Thursday, September 27, 2012

Girl #2

My 2nd daughter has always had a sense of justice. Ever since she was a toddler we have noticed that she always desires for things to be right and fair for everyone. It hurts her heart when it's not. As a two-year-old, this wasn't always a good thing because she didn't always KNOW what was right and was simply her PERCEPTION of WHAT SHOULD BE. As her parents, we prayed that her sense of justice would eventually lead her into a compassionate heart.

We are seeing that God is molding her heart into one of compassion for those less fortunate. She & her friend, distraught by the lack of clean water in Haiti, decided to do something about it. Their first idea was a lemonade stand, but since that wasn't going to make $3000 (what it takes to drill one well for a village), they came up with a grander scheme. Her friend's mom & I were so proud of them, yet a little cautious because we knew their grand scheme would take time & planning for both them and us and it would stretch us beyond what we are normally comfortable doing as service work. We both prayed about it and said, "If God doesn't close the doors, we'll go for it with you." Well, God didn't close the doors. He opened them VERY WIDE! The date they chose just happened to be the. only. Saturday. without another meet or already scheduled activity for both families. The church got behind them 110%. The ministry they chose to send their money to, Starfish Ministries (a ministry to the country of Haiti run by members of our local community) got behind them 110%. And on and on.

So, THIS SATURDAY, two little 12-year-old girls are speaking to over 100 walkers/runners at their Haiti Water Project - a 5K Fun Run/Walk around our community. Here are the details from the advertisements we created:

Two 7th grade girls, Faith Elgersma & Bethany Ball, with a heart for serving others & their great God, are planning and organizing a walk & 5K run to raise money to drill a well in Haiti. All proceeds from the event go directly to Starfish Ministries, a ministry run by members of our local community. Their goal is to bring relief to Haiti. This is your chance to participate in a community event focused on conquering thirst, bringing hope, and giving glory to God.

When: Saturday, September 29, 2012
Time: Registration begins at 9:00 a.m.
Where: Meet at Bethel CRC, 1105 Liberty St., Lynden
What: a walk/5K loop around our town. A speaker, prizes, treats, and more will be part of this very exciting local effort!
Why: Because two girls believe that our community CAN make a difference, one step at a time.
How to register: Sign up at Bethel CRC or email
Cost: $10/person or $25/family. Make checks payable to Starfish Ministries and give to Faith Elgersma or Bethany Ball. You may also pay on the day of the event.

Donations also accepted.
Want more information? Just email!
Soli Deo Gloria!
They wrote letters to local businesses and have raised OVER $3000 so far, PLUS they have received gifts to give away as raffle prizes at the day of the event. Over 30 local businesses have donated money or products for this cause. Several other friends, friends-of-friends, relatives, and church members have donated, bought crafts, given of their gifts. All because two little girls with a sense of justice decided to do something about it.

I'm so proud of them. We'd love to have you join us on Saturday. Let's see how God pulls this all together, shall we? 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning. Bethel CRC. See you there if you can!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Our life is Cross Country…

…among other things, but XC appears to be what I photograph, so for now, that’s what I’m blogging!

Bethany had her first meet last week, and did really well!! She placed 39th out of 100 runners, was the 4th LC runner, and ran a 12:28 1.5 mile.




Here she is, sprinting in to the finish line! So proud of her!!

Sarah also had a meet at the same location (on a different day) and she had a pretty good race – placed 11th, 4th for LC, and ran a 23:15. Her slowest race, but it’s one of the slower courses because of all the twists and turns.



We also spent the day up at Silver Lake on Saturday for the big Mount Baker Invitational. For the past 35 years, it’s been the first Saturday of October, but this year it was moved. We don’t know why, but there were plenty of schools that were not able to come because of the date change. Not sure what will happen next year…anyway, it was a super fun day watching lots of races and cheering on all our LC kids…from the 7th graders to the freshman to the seniors!


I love how happy Bethany looks while loosening up with her team right before their race!

07-_MG_0619 08-_MG_0623

Almost done! She ran a 12:38 and placed 32nd out of 82 runners and was the 5th LC runner this time – the girl who was right behind her at the previous meet had a little more kick at the end and passed Bethany just before the finish.


Sarah’s team prayer before the race. Love this.


And, they’re off! See that red head on the right side of the picture? She won. She was amazing.


“The Pack” as they are known. These 4 stay pretty close together. Their goal is to continue to do that and push each one just a little bit further because if one goes faster, the others will, too, and that’s their shot at going to state.


