hot bliggity blog 267

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

summer recap pt. 7: r & r

This brings me to my final recap of the summer, I promise! This one was completely different from the others in several aspects: I was responsible for NO ONE, I FINISHED a book, there was NO in-flight/bus restroom facility and NO name-tags!!! This, my friends, was a much needed and appreciated vacation :) My family (minus one sister and plus two grandparents) set out for the beach!

The beach, as I think I have mentioned, is quite possibly one of my favorite places on earth. One of my favorite things to do at the beach is to listen; there are so many sounds to be heard and rejoiced in! Start with the morning; what do you hear? Nothing! No alarm clock to wake you up! This sound is golden and sets the pace for the rest of the day. Kids splashing in the water; this is the sound of no worries and no homework. Friends catching up over sweet tea and grilled hamburgers; this is the refreshing sounds of time spent and memories relived. The waves crashing into the shore; this is perhaps the most beautiful sound of them all. It is the sound of God’s greatness and His beautiful creation.

There are many other things I love about the beach as well: the cool relief of the water, the laid back atmosphere, the food, relaxation, the liberating feeling of detaching your cell phone from your fist (you can’t take it in the water!!!), etc. I could go on and on and on.

Just when I thought that beach trips couldn’t get any better, my family stumbled across a hotel with the never-seen-before; a gem if you will. There, in the back yard of our hotel, was an oh-so-wonderful lazy river!!! I’m telling you it was AMAZING!!! Imagine getting up in the morning, ahem, afternoon, riding the elevator down to the ground floor, grabbing a tube and stepping in! Although you can’t tell it by these pictures, space in the lazy river was most coveted. (This was taken just before a storm.)

Mom and I probably spent 90% of our time floating around in circles. I think it was day 3 before I even remembered there was a beach on the other side of the fence. Ha!

As I said earlier, the food is another awesome part of the beach. We ate most of our breakfasts and/or lunches (some of us did not make it up in time to squeeze both meals in) in our condo as well as several dinners. On the nights we did go out, though, we had a hard time trying to choose a place to go!

One of our favorite places to eat at is Lambert’s, Home of the Throwed Rolls. This has some of the best and largest portions of good ole Southern cooking ever. I have found the best way to prepare for a meal here is to not eat for a week leading up to your anticipated dinner. I’m so serious! Before you even give your drink order you are served a heaping scoop of fried okra!!! If you enjoy being rolled out of the door by a bull-dozer this is the place for you to eat. I wish I could tell you I was kidding but I would be lying. And yes, they do throw rolls at you. If you don’t want a roll DO NOT make eye contact with the Roll Boy :)

This is post-food consumption; notice how we are standing with uncomfortably large spaces between us. This directly correlates with how big we FELT at that moment. You may also notice how I planned ahead by wearing a dress. Ha!

We found an Alabama car with Texas A&M cover in the parking lot! If I were to be honest with you I would tell you that the whole time we were standing by this car I believed that I was looking at an ‘A’ for Alabama. I might would even tell you that I was confused as to why I was doing my ‘Whoop’ thing and Andrew was doing his Sophmore ‘A-A-A-A-A’ thing while posing; but that would be embarrassing  Oh, and don’t mind the purple hair, he simply has a lot of school spirit.

Unfortunately it stormed a lot while we were there. It was probably a good thing, though, as we needed a break from the sun. This storm came in at about 94 miles per hour and had the lazy river cleared out in .8 seconds. Look at how cool it looks, though!

While there we celebrated my Grandmother’s birthday with hot fudge cake!!! My mom has a recipe for a secret sauce that when added to your out-of-the-box Pillsbury chocolate cake and square slab of ice cream turns into heaven in your mouth. Thankfully we did not celebrate by going to Lambert’s AND eating hot fudge cake in the same night! It was so special to spend G Thorn’s birthday with her!

We went shopping several different nights. There were 3 stores open in this particular outdoor shopping center but we were able to take some pretty cool pictures!

So long, beach, I miss you already :) I’ll be back as soon as I can!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

summer recap pt. 6: rally and grace

I am a Jewelry Lady. (You think you know someone, right?!) I have been selling Premier Designs Jewelry since the beginning of 2010. I have not done as much with the business as I would have liked to; my immediate plan is to work on this!

This summer I got to go to the National Rally that was held in Fort Worth, Texas. The company has been celebrating it’s 25th Anniversary of Premier Designs all year! Wow! This made my first Rally experience extra special and exciting. It was so much fun!

