Thursday, December 30, 2010

Socks, Sheets, and a Skillet

You know, there are several different types of gifts we get every Christmas. The standard, annual gifts that we know we are going to get because it is tradition; the gift that you didn't ask for and didn't really expect - it's usually the "sensible" one that your mom gets you because you "need" it; then there is the gift that you asked for, maybe even begged for. This Christmas, I was extremely blessed. I got gifts of all three types (and then some)!

1.) Socks. This is my "traditional" gift. Every year, in our stockings, we get socks. Ironic, right - socks in our stockings. Anyways...this year, though, I apparently hit the mother load where socks are concerned. I got socks in my stocking at home, socks in my stocking at my Grandma's house, and socks in my gift from my grandmother.

These are the socks from my mom. Sensible, white socks. Six pairs of them.
These are the socks I got in my gift from my grandma. There are six different colors and prints - yellow cheetah, purple zebra, you get the picture?

These are the socks we got in our stockings at Grandma's. Again, six different color combinations. Exciting, right?
Did you do the math? That's 18 pairs of socks! I have yet to wear all of them. I have made effort, though. We'll see how it goes.

2.) Sheets. A couple of weeks before Christmas, I got a new-to-me mattress set for my bed. It needs extra-deep sheets. This didn't cross my mind while making my Christmas list. (By the way, my mom REQUIRES a Christmas list every year. It's a non-negotiable. Mine is detailed...and loooooong. I like to give people options!) So, mom and dad got me sheets. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the sheets. I wasn't expecting them, and I giggled. Then my sister (adopted sister - Mary Tran) started giggling. Then mom joined in. I guess it's a girl thing. We were cracking up, and dad thought we had lost it. He still gets a little upset if I mention my sheets and we start laughing again. His confusion just makes us laugh harder.

Here they are! Aren't they nice? Simmons Beautyrest!

3.) A skillet...and a cookbook. I have recently decided to be a chef. Well, I decided to cook more. I'm still gonna be a teacher, with a chef side-job. Sounds good, right? Therefore, there were a lot of kitchen-related items on my loooong and detailed Christmas list. One of which was a skillet. I was very specific...I wanted a large, teflon skillet with a lid that was both oven and stove-top safe. Man, did my Nanny come through! This skillet is 13 inches across and almost too heavy to pick up!

Isn't this pretty! It's Food Network brand.

The other MAJOR thing on my list was a certain cookbook. I follow this blog called the Pioneer Woman. She has a cookbook. I wanted it badly. I begged and bugged and begged and bugged my mom for it. She kept telling me it was too expensive. I almost bought it for myself (Merry Christmas to me!), but mom got upset with me so I backed off. I went through Christmas without getting it, and I was bummed. So I was SUPER excited when I got to my Grandma's house and opened this baby up! She still isn't real sure that I really, REALLY wanted it. Her super-excited gauge must be off this week, cause I was SUPER EXCITED!!

So, here it is. The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Back to that skillet, still don't believe how big it is? The book fits inside it!

This isn't everything I got for Christmas. My sister and my aunt got me some AMAZING Texas Longhorns stuff. Mary, gave me two handmade UT blankets, one lap-size and one that fits my bed. My aunt made me a bag and a super-cool scarf. My brother got me a bakeware set. (He just likes me to cook for him!)

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! Here's to a Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Giving Thanks

Every Sunday morning, after I leave me beautiful little 2-year-olds with their next teacher, I head over to our 1st - 3rd grade junior church. There is always a little trepidation when making that short walk across the parking lot. You never know just what to expect from week to week.

I'm not going to lie, today the natives were restless. We came up with all the standard's a full moon; they are ready for their break from school; they are just bad, bad kids (just kidding). When our cherubs are having days like today, you can't help but hope that whichever guy is giving the message/lesson that day is really, REALLY interesting, because if he isn't chances are there will be lots of little children in trouble before the day is over.

Jonathan got up to speak. "How many of you are thankful for everything all the time?"

I always love questions like this. He effectively caused 83 kids to lie in church. Who wants to be the only honest one and not raise their hand on a question like that?

Then he asked, "Who wants money?" At this question, there were 93 hands raised...83 kiddos + 10 workers. We ALL wanted money!

A random child was chosen, and Jonathan gave him a penny. He went back to his seat. This continued on with three of four children. Then, all of the sudden, he called one girl back to the front after she got her penny. She had said "Thank You." Her reward for being thankful for the small things was a dollar.

I was kind of struck by how this all played out. There were probably not 5 minutes between the first question about thankfulness and the second about money, but they had already forgotten to say "Thank you."

