Monday, July 30, 2012

Vacation - Photo Favorites

I promise that this is the last of my vacation posts!  I'm like that person in the 70's that made you come to my house and sit through slideshow of my trip.  Thankfully you could walk away from this any time you'd like!  Over the past few years I've been using the manual mode on my camera more and more and am definitely enjoying it.  Thanks to digital film I can experiment and get creative without worrying about running out of film; it's definitely becoming even more of a passion than it already was.  But enough about me... let's check out the favorites from our family trip, shall we?  All of these are straight out of the camera with no after-effects or edits:
Not really a favorite, but I snapped this through our windshield because I loved all of the brightly colored beach houses. One of these days we'll stay in one.
Seriously the sweetest face on the planet. And one of my favorite pictures of her to date.
"Mommy, I see you!" - A little fun with aperture (a fancy photog setting)
And fun with shutter speeds. The dude LOVED the carnival rides. He's my little daredevil.
My #1 favorite from the trip. Love that proud daddy in the background.

And a big BIG thanks to this family for really making all of this happen for us. The Doran family opened their doors to us and went above and beyond to make sure we were taken care of. If you are anywhere near the Wilmington area you need to check out their church, Refuge City. They are fellow church planters and the love that they showed us really just flows through that whole place. It was one of the best services I have been to anywhere and they are six months old. Thank you for making this one truly memorable and perfect week!  We love you guys!

Now... 350 more days until the next summer vacation. Insert the world's biggest sigh.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Vacation - Part 4 - the Aquarium!

You didn't actually think that I had run through all of my pictures by now, did you?  Not only do I have a few more to share today, but I have a couple of favorites to share on Monday as well... and then I'm done and the countdown until next year's beach trip will begin.  Sigh.  So without further ado... here are some photos from our day at the aquarium:

Jake definitely loved the aquarium and kept talking about Nemo.  He was much more captivated by the large fish tanks than he was any of the attractions where you could put your hands in the water and touch different things, which was rather surprising to me.  I think he could have just stared at the fish all day and we had to drag him away from certain tanks... it was awesome.  And I am just always in awe of how many creatures live under that big blue ocean; it is just absolutely incredible.

Know what else is incredible?  The fact that we had someone take a picture of the two of us... probably the first one we've had taken in years!  Yeah, baby... we've still got it!  Haha!

Thanks for looking through my ridiculous amounts of vacation memories... it was just so nice to get away that I wanted to share them all.  I hope you have a great weekend and I'll see you back here on Monday for the favorites from the trip!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Reflections - Break My Heart for What Breaks Yours

Oh Thursday Reflection time, I missed you!  It was nice to be unplugged for a week, but I realized that two weeks is just too long to go without this time.  And I was welcomed back with this verse to meditate one:

"If you claim to be religious but don't  control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.  Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you."  -James 1:26-27

A few things stick out to me here... the first being the word "claim" vs. the word "caring."  It's the difference in stating that we are Christians and actually being the hands and feet of Jesus and doing the work of the Lord.  It's like this... my husband is in the last month of training for an IronMan triathlon right now.  For those of you not familiar, this is a 2 mile swim followed by a 112 bike ride followed by a 26.2 mile run all in a row.  This will take him somewhere in the ballpark of 15 hours, and many people attempt it and don't finish.  He has been training for over six months, buying and reading books on training plans, gear, and nutrition.  He gets his bike tuned up, he fuels his body with the right things, and is spending up to 20 hours a week sometimes working out.  So what's my point?  Well, he's equipping himself to do well at this event.  He could "claim" to be an IronMan without actually doing the race and people would probably believe him.  Or, he could even read all of this information and not apply it, not train, and just show up and try to wing it and be miserable.  For so many of us, that is what our Christian walks have been.  We "claim" to be a Christian and people obviously believe us, but what we do on a day to day basis does not show that.  We might even read the Bible, but we don't live it out by serving others daily, showing compassion, helping those in need, and spreading the Gospel.  As Josh would say, "sitting in a pew on Sunday mornings makes you no more of a Christian than sitting in my garage makes you my jeep."  We can do all of the acts of what we think is expected of us a Christian (church, Bible studies, etc.) but until the Holy Spirit really burns inside of us and breaks our hearts for what breaks God's hearts AND moves us to action (that's the really important last step), I feel like we shouldn't even make the claim. Being a Christian is all about the DOING.

