March 30, 2011

Book #2

The second book in my 5 in 5 project at church is (or I should say "was" - I'm currently trying to finish the 3rd book, and the 4th book is waiting! How the weeks fly by!) Already Gone: Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it by Ken Ham. Ken is the founder and president of Answers in Genesis, an organization specializing in Christian apologetics, particularly defending the accuracy of the historical accounts of creation as presented in the first few chapters of Genesis.

Compared to the first book I read for this project, this one was a page turner. The author started by telling us the bleak post-Christian state of Europe, explaining that in a matter of only 2-3 generations, the European Church went from a vibrant, authentic group of believers to nothing more than a shell, only a small remnant.

Convinced that many things point towards the same thing happening in America, Ken conducted a survey with the help of a respected research company surveying 1000 20-something year olds that grew up in the church attending Sunday school but now no longer attend church. He wanted to find out why these people left the church and what their current beliefs are.

The results were a bit surprising and seemed to point out that Sunday school as we currently know it isn't working. The Church is quickly losing relevancy in America, and Ken proposed some radical explanations for this.

A verse spoken by Jesus from the Gospel of John was frequently quoted throughout the remainder of the book. I apologize for not having the exact reference at the moment, but from memory it reads like this:
If they won't believe Me about earthly matters, how will they believe Me about heavenly matters?
This became the center of Ken's argument to back up the book's thesis that the first and most important step in restoring relevancy not only to the Church but also to Christianity is to reclaim the absolute authority of the Word of God. The Old Testament is not just a collection of nice stories. You can't just take the gospel of Jesus Christ from the Bible and allow everything else to be interpreted as is most accepted and tolerated by science and society. Ken gave convincing evidence that the European Church's decline began when church officials allowed Darwin's ideas of evolutionism and the subsequent Old Earth (the idea that the earth is millions of years old) theory to be accepted as possible truth in conjunction to the Biblical account. A compromise was formed by the church when they proposed that maybe those 6 creation days mentioned in the first chapters of Genesis were not just simply six 24 hour days but could possibly be longer and thus this could help explain the supposed millions-of-years old earth.

Basically, if we won't take God at His word in Genesis, how can we take God at His word in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John?

The author spent a good portion of his book reinforcing his idea that another part of the problem is that the church leaves science -biology, geology, palaeontology, etc- up to the public schools. When kids reach middle school they begin to, even if unknowingly, face an internal conflict. Their science teachers, who look professional and wear lab coats and give convincing evidence that evolution and the Old Earth Theory is fact, seem to have a practical grasp on the real world. Then, when Sunday school rolls around, however enjoyable it may be, the poor child is exposed yet again to another cutesy portrayal of Noah's ark with adorable cartoon figures and happy little giraffes and elephants poking their heads out of an over-sized bathtub. This worldwide flood, which explains so many things like fossil fuels, sedimentary layers, and the division of continents, is reduced to the equivalent of Disney's Finding Nemo. The child questions the truth of these stories, seeing that the schools have evidence and the church has cartoon characters. The authority of the Word of God is slowly eroded in this little person's heart. They begin to see school as the place to go to learn and prepare for the real world and church as a place to go to address more abstract and less tangible ideas of morality and spirituality.

If the church, parents, and Sunday school teachers were a bit more armed with solid Christian apologetics (i.e. Why do we believe what we believe? How do we know the Bible is infallible and not just another great religious book?), we could begin to restore relevancy to the Word of God and the Church.

March 28, 2011

The Hands & Feet

It's humbling when you walk around your home and yard and realize just how much another person has done for you, joyfully and selflessly.

And it hurts to watch that person hurt and face uncertainty. So you pray and pray and make food and send texts and visit and ask God to show you how to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these people you suddenly realize you care very much for.

Then you stand by in amazement as God answers prayer and performs miracle after miracle. And as only God can do, He brings beauty out of ashes - a deepening friendship with not just the one brunette and her husband but the other brunette and her husband, too.

After all this, you find yourself standing in a warm, pleasantly crowded church fellowship hall holding a gallon of milk and two carafes of coffee. You've filled cups and cleared plates and given cups of cold water. You look around at the community you are a part of........finally. Finding your place here took more than half a decade. You came here and everybody already knew everything about you - your husband, his background, his family, where you had gone to college, where you had lived. Their names you knew from wedding invitations and thank you notes and church directories and work schedules, but connecting all the faces took years. They knew you but they already had their own family circles and friend circles, and everybody is related to everybody.

