Today, I'm doing the very-pregnant-woman-traveling-alone-with-two-toddlers-two-car-seats-two-carry-ons-and-a-whole-bunch-of-other-junk thing again. We're flying from Texas to Providence, RI, where Kyler will pick us up after driving from home. Then, we'll all continue on to Cape Cod for our family vacation. Kyler's grandparents live on the Cape, and we were engaged there, so it's a place we all love and look forward to going every summer.

Kyler's bringing his laptop, but there's no telling whether I'll have an opportunity to hijack Wi-Fi and blog. But...considering how much I missed not being able to blog regularly in Texas, we'll see.

The boys and I have to survive the flights first. 3 hours to Orlando, 3 hours to Providence, no deboarding. Prayers needed!


Let's Get Together...

Let's get together, hey, hey, hey!
Think of all that we could do-ooo...

It's a song from The Parent Trap. I loved that movie growing up. Definitely the 1961 version with Hayley Mills, not the Lindsay Lohan version. Anyway...

Several of my college friends and our families gathered the other night for a little fun and catching up, as we usually try to do when I come to Texas. Of course, they get together when I'm not around too, but I'm sure it's more fun when I'm there. :)

One of my dear friends just had a baby, the first girl of all of our growing broods, and she is absolutely precious. See for yourself:

Told you: precious. So glad I was able to meet her!

I think we'd probably all agree that by far the most entertaining time of the night was when we let our kiddos run rampant all over my parents' backyard.

And the sprinkler system came on. Boy, howdy. They went nuts. The youngest started it...

Followed by my youngest, not surprisingly...

Followed by my oldest...

And this little guy was the most hesitant of the bunch. His mom and dad finally stripped him of his clothing (he didn't come with extras) and he cautiously approached the bunch of dripping houligans that surrounded the sprinkler. And just as he turned, laughing, to express his joy to his parents, it happened.

My son, the oldest, discovered that the sprinkler head could be turned manually. Poor kid. He didn't even see it coming. And that water was COLD.

What a riot.

Not a bad pic, considering we had no tripod, set up two cameras on time-delay, and had six kids we had to try and get to look at the camera (Marc counts...) :)

I love gatherings. Can't wait to do it again next time!

All Creatures Great and Small

Our boys love finding critters and creatures. Miniscule or monstrous, they never tire of pointing out and identifying all the wondrous living things around them. We search for and hear about deer, dogs, birds, and bugs all day long. Our time in Texas and Cape Cod has only intensified this fascination, as there have been a whole host of (as yet unknown to them) creatures to examine from near and far. Some of our more interesting finds have included:

A rather large (and probably very hungry) caterpillar

Many different “Lizzies” in varying sizes and colors

Butterflies and very large moths

A baby martin, just hatched and learning to fly...

And of course, the occasional plastic snake and dinosaur.

I mean, who doesn’t keep your garden variety T-Rex around to discourage “varmints” from moving into the neighborhood?



Kyler, the teens, and his adult volunteers are finally home. Even though the boys and I are still in TX, this is a relief to me (and kind of frustrating, considering they were only four hours away from us when they were in Galveston, but we weren't able to see them...) They arrived yesterday afternoon, although Kyler, because of the many wrapping-up-a-mission-trip chores, didn't arrive home home (as in, our house) until nearly 1am. (Btw, thanks Anthony for your "wrapping-up" help!) I love my husband. He works so tirelessly to see God glorified. He inspires me.

From the looks/sounds of all things Facebook, e-mail, online pics, and phone conversations, the trip was a huge success. Even through their exaustion, you can tell the team is pumped about all they accomplished, and ready to recruit others to jump on board next time (which may be soon (read: fall/winter), all you interested adults and college students...) I have loved going through all of the pics I've seen so far; if you were on the trip and are reading this, keep 'em coming! Kyler has tasked me with putting together a missions movie for Covenant's "Missions Sunday" in August, and I'm actually really looking forward to getting started! After vacation, of course.

Anyway, I digress. Which is interesting, considering this post is titled "Detours." Hmmmm.

