Monday, November 7, 2011

Temporary Strength.

My life seems to define the word "temporary" these days.

My job is "temporary" and will be over soon.
My time with my kiddos is "temporary".

My living situation is "temporary". One week I live in Raleigh, the next Wendell.

I am a completely Type A kind of girl. I have lists and plans and thrive on organized chaos. I hate not knowing where I'm going to be three paychecks from now. I hate not knowing what to do about my living situation come January.

Some days I want to be a teacher for the rest of my life. Some days I don't want to be a teacher for another minute. Even my decisions seem to be temporary!

Eden will only be a baby temporarily so I have to soak up her cuteness and her hugs and kisses as much as I can now.

My girls will only be in Raleigh temporarily because the next two years are going to fly by faster than the last two years did...and that makes my heart so heavy.

Everything is temporary.

And I am made for eternity.

Those two things don't exactly mix.

To move on to another tangent, the loneliness that is creeping into my soul is overwhelming.

I've said before that I don't have a best friend. I never have. I have lots of good friends, but I don't have that one person that I can call at any hours of the day, every day. Those girls that had that one friend in middle school that they spent every waking hour with...I used to make fun of them. I really did. I didn't get it. I liked knowing that I had A LOT of friends and not just one or two. A piece of me regrets not deeply investing now.

I sit in a room with eighty-eight children all day every day. I can only share a piece of myself with them. It would be wrong and unhealthy to find my identity in "being a teacher" because if that were true, then days like today--where they don't listen and don't care and are just all-out RUDE--would be the death of me. To have half conversations for almost five hours a day can wear out a soul. Especially when there is no one to help rejuvenate you.

You're probably wondering why I titled this post "Temporary Strength" if all I'm going to do is whine all night.

Well, people have always said that I'm a strong person. Some have said it for physical purposes, others for emotional, others for spiritual. I've always laughed because I don't see it. I see my flaws when I look introspectively. I see where I am lacking and what needs to be improved and I calculate how to do so.

It's hard. Every day.  The lack of genuine conversation. The lack of a true support group. The feeling of being the outsider or the third wheel.

I know I am blessed. I know I am supported. I know this...but knowing and feeling are two different things.

I am going to allow my lack of strength to take over for a moment, and I'm going to be weak and sink in humility for a second.

I need a support group to love me and encourage me. I need friends that love Jesus and can point me to Him. Friends that are present and in my life. And at a stage of life where my schedule is the exact opposite of everyone else's...that doesn't exist.
I need prayer so that I can desire and seek to be filled by Him instead of trying to find my identity elsewhere.
I need to accept that He made me this way and no other way because His plan is perfect.
I need to accept that I am doing what He wants me to do, and I need to renew the faith that this is where I am supposed to be...because my soul is longing for bigger and greater.
I need to find joy and not just contentment.
I need to remember that I am fighting the good fight and to not back down when outside forces tell me differently.
I need to remember that the right thing to do is never the easy thing to do.




I need to broken again because then He can fix it and put everything back together in the right place.

I know that sounds so weird and I know what I'm asking. It doesn't matter how many days come between me and my depression-filled months...those memories of that defeat and heartbreak are never far away.

But I also know that I can keep scraping the bottom of the barrel and always come up short...or I can be put together perfectly and let things work themselves out.

Any strength that I can find within myself with only last for a few moments. Strength that is built elsewhere will last a lifetime.

I am out of strength. Just add that to the list of the things that are temporary.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Heavy Heart.

I am not a morning person. I never have been, I doubt I ever will be.

It amazes me daily that I was made to be in a profession that requires me to get out of bed before the sun. Most days I say that I'm up before Jesus, just to make a joke out of it.

One thing that I am thankful for with this early morning job is the sunrise. Every day I see the world begin anew. The birds are waking up and singing praises; the trees dust off yesterday's dew and seek the warmth of the sun; the grass is thankful for the bright sphere rising above it to wipe away the cleansing dew and begin a new day.

On Tuesday, I led my kiddos through the "Word Olympics". We had so much fun. There was paint, food coloring, water, jump ropes, digging for treasures...I had a blast. I walked away covered in dirt, water, sweat, and paint, but my kids had a blast and they learned so much. I didn't care that I was gross, because my children learned something new on Tuesday. I could see it in their eyes.

At the end of the school day on Tuesday, my principal stepped into my room with news that broke my heart.

