Category Archives: Youth

2 Years Later – By M

2 years ago (just a few days back) marks when we moved from Oklahoma down to southeast Texas.  It’s funny how time has flown so much and how much can change in such a relatively short amount of time.

It’s been such a blessing to be a part of Wesley church over these past two years.  I can’t lie that there are things that we miss –being far from basically any family (especially immediate), and experience the seasons with the weather (down here it’s basically hot, not so hot, and really hot!)– but we have also loved being at our new church and new home.

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Here’s sort of a Trip down memory lane since our move (PS… Some have links to previous blog posts):

– when we first arrived, we found out on a very first day at church about the Wesley Pumpkin Patch.  It was crazy overwhelming and made for a very long day, but after two complete Pumpkin seasons and heading into our third it’s been a blast and a great part of our ministry here.  It’s also been a fun opportunity for me to make it onto our local news stations every year.  In fact, one of my most memorable moments was being interviewed by Fox news my 3rd day on the job.  I had fun with that.

– That same day we left for IKEA in Houston and bought some new furniture!  It was my first trip and now I’m hooked.

– Staci went to her first Spurs game at the AT&T Center!

– We celebrated our 2nd anniversary up in Dallas!

– We spent our 3rd Christmas together in our third house, so we had to figure out how to decorate all over again.

– Went on my first Ski Trip!

– We began searching the housing market for when our apartment lease was up.

– My brother got married in Memphis and we got to road trip it up there together which was pretty fun!

– We jumped out of a plane!!!

– We found where we wanted to build our new home and began the process!  Before we new it we were moving in!

– Built my first porch on mission trip!

– Read all the Harry Potter Books and saw all the movies… umm… maybe 3 times….

– Found lots of new good music for all seasons!

– Moved to a new house!

– Got Pregnant!  And shared our story!  And found out he was a boy!

– Celebrated another holiday as a family… the first one in our new home!

– Celebrated our 3rd anniversary together in San Antonio!

– Had countless youth activities including: Christmas Parties, Halloween Parties, Mission Trips, Summer Camps, Retreats, A trip to Sacramento, CA, Beach Trips, Pool Parties, and tons more!

– Our Baby Boy was born!

And here we are starting our 3rd Pumpkin Patch season!  We can’t believe that it’s all flown by so fast (even though sometimes it feels like it’s been a really long, long journey)!  We have been so blessed in so many ways over these past 2 years and we are very thankful!  We look forward to the coming years with our sweet son and our new family unit!

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What have you been up to these past 2 years?
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– M

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SAMESTATE Concert – By M

Still trying hard to keep these posts coming regularly 🙂

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Recently, Staci and I, had the privilege to put on a free concert at Wesley Church where we work.  I have never felt so overwhelmed in my life, and yet never felt so rewarded afterward (… well, actually it at least ranks in my top 5 rewarding feelings for sure).

I never knew there was so much that went in to putting on this kind of event.  I wont go in to all the details or anything, but from booking the band, to providing for their stay, to getting the equipment rented, and trying our best to get this thing some publicity, it was quite a task.

I think one of my favorite parts of the whole thing was actually getting to meet the guys from SAMESTATE and Climbing Blind (we booked them to be the opening band).  They are all great people and it is so awesome to see honest, Christian young men trying to do spread the Word by using what God has gifted them.  It is also cool to be introduced to some new music that I probably wouldn’t have ever known about other wise.

Here are a couple of pics from the show:

Climbing Blind

SAMESTATE

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And Some of students:

You gotta go check out these guys!  They have great music and great hearts!  I wish the best for them and hope that God continues to use them in their ministry!  I leave you with this last thing:

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-M


Harry Potter Week

For those of you who are Harry Potter fans, it goes without saying that the last movie is just around the corner!  You can watch a trailer HERE.

A lot of our students are huge HP fans, and when we came to our church they were in the middle of doing a Bible study called “The Gospel According to Harry Potter” on Wednesday nights.  (The study took clips or themes from HP books/movies and then taught about the themes using Scriptures.)  We took our students to see HP 7.1 last fall when it came out, and we had a great time.

Sometime between then and now, we had the idea to have a Harry Potter Week building up to the new movie this summer.  Well, that time has come!