I love watching these two at the races together – hugs and smiles and encouragement all around. Warms a mother’s heart, that’s for sure.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fall Workshop

This is my third year serving as the GEMS Area Coordinator for WA state. Every spring I get to go to Grand Rapids for training and every fall I get to train the local counselors. I love it. Being with women, teaching women, learning from them, encouraging each other…I love it all!! The pictures from this year’s local workshop (which was September 8 in Bellevue) are available by clicking here. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Meets 1, 2, 3, & 4

Well, unfortunately all these pictures are from the first meet of the season for Sarah. The 2nd one I couldn’t be at because I was at my GEMS Fall Workshop in Bellevue and Ed didn’t take any pictures. The 3rd one she didn’t run in because she was at her freshman retreat and the 4th one was in Port Angeles and required an overnight trip!! But, this will serve as the official update on her Cross Country season thus far…

Meet 1: @ Peace Arch. LC Girls won. LC Boys took third. Several Seniors were missing because of the Senior Bio hike. A few other runners were missing because they hadn’t had enough practices. It was a great meet – Sarah’s first 3 mile race! She took 6th, was the 4th LC runner, and ran a 23:06. Then she puked. Which earned her a blizzard from the coach. Apparently it’s like a rite of passage or badge of honor to puke after a race. It was a hot day and she admitted to not having drank enough water throughout the day. So, while it is a rite of passage, it’s not necessarily something we need to repeat…but it was a great meet and a great way to start the season!



The LC girl right behind Sarah is MacKenzie and she is about our #2 or #3 runner generally. She did beat Sarah in the end of this race. She’s a sophomore and having a stellar year so far! She & Sarah ran together most of the race, which was super fun for them both and for us to watch.



Coming up the hill. Those girls are strong!

6-XC @ Peace Arch 9-5-12 A

These pics are from the Bellingham Herald online gallery.

5-XC @ Peace Arch 9-5-12 B

Meet #2 was a Sehome invitation with a ton of big schools. Sarah placed 13th out of 64 freshman girls. It was a 2 mile race and her time was 14:22 – great time!

Meet #3 was the LC home meet she missed, but the team overall had an OK day…not their best, but not bad.

Meet # 4 was a Salt Creek Park Invitational near Port Angeles. The top 7 are considered Varsity for this meet and got to leave school at 11:00 on Friday to catch the ferry over to the peninsula. They camped on the beach and then ran in the morning. Sarah was 39th out of 72 runners with a time of 20:56. She was the 4th LC runner. This meet was also against HUGE schools. We’re 1A and there were 2A, 3A, and 4A schools competing in this meet. Great experience for them!

Coming up this week is a local meet for both Sarah & Bethany and then on Saturday will be the Silver Lake Invitational which is our favorite meet of the year! Thankfully it looks as though we won’t freeze this year!! I’m so proud of both the girls for competing in XC – it’s not an easy sport…it absolutely takes strength and determination and character.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The First Day of First Grade

…and third grade and seventh grade and ninth grade!!

School began on Tuesday, August 28 and while were were *almost* ready for it to start, we were a little sad to say good-bye to summer. It’s the first time I can remember in my entire life that I have not been anxiously awaiting the first day of school! I think I was just enjoying the girls too much (most of the time, anyway) and was definitely not looking forward to projects and papers and homework, etc. We WERE however, looking forward to routines and friends and cross country meets and all the other FUN stuff that comes along with school starting up again. Oh, and the new pencils and pens and markers and crayons. Oh, the sharp crayons. They make me so happy.

Anyway, time for some pictures!


Here we have the first grader!! She was very ready and loves school, of course. She’s been pretty tired – going 5 days a week, all day long takes a little getting used to.

first grade sheetphoto

This year I printed up these little papers for the girls to fill out on the first day of school. Hats off to you if you know what Elise wrote for “favorite food.” I think everything else she either had help with or did pretty well “sounding out.” I LOVE that she wants to be a teacher when she grows up. What first grade girl DOESN’T?


And there’s my third grader. She was MORE than ready to see her friends again, but wasn’t super excited about having to do math again. Thankfully, in our school, Saxon Math starts in 3rd grade and it is taught in such as way as to give kids confidence and to continually reinforce ideas and so far it’s going pretty well!

third grade sheetphoto

Isn’t it just awesome that she loves her freckles? I must also explain why she wrote “neon purple & Rebecca” as her favorite colors…well, neon purple is self-explanatory, but Rebecca? It’s the name of the lavender-ish color on the walls of her room. Thanks Wal-mart-paint-naming-company!


