Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Out to...VBS!

Just a quick note to thank my dedicated visitors and Entrecard Droppers! I know I haven't been too active with the visiting and dropping myself. The month of July has been exceptionally busy. We had our mini-vacation, two birthdays, the family reunion that I was in charge of, and now VBS. I am the director again this year, and it is in full-swing this week. We are all SO blessed! Everything always works out, and everyone has fun.

If you think to, please keep our program in prayer. We have about 75% of the children as visitors! This is just so wonderful. Our church is a little short on young ones, so we really reach out to the community. This is the second year that my assistant and I have run the program, and we have learned so much.

We also have visitors from Solid Ground, a local transitional housing program. Please keep these families in prayer. They have been through so much and need all the support, love and encouragement that they can get. Solid Ground is our special outreach program. The children are actually learning how to pray, and outreach is actually part of the VBS program. It's a beautiful thing!

After the program is over, I promise to be back in full swing. I'll be visiting all of your sites, so keep leaving those Entrecards! Enjoy the rest of the month. Fall is just around the corner!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Harmony's 4th Birthday!

Well, the oldest grandbaby turned four this weekend. There was a big party to celebrate the occasion. She had many grandparents in attendance, and her cousins came in from out of state. This means that we actually had all six grandkids in the same place at the same time. Can you imagine?

It's amazing just how fast we forget about how quickly a baby grows. We saw the new twins, Jordan and Audrienna, when they were just about two weeks old. Now, they are five months old, and what a difference. They are too cute!

So, here's another photo journal for you:

The birthday girl is ready for her party!

New big brother, Rocco, with his twin siblings, Aurdrienna and Jordan.

Rocco playing in the water.

Dustin and Papa get everyone wet!

Do you think she's having fun?

Dustin got a good workout!

Kiley gets a drink from Great-Grandma.

Cousins are like sisters: Jordan and Harmony!

The little ones get their toes wet!

Kiley blowing bubbles with Great-Grandma!

She posed with EVERY present she opened!

Uncle Andrew and Jordan.

"Sisters", Jordan and Harmony pose by her cake.

All the twins!

All the grands: Harmony, Audrienna, Rocco, Jordan, Dustin, and Kiley!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Link Colors

I'm sure some of you have noticed. There's something amiss at The Zoo Crew blog. My embedded links keep changing color. What gives? I like them to be white, and they always have been until recently. Even if I try to change their color, it doesn't work. Nothing changes.

Has anyone else ever experienced this? Do you know what I need to do to take back the control of my blog link colors? Any advice or suggestions would be much appreciated.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Camping Photo Journal

Here are the pictures from our camping trip that I promised. We really had a fun, relaxing time. It was just what the doctor ordered. To give you a little perspective we took an extended weekend and visited Big Rapids. The reason we chose Big Rapids was that Pat and I met a couple two years ago at the marriage retreat that we attend through our church. They own a farm and raise Scottish Highland cattle. They have a little piece of Heaven right here on earth, and we thought it would be fun to share it with the boys. We were right! We really had a good time.

Honestly, we did a whole lot of nothing, and it never felt better. What a relief it was to have four whole days to escape the confines of life and just hang out. Friday, we spent the day at Young's Lake Campground, a privately owned facility that is mostly occupied by annual clientele. It was so quiet and peaceful there, and it was a steal at $12 per night!

Saturday we went to our friend's house for a BBQ. It was so great to have an afternoon like that, and I didn't do any cooking! Do you know how weird that was for me? Every occasion like that in our family I do all the cooking. What a blessing that was. The guys explored the property and just hung out while us girls drank homemade green tea, cut lettuce from the garden for salad, and relaxed. I got some time to shoot some nice photos as well.

Sunday we planned to go canoeing on the Pere Marquette River, but Adrian was being a wet blanket and Pat was concerned about his neck. He injured it several weeks ago, and it is really giving him fits even with numerous visits to the chiropractor. Fortunately, they had access to a pontoon boat. We spent the day on the Muskegon River. It was so relaxing and a lot of fun.

Monday we closed camp, went to breakfast and stopped back by their house to pick up the eighth of a beef that we purchased. We don't eat much meat, but the meat we do eat we are very conscious of. We always know the source. No grocery store meat for this family. After loading up we headed home and unpacked and prepared to meet at very hectic week.

So, without further ado, here is my photo journal:

Adrian and Andrew around the campfire.

It's nice to have a musician in the family now!

Our camp set up.

