Sunday, October 31, 2010

Allison October

Now, how many of you thought that you would ever see Allison out camping, let alone with November almost here? How about if I told you that it was her idea for us to go and she said she wanted to go along (not just send the rest of us)?

So, this weekend was the Cub Scout Halloween camp out. Last year I guess there were over 800 scouts on the camp out. This year they thankfully broke it up into two weekends, and last weekend was the crowded one :) The kids had a blast. Brian's favorite was the climbing wall and "rifle" (known to the rest of the world as BB gun) shooting. He did amazing on the climbing wall. It was one of the horizontal walls that you can climb all the way around (at least theoretically). So picture scouts hanging on this wall everywhere all trying to climb around. Amazingly they all went the same direction, but at quite different speeds. So traffic jams abound, in which the kids are all trying to hang on and (unsuccessfully sometimes) not step on each others feet (or hands). Yet, Bri made it all the way around w/o falling. Kel wasn't as successful, not from lack of trying. But she was quite happy with her balloon painting and cat tattoo...although she did not enjoy when the scouts scared each other in the maze. Result: one crying Kelly and one Scout apologizing to her the rest of the weekend. Of course, the trick or treating was a good time for all.

So, how did Allison do? Well, aside from freezing last night (it does get cold down here at night even though it is still decently warm during the day). As camping goes, it was pretty nice. They had a gator to haul our gear to the campsite. Pretty nice bathrooms (adult only ones as well) and even the camp food at the dining hall wasn't too bad (I've had much worse in Brody). So all around it was a good time. They even had a nice service this morning, since we missed church, one of the camp leaders gave a great message to the kids about overcoming fear and trusting God.

In other parent bragging news. Bri had just got his report card Friday and was very proud to show us that he received all A's :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Quick Update

So good news. Allison is feeling much better today, her poison ivy is fading, as is the soreness from her injection. She has concluded that the pills might have been a better (although slower) idea than the painful injection.
As for me, I had a trip to the doctor today to check out my finger. There is some bone and ligament damage, but each was just under being severe enough that it would need surgery. It will take awhile to fully heal, but I'll take that any day over surgery.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Some interesting ups and downs

Well, we've had some pretty good tings in these past weeks. In answer to Allie's prayer, we have some other packs helping us out with our excess popcorn. A little has left our house, so we now have a little more room to walk around :) Alright, it wasn't that bad, but there were a ton of boxes. In other scouting news we have a number of new recruits into our pack and, praise God, some other adults helping out a little bit. Now, if we can just encourage a little more from them without scaring them away. A big highlight to check off our list was the annual Cuboree this weekend. Six scouts and their parents (up from 2 last year and no parents) came this year from our pack. The kids have a blast. There were about 100 scouts there total, running around to stations teaching orienteering and astronomy to archery and bb-guns (any guesses on what was the big hit?) But, it was quite well run and not nearly as chaotic as it might sound. The kids had a blast, including Kelly who got about 5 hours of playing on the playground.

Brian has also started up soccer. At nine years old it is getting a little more organized, but still quite hilarious to watch the mash of kids chasing the ball around the field. Yet, they have managed to win one and tie one so far, so the kids are quite excited to be "undefeated".

On the flip side, I think Allison and I are both trying to kill ourselves. She somehow managed to get poison ivy yet again, although we have no idea where she managed to touch it as she has worked hard to avoid it. I have never seen someone who gets it so easy or on who it spreads so much. It came up Friday and she tried to make it through the weekend, but took a trip to urgent care tonight. One shot later and she should be feeling much better tomorrow, as long as she's not limping too much from being sore from the shot.

As for me, somehow I manage to hurt my finger in...of all things...flag football. Got it caught on someone's loose shirt when I was trying to grab their flag. Let it go for a little more than a week, but I still couldn't straighten it, so went in to get it checked. Sure enough it is broke, but they think the reason I couldn't straighten it is because something might be torn (appointment tomorrow to find out more)...come on, how does that happen in flag football. The good news is that I finished the game (threw for a touchdown and caught one other) and I am getting pretty good at typing with a splint on.

