Friday, May 29, 2015

God's blessings abound, as always!

Whew!  What a whirlwind of activity we've been caught up in since my last post!  What with vacationing and Ashley's birthday and field trips and school wrapping up and Katie's birthday and Katie's graduation and the girls all switching rooms and EVERYTHING, it's a wonder any of us are still of sound mind!!!

First, let me say, our vacation was absolutely spectacular!  Nothing major went wrong (a couple of minor things, that's all); we were able to spend time with Chad's mother and stepfather on two different occasions; we got to see everything we really wanted to; and, the girls and Chad saw an alligator on their walk one day!  :-)  We arrived Thursday evening after a short delay in our connecting flight.  Praise the Lord, the flights went well with little turbulence.  The girls were disappointed to see rain spattering our plane windows and expected to feel a slight chill in the air to accompany the raindrops.  Boy, were they surprised to feel the humidity that hit us when we walked outside the airport!!!  The looks on their faces!  It only rained that night and some on Monday afternoon, so even the weather was nice to us.

We spent Friday at LEGOLAND, and enjoyed every minute of it.  All the thousands, probably millions, of Legos that went into building that theme park!  There were Lego statues and frameworks everywhere and lots of fun activities to enjoy.  I think my favorite memory of that place was when we got to meet Wild Style (Lucy) from The Lego Movie.  The younger girls took pictures with her, and then we turned away to find my husband who had walked into another area.  Next thing we know, Wild Style is tapping Dale on the shoulder and inviting him to take a picture with her.  When he declined, she pretended to be sad and held out her arms for a hug!  He really couldn't say no!!!  Yes, we caught it on camera.  A sixteen-year-old boy hugging Wild Style!  Gotta love it!

After we left LEGOLAND, we drove another thirty minutes to my in-laws' house, and they took us out to dinner.  I so much enjoyed spending time with them and watching the kids get to know them better.

Saturday was the day for the 25th Anniversary of the Dream Village.  The festivities lasted a couple of hours and included food, fun, fellowship, and friends.  We got to meet Bill Sample's wife, Kate, along with several other recipients of the Sunshine Foundation's generosity, as well as the CEO of LEGOLAND and the two wonderful people who keep the Dream Village running, Rich and Wanda.  The honorees who have donated so much time, money, and love to the Dream Village were called forth to receive special recognition, plaques, and engraved bricks.  They asked some of the dreamers to help cut ribbons to dedicate certain areas of the Dream Village; Dale got to cut the ribbon at the mini golf course.  The climax was the unveiling of a special mural in the Bill Sample Memorial Garden; the miracle makers at LEGOLAND had created a Lego replica of a touching photo of Bill Sample (creator of the Sunshine Foundation) and one of the first children he helped.  It now stands as a constant reminder of the man who had a heart big enough for all children.  What a tear-filled, happy day for all of us there!  If you get a chance, please visit the Sunshine Foundation webpage and read all about this wonderful organization and the people who make dreams come true.  This is a truly worthy charity which blesses the lives of children and their families with vacation trips or home therapy swimming pools or whatever they need.  You will be glad you learned more about them!

We finished up Saturday with a trip to the Atlantic coastline and a stop in a HUGE mall.  Emily got an early birthday present (which she knows about but hasn't actually received yet---her birthday's in June) when we went into the American Girl store.  Yea!!!

On Sunday, we drove about an hour or so to attend the same church where my husband Chad attended right after he got saved.  This was a huge blessing to him and a great experience for us.  There were still some of the same people there whom he remembered from nearly 30 years ago; I think Chad enjoyed his walk down memory lane.  The service was wonderful, too.  You know how sometimes going to church on vacation can be a bit really don't know exactly what kind of church it will turn out to be!  We felt right at home in the service; the only difference (besides the accent) was the big screens up front for displaying announcements and song lyrics.  We left feeling thankful to our God for allowing us to enjoy a homey, Bible-filled preaching service, even though we were many miles from our home.  After church we went over to my in-laws' house again, but this time we had an awesome barbecue.  I stuffed myself with pulled pork because nobody makes pulled pork like they do down South!  We relaxed and visited with them for a long while, long enough for Chad to take the girls on a walk down to the lake and spot an alligator.  We finished up the day with a quick swim in the Dream Village Olympic-sized swimming pool, since we had the village grounds to ourselves.  Even Dale got to go in the water because Bill Sample had the foresight to design and build a pool-accessible wheelchair.

