Sunday, August 31, 2014

Just a little post before we get to Yellowstone

Less than 6 days after I arrived home from Michigan, we headed out to meet the SoCal Ball’s in Yellowstone. I’m still working on editing those pictures, but during those 5 days I had a home, I did lots of laundry, shopping, and packing, and the girls did lots of playing with neighbors.



They are all ponies, pulling the princess in her carriage.


The girls & neighbor girls decided to sleep in the tent in the neighbor’s backyard. 3 of them made it all night, though they were quite tired the next day. But there is nothing better than that kind of summer memory.

We left for Yellowstone on August 2…next post will be our travel day!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


With almost everyone getting into technology more and more, our GEMS conference this year even had a hashtag! Thankfully, it was not used as often as you might think. We were busy!

I was blessed to be able to go a day early and stay a day longer in order to spend time with my MI family. It has been over a year since I had seen them last, so I loved EVERY minute of it!


I taught my nephew how to take selfies! What are aunts for, if not for that?




Got kisses from my niece – she’s a sweetie!


Except she doesn’t smile when you hold up a camera and say, “Smile, Claire!”


But she smiles when you tickle her!



I got to see my 91-year-old grandma while I was there, too!


Then I headed to Calvin for the conference. The committee had written with sidewalk chalk all over the campus – really fun!


My dorm…not the one I lived in as a student back in the day, though.


Two of my great loves had their signs right next to each other! Just needed to put in a little Logos sign (which could have happened, since Logos was a presenter at this conference for the first time!) and maybe a Lynden Christian sign and then I would have been simply in heaven.


I presented a workshop this year on Creative Ways to bless your GEMS. I was super fortunate to have my workshop be in the first workshop time slot of the conference! Woo-hoo! All attendees were fresh and NOT SLEEPY! I had a super great time at the workshop & I pray the ladies who came did, too! The picture above is a picture of some of the cute samples I made and then gave away throughout the workshop.



Some of our great praise & worship leaders…what a blessing they all were!


My small group table during theme night.


One of the workshops I was able to attend was to Kids Food Basket, a non-profit organization in Grand Rapids that provides sack dinners to poverty level students in the Grand Rapids area. They provide 5000+ dinners per day! Their building isn’t large, but it is efficient. The tables above are used in assembly line fashion to put together all those sack dinners. They like to have the brown paper bags they use decorated for the students, so as part of our theme night service project, we each decorated 5+ bags, so we got to drop off those 3000 bags when we went. It seemed like a lot until we found out that 3000 wasn’t even enough bags for one days worth of dinners. Wow. Anyway, we got a quick tour, and then we got to portion pita chips into snack size baggies to be used in the next days dinners. Since the workshops are only 75 minutes long, by the time we drove there and allotted time to drive back, we only had about 15-20 minutes of “getting our hands dirty.” I would have LOVED to be able to have this workshop cover 2 workshop slots so that we could have felt like we actually made a difference, rather than just causing an inconvenience of the workers setting up something we could do really fast. They get a lot of food donated, but they also purchase non-perishables from the local food pantry for something like 17 cents/pound. They have an ambitious goal of including fresh fruit & vegetable in every dinner as well. It’s a great organization and I’m so glad I got to find out about it.




At every conference, there is a Women’s Night Out. This year we were able to go to the Meijer Garden in GR…we got on a bus to be shuttled there and our bus driver took a VERY roundabout way to get there (I know, because I know how to get there!) to go through the back entrance…which ended up to be closed! Aack! But, once we got there we could roam through the indoor garden and take a very abridged version of their sculpture tram ride (I’m glad it was abridged, although I would have liked to be able to walk around the sculpture gardens and other outdoor garden areas.) We ate dinner in the outside cafĂ©, admired the Chihuly glass, and listened to both Tammy Trent and Allison Allen, both of whom were DYNAMIC and MEANINGFUL speakers to hear, both that night and the other times we heard them at conference. SO blessed by them!


Me & my roomie, Brenda, who is the Leadership Trainer in southern BC. I knew her previously, but we didn’t know each other super well before rooming together…but NOW we do! Smile










We titled this statue, “Words with Friends”…which you will only find funny if you are familiar with Words with Friends.




My sweet GEMS sister, Amy, from New Jersey. Adore her. Her trust in the Lord is inspiring.




After the conference was over I headed back to see my family. We went to Lake Michigan and had a great time!









And ice cream after the beach, OF COURSE!


Ended my time in MI giving the babe a bath and then a very early morning flight back home. So thankful for safety while traveling, my MI family, & the GEMS staff & volunteers.

Monday, August 18, 2014

More July stuff


In July there are lots of really delicious berries in WA. Our county is the largest producer of raspberries in the country. And our blackberries are  pretty amazing. Those yellow berries are called Golden Raspberries. They taste pretty much like regular raspberries, only maybe slightly tropical. We enjoyed this selection of berries one night when our dear friends the Boon’s came for dinner.



Their oldest daughter stayed for the weekend to hang out with Sarah. We didn’t do anything special, but they kept themselves entertained. They had themselves a little photo shoot and I was invited to go and take pictures of the two of them together. These are just a few of my favorites.






This little robin fledgling lived in our backyard for a few days. It hopped around and waited for its momma to bring it food. One day I scared it when I started watering near where it was hiding and it started to fly! It flew a few feet at a time and then flew up to the top of the wheelbarrow. It rested there for a bit and Ed & I decided at that point to leave it alone, lest we scare it to death. The next time we looked, the bird was gone and we never saw it again. We HOPE it learned to fly and flew over the fence and is now a beautiful robin living all on its own.


That’s the back side of my forearm after I encountered stinging nettles while weeding the garden. THAT HURTS! I had no idea stinging nettles would hurt that badly. Even more than a day later it still felt like 100 bee stings all at once. Aloe Vera Gel was awesome on it (which I happened to have on hand after that BAD sunburn I got at the bay earlier that week) and the Benadryl made me sleepy so I had a nap or two, which is always nice in the summer.

Next up: my trip to Michigan!