Sunday, July 23, 2017

Our Week in Charleston

I have had on my "to do" for days now to blog about our mission trip week in Charleston.  I have amazing pictures to share and we certainly had a wonderful time, but after such a spiritual experience it is so hard to put into words how God showed up for all 47 of us. After listening to our youth share their experience in Charleston in worship this morning, I knew I was finally read to put it into words. 

Youth ministry is not easy.  At all.  But I feel like this is exactly where God has called me to be for this season of my life.  I love these kids and I feel so privileged to get a front row seat to what God is doing in their lives.
This was  David's first ever mission trip.  Here he is with Miss Mary -our church host.  She prayed with me several times over the phone before we arrived, prayed and met with our group each night after worship and she was awesome!!  She is also a talented worship leader and key board player:) David was able to go becaue Mike was able to take a week's vacation and go as well!  Last year Mike could not go because he was transitioning to his new job and I remember his coworkers told me that last year he was annoyed he was not with us.  Well this year Mike was on the trip!!!!!

This picture makes my heart leap for joy.  We never planned for Hope to go on this trip but God had a different plan and it was amazing to watch her little 8 year old heart worship and serve God.  We had two complete families with us and it was awesome.  These three girls under the age of 12 handled the late nights and very early mornings like seasoned pros.  Their bibles were open, their hearts were huge and they served God like the big kids.  She and I served at a daycamp in Charleston and we had such fun with the toddlers in the morning and the elementary kids in the afternoon.

This picture also touches my Momma heart.  Hope adores Kyle and looks up to him so much.  She loves basketball like Kyle.  She loves Lebron James because of Kyle and my prayer is that her brother will take advantage of her devotion and teach her about Jesus and serving others.  Kyle served at an apartment complex.  They offered kids in the housing projects a safe place to come and play games and connect with them in order to teach them about God.  Kyle's site was outside in the heat all day long.  





Each night we had worship with an amazing band and then a pastor would come preach.  It blessed my heart to see youth with their bibles open following along.  Hope forgot her bible one night and she asked Mike to find the scripture on his phone so she could follow along.
Joshua 24:15 says "as for me and my family we will serve the Lord" and I hope our children know that we are not perfect parents (way far from it) but we love them and we love our Lord.  It was such a blessing to serve together.  We as a family will forever have precious Charleston memories tucked in our hearts.
It was hot in Charleston and one day we were given a free afternoon to do something together as a group.We thought we would go to the beach with the kids during our 3.5 hours of free time to relax .  Well.... the kids had served so well and were so hot and tired they chose to stay on campus and nap, eat at a nearby mall, or swim.  I was such a proud youth leader that they realized this trip was about serving and not about playing on the beach.  I joked that even the pool was hot in Charleston!  We are mountain people and we are not used to the humidity and heat!
Hope corraling toddlers...
I felt so blessed that me and my girl got to spend the week together serving toddlers in Charleston.  I looked over one day and watched Hope put her little girl down for a nap and I almost starting weeping.  She talked so sweetly to her as she covered her up with her blanket and patted her back until she was asleep.

This trip was very emotional for this youth leader.  One night we had prayer stations placed around this beautiful reflecting pond outside of the chapel.  The youth had to write on the prayer wall who had helped them grow in their faith and also who they were praying for.  I allowed the youth to pray first and then I stepped up with Hope to write my names down of who had encouraged my faith along the way.  I then saw that several of our youth had written my name down.  I am teary now writing this.  I came undone.  Like snot flying kind of undone.

 To think that some of our youth put my name down as someone who has pointed them to Christ overwhelmed me.  No matter how much money we will ever make, what size house we have, what cars we  drive or what my bank statement says is nothing compared to seeing my name down on a prayer wall in sticky Charleston SC written by teeangers with colorful sharpies.  It made me realize that God has me right where he wants me.  Youth ministry is not glamourous, profitable or even easy but it is worth every single minute when you can show teens that in the middle of this crazy life there is a savior who is desperate to spend time with them.

This ole gal is not perfect and i have certainly had my fair share of screwups and made some bad decisions, but when I was 19 years old Jesus got a hold of me.  I got saved on a Sunday night at Calvary Baptist Church in Radford.  Since then life has thrown me some curve balls but I know who I belong to.  I desperately want our youth to see that I am not perfect but my Jesus is.  I am not always  faithful to Him but he is.  This song I got Saved is my new favorite song. It so perfectly sums up my night with Jesus back in 1995 ( I think).  I love the line "I've got Jesus how could I want more."  I want these youth to know that true success in life has nothing at all to do with world possessions but has to do with living a life that honors God and serves Him well.



