Hello, my name is Valerie. I’m a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mom living in Oklahoma. Oh wait – you remember me? I thought I should introduce myself since I’ve been away so long.
I began last week sharing photos for our family and friends of our two week vacation. I have gotten off track with posting since we’ve been home though. The older children are volunteering at our library this summer and there are plenty of projects at home to keep me hopping. However, I wanted to continue sharing the blessings God gave us during our travels.
One of the best things about this trip was getting to see so many friends around the country! As we traveled east on I-40 (through Memorial Day gridlock) I was so excited to get to stop for supper in Memphis, Tennessee, and visit with my friend, Ava, her husband, Robert, and their daughter, Gracie. I first became acquainted with Ava through a Christian ladies forum (in the days before Facebook really caught on). We met face-to-face in May of 2010 when Gracie was four months old and I was still expecting Matthew. Since then, we’ve kept a strong friendship going through email, Facebook, texting and a few in-person meetings. From the beginning, our hearts seemed to be knit. Whenever we get together, we pick up right where we left off. I do believe we could talk for hours and never realize that hours had passed. It was a joy to be able to see her. I used to be three hours from Memphis, and now I am nine hours away. I hope and pray our paths cross again, very soon!
Me and my friend, Ava! We met up at Chick-Fil-A and time sprouted wings.
My younger children loved playing with Gracie in the play place.
From there, we drove to Nashville, spent the night and hit the road early the next day for North Carolina. We were able to stay in a missions house at my sister’s church. The house was gorgeous: four bedrooms, two bath, full kitchen, complete with a washer and dryer! Thank you, Gospel Light Baptist Church, for this blessing!
Melanie made us a welcome sign and knitted this decoration. She is amazing. It is now adorning my own home, a treasured reminder of our visit.
On Sunday, I was an honored guest in my sister’s Sunday school class. Here’s one half of the class. They made me feel like a VIP. I hated to tell them I was really a nobody. Ha!
Here’s the other half. I miss those cute, funny girls!
Matthew was pretty worn out by the third day of our visit. He rallied though and managed to stay up late at his first sleepover. According to Melanie, he showered her with hugs and kisses, and regaled her with many stories. Her favorite was the story he told her about “Happyland” and the boy named “Toxic”. (Don’t ask me, I just work here.) The girls loved spending time with their cousin, Stephen.
I was so excited to get to meet my Facebook friend, Laura, for the first time! Laura started reading my blog eons ago and commented that she knew my sister. I had just missed meeting her when we last traveled to NC seven years ago. I made sure to schedule a meeting with her this time, and yes, she still wanted to meet up after all these years! She even made me and Melanie some delicious peanut butter chocolate fudge, which was delicious. Thank you, Laura!
After a heart-rending farewell to my sister and her family, we headed north to see Terry’s parents in Ohio. (More on that in a later post.) Lauren was really looking forward to seeing her friends, Morgan and Claire. They all chat often via Facebook and the phone, but nothing beats “in person”! Claire and Morgan have been friends with each other since they were tiny, so the fact that they both opened their hearts to Lauren means a great deal to us. Lauren doesn’t have any close friends here, so she definitely had the time of her life. They got to go shopping, eat out and even have a sleepover. They made a lot of memories – and took a lot of photos! – together. Thank you, Claire and Morgan, for your kindness!
Lauren, Claire and Morgan at The Wilds in Zanesville, Ohio. Lauren sent them each an “Oklahoma” tee shirt last Christmas.
Claire and Lauren wanted to do this popular pose together. I can’t tell you how many times it took to get a photo of Lauren not smiling. But I’m glad she couldn’t stop smiling. 🙂
Leslie and Laci with Claire’s older sister, Paige.
I missed the chance to get a picture of Morgan and her sister, Allison, the Sunday we were in Ohio. I did get a pic of our kids with Claire’s family. L-R: Quinn, Paige, Mitch, Lauren; (front row) Laci, Leslie, Claire.
It was an extra-special treat to get to fellowship with my friend, Stephanie. I first met her when we visited my in-laws at their church in 2009. Stephanie and I have grown closer over the years through Facebook and the old-fashioned post office. She is a blessing and encouragement in so many ways. To the ladies in my church: this is the artist behind the birthday cards you receive from me! Stephanie is a fabulous scrapbooker/card-maker. I started buying cards from her last year to send to the ladies in my church. At first, a few ladies came to me, astonished, asking, “Did you make this card?” For about two seconds I thought about taking the credit…but, I didn’t. They would have soon figured out that I do not have an artistic bone in my body. Fortunately, I have a friend who does! The above photo is our serious pose.
Then, we decided to be like our daughters and took *this* pose! 🙂
Because my siblings are several years older than me, I spent a lot of time as a child alone in my room reading or writing, or out on my bike. The person with whom I spent the most time was my dad. The Lord took him home suddenly in 2004. But God did not forsake me. He has blessed me exceedingly, abundantly, more than I could ask or think. I get a little choked up when I consider that I, who once was alone, have been given a wonderful husband, five children, a loving sister and these sweet ladies whom I am blessed to call “friends”.
To Melanie, Ava, Laura and Stephanie – thank you from the depths of my heart.