Thursday, July 31, 2008

Who Knew Scrambled Eggs Could Teach Me So Much?

A year ago today, I posted this.

Although Park is still not exactly the picture of self control, I see that God is already molding and shaping him into something amazing. As I watched Park working in the yard with Chris all evening, I was struck by how grown up my little man is becoming.

I heard him asking questions and offering suggestions for how they might improve upon the tasks at hand. I saw Park throw down his shovel in frustration when Chris didn't do exactly what he wanted. As Chris bent down to talk to him about his poor attitude, I was struck by the repentance in Park's little eyes.

"I'm sorry, Daddy. I won't do it again," he promised.

Once again, I was reminded that deep within that strong-willed spirit is simply a little boy trying to find his place in this world. As a parent, I often spend too much of my time dwelling on negative behavior or contemplating how draining it can be to give the constant discipline that young children require.

I focus on what I want for his destination verses enjoying the journey it takes to get there.

As big as my precious Park is getting, this is as little as he will ever be. And yes, I want to be certain to keep up the constant discipline and eliminate negative behaviors, but I also want to appreciate the growing pains along the way.

I want to live in the moment. To savor every mischievous smile he throws my way; To bottle up all his wet kisses and the silly little songs he makes up; To bask in his endless energy and imaginary friends; To hold him a little longer when I read his bedtime story or to linger at his door when putting him back to bed after a bad dream; To answer one more "Why?" question and to laugh harder at his jokes that make no sense at all; To take extra time to make meals, just so he can help; And to extend my patience beyond what I feel I'm capable of doing.

Because when all is said and done and Park is the man God intends for him to be, the scrambled egg moments that got us there will be the memories I treasure the most.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Mildly Exagerated Tale

Yesterday, my neighbor Michelle and I threw caution to the wind and took a trip to Six Flags Amusement Park, despite the fact that that it was projected to be over 105 degrees. Apparently, it takes more than being able to fry an egg on the concrete to scare us away from some good old fashioned Texas fun.

And had we known what was in store for us, the scorching temperature would have been the least of our worries.

Now, keep in mind that Michelle is one of those oober prepared people by nature. Her son Jacob is just six months older than Park and prior to our trip she had taken her trusty little park map and marked it up for all the rides deemed height appropriate for our boys. Upon arriving, she navigated us directly to the Looney Tunes area, which according to the Six Flags rating system, fell into the "Mild" category.

The boys skipped from one ride to the next, as if they were professionals. The smile on Park's face was so huge that I could see it clearly from the ground, even when he ascended high into the sky on the airplane ride.

Eventually, the boys walked up on a roll-a coaster that required a parent to ride with them. And that might have been an issue for some kids, but being that Park and Jacob were born to mommies who hunger for an adrenaline rush, we hopped on as giddy as they were.

UNTIL, the ride actually BEGAN...

Can I just say that whoever was in charge of determining the rating system is in need of a serious psychological evaluation?

MILD???? MILD, I ask you???

Call me crazy, but I believe lost hats, whiplash, and broken necks rate at least "Moderate". It's not like I'm asking for an "Extreme" , because it only makes sense that someone actually has to lose their life on the ride before it earns that rating. But, people, work with me here.

As the ride came to a screeching halt, complete with smoking wheels and ear piercing squeals, those in the back of the roller coaster suddenly found themselves relocated to the front. Thankfully, we were already in the front, so we simply landed on the exit ramp and ran like mad to get as far away from that torturous experience as possible.

Well, we would have run had our necks not been snapped in two.

That, and the fact that our children had already made their way back in line to ride it again. I actually saw tears in the eyes of a father whose daughter said, "Daddy, let's do that together one more time!"

A grown man, muscular enough to play in the NFL, driven to tears by the sheer panic of having to repeat the ride once again.

That has "Moderate" rating written all over it, I tell you.

All in all, we had a blast. The boys had the time of their lives and Michelle and I laughed until we almost wet our pants. And in hindsight, it really wouldn't have mattered, considering how drenched we were by The Aqua Man, which coincidentally was the one ride we didn't even get on.

However, apparently dropping vertical into a river at a speed fast enough to cause a tidal wave that soaks those simply walking by at an inopportune moment doesn't get you more than a "Mild" rating either.

