Tonight we gathered to celebrate Katey’s graduation from high school. I had anticipated this milestone in Katey’s life for many years but am amazed at how fast it came! The ceremony was sponsored by Arizona Families for Home Education and was a fitting tribute to each student and their families for their hard work in training up children in the nurture and admonition of The Lord. I appreciated the charge given by Congressman Trent Franks to honor The Lord in everything.
As a father, I could not be more proud of Katey as I have been blessed to witness the mighty hand of God at work in her life, especially over the last four years. We made the transition from public schooling to teaching our children at home just four years ago, as Katey was about to begin her freshman year. That decision was met with “Dad, you are RUINING MY LIFE!” as you might imagine. It was tough, just like we expected it to be, but God, in His faithfulness, began to transform her heart almost immediately. He took a 13 year-old girl who was concerned only with being accepted by the world, and brought forth a new creation in Christ Jesus.
Now begins a new path in her life as she seeks opportunities to minister to and serve others during her single years.
Join us as we celebrate His work and His faithfulness in and through Katey.
Last month we had the privilege of attending the annual ATI Family Conference held in Big Sandy, Texas. We look forward to this trip each year as we anticipate solid messages and heartening fellowship with old and new friends alike.
Before I discuss what actually happened at the conference, let me back up to a few days beforehand. We had initially planned to fly ourselves (Dad being the pilot of course) to the conference, but after observing some hazardous weather patterns, decided that might not be the safest choice. So the Saturday before the conference (which started on Tuesday evening), we made last-minute plans to fly commercially to Dallas/Fort Worth then to Longview where we would rent a car and drive to Big Sandy. In accordance with our plan, we boarded a plane *early* Sunday morning. After sitting in a plane on the tarmac for two hours, we were informed that the flight was going to be canceled because of the aforementioned storm. Disappointed, we headed home, not quite sure what to do next. After all, it was too late to drive at this point. A short while later, it was decided that we would fly in our plane to Odessa, TX (which was just outside the wall-of- a-storm) and, well, figure out the rest when we got there! I think we were all just eager to begin our vacation! So we made it to Odessa and, upon weather-watching the following morning, opted to rent a car and drive seven hours to our precious destination.
Praise the Lord, that we arrived safe and sound, and were able to enjoy a wonderful week at the conference! Now enough words! The pictures speak for themselves!
On Monday night, we had the privilege of meeting the Thomas family from Georgia. We enjoyed playing countless rounds of Spoons with the Thomases and the Ciampis (our fellow Arizonan friends). Afterwards we headed to the volleyball court to join the ongoing game before calling it a night. That was definitely the best night of the week for many of us!
It was so sad to leave after an amazing and refreshing week, but we were grateful to have such faithful friends to bid us farewell!
“Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
~ Hebrews 10:25
God gave us a beautiful flight Saturday morning as we made our way to visit the Beasley family in Oklahoma this last weekend.
Shortly after arriving, the girls were able to visit a farm and help feed some of the animals while Mr. Beasley and I went to Ardmore to get fuel. After we returned, Mrs. Beasley treated us to the best brisket sandwich I have ever had.
We spent the afternoon playing volleyball, soccer, and Bible Pictionary. Sunday morning we were blessed to be able to join the Beasleys and five other families in a fellowship gathering. We sang hymns, prayed, and shared thoughts from Scripture. It was so nice to meet everyone!
Unfortunately, we had to make our way back to the airport a bit sooner than expected in order to try and avoid some bad weather that was rolling in. Again, God granted us safety and discernment as we made our way back to Arizona.
Although our time was short, we were greatly blessed by our visit. Thank you, Beasley family!
This home-school year has been a lot of fun when it comes to co-op groups. Three families have joined together to provide different educational and social activities that have been a huge hit with our children. We designated every Wednesday of the month for a different activity.
The first Wednesday of the month is an art class; the second Wednesday is sewing, and the third Wednesday of the month is cooking. I don’t know who is having more fun, the girls or me!
