Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Greetings from San Diego!

Well, it's that time of year again--Fiddle Camp! (Aka The Mark O'Connor Strings Conference)

After church on Sunday, we drove down to San Diego where we are staying this week while Zach attends the camp. The daily classes and evening concerts are held at Point Loma Nazarene University (which overlooks the ocean), but then everyone stays at the hotel during the week. It's not a bad set up. The picture above is one of the pools at the hotel. Nice, huh?! : )

This is Zach's 4th year attending the camp and we all look forward to it. (Gee, I wonder why?!) But we found out this is going to be the last year it's held in San Diego. Next year it will be in New York! So it's looking like this may be Zach's last year, unless he can save up enough money to buy a plane ticket to New York. We'll see!

Rande stays out at the college each day with Zach, practicing his guitar, reading his Bible...and then he'll take guitar classes Wednesday through Friday. We all meet up for dinner and the evening concert, then it's a long night as the students all gather in conference rooms back at the hotel to "jam".

I brought a bunch of homeschool stuff to work on for the upcoming year, but have yet to crack open any of it. : ) Today Ashleigh and the boys are coming to spend the day at the pool and tomorrow I'm spending the day with a friend for our annual "Girls Day" (her son also attends the camp).

After that, who knows what I'm going to do. But I'm totally ok with it. : )

Happy Tuesday!

**Just as I was ending this post, we experienced a pretty decent earthquake! Yikes!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

This is why I love California...

I know California has a lot of issues--especially for us more conservative folk--but one of the things I love about my home state is the fact that you can be in the desert heat one day, feel the ocean breezes on your face the next and within a few driving hours, view some of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the United States.

We drove up to the eastern Sierra Mountains (Bishop and Mammoth) so my mom could see the place that I have loved since I was a teenager. My parents were divorced when I was 11 years old and it was my dad that used to take me to Mammoth and mom had only heard about it. She was very excited to see what all the hoop-la was about! : )

First we stopped by Jill Kinmont Boothe's house to pick up the paintings we ordered and had framed (love them!). We had a very nice visit with Jill and her husband John. Honestly, they are just the nicest people!

The next morning, Rande and Zach got up early to go fishing and this is what they saw:

Is that just so beautiful? The water was like glass....

Zach hanging out with the cows--and trying to catch some fish. : )

I love taking pictures of wildflowers....

And other little friends, such as this pretty blue dragonfly.

In the afternoon we headed up to Mammoth Mountain so Mom could see the ski resort. Rande and I thought it would be neat for her see where we ski--even though there isn't any snow, because you know, it's summer. : ) I took this picture to show y'all what crazy youngsters Rande and I once were: we used to ski down from the tippy-top of that mountain (elevation 11,000 ft.) Lets just say my mom was happy to know we won't be doing that again anytime soon.

The above picture is for Ashleigh. This is the little mountain chapel up at Twin Lakes and when she was younger, she would say this is where she wanted to get married. (She and John ended up getting married in Leadville, Colorado--located in the beautiful Rocky Mountains--elevation 10,500 ft.!)

My mom was in such complete awe of the absolutely breathtaking scenery, that as soon as she stepped out of the car, she said, "How can people deny there is a Creator?" And then she promptly quoted Psalm 121. : )

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth...

Zach sitting at the top of the waterfall

I love this picture of my mom and Rande...isn't that the sweetest thing?

Mom and Hannah Beth left yesterday afternoon to go back home to Alabama. :sniff: The time went by way too fast, but I'm so thankful they both came. It was so much fun having my mom here and Hannah Beth was a huge blessing to Ashleigh.

We love you both and miss you oodles!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Life...in pictures

Rande made it home safely from fighting the northern Cali fires, Zach is adjusting to life back at home--and my mom and our friend Hannah Beth are here from Alabama. Hannah Beth is staying at Ashleigh's to lend a helping hand and learn the reality of life with two busy little boys.

It's been non-stop since my mom and HB (as we affectionately call Hannah Beth) got here. It's hard to believe it was just a week ago that Ashleigh and I went to our annual state homeschool convention. Here we are in our hotel room...
Of course we had to document it. Gotta love those up close self portraits! : )

Little Mer-Bear attended the convention for the first time and he was so much fun to have around.