The movie actually releases next Friday, but we’ll be at camp next week.  So we’re having HP week the following week.  Each night, we’ll watch one of the HP movies, and have a HP inspired snack and (optional) craft.  I’m super excited because:

  1. It’s Harry Potter
  2. I love cooking and doing crafts
  3. I love planning things

So in case you want to plan your own HP party, I thought I’d share our plans.  Almost all of the ideas came from “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book” and “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.”  (You can click on each title to take you to the Amazon link.)

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Sunday: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

  • Craft:  Wands
  • Snack:  Chocolate Frogs (I bought the molds HERE)
  • Drink:  Butter Beer (recipe found HERE…using #5, but I’d like to try #1 on my own)

Monday: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

  • Craft:  No-Sew House Ties
  • Snack:  Pumpkin Pasties
  • Drink:  Pumpkin Juice

Tuesday: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

  • Craft:  Galleons (possibly Knuts and Sickles too)
  • Snack:  Acid Pops
  • Drink:  ??

Wednesday: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

  • Craft:  No Mess Quills
  • Snack:  Dragon Eggs
  • Drink:  ??

Thursday: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

  • Craft:  Extendable Ears
  • Snack:  Treacle Tart
  • Drink:  Liquid Luck Potion

Friday: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

  • Craft:  Pygmy Puff
  • Snack:  Rock Cakes (or if I’m low on time, Cockroach Clusters found HERE)
  • Drink:  Pensieve Potion

Saturday: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1 at church, Part 2 at the theater)

  • I’m still debating whether or not to do a craft and snack this day since we’re watching two movies…thoughts?

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I’m really excited about Harry Potter Week!  Any ideas we should add?

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–Staci

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**All Crafts taken from “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book

**Pumpkin Pasties, Pumpkin Juice, Treacle Tarts, and Rock Cakes taken from “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook“; All other Recipes (other than those noted in the plans) found in “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book”


U.M. Army – by M

Staci and I just got back from a week long mission trip in Huntsville, TX. For those of you who aren’t familiar with U.M. Army, the trip consists of putting students into small groups of about 4-6 with an adult. The teams are then sent out to do work on different people’s houses. Many of these people that the students work for do not have the means to be able to pay for the work that needs to be done to their house.

This week I had 9 students in my group. It was an extra large group because we were really hurting for adults this week. My group had the oppurtunity to work for a lady we’ll call Ms. Sara. Our project was to build a new front, 8×8, covered porch, as well as a 4×8, back porch.

It was a tough week. We had record setting heat, and not a lot of time to get a whole lot of work done. Not to mention that, although I do have remodeling experience, I have never built anything from the ground up.  But it was awesome to see how God worked through our group as well as the whole UM Army group throughout the week.  And it is cool to think that I now have the know-how to do some pretty awesome building projects.

Monday was a tough day. We ended the day not having completed much except for putting a few really deep holes in the ground (that had turned out to be in the wrong places), and built the beginning of a porch frame that was the wrong size. Our group finished the day extremely defeated. But God lifted our spirits on Tuesday as we finished the day having our 4 corner posts set as well as the beginning of our deck.  The highlight of our group’s week (except for finishing the deck) came Tuesday afternoon.  At this point, we had our 4 main corner posts in as well as our frame and cross braces.  Everything had 5 screws in it and was ready to go… well, ready except that we had forgotten to check if the door would open once we put the decking on.  I asked, very reluctantly, for a deck board that we could place across our frame.  I placed the deck board, reached for the door, pressed the handle, and began to pull…  Time stopped…  My heart stopped… it, it, it, IT WORKED!  The door swung open with about a half inch of clearing!  We cheered!  But the test wasn’t over yet.  I moved the deck board over to double check the door.  It swung closed!  WOOHOO!  After making so many mistakes and having so many defeats within the first two days, this was definitely what our group needed.  Tuesday ended with a make-shift deck and stairs that just allowed Ms. Sara to get in and out of her house.  Tuesday complete.

