Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Leaning In



It's a rare occurrence these days that we all get to be in the same place at the same time. I was as pleased as punch to have every one in the car together a few Sundays ago as we travelled to hear a friend preach at his church plant. I love church plants.

We're just a few weeks away from another kid in our family graduating from high school. This school year has flown by with all of the fancy bells and whistles that the senior year brings. Riley skipped his senior prom in exchange for a backpacking trip with his buddies, completing the Art Loeb Trail. He'll graduate in few weeks walking across that same stage his brother did just two years ago. Then he'll head off to work for the Summer and move on to college in the Fall. 

If you look closely in the picture you'll notice big brother in a sling and little sister in a leg cast. These two both managed to end up in the orthopedic office on the same day, but for totally different reasons. Jordan dislocated his shoulder playing football with the guys. He's healed up lickety-split. Keeks had some inflammation on her growth plate in her foot from gymnastics. After a few months of trying various things to reduce the inflammation, they decided to cast it for a few weeks and see if that would do the trick. We're now one week away from being cast free, and we can hardly wait! While she has enjoyed all of the cast signing parties, we're ready to be able to toss this kid in the tub in the evenings without it taking a tag-team of assistants. 

In just a few days, we'll return to Emory for a check-up on Riley's eyes. We don't anticipate any problems or surprises in that area. We are eager to ask about the possibility of Riley receiving some vision therapy. There will be some requirements of his eyes to be able to participate and we'll depend on Riley's retina specialist to evaluate his eye and make the decision on whether or not his eyes (right eye especially) will be up to the challenge. Ideally, this is something we would have sought out before he left the nest, but perhaps God's timing is in this. We should know more soon, and we're excited about that. I'll update soon.

God is good, all the time!





Thursday, February 15, 2018

Eagle Scout

A few weeks ago, we celebrated Riley's accomplishment of achieving the Eagle Scout rank in the B.S.A. Riley got a late start into Scouting, beginning his scouting career at the end of 9th grade. His scout master told him that if he were up to the challenge, he could obtain his Eagle Scout rank before his 18th birthday, and he did!



For his Eagle Scout project, Riley worked with the National Forestry Commission. He and a team of volunteers spent many hours replacing and repairing signs along the Long Cane Horse Trail located in the Sumter National Forest. He also added the installation of location maps at various points on the trail. The trail is used by horseback riders, cyclists, joggers and hikers on a daily basis. 


We held Riley's Eagle Scout ceremony at our church followed by a reception to celebrate his achievement. He chose the cake design and a local bakery made the cake. It weighed approximately 347 lbs. Everyone declared it delicious.



It was a wonderful time of celebration. It was good to have so many family members and friends travel to join us that day. We have been truly blessed by the B.S.A Scouting program and especially Troop 62! Once an Eagle, always an Eagle!

God is good, all the time!

Monday, January 22, 2018

On God and Tacos



I missed church yesterday due to a cough that lingers. I spent most of the afternoon scheming little household projects from the comfort of my couch. Other than a a few new happy things above the fireplace, my letter board is the only thing I have to show for my thoughts.

But really, what if? What if I really did meet God with the same excitement as taco night? What if I approached my time with God as a feast, rather than a small appetizer? He isn't the portion that primes our appetite, he is our portion.


"LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure." Psalm 16:5

"I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.'" Lamentations 3:24

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26

God isn't throwing a tailgate party for us to graze before the game. We're in the game. He has granted us his word and his fellowship that we may feast with him here on earth. He's invited us to join him at his table to feast alongside him when we join him in Heaven. 

Friends, time with God is even better than taco night. Unlike tacos, he fills us up and sustains us. He is our portion. Let's meet him with excitement and feast upon his word. 

God is good, all the time!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Ransom.



I started off the new year like most other folks. I committed to not commit to losing weight or making any other resolution that I likely wouldn't be able to keep. Instead, I picked up a handful of ideas and put them into my proverbial basket. I looked eagerly into the future and decided what could stay and what needed to go, and then I skipped right on in to the New Year. 

As life would happen, at 7:00 p.m. on the first day of the new year, one of my best friends would leave this earth after battling cancer for a few short weeks. That was one week ago today. There has been no skipping in this new year. There have been tears and comfort food and what the heck just happened here? My friend was so loved here on earth, but that can never compare to the love she is assuredly experiencing now, and in that we can all take great comfort.

So today, friends, is the new January 1st. Welcome to the new year! Let's start this party over.

Do you have a word for the new year? 

