Oklahoma!

17,000 feet above Texas

God gave us a beautiful flight Saturday morning as we made our way to visit the Beasley family in Oklahoma this last weekend.

The heavens declare the Glory of God!

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.

The Farm

Great Friends

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!

Bible Pictionary

Laura and Katey

LiliAnna and Lauren

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.

Ready to go…

Our Farewell

Although our time was short, we were greatly blessed by our visit. Thank you, Beasley family!

Co-op(eration)

IMG_4835This 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!

IMG_4837

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.

IMG_4829We 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!

“Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.’”

(Genesis 1:29).

Praise God for the bountiful harvest that He has supplied!

Family Connections Conference

Family Connections, Mesa

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.

Morning Session

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.

Singing

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!

Hynes Family +1

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.

Lauren, Priscilla, Davia, Katey, and Kerry

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!

Tortilla Flat

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.

Making Ice Cream

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!

Hymn Sing

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.

Quad 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…

First Friday of June

First Friday of June

Good afternoon!  Did you know that today is a national holiday?  Most Americans were unaware as they ate breakfast this morning that today is National Donut Day!  That’s right, a whole day dedicated to sweet, round, dough balls often coated in frosting.  Who makes up these strange national holidays anyway?

We honored this sweet holiday by making donuts!  I wish I could say we made them from scratch, but we took advantage of a box mix that was collecting dust in our pantry instead!  I’ve never made them before and, let me tell you, these lil’ guys were some of the best I’ve ever had!

Here is the recipe that we used:

Donuts~

2 large eggs
3/4 cup water
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, and cooled.
Stonewall Kitchen Red Velvet Donut Mix

Frosting~

2 tbsp. unsalted butter
softened 6 oz. cream cheese
softened Milk or cream
optional Stonewall Kitchen Cream Cheese Frosting Mix

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Grease donut pan. Mix together eggs, water, and butter with mixer.  Stir in donut mix. Mix on low until moist and smooth without over mixing.  Spoon batter into donut pan, filling each donut cup 1/2-full. Bake 9-11 minutes.  Allow to cool in pan 5 minutes before placing on a wire rack.  Cool completely.

Frosting Directions:

Combine frosting mix with butter and cream cheese with a mixer.  Beat on high until well combined and very smooth.  You may add a little milk or cream for a softer consistency.  Carefully spread frosting on top.

While these weren’t exactly homemade, but they sure tasted scrumptious.  We also had fun making them!

Whether our motives were patriotic or just an excuse to eat them, we are proud to say that we honored this national holiday and hope you will do the same.

Got Peas?

I can’t explain how Katey has managed to avoid eating peas for almost 17 years.  I take full responsibility.  I should have noticed the skill with which she subtly would receive, briefly hold, then pass the peas without actually taking any.

Well, the Pea Police finally caught up with Katey this afternoon.  Here is what happened next…