Category Archives: Events

Merry Christmas!

With love and snow, we wish you a blessed Christmas full of joy, peace, and abundant Life in Jesus Christ, the Savior!

Here’s a little peek into our Christmas Eve…

It will be a white Christmas this year!

Around the dinner table tonight

Our traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner – Lasagna, garlic bread, and salad

With 7-month old kittens in the house this year, we opted to decorate our Christmas tree in Victorian-fashion, and with non-heirloom ornaments

Reading of the birth of Jesus and singing corresponding carols together. It’s a favorite tradition that always puts our hearts in the right place!

Humble Thanks For A Sweet Weekend

We are home from the Worship of God conference this weekend, and we have been unimaginably blessed. The humbleness and Christ-centeredness of the speakers and their messages has been a beautiful thing and my heart has been convicted of my own pride and selfishness. It hurts to see it in myself, in the ones I love, and in those who pass by all around me. My heart is often broken in sorrow over it.

We heard a prayer offered for the next speaker that he would “disappear,” and another speaker started by asking that no one would applause him but rather say amen, alleluia or praise the Lord. True worship can only happen when man is abased and the Lord is exalted. All glory be to God!

I have also been moved to prayer often over the last few days, and have realized my faithlessness in the past. I have been exhorted to joyfulness in the Lord, and I will praise Him for His wonderful goodness and humbly trust the rest to His merciful care.

My loving Father, I praise Your name and thank You…

…for godly men who teach and exhort with humility and conviction
…for the fellowship of the saints
…for the instruction of Thy Word to all of life
…for the great delight and satisfaction You give us in worshipping you
…for Your work of transformation (Rom 12:2), and of conforming (Rom 8:29, Phil 2:5 and 2:13) in the lives of so many beautiful families, small and large, new and established
…for the access You grant us unto You in prayer, and the help of the Holy Spirit to pray according to Your will
…for the confidence and contentment and joy that You have more firmly fixed within my heart

…for the conception of beauty that You created in us
…for the beauty of many sincere and loving voices lifted in worship
…for the expressions of our hearts found in the Psalms
…for convicting my heart, for convicting my mama’s heart, and for convicting the hearts of others I have talked to – I pray that we do not lose this tenderness!
…for new acquaintances
…for gathering so many people together from all around the country with the unifying desire to know You and obey Your Word
…for the blessing of simply being around each other, and the support and encouragement we can give each other – Oh Lord, work in our hearts that it may be so!

…for joyful smiles that come from the inside and lift the spirit!
…for examples of biblical discipline in families, and children that respect and love their parents for it
…for content babies in church
…for fathers who command their children after them (Gen 18:19)
…for the great mercy of Your ways, especially in forgiving our lack of understanding and the revelation of Your will as we continue seeking Your face to learn and please You more
…for the exhortation to fellowship and unity around a meal on Lord’s day afternoons – particularly in the church, but also in the home – for the purpose of continuing to worship and please You!
…for the order and wisdom You gave in Your worship this morning and the peace and sweetness that it contributed
…for a safe trip home

At the Worship of God Conference

We are so thankful that we are able to attend The Worship of God conference! The first keynote is very soon (and we are REALLY excited to hear it!), so let me quickly post some pictures from this morning.

We drove all day yesterday and slept late this morning.

Some of the necessary comforts from home: organic coffee with raw honey…

We sat outside together as we each finished in the bathroom, and read God’s Word, discussed some things, and relaxed from the past few days of hurried trip preparations.

For breakfast, some of us had bread and butter with apples, and some had homemade instant oatmeal. Bringing food was a challenge on this trip, as the only way we have of cooking or heating anything is hot water!

We picked up our registration packet.

Toured the grounds here at Ridgecrest conference center.

And saw some beautiful mountain scenery!

From the overlook, the three of us girls hiked back down to the conference center.

And now the conference begins! 😀 More updates will come as time allows.