On Monday we went to Universal Studios and had a blast!  We rode the E.T. Experience, the Simpsons Ride (twice!), Terminator: 3D, Transformers, Men in Black, the Mummy, Disaster: the Motion Picture, and lots of others.  Sooooo much fun!  The only disappointment was when Chad, Katie, and Ashley waited in line for over 45 minutes to ride Twister (roller coaster), and then it started raining so they had to shut the ride down!  Dale got a Thing 2 t-shirt and I got a mug that reads Teacher of All Things.  Our last activity there was to see the Horror Movie Makeup Show; Katie was thrilled, and the rest of us were exhausted but happy.

Tuesday was the day we finally got to go to Disney World!!!  I think we walked all over the Magic Kingdom twice.  We got to enjoy a street parade and visit Tomorrowland and take in the Country Bears jamboree.  The Monsters' Inc. Laugh Floor comedy show was priceless!  We rode Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, the Haunted Mansion, and lots of stuff.  Emily was floating on cloud nine because we got to see and take pictures with Elsa and Anna and Cinderella and Rapunzel!!!  She was almost crying with all the excitement and emotion!  On the way out, I finally talked my family into going into the Hall of Presidents.  The show centers on great moments in American history and how our nation's leaders affected our country's growth.  At the end, the curtain lifted to display all 43 American presidents---wax figures and fully animated.  What an awesome presentation!  We left before the final fireworks display, but we were fully satisfied with our Disney experience!  :-) 

Katie, our second oldest, graduates in a week's time.  I can't believe Chad and I are going to have only three still in school.  She is more than ready to be done with school for a while!  She's looking for a steady job so that she can put money aside while deciding exactly which course of study to pursue.  Katie's really interested in (and good at) makeup and style, so she'd like to take courses in that field and maybe even get a job at a makeup or beauty supply store.  Please pray for her as she makes these big choices about her future.

Dale continues to put effort into his exercises each day.  I think, now that he's seen a difference in his ability to get around with daily exercise versus no exercise, he's more willing to exert himself.  He's been working hard at finishing up each subject's PACES so that he can officially take the summer off.  Praise the Lord, he's managed, with the help of a wonderful supervisor, to do two years of English in one year and complete a biology course and social studies course.  This, along with Bible class and math, has made Dale's school year quite busy.  There were times a couple of months ago that I think he just wanted to quit.  That's another reason I was so thankful for our vacation time.  Dale worked hard during Spring Break so that he could actually relax and have fun on our vacation.  I'm so proud of his hard work and don't-quit attitude!  Next year he'll be a junior and (hopefully) have a little bit lighter class schedule.

Those of you who have taught school know how much teachers look forward to having the summer off.  I realize parents are left to entertain their youngsters instead of shipping them off to school each day---and that's not always easy!  But, as much as I love teaching and love my students, I definitely need some time off to breathe and gather my patience again, ready for the next group of students.  I'm so glad we finish up next week!!!

I hope each of you have a wonderful summer.  Whether you have big plans to get away for a while or just stay home and tackle all those "some day" jobs, use this time to draw closer to our Lord.  Remember to talk to Him each day and read His Word.  Stay faithful to church, even on vacation.  Find ways to help others whenever someone in need crosses your path.  Make our Heavenly Father smile every time He thinks of you.....which is always.  God bless you a whole bunch!

I Thessalonians 5: 15-18  "See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.  Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks:  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."