December 12, 2010

God with us

Christmas.  Even the word "Christmas" makes us think of cheer, of wonder, of festivities and fun.  Yet, for so many it will carry such sorrow, and heavy hearts will sit under lit up trees.  There are many reasons that hearts will be heavy each year, but this year I think of the two families I know that between Thanksgiving time and now have each lost a son.  One was 12, one just a baby.   I can feel the shattering of their hearts into so many little pieces.   And, my heart is broken...again. 

Sorrow, pain, death, imperfection: our world is so full of it. I sit at a funeral watching a mom look at her 12 year old son's casket, and I remember.  I watch the scene that should never be, dad and mom following their lifeless child out of the sanctuary and I know what it is like to go home.  It all seems so wrong.  The email that the baby won't make it through the night, and he doesn't.  And hopes, dreams, lives crumble.  These pictures of death happen all over the world, every day.  Because our world is fallen, imperfect, not as God intended it to be.

As I sat at that funeral, and watched mom and dad follow their son's casket out, reaching up high behind them were risers in the shape of a giant Christmas tree and it was all lit up.  This scene is etched clearly in my mind because as I watched this family and their shattered world, I was reminded.  That tree in all its shining wonder reminded me what this season represents.  Even as so many will wade through dark waters this Christmas, they do not have to do it without HOPE.  God did not turn His back on our imperfect world.  He left perfection and entered into our hurt with us.  He came to us and brought hope all wrapped up in the form of a tiny baby.  "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel," which translated means, "God with us."  He came to us and offers a way to be with him forever, promising that one day he will dry all the tears and heal all the broken hearts.  We are not alone, and this life is not all there is.  God with us.  Hope.

Please pray for these two families and that they could experience the hope of Christ during these difficult times.

October 5, 2010

Last but not Least

We wrapped up our trip spending a few days with some wonderful friends and getting a glimpse into what their life is like.

The first day we were there the guys took the boys fishing.  This is the type of fishing where you constantly catch something.  Needless to say, the boys LOVED that!

We went to some big slides...they were pretty cool!

And we spent some time at a super sweet park...minus the nasty snake near our pcinic table where we were having supper!


Our friends' son and our boys were having  a GREAT time with this game which basically consisted of one of them at the top kicking the rest down and not letting them get to the top.  They seriously were having a blast as were several other boys who got in on the "fun" too.

We went to the Omaha zoo which was absolutely amazing! 

Here was the whole crew together.  Our whole family agreed this was one of the best stops on our trip.  We had a great time with this crew and appreciated their hospitality and all the fun they planned for us from the park, to the zoo, to swimming and lots and lots of catching up on life with each other :)

We got back home late on Labor Day.  It was  a fantastic trip that I am sure we will all still be talking about a long time down teh road!


September 21, 2010

Boston

The day after our Rhode Island adventures we spent a day in Boston (which was not nearly enough time to take it all in!).  We all loved Boston and hope to some day get back there and see the sights we missed.  I personally am a huge history fan, especially the Revolutionary War period so visiting Boston was a real treat.  One of my favorite parts of Boston was Boston Commons, the large park in the middle of the city.  It has a fascinating history to it and today is just a beautiful park with a large pond called Frog Pond where kids can splash and play (it is very shallow), a neat play structure and fountains, and many other interesting things going on.





This frog had water coming out of its mouth which the littlest ones loved!  The older boys were more into the bigger fountains that were spraying water right by this frog.

Park Street Church right across the street from Boston Commons

Right beside Park Street Church is Granery Burying Ground where many patriots are buried.  Here is a memorial for John Hancock

Paul Revere's tombstone

Statue of Ben Franklin in front of Boston's old City Hall
Old South Meeting House where many important meetings leading up to the war took place, including the decisions about the Tea Party.

The Old State House, right outside this building the Boston Massacre took place.

For those who have not been there, this is what much of Boston looks like

We took a ferry from Long Wharf to the Navy Yard where the U.S.S. Constitution is located.  This was a pier by the Navy Yard

Here is the U.S.S. Constitution, the oldest floating warship in the world and also know as "Old Ironsides" We took a free guided tour of the ship which was a highlight for all of us

We got to go on two decks below, this was the first, the gun deck



As you walk around Boston on the Freedom Trail, you follow a red line that is brick like this or painted red so it is generally easy to know where you are going and the boys had fun figuring out where the red line was all the time

This is harder to see due to the light but it is Old North Church where the lanterns were hung when Paul Revere and William Dawes made their ride 

It was well over 90 degrees and sunny the whole day we were in Boston.  Hot!  So by the end of the day we were all worn down and very hot.  We found these fountains on the way back to our vehicle after supper and the boys had a great tiem running through them and getting soaked! 