Case in point... I grew up claiming to be a Christian, went to church, had all of the knowledge, could tell you most of the Gospel story, and believed that it did all go down like that in history.  But honestly, I lived for ME.  What I wanted, what satisfied ME.  I was my own God.  There was no part of me that felt a pull at my heart strings when I thought about the world's homeless population, widows or orphans, and I kept myself shielded from the sadness of the world on purpose.  Out of sight, out of mind.  I can tell beyond a shadow of a doubt that it has all been changing for me over these past four or five years.  When something moves me, I am compelled to try and do SOMETHING, even if it's just give money, and I never feel like that's enough.  As a church planter, my heart breaks for those who just don't "get it" yet, because I know what they're missing out on.  I look back on the years when I thought I had it all together and I realize now how much I was hurting.  I really was lost, but I couldn't figure out what was missing because I thought I had it.  Does that make sense?

About two weeks ago I talked on the phone with my college roommate.  We've been in touch through Facebook, but haven't heard each other's voices in a long time.  Somehow we got on the topic of our faith and she said it so well when she stated, "Kim, we really thought that we were good Christian girls, but how did we miss the whole thing?"  In the end, it was actually one of the best conversations I've had in a long time- we were like two "before" and "after" pictures who knew each other well in both situations.  I am so thankful for friends like her... she gets it and her heart breaks for those who don't.  Josh and I planted a church for that reason... we used to be on the other side of this understanding and realize how much better our lives are now that we have a true relationship with our God.  Planting this church was our "living it out."

But you know what you'll find?  Once you start, it won't be enough.  You'll want to help MORE.  You'll want to give MORE.  You'll want to do MORE.  It's a hunger that can never be satisfied. So you will find the people who use that as a crutch or an excuse.  You know the line, "well it's not like we can adopt all of the children in Africa, so what's the point of just taking one?"  Well you know what?  That ONE kid will be forever grateful!  That ONE person's life matters, just like YOUR life matters, right?  Are you saying that your life is more valuable than that one child in Africa?  And if nobody does anything at all then you know what?  You're right- we won't find a home for all of the children, but shouldn't we at least try to make a dent?  God commanded us to take care of the orphans and widows... did you know that if 7% of people who "claimed" they were Christian adopted ONE child, the world's orphan problem would go away?  That is shocking!  In a church of 100, that's only 7 people.  We run about 300 on the weekends, so we should see about 21 families moving toward this goal.  What if we all stopped claiming and actually started doing??  Now that's a world I want to live in!

Okay, so apparently this fired me up a little more than I thought it would.  It definitely struck a chord in me, that's for sure. And you're probably thinking, "well if that's your solution, then why don't YOU adopt a child?"  And the funny thing is that before we found out we were pregnant with Lilly, we were trying.  We knew it could take years so we started the process and even had a few interviews.  We started running into several obstacles and before we could get too frustrated we realized we were expecting.  Shortly after that, God laid it on our hearts that it was time to bring Josh's vision for TurningPoint Church to life.  It was not God's will for us at that time, but we both still feel that it is His will for us in the future.  I feel down to my core that there is a little baby out there waiting for us... whether or not he or she has been born yet or whether or not he or she is from the US or another country I do not know.  Whether or now we will adopt this child or simply foster this child I do not know.  But I do know that since I try and "Live it out" this gut feeling is a real thing- I must do something about it and when God says "move" I'll move.  I've shared that feeling with my family, but never publicly like this, but I must say it's kind of freeing.  It's like publicly announcing that, "Yes, God, I do trust You and I know You have this."  It feels good.

There was more that I was going to share on this topic, but I think I'll stop here for today.  Make sure you jump over to read Brittany's post at Daughter... Wife... Mom... Sis and leave your blog url in the comments section if you joined us this week.  Reading these posts is one of my favorite things to do.

As for next week....

I can't help but still be shaken up by the events that happened in Aurora, CO this past weekend.  I of course am saddened to my core for the victims and their families, but I am also so very troubled by the shooter.  What must he have been going through to get there?  But even more than that, I have to wonder why nobody saw this coming.  Did he have no friends?  Did nobody know him well enough to see that he was going off of the deep end?  And clearly nobody had been to his apartment since it was filled with explosives.  We'll of course never know the full story and we'll never understand.  In fact, I don't think we're supposed to understand, but he clearly did not have anyone in his life who truly knew him, could reach out to him, worry about him, or potentially prevent this horrible tragedy.