My one little word for 2018 is ransom.

ran-som (verb) -to obtain the release of (a prisoner) by making a payment demanded.

"For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people." 1 Timothy 2:5-6

A ransom is a sacrifice. Something we would work feverishly to collect because the value of what is held for us is priceless. I'm sure we could ask any parent whose child has been held at ransom and they would tell us that they would have parted with all that they had to have their child back.

As I thought about this word that was being whispered into my heart, I looked around in my life and noticed a few things that I needed to sacrifice to make room for the work God was doing within me. 

We all have things that pull us in and distract us from the life God has for us. It all started back in the Garden of Eden when Eve traded in for something she thought was better than what she had. Oh girl, if only you had known. Today our things look less like fruit and more like social media and busyness. After I finished weeding my garden of some things that needed to go I realized very quickly that just like a real garden, I was going to have to continue to weed. In one short week a few things tried to make a comeback and one thing started getting out of hand and needed some pruning. 

2018- the year I"ll learn to garden.

Among my new goals for 2018 is to get back to this space. I miss writing and the seeds that it sows. I'm excited to get back to sharing some things from our lives and my heart. God is never finished with us.

Thank you for joining me here, yet again. Our little family has grown so much since this space began. Jordan is in his second year of college. Riley just completed his Eagle Scout rank during his senior year of high school. Little Miss Kendra is in the top of her class in first grade. Time surely flies. 

Here's to new things, new dreams, new goals. 

"Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert."  Isaiah 43:19


God is good, all the time!


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What We're Up To These Days

I don't believe that can truly call myself a blogger any more. We're in a different season of life right now and blogging isn't high up on the list of priorities these days. I thought it might be fun to hit a few highlights and catch my blog up to where we are now.




Jordan just finished his first year of college. He's working his second Summer at Camp McCall- our state's Baptist Royal Ambassador Camp for boys. This picture was taken there at family day in June. The highlight of Jordan's Summer so far, outside of camp, has been spending the day on a yacht in the Charleston Harbor with the camp staff.

Riley will be entering his senior year of high school in just a few weeks. He has a new job at the local grocery store and is working on his Eagle Scout Project. Riley was "officially" diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome in May. His eye disease is still no longer detectable.

Kendra just finished kindergarten. She's a great reader- finished on a second grade level! She's also a great gymnast and flips everywhere that she goes. She is all about her baby dolls and takes one or five everywhere we go. She's a serious little mama. Kendra and her Daddy took their first Daddy-daughter trip this Summer to attend a family wedding on the coast.


Kendra was in a wedding in May.


Barry is teaching and coaching both football and basketball at a local high school. He's currently taking a few grad courses to earn further certification to teach gifted students. If he's not at school or working on his classwork, you can usually find him at the church.

I'm working semi-full-time outside of the home and planning fun trips for my friends. I usually have a calendar and a notebook full of lists in hand. Kendra and I have made mini adventures to the thrift store a priority this Summer to further her reading collection.

Outside of that, we're just trying to maintain a balance between busy and being fully present. We've done some fun things this Summer like swimming, camping, hiking, worshipping and travelling. We're hoping to squeeze in a little more fun before school starts back. We have tubing and a tea party on our list!

We're so thankful for a healthy, happy family!

God is so sweet to me.






Thursday, March 2, 2017

Hey, Let's Go to Disney!