Seventh Grade. Junior High. Changing classes and teachers. Lockers. Electives. School Sports. All sorts of wonderful things happen in 7th grade. She’s ready.

seventh grade sheetphoto

Just so you know, she already got a 7:45 for her mile time, so that goal has already been surpassed!! Way to go, Bethany! It’s good to know she has a handle on what she doesn’t like, and I love that she’s still a little girl. Look what she likes to do: turn cartwheels in the lawn on a summer day with bright sun. Okay, a little girl with many, many words!


And there’s the high schooler. Ninth grade. (It’s the photographer’s fault there’s only a close-up picture of her…the full-length shot was blurry. Smile with tongue out) She was only a little nervous, but she didn’t get lost and her locker worked, so the first day was a success! So far high school has mostly been about XC, but it’s also been about finding her place with some new friends, getting out of her comfort zone a bit, and a LOT more independence. That last part kind of drives the mother crazy, but the mother will just need to find the balance between parenting the high schooler and controlling the high schooler…

ninth gradephoto

Her goal of publishing a book hasn’t changed since she was 6 and she already accomplished the “not getting lost” thing, so this is good. I love the 1XX for her weight – that’s what I would put, too, girl!!




This was apparently the year for stripes and/or dolman sleeves for tops and jean capris on the bottom.


And black or gray shoes. I promise, none of this was planned. Everyone picked out these things independently of one another and I didn’t even realize it until we put their feet together for the photo…


elementary schoolphoto

middle schoolphoto

high schoolphoto

That was taken after school, after cross country practice, when no one was around. I certainly wasn’t going to ask my high schooler to pose in front of the high school sign before school on the first day. Nope. Wouldn’t think of it. I told her that, hoping she would say, “Oh, that’s OK, Mom. You can take my picture there.” But she said, “Thanks.” So then after XC when I suggested the picture she protested because then she was “sweaty & gross.” But I don’t think she looks sweaty and gross at all. I think she looks strong and like a high-schooler.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

XC camp

The last week of summer was the much anticipated high school cross country team (& families) camping trip to the east side of the state. Now I am not much for camping, and I definitely was not looking forward to two nights in a tent and 3 days without a shower. However…I was very much looking forward to meeting the rest of the kids on the XC team and some of the parents. I was also looking forward to relaxing, chatting with adults, sitting in the warm sun, and not dealing with the “things of home” for 3 days. Plus, we were going somewhere we had never been, on roads we had never traveled, and that was exciting to me!

This XC camp is a tradition for the kids and it was fun to finally experience all the things that we had heard about for the last couple of years. Everyone meets at school early on Tuesday morning for the drive out. This year we had 24 of the 26 runners and about 17 parents or so. We began with prayer and headed out. Fortunately for us, the team rides all together, so we had a little extra room in our van…camping for 3 days is pretty much the same as camping for two weeks…you have to bring the same amount of stuff. Well, except for food, but we didn’t bring too much food because the XC coach plans, buys, transports and cooks (with help) all the food. We pay $50/family for the 3 days, but that was a screamin’ deal!!

Anyway, we drove up to Newhalem and stopped there for a bathroom break. Some friends of ours, who were not “newbies” like us, took us on a few little extra stops along the way as well, and we saw some gorgeous stuff! That is DEFINITELY a place we should head back to as a family sometime and do some more hiking and exploring around.


This was at a stop just a tad farther east than Newhalem. It was a beautiful drive over the mountains.

When we arrived at the top of the pass, we pulled into the Washington Pass Overlook area. Most of the moms and little kids stayed there, hiked around, chatted, and got lunch ready while all the runners, some of the moms, most of the dads, and some of the siblings headed up the hike to Blue Lake. It was 2.5 miles uphill and they ran. Well, the XC kids did. They ran to the top, jumped in the lake (which was very cold, but they didn’t care because they were all sweaty from the hot run) and then ran back down. Ed & Bethany did the hike while I stayed back with Becca & Elise. These pictures are from Ed’s phone.

blue lake hikephoto

blue lake hike 3photo

This next picture is from the hike that the little girls & I did while we waited at Washington Pass. The winding road is what we drove down when we left the area.


After lunch we made our way to our campground on Lake Pearrygin near Winthrop. Just as we arrived, the wind was picking up and we managed to get the tent up and the rain cover on before it started to rain. Then we just stood under the van back hatch until it passed and finished setting up our tent. The kids all set up their tents and the coach set up his “kitchen” – this guy is super organized and knows how to camp!! Not to mention, he’s a pretty fabulous coach!

Then the XC kids went swimming. Correction, the GIRLS went swimming. The guys watched.

boys watching girls swimphoto

Seriously? Cracked me up. Made the XC girls crabby. Truth be told, I would have been crabby at them when I was in high school too. Get in the water, boys!

