Friday, May 28, 2010

Only because of the LORD! Part 1

The tostada shells are beginning to settle, after our very full, very wonderful trip to Wisconsin for the CHEA conference. Wow. We wanted to include a good spread of pictures from the whole trip, so we will have to do it in installments.

As is normally the case for our family, we had a few lists of things to do....

This was only one of them, one of the last of them. We also had Hannah's Gantt chart, Mommy's binder paper lists, Mommy's Franklin, and several other whiteboards in various locations.

We had lots of people and things to pack, so we sought to streamline wherever possible. In the menu department, this meant meals would be quick, easy and the same every day. Daddy decided repetition would be the rule: boxed cereal for breakfast, ham sandwiches for lunch, and bean tostadas for dinner. What made it nice was that these were all kind of rare treats for us. So, we stocked up.

Everyone was very tired as the final hour of departure approached. In fact, we moved our departure out another day to ensure Dave met his work deadline. We were all kind of dragging until we got word that the BBQ at the Criggers for Saturday was ON! Then, with renewed vision, we got skidaddling!

The rear of the bus is like a bouncing diving board when we drive, so we have to batten down the hatches. The broomstick bookend approach was not deemed sea-worthy, so we later stacked our mattresses horizontally.

We bring a bunch of free literature to the homeschool conferences and have a table in the exhibit hall. Hannah is our chief collator and inventory keeper.

We were pleased to get this new booklet ready and printed in time for the conference. Of course, we found typos and such AFTER they were all published... we are working on the first revision.

Don't forget to pack the baby! We set off early Saturday morning for Wisconsin! I don't know how late everyone stayed up, but it wasn't late enough, as we had plenty of last minute things to do in the morning before we could depart. But we made it a little ahead of schedule!

The Criggers had staged a luau, and we were anxious to don our plastic leis and eat baby carrots... oops, I mean pineapple. What was I thinking?

It's only been six months since we've last seen everyone, but we sure have missed folks!

Zak and Lee enjoyed catching up with each other. Here, Lee chats with his hands in his pockets.

Then Lee folds his arms, and Zak keeps his hands in his pockets for a while. Gee, I guess homeschooling does help prevent peer pressure.

The dads had plenty to talk about. Dave appreciates the great fellowship with these guys, although he was wondering why he was the only one wearing the plastic lei.

Our hosts have a pretty sprawling estate which is just made for hospitality, and they have that down pretty good!

Nobody was bored while waiting for the BBQing to be finished!

The spread was pretty impressive, besides Clint's delicious grilled burgers and dogs.

The girls are very into before and after pictures. I am wondering, "Why are there so many baby carrots left???"

Joshie enjoyed the food so much, he didn't bother asking any questions about what it actually was. From the look of his plate, I don't know what we'd have told him!

This young man is working on his first patent: disposable UV protection drinking sunglasses.

Definitely good to the last drop!

Wait! You can't have a BBQ without the Mayos!! These dear ones won second prize for distance traveled.

We love lots of MAYOS!!!

Volleyball was soon underway.

Various team configurations were used. Resulting in fun.

The little ones took "Don't touch" to a new extreme!

Brother Clint serves volleyball as well as he serves BBQ!

Eventually, it was time to say goodbye...

Here is sweet and fun Anna, waving good bye with an expression that seems to say,


You left your
======> all your cell phone chargers <====
Come back!"

(If only.)

Many thanks to the Criggers for the wonderful time of food and fellowship!

(More pictures are coming!)


Memorial Day!

Years ago, one of the men in our assembly in Madison shared how his dad (or grandpa, I forget) used Memorial Day as a time to remember those who lost their lives in the proclamation of the gospel. We thought that was a really wonderful idea, not as a way to pay homage to the dead, but to be inspired by their Christian example.

In our "Missionaries and Martyrs" session at the recent homeschool conference in Wisconsin, at which we shared the tremendous benefits our family has reaped by reading missionary biographies, several of the children shared snippets from the stories of favorite missionaries. We were so encouraged by the enthusiasm of the folks who attended that session!

Here's one of the snippets:

John and Betty Stam were missionaries in China in the late 1930's. They were a shining light for Jesus - both in their short lives of service for Him in China, and in their deaths at the hands of Communists, in 1934.

After nearly three years in China they were captured by Communists.They showed no fear of them at all; they welcomed them into their house and treated them so hospitably that the soldiers were startled at first.

The next day, the soldiers left the house with the Stams. They stopped to plunder a certain city, leaving the Stams under the supervision of a local postmaster.

"Where are they taking you?" he asked the Stams. "Where are you going?"

"We don't know where they are going," replied John, "but we're going to heaven."

They were killed the next day.

A biographer wrote: The townspeople watching noticed John's expression of unmistakable joy; Betty's of complete serenity.

Their witness through their life and death was a great inspiration to many believers, as well as a wonderful Christian testimony to unbelievers. Some people were saved after hearing of their service for Christ.

