Girl on a Mission

Only half of the crew here ready to pick up the rest of the team in Boston.
On our drive to Northborough to meet up with her team, she asked me if I was nervous about her trip to Scotland. “Not really,” was my answer. It was 2 o’clock in the afternoon, and I was more excited for her opportunity to serve God and others than I was scared for her safety.
That casual sentiment only lasted until about 9:30pm when I realized she had been flying over the North Atlantic for about an hour. Then I panicked and began picturing all kinds of awful scenarios in my mind, the most hopeful of which involved inflatable slides and flotation devices near the coast of Iceland. She must be so cold and scared, I thought.
Thankfully, hardly any of my irrational fears ever actually happen, but you can imagine how relieved I was when I saw this photo on the Quest blog the next morning:
Double decker busses, coffees in hand, smiling faces, and a cute little redhead in the back. Whew. They made it safe and sound, and I’m so thankful.
Here’s another photo of the Scotland team, and there are three other teams of teens and adults traveling to South Africa, Hawaii, and The Dominican Republic on mission trips that are part of a leadership and discipleship program (called Quest) for juniors in high school offered through the Baptist Convention of New England.
Tommy is one of the adult leaders on Kayla’s Scotland trip.
Our church sent out two teens and one adult on Quest mission trips last Sunday. They each shared what they had learned through the program and a prayer request for their trip.
Each teen was required to meet with a mentor once a month, and our teens pretty much had the dream team of mentors.  (Thanks so much, Sarah M. and Chris G.!) They worked through a two Bible studies: Chasing Last and Jesus on Leadership. Really wonderful learning and equipping tools.

Sarah, Kayla. Finn, and Chris

Our Classical Conversations community also gathered to pray for the four young ladies from our campus who left on mission trips. Three with Quest and one with Young Life.

Jessica (Hawaii), Maddie (The Dominican Republic), Kayla (Scotland), and Carol (Ecuador)
And just like that, this little baby-doll-mama grew into a young woman who travels to far off places without her own mama.
And in the blink of an eye she also became a critical thinker, a fierce debater, a lover of Christ, and a defender of people. She became a loyal friend, a loving sister, and a witty one, too.
Should the U.S. Government Significantly Alter its Entitlement Programs?

She had a lot to do leading up to this trip. Not only did she have to memorize Shakespeare lines, write a thousand word history essay (in advance), complete her logic, math, chemistry, Spanish, and prepare for a policy debate, but she also had to babysit, volunteer at church, catch up on thank you notes, shop, and pack.

Tough Cross-Examination by fellow Questie (and another fierce debater!), Jessica.

She handled it all with diligence and grace, and hardly needed her Mom or Dad at all.

Notice the game, Catch Phrase? Kayla always brings the fun. Always.
“Hey, Kory! Our Quest backpacks are exactly the same! It’s like we’re related or something.”

Those left-handed check marks are also marks of her independence and initiative. She did her packing. Not me. She made sure the list was complete. There was no prodding and reminding on my end. I’ve actually always been impressed with her self-motivation and overall responsibility. She is so much more mature and tuned in to what life requires than I was at that age. In many ways, I still trail behind her.

But don’t worry, she does have a few glaring issues that we’re still working on. Last week I counted 13 empty mugs and glasses in her bedroom. THIRTEEN. Many of them had dried up tea bags inside. She balked at my counting of her empty-mug sins, but I stood my ground and insisted upon repentance. After the mug issue improves, maybe we can work on the knee deep layer of clothing that typically covers every square inch of her room.😉

But I’ve heard that semi-chaotic, less than organized living conditions are signs of creativity, and let me tell you, Kayla’s got  many more signs than that.  The girl is truly an artist. Here are just a couple of examples. (There are so many more, but these were easy to access!)
She recently painted this. It’s a beautiful (and very realistic right now!) rendition of our little house.

I was pretty stunned by this chalk unicorn that she and Mary just whipped out one summer day.
And while I don’t have any examples of her photography skills, I do have a picture of her with her 16th birthday gift. She has a great eye and is being given real opportunities to hone her skills. (Thanks, Shannon S.!)

