30 April 2011

Letterboxing

Our letterboxing kit.

The clues take us to Cancer Survivors Park.

We're very close!

Found! Morgan digs out the box.

Opening our first letterbox.

Other folks who have found the box before us and left their stamp. They come from all over the country!

We stamped the logbook with our personal stamp and left a little note.

The first stamp in our logbook.

Grace discreetly puts the box back in its place.

Done!

What is Letterboxing?
Letterboxing is an intriguing mix of treasure hunting, art, navigation, and exploring interesting, scenic, and sometimes remote places. Letterboxing is an activity that involves following clues to locate a hidden treasure. Sometimes the treasure is inside a building, but most of the time it is outside. It's a great family activity that can lead you to discover new places and learn interesting bits of history.

What is the Treasure?

The treasure inside a letterbox is a rubber stamp, along with a logbook for you to sign in. Usually the stamp is hand carved and relates in some way to the location. It is great fun to collect all those little pieces of art -- but don't take the stamp!

What do you need for Letterboxing?
In addition to the clues and any maps or tools needed find the treasure, the hunter should carry at least a pencil, his personal rubber stamp, an inkpad, and his personal logbook. When the hunter successfully deciphers the clues and finds the box, he stamps the logbook in the box with his personal stamp, and then stamps his personal logbook with the box's stamp. The box's logbook keeps a record of all its visitors and the hunters keep a record of all the boxes they have found in their personal logbooks.

What is the origin of Letterboxing?
Letterboxing supposedly got its start in Dartmoor, an expanse of rugged wilderness in southwest England. A gentleman took a long hike into the moor in 1854 and left his calling card in a glass bottle. He suggested others do the same as a mark of their achievement.

At some point, someone left a postcard for the next hiker to drop in a "letterbox," what the Brits call a mailbox. Today, there are thousands of letterboxes hidden across Dartmoor.

This eccentric British pastime traveled across the Atlantic in 1998, when Smithsonian magazine ran an article on the Dartmoor letterboxes. From there, adventure seekers in North America caught on to this fun pastime. Today, it is estimated there are over 20,000 letterboxes hidden in North America alone.

Apparently, people get really creative by making their own custom stamps. Since I lacked time and inspiration (and I happened to be in Michael's yesterday), I let the girls pick out a stamp of their choice. They chose a small butterfly and it happened to be marked clearance so I was fine with it.

Turns out the stamp they chose was perfect! The butterfly has a double meaning for us. For the last 10 days or so, we've been tending to a Butterfly Garden science project at home. We've been raising eggs into caterpillars and then watching the amazing transformation into butterflies.

Witnessing this miracle has reminded us about how God works in our lives. The butterfly represents the transformed heart, the Resurrection, the hope, and the beauty that comes from our relationship with God, through Christ.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"

-2 Corinthians 5:17

The Butterfly Effect is also known as the phenomenon whereby a single occurence, no matter how small, can change the course of the universe forever.

This morning, it was also time to release our butterflies (and ladybugs). We couldn't think of a better place to do that than Cancer Survivors Park.

Before we left, we said a special prayer for all our loved ones, whose lives have been touched and forever changed by cancer.

To find out more about Letterboxing and search for hidden boxes in your area, check out http://www.letterboxing.org/


Release Day

Earlier this week, the butterflies came out of their cocoons.

Empty shells.

After a couple of days, they were ready to be released.

Flapping its wings.

Pink ladybugs feasting on raisins.

Time to let the ladybugs go...

Little girls love ladybugs.

A very special thanks to the Waldorf family for gifting us with this "cool" science project. It was such a fun and interesting experience- both for the young and old. :)

29 April 2011

Reflections from a social networking dropout...


It's been over 5 weeks now since I left facebook. I've had some interesting reflections along the way...

1. No one really misses me. I mean that in the most humbling way. In other words, life just goes on- with or without little ole me... and that's OK! I guess I'm not as important as I thought I was. Ha!

2. I've had the time and desire to be more fully present in the life of my family.

3. Checking facebook everyday (several times a day) was truly was an addiction for me. I use the term "addiction" because it became a habitual, daily, compulsive need.

4. I realized rather quickly that anything that lures me into being nosey about what other people are doing and takes time away from my true calling as wife and mother, is not of God.

5. Thankfully, I did not suffer "withdrawals" of any kind. That is of God!

6. In fact, as each day passed, I began to feel a sense of freedom!

7. Subsequently, I've read several articles regarding the topic of social networking and it's impact on the world. The consensus- people do admit they are "addicted" and how it takes time away from their families and other priorities. However, perhaps the most alarming fact is that most people are still NOT willing to unplug.

8. Low and behold, dropping out of fb has actually made me take steps in reaching out to others. You know, forming "real" friendships with real people, the old fashioned way, face to face, through time spent together.

9. I was surprised at how much static/noise was in my head as a result of participating on facebook. Every status update I read was inadvertently filed away up there (in my already crowded mind somewhere). When I dropped out, I not only felt freedom but also a sense of quiet peace.

10. Perhaps the most surprising thing I've experienced since leaving facebook, I have regained the ability to hear my own voice--to recognize, to ponder, to enjoy, and just be me. Looking back, I think I sorta lost some of that along the constantly moving phenomenon known as social networking. In turn, I have more room in my head (and my heart) to hear the quiet whispers of God. A definite "win-win."

So here's the challenge: First, be honest with yourself. Then, if you think you might be the least bit "addicted" to facebook or any other social networking site, I'd like to challenge you to unplug for 30 days. Give it a try. You'd be surprised at how life truly does go on, and even flourish. Promise. Through my experiences and failures, I hope to encourage other women (especially moms), to reclaim their lives with more meaning, intention, joy, and purpose.