When I took this position, I knew that there was slight chance that it would be a temporary position. Everyone assured me to not worry about that, there was no way that it would be temporary; I would be here until June.

This is not the case.

I will be leaving my kiddos in January.

I will be leaving the school that raised me, the teachers that formed me, the principal who guided me.

The children who are the reason that I get out of bed every morning between 4:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. will no longer be in my life in January.

This is a crappy reality to comprehend.

I have to leave the teachers who are mentors, the teachers who are friends, the staff who have become guiding lights through this insane process of first-year teaching.

This. Sucks.

As soon as I heard the news, that "little voice in the back of my head" said, "I've got you. Remember that I've got you." I am deeply struggling to listen to that voice right now.

This morning, as I'm sitting at my desk, typing this blog entry, the sun is coming up over the practice football field. There's dense line of oak trees on the opposite side of the field.These trees are glowing with the promise of a new day. The grass seems to be dancing in the wind, waking up to face the heat and the children. My children are starting to straggle into their seats as the tardy bell approaches. I see on their face that they are sleepy, but I also see in their eyes that they know they are here for a purpose: to learn and be educated.

It's my job to teach them and to educate them.

So as the light blue sky is being caressed by whispy white clouds, and the bright green trees are simply a silhouette to a beautiful morning sunrise, I will remember that my purpose is greater than my pain.

I will not be giving in to the bitterness and the defeat. I will continue to stand in front of my 87 children and tell them every day that they are loved, that they are important, that they are smart, and that they are kind.

I only have until January to teach them everything important in life. But every day, I have sunrise to remind me that mercy is new every morning, and that this position was God-breathed and He has me in the palm of His hand.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Believe and I Worry.

I believe in praying big.
I believe that when I pray, I am speaking to a big God.
So big that He created the heavens and the earth.

I believe that He wants us to pray big.
I believe that He is kind and loving and gentle.
I believe He hears every word that I say. Every word that I say to Him or to others. I believe He knows every thought that goes through my head.

"Indeed, the very hairs on your head have been numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."
Luke 12:7

I believe that He pays attention to me so closely throughout the entire day that even as I shed my hair worse than my puppy does, He still can, at any moment, tell how many hairs I have on my head. He can also tell me how many hairs I have ever grown on my head. I believe He pays this close attention to me out of love, because He created me in love and I believe He will never stop loving me.

This summer He called me close to Him. He has pulled me to sit at His feet and listen. He has pulled me into His lap to learn to trust and to be comforted. He has put me in places where I am alone so that I only have Him to cry out to. This summer He has provided my every need in the moment where it has needed to be met.

When I was in a car accident in June, He provided friends who stepped up and gave me rides to work.
When I was in need of a car after mine was declared totaled, He provided multiple family members with willing hearts to share their vehicles with me so I could continue going to the doctor and going to work.
When I didn't know how I was going to buy groceries at the end of the spring semester, He provided a gift card to Target from a friend to commemorate graduation. It was just enough to buy a week's worth of food until my next paycheck.
When I needed rest more than anything else, He had already provided wonderful bosses who let me take time off after my wreck.
When I couldn't fully dress myself about my wreck due to injury-based physical limitations, He provided a mother and sister to help me.
When I needed time alone and someone to talk to, I always seemed to have an errand to run. An errand whose drive was just long enough for me to scream my unhappiness into "the void" and move on with my emotions before arriving to my destination. Even when "no one" was listening, it amazed me how much better I felt.
When I contracted pink eye, He provided wonderful parents to pay my bills and fill my prescriptions, even though I'm "on my own."
When I needed a full-time, grown-up job after graduation, He led a principal to call me, even though I hadn't applied for this particular position.
When I asked for outrageous things to be a part of this full-time, grown-up job, He gave me all of them, just because He loves me.
When I prayed for peace harder than my lungs pray for air, He took control of the situation, manuevered it out of my hands, and gave me a peace so chilling I questioned the state of my physical and mental health.

I truly believe that this summer was pieced together so that I would learn to trust in Him. This summer was the beginning of my adult life and I believe that it was used as the foundation of the rest of my life. When building a foundation, one needs to trust that the foundation will carry whatever weight is put on it for the remainder of the time that it is asked to stand. Trust that no matter what storm blows or activity proceeds, the foundation will continue to be strong.

"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30

I struggle with trust. I have seen trust broken more often than I have seen it kept. I have seen friends betray loved ones and I have seen promises dismissed. I have seen people forgotten.

