Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Activities

My friends Virginia and Rachel posted links on their blogs to this great summer activity calendar! It goes from June-August and has a fun activity each day. Mondays are cooking, Tuesdays are crafts, Wednesdays are science, Thursdays are games and Fridays are making a concoction of some kind. Our June has been crazy and next week I am tackling potty training with Noah, so I plan on starting in July with a fun activity each day. We've had a great time this summer meeting friends at the park, going to see the free movie at the theater and enjoying storytime at the library. But that still leaves hours each week for us to fill. I hope to use some of the things in this free calendar! I may not stick to it exactly and I may pull something from June and use it in July. I am excited to have some new fun activities to do and I thought you other mommies might like it too! Click here and scroll down to find the link to the calendar and then a link to the directions and supplies needed for each activity! Enjoy! And comment and let me know if you plan on using it too!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Follow the Leader

This past week was spent in Savannah, GA for a World Changers project. Jack was once again the Project Coordinator and the Worship Speaker. I absolutely love watching him lead. He handled problems with grace and patience (like when a middle schooler played in the brand new fountain at Savannah State and ended up pushing the bronze tiger off the top of the fountain into the water! And we got the line of the week from the Corporal of the police "Son, fountains aren't for playing in and tigers aren't for sitting on!"). And as always it was a joy to sit under his preaching. There really is no preacher I love to learn from and listen to more.

But this year, we had the added fun of having many from our church also come as leadership. Our friend Jack Griffin, who the students call either Old Jack or Fat Jack :), was the Construction Coordinator. He did an amazing job organizing and leading all of the construction for the week. We also brought 4 supervisors, the first aid coordinator and 2 runners. 

And our students came as participants this year to the project Jack was coordinating. Our student ministry is very unusual. It is incredibly diverse- we have different races (the kids like to say we're the church that brings black kids to World Changers! :) ), different socio-economic groups, we pull from at least 4 different high schools and at least that many middle schools, they have different interests and styles. But they are incredibly unified- this group of very different kids loves each other and they enjoy each other. There really are no cliques (which is highly unusual for a student ministry). In fact, one college student whose family recently joined the church came with us to World Changers. She commented that she had never experienced such a loving and unified group before. Not only that, but they are a fun group. The laugh and cut up and have a great time.

Wednesday night was a Block Party in the neighborhood where the work was going on. Food was served and several students from another church were serving the food. Apparently they were tired of serving and told their leader they weren't having fun. Jack was sharing the Gospel with someone at the block party, so when the leader of this group was upset his kids weren't getting a break somehow it was me who got blasted with his anger. I didn't know what to do, but I knew I needed to get someone to relieve his kids before he blew a gasket- so I just looked over to where the ERBC kids were hanging out and yelled, "Hey, I need help!" Our students jumped up and came running- they jumped right in and started serving. And not once did they ask for a break. Not once did they complain about how hot it was. And later that evening, Jack and I were talking with a man who was not with World Changers, but who was at the block party. He asked Jack if he knew where some of the kids were from and he started pointing to the ones he had been watching. Jack told him they were his students and the man said he had just been sitting back and watching and he was very impressed. He said there was a student who just walked around and picked up trash, and another who was engaging the neighborhood kids. The block party was hot... very hot. And after a long day of working on roofs the kids were tired. Every church group left the block party about an hour and a half early except our group and one other. And they never complained... not once. They never asked to leave. In fact, we had to force them to go or they would have stayed and kept working.

And they are very hard workers. Let me tell you, at the end of the week several people figured out that the kids from Ewing Road were Jack's kids and they stopped him on Saturday morning as they were leaving to tell Jack that the kids from ERBC on their crews were the hardest workers on the crew. Then, on Friday afternoon word got around that there was house that they were afraid was not going to get finished. The leader from one church wanted to get on the road Friday night, and though he told Jack they'd wait until everyone came in from working he didn't wait- he drove to the worksites and took his kids off the worksites (and yes, it was the same church from the block party and the same one whose kids broke the fountain and who had a kid fall off a roof!). So now we have a house that is far behind and may not get finished and it no longer has a full crew working on it. I bet you can guess what our students did. They were all showered and were resting after having finished their houses. But they got up, put their work clothes back on and went back out to the worksites and stayed until the house was done.

