Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Creation Museum, Petersburg, KY, Prepare to Believe

Oh wow, I am pretty much speechless, so I'm writing a blog post, lol!!!

We just left The Creation Museum I feel saturated with truth, and hope, and boldness!

My kids are asking questions about sin and salvation, origins and the future.  

If you have to choose between this and Disneyworld for a vacation, choose The Creation Museum.  It's not as big or as expensive, but the quality of the exhibits and the TRUTH your family will take away from this are invaluable.  

First of all I want to thank the two families who gave us passes so we could enjoy the museum FREE OF CHARGE! You read that right.  What would have cost us around $200.00, was provided for us for free.  All tickets are two day passes so we will be going back tomorrow to see more!  It definitely takes two days to take it all in. 

From the first display replicating the "Lucy" bones found in Africa to the last exhibit we experienced, the planetarium, God's word was the cornerstone of all the information presented. 

Questions were raised about all the information which is so often presented as fact.  How many times have you read or heard, "Millions and millions of years ago...". We just did recently when we visited Mammoth Cave, the Ranger who led our tour authoritatively informed us that the caves were ten million years old.  In contrast, when he talked about what happened in the caves a few hundred years ago, he was more vague and willing to admit he didn't know how work was done by native peoples or how certain artifacts that were found in the caves were used.  There was no question however, when he explained that the caves were formed over millions of years by underground rivers.  

At The Creation Museum, there was so much to see and absorb and we were encouraged to ask questions and seek answers in God's Word.

Emily's favorite was The replica Garden of Eden which was absolutely beautiful.  Considering the pre-fall condition of the world was a new experience.  Imagine a world without pain or death.  Stop. Really imagine that. It was perfect, and it's where we are headed in the future in the new heaven and the new earth.  Lions lay down with lambs, it happened once, it will happen again, and you will want to be there!

Or maybe the espresso stand was Emily's favorite!

Doug's favorite was Walking through the life size Noah's ark where we considered that Noah was given a huge project by God to do.  He was faithfully obedient to Gods instruction resulting in the salvation of himself and his family.  God judged the entire planet, but provided a way of escape for the righteous who obeyed Him.

Ben's favorite was the planetarium where we flew through the skies and felt like we were really In a spaceship seeing the planets and stars.  It prompted the kids to ask, "If there are so many galaxies, what makes Earth so special?" While we don't have a perfect answer, we can consider that because God sent His one and only Son here to die for mankind, He thinks the inhabitants He created for Earth are pretty special.

At the dragon exhibit we observed the connection of the phenomenon of dragon lore across the centuries and the continents, presented creatively with concepts of young earth and dinosaurs cohabiting with humans. This was both educational and entertaining.  

We got to hear Buddy Davis talk about the T-Rex and how interpretations of it have changed over the years.  Archeologists and paleo-artists are really part detective, part artist and much of what they create is interpretive. We made our own t-Rex sculptures from green clay, straws, and toothpicks. 

Finally at the end of the day, we met Ken Ham the founder and creator of The Creation Museum.  We were able to thank him for his work, tell him about the big billboard in North Houston we were excited to see go up, and take a few pictures with him.  Being in the presence of believers was a breath of fresh air, a sigh of relief, and a sense of renewal.  

Visit and start planning your trip today!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Where Does Learning Happen? A Contrast of Two Tours

This morning Doug asked me, "Should we have enjoyed the Makers Mark tour as much as we did?"  I responded immediately with the contrast between two tours we did on consecutive days.

Mammoth Cave National Park, Historic Passage Tour vs Makers Mark Distillery Tour

On the cave tour the first instructions were DO NOT.

Do not touch the cave.
Do not bring a stroller.
Do not wear an infant carrier.
Do not bring food or drinks into the cave.
Do not use flash photography.

And on... And on... And on...

The distillery tour warmly welcomed us.

We went in with all the kids (expecting a list of rules, after all we were taking a bunch of kids to a distillery!) As we waited for our tour, we explored the museum-house where nothing was untouchable.

When we gathered on the  porch the only "Do Not" was Do not bring open containers.   

We took a stroller. (Yes there were stairs, we managed them fine.)
We tasted mash with our fingers!
We were near glass bottles and hot wax and no one freaked out on us.

Where do you think the kids were more comfortable, asking more questions, and interacting more? 

Yes. The distillery, which was totally new to them, a foreign place, but open and even welcoming to them.

Learning happens in an environment where one is comfortable, welcome, and invited to engage, not with a list of Do Nots.

How can we apply this to all learning, school, church, life?

The world is our classroom how do we engage it? 

