Category Archives: Fellowship and Hospitality

Recent Days

So much time has gone by since we have posted anything! The past two months have been full with gardening, Bible Bee study and memorization, picnics, kittens getting into trouble, hot air balloon crewing, wonderful family conversations, school year planning, and more. As always, there have been spiritual battles along the way – lessons learned, hearts humbled, and thankfulness for the goodness of the Lord. How amazing to live in the joy of God’s salvation!

Lady L got eyeglasses!

And then contact lenses, too!

We spent the 4th of July with friends this year, reading the Declaration of Independence, eating red, white and blue foods, dressing up, doing an Independence themed history quiz, reading quotes from the founding fathers of our country, and more.

Having fun on E’s “mini-bike”

Daddy reading the Declaration

Attentively listening

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Two of our kittens went to their new home! It was sad in a way, but they went to live with good friends who we know take excellent care of them, and so it was bitter-sweet.

The tabby and white is Ridley, and the black one is Cameron

We did our first canning of the year! Hot Hungarian Pepper Rings – they are delicious on hamburgers, fried egg sandwiches, and pizza! The recipe and picture tutorial will be coming when we can the next batch.

Every three weeks during the Summer we had a Bible Bee practice and fellowship meeting. Amanda was a volunteer with the Primary age division (ages 7-10), reading the test to some young ones and listening to them recite. I volunteered to help with Juniors and was placed in charge of the Junior/Senior practices. What an experience! As the person leading, you have to make decisions and come up with answers, and be responsible… not forgetting where you put things. 😛

My best baking experiment so far this year was Blueberry Crumble Bars! SO delicious! It’s a great recipe for your frozen blueberries, too. I took pictures, and hope to post the tutorial soon.

The end of July and beginning of August found us crewing at two balloon festivals, learning some very valuable lessons about priorities and relationships… learning to set lightly by the world and it’s offerings. It is such a blessing to have a God-honoring family where we can hold each other accountable and encourage one another in serving the Lord!

I got to fly! 😀

Round bales dotting the fields below

balloon field sunsets

One night, our neighbors came out and went on a tethered balloon ride. Nighttime tethers give you a really interesting perspective of the surrounding area.

During our local fair Amanda and Lindsey also show some things in the handwork and craft show, the vegetable and herb show, and the flower show. Most of their items placed this year!

Gathering produce to enter

Entering flowers

One day we went to the fair with some friends so Lady L and “E” and “N” could go on the rides together.

They were all a little nervous getting on this ride, and as bystanders, this is what we saw on their faces as they first hit the high point! {this is a crop from a larger image} Each one’s expression is so typical of them, that it’s really quite hilarious!

watching in the relative cool of the shade afforded by a nearby ride

I was given a free ride, and it was for my favorite one, too! My hair was NOT in the right style to hold up to the forces acting upon it!

We saw this bug. Although, we almost didn’t!

A regional recipe for crumb cake!

Calvin (the white one) is such a goofy kitten!

Our friends adopted two precious girls from China, and had a dedication and picnic for them. They are doing really well in their new family, and are very friendly once they warm up to you.

They were throwing water at me!!

Calvin again, in a picture we never thought we’d see – being cleaned by Twinkles, the “grumpy aunty”!

Both my parents lived in NC for awhile, and actually met there, so I wanted to try to make a close copy-cat version of western NC pulled pork/barbecue and hush puppies for them, and this is the meal we had.

Last week we crewed quite a few engagement flights! It almost seems like it’s “engagement season” or something. We also went to a friend’s birthday party.

The birthday boy

Some of us stayed late and sang hymns around the fire

Lady L wearing one of her beautiful hair flowers

Father and son

Dwayne, a friend from church

At our monthly church fellowship last Sunday, Dwayne took the time to listen to Lady L, “E” and “N” recite their Bible Bee verses. Lady L really appreciated it and was very encouraged by his interest.

The adorable and wonderfully happy baby J

N and Lady L sang the Acts 10:38-43 passage together

“N” pretending to be really nervous in front of her Bible Bee judge, and Lady L pretending to be her worried mother!

The Bible Bee was this past Saturday! Pictures coming soon…

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!

Love of Friends

Instituted by man it may be, but Valentine’s Day has been a great time for our family to focus on loving others selflessly as Christ has loved us – because He has so loved us.

On this February 14th we had friends over for the afternoon, and had a lovely time exchanging simple tokens of our love and care for each other. Amanda also gave a piano lesson to their daughter, the father helped Daddy put trim up in the kitchen, and the moms talked about homeschooling. All the kids also painted frames and put 1 Corinthians 13 in/on it.


A delicious meal of Cabbage Stew and heart-shaped biscuits was shared by candlelight and we read a love-themed prayer from the Valley of Vision.

Sweet times with sweet friends in the sweet bond of Christian love. 😀

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.

Cincinnati Homeschool Convention

We arrived at the Midwest Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati about 45 minutes after it had started, thus missing the first seminar session, but it couldn’t be avoided. It was huge! We normally go to a rather large convention in PA, but this one was even bigger. The biggest problem I have with this convention, is that they always had so many speakers going at once: they had between 13 and 20 seminars to choose from for each time slot! And then, there was only 30 minutes between most sessions, giving you hardly any time in the vendor hall (which consisted of over 300 exhibitors) if you liked listening to speakers. Which we do. On top of all that, Friday was a super long day – the first speaker started at 8:30 AM and the last one ended at 9:00 PM. There was one longer break which we spent in the vendor hall. You can start deciding now whether we are crazy or dedicated.

