And if not, He is still good…

And if not, He is still good….

I know and understand what that means.

• I lose my job; He is still good.
• Paul loses his job; He is still good.
• I get sick; He is still good.
• Paul gets sick; He is still good.
• I wreck our car; He is still good.
• Paul wrecks our car; He is still good.
• A family member gets sick; He is still good.
• A family member suffers a terrible disease; He is still good.

Above all, the Lord is still good. And yet….it’s so hard.

On Sunday night, October 11th, my brother-in-law, Jeff, suffered a severe stroke. On Tuesday night, October 12th, he had a life-saving surgery to remove part of his skull because of the swelling in his brain. (Without that surgery, he would’ve died). He is completely paralyzed on his right side and has permanent brain damage, but to what extent, we do not know.

But through it all, He is still good.

Jeff’s life will never be the same. He may never surf again. He may never sail again. He may never paddle again.

And yet, He is still good.

In the fourteenth chapter of Exodus, as the Israelites were fleeing Egypt, the Lord brought them around the desert road by the Red Sea. As they were traveling, Pharoah was in pursuit.
“As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord.” (vs. 10)

Not understanding that God was in control, they cried out to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (vs. 11-12)

The Israelites, the very people who had just escaped slavery from Egypt, were now crying out, pleading for their lives, wishing to go back to the familiarity of Egypt, willing to go back to slavery, instead of trusting in God’s Way. They were so afraid of what was to come; they were not even willing to trust in the One who had brought them out of their place of despair. The Israelites wanted to stay in their comfort zones. For fear of something bad happening, questioning whether the Lord would come through for them, they wanted to stay where they knew they were safe.

But….great things never come to those who stay in their comfort zones.

Am I saying God allowed Jeff to have stroke to pull him out of his comfort zone? Absolutely not.

Am I saying Jeff’s stroke happened because he was too comfortable? No.

But, am I saying Jeff’s stroke can and will be a way for our family to draw closer to God and strengthen our faith, pulling us out of our comfort zone to learn how to completely rely on Him? Yes, I am.

I don’t know what He’s doing, but I know who He is.

I know He is a God of Love.
1 John 4:8- “…..God is Love.”
I know He is a God of Compassion.
2 Corinthians 1:3-“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort”
I know He is a God of Healing.
Psalm 107:20-“He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.”
I know He is a God of Restoration.
Romans 8:18-“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
I know He is a God of Miracles.
Psalm 50:15-“and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”
I know He is a God of Deliverance.
1 Samuel 17:37-“And David said, ‘The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.’ And Saul said to David, ‘Go, and the Lord be with you!”

And I know that even if things don’t go our way, He is still good. And, He is still God.

As the Israelites were complaining, Moses responded, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (vs. 13 and 14)

• Do not be afraid.
• Stand firm.
• The Lord will fight for you.
• Be still.

See, in one verse the Lord promises come through.

Every fear. Every doubt. Every concern. Every question–Can all be wiped away with one verse.

And the Lord continued to stay with them. Despite their grumbling and complaining, the Lord still provided a way.
Exodus 14:19 promises the Lord will always be with us….“Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.”

This verse is a promise that Darkness can never overcome the Light, as long as our faith is in the One who goes before us to provide a way.

As Moses was growing old and no longer able to provide leadership to the Israelites, he commissioned Joshua to lead. In his last charge to the Israelites Moses commanded them to “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble…for the Lord your God is the One who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

When all else fails and the world closes in around us, the Lord is still on His throne.

Still providing a way for us. Despite our circumstances, He is still there, lighting our path to a better tomorrow.

And in Jeff’s situation, tomorrow is all we have. Small victories. Baby steps. We don’t look at the future beyond tomorrow. And, in some moments, we haven’t even looked at the future beyond the next hour. And, that’s OK. Living in each moment and celebrating every small victory is proof that God is still on His throne.

And, because He lives, we can face tomorrow.

Backpacking Bug….Again

About a month ago, Paul caught the backpacking bug….again. So, he and Graham planned trip #3 for this year. The last two times he’s been backpacking this year, they’ve gone to Missouri. But, this time Graham decided he wanted to go to Michigan. He found a 20-mile loop in the Huron-Manistee National Forest that he wanted to try. So, Monday morning they were off!

ready to go!

ready to go!

This was at 4:30 in the morning, waiting for Graham to come pick him up! (Notice the short sleeve shirt and shorts)! The first time they went backpacking it was SNOWING!! And, the 2nd trip it was COLD and RAINY, so this trip, by far, had the best weather!

