(Note: This blog will hang out at the top for a while but I'm hoping to catch up with my Insta-Project posts in the coming days, so come back and scroll down for more!)
We started this Top 10 thing years ago with an actual newsletter included in our Christmas card, but have been happy to share it more recently on this 'ole blog of mine. Enjoy!
Top 10 "Not Too Bad" Days at Indianola
The following list is in no particular order and was inspired by Darin's invention of the hashtag #NoBadDaysAtIndianola when he started his new job this January. We are so thankful for this little town and our new home at Camp and have had quite the year here.
10. January 2nd
It was a cold, clear day in January when Darin drove into Camp Indianola for his first day on the job as the Director. Since he didn’t have keys yet, he walked around the property and hiked on the forest trail, praying and thanking God for the new chapter of life ahead. What an amazing place God had led our family to. And what a testament to an amazing God who called us to step out in faith a full year prior, then followed through by giving us far more than we could have hoped or dreamed. The position is a perfect fit for Darin, and has afforded us so many new opportunities. There are certainly some challenges, but Darin is up for them and even a little excited for them.
9. Tuesdays this fall
There are 3 things you can be pretty well assured of in camping ministry: long hours, getting sick of the food, and mediocre housing. We have great food at camp, but it still gets old. And there are certainly seasons where the hours are long. Amazingly, the third is not true for us. The house that is provided for the Director at this camp is amazing. When Deanna first saw it, she was head-over-heels for the opportunity to raise our kids at camp in this home. The weirdest thing about the house has got to be Deanna’s reaction: "this house needs a dog.” The other great thing about the house is the open floor plan that just begs to host people. We love our relaxing guest room (and have happily hosted several friends) and any chance we can get to cookout on the patio. And this summer we even had 10 people around our kitchen island cracking crab and dripping butter everywhere; it was glorious. We have started a Tuesday Supper Club as a way to encourage more community in our lives, and we’re doing our best to use this house that is a blessing to us, to be a blessing to others.
8. February 21st
When Darin took his first hike through the woods, he’s pretty glad he didn’t know about the local cougar population. Shortly after learning about them, and seeing tracks near one of our lodges on a snow day in January, Darin agreed with Deanna: "We need a dog." The story of how our sweet Gypsy came to our family was chronicled in a blog Deanna wrote earlier this year following some really hard days at Indianola. Click on over to read about how God has used this sweet dog we named Gypsy as a reminder of His love and mercy in our lives.
Gypsy has become right at home at camp, running the trails and the beaches and while we all adore her, she has most definitely become Darin's dog.
7. Every clear to mostly clear day we have a few minutes to spare
One of the best things about where we live is that the beach is no longer a weekend excursion, but is a quick walk whenever we need it. The ¼ mile beach at camp is uniquely situated to gather much of the debris from the Puget Sound, so every walk is a treasure hunt. The logs for fort-building and beach glass and shells for hunting make this a great place to visit all year long, but the summer days of swimming and lounging are especially sweet.
6. December 15th
The most recent addition to the family is Darin’s new truck. We finally sold the faithful Subaru and upgraded to a full-sized truck that will eventually help us take family camping trips even in rough weather. In the mean time, Darin is having a blast driving it and the girls love riding in Papa’s truck. For those who care, it’s a 2007 Dodge Ram 1500 Big Horn Edition 4x4 with a 5.7L Hemi V8 and tons of fun features.
5. December 7th
This December Daisy played in her very first piano recital. Our 7-year-old second-grader is a delightful, creative, and goofy gal who started piano lessons in September. As she is with most things, she is eager to learn and perfect her skills and it was so fun to watch her confidently plunk out "Joy to the World" and a few more Christmas tunes at that recital. Daisy has emerged this year as quite the reader and is adding "writer" to her resume as well. She loves to invent stories and carefully illustrate them as well. She is sensitive and caring, always seeking to make the grownups in her life proud of her. (It isn't hard to be.) It is so fun to watch her bloom.
4. August 15th
On a warm August day Deanna opened the door to the smiles of a little boy we had all missed so much, in the arms of *who we all hope to be very soon* his forever Mom. We suffered incredible heartbreak this winter when a fluke accident caused TR (whom we had loved since the previous July when he came home from the hospital with us) to be removed from our care, our foster license suspended, and a drawn-out investigation to be launched. These were certainly rough days at Indianola. But God continues to be faithful and when TR's forever family gained custody of this amazing boy we started planning a visit. And on that August day we hugged and laughed and cried and tried to keep him from eating beach rocks...and we healed.