And on that note, since me driving this point into the ground is probably getting "Mildly" old, let's just move on to some fun pics from our memorable day:

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I Do

Six years ago today, Chris and I were standing before our friends and family, pledging our love and commitment to one another with two powerful words:

"I DO."

How could that many years have gone by when I still remember so clearly the feeling I had as the doors of the church opened and my dad escorted me down the long aisle to the man I could not wait to spend the rest of my life with? It is as if that day happened just yesterday or last week at the very most. And yet in six short years, so many memories have been created that it almost feels like we have already lived a lifetime together.

In the naivety of that blissful moment at the alter, we had no idea what "I Do" would actually look like. But, we were willing to stand by those words just the same.

In the first few years, "I Do" meant dreamy beach vacations, last minute romantic getaways, and talking into the wee hours of night. It meant buying and remodeling our first home, spending time with other couples, and dreaming about the children we would some day have. For Chris, it often meant helping me grade papers or putting together shelves for my classroom, and for me, it entailed 17 hours bus rides to youth camp and international mission trips to be involved in the calling on my husband's life.

In later years, "I Do" meant experiencing the joy of having our baby growing in my stomach, giving birth to our first child, and weathering the storm of my health issues that pounded us the year after his birth. It meant getting to see each other through the eyes of our child and appreciating each other as parents. It meant falling in love, all over again, but in a whole different way.

In recent years, "I Do" has meant building a house together, raising a toddler, and dreaming of expanding our family. It's meant seeing Chris grow into the leadership God has given Him and having a front row seat to the anointing that Jesus has placed on his life. It's meant basking in God's faithfulness to our family and standing firmly on His promises.

There was no way to comprehend that "I Do" would mean so many different things throughout so many different seasons of our marriage. Nor can we possibly fathom what it will look like for all that lies ahead of us.

And yet, I am every bit as willing to stand behind those words today as I was six years ago.

We Do, We Have, And We Will...

I love you, Chris. Happy anniversary!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Rising Up to Take Their Place

When I woke up this morning and realized that today is our last full day at Allaso Ranch, it was a bittersweet moment. Sure, it will be nice to sleep in our own beds after a month away and have undivided attention to give to one another, but our time here has been so special and meaningful that it is hard to see it come to an end.

Which is precisely why I am so thankful that this is NOT the end.

Here at camp, it is just the beginning of the life change that God has in mind for our students. These past weeks have been truly indescribable. The only thing I can even type is that by His grace, there is a revival going on in the hearts and lives of high school students from across the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. During our six years of student ministry, we have never witnessed the level of worship and repentance that God has orchestrated in the lives of these students at Allaso Ranch.

After we unpack and sleep for a minimum of 24 hours (please Park, please), I will share some unbelievable stories and tons of pictures. Until then, we will be soaking up our last few meals prepared by the amazing Chef Jeff and his staff. We will be basking in the lazy river and spending some time telling the horses goodbye. We will be thanking the Allaso Ranch team and hundreds of volunteers for providing us with such hospitality and excellence. We will be giving God the glory for drawing students near to His heart and truly making this a place of change.

And we will continue our prayers and preparation for how He wants to use this student ministry in the fall to continue the work He has started at Allaso Ranch

Friday, July 11, 2008

Wild Ride

First order of business, posting pictures I promised a week ago:

Our little fish...
Allaso Ranch water park- (look in the bottom left corner and you'll see Park and Zac and even a peek at Baby Kage, Challi, and an unpictured Krew, who came to visit for the day.) The water park has a large zero entry spray pool, a regular pool, 2 extremely fast water slides, and and a lazy river.
Rocking on the back porch..
Other than swimming, this is where Park likes to spend most of his time.

Second order of business, a short update:

Since Challi lives just 45 minutes away from Allaso Ranch, they were able to come spend July 4th with us. Today, she came back with her boys and they brought my parents with them. Park had so much fun showing them around. He was so excited to expose them to all his newly aquired skills, such as urinating off the balcony and burying himself in sand. Just to ensure them that he had not become totally uncivilized during his time at camp, he also impressed them with his ability to eat his lunch with the appropriate silverware and wipe the entire table down once we finished.

The water park was also a huge hit. As much as the boys loved it, I am embarrased proud to admit that despite being 31 and 33, Challi and I rode the water slides in old-school train fashion as we screamed for the boys and our parents to, "Watch this!"

