California Dreamin’ & Veggie Nightmares

 Our family has been dreaming of a California vacation for about eight months now.  Eight months because it was in December that we learned of my brother Stu’s engagement to his girlfriend, Rachel. Stu and Rachel both live in southern California, their wedding is on Saturday, and we could not be happier for this godly couple who’ve been a testimony to so many in their courtship, especially my own kids.  But if the vegetables have their say, I won’t be going anywhere.

The hardest part about having a farm share is DEALING with all those weekly veggies once you get them home!  I knew today would bring lots of time in a steamy hot kitchen {it’s in the 90’s here today, and there’s no air-conditioning in that room of the house}, and a big mess to deal with all on the same day I need to be packing for our week-long venture to Cali!  {We leave at 6am tomorrow morning, and guess who’s the only person not packed?}

Yesterday, I made it out to the farm, in the midst of LOTS of other post-youth-camp-pre-California-trip-errands, during pick-up hours and pick-ing hours. There were baskets of kale, arugula, lettuce, tomatoes, squash, green onions and other things in the barn for filling your bags.  Out in the field, I picked  bags full of basil, cilantro, and green beans.  It was hot and I was drenched by the time I was finished.  {My little farm helpers aren’t quite so little anymore and know exactly that a trip to the farm entails, so they usually find a way to dodge going along with me.} All I could do once I got home was throw some green onions into the chicken salad I was making for dinner, and store the remaining veggies until today ~ the day before departure.

Well, it took almost all day, and the kitchen was like a sauna from the all of the blanching, but the arugula, kale, and basil became pesto. {Frozen into cubes for future use.}

The tomatoes and cilantro became salsa.

And the green beans got blanched, cooled off, and stored in the deep freeze, which seemed like a comfortable place for ME to be stored as well.  It was HOT!

The carrots will wait for our return, and I guess we’ll be having whatever protein I can find in the freezer and sauteed yellow squash for dinner, because I don’t think it freezes very well, and I don’t have time to be creative! 
After dinner I’ll be making some gluten free raspberry, oatmeal, and white chocolate bars for breakfast and traveling snacks, and hopefully getting my suitcase packed before midnight.  {And no veggie nightmares, either, but beach dreams instead ~ hopefully.} 4am is going to arrive very quickly.  Less than 12 hours now ~ yikes!

So worth it, though, to be with family and friends to celebrate Uncle Stu’s and the soon-to-be Aunt Rachel’s special day!  Prayers for a peaceful heart, efficient packing, and safe travel appreciated.  Prayers also for  a wedding ceremony that blesses this special couple and gives glory to the God Who drew them together, as well as a lifetime of deepening friendship and joy in their marriage.

“Marriage is to be held in honor among all…”
Hebrews 13:4
“This mystery is great, but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”
Ephesians 5:32

Good Gifts: Summer Camp and Deaths for Glory

 This morning while Robert and I were running, and hardly able to breathe in this thick New England humidity, I had a funny thought.  Here we were dripping with sweat {don’t hear me complaining, though!} and jogging back toward home on the beautiful bike trail near our house when I remembered the time three years ago when we went snow-shoeing for the first time on that same trail.  It was hard to imagine several feet of powdery snow, freezing temps, and lots of layers as we struggled to complete the last sweltering mile of today’s run.

It’s sort of the same thought I’ve been having about last week.  We had SUCH an incredible time at camp ~ our 10th year to go and the first year that all of my kids were old enough to be campers ~ but it was a very dark and hopeless week for a very dear friend.  While we were laughing and playing and learning together on a beautiful college campus near the ocean, she was a thousand miles away sinking into a despair so deep that she tried to take her own life on Friday. {She’s stable now.} It was a sobering contrast that I couldn’t shake.  I wanted to leave and be by her side, and yet I couldn’t.  The joys of camp seemed so wrong, and yet they weren’t.

Yesterday, the sermon at church {given by Tom and not Robert who was sort of “preached out” from camp!} was about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  We didn’t focus much on this particular verse, but as I was re-reading the story it became my fervent prayer for my friend. When Jesus received word that Lazarus was sick, he replied,

“This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”
John 11: 4

Lazarus’ sickness actually did result in death, but then it resulted in him being raised by Jesus through prayer.  I pray that the dark and hopeless experience of Friday morning may have been the “death” my friend needed to die in order to be raised in hope and healing  to the glory of God.  Though tragic, it most certainly could be a gift of grace in her life.  I pray she is given eyes to see and a heart to understand and receive.