Our students also love Jesus and have a passion for His name. Sunday morning we were talking about the trip. Several of our students expressed regret that the roof they were working on was such a big job. They wanted to work hard and complete the roof for the homeowner, but they were disappointed they didn't have more time to share the Gospel with people in the neighborhood! How awesome is that!

I was so moved by what I saw in our students last week. It is a testimony to their parents. It is a testimony of their walk with Christ. But it is also a testimony to their leader. I am sure Jack is not what every church wants in a student pastor, and I am sure there are things he can improve on. And I know there are student pastors who may do things differently than he does or those who have different ideas about what student ministry (and a student pastor) should look like.  But this I know... He has made an impact in the lives of the students of ERBC. He has led them to and shown them Christ. Our students were different than many others last week. They stood out in their attitudes, in their service, in their unity.  They reflected Christ- they shone brightly for Him. I know this is mainly because Christ has so changed them, but I also know it is because they have seen Christ shining in the heart of their leader. Students follow those who lead. And our students have been led in the right direction- to the foot of the cross- by a leader who loves them, invests in them and who is passionate for the name of Christ.

If anyone from ERBC reads this blog, you can be proud of your students- they represented you with excellence. And you can be proud of the adults volunteers who helped lead the project- they served tirelessly and always with a smile. And you can be proud of your Student Pastor- he led with excellence, he preached with passion and he has invested in the lives of your students who shone brightly with the Light.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Father's Day

So this Father's Day was spent with a broken AC and a night in a hotel. But on the bright side, we enjoyed some wonderful family time and fun in the hotel pool. I love my husband and I love most watching him be a dad. He is so great at it. I am so grateful for the way he fathers our sons. I know they will grow into godly men and wonderful husbands and fathers because of the incredible influence he is. Jack, we love you more than words. Happy Father's Day.

Becoming a daddy for the first time!

A Daddy 2 times over

A Daddy 3 times over!

And on this Father's Day I am also very grateful for the two other dads in my life, my dad and my father-in-law. Thanks for loving me, Dad, and putting up with me in those pesky pre-teen years! Thanks to a dad like you I knew just what I wanted in a husband. I love you!

And Daddy B, thanks for accepting me and loving me. Thanks for raising the man who I love- you done well, sir! You have been there for us whenever we've needed you these past 10 years and we love you!

4 generations of Blankenship men!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Changers In the News

This week we are in Savannah, GA where Jack is coordinating a World Changers project. This year our students are with us. It's been a very, very, very, very, (did I say very?) hot week! But God is moving and it has been amazing. Today we spent some time with some media in the area. Jack was interviewed as was one of our students, Kryston, who told everyone in Savannah that she was here for Jesus! Way to go Krys! Everyone who was interviewed did a great job- they talked about Jesus and Him being our motivation.... but you know the media- most of it was edited out! Check out the stories!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Think Like Keith

Memorial Day weekend, Jack and I got the sweet opportunity to attend a World Changers Summer Staff Reunion. I've gone to a World Changers project every summer except one since 1994. Jack also went to World Changers as a participant in high school and then he served on summer staff in 1997 and 1998, he took a group to two projects in 1999 and then 10 years ago in the summer of 2000 we served together and fell in love on summer staff. Since 2000, we have taken groups, been associational coordinators, ministry coordinator, the Project Coordinator and worship speaker (Jack) every summer except 2004. All this to say, World Changers holds a place near and dear to us.

