BRIGHT Lights Anniversary

This month marked the first anniversary of the BRIGHT Lights group that meets in our home. This week, we were blessed to have the organization’s founder, Sarah Mally, join us in person!  It was a complete surprise to the entire group.

Sarah led the group in discussing the fear of the Lord versus the fear of man.  Below is a video of the surprise…

We are grateful to Sarah for her willingness to come to Arizona and be such an encouragement to these wonderful girls.

Seaside Vacation

This summer our family vacationed in Oregon where we enjoyed a week-long reprieve from the hot Arizona sun. We flew to Portland where we first visited my relatives. It was nice to see my parents and to share my hometown with Kory, Katie and Lauren. We were warmly welcomed by my aunt and uncle who prepared a nice BBQ for us on their back patio. The girls learned how to play a game called “Banana”. That evening we enjoyed dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory.

The next morning we drove to McMinnville where we toured the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. The girls enjoyed the “Fighter Pilot” movie the most, and Kory and I were awed by the massive Spruce Goose airplane that Howard Hughes designed and built and is now completely housed in this museum.

This giant plane made only one flight on November 2, 1947 and flew just over one mile at an altitude of 70 feet for one minute. The short hop proved to skeptics that the gigantic machine could fly, but that was it’s only flight. It was quite a site to see the original airplane and hear the fascinating stories behind it. We were also captivated by the Titan II Missile and were able to explore this large booster rocket from underneath its missile silo and then watch a simulated launch sequence. Other planes of interest were the SR-71 Blackbird and the Ford Tri-Motor. The girls were planning on going to the Wings and Waves Waterpark next to the museum, but they were too excited to check into our beach house and head out on the sand. So, that’s just what we did.

We arrived in Seaside late afternoon on the second day of our trip and were thrilled when we opened the front door to our deluxe beach house. The views of the ocean were spectacular, the home was cozy and warm, and the location was prime. We were literally 50 feet from the sand. Katie and Lauren put their suitcases in their room and were immediately clamoring to head to the beach.

Lauren and Katie were pleasantly surprised to find a swing set beside a path to the ocean. They spent quite a few hours over the course of our vacation swinging and laughing and meeting other beach-going kids. Kory was the designated swing pusher and made quite a good impression on the other young children around. He said, “kids like me”, to which Katie and Lauren laughed, but I nodded in agreement.

The fine, and ultra soft sand proved to be great for sandcastle building. Lauren built two fortresses, with a moat, castles, and pyramids over the course of our vacation, but the tide washed them away by morning. I think she was sad at the disappearance of her first great work of art, but understood the inevitable when she proceeded to build the next day.

Both Katie and Lauren did endless cartwheels and gymnastics tricks in the sand as well, although Katie was most interested in trying out the skimboard.

Two really good skimboarders were showing off their skills when we first arrived at the ocean’s edge and asked if we would like to try. Lauren and Katie first declined, so I decided to have my hand at it. What a mistake that was. Not only did I fall on my backside one time (fully clothed, I might add), but I fell a second time really hard. I thought for sure I’d get the hang of it, but it took me down and I accept my defeat. Katie, on the other hand, mastered the skimboard. She bravely got out there and started skimming the water like she’d done it before. The owners of the rental home had a skimboard in their garage, so Katie was able to take it to the beach on another occasion and really get into the hang of it.

A couple of mornings we got up at the break of dawn and walked along the misty beach collecting seashells. Lauren came home with quite an array including two slugs, or as she referred to them, “sluggards”!

The Seaside Promenade is an 8,000-foot long concrete boardwalk between central Seaside and its spectacular beach. The bike ride along the prom and through town was a highlight for Lauren, and Kory and I enjoyed seeing the Lewis and Clark Saltworks that was set up in 1805 and still remains.

We also spent quite a few hours in the local arcade playing a gamed called “Fascination”. This became a favorite memory of all of ours. The Fascination Parlor in Seaside dates back to the 1950’s. It’s a game that used to be common in amusement parks, boardwalks, and arcades mostly in oceanside resort towns.