I am sure most of them were thinking that a penny is not worth giving thanks over, but still...I couldn't help but wonder how often we as adults do the same thing. We receive so many small blessings each day, yet we never take the time to stop and thank the Lord for it. If we can't appreciate what we've got, then why should He give us extra.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
~ I Thessalonians 5:18

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thank You, Josh

I have spent the last several weeks preparing for a colossal project for my Social Studies methods class. The project is essentially creating a one-day children's museum from the planning stages to the presentation stage and then completely disassembling it. The project was a HUGE success, at least from my perspective. We studied immigration through the years, beginning as early as the 18th century. My project partner and I chose to study the Italians. We created a twelve-foot tall replica of the Colosseum in Rome, a twelve-foot tall replica of the leaning tower of Pisa, an outdoor Italian Caffe (that's how they spell it in Italy!), four 13x2 foot gondolas, and an Italian flag the size of a queen-sized bed sheet. We also served homemade cherry gelato and homemade double chocolate biscotti with hot chocolate. Yes, it was awesome. I'm not ashamed to say it. But while we did do a lot of work, we cannot in any way take all of the credit for what was accomplished today.

I have this AMAZING brother who came to my rescue more than once this week. He sacrificed a night and two days to our project to help us make it absolutely perfect. He built a door frame, made gladiator swords, hung props from the ceiling, helped make our caffe front become a reality. He also was willing to help the other three groups in the project to hang banners, flags, etc.

The best example of how great he is happened last night/this morning. He left campus yesterday afternoon (after helping us) to go straight to work his 4:30pm-2:00am shift. We continued to work through the night. We had completed all of our decorations and set up except for those previously mentioned 13x2 foot gondolas. They were giving us fits. Both Brittany (my project partner) and I were ready to throw those things out the window. Speaking for myself, I was quite close to tears. They tried to get me to call Josh knowing that he could calm me down and get the job done successfully. But it was 2 am. He was at work. He hadn't slept in 19 hours. I couldn't call him. Plus, I couldn't find my phone. I decided that was God telling me to let it go.

Then, across the room, my phone started ringing. I could have cried then, too. There could only be one person who would call me at such a strange hour - Josh. I looked at my professor and said quite simply, "God made him call me." The first words out of his mouth were "Hey, are you guys still working? Do you need help?" To make a long story short, my very sleep deprived brother came straight back to Shawnee after work to help us finish up. He sent Brittany and I to go get some sleep and promised that he would finish it.

This morning, we found 4 beautiful gondolas that survived an entire day with 60 5th graders climbing in and out of them. Did I mention that they were made out of only cardboard and pvc pipe? They were so well put together, in fact, that we had problems getting some of them apart after it was all over.

I'm not done singing his praises yet. He finished our gondolas sometime after 4. He drove back to OKC and caught approximately 1.5 hours of sleep before going back to Shawnee. Throughout today, he acted as street vendor, waiter, & bus boy during our presentation, taking breaks to go to class, but always coming back. He helped take about a billion pictures throughout the day. He stayed for almost all of our clean-up time before he left for work again...without sleep.

I love my brother. I have always loved my brother. I will always love my brother. Today, though, my brother is my hero.

Thanks Josh.

The Gondolas

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Colosseum

Our beautiful Caffe'

The Street Vendor Cart

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Just Because...

I knew, I knew, I knew, that I wouldn't last. I get so caught up in "stuff" that I forget about these little projects I start and they get abandoned along the side of the road. (The hypothetical road that is my life, of course!) So, camp is quite obviously over and I did not blog about all the weeks.

I want to share this story. I don't really know why, but it is a blessing to me, and this is one instance when God really showed Himself to me.

I am one of those strange people who, if I could afford it, would spend my life in a the student, NOT the teacher. I really, really, REALLY love school. When I graduated from Windsor Hills Baptist School in 2005, there was never any question where I would go to college. I always knew that I was gonna take that short trip across the parking lot to Oklahoma Baptist College, and that's exactly what I did. I spent four years there and enjoyed (almost) every minute of it. (Seriously, even people who LOVE school get tired of it sometimes.) I made great friends both of my classmates and teachers, and formed an invaluable friendship with Mrs. Kathy Whittington, who teaches all of the methods courses. Still, after being out of OBC for over a year now, I find myself emailing her or finding her in church to ask her this or that, or share some story with her of what's happened to me recently.

