Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Misphah and Shen. He named it Ebenezar, saying , "Thus far the Lord has helped us." 1 Samuel 7:12

Thursday, October 30, 2008

33oC Recap (as well as a sick day 'round here)

Half my house is sick.
Most of the sickness happened while I was snuggly in my bed last night so this morning I've been mad cleaning and using the "extra-cleaning" setting on my washing machine.
We've taken a home school sick day, and believe me it takes a lot to do that.

I turned on the heat to help the sick ones out, perhaps one of only a handful of times we've ever turned it on! It's been chilly here in the Sunshine State.

33oC Recap
I think it went great last night!
Seems our skits are reaching all the ages and Kev's messages gets their attention. Still working on getting both up on youtube... my techie has been busy with something called 9th grade.

We run about 120 students and it amazes me to see them all quiet and attentive. What sinks into their little scraggly heads and what they are thinking about it a whole different story, but they are there.
I pray the Lord will use us on Wednesdays to reach these students for Christ.

My small group time went well, we did a little Bible history and they are very hungry to learn more. Kevin talked about Abraham and Isaac and the paraplegic guy who was let down by his friends through the roof to see Jesus and then in our small group we learned about Joseph, his brothers and their reunion. We viewed these stories from the point of the selfless acts of these men and in one case the selfless acts of a group of friends.

I challenged my girls to be intentional in just 1 act of unselfishness this week.
Just 1 act.
They had to think of it and then share it- out loud.
Next week I'll ask and they'll need to share how they did.
Harder for some than others, but completely doable.
I'm excited to hear back how it went for them and how putting themselves on the back-burner effected them.

I don't know about you, but it challenges me to be selfless.
I'm a pretty selfish person.
Sometimes it's outward, other times inward; either way I like for things to go my way, be my way and work out best for me or my kids.
I too, must be intentional at times in my selflessness, I like my Wed night girls, have spoken out loud how I will, through the help of the Lord, be intentionally selfless this week. For me it happens to be in an area I simply don't want to be selfless in.

Why do I fight so hard?

Psalm 119: 36-37
Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish
Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life
according to your word.

Now I challenge you- toward who, or in what situation can you be a little less selfish this week? Is it in obedience toward God like Abraham? In forgiving a wrong done to you like Joseph? Maybe it's in a tangible act for someone else, like the paraplegics friends. Whatever it is I pray you'd step out and do it.

Michelle <><

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Whole Lot of Rastlin' Going On

So last night after putting the boys to bed I heard some rustling around at the other end of the house. I tip-toed toward the boys room only to see the light under the door click off and then silence.

It wasn't but a few minutes later when a small war broke out.
My boys aren't big fist fighters but they are boys and "rastlin'" is in their blood. I think it's the hunter-gatherer in them; anyway I've never had a problem with the "rastling'" (I just like that word) and found a trampoline good for those physical days.

While my boys are "boys" they are not the size of boys anymore, so when 2 children who are 5'5" and 6' go at it- you can hear it and feel it. For a brief second I thought an earthquake was occurring. As I crossed the house and their hallway was in view I saw my youngest running from my sewing room to their room and he was pissed. Loud words were coming from his mouth and he was on a mission. Before I made it to the room I heard some crashing and then suddenly quiet. I entered their bedroom to find things looking pretty normal, besides a cleared off dresser top, the boys were no where near each other.

Getting to the bottom of the problem, which involved a light being on and music being played, I really just wanted both boys to see the attitude of their heart.

The thing with kids is they are always ready to point the finger, OK so adults are good at this too, but I'm talking about kids right now.

Anyway after a few minutes of "He this and he that" and "I don't get this, it never goes my way, he's your favorite" I finally stopped them.
"What was your sin" I asked each of them.

"How did you do your brother wrong? Let's face it, injustice is all over the place and ultimately you are only responsible for your actions and in the end it is so much more worth it to put your brother first."

The conversation went well and went long and in the end both boys seemed to see their own fault and suggested a better way of handling things next time. Vaughan also brought up the fact that he has less patience and gives less leeway to his brother.
Why is that?