Alright, that's it for now I guess.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Being overwhelmed... by popcorn

(John's wife, Allison, is writing this post.)

Anyone else feeling overwhelmed out there?

I (Allison) feel like I am in a constant state of being overwhelmed. I wish I could say that every time things get frustrating or stressful or busy, I just sit back and ask God for help, but I don't. I'm a worrier by nature. If I don't have something to be stressed about, I take insignificant things in my life & worry about them.

For instance, our house is currently overwhelmed with popcorn. Yes, popcorn. We have caramel corn, microwave popcorn, caramel corn with nuts, butter toffee, chocolate covered popcorn, the list goes on & on. As a leader for our son's Cub Scout pack, I was in charge of ordering popcorn & instead of requesting individual boxes, I ordered cases. The realization of my error first sank in when I called the Scout office to find out when to pick up our orders & the lady said, "You have a truck or a van to pick up your order, right?" To which I of course replied, "No, I just have my car, it should all fit in there, we didn't order that much." But as I said that I thought to myself, did I order what I thought I ordered or did I get more? Sure enough, we got the more.

Now, I think God has a sense of humor because to be stressed out about having too much popcorn has to be one of the most ridiculous things you could come up with. Every time I tell my story, people just crack up laughing & I can't help laughing too.

Am I worried about getting my reading done for my classes, no, popcorn. Am I worried about finding time to clean my house, no, Popcorn. Am I worried about how my kids are doing in school, no, POPCORN. I feel overwhelmed just not being able to get it out of my head. I've even had several dreams (nightmares, really) about trying to get rid of it all.

So whether I have something to worry about or not, I'll find something. The tricky part is letting God use this in my life for his purpose. In the mean time, if anyone is craving some snacking sustenance, give me a call. I'll hook you up with some popcorn.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A special man

So the travels for the summer, and hopefully for awhile, are done. We're tired, but they have been great, and last weekend was no exception. Since we had only recently returned from Michigan and the kids had started school it was difficult to make it. In the end only I could go, but I didn't want to miss out.

As many of you know my grandfather passed away last Christmas. I've been meaning to write about him since then, but it seems hard to know how to capture such a special man in words, I wish I was a better writer for times like these. However, now seems a good time. For a couple years now my grandma and he had planned a big party for their 25th anniversary, which was to be last Sunday. Fittingly, for a man who loved people, life, tennis, and chocolate (ok, maybe chocolate came first) she wanted to have the party still as a celebration of his life. It was a wonderful time and, as he would have wanted, everyone had a great time.

So where can I start in describing this man? I'm sure I have to start with his sense of humor. If you ever met the man you would shortly be caught in a fit of laughter as it would not take him long to tell you his repertoire of jokes. Some might be classified as a bit crude, but there was something about this man that he could pretty much tell you anything, even if he just met you, and not offend anyone. He was even great with kids; I will fondly remember my daughter squealing with joy as she sneakily tried to steal M&Ms from the jar by his chair without him noticing. He would always wait until the last moment and then yell a loud, "Hey" as she darted away laughing with her hands full of the goodies that he loved to share with kids...well as long as it wasn't the last M&Ms, but I don't think he ever ran out that I know of.

I could go on about many other things that he loved, but most of all he loved people and, as was shown this last weekend, was loved by so many. He touched people from Traverse City; to Mesa, AZ; to Texas; to The Villages, FL; and many more places. But I think one of the most amazing things was his role as Father to so many as my Aunt Cathy shared so beautifully. If our fathers are supposed to show us an image of our heavenly father, then my grandpa succeeded. God adopts us into his family, and my grandfather has brought so many into his. When he married my mom's mother he took on an enormous task, bringing three young girls, my mom and her two sisters (one soon to enter and one already in her teens), into his house. Yet, with love he merged them together with the son he already had. After his wife passed, he married again, and once again had children to bring into his family, this time a teenage son and two who were grown. Yet, as before, he lovingly opened his heart to more and more. It takes a special man to be a great father to his own children, yet this man has managed to do it with not just one family, but three, and to bring them all together in love.