Wednesday we began hot and early in the morning.  We all decided that we needed to at least have the deck mostly complete and the stairs in so that Ms. Sara could easily get in and out of her house.  So with our spirits much higher, and a goal to reach in mind, we began hard at work.  As we tried to dig in for the stairs we hit a big problem (pun intended).  Ms. Sara’s yard was covered in all kinds of crazy tree roots.  We’d dig for a few inches and hit a root.  We’d eventually break through after 10 to 15 minutes of beating it with a shovel or pickax.  Then we’d dig another couple of inches and hit another root.

We figured ways around the roots and continued to work and work:

Finally by the end of the day, this is what we had:

We were almost finished.  Thursday would bring us to the final sawing down of the 4×4 posts, finishing the handrails, and puting on the roof; all pretty daunting tasks.  We began slowly as we hit another snag.  Our circular saw decided it didn’t want to cut anything anymore.  We changed the blade and still nothing.  Luckily our Color Group Leader had an extra with him that we were able to use that day.  The afternoon capped of with a visit from my Pastor and his wife, as well as our UM Army director, and others from the group as we wrapped up the roofing job.  This is what it lookied like as we finished Thursday:

So Here’s a nice before and after shot (ps.. the before shot is just of the staircase that used to be in front of Ms. Sara’s house.  I took the picture of it once we had already moved it.)

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Now Ms. Sara can easily get in and out of her house and even set a chair out on her deck and enjoy the cool evenings and breezy mornings.

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Oh and I can’t forget the awesome job on the back porch that half our team did.  Before, there was nothing. After, there was this:

The truth is, this picture doesn’t really do the justice of the difficulty of this project because of the steep grade on the backside of the house that you can’t really see in this picture.

Anyway, my group knocked this one out of the park and finished the week by painting up this blue house on Friday:

I’m really proud to have been the leader of group “Yellow – S”!!!

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I also had the opportunity to speak Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights as well as lead worship on Thursday.  It was such an awesome experience and it was awesome to see all the work that God had done through the week.  It really is too bad that we have to wait a-whole-nother year until the next trip.  But Staci and I leave soon for our Big House trip with our middle school students which will be a lot similar, but on a lot smaller scale.

It’s awesome to see so many students doing so much for the good of others and connecting with each other and connecting with Christ.

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When was the last time you went on a mission trip? What did you do? Where did you go?  What did God do?

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– M


Cooking for 90

On Tuesday of last week, I didn’t think I was going to survive.  I’d been cooking for a group of 90 students and adults at U.M. ARMY (our high school mission trip) for a little over a day, and I thought I was going to die.

I called my mom and left a voice message that was something to the effect of, “Momma, I just wanted to call and talk.  Oh, and I have a new appreciation of you.  Cooking at camp sucks.”

Earlier that day, I’d tried to light the stupid gas oven for over 15 minutes, without success.  I finally just sat in the floor and almost cried.  I’d been to MANY camps, mission trips, etc., but I was way more tired than I’d ever been before.  Maybe the fact that we got up around 5:15 a.m. every morning had something to do with it…  I now understand what they’re talking about when they say that cooks have the hardest job.

I was honestly wishing that I hadn’t agreed to be the kitchen coordinator.  But then I was able to go to the pool with our students…and everything changed.

I walked around and took some pictures of the students in the pool and playing volleyball.

And then I had a chance to just sit and talk with some of “our girls” and some other students on the bleachers.  And it was literally the highlight of my week.

For any of you who have been a part of a youth ministry (either as a student or an adult), you know that a LOT of connecting takes place over the summer.  So much bonding happens at camp and other events.  Quite a few of our students that went haven’t been very active in the youth group up until this past mission trip.  So I was hoping for a chance to really bond with them.  And since I had to be in the kitchen (or going to Wal-Mart or Sam’s) all day, I felt like I wasn’t getting that.

But on Tuesday night, it was great.

We just sat and talked about school and sports and youth camps and Compassion International and lots more.  I feel like God gave me those couple of hours with those girls.  In fact, I know that He did.  He knew that I needed it–not only so I could get out of the kitchen before I tore the oven out of the wall but also so that I could grow closer to some of these girls.

Because ministry happens when relationships are formed.

Wednesday through Friday, I was able to go out and visit the work sites for a few hours in the afternoon.  After we (Michael’s mom and a girl named Becca–who completely saved me in the kitchen!) went on our daily Wal-Mart run (which consisted of 3-4 baskets full of food to get us through the next day), we’d hurry and prepare that night’s dessert and/or snack, and then we’d have some free time.