Our favorite restaurant was Pig ‘N Pancake where Lauren savored steak and eggs two days in a row and Kory had one of the best jalapeno jack cheeseburgers he’s had in a while. Katie wasn’t too thrilled eating at the restaurant two meals in a row, so Kory surprised her by bringing in a small pizza from the pizza place down the street. The Pig ‘N Pancake restaurant has a fascinating story. It all began in May 1961, when the Poole couple opened the restaurant with only $100 cash and $2000 worth of borrowed equipment. Today there are six locations in Oregon. Other eating spots included Dooger’s Seafood & Grill, Mo’s, BeeBop Burgers, Fultano’s Pizza, and McDonald’s.

Another great memory was kite flying. One of our kites was pretty traditional and easy to get in the air.  The other was more tricky to maneuver, requiring at least 7mph winds. This beauty was called the “Skydog Squadron”. On a couple of rainy days, Kory went to the beach briefly to get the kite in the air as high as he could, then he’d tie it to a beached log, and head back to the cozy beach house where he’d back and watch the Skydog Squadron fly from a cozy window seat.

One of the days of our trip we drove down Highway 101 along the coastline to tour the Tillamook Cheese Factory. It wasn’t what I remembered growing up. They used to allow hands-on tours, but now you just view a portion of the cheese-making process from an observation deck. I think the triple scoops of ice cream that we each purchased and took with us on our way out of the factory was the best part. The girls slept most of the drive back to Seaside, and we decided to stay at the beach the rest of the vacation instead of making any more day trips.

My mom drove down and stayed with us one evening. We spent time at the beach and mom got to fly a kite and enjoy the sand. It was a little cool the afternoon she came, so we spent most of the time inside. We ordered in pizza for dinner, played games, and went to bed early. The next morning mom joined us for church services at Cannon Beach Bible Church. It was a great time of worship for the whole family and we thoroughly enjoyed meeting the people at this small congregation. We all enjoyed sandwiches, fruit, and chips back at the house for lunch and then mom headed home. That evening, we watched the movie, “That Darn Cat” for about the fourth time over the course of our vacation.

There were many other great moments, but the time spent with the family relaxing and loving one another was the best part. We all rated this vacation about a 7 on a scale of 10, but looking back now, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Fall Break 2011

How quickly the school year passes. It seems like Katie and Lauren just started school and now Fall break has already passed. What an enjoyable break we had. We headed to Flagstaff right after the girls got out of school on Friday, October 7th. There was so much excitement in them, to a large extent because their good friends, and our neighbors, Summer and Elise (Liesy) got to join us.

We loaded the trailer with all of our clothes, food, and supplies to tow behind the truck since we had two adults, four children, and two dogs to fill every inch of interior space. Pokey and Frito took up the whole trunk area and Summer begged to sit with them since she is such a dog-lover. She braved hot stinky dog breath and drooling. The other three rode in the back seat with blankets, snacks, and games to accompany them. There was never a moment without singing or laughing. Someday when the girls are grown and have families of their own, we will miss the sound of giggling girls and angelic voices.

We made it to the Stewart’s cabin (which they were kind enough to let us use) around 5:30pm and everyone helped to unload the trailer and get settled in the house. After that, we went to dinner at Bun Huggers where we all enjoyed greasy cheeseburgers and fries. Katie and Summer made up a funny jingle that fits right along with our junk food dinner: “…right to your thighs.…”

Saturday morning the girls headed into the forest along a path not far from the cabin and they gathered together for an ELKS Club meeting. Over the summer, the girls had formed their club in our basement, but had to abandon their original clubhouse under the stairs due to a scorpion infestation. Now, the girls were able to hold their first official outdoor meeting. (By the way, ELKS stands for Elise, Lauren, Katie and Summer…pretty clever, huh!) The girls spent all morning creating their clubhouse. They worked as a team clearing brush, making walls out of logs, lining a rock pathway to the entrance, setting up a stage with a microphone, planting a garden with forest vegetation, and crafting a bench. They even wrote “ELKS” with a Sharpee pen on a tree to mark their territory. After hours of work and play, the girls invited Kory and me to attend an meeting of the ELKS where we were given a tour and detailed explanation of the clubhouse and how it came together.

After the outdoor meeting, we assembled our jackets, hats, and gloves and headed out to get some lunch which happened to be at yet another non-nutrituous restaurant, Burger King. We ate in the car as we headed to Lava River Cave, a mile long tube cave formed by molten rock that erupted from a volcanic vent in nearby Hart Prairie. The top, sides, and bottom of the flow cooled and solidified first, after which the insides of the lava river continued to flow, emptying out the present cave. We dressed appropriately for the cool cave temperatures (about 32 degrees inside), but we did not bring sources of light to help us see our way through the tunnel, so we weren’t able to make the trek this day. Knowing that Summer and Liesy’s parents, Brian and Carrie, were going to be joining us Sunday evening, we thought we’d return to the cave with them on Monday to explore it together, this time with proper lighting.