 But camp was indeed wonderful!  Well, maybe all parts except the cafeteria food.  What’s a camp experience without complaints about the food?  Honestly, I think the food is quite decent, and the kitchen staff always welcomes me and my high-maintenance gluten free family with smiles and bend-over-backwards-accommodation.  No complaints here!  { <—I first typed “camplaints” accidentally, but spell check didn’t like that.  It sort of works here, though!  ☺}

 One highlight and source of a week’s worth of laughter and teasing was Kory’s prayer for “Pastor Rob.” He was asked to pray for the evening worship service one night.  I guess “Dad” would have been a little awkward?  They always try to be undercover at camp, but when Dad’s powerpoint includes a family photo on occasion, it’s hard to keep your “normal-camp-kid” cover!

Robert, as usual, did an excellent job of describing the Christian’s “Road Trip” which was the theme of the camp.  I’m biased, I know, but I sense that everyone looks forward to his teaching, and I’m included in that group.  The Lord used Him to communicate the gospel clearly to around 500 teenagers and they responded in profound ways.  I never tire of seeing him used in this way.  I also don’t know how he does it!?!  6 sermons in 6 days, a morning Bible study with adult chaperones, and leading recreation and fellowship times for those chaperones as well.  It’s one intense and exhausting week!  
{I was privileged to lead the female chaperones in a Bible study on Titus.  It was such a highlight to meet these amazing women, to study, and laugh together, and to marvel together at the Lord’s grace in giving us all we need to live for Him in a way that adorns His gospel.  I’ll never be able to get enough of that!}

 Dora the Explorer greeted us each day at Morning Celebrations.  She gave us our announcements for the day and played “Would You Rather” with all of us.  {Oreos or Swedish Fish?}  One morning even Diego made an appearance.  Hilarious.

 Morning calisthenics were in the form of Olympic Training, so one morning it was rhythmic gymnastics, one morning tennis, another swimming, volleyball, and basketball.  I think some serious PR’s were met in the course of the week.

 I got to hang out with some of my favorite people in the world!  This is Katlynne and Taylor.  Love these ladies, but they make me look and feel OLD!!!  Oh my…

 We actually had a “youth group” this year!  Historically, it’s only been our family, and we’ve all stayed together in the air-conditioned staff dorm suites.  Not this year!  This year we took friends from our church and others and made up a group of ten youth.  This meant we needed 2 chaperones, too, so Christie and Ian went along to stay with our boys and girls in their respective regular, un-air-conditioned dorms.  This meant that Robert and I also had to share our suite with the worship leader of the camp and his wife.  It all worked out so well, and we enjoyed meeting lots of new folks.

 There was a worship service every evening in the beautiful Gordon College chapel ~ wonderful praise and worship music and wonderful teaching. {see above☺}

 Kory was determined to lead his Bible study/team in winning the spirit stick for the day.  They finally won it on Friday afternoon which is always Mega-Relay day.  Teamwork and cheering for your fellow junior high team during this crazy relay game will win you the stick and that’s exactly what happened.

 Kayla’s team passing the hula hoop…

Coop doing the Zig Zag for his team

 A trip to nearby Singing Beach {though it doesn’t seem to “sing” anymore!?!} was in order after Mega Relay.  Even us moms enjoyed the cool, but refreshing waves.  We got ice cream on the way back to camp.
So thankful for this sweet group of girls ~ some of Kayla’s best friends.

 Having E. here was a real treat!  Kory met her on his trip to The City in February, but didn’t expect to see her on his turf anytime soon, or EVER for that matter, but there she was!  A special guest at camp, and her first trip our of her country, she talked to the youth about what it’s like to be a Christian in a country in which there are less than 1 percent Christ-followers. She also talked about the time her faith really became her own after a dear Christian friend of her family’s was killed while on mission.

And not long after we had arrived home and unloaded, this girl got comfy and fell promptly asleep!  Non-stop activity, late nights, early mornings, and playing hard in the sun will definitely do that to you.  I could have crawled up right next to her and done the same except that Xanadu was on TV and I had a million loose ends to tie up before heading cross country later in the week to California for my brother’s wedding. {So excited!} So, I sang along {my boys were impressed and not in a good way}, laughed at the acting, and tried to get my act together for the week to come.