The milk carton sweats in your hand and you are acutely aware of your right bicep supporting the weight of regular and decaf coffee. Each table in the room is adorned with the cross of Christ in preparation for Easter. Each cross is draped with a purple cloth, the color symbolizing His royalty, the wooden cross symbolizing the ultimate price. A pile of large ugly nails lay next to each cross, the nails that were driven into His hands. The King of all came down to be the Servant of all. And as the room bubbles around you, it isn't difficult at all to make out the hands and feet of Jesus, right here, right now.

You see them in the plaid clad cook, calmly preparing a meal for the expected 500 people.

You see them in the benefit coordinator, the aunt of The Friend, who stuck her head out there and said, "I'm doing this" and watched a flood of community support rise up around her.

You see them in the guy wearing the pink polo pouring milk and coffee. "Whoever gives a cup of cold water..." 

You see them in the guy wearing the yellow polo taking his table-clearing duty almost a bit too seriously.

You see them in the grandpa playing with the grandson in the pink polo like his dad, the adorable little boy who always has someone vying for his attention. "Whoever welcomes a child like this..."

You see them in the neighbor spending 2 hours in the steamy kitchen doing the most thankless job - washing dishes.

You see them in your husband cutting bars, buttering buns, laughing with customers friends, serving food with Mr. Pink Polo and Miss Boots 'n' Jeggings.

You see them in Miss Jeggings (who has now shed the boots) vacuuming, vacuuming, vacuuming.

Then there's The Friend, the coiner of the phrase, "I don't want to be possessed by my possessions." All this reciprocity, all this measuring back for him.

Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.  Luke 6:38

More counting today; so much of God's goodness; so much happiness in giving....

Linking up over HERE.

#207. the free will offering basket, pressed down, shaken together and running over
#208. the privilege, yes the privilege, to serve with all the others at the benefit
#209. kids having fun with Grandma while Momma and Daddy spent the day at the benefit
#210. a girls night with the brunettes
#211. three 3 year-olds together here all day
#212. playing with riding toys in the mud
#213. a pink pedal tractor
#214. taking pictures with a "real" camera (even though it belonged to someone else)
#215. finishing books
#216. homemade buttermilk brownies
#217. all the "thank-you's".....responding with "really, it was my pleasure"
#218. remembering the first Bible verse I memorized
#219. teaching it to my kids
#220. singing the verse to my kids before bed, that melody my favorite song as a child, watching them hushed and listening intently

March 22, 2011

Book #1

I was asked by our church to participate with a group of individuals in reading 5 books over 5 weeks. Then, apparently, this group will meet and discuss ideas regarding....something....maybe children's ministry? Or maybe a more wholistic approach; what could be coined "family ministry?" To be honest, I'm not really sure. Either way, I said yes to the project because I've never really been able to say "no," and you know what? I'm glad I said yes. I'm loving these books so far. I feel challenged and inspired and informed, and if nothing else, I think I may be just a little better of a parent because of all this reading.

But on that note, reading a book in a week is currently challenging for me. Even though I've set aside the other two books I'm personally reading, and even though these books are "quick reads" and under 200 pages, it's still a big task for me - finding time, finding quiet space, remembering the few sentences I read in between interruptions, etc.

The first book I was given, Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions by George Barna, had enough statistics in the first few chapters to kill a horse. I appreciate the decades of research the author has performed, but his writing style was very scientific and, well...brutal. It took sheer determination for me to turn each page, but I got through it and I'm very glad I did.

The basic premise of the book is that children matter and should be placed at a very high priority by the Church. If children aren't reached with and personally affected by God's truth at a young age, the chances of them embracing a biblical worldview later are slim - not impossible, because nothing is impossible with God, but statistically slim.

The author then turned the tables a bit, directing his attention and thesis style writing on parents. He made a very strong biblical case for what most of us know, parents are called by God to be their children's spiritual teachers. It's not the Church's job, although the Church does right in assisting, coaching, and encouraging. And it's not gonna happen by default because our trendy, humanistic, and self-centered culture is a very strong foe of the biblical worldview.

I get this. I know this. I feel this. I have a sense of the large-ness of this God-given task. And I try....and seemingly fail....and I try.....and seemingly fail.....and I try, try, try.