If we can even partially live up to his great example of love, I think we will more than succeed in life and in doing so make him proud. As with my grandma, I like to think of him looking upon us, seeing us following his example, and smiling.

I, as so many others, will always remember him fondly.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Travels almost over and 10 years coming up

So our summer travels are nearing the end. I have one last trip to Michigan coming up this weekend, but last week, since Brian had a few days off from school, saw us visiting some family who has recently moved to SC. Laura came down from DC and met us in Sharon, SC; where my Uncle Jack and Aunt Janet have moved. It was a great time out of getting away from the city and seeing family. It was a bit warm (same as everywhere), but we were able to go swimming for a bit, which was quite refreshing. Kelly enjoyed seeing Zuke again (who she still likes to feed and boss around), as well as my uncles two dogs. Sadly, due to the forecast of a thunderstorm, we could not convince Allie to camp outside...all we ended up with were a few sprinkles in the late afternoon...oh well. Friday, my other uncle, Jason, and his family showed up as they are also moving to the area. Brian and Kelly enjoyed seeing their cousins Lexi and Zack. A great trip, due in most part to my Uncle Jack and Aunt Janet being wonderful hosts. Looking forward to having them, Jason, and his family a little closer by for this next year.

We made it back to Columbia just in time to take off with our church for a youth overnight up to the Great Wolf Lodge. Kelly was just to short (a shade under 42") to go on the big water slides, but that was probably a good thing as they even scared some of the adults because you got thrown around quite a bit. Everybody had a blast though and after a day soaking in the wave pool and water slides we all crashed that evening.

Back in Columbia for a few days before heading up North one last time, despite all the travels, it seems the hardest thing to believe is that our 10 year anniversary is coming up in just a few days. Definitely doesn't feel like I've been married for 10 years, but that is probably because (as Neil and Dr. Jones often remind me) I married way up :)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

News from the South

So I know that many of you are waiting to hear about the trip, but I feel like I'm still processing it as it was so much in two short weeks. So I'll give you some updates from our first week back in the states.

Like always it was a whirlwind. Sunday we arrived in Detroit early in the morning and crashed for like 12 hours (alright 14 for Allison). Our luggage arrived and we took off for Traverse City, eager to see our smiling kids who somehow managed to stay awake until our 11 PM arrival. Tuesday was a quick stop through Lansing for the dentist and dinner with a great friend from work and back to Livonia in the evening. Friday found us on the road again...this time heading to SC, with a stop in Cinci to see some old college friends.

Today was quite nice, it was great to be back at our church and see so many people that we missed all summer. This afternoon we, in attempt to deal with the heat down here, headed out to Lake Monticello for a picnic and swimming. Pizza was the food of choice, and was quickly as the kids wanted to get in the water. Kelly told us the water was cold, but when we got in we found it to be bath water temperature. A couple hours later we, thoroughly pruned, emerged from the water. After two days of relaxing (still feel like we are recovering from jet lag) we hope we are ready for Brian to start school tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Back in the states

Just a quick update for everyone. We are alive and, aside from being a bit tired (still not quite back on a normal sleep schedule), back in the states again. The trip was great. We feel like we saw so much for being gone just a few short weeks. Everyone's question to us seems to be if we have made any sure plans. As a brief answer, not yet, but we certainly have a lot to talk and think about.

We'll try to write some more later.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

About time for an update

Well, I've had hopes of updating this sooner, but no such luck (or time). I just finished my week long class down here in Columbia. It was an amazing week of being introduced to the world of Islam. There is so much to learn, but I'm excited to learn more about it, especially with our future plans looking like they might be in that area of the world.