Now you understand why it took me so long to blog about this trip.  This gal went there to show teens how to serve but got humbled when they made me remember that my job not to plan amazing outings. or feed them a lot, or all the other things that distract me in youth ministry.  My single and solitary job is to point them to God and let Him do the rest.  He is after all desperate to spend time with us all.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Hikes,Hoops and Hope

Summer of 2017 has so far been so great that it has flown by!!  I am so thankful for summer because it gives us a chance to slow down (just a little) and take advantage of extra time together.  We love summer in our household! 

One of the awesome things we have done is take a sunset hike with the youth to Molly's Knob.  For you not so local folk, this is a HARD hike but has a view that makes it all worthwhile.  We left the church at 7 and we knew we had to be at the top by 8:15 to see the sun setting.  Talk about pressure because the hike is hard and the last .4 miles is STRAIGHT up.  Kyle hiked with me the whole time and he literally pushed me a few times to "encourage" me!

See I told you the view was totally worth the TORTURE to get to the top.  It was truly breathtaking!

Another joy of the summer has been watching our youth and my own kiddos serve at church through the Nurture program.  We were blessed this year and received a grant to fund this! I wrote the grant NEVER dreaming it would come through.  This program gives us the chance to serve children and it gives our youth a chance to serve in a tangible way in our community. Each child leaves each week with two new books and a backpack of food.  It exhausts me but it is totally worth it!

One of the joys of the summer has been watchng our high school basketball teams play in a summer league and attend two team camps together.  It amazes me that these coaches (who do not receive a coaching stipend until the season begins) organize and play ball to get ready for the season and to help the kids.  So far between summer league and team camps these boys have already played in 18 games with more on the schedule!  That is almost an entire season in three short weeks.  Our Kyle certainly has loved every single minute of it!  This summer he has played varisty and despite being extremely nervous the first two games he is doing well.
This red head keeps us laughing and was certainly entertaining us all at Hope's birthday lunch.  He is almost 13!!  I cannot wrap my head around that yet.

Pops and GG came down this past week to spend the day with us for Hope's birthday.  While GG was inside helping Hope learn her new piano piece, Pops was outside teaching Kyle how to change the oil in the golf cart.  Today being Father's Day I have to just say that God blessed me when he chose Guy Gilmore to be my Dad.  He may love to yell at referees, he may have a week bit of road rage at times, and he maybe the most accident prone person in America, but he is my Daddy and he rocks.  He is the most loyal and kind person around.  He loves Jesus and he is always there for us.

Today also being Father's Dad I cannot miss an opportunity to wish Mike a Happy Father's Day!  He sacrifices for all of us and we are so thankful for him!  He puts his family first every.single. day and he makes sure we all know "to do the right thing."

My pictures are out of order again, but Kyle's high school coach's wife captured this precious picture of Kyle with their son before one of our many games!  This little guy is a baller and he has been asked to be on Team  Xplosion for next year.  It is so cool that Kyle and this little guy will be playing for the same organization next year.
This is how summer 2017 has been treating us thus far!  We certainly love our pool time as well.

This little love turned 8 last week!  8!  How can this be?  It seems the baby of the family grows up quicker than the rest.  This little girl loves to serve the Lord and others, loves her some hoops as well, and loves the piano and good food.  She keeps us all organized and she is my right hand and best friend.  We are so thankful that God chose us to parent this girl.  May she always do what it right, love and serve others, and stay close to Jesus!  We love baby girl!
Captured this sweet moment of Pops showing Hope a new trick on her string-crows feet!  I am so thankful that summer allows us whole days with GG and Pops,learning new tricks and new life skills.  We are blessed buy busy this summer!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Lessons from the Garden

One of the joys of Summer of 2017 has been the addition of our garden. We have been blessed to be part of the Homegrown program through our local community garden, Sprouting Hope.  I have wanted to garden for so long but just had no clue where to start.  Thankfully Robert through Sprouting Hope has been a patient and kind garden mentor to me and has taught me so much.  I knew I would enjoy the harvest of a garden, but I never dreamed that I would enjoy the journey so much.  There is something so fulfilling and therapeutic about digging in the dirt and working hard to feed your family in a healthy and organic way.

Here are my bunching onions and I actually harvested one tonight to use in my dinner.

