Saturday, June 27, 2009

Relaxing Day!!

So our day today.....was fantastic!!! It was relaxed with play time for a bit, breakfast- later than normal, then packing for a picnic lunch at the pool (while Jason did loads of laundry to catch up), then we headed over to the pool....and swam for several hours!!!!!
They have really loved the swimming lessons that we have been doing lately, and as with anything- you have to practice!!! So we did.
Daddy & Jonathan are chillin'
One of the great benefits to working at camp! Although you are crazy busy in the summer...on those rare days get to use the pool to yourself!
Andrew in mid air!
Daddy & Jonathan going down the slide!
Abigail our star of the show...and her siblings behind her!
They love their new goggles!!!! Look at that smile!
Abigail...where are all the noodles??

Well, as you can see even though we have done swimming lessons and our kids are doing great...with 7 children (and the oldest being 9) we still require lifejackets if they are in water that they can't touch in. I have been a lifeguard for way too many years (about hmmm- 16 or so). I know it only takes a second for something to happen, and I choose to enjoy my time in the pool. So that is how we do I can have at least some sanity :) a very rare thing in our household.

Tomorrow is Jonathan's 2nd Birthday, and Monday is Joshua's Birthday. Since we are leaving early Monday morning to go to San Antonio- Sea World (taking some of our wonderful summer staff with us for a mid summer trip)....we will probably give Joshua his presents tomorrow afternoon so he can enjoy them. They aren't the kind you can play with in the van on the 6 hour trip there.

So if I don't post pics before...I will when we get back! Enjoy worship time tomorrow!!! I know we will!!!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Jason & Dawn's Story

So I threw in some pics of our family over the years....of course they are in the opposite order? Well, I am not a professional forgive me.

I had a request for Jason & I's here it goes. Actually our story starts 13 years ago at a place called Wesley Woods Camp & Retreat Center in Indianola, IA. I had worked there for several years already while going to college. Now that I was teaching band in a small town I had nothing to do for the I went back to work at camp!
Jason was from a "suburb" if you like of London ( South Croydon). His mom worked at the church office and she found a flyer that talked about working at a Christian Camp for the summer. She gave it to Jason and he decided - why not. So he gets a phone call from Iowa- where in the world is that anyway??? As only God could design he is working at the same camp I would be working at. God really does have a strange sense of humor!!!!
So while working there together for the summer we of course knew each other, but not that well. I lifeguarded with him the first week, but we had a summer staff there of 35+ I still really didn't know him. Then as God would have it....I invited a bunch of summer staff to my parents house in Clear Lake, IA. So some of them decided to come and watch fire works over the lake, and they also had a fun fare too. Jason didn't want to go...I mean....looking back it does sound kind of weird...come back with me to my parents house for a while??? I wasn't worried- I didn't know him really. But as he couldn't find anything else to do over the long a last resort....he came. So there was a group of around 10? We hung out went to the fun fare, talked with my parents, etc. Even before I "noticed" parents did. My mom said he is a nice young man. Random, but hey. Maybe it was mother's intuition
So we sat down to eat some pizza and I said...I sure would be nice to meet a man who could cook (because I can't) and who would like to stay at home and watch our kids (because at the time I didn't want to stay home- I loved teaching music- but I wanted to not send our kids to daycare). Jason perked up and said- I love to cook, and I would love to be home with the kids. So later that night we sat around watching "Ma & Pa Kettle" at my parents house. We joked about being how is that for God's joke on us!!! After that we started writing letters back and forth through the "camp's letter system", and we hung out more on our time off....and then 1 week before I had to go back to teach, and he was off to tour around the US........after a long long long time.....he finally asked me out!
We spent our last week lifeguarding together, and then goodbye....Couple of weeks later I had a long weekend for Labor Day and I traveled all the way to KS by myself to see him (he was staying with some friends that had done an exchange to his church). My parents knew it was serious then. We went to 6 Flags together- our first official date time. Then we didn't see each other for months- until 2 weeks before Christmas break. We wrote loads of letters, postcards, etc. He even tape recorded him singing and playing the keyboard for me, and read scripture onto tapes too. (Am I sounding old school or what writing letters, tape recording...but hey we didn't have e-mail, and calling England at that time was $.50 a minute!) So we communicated the old fashioned way!!!!
We were together for 2 weeks before heading to England to meet his family for 10 days, and then I had to come back to the US to get back to teaching. In the mean time he breaks up with me! Crazy! But because we had already bought tickets to see each other...he still came over. Then I beat him up into submission....or just kidding......we talked and prayed, and got back together so to speak. After that we had some other visits....One in February for a few weeks, and one in April for a few weeks....and then I flew over for the summer.
But before we went to England for the summer....He front of my high school band!!!! He wrote a poem (he is the best!!!) and my students all said that if I didn't marry him they would! We were planning on getting married about a year or so from then, but after talking, praying, telling our family about it.....we decided to move it up to that summer. Then since his pastor was going to be away...we moved it up even more. My best friend said- hey don't bother calling to move it up anymore - or just tell me you are going to elope....which we didn't. From the time my plane landed (a week after he went back)...we had 6 weeks until the wedding happened.