On their way back from Galveston, the caravan ended up taking a rather lengthy (around three hours, all told) detour through Mississippi. See, one of the caravan drivers headed down towards Gulfport, rather than taking the necessary exit, separating their vehicle from the others. Kyler chose to have the other two vehicles backtrack and meet the detoured van, and then all continue on together in the new direction, which now included driving through Gulfport. Prognosis: bad.

However, it just so happens that four years ago (one year after Hurricane Katrina), Kyler took the teens on a hurricane relief mission trip to Gulfport. Because of the unplanned, out-of-the-way detour, he and three other members of this year's team were able to show the rest of the team the good work they had done four years ago. Yep. They found the actual houses (impressed with my husband's navigation abilities? I was...) they had worked on and rebuilt four years ago. And they were also able to witness how much destruction still remains, and how many people are still in need of relief, even five years later. Pretty powerful testimony, I think. And, a pretty great affirmation for those four people on this year's trip who were able to see again and share what they did on a trip four years ago. Opportunities like that don't present themselves very often. But here they were, when they thought they were going to be lost and nothing good would come of this mistake.

So prognosis: bad. Outcome: good.

My point? I'm sure you can guess where this is going. The detour thing. At first, it looked like a very bad thing that the entire caravan had to go three hours out of their way on what was a very long day of driving anyway. I'm sure it was a struggle indeed to keep tempers under control, have patience, and trust that they would make it to their destination eventually. Or maybe somewhere else. But they'd get home.


I feel like this a lot in my faith life. Here I am, plugging away at life, cruising along, and BAM! Totally unexpected circumstance knocks me for a loop. Or, I see it coming from a distance, kinda like road construction. In either instance, I have a choice to make. Flip out, get angry, be miserable. Or. See what the deal is. Figure out what my next step should be. Continue on and trust that the nifty little detour signs will eventually get me back where I need to be. (And many times they don't. But anyway...) Or where I think I need to be. (Which isn't always where I thought initially...)

Oh boy, my brain is taking this little metaphor and running with it.

Detours in my faith life are created by a myriad of circumstances. Me. God. People. Stuff. I prayed and prayed and God's answer was not what I thought it would be (funny how His omnicience and my lack thereof often work that way...) Or someone I hold in high spiritual esteem makes an enormous (or just plain disappointing) blunder, and I have a hard time dealing with it (and likely have to also deal with the fact that maybe I was (unfairly and unhealthily) viewing them as infallible in the first place.) Or some other circumstance deals a blow to some faith questions I was already struggling with. The list of possibilities is endless.

So I make a choice about how to deal with it. Above, I made it kind of black and white: positive reaction, negative reaction. Clearly, life doesn't work that way; at least, mine certainly doesn't. My life is full of gray areas. When God allows detours in my faith life, issues I didn't expect to confront (or at least not then...), prayers that aren't answered as I had hoped, or thought they would be, questions I don't have the answers to, inadequacies I've hidden that are suddenly thrust to the surface... When He allows these things, I have the choice to be positive and trust. After all, isn't it up to me to take what I've been given and do something with it? My first post on this blog contains an excerpt from Elisabeth Elliot's book, Keep A Quiet Heart, and sums up the inspiration behind, and response I want to have when life takes me on a detour. Very much worth a read if you haven't read it already.

Keep in mind though, when I say I have the choice to be positive and trust, I'm not saying the resulting outcome will necessarily be positive. Sometimes, detours are just detours, and we may never find out this side of heaven what on Earth their purpose was. And sometimes, there's another detour on the other side of the first. And sometimes, we end up somewhere entirely different than we intended in the first place. And often, our intentions change as a result.

So really, my only response should be to trust in God's omnicience and promise that His plan is good. This isn't always easy, although shouldn't it be? If we weren't so ignorant and bent on having control, it would be so much simpler. But still: His plan is good. This is not subject to discourse or opinion. It just is.

11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

I have clung to this verse during many, many trials, during many different seasons of life. It is always a comfort when I believe His promise that His plans are good. Always. And what's really revealing are the verses that follow:

12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me
when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:12-13

What is our response when we encounter one of life's detours? Even if it's initially panic, when we come around and trust God and believe His promise, a natural by-product is our turning to Him for guidance, and strength to trust. It's another post entirely, but it is our natural human response to turn to God in times of trial. I know in my life, when I look back on times of intense trial, I also see times of immense spiritual growth and reliance on God.

