We are getting ready to go home! It's been a good week and very, very full. We have full hearts, lots of memories, and have treasured our time here. However, it's good to return back to the place that holds our hearts for now and that is Maine.
We visited our church family last Sunday, and it was good to reconnect and see so many familiar faces. There were also a lot of faces that I missed seeing and that have left the church for various reasons. I also feel a renewed passion to be committed to our local fellowship of believers in Maine. We are so blessed to have the freedom to worship in public in our nation, and I am so thankful!
Also last Sunday we enjoyed lunch at the park with our friends, the Hammond family. It was good to catch up with their news and to sit and fellowship together. So much can change in a year, and I'm not always the best at communicating through the long miles apart!
On Monday we spent some time visiting some older folks that my parents wanted us to visit. The kids did very well with the various visits, although they were very thankful to come home and play outside. Later in the afternoon we went to visit at the Schilder's house. It's so wonderful for our kids to reconnect with their friends as well, and I've certainly treasured the moments of catching up with my mama friends. I was able to get away to spent some time with my pastors wife, Heather, and the two hours flew by! How time passes so quickly amazes me!!
Tuesday was Emma's fourth birthday! Now that's craziness! We've been so blessed by our little girl, and we are so thankful that God blessed us with her. My dad took the boys fishing in the morning, while my mom and I ran a few errands to prepare for Emma's birthday party. I had invited a few close friends to come over for supper and cake, and Emma was so excited all day! We had decided on sub sandwiches for supper, and my mom made homemade rolls. We quickly realized that we would need to make two batches, as the boys certainly enjoyed the warm rolls right out of the oven! Travis ate four of them with lots of butter...yum! My mom makes delicious dinner rolls, and the boys will definitely attest to that! It was a good time of fellowship, lots of little kids, and laughter that evening as we celebrated Emma's birthday. We were missing Roger, of course, but it was a blessing to share Emma's birthday with many friends here in Wisconsin.
Wednesday was another beautiful day. My dad filled up the old baptistry and the boys enjoyed "swimming" in it. It's been under the trees for a while. It came out of the old church building years ago, and there is not room in the current building for it. The baptistery was put to good use for the past several days! I took the kids over to visit my friend, Renee, in the afternoon. She's had a lot of health struggles in the past year, and it was good to reconnect with her. We went to prayer meeting at church, and then we planned to have a sleepover at the Schilder's house. The kids were excited about having a sleepover, and they didn't even mind that Mom and Emma came along to the sleepover! Gretchen and I stayed up way too late talking, but it was a good use of my time. It's sometimes during those late night conversations that the deeper burdens are shared and the urgent prayer requests are made known. Gretchen has loved my children as her own, and she is always willing to have me drop by and interrupt her day. It probably does help that I usually bring coffee!
Although Wednesday was a short night on sleep, the kids were still eager beavers in the morning! They jumped on the trampoline, chased each other around the yard, and played hard. Meanwhile, I drank several cups of coffee! Jenna came over to join us for coffee that morning, and we were good company for each other since her night was short on sleep also!(Babies tend to interrupt a good nights rest!) Her little boy, Roko, has completely enjoyed playing with our boys this week. I think Wyatt is his favorite though as he always seeks out his company. I hope many if the friendships that our children have in Wisconsin will last over the years...especially as I dearly love these mama friends!
On Thursday my dad took the boys camping again. This is the third time in the two weeks we've been here! My dad takes the camper down to one of his farms friends and the boys enjoy campfires, four wheeling, building forts, fishing, and whatever else they find to do in the great outdoors! I love the fact that my dad is so willing to invest in their lives, point them to Godliness, and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We are blessed. I know my dad is tired, but he is enjoying theses days also. However, going back to work will probably seem like a bit of a vacation for him!
Also on Thursday, the mechanic called to say that the truck was fixed! Oh, praise Jesus! My mom drove me out to pick up the truck and pay the bill. It wasn't as cheap as I would've liked but it never is, is it?! However, it could've been a lot more expensive! I'm thankful to have lure vehicle back as it is necessary for us to get home!
Friday was a full day. My sister, Jen, came in from South Dakota, Roger flew in from Maine, and we had a dinner with many of our friends from the area. Garett went with me to Milwaukee to pick up Roger. Roger had flown into Chicago, but his friend, Jared, graciously agreed to pick him up in Milwaukee. That saved me some time driving, and it meant I could squeeze in a visit with my friend, Beka. Garett wanted to come with me, so I had a date on the way down. It was another reminder that my young son is quickly becoming a young man. He practically looks me in the eyes these days! I had a good time with him, and I treasure these memories. It was good to see Beka again, and we were able to get in a short walk before Jared arrived with Roger. It's easy to lose my fervency to pray for some of the needs of my friends when I'm not around, but it was refreshing to hear Beka's heart and to be reminded of the need to continue to pray for her requests.
We had planned a dinner with some of Rogers friends at the Schilder's house. Gretchen graciously opened up her home, and we filled it with people! My parents came along with my sister. Rogers brother, Mark, and his wife came. And several other friends came also. It was my moms birthday so we also celebrated with ice cream cake. It was a long day for Roger as he had been up since four am, but I am thankful we made the effort to get together with some of the families that we are so close to. We enjoyed the evening, and we were all very thankful to go to bed that night!
Saturday was our last full day here in Wisconsin. Roger went to visit some older friends of ours, while Jen and I went to get food to feed the piranhas on the way back...I mean, our children! I find it much better to buy snacks and food before getting on the road, as food on the tollway is expensive! I think we have enough snacks and fruit to get us back...I hope! We also had supper with some of Roger's family. I'm thankful that Roger was able to see his brothers while he was here as family is important.
Roger's boss had also sent along ten lobsters to my parents house. We made a few deliveries to various friends that would enjoy some East coast seafood. It was fun to share with our friends, and we wish them all the best in cooking the lobsters! Our first experience with cooking lobster was a bit rough, but we've gotten much better at it. The first time we had lobster Chandler was asked "how does it taste?" He replied, "It's not terrible, but it's kinda like chewing on a bouncy ball!" We've been living and learning!
We are heading back tomorrow afternoon. We would appreciate your prayers as we trek the 21 hours back across the country to home. We are blessed by good friends, great family, and wonderful memories!