Today Robert came to visit our garden as he does often to check in with us and to give us advice on how to keep the garden healthy.  Today he brought Candace from Grow Appalachia through Berea College in Kentucky who is a supporter financially to this program and Sprouting Hope.  She has a wealth of knowledge on organic gardening and she helped me so much today!  I am just so thankful for this opportunity to learn how to grow healthy and organic food for my family.  Having a child that had cancer has made me think of the environmental links to cancer and if I can help us be healthier with homegrown food, I am super thankful.
Here are my healthy and beautiful squash plants !  Tonight I gave the soil a shot of nitrogen using fish emulsion.  I planted my plants and seeds directly into compost that had chicken manure in it and now weeks later I gave it a fresh shot of nitrogen through fish emulsion.  Organic gardening is amazing but it certainly has some strong smells to it:)
Our potato plants that Dave and Hope planted themselves!  They are so proud of them.  We are fighting some annoying flea beetles on the potato plants but Robert has a safe and organic plan to get rid of those nasty things.  Notice also we planted marigolds around the border of our garden and we have a fence!! We have lots and lots and lots of bunnies and deer here on the golf course.  We want to feed our family and share with the community-not provide an all-you-can eat midnight buffet to the animals!
The garden has provided lots of family time as we have worked together to start from scratch.  Kyle helped us hoe the mounds in place for planting and he helped with the fence, David and Hope helped hoe and also planted all of our potatoes and some tomatoes.  Mike was the chief fence maker because by that point I was sunburned and exhausted!  I want my children to learn how to garden and to see the benefits of working hard for something so worthwhile.
My precious potato planters!

God has also used this garden to remind me of some solid biblical truths as I have spent hours and hours in the garden.  I was so proud of my bushy and lush tomato plants during one of Robert's visits.  He started pruning away all that beauty and I kind of sort of freaked out.  He took my full plants and made them look weak and thin.  He explained to me that we must prune well and often to keep the energy going to the produce not to useless stems which many around here call "suckers."

Then this past Sunday the pastor did a wonderful sermon on pruning using the scripture from John.

I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, bears much fruit.  For apart from me you can do notihing.  If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered and thrown into the fire and burned. 
John 15:5-6

That is so like God to use my tomato plants aw a great reminder to stay close to him. My life's ambition is to stay close to God and let Him use my life to bear much fruit for His Kingdom.  It is not all about me sitting around and looking all full and beautiful.  It is about me being pruned and used for His glory.  

I want my life to be used to point others to Christ.  I want to help the least and the lost.  I want to work hard to make my community stronger through volunteering and serving.  I want to use my garden to bless others less fortunate than us with fresh and healthy food.  I want to be a good wife and teach my children to Serve God and serve others all the days of their life.  I do not want to be a full plant that exists for my beauty but a pruned plant that produces fruit for Him.  

It is amazing that six rows of vegetables can teach us show much Godly wisdom.  Only God can use my tomato plants to remind me to point others to Him and to love my neighbor.  May I strive to be one of those pruned plants that produces much harvest!  

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Faith, Fish, and Ministry

Summer 2017 has certainly been treating us right so far.  Mike has been very busy as Mr. Little League president but he has done a great job this season.  Youth ministry at the church is up and running with summer activities which has me hopping!  Last Wednesday was our first Nurture program for the summer.  The youth do an amazing job ministering to these little kiddos that come to our summer program.  We laughed so hard last week watching Kyle chasing one live wire around keeping up with him.

I want my own kiddos and our youth to spend time over the summer serving in our community.  Youth ministry keeps us very busy over the summer but I love witnessing these kids serve in our various church programs over the summer.  This summer we have nurture program for children ages 2-7 that focuses on literacy and feeding.  This upcoming week we also have a camp in the community for children ages K-8.  Hope will be a camper and Kyle will be one of the counselors.

This past weekend we spent the day on Pops boat with the family at Claytor Lake.  The weather was gorgeous!! These cuties had a fishing competition.  Dave would switch teammates depending on who was winning

We are so thankful for family days!  GG and Pops have had a rough go of it lately caretaking for my grandmother and trying to get GG's kneecap healed.  Happy they are finally able to have a little fun.

Friday night the youth had a cookout at the McCall's house and we had so much fun!  Youth ministry is not easy.  Ministry in general is hard which I was not prepared for when I accepted this position.  I often give the pastor a hard time for not warning me how hard it was going to be!  Ha!  But sitting around the campfire with some amazing youth talking about God's word and seeing them choose to attend a church event on a Friday day blessed me and reminded me why this job is so important.
Hope and David both loved every bite of their smores!
We are so thankful for Andy and Teri McCall-they are the most gracious and generous hosts ever.  They house and land are gorgeous and we had picture perfect weather.  Teri and I work together and have a great time.
A gorgeous sunset made the night just perfect.
Youth ministry is never something I would have thought I would do. This ministry is testament to the fact that God has the final say how he uses us.  We had seen God so visibly provide for our every need during the dark days of David's treatment that I told God I was his and use me as he needed me.  A year later God sent me (and therefore my family) to youth ministry. It is hard, so very hard, but nothing is more important than pointing kids to Christ,

We are enjoying every moment of Summer 2017!!!