And yet, there is this Savior, who asks me to get out of bed every day and remember Who He is. Remember how great He is. He asks me to believe and to trust that every day He will remember me. Every day He will love me. Every day He will cherish me. Every day He will guide me. Every day He will provide for me.

Every day, He keeps His promise.

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father."
Matthew 10:29

My biggest fear is that one day He will go back on His promise. My biggest fear is that one day He will forget me. My biggest fear is that one day He will let me fall to the ground. My biggest fear is that He will stop loving me.

But He hasn't broken a single promise in thousands of years.

Not only that, but He slaughtered His own Beloved Son to bring me to Him.
He turned away from His boy so that He could look on me.
He watched as His Son was torchured...
As His Son was whipped...
As His Son was chained....
As His Son was spat upon...
As His Son was dragged...
As His Son was mocked...
As His Son was crying out...
As His Son bled...
As His Son was pierced with nails...
As His Son hung dying...

so that He could look on me.

"Then Jesus said to his disciples: 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat. or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable are you than the birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will He cloth you--you of little faith!"
Luke 12:22-28

While the Lord is showing me His favor daily, I continue to worry. I worry that He will forget me. I worry that I will go hungry. I worry that someone may not like me. I worry about there not being enough hours in the day. I worry about being able to properly educate my students. I worry about paying my bills because they're due before the check comes.

I worry, and the Lord laughs.
I worry, and the Lord waits for me to finish freaking out.
I worry, and the Lord shakes His head with a smile on His face.
I worry, and He replies...

"Rebekah, allow Me to love you."

My prayer through this entire summer has been, "I am expecting You to show up. I am expecting You to fix this. No Sir, this is not a request."

Here I am again. Sitting at His feet. Pleading into His eyes to love me, comfort me, hold me, provide for me, show me how big He is, show me how mighty He is, show me how beautiful He is, show me how deeply He loves me, show me how true He is.

"Lord, I'm expecting You to show up."

Let's see how He does it this time...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Aunt Sheri's Spinach Dip.

Whenever my dad's side of the family gets together, we do pot luck style. Nina provides the main dish and a few side dishes, but every one else brings in other side dishes, desserts, and appetizers so that we can feed our small army of a family.

One day, Aunt Sheri brought along a plate of spinach dip.

She had to have put crack in it. Or heroine. Or something. It was just. so. good.

I went straight up to her and begged for the recipe. She giggled because it was so simple. Only 4 ingredients.

Now that's what I call easy.

1. 16 oz of dried spinach
2. 16 oz of sour cream
3. One packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Dip
4. 12 oz of water chestnuts

Here's how you make Aunt's Sheri's WONDERFUL Spinach Dip.

Gather those ingredients.

Chop the dried spinach.

Throw the chopped spinach,

the sour cream,

and the Ranch Dip all in one bowl.

Then take your water chestnuts (be sure to drain them!!!),

and chop those up even more than they already are.

Throw those in the same bowl and stir, stir, stir!

Note: Gradually add in the spinach. Depending on the juiciness of your sour cream and the amount of water in your chestnuts, your amount of spinach needed will vary.

Once you're stirred up and perfect, put onto a serving dish to serve immediate, or refrigerate to save for later.

I served it with Pretzel Chips and carrots, two of my other favorite things.


What would you use to serve your spinach dip? I am hosting a party soon and plan on whipping up some spinach dip, but not everyone likes veggies or something salty! Help?


I came home the other night wearing a very sad face.

It had been a bad day at work, and I wanted the world to know it, so I wore it on my face.

However, when I came home, I came home to this face

And also to this face

Which made me put on my happy face.

Then Ava Michelle and I put on our men faces and changed the face of the mantle.

These two picture faces were hung without a tape measure, but with a ball of yarn, a hammer, and some screwdrivers.

Then we hung some more picture faces

Go Wolfpack!

This clock face is now hanging in our hallway face.
Don't worry, Ava Michelle got it on clearance, 75% off.

Then we changed the face of our dining room.

Thanks Kara for this wonderful print! I love your face!

While Ava Michelle and I were changing our apartment's face, we came across this face.

I am now wearing my "grossed-out" face.

After we wore our men faces, a bunch of other faces showed up at our apartment face.

Gordo came over and didn't like me capturing his face.

Then this face came home. She's a crazy face.

So Alecia and Gordo combined their faces to give me one picture face.

