Civil War Days

Don’t you love dressing up in time-period clothing?  I know I do!
When Elijah mentioned to some of we girls that he and some friends were planning on attending the Civil War Days about a half hour from our house, we were immediately interested.  We had been packing, cooking, and cleaning the entire week in preparation for a trip we were going to take, and it was such a blessing to be able to relax and have some fun and fellowship with friends.  It was a neat opportunity to be able to walk around the camp and talk with the reenactors that came and made the day possible.  While we girls were sitting and watching the battle, one of the head reenactors asked for a volunteer photographer to capture moments from the battle with her camera.  I volunteered and was then able to walk out into the lower half of the battlefield and see everything from a different perspective!  (Both from behind the camera and a close up view of all the soldiers and canons).  If everything works out, they are going to send some of the best snapshots to me but until then, I thought I would share our group photo taken after the battle.

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{One of those days}

You might want to read this post with a British accent.
You might want to grab a cup of coffee first.
Or you might just want to sit back and thank God for His endless, boundless, unfathomable love for you and me!
Today was one of those days.  {i.e. when British accents, cups of coffee and reflecting on God are the only things that can make you smile!}
Waking up to sunshine, hurrying into the morning routine, telling myself that I didn’t have time for devotions.  “I’ll do them later.”   Have you ever noticed that when you tell yourself that you’ll do your devotions later on one of those days, you often forget to have them at all?
Today was just one day like many when my brain had too many tabs open. {Being a computer geek, my mind often thinks in technical terms.}   I tried to sort through the tabs and close the un-necessary ones, but it was a daunting task.
By midmorning, I found myself sitting down with a pounding headache, trying to diagnose my disease.  I am almost 100% sure you know what my problem was.
To put it simply, I was suffering from Lack of Communion and Communication.  I had started my day without talking to my best Friend, the One who gave me life, the One who continues to sustain me each and every day.   That’s like trying to hike strenuous mountain trails every single day for a week and denying yourself any food or water while along the way.  Put in that light, it seems absolutely ridiculous to start a day without setting aside some time for my best Friend!
And yet, how many times do I tell myself that I am too busy, too rushed to stop, be still and listen to God?  How many mornings do I jump out of bed and forget all about the One who never has and never will forget about me?
What a sobering thought.
I knew I needed time with Jesus.  I knew I needed to put my busy schedule on hold and find a quiet place to talk with God.  My resort?  The piano.  Somehow, playing beloved hymns has a way of quieting and preparing myself to open up my heart to God.
We all love music.  It speaks to us; it expresses our thoughts, desires, dreams, etc.   It is so diverse — the harp, the flute, the organ, the guitar, the violin, the piano, human voices.  The notes, the rhythm, the syncopation, the lyrics . . . they are all involved in creating a musical masterpiece.  Music was created to glorify God.
“I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will make music.” ~ Psalm 101:1
“Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; tell of all His wondrous works! ”  ~ Psalm 105:1-2
“Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleaant, and a song of praise is fitting.”  ~ Psalm 147:1
How often do I sing a song, not because others are listening, not because it’s Sunday morning, but just to glorify and magnify the Lord?
How often do I devote a large portion of time to prayer, not because I know I’m supposed to, not because my friends do, but because I realize that I can’t even live one day without Him?
I recently felt the need to be challenged in my walk with the Lord.  Well, here is what landed in my lap:
As you go about your day, make God your first priority.  Don’t give Him the spare moments and leftover tired prayers right before you crawl into bed.  Don’t put Him on hold and tell yourself  “I’ll come back to that later.”
Give God your best, your first, your all.  Don’t reserve it, don’t hold it back.  He is deserving of far more than we could ever give!
Start your day with Him, continue your day with Him and end your day with Him.  I have found that giving God my little moments – talking with Him as I check the mail, singing songs of worship and praise as I wash dishes, sitting down to play a reflective hymn on the piano as I pass through the room, memorizing scripture put to music as I do farm chores – gives me inexpressible joy!

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Here We Go A’Camping!

