Ellie’s Song (Update)

Last fall I wrote about our youth pastor and his wife and their plan to adopt a young girl from Thailand.  You can read all about it Here.

The adoption process is still moving along and I thought I would post an update from Gregg:

Things still going strong with the adoption! In the process of completing what is called a dossier and then it is a matter of waiting… and waiting… and then waiting some more.
I wanted to tell you all about an opportunity that has come up! Kxoj, the local christian radio station in Tulsa, has issued a battle of the bands. My brother and I are going to be making a music video to Ellie’s song to submit! The winner gets to open for Mercy Me’s Rockin Worship Road Show. I would love if we got the opportunity to do that for 2 reasons: 1. It would help us get the song some exposure helping us raise funds and 2. It would help raise awareness for adoption! One thing Tam and I have been praying for is that through our story there might be other families God calls to adopt! Then it’s not just Ellie’s life that will be saved but possibly dozens more!! The radio station picks the top 3 and Mercy Me picks the winner! Please be in prayer for us and that the Lord would have favor on the song!! Thank you all so much for your continued prayer and support!

Well, the video is finished and you can watch it on YouTube.  Gregg has also posted a re-mixed version of Ellie’s Song on iTunes, and you can find that here.

Thanks to all of you who have been praying for this awesome family and their adoption journey!

Summer Travels, Part 1

Between June 4 and June 20, I traveled over 3800 miles.  In fact, between early morning June 11 and late night June 12, I traveled through 8 states and 3 time zones.  Needless to say, I’m a little tired of being in a car!

Why was I on the road so much this month?  Was I on a multi-state book tour?  Did I ditch my responsibilities and decide to be a groupie, following my favorite band across the country?  Nope, nothing like that! I spent the first half of my travels as a sponsor with our church youth group at camp in Glorieta, New Mexico.  Week 2 of my cross country trek was a family vacation to Indiana and Michigan.  Rather than cram all my travel details into a single post, I will share some of the highlights of Glorieta today and follow up with a Part 2 to this post later this week with pictures from our travels up north.

Late Sunday night, June 4, we loaded 76 teens and 12 sponsors on our church bus and a charter bus and headed out to Glorieta, New Mexico.  I was privileged enough to get to tag along on this trip as a sponsor.  Yep, as surprising as that may sound, our Youth Pastor deemed me responsible enough to be in charge of teens at camp…perhaps because he has only known me for a year :D!

After traveling 16 hours we reached our destination – high in the mountains of New Mexico.  It was absolutely beautiful…I wish I had taken more pictures along the way and while we were there.  However, between Rebecca and I, I think we did pretty well.  The picture above is of the chapel on the grounds of the camp.

Once we arrived at camp, the teens had to play a series of games in order to get their camp registration packets.  Here is a shot of our teens getting instructions for one of the games.

Each evening our group had a different theme and the teens could earn points for their family by dressing up.  Monday night was cowboy night, which gave Rebecca and I a chance to wear our sparkly Southwood cowboy hats!

Each morning the entire camp would meet together for a worship service and then the Cypress group would break off and have a separate Bible study.  That was followed by 30 minutes of quiet, devotional time and then a short all Cypress meeting.  We would then break up into our 12-13 student family groups for the remainder of the morning.  Afternoons were free time for the teens during which they could hang out at the lake, play miniature golf or other games like horseshoes or basketball, or just hang out.  I like this picture of Rebecca and a couple of her friends looking out over the lake one afternoon during free time.

Our Youth Pastor also registered the teens for the ropes course and the zip line, so several of the teens spent a portion of their free time at these courses.  This is a picture of Rebecca and one of her friends before climbing the poles to the zip line!

Wednesday’s theme was Black and White.  I just liked this picture of Rebecca and some of her friends that evening.

Sidewalk Prophets was the worship band at camp the week we were there.  Rebecca’s family group ate dinner with the band Thursday evening and got several pictures with the band.  I believe this is one of the guitar players, although I can’t remember his name.  And in case you couldn’t guess, the theme for that evening was ’80s gym night!

