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!!!!

“Oh no, She’s up!”

           As I jumped out of bed this morning, I had this thought:  What if I was the kind of person that when my feet hit the floor in the morning, the devil said “Oh no, she’s up!”
So often, I wake up and rush into my daily routine without stopping to soak in the Word and spend time with the One who loves me the most.  There is always something to be done, always somewhere to go, always someone to help.  But how can I correctly portray Christ and His love to others if I am not even spending time with Him?
The older I get, the faster life flies.  It’s starting to get absurd.  But I pray that I would not only remember, but desire to seek His face and spend time with Him — one-on-one time that is not cheapened by phone-calls, dishes to wash, laundry to be folded, grass to be mowed, farm chores to be done, meals to prepare, schoolwork to be completed, and recently, blogging to catch up on.  That I wouldn’t be so busy that I pass up the opportunities of giving my younger sister a smile, having an impromptu geography lesson with my younger brother, transferring the laundry for my older brother, having a long-needed talk with my mom or sister, joking with my dad.  Someday I will look back and wish I had put more effort into the little things … because they matter the most.
So, I guess it is a challenge I give not only to myself, but to you to:  Make time for what matters most.  Little things done for others are really big things done for God!
          Here are some pictures from a recent photo shoot with my lovely younger sister, Sophia.  Praise the Lord for my faithful little point-and-shoot!  Can’t wait until my new DSLR camera calls this place home :)

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~ Olivia

 

The Blessing of Giving!

    Recently, I have had the opportunity to spend a few of my weekends helping several young mothers from our small church.  I spent one weekend helping my friend Julie around her farm, shucking corn, getting meals on the table and playing with her children. It was wonderful to give of my time to help her! God saw fit to give us beautiful weather. Elijah also accompanied me and helped David, Julie’s husband, by working with his son Landon, cutting wood and mending fencing on the farm. We all worked together from mid morning until after dark.
While taking a break that afternoon, the boys had fun tying each other up with baling twine! Elijah let the younger boys tie him up – and they made some serious knots! But, Elijah was able to free himself in a matter of minutes!  (We have yet to find a rope that can conquer his strength. :P )
Below are some pictures of our day!
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A corn doll made from the leftover husks
A corn doll made from the leftover husks.
Liam found a  . . .
Liam found a . . .
Rhinocerous Beetle!
Rhinoceros Beetle!

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Tying up Elijah!
Tying up Elijah!

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~~~
I also had the opportunity to spend four days with another family from church. I spent the time helping them get ready for their two-week trip out to Nevada. I cooked, packed, gave baths, cleaned house, made meals, played with the children, and watched them while their parents were out. We had a lot of fun together and I am so glad I had a camera to capture some of the fun moments! I thank the Lord that I am in good health and have lots of time to help those around me! I am also grateful to the Aquino’s for putting me up during my stay :)

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Cooking the Pastelitos! (A Caribbean food)
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And the finished product! (YUMMY!)

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My friend Jenny Post, who also lives in the same area as the Aquino’s, asked me to stay with her one night since her family was out of town.  (Elijah went with them to New York.  We were quite spread out!)  I helped her with farm chores, hung out with her, and spent the night with her. I did not get any pictures of the wonderful time we had, but after she had left for work the following morning, I went out in the pouring rain and took some pictures of the flowers in the yard and I will share these  :)

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It poured rain for a week!
It poured rain the entire time I was there!

~Elise