Ah, eventually they all did swim and they all got along great. Every morning, the runners have a workout. The first morning they run 3 miles up a mountain and then 3 miles back down. They do this at 7 am. It goes without saying that I did not go along…but Ed & Bethany did! They didn’t go all the way up, but they got in a great hike. Then the kids swim and breakfast is about 9:30. Then they play the whole day. Our little girls thought it was great fun to play frisbee and to swim and to do lots of stuff with the high schoolers. Elise says that “Ashley is getting to be her new best friend.” And Elise said that this trip was her favorite trip of the summer because “I got to meet so many new people!” I think she’s an extrovert…

Having some fun in the lake

girls jumpingphoto

girls swimmingphoto

bethany swimmingphoto


Ed & another dad playing ladderball

Lunch is generally bagels with meat & cheese, fruit, chips, and gatorade. Always gatorade. Dinner the first night is spaghetti, bread, & salad and the second night is chicken with rice (which was quite delicious!) The second afternoon I spent strolling through the western tourist shops in Winthrop with the other moms and we had a great time! One of the evenings included a trip into town for ice cream at the local hangout, which was pretty cheap and yummy!!

Sleeping in a tent…how did that go, you ask? Pretty crummy. I was pretty crabby every morning. Maybe that’s because the little girls cried because they were so cold and one of them even refused to get into her sleeping bag because she didn’t like that sleeping bag. Well, I’m sorry dear, but there’s not much sympathy for being cold if you’re not even going to get in the sleeping bag! And then there was the early morning hour when Ed got up to go to the bathroom. I was laying there, listening for his footsteps on the gravel and the zip of the tent door. Instead, before I heard Ed’s footsteps, I heard little pitter patters on the tarp outside the sleeping portion of our tent. I froze. It was a mouse. Or a small creature of some sort. It was dark so I did not see the creature, but there was most definitely something moving around out there and as all my blog readers well know, I know what creatures sound like during the night. FINALLY, I heard Ed’s steps on the gravel and then the scurry of the creature under the tent flaps and back outside. Ugh. I am pretty sure it was a mouse because the day before we had seen a little deer mouse in the grass in the vicinity of our tent. So, one more thing to not like about camping…

girls by lake photo


Team Photo and time to head for home!

The trip home included a stop at Diablo Dam overlook (it was FREEZING there!) and at Cascadia Farms for more yummy ice cream! All in all, it was a great trip and I’m very glad we went! We arrived home around dinnertime on Thursday and then the realization hit…school would begin in just 5 short days…

Sunday, September 2, 2012

House For Sale…still

Back in April we put our house up for sale by owner. We had lots of interest pretty quickly and we were pretty optimistic about selling it. We had one cute young couple that came twice and eventually made us a low offer. We didn’t take it and discussed a higher offer with them, but they could not get financed for more. We had another couple who seemed to love our house and we had a full-price offer from them and were getting very close to having all the nitty-gritty details worked out when they suddenly backed off. We actually weren’t surprised because we had found out the day before that they had purchased another house…they had been trying to buy two houses at one time. The other one went through first. We don’t think the deal with us would have actually ever gone through because they were getting a very specific loan with zero down and we don’t think the bank would have allowed them to purchase a home in the flood plain. That was extremely disappointing.

We had bits of interest over the summer, but not much. We hosted an open house and one couple came…the wife had called me a month or so previously because she so loved our house but her husband didn’t want to live in “the city”. Oooookaaaaaayyyyy. Whatever. They came to the open house and she oohed and aahed over everything. She loved it. He seemed more impressed than he wanted to be. A week or so later the wife called me again, concerned that our house was no longer for sale because the sign was done. Well, lucky for her, Ed was just mowing the lawn and our house was still for sale. She came to see it again a couple days later, but since then we have heard diddly-squat from them.

Two weeks ago we decided to try listing our home with a realtor. Houses in our price range are selling quickly in the town in which we want to live and our realtor was optimistic that our house just needed to be visible to more people. After working the numbers a bit we decided that yes, we could afford to use the realtor and our house went live to all the realtors everywhere. 


Guess how many phone calls we’ve had to show the house? None. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

THAT is discouraging, to say the least. This coming Saturday our realtor will be hosting an open house here. We are just praying that our house will sell this fall. Interest rates are low and there are several houses in town near school that we would love to go see as potential homes for us. If God closes this door right now, we are very uncertain as to the future…who knows what the mortgage rates and housing market will be doing next spring. Continuing to live out here is going to be very difficult and stressful…we try to ease things as much as possible, but it’s not the life we have always dreamed of for our family. God knows the plan, though. And in that we take comfort. We’re just really praying that He reveals that plan sooner rather than later. That would sure help me out.