Faces of a Small Group


Small group. 
What do you think of when you hear those words?

For us, our small group is the place where we are known, loved and cared for. I'll pepper this post with pictures from our small group over the last 2 years.

Just as each family is different and each church is unique, so it is with a small group. Made up of unique individuals, each small group will be different. 

So this is what our small group looks like, somewhat. And it may or may not reflect what any other small group is like. 

Our small group meets together weekly - Thursday nights. Right now, we host the group in our home. It works out well, as we have young children that we can put to bed as needed (before or during group time), since we're in our own home. Another benefit is that we have kids in multiple stages, so we have toys and games and baby gear and a changing table - all of which can come in handy when inviting other families into your home regularly. 

Our group is small. We usually have 3-5 other families join us, half of whom have children that come along too. 

It is this group that goes deeper in relationships. 
Our church is large, but in any church setting, it is beneficial to have closer friends that you actually "do life with." We call that a small group. The people who actually know you more than as an acquaintance. The people you'd call if you had a need. The people who will be praying for you if you ask them to. The people who would rejoice with you, mourn with you, just do life alongside you. 

Practically, we hosted a baby shower for one family as they welcomed baby Moriah. Romans 12:15 reminds us to "rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn." 

We helped a family with packing and moving during a season of transition. The Bible tells us in Galatians 6:10 "as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially those within the household of faith." 

We take meals to one another when there's a need, like a new baby or surgery recovery. We are commanded to "carry one another's burdens" in Galatians 6:2.

We check in with each other during the week, to encourage and pray for one another. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 10:24 to "spur one another on towards love and good works." 

We are told to make every effort to add to our faith and to grow in Christ-likeness, that our lives may not be unproductive and unfruitful (2 Peter 1:5-8). So we spend time weekly discussing and applying what the Bible says.

And we just enjoy time together, whether it's a play date at the zoo or a double-date or a backyard picnic.

For us, small group is a lifeline. Friends who are like-minded in their faith and desiring to live out their faith. 

We are so thankful for these people and the way God has used small group in our own lives. What a gift! 

Field Trip: Dutch Creek Animal Farm


Our family recently took a trip to Dutch Creek Animal Farm in northern Indiana. What fun! 

There was a traditional petting farm area, which included ducks...

And angora goats. So soft!

And a huge draft horse, right next to a mini horse. 

Getting a close up with an ostrich!

There were quite a few peacocks wandering around the farm. Many colors and types. I've always loved peacocks and those beautiful colors. 

This place is very unique! It's like a zoo, except that you an interact with the animals WAY MORE. You can walk into cages with many of the animals. 

 There is a wagon ride where you are able to feed and pet the animals up close. Here's my husband feeding a camel from the wagon. 

Here I am with a zebra just walking by the wagon, with three camels coming up behind us. 
Felt like an African safari!

There were long horn cattle. 

Here's a Zedonk - zebra/donkey.

A very fun field trip overall!

11 Year Old Boy


This boy of mine. 
I don't get many pictures of him. 
He's very active and very outdoorsy.

He's 11 years old. 

He tends to be one of the shorter kids his age, though just recently we're hearing comments from others that they see him shooting upward. My husband was also the shortest in his class for many years and then shot up to just under 6 foot. I think it's coming soon for this kid! 

11 years old looks like goofing around on the tortoise statue at the zoo. 

11 years old looks like bike rides and scooter rides around the neighborhood.

11 years old looks like being a big brother to the little ones.

11 years old looks like loving gym class at our homeschool co-op.

11 years old looks like helping when it comes to decorating the house for a sibling's birthday.

11 years old looks like loving Dude Perfect, learning trick shots, and trying things like balancing a balloon on a stick on your nose.

11 years old. 

Challenging times as he walks the line between childhood and young adulthood. But fun times nonetheless.

Being 16


Being 16. I've mentioned before that my oldest daughter is now 16. She's got her first job. She has her learner's permit for driving. She's growing up.

Here are some other fun things she's into lately. 

She's been doing a lot of canvas painting this year. This was a painting she did for Grandma K's birthday. Its city lights are based loosely on the Chicago skyline. She's very creative and talented. 

She's also silly, carrying around towels on her head. But she's also enjoys playing around with Photoshop editing. 
Here's the Photoshop version of the above picture.

Funny girl.

She tends to have whims of inspiration that occupy her free time for a season (from a few days up to a month), such as genealogy research, for example. Recently she learned about a local train wreck that happened in 1859. She was fascinated with this topic for weeks, researching online and at our local library to learn as much as she could. She was able to pinpoint the location of the wreck and we drove there one evening to see it for ourselves. She loved this, feeling a bit like she'd solved a mystery.