The Bible speaks a lot about accountability and being relational.  In fact, God's only true commandments to us were to love God and love people:

Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'(Matthew 22:37-39)

Not only this, but we should also surround ourselves with people who can build us up and hold us accountable, making sure we are living it out and encouraging one another in Christ:

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." (Proverbs 27:17)

This week I want us to praise the people in our lives that "sharpen" us- who continuously challenge us to be better versions of ourselves and hold us accountable.  I hope that we all having someone (or many someones) in our lives who do this.  If you don't want to be specific with names you don't have to be... or you can maybe share a story from your life when someone challenged you and led you away from temptation.  This verse is the heartbeat behind these weekly "Reflections" posts and Brittany and I started them as a way to (from a distance) continue to sharpen one another and encourage others to join us to do the same.  I hope you'll post on this next week!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Vacation - Part 3 - Night Life!

Oh my how things have changed.  With two kiddos in tow, we opted to stay in much more than we went out while on vacation.  We really only ventured out for a "night on the town" once since our friends treated us to dinner at their house one night and on the other we just snacked until we were full. But our big night out was oh so much fun and started with a seafood dinner of course, where we gorged ourselves on the best shrimp we've ever eaten, crab legs, oysters (well, Josh... not me), and conch fritters.  Jake and Lilly opted for battered chicken fingers and "fry-fries."  I don't know what it is, but there is something about having dinner in a tiki-hut type place with the sea air blowing in that is just perfect to me.  I could've sat there all night if it hadn't been for two restless little ones (who were actually angels the whole time we were there).

Daddy and Lilly got a great "date night" picture together, but in true Jake form, this is the best we got of our mommy-son time:

Our main event for the night was the Carolina boardwalk!  I don't think I've ever been to a beach with an actual carnival set up on a good ol'-fashioned boardwalk along the ocean.  It was picturesque and perfect, plus the weather was cool and breezy.

The kids loved looking at all of the lights... there was so much to see!  Jake just kept saying "fireworks" which has been his favorite word since he discovered their wonder on the fourth of July. 

As for the rides, we had no idea what to expect out of our little Jake.  He has never done any sort of kiddie-ride, so we knew he would either love it or completely freak out.  Jake spotted the dinosaurs that went round and round and up and down and decided that this would be his first adventure. We could not go with him on this one, so all I could see were visions of him getting scared, having a meltdown, and jumping out of the flying car... typical, rational mom-thoughts I'm sure.  Instead, before we could even hand the ride attendant the ticket, he had already walked through the gate and climbed up into one, looking at us like "let's go already!"  Once buckled in, he just sat there and rode on it like he had done it a million times before.  He was pretty serious on the ride, too, but would sometimes say "I really high!" when he whizzed by.  It was one of the scariest / proudest moments as a parent to date.

By the time we called it a night, Jake had ridden everything that he was tall enough for, including the kiddie roller coaster, which was bigger than most that I've seen.  I got to ride with him on that one and it   worked up some speed!  Our favorite, however was probably the big slide.  Notice in the video that after he rides with Daddy he just says "Whee!  It's fun!" but after he rides with me he says, "You okay?"  My little boy needed to check on his mama... he just melts my heart.

Know what else melts my heart?  Dressing Miss Lil in outfits to match her mama... yes, I went there.  I'll spare my children from doing it often, but on occasion and at this age I thought we looked adorable (if I do say so myself).

And no night out is complete without a stop for ice cream!  The Lil-bug loves it more than anyone I know and is the only baby I've ever seen eat an entire cone without spilling a drop.  

This was certainly one of the best nights we've had as a family, and certainly a great one as a parent.  Here's to great memories!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Vacation - Part 2 - Carolina Beach!

My family did not grow up going to the same summer spot every summer, at least when it did not involve visiting family.  But Josh's family went to the same beach almost every summer and they contain some of his fondest childhood memories.  While we are not "beach people" per se, we could not pass up the opportunity when Josh was asked to preach at a church on the coast of North Carolina.  To thank us, they put us up in a condo, overlooking the dunes and the water.  Ahhhhhhhhhh.  That is the life.