I can just hardly believe that this precious, toothless first grader…

…is now a capable, intelligent, beautiful, and still very precious 16 year old woman. I can hardly take in the privilege it is to be her mom. I loved having my boys first. Raising and enjoying this little sister has been icing on the cake. So sweet and necessary, in my opinion! She is truly a gift from God to us.

And while I’m bragging on my girl, I just have to tell you how natural she is with kids. She’s a sought after babysitter, and she loves it. Recently, she told me and another mom’s she sits for (Hi, Ashleigh!) that one of the reasons she loves babysitting is because it gets her mind totally off of herself and her own struggles. It forces her to be truly selfless, and she’s really grateful for that.

And isn’t that true of any service we engage in on behalf of others. It’s always a remedy for selfishness, and she’s catching on at an early age.

(But she does get paid for all of her kidsitting, and to this date she’s saved nearly enough to purchase her first car. She’ll have her license next month, and buying her own car has been a goal for quite some time. Diligent and determined, this girl. We’ve loved watching her meet her goal.)

Reading to cousin Uriah.
Science experiment fun with Cohen.

Serendipitous find in my local grocery store’s greeting card section. 😄
So, we weighed her suitcase and found the all-important airplane neck pillow on Tuesday morning. We made a couple of stops in town…CVS for an ID photo, Old Navy and Marshalls for a new Sunday dress, Whole Foods to grab lunch, and Starbucks to get a drink for our drive. We took a quick mudroom selfie with Dad, who could not make the drive with us, and were off to meet her team.
A couple of years ago, after she’d watched her brothers go on Quest mission trips to Africa and Asia, she told us she did NOT want to follow in their footsteps. She was NOT going to do Quest. She did NOT want to travel out of the country without her family.
Though we probably would have required it, she decided on her own to go through this year long process. She faced fears and persevered in spite of the many hesitations of her own heart and mind. In the end, she trusted God, and I could not be more proud of her or excited for all that He will do to change her life forever in the coming week.
She has been out of the country before. She traveled to the Dominican Republic with Robert a few years ago to work in a small, impoverished community.  That her dad was there made all the difference in deciding to go. This was the scene in our living room upon her return…

I’m expecting a similar scene when she gets home a week from tomorrow, and I can hardly wait…to see her precious face and to hear the precious stories of a girl who trusted her God and went on a mission. And I pray it is only the beginning of a life on mission for Him.

P.S. Here’s a link to the Quest blog.  You can keep up with Kayla and the other Quest trips here if you like. Your prayers are very much appreciated, too. She does have to fly home over the Atlantic again, you know.

Growing and GOING: Right Before My Eyes

As I write this, I’m imagining a delirious Cooper getting off an airplane after nearly 24 hours of total travel time ~ and all without an iPod, which is definitely some sort of world record.  I woke up this morning praying that he would be energized and strengthened, not missing any detail of the incredible adventure he is on for the next week. I really could not be more more excited for him.
And Tuesday, the day he left to meet up with his Quest 15 team, I couldn’t have been more proud of him. The days leading up to Tuesday were full, as usual.  We’re always scrambling to get ready for our Classical Conversations days, and this week those days were full of the extra tasks required prior to making your first international trip. Cooper had to complete a long biology module, write a short screenplay for a scene out of Alice in Wonderland ~ after reading ALL of Alice in Wonderland.  He had to write an essay on the classical period of music history, complete several algebra II lessons, 8 Spanish lessons, and to top it all off, be ready to compete in a public policy debate on climate change.
Oh ~ and pack, shop for travel necessities, make copies of his passport, and have it ALL ready to go at 7am on Tuesday morning BEFORE his big day of classes.
I was doubtful about the confidence with which he kept telling me, “I’ve got this, Mom.”
 
