Thursday, July 25, 2013

Guest Post - Words of Hope

Mini has been so busy this summer!  She is working a job, very involved in all her church activities and is preparing to start her senior year of high school but she still has time to churn out one amazing/moving article after another. We are incredibly blessed with this child.  In the latest issue there was this note from the editor,
"I would like to take a moment of your time to show a little of my appreciation for Hope Duke.  I have been so blessed by her writing talent and the content she chooses for each issue.  This young lady has a desire to teach and to be taught.  You can feel it in each of her articles and especially this one.  She will be a senior in High School this coming year and looks forward to attending college.  I would like to thank everyone for the compliments you continuously give about Hope's column.  Again, she is a very talented writer and has encouraged so many people young and old.  This young lady is definitely an important part of "The Good Stuff." - JM - Editor

Without further is her latest article.

Words of Hope

A few weeks ago, God decided to answer a constant prayer I have had on my heart for as long as I’ve been a Christian. While serving on a mission sight in Jackson, Mississippi, my creator revealed to me my calling in life. From my re-birth as a daughter of Christ to that very week, I had constantly been praying that God simply show me his will for my life. Where was I going to go to college? What profession would I have? Where would I go on mission trips, something very dear to my heart? How is the course of my life going to be significant to God’s over-all plan? All these questions have weighed on me and I’m relieved to finally be able to say I think I have it figured out.

My job on sight was to play with children ranging from ages 3 to 10 and to tell them bible stories without boring them to tears. I was disappointed when I arrived because I noticed that poverty was not a factor for these children and most of them attended church. Other people from my church were at sights located in the “ghetto”, where kids were elated to hear the good news of Christ for the very first time. My children, however, knew every answer to Cain and Able, Moses and the burning bush, when Jesus fed the 5,000, and Saul’s transformation to Paul, all at a young age. I immediately began to question why God even wanted us here. These kids already had Jesus, right? As the week went by, God began to answer my questions. From talking with the kids, I learned of divorce and heart break in their lives at a very young age. I noticed some kids’ shyness and lack of love they were receiving at home. I quickly realized that I wasn’t there to just tell people about Jesus, I was there to show these sweet children who Jesus really was.

You see, in that week, God showed me that I absolutely adore children and my aspirations of being a teacher should be carried out. But He also showed me that in order to be a follower of Jesus, my heart must break for others and I must be moved to be a real servant. He showed me that it doesn’t matter if I’m in Africa, Russia, Canada, or the US, need is present. Though people may disguise it, their hearts are aching for a love that they can’t yet comprehend. My calling in life is to serve others and, in essence, serve my savior.

After this experience God has given me, I can already see him exercising my servant heart. I see him telling me to do this or that, even small things, and I see in people’s faces how it lights up their day. This is the true living like Christ. People will never be open to receive love from our savior if they aren’t open to the love his children are providing. And if his children aren’t providing much love, others are at a loss. I challenge you to start asking God to guide you in servitude and to grow your heart to break for others. God bless.

John 13:12-15 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Million Dollar Vacation

A couple of weeks ago we took a vacation.  This vacation was very up in the air until about a month ago.  Wonder Hubby's schedule was changing, Mini has a job, The Big Dumb Jock wasn't sure if his cross fit competition would allow him to join us and I was just tired of trying to work around everything and every one's schedule

We waffled back and forth and finally everything clicked the second week of June and we booked a condo (which was a nightmare for me miracle on short notice) and started to get excited.  This would be the first vacation the 4 of us had taken alone in 5 years.

The week leading up to departure Wonder Hubby started his new schedule, Mini worked crazy hours and I prepared the house for a big welcome home/4th of July cookout for the family as well as celebrated my birthday!  Busy week.

BDJ came home on July 3rd (awesome birthday present don't ya think?) and we hosted a big ole indoor cookout (thanks to never ending rain) for all the uncles and grandparents on the 4th.  

I didn't take a single picture of the guests or the food......I get so distracted when I get BDJ home!  We all had a great time together.

On Saturday morning we loaded up (according to BDJ like the hillbillies) and headed out.  BDJ seems to think that me packing my favorite pan, spices, mini-chopper, smoothie maker, oils, etc. is weird.  He is 24 what does he know?  Hey, if I am going to cook, I need my stuff!  I like all the comforts of home, which seems to be a big deal to BDJ
Wonder Hubby tried to explain the whole if mama ain't happy concept to him.   He also doesn't understand those of us that cannot travel cross country for 10 days in a carry on.

