dad started the stone, and our friend Rick finished it! We're still working on the porch. As you can see, there are a few boards that still need to be put up and we're going to "beef up" the column. But just look at those shutters!!!

Now...on to the next project. The playroom.


Audrey took this picture. Doesn't look too bad. BUT it's way too cluttered, baseboards are missing or unpainted, and, you can't see this but, the beams on the ceiling need to be painted too.

So this is my next project. I'm so bad at finishing things. Hold me to it, girls! I'll post an "after" photo when I'm done. Hopefully that will be before July '08.

A couple of cute watermelon pictures...

And I'm spent.