The convention was awesome! My favorite speakers were Ken Ham (Answers in Genesis) and Gregg Harris (Josh Harris' dad). There's so much to say about the convention, but that will have to be a post for another time. I was so sad that Rande could not make it though, because it was one of the best conventions ever!

On Tuesday my mom and HB flew in and we are having a GREAT time! My mom hasn't been out here in almost five years and we are hoping (praying!) that this trip will be the catalyst for getting her back to California and closer to us. I love having my mom around. : )

So what have we been doing while she's here?

Showing her what blogging is all about! : )

Getting her to make her famous Roquefort (or in this case, blue cheese) salad dressing....mayo, sour cream, red wine vinegar, blue cheese, garlic salt and pepper. Yum!

Grillin' burgers and eating them with homemade baked mac-n-cheese. Double yum!



And more swimming!

All that swimming makes little people very tired! : )

Of course there has to be music. Zach's good friend Brock stopped by one day and he and HB broke out the guitars. Both kids are terrific musicians.

We've also been shopping, dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and a trip to Ashleigh and John's house. My mom has enjoyed spending time with her great-grandchildren and they love their "G.G.". She became Troy's new best friend the minute she ate a gummy worm. : )

The day we went out to Ashleigh's, this is how Troy looked when we arrived:
He was taking his nap. With his sunglasses on. Upside down. Yep, that's my grandson!

Tomorrow we are taking my mom up to Bishop and Mammoth for two days. You may remember that when Rande and I went up a few weeks ago, we purchased some paintings by Jill Kinmont. The paintings had to be framed and matted and now they are ready to picked up. Since my mom has never been to the Sierra mountains she's very excited--and she gets to meet Jill Kinmont!

And then it will be time for her to go back to Alabama. The time is just flying by and I don't even want to think about her leaving! ::sniff::

Blessings to you--and have a GREAT week!

Monday, July 14, 2008

It's a family reunion!

I picked up Zach last night after being at camp the past 6 weeks...

Rande just called and he's on his way home from fighting the fires in northern California...

My mom is flying in from Alabama tomorrow...

I am one excited wife/mother/daughter! : )

Happy Monday everyone!

Morning thoughts...

I so enjoy reading Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening devotionals. This morning's devotion (which I've posted at the bottom) was no different. I've had a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head the past few weeks regarding some things I've either heard or read...and going to the homeschool convention this past weekend just put some more thoughts in my already over-crowded brain space. : )

So when I read this portion of scripture (all of Ex. 20) and the devotion, I knew it was the Lord speaking to my heart about how important it is to focus on Jesus and Him alone. (Now, I realize Spurgeon is just a man, and his words are NOT God's WORD--which is why I read the entire passage(s), not just one verse--and then read the devotion.)

It's so *not* about me. When people look at Mishel--I want them to see a woman who love Jesus. When they look at my family I want them to see a family that loves Jesus. I/we are imperfect, but there is One who is perfect--Jesus! And I want to point people to Him--not to my way of thinking about things, but to God's way and to His truth. I've been guilty of following man rather than God. I've also--because of pride--been guilty of wanting others to follow me. Forgive me, Lord!

I was talking to a friend at the homeschool convention (who happens to go to my church and is the mother of 8 blessings!) and at one point in the conversation she said,

"You know, I'm realizing more and more, that it (our walk with Christ, training our children, homeschooling, ect...) is just about me loving Jesus. It's all about JESUS."

I couldn't agree more! : )

So without further adieu, here's C. H. Spurgeon:

Monday, July 14, 2008

"If thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it." {#Ex

God’s altar was to be built of unhewn stones, that no trace of human skill or labour might be seen upon it. Human wisdom delights to trim and arrange the doctrines of the cross into a system more artificial and more congenial with the depraved tastes of fallen nature; instead, however, of improving the gospel carnal wisdom pollutes it, until it becomes another gospel, and not the truth of God at all. All alterations and amendments of the Lord’s own Word are defilements and pollutions. The proud heart of man is very anxious to have a hand in the justification of the soul before God; preparations for Christ are dreamed of, humblings and repentings are trusted in, good works are cried up, natural ability is much vaunted, and by all means the attempt is made to lift up human tools upon the divine altar. It were well if sinners would remember that so far from perfecting the Saviour’s work, their carnal confidences only pollute and dishonour it. The Lord alone must be exalted in the work of atonement, and not a single mark of man’s chisel or hammer will be endured. There is an inherent blasphemy in seeking to add to what Christ Jesus in his dying moments declared to be finished, or to improve that in which the Lord Jehovah finds perfect satisfaction. Trembling sinner, away with thy tools, and fall upon thy knees in humble supplication; and accept the Lord Jesus to be the altar of thine atonement, and rest in him alone (emphasis added).