September 17, 2010

And still more

After we left Acadia, we took the coastal highway down Maine toward NH.  We were able to go through many neat little towns along the way and the scenery was beautiful!  At one point we were going past Rockport, ME and the Big Man spoke up and said he wished we had stopped there.  When we asked him why (as that seemed very random to us) he told us that is where Andre lived.  When we were at Acadia we bought the book Andre because we had seen the movie a few years back.  It is about a harbor seal that this man raises.  It is a very sweet movie (if you have never seen it we would recommend it) and the Big man had read the book while we were driving.  I did not remember the town it took place in but he did and told us. We turned around and went down to the harbor where there is a statue of Andre.  It ended up being a very fun little stop!

Here is the harbor where Andre would play and put on shows for people.


Here is statue

Most of the little towns we drove through looked something like this one

We stopped in Freeport, ME which is the home of LL Bean





Then we camped for three nights in NH at Bear Brook State Park.  The park was only about an hour and a half out of Boston and it was a three hour drive to Newprt, RI.  We spent the first day in Newport, which is on an island.  We went to one of the top ten beaches in New Englund, Easton Beach and it was incredible!  It was a huge beach, with sugar sand, and the water was pretty warm.  We had a blast there!

The Big Man in the middle of one of the many good sized waves that rolled into the beach.  Out of all of us, I think he may have enjoyed swimming in the ocean the most.


A very nice man let Todd and the Big Man borrow his boogie board for a little while.  Here he caught a pretty good wave and rode it in.

The younger four playing in the sand

Todd and the Big Man waiting for this wave to hit them



The Little Man loved running from the water as it would wash up

The Middle Man had a love hate relationship with the ocean.  He so wanted to be out in those waves with his brother but yet was afraid to go out there.  He had fun though.  :)

KR love, love, loves water!  She wanted to be in it all the time even in Maine where it was very cold!

Poor KK, she does not love water and the waves crawling up the beach terrified her.  Much of the time she stood at a distance with this look on her face if we all went to the water. 

True to form, this guy attacked the ocean like he did learning to tie shoes, pulling teeth, riding bike, or playing sports.  He went at playing in the waves with 100% of his energy and loved every minute!  They all had a good time picking up shells too :)

After KR and I played in the water a while, KK deliverd a drink to her sister.

Then she warmed up to the idea of the water and had fun too!



From the beach you can take off on a walk called the Newport Cliff Walk.  If you are ever there it is well worth your time!  You walk along an easy trail along cliffs and go past huge mansions.
This is just a sampling of some of the amazing places




The second half of the trail you have to climb on rocks and accross yards, there is not a nice paved trail so we had to stop because we had a stroller.  That was okay though as our kids were getting tired and the sun was setting.  It was a great day in Rhode Island though!

September 14, 2010

Phase Two of the Trip

After we left the camp we headed over to Acadia National Park. The park is on Mount Desert Island in Maine. We would loved to have had a week there!  It is so beautiful and there is so much to see and do.  We spent a couple of nights there.

This is Thunder Hole.  The water has worn a channel into the rocks and when it hits with force at the back of this sometimes air gets caught and makes a loud sound like thunder.  I think we all could have watched this all day!



This is along the drive around the park.  It is so beautiful as there are mountains, islands and ocean


This is Sand Beach.  We took a hike that went out from the beach and then we played here all afternoon the one full day we were at the park.  This picture was from up on the trail we were on above the beach


Here we are on the hike.  I decided to try wearing a pack so we could go but was unsure if my back was ready for it.  I felt great the whole time!  I can't tell you how grateful I was and how much I thanked God for that healing on the hike.  It was such a thrill to be in God's beautiful creation and doing something I love to do!


Todd and some of the kids out on the point where we climbed around in the middle of our hike.


The girls playing at Sand Beach.  One loved the water (which was 55 degrees) and one hated it



The Big Man lived in the big waves!





KR




The view from on top of Cadillac Mountain.  The islands are called Porcupine Islands





A view of the town of Bar Harbor

And this was just cute of the little man with a great find!



Stay tuned for more to come...