Sunday, August 31, 2014

1000 gifts: thirteenth birthday and church reunion

 Now that I finally have some space from March and April and May - those months were filled with loss (though also filled with many blessings), I'm catching up with my 1000 gifts list. These gifts are from August.

868.  Four wheeling fun
Set up camp near Rob Roy Reservoir with some friends of ours; we brought the horses, and they brought the four wheelers, and all kinds of fun was had (much of it muddy!) The highlight for me was a drive on the 4 wheeler track up to the top of Centennial Ridge (just B. and I - our idea of romantic time together!), which had a spectacular 360 view of the valley below and mountains in all directions. But another highlight was also Blaze and I letting our horses run full speed across Cinnabar Park. What a thrill!
Blaze and Tara getting muddy!
869. Blaze's 13th party and trip to Park City
My friend Melissa had a conference in Salt Lake City, and we met for a couple days in nearby Park City. I brought Blaze along for an extra treat for her 13th birthday and spoiled her with a fun day of riding the alpine slides, alpine roller coaster, and mountain zip line. We had so much fun! Great time hanging out with Melissa too (finally she got to meet one of my kids). Had some great talks with Blaze on the long drive there and back, too. Her faith in God is surfacing again a little.
Blaze at the Alpine Slide in Park City, Utah

870. Bible conference and ancient history
Our pastor and his wife celebrated 30 years in ministry at our church this summer (I've been there for almost 20 years!) - and, very appropriately, they included a Bible conference as part of their celebration. The focus was on the book of Daniel, with Doug Bookman preaching. Bookman shared a story recorded by the historian Josephus about when Alexander the Great reached the gate of Jerusalem. Instead of destroying the city as he had destroyed many others, he expressed his respect for Daniel, who had foretold Alexander's triumph in his visions (the Greek Empire being one of the empires symbolized a couple times in the book of Daniel).  Alexander is quoted as saying "The prophets of my own country haven't even foretold of my conquests, yet the prophets of this country have foretold me." Alexander was so impressed  he didn't impose the Greek gods on the Jews but allowed them to continue to worship the true God.

871. No seats in the tabernacle
Also loved learning from Bookman's preaching that there were nto seats or benches in the temple because that would have implied, if the priests sat down, that their work (sacrifice for atonement) was complete. But in the heavenly temple, Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father, showing that he had completed the work of atonement for us!

872. Old church friends reunited
Many of our old friends from church that have moved away over the years came for the Bible conference and 30 year celebration - what a reunion!! So good to see many old beloved faces and share stories.

873. Unconventional uses of church air-conditioning
Nicole and I ran into our old friend "Hutch" from church at Shari's restaurant and joined him and Billy for more talk. Hutch is a preacher now in Indiana. He cracked me up with his comment about hwo useful church air-conditioning is: he turned up the air conditioning so that certain female members of his church would dress scantily; "they had less cotton on than an aspirin bottle". If only I could capture his voice on paper, what a famous writer I could be! But seriously, I wish I could have taken notes and remembered more, but I was laughing too hard.

874. The best babysitters ever
This is the second year I've had Erin sit the girls for a couple days a week over summer break. She's the rare kind of sitter that does more than keep an eye on the kids; not only does she play with them, she actively plans activities for them! Everyday she would bring a new game or idea for them to try. They had fashion shows, they built forts, played leap frog, did puzzles, played sardines, had wheelbarrow races, made up dance movies, chalked the sidewalks, jumped rope, built obstacle courses, and jumped endlessly on the trampoline. Our year round babysitter Heather, who also helps me home school, is amazing too. Both girls are so serious for the Lord, too.

875. My daughters' lemonade stand
Erin helped Dreamer paint a "Lemonade: 25 cents" sign and the girls did a lemonade stand at the playground across from Grandma's. Sounds like it was a lot of work for them (and some donated goods from Grandma's when they ran out of their supplies) but they loved doing it. I remember getting such a three from making 10 cents a cup when I did a lemonade stand as a kid.

876. The twins teach themselves to ride their bikes
With flat tires, no less! This was all accomplished without my help, or B's, though we offered, of course.

877. More fun swimming the horses
At church camp Blaze got to swim her horse again, like last year (she missed state fair earlier in August because Spring had a minor injury, but she's all healed up now). We took all our church friends on trail rides with the horses, too. My favorite memories were sitting around the campfire, sharing how God has answered prayers.
Blaze and Spring "almost" swimming
878. Bald eagle flying overhead
As we were driving away from camp, I was thrilled to see a bald eagle fly right over us. They're fairly common but still a rare sighting for me!