This summer, World Changers is 20 years old and to commemorate that milestone there was a reunion. We really enjoyed seeing many friends from our years at World Changers. But for us, the sweetest reunion was with our friend Keith Loomis. Keith was one of our bosses in 2000 when we served together. We don't know why, but for whatever reason, we really bonded with Keith that summer. He did not train us nor was he the national staff assigned to our team nor was he a project coordinator, but we bonded with him none the less- we just fell in love with him. We asked Keith to help officiate our wedding the next summer. Over the past 9 years our paths have crossed several times and thanks to the invention of facebook, we've been able to keep in touch.

A few months ago, Keith was diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer. He's had brain surgery and several rounds of chemo. We had not seen Keith since his diagnosis and were so excited that he was coming to the reunion. We were not disappointed. It was such a joy to see him and talk to him. We do love him so. He showed us pictures of his three boys- one a senior at Auburn, one a freshman at Samford and one a sophomore in high school. And as we talked, Keith shared more about his cancer. He told us it is terminal- there is no cure and they cannot eradicate it. They can only hope to contain it. Jack asked him how long he will have chemo and Keith told him the rest of his life. The chemo keeps the cancer in check. So far the chemo is doing it's jod- he's had MRI's and the cancer has not spread.

And as we spent time with Keith, I was so moved by his attitude. He looked at me and said, "It's ok, Carrie. God is blessing through this. And I am not concerned because He is sovereign." And later, as we were saying good-bye, we told Keith we were praying for him. And he said, "I just want you to pray that Christ is glorified. That's all that matters. Whether He takes me home soon or I live much longer, I just want Christ glorified."

I don't know what to say. I was so moved, so challenged, so touched. Believe me when I say that it was very evident that Keith meant every word that he said. He was not just saying the "right" things... he really meant them.

And so, Jack and I have adopted a new mantra.... Think Like Keith! Whenever we face difficult things we are just going to look at each other and say, "Think Like Keith!" If Keith can face what he is facing trusting God and seeking His glory, then so can we. No matter what challenges we may face God is sovereign and He is love and He is good and He is infinitely deserving of glory. That's what Keith believes, but it's also what Keith lives out.

Christ is glorified, Keith. He's glorified in you. You are bringing glory to your Savior and pointing all of us around you to Him. May we follow in your footsteps in glorifying Him. We love you Keith! Thanks for pointing us to Jesus.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Fun in the ATL

We love living near Atlanta. We can be downtown in about 20 minutes. So today when the boys were off the chain and full of energy, I decided we should pack a picnic and head downtown to Centennial Olympic Park. We had a great time! The boys played on the very neat playground, we had a picnic and then we decided to play in the Olypmic Ring Fountain (this was totally unplanned so we had no swim suits- Noah was stripped down to his diaper and Caleb took off his shirt and just got wet! Hey, what's childhood for anyway?). I forgot the camera, but took some pics with my phone. Enjoy!

Noah looking pretty cool on the playground

Caleb is having fun!

Mommy and Noah (I love this one!)

Siah loved the swings

Checking out the fountain

 Caleb squeals with delight!

Caleb LOVED the fountain!

Noah was only happy if Daddy held his hand

Daddy and two wet monkeys!

Friday, June 4, 2010

9 Months Old

9 Months old? How is it possible Josiah is already 9 months old?

Josiah is such a sweet, sweet, easy going baby. He thinks Caleb is hilarious and laugh and laughs at his biggest brother. He is army crawling all around and still rolling all over, but he is very close to crawling. He's getting up on all fours and rocking and moving one hand and one knee. Before we know it we will have the baby gates over the stairs again.

Today was his 9 month well visit. He's looking great! Josiah is tall like his brothers at 28 3/4" (75th percentile), but he is nowhere near as big and chunky as they were. Josiah weighs 19 lbs 3 oz which is just in the 40th percentile! In contrast, at this same age Caleb was in the 75th percentile and Noah the 85th for weight. I guess Josiah will be our beanpole.

He is a joy to be around and everyone he meets is rewarded with a smile. He is consistently saying Da-Da (of course!). What blessing he is to this family! We love our Siah-Monkey!

Just for fun, here are all three monkeys at 9 months old!