His mom made my dress, we had a friend do the cake, another friend do the flowers, others did the "meal", and my brother DJ'd the reception. We only had my best friend- Deb, and my brother Scott- stand up with us. It was really simple, but we shared our testimonies during the service, had a skit on love during the service, and sang "Thank You" by Ray Boltz to our family during the service. It was longer than most weddings, but we thought- you know this is our goodbye to England, and peole spend good money on outfits for weddings....why not make it last!!!!

Well, that is it for now....I will have a continuing story.....later..........................

Monday, June 22, 2009

Being Camp Directors

Some random pics of the kids so you can see their faces as you read the blog :)
So some of you have wondered about what we do here at camp. My favorite myth is - "What do you do all year?" Kind of like asking a pastor what he/she does during the week- I know those of you who are pastors or husbands and wives of pastors are laughing right now because you have heard this too!!!!

So we have between 30-40 retreats during the year...since we rarely if ever do retreats in the summer, and usually not on Christmas or can do the math. We stay pretty busy. More during different parts of the year. Sometimes we have multiple retreats in a week or on a weekend. We have women's groups, men's groups, youth groups, whole church groups, boy scouts, girl scouts, school groups, college groups, you get the picture.

So we host them - which means sometimes we cook for them...check that Jason cooks for them (in the best interest of our guests!), sometimes they cook for themselves, sometimes they do activities that we lead like low/high ropes course (all about the teamwork!!), climbing tower, swimming, etc. So we have summer staff come out and help us lead those things (as well as sometimes Dawn- since these are my areas of expertise.)

We have a young lady who works with us and she is amazing. She gets paid a little, but free housing, and she helps do lots from driving the tractor, to using power tools, to painting, to keeping up the pool, to archery, and pretty much everything in between. Did I also mention she helps us keep our sanity!!!!! She is the only single person I know that can handle ALL 7 of our children on her own for more than 24 hours!!!! A lifesaver for us many times over. We are definitely Blessed to have her around. We rarely go out, and when we do it's usually because she hints to us like this.. "So when do I get to play with the kids?" Which means when are we leaving?

So in addition to hosting retreats which sometimes we can work 40-60 hours in a weekend....we also do maintenance (that would be Jason & Sarah...usually not Dawn unless it's the pool), we do the books (oh yeah, that would be Dawn), we contact groups and vendors (that is usually Dawn or Sarah), we prepare Bible Studies for weekend camps, summer camps, and staff times (that is usually Dawn), we lead worship (which is Dawn & Jason 2 times a week, and our staff a few times a week- during the summer), Dawn does the preaching - filling the pulpit for pastors (as a lay speaker), and preaching at least 2 times a week in the summer, Jason keeps up the website ( and does all the newletters, mailings, and makes slideshows & videos for the camp....of course there are a lot of other things I know I am missing here, but you get the idea of some of what we do.

In the summer we of course work much more...and we do try our best to take it easier the rest of the year because of this. We actually share our job. That way (Dawn) we can homeschool our children as well. Something we just feel very called to do & LOVE to do as well. We love having our children with us, spending time with them, and seeing them grow in God, knowledge, and in all the other ways too. Although the pay isn't high compared to most people's standards- we get free housing on site, electrics, and water- so actually our pay is wonderful!!!!

We have been at Camp URC for over 5 years now and we love it in the South!!! Except the crazy humidity year round- mosquitos in January...other than that it is great! Before coming here - Dawn was the director at another camp in IA as well for 4 years. So Dawn has been either a summer counselor, camp counselor leader, or director for over 15 years worth! Oh yeah, camp ministry is a big part of my heart. Jason and I met at camp...I will save that for another posting. Jason has been in camping for 11 years as well!!! So together...we just really love the ministry.