Why are we harder on the ones closest to us? Why do they get to see our bad side the most? I guess it's because of the unconditional love we receive from them, the comfort of being so real at home.

Finally I got them to bed and made it to my own, but not without a few thoughts to take from the situation. I reflected on some relationship issues I'm struggling with and saw that like the boys I need to look at myself, my thoughts, actions and heart attitude. When I do this I see that it is so freeing and true what the book of James says in chapter 4 verses 1-3:
1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires
that battle within you? 2You want something but don't get it. You kill and
covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not
have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you
ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

So we survived another parenting "episode" and I'm sure we have many more to come.

Bring it! That's been my motto, let's just face this teen thing head on.
I'm ready, I guess, and things were really put into perspective when Steve said to me this morning, we only have 6 years of children in the house left- that's less time of them being in the house then the time we've lived here in FL; and it seems like yesterday we moved here.
Still surviving this thing called teen years

~Michelle <><

Monday, October 27, 2008

My 2 Cents on Parenting

I'm thankful I have pretty good kids. They seem to be polite, kind and respectful. I say seem because let's face it teenagers can very easily be one way around adults and another around their peers; I can only speak on what part of their lives I see and pray that the other part is a similar reflection.

I recently spoke with a friend of mine who is constantly struggling with her kids. She asks them to do this or that and they balk every time. She is constantly telling me about how they've lost this privilege or that special treat. She's in a constant battle with them and when they don't "measure up" they lose something.

Got me thinking. What's the difference.

Our children are similar age. Similar likes and dislikes.

She speaks often of her children loosing or getting things taken away.
I speak often of my children earning the right or privilege.
That's it.

We've always been earners around here. My children are not guaranteed anything to be given to them; well maybe food and clothing, but when it comes to screen time, friends coming over and extra activities those are not a for sure thing. They must be earned.

Here's why my children don't lose their Playstation or youtube time when the weekend comes: it's not theirs to lose.
They must earn it.

When the week comes to a close, or even when the day comes to a close and the boys want to sit in front of a screen or have a friend over I simply ask them, "Are your chores done? Is all your school/homework done?" If they can answer yes to those questions then we all know they have earned the right to those privileges. If they answer no, the conversation is over, because they know the answer, and this is where consistency comes in. If you say no, then mean no, stick to it even if you regret saying no in the first place. I remember when my boys were little and I made some crazy remark and took away TV for the weekend (I do believe there is a time to lose privileges); anyway, by Saturday night I was regretting the no TV, pulling my hair out in desperate need for the old faithful babysitter. I remember my boys begging to just watch one show, wanting to say yes I explained to them I said no and even though now I want to change my mind I simply can't do it. Let your yes be yes and your no be no and let your children learn to earn the fun things in life.

I think it gives children ownership, responsibility and something to work toward. I asked my friend if she thinks her kids have given up on behaving, all it takes is one thing to "not go the right way" and they lose their fun. I think after a few weeks of getting the PS2 taken away I'd try to find another way of playing my PS2.

Set boundaries.
Set goals for your children.
Above all love them and help them when they don't "measure up" to what you had expected.

I want nothing more in life than to be my children's biggest advocate, someone who comes along side them and helps them through life; not a parent who stands over them expecting this and that, upset each time they "fail".

So for what it's worth this post has been my 2cents on children and earning privileges.

What's your 2 cents?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

33oC and Operation Christmas Child

Last night at 33oC Kev spoke on selfishness. A good sermon, we're working on getting them up on youtube; anyway as i began to think about it I thought why not for small group actually DO something unselfish.
So for our small group time my girls and I headed to do some Christmas shopping. We filled a large shoebox with all kinds of goodies for a 5-9 year old girl in another country.

