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!!!