But you know what?  He did “have it.”  He had it all done.  ALL. OF. IT. And he didn’t miss a beat.
When I got home that day and tallied up the debate scores, I read the comments about his hands in his pockets, and his casual approach, and I realized that his judges couldn’t see all that I saw ~ a young man who is maturing rapidly and right before my eyes, and who has never been as confident and diligent and responsible as right. there. before. our. eyes. Never before had I seen him so prepared ~ all notes and quotes typed on a grid for easy access, tucked purposely into opposite pockets of a specially chosen folder ~ and ALL of his own doing. Oh, I checked in on his progress throughout the week, and kept getting the same semi-irritated, “Mom, I’ve got this.” He truly did all of his homework, and all of his research, and all of his organization all by himself and according to his own careful plan.
He also got feedback on the score sheets regarding his casual outfit which was certainly not as formal as the opposing team, it’s true.  But what I saw was a formal, logical, confident, compelling argument and presentation that stayed closer to the actual resolution than the other team. That other team ended up being the winner by about a point. A coat and tie may have pushed the technical win in his favor, but in my book it was a definite win for this middle son of mine who was leaving for a journey to South Africa in less than two hours and has always had difficulty managing his time and being diligent to do excellent work.
Did I mention that he (and therefore, I) had to dissect a large perch before the debate started? Yes, that, too.
It was a very proud mama moment.
And I don’t blame the judges for their discerning feedback at all.  If anything, it helped me to rejoice in my own ability to see the incredible growth and developing character in my boy.  This has not always been the case, and Cooper would be the first to confirm it, unfortunately.
Getting Cross-Examined by Noah
Oh, that I could have the mind and eyes and heart of Christ with my own children ~ careful with my words, much, much slower in my anger, and more generous with grace.
Quest is a leadership development experience for high school juniors through our regional denominational youth ministry and fearless leader ~ Allyson Clark.  It entails nearly a year of Bible study, mentorship, and training, and culminates in a mission trip to one of three locations.  Some of you know that Kory already participated in this program and traveled to a major metropolitan city located in the 10/40 window two years ago.  Well, Cooper’s trip is to Durban, South Africa.
Here are photos of the three mission teams ~  and teens/chaperones in the Quest program:
Top: Dominican Republic team.  Middle: “The City” team. Bottom: South Africa team!

I just Googled “distance from Boston to Durban,” and discovered this:

That’s a LONG WAY.

Cooper worked on this study every night before bed as part of his Quest requirements.
No prompting from Mom and Dad.
While there, Coop will have all sorts of stretching experiences.  He will share his testimony and Bible stories in public schools, which he has been practicing throughout the year with his team.  He will visit an AIDS trust and hospice, learning about the epidemic, and ministering among those suffering. He will play basketball in an outreach to school kids, give away a pair of his own precious high-tops, and share his faith there, too. He will visit rural areas, metropolitan areas, and last, but not least swim in the Indian ocean!
Can you see Durban?  It’s in the purple section, right on the coast.

Cooper and all of the Quest participants were required to earn $500 of their own trip expenses.  (Total cost: $2200) Only after that could they reach out to their churches, families, friends, and community for support.  This was THE most challenging part for Cooper ~ working hard for all that cash, and then handing it over, not spending a dime on himself.  God blessed him so abundantly, though, through the families of our church hiring him for all sorts of jobs.  He really didn’t think it was possible, but the Lord showed him otherwise!

The Official Quest backpack is most definitely a badge of honor!

And here’s an Instagram video that Cooper made and posted to thank those who are supporting him financially and prayerfully.  I love it!

My goodness. I’ve been in tears off and on all throughout the writing of this.  It is so wonderfully difficult to be a parent.  I’m not sure who is benefiting from Quest more ~ my children or me. So grateful for the experience of watching children grow and for being reminded continually that though I and they don’t usually “got this,” God does.
Nothing but pure grace that allows for these continual, patient, and loving reminders.

Completing Her Quest

It’s mid-September, the leaves are beginning to change, the apple orchards are all open for picking, the farm stands are selling corn AND cornstalks for seasonal decor, and I am not so happy about all of this.  It’s too soon! I do love the fall (really nothing like fall in New England), but I love the summer more, and it was just too short and went by too fast and had too many activities packed in to truly savor it ~ or blog about it, or read blogs, or respond to comments, or…
Sigh.
But a lot of special things happened this summer, and I’ve not told you about one of the most special.  Some of you know that Kayla was working on a Quest all last year between her 12th and 13th birthdays.  Maybe you read this post about the challenges she was asked to accomplish over the course of the year.  And maybe you also read this one showcasing a few of those completed challenges.
Well, she finished (almost!) ~ and last month we had a special dinner party to celebrate!
Some of the books she read and Bible studies completed as well as some of her artwork.
Kayla made the guest list which contained close friends and a few special women in her life.  We set a pretty table, made a yummy dinner and gluten free cupcakes, put all of Kayla’s special projects on display and sent our guys off to eat dinner out (Chipotle) and watch a movie (Percy Jackson).  After eating dinner, we played a round of The Game of Things (Kayla LOVES games), and then each older woman in attendance shared on one of the following topics, all virtues displayed in the life of the Proverbs 31 woman:
Wisdom
Health and Strength
Skills and Hard Work
Service
Rewards
Abby shared about the privilege of serving the Lord ~ as well as a very special way Abby herself was served by a woman in India who really had “nothing” to give.