I don't remember this cow's name, but she just
wanted me to take her photo.

Andrew spent a lot of time playing fetch
with their Border Collie, Pippy.

This is their driveway. Serene, or what?

Pat and Dave prepare the pontoon for our day on the water.

Pippy taking a break from the hard work of herding her toy!

Flowers in Linda's garden.

This is my favorite shot from the whole weekend.
I plan to frame it and send it as a thank you for their hospitality.

Andrew and Adrian being silly in the truck.

In our family we know dad loves us by the way he likes to play.
I guess it's a guy thing.

Andrew driving the pontoon.

The Muskegon River.

Adrian's idea of tubing.
Neither one of them ever did get in the water.

Part of a swan family that we saw during our journey.

Pat and Linda laughing about something.

Pat and Andrew bringing the boat in to dock.

I do not know this dog personally, but check out his hair
after his day on the water!

Victory is mine!

A moon shot from our campsite.

Breaking camp.

Crab Apples on the farm.

The end of our journey.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Shaking My Head

Well, we're back from vacation. We took an extended weekend to Big Rapids, Michigan. Pictures and details will follow in a future post. It seems that reality bites rather frequently lately. My frequent readers are familiar with and have shared in my parental woes. Surprise, surprise! We have another one to limp through.

Our youngest daughter, the one we were holding out to make some great decisions for herself seems to be following in the footsteps of her older sisters much to our dismay. If you had asked me a couple years ago, I would have told you she was different. She had goals and dreams. She had a plan. I cannot say that anymore. Over the course of the past 2.5 years she has blown around $30K. After four years of living at home and working she has roughly $700 in the bank. She has consistently mismanaged her money, and she has wasted thousands of ours. The latest being that she totally blew off a year of college that we paid for out of pocket.

Now, the ultimate in bonehead decisions has been made. Our 19-year-old high school/college drop out has decided to move in with her homeless/jobless sister and her biological mother that is also jobless and has NEVER had her own home in her entire life. This is the sister that she quit her job of three years to babysit for, and she stiffed her never paying her a penny for over three months of daycare. This is the mom that abandoned her at the age of seven and disappeared for years not calling on birthdays or holidays. This is the mom that is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. This is a train wreck waiting to happen!

My poor husband's mind is just blown. I know he feels like such a failure, and I have NO IDEA how to be there for him. Personally, I am thinking this is just step one in her apparently needed process of growing up. I know the track record is horrific, and she has no money and a part-time, minimum wage job. I know the odds are VERY against her. I know she will most certainly get taken advantage of, and it will be a miracle if she doesn't end up pregnant. I know her innocence is lost. However, I have been there, done that way too much to feel too much pain about the situation. Their decisions are theirs. We have led in a much different direction, and they have run as fast as they can down a different path. We are disappointed, but I find it hard to be sympathetic or even worried. Is that wrong?

I am constantly blown away by my daughters, and I know of nothing else I can do other than pray and put my boundaries in place. I have learned to guard my boundaries like a bulldog. However, I see my husband still struggle with this one. The hard part for me is that he lashes out at me when he is stressed in this manner. I struggle not to react. I seriously do not know how to handle the situation when he is lashing out at me. It's just silly, honestly, and I know my reactions make a stupid situation toxic. Somehow, I need to get myself under control. This is a challenge I seem to consistently fail.

My good friend and ex-pastor's wife, Nancy, is sorely missed by me, especially in situations like this. She always had such great advice! What a rock she was. I miss her friendship so much. Prayers are still needed for her as she is still battling leukemia. I have not seen her since April. I hope to get to visit with her sometime soon.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Close to the Creator

I originally wrote this post on August 5th of 2007. My sentiments remain the same, and I am sure they will for the rest of my life. I cannot wait to get back out in the rain and photograph my flowers. That is by far one of my favorite things to do.

All my life, it seems, I've had this love affair with the weather; precipitation specifically. I LOVE the snow and the rain. Where we live in the Midwest we have the luxury of experiencing all four seasons. My favorite times are when it storms, be it rain or snow.

It is currently summer, and rain has been scarce. Today we have had a few showers. I am still holding out for thunder, lightening and wind. Although, it seems doubtful that we will see anything other than the occasionally sprinkle.

Today I took my camera to the garden and photographed the flowers in the rain. What a wonderfully tranquil experience. It was like meditation. I absolutely loved the experience. I found myself lost in the moment and completely unaware of the fact that I was getting drenched.