So, for about the umpteenth week in a row I donned a name tag and shuffled through hallways with the rest of (what seemed) the world’s population! (Ok, maybe just Texas. Ha!) This week was enjoyable for several reasons. The one that comes to mind first, though, is not Rally itself but the fact that I was in charge of no one but myself! There were several times when our group would get separated and, as always, I was the tallest amongst our friends. At this point several of the ladies would look up at me and ask, “Are you making sure you can see So-and-So? We don’t need to lose her.” I have to admit that more times than not I answered with a “No.” Ha!

I learned a lot about Premier and the foundation that the company started on. It is a Christian company that focuses on service. How cool is that? I think one of the coolest things for me was to see the missionaries that Premier helps support. There were at least 40 missionaries in attendance and we got to hear some of their testimonies of the work that God is doing in the lives of so many. Having recently gotten back from Scotland and Ireland I was really excited to talk to the two missionaries from Ireland! (And to indulge in their accents!)

Another high-light for me was the Point of Grace concert!!! I love this group of girls and have followed them from their beginning. Between my mom, sister and I we have all of their C.D.s, a few songbooks and, my most recent addition, their cookbook! (If you have never heard either one of their Christmas C.D.s you need to! They are 2 of my top 10 most favorite Christmas albums.)

The girls performed a lot of songs from their newest album, No Changing Us. I have since then bought and learned every single song on the disc! One of my favorites is Come to Jesus. The lyrics talk about God’s grace and how NOTHING is too big or too small for Him.

This is Denise; I love her! My mom and I got to meet her and Shelley in New Orleans during their Circle of Friends Tour. They are all such neat with women with hearts for young girls/women’s and music ministry.

Here is the cookbook in case you want to take a sneak peak! I haven’t tried anything yet but hope to very soon!

COOKING WITH GRACE COOKBOOK | Point of Grace: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Here are some sneak peaks of the new jewelry!!! They have some very cool new pieces and I am excited to say that I own and wear several of them!


Pink Icing: (I'm in love!!!)

Eden: (I'm in love times 3!!!)

Monday, September 27, 2010

summer recap pt. 5: next level

This brings me to week numero 4 with the kiddos from church! Like the first two, Next Level Camp (grades 5 & 6) began and ended in the church parking lot. Our destination was Carolina Creek Christian Camp; we had fun, we were hot, and we worshiped Jesus!

My team counselor, Sarah, and I were blessed with 16 6th grade girls; every single one of them had a beautiful first name but wanted to go by something different. If it could be shortened and sounded good with ‘ie’ added on the end of it, you were welcome in our cabin. I considered going by Ellie for the week. Ha!

Our cabin name was the Poppin’ Porcupines. The camp pastor apologized to me for this name before camp even began, but there was nothing to be sorry for....we put the ‘Pop’ in Porcupines!!!! Sarah came super prepared and for that I am EXTREMELY grateful. Among her bag of goodies and wearables were choker necklaces that her sister-in-law donated to our group. They were awesome!!! They had a little picture of a porcupine, had our cabin name written in pink and a splash of zebra print in the background. Perfect!

Sarah also came prepared with porcupines that she and her daughter made. They were perfect for decorating our room with!

There is sooooooo much to do at Carolina Creek. Every day our group went through 5 rec rotations!!! To say it was hot is an understatement. If I had a nickel for each time one of the girls pleasantly reminded us that it was hot I would no longer need to search for a job. Ha!

The blob was a favorite. Have you ever blobbed?! The girls had a lot of fun blobbing each other; a few even overcame a fear of heights while there.

This floatation device was popular as well. I can’ t remember it’s name, but we all loved it. It kept the girls occupied and cool for quite some time.

We got to zip line!!! This was my first time and I absolutely loved it! This was hard for several of the girls, but with encouragement and support from our friends most of them were able to overcome their fears and enjoy (or endure!) the experience.

Ok, so this was kinda scary. I don’t know if I’ve ever held a bow and arrow but I can only imagine what accidents I might cause. Can you imagine 16 girls with bow and arrows in the grasp?!?!? Thankfully we made it out with eyeballs accounted for (38)!

Time for target practice!!!

The Poppin’ Porcupines on our last day together:
Our team is poppin’, yeah
Our team is poppin’, yeah
We’re the Poppin’ Porcupines
Praisin’ Jesus all the time!
Our team is poppin’, yeah, yeah,
We’re poppin’!!!

One of the greatest things about Caroline Creek is the staff. The camp hires young people who have a growing love for Christ, a passion for others’ and a love for sports (and heat!). We were blessed to have Robin as our counselor and guide throughout the week. We could not have done it without her!

