Wednesday, July 7, 2010

miles of smiles & a few tears

I planned a last minute trip to visit a dear, dear friend to "get away from it all" and also to be an encouragement to my friend.

What I expected was a trip with a change of pace, a vacation from my work-eat-sleep, work-eat-sleep routine. I expected to catch up with my friend who I hadn't seen in 2 years, learn about her new life in Colorado, help with her kids, and just plain enjoy being with my friend Danna.

What I got was all that and more!

Saturday - woke up at 4:15a to get to my 7:05a flight. Arrived in Denver at 8:30 and we hit the ground running! Danna and Gang picked me up and we headed back to the "ranch". They're currently living with Danna's brother's family who happened to be on vacation for almost 2 weeks...leaving behind 1 dog, 1 cat, 12 chickens, and a huge garden that needed water!

We arrived at the ranch and the Dumplin' Gang scattered to their usual... Kelli, age 9, loves to read. She probably read 3 or 4 books while I was there. She also loves to swing on the tire swing that creeks with an annoying sound [kerr-erk! kerr-erk! kerr-erk!]. Karis, age 6, always heads for the chicken coup: she loves to carry "Fluffy" around like a sack of potatoes!! Ryan, age 4, just loves to bug and he's got 3 sisters, so he's good at it too! Little Selah, age 2, who acts like she's 3, she loves to sing. Whatever she's doing, she's got a song going while she's doing it. [You love me, You love me, We're a happy family...You love me, You love me, We're a happy family...] One more time, Selah-baby! :0)

That evening, after a delicious dinner of Danna's famous Calico Beans, we headed to the local fireworks to meet up with a group from church. We arrived a little late so we were lucky to find a parking spot. We found the group and were warmly welcomed! The fireworks were delightfully choreographed to patriotic and other fun music, but they were a little loud for Karis - she had her head buried under jackets and blankets. She made it through like a champ and then while we were waiting for the traffic to clear out, she enjoyed playing with a sparkler from some people we didn't know. All the kids had fun playing with their new friends.

Sunday we were all exhausted from our late night and swooped into church right as the preaching began. Kelli took the two youngest down to class and Danna headed to the cry room with Karis. There wasn't a seat for me in the cry room so I slipped into the auditorium to hopefully get a blessing.

To my surprise, I not only got a blessing, but a challenge to my thinking! The speaker was just getting into his message about work. Work?! I don't want to hear about work, I thought. Here's the outline:

Get...to Work
Proverbs 6:6

I. Work is given to us...
A. As a good gift from a loving God.
B. As an opportunity to serve others.
C. As an opportunity to partner with God.
D. As an opportunity to be like God.

(Work was hard before the fall. God cursed the ground which brought thorns & thistles.)

II. In your service of others...
A. Thorns and thistles are produced easier than wheat.
B. Thorns and thistles drive you back to dependence on God.
C. Thorns and thistles train and prepare you for future service.

Application
- Some jobs are not for Christians.
- Choose work carefully...don't choose for what it can do for you but what it can do for others.
- Retirement is not a biblical term. There's only a change of service.
- Trust God to place you in the area of service he wants you in.
- Trust God to place you in the perfect timing in your work.
- I need to change my thinking from "work is a necessary evil".

Sunday late in the afternoon we headed to downtown Denver. Neither Danna, nor I had been there before so we weren't sure what to expect. We found directions online for something called 16th Street Mall. Turns out it was a fun, outdoor mall with street vendors in the middle of the road. Also turns out there was a Jamba Juice, which Danna claims Kelli is made out of, so that was our first stop! Our second stop was a bathroom for 2 of the kids. We then started to explore the mall but were quickly distracted by Karis' interest in a horse & buggy. After a short inquiry, we all climbed aboard and had a half-hour tour of downtown Denver! Everyone enjoyed the ride so we decided to end our trip downtown on this high note. Side note: as we were heading out, Danna mentioned she hadn't started to water the garden yet (this usually takes most of the day). My serious reply was, "It's Sunday! God will provide!" Even though I meant what I said, I truly did not know I was speaking as a prophet! On our way home from downtown, it began to rain, pouring rain!! Jehovah Jirah, God will provide!

Monday was possibly going to be a trip to Garden of the Gods and Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, but a call from church friends with an invitation to hang out at a pool easily changed our plans. We were all excited to get a little extra vitamin D, especially me!! That evening Kelli had a friend over and we made a little campfire and s'mores in the cool of the evening. The ranch has several pine trees in the yard, so there were plenty of pine cones to add a little extra spark!

Tuesday was the last day of my visit, so we were all a little sad. I did have a college friend come by and take me to lunch (thank you , Jeni!!) so that brightened the day for me, but not so much for the Dumplin' Gang. They wanted to go with me, of course! :) Jeni and I had fun catching up on ol' times and what we've been doing in the 12 years since we last saw each other.

Back at the ranch it got a little crazy before heading out by 3:15 to get me to the airport: little Ry Guy got his feeling hurt and spent a while in a room...; Karis collected "berries" from a bush outside to make a smoothie, but that didn't that didn't end well; and Selah ended up in tears, but I can't remember why... Kind of made it a little stressful for the Gang's mama, but somehow we made it out the door on time! We even had time for a couple of detours: Gap & Wendy's!

I was definitely sad to end my visit. I miss them all already!! I hope it's not 2 years before I see them again!! MSP to DEN seems to have decent ticket prices, so we'll see...!!

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