At registration!

So any way, on Thursday evening the first seminar we went to was John Stonestreet of Summit Ministries speaking on “Making Sense of Your World: Being a Thinking Christian in a Silly Culture”. It was great, as were all the others… except maybe two!

So anyway, we listened to another seminar that evening and left the Duke Energy Center at about 9:30 pm. We got to the parking garage and found that there was already a line of cars waiting to get out that were blocking us from getting out of our space. So we got in the car and decided that we might as well pull forward out of our space and at least get in line instead of waiting for someone to let us back out. Hah! Bad idea. We wound up pulling up onto another level, meaning we had to wait for a whole other level to get moving, and then wind our way slowly through it as we got BACK to where we had been parked! As if that wasn’t bad enough, before we figured any of that out, we had to wait 45 minutes in our car before anything started moving!!! All in all, we weren’t out of the parking garage until almost 10:30.

Parking garage mayhem!!!

Planning our “escape route”

This was the night when we got back to the hotel room and I actually did post. Of all nights, the latest was when I found the time to blog. Go figure.

Mandy needed a little love to wake her up Friday morning. 😉

The hotel had great (free) breakfasts!

But enough of my aimless rambling, let me get back to our trip. Friday was the longest convention day, starting at 8:30 AM and ending at 9:00 PM. We woke up at 6:30, got to the convention at almost 9:30 (yes, yes, we were late again!), listened to some seminars, ate lunch, finally got an hour or two to see some of the vendors, ate dinner after we got back to the hotel, and went to bed at around 11:30.

Window shopping with sisters, what could be better?

What lunch looked like.

Saturday! Another 8:30 start, only this time, we got there at 9:00 (enough time for the last half of the first seminar). A crazy day that I’ll spare you the details of… well, I’ll at least tell you that Amanda and I forgot our cell phone in the hotel room during our mad rush to get out in time, and had no way of finding Mommy or Daddy again after we went to a seminar without them. So it was with joy that we finally spotted them after looking up and down the vendor hall and getting kind of nervous!

Why we couldn’t find mom and dad!!!

It was only about 7:00 when we got out of the convention, so we took the opportunity to walk around downtown Cincinnati, which I absolutely loved! We took a bunch of pictures, including some portrait type pictures in front some neat church doors, but I’m going to post them separately.

Outside the convention center.

Purchases and freebies. We’re rich. 😎

On Sunday morning, we were supposed to visit a family-integrated church in KY, but unfortunately got kind of lost and didn’t find it until they were almost done. We did get to meet some of the church members though, and Amanda, Lady L, and I enjoyed talking with Natalie, the pastor’s daughter.

What can I say? The trip was stressful. 😀

From there we drove south to Columbia, KY where we met my aunt who came from MS to spend a day with us. Isn’t that so nice? We stayed at this motel with her, and as she had recently seen something on the news about bugs in old motels/hotels/etc., we did a bed bug search! That was so hilarious!

Good! Clean and no bugs.

After driving around with her, looking at a property and just the area in general, we got something to eat and came back to the motel, where we visited until midnight. The next morning, we got to spend an hour or two just chit-chatting and getting ready to go.

Lady L has some good photography skills, no?

Then we were off to visit… KAYLA!!! I met Kayla on HomeschoolAlumni.org, and she’s been an inspiration to me to cook more naturally. And now we’ve met! It was so much fun! They have three milk cows, so Kayla was good enough to show us how to milk, and patient enough to stand by and let us take 5 minutes to get this tiny little pool in the pail, when she could have been almost done by then. 🙄

With fresh milk, we (or rather Kayla, with us in the way) were able to make chocolate ice cream and mozzarella cheese! Kayla also put up with us as we “helped” her make a delicious lunch, chocolate chip cookies, and yet another version of chicken soup! I’ve yet to believe how many wonderful ways there really are to make it.

Mozzarella! Amanda and I were stretching, while Kayla and Lindsey were watching… and laughing. 😛

Kayla’s dad, Mr. Custer, suggested that we all take a ride around their property. So thanks to Dave’s expert driving, we went on a hay-less hayride… which was probably more fun than if there had been hay. 😉 I have to say something here: having brothers would be so much fun, and quite amusing! Kayla’s brothers, Dave, Titus, and Philip, convinced me of that during our short visit with their family.

Getting situated for our hayless hayride.

Kayla with her lovable “lap dog” Regal. 😆

Those cows thought we were the funniest thing!

HA! I think they’re funnier.

We also got to go find a hog that had gotten out. Dave teased me because I saw the neighbor’s dog and thought it was the hog. What can I say? I live in the city. Mommy took this pic. I like it.

So then we had to leave and go home. 😦 We didn’t leave on Tuesday until almost noon, though, so we drove through the night and got home at 4:00 in the morning on Wednesday! I sat up front with Mama through the last 4-5 hours, and it was really difficult to stay awake, not to mention the fog was so thick in some areas that we could barely see the road signs 20 feet away.

But we did make it home safe, and have lots of good and memorable… memories… to show for our absence!

Abiding in Christ,
Michelle