After each rec rotation Robin sat us down as a group to discuss the activity and how we can relate it to our walks with Christ. It was so cool to see them ‘get it’.

Lessons Learned:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

by your side

I'm taking a brief break from summer recapping....will be back with it soon! (I have just a few more hi lights that I would like to share)


On my way to work this morning I heard By Your Side by Tenth Avenue North on the radio. I have heard this song countless times but have never really LISTENED to the words. So this morning, for whatever reason, I happened to LISTEN; isn't it amazing what we hear when we actually stop and LISTEN???

Below is a simple music video; I love this video BECAUSE of it's simplicity. It has been proven that we learn best when we are exposed to new information in two different forms. I have found a video that does just that: you can SEE and HEAR the words. I challenge you, though, to not only SEE and to not only HEAR, but to LISTEN with your eyes, ears and heart.

And I know the reason for my LISTENING this morning....God has been LISTENING to my prayers and HEARS the cry of my heart. I needed to HEAR the truths in this song and be reminded of God's constant presence BY MY SIDE.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

summer recap pt. 4: power up!

I lived in name tags this summer; I just needed to put that out there! Somewhere in the middle of my summer, Caroline called me and said ‘I’m teaching Kindergarten for VBS and I need you’re help; I’ve bought you a blue shirt and you can stay with us for the week.’ Well, what was I to do?! I packed up and headed to her house for a week of Kindergarten Power Up fun!

This was our favorite craft: a heart shaped box ready to decorate with glitz and glam!

The verse for that day was from Psalm 119:1, “I have hidden your word in my heart.” How important it is to hide God’s word in our heart; with His word He tells us we will be ready to overcome anything!

Another favorite craft: koozies! Although the kids had trouble with remembering the word "koozie" I think we got their pupose across!

Lucas brought us all treats! Ahhh, this is what it feels like to be a school teacher at Christmas time: blessed and fat! Ha!

The kiddos waiting patiently :) for the big show!

Lessons Learned:

*Kindergartners are fascinated with the simplest of activities, but only for a short while.

*I am blessed to have such great friends (I knew this already but it is always good to reiterate).

Monday, September 20, 2010

summer recap pt. 3: sisters and travels abroad

My next summer adventure took my sister, Emily, and I to Scotland and Ireland!!! We had so much fun in these two beautiful countries that I fear that I will not be able to fully relay to you all of the fun that was had. But I’m going to try!!!

Emily, a gifted photographer, was asked by her friend, Kendall, to photograph her and her fiance’s wedding. Kendall’s family has lived in Scotland for the past several years; while there, Kendall fell in love with Scott the Scotsman! And I am so thankful that she did!!!

This is how excited we were to be on our way!!!! We sang “All our bags are packed, we’re ready to go...”

Our first stop was in Aberdeen for the wedding festivities. This was a very special part of our trip; not only were we included in one of the most important days of their lives but we were submersed into the everyday lives and culture of the community.

During our stay for the wedding Emily and I stayed nearby in Dufftown at a cute little Bed & Breakfast, Dunnvegan. We tried so hard to fight the jet lag our first day there; I think we fell asleep at 5:15 and 5:17 respectively. Ha! We loved our hosts, Helen & Stuart; they shared many stories and history with us. Our favorite breakfast to eat while there was smoked salmon and scrambled eggs atop a piece of toast. Yum!!!

The day of the wedding was GORGEOUS!!! We could not get over out absolutely beautiful everything was; I think my mouth was permanently agape the whole time we were there! The wedding was held at a venue in the countryside about an hour outside of Aberdeen. It was the perfect place; a cottage looking venue sitting in the middle of the rolling hills of Scotland. It looked like a set straight from 'The Sound of Music'! I’m not even kidding!!!

I chatted with the bagpiper; I cannot remember his name but enjoyed meeting him all the same! He played before, during and after the wedding ceremony and sat the bridal party at their tables for the reception. Scottish weddings are divided into 3 parts: ceremony, reception, and Ceilidh (pronounced "kay-lee"). A ceilidh is a Scottish dance, similar to country square or barn dancing. It was so much fun and a for sure a great workout!!!

Emily, Scott, Kendall and I went on a photo shoot the day after the wedding. Emily and I felt pretty good about ourselves, being invited on someones honeymoon lol. Our first destination was an old castle ruins. It was so beautiful and a true experience!!! To get to the castle we had to hike through a sheep field and climb up some massive stone steps. I have already decided that either my wedding or wedding pictures will take place in the countryside of Scotland!!!

Emily and I had to take a break and have a few pictures ourselves!!!