That 1 Thing and the 42 Day Challenge

Each evening this week, I have been going to That 1 Thing at Cypress.  That 1 Thing is a week-long series of services for our Youth.  Our Youth pastor named it That 1 Thing because he thought it would be cool for the Youth to say, “Hey, are you going to That 1 Thing tonight?”.  Anyway, it has been fun watching the youth worship through games, songs, and sharing.

One of the things our Youth pastor talked to the teens about was their daily devotional habits.  He asked the teens if they read their bible each day and waited to hear from the Lord or if they merely read a passage to check devotionals off their daily “to-do” list.  He set up a 40 (or possibly 42) day challenge in which the teens will read a focus scripture and commentary each day.  It was suggested that the teens read the entire chapter that includes the verse, rather than just the verse.  The teens are then to read any additional commentary they may have about the passage and reflect on what the verse meant to the original audience and what it means today.  Finally, the teens have been invited to journal what the Lord showed them each day and then apply it.

Because I am apparently unable to refuse a challenge in 2011, I signed on for the challenge as well.  I will be including my journal entries here as my daily posts (killing two birds with one stone!).

Here we go!

Lake Baptism

Once a year Cypress Baptist Church holds a lake baptism at Cypress Black Bayou Park.  The park has camping, a small zoo, and is located on the bank of the Cypress Black Bayou lake.  This year’s lake baptism was held yesterday and I have to admit O Brother Where Art Thou came to mind more than once when we were on our way to the lake.

The beach area at the lake has several picnic tables and grills.  There is a large sandy area for play that leads into the lake.  The kids enjoyed themselves swimming in water much warmer than our lakes ever reached in Michigan.

(This is Linden explaining to me how hot it is)

After time for play, Pastor Fream started the baptism ceremony.  There were 5 people being baptized this year.

Pastor Fream and the 5 people being bapized this year

This was the first time I have been to a baptism that was not at a church baptismal.  It was a very nice service and a great day.

Random Thursday Thoughts

I think I will take a little time today to post about schools and church.

For those of you who don’t know, Tim will be teaching at Southwood High School in Shreveport this year.  He will be teaching three classes – Senior honors composition, Freshman honors composition, and a senior composition course.  There is a possibility that he will also be helping out with the speech/debate team as well.  I think later today we are all going to drive over so the kids and I can see the school.  It’s about an hour south of where we live, so Tim will be commuting yet again.  Of course, down here we don’t have to worry about commuting in the snow!

As for our kids, we are going to homeschool them again this year.  Rebecca will be in 8th grade, Timothy will be in 5th grade and Linden will be in Kindergarten.  Tonight is the kick-off meeting for C.H.E.F. (Christian Home Educators Fellowship).  There are a few more regulations for homeschooling here than there were in Michigan, so we are going to learn all about them this evening.  The local CHEF group appears to be pretty active – they organize monthly field trips, have park days, and host standardized test dates.  In the next few days I will post a little more about our upcoming homeschool year.

I also thought I would include a few thoughts on our new church.  Cypress Baptist Church is located in Benton, Louisiana, about 20 minutes from where we live in Plain Dealing.  It is much larger than Faith – around 1400 members.  Youth Sunday School classes are divided up by grade for preschool through 6th grade, so all the kids in Linden’s class are heading in to Kindergarten this fall and all the kids in Timothy’s class are about to start 5th grade.  Rebecca’s Sunday School class is for girls in 7th and 8th grade.  All of the Adult Sunday School classes are studying 1 Samuel.  However, each adult class has a different study guide, depending on age/stage of life.  For instance, the class Tim and I attend uses the study guide for parents.

We weren’t really looking for a church this large, however, it seems to be a good fit for our family and it meets a number of criteria that were important to us.  The church is growing, carries very little debt, is mission-minded, and has an active youth group.  Some upcoming activities for teens include – weekly girls’ bible studies, 5 more trips to Six Flags, and a mission week.  Upcoming activities for youth include a local swim day and a day trip to two water parks in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

I think I have all the bugs worked out for posting pictures, so I will try to take some more today while we are out and post them this weekend!