Happy Father’s Day!

Today, people across the country are celebrating what we know of as “Father’s Day.”  And while there are many godly Christian fathers throughout the world, I want to especially thank, and lift up, my dad, Kory.

I feel so incredibly blessed beyond measure to have a dad like mine.  I know I can always count on him.  He has so much priceless wisdom to offer, even though I might not always realize it.  He has taken up the God-given responsibility of raising me as the young woman God has intended for me to be!  Honestly, it is because of him (and God, of course) that I am who I am as a Christian.  Despite all my struggles and shortcomings, Dad is always there, by my side, praying for me.

Not every girl has the dad they need in their life.  I don’t know why God decided to bless me so immensely with a father who loves the Lord and loves me so much, but I sure am thankful!

I love you so much, Dad!

Love,

Lauren “Pickle” 

After opening some gifts, we played a game of Guess That Tool!, followed by some homemade peanut brittle! 🙂  Here are some pics from the day!

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Happy Birthday Kerry!

This weekend we took a trip to Half Moon Bay in California to celebrate my beautiful wife’s 50th birthday!  The trip was great and we were able to enjoy the splendor of God’s creation along the way.  It was also nice to enjoy much cooler weather in a very scenic place.  I am so very grateful for the time the Lord has give us together and look forward to His plans for the future.

It was nice to also have Katey be able to join us as well.  She surprised us with a visit earlier in the week all the way from Florida where she is serving in a prison ministry.  All in all it was wonderful to be able to spend that time together.  There was no shortage of laughter and food…  Here is a short video of our trip.

Greer with the Beasleys

Isn’t it nice when you get the chance to retreat to a relaxing place and spend time with close friends?  That’s exactly what we got to do when the Beasley family visited from Oklahoma!  The Beasleys came to Arizona to visit some other friends, and while they were in the area, we thought it would be nice to go to Greer with them for a couple days.

The whole plan was for them to arrive Tuesday night, and then leave for Greer Thursday morning.  Well, things didn’t exactly work out that way!  After returning from the Family Conference in Texas, we all got sick, some to a worse degree than others.  Kerry was down with the flu for four days, completely bedridden!  Dad got a cough and cold, and I mine started out as a cough and sore throat.  It was terrible!

Then on Tuesday morning Kerry started to feel better, but me, not so much!  I had a temperature of 101.7 and threw up several times.  I felt like a zombie that morning!  It turns out that I got the flu as well, and we made the decision to not have the Beasleys stay with us that night so that they wouldn’t get sick.  We prayed that my temperature would go down before it was time to leave for Greer.  And praise the Lord, it did!

The Beasleys ended up arriving Wednesday night, and Thursday morning we all headed to Greer!  We stayed in a cute little cabin with a nearby grassy area and a small pond.  There were also…HAMMOCKS!!! ☺ The hammocks were a favorite spot over the couple of days we were there!  We also enjoyed going on walks in the wilderness and watching movies together.  It was a blast!

Unfortunately, Greer looked a bit sad because of the dry, barren mountains.  Dad said that it was probably because of the mild winter Greer had, and there wasn’t much snow run-off to keep it green.  Also, fires caused some of the hills to be treeless.  It was funny because the hill right near our cabin was so dry and empty that we called it “toothpick mountain”!!! ☺

Despite this, we had a fantastic time with our OK friends!  Now, enough talking!  Time for some pictures!

2018 Big Sandy Family Conference

We just returned from the ATI Family Conference in Big Sandy, Texas!  For us, it is the highlight of our year!

First of all, I have a little explaining to do.  A young man named Juan David Palomino all the way from Bogota, Columbia, submitted some of his piano music to Abiding Radio a while back, and we loved it!  As the time of the Conference was approaching, my dad had the idea of inviting Juan to play some specials at the conference this year!   So arrangements were made, and Juan was able to join us this year to play!

