Thursday, July 30, 2015

Biblical Horizons, 2015

Last week, July 20-24th, Mom and I had the privilege to attend the Biblical Horizons conference in Valparaiso Florida. It was a week long event that started at 8:30 in the morning and concluded at 8:30 in the evening after a long break during the afternoon. 

Our esteemed speakers this year were; Jeff Meyers, Uri Brito, Richard Bledsoe, Peter Leithart, and James Jordon

The topics considered this year were:

The Book of Joshua by James B. Jordon
Wealth Management in the Gospel According to St. Luke by Jeffrey J. Meyers
End of the End: Orientation to Revelation by Peter J. Leithart
The Christian Counseling Movement by Uri Brito
A look into psychiatric drugs based on experiences as a chaplain at his local hospital by Richard Bledsoe (This one didn't have a title so this is the best I could come up with)

I had a good time, and although the lectures were a little beyond me I did manage to glean some good counsel and being exposed to new ideas is almost always a good thing. I met new people and had good conversations in addition to spending some quality time with my mother. I learned new music as well at the nightly Vespers services both by singing and, although it wasn't planned, playing the music because their original pianist had to leave town suddenly. We ate lunches with people, spent time at the beach, did a little shopping, and stayed late in the evenings at the fellowships/meals/parties afterwards.

Although it might not be exactly descriptive of the conference itself, here are some pictures of our adventures during our breaks in the afternoons.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Tonight I Sit

Insomnia. I'm not sure if I have it or not but sometimes, like tonight, even though I am sleepy, I can't seem to fall asleep.

I tossed and turned in my bed. I curled up into a tiny ball. I hugged my pillow so tight that the feathers were about to burst. I talked to my sister. (One of the perks of sharing a room. Also one of the drawbacks if you are the one sleeping and your sister is the one who can't.) I got down from my bed and did some sit-ups in the middle of the floor. Finally I announced to my sleepy roommate that I was going outside to listen to some music.

Conveniently, I took a picture of this honeysuckle blossom a few nights ago. I can say that it is supposed to represent the sweet thoughts that came to me out of the dark night. ;)
As quietly as possible I opened the cantankerous piece of wood that we call a door and slipped out into the muggy Florida night. The air was heavy and the bugs were thick. I picked my way across the driveway to the sidewalk, being careful not to step on any toads, and sat myself down in the broken beach chair that was abandoned there after our last trip to the lake. Of course, because my hair is so thick and long and crazy, in the short amount of time it took me to get out there my earphones got all tangled up in my unruly locks. After extracting the wires from my hairy mess I was finally able to turn my music on.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

What Have You Been Doing this Summer?

 "So what have you been doing all summer?"

That is the question I was asked yesterday at lunch that I never really answered. I started to answer by leaning back in my chair (or forward, I don't remember, I just know I moved around in my seat) and saying something like "Oh man, a lot has happened this summer. My life is so different now than what is used to be." I paused awkwardly for a second trying to figure out how to proceed but then my phone rang and I was saved from answering immediately. After the phone call I kind of avoided going back to the question and our conversation continued on swimmingly thanks to the "amiableness" of my companion.

Still I kind of feel bad for never answering. It's not that I didn't want to, I was just unprepared to answer such a simple question because I feel like I have a complicated answer. It's not that a lot has happened this summer, but a lot has come into fruition this summer. I mention often, in somewhat veiled language, the difficult life I had before and to be sitting here now in my current situation is something that is nothing short of miraculous to me.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Friends From South Carolina

Some of you may not know this about me, but I was born in South Carolina. I'm not sure if I am what people call a "Southern Belle" since my mom was from Missouri and my dad lived in Michigan - his mom however grew up in the marshes of Alabama so I tend to identify myself as a Southern girl. I lived in the foot hills of the Smokey Mountains and grew up seeing snacks like pig ears, onion rings, and pickled eggs on the shelves in the grocery store. We didn't buy them of course because of my mixed heritage but I ate them sometimes at friends houses. The dirt roads were orange and the pine trees were so tall they seemed always about ready to topple over on me. I painted T-shirts and fence posts with squashed poke-weed berries and I mashed the buttons on the elevators. My parents watched NASCAR and shouted at the TV screen while I played in the backyard. I loved watching the Dukes of Hazard and would try to pull the same stunts as the General Lee did on my little pink and purple bicycle. I lived the first story of my life there in South Carolina for eleven years until we moved to Missouri. 

It's not the best picture, but it gets the point across, we went canoeing down Clear Water Creek. Oh, and there's that one kayak in the back.
While we lived there in my birth state we had many adventures, adventures that were shared with in particular, the Courtney family. This past week two of these long lost "family members" came to visit for a few days. I won't try to reconstruct our week for you but I just wanted to share a few pictures here on my blog instead of blowing up my Instagram feed. I'm thinking of all a' y'all, my sixty-two Instagram followers, so thank me please. ;) 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Orientation at University of West Florida 2015

I must warn y'all before you start reading this post that it is going to be pretty long. I just couldn't help myself this time!

 Okay.... what the heck Jamie!? Why are you turned backwards! Anyways, this was my group for orientation. 
These last five days have been super busy for me. It started out as a normal weekend on Friday. I drove myself to piano lessons, then went to teach a piano lesson. I filled up my gas tank, went to the bank and ran a few errands... I don't remember what they were but almost every Friday without fail I have something I have to go do. Saturday came and I woke up at 5 am to get ready to volunteer at a run that was going on in Pensacola called the Run 4 Hope. All proceeds from the run go to Christian charity organizations. My younger brother Levi decided to participate in the 5K run so he slapped on his boots and blue jeans and came along with us. My mom and I were working at a water booth at the one mile mark with other folks from our church. I've never volunteered at a run before so this was a fun new experience for me.