We made the short walk back to the car through the beautiful pine and aspen trees and then drove to Mt. Humphreys. It had been quite cold the week prior to our arrival, so there was a decent amount of snow at the top of the mountain, at least enough to play in. We drove up to the base of the highest lift chair and planned to ride it to the top. When Kory went to purchase the tickets for us, the man at the booth asked him, “Is all of your party dressed like you?” When Kory respond, “yes”, the man advised us to stay at the bottom of the lift so as to not freeze ourselves. For the record, Summer committed the unthinkable as we headed in to the lodge for hot chocolate. As Kory was “innocently minding his own business, filming the girls playing”, she dropped in for the snowball sneak attack.

After we got back to the cabin, the girls headed straight back to their ELKS club while Kory and I enjoyed the warmth of the cabin and read our books. The girls came inside when the sun was setting as they were getting quite cold and were ready for some hot chocolate and dinner. Kory went to pick up pizza from Stromboli’s, which has become a favorite of ours each time we visit Flagstaff. Katie and Summer helped make brownies after dinner and then the girls watched the movie “Saving Sarah Cain” before bed. Apparently, the girls stayed up half the night laughing and planning silly tricks on one another. Lauren and Liesy read all of Gunther’s books.  All of the girls laughed hysterically at one of Gunther’s book called “Bye Bye Diapers”.

The next morning, Sunday, we had a time of worship in the girls’ clubhouse. Katie opened us up in prayer and then Kory led us in a study and discussion of Matthew 5:16 which says, “…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” We talked about standing out as Christians and being aliens, not part of the world. We discussed Joshua 24:15 which says, “…then choose this day whom you will serve.” And Kory stood with Joshua in stating that, “as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Liesy led us in a song titled “……….” and Lauren led us in singing “This Little Light of Mine”. Summer gave the closing prayer. The girls stayed in the clubhouse and played after that and Kory and I read books, took photos outside, and explored the trails nearby the cabin.

We all gathered for lunch back at the cabin and enjoyed grilled cheese and turkey sandwiches, chicken noodle soup, carrots and chips. Katie and Summer spent time moving all of their belongs out of the master bedroom and into the office area, to prepare the room for Brian and Carrie. We then all went on a hike through the trails behind the cabin. Kory drew arrows in the dirt on the ground with a stick to help us guide us back in case we got lost, and we strategically placed logs along the path to point the right direction. The sun was shining beautifully through the trees in the late afternoon of the day.

Brian and Carrie pulled up around 5:30pm. Carrie was so generous to bring up a full dinner for all of us that she had made ahead of time. We warmed it it the oven while we said our hellos and headed off to the ELKS clubhouse where we watched the girls present their clubhouse to Brian and Carrie and explain how it all came to be. Then, Carrie and I worked in the kitchen to do the last minute dinner preparations while the guys talked about electronics and discussed movies that have good family values. Carrie’s meal was fantastic: poppyseed chicken over either white or brown rice, green beans and rolls with butter. The poppyseed chicken was so good that I requested the recipe. After an easy clean-up, we all got comfortable on the couches and floor and watched the movie “Facing the Giants”. Katie and Summer helped me make s’mores halfway through the movie. After the movie, everyone got ready for bed and Katie and Summer snickered because they had secretly hidden all of the books that Lauren and Liesy had been reading. I don’t think they even knew because they made a discovery of a new pile of books to enjoy while falling asleep.

Monday morning we all spent time doing our own things before breakfast and then we filled up on eggs, sausage, toast, fruit, and cinnamon rolls before heading back to Lava River Cave. Once at the cave, everyone was handed a headlight and put on their coats and gloves in preparation for exploring the cave. It is a beautiful part of creation inside. The lights helped guide us through to the end and allowed us to see cracks and crevices, large rocks and melted lava all over. It is a fascinating cave and well-worth exploring. We had one mishap the whole time. Lauren tripped on a rock that was ticking up out of the ground and fell in the cave. She got a small cut just below her kneecap but apparently it hurt quite badly because she insisted on Dad walking her (and partly carrying her) the rest of the way out of the cave.

