I have not written in far too long! I have gotten my laptop out so many times to start some writing (because I LOVE writing) and then put it back up with a not finished piece. What is my deal? It has been an incredible summer and I will just update you along my journey and then we can get back to this blog business.
As many of you know, I love working with Joni and Friends Ministries and we help with the Ohio office. There is an office in Charlotte that I am now closer too in location, but we started working with this ministry when we still lived in Ohio and the team there are now part of our family and the drive is worth every mile to be with them!
We serve in two Family Retreats. A Family Retreat is a week of camp where families with special needs get to come and get loved on. Every single one of them. It is a life changing week and we love every second of it. So in June, we serve out week one. Leadership comes in early (on Friday), STM’s (short term missionaries who volunteer to serve these families) come on Sunday, and all the families come on Monday. It is an amazing week. Did I say that already? So, in June, the kids and I took off and drove to Ohio for 8 days.
We left camp on Friday and literally drove straight to TN making it just in time for my beautiful niece’s wedding. Cool story – she married the son of my youth leaders when I was growing up. Don’t ask them for stories about me okay? Mariah is my oldest niece and Caleb is a fine man! I am so proud of them both. It was a beautiful outdoor farm wedding.
A couple days after I got home, I headed to Washington DC for advocacy work with United Spinal. It has become a wonderful event to work towards change and also reunite with sweet friends. I was glad to have Jimmy along with me as my “caregiver” because I was exhausted from the week before.
In July, we went back to Ohio for our second Family Retreat week. We came in on Friday, and the kids and I had a cabin in the woods. I got eat up by bed bugs that night and had a pretty bad allergic reaction. I ended up in the ER needing steroids and antibiotics. Because of the bed bug issue at that location, we had to cancel the whole week of Family Retreat. It absolutely broke all of our hearts. We came back home very sad. But, the Lord comforted us and the families involved. I recovered fine from the bed bugs and none came home with us!
At the beginning of August, my Grandma Alladean was in a horrible car wreck that almost killed her. So, I made a couple trips to TN helping stay at the hospital and just trying to be there for her. She has recovered so much, but is still dealing with effects so please continue to pray for her.
We traded our Toyota van in for a new Ford Transit van that was modified with a wheelchair lift for me and a driver’s seat that turns and allows me easier transfers. It also gives my growing children more room to ride! This was a really big deal for me and it deserves it’s own post. However, it took them almost a month to modify our new van so I stayed home most of the month as I had nothing to drive!
September brought a missions trip for my Jimmy and Isaiah. We plan to have all of our children take a missions trip around 13 to help give them a greater vision for others and to enter their teen years with gratitude and a desire to serve others instead of selfishness and making their teen years all about them. Briley has been to Honduras, Caleb spent a week at Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago and Isaiah went to Brazil. While they were gone for over a week, the rest of the kids and I headed back to Ohio for a road trip. We spent a couple days with Mark and Stephanie Fowler in Tennessee and helped work on their church. We went to the Joni and Friends Fall Reunion to see friends we missed at week 2. We went back to West Union where Jimmy pastored and we lived for 10 years to stay with our friends Jamin and Joy Boyer who are doing a wonderful job in that ministry now. We spent Sunday afternoon at the Veteran’s home to see our sweet Bob Griffin and his wife and my “other mother” – Sue. I shared my testimony and God’s goodness and the kids and I sang. We enjoyed that so much! We had a wonderful time of fun with the Boyer’s before making our way back home to pick up our world travelers!
As soon as we had gotten home (literally we came home on Friday and in hospital on Saturday) our Audrey had an appendicitis and had to have immediate surgery. We thank the Lord she is recovering well!
Our church had Homecoming October 2, and so we had started a redecorating project in our church fellowship hall that I had headed up and also a remodeling project to make our restrooms in that building 100% handicap accessible. We took it from a 2 stall to a one room restroom. So, when we got back home from our trip, we had a deadline to get finished and so we worked like crazy to get that project finished. We literally hung up the last items Sunday morning before Sunday School on Homecoming Day! I believe everyone enjoyed all the updates and improvements and I know that I am sure thankful for an accessible restroom on the property. Not just for me – but as a practical welcome mat to all with disabilities that they are wanted and welcome at our church!
With Homecoming behind us, Hurricane Matthew was in front of us. I had bought a storage building earlier between some of these events to hold much of my bulky medical supplies. It was a kit that had been delivered on a pallet. It had been sitting in my back yard as I had not had time to hit that project yet. But, with the hurricane coming, I was worried about the wind and rain destroying my lumber so we hit that hard and heavy this week and got it put together. My children all had a part in helping. But Jimmy and the boys really came through and helped me with things I could not reach. Although I kept asking them how to figure out how to put me on the roof so I could shingle! I never could convince them! The girls helped outside too, but they were amazing to keep the house running while I lived outside for 3 days.
So, add in all the kids getting eye, teeth and body check-ups, all of their birthday’s between June and September and daily life and church stuff….I think this should explain why I have slacked on my blog!
I have a couple more things in October and then I am hibernating all winter! Next weekend, I fly solo to Ohio for a Ladies Conference where I speak Friday and Saturday. I am VERY excited about that! Then the very next weekend, I have another Ladies Conference I am speaking at in Caldwell, NJ near New York City. So, we are all going as a family and turn it into a vacation. We are taking the kids to see New York City, Washington DC and Philadelphia. We are looking forward to seeing friends again and making new ones!
When I read how busy it has been, I can only thank God for His strength to accomplish it all.
I have missed writing. I have missed my readers. And I look forward to getting back to writing things that I pray are a help and blessing to you all!
Thank you so much for sharing my crazy journey with me!