Much love in the Spirit (Col 1:8),
Michelle

Our Favorite Homeschool Convention

We had a wonderful time last weekend at one of our favorite homeschool conventions. Our family has volunteered at their used curriculum sale for many years, and this year Lady L also had a “young entrepreneurs” booth selling crocheted hair flowers!

I had taken this picture and noticed nothing amiss (besides uncooperative subjects), but when I got home Thursday evening and put them on the computer, I noticed a crazy friend in the background… how he must have laughed when we didn’t even notice him!

With her booth fully set up Thursday evening!

If you’re interested, you can see Lady L’s business “website”, Hooked On Blooms, and also visit her business blog for more pictures.

Part of our job at the used curriculum sale is to sort the consignment tags by seller ID so that if there is any problem with the online system, or a question arises, the tags are in order. In the past couple of years, we have also gotten a few other families that we know involved, and it’s been a joy to work together!

“E” with a handful of tags to sort

Our three families taking a break and having lunch together on Friday

Friends and helpers at Lady L’s booth Saturday evening right before packing up – from L to R, “N”, Lady L, myself, Amanda, siblings “D” and “J”, and “E”

Our friends, Mr. and Mrs. L, also the parents of “N” and “E” [Photo credit: Mama – it’s a really nice picture!]

On the way home Saturday evening, we had a first-ever experience for our family – a tire blowout! We were on the interstate going 70mph in the left lane, and it was a bit scary, but everyone is safe and the van is fixed. The Lord provided in many different ways, with roadside assistance just added to our insurance plan in the past month, being only 10 minutes from home, having friends very close by who could pick us up, and other blessed details! It also wound up being a great photo opportunity as we were stranded there for 45 minutes or so… 😉

The rim was all bent out of shape and had to be replaced

P.S. Are all the pictures showing up? I’m having a problem with one, but cannot find anything wrong!

We’re Going on a Trip…

to the St. Louis area in May, to attend the 2013 Family Economics Conference! We’re so thankful to the Lord for enabling us to attend again this year. The past two years have been such an amazing blessing, and a great encouragement to us as a family.

As we plan for and look forward to this year’s conference, I’ve been thinking a lot about the past two, and since I never posted about 2012’s, I thought I would take you on a brief picture tour of some of the highlights.

Wheaton College was a beautiful facility…

We enjoyed getting to meet and and talk with other like-minded families…

The speakers had wonderful, challenging messages to share from their hearts…

Singing praises to the Lord with the other 1,400 or so attendees was precious. I love that the coordinators planned the singing of hymns throughout the conference!

The audience response units, with the immediate rendering of the data in the slides, was a fun way to be involved and to see some interesting (and hilarious!) information about the families at the conference. Did you know that something like 6% of the families arrived by flying in with Mary Poppins?!

The panels with families talking about their experiences were really interesting and informative…

And people watching is, of course, always great sport – as evidenced by these three men sitting in the exact same way… 😉

Watching Amanda and Lady L practice with the choir for Liberty Day…

The Liberty Day celebration, held in conjunction with the conference, was a wonderful reenactment of the 2nd Virginia Convention and Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death” speech. The music, costumes, acting, and most of all, remembering the Providential events in the founding of our nation, was beautiful!


And then there was the Colonial Dance! Much thought and prayer went into the decision to take part in the dance, and I’m so glad we did! It was a blessed time of fellowship and fun in a pure, family-centered environment. And great exercise!!!

I thank the Lord for these experiences and times together to learn and grow as a family. We’re all really looking forward to going this year, and desire your prayers that God’s will would be accomplished in this conference – for our family, and for every little detail and moment.

Family Economics Trip Report (part 1)

{Finally posted! :D}

We had a wonderful time as a family preparing for, traveling to and from, and attending the 2012 Family Economics Conference and Liberty Day. I’d like to attempt to share with you a little bit of the goodness we experienced and what a blessing family is!

