Wednesday, September 28, 2011


The word "Authentic" has been resonating with me lately. I have heard it in conversation and spoken it many times concerning friendship and fellowship. Webster's defines authentic as "not false or imitation: Real, Actual." We can all value a friendship or fellowship that is truly authentic....not false, real, actual. Yet, I feel like we live in a culture that does not embrace authenticity but settles for something less in friendship and fellowship. As human beings, we yearn for human interaction but should we settle for anything less than REAL relationships with people? Should we compromise who we are in order to "fit" into some pre-determined mold? I have been so blessed recently by REAL, AUTHENTIC relationships that I felt compelled to write about it. I cannot express the gratitude that swells in my heart knowing that I am surrounded by people with whom I can be completely transparent with, people who will be transparent with me, thus spurring each another on in true fellowship.

I recently visited one of my very dearest friends (for like 16 years now) in Chicago. She is preggers with her very first baby (you have no idea how long I have waited for this), and I flew out for her baby shower. Oh, to be with another woman who knows me inside and out and speaks my language. I cannot tell you what a blessing it was to be a part of her community and see the love that surrounds her. I had such an intense, authentic encounter while visiting her that I came home feeling renewed and ready to approach relationships with a new perspective. It happened like this:

Saturday of Dana's baby shower, we pull up to her friend's house feeling very excited to share the afternoon together. Another friend of hers arrives at the same time. I walk up to the door, and this friend of hers (whom I have never met) says (with intense enthusiasm), "Charity, it is so good to see you!" And gives me a FULL embrace, just as if we had always known each other.

I can honestly say I have never had an encounter like this, and I am so thankful I had the opportunity to experience this kind of authentic love. It was like seeing a neon sign:


And now I have the opportunity to bring this my relationship with my husband, my kids, my family, my friends, my community, and complete strangers. It had become far too easy for me to settle into the routine and forget that the people I interact with are REAL, and they (like me) need someone to be authentic with them! Someone to:

-Really listen
-Really pray
-Give REAL hugs
-Cheer them on
-Have REAL conversations (even the hard ones)
-Grow with
-Grieve with
-Laugh with
-Accept the core of who they are
-Speak the truth
-Be transparent
-Show them honor

I went to visit a friend, and I gained a whole new way of looking at people. I have to say...that is a great vacation! I cheer for Drew and Dana in their new adventure in the mommy and daddy world. I feel so blessed to watch my childhood friend bringing new life into this world (now if only we could convince them to move to Maine)!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Little Bit Of Fun

For the past three years, we have taken at least one trip to Funtown/Splashtown (thanks to Alan's mom and dad). What can I say....we are thrill seekers when it comes to rides and adrenaline rush. This year Kalli was old enough to go as well. Such wonderful memories with the kiddos.

Kalli LOVED this little canoe ride. She literally sat there as though she were gliding steadily down a beautiful river, looking all around her at the scenery. She was so still; it was so fun to watch.

Then there's Jeremie who is our "full throttle" kid. He decided that he wanted to catch Kalli's canoe so he rocked his back and forth to make it go faster (way to have a homeschooling lesson at the funpark)! And as you can see, he did catch her....then he had no where to go. When he got off, he said, "mom it was just too slow so I made it go faster."

This photo was taken right before the ride started. They were so good until Jeremie realized that he could control it from both his side and Kalli's and made it jerk up and down so that the whole ride jerked then all the other children followed suit. Ugh....some days I am so thankful for, and other days, I just shake my head and offer gracious correction.
Then there is our massive thrill seeker. Last year, Kaylynn really wanted to go on the Dragon's Descent, but she was too short. This year she was just tall enough so of course she had to do it! She went with daddy first. He coached her (although she wasn't really scared at all). This ride goes up I don't know how far, sits at the top for 15 seconds then drops! It is a HUGE rush, and I don't even know why I go on it. After daddy took her, she wanted to go again so I took her. I am much more aprehensive and kept saying, "why am I doing this again?" Kaylynn says, "Mom, it's okay, just will be fine." I love my 8 year old! So we drop, and I scream (yes all the way down), and Kaylynn.....she WAVES to daddy below, and I hear her shouting, "HI DAD!"

Splashtown is full of fun water rides, and the kids enjoyed playing on all of them. It took Kalli some time to get comfortable one them, but once she was, she had a blast. And of course wanted to keep going on the "pink" one because pink is not scary.