The Smith’s treated us to lunch at Chili’s after the cave hike and then we went back to the cabin. The girls, of course, headed back to their ELKS clubhouse and us adults lounged around and read books and enjoyed the cozy Treehouse. Brian and Carrie left around 4:30pm to go back to Mesa. Kory and I watched a little of the movie “Love Comes Softly” together while the kids were busy in “creativity land”, and when they when it was too dark to see anymore, they came inside and ate macaroni and cheese and leftover pizza. We then watched “Amish Grace” before bedtime. This was the favorite movie of all.

Tuesday morning was busy with lots of chores to be done by all. Each person was assigned jobs such as cleaning bathrooms, changing sheets, emptying trash cans, packing up clothes, laundry, mopping, vacuuming, loading the trailer, cleaning the patio, etc. My good husband even went to Walmart to get supplies we needed to replenish the one’s we had used at the cabin and he got a nice “thank you” card and fall floral basket to leave as a gift for the Stewarts. We locked up the cabin and headed home early afternoon. We were graced with more singing and laughter on the way home, but I assure you everyone was tired and not quite as energetic as when we first left. We all got a good night’s sleep upon our return.

Branson Vacation

Last year’s family vacation to Pennsylvania would be hard to top but we may have just done it…

This year, our family decided to visit Branson, Missouri as we have heard about its wholesome family atmosphere and entertainment. We awoke at 2:30am on Thursday, June 30th for a 6:29am departure from Phoenix. Although none of us got more than four hours of sleep the night before, our excitement kept us going well into the night. We had one plane stop in Denver where Katie ate fried rice from Panda Express at nine in the morning and the rest of us snacked on chocolate covered peanuts and candy (healthy breakfast). We played wooden board games such as Tic-Tac-Toe and then caught the last leg of our flight to Branson.

The Ozarks this time of year were lush and green with lots of oak trees, pine trees, and lakes winding their way around the city. We rented a Chevy Traverse SUV for the week and made our way to The Wilderness Cabins where we were pleasantly surprised at our quaint and cozy cabin #2, appropriately named “Pa’s Place”. It was decorated inside with a fishing and hunting theme. We even had a stuffed deer staring at us from the wall. The girls had a trundle bed which was new for them. Lauren got the lower pull-out portion for her bed. The cabin had a kitchenette with a table and a small bathroom and outside the cabin was a front porch with a bench, a back porch with two rocking chairs, and an expanse of forest with lots of squirrels foraging for food.

After quickly surveying our cabin, we headed to Marvel Cave at Silver Dollar City where we took a step back in time and experienced the cave just as the early explorers did – by lantern light! Guides shared historical facts and little known stories as we walked over 500 feet below ground. We saw pools of water, a spectacular waterfall, bat guano and the only known “Spanish ladder” left in the cave circa 1541. After riding in a train car back to the surface, we headed to our cabin for some much welcomed sleep.

We were back at Silver Dollar City the next morning for a full day of fun as we stepped back in time to the 1880’s theme park filled with thrill rides, a craft village, shows and numerous wholesome family attractions. The favorite rides of the day were The Great Barn Swing and Powder Keg which were bravely ridden by Katie and Lauren about a half dozen times each. We saw the Stunt Dog Experience combining tricks, comedy and unique skits by extremely talented stunt dogs with lights and special effects for a fun show. We also saw The Fabulous Wallenda’s Family Circus! Katie and Lauren were in awe and Kory and I reminisced about seeing the family in the Barnum and Bailey Circus when we were young. The girls made wax molds of their hands by dipping them many times in warm wax, which were then painted in three colors and sprinkled with glitter. The concept of preserving a mold of their child-sized hands is great but the wax was so thin that fingers broke off when we tried to transport them. We had to give them a burial in the trash. Overall, Silver Dollar City proved to be a great family experience.