For me, this is the point where Barna brought it home. Whether it be me at home with my kids, whether it be my husband and I crammed in a little Sunday school room with a dozen 2-4 year olds, or whether it be church administration deciding what theme to have for Vacation Bible School, the spiritual training of children needs to be addressed intentionally. (There's that word again.)

Instead of throwing a bunch of cute Bible stories out there and hoping something sticks, Barna proposes setting goals, learning objectives if you will; identifying what's worth teaching our children, what's gonna put them on track for developing a biblical worldview. And at the core of intentionality is evaluation: what's working, what's not working, what can we do better?

I really wish I still had the book in front of me because there was a couple sentences that struck me. I've already given the book back to church and am working my way through the second book so I will attempt to paraphrase:

Think about the plan that you have for your sales calls, housekeeping, meal prepartion. You wouldn't think of going about such things without a plan. Isn't your children's spiritual training worth just as much, and more, preparation, planning, and intentionality?

I'm not entirely sure what is the best way to strategically address my children's spiritual training. I'm always trying something......and always wondering if I'm doing enough or doing it "right." I feel inadequate. And you wanna know the dirty secret about being intentional?  It's exhausting.  But here's what I tell myself: I'm exhuasted anyway. Why not be exhausted for the right reasons?

To finally wrap up this wordy post, I have to "quotes" from my Mother-in-law:

God didn't call you to be successful. He called you to be faithful.

God doesn't call the equipped. He equips the called. (In my words, God didn't give my husband and me these precious kids because we have what it takes to raise them up to be Godly citizens.  God will give us what it takes to raise these kids because He gave us these kids.)

March 21, 2011

The Wink

I have big goals for today.

My list includes grocery shopping in the "big city" an hour away in one direction and picking up the meat we had processed in the little town 15 minutes away in the other direction.....and all of this with the kids in tow. Plus, I want to stay on top of my usual Monday tasks.

One short little paragraph, just a few words, adds up to a big day for this mom.

But I will not be so short-sighted as to miss God's winks today.


Yesterday in church, our worship director shared a short devotional written by the president of Youth for Christ. I tried to find the actual devotion online but couldn't. I am assuming it could be found in THIS BOOK that has this great description:

FRAGMENTS Pieces of everyday life. The seemingly mundane and normal. But....what if you viewed the fragments of life with a divine perspective? You would be amazed to discover how God uses moments throughout your day to encourage, challenge, teach, and draw you closer to Himself.
In this book, you'll find yourself inspired by Dan's ability to connect The Almighty and His divine plan with the fragmented occurences of life. Work, marriage, family, and play all provide a unique perspective on life and relationship to God. Dan's honest reflections and confessions will challenge you to see how God is already at work in your life.
Anyway, the simple devotion talked about how this busy president would catch his wife's eye across a room during a gathering. Their eyes would hold for a second and she would wink, telling him without words that she was holding him in her heart. In a similar way during hectic days, he learned to notice God's "winks" at him - wordless moments in the day where he knew God was expressing His love. A brilliant sunset, a baby's innocent stare at the grocery store - just little things that this man learned to see as evidence of God's love for him.
This is not deep theology here, nothing earth-shattering here.....although God's love for us did nearly shatter the earth when Jesus hung on the cross, took his last breath, and the earth shook, tearing the veil to the Holy of Holies in half, allowing us all to experience the presence of God. (Matt 27:50-51)
God's love for us is bigger than we can fully grasp, being ultimately displayed in His Son dying the worst of deaths for us. Yet God is also intimately personal, expressing His love in a million little ways every day.
I'm on a journey to find just 1000 of those things.
So I'm counting a few of His winks today:
#201. a family walk on a springy Sunday afternoon ("springy" being used in it loosest sense here)
#202. watching the joy of tots throwing rocks in ditch water
#203. much less snow that a week ago!
#204. a cooler week to slow the melt down and reduce/prevent flooding
#205. mud!
#206. grass starting to peek through the snow!

March 14, 2011

Just Another Day

I was bent over the bathroom floor wiping up a "potty incident" that the little girl had. She was just too excited from fighting dragons to make it to the bathroom in time.

As I sop up the mess and comfort myself with the knowledge that urine is basically sterile when it's fresh, I hear a loud rumbling go by the door. I glance up, throwing damp hair -that I've been meaning to dry and comb- over my shoulder. Jack-Hammer is running through the house at Mach 3 dragging a laundry basket -that I had just put away- with a small wooden wagon in it. On top of that he's doing his typical warrior cry at the top of his lungs.