Speaking of future plans. We'll be heading out tomorrow (soon to be today) for a couple weeks. The kids will stay in Michigan with their grandparents (pray for our parents as they try to keep up with the energy of kids), but Allison is flying down tomorrow and will meet up with me (I'm in Columbia) in Atlanta and then we'll be checking out some future possibilities overseas. Not sure exactly what to expect, but we are very excited. After finishing my class yesterday I've spent the last day and a half running around trying to get all packed up. I think I'm doing pretty good...even had time for a haircut. Guess we'll see when I get over there. I always feel like I'm forgetting something when I leave for a trip. Oh well, can't worry about it too much I guess.

It was great seeing a lot of people in Michigan and DC the past month. Hope to see some more of you when we get back in a few weeks. Don't know how much access we'll have to blogging and email over there, but feel free to send us some (Allison loves her email) and we'll do our best to post some updates.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Traveling here and there

So a busy couple weeks of traveling and more to come. June 4th we headed out from South Carolina. We stopped in Charlotte, NC to see Ben, Daniela, and Josiah. It was great catching up with them and the kids loved playing together. To top it off, we had a great feast (Potato Soup, Breaded Chicken, mixed vegetables, fruit filled brownies, chocolate covered strawberries, and...later...strawberry smoothies) as Daniela is one of the best cooks I have ever met. Ben said he is always disappointed when they go out to eat and I can understand why.

Then it was on to DC to visit my Ron and Kristina. The great food continued there as my brother loves to cook as well. Saturday we went to the zoo with the kids. Brian liked the big cats and reading every sign he could find. Kelly loved the the Giant Pandas and the snakes (go figure). Sunday brought us a trip to Annapolis where we had a great seafood buffet. Who knew Brian would love oysters and muscles...Kelly just wanted mac & cheese and fruit. Later we picked up my sister from the airport (she's doing an internship in DC) and my dad from the Appalachian trail (he was doing a month long...400 mile...hiking trip). As Allison and the kids had never seen much of DC, Monday we went and walked around the mall, dragging my dad with us...not sure how excited he was for more walking. After three days of walking everywhere we were pretty dead. So we just relaxed on Tuesday. We also got to see some more old friends, Craig, Kristen and Holly who are all living in DC. Sadly it was time to head out on Wednesday, so we packed up and drove to Livonia for the night and then on to Traverse City the next day.

Spent the last few days in Traverse City. It was great to see family and friends. A close family to ours had their last daughter graduating from high school, so there was an open house Sunday, and another close family friend was moving to Ohio. So we had a going away celebration for him. We will miss him a lot, but the party was good.

Today was a bit crazy, we wanted to fit in some time with my brother as he was pretty busy while we were up there. So he, Allie, and I did some mountain biking today. 13 miles later and we are both hurting quite a bit (I think my dad's bike has the most uncomfortable seat ever). We then took off to Lansing to meet with some people from South about our upcoming trip and our now spending the evening at Ray and Robin's. We'll relax down here for a few days (recovering from that bike trip) and then head back up to Traverse for another week (and possibly some more biking torture).

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Stitches, Weddings, and Biking

So kinda an eclectic title, especially as the stitches had nothing to do with biking (no injuries on that one...probably because we kept Kelly in a the kid backpack). So, it starts last weekend when we wanted to have an end of the year Cub Scout party, so we went bowling...what's the worst that could happen. Well, the first game went great. The kids had a blast due to the bumpers and Kelly (due to the kid bowling ramp and some great aiming from her father) even won. However about midway through the second, as she carried her ball up, she tripped and landed with her chin on the bowling ball. Chin is definitely not stronger than bowling ball and after a trip to the ER she emerged with her first two stitches (her Uncle Mike is so proud that she is following in his footsteps). But all is ok. She did great (handling things much better than her mother who skipped the trip). All week she ran up to anybody she saw and tipped her head back to show off her stitches, which are hidden just under the chin.