Vacation should be exactly what it was for us this year- just time spent together with absolutely no distractions.  We kept phone usage to a  minimum and did not even bring a computer.  The condo had a TV, but we hardly turned it on.  Mostly we just read books, played with the kids, and hung out pool and beach-side (but mostly pool since it was right outside our door).  We went down to the beach as soon as we arrived and while it took Jake some time to get used to the sand, Lil only wanted to do one thing:

Yep, she's my little bathing beauty... I think we'll get along fine.  Once she was up, she'd stick her hand in the sand and cry, I'd wipe it off, and she'd go right back and do it all again.  Over and over... so funny.  We thought she might like the little tide pools that formed, but even wet sand was not appealing to her.  She lasted long enough to get one picture... works for me:

Once Jake warmed up to the sand (and discovered buckets and shovels) he was a lot of fun!  He even let Daddy take him into the water for a minute, but I could tell he was pretty concerned.  I didn't mind since Carolina Beach has some of the worst rip tides in the area... I stayed on shore and pretended not to be nervous!

We did have one not-so-successful beach day when Jake just wasn't having it.  The little dude thought that we were going to the pool and LOST HIS MIND when we went to the beach instead.  He had a true terrible-two's temper tantrum complete with throwing himself on the ground and rolling around, which resulted in him being more upset and shouting, "I'm dirty!  I'm dirty!" over and over again.  I probably could have helped, but I was having a hard time not laughing.  I took pictures instead... way to be supportive, right??!!

We tried to spend an entire day out there (even purchasing a small baby pool for Lil at the advice of several bloggers with young children) and the day ended up to be too windy.  Our umbrellas and tent blew over repeatedly, the lifeguards called all swimmers out of the water, and Lil decided that the baby pool was not a good option for her and stayed on the blanket, continuing to do her hand in the sand-cry-wipe it off cycle instead.  It was, however, a great day for flying a kite.

Much to the joy of our children, we ended up right back here:
So this year my kids certainly preferred the pool and that was A-okay with me.  I'm just as happy lounging poolside as I am beachside, and we could hear the surf from our balcony so I spent plenty of time out there, especially when I drank my morning coffee.  Jake even came around and wore his water wings, which was a fight that lasted days.  I so wish I had a video camera... the kid thinks he can swim and acted like we were torturing him when we tried to make him wear them.  We let him go under once when he was "swimming without them" and he came up wide-eyed and panicked before raising both arms in the air and yelling "I did it!  I swim!"  Oh boy.  Mr. Independent does not want help from anyone. He is going to do mighty big things some day with that attitude!  We enjoyed our uninterrupted time with them so much.  We did manage a family picture on the beach, too, where both kids are looking at least in the direction of the camera.  I'll call that a win!

I'm still in post-vacation mourning mode, so these daily posts are therapeutic for me and will help me remember the little antecdotes and share them with Jake and Lil someday.  I so very much love this little foursome of mine and have to thank God daily for a gift this big and special.

Next up?  The night-life in Carolina Beach!  Well, night-life with a toddler and a 9-month-old anyway... which is the night-life I prefer!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Vacation - Part 1

Guess who's back???  And guess who is not happy about it?  Yes it's true, I have the post-vacation blues.  We had such a great time away and literally lived in a bubble for a week- no TV, no phones (for the most part), no laptops, no schedule... it was just us... and it was bliss.  And since I took no less than 200 pictures, I'm going to have to do my recap over the course of the whole week.  And you're going to want to check everyday because the pictures of my tiny beach bums are well worth seeing.  But our trip  didn't start at the beach as we had an overnight pit-stop to visit Josh's family on the way.  The kids could not have been better on the drive and when we got there, they were ready to run around and blow off some steam.  Luckily cousin Skye was there ready to play, too, so we had an impromptu photo session, dressed in matching outfits of course!

The closest we came to the 3 of them looking at the camera

Best Friends... isn't my niece the cutest little thing??

Sharing secrets already

Make no mistake... this one is a DIVA in the making!  Such a precious princess.
Skye absolutely LOVED Jake and basically chased him around the house constantly.  We couldn't tell if he was afraid of her or just annoyed, but it was entertaining nonetheless.  We stopped through on our way back home, too, and saw even more family- Grandmom and Grandy again, Jake and Lilly's Great MawMaw and Pop, Uncle Sam, Uncle Ben, and Aunt Ginny.