My Favorite Bible Curriculum and Parenting Go-To Manual

I love Doorposts.

Doorposts is the ONLY curriculum I have used continuously for ten years.

It is 100% BIBLE based, user-friendly, filled with grace and truth.  

If you want to know how to parent, build character in you and your kids, use Doorposts.  

I subscribe to the blog and Pam and her kids write the best stuff.  

I have sold their curriculum twice at our local homeschool conference, I believe in it that much!  

When the 10 day bible study for kids arrived in my inbox I knew it would be good.  I started it yesterday and will continue this week as we have time to do bible together.  I love the insights, questions, and format Pam uses.  

Everything with parenting comes back to Gods Word, Everything. I, more than anyone need to be reminded of this.  

So if you need some direction in your parenting, some ideas for fresh character training, or just encouragement in life head on over to and be uplifted!

Doorposts, good for the littles and the bigs!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bourbon, Yes, I'm writing about Bourbon!

Yes, I'm writing a blog post about Bourbon.  Actually, our experience touring The Makers Mark Distillery was delightful!

When we entered the first building we were greeted by a young lady who was blown away by our family size.  She thought Doug was joking when he said we were bringing nine children. Ha! Happens all the time. The building, which was essentially a museum, was very hands on and entertaining.  Laid out like a house with a baby book of the patriarch on the table along with fruit and fresh flowers, we felt cozy and welcome.

Going into the den, we saw pictures of the family on the wall, imagine our surprise when they started TALKING to us!  Everyone gathered around to hear the history!  Natalie enjoyed flipping through some books on the shelf

and Abigail answered the old-fashioned phone when it rang then she heard a story about the family.

Emily and I looked through the sketch book the Samuels used to create the name and logo.  (We are pretty sure Zane would be geeking out over it!)

Apparently, Mrs. Samuels had quite the hand in discovering the recipe for the bourbon because of her mad bread baking skills.  In the kitchen, I got some pictures of her hand written bread recipes and flipped through her cookbook! 

Her notes were extensive both about chemistry of ingredients, textures, and taste.  Emily loved the black and white checkerboard tile and the look of the 1950s kitchen where cold lemonade was available for the guests.

This clock is very similar to one my grandma had in her kitchen all my growing up years.

We all gathered on the back porch for our tour and the kids were very well behaved and interested in the process.  The unique quality of Makers Mark Bourbon is that it's made from wheat not rye making it sweeter and smoother than other bourbons.

We saw where they make the mash, where they filter and distill it finally putting it in barrels which are aged like wine.  The barrels they use are from white oak from Arkansas which adds to their unique flavor.

Lily Anne and Sarah spotted a kitty laying in the shade outside the bottling room so we hung out there and let them play with her.  She was a sweet and patient kitty letting them pet her.

The bottling room was really loud, but very active and colorful, it held everyone's attention.

Finally we got to the Tasting room which had some great artwork on the walls, even a neat mosaic.  Doug and I tasted four different kinds of bourbon, honestly, they all tasted the same to me, but I have a cold and my nose is very stuffy, not ideal conditions for any kind of tasting!

After the tasting,we all got a delicious chocolate Bon Bon before going into the gift shop.  In the gift shop one can dip a bottle in their trademark red wax, Doug even dipped a baseball cap bill for a unique look.

We met a nice couple here from Hawaii for a wedding.  Their daughter and my little girls, Sarah and Lily Anne hit it off.  Fast friends, they played, twirled and ran around like little girls do.  The mom and I talked baby carriers and traveling with kids.  

It was a sweet encounter in an unlikely place... Two moms of littles hitting it off at a whiskey distillery!

I don't normally drink bourbon (aka whiskey) but seeing the process by which it's made was quite interesting and a fun (if not educational) experience.

Guest Post from Doug

As you read Doug's post, keep in mind he is a cyclist, conversing with another cyclist! Such a patchwork quilt this adventure is turning out to be.  

Rennie and Kathy, the McFlurrys, Paul, Atlas, Silas, and Leslie, Chris and Karla, The Rice Family, the lady at the North Carolina visitor center, Evalyn and her husband, and many more are part of our journey.  People who need a savior (and those who already know Him) are everywhere.  We hope we can be salt and light and SHOW LOVE everywhere we go!

Read on about our encounter with Louie from California.

Had an interesting experience yesterday crossing paths, quite literally, with a man who was cycling from Bakersfield, CA to Norfolk, VA.  We drove into the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Park at the same time he did.  Being interested in his obvious journey, I approached him and introduced myself and asked him about his trip.  He explained what he was doing, we made some small talk about the memorial we were at and we parted ways.  After we left the park, we saw him pedaling down the road.  As we passed him we honked our horn and waved at him.  