Since I was craving time with our kids, I was able to drive around and visit the students and see all of the awesome work they were doing.

I was SO proud of them!  They did everything from build wheelchair ramps and porches to replace siding on houses to painting to fixing floors and roofs.  It was awesome to see God use them to bless the people in the town where we were.

Even though I felt so tired before I headed out to see them, it became one of the best parts of my day.  It was as if I was re-energized after I saw what a great job they were doing.

By the end of the week, I was really glad that I was asked to be in the kitchen.  All of the recipes turned out great (thanks for all of the desserts and snacks, Mom!), and I was able to go and visit with everyone instead of just having my work group of students.  God knew what He was doing–as always.

In fact, I’d like to do kitchen again sometime.  Granted, I’ll do a few things differently–like take my own pans, mixers, etc.; buy thin bacon instead of super thick bacon (I guess we should have looked at the package!); etc.–but I would like to do it again.  Well…maybe without the gas ovens.

It turned out to be an incredible week.  And I’m thankful that God allowed me to be a part of the ministry that took place.

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What is the biggest number of people you’ve ever cooked for?

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–Staci

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Summer List – By M

Like any sane person, I am totally excited for this summer!  We’re going to be doing a lot of really fun things with our youth like 2 mission trips, camp, a trip to California, the beach, mystery trip to Houston, Schlitterbahn Galveston, and more!  We’re also gonna spend some time with Staci’s family as well as stop by my parents house!  I’m sure Staci and I will throw in our own little adventures in there somewhere too!

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So here are some things to check off the ol’ Summer list:

– Beach Trip

– Water Park

– Family

– California!

– Pool Party

– Grill out

– late-night movies

– TV Show Marathon-ing!

– and so much more

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What are somethings you can’t wait to do this summer?  Favorite vacation spot?

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– M


Catching Up: Cousin and HP Weekend

I’m so behind on blogging — sooo sorry!  I’m home today since I’ve been working lots of crazy hours, and I want to try to get all caught up on the blog.  Sorry in advance for them all coming at once, but I know this is the only way I’ll get caught up.  🙂

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First of all, we went to Houston to visit my cousin, Paul, and his wife, Liz two weekends ago.  They helped us move in, but this was the first time that we were able to meet up after that.

Since we have Fridays off (we work on Sundays), we were able to relax and sleep in and then head over to Houston that afternoon.  Liz was leaving work when we arrived, so we visited with Paul until she came home.  And then we were given the grand tour!  Their house is adorable.  I should have taken pictures.  They live in a cute townhome, and everything is decorated so cute.  They also had all of the fall decorations out.

After we visited for a long time and ate dinner, we were ready to go to The Painted Potter to make Christmas Ornaments — or so we thought.  Liz realized that she left her wallet at work, so we made a quick detour to her school.  I’m glad it turned out this way because we were able to see her classroom!

I was really excited about going to the potter painting place because I hadn’t been to one since I was in elementary school (we made my dad father’s day gifts there one year).  Michael had never been and he kept telling people he was going to pottery class.  Hehe.  Friday and Saturday nights are “Date Night” and they give you a discount on the fire and paint fee.

It was such a cute place!  I could have spent hours and hours looking at all of the different options.  We knew we wanted to make ornaments, but even then there were so many to choose from!  Michael ended up picking a reindeer and I picked a snowman.

Next, we picked our glazes/paints.  There were SO many to choose from!  Then it was time to get busy painting.  You can get a glimpse of how many different colors there were to choose from in this picture:

We were all concentrating so hard!

The 3-D ornaments were harder than they look!  There were so many little details.  Paul and Liz made OSU orange & black snowmen.

Michael painted his reindeer brown (obviously) and my snowman had purple, blue, and green snow clothes. (By the way, they look completely different after they’ve been fired.)

We had such a great time!  It was so nice to be able to just sit and talk and be creative at the same time.  It’s been a long time since I’d done any artsy stuff (besides graphic design stuff, but I don’t count that), and I didn’t realize how much I missed it.  We knew we’d definitely be back!  (It took 6 days to get everything fired, by the way.  I haven’t taken a picture of the finished products yet, so I’ll add that in a later post.)