879. lots of compliments on the Wyoming Student Atlas
For the past year I've been working on creating the maps and text for a 56 page, full color Wyoming Student Atlas for 4th through 8th graders and we're getting really close to publication. I did a presentation on the Atlas at our state GIS meeting and showed draft copies and got lots of interest and compliments on the project. (my kids, however, are less than thrilled about the Atlas since I've been pushing it on them during home school, since we developed the early first draft in March!)

880.  Blaze's bunny
Blaze got a belated birthday present: she finally saved up enough money for the cage and all the equipment, and Grandma bought her a bunny. Blaze picked her out and named her Estelza. She is a tiny "mini Rex" - pure black and soft as velvet! She is a huge hit with the girls. I wasn't crazy about her getting another animal (don't we have enough already!) but so far she has been very responsible about caring for it.

881. Free Christian home school curriculum
One of the home school moms I met this summer gave us a complete math and language arts curriculum for 5th grade (Dreamer's grade) and I found Blaze's 7th grade curriculum materials for under $100 on eBay. I'm so excited to be using Christian curriculum this year. We are using the Mystery of History book for ancient history, Apologia's "Discovering Creation through General Science" for science, and Alpha Omega materials and Writing With Skill for English, and I have a plan for regular Bible study for home school to: sharing my favorite verses from each of the books of the Bible (I have found that teaching the Bible to my kids from my own personal experience makes it much more  interesting and  meaningful; other materials I've tried were too dry). Our first week of home school was tough as far as getting back into the routine, but very encouraged by the materials (see next gift)

882. Studying creation versus evolution: creation provides meaning
One thing that really struck me in our home school this week was this argument for creation (versus evolution): creation provides a purpose and meaning to life. With evolution, if life began by accident and evolves by time, chance and natural selection, then what prupsoe is there in our "accidental lives"? Why do we crave to understand the meaning of life, why do we long to know what our purpose is, why we are here?

883. Getting stopped by an unusual road block: a marching band
On my way to work one day I was delayed by the University of Wyoming's marching band as they were out in the street practicing! I didn't mind the delay (fortunately I wasn't running late to a meeting, as is sometimes the case!) and I especially enjoyed the color guard and their beautiful brown and gold flag work. (For one summer I was part of the color guard in my high school's marching band)

884. Summer's whinny
I'm still missing my old horse Rebel, and his sweet whinny that he used to greet us with every morning when we came out to feed him. But this summer I discovered that our horse Summer has a whinny that sounds almost identical to Rebel's whinny. Hopefully we can get her to "talk" to us every morning like we did with him, too.
Dreamer riding Summer
885.  Two new visitors to OA
For most of the summer it's been just C. and I at our Laramie OA meetings, but now we have two new regulars coming! (J. and E.)

886. Rolling around in the back of the van laughing
B. helped me take all the seats out the back of my Chevy Uplander van, so I could help C. get the rest of her stuff moved over from storage in Cheyenne to her new place in Laramie. I was impressed with how much stuff I could cram in! The kids, though, were impressed with how much fun it was riding in the back of the van without seats. We forgot to put the seats back in before church, so we told them to "keep low" so no cops would see them in there without seat belts. "Keep low" apparently meant lying on the floor and giggling every time I made a turn and they rolled around over each other back there!

887.  Realizing just how amazing your life is
My stepdaughter Stars (who just moved to Seattle) posted this on her Facebook page, and I copied it here so I could remember it always:
Today I somehow managed to wreck my car in the parking garage of my apartment. I spent the better half of my day getting quotes from auto repairs, having to make various phone calls and overall feeling really sorry for myself. To top off my incredibly horrible day I had to go grocery shopping, which at the time sounded like the biggest chore. As I was walking out of Safeway a homeless man was trying to sell me a newspaper, and I of course ignored him, as did everyone else.Loading up my car full of groceries I couldnt help but stare at my poor, damaged Jetta and while wanting to feel sorry for myself again, the homeless mans attempts to even be noticed caught my attention. I walked over and handed one of my bags of groceries to the man, he then started crying and thanking me profusely, and I guess it just made me think how good my life actually is, my "problems" are so minor compared to so many. Through trials and triumph, wrecked cars and such, life is really awesome. I guess all I am trying to say is be happy, be positive, have a little compassion now and again, and on your absolute worst days when you manage to wreck your car or do something stupid and you think your day couldn't possibly get worse, remember to remind yourself about how amazing your life actually is.