But God knows all this already. He knows us inside in out. After all, he knit us together in our mother's womb. He knows these detours and trials are times when we will call out to Him, seeking His guidance. And better still, He promises that when we seek Him with all our hearts, we will find Him. Blessed assurance. Indeed, it is good for us to seek Him, and lay it all at His feet. I love Watermark, and as pertains to trusting God, these lyrics pretty much sum it up for me:

You bring life to my bones
And a spring to my step
And a heart that knows what it means
To wait before You
Laughter into my house
And a time to sing and shout
And a heart that knows what it means
To really trust You...
And when the shadow of sorrow comes
I will fall on the only One I know
Is the Rock that won't be shaken...

'Cause it is good for me
To lay it down at Your feet
It is good for me to lay the good and bad
In Your hand, my God...
It is good for me
To lay it down at Your feet
It is good for me

You are the constant One
When my life is overwhelmed
And You stay the same when all around is changing
And, oh, how good it is, yeah
Just to know the life You give
And my song shall ever be
That my God is faithful...
And when the shadow of sorrow comes
I will fall on the only One I know
Is the Rock that won't be shaken...

And when I delight myself in You
You give me the desires of my heart,
When I confess that You know best
Peace flows like a river and joy comes in the morning...

Interestingly enough, there's also a new video by The Skit Guys floating around Facebook and the rest of the Internet that does an awesome job summing up why we sometimes don't respond to detours as we should. As it turns out, it likely has a lot to do with our feeling insufficient, something I wrote about in this post. If you don't know The Skit Guys, check them out. We see them every time we go to the National Youth Workers Convention put on by Youth Specialties, and they do good work. I'll end this post with their video, "God's Chisel." It's a good 9 minutes, but well worth a look, if you haven't already seen it.


Wet 'N' Wild

As many of you know, the kids and I are down in Texas for two weeks, visiting with my parents, extended family, and friends. We are having a marvelous time, and although the weather is super hot, we've managed to stay quite cool with all of the great water toys Omie has for us to play with. Swimming pools, water tables, sprinklers, water toys, and water hoses...what more could a kid ask for, really? Well, maybe unlimited play time. I've so enjoyed watching the boys revel in all of the outdoor play time and learn to love water. And how can I resist taking pictures of them, when they're having such a fabulous time?

Watering Omie's plants (and the stones, and sidewalk, and porch swing, and...)

Playing with the water/sand table (minus the sand...)

Experimenting with water...

Exploring the wet yard...

Swimming, running, splashing...

Life is good.


Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'

Oh, what a beautiful day! I've got a beautiful feeeeeelin'......

Really, it was gorgeous in Texas when we woke up this morning. After a solid week of 100*F temperatures, only 80*F at 11am was a blessed respite, and we took full advantage! The boys and I had the house to ourselves, since Mom and Dad were still at the Austin Heart Hospital waiting to hear from doctors on whether or not Dad could be discharged today (he was, more on Dad later...)

So, we went out for some frolicking in the sunshine and grand exploration of Omie and Opa's backyard. There was an incredible breeze blowing, partly cloudy skies, plenty of toys to play with and critters a-crawlin' around everywhere just waiting to be discovered. We had so much fun.

I just LOVE my parents' backyard.

So do the boys. Mommy lets them explore pretty much wherever they want, and with no yard of their own at home, that is a grand luxury! Here's Kayden, looking for treasures, rake and bucket in tow.

Cam was singing to the plants in the backyard. After all, that is how Dicken makes them grow in The Secret Garden!

Boys went exploring and played with balls in the yard. I enjoyed the porch and the breeze. Ahhhh...

Cam took a breather and enjoyed the porch (and his cars) with me for awhile.

And...we found The Very Hungry Caterpillar! Kayden has this book memorized, so this was a very momentous discovery, and he proceeded to tell me about all of the things this little guy had likely eaten that day (apples, plums, ice cream, salami, swiss cheese, watermelon...)

I don't think he was terribly thrilled having us all tromping around after him, but the boys were beside themselves.

We can't wait to get out there again - bring on the sunshine and beautiful weather!