Great MawMaw

Auntie Ginny and Skye-Baby

Uncle Ben
Uncle Sam - I promise that Lilly actually likes him unlike what the picture shows!
It was an all-too short visit, but I'm glad that it was somewhat on the way and we could see everyone, even if it was brief.  Seeing those three kiddos together made it so worth it and I know that it will just get more and more fun as the kids get older.  We have two weddings coming up in this bunch, so I'm sure more visits are to come!

Check back tomorrow for beach and pool pics!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Reflections - Gut Check!

Sooo... our weekly reflections post was a challenge to update others on how you're doing in your daily walk with God.  Yikes.  Last Thursday when that challenge was posted I thought, "oh this is so great!  THIS is what's going to keep me on track!"  And I have to admit... it did for a few days.  For about four days I made sure to do my daily devotional right when I woke up and it was wonderful.  I really felt like it started my day off on the right foot and put my mind and heart in the right condition to really make the most of the day I had been given.  And then like anything else... I fell right back into my "busy" routine.  Because of my growing to-do list, my daily quiet time kept getting further and further down on the list of priorities until it eventually just did not happen.  And so this morning, I hang my head in embarrassment as I come here to reveal that I still have a long way to go to be the Christian that God wants me to be.  More importantly though, I still have a long way to go to be the Christian that I know I can be!  My heart desires it more than anything and it's the discipline that I struggle with.  Schedules, routines, regimens, etc. have never been my strong suit, which is strange because I am the daughter of a retired Army colonel!  My schedule is different just about every day... I don't even get up at the same time everyday but just prefer to wake when I hear the little ones.  I typically go downstairs, feed and play with them while having my morning coffee and watching some sort of morning show and then get them dressed for their various activities that day.  I sometimes have to take a break from this to check my work emails and respond to anything that needs immediate action, depending on what time the day started.  From there, it's all a blur.  I work, do laundry, clean house, run the kids from here to there, shower (most days... and usually not until around lunch time), grab a snack or two (but rarely a full meal in the middle of the day), and sometimes run a quick errand.  So you see?  God gets lost in the midst of this "important" stuff.  Aside from spending quality time with my kids and doing my job well, the rest is seriously just junk that gets in the way.  It can wait, can't it?

So what's the point?  What can we do to see past the junk and get to the bread of life everyday?  Well, I've been thinking a lot about it... what wisdom can I offer when I don't even have it right myself?  And here's what I've come up with:

Fasting is a Biblical principle and something we see throughout history, mainly when a person wants to have a big transformation in their lives.  About twice a year, I do some sort of fast, one being giving up television completely, which reminds me of how unimportant "my shows" are.  The other has to do with some sort of food, which is more along the lines of what you find in the Bible.  The idea is to give up something that has a stronghold on you- that thing that gets in the way of your relationship with Christ.  The cool thing with anything having to do with food is that your hunger pains are physical reminders to pray or seek God... so that relationship grows.  While I am not suggesting that we all start fasting (although if you've never done something like it and want to grow your faith, I do recommend one), my new "hunger pang" is going to be chores... hang with me for a second.  Every night after I put the kids to bed, I run around like a crazy person putting all of the toys away and straightening the house.  I love to go to bed with a clean kitchen and feel like I sleep better.  So my commitment instead is going to be that before I can get to that, I need to sit down and have my personal time with our heavenly Father.  If He truly is more important than my messy house like I say He is, then any time I want to tackle a household chore, He needs to come first, whether that's taking my daily time with Him or saying a prayer, or just giving Him a few minutes of praise for all He has given me.  In the evenings, I do realize that I might come to a point where I'll spend my time and be too tired to clean up (gasp!) but you know what?  That mess will be there in the morning to tackle and kids are just going to pull it all out again anyway.  And I'm generally so tired at the end of a long day, that I doubt the mess is REALLY going to mess up my sleep.  In fact, I think I may rest easier knowing that my spirit has been fed.  I do realize that all of this adds up to discipline, which I self-admittedly am not good at, but rather than being a scheduled thing, it's more of a "hunger pang" thing, so I'm hoping that does me some good.  And for additional accountability, I'll give a weekly update on how that's going.  Deal?

