Monday, July 30, 2012

Jesus knows I robbed a bank...

So I've been away with our 2nd- 5th graders at Camp Rock for the past week up in the North Carolina Blue Ridge mountains. I will post a little about this tomorrow, or maybe the next day, but this morning I read a blog post worthy of re-posting.

By the looks of it, Shon Hopwood has quite a story, a story that has recently been fully exposed in his new book, "Law Man: My Story of Robbing Banks, Winning Supreme Court Cases, and Finding Redemption".

This morning I read his first post on The Resurgence and found it so encouraging. I love hearing other peoples stories, stories of how God has taken such a disaster and made it into something so beautiful. That is how he works you know, always restoring.

Often times I find people have a primary image of God as this emotionless judge- sitting up high on a throne, pointing fingers, and sentencing people to a life filled with shame for all they have done wrong. But that's not how I see my God, my Jesus.

No. Jesus is a master craftsman, a restoration specialist, working on the oldest, most run-down of "houses." There are houses that on the outside, look like they should just be abandoned- walls leaning, roofs caving in, foundations crumbling, besieging plants overtaking the structure like soldiers on the banks of Normandy. But Jesus.... he sees potential in all these places and is constantly working to bring them back to their original, intended beauty.

That is how Jesus works in our lives and on our hearts. His tool box is limitless and his means often surprising, but God is a God who does not leave us in a heap of trouble, but comes to our rescue time and time again to show us his everlasting love.

God is a master craftsman.
God is the world's best writer and storyteller.
God is the lover of souls.
God is our forever friend, our savior, and our Lord.

Please take a moment to read a bit about Shon's story and how God's name is being made great through his journey to redemption and restoration.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Back to School Box

Now that Allie is back in Alabama, our long distance love continues. We always look for new and creative ways to connect with her while she is not living at our house. Usually this takes the form of some type of care package and this time it's a back to school theme.

Since Allie is homeschooled she will be starting back to school August 1st. Even though homeschooling has some definite benefits, there are some things you miss out on by not going to an actual, physical school. Things like having a variety of teachers, eating lunch with friends, having your lunch packed with a note inside by your mom or dad, having a locker, changing classes, independently managing time and distractions, academically performing under various conditions and settings, etc. Even though a lot of these are small things, it's still part of the school experience I don't want her to miss out on.

Allie is starting the 6th grade this year and that is huge! She's a middle schooler now. It's crazy to think she will be going to Advance, which is our student ministry at FHC. Anyways, because this is a grand occasion and because we want her to start the school year with some new things, here's Allie's back to school care package.

Growing up, I always remember going to school on the first day in that "first day of school new outfit." My parents didn't lavish us with lots of new clothes or buy frivolous things, but we did get a new look for that first, nervous, first day of the new school year. Even though Al won't be leaving her house for school, I wanted her to have a new outfit to kick things off and get a little bit of her Charlotte style back in Alabama.

I love this turquoise floral halter top!
 Flower headband.
I also found this awesome artistic doodle book that I think she will love. It challenges you to really think in new ways and create something unique. Once a month, Allie goes to her grandma's house for a music and art day and by her description it sounds really neat. I am hoping this doodle book can keep her working on her creative skills and thinking outside the box in-between these sessions!

 A new pack of notecards so she can write her friends back in Charlotte.
We also are sending a 2012/2013 calendar with all our upcoming dates on it as well as a family devo question for each week from the Family Dinner Game cards she enjoyed so much. Hopefully this will help us keep up our devos a little bit over the phone.

 A new notebook and pencil box full of pencils.
 Each pencil has one of three sentences on it to remind Allie we love her (as well as Jesus!) when she is doing school work.

We also threw in some erasers and pens (not pictured).

Everything wrapped up (with brown paper, twine, and doilies... cause she loves doilies) and ready to ship!
Hope you love your back to school stuff Allie and have a wonderful start to your 6th grade year! We are so proud of you!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

T-I-M-E

As you can tell from the last 6 weeks of posts, we have had some major quality time with Allie this summer. Our pastor and friend David Chadwick always says that, "Kids spell love t-i-m-e," and I know this to be true in our own life. Zach and I tried to be even more intentional than usual with how we spent our t-i-m-e this summer and really bonding with Allie in a variety of ways.

One tool that ended up being a great success and leading to some engaging meal time conversations is the Family Dinner Box of Questions - Faith Edition.
This round box comes with 82 discussion cards related to faith. All the questions are different and include things like:

  • "Do you think God still performs miracles today?"
  • "Have you seen a movie or tv show that changed how you think about life and God? What was it?"
  • "What is the greatest act of generosity you have ever witnessed?", and 
  • "If Jesus had one message for today's adults, what do you think it would be?"

Allie really enjoyed using these and it was such an easy way to have meaningful, spiritual conversations in a very casual setting. If you are interested in getting this for your own family or one of their other box games, you can go to www.theboxgirls.com to order.
We also created a memory book this summer to remember all the fun stuff we did together. Allie picked out this awesome blank notebook at Paper Source. I love that it has clocks on it which seems so symbolic of our t-i-m-e together.