So many gifts last week… the body of Christ worshiping, studying, laughing, and playing together, sunshine, yummy snacks, the ocean, silliness, reunions with old friends, the making of new friends, His life-giving word, His beautiful grace, seeing salvation accomplished in so many young lives, watching my own kids have the time of their lives, getting slightly sun-burned, and so much more. So thankful for the gift of camp.

And still praying for this same type of joy and exuberance for my hurting friend.  Asking for true and complete healing of her heart, mind, body, and emotions.  Praying that her contrasting near death and darkness from last week will become a beautiful part of the redemptive story that I know the Lord is working in her life.  Praying that her sickness is not unto death, but life, and all for the glory of her Lord.

Gluten Free Friday ~ Refreshing Juices and Cool Ice Pops

 When life gets full and crazy, it also gets difficult to eat right.  Things have been so non-stop around here, that instead of a smoothie for breakfast, it’s almond butter quickly spread on a rice cake, and instead of a big salad for lunch it’s rice crackers and hummus and a few cheese slices.  Now, I realize there are many worse things I could eat, but getting healthy fruits and veggies in on busy days requires effort and forethought, so it often just doesn’t happen. The tyranny of the urgent always seems trump real, fresh, slow food.

I did have a chance to create a fresh juice for breakfast on Monday.  My friend, Karla, was visiting from Oklahoma, and since the weekend had been so full, we made no plans for Monday morning {except that Kayla was having several friends over!}, went for a walk and run, and then came home for a late breakfast.  I had bought some fresh ingredients for juice the day before, and Karla was hesitantly open to trying my concoction.

Here’s what I used:

2 apples
4-6 celery stalks
4-6 carrots
1 lemon
1 orange
4 small beets
1 cup spinach

The beets turn the juice a bright red {as well as your fingers}, as you can imagine, and Karla looked a bit skeptical as they went into the juicer along with spinach and celery.  I poured each of us a glass {it made about three glasses}, and she smiled and said she liked it ~ even said she enjoyed the taste that the celery gave it.  The beets, carrots, orange, and apples give it enough sweetness to overpower any too-savory-veggie taste.  Ahhhh….it was nice to finally have a chance to re-boot my system and diet!

Photo by Simply Sugar and Gluten Free  ~ Check out her blog here!

{Juicers can be expensive, though!  Believe it or not, Robert picked ours up for FREE one Sunday as he drove home from church.  A woman was waving people over to her tag sale along a side street near our house.  I had passed her up, as I had people coming over for lunch, but Robert stopped.  When he walked over, she told him to take anything he wanted for FREE.  We had just been to see the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, and had been wanting a juicer, but couldn’t really afford one at the time.  He snatched it up quickly and was so proud of his “purchase” when he got home!}

Sarma Melngailis, the author of Raw Food /Real World says this in the “cook” book’s section on juices:

“Think of juices as liquid vitamin supplements, only better tasting.  They are concentrated nutrition, the FedEx of foods ~ a delivery service that gets there in half the time.  Juices give the body a break from the arduous process of digestion, which is why they are great for cleansing; the nutrients, packed with antioxidants and essential amino acids, are rapidly assimilated.  If there’s one thing that has the most positive and immediate impact on your health, it’s drinking organic green juices daily.”

Here’s another juice recipe to try from her book:

Hot Pink Juice

1 medium beet, peeled
1/2 medium pineapple
1/2 pint strawberries, no stems
1 thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger

Yum!

And even though we’ve {really it was Kayla that made them!} only made one batch of pops this summer, I thought I would re-run a couple of recipes from previous summers.  They are so nice to have in the freezer for these summer days, and full of real fruit, fresh, whole ingredients, and natural sweeteners.

Tropical Pops

1 cup frozen pineapple chunks (or fresh)
1 cup frozen mango chunks (or fresh)
2 bananas
1/2 – 1 cup plain yogurt
maple syrup or agave if needs extra sweetener

Place all ingredients in blender or food processor. Pour in popsicle molds. Freeze until hardened. Wrap individual popsicles in waxed paper or plastic wrap.

Chunky Monkey Pops
2 bananas
1 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbsp cocoa
2Tbsp peanut butter
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
maple syrup or agave if extra sweetener is needed

Place all ingredients in blender or food processor.  Pour into popsicle molds.  Freeze until hardened.  Wrap individual popsicles in wax paper or plastic wrap.

