Haydn’s 13th Birthday

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Haydn turned 13 this year. I can not believe that he is officially a teenager. Some of our many Birthday Food Adventure stops included Krispy Kreme, Johnny Rockets, Red Robin, Whole Foods, Zoe’s Kitchen, Great American Cookies, Auntie Anne’s, The Beacon Drive-In, and Dairy Queen. I could not ask for a better little brother. Happy birthday, Haydn!

To see more photos from this event, click here. Once in Flickr, click the arrow on your right to view the next picture. Thanks!

Church Picnic September 2016

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September’s church picnic was very calm and peaceful which made the whole event very relaxing, instead of chaotic or busy. My fellow youth and I, as usual, set up and put away everything that goes into Redeeming Grace Church’s picnics. I very much enjoyed working along side of my friends at the beginning and end of the evening while hanging out with them in between (eating, catapulting pumpkins and watermelons, and playing volleyball). I had a wonderful time and, as always, I am looking forward to our next church picnic.

To see more photos from this event, click here. Once in Flickr, click the arrow on your right to view the next picture. Thanks!

An Unexpected Turn of Events

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Haydn’s co-op ends at 2:55 PM. Dad picks him up and then they sit in the Greenville Tech parking lot until 3:40 when my college class ends. Knowing this, you can understand my confusion when I exited the building to find that the van was nowhere in sight. I did not worry, at first. I was released a little early and they probably got stuck in traffic or something.

I walked up the sidewalk along the parking lot and stopped under the shade of some trees. I scanned and re-scanned the parking lot, just in case Dad parked somewhere else and I missed him. Nothing. I watched the Cross-Country team run from GMC to the field in front of the college where they usually practice. I noted that they are usually on the field when I leave so I must have been released earlier than I thought. However, as each minute passed, I became more and more tempted to worry rather than trust God. It is only 10 minutes from UHC to GMC and Dad is NEVER late so, even if there was traffic, that did not explain his absence. Determined to trust God and not worry, I looked away from the road and acknowledge the clouds floating above my high school. They were HUGE. As I stood in awe of God’s beauty I couldn’t help but imagine what a great picture it would make. Sadly, I did not have my camera (aka, Mom’s phone).

By now several minutes had passed and I attempted to calmly run through the day’s schedule for my family: after school, we were going to stop at Krispy Kreme for Pirate Day although, I drew a blank because I could not recall the final decision about who, how, and when. Dad and Mom planned on attending the 9th and 10th Grade Parent Information Meeting that evening at 6:00 and I made another mental note to remind them that we do not need to go. There was something going on in the afternoon, but I couldn’t remember exactly what. Again, I began to worry so I quietly sang the first worship song that popped into my head (I do not recall what it was). Finally, I sat down on a nearby bench and gazed at the clouds.

By the time I spotted Kaylee and Olivia (friends from my high school) exiting the college, I had already begun considering that something must have happened. What type of something? I only had one idea: a wreck. My eyes began to water. What if Dad is hurt? What if he died? I stopped. No. I thought. I’m not going to go there. I glanced at the road again and noticed Kaylee and Olivia walking on the far sidewalk. I hopped up, pulled on my backpack, and began walking towards them as they noticed me and waved.

I planned on asking Kaylee if I could text my mom but I never did. Before the whistle that morning (which is blown by our principal five minutes before the first bell) Kaylee had asked Becca if she could walk home with her. Becca said she could if she didn’t have to work. In the middle of first period Becca’s boss texted her asking if she could ref (her job) and, of course, she said yes despite really wanting to go home in order to complete homework and study for a college test on Wednesday. “Did you not walk home with Becca?” I asked. No, had work. “I’d say we could take you home but I don’t know where my dad is,” I explained. We had a very short conversation about Pirate Day, they began walking to GMC, Olivia asked about the Geometry homework, they continued walking, and then I asked about the time: 3:45, much earlier than I had expected. Reluctantly I returned to the bench half expecting Dad to pull up right then and give a perfectly reasonable explanation for why he was late. But he didn’t.