The Hammer does a U-turn in the living room and runs by me again, a streak of blond hair and boyishness. I clothes-pin the girl's blanket cape back around her shoulders as she re-arms herself with dragon fighting equipment - a paper towel tube and a toy cordless drill.

I sneak into the laundry room to fold a few more articles of clothing while the two knights clamor into the laundry basket together. They admire their "boat" for awhile, but after a few seconds The Hammer apparently mentally connects this "boat" with water skiing. He grabs his frayed rope (some crafty/sewing decorative rope thing he claimed) and manages to find me

"Wanna ski, Momma?" he inquires while I quickly match a few more socks, mentally decide which vegetable to serve tonight, calculate how much longer I can safely put off making supper, and wonder how in the world his face got so dirty.

"Momma's workin' right now, baby. Maybe later?"

"No you can ski now!" he sweetly, yet urgently persists.

My mind races as I survey the stack of seed catalogs laying on the counter (I was going to place my order today), wonder why putting away the washed blankets is such an insurmountable task, glance up at my freezer inventory to see what to supplement the not-enough asparagus with, and ponder why the husband isn't home yet.

"Okay. I'll ski." I grab a pile of socks, boxers, and underwear as he hands me my end of the rope. "Ski me to my bedroom!.....uh....Hit it!"

He runs as fast as he can "dragging" me with his "rope" and successfully deposits me in my bedroom. I hurriedly put away the laundry and request to be skiied back to the laundry room.

We keep up this game, getting a surprising amount of laundry put away and even a few jugs filled with distilled water from the basement.

The little girl has found something to color during all this but now decides it's time to head upstairs. They two blondies march up to their rooms discussing something and I seize the moment to dry my hair. I revel in the "silence" and heat of the hair dryer and pretend I can't make out the indignant cries of the little girl.

It's just another day, just another wash cycle, just another "potty incident".......

that despite the occasional "inconvenience"

and exhaustion

and daily dying to my own wants

......I wouldn't trade for anything.

Counting towards 1000 again today with the group of almost 250+ over HERE.

#186. playing outside 2 days in a row
#187. silly childhood adventures
#188. remembering my childhood
#189. understanding where my mom was coming from
#190. planning gardens with friends
#191. slowly, slowly, slowly learning more about cameras
#192. one small section of the house almost clean before I head to bed
#193. coughs, fevers, and congestion are gone
#194. challenging parenting books to read
#195. that God gives wisdom to those who ask for it (James 1:something - I can't remember right now)
#196. that His power is perfected in weakness (1 or 2 Corinthians something - sorry, just typing this quickly so I can sleep)
#197. the little girl voice praying for breakfast and lunch
#198. Jack telling Ava "You pretty."
#199. Ava saying, "I'm going to Africa on my snowmobile."
#200. this day, today, these moments......that I shouldn't hurry through

March 13, 2011

Those February Days

It's been awhile since I've posted one of my "month in review" posts. Normally I fight against the flying-away of time, but the early months of the year are an exception. I am always just so glad when those months are over.

The other day I was taking a little time for some much needed photo organization. I shamefully have not backed-up months of photos and my poor hard drive is whimpering at me, "Really!?!? Do you need this many photos?"

As I paged through all the photos, I smiled at all the little things I had forgotten and decided to post some memories.


This post has been sitting as a draft for nearly a week and something I read today gave me the needed oomf to reflect, ponder, and post.

"...I have noticed that Americans are often so busy that they take little, if any, time to reflect on their experiences."  -George Barna Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions
Part of the reason I take so many pictures is because I want to remember and reflect upon my life. And I have become increasingly aware that it is the day-to-day, the ordinary, the seemingly mondane that is the most important and the most likely to shape who I am and who I become.

And because there appears to be no way of resurrecting any order to this post, I'm just gonna stop rambling now.....

In February, we blissfully enjoyed a week of warm weather.  Hats and mittens were shedded almost as soon as I attempted to velcro them in place.

And we thought it best to enjoy the snow while it "lasted."

(this picture is totally blown out, I know, but there's something about it I love)

But we were sadly mistaken that this was the last of the snow. And because we watch little to no live TV and avoid "the news" even more vehemently, we were completely unaware of the President's Day storm that settled upon us in a furry.

I never cease to be amazed by my husband's tireless snow-removal efforts. He slowly and steadily pushes it all back, in the dark and in the cold, refusing to let the snow gain ground, marking out our spot of order amidst the chaos. It's a picture to me, you know, of who he is and who he's called to be for our family.

