It has been quite awhile since I've last updated our blog. On the family front, we've had a lot of firsts and big events. John and Chris participated in Cub Scout day camp for the 3rd year. Chris has also been teaching John how to drive the tractor. If his legs were just a little bit longer, he could cut the grass for us. Sarah, Bethany and I enjoyed our first year at Girl Scout daycamp. Sarah participated with a unit of girls her age, Bethany was with the tag-a-long unit, and I worked with a group of 5th graders. We all had a fantasitc time and can't wait until next year. Sarah is at her first sleep over party at someone else's house as I type this. Bethany has learned how to buckle herself in the car seat. We are all taking taekwondo classes.  I broke my toe.  I was also treated to breakfast in bed for my birthday followed by supper at one of my favorite places with the whole family.  Sarah has begun confidently swimming on her own and Bethany is swimming with very little assistance.  We have no more babies in our house.  

On the job front, things have been a little rough.  As we went into our 18th month of unemployment for Chris, we found out that due to some issues in Congress, unemployment has been capped and he is no longer eligible for assistance.  Granted, it wasn't much, but it was more than nothing. 
We have been hugely encouraged so many ways, though.  I won tickets for us to see a concert presented by our local Christian radio station featuring one of my all time favorite artists.  It turned out that the tickets were donated by a sweet lady who had purchased them and then been unable to attend, so she contacted the radio station and asked for them to "go to someone who had really wanted to go but couldn't afford it at this time."  And I won them.  We had a terrific time just being together and being in that worshipful environment.  And it was so encouraging to hear SCC speak of the struggles in his own life and his transparency about how he doesn't understand what God is doing and he even gets angry at times, but that doesn't change who God is and that God is God, God is good, and God always makes things work to His glory and the good of His children.  Needless to say, I cried . . . a lot.
We also had someone leave an envelope with money in it for us via my box at work.  This is not the first time this has happened.  In retrospect, every time that has happened, it has been at a time when we really needed it, not just from a financial standpoint, but also from an encouragement standpoint.  A time when we needed that physical reminder from God that He has everything under control and that He will provide for us. Actually, it usually comes immediately after I've dealt with the feeling sorry for myself drop and rallied back to a confidence in His wisdom and providence.  He says that we should not worry about tomorrow, so we're trying very hard not to.
This time of year is the hardest for me, though.  This is the time of year when everyone is going on vacation, taking trips to the beach, etc.  And it's not really an option for us.  Not only is it difficult for me from a ministry standpoint (someone has to still be there to look after those sweet preschoolers on Sunday morning when all the Sunday school teachers are gone).  But it's just not being a good steward for us to take what little we have and frivolously spend it on a hotel bill.  And that's hard for me.  We have always striven to ensure our family takes that time to just be with one another and enjoy one another.  So we're just having to learn different ways  to do it this summer.  Chris' parents helped us to put up a small above ground pool (big enough for the 5 us of to be in there comfortably together).  We've had lots of movie nights, enjoyed free movies with cousins, and spent plenty of time swimming and practicing our blocks and kicks together.  
We have a lot of big things coming up quickly.  Chris's birthday is this Sunday.  That same day, John is going to his first baseball game with Mommom and Poppop.  In just a few weeks, we'll participate in Vacation Bible School at church.  This is always a really busy and fun time for me and the kids.  During VBS week, we'll celebrated Bethany's 4th birthday.  A month later we'll celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary and John's 9th birthday.  I'm sure I'll have tons of pictures from all of that to share.
In the meantime, I pray that each person who takes the time to read this will be blessed and encouraged by God.  That you would feel yourself firmly in His grasp and be reminded that He will NOT let go.