Paul said the scenery was also the prettiest out of all three trips….I don’t know much about these pictures (I still haven’t talked to him “about” the trip, but I’m putting the pictures up anyway)….

Beginning of the trailhead (see Graham in the distance)

Beginning of the trailhead (see Graham in the distance)

I think, from looking at the next couple of pictures, they walked around a dam.

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Handsome backpacker

Paul said they camped by the river (and even swam a little bit in the river)….

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Graham's backpacking hammock

Graham’s backpacking hammock

Paul's tent (isn't it TINY)!?!

Paul’s tent (isn’t it TINY)!?!

I think Paul was right….look at the scenery!

DSCF5429 DSCF5430 DSCF5431 DSCF5432Even though they didn’t quite last the full 20 miles (Paul got dehydrated and his hip was hurting, so they turned around at about the 12-mile marker), he still had a great time! He comes home every time and wants to go again!

A Much Needed Vacation!!

After 1 week of Staff Training and 7 weeks of Summer Camp, we were in need of a vacation! Camp was over on Friday, July 24th, and we left on Saturday, the 25th! (No need to waste time waiting to leave)!!

Because we were driving to Colorado, we mapped out our route so we could go through Hannibal, MO, to see my cousin, Clint. (He has since moved back to Texas, but at the time, he lived there).

Clint and me

Clint and me

He is 19 and living on his own, so I’m sure it was nice for him to see family. We had a nice visit with him, despite the fact that we were supposed to eat at 6PM and didn’t eat until 7:30-at Long John’s (cause we’re classy like that)!!

Saturday night we spent the night in Cameron, MO and then went to Kansas City, KS to go to Schlitterbahn the next day.

the only picture of the day!

The only picture of the day! (it was CRAZY sunny and I didn’t have sunglasses)!

Monday was our LONG DAY of traveling–about 9 hours in the car!! But, alas, we arrived at the Inn at the Lake!

 

across the Slumgullion Pass

across the Slumgullion Pass

Inn at the Lake  Lake City, CO

Inn at the Lake
Lake City, CO

view from our room on the 2nd floor

view from our room on the 2nd floor

the 2nd floor porch

the 2nd floor porch

The Inn at the Lake holds a special place in our heart because of the owners, David and Rosie. Paul has known David and Rosie since 2004, when they first opened the Inn at the Lake. Paul worked at the Inn the 1st two summers it was open (2004 and 2005), so he’s known them for a long time. Paul and I were able to go to the Inn for honeymoon and then again in 2009 (here, too). But, it’s obviously been 6 years, so it was a much needed visit for our souls!

We spent many evenings (and mornings) sitting on the porch, watching the hummingbirds…

Hummingbird feeder on the porch

Hummingbird feeder on the porch

The Inn at the Lake sits on Lake San Cristobal, so the view is just gorgeous….

creek outside the Inn

creek outside the Inn

Lake San Cristobal

Lake San Cristobal

Lake San Cristobal

Lake San Cristobal

We did a nice combination of “Let’s do something!” and “Let’s not doing anything!!”

Tuesday we went White Water Rafting with Scenic Tours. It was more of a “Scenic” Rafting Trip, rather than a White Water Rafting trip, but it was nice, nonetheless.

Paul

Paul

"Scenic" Rafting Trip

“Scenic” Rafting Trip

Wednesday night we went into town and played BINGO! (We didn’t win anything, but then again, we only had one card each. There were plenty of people that had 4-5 cards each)!

B-I-N-G-O

B-I-N-G-O

After BINGO we went to Poker Alice for pizza (YUM)!!! and then went to the San Juan Soda Shop for ice cream!

San Juan Soda Shop ice cream

San Juan Soda Shop ice cream

On Thursday morning we “TRIED” to go hiking. We had a plan of going to Crystal Lake, but it didn’t quite go as planned. The trail up to the trailHEAD was about 2 miles and was SWARMING with mosquitoes!!! After about an hour of hiking STRAIGHT UP and killing mosquitoes, we decided to call it quits and hike back down!! It was an unsuccessful hike to our original destination, but it was good to be outside (despite the whelps we had when we got back home from killing mosquitoes).

Crystal-Larson Trail "Head"

Crystal-Larson Trail “Head”

creek on the hiking trail

creek on the hiking trail

view from our hike

view from our hike

 

Friday morning we headed home! (But not until we took our obligatory pictures with David and Rosie)!