Many professors may take warning from this morning’s text as to the doctrines which they believe. There is among Christians far too much inclination to square and reconcile the truths of revelation; this is a form of irreverence and unbelief, let us strive against it, and receive truth as we find it; rejoicing that the doctrines of the Word are unhewn stones, and so are all the more fit to build an altar for the Lord.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Endings...and new beginnings

Well, I'm all packed and ready to leave early in the morning (6am!) for our annual homeschool convention. Rande and I have attended this convention for many years and it's always a highlight of our year. He's still out fighting fires in northern Cali though, so no convention for him. It's kinda sad because this will likely be our last year, with Zach being a senior and all. ::sniff::

Thankfully I won't be alone though, as Ashleigh is taking Rande's place! : ) And 8 month old Merritt. He's coming too. Which is only fair because Troy got to go when he was an infant.

It's going to be fun times, for sure!

Speaking of homeschooling--do any of you veterans remember these magazines?

These were in one of the hall closets (which I finally finished organizing tonight--woohoo!). Teaching Home, Home School Digest, Keepers at Home, Crowned with Silver, Kindred Spirits, Homemakers Forum (from the Urban Homemaker), and In Keeping with the Faith (from Keepers of Faith). Can you tell what I enjoyed reading about?

All of these magazines are from the mid 90's through 2001 and as I was going through them, I was remembering our life during those years. They are bittersweet memories because while the Lord grew us a lot during that time, it was also a very difficult time in many ways. There are things about our life during those years that I would never want to repeat. But that's another post for another day. : )

Anyway...I loved these magazines and I was sad today when most of them went in the trash. I did keep six of my very favorite, but the others went in the garbage. I can't keep them forever.

Between the magazines and the last convention this weekend, I feel a little melancholy tonight. But then I remember that I have grandchildren. And their parents are planning on homeschooling them.

So it's not really over, is it? Nope. It's the beginning of a new generation of homeschoolers. Now that is something to smile about!

Have a great weekend and blessings to you! : )

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Crew

Rande (far right) sent this picture of his crew before they were heading out to the fire line yesterday morning. From what I can tell by the news and the California Dept. of Forestry website, it sounds like it was a pretty rough day yesterday. A number of homes were lost, which is always so sad. I just cannot imagine what it must be like for those people who are displaced and have lost their home.

When I talked to Rande on Monday, they were very grateful to be able to sleep at motel (compared to the last brush fire he was on where they slept on the floor of an abandoned house). He said it was really old and rundown, but having a bed and a shower was a HUGE blessing.

Thank you so very much for praying for my guy and his crew. I'll keep y'all posted.

Blessings to you! : )

Monday, July 7, 2008

Holding my plans loosely...

Today hasn't gone exactly as I had planned.

My plan for the day was to remove everything from the hall linen closets, replace the shelf liner and then organize everything before putting it all back. And trust me--this would be an all day project. I don't even remember the last time I organized my hall closets. Scary stuff.

I got to the point of removing the actual linens, before a friend stopped by for a visit. She ended up staying most of the day. It's been a long time since this friend and I had time to just sit and talk. We had lunch and her two daughters even came over later. It was such a nice day and I was very thankful for the company. Obviously it wasn't what I had planned, but the Lord knew it was exactly what my friend and I needed.

I guess the Lord is teaching my to hold my plans loosely. When Rande called last Thursday to tell me he'd be leaving on Saturday for two weeks (his crew is fighting the Butte Lightening Complex fire in northern California) some of my initial thoughts were of our upcoming plans: the homeschool convention we've attended every summer since 1993 and my mom and a young friend of ours coming to visit from Alabama next week. We also scheduled some major electrical work that needed to be done to our house this week (thanks to our previous licensed contractor, who not surprisingly, didn't know proper code) and Rande really wanted to get more of the baseboards completed before my mom got here.