We are going through a program called Operation Christmas Child, here's what it's about, from their website:
Operation Christmas Child brings joy and hope to children in desperate
situations around the world through gift-filled shoe boxes and the Good News of
God’s love. Since 1993, more than 61 million shoe boxes have been packed,
shipped, and delivered across the globe. People of all ages can be involved in
this simple, hands-on missions project while focusing on the true meaning of
Christmas—Jesus Christ.National Collection Week is November 17-24.

Here's out box o'goodies:

I can't tell you how precious it is to see 11th grade girls picking out items for a child across the globe, not to mention the conversations in the car ride regarding their own selfishness.

And to think I had a rough day and was ready to call it quits before youth even started, glad I stuck with it. God is good.


One more thing- had an interesting run-in/conversation with a wandering addict last night outside youth. My heart goes out to someone that desperate, her story would probably break our hearts. Next time you see a "wanderer" say a prayer for them, there is a hope for him/her.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Corn Maze Adventure

I have wanted to go through a corn maze for a long time. When I first saw a picture of a crop circle as a child I have had a yearning to walk through a field with crops or grass or corn forming the walls that surround me.
Well yesterday I got to cross this off my life's to do list.
Along with our homeschool group we visited Long and Scott's Farm. Hot, yes; fun, yes; visit again, yes. Enjoy the pics...

The scarecrow was a bite freaky and yet somewhat cool.

The theme this year for the corn maze was John Deer.

Here is a picture of the 2 mazes. The one on the top is a 6-acre maze with 5 "stations" you have to visit, the maze below is a 1-acre maze, again with 5 stations.

And we're off!

A view from the bridge in the large maze, you can kind of see the paths?

We split into smaller groups and each group was given a flag. If we ever decided we were lost all we needed to do was wave the flag and the "Maze Master" would come and save us. We never had to use it.

There was much more than just the mazes. A rock labyrinth, a midst maze, a 60-foot slide, picnic tables, fishing pond and child's play area rounded off the days activities.

Another surprise in my list of Florida activities to do.

now that's 2 places to visit when you make it to the lower 48

Wordless Wednesday

That's the dog's water bowl.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I've Now Moved into My Mid-Thirties

About twice a year we visit a FL State Park. Our visits usually co-inside with my birthday in the Fall and Mother's Day in the Spring.

Yesterday was my birthday, I'm 34 now (and loving it), and we traveled to Palm Coast,FL to Washington Oaks State Park. I will use this post as a review of the park, as well as a review of my birthday!

We went to the early church service while the boys were in Sunday School, packed a picnic lunch and headed out. Since the trip was around an hour the boys brought entertainment... this is what I saw as I looked in the back seat, look close you'll see the ipod.

We arrived!

The admission cost was only $4.00 and it was the second time we visited a state park where the park entrance was on the honor system. Here's Steve paying our fee. So cost wise- can't beat it, and to think I wanted to go to Islands of Adventure at a cost of 60 something dollars each.

We arrived and found a parking spot near the formal gardens and Visitor Center, but in the usual Span Clan style I unpacked the cooler and made lunch for us all! Publix subs, Publix sweet tea, some chips and a little chocolate- perfect birthday lunch!

After eating we walked a short trail .6 miles to the bathrooms. For future reference near the bathrooms was a child's play ground with picnic tables and more parking, a great spot to eat lunch and play!

I had a cool pic of Justin but he was up when I posted the pics and asked that that particular picture not be posted- so instead here's one of him on our bathroom hike.

The joke when we go to state parks is that anytime we run across a seating area- we sit down. Perhaps we want to take in the scenery, or perhaps we just prefer to sit? Whichever it is a fall day in Florida is an ideal day to be sitting outside.

I had to post this of Steve and his shadow.

Sitting again, this time on a bench near the river. Washington Oaks State Park lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mantanza River. We visited the river side first and I recommend starting there because of the trails, Visitor Center and it's where you can pick up the map of the park.

If I could sum up Florida outdoors one of the things I'd say is that all trails lead to water. This particular trail was intentionally dead-ended into water for the bird watching. A large number of birds make their home on the coast of Florida.