The day before the Stams were captured, John wrote in a letter to his friends at home:

"[Pray] that God will help His missionaries to shine for Him every hour."

So the Stams did shine for Him every hour-through their life and through their death.

[Among the many influenced by the Stams was Elisabeth Elliot, who is widely known for her ministry through writing and speaking, and who wrote the life story of her martyred husband, Jim Elliot.]

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

We're home!

Praise the Lord for safe travels last night! We followed an awesome lightning display part of the way. Today we are unpacking, and will probably eat at least one meal that is not ham sandwitches or bean tostadas! (We enjoyed a kitchen free trip, except for our wonderful fare at the Criggers!) We hope to start posting tons of photos soon!!!

Monday, May 24, 2010


Still in the southbound lane....

Heading home

We are at the welcome center in Illinois. We just bagged the dirty laundry, as we realized packing up for home would be a tricky job. That's because so much has to wait for the last minute! The breeze is a big blessing in the 94 degree heat. We inaugurated our trip with a few boxes of ice cream sandwiches. It seemed to help everyone perk up! I explained to Giddy that if you leave your hands wet after you wash them, it helps you stay cool. I asked him if he ever wondered how an air conditioner worked.

"I'm too busy to think about that," he replied.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Stretching out

We had a nice morning and lunch with our church family in Madison. We got back to the house in the afternoon. Summer has arrived! We were all fairly worn out from the conference and the heat. We installed the window air conditioner and had our dinner and Bible time. It sure felt familiar! Tomorrow we hope to hit the laundromat, pack and clean up, thin some perrenials to bring back with us, and shop at our Amish country store before heading home. We'll see what happens....

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The happy disaster

Just some memories of our crazy camping adventure. It'll be all spiffed up tomorrow!

A wonderful time!

We were so blessed at the Wisconsin conference and just safely rolled into the driveway at our little house in Wisconsin. Praise the Lord! Tonight, we handwash everyone's socks so the saints in Madison don't pass out at tomorrow's long awaited meeting!

Day 3 of Wisconsin CHEA

We are getting ready for the last day of the Wisconsin CHEA conference. So far, wow, it's been wonderful. Such a blessing that the Maxwell family is here, and to see many other precious people and hear what the Lord is doing in them and through them. We did have a fair amount of rain here Thursday night at the campground, but it didn't put a damper on anything, praise the Lord! We'll be sitting down to our styrofoam bowls of shredded wheat soon, and then driving about 15 minutes back to the conference.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Going to meeting!

We are are doing a last load of laundry before heading off to CHEA and camping at the nearby state park.

Noah carefully matched his black pair of socks, saying they were for Sunday.

Giddy was in charge of rolling underwear balls. Not to be outdone, he informed us, "These are my Sunday underwear."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hopping over to Portage Walmart

We were blessed with another awesome time of fellowship last night at our northern estate in the woods. Even the mosqitoes had a good time. Today we will do house and yard stuff and start organizing the bus for camping at CHEA! Right now we are heading to Walmart for supplies.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

We've arrived!

We made it safely to Wisconsin, and enjoyed a wonderful afternoon and evening of food, fellowship and volleyball with 40 of our closest friends. Thank you Criggers!!

Shortly before wearing out our welcome, we packed up the bus (forgetting our phone chargers) and headed up to the house very late. Sometime into the final 30 minutes, a question was raised.

"Do we have the key to the house?"

A brief silence passed, and then Sarah answered, "I have it."

Phew. Thanks Sarah!

Wisconsin bound!

Sunrise over the Mississippi River. Once we cross the bridge, we're just one long state away! Enjoying our Kellum cookies today!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mum's the word!

At long last, Grandma and Grandpa arrived!!!

All the way from California! Wow! What a special treat!

After checking the weather, we figured we had at least one day this week with pretty sunny weather, so we'd GO REEVEER!

Grandma opted for the full Klein experience, and rode in our bus.

Breezy enough to keep the mosquitos away, and perfectly warm besides.

Everything is getting lush and green.

Joshie handled his own transportation for quite a while, till he got wore out!

Sarah wanted her turn with the dog. This is Bella.

Grandma helped the girls identify plants.

Hannah was glad to be on the trail again.

Sammy walks Bailey....or vice versa.

Back at home, the girls got some much enjoyed tips on crochet.

Grandpa shows the boys how they used to crochet back when he was in the army.

More dog walking. Grandma and Grandpa taught Noah how to keep Bella in line. Sammy is the invisble one in the camo cap.

Two of my eight haircut boys. Grandma was the one who got me my first set of clippers. She gave me a new time saving tip, and I finished in record time! Thanks, Grandma!

Walking the grandbaby takes a different technique.

Solomon and Grandpa, separated by a generation, had instant rapport with their frog-talking and nose-blowing similarities. Each claims, "He was askin' for it."

The whole kit and caboodle.

It's a Siska thing; you wouldn't understand.