Brittany posted her amazing thoughts on this topic over at her blog Daughter... Wife... Mom... Sis, and I have to tell you, it's pretty awesome.  She gives us glimpses into her journal and I think they will really bless you.  I'm thinking I need to start doing that to track my thoughts and progress like she does! And if you shared with us, please leave a comment!

As for next week, I'd hate to double up on a topic, but since we all just admitted that this is something we need to get better at, the challenge is to do another weekly update on your progress.  Maybe we'll make this some sort of 21 day thing, since that's how long it takes to make something a habit.  Put some of these new ideas and methods into place and see if that helps, and share with us on where you're at, what is working, and what is not working.  I also do not want to post a deeper topic than this because I'm not 100% sure that I'll be blogging this week as we leave for vacation tomorrow (wooo-hooooo!).  But I do promise to do my update when I get back if I don't get around to it this week.  Cool?

As always, thanks for reading and sharing and for the encouragement and accountability.  We rarely get comments on these things so I'm not sure if they bless you at all, but I can speak for Brittany when I say that we love coming together on Thursdays in this way.  She's in Colorado and I'm in Kentucky, but we're sisters in Christ and the distance doesn't matter.  Have a wonderful week of seeking, praying, and hopefully growing in Christ.

As for me?  This chick needs to get packed... sunshine and sand, here I come!

Monday, July 9, 2012

When Blogs Collide...

I'm beginning to realize that I blog in spurts.  You can probably gauge how busy our life is at the present moment by how frequently or infrequently I post.  To be honest, this past weekend was the first weekend in a loooooonnnnnnnggggg time that we had nothing going on.  And that's only because our original plans got canceled as Josh's half IronMan was downgraded to an Olympic-distance due to the heat.  [Speaking of the heat... WHEN is it going to end??  This summer has been downright ridiculous!]  Most of our busy has been due to races actually and between marathons, half marathons, 10K's, and triathlons we seem to be traveling all over the surrounding area every other weekend.  It feels good to be back to our old racing selves, fully enjoying the season.

But along with our travels, we often find ourselves in a town where we have old friends... and sometimes even friends that we've never even met!  The first came on a trip to Nashville back in May when Josh ran the Nashville Marathon.  Even though we were just there for one night, we still managed to meet up with one of my favorite gals, Kristen, who I follow over at Add-and-Land.  I had seen her last August, but hadn't seen her daughter since she was just weeks old (and she's now six!) and had never seen her son in person.  Jake and Landon were like two peas in a pod... it could not have made me happier!

Coming along as well was my blog-only friend, Jessica from The Parsonage Family.  This was the first time I've ever met someone whom I only "know" from the blog-world, and it was so amazing to see her and feel like we were old friends.  Her husband and sweet kiddos were there, too, and although they are adorable in pictures, I definitely think all kids are cuter in person.  She did a better recap of the trip that you can find here and here's a picture of (most of) our crew.  Notice which child is missing... Jake had decided to run around like a maniac at this point, which was okay considering that he had spent four hours in the car AND gotten car sick on the way there!  He's such a trooper.  In this picture though, the back of Landon's head could pass for Jake!

Jess and I hit it off so well in fact that we recently met up again for lunch when she was up visiting her parents.  I never would have imagined that an online friendship would be something that I would ever have, or that it would translate into real life so well.  She and I have a ton in common as we're both married to pastors, so that helps, too.

THEN... on our way back from Georgia a few weekends ago, I asked Josh if we could possibly make a quick pit stop in Knoxville to visit Channa from My Boys.  Channa and I met late in college, but really reconnected (online of course) when we were both pregnant for the first time at the same time.  Her boy was due in February and Jake in March and we both used blogs to journal the experience and probably became each other's most avid readers at that time.  Then we both had kiddo #2 and have felt like we've known each other's kids all their lives.  I can't even explain it.  We've been trying to get together for YEARS and a quick lunch at Chick-Fil-A finally worked out.  Seeing our kids play together was like a dream come true:

I know I've mentioned before that occasionally I toy with the idea of giving up the blog, but then I think about these friendship and how real and rich they are due to this little outlet.  It's so strange and I never would have expected this, but I absolutely love it!  I follow many others and read quite a few that I don't actually follow, too, and hope that this can happen more in the future.  And if you're ever passing through Eastern Kentucky and would like our blogs to collide, I'd love for that to happen, too!