Then, it dawned on me. I believe that part of the romance I have with the weather, rain specifically, is my connection with God. I don't know that there is any other way we can experience him so vividly. Rain is a giver of life much in the same way as our Creator. In the weather we can see Him at work. It touches me every time, and every time I long for more.

Friday, July 03, 2009

American History

I woke up early this morning with my husband and had the opportunity to watch Joyce Meyer. This was one episode I am glad I got to see. Her husband, Dave Meyer, and author/speaker Star Parker were her special guests. The topic? The loss of our American History. This is an issue that has been making itself more and more known to me over the past several years.

Growing up in public school I just hated history class, most of all U.S. History. I had a terrible teacher. What a shame. Fortunately, my dad was a lover of history and a great historian in his own right. Of course, this was something I did not appreciate as a youngster. It became more and interesting to me as I got older, and then he was gone. Now, my youngest son is following in his footsteps. He loves to give me pop quizzes, especially ones with trick questions! It is obvious that remembering history is a gift for him, and he already knows more than I will likely ever learn.

Through the lovers of history that are around me and the realization that I was spoon fed half truths and downright lies growing up, I have become fascinated with history. It is more and more apparent that we as Americans do not know our history. Citizens of other countries know more about us than we do! Honestly, if you want to even get a good take on U.S. news you're better off to watch a Canadian broadcast. Sad, I know.

Today's discussion on Joyce Meyer Ministries was based on a book that Dave Meyer read years ago titled, America's Providential History by Mark A. Beliles. Reading this book was a life changing experience for Dave. It is being offered through Joyce Meyer Ministries for a gift of any amount. I plan to get this book and read it with my boys. There is another resource that she is offering at a special price that I plan to look into as well. It is a DVD series titled, The American Heritage Series, that she is offering at a special price of $80. It is a 10-DVD set that is bound to be a valuable resource for any family for years to come.

Personally, I believe in history education second only to biblical studies. As we celebrate our nation's birthday, what better time to make a commitment to learning our history, educating our youth, and getting involved? Karl Marx said, "Take away the history of a nation and they are easily controlled and easily deceived." It couldn't be more evident in the United States that it is now. We are a nation living in ignorance. Our country was founded on Godly principles, and God has all but been removed from everything. The founding fathers fled to the Americas for freedom that we don't understand, don't appreciate, and are more and more rapidly giving away. Now is the time to take a stand. What price are you willing to pay for your freedom? How about taking the time to learn a little bit about the land that you call home? What have you got to lose? What are the consequences of ignorance?

May God bless all of you on this holiday that celebrates freedom. May you grow and learn and share with the next generations it's beauty and fragility. Have a safe and blessed July 4th!

Thursday, July 02, 2009


Countless dollars spent raising kids until they move out.

$100 on kitchen set for daughter #4 as house warming for first apartment.

$5 on re-purposed end table for same daughter for same apartment.

Deceased father's living room set for same daughter for same apartment.

$300 mini-van hand delivered to daughter #3 a distance of 12 hours round trip at Thanksgiving holiday.

$100 on convertible crib to last through adulthood for first grandchild and first child of daughter #2.

$2K on car deal that went south, leaving us holding the bag, for same daughter and daughter #1.

Another $2K on first year of college that daughter #5 took so seriously she failed.

All items literally disregarded and tossed aside like yesterday's garbage.

Knowing that their children will one day grow up, and they will reap what they sow, priceless.

*Looking to the day that I actually like my five daughters, and accepting the possibility that it may never come.

Don't get me wrong. I do love all of my children. I am just finding it VERY difficult to like them all right now. Hubby and I came to the conclusion that if it were not for the fact that we are biologically related it is highly doubtful that we would ever socialize with them.

It is SO frustrating to watch things that we have spent our hard earned money on just be tossed aside, abandoned, and left for the trash man. The solution? From this point forward be certain to give them the pleasure of spending their own hard earned money on absolutely everything they need or want. Never give money as gifts, and do not spend a lot of money on anything. When at all possible make the gift, and by no means spend a lot of time doing so.

Having this type of attitude and philosophy is VERY frustrating especially when it comes to giving the grands gifts for birthdays and Christmas. As a kind and loving Nana I always want to do nice things for them and make them loving gifts. However, their mothers do not seem to place any real value on anything, so our gifts get given never to be seen again. How do we express our love through gifts that their parents don't even teach them how to cherish?

We are still learning and praying that there is a better relationship in store when we are all a little older.


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