Counting One Thousand Gifts: June {& a heart lifted up}

My journal entry from June 28th {during last week’s denial and chaos} begins with this verse:

Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighed down with dissipation {self-indulgence} and drunkenness and the worries of life…but keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place and to stand before the Son of Man.
Luke 21:34-36

photo by inside your heart
I wrote it down, because it seemed to apply to my life in an admonishing sort of way. And I didn’t go looking for a verse to give me specific instruction.  It just “happened” to be in the next chapter of Luke, which I’ve been reading through recently.  Now, I know the real context of the passage is the “end times” and the getting-worse-of-things before the getting-better-of-things that Jesus is trying to explain, but I think it applies as a general way-of-life encouragement as well.

Life was feeling suffocating, so I prayed…

Lord, my heart and mind are getting overwhelmed and weighed down with the worries of life ~ {and then I made a long list those worries ☺}.There is so much to do and to be to so many and I want to live it out in your strength and with the right perspective ~ that You are the One Who’s given the full life, and so You are also the One Who will carry it.  Help me to breath easy and trust You completely.  May I at all times keep mindful of You and Your sovereign power over all.  Also help me to keep in mind Your purposes, which are high and always about Your glory, and not get bogged down in the details.

I looked up the Greek word for “worry” in this passage.  It means “to be drawn in different directions.”  Yep, that described me well ~ drawn in many directions, even good directions, sacrificial directions, loving and serving directions, but they were causing me to rely on me and resent the God Who allowed them. Instead of “being on guard” and “keeping alert” to the reality of His purposes and His ultimate return, I was trapped in a selfish mindset by the overwhelming details of this life.

But what about dissipation and drunkenness?  Those are listed before “the worries of life” in the passage as things that will weigh our hearts down. Well, I certainly did not think for one moment that self-indulgence and drinking too much were heart burdening issues in my life.  What wife and mom has time for that? In fact, I recently had a heart-to-heart with a child who lives at my house☺about this very issue.  I was trying to explain that self-indulgence and pleasure-seeking really will  ~ believe it or not ~ weigh our hearts down.  Maybe not immediately, but in the long run it’s a guarantee. I’m not sure the child bought my theological sales pitch against laziness and for work and service unto others, but they are sure to find out eventually.  We are created and designed to find true fulfillment in Christ alone, and because of this truth there will never be any real and lasting satisfaction apart from Him.  It’s like gravity, which is also a part of His wise design and creation.  Challenge it for the instantaneous feeling of freedom it gives, and slavery to injury and possible death will be yours. Abundance and freedom are found in heeding the truth principle of gravity.  Both of these truths are among His many grace gifts to us.

Oh, if I think about it for a moment, I can find areas where I also indulge in selfishness that I believe will bring lasting freedom and joy {iced coffee and a magazine by myself at Barnes and Noble? a massage and a manicure? a romantic getaway with my husband?}.  Not that there’s anything wrong with indulging in those things! At the very least, I long for certain pleasures {free time? more money? peace and quiet? Mediterranean cruise?}, believing that they will satisfy above and beyond Christ.

God’s wrath was satisfied by the payment for sin by Jesus.  My heart is satisfied in the recounting and living in that lavish and undeserved gift of forgiveness. Counting His daily gifts of grace to me on top of the grace already given by the Cross also helps my heart to be lifted up and not weighed down. {Grace upon grace?  It’s astonishing!} His command to give thanks and rejoice in Him always gives me strength and a godly perspective in the midst of  a heart-burdening world.