Our next stop was an abandoned factory. With no roof, empty holes where windows used to be, and graffiti covering every square inch of exposed wall the run down factory was the perfect place for a photo shoot. There was ample natural sunlight and color everywhere!

After several days with the bride, groom and their families we said good-bye to Aberdeeen and found ourselves on a train to Edinburgh. Thanks to our handy-dandy Rick Steves’s guide we had a long list of sights to visit in Edinburgh (we made it to most of them!!!) Along our trek through the city we found a beautiful cemetery (we sang Phantom of the Opera’s 'Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again' while taking pictures!), Edinburgh Castle, Braveheart, and a partially constructed replica of the Greek Parthenon. Of course we had to stop and Whoop on the front steps!

All of the housing and storefronts were this picturesque. Can’t you just see yourself, knocking on one of these doors, asking to come in for tea and a visit in my flat?! One day!!!

After a day in Edinburgh we made it over to Glasgow; we were particularly excited about this stop due to it’s many art and architectural influences. Charles Rennie Mackintosh is my favorite designer/artist/architect of all time; his designs and influence are woven into most all of the city’s design. I was so excited to have lunch at his Willow Tea Rooms!!! Commissioned to Mackintosh by Kate Cranson in the early 1900s these tea rooms were designed so that women of that era could have a safe and secure place to go unescorted. How times have changed!

Mackintosh designed everything from the wall coverings, furniture, and light fixtures.

From Glasgow we took a flight over to Ireland. 'P.S. I Love You' happens to be on of our most favorite films; I think we both secretly thought that we might find our very own ‘Jerry’s’ while visiting Ireland. Scratch that, it was no secret. Ha!

Our flight to Dublin was the most stressful I have EVER been on. Not only was it EARLY in the morning (for my sister and I this was a true challenge) but the airport was very small, very strange and very strict. We were scrambling at the counter trying to get our bags under the allowed weight. In the end we both ended up with carry-on book bags heavy enough to kill someone. We then saw there was a weight limit for carry-ons as well--with clever repacking (redistribution of bulges), Emily’s brilliant idea and our superb acting abilities, we made it through; we managed to hold our shoulders straight and high, bounce our bags while passing through the gate and avoid eye contact with any and all employees. But we made it safely and made some awesome Australian friends along the way (and flight). They definitely made our experience more enjoyable!

All of the fields and pastures are sectioned off by stone walls such as these. They are held together with nothing but gravity and clever placement. Trained stone layers are responsible for the construction and repair of these walls.

We traveled over to Galway for a few days; we sang ‘Galway Girl’ for the duration of our time there!!! This city is so laid back and fun! We also took a day trip from Galway to the Aran Islands where we toured Inishmore Island. What an adventure!!! The island is about 9 miles long and about 2 miles across. We decided to forgo the comforts and securities that a van tour has to offer and try our hand, or feet rather, at biking. Oh my! We got on the bikes at 11:45 a.m. and did not return them until 4:45. I wish I could tell you that this was the most joyous of experiences but I would be lying. I can tell you, in truth, that it was extremely memorable and we did have many fun moments. Would I do it again? Probably?!?!?

After a 45 minute pedal UP the island (we were told it would be an easy 30. Ha!), we made it to the cliffs! What you can see here is a cliff with no guardrails. What you cannot see is the 300 foot drop from the top of the cliff down to the crashing waves. When my mom saw the pictures from here she said “I hope that’s not as dangerous as it looks.” I quickly assured her that it was! So fun!

After our time in Galway we headed back to Dublin for a few days. Dublin was one of our favorite places as we got to spend several days in the city. We even had time to pretend we were locals! We learned of a tour, Sandeman Tours, that was free and was told that it was one of the best of the city. They were right! Here is our tour guide, Garvan; he is as tall, pale, and red-curly haired as he looks! How fitting to have our very own Leprechaun to guide us through the city! For anyone traveling I would recommend these tours; they tour in a lot of the major cities, are free, and work closely with a lot of the local hostels.

By the end of our trip our feet were very, very tired (our backs and brains, too!!!) We covered many miles, learned a lot of history, experienced so much culture and had so much fun that we are counting the days until we can return!!!

Lessons Learned:
*Emily and I function much better and much earlier in the day when the sun is down for only 3 hours of the night.

*Starbucks is our friend; there is one on every corner just like in The States.

*When overseas, the USA is referred to as ‘The States’.

Memorable moments and quotes:
*emily: airports are like cruise ships & malls, there’s always someone who looks worse than you

*ellen: can we do all of this on the ground?

