Sunday, July 31, 2016

Service, Goodbyes, Basketball, and VBS!

Since we have been back from Nashville we have been so busy.  Summer is truly my favorite time of year and I cann't believe school starts next week.
All three of the Robinson kids have served in the Nurture program at church.  This program has blessed us all so much and these little ones we have served have been such fun.  Love this picture of Dave!
Last weekend we were able to spend some time in Gatlinburg for a basketball tournament.  Kyle loved playing with this group of guys and the competition was stiff!  Check out the size difference between Kyle and the kid he was guarding!  Ha! Kyle adores basketball.  Teams were there from all over the north and southeast and it was a great experience for Kyle.
Our hotel was only one block off of the main drag in Gatlinburg yet a cute little bear made an appearance each morning.  I kept wondering where his Momma was!
Hope has continued her piano lessons this summer with the amazing Mrs. Melody!  Hope was learning the blues scale this week so Mrs. Melody thought she needed to be in costume-cutest little blues player ever!
We came back from our Gatlinburg trip and jumped right into a busy week of Vacation Bible School at church.  I LOVE VBS and I had a great week with our middle school youth.  The first night we went to the community garden to help mulch and weed the garden, Tuesday night we went to a member of the church's home to have a cookout and play GaGa ball, and Wednesday night we hiked at Hungry Mother.
While I was with the middle schoolers, Hope stayed back at the church and did her rotations with her class.  This girl loves bible school as much as I do and had a blast with her friends.  Our theme was Cave Quest-finding Jesus the light of the World!
Thursday night was a special night of VBS for the middle schoolers, because we spent our time after our bible study baking lots of cookies for our local law enforcement.  We delivered them to our local sheriffs office and police station and prayed with the officers.  It showed our youth that simple acts of kindness done in love are so appreciated and that as followers of Jesus we must show love to others.  David's dear friend Sam happen to be at the station with his Dad who is a deputy when we came by!
This past weekend we were able to meet up with our friend, Morgan from West Virginia.  Kyle and I met her on the mission trip to Nashville and she was coming through Wytheville on her way home from the beach and we were able to meet up with her for lunch.  David was of course all up in Kyle's business and was the entertainment during lunch!
This morning in worship our children sang some of their VBS songs for the congregation.  Love seeing my girl singing!
Tonight was a special service at church led by our youth celebrating a huge summer of service.  Here is Kyle reading Acts 4:13 which was the scripture for our summer mission trip.  It was a great time to hear from our youth how their service has blessed them this summer.  Between our Nashville mission trip and our summer Nurture program, our youth completed 1.023 hours of service here in Marion and in Nashville.  I am so incredibly proud of their servant hearts and I adore everyone of them.  My heart overflows....
The big news in our house is that this past Friday was Mike's last day as Superintendent of Smyth County Schools.  The staff had an amazing lunch for him last week which we all got to attend.  It has been such a bittersweet goodbye.
Mike knows he has made the best decision for our family, yet he loves his work and loves his co-workers which makes for a hard goodbye.  Here he is with his chili trophy for winning the chili cookoff two years ago!  We are excited for this new chapter in our lives with Mike having a little les public job and hopefully more time home with us.  At his luncheon he told his staff that it ultimately came down to his kids and that they are his legacy.  I married a good one that is for sure! 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Nashville Week of Hope 2016