Ok, now that I’ve explained, I’ll back up to day one.  We left Saturday morning and made our way to Big Sandy!  As soon as we got there, it was so great to see old friends and catch up.  We signed in, unpacked, and anticipated the Sing-spiration that was going to be held that night.  We, and a bunch of others families, assembled in the ALERT auditorium and sang hymns and listened to very talented people play some incredible specials!

The next day, Dad went to pick up Katey and Juan from the Dallas Fort Worth airport!  I was so thrilled to see Katey again after a few months, and we were all looking forward to meeting Juan.  We greeted each other and headed to the dorms so they could settle in. 

The rest of the day, I enjoyed walking about 6½ miles chatting with a great friend from Sahuarita, AZ.  It really blessed both of us being able to have that time to talk and pray together!

Monday night, the Conference started and we were so excited to see what the week would hold. 🙂  This year, Katey taught a COMMIT group for the first time, and I attended COMMIT for the last time! 🙁 I have enjoyed each and every time I’ve been in COMMIT, and definitely recommend it for any girl!  Tuesday, all the classes started, and that evening was the Cookie Fellowship.  (In past years, they’ve done ice cream, 🙂 but this time they switched to cookies!  They were actually pretty good!)  We chatted with other families from AZ and refreshed each other with good conversations. 

The week carried on and it was fun meeting new friends and visiting old ones too!  There were A LOT of families from AZ who came this year!  Five, I think.  For a couple of them, it was their first time!

Thursday was great because everyone had a break in the morning from all their classes to just attend sessions and fellowship, so we used this time to take pictures with some friends and slow down a little bit as the busy week was already closing. 

Juan did great playing the piano!  He played hymns like Abide With Me and Whiter Than Snow.  He made it look so easy. 🙂 It was so fun to have a person from another country visit with us!  Juan (of course) speaks Spanish, but he also spoke English very well.  I asked him if it he thought we sounded different or talked too fast.  He said that he understood 80-90% of what we were saying and that we did speak kind of fast, especially when Katey and I would talk to each other!  Yeah, Katey and I do talk kind of fast, you know, sisters have a special language! 🙂

Friday, all of the Pre-Embassy, COMMIT, Children’s Institute, and ALERT cadets did their presentations.  It was incredible!  COMMIT sang Oh, the Deep Deep Love of Jesus to the tune of Morning Has Broken.  It was beautiful!  I love that song.

Of course, a highlight was the ALERT cadets!  It’s always so cool seeing them march like a bunch of little green ants in one huge colony!  After presentations, the choir sang three songs:  Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go, How Marvelous, and When We See Christ (the first two were medleys).  It’s hard not to get emotional while on stage, as the words of the songs are so powerful!

The conference officially ended Friday night, but the fellowship did not!  After dinner, we headed to the campsites and caught up with some good friends like the Ciampis, the Guglers, and the Thomases.  We were able to fit in our 3rd Annual Spoons Championship with the Ciampis and Thomases at the Thomas’s campsite!  The girls and boys play separately, then the winners from each group play each other.  Turns out, for the third time, a girl won, and for the second time, an Arizonan!!!  It was so fun!

The next day, Dad took Katey and Juan to DFW and came back to pick us up to head home.  Goodbyes are so hard; however, we can’t help but be so grateful for all that God has done for us! 

This year at the conference, the theme was God’s love.  I was reminded that it is just not in me to love anyone, and when I struggle with loving someone, I need to say, “Jesus, please love this person through me right now, because I, in myself, do not love.”

I’m so grateful for how God showered immense blessing on this year’s conference, and I look back on that week with the fondest of memories!

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

Cross Country Trip

We just returned from an eleven day, five thousand mile trip across the country visiting old friends, making new ones, and enjoying the fellowship of Christ.  Here is a video montage of our journey:

I marvel at the bond that exists among believers.  Because of Jesus, we have “all things in common”, even with people we have never met before.

“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”  John 17:22-23