At first I started to panic a little about everything--the danger of Rande's job, the fact that Zach wouldn't be here because he extended his stay at Ironwood a week, sadness that Rande would not be able to attend our last year of homeschool convention, not to mention all the little things that needed to get done before my mom gets here.

But the neat thing is that when Rande called me, I was sitting outside on our patio reading my Bible. : ) Yep, God knew I'd need His word to remind me that everything--including my husband--are in the Lord's very capable hands. Peace began to replace the panic--and I knew I needed to let go of my plans and expectations and most importantly, I needed to trust the Lord for Rande and his crew's safety.

So this is where I'm at today. Trusting the Lord. : ) It's the best place to be! And He has graciously worked out plans for Ashleigh and little Merritt to attend the homeschool convention with me. Troy is going to his little friend Caleb's house for the night. Caleb's mama just happens to be a dear childhood friend of Ashleigh's and I'm so thankful she has agreed to watch Troy. (Thanks Nicole!)

The electrical work is getting started tomorrow and I need to be out of the house for most of the day, which works out fine because I have a bunch of errands to run. And all the other stuff? Well, my motto is: Whatever gets done--gets done.

Oh and the linen closets? I'll be working on them tonight and tomorrow night. I have to finish those because there are towels, sheets and other junk all over the bed my mom will be sleeping on. I don't think she'd appreciate sharing the bed with all that stuff.

Now on to other happenings--Did y'all have a good 4th of July? Ours was a little subdued as Rande needed to prepare to leave the next morning by 4am. But that didn't stop us from eating lots of yummy food and swimming....

Even Brodie took time to cool off in the doggy pool!

We didn't make it our church's celebration because of time. But we wanted Troy and Merritt to see the fireworks--so we stopped what we were doing, drove over to the high school and watched from the back of Ashleigh's truck.

I'm sure Rande's going to love this picture of the back of his bald head! But I thought it was so cute! : )

Well, I'm off to work on getting those closets organized--Happy Monday!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th!

Happy Independence Day!

It's going to be a little different celebration for us this year. Zach is still at camp, John is in Iraq...but Rande is off from the fire station and Ashleigh and the boys will be here. Yeah! : )

We have a day planned of swimming, barbecuing some bratwurst and then we are supposed to go to our church to watch the fireworks display that our little town puts on.

Rande called me from the fire station yesterday afternoon to tell me he has to leave early Saturday morning for two weeks. He will be part of a strike team going up to help fight the fires in northern California.

So...our day will be a mixture of celebration and preparing for Rande to leave. If you've been reading my blog for a while then you know this is *so* our life. : )

Blessings and Happy 4th of July to you!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Ok...Part 2 of "What I Did on My Summer Vacation"

First I want to say it was so good to see Zach yesterday. It had been a month since we'd seen him and boy, is that kid skinny and tan! They feed them well at Camp Ironwood, but I think all the 10 hour days working in the 100+ degree heat might have something to do with his tan and skinny-ness. ; )

We arrived in time for the 11am service (which was an excellent message from Revelation 3) and then took Zach and two friends out to lunch and to Walmart for necessities. We made it back for their 5:30 evening service--which is a time of testimony of what God did during the previous week's camp and then prayer for the upcoming camp. Rande and I left so encouraged because the Lord is doing great things at Camp Ironwood and we are so thrilled and thankful that Zach has been a part of it.

Anyway...now back to Part 2 of our trip to the Sierra mountains. (You can read the first part and see a ton of pics here.)

After spending the week in Bishop, Rande and I decided to drive to nearby Mammoth Mountain. Mammoth holds a lot memories for us--we both used to go up with our families in the winter to ski--and then once we married and had a family, we would bring our children. We hadn't been in awhile and wanted to check things out.

But before we left Bishop there was one more thing we wanted to do, which had nothing to do with fishing or kayaking. It had to do with this lady in the picture with Rande and I.

Her name is Jill Kinmont Boothe (many people know her as Jill Kinmont). If you are old enough, you may remember a movie that came out in the mid 70's called, The Other Side of the Mountain (a sequel followed a few years later). My dad skied Mammoth while in college at UCLA and he had casually met Jill once, was inspired by her story and couldn't wait to take my mom and I to see the movie. I was only 8 years old but I came away absolutely inspired (and a bit obsessed!) by Jill and her remarkable story.