Kyle and I are home after an amazing (yet with moments of high drama) week long mission trip in Nashville.  We were stretched this week by God in LOTS of ways and I am sitting here smiling thinking of the memories we have made, the service we were blessed to get to do, and the time to focus on our relationship with Jesus. There is nothing like traveling to a new place with our youth to experience the community and to serve.
Here is our group on the front steps of Trinity United Methodist Church in downtown Nashville.  The neighborhood we were in was ROUGH.  We did not let our youth go outside after dark, and we took their safety very seriously. We stayed in a historic church that was built in the 1800's.  It was pretty and brick but it was old which meant no central air, very few electrical sockets, and quirks.  We could not plug anything in on the floor we slept on because it would blow the electrical which meant the air condition window units would shut off, so the kids had to plug their phones in downstairs!  HA!
this youth leader/princess showered in this outdoor shower.  Yes, it was a garden hose shower outside. We took cold garden hose showers all week long.  Like I said, God stretched us all this week!  I was so far out of my comfort zone showering outdoors in a rough neighborhood at 6 a.m. each morning.
I love seeing our youth serve and here is Kyle serving breakfast with his crew.  We were put in crews with youth and adults we did not know and sent to service areas.  Kyle and his crew served at a nursing home.  Again God really stretched us this week!!!!
Pardon my no makeup mission trip crazy hair, but here I am with a beautiful girl from Syria.  I was blessed with the opportunity to volunteer all week at Nations Ministry Center which serves refugees in Nashville.  We were honored to read with them and to help them do Lexia on the computer to improve their English.  This experience opened my eyes to the plight of refugees and how we should respond as followers of Jesus.
This is a beautiful girl from Syria.  Because of ISIS and the Civil War, many are having to leave.  This beauty and her family have been in in a refugee camp in Jordan while they did the three year background check and vetting process to get refugee status to come to America.  I am not clear why people fear refugees families, because this girl and her family went through a long and tedious screening to get to come here.  Her parents are hard working and want to raise their children in a safe and amazing country like ours. She has only been here a few weeks and and speaks very little english.  We did a computer program called LexiaCore to help her learn english so she can start high school in a few weeks.  Refugees that have been in the refugee camps have had a year or several that they have been out of school due to wars and persecution.
My pictures are totally out of order, but one night at chapel/program, the youth were invited to visit different stations around the room to learn about Jesus.  It was a wonderful way to experience who God is.  It was very powerful and here was my favorite station.  We all have identity because of Jesus.  We all got to stamp our fingerprint on this piece of paper to remind us that we may be different but we all are welcome in the family of God.
I spent a lot of time at the refugee center learning about the crisis of refugees in our world.  It is heartbreaking to know that children are enduring death, war, persecution, all over the world yet seeing their smiles and hearing their laughter overwhelmed me.
Camp food was TERIBLE.  I am not a picky eater and I even thought it was terrible.  Food was bad and portions were small.  Tuesday evening was our free night and we went to Opry Mills and had real food.  I was sitting at a table with six others and this was our appetizer.  We ate it all and then our dinners!! HA!
Tuesday night at Opry Mills was such fun!!
We were so blessed because we were able to go to the movies with the children from Nations Ministry Refugee Center.  Movies are a great way to teach English and we saw Curious George at the $1 movie time.  Look how beautiful these children are!

So Nashville was not without its drama.  Apparently the first night we were asleep in the church and some local drunk started throwing beer bottles at the church vans! Ours was not bothered thank goodness, but it opened our eyes to the danger of the neighborhood and we were strict with our youth.  Then we had two students in our youth group that had to go to the ER via ambulance due to exposure and ingestion of Flash Bang which is a super dangerous hot pepper sauce.  It was scary and could have been way worse, but I never want to chase an ambulance with two of our youth in it again.  We all learned some lessons about making good decisions this week!

