Monday, June 23, 2014

Weekend Gratitude: Family, Friends, and Community

Hello friends!

What a busy weekend we had! I can’t even remember everything we did around the house and running errands. However, I did capture three events with my iPod camera.

On Saturday, my cousin-in-law Debbie and her husband Michael invited us for a party at their new house. 

I love, love, love Debbie's home.  She is so artistic, and I love to get decorating and design ideas from her.  

I brought a layered bean dip (quickly devoured), and a cake slathered with vanilla yogurt and sliced strawberries. 

Debbie found the idea for a backyard water “blob” on Pinterest.  She duck taped two sturdy tarps togther and filled them with water. The kids had a blast. That’s my youngest daughter, and my oldest grandson, who turned four that day.  

On Sunday after church, I dropped my youngest son off at a birthday party, and then joined some of my other family members at Bart and Judy’s house for a picnic with a bunch of people from church. I always enjoy chatting with friends old and new. As is my custom, I took several minutes to shoot photos in their backyard. You can see some of my other pictures from previous visits here and here.


I took a much needed snooze for an hour in the afternoon, and then it was off to the monthly dinner outreach at a local motel which also functions as a transitional home to a lot of people who don't have any other place to live. There are also some totally homeless folks (who live in the adjacent woods) who join us each month. We serve a full meal to several dozen people, and provide bags of toiletries, laundry detergent, and sometimes clothing. Folks enjoy the live music and short inspirational messages, and there’s always a place for the kids to enjoy crafts and stories. My jobs are distributing name tags to our volunteers, bringing a few table decorations, passing out wet wipes so our guests can wash their hands, and greeting people. Simple stuff, and that's just fine with me. One of my adult daughters launched this monthly outreach last year, and I’m so glad that some of my younger kids join us to serve each month too. (See here for all of my posts on homeless ministry.)  Side note: a lot of our homeless friends are missing teeth.  I was talking to my dentist about this the other day as she was cementing a crown back onto my tooth. (I lost a battle with sticky Mike & Ike candies.) I don't have dental insurance myself, but I'm thankful that my dentist charges me only half price. I'm wondering how we can make health & dental care more accessible to our friends. Maybe at one of our dinners we could offer a health screening clinic with referrals, as well as assistance applying for government and non-profit resources? I need to research this a little more. Any ideas, folks?  Always plotting...

Setting up ahead of time
(I'm in the purple shirt, upper right)
~~ photo credit, Amber Carroll ~~

Thank you, Publix, for all of the desserts

Naomi & Micah (my kids)
Steph & Andrew


Julianna and friends

After the outreach, four of my kids had youth group in Baldwin Park. I dropped them off, then headed over to see my son-in-law so he could check out the belts on my van before our big two week 2,500 mile road trip that starts Friday. I’m taking the four youngest kids to Maryland (to see my dad and my sister Barb’s family) and Pennsylvania (for a family reunion with my aunts, uncles, and cousins on my mom’s side). On the one hand, I am delighted to be traveling again with my kids and seeing as much family and interesting places as possible. We loved our three week jaunt last year.  (You can find my photo journal of our trips here: Traveling North). However, I am feeling bittersweet since my sweet mom won’t be there to enjoy it with us since she passed away last summer after we got home. Amid the emotional jumble, I’m going to have a hyper busy week. I have to register one son for public high school for the first time (transferring from the private school where I taught last year). We’re throwing a a triple birthday party tomorrow for my oldest daughter (27!), my oldest grandson (4!), and my second son who will turn 15 while we’re on our trip. We’ve got a whole lot of laundry, house cleaning, shopping, and packing to do in the next few days! Say a prayer for us, will you? Traveling mercies and all?

2013 road trip with six kids -
here at Luray Caverns in Virginia

I'm grateful for this weekend: for family, friends, good food, a home, and a chance to give back to the community.

How about you?

Virginia Knowles

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