A few miles down the road a construction crew had stopped traffic to do some work and he caught up to us.  We rolled the window down and we chatted further about his ride and where he was going.  He said he was headed to Bardstown because he'd read there was a place to camp there.  Surprised, I responded that we were also going to Bardstown to camp, albeit in an RV.  I further explained that we were headed to My Old Kentucky Home State Park.  He said he'd have to pull out his map to determine which park he was planning on staying at.  At that point, the construction crew waved us through.  He took off, pumping his legs to get started, and we put the van in gear and surged forward.  Again we waved as we passed him by.  

Another 20 minutes down the road, nearly to our destination, we made a stop at a local grocery store in New Haven, KY (home of the Kentucky Railroad Museum if you were wondering) to pick up some necessities.  I waited in the van with the most of the kids while Stacy and a couple of the girls went inside to hunt and gather.  While we waited, guess who wheeled up next to us?  Yep, the cyclist from California!  He pulled up on our shady side so he could get a break from the merciless sun while we chatted and he consulted his map.  As he got his bearings, I showed him on our map where we were staying and he confirmed that he was planning on staying at the same park!  We discussed which roads we were going to take to get there and shared some strawberries with him that we bought from an Amish woman earlier in the day.  We chatted while I waited for Stacy and girls to return and then once again we were both off toward our campground.  

We finally arrived at My Old Kentucky Home State Park, set up camp, and began relaxing.  I was relaxing and playing guitar and we were singing worship songs and camp songs, attracting not a little bit of attention from the campers around us.  Just then, our cyclist friend pedaled up.  My whole family shouted out a welcome to him like the crew of the old Cheers TV show calling out "Norm!"  We invited him to join us for dinner, as it was almost ready.  He accepted and went off to the campground bathrooms to get cleaned up.  He returned, we had our dinner and we ensured that he kept getting refills on his food, since we figured he hadn't had a home-cooked meal for a while.  He ate heartily and it warmed our hearts to share our table with him.  

After dinner, one of our campground neighbors walked over to talk to us.  He offered us around 8 lbs of pork meat.  He explained that they were leaving in the morning and he didn't want to have to haul it back.  He was a farmer and had raised and butchered the hog himself.  He gave us 3 enormous ham steaks, 2 lbs of sausage, and 3 lbs of bacon!  He said, "I told my wife that you certainly had a crew that could finish this off!"  I thanked him profusely and he went back to get the meat.  

Our cycling friend explained that it was time to set up his tent and call it a night, so we walked him over to the tent camping area and parted ways after exchanging contact information.  This was just one of many, many personal connections we've made on this trip so far.  If you read through this entire story, I hope it gave you a little glimpse into one of our days.  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


**Warning** Although I had a good night's sleep, I am a bit under the weather fighting a head, sinus, ear ache and cough.  So if I sound wonky, blame it on that.

Arriving at our campsite night before last (after leaving Tennessee and arriving in Kentucky) we discovered, much to our chagrin, that it did not have good internet or cell service.  It was too late to find somewhere new so Doug had to get up in the morning and COMMUTE to a McDonald's to work!  He found one with wifi AN HOUR AND A HALF away from camp.  We pretty much decided the minute that happened that it wasn't going to work, so our two week reservation was canceled and we packed it up to move on into THE GREAT UNKNOWN!

This morning we were at Nolin Lake, KY and we made our way down to Mammoth Cave.  Now, when they say "Mammoth" they aren't a'kiddin! It's over 400 miles of natural cave, mapped, surveyed, and preserved.  We explored about a mile of it on our easy cave tour "for those with small children."  I kind of wish we had a week to stay here, but sadly there isn't really anywhere to explore that isn't on a tour.

We did see quite a bit of wildlife at Mammoth Cave, or at least on the way there.  We saw two deer, a bunch of wild turkeys, a chipmunk, a bat, and a few squirrels.

Driving on, we went through Abraham Lincoln's birthplace and saw his cabin enshrined (literally) in a memorial built on a hilltop in 1911. It was kind of creepy.  I know he was a respected President whose life was tragically taken, but still, the memorial seems over the top for a President.

We ended up at My Kentucky Home State Park, named after Stephen Foster's Song.  It's a nice little campground with WIFI (yeah!) a fun play area for the kids, fireflies, and nice people so far.  Speaking of nice people we've met ALOT of them on our trip.  The nice ones far outweigh the nasty ones so far :)

Leave us a comment to say HI!  We'd love to hear from you!


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Great Outing, Great Food, Great Day!