After the run there were food and drinks available for everyone and booths with information about the ministries the run was supporting. There was also a chin up bar where a competition got started to see who could do the most. I had fun cheering and watching everyone's neck muscles bulge and their faces turning red. The highest count was twenty two! Levi did eleven.

After the run I went to the farmers market and bought zucchini, cucumber, a cantaloupe, corn, and a spaghetti squash. After the market I stopped at Reynold's Music House in downtown Pensacola, did a little shopping at Target and TJ Max, then met up with Mom, Dad, and two of my younger brothers to go to the same adoption picnic we attended a year ago before we had met my four foster brothers. (I mention it briefly in this post here.) This time it was at the beach so we had a lot of fun.

After the picnic I was dropped back off to my car because I had to pick up some contact solution which I had forgotten to get earlier in the day. When I finally got home the day was almost over but I spent about an hour going through the music for church the next day.

Sunday morning came and I accidentally got up a half hour earlier than I needed to. *sad face*. Sunday's are normally pretty tiring for me but this Sunday was especially exhausting. After church everyone rushed out of the building as quickly as possible because everyone was going to head over to the Smith's house for a big summer fish fry/going away party for the Anderson family. The food and drinks were delicious, and we had all sorts of fun playing in the water. I went kayaking, swimming, paddle boarding and jet skiing. There were other things to do like playing ring toss, giant hula hoops, knee boarding, and getting pulled behind the boat on the biscuit and trying not to get knocked off. I pushed little kids on the swings and showed them interesting creatures you could find in the rocks and sand/muck of the bay.

This is downstairs at the Smith's house. Their home is raised up on stilts so there is plenty of space below for ping-pong, foosball, pool, a mini basketball hoop, Mr. Ron's shop, and plenty of storage for water toys and floats and what not.
When the party was over we didn't leave... my parents kept on talking. The sun had long since went to bed and I desperately wanted to follow. Alas, I was stuck there with no bed in sight. I mean, I like a good party, but you can't stay forever! When we finally got in the van to head home I said in a pitiful voice "I sure hope I don't have orientation tomorrow!"

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Breaking the Silence

Sometimes the silence is unbearable. Don't be afraid to make some noise.

This is the thought that slipped into my head a few weeks ago and it still hasn't come out. There is a book coming out called Tear Down this Wall of Silence by Dale Ingraham and Rebecca Davis. It's about sexual abuse in the church and how we should handle it. I haven't read it, but I believe my mom has and if you're friends with her on Facebook; then I am sure you have seen her post about it a few times. Even though I've never been sexually abused, this title still resonates deeply with me.

When I was young Mom gave me a small paperback book called Dorie: The Girl Nobody Loved. It was dark blue and had a simple line drawing of a little girl looking up at a particular constellation in the sky. I remember laying in the bed of our small pickup truck at my brother's football practice. It was night and the lights were so bright on the field, that it was almost day. The story was about this little girl and how she grew up being sexually abused and how she dealt with it becoming an adult. Gazing up at the ink black sky, searching for that constellation, I learned compassion. I am thankful that Mom gave me that book to read. It is one of the key points that God used to open my eyes to see others suffering.

Monday, May 18, 2015

All Sorts of Waters - Wild Beach Pictures

We went to the beach yesterday and that is what inspired me to write about all the different kinds of waters I've been to. I took pictures too so I'll be working them in throughout the text even though its not directly related.

I've had a pretty eclectic experience when it comes to growing up with different kinds of waters. Our family has always been active and my parents made a point to take us as many places as they could.

One of those places was the mountains. Mom and Dad would take the four of us kids (this was long before Jubal was born) on weekend camping trips so often that we practically didn't have time to put our sleeping bags away. We lived in South Carolina at the time so went to the Smokey Mountains, which is at the tail end of the Blue Ridge Mountain range. The drive was part of the adventure and I remember being able to recognize the roads because we went that way so often. Up there in the clouds we would go on hiking trips or playing in the freezing cold mountain streams, sliding down slippery rocks or standing underneath pounding waterfalls and swimming in the pools formed below them.

When we weren't in the mountains we would go to the lake. There was a lake called Lake Hartwell (we called it Lake Cartwheel) that we frequented. Once we had a bonfire there with some friends and Uncle Mike melted the souls of his shoes and my friend Emily swallowed a fish and got sick. Someone else got their fishing line stuck in a tree. Once time I went walking along the red clay shore a long ways from the group an found an old log and some dog poop. Other lakes we visited were Lake Jocassee and Lake Keowee which were much bigger and colder. I remember some kind of party at one of these big lakes. We went boating and water skiing and I almost lost my goggles. Another time I went with my friend for her birthday to Lake Keowee. There was a low rock cliff face, probably about thirty feet, and at the foot of the cliff a shallow shelf of rock just beneath the water . At the top of the cliff blue lines were painted on the rock and if you ran and jumped far enough out you would miss the rocks below and land safely in the icy cold water. I was there with my friend and her brother and their dad said he would give us a dollar if we would jumped off. Of course a dollar was a substantial sum of money in my mind back then so quick as a wink I ran through the blue lines and launched myself into the air. The fall was thrilling and folks cheered me when they saw my head bob up from the lake below. My friend and her brother were too scared and eventually their Dad said he would give them five dollars so they jumped too. I was mad at my friends because they got more money than me.