This next picture is actually with Jeff, one of the volunteers that was working that week. He and his wife, Dana, along with another couple, Josh and Eva, were so fun to hang out with!! I’m glad we met them–maybe we’ll see them again next year!! 🙂

photobombed by Jeff

photobombed by Jeff

Cute picture of us

Cute picture of us

Me, David, Rosie, and Paul

Me, David, Rosie, and Paul

It was a nice vacation; I was NOT ready to leave, and I was certainly NOT ready for the 19-hour car ride home….it was L-O-N-G!!

Overall, vacation was great!!

Colorado sunset at the Inn at the Lake

Colorado sunset at the Inn at the Lake

Dear Sunsets, I will miss you!!

Texas Vacation 2015 Part Three

Last post about Texas…

A.K.A., otherwise known as the day  the water pipe busted, and we had to go 24 hours without water! (A busted water pipe is a great way to get rid of company)!! Nobody wants to stick around when they can’t drink or go to the bathroom!! (We started out with 16 people at the house and by 3:00, we were down to 7)!

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After spending Sunday with no water, I loaded up early Monday morning and drove down to Giddings…

I comtemplated back and forth whether or not I wanted to go to Giddings while I was in Texas….ultimately I decided I wanted to see some of the H.S. girls (that we knew from church/school), so I just went for the day. I knew I wouldn’t be able to see everybody (and that was O.K.)–so I just chose who I wanted to see and was satisfied with that.

Monday morning I went to Jack and Willie’s house for about an hour. They are a really sweet couple that go to FBC and kind of “adopted” us while we were in Giddings. Willie is still upset that we moved! 🙂 After that visit I had coffee with Mrs. Williams, who was the PE teacher at Giddings Intermediate, when I subbed there. She and I became pretty good friends, and I really enjoy hanging out with her. She filled me in on all the latest gossip around the school, which was really fun to hear! (I’m glad she and I were able to connect while I was there)….

Then, I was able to have lunch with 5 of the girls that I knew really well while we were there. I enjoyed seeing them, and I’m glad I went.

Madison and me

Madison and me

Victoria and me

Victoria and me

Kimmy, Dana, Jaycie, and me

Kimmy, Dana, Jaycie, and me

(This picture makes me laugh because Kimmy has antlers)!

After being in Texas for 8 days, Tuesday was the day I was scheduled to fly out. But, because I missed Walker so much I decided to go to back to Georgetown and see him again, before I flew out.

Walker and me

Walker and me

I picked him up from football practice, and we hung out for awhile, before going to lunch. (I bought his lunch this time)….

I stayed as long as I could, before I had to get on the road to go to the airport. He and his family were leaving for Florida that afternoon, so I knew I couldn’t stay forever.

Again, I tried to pack him in my suitcase, but it didn’t work…..I tried to convince him to just move to Illinois, but I don’t think his dad would like that too much (nor would his girlfriend). 🙂

(I’m hoping we go back to Texas around the holidays, maybe in November or December, so I’ll see him again soon)!

The flight home was uneventful, and Paul was able to pick me up at the airport.

Overall, the trip was good. I’m glad I went, and I’m glad we had the impromptu Hubbard reunion over the 4th of July weekend….

 

Texas Vacation 2015 Part Two

Well, I left off in the last post with everyone swimming at Ridgewood….

Drake diving

Drake diving

Grady

Grady

Leslie

Leslie

Jackson

Jackson

Kainani

Kainani

Uncle Johnnie, Aunt Ila, and Mom

Uncle Johnnie, Aunt Ila, and Mom

Cute picture of Johnnie and Ila

Cute picture of Johnnie and Ila

Kainani and Aunt Ila

Kainani and Aunt Ila

After hanging out at the pool for a couple of hours, we all went back to the house and took the obligatory Hubbard reunion pictures….

Every time we get together, we take pictures. LOTS OF PICTURES!

The 7 Hubbard cousins: Callie, Marcy, Carla, Leslie, Dustin, Judson, and Tom

The 7 Hubbard cousins: Callie, Marcy, Carla, Leslie, Dustin, Judson, and Tom

The 3 original "outlaws" Charlene, Johnnie, and Mom

The 3 original “outlaws”
Charlene, Johnnie, and Mom

The 3 Hubbard children: Dad, Aunt Ila, and Uncle Tom

The 3 Hubbard children:
Dad, Aunt Ila, and Uncle Tom

The ENGAGED COUPLE--Mica and Jud

The ENGAGED COUPLE–Mica and Jud

Mother/Daughter: Marcy and Kainani

Mother/Daughter:
Marcy and Kainani

The Paul Hubbard Family: Drake, Leslie, Scott, Grady, Dad, Mom, Callie, Kainani, and Marcy