During college, I began working for an "inner-city" school on the northeast side of Oklahoma City. I had the opportunity to start working pretty closely with a couple of the special needs students there. I loved it. This little idea started forming in the back of my head that maybe I could find my place working with kids like these all the time. I didn't tell anyone about it, just let the idea roll around in my head. Then, one day in one of Mrs. Whittington's classes, she made this truly remarkable statement. (It was remarkable to me, anyways!) She said something to the effect that there is a real need in Christian schools for special education programs..."and I believe that God will touch one of the young lady's hearts here to be the person that makes this happen." I kind of looked out of the corner of my eye. Our class was small - 4 girls. My though process went something like this: Well, if she believes that it is someone here, that narrows down the playing field...wonder who it could be? Is it her? Maybe, her... Then my inner self got tired of my guessing game and said, "HEY, NUMB-SKULL!!! IT'S YOU!!!" (My inner self loses her patience with me a lot. I guess she thinks I should be a little quicker in my thought process.) So, still without telling anybody, I started looking into the possibilities of making it happen.

I was a senior. I had to finish that semester, complete my student teaching, walk across the platform, smile for Bro. Shank's camera, and I was done. When I started looking into going back to school, I didn't want to start over, so I was looking specifically for schools that would take my credits from OBC. This wasn't easy. Colleges just don't accept credits from unaccredited schools. I got some very nice rejection letters, and one very hateful email from an admissions counselor telling me that if I had wanted to transfer credits I should have gone to a "real" college and not wasted four years of my life. She also advised me to not waste my time finishing at OBC and just go ahead and get started somewhere else, since it was obviously going to take me four more years to get where I wanted, and I would get more money in scholarships and grants that way.

I was discouraged. I truly believe that God wanted me at OBC, and I really believed that He was leading me down this new path that I was trying to take. If it was going to happen, I was going to find somewhere that would give me credit for the work I had put into the last four years. I didn't want to believe that God would make me start over. By this time, I had told my mom what I was looking into. She told me the same thing. "Find someone that will take your credits." I really wanted to give up. I had heard back from all the admissions counselors except for two. I wasn't optimistic.

Then I got this email. It was from an admissions counselor at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Oklahoma. She didn't tell me if they would or wouldn't take my credits. She just told me to get an unofficial copy of my transcript and send it to her. I did. A couple of weeks later I got a letter from one of the deans at the school. They were willing to transfer all of my credits...all 135 of them.

I am starting my second year at OBU, and loving every minute of it. It's a whole new world. Having gone to school on the same parking lot from 5th grade all the way through college, I experienced a bit of culture shock, for there really is nowhere else on earth like Windsor Hills. But I really believe God worked all this out for the best. I am attending a "liberal arts" college where it is not one bit uncommon to see someone reading their Bible (actually, it has been a required textbook in 4 of my classes). I sit in an earth science class where normal college textbooks would describe millions and millions of years ago, yet my professor starts class off with scripture, and talks about how science itself gives proof of the Creator. I have new friends that I know pray for and with me about my problems, no matter how small.

After receiving that email telling me that no school would ever accept my credits, I was ready to give up and just start over. Attend whatever college I could afford and deal with it. But I'm kind of stubborn sometimes, and I like to prove people wrong. In this case, it was a hateful admissions counselor who told me my choices were stupid and my education was worthless.

God worked everything out for my good!

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
~Romans 8:28~

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Campin' with the Kiddies

Well, I still never really got to get involved in Junior Week. However, Bro. Crumpton did an AMAZING job as always, and the kids made a lot of great decisions.

On Thursday night of junoir camp, Bro. Crumpton told the story of his son, Matthew, who went to be with the Lord on January 15 of this year. The day was also his 15th burthday. The Thrsday night service was very emotional, but the Lord used Matthew's testimony to speak to the hearts of the campers.
The Crumptons are an amazing example to all of us for their faithfulness in the ministry. It is such a blessing to have the opportunity to fellowship with this family.

The Lord blessed. We are excited about what is happening this summer!

Bible Baptist Church
Justin, Tx

Ganado Baptist Church
Ganado, AZ

Trinity Bible Baptist Church
Choctaw, OK

Windsor Hills Baptist Church
Oklahoma City, OK

Liberty Baptist Church
Abilene, TX
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Missin' Out on Campin' Out

This week is our Junior Week. I particularly love junior week, because it is the week that the little munchkins from Windsor Hills come out. This week is particularly special because for the first time kiddos that I have had in the 2 year old Sunday School class (which I have worked in since my freshman year in college) start camp.

There is nothing like watching little 1st and 2nd graders experiencing camp for the first time. When they are so new and fresh, they jump into everything with 100%. They are not encumbered with things like peer pressure and worldliness. They are so open to everything Bro. Crumpton (our AMAZING speaker this week) has to say and they just SOAK UP all the preaching and teaching.