We crossed the Appalachian mountains today to go visit Biltmore Estate in North Carolina.  It was stunning.  Perhaps I was being a bit cynical but I really expected it to more ostentatious and gaudy.  Honestly, it was vast, historical, beautiful and breathtaking.

 think my Emily put it best when she said it was like being in the Chateau in Beauty and the Beast complete with a Golden Ballroom and immense Library.  

After we toured the mansion for two hours, we went to the Creamery and enjoyed sundaes and banana splits.  We visited the gift shops and Dad got a new baseball cap for Fathers Day.

At the tasting room the kids imbibed grape juice, while we had some fermented fruit of the vine.  We explored the farm a little but we were all pretty tired after and decided to look for somewhere for dinner. 

We had talked about trying to sample BBQ in several states before we leave the South and so I googled restaurants in Asheville, NC and sorted by BBQ.  Luella's was the first to come up and I'm so glad it did!  The staff was so friendly and fun.  The food was soooooo delicious and plentiful.  We like BBQ because basically we are a family of carnivores and Luella's was perfect.  Add to it the fact that they had hula hoops and bean bags to toss.  If you are ever in Asheville, go to Luella's! 

We have met so many nice people along the way who are truly taken without family and our travels.  

Hope y'all follow along and enjoy journeying with us!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Guess what?! GOD USES THE GRIT!

How does a Rock Tumbler work?

You start with rough stones, add grit, and a bit of moisture.  Then you tumble... over... and over... and over... and over, for a month or more.  

We've been on the road a month!  We've seen so many amazing things in just that time!  We took awhile to unwind, to get sick, to get better, and we've hit our stride somewhat, but now, it seems we are in a bit of a 33 foot Rock Tumbler right now.  The "grit" for me is sleeplessness, mostly and laundry, (clothing IS a result of the Fall, you know!) and the lack of an established schedule.  (I can fix that!)

There is other "grit" for various ones of us, but I'll just share my own grit. 

Guess what?! GOD USES THE GRIT! 

I've been living in Romans 15 for the past few weeks. The words "Encouragement and Endurance" appear over and over. 

Romans 15:1-2, 5 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.  Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. (5)May the God who gives ENCOURAGEMENT AND ENDURANCE give you a spirit of UNITY among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus so that with one heart and mind you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our goal and desire in our family is to glorify the Lord and LOVE each other.  While the rough edges are being slowly worn away and the grit of life rubs us "wrong" over and over and over again.  It can all be for His glory as we surrender to him asking Him to show us our own sin and bring us to repentance and holiness.  

*credit to my husband for the rock tumbler analogy!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

CHINA! It's really happening!

Talking with the team leaders this evening and briefly chatting with some of the team members I was inspired again about going to China.  It has seemed like a far off event for so long, we are down to weeks, four weeks until I leave.  

Pray for me if you will for a few specific areas

- Caleb, he is my biggest worry because he is still nursing. I had hoped to have him nearly weaned by now, but that's not happening because he is a little toot, different than all the others.  He will take a bottle and he can drink milk, so we are good there, however, he's still up a lot during the night and I'm the only one who does nighttime here... So that will be a challenge.  I'm going to try to pump for the next four weeks so at least he will have some familiar flavor for comfort.

- Vision, pray that   God would enlarge my vision on this trip for what He can do.  He's so faithful and I don't know exactly what He will do, but I know it will be good.

-Family peace, harmony and protection while I am gone. NINE DAYS! Wow... I am picturing the Bill Cosby routine, "Dad is great! He gives us chocolate cake!"

I am really excited about going. I will see the Great Wall, Tiannemen Square, the Olympic Village and the Forbidden City.  But mostly, I'm excited to see the kids, To hug them and sing with them, and play and rock and love on them.  Maria's is a special place I'm told, I'm very excited to SEE it.

Please bring my trip before The Lord in prayer however He leads you to pray, then let me know you're praying for me!

Blessings friends, I love and miss y'all.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

**Updated with Pics! Rocky Top Tennessee? More Like RAINY Top!

Today we drove through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and climbed to the top of Clingmans Dome... 

In the rain.  

It was so lush and so beautiful.  The only downside to the rain was the lack of visibility.  

Well that and the fact that we were wet... 

We were not nearly as wet as we could have been though.  You see, we wore these lovely blue Great Smoky Mountain garbage bags, I mean rain ponchos, which we purchased at the National Park store,  to keep the rain off of us.

Poor Lily Anne, She was "told"
Doug, my husband, kept telling people we were celebrating National Blueberry Awareness Day or alternatively, National Trash Bag Appreciation Day.  Besides the obvious fashion statement, the other side benefit was that they trapped in the heat keeping us warm AND dry.  It was pretty chilly up there.
We are TOO COOL for Blueberry Bags!