Pretty soon after, this face came walking in our back door.
I have missed this face. Nick went home to Yankee Land, and now he's back in the South Land, and I'm wearing my happy girl face.
He was greeted by a lot of screaming girl faces.

Alecia then said to Ava Michelle, "I'm gonna kiss your face."

I then told the apartment that I was going to go to sleep.
And Nick gave me this face.
And I went to bed with a smile on my face.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Prayer.

Dear Lord,

Thank You, thank You, thank You from the bottom of my heart for each and every one of my girls, my grandgirls, great-grandgirls, great-great-grandgirls and for all of the generations that I may not have the blessing to know.

Lord, thank You for their smiles. For the way that they light up a room.
Lord, thank You for their laughter. I love that it is one simple way that You show me just how different they are.
Lord, thank You for the way that they pray like You're right there beside them.
Lord, thank You for being right there beside them.
Lord, thank You for making them stronger than you made me, and thank You for strengthening me through their love and kindness and through each one of those smiles that I get to witness.

Lord, out of all of the beautiful girls that You formed perfectly and placed on this earth, how did You know that these one-hundred-and-thirty-some were the exact ones that I wanted and needed in my life? I'll never understand it.

Sweet Father, I ask that You break them, like You broke me. Father, break their sweet hearts for the things that are not pleasing to You. But Lord, do not stop there!!! Rebuild these hearts, Lord! Rebuild them perfectly to plead for the things that You love. Rebuild them for Your Kingdom. Strengthen them Lord so that You can use them in mighty ways.

Lord I ask that You are a lamp to their feet, just bright enough to know that You are right there Lord, and You're not going anywhere.

Daddy, I pray that You refine them through the fire. We both know how hard that is and how much work it takes. We know how much it hurts. Lord, I know that You put obstacles along the way: temptations, pain, sharks, mountains, jagged rocks, broken glass, lions and tigers and bears, OH MY! But God, I also know that YOU are at the finish line!!! I know this Lord! I know that when we come out of each trial and temptation, that You are there to pick us up. I know that when we finish, screaming in pain, crawling towards you, saying:

"Daddy! Daddy! It hurts so bad! Everything hurts, Daddy!"

I know that You pick us up and carry us! I know that You kiss away every tear, You clean every scrape and cut. You wash away every drop of our own blood. I know this, Father! I know it!

You look at us and say, "Beloved. My sweet girl. My darling. Daddy's here. Daddy never left."

"But Lord, I didn't see You!"

"I was right here, baby. And I have never stopped loving you. I'm going to fix this."

Lord, refine them. Make them Yours and Yours alone. Don't allow the distractions of tin foil take their eyes off of the mountains of silver and gold you offer us freely. Wrap Your great, vast, loving arms around them. Father, please, please, please don't let go!!!

Father, use their smiles and their laughter. Use their sass and their stubbornness. Use their gentleness and their determination. Use their desires and mold them new ones! Teach them how to hang on to each other and to You. Show them how to walk blindly, because it is only then that they can truly learn how wonderful, how beautiful, how amazing, how awesome, how incredible, how unspeakably good You are. Use their many talents, and ask them to use some of their weaknesses too! Show them that You are mighty, and that You are powerful, and that, more than anything, that YOU LOVE THEM!!! Lord, take them out of their comfort zone and then hold onto them so tightly that they know they are not alone, but that You are there, and that they are only standing there because You have them wrapped in Your strong arms.

Sweet Savior. Beautiful Father. Precious Redeemer. Almighty God.

I did nothing. I did nothing for three years. We both know this. I did nothing, and You still blessed me with these smiles, with these cheeks to kiss, with these girls to hug, these hearts to love. I will never, ever understand it.

But Lord, if You give me nothing else for the rest of my years, I will completely be content.

You gave me You, Lord. And because You're more generous than I can fathom...You gave me them.

Thank You.


To my girls:

I write this with tears streaming down my face thinking of your beautiful faces and all of the blessings that I have received through each and every one of you. These tears come from knowing our Savior and from knowing you. I pray this prayer and many others for you daily. I have each of your names written in various places where I can see them and pray for you, by name, daily.

Know you are loved more greatly than you will ever comprehend.

I am blessed to know you, humbled to serve you, and overjoyed to love you.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Zack Put a Ring on It!

I worked at my home church's Vacation Bible School a few weeks ago. While I was at supper just beforehand, I received a number of text messages and a voicemail from my friend Zack.