So when we finally resigned ourselves to the fact that winter was staying a bit longer than last year and when the weather was too formidable to be outside, we busied ourselves indoors...

making new recipes...

like Zucchini Swirl Bundt Cake, which was a delicious way to use up some of that frozen shredded zucchini...

(that recipe and a million more great savory or sweet zucchini recipes found HERE)

and having countless daily "tea parties" with the most amazing wooden food toy set  in the world.

March is here now.......and tomorrow promises melting temperatures!

March 9, 2011

Expo Review

I took shockingly few photos of our first Matco Tools Expo. Maybe it was the constant stark lighting, maybe it's because I have a hard time settling for "snapshots," or maybe I was just taking a vacation from everything...including taking pictures.

Plus I had to stay on top of a strict regimen of spf 15 application, rotating on the pool lounger from front to back, swimming in the pool, and soaking in the hot tub. It was important to get that all in before it was time to get ready for each evening's festivities.

Anyway, per request of my few regular readers, here are a few moments from Tool Expo 2011: Own the Streets.

The view we woke up to on the first morning overlooking the spa.

Heading out for a morning walk on the resort's nature trail, I looked back to see the rear of the building.

The back of Rosen Shingle Creek Resort and a little peek of Shingle Creek itself. What you can't see is the wing containing 3 ballrooms, each ballroom larger than a super Wal Mart. Two ballrooms were occupied by Matco, one for the actual Expo with all of the suppliers and vendors and one for the various conferences, seminars, and events Matco held. Plus the resort included 4 outdoor pools, tennis courts, a volleyball court, a fishing pond (?), multiple restaurants, and shops.

Part of the headwaters of the everglades.

We enjoyed street painter entertainment to kick off the National Business Conference.

As an encore, he painted Einstein, each stroke to the beat of music - upside down.

One of the 2 not-so-great photos we actually got of us together. This one was taken by a garbage can, meaning I propped my camera on the trash can, set the timer, and ran. Attire for the entire event was mostly this casual, and here we are headed to our Regional Awards Ceremony.

And here is Matco Tools, nearly 3000 total in attendance, having lunch on the terrace.

I did tour the Expo floor a few times with the husband. Air hammers, sockets, diagnostic equipment......well, I just don't understand those things, but it was fun to see so many vendors and so many distributors excited about quality products. Adam spent a LOT of time drooling over the new Benchmade knives Matco will now be supplying, and we both simply fell in love with the latest food line to join the Matco team: Jittery Joes coffee.

March 7, 2011

These Things

I'm seeking to align myself with Truth today.

Post-vacation blues and recovering from a nasty virus are threatening to pull me into a dark, unproductive mood today.

Those of you who read my previous post are likely wondering, "Really?!?! You're still feeling down after returning from such a short vacation?" And I'm wondering the same thing. How can post-vacation blues last longer than the actual vacation?

And I dunno. Having the husband come home from work earlier than expected on a Kerkhoven Friday and then having him around all weekend perked me up. But waking to the sound of the tractor blowing more snow this morning and knowing that today is the day to get back into the swing of things felt like more than I could stomach.

Today's laundry day.

Library books are due.

I need to menu plan for the week and likely grocery shop, although I may have enough in the house to postpone the shopping which always consumes so much time.

The house needs some serious tidying and cleaning after 4 days of attempted unpacking and being sick.

It's time to get back on the boat with teaching obedience and respect. The calls from the tots are reaching a new decibel and degree of whine.

I'm behind on my Bible Study, which hopefully meets tomorrow after so many snow days and me missing the past 2 make-up days.

I haven't worked-out in a week and half. I had just started seeing results before we left on vacation. I had been feeling the results for weeks, but actually seeing results was great.....and then we left on vacation on I got sick......and I don't feel my lungs can support an extended period of increased heart rate today. But some Pilates would be a good way to ease back into the workout routine and reduce tension.

The forecast is sickening. More snow?!?!?! Enough said.

So I could drown myself in a slough of negativity.......or I could empty myself before God and say, "Here is my day. Here is my to-do list. Here are my hands. Fill me up with You."

And the little girl notices pink highlighting on a page of the Bible laying in my lap. "What's that Mommy?"

So I read it out loud and it says:

Whatever things are true
Whatever things are noble
Whatever things are just
Whatever things are pure
Whatever things are lovely
Whatever things are of good report
If there is any virtue and
If there is anything praiseworthy
Meditate on these things.
Phil 4:8

So I know I how I feel. I know what my circumstances are. But I'm going to align my thoughts with other things.

