2003 was a very good year

Ellie baby
The day we moved into our Jamison home in 1981 I remember hugging my mom as the last box was being unloaded and saying that this house was IT. This was our last move and THIS was the house that our grandchildren would be coming to. Little did I know at the time that 23 years later we would be not only moving from that house, but moving into a 300 square foot house on wheels. But God was kind. Feb 3, 2003 we welcomed this little darlin’ into our family. Ellie, the only one of the grands born before we began our RV adventure, came to that ‘forever’ house several times before we hit the road. She doesn’t remember of course, but I will always hold those precious memories close.
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(Actual proof that she was there!! That’s our sofa!)
Today she turned 16. Oh. My. Heart. She’s smart and kind and talented and beautiful. And most importantly, she’s given her heart to Jesus.

Happy Birthday to this sweet girl that made us grandparents. We may not be close by very often, be we carry you in our hearts and in our prayers.
XOXOXO
Grams and Pops

The Great East Texas Area Rep Road Trip

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Five Nights
Five Beds (one motel, two projects, two friends)
1387 Miles
Eleven Projects

It was ambitious plan. As East Texas Area Reps, we’re “responsible” for the fourteen projects/ministries in our East TX/LA area. Being “responsible” means that we visit (or at least call) every year or so to check that all is well and we also handle any problems that may arise (like questions about the RV sites, how the ministry operates, that kind of thing) during the course of the year. Gary decided that with a little planning we could visit eleven of those projects during our week ‘off’ between our January and February projects. So the planning began, and all the puzzle pieces fell into their correct spots, and oh-so-early on Friday morning (was that just a week ago??), off we went!
(Did you know that Google Maps limits the number of destinations you can put on a map? Hence the skinny blue line, where I had to approximate the trip from our final group of projects in the Lindale area back to our house in Harper. We did manage to squeeze in a quick stop in Waco, though, for some hugs and our mail!)

But back to the trip….
Although we were quite exhausted at the end of it (more the five different beds than the trip itself), and quite honestly are so thankful that we took notes during each visit because already we’re trying to remember who said what, it was a great trip. We have worked at most of these projects, so we already had some relationships with the staff going into the visit. It was lovely to touch base with folks and as an added bonus we got to catch-up with many SOWER friends who had been working at some of the ministries we visited. I’d like to say I took gobs of pictures at each stop, but the reality is I did not. (I know, it’s a major failure on my part.)  As we visited with the hosts at each ministry, it was such a blessing to hear of the “God Stories” of blessings and lives changed through their ministry.  I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but one of the best parts of this journey we’ve been on is seeing just how BIG God is!  Our little group of projects include many camps and retreat centers, a training center and seminary (geared largely to men leaving prison), an international medical ministry and a discipleship training facility.   How humbled we are to be able to serve at each one!  (I’ve included links to each project at the bottom of the post if you’d like more information about any of them!)

So since this was a Road Trip, it only makes sense that most of my pictures were of The Road.  Although we’ve traveled most of these roads before (who can forget I10 across the bottom of Louisiana), we did take a different route going from Gulf Coast Church up to Acadian Baptist Center.  We took the FREE ferry out of Galveston
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and traveled up Bolivar Peninsula instead of fussing with Houston and I10! It was a beautiful drive and well worth the few extra miles that it added to the trip.
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If you’d like to see a few more photos from the road trip – you can check them out HERE!

After we got back to our rig in Harper (you know, that skinny blue line), we packed up and headed to our February SOWER project – Forest Glen Springs – outside of Rosebud, TX. Now that we’ve had two nights back in our own bed, we’re beginning to get ourselves back in order! First up was getting this blog updated, and now I’d better get those eleven Area Rep Reports actually written up and sent into the office!!
Thanks for stopping by!

Here are those links I promised:

Camp Tejas, Victory Camp, Gulf Coast Foursquare Church, Acadian Baptist Center, Dry Creek Camp, Camp Cho-Yeh, Forest Glen Camp, Trinity Pines Camp, Calvary Commission, Mercy Ships, YWAM.

 

Things I may not’ve mentioned before…

Seems like I’m taking my ‘introvert voice’ seriously, given how quiet it’s been here lately! Sometimes, as the days go by, and I fail to get a post done I get a bit overwhelmed with trying to figure out just where to start with all the catching up that needs to be done. So, I decided to just do a list of 10 things I may not’ve mentioned before. (Apparently not’ve (as a contraction of Not and Have) is not a word since I continue to get a red squiggly line under it. Ah, the spoken English language. Red squiggly or not, I’m keeping it!)

    1.  Our project here at Still Wood Sports Camp is going well! It’s hard to believe that we’re in our final days – just three days left! I’ve been keeping busy with some light (thanks to the very thorough cleaning done by previous SOWERS!) cleaning after guests and a bit of kitchen prep work.
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    2. Gary has been doing some electrical work –
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      and also built some sweet little shelves for the four family cabins –

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      He’s been busy taking care of lots of things that the host couple, Ken and Gail, just don’t have time to get to.  (It’s kinda what being a SOWER is all about!)

