Saturday, December 31, 2011

Home Sweet Home :)

"Back Home in Indiana" ... ha! I don't know that song. Tiff always sung it when we rolled across the Indiana state line on our way home from Pastor Mike and Shelley's. I tried to sing along with her, but I never knew the words.

Indiana definitely is my home! Gosh, I love this place. The wide open spaces, the changing seasons - yep, we get all FOUR here - love it!, my town, Calvary, and my house. So many good things about Indiana. ... Now, I'm pretty sentimental, so I have a feeling that no matter where I lived growing up, I would've loved it completely the way I love Indiana, the way my town, the way I love my house. But ... God put me here. And so I love it!

And so Indiana was the easiest state to fill for my "50 States Adventure" - it's my home, my refuge, my most treasured place. Too many stories to tell ... so I will just say ...

I love my home in Indiana. :)

Crosses, Rest Stops, and Youth Conferences

My three favorite things about Illinois ...

#1 - The huge, white cross you pass as you drive through Effingham.

#2 - The Rend Lake rest stop as you head south on I-57 ... it's the prettiest rest stop I've seen so far. I love rest stops! :)

#3 - SoZo went to the Christ in Youth summer conference a couple of summers while I was still in youth group. CIY was one of my all-time favorite events in youth group. Getting to hang out with the Common Ground churches, being with Pastor Mike and Shelley for an entire week, and lots of great Jesus time. Lots of good memories from those conferences.

Biked it; Liked it!

Yep, it's still 2011 ... I can say "last year" still.
Last year, Hannah and I took a CCF SLU trip to Mackinac Island. CCF SLU means Cookie Cutter Friend Single Ladies Unite ... just in case you were wondering. :D We thought we were gonna make CCF SLU into an annual event, but alas, 2011 is over in about 2 hours ... don't think we're gonna make it. But anyways ... we planned a trip to the beautiful northern tip of Michigan. We stayed in Mackinaw City for 3 nights. And during that time, we took the ferry to Mackinac Island, rode our bikes around the Island (8 miles - biked it, and liked it! - I've even got a t-shirt to prove it), and visited a bunch of the cute shops - got me a deck of cards just for kicks! On day two of the trip, we stayed on Michigan's side ... walked along the beach, rode our bikes around town, went out to eat, relaxed. And one day three, we headed home - 9-hour drive. It was one of the coolest things I've done. It was awesome spending so much time with Hannah ... and between the ferry ride, ice cream stops, and getting a cute guy's phone number, it was a super fun trip!

Mammoth Cave and the Cutest Kids Ever

A few years back ... I think it was November of 2008 when I went with the Nilsens and the Beards to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Ben was planning one of his trips again ... and thankfully, he invited me along. We camped out in the cold, fall air. Actually, the guys camped out. The girls got a hotel room. Yeah ... we wimped out. ;) And then we went on a cave tour the next day. I had a ton of fun chatting with Ben and hanging out with Barrett, Mason, Corinne, and Silas - some of the cutest kids you'll ever meet! We had a ton of fun, and I was so grateful for a weekend with some really great people from my second church family - Grace Fellowship. :)

Treasured Tennessee Trips

Wow! I'm sure I have a bunch of stories for this place ...

Our girls trip in the summer of 2007 - Justine, Tiff, Mags, and I went to see Maggie's grandma and her friend, Leona, in Newport. Swimming in her grandma's pool, a trip to the Beehive (a really cool store full of knick knacks - I bought my first pair of crocs there that summer!), climbing the Chimneys (big ol' boulders in the mountains), shopping in Gatlinburg, lots of good food, late night ice cream sundaes, and a great road trip.

Our family Christmas (2010 and 2011) - spent the weekend with my aunt and uncle and cousins ... a cabin in the Smokies ... movie and Japanese on Christmas Day ... trip into Gatlinburg.

Trips to see Emily and Barry in Nashville - picture outings, movies, going out to eat, exploring Nashville, getting to hang out with my BBF after long absenses.

My trip to Cutter Gap - found Leonora Whitiker Wood's mission (the Christy Mission) and church where she served the Appalachian children in the early 1900s.

Lots of good stories :)

Sweet Boga :)

Just a few pictures of my amazing trip to a little town in Louisiana called Bogalusa. My THIRD trip to this awesome little town! ... Pastor Marcus, sweet scent of the papermill (right ...), Westside Emmanuel Baptist Church, people still struggling from Hurricane Katrina, amazing team members .... a home away from home. An amazing trip! Amazing people! Amazing place! Amazing God at work!!!!

We did work projects around homes in Bogalusa every summer we were there (2006, 2007, and 2009). One year, my group had to move a pile of house ... yes, it wasn't a house; it was a PILE of house. Hurricane Katrina had completely collapsed the house 2 years earlier, and the town clean up crew won't move "trash" unless it is by the side of the road. So believe it or not, my team picked up an entire house and moved it 20 feet to the side of the road.