These things:

#166. a great first Tool Expo
#167. a few days break from winter
#168. safe travels
#169. earlier sunrises!
#170. later sunsets!
#171. today's sunshine - I will enjoy it while it is here and not think about the forecast
#172. toddlers wanting lots of cuddles from mom
#173. finding someone to switch with us for Discovery School duty at church so we could quarantine ourselves at home
#174. two nights free at the Shingle Creek Resort
#175. almost completely unpacked...already?!?! That's a personal record.
#176. Nanna & Poppa taking care of a sick Jack-Hammer
#177. Nanna & Poppa watching both kids the full time we were gone
#178. NyQuil
#179. Vicks Vapor Rub
#180. that my feelings and circumstances do not have to control me
#181. that I succumbed to the nasty virus after Expo
#182. the quiet of sick babies taking a much needed nap
#183. enough food in the house to postpone the shopping trip
#184. homemade ice cream cake
#185. 2 quiet hours over the weekend to myself to watch a movie nobody else wanted to watch

March 4, 2011

Reality Check

I'm not sure exactly when it hit me.

Maybe it was at the Starbucks in the Orlando International Airport when we were told they couldn't toast the bagel my husband and I were sharing. I mean, we've shared a toasted bagel at the Starbucks in the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort for the past 3 mornings.....and got a discount for being with Matco Tools....let's not break the trend just yet.

Maybe it was when the clouds parted in the sky and we opened our sleepy eyes to look out the little airplane window to see that snow had replaced all the green of the seemingly miniture landscape thousands of miles below.

Maybe it was when our waitress greeted us at the Applebees in St. Cloud for our lunch/supper stop on the way home. I couldn't even look at her. No waitress will ever be as adorable or as friendly as the one that served us poolside for 3 days in Orlando. I mean, really, how can anyone expect to be as good as someone who also works at Disney World as Snow White?

Maybe it was when the virus that my body had bravely been fighty off finally won and the near 10 hours of traveling home found me congested and coughing.

Maybe it was when my feverish, congested, coughing little boy wrapped his arms and legs around me in a welcome home hug.

Maybe it was when my little girl climbed into my lap and wouldn't let me get up.

Maybe it was when I did a horrible job of making my husband's favorite meal for his birthday. Homemade alfredo sauce is pretty boring without fresh garlic. That's what happens when you menu plan weeks in advance, I guess, and when you stick to a strict policy of "If we don't have it, we don't eat it. No more trips to the store."

Maybe it was when I had to clean up after the little boy who pooped in his undies for the second time today. (And on a side note, I often wonder if I should have anyone take a look at I mean, it's the weirdest consistency I've ever seen - and even though I didn't do patient care for an extended period of time, it was long enough to get a general idea.)

Maybe it just slowly happened over all of the above.

But either way, after a great, albeit short, vacation/business trip to Orlando, I've crashed back to reality and have the worst case of post-vacation blues I've had since visiting the husband in California during the Marine Corps years.

Don't get me wrong, I'm so happy to be with my kids again. The first morning of our trip after I sent my husband off for training on diagnostic tools, I went for a walk along Shingle Creek with the alligators. (I didn't actually see any, but there were signs everywhere warning me and apparently Shingle Creek is the headwaters of the everglades). The lighting was horrifically stark so I really didn't get any pictures that I would admit to taking. Along my walk less than 24 hours after saying good bye to the kids, I already missed them and was a bit unsure of how to walk without pushing a stroller. But a Tool Expo is something I would never take young kids, too...or even older kids for that matter.

I'm not entirely sure just why this trip was so great. I mean, the last time my husband and I traveled out of state.....well, I'm not a shy person......we conceived twins. And I haven't been somewhere warm during the winter for even longer than that. Even though I've been very commited to smiling and not-complaining my way through this never ending winter, it was so great to be somewhere sunny and 80+ degrees.

Maybe it was the bonding with our district, getting to know the other distributers in our area and their wives.

Maybe it was the near 15 hours I logged in at the pool.

Maybe it was because I was just so proud of the husband for making it into the Top 200 distributors of the nation.

Maybe it was the great service, the beautiful resort, the good food.......

Either way, I'll never forget our first Matco Tools Expo.

Now back to reality.  Where's my snow shovel?