Monday, May 29, 2017

May Madness

After a crazy few weeks this Momma is breathing a sigh of relief that life has finally settled down some.  May is wonderful but I think any Mom would agree that it is beautiful and brutal all at the same time.  I will add that our May has been way less stressful since Mike's job change!  I will never stop praising God for blessing us all with a different job for Mike.

One of the blessings of May was a Challenger "away" game hosted by Bristol Challenger league.  They invited us down for a double header game and we had a great time considering how hot it was!  Here are our Marion Challenger players!  These kids bless my heart and watching them have fun playing ball made it all worth while.
I ran across a tweet last week that made me laugh because it is so true.  It said "If you do not want to be criticized, don't lead or start something new."  This has been a challenging year for Challenger because Mike has been little league president, the rain has been relentless and we have had a hard time getting our games in.  Despite the challenges this season, watching these kids play ball has made it all worthwhile.
Challenger is a family affair for us and that hot day in Bristol watching our kids take the field for their first ever "away" game was awesome!
These kids teach us all what matters most in life and love, acceptance, sportsmanship, and fun are at the heart of every Challenger game.  Here is Miss Emily with her new friend from Bristol!
We also celebrated the last day of school with a boat ride and tubing at Claytor Lake per our tradition.  We have never gotten out this early but thanks to a mild winter we said hello summer on May 19th this year!
We also enjoyed lots of tennis as Kyle ended the regular season as #2 seed for MSHS tennis team and played in the conference tournament.  Kyle had a great season as a freshman!
Thanks to Sarah Martin we got some amazing tennis pictures!  Their season ended when they lost to Galax in the conference tournament at the indoor facility at Virginia Tech.
We as a family have worked so hard in our new garden and it is finally all planted and has a fence up to keep out deer and rabbits.  We have learned so much, gotten a few sunburns and we are so excited to check our garden each day for changes.  I am surprised at how much joy this little garden has brought to our family.  We have chatted with neighbors who have stopped by to check our progress, and we have learned from them.  This has been a blessing for us all.

After a busy week of MSHS basketball camp for all three of our kids, we loaded up and headed to Charlotte for a big weekend of Big Shots basketball. We styaed downtown with the team and it was a great weekend of basketball.  This team has been a blessing for Kyle.  He adores his coaches, he loves his teammates, and we are having fun traveling and cheering these guys on against some stiff competition.
This weekend we lost in the championship game.  It was rough and Kyle came away from the game scratched up after another player scratched and pinched him the entire game.  The refs never saw it of course, but I was so frustrated that I started yelling Michelle Obama quotes!!  Crazy mom but it is hard to see your baby take abuse play after play and the refs ignore it.  Kyle would not let me take a picture of his arms after the game but I did yell "play with class, when they go low we go high!"  Mike even yelled at the refs which he rarely does!  Hilarious memories for sure! We had gone to church between games at Elevation church down the street from the gym.  The refs made some horrible calls but I could not yell at them after leaving church so I said very loudly "I strongly disagree with that questionable call!"  I will forever laugh when I think about that championship game!

Kyle is learning that he can play against anyone in the gym, class matters, play tough because refs ignore half the blatant fouls, the game is fast and hard work pays off.  This past weekend was the hardest competition we have seen all season.  These guys were fast and physical.

God has blessed Kyle with lots of great coaches in his life and Coach Kevin is one we are truly thankful for.  He is invested in these kids basketball lives but he is also trying to train them to be men.  Two little darlings broke curfew and visited a diner down the street from the hotel late night and when coach found out about it, both the 9th and 10th grade team had to run in the parking lot.  After their game. In the heat, In front of everybody.  I bet those boys wont break curfew again!

It is starting to sort of feel like summer.  We are thankful the May madness is behind us and we can focus on our little garden, read good books, work on this house, and finish the Little League baseball season.  Welcome summer 2017!!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day

After returning from Chicago we as a family hit the ground running.  It has been an incredibly busy and challenging week.  God is teaching us lots of life lessons and we are so thankful even if the lessons hurt a little bit.

This little lady was invovled in a musical at church called It's Cool in the Furnace based on the bible story of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and Daniel.  The show was really amazing!

We are learning with Hope that there are things like piano and basketball that are in her comfort zones.  Solos in musicals and dancing at a dance are way out of her comfort zone.
I do love seeing her little smile and I love that she is growing up in a church with lots of opportunities for kids to learn and grow in their faith.