Please let me know if you decide to take the challenge. It would be my honor to pray for you.

27 April 2011

The Golden Rules of Living

Focus on the Family has always been a good resource for Morgan and I. For a while now, I've subscribed to Jim Daly's weekly email updates. They're usually quite insightful and topical. Morgan and I have also been enjoying the various pod casts available online- particularly the ones on parenting and nurturing marriage.

The Golden Rules of Living was originally posted by Jim Daly on 4-2-11. I find myself throughout the day, teaching and repeating quite a few of these rules in my house. Simply put, I thought this was a spot-on fundamental breakdown of the Golden Rule.

We’ve all heard of the “Golden Rule” – that ethic of reciprocity which instructs us to treat others as we might want to be treated. Someone recently sent me a list inspired by Jesus’ words in the Book of Matthew. The logic is simple and refreshingly blunt. You might tack this up on your refrigerator. It applies to young or old.

The Golden Rules of Living

If you open it, close it.

If you turn it on, turn it off.

If you unlock it, lock it up.

If you break it, admit it.

If you can’t fix it, call in someone who can.

If you borrow it, return it.

If you value it, take care of it.

If you make a mess, clean it up.

If you move it, put it back.

If it belongs to someone else and you want to use it, get permission.

If you don’t know how to operate it, leave it alone.

If it’s none of your business, don’t ask questions.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

If it will brighten someone’s day, say it.

If it will tarnish someone’s reputation, keep it to yourself.

Destination: Western Caribbean



Miami, Florida, Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas, Ochos Rio, Jamaica, George Town, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, Mexico.
What do all these places have in common?

These are the ports of call we'll be visiting on our 10 year anniversary cruise! Yes, it's still almost 6 months away but we're very excited. We've never been to Jamaica or the Cayman Islands (pictured above). We've been day dreaming about this trip for the better part of a year now. Not necessarily this exactly destination- we've simply been looking forward to taking a special trip to celebrate our 10th anniversary.

Further background: For the last couple of months, we've pondered and researched destinations, airfares, and hotels. There was even one time last month where we almost booked a trip.

But we didn't.

Invariably, something always didn't work out. For example, we had been saving up our airline miles for over a year now so that all four of us could fly for free. When it came time to book, because of the miles it took to get there, we would have to pay (out of pocket) for one ticket. Not a huge deal but thankfully, we took it as a sign. It just didn't feel right.

So we waited...

A couple of weeks ago, I asked Morgan if he had been praying about the trip and admittedly he said no. Neither had I.

Like so many other decisions, I felt like I needed to hear from God. I wanted that reassurance that only He can give. That confidence of going in the way He wants us to go. With that, we began to pray.

We put the trip on the shelf and we waited some more...

Specifically, I prayed that God would work out every detail to our favor, in perfect harmony. I prayed that there would be no doubt, hearing His voice clearly. But perhaps the most challenging thing I prayed is this, "God, do you really want us to take this trip? If it's not Your will, please make that clear and give us the grace and peace to accept that as well."
I believe by doing this, I finally surrendered it to Him. We stopped trying to make things happen on our own. We trusted God to know what's best for us.

About 2 weeks later, I woke up early one morning and decided to take a look at some previously saved travel itinerary. By putting the trip aside for a while, we took the risk of prices changing or some part of a trip becoming unavailable. As I looked further into that morning, not only had the prices stayed the same, but by God's grace, it now took less airline miles to get there! That meant all four of us could indeed fly for FREE.

Since this was the first time we looked into the trip since we had been praying about it, we took it as a clear sign from God. This was our trip!

And a great reminder to seek prayer in all circumstances... not just the tough ones. God wants to be there to celebrate with us. Perhaps He was just waiting for an invitation?
Praising Our Faithful and Loving God!

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." ~Matthew 7:7-8

26 April 2011

Last Day of School

Just for fun, here's a picture of their first day of school, back in '09.

Playing the Manners Game today.

Checking out Lady Bug Land.

The pupas have now transformed into adult lady bugs. At first, they appear soft and pale but soon, their exoskeletons will harden and their colors will brighten.

Checking out the Butterfly Garden.

Our caterpillars have turned into hanging chrysalides.
Only a few more days until they transform into Painted Lady butterflies.

The kids get a golf cart ride.

I think they screamed for joy the whole way there!

Rock climbing.

The fun train.

Today was the last day of school for our co-op group. We have a family pool party scheduled for later next month but other than that, our year of Pre-K is officially in the books! What a blessing it's been to have spent the last 2 years co-oping together. The kids have all grown so much. Come to think of it, the teachers have, too!

I wanted to make this day extra fun so we spent the first half at home and the last half at the park. Morgan took a short break from work so he could taxi the kids over in the golf cart. They had a blast and I could hear them screaming all the way down the street. We played. We picnicked. It was a fantastic way to end the school year!

Happy Summer!!

25 April 2011

Easter Weekend

Egg hunt at Grandma's.







Morgan can't find the last egg he hid.

Probably not such a big deal, except Grandma put $5 (in quarters) in it.



Morgan and the girls took Grandma & Grandpa's golf cart home.

Such fun!

Church on Sunday.







Another egg hunt with friends.



The kiddos.






It was a lovely long Easter weekend. Grandma had us over for a delicious steak dinner on Saturday. She also prepared an Easter egg hunt for the girls.

On Sunday afternoon, we gathered with a bunch of friends to fellowship and barbeque at Hailey and Derek's. The kids had a blast and enjoyed eating lots of candy!

The weekend was a fantastic celebration of OUR RISEN LORD!

24 April 2011

New Life












Happy Easter!


"He is not here; He Has Risen just as he said."


~Matthew 28:6

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