It has been a couple of weeks, more like a month, since we returned from our trip south... and yes I STILL HAVE BAGS TO UNPACK...
Taking a crew like ours on a trip takes weeks of prepping and weeks to recover from... but we are always thankful we went...
We are hopefully on the upswing after a week of sickness ( a little bit of stomach and a whole lot of fevers and coughing) All the while, we had our 6 nieces and nephews here... Those poor kids... It probably wasn't the most fun week for them and I am praying that they don't all catch what we had :( Not the welcome home I wanted to give my sister... They did get a lot of cousin time, but we weren't able to venture out a whole bunch... Thankful for family time none the less... And today, I am off the couch after my 103.3 fever yesterday and feel SOOOO much better, Thank God~
So even though I haven't even had a chance to post any holiday pictures... (Blogging just hasn't been top on the priority list as I work on 2 kids with college applications/scholarships, homeschooling, working, church, MEND, trying to keep a large home running, babies, toddlers and everything in between...) I wanted to get a chance to document our trip south...
After of course an almost an all nighter on my part trying to get everyone packed and the house sort of cleaned up, (because that is what always occurs before a trip around this house) we headed out with both vans to head towards Oklahoma! We sold our old white van to a friend from our old church... It was fast and furious while there seeing lots of wonderful friends...
Goodbye old white... you served us so well! We brought home 4 kids in you! (That is a CRAZY thought to me... half of our kids)
Most of the Tiews and Hintz kids... missing the oldest few... What a gift to see friends from 20 some years ago... They were in our very first small group as a married couple. Lula is the best cook on the planet and the visiting was wonderful for us and the kids! It was so sweet to be able to pick up right where you left off... And so sweet to see the kids do the same... Treasured friends... Such a gift!
Jojo and sweet Lilly... friends for life!
Anna had such a sweet bond with our neighbor in Oklahoma Miss Barbara... They used to sit on her back porch and visit daily and literally Anna cried knowing she would get to go see her on this trip... so so sweet! I remember before Miss Barbara's house was sold to her, I would literally pray for the right person to buy it... and she was for JUST THE RIGHT PERSON. Someone who could handle the noise of a lot of wild kids and wouldn't mind toys strewn everywhere:) When we would return from vacation, she literally said that she had missed the noise... We miss her:) She was the gift of a perfect Oklahoma neighbor!
The kids of River Bend South... We were so grateful that kind neighbors agreed to open up their home for a quick gathering of our old neighbors... I am one to ALWAYS get to know my neighbors, and we really had special ones in OK... It was such a treat to visit and let the kids run around together... These friends have the most AMAZING yard full of fun things for kids... It was so sweet to watch the all explore together like old times... Another gift!
Sweet Host Shelley and dear friend Tricia... That Faust crew is ALWAYS so very gracious to allow the Hintz crew to barge right in, take over, eat them out of house and home, and in the midst of it all shower us with love and affection! We are so grateful! We were so blessed to hang out with these small group friends and catch up on all the details of life... so so needed! Man, I miss my ladies lunches and times together... this was another huge gift to my heart!
After Oklahoma, I headed to Dallas for the leadership Conference for MEND... The picture above is when we gathered at the closing at the Garden of Hope for Prayer and singing. It was so special... the Leadership Conference was different in many ways than most years. It is the 20th Anniversary year for MEND and it was a blessing to my heart to see how this ministry, that HUGELY blessed me in my heartbreak, all began. It is always a gift to be with those that truly understand and to share a mission to help others through their time of hurt. Focusing on others needs always helps your own heart.
While I was in Dallas, the kids and Greg shared a couple extra days with GRANDMA AND GRANDPA HINTZ in Houston... What a treat for them! I joined them Sunday morning and we were so blessed to be able to celebrate Hope's 8th Birthday with Texas family... including GRANDPA and GRANDMA HINTZ, Aunt Moge and family, as well as Aunt Lisa, Uncle Dale, Maddie, and Megs. It was a party Hope was so happy to enjoy! She even got her pick of cakes... strawberry with strawberry frosting!
We had delicious Texas Barbecue, played lots of games of old maid with Grandma and Grandpa Hintz, enjoyed sweet time visiting Great Granny, played yard games, and really cherished the time that we had together. Louis was even able to make a special trip, on his own dime, to fly down to see his grandparents between his Feed My Starving Children Mobile pack events. It was so nice to be together... a gift to our family heart! Unfortunately, we took this picture before Louis arrived... otherwise it had everyone in it:)
More friends like family! Some of our first and dearest couple friends from when we were first married, the Stocktons. So much talking and catching up... We share much in common with kids going to college for the first time this coming fall, homeschooling, and precious friendships... Mary is one I always go to, to glean from her knowledge and wisdom... She is a superstar homeschooling mom and never does ANYTHING halfway... I often wonder where she finds the energy or time... But she does it all with beauty, grace, and a loving and JOYFUL heart for her friends and the Lord... an inspiration to me for sure! Sweet life long friends... a real gift!
And then we were off to Louisiana... part 2...
Maybe by the time I get to posting that... I will have our bags unpacked... :)