So for us our pre- summer is very crazy. This usually starts in March/April time....and doesn't end until August sometime. But the rewards....are amazing!!! We are able to provide a stable family life role model for our staff (some of them have no idea what "real" family can be like!). We are able to lead worship for campers. We are able to give scholarships to all those in foster care!!!! A huge part of our passion! (if you would like to help us you can donate online-

So just to give you an idea....we have campers that are healing from alcohol abuse, cutting, broken homes, friends committing suicide, abuse of all kinds, being scoffed at school for being a Christian, homelessness, those that have no family at all. Here are some examples of prayer cards we have recieved so far this year....."Help me to forgive my father for what he did to me" "Help my friend who keeps cutting" "Please forgive me for my addictions" "Help others to really see me for who I am" "Help me as I go to yet another foster home" These are just a few! We get anywhere from 80-200+ prayer cards every week! These kids are aching to have someone to pray for them, to help them out! My heart is moved with compassion for this generation that God is lifting up for HIM!

For any of you who have doubts about today's children.....I just want to say our staff members (college students) are amazing! They work all summer in the hot sun with cranky kids that fuss, fight, ignore them, and generally give them a hard time- why? Because they love God! They clean toilets, cook meals, counsel, lifeguard, fix things, take out trash, do dishes, all because they want to make sure these Children of God are able to have fun and grow in their faith! I praise God everytime I even think about it!

Well, as you can tell I could go on for a loooonnnnggg time about camping ministry. We would value each and every prayer for our camp or any camp near you! As an extension of the church it is valuable to bring the churches closer to GOD!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Trip to the Zoo

OK so out of nowhere the lion walked right past the glass- caught me off guard, but the kids went nuts over it!!!! Love those fun memory moments!

This is a favorite spot to take some pictures at the Alexandria Zoo (LA). It is a jeep that has a sign on the side...we shoot with film not with bullets. Notice Jonathan's face in the middle- no idea what he saw but he was oooing over it.

Here is Jonathan saying Lion over and over again. How cute!!!
So there is this random chair in the Lion viewing area...our kids love here are some pics...Joshua....
Love the massive tortoises eating lettuce.

And of course you can't go and not feed the 100's of fish....catfish and Koi fish too. They are so fun to watch! We love it.

It was sooo hot glad we went and got there early. Afterwards we stopped to eat at Texas Roadhouse (one of my favorites), then to do a little shopping, then home to get into the pool for a bit. What a great day off! Saturdays in the summer are our days of rest :) Couldn't be more thankful for so many blessings.

We are now into our 3rd week of summer camp and I haven't written much about our ministry, but I will try this week. It is amazing what God does here....and how HE works in our lives, but more importantly the lives of sooo many children! Blows me away every summer. What a privilege to be a part of something so HUGE!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Abigail's 7th Celebration of her Adoption Day!

So this is a picture of Abigail and Andrew the year we adopted Abigail! So cute!!!!

This is Abigail truly enjoying her carrot cake that she requested!!! With cream cheese frosting of course made by daddy!

She loves the attention. We were able to sing to her with all the campers singing too. That was fun. They all thought it was great!
First thing in the morning we open the our pj's. Notice all the pink! Lip gloss, Barbie, and even pink books!!! I think God laughs because I am not a pink type girl, and all of my girls are.

What a great day to remember that 7 years ago.....Abigail's case was finally over and she was ours forever!!!! I still remember the day we first met her at 14 months old. Etched in my brain. She was with another foster family at the time (they wanted to find a forever home because they were grandparent age), and she was so cute walking down the stairs. She spent the time teasing us. Playing like she knew she was cute, but didn't want us to play with her. Our next visit we went to Burger King with her. Then we were able to take her home for an overnight. Then after a while she moved in with us, and then...well you can read more on her - look under her full name and that post explains more.

We are just soooo thankful God put her with us. We couldn't ask for more. She is such a great help, great big sister, and so kind in her spirit! Praise God for her life, and for her in our lives!!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Our new "camp" dog and our playset

One of the great things about living at camp....we have a playset that is literally "across" the road from our home here. I can look out our window and there it is, and we spend a lot of time there playing, laughing, and having fun. Look at Jonathan's cheeky face. Yep, that's the one we fell in love with when we were sent his referal pics.

Ummm........What???? I'm the cute one around here!!!!

The furry star of the show....Licorice the new camp dog!!! Faster than? Smarter than? OK so she is cute and only 5 1/2 lbs at 2 months old right now. She has grown 2 lbs in 2 weeks!