I pulled out “The Kite Runner”, a book I was reading for Literature & Film, and began to read where I had left off in class that morning. My reading was quite bumpy as I kept glancing at the road to examine each passing vehicle. As each minute passed the feeling that my family had been in a car wreck became more and more prominent in my mind. I focussed on the words I was looking at: “‘I’ll come back with your morphine and glass of water, Kaka Jan,’ Soraya said. ‘Not tonight,’ he said. “There is no pain tonight.’ ‘Okay,’ she said. She pulled up his blanket. We closed the door. Baba never woke up” (Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner). And then the sirens sounded.

Firetrucks and police cars but (I prayed) no ambulances. Their noise was so loud I knew they were driving along the roads that box in GVLTC and GMC. I beat the feeling but, in the end, I could not ignore it: my family had been in a wreck. There was no other explanation.

My eyes began to water but I fought back the tears and prayed. Oh, what a desperate prayer I prayed. “Lord, please let them be all right. Please let them be all right.” And then I reminded myself that God has everything under control. Everything will be alright, no matter what happens. Everything will be alright… “God is good,” I whispered to myself, remembering a quote from God’s not Dead. “All the time. And all the time, God is good.” I blinked away the last of my tears, took a deep breath, and looked back at my book.

Moments later a red car pulled up but stopped several feet away. I did not pay much attention to it until it honked and my mom got out of the passenger’s seat. She motioned me to come so I dropped my book into my backpack, zipped it up, and obeyed. Once by her side she gave me a hug and said, “We were in a wreck. Everyone is okay but Ansa is a little shaken up.” She then explained that “this nice lady”, the driver, had checked to see if they were alright and offered to come pick me up. Once introduced I was directed to the back seat and we made our way to the wreck.

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Mom and Ansa had picked Haydn up from UHC and then gone to Krispy Kreme for Pirate Day. From there they went home to pick up Dad (who was doing a podcast) and drop off their four dozen donuts (three for dressing up and one for sharing a picture on SnapChat). Then all for of them came to get me. Despite having a conversation about college, Dad missed the main entrance for GVLTC. Instead of taking the back way, he decided to turn left into someone’s driveway (in order to turn around) but was T-Boned by a white truck he had not noticed. Dad banged his head against his window, Mom was slung so hard that her sunglasses flew off her head and landed in the back, Haydn was slung towards his window but caught himself before contact was made, and Ansa was slung. By the time I arrived at the wreck, Dad had a headache, Mom felt as if she had been punched in the jaw, Haydn was fine, and Ansa was suffering through the first of many headaches due to a likely concussion.

 The van was totaled. We will never drive it again. After hearing of the minor injuries and examining the burst tire, missing window, jammed doors, and various other damages, I could not longer hold back my tears. God was with my family that day. He could have easily taken them all home but, instead, He answered my prayer. I will never be able to fully express or justly describe my gratitude. “Thank You, Lord. Thank You.” The only words I was able to speak in between my silent sobs. Ansa, who was as pink as the shirt she was wearing, crawled into the back with me and we held each other as the tears continued to flow. God IS good. I thought. All the time. And all the time, God IS good.

To see more photos from this event, click here. Once in Flickr, click the arrow on your right to view the next picture.

Cross Current September 2016

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On September 18, my church held it’s once a month youth meeting for Junior and Senior High: Cross Current. As always, I had a blast. Most of the memories were made during game time, which is not surprising.

The first activity was assigned to the men. They had to undo frozen t-shirts and put them on. The person to do this first won. This proved to be more tedious than one might expect because the t-shirts were frozen solid and the water given to help undo the articles of clothing was freezing cold. In the end, Mr. Ballard ended up winning.

The next game split our group into boys and girls who each had to form a human tower. The first group to finish won. This ended up being the boys because, in general, us girls were a little overwhelmed by the task and so the quality of our problem-solving skills drastically dropped.

