Thursday, January 31, 2013
A week and a half ago I was able to once again go down on my own (while Joe and the kids stayed home) to Epicenter- the Cru winter conference for the Northeast. We had a good group of students from Maine who went and my job during the conference (other than leading our students) was to photograph the conference. I was nervous about going this year because I was still feeling so crummy with the pregnancy. Thankfully there was another photographer helping me so I was able to have decent breaks and time off. I'm not sure how I would have done it otherwise because while I enjoyed the conference I was totally exhausted. I missed a lot of time with students and friends after the evening sessions because I just needed more sleep than normal. But it was worth it because our students loved it and learned so much about the Lord and surrendering their lives to Him. And no matter how tired I am there is just nothing like worshiping with a group of almost 500 others who are truly seeking the Lord and His glory! Here's just a glimpse of the conference:
An amazing speaker for our women's time...who also happens to be my dear friend and my roommate for the week!:) Women! Lots of them...opening up about hard stuff late at night...grace and truth at it's best! Digital outreach...giving a few hours to reach out in new and creative ways to those near and far!
I can only pray that the Lord would build upon what He did during this conference to change these students and those around them forever!
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
We celebrated Eli's 3rd birthday back in November. 3rd birthday!! How is that possible? But it is and we did and it was quite the little adventure. I had ideas for his birthday party, but he had his own ideas and once this kid gets something in his head there is no stopping him. He declared he wanted a "choo-choo" party and didn't waver for a second. So a train birthday party it was! Joe and I thought it would be fun to take family and friends on an actual train ride for the party (and Joe loved the idea of having the party somewhere other than our house). But even though we moved the party up a few weeks we still weren't able to find a single train in Maine (other than Amtrak) giving rides in November. Bummer. But still loving the idea of having the party somewhere else Joe somehow convinced the operator of one of the steam trains about 45 minutes from here to allow us to have Eli's party ON their train while it was parked for the winter at their station. It really seemed like a great idea. So while they were still operating in October we went to ride the train and check it out. It was quite clear that the caboose (with the coal stove) was not going to be large enough for our party. But the operators agreed that we could use both the caboose and the passenger car. The passenger car wasn't heated, but it had seats and tables and would work great for the majority of the party (and guests could go in the caboose to warm up). That was the plan...yes it was. But that's not exactly how things went...
With a van load of food and decorations (and VERY specific plans in my head of how everything would go and where everything would work best) Joe and I arrived at the train station about an hour early to set up. Except that nothing was right. The station itself was kind of a shambles (and that might be generous), and while the caboose was there the passenger car (where I had planned the whole party) was not. Yep...it was just the caboose hooked up to the open-air car (which we couldn't access because the stairs were gone). The conductor was not helpful. Turns out they just weren't able to park the passenger car next to the caboose. Don't ask me why he didn't call to let us know (we never figured that one out). With a short amount of time before everyone (including my parents with the birthday boy) arrived we thought about just scratching the whole thing and having the party back home, but most of our friends and family were already on their way. So we scrambled big time and I did the best I could to keep it together (despite all the wonderful, detailed plans in my head that were no longer possible). The conductor set up a ladder for us (yes a rickety old ladder) so that we could use the open-air car and we just didn't the best with what we could. If was fairly chilly so most everything had to be inside the little caboose, but we did our best. And with guests arriving I was still running around trying to set up and keep the party together. Even the pictures seem a little all over the place to me...I just didn't have the time or the energy or the space (because we were all so crowded) to really get the pictures I wanted.
But do you know what? Eli didn't care. He didn't even notice. Nope...as far as he was concerned HE had his 3rd birthday party on a real TRAIN!! He loved it and so did all of the other kids. He loved it so much he couldn't stop talking about it!! And while it wasn't at all what I had planned the most important part was that Eli loved it, that he felt celebrated, and that he had a birthday he will never forget!
The train birthday cake that my mom and I spent many hours decorating...I don't think I ever would have finished it without her!
The only picture I managed to snap quickly of Eli handing out the train tickets! By the way, those are the caboose beds in the background!
Lily in the "eagle's nest" of the caboose! Train cookies and goodies! With a few of his friends in the open-air car!
A part of the party (and Eli's Lollipop Express) the kids went on a little lollipop hunt around the train! Eli and his best friend Micah (yes, his best friend is a number of years older than him)!:)
That day they were doing repairs on the steam engine and as a special treat they drove it right past our party...which Eli LOVED until they blasted the horn right as it went by him! This was my one favorite picture...and favorite moment of the party...Eli was so amazed at everyone singing Happy Birthday to him...you can just see how special he felt!