 “Think about God’s love for the least and the lowly. The world avoids the awkward, the annoying, the smelly, but God doesn’t. Listen to the spirit with fearlessness, Kayla!” ~ Abby

Lois also shared about the privilege of serving  ~ both a specific story from her own college days in which she had the opportunity to help a student with cerebral palsy, and also a story about Darlene Rose, who was a missionary to New Guinea during WWII.  It was a raw and compelling passage about Darlene’s husband’s feet which had been bloodied by walking through the jungle without shoes in order to fulfill God’s call, and from a book which Kayla had read for her Quest! Perfect!

Christie shared about rewards, and told a story from her own life about striving for earthly rewards in athletics and the approval of her coach. Then she shared about the reward of knowing Christ now and being with Him eternally.

 Cindy shared about wisdom and told a story about a breakup that she experienced. She explained to Kayla that though it was a painful time, the Lord grew her in wisdom about herself and navigating future relationships.  So perfect and practical!

Izckra shared about strength including specific stories from her own life about losing her parents and other hardships.  She told Kayla “Life will not always be pink,” or “rosy” as we Americans would say, but that pain can be brought as an offering to God, and that His strength is sufficient. Jenna shared about a godly view of work and Sarah M.(via email!) shared about wisdom as well.  Some gave Kayla small gifts that helped to reinforce or illustrate the virtue about which they shared, and one of the most creative gifts was this from Sarah A.:

 Miss Abbott has been Kayla’s Classical Conversations Director for the last several years, and these flashcards are a spoof of the vocabulary cards Kayla had to memorize in her Essentials classes. (Mrs. Plotczik will be proud!)  The set contains HAND DRAWN cartoons (much like the silly IEWriting ones) illustrating different kinds of strength a woman will need and can depend on the Lord for.  So great!

So thankful for all of these very special ladies and their willingness to make such a significant contribution to Kayla’s life as she grows into womanhood. So proud of Kayla for putting in a year’s worth of very dedicated effort to complete all of her Quest challenges.

Next Up: Back to School, A Month of Paleo Living, and a trip to NYC for Fashion Week (really!)
(Well…if I can somehow achieve a balanced schedule now that we’ve started school for the year and there is a bit more of a predictable weekly routine!)

Growing Girl{s}

There were many signs of aging around here last week.  Here are a few examples: 
1. I received a prescription for bifocals. {Sigh…}
2. Robert and I paid our first of many Baylor tuition bills. {Only by God’s provision.}
3. I bought a MacBook {Another amazing provision.}, and registered for a class at the Apple store, just like my almost-75-year-old Dad who loves to tote his DESKTOP to the store on a regular basis.
4. Our youngest child became a teenager!

 And since my aging is not nearly as exciting and certainly not as CUTE as my new 13 year-old daughter’s, the rest of this post will be about her.

We began the day like all birthdays around here with a special breakfast-to-order on the red plate and gift opening.  She got her much desired typewriter and two new pairs of shoes to add to her already-rather-large shoe collection. Oh, and not-real-nerd-glasses ~ a must have for typewriting.  For several days I’ve been hearing what I thought to be light hammering coming from her room, but it is only Kayla pecking away at the manual keys of her new gift ~ writing letters, stories, and more.

This birthday marks the end of Kayla’s “Quest.”  When she turned 12 she was given a list of challenges to complete before turning 13. She is almost finished!  One of the requirements was to hike the Seven Sisters in the Mt. Holyoke range, and so last Thursday we did just that.