A little less drama was had yesterday as we went up to West Virginia for a wedding. We spent Friday night in Hitton, WV at a nice little hotel. Saturday morning after a healthy breakfast at Mickey D's (kids choice) we headed out for a hike in the mountains (beautiful) followed by swimming at the hotel pool. Kelly did take a little fall coming down the mountain, but no harm done this time. Then it was off to the wedding in the afternoon. It was outdoors and the light rain from the morning cleared up and everything was great. It was definitely one of the best weddings I have been to. The farm was beautiful and everything was pretty low-key, but well done. The message was one of the better ones I have heard at weddings. After the ceremony the reception was outside at the farmhouse with dancing on the driveway. It was just a blast to hang out, have all the families around, and see an amazing couple get married.

We headed back down last night to have a last Sunday at our church here before heading to north later this week. The message was outstanding and, as often seems to be the case, was just what I needed to hear. Later we headed out for some biking. It was raining on the drive out, but we stopped for lunch and it cleared up for our bike ride along the Lake Murray Dam. The ride was great, although Kelly missed most of it as she fell asleep in the back pack. We stopped for ice cream before turning around. All of us were quite tired by the time we got back as we rode a little over 9 miles and quite a few good hills in there. Brian and Allie did great, but all are were pretty tired tonight.

So a good start to our last week down here for the summer. Looking forward to heading north and seeing friends and family.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Done...for now

We just submitted the final for our last class of the semester. That feels good. It's a strange combination of feelings. We both love our classes and it is great to go, yet it also is nice for them to end. I am done with my Greek series though. Two years of Tuesday's evenings have been devoted to the language and I can finally say I'm done. That one for sure is one that has the mix of feelings. It was awesome to learn and I've gained some great insights. This semester alone was truly amazing as we studied Luke, a book my professor has spent his entire life studying (that and Acts). Just listening to his insights each week was astounding. So, it looks like just one year left and I'll be done for good!

These past two weekends have been fun as we've had some visitors from Michigan. Ray came down two weekends ago. Saw "the sight" of Columbia and got interviewed for the news (learned they like to put their own twists on what you say...although I didn't make the cut as only Allie and Ray were on TV...and I thought Kelly sitting on my shoulders would have given me extra points). We celebrated Kelly's birthday on Friday and Ray was quite gracious to join us at Chucky Cheese, much for all in the end I think as they had some good games there. We also had some board game action, introducing Ray to Settlers.

Last weekend my sis came into town, she's doing an internship in DC this summer. We also took her to "the sight", but she wanted to do some hiking with Zuke (Laura's Great Dane for those of you who didn't know), so we went to Harbison State Forest and would probably about 5 miles through the woods. It was a blast. Kelly loved "walking" Zuke. Not sure what would have happened if he had decided to take off while she was holding the leash...we told her to let go, but we kept a close eye on it. Brian was running all over the place, but got a little tired at the end as Laura and I ended up going ahead to get the car and come back to get the rest. A great time overall, the only downside for us was the bugs and Zuke did not enjoy the heat. The neighborhood kids got a kick out of seeing Zuke, they had never seen a dog so big. Sunday we had a lunch picnic (some great food from Fatz Cafe) which was cut a little short by a thunderstorm. We thought we were good under a pavilion until the wind got so strong that it was blowing the rain sideways even under the entire pavilion. So we made a mad dash for the car and were thoroughly soaked, but had a great time. The only sad part of the weekends was watching people go. It was great to see them, but difficult to say goodbye.