When we got back to Paul and Liz’s house, it was time to eat some snacks and play some games!  They’d told us that the games on the “Beauty and the Beast” blu-ray were SO much fun, so we decided to play them first.

The first game we played was a character guessing game.  We each used our phones to call in and get a character.

Then we used them to answer “yes” or “no” questions about our character and vote on who we think other players were.  It’s so crazy how interactive these games can be now!

After we played a couple of rounds of that (it was SO much fun, by the way!), we played the other game.  This one was incredible!  It’s like an interactive “Clue” type game.  Our mission is to find Belle’s missing friends.  You choose a room to visit and then pick a hiding place to uncover.  You could find a character, the Beast, a magic mirror, Gaston, or nothing at all.  In order to be able to look, you have to answer a trivia question right.  Most of them had something to do with a song from the movie.  Some of them were really hard!  We had a ton of fun playing!  If you have (or can rent) the “Beauty and the Beast” on blu-ray, I highly recommend playing the games!  Michael ended up winning the second game.   I was Player 2 — the one with no friends found.

Oh–and their dog, Dasher, was helping us play.

After that, we played Scategories (I think Liz won) and then sat around and talked until 2 a.m.!  It was SO good to be able to just talk.  We’ve missed having a married couple our age to hang out with.  And what makes it better is that they’re family too.  My brother and I have always been really close with Paul and his sister, Bethany.  I’m thankful that we live so close to Paul and Liz now.  Especially since all 4 of us are so far away from our families.  We had a GREAT time, and we’re excited to go back next week to go look at lights and go ice skating!

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The next morning, we slept in, had some breakfast, and then headed back to Beaumont so we could take the youth to see Part 1 of “Harry Potter 7“.  I think I’ve mentioned this before, but Michael and I watched all of the movies this summer (I’d only seen the first 3) and then I decided that I wanted to re-read the first 4 books and read 5-7 for the first time.  I made it my goal to have at least 1/2 of 7 read by the time the new movie came out.

Well, I made it!  I had a couple of chapters left in book 7, but I finished it that night after the movie.  So that means I’ve read 4,100 pages of Harry Potter in 3 months!!  And it was well-worth all 4,100 pages.  JK Rowling is a very gifted author, and I really, really enjoyed reading these books.  It’s funny how books mean so much more to me when I read them now.  There have been quite a few books that I’ve gone back and read over the past year or so and I think I can just appreciate them more now.

Anyway, all that to say I was really excited about HP7!  Michael was excited too.  We got there super early because we thought it was going to be really busy (we’d purchased the tickets early), but it wasn’t at all.  We were the second people in line, and we ended up having tons of time to kill.  We wasted time taking pictures and playing cards.

The movie was really good!!  We all really, really enjoyed it!  It wasn’t as good as the book, but they rarely are.  I wish they didn’t leave some things out, and they changed some things that I don’t think they should have changed, but other than that it was GREAT!  It just stinks that part 2 doesn’t come out until the summer.

It was a fantastic weekend!

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Now I just have to catch up on some more happenings….

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–Staci

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Q for you:  Have you ever painted at a pottery place?  And did you see HP7?

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The Great Pumpkin Mystery – By M

So for many of you that read this blog that are my friends on the book of face (aka Facebook), you may have noticed something odd over the past 30 some odd days of my life.  I’m pretty positive that that over half of my status updates had to do with with pumpkins and the Pumpkin Patch.   Let me explain…

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Every year (for the past 17 years I believe) at the church that Staci and I now work at, we sell pumpkins throughout the month of October.  We get a percentage of what we sell based on how much we sell.  In other words, the more we sell, the higher percentage we keep.  That is until we reach that magical number where we keep the highest percentage possible; after that, the more we sell is just icing on the cake.

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The percentage that we get to keep goes toward our youth missions ministry.  This is extra exciting because this year has been a record year (by far) for our church!   It’s so exciting to think how much our students will benefit from this fundraiser.

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Anyway, I wanted to clarify what was going on, because I think some people thought I had gotten into the pumpkin selling business.