It was the perfect day for hiking ~ cool and a bit overcast, but clear for scenic views.  We packed a lunch, and a couple of the books she’s working on, and made the trek to the peak in about 3 hours stopping along the way to eat and read and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.  I think Beautiful Girlhood is such a wonderful book for girls this age.  We read two chapters during our time together: “The Strength of Obedience” and “Making Herself Beautiful.” Originally published in 1922, I’m astonished at how timeless are the unique struggles of women.  You can read it for free here, and here’s an excerpt from one of the chapters we read on our hike:
“A desire to be beautiful is not unwomanly.  A woman who is not beautiful cannot properly fill her place.  But, mark you, true beauty is not of the face, but of the soul.  There is a beauty so deep and lasting that it will shine out of the homeliest face and make it comely. This is the beauty to be first sought and admired.  It is a quality of the mind and heart that is manifested in word and deed.  A happy heart, a smiling face, loving words, and kind deeds, and a desire to be of service will make any girl beautiful.”
Robert met us at the top and drove us home after taking this picture. 3 hours of semi-steep hiking is challenge enough.  We were thankful for the lift home!

 We’ll be celebrating the completion of Kayla’s Quest with a few special older women as well as a few of Kayla’s closest friends in a couple of weeks.  Until then, she’s working hard to complete a few last requirements, and evidently having quite a lot of fun this summer…

Attending youth camp with friends and hanging out at the beach {and Starbucks, and Pinkberry…}

Being treated to dinner and silliness by a long-time friend…

 Performing in two numbers at a dance recital ~ acrobatics and hip hop. She did great!

Really proud of the young woman this little girl is becoming.

Came across this verse a few weeks back, and have been praying it for my now BIG kiddos:

For I will pour out water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground;

I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring, and My blessing on your descendants; and they will spring up among the grass like poplars by streams of water. This one will say, “I am the Lord’s,” and that one will call on the name of Jacob, and another will write on his hand, “Belonging to the Lord,” and will name Israel’s name with honor.

Isaiah 44: 3-5

Yes, growing girls here for sure.  Praying that this new teenager and blossoming young woman will be “like a poplar by streams of water…belonging to the Lord.”


Imperfect Patterns {Lent Day #8}

 “Something has gone terribly wrong.  And everyone knows it.”  is how the chapter on the Fall opens in the book Doctrine by Driscoll and Breshears. The last few days around here have proven it over and over, and I’m not talking about the frustrations inherent in every sewing project, but they are a good illustration!  Just look at what happened to Mary’s bobbin over and over during our Saturday girls’ sewing day until we diagnosed the problem:
On Monday we learned that the young brother of a church member is fighting for his life due to sudden complications from pneumonia.  He had just not been feeling well for a few days, and now this.  Yesterday we learned that friends had lost their oldest son, a senior at UMass, to possible suicide.  This is the second friend of mine to lose a son to suicide in the last year. Last week we sent Valentine flowers to a young woman whose husband has chosen to divorce her even though she doesn’t want him to. Kayla came down with a fever and aches again last night after a full day at Classical Conversations ~ her 4th round of fever, aches, flu, etc since the summer. And today a friend and I shared Starbucks coffee and stories of the battles and disappointments that go hand in hand with parenting, and our often sinful reactions of anger and harsh words.  Yes, everyone knows that things are not as they should be.  There are reminders everywhere.
While we pinned and cut and pinned and cut some more, I kept reminding the girls how important precision is each step of the way. The pajama pattern we were using is actually quite forgiving, unlike a tailored shirt or dress, but lining things up as perfectly as possible along the way ensures less frustration at the end.  Even then, the finished product often does not quite measure up to your hopeful expectation.

It got me thinking about sin, and confession, and this season of considering my imperfections, my depravity. Ever since Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden, the pattern for humanity and creation has been imperfect ~ pervasively so.  It’s not necessarily that my sin is only the “bad stuff” I do, but rather it pervades {spread through and perceived in every part} my entire being, the entire order of the natural world. All is marred and imperfect ~ my thoughts, my motives, my actions, my desires…everything. It’s the reason for sickness, and suicide, angry outbursts, divorce, and all other disasters and tragedies.
And knowledge of this is what ought to make the Cross and salvation so glorious to me.  Jesus pays for my imperfections and rebellion, and then He even makes something good of me by and through Himself.  He takes my imperfectly cut pattern and fabrics and sews together something useful and beautiful in His grace.