For those of us with, ahem... issues with heights, lets just say the wind blowing our poncho like
 a parachute while we climbed up the corkscrew ramp to the top of a spindly tower, was a bit unnerving.
My determined little Sarah Bear

Everyone made it though, even the little ones.  One of my favorite times was walking with Sarah who is five, hearing her say over and over,  "I can do it!  I can do it!"  Walking uphill, up a mountain, for a half mile feels a whole lot farther than walking half a mile. 

Caleb was in his element. We had to wake him up from a nap when we arrived at the park and I was concerned that he'd be grumpy.  Nope! Not a bit! He LOVED the stroller ride up the mountain so much that people coming down, towards us kept commenting on his smile and giggling!  He was literally giddy, more so than we've ever seen him unless someone is actively ticking or playing with him.  So put mountain climbing on his list of activities he loves, along with swimming.

While we were driving down the mountain, we were sobered as we were stuck in traffic due to an accident which was being cleared.  Folks had seen a Mama Bear and her cubs crossing the road, they tried to swerve, so they wouldn't hit her and they lost control flipping their SUV, according to the man in the car behind us.  We saw the SUV and it looked rumpled, but not destroyed.  We prayed for that family and for our safety as well.  
Whew!  We will always remember our hike in the rain in the blueberry ponchos to the top of Clingmans Dome.

It seems that the only sure thing about this trip is that nothing works out exactly according to schedule or plan.  Learning that its not a bad thing, it's just a thing, is the challenge.  

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

More (Beautiful) Chaos

I am not sure exactly why the 1.5 number stuck in my head, but it did.  I was convinced that the park we had scheduled was 1.5 hours from where we were staying in Lebanon.  

When we got in the van, all packed up mid-day to start our anticipated short journey, Doug opened the GPS on his phone and exclaimed, "This can't be right!"  I quickly opened my Way Cool Pink iPad to the (apparently still unfamiliar) map app and lookie there! Four hours and eight minutes, 242 miles, in black and white.

It's real easy to preach to my kids about life not turning out the way you think it's going to, it's quite another to actually have a good attitude when it happens to me!

We made it to the camp site in daylight.  It was still 8:00pm, but that's only because half way through our day we passed  into Eastern time.  

We had the most amazing evening watching 10,000 fire flies on the bank of the river that runs near our camp.  I have seen a firefly here and there before, but nothing like this.  They were everywhere! The kids caught a bunch of them in a plastic container and we watched them up close.

So what started out as a pretty frustrating day ended up with beauty and blessing.  

And Some day we will arrive at a campsite before bedtime.  And I promise I'll write about it.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Reflections on Tennessee

Tennessee definitely had a rough start for us. 

Arriving at 8:30pm after a 650 mile drive with sickness on the horizon, we should have known it was going to be rough.  I won't rehearse it but you can read about it here.  

We started out on the road Monday morning in Hot Springs, Arkansas and we drove… and drove… and drove… 650 miles from Hot Springs, Arkansas to Lebanon, Tennessee.  It was too far.  

(But at least we got some good car pics!)

We made a stop in Memphis to see some Elvis history and unfortunately it’s all tourist trappy (there’s a reason that rhymes with crappy…) 

But we did see Sun Records. 

The most memorable thing about that was being honked at by a punk-looking girl as we were crossing the street to the studio only to realize the girl was an employee returning from a break.  Welcome to Memphis.  Memphis was dirty and unfriendly.  We only drove through it but didn’t see anything that made us want to go back. 

We arrived at our campsite an hour east of Nashville at about 8:30pm and were in bed by 10:30pm.  Getting all settled in, we found good laundry facilities, rustic bathrooms, a spacious playground, and NO INTERNET OR CELL SERVICE.  It cramped our style, but we survived!

I have to say our experience at Show Hope was the turning point completely redeeming our time in Tennessee.  

Several of us rode horses.  (You'll have to ASK DOUG to post his video...maybe if he gets enough requests...)

I took the kids to the State Capitol and Tennessee State History Museum while Doug was in Houston puking his guts out.  We saw some amazing architecture and enjoyed reading all the Memorials in the courtyard.

All in all I'd say our time in Tennessee has been a "win".  It's time to move from Nashville to Knoxville today.  We are looking forward to seeing more history in Davy Crockett Park and touring God's handiwork in the Great Smoky Mountains.  

Hope you're enjoying touring with us.  We are missing our friends so leave a note if you can, we'd LOVE to hear from you!