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It’s also really cool because I had never heard of a real pumpkin patch.  Sure I had seen the Charlie Brown special… but I didn’t think that real pumpkin patches actually existed.  Well they do, and they’re awesome.  Aside, from the money we raised, it was also a blessing to see so many families coming through and spending quality time with each other.  Families took pictures of babies/grand-babies, couples picked out pumpkins, kids enjoyed the moon bounce, schools and daycares took field trips and had story time in the patch; people from all over South East Texas would come, we even had some people from Louisiana!  Some people had a yearly tradition of coming out to the patch.  Some had never been.  It was great to see the community come alive over the course of the last couple of weeks.  And although it was a crazy amount of stuff to jump into along-side everything else that comes with moving to a new ministry, it was totally worth all the work.  we got to meet new people, make new friends, and enjoy the fruits of our labors.

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Both Staci and I agree that the Pumpkin Patch really got us off on the right foot, and we’re excited for the next big thing God has in store for us here in our new Ministry.

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– Michael

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Have you ever been to a Pumpkin Patch?  What did you do for Halloween?  We had an awesome Fall Festival at church, but that’ll probably have to be a different post.


Dorky Brother, Gorgeous Sister

Two weekends ago, Michael and I took our youth to the Oklahoma Youth Evangelism Conference (YEC) in Norman, OK.  We had a great time, and it was awesome to be there with our youth…but one of my favorite parts of the weekend was seeing my brother and sister!  My brother is a youth intern at a church in Moore, and my sister is in that youth group.

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While I was waiting with some of “our kids” for the doors to open, I saw my brother with some of the other youth workers at his church.  The first thing I said:  “YOU’RE SUCH A DORK!”

The first thing he did:  started yelling “THIS IS MY SISTER!” at the top of his lungs while he hugged me/jumped up and down at the same time.

After I told him he’d better stop before he ripped one of my earrings out, we took this attractive picture:

I admit, I look pretty dorky too, but how could I be normal if I knew he was going to pose like that?!

I asked him where in the world he’d found glasses like that, and he told me that he was up on the roof of the church (I still don’t really know why…) and when they came down, they went to a janitor’s closet (don’t know why they did that either…) and he found a whole bunch of safety goggles.  So he decided to wear them.

And you know what the crazy thing is?  HE CAN PULL IT OFF!  If anyone else acted like he did, people would think they were crazy.  But everyone LOVES him, and somehow he makes dorkiness the coolest thing ever.

In all honesty, though, I absolutely love my brother, and I don’t know what I’d do without him.  We’ve been GREAT friends our whole life, and we just have a ton of fun together.  There is never a dull moment when he’s around.  And I’m so proud of the man he’s become.  I can’t believe that he’ll be 21 in a few months!  He’s going back to school for his Airplane Mechanic degree/license in a few months, and he should graduate in 18 months.  He knows that he wants to do some kind of ministry, but he doesn’t know if it’ll be overseas or in the U.S.

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My sister and I had been texting while we were both waiting for the doors to open (her group was at another entrance), and once we got our seats, I told her where we were sitting.  She couldn’t find us if her life depended on it, so I went over and tried to find her.

After a HUGE hug and all of her friends telling me hi (do any other older siblings feel like a celebrity when they get around their brother/sister’s friends?), we took this pic:

I can’t believe how gorgeous and grown up she’s gotten!  Even though she’s 13 now, I still feel like she should be 6.  She probably thinks I’m a crazy person because every time we see each other I catch myself staring at her.  I just can’t get over the fact that she’s growing up so fast!

And what makes things better is that she is an amazing young lady!  She’s on the leadership team at her church, and she has the sweetest personality.  She was also accepted to be in Yearbook and some other kind of leadership team at school.  She wants to get her RN and Nurse Practitioner (I think that’s what it’s called) Degree so that she can be a medical missionary overseas.  I’m so proud of her!

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I’m so thankful that God has blessed me with such incredible siblings (and parents!), and that our family is so close.  Even though we didn’t get to spend a ton of time together, it was SOO good to see my brother and sister here and there throughout the weekend!

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Oh–and here’s a picture of my husband being a dork right along with my brother.  It’s crazy how much they can be alike at times!

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–Staci

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Q for you: Are you close to your siblings?  Are you the oldest (bossy child), middle (crazy child), or youngest (baby child)–or is your personality out of the ordinary for your birth order?

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