Thankful for reminders of this beautiful truth everywhere ~ even in flannel pjs made together with friends!

Kayla’s Quest: Sewing Projects, 5K’s, Nursing Home Outreach, Etc.

We set aside Saturday morning to do the first of three sewing projects for Kayla’s Quest. Kayla’s friend Maddie is also trying to complete a Quest, so we hoped to have her over for the project, too.  We set up two sewing machines, had the fabric and other tools all ready to go, and were working on a special treat for “brunch” when my friend Christie called to tell us that Maddie had come down with a fever, and so they wouldn’t be able to join us.  I know both girls were really disappointed, but Kayla and I decided to go ahead with the project that morning.
We made reusable sandwich wraps and “ziploc” bags!  I’ve been wanting to make some of these since my friend, Betsy, showed me the ones that she had made and was using each week to pack a lunch for Classical Conversations. Though Kayla already has a bit of sewing experience, I thought it would be a good first project for both girls ~ basic straight stitching, with a cute, quick, and usable result.
And how do you like the cute little horse {sitting on top of the machine} that Kayla made out of her new pincushion and pins?
We decided to use oil cloth instead of the PUL fabric used to make cloth diaper covers that some recommend.  If you do any internet research at all, you will find that some people would not use either, as they still contain petroleum products, and are not “food safe,” but I figure that this is at least a better option than the plastic used in Saran Wrap and Ziploc products, not to mention the fact that we will be using, and therefore throwing away, much less of those things.  The oil cloth is both wipe-able, washable, and a step toward “green-ness” in this house.  {And the fabric store clerk who helped me had also used the “owl” oil cloth to make reusable sandwich wraps for herself.  It’s really too cute to pass up!} The only thoroughly “green” option was to purchase 100% organic cotton and then “infuse” it with beeswax ~ and I’m sorry, but that’s just not happening in this house this week. {Neither is kombucha, kefir, juicing, or grinding rice into flour…}
We tested our handmade wraps and bags out on Tuesday when we packed a lunch for our Classical Conversations school day, and they worked great! Our sandwiches stayed cool and moist as did our carrots. {I made a set for myself, too!}
In other Quest news, Kayla completed her required 5K in December.  She trained hard, and then beat her typical training time by quite a bit in the actual race, which was called the Jingle Jaunt, and held in Springfield, MA.  This particular race required participants to acquire sponsors and raise a minimum of $100 for Special Olympics, which we were both able to do thanks to the help of friends and family.
And because of a total mix-up on my part, we had to leave the race very quickly in order to get home for Kayla’s  annual tea party.  Yikes!  {I had thought the race was on a different weekend.}
The girls never tire of making gingerbread houses, so they are pretty much a constant at this yearly gathering.   I love the creativity!
 Then the girls made handmade cards to give to the residents of our neighborhood nursing home.  Part of Kayla’s Quest Challenge was to organize an outreach to the nursing home, so, with no help from me, she made the call and asked if she could set a date to bring friends and gifts and do some Christmas caroling there. They are ALWAYS happy to have young visitors at the nursing home, and it is about a three minute walk from my house, so after gingerbread houses, card-making, and tea party snacks, we headed over.  The girls did SUCH a wonderful job!  Kayla played a Christmas carol on the piano, and her friend Carol played “Angels We Have Heard On High” on her violin.  They sang about four more songs, and passed out cards and candy canes, and were a HUGE blessing to the residents there!  I was so proud of them.

 We just finished reading this book together which is such a favorite of mine ~ about a young girl unfairly accused of theft and unjustly punished.  Her godly response is rewarded by the Lord and eventually what was meant for evil is used for great blessing and exaltation in her life.  So good!

 With six months left to complete her Quest, Kayla is now working on her memorization on the book of Philippians, and the reading of several more books including these:

This morning I had tea with my friend Karla, and she told me about two Scripture memory “apps” or sites, which I came home and helped Kayla load on her Nexus.  The app is called “Remember Me” and the website is Scripture Typer.  I had no idea such things existed, but we’re both excited to use them for our various memory challenges.  Kayla is doing Philippians and I am working on Hannah’s song from I Samuel Chapter 1 and Mary’s song from Luke 1 for Beth Moore’s Scripture Memory Challenge.
Honestly, it’s been difficult to keep on top of the list of Challenges we gave to Kayla on her 12th birthday, hard to find time to fit them into regular life.  But, we’re plugging along and slowly making our way through the list, and we’re very proud of Kayla’s hard work on each item.  I pray the Lord will meet her in all of it and use the experiences to grow and mature her faith and equip her for whatever is His call upon her life.

