I am sure there are plenty of you out there waiting to see pictures and hear about how our Independence day weekend went. Let's just say it was so busy that I am still recovering from all the festivities. There were many tears shed but also many new memories made. I, for one, am incredibly grateful for all that I have been given...a beautiful home, six incredible children, wonderful family and friends, a great neighborhood, a truly grand country to live in, and above all the gift of faith.
We started our festivities on the 3rd of July. My next door neighbor and I host about four block parties a year and one of our favs is our annual Independence day bash. We block off the road so the kids can play games and ride bikes without the parents fearing a nasty collision between child and car. We play games, eat, drink, and get our faces painted.
Food, fun, and water. That is what all good parties need. This "water-works" is the key to staying cool on those hot summer days. The kids love riding their bikes through this contraption also. We love it because it keeps them busy for awhile. Oh...and to make this "play yard" even more exciting there is a nozzle to fill water balloons with.
Brown Sugar's buddy watching all the kids play in the "water-works". Brown Sugar goes to sleep each night saying "I wake up tomorrow and see Charlie at Church." What polar opposites: a white, white boy with red hair and a dark chocolate brown girl!
So, one of the fun events that we have is our own parade. The kids love taking the time to decorate their bikes. Don and Cindy live across the street and they chose to participate. We have decided that they are the official "grandparents" of the block. And, this year (and probably every year after) they were the honorary Grand Marshalls.
Riding up and down the street on anything that had wheels.
Brown Sugar after her ride in the wheelbarrow that was being pushed by her big brother, Goose. We ended our day with an assortment of fireworks, sparklers, and homemade ice cream. Let's see...I believe it was 12:30am before we headed in that night.
The next morning it was clean up time before the Kjeldgaard family and Fletcher kids came over. The morning was very overcast and gave us the impression that it was going to be cooler than the year before. Hah! The sun came out by about noon and we were all ready to hit the pool. The Kjeldgaard family supplied food which was very yummy. The cake above was the best of all.
Fun in the pool...
and more fun in the pool.
That night we went to the local team's baseball game. Our team is the farm team for the Colorado Rockies. Eric bought a six pack of tickets every year for the past seven years. We had not made one game this year so this was a big step for us. It was very sad to have one chair empty. I continue to get chills up and down my spine as I sing the Star Spangled Banner and watch the gentleman take their caps off.
On the 4th, the local American Legion group does an honorary burning of the flag. I will be honest and tell you that I completely lost it. I just could not stop sobbing. These flags that they were burning had been flown over the graves of those who have fought for our freedom. In other words, these flags that were now worn from use flew over cemetaries that house the graves of our military....just like the one that Eric is buried at.
Three groups of men inspect the flags to make sure that they truly are in need of being replaced. Then, as they light it they have a 21 gun salute just as Eric got for his burial at the National cemetary.
Most people never get the chance to see this honorable discharge of the flag. We are blessed that the city sees fit to allow the American Legion to perform this ceremony so that a huge grouping of people can witness it.
Of course, after this ceremony we were ready for the fireworks. As a gentleman sang God Bless America the fireworks started blazing the sky. My heart ached as I missed Eric's arm being around my shoulder. But, my heart also rejoiced as I realized that what he was experiencing was far greater than the thrill of any fireworks display. Thankfully they did not play "I'm Proud to be an American" this year. It is a usual favorite but we were grateful to not have to bear through it. Eric would belt out the words to this song with the rest of us. He took his job seriously in the Navy and loved the country that God had placed him in.
And, is there a better way to enjoy the game and fireworks then with friends? We had a group of people from our church who also attended the game but sat in a different location. Some of them came down to keep us company.
After all the fireworks we hung around and let others deal with the traffic. Letting a couple of thousand people out of a stadium at once can reek havoc on the small neighborhood streets surroudning the stadium. While we waited the kids joined forces with some families from our church and played some games out on the lawn. By the time we got home it was 11:30pm.
Saturday was filled with a lot of yard work and house work. Boo helped make some food for the Lord's day while the rest of us were plucking leaves from the bushes, clearing debris that had collected, and trying desperately to corral our hens. The last ended up being very unsuccessful which means my garden has been pecked to death. Ugh! At one point I got really frustrated and wondered how in the world was I going to be able to keep up on all of this yard work. Eric did all of that and the finances. I have had to take on both of those responsibilities and continue to try to keep the house up and eventually start school again. Whew! I just get tired thinking about it all. I was reminded of a sweet poem that Elisabeth Eliott sent me once. It is called "Do the Next Thing". Someday I will write it out for you but for now I am sure you can figure out the gist of the poem by its title.
Sunday, the Lord's day, we spent at church enjoying fellowship with our church family. We had lunch with them and then we celebrated the life of a new edition to our church with a baby blessing. Everything seemed to go well. After cleaning up we headed home with 11 other people. One of the gentleman in our congregation is an incredible cook and wine connoisseur. i can attest to the good cooking...everything tasted fabulous and the wine was incredible. The adults enjoyed great discussions and we ended singing psalms from the Psalter. All in all it was a wonderful day as well. One of the families that had come over helped clean up the kitchen adn then we were off to bed. I think we headed that direction about 11:30pm that night as well.
So, as you can see we have been very busy and my physical being needed a break over the past couple of days. This whole week my children are all gone during the morning hours helping and enjoying a Vacation Bible School that our Pastor and his Wife are hosting to raise money to help them bring home the daughter they hope to adopt from Uganda. So, my mornings are free which has given me time to rest, think, read, pray, clean, and just be quiet.
Thanks for your prayers on our behalf. The moments of unbelievable grief are surrounded with such sweet embraces of peace through my days. I am grateful for the many, many people out there lifting us heavenward.
Also, our church rejoices over the healing of Mighty Joe Fletcher. He is at home now with my dear friend. Please continue to pray for her to have peace as she settles into her new life as a mommy to eight children. But, would you pray for her peace of mind as she tries to get to know what Joe's needs are and how to mother him during this season of his life?