Cami stayed with Gramma Kay and Papa Les and had a great time. I had to take this picture (even though it is blurry) because I thought it was so cute that she was wearing Kaylynn's Five Fingers.

A time with Friends

We had the wonderful opportunity to spend an extended weekend with some great friends up in Lincoln, ME this summer. We enjoyed fishing (Jeremie caught a HUGE one), swimming, frog catching, ice cream, boating, and most importantly some AMAZING fellowship. We are thankful for so many things, but that weekend we were thankful for authentic friendships!

Eating wild blueberries.

Walking on water.

Sharing frogs.

Alan thought he found another princess.

Ice Cream Faces.

Daisy and Cami fighting over the chair.

An otter swimming in the lake. We also had the opportunity to listen to
the Loons at night (such a beautiful sound)

Thanks to our dear friends for such an encouraging weekend!

Daddy's Sandals

I have shared a little bit about my personal "foot journey" and why I have chosen to use more minimalist footwear, and now it is time to share a little of Alan's story. Alan has an allergy to the rubber used in standard sandals. He has tried cheap Walmart sandals, Tevas, Chacos, you name it, he has tried it and the story always ends the same....with sores on his feet. So this summer, he wanted to try something different. He went ahead and ordered a "make your own kit" from Luna Sandals (which came with the Vibram sole, glue, and a leather strap). Overall, he has been very happy with them, and I think we will make a pair for each one of use next year!

First he traced his foot on a white piece of paper, then cut it out and traced it onto the Vibram sole. Then using an exacto knife, he cut the sole out.

He used the same pattern to trace and cut the leather footbed. Again, he is allergic to the rubber on the standard sole, so he used leather that we had at home. He cut it out and glued it to the Vibram sole.
Then he put his foot on the footbed and cut slits where he wanted the straps to go. The standard directions for the sandals recommend having the leather strap come up right between the toes but because Alan simply cannot stand having anything come up between his toes, he cut the slits so the strap could go across his foot.
Tying the knot beneath the sole.

The finished product and no sores on his feet this summer!

Creativity Abounds

I have never considered myself to be super creative. I mean, I keep a scrapbook (very loosely) for each of the children, I enjoy painting, I can draw stick figures pretty well, and I can sew a costume good enough for any child. Generally speaking, though, all of my creative pursuits are because I have been inspired by someone else. So, when people ask me how I got to be so creative, I tell them: "I am not creative, I am just really good at re-producing." Because most of what I do is someone else's idea.

So, here I have made a beach treasure bag for one of Kaylynn and Kalli's little friends. I was inspired by Amanda Blake Soule in her book "A Handmade Home." I LOVE all of her ideas and plan to re-create many of them in the coming months. I really enjoyed making this bag re-purposing old materials (a scrap of fabric that I loved and just couldn't get rid of...but never had a use for, leftover screening, ribbon left over from pillowcase dresses, and of course the bright orange thread). The only thing new on this bag was the double fold bias tape (which I had never used before and found it very useful). Now that it's done, my own children are waiting expectantly for theirs. I think this might be a favorite to also re-create for nieces and nephews. Oh, by the way, it only took me about 3 hours total (that includes re-doing the straps because I sewed them on incorrectly), and I am NOT an accomplished seamstress by any means so it is a great starter project!

My kids, on the other hand, are super creative and often create out of their own imagination rather than simply re-producing something that someone else has done.

Jeremie created this playground out of Popsicle sticks and paper. He stuck the Lego girl in their for good measure.

Kaylynn wanted to make something for her friend's doll. So, she decided on a sleeping bag and matching pillow. She chose the fabric and sewed the entire thing by herself. She is better at it than I am!

So, I guess Jeremie does do some re-producing (I am certain we all do). Inspired by his sister, he decided to make a sleeping bag and pillow for his Lego guy. This project proved more difficult than he imagined, and he enlisted my help but in the end he got just what he wanted.

And Daddy creates! My kiddos have learned all of their creativity from their daddy. Alan can pick up any material and make it into something different. We bought a large amount of leather because it was so inexpensive and he just knew he could do something with it. Well, here he is making the first (of many) leather sheath. He does not have any leather tools; he just used a hammer and a nail, and his imagination! This was the first one, and he has "improved" upon the design many times...since Jeremie requested he make one for his friend and also his cousins.

We love creating or re-creating and spending that time working together! What a sense of accomplishment we feel when we realize that we actually "made" that!