And then as a family we began to pray and talk and talk and pray and ultimately agree to open our home again. Since that August day we've been blessed to host two little ones for respite, and two more for short-term placements. We're not sure we're quite ready for another long-term placement, so we've been thankful that God has given us just what we could handle.
Our home and our hearts are open to foster again...
3. July 25th
Whew, who knew throwing a huge Hawaiian themed luau would be so much work? But to see the massive grins on the face of the newly-ear-pierced 5-year-old it was all worth it. We had a great time throwing Dani a luau birthday party on the lawn at Camp, as well as using the occasion to celebrate with our amazing and hard-working summer "site staff". We were blessed with great weather, a really fun hula instructor, a new recipe that turned out delicious, and lots of family and friends to join us.
Dani has always been the girl to keep us on our toes and she continues this strong tradition. She started half-day Kindergarten and once-a-week gymnastics this fall and is busy making friends, making messes, and making people laugh with her hilarious comments on the world. (Deanna's facebook updates with Dani quotes always seem to garner the most comments and "likes".) She is dramatic and generous and our cuddler. What would we do without her?
2. April 19th
The Saturday before Easter was cold and wet this year but that didn't stop us from hitting up the tiny town of Indianola to hunt Easter Eggs on the beach. The Goodman family (who were preparing to move to Camp in June) joined us for the fun and it was so good to watch the 4 kids run and play together again. We are so thankful that God has brought our families together to do life and work and ministry and so thankful that everyone gets along. I dubbed the crew of kiddos the "camp cousins" and while they fight like siblings, the next hour they are asking when they can hang out and play again.
1. ALL stinkin SUMMER LONG
Living and working at camp again you have to bet our summer would be awesome, and you'd be right. From the rope swing to kayaking (we all love a kayak adventure to Indianola for an ice cream cone, but night kayaking with the bio-luminescence is especially magical for the adults), camp offers a wonderful variety of ways to keep busy and entertained. While many of our summer mornings this year were spent at swim lessons, afternoons were full of time at the beach or tagging along with a giant slip n' slide or all camp carnival. The girls loved singing at campfires, pelting their dad with water balloons, laughing at skits, and vying for the chance to sit next to their favorite site staff girl at meals. Daisy even had a chance to attend three nights of sleepaway camp, loving it of course; and even though she was just down the hill we all felt her absence (especially Dani who had sleepovers with us or a friend every night so she wouldn't be too lonely). The July 4th weekend brought with it adventures of the local parade, and watching every Seattle-area fireworks show we could see from our beach.
Deanna's parents were here this summer and we all had a great time exploring together, but it was especially fun when they left a set of walkie-talkies behind and we let the girls use them to go on adventures without us. It felt really old-fashioned to give our kids some boundaries and some check-in requests, and then just let them run. Sounds like what summer should be.
Needless to say, we were sad to see summer end this year.
Of course this year we had many amazing days and special adventures that weren't around this place we call Indianola. In April we celebrated Leyla's adoption, and we had an amazing time at our annual family Leavenworth campout in August. Deanna spent the day shopping at Ikea with her Idaho friends, and another day in Bainbridge with her sisters wine tasting. We made two trips to Spokane. And, of course, our amazing Seahawks won the superbowl; now that was a good day! Oh yeah, we were blessed to have a new niece and another nephew join our family too.
While Darin is confidently serving God as a Camp Director these days, Deanna is still happy to be Mom (and foster Mom) and hold down the fort at home, while continuing to pursue God as He leads. She has been continuing to seek ways to engage teen moms through a Teen MOPS program hopefully launching again in the coming months. Additionally, she has joined the steering team for one of the services at our church and is investigating a possible call into pastoral/church ministry through her involvement there. Who knows what lies ahead for her?
But we do know that there is a constant: the love our God lavishes on us. May it be ever apparent during this Christmas season, and may it continue to be revealed to you and yours throughout the year.
Blessings dear ones,
Darin, Deanna, Daisy, & Dani