Another whim was related to the Sears Tower. She watched a documentary that inspired her to build a scale model of the building with Legos. The colors may be off but the architecture is on point!

In some ways, the Photoshop editing and the canvas painting are also whims that come and go according to her inspiration of the moment. 

She's so carefree and creative! 

Fall Fun


My oldest girl is now 16 and has her first job. She's working at a nearby pumpkin patch/corn maze/fall fun attraction. She works in the donut shop, dishing out the donuts. She loves it! This shows her in the shed area, pulling donuts out of the warmer. 

One of the perks of this job is that she and the rest of our family (that's 7 people total) can enjoy the attractions for free! That's a huge benefit! 

So once or twice this fall the rest of the family has enjoyed the jumping pillow, sand box and corn box while big sister is working away. There is also a petting farm, a hay ride, corn mazes, huge lego bricks to build with and a handful of other activities I'm forgetting. 

Hooray for free fall fun! 

Revive 19 women's conference


Last weekend I attended the Revive 19 women's conference in Indianapolis. I went with my friend Heather and we stayed with her friend Emily who lives in Indy. 

What a great time! 

The conference started with a prayer meeting and continued on with three large sessions. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, Dannah Gresh, Bob Bakke and Mary Kassian were the main speakers. 

My pastor's wife was also one of the speakers at the event and my church's worship team led worship for the entire weekend, which was really neat. In fact, a number of people from my church work for Revive our Hearts and Life Action (the parent ministry of Revive of Hearts), which are based nearby. So there was quite a contingent from my church at the conference. The picture shows some, but not all, of our church folks in attendance.

It had been years since I'd attended a women's conference or retreat without a baby in tow. It was a treat to get away for a few days and God was faithful in meeting me there to refuel and revive me.

Date Nights


Date nights. 

We have made it a priority in the last year or so to have more regular date nights. It's hard to manage this with young children, but we see the need to get away regularly and reconnect as a couple if our marriage is going to thrive. 

So we go out at least once a month. Usually by ourselves, though in the last few months we've enjoyed some double dates with small group couples too. 

Sometimes we have an "agenda" or some specific topic to discuss. Maybe details with our small group or some particular parenting concern. Other times we'll simply pose a question to one another and talk about it. Like "How do you picture our marriage looking in 3 years and what steps can we take now to get there?" or "What are the top three things you love about me?"  I find that we need a focus for the conversation or we'll just chit chat or delve into work/kid stuff that doesn't end up feeling like a meaningful conversation by the end of the night. For me, that meaningful conversation is the most important part of date night. 

So if you are married, let me encourage you to make time to date your spouse. Don't wake up in 20 years saying, "Who are you? I don't even know you any more."  And if you are not married, consider how you can help strengthen other marriages, by offering to babysit perhaps or to pay for a couple to attend a marriage conference. 

Strong marriages make strong families which make strong communities which make a strong nation. It starts with simple things, like connecting over a date night. 

Our 4 year old's Birthday Celebrations


This little man turned 4 this week. 

Here are some pictures of us celebrating him!

He received a new Mr. Potato Head as a gift. 
An oldie but goodie! 

We had a time of celebration on the evening of his birthday, which of course included the birthday song, cupcakes, blowing out a birthday candle, opening gifts received from all of us, and words of affirmation about all we love about this birthday boy. 

Grandma K in Wisconsin sent a gift for him to open. We do this while skyping with her so she can see the actual gift opening. He received a construction play mat with some construction trucks/diggers. Very fun! 

And of course the other siblings wanted to share the new toy fun with the birthday boy.

We went to Build-A-Bear, so he could build his own bear. He chose a birthday shirt for his bear and a guitar as an accessory. This boy loves all things music related so that was very appropriate.

The bear - named Boose. His shirt looks pink but is red. Oh, and he smells like cotton candy! They have a scent you can insert inside with the fluff, so he constantly smells sweet like cotton candy. 

A fun shot of the birthday boy with his older brother, on the night before his birthday. Matching flag shirts. 

We took some pictures and video of him on his last day as a 3 year old. That little voice. The utter cuteness. I know we'll look back and smile someday.

In this picture you can see his favorite duckie blanket and his favorite stuffed animal - Eddie the elephant. Must have items for bedtime. 

Happy birthday, again, little mister! 
We love celebrating you!