In the afternoons at the refugee center a large group of children from Burma came to the center.  These children have been in America for 1-3 years and they are mostly all christian families that are escaping religious persecution by the Burmese government in their country.  Here I am wth a little girl from Burma.  She reads on grade level now due to the AMAZING work Nations Ministry provides to these families in Nashville.
Apprently our youth jumped on the pokemon go bandwagon this week and this was my response when youth asked me to take them pokemon hunting.
These beautiful boys are from Burma and during book time they wanted to read their children's bibles.  I was reading with them and realized these kids know about Jesus and know his word so well.  Our children born and bred here in USA should take note!  What a blessing to sit with these beautiful children and hear them tell me about their favorite stores about Jesus with their gorgeous accents.  It blows my mind that people here in American are so resistant to refugees coming to their cities when 51 percent of refugees are beautiful children likes these boys?!
I spent the entire week at the refugee center with these great people.  At first I was freaked out to lead and supervise youth I do not know, but it was such a blessing! Again working with a crew of kids I did not know (except for Corbin) was a stretch for me!
Here is Kyle with his crew!  He did not love his placement at all but God put him where he needed him and Kyle was stretched to serve at a nursing home.
We all made great friendships with new friends and had a blast making memories with our own church friends.  Here is Kyle giving a hug or a handshake to one of his crew mates this morning as we were leaving.  My boy is growing up! 

This princess was stretched and a few times extremely stressed this week.  But at the end of the week, I am praising God for the memories we made, the laughs we shared until we were crying, the bible devotions we had, and the opportunity to serve in Nashville.  We had three youth committ their lives to Christ on this trip and that is why I will say Nashville Week of Hope 2016 was AMAZING!!!!  May we continue to remember that because of Jesus we are ordinary people able to do extraordinary things in His name.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Nashville 2K16

We are loving our Nashville trip!! We are hot, we are soooooo far out of our comfort zones in terms of showers, crews, and our facility but we are growing and learning.

Last night at opening program we received our crew assignments.  The whole planning process we were told that youth would be able to choose their work assignments and amazingly last night the youth (and adults)  handled it beautifully when they were divided up and had no imput at all over their assignment!  We have some youth and some chaperones that are in a group with no one they know.  

Today we all divided up and went to our service sites for the first time.  Some went to Boys and Girls club type of places, Kyle, went to a nursing home, some went to a Habitat Store to help, Kim got the only physical labor and she went to an elderly woman's home and did yard work.  I was blessed with the opportunity to go to a refugee center and work with children assisting them with their literacy skills and reading.  This gal was in heaven!!!!!!!!!

So lets discuss the shower situation.  Only for Jesus would I go to a shower tent outside and shower using a gardeen hose!  It is freezing but it is so blasted hot here that it is refreshing.  This princess has had to dig DEEP but for the chance to meet these refugee children and learn about them made it all worthwhile.  We are here to serve but let it be known we are the ones being blessed.  The shower was interesting enough and then add that one of our darling youth decided to turn the water off while I was shampooing my hair made for an extra shower adventure!  HA! 

I am too tired to blog more but just know that we are great despite being soooooo far out of our comfort zones.  Be proud of your youth-they are representing Jesus so well here in Nashville.  Good night from Nashville! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Celebrating #12

I think every parent would say their child's birthday is bitter sweet because we love watching them celebrate, but it breaks out hearts how fast the years are ticking by.  David's birthday brings out a slew of emotions for me because there were days during his treatment I wondered if he would make it to his 9th birthday, and today we celebrated #12.  

If you follow me on instagram or facebook you know that Dave celebrated his birthday yesterday by giving himself a haircut to look like Steph Curry!  Ha!  We got it fixed last night at the hair salon and we had the talk that only Mrs. Victoria can use the scissors on his hair.  After the drama of yesterday,  today was the day we got to celebrate with his three best friends, Zane, Ethan and Sam.

 Dave's only request was to go with his siblings and his three bff's to Just Jump which is a trampoline park. They had a blast and this Momma was so blessed to sit and watch him just be a normal boy hanging with his dudes.
 They jumped, dunked, and had a blast at the trampoline park!
 Even big brother Kyle had a great time!