The final game is one of my all-time favorites: the Three Legged Race. In case you don’t know, this game is just like any foot race except for the fact that it requires, instead of one runner per team, two runners who have their legs bound together. The trick to this game is how you and your partner run. I have found that in order to move quickly each person in a pair needs to wrap their arm around the other. The closer you are to one another, the more smoothly you will be able to function. If not, you and your partner will split and fall like a tree struck by lightening. I paired up with Hunter, a boy around the age of my younger brother, and our team ended up winning. Despite the fact that Hunter ran on my foot for the entire race and that it took multiple people to undo our tightly bound bond, I had a lot of fun and am looking forward to Cross Current next month.

To see more photos from this event, click here. Once in Flickr, click the arrow on your right to view the next picture. Thanks!

Litke Playdate September 2016

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 On September 16 my siblings and I went to the Litke’s, our former neighbors, for a sleepover. Because the weather was pleasant, the girls and I slept on mattresses in the Litke’s unfinished apartment above their garage. Besides an occasional car passing by, all you could hear was the chirping of crickets and, in the sky, all you could see was a brilliant full moon. This environment was very serene.

The next day, while in the middle of a Nerf battle, Abby and Katie’s prayers were answered. The Litke’s cat, Kallie, gave birth to her kittens in time for us to see them. By the time we had to leave, her babies had been cleaned and dried so we were able to hold them. The sweet kitties were barely the size of my hand. It was something else to see these little bundles of joy shortly after they entered this world.

To see more photos from this event, click here. Once in Flickr, click the arrow on your right to view the next picture. Thanks!

How to Get Free Queso

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img_0214September 15 is Free Queso Day at Moe’s, the one day a year on which Moe’s employees give away bowls full of queso (a cheese like dipping sauce). All you have to do is stop by your local Moe’s, tell them you want queso, and they will give you one bowl per person along with several bags of chips. That’s it. No fine print or other purchases necessary. So mark your calendars, this is a deal you do not want to miss! Unless of course, you do not like queso.

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Here to Stay

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img_0180In 2003, five families (including my own) planted Sovereign Grace Church. We attended there from when I was two until I was around age eight. For complicated reasons we left SGC and attended Fellowship Greenville for the next six years or so despite a never ceasing longing to return to the church family we loved so much. In the fall of 2015, we left FG and began visiting Redeeming Grace Church (what SGC became). I admit that my siblings and I were not terribly happy about this sudden change of plans but the youth at this church were more than happy to be our friends and, little by little, each of us began to “cross our fingers” in hopes that we would stay. A year later, on August 28, 2016, we were invited on stage where Assistant Pastor Aaron Campbell officially welcomed us as members of RGC. In other words, we’re here to stay. My family and I are beyond blessed to be a part of this amazing church and I am excited to see what this new chapter holds for us.

Mom’s Birthday (2016)

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img_0080Happy birthday, Mom! I hope you had a wonderful time on your day. For all the times I’ve forgotten to say “thank you” and for all the special things you’ve done, I just wanted to wish you the happiest of the happiest birthdays. I am beyond blessed to have you as my mother. Happy birthday! I hope you have many more.

To view more pictures from this event, click here. Once in Flickr, click the arrow on your right to view the next picture. Thanks!

Heritage Lakes Outreach

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cefr6257On August 14, my church held an outreach event for the neighborhood near our building: Heritage Lakes. A huge thank you to everyone who help set up and/or came! Since we were invited to do it again, I am looking forward to another event like this in the future. I am looking forward to that event not just because of the outreach part but also because of all the wonderful memories I made with my fellow youth while we worked together to make this happen. This was such a great way to connect with our neighbors! I hope we can do it again sometime!

To see more photos from this event, click here. Once in Flickr, click the arrow on your right to view the next picture. Thanks!

Christmas in August

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mikl5655On August 13, my family and I had the privilege of hosting Cross Current’s “end of the summer” party. From a jumbo yard version of Twister to an epic water balloon toss, everyone had a lot of fun. So, why did we call this event “Christmas in August”? Because the main event of the night was when we lit two Christmas trees that had been laced with fireworks. Yep! A little family tradition of ours. The winners of the water balloon toss (Noah and Isaac) each shot a flaming arrow into a tree which set it ablaze. With Abi manning the hose, multiple cameras rolling, mothers squirming, and babies crying, tree burning was a hit, as always. I hope we can do something like this again next fall!