Have I told you that BDJ loves Mini a lot?  No, well he does. Have I mentioned that he is very demonstrative? He has acted as if she was his baby since the day she was born....and when he wasn't feeling parental he thought she was his personal toy.  I knew when I saw his facebook comment to Mini a few days before he came home, "2 days!! I hope your excited Beach toy!!", that this trip was going to require referring and rescue! 

Less than 12 hours after arriving home and he was already at it!  Of course if you look closely you will see Mini wasn't really hating it....yet.  She was not amused that his facebook status that accompanied this pic mentioned she had gained her Freshman 15 a year early....can't say that I blame her there.

Travel day.  Fun in the backseat.....

Hope quietly reading....this will not be allowed for long.

This is his up to no good.....what can I do to Hope now look....

And there it is.....frustration in the backseat.

We have vacationed in Destin for 27 years now.  All vacations are good, some more memorable than others.  We have heavenly and horrible weather, sickness, accidents, great and terrible accommodations and a million other variables over the years but at the end of the week you say it was good. 
After all how can you go to the beach and not enjoy it?   This year however was incredible. 
The condo was lovely yes but not the finest we have ever had (however you just couldn't beat the view and cooking looking at the ocean is AWESOME).
View from the kitchen island.  I would cook all day long with this view.  It was wonderful to cook for the family and sit down and enjoy it while listening to the ocean waves in the background.

  Destin is located on the gulf coast and is known as the Emerald coast with beautiful emerald waters and pristine white beaches.  This year however, the emerald waters were no where to be found.....not one day with emerald waters.  In fact 5 out of 7 days the water was darker than I had ever seen and there was a lot of seaweed. 

You can usually count on an afternoon t-storms at least a couple of days while visiting but we were arriving as they received record rainfall.  So the weather was good but not great. The clouds did make for some beautiful sunsets.

None of that mattered this week. 
Nothing mattered this wee kbecause we had all we needed.....time and each other.

Time for conversations about everything and nothing that living 2,000 miles and a different time zone away doesn't often allow.
We had time to just be together sitting by the sea in total silence.  It was an incredible blessing.  The best part of the week for me was seeing these two together. Mini has a low tolerance for being touched/ as you can see she was very indulgent of her brother.


Wonder Hubby had a big old blessed week as well!




Then suddenly and much too soon it was over.  It is always a sad day when BDJ wings his way back to Las Vegas but I have the memories of a wonderful visit and a vacation worth a million dollars. 
Plus, I knew Mini was just about out of patience!  Last kiss at the airport.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Busy and Blessed Birthday

Whew this summer has been busy!  I should have known with Mini heading into her senior year of high school that this summer would move at warp speed.  With so much going on here we haven't found many of those lazy summer days. 
The week of my birthday was no exception.  My birthday is July 3rd so it is always wrapped with all the July 4th festivities.   This year got a bit crazier with the Big Dumb Jock coming home to vacation with us starting on July 6th. 
I spent the week cleaning and preparing for the big birthday/homecoming/4th cookout, as well as doing all that pre vacation stuff.  Despite all of the hubbub I had a wonderful birthday.
Since our spare daughter Bri has a birthday on July 5th, Mini  planned a surprise activity for just us girls.   We made some adorable flip flops and super chic headbands and for such simple projects, a really big mess!  We had a lot of fun and both projects turned out beautifully!

Mini is beginning to work on her headband.  For whatever reason, I have no pictures of either Mini or Bri in their headbands :(  Can you tell she was annoyed at me interrupting crafting for photos?

We each put our own spin on the the colors!

Mini also treated me to these cutie patootie toes!  She did a great job on them.

Wonder Hubby came through with a favorite....cold hard cash!  My MIL and FIL also came through with a beautiful  necklace and cash and dad gave me a beautiful amethyst ring. 
My sweet mama came by and surprised me with this adorable fairy garden!
I love the clay stairs.

My brother made the ladder and door and windows...they are too cute.
Love the little Gnome!  I had pinned several of these on Pinterest hoping to make one eventually, so it was quite a treat to receive this one. 

My brother also made the little bench and Mom mossed up the little house.
As the day was drawing to a close I got another gift.....I got to pick up the Big Dumb Jock from the airport!
Blessed to have had many people celebrate my birthday with me!