 This picture blesses my heart because the friendship between these boys makes me smile.  They love David and David adores them.  They have his back yet they do not treat him different because of his Down Syndrome.  My eyes got misty several times today listening to them interact and talk sports, girls and food.  If you ever wonder if full inclusion works, come spend some time with Dave and his buddies.  You will be amazed.
 Ethan and Sam perfected their flip today and I happen to catch this epic picture of them mid-air!  I had a blast with these boys and my own kids today.
 Dave had a blast.
 After jumping for a while we went to Olive Garden to catch up on their carbs!  Ha!  This group hit the breadsticks pretty hard!
David got this beautful chocolate lasagna cake for his birthday dessert and he was so happy!  PIzza, salad and chocolate are all David's favorites and we got them all at one place.  

This is the smile that I will never forget.  This is the smile of one of the coolest, most amazing, hilarious, mischevious, and Jesus loving children around.  As we said grace around the table today before David's birthday meal, I had to fight back tears.  God blessed our lives 12 years ago by giving us this child.  He has taught us how to really live, love, survive, and bless others along the way.

Big David, Happy Birthday!  We are all so thankful you are in our lives.  You make us see the world more clearly and that is a life that is focused on God.  You makes us all laugh and I am so thankful God gave us you.  When I held you as a newborn in the hospital 12 years ago as a shocked and scared Mommy I never dreamed the ride you were going to take us on.  I am so thankful for you buddy-you make me see God everyday and you taught us how to live, really live.  My heart overflows....

Monday, July 4, 2016

Celebrating Life Changes!!

We just returned from our extended family vacation on a Carnival Cruise out of Charleston SC to the Bahamas.  The timing could not have been more perfect because right before we left for our trip Mike announced his job change!!  Aunt Garnet and Adam also vacationed with us but not Uncle Gary because he had to stay home and settle his business situation with his oil company. We missed Uncle Gary but thanks to his business deal he too will soon get to have more family time himself.  God has blessed our families for sure and the timing of this trip was perfect.
Here is our boat as we were getting ready to load up!
It was hot hot hot on the boat but we certainly had a wonderful time!Time away as a family is priceless and we had lots of time together.   We realized how much our kids have grown in a year because it was even tighter quarters in our stateroom!  Ha!
This picture makes me smile!  Here is our cancer warrior Dave with his Pops who is almost finished with his chemo treatments. Amazingly he packed his chemo in his suitcase and he took it while we were vacationing.
We all took lots of naps while cruising.  The rocking of the boat makes us all sleep like babies!
On our day in the Bahamas, we split up.  Mike, Kyle, Adam and Garnet headed to Atlantis for a day of big waterslides and water fun.  The rest of us went to the beach and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and gorgeous water.  We all got WAY too much sun and it was super hot, but it was such fun.
These two had a blast!  Dave is too chicken for the water slides at Atlantis and Hope is too small for them yet.  They had a a great time swimming and snorkeling at the beach.
It looks like a pool, but this is the ocean water.
So we also got to meet this really official and really nice security officer for the Bahamas.  Apparently when you leave the ship now you have to not only have your Carnival card but a photo ID.  I missed that memo and left the ship with only my Carnival card!  Well, it was time to return to the ship (to eat of course) and because I did not have my card this dude had to escort us!  Ha!  I took a picture to show Mike and Kyle because I did not think they would believe me!
Sunsets on a cruise ship are so beautiful!  GG and Dave were the only wo that would pose for me!

We all loved the family friendly comedy shows at night, all the yummy food, the candy store, frozen virgin daquiris, chocolate melting cake,  and the 24-7 ice cream machine! I treasure any memories we are able to make as a family because time is certainly flying by oh so fast.
Of course the night we chose to attempt a family picture the wind is blowing 35 mph, but here is our attempt at a family picture on the elegant night.

Last night we celebrated David's birthday on the boat and they waiters were sweet enough to sing to him at dinner. 

The weather, company, and trip was amazing!  We praise God for time together away from the craziness of life and for allowing us this time together to relax.  We are thankful that Pops and GG were on board with us and that Adam and Garnet were able to come with us as well.  We give God all the glory for blessing our families with big changes and new opportunities.We know that every good and perfect thing comes from above. 

Now I must find some aloe and throw another load of laundry in!