Hopefully we'll see everyone when we come up to Michigan in a few weeks.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kid Stuff

So busy week with the kids. Aside from the normal stuff we had a few extras this week. Brian had the council Pine Wood Derby race for cub scouts on Saturday. Hundreds of cub scouts, plus brothers and sisters all running around a gym...absolute chaos. The actual Pine Wood Derby portion was quite well organized. I've never seen such a nice track or such nice cars. Sadly, Brian didn't do quite as well as last week, but he had a great attitude about the whole thing. One scout was a little more sad after losing, and was crying while walking out next to us. The dad, ever practical, was trying to tell him about not being a sore loser. The mom turned to the dad and said emphatically, "He's not being a sore loser, he's nine!" I was especially proud of Brian because he did most of the work on his car, with just our guidance. As I talked to some of the other parents I found out that for some of them, this was more their project than their kids.

Although Kelly had her Trike-a-thon at school to raise money for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, apparent Kelly that was not big enough for us. So Wednesday at Bible Clubs she decided to dive over the sidewalk into a brick ledge. She caught her head right on the edge and gave herself a nice little gash on her temple :( So we spent the evening in the ER getting her checked out (no stitches even), but thankfully she is fine and was back to her energetic self the next morning. So, nothing major in the end, but a great reminder of how much God is watching out for us because it easily could have been much worse.

In news for Allison and I, it looks like we will be heading overseas for a couple weeks this summer in July. If you'd like to know more about it, please email one of us.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cub Scout Pine Wood Derby

Some of you may know that we have had quite the process with Cub Scouts at our school. Well, it has been a long road, but we finally this weekend felt like we are making some big progress. Thanks to another local pack we were able to pull off our pack's first ever Pine Wood Derby Race. The day wouldn't be complete without the last minute adding of weight (supplied nicely from our collection of washers), but the kids had a great time and it seemed like all had fun. Brian had a great time of course, as his car came in first in our pack. The great thing is that I think he did the most work on it himself out of any of the I think it was well earned :) A couple will go on to compete at the council level next week. To celebrate the good time we ended with a trip to McDonald's for ice cream and some play place time.

Speaking of McDonald's Kelly had a funny comment today. We were going taking the Bible Club teachers out to lunch after church and she asked if we could go to McDonald's. We didn't think that it would be their first choice, so we told her no we were going to Groucho's Deli. She thought about this for a moment and then asked, "Is McDonald's closed?...for why else would we not want to go to such a wonderful place :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Quick Easter Update

Hi all,

Just wanted to try to get a quick update put out here. I'm still trying to be a little more regular about it. We had a nice Easter down here. Brian and Kelly are on break, so we did some good family time on Friday and Saturday. We found a Good Friday service at a cool old church downtime that I have wanted to visit for quite some time. The Pastor, Ferguson Sinclair, was excellent, living up to everything I had heard about him. Afterward, we just wandered around down town Columbia, which is always fun. We found a fun shop for ice cream and they amazingly had the best flavor of all, Black Cherry (I don't usually find much outside Michigan). I'm unsure if Kelly enjoyed the ice cream or the downtown fountain more. Saturday we mostly relaxed together. Allison attempted, in vain, to wash the pollen off the car. Actually she succeeded, but you wouldn't know that a short bit later (I have never seen as much pollen as they have down here). The bad news Saturday was that MSU lost (as well as Duke winning), but on a bright note they recently opened a BW3's down here, so that was an enjoyable find. Easter day was an interesting mix. Service was nice in the morning and we relaxed all afternoon and played some games as a family. Brian's game of choice was Rummikub, although Kelly's help was mostly going around and telling what each of us had in our hands. So lots of fun and Allison made some good food, however we do miss family on these days.

Speaking of family, there is again some hard stuff going on back in Michigan., so please keep my family in prayer.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Update Part II

So we're feeling pretty good down here after just watching MSU pull out a sweet win against Tennessee. It is great to have things even like sports that tie us back to home...especially when they are exciting things.

So what else is keeping us busy, and a little overwhelmed and confused down here? Well, it really is the same story for us since we've come down here. We've mentioned it before, but we have surprisingly found ourselves in the middle of a large group of young kids from the neighborhood who have picked our house as a spot to always want to come and play. In many ways this is great, but at the same time it can quickly become quite overwhelming at times.