In 2009, our entire trip team went to the "home" of Mr. Barry ... a Bogalusa man who wandered the streets in search of whatever he could find. We were supposed to help him "tidy things up" a bit. When we arrived, we drove our vans back onto a dirt trail ... all kinds of weeds and trees growing up over everywhere and everything. We eventually parked and walked to Mr. Barry's "house." ... He lived on a concrete slab. He owned two fold out chairs - one for his clothes and one for sleeping in. He had a collection of Starbucks bottles, a plastic light saber, a bunch of tin cans, and a few other knick knacks he found during his travels around town. He wasn't home, so we picked up all the trash we saw laying around, being careful not to throw away anything that he might cherish. We took brooms and swept off his concrete slab. We set up a tent for him and left him a new pair of shoes. ... At one point during the clean up, I was overcome with emotion. I couldn't believe someone actually lived like this. No real possessions. No roof over his head, much less a house! No food. And the heat?! How unbearable! I tried to hold back the tears and keep working. But by the time, we got to the vans to head back, I was sobbing. I took away a great lesson in thankfulness that day, and I still pray for Mr. Barry every time I think about him.

Bogalusa is an incredible place, and I was so privileged to share it with such incredible people - Pastor Mike and Shelley and Jeremy and the teenagers at Calvary and Grace Fellowship and Hendricks Community Bible Church and Fellowship Church ... and Pastor Marcus and his family! Such sweet memories!

Dogs and Bears, oh my!

When I was about 6 years old, my dad, mom, Wes, and I went to Colorado for a family vacation. We used to go on family vacations a lot more regularly when I was growing up. They were always a ton of fun. Most of the time, we went to Florida ... but that year, we went to the mountains of Colorado. We stayed at a camp of some sort ... cabins, dining hall, huge dogs the size of bears, and actual bears ... ya know ... Colorado stuff.

I don't remember much about the trip. But the two things I do remember were the huge dogs and the bears.
When you're 6, a big dog is practically a bear. And I was scared to death of these dogs! This camp had to have nearly a dozen dogs runnin' around all the time. And they were huge! I was scared every time I walked out of our cabin. Maybe that's why I'm so afraid of dogs (and really any animal) to this day. Actually, I doubt it. I'm just a big baby.
And the bears ... I didn't actually see a bear, mind you. But I could have! Hahaha! Actually, I only vividly remember my mom and I sleeping in our big van one night during the trip because the other families staying in our cabin were loud and obnoxious ... and I tossed and turned all night, afraid a bear would push in the button on the door handle, open the door, and eat us alive! It's one of those memories that you recall so easily - it's like it happened yesterday.

I think I rode my first and only horse at that camp too, but I don't remember that ... just have a picture around the house somewhere proving the fact.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Trip to Cutter Gap

These pictures are from my trip to "Cutter Gap", TN ... the place where Leonora Whitacker Wood served as a teacher in a backwoods mission ... she taught and ministered to the children of the Appalachian Mountains in the early 1900s. Her story is depicted in Catherine Marshall's book, Christy. I LOVE the story and service that Christy (Leanora) did then - I would LOVE to do something similar. So I traveled to the Appalachian Mountains to find the site where she worked and lived. I found it! I talked to a man related to one of the characters in the book. I walked on the same ground that Leonora did! I saw and drove through the same incredible mountains she got to see everyday she woke up to serve her kids. It was an awesome trip ... and a little scary in parts. I knocked off a few of my bucket list items too. Yes!!!! :D

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ohio Thanksgivings

I'm sure I've been to Ohio several times ... for a variety of reasons. Book conventions ... just passing through on my way to another state ... but I think my favorite memories were family Thanksgivings at Wayne and Kathy's house. Those were always my favorite family get-togethers too. I'm not sure why. It was probably because I liked traveling a bit to get there - made it feel more special. And Wayne and Kathy live on a farm ... so we'd always get to see the farm animals. And I'd get to watch my uncles and second cousins shoot their guns. Haha! That sounds funny to me for some reason. They'd shoot discs into the air and then shoot 'em with their big guns. Makes me laugh. And we'd go on hayrides and sometimes play football in the yard. And there were pretty sunsets. Lots of good times. I wish we still had our family Thanksgiving there every year. It always felt more like a family ... there was a closeness there. I miss that ...

Sweet Missouri Memories :)

Missouri Memories ... *big sigh*

I've been to Missouri a handful of times, but the only two things I've done in Missouri are eat at Lambert's Cafe' in Sikeston and visit Pastor Mike and Shelley in Poplar Bluff ... while they still lived there.

Lambert's is a pretty cool place. They have giant mugs that they serve their drinks in ... I bought one, and I use it all the time. But I think my brother stole it and took it to Evansville with him ... he is always stealing my stuff. *Rolling of the eyes* I sure hope he didn't lose it! Man. Lambert's is also cool because they throw rolls at you from across the room! So fun! You just raise your hand or yell "roll over here" or something, and they throw one to you. And they have pretty good aim too. They have yummy sweet tea and chicken and dumplings.

And going to Pastor Mike and Shelley's was always fun. Now that they live 27 hours away, I don't get to see them as often, but the 6-hour drive to Poplar Bluff was a trek I made a couple times a year. Such good times! It was always good to see my second family. Shelley and I would always go out just the two of us at least once every time I saw them. She'd often make me one of my favorites - her yummy chocolate caramel cake ... and she'd always have lots of sweet tea for me! And her red beans and rice ... gosh, I miss that meal. I'd always play princesses or color princesses and watch princess movies with Anna. I'd get to talk with the boys. Pastor Mike and I would always talk about SoZo. And I'd usually get to see the beautiful Tori. And visit Fellowship ... and sometimes, go to their youth group meetings. I miss those guys so much. I can't wait to visit them in Arizona someday ... see their new home and church and hear Pastor Mike preach from the pulpit. Yeah, man. That's gonna be great.

I sure am thankful for my trips to Missouri. :)