The Paul Hubbard Family:
Drake, Leslie, Scott, Grady, Dad, Mom, Callie, Kainani, and Marcy

The Butlers and Mom/Dad

The Butlers and Mom/Dad

The original 5

The original 5

The Hitt family: Lisa, Jackson, Ila, Ava, Johnnie, Stephanie, and Dustin

The Hitt family:
Lisa, Jackson, Ila, Ava, Johnnie, Stephanie, and Dustin

The Tom Hubbard Family: Mike, Meagan, Carla, Michelle, Clayton, Charlene, Tom, Tom, Julie, Mica, and Judson

The Tom Hubbard Family:
Mike, Meagan, Carla, Michelle, Clayton, Charlene, Tom, Tom, Julie, Mica, and Judson

The whole clan....

The whole clan….

After all the pictures we had a hot dog/s’more cookout (before the cousin’s dinner and before the fireworks)

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Ava, Jackson, and Michelle

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Kainani, Clayton, Drake, and Stephanie

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2nd cousins hanging out (with Aunt Marcy)

Well, enough pictures for this post….one more post to go!

Texas Vacation 2015 Part One

Well, my first trip back to Texas (after moving 9 months ago) was a success! (Believe it or not, I wasn’t really ready to come home yet)….shocking, I know?!!

I have SO MANY pictures from my time there. So, most of this post will just be pictures–which is probably OK with a lot of people. So, here we go.

I flew in (to Killeen) on Monday (rented a car) and drove STRAIGHT TO GEORGETOWN!! Walker (our “son” from Giddings) moved to Georgetown back in November, shortly after we moved to Illinois. I knew I HAD TO SEE HIM when I went to Texas, so that’s the first place I went. Words cannot describe how I felt when I saw him. I had no idea how much I missed him, until he bear hugged me and wouldn’t let go. I was determined to pack him in my bag and carry him home with me. But, alas, he wouldn’t fit.

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I love this kid!

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🙂

Just for kicks….here’s Walker in 2012 (when we first me him)!

Walker, Morgan, and Victoria

Walker, Morgan, and Victoria

He has grown up SO MUCH; it’s unbelievable….he’s not even the same kid he was when we left Giddings last November.

Walker and me October 12, 2014

Walker and me
October 12, 2014

As soon as I drove in we went to lunch. I picked Whataburger because we don’t have that in Illinois! 🙂 I told Walker to go ahead and order because I would pay for his (like I have always done). He said no–he was going to buy mine! He said he could never repay us for all the times we took him out. (As I said, he’s certainly grown up since I’ve seen him last)….

It was such a wonderful visit. I had no idea how much I missed him!

After I left Georgetown I drove to Temple to see my father-in-law and sister-in-law. Driving from Georgetown to Waco, you drive straight through Temple, so I thought it was a no-brainer to stop and eat with them. Then, it was on to Waco.

Leslie and her family showed up on Tuesday….our trips overlapped by about 5 days, which was a good amount of time!!

Mom/Dad

Mom/Dad

Even after 50 years she still sits on his lap!

Grady LOVES the Uncle Wiggly game

Grady LOVES the Uncle Wiggly game

Grady LOVES to play games, so he and my mom played a lot of games while they were visiting!

picking locks

picking locks

My dad taught Drake and Grady how to pick locks!! 🙂 (Not quite sure that’s a skill they need to know)!!

Grady and Leslie

Grady and Leslie

The Butlers did a lot of sleeping late and napping while they were at my parent’s house

playing Baseball/Golf

playing Baseball/Golf

We played card games 2-3 times while I was there, as well.

nice sunburn from going to the pool

nice sunburn from going to the pool

Obviously I haven’t been outside in awhile. I immediately got burned when we were at the pool on Wednesday.

WHATABURGER!!

WHATABURGER!!

Illinois doesn’t have Whataburger, so I stocked up on sauce! We now have 6 bottles of ketchup in our fridge! My dad asked me why I needed to buy THIS particular ketchup?! Because it’s the best–DUH!!

Because Leslie and her family were coming to Texas and because I was coming, the 4th of July weekend kind of turned into a mini family reunion! It wasn’t really meant to be that, but it happened. And…I’m so glad it did!

On Friday, everyone started showing up. We ended up with 16 people at my parent’s house on Friday afternoon. By Saturday we had 23 and by Saturday night we had 27!! It was great!!

Saturday morning we all got up early and participated in the Woodway 4th of July parade. The parade was started in 1987 (MOM started it), and we’ve participated almost every year since!