Day three started with a tour of the Titanic Museum which took us back to 1912, where first class maids and a variety of officers and crew members brought the stories of the ship and its fascinating passengers to life by retelling their tales. The artifacts throughout the museum shed additional light on the lives of those passengers and crew members. We saw actual belongings of those on board and artifacts that sailed on Titanicʼs voyage. Upon entry to the “ship” each of us was handed a boarding pass bearing the name of a Titanic passenger. The fate of this passenger was revealed on the Memorial Wall. Along our tour we got to walk an elegant replica of the Titanic’s Grand Staircase, touch the frozen surface of an ‘iceberg’, examine the world’s largest Titanic ship’s model on display, see a First Class Stateroom; Third Class cabin, and learn about Molly and Carter, the dogs that were onboard the Titanic.

As hungry passengers, we decided to leave the museum and get some lunch at Starvin’ Marvin’s, a country/Cajun restaurant. We all selected items off the buffet which ranged from fried chicken, catfish, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, buttered noodles, green beans, salad, biscuits and gravy and more. The meal ended with our own personal ice-cream cup. We weren’t starvin’ when we left, that’s for sure.

We then headed to the Sight and Sound theatre for the day’s grand finale where we saw the musical production of Noah. This great Bible story was presented on a 300-foot wraparound stage with 40 foot high sets, a cast of 50 actors, elaborate costumes, amazing special effects, and hundreds of live and animatronics animals. We relived an amazing time in history when God told Noah to build the ark and fill it with every kind of animal, then came the first raindrops and God shut the door. “For just as it was in the days of Noah, so it will also be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man.” We watched a reenactment of Noah and his family as they experienced being cooped up at sea for more than a year. When their trying journey was finally complete, we marveled at the wonders of God’s reward for Noah’s unquestioning obedience and devotion to Him. What an amazing story and lesson. I think we all walked away with increased love for and faith in our God. This was the highlight of our trip.
On our way back to the cabin, we stopped to get burgers at Steak ʻN Shake, which turned out to be a favorite of the trip. We ate there three times during our vacation. The “steak burgers” were some of the best fast food burgers we have had. Too bad there arenʼt any franchises in Arizona. We ate these in the cabin while we played Uno.

Sunday morning, July 3rd, we went to Friendly Baptist Church. The people were definitely friendly, as we received hugs in the parking lot before even getting inside the church. After church we ate Steak ʻN Shake burgers in the car as we drove to Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. We were going to rent Segways but Lauren and Katie didnʼt weigh enough to make them operate correctly. We then tried to ride horses, but Lauren wasnʼt big enough (by their rules). After that, we paid for two ATVʼs to ride around the park, but we missed the start of the tour and were unable to do that so we had to get a refund. We decided maybe we werenʼt meant to do any activities in the park that day, so we took a nice leisurely ride back to Branson.

We checked into a new hotel at Still Waters Resort where we stayed the rest of the trip. We had a nice room with a view of Table Rock Lake which was just a few minutesʼ walk to the lakefront. The resort had several pools, one with a waterfall and hammocks, a marina, playground, market, and Parmesanʼs Restaurant.

That evening we went to Dolly Partonʼs Dixie Stampede. We had a fantastic four course feast that we ate with our hands. The meal included a cheese biscuit, cream soup, a whole mini chicken, pork loin, half of a baked potato, corn on the cob, and an apple turnover. We were stuffed. We ate all this while watching an exciting dinner show filled with friendly competition between the Union and Confederate armies. The show included great horse stunts and a live musical production. Katie deemed this her favorite attraction of the week. That night back at the hotel the girls went down by the lake to watch fireworks which were also visible from the balcony off our room. We thought we were going to get to see a big fireworks display on the 4th, but apparently almost the whole city did their fireworks on the 3rd, so the small display we saw near the lakefront was the biggest display we would see this year. I guess I should have researched that better, but no one was overly disappointed.

On July 4th, we started the day off with much excitement. We rented a brand new 24ʼ triple pontoon boat and everyone went tubing and swimming for the first couple of hours of our morning. It was beautiful out on the water and turned out to be so much fun that we decided to rent the same kind of boat the following day. Both days on the boat were a blast and kept us cool and energized. We also found out that the 115hp Mercury motor was powerful enough to pull all of us out of the water with ease. We were all famished after the first morning on the water and went to Steak ʻN Shake yet again for lunch.