In case you don't know the story, Jill was from Bishop, trained at Mammoth and was a U.S. Olympic hopeful (for womens skiing). During the 1956 Olympic try-outs she had a terrible accident that left her a quadriplegic. There were a series of events in her life (besides the accident) that were very tragic, but in spite of all the hurdles and disappointments she faced, she went on to UCLA, became a teacher and later married John Boothe. (You can read more about Jill's story here.) And as if that wasn't enough--she is also an accomplished artist! Isn't that amazing?!

Jill still lives in Bishop and about nine years ago while staying at Cardinal Village with the kids, Rande talked me into calling her. We knew she lived in Bishop because at the end of Other Side of the Mountain--Part 2, it says so right before the credits. And when I looked in the phone book, there was her number right in front of me--but I just could not call her. I told Rande that only a weirdo person would do something like call a total stranger and tell her how much they admire her and ask if it's ok to stop by her house with a husband and two kids so we can all meet her. But after much discussion and me saying, "No, I'm not going to do it!" a million times, I gave in and became that weirdo person. And just so you know, this is by far, the #1 Craziest Thing I've Ever Done! I just want to make that very clear. : )

I called Jill and she was so gracious and kind. It turns out I'm not the only person who has ever called and asked to stop by her house! (Whew!) She told me we were welcome to come the next afternoon. When we arrived the next day, Jill and her husband John were just so friendly and made us feel very comfortable. We talked for a bit and then Jill took us back to her little studio where she paints. She does beautiful watercolors and sketches and I was so honored see her work. As crazy as I felt for asking to come to her home, I was so glad I did and it's a memory I cherish.

Let me just add here that Rande and the kids were just as thrilled to meet Jill and her husband as I was. The movie depicting her life was one of his favorites too and later inspired him to become an adaptive ski instructor (for disabled students) on his days off from the fire department.

Anyway...in the years since we met Jill, Rande and I had talked about how neat it would be to have one of her paintings. And now seemed like the perfect time. We've come through a very difficult and stressful remodel of our home and I just happen to be looking for artwork to put on our walls. : ) So while in Bishop, Rande (Not me! I wasn't calling her again!) called Jill and we met with her and her husband to choose something. Once again they were so gracious and kind to us--and it was such a blessing to visit with them. We chose more than one (they are actually numbered and signed prints) and we'll go back to pick them up sometime in July when the matting and framing is complete (Jill's husband does it himself).

Isn't that just so neat?

Ok...so after we left Jill's house and headed up to Mammoth, Rande and I couldn't imagine being blessed more than we already were. But the Lord had more for us!

A week or so before we left for our trip I received an email from my bloggy friend Patty at Beside Still Waters. Her family was going to be up in Mammoth the same time we were and she let me know where they'd be staying. I was so excited at the thought of meeting Patty and her daughter Darcy, but didn't know if it would work out.

Thankfully Rande is game for this kind of thing (No kidding! Remember he had me call a complete stranger and ask if we could stop by her house!), so when we got into Mammoth we started searching for more people we'd never met. : )

We had the name of the campground they were staying at, but I had no idea what Patty and Darcy looked like other than their tiny blog icon pictures. After driving around one campground, then realizing we had the wrong one--we finally found the right one and started searching.

Rande drove slowly as we checked out each campsite (thankfully the campground wasn't very crowded). The funny thing is Rande had no idea who exactly he was looking for, but he was still totally into trying to find Patty and Darcy. Finally, I saw them. At least I was pretty sure it was them. So I jumped out of our Jeep and said, "Patty? Darcy?!" (While the rest of their family looked at us like, "Who in the world are these crazy people coming to invade our campsite?!") Yep it was Patty and Darcy!

And here we are to prove it! The picture came out a little blurry, but Darcy's shirt says, "I'm blogging this!". : )

We had so much fun visiting with them. I say "we" because while Patty, Darcy and I were talking--Rande was off becoming best buds with Patty's brothers. I seriously think he was ready to pitch a tent and become part of their family camp out. : ) It was definitely one of those special times when you meet people and it feels like you've known each other longer than a few minutes.

So thank you Patty, Darcy and the rest of your family for making the last leg of our trip a very special one. We were totally blessed!

Well, that's it! What a trip! Thanks for letting me share it.

Blessings to you...