"What are your plans Sunday 4-7? I'm planning a surprise for Nat."

"I am so wide open! How can I help?? This is exciting I love surprises!!!"

I knew immediately what was happening.

Zack and Nataleigh have been dating for years. Pretty much since we all became friends. We met through college and Campus Crusade for Christ and because of similar personalities, opinions, mutual friends, it wasn't long before I was calling them two of my best friends.

I knew that Zack and Nataleigh were planning on getting married. I knew that it was going to happen sooner or later. But to know, or at this moment think, that it was finally going to happen, I was giddy with excitment.

I called my sister. I called my mother. I started doing a little happy dance at church and told two of my next door neighbors and the woman that I was working with during VBS.

I called Zack to get some more details about what was going on. Turns out, when I finally got him on the phone, he was actually with Nataleigh and we had to play a series of 20 questions for me to get all of the information out of him.

They were heading to the beach for the weekend with some other friends and Zack was planning on getting down on one knee on Saturday night. Zack was trying to plan a surprise party for Nataleigh for when they got back from the beach on Sunday so that she could show off her ring to her best friends.

This was Thursday. Now all I had to do was wait for a confirmation text from a very excited Nataleigh that it had happened.

It took everything in me to not text Nataleigh that weekend just to "see what she was up to".

Then finally, finally, I got a text from her reading, "I SAID YES!" with a cute picture of her and Zack displaying a beautiful diamond ring on a very important finger.

The squealing and the jumping and a few tears showed up while I was at my house. Now all I had to do was wait 24 hours until I could see her and the ring and Zack and jump up and down with her.

The next day I drove through a monsoon to get to Nataleigh's hometown to her best friend Shannon's house for the party. But seeing Zack and Nataleigh was completely worth it!

Like I said, this was a surprise party. Nataleigh thought that she was coming to Shannon's house so that she could see Shannon and her other best friend Jamie. She had no idea what was just beyond the door.

Hugging and celebrating with friends!!!

All of the girls there to celebrate with Nataleigh and Zack.

The boys.

The very happy couple!!!

The ring!
Nataleigh told us that although she and Zack had been talking marriage for a bit, he never asked about a ring.
For having no advice or guidance, he got her exactly what she wanted!
I guess they really are meant for each other :)

I was cheesing the whole time I was at the party. I couldn't stop giggling! I was just so excited!

My favorite couple!

I cannot explain how excited I am for you two, or explain how much I love you!
I cannot wait to watch the rest of this pre-wedding journey unfold and be there for you both on your big day!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Puzzle Pieces

I stopped by my next door neighbor's house last night before heading back to Raleigh to my apartment. We discussed life and a bit of this and that, nothing too heavy.

Somehow, the fact that I cook for my Bible Study girls every week was dropped into the conversation. My next door neighbor thought that was a sweet thing to do...until she heard I cook for thirty grown-ups every week like it's nothing.

To me, it isn't a big deal. Just double, triple, or quadruple the recipe and then serve.

I love cooking for people. It allows me to know that my girls are eating their vegetables. It also is a fun way for me to serve others and love people, because let's face it, few college kids actually cook...Ramen noodles, spaghetti, and Lean Cuisines are a big part of our diets.

While I was talking with my neighbor, she said something that I've been processing ever since:

"Reba, what is the Lord going to do with that? I mean, most people can't do that. Much less, love doing it."

So true. This sentence is so true. I love how the Lord made so many different people. I love that none of us are the same. I love that He takes the time to craft His children and come up with billions and billions and billions of different fingerprints.

As I have been thinking about this statement, it makes me do a bit of a happy dance about my future. I am already seeing so much of my personality come out as I prep for my first teaching job. Yes, you read that right. Looks like I'll be using my degree after all. This girl got herself a teaching job.

Well, actually, this girl didn't do anything...The Lord gave this girl a teaching job, and she's so excited about it, she can't sleep.

But cooking for 30 people isn't a skill that can be truly utilized as a teacher. I've incorporated singing, tap dancing, creative writing, bad cartwheels, laughter, and many other things into being a teacher. But what about the other little things that I love?