    3.  They let me drive this little golf cart!
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      This property used to be a golf course, so there are lots of cart paths.
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      Fore!!! (Or is it Four? Why do they say that?)
    4. With my quiet afternoons I’ve been able to make some good progress on a quilt I’m working on for one of my grandboys. It’s felt very lovely to play with fabric and listen to the sweet whirrrr of my sewing machine. It’s still a work in progress – but here are some of the fabrics and the basic pattern.
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      It’s going to be cute, right?
    5. It’s been just a year since I had my mid-winter Girls’ Week in Vermont following my sister’s cancer diagnosis. I know some of you have been keeping her in your prayers so I just wanted to give you a quick update! She’s doing great!!! Oh, there have been some ups and downs along the way, but she’s feeling great and her CAT scan results look promising. So much praise is being offer to our Mighty God!
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    6.  And speaking of Vermont….. One of the staff member at Oakridge Ministries (our October and November project in Oklahoma), Jaime Ball, is an accomplished artist. (Trust me, the Vermont connection is coming). Since we had just been at the Cabin and I maybe was showing all kinds of cabin pictures to anyone who would look, Jaime asked if she could do a painting of the cabin!! I was honored, to say the least. We still need to get it framed, but it arrived last week – and I’m thrilled!
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      Thank you, Jaime – what a treasure! Both you and the painting!
    7. Meet Stuart (in the front) and Addie.
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      These guys belong to our hosts, but maybe because Gary carries (and distributes) dog biscuits they’ve been hanging around a lot! They are sweet pups, and I’m hoping this will stave off Gary’s desire to add a puppy to our little entourage.
    8. I stayed up to watch the eclipse last night. Did you? It was crystal clear here, and quite a sight to see, but I’m afraid my photography skills are not up eclipse photography!
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      But it was still exciting (in a slow moving kind of way)!

    9.  

      Last week Gail took me on a tour of the rest of the property – mostly undeveloped. We crossed the low water bridge
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      and climbed to the top of the ridge across the river (stream?). What a beautiful view of the camp!
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      In this shot, you can just make out the RVs up next to the large building near the horizon to the left of the cross.
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    10. Oh – and I have to mention the sunsets!!! Of course they aren’t all stunning, but when they are…. Ooo La La!
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Thanks for stopping by – and not giving up on this intermittent blogger!

Oh. Christmas!

Here we are, finishing up our first week at Still Water, and I figured it’s about time I do a bit of a Christmas Recap!
First of all, I need to confess that I did a terrible, horrible, no excuse it’s so bad, job of taking pictures of our actual Christmas Celebrations. But I did do a fairly good job of documenting some of the other fun stuff we did while we were with the kids. Here are some highlights:
Franklin Park Conservatory Aglow
Lara, Alexandra and I went early enough that we could (Okay, so that Alexandra could) enjoy the outside park area
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but stayed late enough to enjoy all of the inside sights, like Fairy villages
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and creative gingerbread houses
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and other fun activities.
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Finally it was back out to see the gardens all ‘Aglow”!
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It was a super fun (and quite beautiful) Girls Night Out!
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Friday was our joint Christmas with Lara and Toby’s family, and after the presents were opened, Gary and I took all the girls out for a shopping spree. As part of their Christmas gift they each got $50.00 to spend at the store of their choice (within reason!).
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We hit Target, Old Navy, Barnes and Noble, and finally Blick’s Art Supplies. These kids are really good shoppers, getting the most bang for their buck! It was a fun afternoon, navigating a shopping extravaganza with 5 girls aged 4 through (almost) 16!
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Girls – Happy. Grams and Pops – Exhausted!!
Generally each year we try to do an “all together” day, apart from the actual Christmas celebration. Both Toby and Lara have birthdays in close proximity to the holidays, so we try to combine a fun family activity along with birthday meal out. (I know, we’re crazy!) We’ve done indoor mini-golf, bowling, and trampolining in recent years. This year we decided to go the (pseudo) educational route and took advantage of The Big Explore in downtown Columbus. Many of the city’s excellent museums were free as was public transportation. Couldn’t pass up that Free thing!
Museums
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Bus Stops
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and bus rides (a first for lots of the crowd!).
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We had a great BBQ lunch and even enjoyed a couple minutes of an outdoor fire pit!
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All in all, it was a great day. We ended it with Jeni’s ice cream, who in celebration of the Big Explore was selling their ice cream for $.75/scoop. Now since the usual charge is $4.75/scoop, you can imagine that the lines were long. But Oh.So.Worth.It.
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(Somehow 12 of us had at least two scoops each (some had 3)) and our total bill was $14.00. It was a crazy good way to end our Big City Adventure!)
Games!
Oh, My! The games we played! Racko, Bananagrams, Battleship, Bingo, and any number of card games….
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There were even games to be played at our lunch spot while we waited for our BBQ in Columbus!
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Games, shopping, sightseeing, movies, – we even fit in some ice skating!
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Hugs and love and giggles and memories – another wonderful Christmas is in the books!
You know there are more pictures, right? Well, you can check them out HERE!
(Spoiler alert – there’s one of Gary sitting on Santa’s lap. You better check them out!)

My Introvert Gene is calling

Oh, My! I honestly didn’t believe that I had an introvert bone in my body!! But after a super busy and fun 6 weeks in Waco and then a wonderful two weeks with the rest of the family in Columbus (I promise I’ll share more about that soon!), my recessive introvert gene has risen to the surface and it’s saying things to me like
Alone
Quiet
Still
Breathe
Rest

We’re settling in for our first night’s rest at our January location (see Where Are We Now for more details!) and for the first time in a while we’ll be working alone. Oh, we’ve already met some sweet folks that will be working with us so we’re not ALONE alone, but by and large I’m really looking forward to a lovely, quiet, restful, month.

And since I haven’t even had the time to look through the pictures of our Columbus Christmas to share any of those, I’ll just leave you with a funky photo I took from the plane.

Love those city lights peeking up through the clouds!

Wishing you all the best in the coming year – good health, kind words, deep thoughts, and a fresh experience of God’s Grace!

Seeing the country……Serving our Lord!