Sometime last year a lightbulb went off in my head. After many years of helping my friends and family plan and budget for their Disney vacations, I decided that it was time for me to take it one step further. I became an official Disney Travel Agent! Now, I get paid to help folks plan their Disney trips. Somebody pinch me. No, don't. I like this dream come true! The great thing about working with an official Disney Travel Agent is that you get to have the same contact person for all of your planning needs. You don't pay your travel agent a single penny extra. Not even one. Disney pays us in commissions when you book your trip through us. Plus, you get the same great rates as if you had done all of the research and calling yourself. Our job is to help you design the most magical trip on the face of the planet. Hello, BEST JOB EVER.
Of course, if you give a mouse a cookie, I mean, if you give a girl a travel agent license, she's going to want to go to Disney. Lucky for me, we had planned a fancy Disney camping trip a few months back to celebrate my Dad's birthday. We booked a premium camping spot at Disney's Fort Wilderness Lodge. Premium spots are located close to transportation. We were literally just a few steps from the bus stop. At Fort Wilderness we enjoyed camping in my parents' RV. The kids hit the pool as soon as we were parked. It was a lot of fun, but very chilly. We made some meals ourselves in the camper, so we did not book a dining plan for this trip. Two nights, we went over to P & J's Southern Take-out (located at FW) and purchased the take-out meal for $23.39. It included 8 pieces of fried chicken, cornbread and two sides. There were six of us and it filled us up with none left-over. We attended Chip & Dale's Campfire Sing-A-Long one night and took our own makings for s'mores to make over the campfire. We just purchased our sticks for roasting there for $0.69 each. After the sing-a-long Barry, Kendra and I stayed to watch the movie under the stars. On this night they were playing Princess Diaries.
The next morning we headed to the Garden Grill inside of Epcot for breakfast. It is one of our most favorite breakfast spots at Disney. The food is so delicious and it's fun to hang out with Chip, Dale, Mickey and Pluto.
After breakfast, we spent the day in Epcot visiting some of our favorite pals.
My Dad was the biggest kid of all!
Our most favorite part of Epcot this trip was riding the new Frozen ride. Our family owns a small business that provided some of the steel for the ride. It was really cool to ride through knowing that a small bit of that ride once sat in our little shop. Plus, the ride was completely awesome! This was a short trip for us, due to the kids being in school. The next day we spent the day at Disney Springs where our little Princess had an appointment at the Bibiddi Bobbidi Boutique. This was an awesome experience for us. I was worried about what they would do with Kendra's hair since she is African American and it's more complex than your average white girl. We had her hair down for the trip. Once we arrived the stylist sprayed her hair with a mixture of conditioner and water and combed it right up into a bun. Kendra chose the hairstyle that came with the hair piece, so she LOVED slinging her hair around all day. My Mom purchased a Princess Elena dress from her ahead of time and we purchased the smallest package they had that included her hair, nails, and make-up.
We ate lunch at Disney Springs that day. Write that down- eat at Blaze Pizza at Disney Springs. Oh my goodness, it was fabulous! If you are trying to spread out your quick service meals, this is the place to go. We ordered 3 pizzas (all personal sized) and shared them between six of us. They even had an amazing "white" pizza that was made with white sauce, green peppers and onion. My picky Princess (who does not like pizza, or any other fast food) LOVED it, In fact, she asked at dinner time of we could eat there again.
We had such a fun time and can't wait to go back again. It's so fun to me to spend months planning and saving and then to actually get to BE THERE and enjoy my plans! This trip was one of our top favorites. We were sad to leave our college boy behind, but he's busy with his classes these days. We all had some fun suggestions for our next trip that I can't wait to see come to fruition. In the meantime, I'd like to help you plan some magic for YOUR family! Are you ready for a trip to Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland, Disney's Aulani Resort, a Disney Destination or a Disney Cruise? I'm your girl! Contact me at joyk@destinationsinflorida.com and let's get started on adding some magic into your life. Remember, the are only little once! God is so sweet to me!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Nothing is Impossible for God!


"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" - Matthew 19:26

Riley was diagnosed with Pars Planitis in October 2009. Since then, has had five surgeries on his right eye. As a result of the disease and side effects of the surgeries, he has some permanent damage in his right eye. Without his glasses, he is legally blind. With his glasses, he is able to read, watch television and even drive. When Riley started this journey, we were told to expect that he would one day lose his sight in one or both eyes as a result of the disease. We were told to expect that he would be completely blind. 

Three years ago, Riley had his fifth surgery on his eye. 

Last Friday, we returned to Emory for a routine check-up. They took routine scans of the back of Riley's eyes. The doctor and the teaching fellow present both reviewed the notes, examined his eyes and looked at the new scans.
Over the years, many people have prayed for healing over these eyes. My sweet little Granny had reminders stuck on her bathroom mirror to remind her to pray every day. Our little cousin Aidan has continued praying for Riley's eyes every night. People quite literally around the world have prayed for Riley's eyes to be healed. We have been so thankful for these prayers.

Last Friday, we were told that they believe that the disease is no longer present in Riley's eyes. 

Gone.

Before last week, we had never been given any indication that this disease would ever leave Riley's eyes. We sat there with his doctor last week and heard that there are a few cases where children grow out of the disease in their 20's. They believe that Riley is doing that now, at the age of 16. They have no way to guarantee that the disease will not present itself again, but his eye history over the past three years does not reflect a presence of the disease. His eye will always have the remains of damage caused by the disease in the past, but there is no evidence of it being present at this time. 

I truly wish that someone could have recorded those moments in that room. What an amazing testimony of God's healing power!

We are beside ourselves over this news! God is so sweet to us.