Once again I am thankful for my camera phone :) I cannot believe that January is already over! This month has flown by way too fast. There is always so much going on in January; schools, programs, and T.V. shows all start back up in the first couple of weeks of the new year.
I have a close-knit group of family friends that I consider to be my family. And, being that I don’t have any 1st cousins, I don’t think anyone really minds. There are 4 families in this group; all of our parents live withing about a 15 mile radius now and they all lived within about a 15 mile radius in Louisiana when we were all growing up. There are 10 kids in this family group ranging in age from 13 to 27. We behave and function much like that of any other large family, at least to the extent that I can imagine and have observed in others’ families. I love it; we all do, really.
As families do we have grown and expanded over the years. So far there are no grand-kids but there are several new husbands and wives. Our most recent wedding happened in the middle of this month. We have had bridal showers, couples shower, bachelorette/bachelor parties and lingerie showers. We have been busy! Everyone was able to be at or in the wedding. Here is a picture of us at our truest (please note not greatest!) form:
And here is us all paying attention:
Photo booth + parents = funniest moment of the day!
I am so excited this month because Beth Moore’s Bible study has started back up again. I am so blessed to live in the same community as her and that I, along with about 4,000 other females and 5 men, get to join her for Tuesday Night Bible Study. She is teaching from and writing a study on the Book and life of James this semester. For more information and teaching tools visit her ministry’s website, Living Proof Ministries. She is amazing; I walk out every Tuesday night so pumped that I practically do cartwheels all the way to my car!
My church does an excellent job of emphasizing and facilitating local missions/outreach. One Sunday afternoon the church sponsored ‘The Church has left the Building’, a local outreach project. Sunday school classes met after church and went to their assigned local mission field. We were split into groups and were sent out to three different apartment communities, one local grocery store, a food bank and shelter. My class was teamed up with 3 other classes and went to an apartment complex located near the church. We took cleaning supplies, balls and frisbees, Evangicube’s and the love of Jesus to share with the residents.
One of the residents of the apartments (who goes to our church) has put together a program for all of the children who live in the complex. The Lord has provided her an on-site facility that consists of a library, computer room, class/study room, and multi-purpose room. It was amazing! She leads an afternoon program and helps them complete their homework all while loving on these kids.
Our first task of the day was to clean the facility and fix broken furniture, leaky faucets, etc. In one hour, the place was scrubbed from top to bottom, organized from left to right and covered inside and out with prayer. After the marathon cleaning we went to one of the grassy courtyards to play ball, paint fingernails, draw with sidewalk chalk and share the gospel with the kids and families. It was one of the coolest moments. The day was absolutely beautiful and by the end of our 2 hour play time there were at least 50 kids and adults who came out to join us.
At 5:00 we had 2 buses from church come to pick up any and all residents who wanted to join us at church for free dinner and our evening church service. It was incredible. I have no idea how many visitors we had but lives were definitely touched that day.
January starts a string of birthdays in our family. Within 51 days we have 4 of 5 family members’ birthdays to celebrate, starting with mine at the end of January. And we don’t just celebrate in my family. No, we CELEBRATE! Like, we take a month to acknowledge, recognize and party for our birthdays. I think it’s more of an excuse to do fun things, eat dessert at each and every meal, or take the day off work/class for no apparent reason. ‘Well, sure, go ahead and eat the whole piece of cake; after all, Ellen’s birthday is in 3 weeks!’ This whole mess started when parents gave us each our own, successive month: January, February, March.
This year has been particularly hard on my sister (who’s birthday is in February) as she has just realized that she has been getting gypped every year since she was born. I woke up one morning to a series of texts that read something to the effect of: “Oh my gosh, I just realized that you get 31 days to celebrate your birthday and I only get 28, occasionally 29. That isn’t fair!” Hehehe As if I invented the calendar. Last night, she tagged me in her Facebook status and I quote, ‘Happy Birthday Ellen Kiel. You have 24 hours left to celebrate.” Well thank you very much; I believe I will :)
My birthday weekend celebration began Friday night at a Mexican restaurant. I was so happy to see my friends! We had a good turn out, lots of good food and fun gifts! I am blessed to have wonderful friends and family who were all able to help me celebrate. Praise the Lord!
After dinner, most of us headed over to hear (and dance) a personal favorite band of mine: Blaggards. They are Irish. I LOVE all things Irish! I had so much fun! Especially since they announced my birthday and age as 21. Ha!
Saturday was family dinner at Brio. I love that place! There was one nearby my undergrad and I haven’t been there since. YUMMY! Unfortunately I do not have a picture from that night. I must be at that age where taking pictures ON your birthday is either uncool or unnecessary :) and/or :(
According to Facebook counts I have had as many as 9 friends in one day with birthday’s this month! I think we must gravitate to one another. So to all of you born in the fantastical month of January, Happy Birthday! I pray that it is the beginning of a truly remarkable year for you.