Here is my gift list for June ~ a bit late, but now you know why. {Oh well!}

1. My neighbors’ blossoming tree (orange)
2. Fresh  peppers to dip and crunch (orange)
3. Coconut Curry Chicken (orange)
4. A toddler’s voice (funny)
5. Old photos (funny)
6. Facebook interactions (funny)
7. Elizabeth ~ a visitor/church alumni (in today’s conversations)
8. Emilia ~ coffee dates, a note to Robert (in today’s conversations)
9. Robert ~ theology conversations (in today’s conversations)
10. Sabbath rest (in Christ)
11. Loving acceptance (in Christ)
12. Abundance (in Christ)
13. Guilt-free assurance and rest (of peace)
14. Seeing transformation in myself and others (of hope)
15. A sermon-loaded iPod by Robert (of love)
16. Hard talks with my dad (ugly-beautiful)
17. Reluctant repentant tears (ugly-beautiful)
18. Hurried hospitality (ugly-beautiful)
19. “So that the Word of God will not be dishonored…” Titus 2 (in what I’m reading)
20. “So that the opponent will be put to shame…” Titus 2 (in what I’m reading)
21. “So that they will adorn the doctrine of our God and Savior…” Titus 2 (in what I’m reading)
22. The dishwasher by a child (emptied)
23. A drink offering of service poured out (emptied)
24. My house…on a rare occasion (empty)
25. Game of Things responses (that really made me smile)
26.  Kory and Coop impersonating NBA hot-shots (that really made me smile)
27. Kayla’s description of inappropriate Father’s Days cards @ Wal-Mart (that really made me smile)
28. Call from Karla to share grief (gift at 8am)
29. New friends for Sunday lunch (gift at 12pm)
30. Laughing over Kory’s van/garage/side-view mirror incident (gift at 2pm)
31. My fingers and toes today (painted)
32. A beautiful picture of Jesus with words (painted)
33. Kayla’s Eiffel Tower picture (painted)
34. My Challenge 1 class for fall! (full)
35. A heart of/with thanks for my dad, my bro, and my husband (full)
36. Big jar of homemade granola (full)
37. Lemon poppy seed cake in oven (smelled)
38. Rain (smelled)
39. Coffee (smelled)
40. A note and a gift card from Tallie (unexpected)
41. Opportunity to forgive and love (unwanted)
42. Compliment from a church member (unlikely)
43. “When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said, “Woman, you are freed from your sickness” Luke 13 (in His Word)
44. “And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for 18 years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?” Luke 13 (in His Word)
45. “Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today, and tomorrow and the third day I reach my goal.” Luke 13 (in His Word)
46. Laundry ~ dirty to clean (moving)
47. 14 mile bike ride (moving)
48. My heart toward His (moving)
49. Provision (in my dad)
50. Love of travel and activity (in my dad)
51. Humor and fun (in my dad)
52. His clear and tender voice (from my Heavenly Father)
53. His intimate care (from my Heavenly Father)
54. His involvement in the details of my life (from my Heavenly Father)
55. Privilege (in serving)
56. Practice (in serving)
57. An instrument of blessing in my life (in serving)
58. Women in prayer (bent)
59. Hannah’s eyes, life, and redemption story (beautiful)
60. My kids (loved)
61. New morning mercies (in light)
62. Removal of fear (in light)
63. Summer warmth and beauty (in light)
64. Ministry (difficult ~ at times)
65. Sanctification (difficult)
66. An abundance of relationships (difficult ~ at times)
67. Books at Gospel Coalition Conference (around a table)
68. Women eating at the resort pool grill in the downpour (around a table)
69. Real conversations while waiting for airplane (around a table)
70. Swim laps in a  beautiful resort pool in the rain (in water ~ DOUBLE water!)
71. Paige Benton Brown’s Temple sermon (in words)
72. A new book on biblical femininity (in white)
73. A loving 50+ year marriage (in someone older)
74. Continued passion and service to Christ (in someone older)
75. Wisdom and acceptance (in someone older)
76. $12 summer blouse at TJ Maxx (in fabric)
77. A heavy handmade quilt on a basement futon (in fabric)
78. Tablecloth on the picnic table for summer family dining (in fabric)
79. Photo of Robert, Martin, Greg, and Josh (framed by a frame)
80. Pencil portraits by Laura (framed by a frame)
81. Movie on the laptop in bed (framed by a frame)
82. Homemade granola (eaten)
83. FroYo at a new downtown store (eaten)
84. 17th Birthday fajitas with friends (eaten)
85. Two notes of encouragement in my mailbox (small)
86. Visit from Karla from Oklahoma (big)
87. Girls night out and Mama Iguana’s Mexican food (just right)
88. Help to a new friend (I gave)
89. Understanding and encouragement to a child (I gave)
90. Care packages for traveling (I gave)

Counting One Thousand Gifts: Denial and Chaos and Joy

 Why am I in denial about the realities of summer EVERY year?  Why do I eagerly anticipate the end of the school year in expectation of slow and laid back summer days ~ carefree and restful?  Why, in May, do I picture myself on warm, sunny beaches in June with my kids splashing in the cool waves and picnic lunches on blankets?  Why do I imagine delightful mommy-daughter time in the kitchen creating new popsicle concoctions together for purpose of lazy day treats and play dates with friends in the backyard?