Before you read this post, you need to understand some of our feelings about camping.  You can find them all right here. :)
The night before we left for VA Beach, our destination, I was sitting on a hay bale in a cow pasture enjoying ice cream (A very rustic Ice Cream Social experience with church family and friends . . . .   and yes, I will hopefully post about that soon!) and listening to my brothers and their friends talk about a recent campout.  One of them mentioned that he was allergic to camping.  I laughed, finished my ice cream and did not even give it a second thought.  Actually, that’s not entirely correct; I did . . . but not until several days later, well into camping.  Suddenly, I knew what he was talking about.
We like to tease that rain follows us everywhere we go.  The weather can be perfect, but if we choose to go camping, suddenly, it is going to rain.  We can’t escape it {we have tried!}, so rainy camping is the new normal for us.  Mom likes to joke that Texas would pay us to camp and end their droughts. ;)  This camping trip was no exception.
But, we try to be optimists and find something to Praise the Lord about in every circumstance . . .
So we ignored the wet sleeping bags {as best we could}, tried not to think about the low food supplies {there is limited packing space}, got used to travelling around in wet clothes {but brought lots of towels!}, smiled away the sunburn {which persisted in following us despite loads of sunscreen}, hoarded dry firewood {there were limited quantities}, got used to dark circles {and bad hair days =)}, etc.
I always forget about how much work it takes to make the wilderness home for twelve people for a week.  On top of that, close proximity bring out the inner man in all of us and ….. well, needless to say, Dad calls it a sanctifying experience.  It requires extra grace to overlook attitudes which result from long nights and little sleep.  It takes extra patience and longsuffering when spending long days in the car together.  We have learned that each of us have to make a choice; if everyone determines that they are going to do whatever it takes to love others, then camping trips can be really fun!  We see them not only as a family vacation, but a growing opportunity to learn vital life lessons on serving others.  We are not perfect and we certainly don’t have this down completely, but by God’s grace, I can look back over the years and say that each camping trip we have taken gets better than the one before!
As I sit here, sipping my coffee {you knew it, didn’t you?} and sorting through the pictures, I am reminded of the wonderful opportunity God gave us to spend time together before Joshua started his final year of Nursing School. {YAY!!}  He’s hoping to be able to get out of school one more time in September and join us for a week down in North Carolina . . . but that’s a story for another day — or should I say, a post for another day :) — so for now, just sit tight and enjoy glimpses of our week together in Va Beach.  {O, and did I mention that on the way home we visited dear friends who we hadn’t seen in a year??? SUPER PUMPED!!}
Camp Life . . .
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 Traveling in the Car . . .

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 Sightseeing . . . .

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Eating lunch near the naval base and watching the planes overhead!

Eating lunch near the naval base and watching the planes overhead!

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The camera happened to snap this just as a lightening flash tore across the sky . . . the streak in the center of the picture is how the camera lens interpreted the lightening!

The camera happened to snap this just as a lightening flash tore across the sky . . . the streak in the center of the picture is how the camera lens interpreted the lightening!

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Swimming . . .

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He wanted to go out in the waves with all the big kids . . . until one knocked him over!  He came running back for shore :)

He wanted to go out in the waves with all the big kids . . . until one knocked him over! He came running back for shore :)

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Some of us got a little serious over diving  . . .

Some of us got a little serious over diving . . .

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 Riding the Ferry . . .

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Nature and Animal Life . . .

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Other Snapshots . . .

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Having Brunch out one morning was a treat!

Having Brunch out one morning was a treat!

Wawa was our favorite go-to for coffee and soft pretzels!

Wawa was our favorite go-to for coffee and soft pretzels!

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We had interesting lunches one day . . . !

We had interesting lunches one day . . . !

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And, one of our favorites-of-all-times . . .
Stopping and seeing our dear friends, the Wilson Family!

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Playing a fun round of Train Wreck!!

Playing a fun round of Train Wreck!!

The funniest snapshot of the week? . . .
WE MADE IT!!!!

WE MADE IT!!!!