So why I am I missin' out? I have had this slightly "ugly" cough since sometime Friday night. I have taken Robitussin and Mucinex and it just hasn't gotten any better. Today, six days later, I finally went to the doctor. After listening to me cough away just trying to take a deep breath, he sent me for chest X-rays. {X-Rays!?!?! I have NEVER had X-Rays before! Yikes!!} I am slowly developing PNEUMONIA in my right lung. The verdict - some pretty strong antibiotics and basically house arrest.

Well...not quite.

Monday night I went down to supper just to try to see the kids. No hugs...sad. But I got to sit across the table from Lydia who is five years old. She has been coming to camp since she was about 2. She was such a shy little girl back then. She wouldn't even make eye contact. Monday night, she raced up to my table and said, "Miss Holli, I got saved! I got saved on March 15!" It was soooo exciting!

Tonight, I got to go down again! Michelle, who is a missionary's daughter attending camp for the first time, came and told me what GREAT time she is having at camp. She was just radiating that childhood JOY that comes from experiencing things with so much innocence!

I also got to talk to Josh, also a first-timer. His oldest brother is on our camp staff. Josh has said TWENTY-FOUR verses! He is so excited!! The little guy sat there eating his mac-and-cheese, talking to his good buddy, Jason, and studying another verse - all at the same time!

From the little time I have got to spend with the few of them, I can honestly say that this week has already been a HUGE blessing! Even though I am tempted to complain that I am missing everything, I can already see a way God is using it to help me. Only having these short interactions, I only get to hear the kids tell me about the great things that are happening. You see, a lot of times during junior week, as much as I love the little ones, I get frustrated with them, and I forget to see them for the blessings that they are. I fail to remember that I can learn just as much from them during this week as they can learn from me. This week, they are not learning from me - I am not there. But I am DEFINITELY learning from them!! It's like God is giving me short little windows to get something from a child...and I am so thankful!

I will try to get some pictures up later, and probably a real look at what is going on down there from the other girls on camp staff.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 11, 2010

First Week - Complete!

We had a GREAT week this week! There were some really good decisions made by the teens. On Thursday night we had a time of testimony, and the Lord really moved in the hearts of the campers. It was such a blessing to hear the kids tell about how God had used Bro. Dawson to speak to them this week. We had five teenagers accept Christ, two teenagers surrender to full-time Christian service, and many other decisions.

For our ten year anniversary, we are choosing one person each week to honor for their contribution to the camp ministry over the years. This first week, we honored Bro. Tony Keeton. Bro. Keeton has always been available to fill in wherever we may need him at camp. He has been our song leader during this teen week for several years. He is also one of our camp speakers and has stepped in when speakers have been unable to make it. His family has been such a blessing to us over the years, and we are so thankful for Bro. Keeton's dedication to Windsor in the Wilds.

As the week comes to a close we are always sad to see the campers leave, but we are so excited for them to take the things God has given them back home to their churches. We can't wait for them to come back next summer! Many of our campers have been coming for so many years we view them as family. We love them all!

Teens from Midwestern Baptist Church in Omaha, NE

Teens from Immanuel Baptist Church in Decatur, TX

Teens from Bible Baptist Church in Justin, TX

Teens from Windsor Hills Baptist Church in OKC, OK

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Teen Week

This is our first week of camp!

I missed the first 2 days, because I was in Israel and Spain. I got home on Tuesday night around midnight.

Bro. Rick Dawson is our speaker and he is doing a great job as he always does. There are five churches here this week and we are serving over 110 each meal. The churches are Windsor Hills Baptist Church from Oklahoma City, OK; Immanuel Baptist Church from Decatur, TX; Bible Baptist Church from Justin, TX; Trinity Bible Baptist Church from Choctaw, OK; and Midwestern Baptist Church from Omaha, NE.

There are teenage boys participating in the Preacher Boy Contest today. Praise the Lord for the big number!

I'll add some pictures later!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Year Number 10

My family has had the privilege of working at Windsor in the Wilds, a camp ministry through Windsor Hills Baptist Church, since the camp was founded in 2000. This summer, we will be celebrating our 10th year at Windsor in the Wilds. This major event was the motivation for this blog.

We have seen God work in the lives of hundreds of campers over these 10 years, and we are excited to see what is waiting in out future. Please pray with us that He will work through the speakers this summer in the lives of the juniors and teens who will pass through our gates.

Our first (and only) prayer card picture
taken in May 2004

I am new at this and I am sure it will be a work in progress. Thanks for reading!