PREPARATION

As you saw in my post on travel food, we made a lot of food to bring with us. And you also probably read that Mama made 3 dresses in the 2 weeks before we left (side note: we got the fabric on clearance after Thanksgiving, plus used amazing coupons, so each dress only cost $25-$30!). It was a busy and blessed time. You see, each of us helped Mama with our dress, learning little bits about sewing as we went, so that was special. I planned and prepared the food. In her “extra” time, Lady L helped me make the food and organized all the animal care for the first time. Amanda made dinner for us most evenings the last week. We learned a lot about teamwork and faithfully fulfilling large responsibilities.

Have I mentioned that Amanda and Lady L signed up to participate in the Liberty Day choir? Yeah, sorry about that, it kind of slipped my mind! The weeks before we left were filled with earbuds, mp3 players, piano strains, lots of practicing of an alto line, and the occasional attempts to harmonize with the lead line. It all came out well in the end, and I’ll post about it when I get there.

TRAVEL

There were lots of interesting things to see as we traveled to the Chicago area, some of which you’ll see in pictures below. It was a long drive, but the company superb.

I tried to keep a trip log


One of the more interesting ones – this truck appears to have veered off the road and then slipped into the ditch, unable to pull itself out. They were using three heavy-duty tow trucks to try to drag it out.

Another interesting incident: the first time we have ever been stopped on the highway, with the cars off, and people out walking around. Apparently there was an accident that involved a fatality, so we were stopped for almost an hour.




PRE-CONFERENCE

We arrived at the hotel late Wednesday evening, had our dinner of Lentils and Tomatoes, served with biscuits and a chef salad, in the hotel room, and then went for a quick swim. You might remember me saying in a post about last year’s Family Economics Conference trip that we hadn’t been able to afford modest swimwear, and so we chose our pool times carefully and used what we could find. Our standards have always been that we won’t wear anything to the pool that we wouldn’t wear “on the street.” But that’s been really hard to uphold with what you can find in the store, so we’ve mostly just given up on swimming. Over this past year God has abundantly blessed us with a swimsuit for Lady L, and one for me! Lady L’s was her birthday present, and mine was given to me by a sweet friend who had bought it online and didn’t like the way it fit her. She WAS going to sell it on Ebay, but gave it to me when she saw our need. I cannot tell you how that blesses me!


Thursday afternoon we had planned to see a bit of Chicago, but everyone was tired and didn’t feel like it, not to mention we were shocked by how expensive just about everything was! So we spent the morning swimming, having a pillow fight, taking a brief nap (some of us hadn’t gotten much sleep the past two nights), and finishing our dresses (there were a few details we hadn’t gotten to yet, like finishing the zipper ends, fixing a minor issue, and attaching the hooks and eyes!), and then headed over to the conference rather early.

Don’t worry, it was a tame pillow fight. And yes, there were indeed FIVE different patterns in the hotel room! Though they all had the same color scheme, it really bothered me…






Pictures from CHAP 2011

Each year we go to this convention. Each year it’s a little bit different. There are things I wish I had done, there are things I cringe over having done.

I wish I had…
… taken pictures of and with people we talked to – friends old and new…
… had the courage to ask someone to eat lunch with us…
… paid more attention to gifts for my parents…
… taken pictures of memories as they happened.

I cringed over…
… letting my bad mood nearly ruin the weekend…
… my bad judgement in taking both a heavy purse and my camera bag to carry around all day…
… saying some things that didn’t need to be said, and might have been wrong to say.

BUT for all that, the weekend was precious with family time, and that is what remains primarily in my memory. Their sweetness and love make me happy to just be around them – all of us together – for any amount of time, with anything happening, when I am in any kind of mood.

I love how this picture communicates how the world appears to just keep on spinning, but then there's the individual people in it - the ones you know (Amanda) and the ones you don't (everyone else who hasn't noticed me)

Playing a Professor Noggins game while waiting to be seated for dinner at a very busy Cracker Barrel!

Lady L was enthralled with this science toy - an electronic experiment with HEX bugs

My beautiful sisters and Mama, looking pretty and put together, as always (while browsing materials at the Answers in Genesis booth).