On Friday not only did we pull of a Mother's Day Tea at preschool (thank you Christy)  but with the help of Teri at church we pulled off the first ever Daddy Daughter Dance at FUMC.  Here is Hope with her Daddy:)  Check out the chandelier behind them made by Teri-it is hula hoops, white duck tape, and christmas lights.  It was so pretty!! We served the couples dinner and then opened the dance floor for lots and lots of dancing!  Our church fellowship hall was ROCKING! For desssert we also set up a milk and cookie bar!  
Our little lady was not up for dancing but she did dance for a few special people including her brother.  Our youth worked this event to raise money for their mission trip.  It was really a fun night!  I will admit that after pulling off those two events on Friday I did not leave the couch Saturday!  Ha!  This gal is getting old.
Today is Mother's Day and I have enjoyed a special day with my people.  We met my parents for dinner to celebrate Mothers Day.  My Mom and I are very different-she is way girly and "fru fru" and I live for jeans and my Jesus shirts.  She is a shopper and I try to be but I am soooo not.  She always looks put together with matching jewelry and lets just say I try.  Sometime I will blog about the Sabika jewelry story at the alligator farm!  She is a riot!

My Mom has dealt gracefully with a few hard hands she and my Dad have been dealt lately.  My Mom is still healing from a nasty fall she took after Christmas and she and my Dad caretake on a daily basis my grandmother who can be a wee bit of a challenge.  Bless her.

I also find it ironic and a God thing that in my life that days that I have received the two hardest pieces of news which included the day David was diagnosed with Down Syndrome and and the day he was diagnosed with cancer my Mom was with me.  Both times.  I will never forget coming home from the ER to pack a bag for an extended time period at UVA while waiting on the ambulance to transport me and Dave to UVA and my Mom was here.  She felt as helpless as I did and I am sure that was torture for her to stay back but she did.  It is ironic that my Mom has been here with me through the hardest times-not sure why God designed it that way but it is something I will never forget.  She is tougher than her tiny and bony frame shows!  She and my Dad both exude grace when times are hard.  Happy Mother's Day you sabika jewelry-wearing, days of our lives watching, Jesus loving, momma!!!

This post is out of order again but here is the song that the Daddies and Daughers dance their first dance to.  It is my new favorite song and I was introduced to it from one of our clinic nurses at UVA.  I so hope Hope and her Daddy dance to this at her wedding one day.  The lyrics get me everytime.

I wish that I could be your everything
Be the One to give you all the things you need.  
Sometimes I am going to let you down.
But There's the One and if You'll Just believe
He'll be your hero like He's always been for me
Darling Jesus is the one you need.  

As a Mom when one day down the road when I measure how successful my children will be the size of their house, the number of degreees they obtain, or their bank account will not mean much to me.  I will measure their success on how much they love and serve the Lord as well as how deeply they love others around them.  Jesus is the One they need.  Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Chicago!

Oh Chicago how much fun you provided the Robinson family  over the most few days!! We knew
All along that Adidas Select in Chicago was on Team Xplosion schedule but we did not know how awesome it would be for our family schedule! We realized that the boys SOLs would be done and that we could actually go and make a family trip of it!! We of course had to hit all the iconic sports spots in the Windy City and the Yankees were in town!!  We also visited Soldier Stadium and the United Center. 
We were so impressed with how beautiful Lake Michigan is! this beach front was down the road from our team hotel. It was so chilly and windy but so beautiful! I cannot even put into words how thankful we are for family time together where Mike is not tied to his phone and for the opportunities that God has blessed us with.
The Windy City is certainly a beauty with the down town part of the city on the shores of  Lake Michigan. The navy pier was a fun place to explore around even if the wind was brutal! The  Lincoln park zoo was a hit for Hope and her Daddy. We were blessed with early morning games on Saturday which then gifted us the rest of the day to explore and have fun.  
Both the freshman team and Sophomore team played in Chicago this weekend and so Saturday night we had a family dinner downtown for some real Chicago pizza . David was in heaven! 
 
Downtown Chicago after our big team dinner! 
I love watching some basketball and our Xplosion guys did awesome! We went 3-0 but sadly still got  knocked out due to stupid point differential. We could not even be happy for the wins because we got knocked out even though we won the last game by 50 😩😩😩 it does not seem fair especially because a trip to Las Vegas was on the line. I kept looking for the tournament director to discuss this with him but Mike felt that was not in my best interest! Ha!  I am thankful for the opportunities that God has given us and I am thankful that we can enjoy time together in a new city to explore. Chicago I think you are awesome but take me home to our beautiful mountains and no traffic or tolls!