Our memory journal cover page created by Allie.
At the end of everyday we spent together, all three of us would write down (or in Allie's case draw) our favorite moment from the day.
It really became such a cool way for us to remember some of the most dramatic moments,
and small, yet significant moments,
and even moments that make us grateful for how God has blessed our family.
I am soooo glad we did this and that Allie will have a copy of all our memories with her in Alabama to remember our time spent together. I think we will make this memory journal thing a summer tradition because it's a little too ambitious to do year round. It takes discipline for all three of us to remember to write in it each day!

A few weeks ago I read a quote that said,
"Memories are our greatest inheritance." 
This rather profound statement has stuck with me and been rolling around in my thoughts. Even though personally I believe our greatest inheritance comes by choosing to follow Christ Jesus, I think memories of a life well spent (following Christ's commands to love God and love others) is a short second. I'm so glad we are taking the time to invest in both of these things with Allie every chance we get.

On the subject of memories.... I recently got this incredible gift from my dad in the form of a different type of memory book.
For Father's Day I gave him a book called "My Dad, His Stories, His words." It is filled with a variety of questions for your dad to answer about his life including questions about his childhood, questions about parenting, and questions about how he wants to be remembered. Two weeks later during our family vacation, my dad gave this back to me completely filled out and it truly is one of my greatest treasures. Reading his stories and memories - some I knew and some I didn't, brought tears to my eyes as I found myself overwhelming grateful for the first man God brought into my life and the best dad ever.
I treasure the incredible legacy my dad has left behind in those who know him and I hope we are doing the same for Al.

********
Also, a few people have mentioned wanting a list of all the creative, family activities we do. If you are interested in having your own costume dinner party, P Day, Father's Day Facial Hair Celebration, etc. just click on the label in the right hand column called "Family fun/Ideas." All of these activities can be found in that category for easy reference. Enjoy making memories with your own family!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer Sets

Here's the last round of photos from our summer spent with Allie.

One of Allie's favorite things to do is to make silly faces in photos. We have about a million images of her -on our phones, on her camera, and on the computer in Photo Booth, making some of the strangest, most freaky faces ever. HAHA This girl seriously knows how to contort her face in all sorts of ways. :)

Pretty Allie on her last Sunday at FHC


 Silly Allie


And friends
This past week, our entire staff had a Motorcycle Derby, racing two of our Kids@FHC bikes around the parking lot. (For the record, this is the first time we have ever done this. Normally we all spend our afternoons actually working! Ha!)

It was super funny and a great break in the middle of the afternoon. Allie and I didn't race, but instead we ate ice cream while watching all the action!
Allie and I also went and picked up our finished pottery we made on the previous Saturday. Our tea cups turned out awesome! We love them and can't wait to use them at our next tea party.


Since Zach was flying Allie back Friday morning, Thursday was really our last day together and we did our best to really make it count!

We took Allie to Chiptole for lunch, one of her favorite spots.

Allie also got in a final full day playing with her friends at FHC. They have so much fun! I wish I would have gotten a whole group shot (there were 5 of 6 of them hanging out this week!), but here's Al with two of her partners in crime, Emma and Annie.

After work, we took Allie back to Sky High for a final jump session. This was my first time going since they did this on the daddy-daughter date and it was super fun. I had no idea how tiring jumping on trampolines is!


Waiting to jump into the pit!


Me, jumping high

Allie and I are fairly conservative jumpers, but Zach... he goes crazy doing all sorts of flips and tricks.


We had a great time jumping, diving into the foam pit, and playing a few rounds of trampoline dodgeball. After we exhausted ourselves, we headed home for dinner. Allie requested breakfast for dinner on her last night so we cooked up some chocolate chip pancakes, bacon, and blueberry muffins.

Allie made the muffins and watched them bake in the oven... for the entire cook time. Ha!


For a special treat, I also made some flower pot dirt (basically rich chocolate mousse with layers of crushed oreos) and chocolate covered oreos, Allie's favorite.


After eating our yummy dinner and treats, we camped out in the living room and watched a few movies before heading off to bed. It was a very tender night for us, one and I know Zach and I will never forget.

We have had a truly incredible summer. Looking back, it's kinda crazy all the stuff we've done. We:

  • went to an outdoor concert of the Charlotte Symphony (in the rain!).
  • had a Father's Day facial hair party and made Zach a Father's Day video.
  • visited Charleston, Savannah, Cumberland Island, St. Augustine, Ormond Beach, DeLand, and Orlando on vacation.
  • went to Medieval Times.
  • had P Day #2 -  a pajamas and pearls tea party.
  • visited Asheville.
  • went kayaking, horseback riding, hiking, and creek swimming/diving during our family reunion.
  • had P Day #3 - pottery painting and a trip to Polka Dot Bake Shop.
  • went sailing on Lake Wylie.
  • had a daddy-daughter date.
  • had a costume dinner party.
  • had a sleepover.
  • took a second trip to Sky High, the trampoline park.
  • had a pool day at the Y.
  • hung out with tons of friends and family.
We've also watched a ton of movies, eaten yummy treats, taken a million photos, had amazing conversations, laughed incessantly, and made the most wonderful memories. I seriously have no regrets from our summer and treasure how our family has grown and how our relationships have continued to deepen. Even though it was only 5 weeks, in some ways, I feel like we had a year. Even though my heart is aching in her absence, my heart is overflowing with joy from all the special moments we've had together during our precious summer. I am already starting to think about next year and all the new adventures I want our family to experience together. It's gonna be awesome! :)