We started our cooking course with a class titled “Preparing for Success in the Kitchen.” They learned all about kitchen first aid, tools and utensils, appliances, the use of knives, cooking terms, common abbreviations, equivalents, and measuring accurately. Then we got into the hands-on cooking classes: “Quick Breads”, “Yeast Breads”, and “Baking Cakes”. They have made Irish soda bread, banana muffins, biscuits, a sweet buttery bunt cake, and red velvet cake. Now c’mon, who wouldn’t like cooking class!
Our most recent class was “Fruits and Vegetables”. The girls learned how to pick ripe fruits and vegetables and how to properly store and freeze them. They were then able to practice different cuts on a variety of fruits and vegetables, from chopping, dicing, and mincing, to roll-cutting, bias cutting, and julienne.
In addition to learning to prep fruits and vegetables, they learned different cooking methods such as baking, boiling, steaming, roasting, blanching, and stir-frying.
We also made garlic and Parmesan roasted green beans, caramelized onions, and baked apples with brown sugar and butter which they got to enjoy at the end of the class with snicker-doodle ice cream. Yumm!
Praise God for the bountiful harvest that He has supplied!
After a successful first run in 2014, the Family Connections team headed on the road again for a 12-week tour across the country. Our family was blessed to be able to host them again this year.
Saturday morning, everyone pitched in to set up chairs and tables, to get the media and music operating, to organize book tables, to warm up food in crockpots for lunch, and to offer praise to God for the work He was doing. Just as the team finished breakfast the guests started arriving.
The Lord brought 53 people for the all-day event. The day was filled with challenging and promising messages to encourage families to stay strong in our Lord Jesus Christ. There was joyful singing, heartfelt prayer, rich fellowship, and lots of food.
There was even a time for the children to have a devotional led by Samuel, Gabriel and Matthew, and then participate in some fun activities outside while the parents had a separate break-out session with David and Priscilla inside. After the event was over, many people gathered in the living room to sing hymns and continue a time of fellowship and spiritual refreshment.
When the guests left, we gathered in the family room and thanked the Lord for making this event possible. We each went around the room and prayed for whatever the Lord laid on our hearts, which included much praise, thanks, intercession, and supplication. We ended the day with a game of Apples to Apples Bible Edition and much laughter. What a wonderful day!
Sunday morning we were blessed to have Gabriel passionately teach us a lesson from Scripture, and then John and Tia announced that they are going to have another baby. We were all so excited, and a few of us cried tears of joy with Tia. After we returned from church, we had a time of rest, more music, fruitful conversations, and a big volleyball game that lasted until dark!
After a devotional on Monday morning, Priscilla, Tia, Lauren and I made the base mix for mint chocolate chip ice cream and put it in the refrigerator to cool for the day. Then we all packed up and headed out for a place called Tortilla Flat. We stopped along the way to hike and take a few pictures.
At the bottom of a big cliff, John, David, and Gabriel found a rattlesnake. They didn’t waste any time converting it into a good snake (a dead one…). John even came back with the rattle. It was quite an adventure and young Paul and Samuel didn’t quite know what to make of it all. We spent the latter half of the afternoon at Tortilla Flat where we had lunch. Then all of us hiked up the side of a mountain, while Kory stayed behind to fly the drone and film our adventures. Samuel and Matthew helped those struggling to make it the top—namely the young children. They went out of their way to keep everyone safe and encouraged. Once at the top, we sang “How Great Thou Art” and marveled at God’s creation. It was amazing!
Upon arriving back home after a full day of adventure, most of the group went outside to play volleyball while Kory, John, and I stayed back at the house to make homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream and prepare for a pizza dinner. The Ciampi Family, along with our neighbors, the Reeds, came over as well. The ice cream was a huge hit and all of the children played on the trampoline and the swing in the backyard while the rest of us fellowshipped and had fruitful conversations.
The evening culminated with a magnificent hymn sing, with everyone participating on the piano, viola, violin, harp, harmonica, guitar, and singing. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
On the last full day of the Family Connections’ team stay, the ladies went out for a time of thrift-store shopping, a leisurely lunch, and pottery painting. The men took the young children and two quads and went to the mountains for a day of riding.
We reconvened at the house that evening and enjoyed one last meal together at Señor Taco, after which everyone prepared for the departure the following morning. Wednesday was a sad day as we said our “goodbyes”. May God be with you, Family Connections team, until we meet again!
Here is a little video montage of our time together…