The confused part comes in when you add to this that our church, seeing this opportunity, has decided to start Bible Clubs for the kids on Wednesday nights. Awesome, but we are gaining a new appreciation for the difficulty of this as we have been asked to coordinate it (man, give me 20 college students any day over this). How do you take this group of 20 kids and get them to settle down for a Bible lesson? What kind of lessons keep them interested and what do these young kids who are so tough in many ways, but so young in many others, need to hear? Add to that the teachers are students from CIU who are in their first teaching experiences. So, although they are doing well overall, we are helping them learn as well and trying to balance when to step in.

So, some pretty cool stuff...just a little (or a lot) stretching at times.

Speaking of overall (using it above reminded me), Kelly was quite humorous today as we prepared to go out to watch the basketball game. She, quite the little Spartan, wanted to wear her MSU cheerleader outfit, but she faced the dilemma that she also wanted to wear her overalls. No problem for a creative 3 year old. She decided to wear the cheerleader outfit along with the overalls...turned into underalls in this case. It was quite the unique choice and I'm sure caught some stares at the restaurant...but hey...she's three so it's all fun.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Still here

So I know it has been forever since we have posted anything on here and I apologize for that. But, we are still alive and doing well down here, just very busy. There is so much to tell that has happened since December 6th (wow, that is a really long gap since the last post). It's too much for one post, so I'll just share what is on our minds right now and I'll try in some future ones to go back and tell a little bit of the past couple months. That there has been so much is one of the things that has kept me from posting, so busy and so much to tell.

Alright, what is going on right now. I'm not sure what the right word is...overwhelmed, confused, searching...none seem to quite fully describe the situation. There are really two big fronts that this is coming on, but I think one will do for tonight. As many of you know we live in a poorer neighborhood and many of the people have been hit especially hard by the economy. In the midst of that God has seen fit to bless us, but that leaves us trying to figure out how and where to help out. My roommate from college is in a similar situation and we have recently talked about our struggles in learning how to deal with this. There are just so many questions that don't seem to have clear answers. Who do you try to help? How much do you step in and try to give support and how much do they need to work through the problems themselves? People are going through hard times, but sometimes they are making some choices that are making things harder on themselves. It is especially hard in the case of our one friend, a single parent, whose decisions also affect children. What is called for then? Should we simply help, showing mercy because we all make poor choices? Should we be there as an encouraging friend because they truly are struggling and it is such a sad situation? Is this one of those times that calls for some hard truth to be told?

Out of all of this a couple of things seem to be coming clear. I think we are coming to the realization that we will never get this perfect. There are always times that we will make the wrong choice about where to live in balance. Yet, that does not mean that we should stop trying and learning to do it better and better. Also, admitting that we don't have it all together may be one of the biggest keys, I recently read this in a book and it struck me. We like to think that there is a nice easy plan to life (do A, then B, then C and presto...situation solved). Or we like to think that whatever comes we are capable enough to figure out what to do and handle it. Both of these really are us trying to look to ourselves rather than admitting that we need help. We need the help of others and most importantly the help of God. Admitting that we cannot handle it should not drive us to quit or to believe that things won't work out, instead it should drive us to our knees to ask for help and guidance in the situation. To be given wisdom for how to proceed when we have no idea. To look to God for our encouragement that He is in control and that He can work things out when I cannot. It is exciting to see that He answers. The message this morning was exactly along those lines and was the encouragement that we needed. God has provided good friends who can offer us encouragement as well as some sound advice to make sure we are making wise decisions. And most of all we have prayer, both to ask for help and to be renewed.

Sorry if this is overwhelming for a first post in awhile, it just is what is on our hearts for now.

P.S. Maybe it's small, but it was a nice encouragement that MSU pulled out an awesome win today.