Oh, yes, and about the actual convention: It was wonderful to hear Ken Ham a few times over the weekend, as well as Mrs. Maxwell. We enjoyed browsing the vendor hall, finding a few lovely books in the used curriculum sale, and the occasional talk with friends.

Last of the Family Economics Conference Pictures

{I apologize for the lateness of this, and other posts – I have had this one half-written for many weeks now! The kitchen remodel progress is extremely slow, and we are currently dealing with a mystery bunny illness. More on that later.}

Conference location, on the NCSU campus

The first session in the morning was by Scott Brown on “Unless the Lord…”, and was very refreshing after the previous day! 🙂

It was a really nice day, so we ate lunch outside in the parking lot (instead of in the car, like the day before)

The Wintons played a few more songs in the evening

The family we had met in the hotel on Thursday evening - inspired by the Duggars, we are trying to take pictures of all these people that we meet and keep a scrapbook of them

Trying to decide how we are going to get where we need to go (there was a slight change in plans, so the Mapquest directions we had printed didn't apply anymore!)

Friends that we hadn't seen in nearly 5 years! 😀 (clicking on the picture will make it bigger)

Invading our friends' living room for the night


On Sunday morning there was a sermon by Kevin Swanson, and a wonderful time of testimony and sharing by the men (held at Binkley Chapel, above)

Hope Baptist Church (the Brown's church) then provided lunch for anyone who could come - we appreciated having a meal that didn't come out of our cooler before we started the long drive home.

Family Economics Conference – Friday, 1st day

After registration, waiting for the first session to start, and feeling slightly overwhelmed already - it seemed like we were constantly in the way!

Let me preface this post with the simple truth that we have never been to any Christ-centered conferences before. Truthfully, I was not entirely sure what to expect, but I was thinking more along the lines of a casual homeschool convention atmosphere. There is a big difference between homeschool conventions, and a conference like this one. It was much more intense and focused than I had expected, and I was abundantly blessed by it!

During the opening session, we found out that the conference was mostly organized and run by 20-somethings, and I saw everything with new eyes. With that in mind, one could even begin to appreciate the small mistakes and minor technical issues. Just the fact that these young people were doing the hard work with such a willing attitude, probably knowing that they would inevitably have issues, and doing it so well, was astounding and noteworthy.

When talking to a friend about the conference, the first thing that I could think to say was that it was an amazing weekend! I would go on to describe the weekend with sentences like these:

  • Quiet, despite the noise that 1200 people will inevitably make
  • Well-behaved children who helped one another, and enjoyed being around each other
  • Young men and women happy to be with their parents, joining with them in their vision
  • Speakers with passionate conviction and boldness in their messages
  • Encouraging focus on putting the Lord and His will for us above all else – yes, even our definition of “success”

At one point during the opening session, Kevin Swanson was making a point, and (though it’s out of context here, because I didn’t write anything else down) he said, “You are turning your child into something weird!” As I was looking forward, I saw two mothers turn lovingly to their daughters and say something with a smile and hug. It was so sweet!

On Friday, I was also able to meet an online friend that I had recently become acquainted with. It was wonderful to put a face, voice, and family to your name, “Cayt”! 😀

Below are some notes I took during the conference sessions, and a few pictures as well.

Mr. Moore giving a short presentation on marketing, before the whole panel began answering questions on sales and marketing.

Bill Roth, on Entrepreneurial Bootstrapping:
For a successful business, you need to have a remarkable product – in order to do this, you must know the expectations of your market, and exceed them. This produces “remarkability” – a product worthy of notice and remark.

Some interesting statistics from Kevin Swanson’s sessions…

Over half of college graduates are not working in the field for which they were trained.
Over half of college-trained people are not working a job that requires a college degree.

12% bread-winning mothers in 1970, 39% women today

54% of managerial positions are now filled by women, up from 30-some % in 1970

Mr. Swanson also shared how his children “fight” over who will get to take care of their parents when they are older, and our family just smiled at each other – an almost duplicate scene takes place in our home every now and then! 🙂

Who knew a panel discussion on agriculture and real estate could evoke such expressions?!