The whole gang

The whole gang

Some of the 2nd cousins

Some of the 2nd cousins

Dad and me

Dad and me

Mom/Dad

Mom/Dad

Mom and me

Mom and me

Clayton, Michelle, and Meagan

Clayton, Michelle, and Meagan

Mom/Marcy/me

Mom/Marcy/me

Drake and Papa

Drake and Papa

My cousin, Dustin, and his daughter, Stephanie came from California, along with his girlfriend, Lisa, and her two kids, Ava and Jackson. (And my Aunt Ila and Uncle Johnnie)

Dustin and Lisa

Dustin and Lisa

Leslie/Mom

Leslie/Mom

Lisa, Ava, and Jackson

Lisa, Ava, and Jackson

Dustin and Stephanie

Dustin and Stephanie

The parade is only about a mile away from my parent’s house, so 4 of the kids walked home!

kids walking home

kids walking home

On Saturday afternoon we all went to Ridgewood to swim! There were 25 of us, I think. I think everyone had a great time!

Uncle Johnnie, Aunt Ila, and Mom

Uncle Johnnie, Aunt Ila, and Mom

Meagan, Michelle, and Grady

Meagan, Michelle, and Grady

Dustin

Dustin participating in the Splash Contest

Marcy

Marcy

Ava

Ava

Clayton

Clayton

Well, the rest of the pictures will have to be in another post–I’m having trouble loading pictures on to this one!

Someone Will Always Hate Peaches

Last week at camp was hard.

Teenage Girls are hard.

Their outer shells are hard and calloused; while, inside, they are hurting, wanting so bad to be loved by others.

But, it’s so hard to love them when they hurt others. It’s so hard to love them when they’re just mean and nasty to each other. It’s so hard to love them when they have no respect for you. And it’s so hard to love them when they don’t love themselves.

Their sense of value and self-worth is based on how much they can hurt someone else to make themselves feel better. It’s so sad but true.

And last week they took that anger out on me. And it hurt.

  • It hurt that they called me names.
  • It hurt that they called me out on all my faults.
  • It hurt that they wouldn’t stop.
  • It hurt when they denied doing anything wrong.
  • It hurt when they laughed about it.

But, most of all it hurt me because they were hurting.

Through disdained looks they judged me.

Through smart aleck remarks they judged me.

Through sneering and jabbing they judged me.

Through hurtful words they judged me.

Through sneering they judged me.

But, through words that, ironically hurt me, they were really begging for love.

Luckily, for me, I didn’t take what they said to heart. I didn’t care they called me mean, ugly, rude, a snob, bogus (whatever THAT means), a “smart ___ white girl.”

My self-worth does not come from whether or not our campers like me. My self-worth does not come from whether anyone likes me.

Someone will always hate peaches.

You-can-be-the-ripest-juiciest-peach-in-the-world-but-there-will-always-be-someone-who-hates-peaches.And that’s OK.

I will never be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s freeing to realize I will never please that ONE particular person(s) nor do I have to. My self-worth and value does not come for someone else’s view of me. It does (and only should) come from our Heavenly Maker and His grace alone.

th(Luke 12:6-7)

Some will get me. Some will not. And that’s OK!

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10

I know the girls last week didn’t mean what they said; I just think they have been fed a lie.

I think they’ve been taught they have to be the best at everything. They have to always be alert and aware of what’s going on around them to live up to the expectation that they are greater than those around them. They tear others down to lift themselves up. They laugh and make fun of others because it gets them attention–negative attention–but attention nonetheless. Therefore, they have won. They have won the attention of others. They have accomplished the task of being better….of winning. They have lived the lie:

  • That they are the most important.
  • That the world revolves around them.
  • That they are always right.

Regardless of how many people get stepped on in the process, they have climbed the ladder of success.

But, that success is based on a worldly definition. A definition covered in shame, regret, hurt, pain, and self-worth that is steeped in how the world sees us, not God.

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These girls live in a world that, although, they are loved; very few are cared for. Because if someone cared, then we would care enough to want them to change. And that’s scary.

Scary to admit that you could be different.

  • That you could treat others with kindness instead of scorn.
  • That you could lift someone else up instead of tearing them down.
  • That you could use encouraging words instead of insults.

It would require a change of heart. A complete 180 degree turn. A difference. And, for some of these girls, staying on top is what keeps them alive. Therefore, they’re not ready to make that difference.

But, until they do, I will continue to pray for them.

I will pray they have eyes to see the best in people, a heart that forgives the worst, a mind that forgets the bad, and a soul that never loses faith in God.