*ticket collector: ummmm.....these will not work

*ellen: Do you take visa?
waitress: No, only cash.
ellen: ...are you serious? Like....really serious???
waitress: Yes.....
canadian man: are you two on the 5:00 ferry? (Yes) Well, I’ll do a drive-by then
to make sure you’re not being held hostage & washing dishes.

*waiter: Have you been to City Centre (Galway)? If you go up this street, turn
left and then go a couple of blocks, you’ll see it.
emily: We’ve been up since 4:30 a.m.....
wiater: Well in that case, go up this street, turn right and your hotel will be in
a few blocks

Monday, September 13, 2010

summer recap pt. 2: jhigh brx

God changes us. He is powerful and loving. He has a perfect plan for our lives and wants to direct us in His perfect ways.

My second summer adventure also began with a mass exit from our church parking lot; this time to South Padre! Not even 36 hours had passed before we were loading up for the second verse of beach retreats; this time with JHigh!

For JHigh BRX I had a condo of 7 12-year-old girls (going into 7th grade)!!! It was an experience! For those of you who remember this age, this should come as no surprise! But we did have a blast, and as always, I learned a lot about myself.

Our condo name/color was Pink Enchanted....I could not have been more excited!!!! I didn’t have to buy a SINGLE thing....most of what I own is pink AND sparkly! I didn’t find out what our condo was going to be until 4:15 pm on Friday before (if you read Summer Recap Pt. 1 you will remember that I am still on a bus at this point. Ha!). So my sister, who happened to be in town that weekend, stayed an extra day to help me put together some rockin’ Enchanted outfits for the girls. I think we stayed up till 4:15 Saturday night crafting (before I had to be at church for 7:00 a.m.!). I would not suggest this to anyone. Thankfully Emily and I have training in this sort of project time crunches and we survived. Emily helped fashion the headbands seen below...they were a hit! And so cute; very much like a princess!!! Don’t we look ready for 2 hours of rec on the beach?! I’ll go ahead and tell you, we were NOT ready. I think it was 117 degrees that day. At least!

We also made flip flops for the girls....they turned out super cute! Although, have you ever made 9 pairs of flip flops?! Ha! It took a while but the girls loved them. We took some flucey ribbons and hot-glued them to the straps, cut out felt flowers and accented them with little pearls.

I think I made more friends on these trips then my girls did! But I am so thankful for wonderful Christian women who have helped encourage me throughout this season of life. Anna and I really leaned on each this week; we had both done BRX the week before!? Recently, while reflecting on our trips and sharing a cup of Starbucks I’m sure, Anna looked at me and said in the most serious of voices, “Ellen, do you think you would EVER do both retreats again?!” Ha! It was tough and by about day 11 we were worn out. Every time we saw each other we had a new Bible verse to share with the other for encouragement. I love this girl :)

Another new and amazing friend is Heather. She went on both beach retreats as well. (Insert ‘What were we thinking?!’) We were so excited to be friends that we bought matching T-shirts!!! Ha. I think this particular night shown here was after our day at Schlitterbahn water park...we had an awesome time together floating on the lazy river, checking in with (and sunscreen/lobster checking) our girls and getting to know each other better. I love this girl :)

I think one of the best parts of BRX is worship. It is such a cool experience. For JHigh we were set up in a huge, air-conditioned tent. Here, my girls are lined up and ready to go. Don’t they LOOK like little princesses :)

Our baptism service was held at Schlitterbahn; it was hard getting everyone up and out at 6:00 a.m. but it was so worth it! I don’t remember how many kids were baptised...I’m thinking in the 300s. Praise Jesus! Those who made decisions for Christ wore T-shirts that had a cross on the front; the cross bar is made of the name of Jesus and ‘Me’ is written under the cross. If you look closely you can see these awesome navy T’s.

The band came by to visit with us at dinner one night. How cool is that? It was good for the girls to see the band members and hang out one-on-one; they are individuals just like you and me, using their gifts and talents that God gave them to lead others in worship. Thank you, guys!

Oh, by the way, did you know that Justin Bieber goes to church with us? How cool is that?!

Lessons Learned:
*7th grade girls can scream ExtrEmEly loud when told too; they can scream even LouDeR when a ‘star’ like Justin Bieber is on stage.
*7th grade girls, when together and wanting attention, all talk at once.
*7th grade girls are all individually made in His sight; they are precious to Him, they are precious to me!
*God is my source of strength; I could not have made it through this week without Him.
*God can be WHATEVER I need Him to be; He is will also be ANYTHING & WHATEVER YOU need Him to be. Psalms 145:8-20, 147:3-18
*God meets us at our point of need.
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