We then went to Ripelyʼs Believe It Or Not Museum and saw some really strange oddities. The next stop was to the Worldʼs Largest Toy Museum which took us on a trip down memory lane. We saw thousands of toys, from die cast cars and trucks, to antique bicycles, dolls, action figures, Kaleidoscopes, cap guns, games, figurines, lunch boxes, and tin wind-up toys. Interacting with the salesman was an experience in itself. He was like a kid in a candy shop with so much passion and childlike enthusiasm for the toys and the patrons who visit the museum and toy store. If only we could all live with such zeal and fervor as this guy. Katie was able to guess 9 out 10 songs in his ‘name that tune’ contest which he played on his plastic clarinet. She became an instant hero and was even given a write-up on their Facebook page. Here is an excerpt:

HOOOOOOEEEEEEEE! What a great 4th of July at the Museum. We were visited by a ton of cool people, but kudos go out to the awesome Nakatsu family, with the Golden Bear Award going to Katie Nakatsu. Katie smashed the record of our mind boggling game of “Name that Tune”. The most ever gotten before was about 5 out of 10 but Katie crushed all other competitors with an astonishing 9 out of 10!!! So everybody join me in the “Krushing Katie” cheer.

Katie, Katie you’re the best,
10 times greater than the rest!
“Name that Tune” is where you rule,
you’re so awesome and so cool!

Thanks for the fun time at the museum.

Our next stop was to Shepherd of the Hills where Katie and Lauren zip-lined their way down the side of a hill from the top of Inspiration Tower. They were both so brave to try the Vigilante ZipRider (170 feet high, 1/2 mile long and 50mph). They werenʼt afraid at all and both loved it.

That evening we were back at The Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Theatre to watch Harold Bell Wright’s epic story of love, loss, power, hardship, and faith come to life on an outdoor stage . It took over 80 actors and actresses, 40 horses, a flock of sheep, several guns and rifles, an actual burning log cabin, and a vintage 1908 DeWitt automobile to create the live action performance. The Shepherd of the Hills show told us the story of the Ozarks which leaves us with a greater appreciation of the surroundings we visited on our vacation.

Day 6 started out with three hours on the boat, this time with a tube and a knee board. Boating on Table Rock Lake was definitely a favorite activity for the family. What a fun memory.

Our day continued as we drove to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where we saw an evening performance of The Passion Play recounting the last few days of Jesusʼ life on earth, his death, burial, and resurrection. The story was presented amidst a scenic background with the sun setting in the distance as the story began but it was much more than a production, it was clear that the writers and producers have ministry in mind over mere entertainment.

The last full day of our trip was spent at White Water, Bransonʼs only outdoor water park, featuring rides like Kalani Towers, Pipeline Plunge, Aloha River, and Splashaway Cay. Katie and Lauren had a great time getting soaked while Kory and I found lounge chairs in the shade and read a book together. We were so exhausted from being out in the heat all day that we picked up a quick dinner to take back to our hotel room and played Uno on the kidsʼ pulled down Murphy bed until 10pm.

The final day of our vacation we explored the Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure, a tropical experience with an interactive and educational expedition through the butterfly aviary, living rainforest science center and Emerald Forest mirror maze. We ate brunch at IHOP before heading to the airport and flying home.

Last yearʼs trip to Pennsylvania and this yearʼs trip to Branson were unforgettable family vacations. It will be hard to top these next year, but we have some ideas in mind that weʼre sure will be just as exciting and memorable, maybe with just at a little slower pace.

Kerry’s Birthday!

DSCF1901My family, I thank you for a very special and memorable birthday. I thank you Kory for the sincere card with heartfelt words, for the “Beautiful” perfume, for the cake with the number “24”, for dinner at 5&Diner, but mostly for loving me unconditionally, for continually going out of your way to show me your love through your words and actions, for your patience, and for the gift of my family. Katie and Lauren, I thank you for the love you showed me today and for serving me with a humble heart. Katie, you touched me with your kindness throughout the day in so many little ways. You sang to me, made me a card with a pretty pink ribbon tied on it, and you created for me that showed truly how you care about me.

Katie, the way you opened your heart to me today reminded me of actress Sally Field when she won best actress many years ago. As she held up her Oscar, she cried out “you love me, you really love me”. Katie, I felt like joyfully shouting that today because you showed me over and over that you love me, you really love me. This display of your love was an answer to many prayers. Lauren, in your card to me you wrote “I really truly love you, I want you to know that”. Oh, sweet precious Lauren, those words melted my heart. I truly love you too. God chose me to be a wife and another mom to this family and I am honored to fulfill this calling. Thank you all for an outstanding birthday!