Why do I set myself up for disillusionment?

Because summer is NEVER that way at our house. Oh, there are popsicles and sunny beach days and play dates, but they are barely squeezed in between an abundance of other summer activities.  My friend Betsy and I tried to find a weekend to go on another horrific adventurous White Mountain back-packing trip with our husbands, but we could not come up with even ONE weekend that our family did not have an obligation.   That’s right.  Booked solid into August, and Classical Conversations starts on August 21st. I have even missed the first three weeks of pick-up at our farm, because the allotted collection days and hours have been filled with other things. {Thankfully, Robert was able to go for me a couple of times.}

But the chaos never ceases to also be ripe with abundance, and while I have longings for slow and leisurely days, the constancy of  full days brings lots of life and joy, and my heart is grateful. {mostly}

What kinds of chaos and fullness and activity?  Well, here’s a look into last week…

A going away party for some dear church men on MONDAY. {Which was on the heels of a The Gospel Coalition Woman’s Conference in Orlando and delayed flights due to tropical storm Debbie which put us in bed around 2am Monday morning.  But what a WONDERFUL weekend of learning and growing and worshiping!}

 A final pre-marital counseling session and dinner with this special couple on TUESDAY. {They cooked for us in their soon-to-be-home!}

 A final meeting of my women’s small group Bible study on WEDNESDAY, and a very impromptu backyard birthday and fajita party for Kory’s 17th on THURSDAY.

 We had to celebrate on Thursday, because on FRIDAY Kory and Robert were leaving bright and early for Chicago.

There were several coffee dates sprinkled throughout the week, and I should also mention the swimming.  Admittedly, I am a big part of adding chaos to my own life, because for the second over-the-top-crazy-busy summer {Ten weddings last summer}, my friend Betsy and I decided to train for another triathlon ~ and an Olympic length one at that.  This means that twice a week we brave the extremely cold waters of our local Puffers Pond to practice our swimming.  We worked up to 8 laps last week which equals the one mile we’ll have to do for the actual event in August. {Betsy literally “laps” me, and has to wait on shore for this slow-poke to finish.  Sigh…}

 Really, it’s just plain dumb to torture oneself in this manner, but for some reason we keep going back for more. It takes almost an hour to finish this task, and requires almost as much time in a very hot shower afterward to recover. Note the jackets and sweatpants required prior to the swim. Ridiculous.

 And silly and foolish.  But also fun and laughter-filled and providing the health and stamina needed to reach our common goal ~ a one mile swim, a 25 mile bike ride, and a six mile run.  At least we’ve slotted our swim times in the afternoons this summer.  Last year, we did them at 6am. {That was really stupid.}

Back to FRIDAY.  7am brought about the departure of Robert, Kory, and Gregory ~ an Amherst College grad, and recent intern at our church.  With our van filled with all of Gregory’s worldly possessions, they headed to the Chicago area where Greg will be attending seminary.

 And FRIDAY also brought the arrival of my dear friend from Oklahoma ~ Karla.  I picked her up in Worcester after she spent the week in Boston doing some training for an up-and-coming company there. We spent Friday evening eating Mexican food with other girlfriends

SATURDAY required a wake up time of 4:30am, picking up a fellow Classical Conversations tutor in Springfield at 6am, and driving to Bridgeport, CT for an all day business training.  I could hardly stay awake and finally got home at 8pm.

SUNDAY was church and a wonderful sermon on prayer, or rather, prayerlessness.

and MONDAY held playdates for Kayla and her friends {five of them!} at my house, as well as a playdate with my friends ~ Karla and Christie {the Okies!} at a local cafe.

Next week brings youth camp, then we’ll head to California for my brother’s wedding, then it will be Ben and Cindy’s wedding weekend {cute couple above}, and then it will be August, and then we’ll start school and church in full force.

Is the laundry done?  No.
Are the groceries bought? No.
Are the homeschool reports written and turned in?  Nope.
Are phone calls and emails returned? Not fully.
Have I cooked a decent meal in the last three weeks?  Not really.

It’s chaos, but it’s also abundance ~ an abundance relationship, of grace, of joy,  and of opportunities to trust in and rely upon Christ for strength, and I’m thankful.

Too tired to post my “grace gifts” from June tonight, so I’ll post them separately, and hopefully soon. ☺