Here is Joshua trying to run from my picture taking....but I sort of caught him. He is a fast runner!!!
So here is Abigail...swinging with Licorice....breaking in the dog for campers. She will be completely kid proof!!!!

Ok so what do you do with the new "camp" dog? Introduce them to the slide over and over and over and over.......All of our kids took several turns doing it, but Licorice didn't seem to mind.

OK this girl has no fear! I mean honestly at age 4 she rode on a roller coaster at Silver Dollar city in Branson, MO called powder keg- it shoots you off at 60-70 mph. She is crazy, but she has fun. Now if we could just get her to obey and listen....that would be great! OK so I will continue to pray about that part.

Matthew is just so cute!!! Hanging out at our camp playset. I just want to squeeze his cheeks!

Ok so this is our indoor girl- Elizabeth....and since she wasn't outside with the rest of the is a pic of her playing intently with little people, and her doll- Bailey.

So that is what you do for fun as a camp director's kid. Well, and do swimming as much as possible. This is the first year in which our kids have really taken off on this. So I have started proper lessons with them (being that I have been a lifeguard since I was 19...I have a lot of experience).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Jonathan Caleb Wright

So this is our sweet, shy, and for now quiet little man who turns 2 at the end of June. We were matched with Jonathan on August 14th, 2008. The crazy part is that God's plan once again was not the easy adoption we had pegged it to be.

You see after going through 3 years of crazy torture with Joshua, Sarah, & Elizabeth (you can see their posts under their names for more information)...we decided to do an easier adoption than go through the foster care system - again. So we decided on All God's Children International, and sent in our initial form the week after finalizing their adoption. (Normally you would have to wait a while, but since Joshua, Sarah, & Elizabeth had been in our home for years...we had an exception). So we signed up hard can it be right??? **Hey, I know some of you are laughing, and so am I!!!!

So we get working on our dossier, but within a couple of weeks we see this picture (correction...I saw the picture, and God calling us to take Hannah Grace Wright- you can see her post to know the rest of her sweet, sad, and happy story). So we booked it on the dossier...I mean we were done with everything in a matter of weeks- EVERYTHING DONE!!! Keep in mind we are camp directors and this is our busiest time of year for work, but hey, we had motivation!!

Then our sweet angel passed away...just a week before her court date. After praying about it, we were told we could be put at the top of the list again- and we did...and we got the above picture of our sweet baby boy!!! Is he an angel or what? I mean look at that cheeky type face. We knew it was meant to be. Not to mention his birthday was on June 28th...a day before our Joshua's birthday. Now one would think that with 7 children our birthdays and adoption days would be spread out...wrong!!! We have Adoption day for Joshua, Sarah, Elizabeth in March - which is not close to anything...then between May 4th-July 31st we have 5 birthdays, 2 adoption days, and our anniversary. Then between November 8th- January 6th we have 4 Birthdays, 2 adoption days, Christmas, is crazy!!!

Did I mention we had to wait until December 27th to meet him....oh yeah, got caught in the whole courts shut down for a month and a half...then they reopened...created a new government agency thing....and we failed court 2 times before we passed because of his court date in Ethiopia was December we then finally flew out December 26th- A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS to US!

So the above pic is the first time we met him. I didn't know whether to scoop him up, or cry, or what?? Crazy isn't it? You get to see your angel for the first time you are a mother of 6 other children...and yet God holds you speechless, and you can barely think! Amazing what God does through our beautiful children!!!!!

Come to find out he didn't really want to have anything to do with me at all....he kept crying at me, and the other wonderful children at HH kept taking him to his special mother. But she was so great! She kept interacting with both of us...saying mommy and pointing to me. She was smiling from ear to ear when I finally coaxed him into my arms as we toured HH.

Of course that whole experience...I'll save for another post (s). But, isn't it strange....we think our lives will go one way and then out of the blue God says nope...this is my plan for you. We were so devastated over the loss of our Hannah Grace, but we would have never had our Jonathan Caleb. How amazing is that?

In all being a mom (& dad) of 7 is crazy!!! But we wouldn't want to give it up for anything. Our home is bursting with love, crying, singing, playing, learning (we homeschool too), teasing, tickling, hugging, arguments, God's Love, praising, holding, praying, and so much more I couldn't possibly write it all down. So when people do you do it? My response - lots of prayer, and to be very honest - LOTS of GRACE too! I still wouldn't trade it for the world, and of course....we can't wait to start the process again....later this year.....who knows where that will take us???