A friend of mine once told me about her parents and how they were/are complete opposites but they've made almost 30 years of marriage work. Her parents talk about how they've seen different pieces of their personalities work together while they've been married. For instance, her dad is an incredibly compassionate and nurturing man which really was needed while her mother was (successfully!) fighting cancer. Her mother was also afraid of marriage before they got together because she didn't want to be tied down and have someone looking over her shoulder all the time. She needed to be independent. Because her husband travels four days out of the week with this business, she got to be independent and still live her life!

It's stories like this that make me excitedly anxious for the future. I can't wait to watch as each piece of the puzzle comes together. As each love and passion in my life gets used for the greater good.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Blogging world, meet my new car, the 2011 Chevy Cruze.

She's beautiful, clean, gets great gas mileage, and I love her.

However, I have get to name her.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Andi & Jacob

This past Friday I headed to the foothills of North Carolina's Appalachian mountains to marry off one of my Bible Study girls, Andi, to the love of her life, Jacob.

Whenever I start snapping pictures at some sort of event, be it a birthday, Christmas, or a Friday, I wait for the moment that I get "the money shot". Here is the money shot of the rehearsal.
I just feel like you can see the love pouring out of this picture.

After the dinner we headed out for drinks and then headed to bed so we could get ready for my sweet girl's Big Day!!!

When my Andi walked out of the dressing room with her gown on, I burst into tears. She was just so beautiful. I had never seen even a picture of her dress, so to see the entire ensemble at once was just overwhelming. Andi has a very unique look about her, and the dress fit her perfectly.

The ceremony took place in the backyard of a sweet cottage in the country. As wonderful as it was, it was also 104 degrees outsides. Yes, in Fahrenheit. No, I'm not kidding.
To combat the heat, Andi and Jacob had small fans handed out to their guests.

My silly girls enjoyed some fun with the fans.

Andi's "Something Old" were the gloves that her mom wore on her wedding day to her dad many years ago. How sweet to have something to lovely and with such meaning!

And just like that, they sealed the deal with a kiss!
Then, it was time to party!

This is my Rachel. She was one of the bridesmaids...isn't she just the sassiest and cutest thing you have ever seen?

A small note about the wedding: It was supposed to be a dry wedding. However, the bridesmaids decided against that. Classy.

All of my girls and me with the bride!

I do love surprises! This is Rojo. His real name is Ben. No, Franklin. No...George. Whatever, we call him Rojo. My Kelsey and I met him in our Spanish 202 class a few semesters ago. As we were being seated we heard something behind us and we turned to find Rojo! This guy is a hoot-and-a-half and he was nearly the life of the party (don't worry, I still carry the title). Such a good moment for old friends to reunite!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lake Week!

Every year, my dad's side of the family packs up the car and heads to a lake a few hours north of our hometown. If you are one of the ones that know me personally and read this blog, to help you imagine what we get ourselves into every year:

Take me and my loud, opinionated personality and clone me 20 times...and you have my family.

I could talk and talk and talk about this week, but truthfully, you have to live it to truly experience it. Otherwise, it's not completely true. We spend the week reading, sleeping, eating so well we gain 12 pounds each, skiing, sunbathing, playing so many card games our fingers go numb, and laughing until we almost pee our pants.

But like I said, words will never do it justice, so I will turn it over to some visual images to hopefully try to show the epic week it always turns out to be.

The sad story of a boy who just wanted to tube.

Everyone in our family skiis, although maybe not as well as we thought, right Uncle Sp?

As much as we love our full house of adults and small cousins, but sometimes the big kids need to go play on our own.

My sister and I taught the family how to play the game "Fishbowl". My sweet grandfather didn't really get it, and since he's a bit older, he's as blind as a bat. I love how we have to give him a lamp so he could play. He was just enjoying some family time. Bless his heart.

My cute little sister.

There's always a cousin to play with at the lake!
Even the dog was exhausted!

It's a good thing that my cousin is going to school to be a surgeon. The joke around the family is
"If we spend more money on gas than we do at the ER or Urgent Care, then it's not a Family Vacation!"

The awesome view from our back deck.

I am #2 of the grandchildren. Here is the traditional family picture with all of us and our sweet grandparents!
While we were there, my mom turned 47. So of course, a surprise cake and ice cream party was in order!

Cousin #1 was making fun of Cousin #4 because of this pose she always strikes when it's time to take a picture. So we just opted for a photo shoot!

It's really bright outside, and Mama's gotta she got creative.

Just two brothers off on a grand adventure...
My sister is one hott cookie, isn't she?

It's always fun to sink Dad's paddle boat, isn't it, #11?

#1 and #11