It was so wonderful to hear 1200 people stand up and sing a few hymns over the weekend! One of our favorite parts. 🙂

During the last session on Friday, there was a slight mishap! The backdrop collapsed onto the Hernandez Family!

But Mr. Hernandez just went back to speaking, and the staff took care of it. No one was hurt, and it looked like the kids thought it was bunches of fun. 😉

Eric Weir, sharing his amazing testimony

The last keynote session of the day

Friday at lunch and right before the last session, The Wintons played, and though we’re not normally fond of bluegrass, I can say that we all truly enjoyed it!

It was interesting to watch the official photographers at the conference, and then to see their end results. I came to a personal understanding and resolution, and though it was already brewing in my mind, the conference aided in making my thoughts clearer: taking pictures makes me excited, and capturing that one good shot makes me ecstatic, but I really need to master the art of photography. There is a big difference between someone with passion, and someone with both passion and knowledge. Though I’ve already been reading books/websites, and trying to teach myself, I learn best by observing someone else and having it explained to me. Where this will lead, I’m not sure, but it would be really nice to find a mentor in the photography field. I’ll be praying over that.

Mentorship, by the way, was a topic discussed at the conference. An interesting new online program was shared, and I was very intrigued by the emphasis placed on this method of training. But more on that soon!

Family Economics Conference – Thursday, Travel

–> {Hello all! I apologize for taking so long to get the rest of these conference posts up – but they are coming! Some posts on what’s been keeping us so busy should be forthcoming, as well.} <–

Except for a few very brief moments of glorious sun and clear skies, it rained all day Thursday on our way to NC. (If I was a brief type of person, that would sum up our day… but I’m not, so…)

Though we had intended to leave around 7:30, it wound up being more like 9:00. But we know ourselves well enough to have expected that. And of course, no road trip is complete without coffee!

Lady L was looking longingly at Amanda's coffee cup, and jokingly reached for it (she doesn't drink coffee yet)

After eating the Cranberry muffins, Daddy had to have his hand cleaned before he could touch the steering wheel again!

Traveling through different states is always such a pleasure! Thanks to Brahms, The Hoffman Family, and a tiny bit of Randy Travis, the late morning hours passed by quickly and enjoyably. I must say though, that if you’re ever traveling the Capitol Beltway, be sure to make a gas and bathroom stop before getting on. The industrial starkness of it was certainly interesting, especially noting that we were traveling the “Technology Corridor,” but it just wasn’t suited to drinking 3 bottles of water!

Our beautiful mama making lunch, at a rest stop, in the trunk, while it's raining... adventure!

One of the most interesting parts of the whole day, was…

…beautifully landscaped medians in Raleigh! 😯

The sunset

Upon arriving at the hotel, we found out that they had a “social hour” that evening, with complimentary “appetizers” (that was the official term, but it was more like snacks, along with some subs) and “drinks.”  While in the lobby taking advantage of the food, we met another family that was attending the conference, and had a great talk! It was fun to continue seeing them each morning, and wave across the rooms at the conference.

After this snack, we headed down to the pool and were very pleased to find that we would have the pool to ourselves. Swimming is one of those issues that can be tough to solve for families trying to dress modestly. Though we have come across some solutions that we believe would be honoring to the Lord (namely, WholesomeWear, Meant to Be Modest, and Princess swimwear) they have been way too expensive (around $200 in all for us 3 girls) for our family at this time. So we’ve resorted to some capris and longer shorts that we’ve had on hand from other things, and gone swimming sparingly. The Lord blessed us with the ability on this trip for us three girls to spend some wonderful time together in the pool, and providentially showed our parents what time to set for leaving the pool, so that we left, getting dressed again, just minutes before a bunch of other people came down to go swimming!







And then, of course, for the last activity of the day we went to bed. 😉

P.S. In the morning, before we left, poor Twinkles knew something was up and found a hiding place.