I'm certain it was a proud parenting moment for Lolli and Pops as they took care of their grandchildren so their adult daughters could fling themselves down water slides. But don't think for a moment that Pops didn't get in on the action, taking the boys with him as an "excuse", as he squealed the entire way down.

Tomorrow, the first round of campers and volunteers will head back to Dallas. Many will be leaving behind the sin and shame they formerly carried, based on encountering Christ at Allaso Ranch. Others will walk away with seeds firmly planted in their hearts. As their camp experience comes to a close, 280 more students will arrive to take their place.

And we are more than ready to welcome them with open arms. If this week was any indication of all God has planned for the rest of the month, we can hardly wait to be apart of it.

The water slides may be a wild ride, but they pale in comparison to a life of serving Him!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Living His Dream

Let me start by saying that when these three weeks of camp end, I might have to drag Park home, while he kicks and screams the whole way. He is in LOVE with Allaso Ranch.

And why would he not be?

Isn’t it every little boys dream to live in a place where you have immediate access to horseback riding, a water park, and more wide open space than you know what to do with? Throw in tons of dirt, rocks, and stick, coupled with the chance to play rock band drums and guitars whenever your little heart desires and you have the makings for the greatest three weeks of his young life.

And if I’m really honest with you, Chris might have to drag me home, kicking and screaming, too, after eating this insanely delicious food and getting to live in the midst of all these beautiful East Texas trees.

We have been here for five days now and the students arrived yesterday. Upon their arrival, Park was so excited and asked me, “All the big kids get to come to my camp, too?”

Clearly, he has not made himself at home in the least.

Yes, camp is in full swing. All the prep work done by the staff has culminated into an incredible experience. Our volunteers are doing AMAZING work. I don’t think they could work harder if they tried. The energy around camp is electric and it is so exciting to be apart of it. With this large of an undertaking, it always amazes me how smoothly things operate. And even though there are sure to be kinks in the system to iron out, as there always are with new things, this camp already seems like a well oiled machine.

I taught my break out session this morning, so right now I am rocking on the large covered porch of the staff house where we are staying, while Park is napping upstairs. When he wakes up we will head over for swimming, followed by dinner and then the worship program. This year’s camp theme is “Unleashed” and tonight Chris will be preaching on being unleashed from the chains of temptations.

In order to avoid the temptation of running on stage to be with his daddy, Park will be playing in an upstairs loft with his favorite buddy Zac during the teaching time. Zac is the 8th grade son of a precious woman on Chris’ staff. His official title for this week is “Provider of Entertainment” for Park. The two of them are inseparable and I’m not sure whom is more fond of the other. Not to mention Zac is incredibly responsible and full of fun games that encourage Park to do things such as obey. It is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Here are a few pictures and I’m certain many more will follow: (pretend you see fun pictures right now and as soon as Blogger cooperates with me, I will get them posted)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Gone Country

After a late night girls' night with Bridget and Sarah, I'm feeling the lack of sleep today. Even as I prop my eyelids up with toothpicks just to finish this post, I have to say it was completely worth it.

Our newest tradition is for Bridget and I to pick up Chili's on our way to Sarah's and then we eat dinner, watch a movie in the guest house, followed by chit chatting into the wee hours in the hot tub. The dip in the hot tub usually warrants some type of discussion as to why we did not more fully appreciate our pre-children figures and if, in fact, we will ever find the discipline to exercise ever again.

And after we debate that topic for a bit, we finish it off with a plate of brownies or cookies.

Last night, we never even made it to the movie or hot tub because the three of us are nothing if not capable of some serious talkage and completely loosing track of time. Especially since this was an emergency session called solely to celebrate Bridget's birthday and serve as my "going away" party.

Tomorrow, Chris, Park and I will be heading out to Allaso Ranch for the month of July. There has been so much preparation and hard work put into this camp by the Fellowship staff and volunteers that I feel guilty even mentioning the monumental packing job I have undertaken to get us there.

But tomorrow we leave behind most of the prep work, and move forward to experience the fruits of our labor. We are eagerly anticipating the arrival of the volunteers on Saturday and the first round of campers on Sunday.

I will do my best to keep you guys posted throughout the journey and ask that when the Lord brings us to your mind, that you would be in prayer for our staff, volunteers, and the 600 + high school students that He will forever change through this experience.