Rockin’ The Pink & Black Ones ~ For a Quest!

 Good thing the shoe shop was having a buy-one-get-one-half-off-sale last week, because this girl needed some running shoes, too!  While Cooper was deliberating with Dad over arch support versus coolness, Kayla and I were in the back of the store finding her a pair of non-Converse shoes {she owns MANY versions and colors of those!} for a goal she’s trying to meet this fall.

If you’ve been keeping up with us at all, you know that Kory and Cooper each completed what we’ve called a Quest during the year between their 12th and 13th birthdays.  Well, guess who turned 12 at the end of July?  This cutie pie:

She watched her brothers accomplish their individual “Quests”, so she was eagerly anticipating her own.  For the “big reveal”, we took her to her favorite restaurant ~ Fresh Side{Asian Fusion!} ~ and gave her the list of challenges to meet before she turns 13.  Kayla’s Quest looks a little bit different from her brothers’, and is centered around the text of Proverbs 31.

Here it is…

Through Christ, A Godly Young Woman Is…
{A Quest for Kayla}
Wise
She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
Proverbs 31:26
Books to Read or Study:
The Five Aspects of Woman for Young Women by Barbara Mouser
Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss
The Basket of Flowers by Christopher Von Schmid
Beautiful Girlhood by Karen Andreola
Secret Keeper: The Delicate Power of Modesty by Dana Gresh
Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot
I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris
Evidence Not Seen: A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II by Darlene Rose
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
Memory Work:
The Apostle’s Creed
The Book of Philippians

Healthy & Strong
She girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong.
Proverbs 31:17
Train for and run in a 5K Road Race
Participate in a Kids’ Triathlon ~ Summer 2013
Hike the Seven Sisters/Mt. Holyoke Range
Hard-Working & Skillful
She considers a field and buys it; from her earnings she plants a vineyard…her hands grasp the spindle…she makes coverings for herself…she looks well to the ways of her household…she does not eat the bread of idleness.
Proverbs 31: 16, 19, 22, 27
Three Sewing Projects ~ PJ’s, a tote bag, and re-usable lunch wraps/bags
Menu Planning ~  Create a two-week, healthy menu of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners
Cooking ~ Plan and cook Monday night dinners for the months of September and February
Gardening ~ start 4 seed varieties, plant, tend, and harvest them
Woodworking ~ wood project of your choice with Dad
Music ~ learn and perform one piece of music on the piano {or possibly viola!}
Leadership ~ Lead one week of family devotions
A Servant
She extends her hand to the poor, and stretches out her hand to the needy.
Proverbs 31:10
Continued help with childcare and communion at Mercyhouse
Volunteer at and bake goodies for homeless shelter/warming center 2 or more times
Organize nursing home Christmas Caroling and Party with other homeschool groups
and Receives Rewards
Give her the product of her hands, and let her work praise her in the gates.
Proverbs 31:31
Camping/Backpacking trip with Mom and Dad ~ Summer 2013
Dinner at restaurant of your choice and a theater performance afterward

She received all of this with excitement and delight mostly, and only a bit of anxiety.  She immediately got to work on the healthy, two-week menu ~ and we even implemented most of her ideas though it wasn’t required.  She has finished 2/3 of The Great Divorce, and we’ve already run together several times. {She can do a whole mile now without stopping!}  I am really proud of her already, especially for tackling the running right away.  She witnessed some girls on the high school cross country team passing out near the finish line at one of Cooper’s meets last year, and that certainly did NOT motivate her to want to join the team or do any sort of long distance running for that matter.  But, she is facing the challenge head on, and asks me regularly to run with her, so she’s prepared for a fall/winter race.

Even without this list of challenges, Kayla is already a skilled and wise young lady ~ and I’m so proud that she’s mine!