One of the neat things about this park is it's formal gardens. The park, which use to be a plantation in the 1800's, was owned by a relative of George Washington and the lady of the house had these formal gardens.

here we are in the rose garden, striking our superhero poses.

Of course a canopy of oak trees covered the trails, gardens, and house. This is the one that claims to be the largest on the property.

Vaughan had a ball spinning in a circle and taking his picture.

A fish pond along with several artisan wells add sparkle to the gardens. The wells are all dug down into the FL aquifer and naturally bubble up feeding the ponds with fresh water. Visitor beware: you will smell that great FL sulfur water, it was only strong in the area closest to the wells; we've chosen to view the smell as part of the history of Florida.

Here we found an island with a board bridge, not exactly sure if it was meant for visitors...
The boys always seem to mess with me. Here they were suppose to pose for a picture with mom, instead then use their size against me, darn those growth spurts, and tried to drag me down, or something.

The question here is where's Steve?

The gardens were beautiful, the "hikes" flat and sandy, the memories will carry on forever.

Now we were on to part two of the park. The beach side. This area of the beach is know for it's coquina rock outcroppings. Swimming here is not recommended because of the dangers in the water, but a visit to climb on the rocks is a must!

Here's what we saw from the boardwalk. The boys weren't impressed and stayed in the car.

As we got closer this is what we saw.
It didn't take long for me to drop my bag and start climbing.
The farther we walked on the rocks the more rocks we saw. It was so cool. We were there right after high tide, I'd like to return right before high tide as well as at low tide, here's why.
As the tide is coming in the water will shot up through the holes and spray water high into the air and during low tide more of the rock formation is visible. I couldn't get over how awesome it was and visiting at any time is sure to put a smile on your face.

So for Washington Oaks State Park I say it's a must to visit. Children of all ages will enjoy it. Pack a lunch, where some comfy shoes and be ready for a fun-filled day with your family in God's creation.

Dogs are welcome in the park but are prohibited from the garden area and the beach. poor Fluff, he had to sit this one out.
As we headed back home we passed this sign:

In case you can't read it very well it says: Mala Compra Plantation, Archaeological Site. I had seen it on our way to Washington Oaks and we almost missed it when leaving. We stayed for 25 minutes and I highly recommend stopping, if you're in that neck of the woods.

It actually was the house where the owners of Washington Oaks lived and a nice shaded, elevated pavilion covers the site with the history of the plantation at different stations around the site.

Here's the main house.
And a shot of the pavilion, if you look you'll see the well in the center of this picture.
One of the greatest joys of parenting more than one child is to see them as friends. Since the boys saw this whole site in about 5 minutes, they spent the other 20 walking around talking. What they talk about I don't know, but it's funny, it's creative and it brings more joy to my heart than they will ever know.
So that's it! We survived another state park, my birthday and of course Biketoberfest; each year around my birthday it's Biketoberfest, here's the barricades around the corner from my house to prove it!

So a birthday review and a State park review all wrapped up in one.
I'd rate Washington Oaks State Park as an "A" park because of it's diversity in actives and scenery. It appeals to all ages, provides good picnicking, walking and resting.

See my other state park reviews below:

Friday, October 17, 2008

I Am a History Buff

This last week in my study I read the account of the Hebrew named Issac and the blessing of his sons Jacob and Esau as well as the blessing of Jacob's sons Ephraim and Manasseh. If you are not familiar with Jewish history I think you'll find hte story of these people pretty fasinating, if you know any Jewish people today you'll see where they get many of their traditions.

When my small group meets tonight we will be discussing the similarities between the two events, as well as approach this question: Have we had pain in not receiving a blessing we thought we were due or desperatly wanted. We'll also touch on why this blessing was so important to us and then finish by writing down someone in our life who we can bless this week.

Who can you bless this week?


Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Joy of Night

With a full moon out I've found myself outside at night.

With Steve's still late schedule, I've been putting the boys down, finishing up inside house stuff and then heading outside. It's been incredible out.

Last night as I was pulling up weeds I sat still for a moment and sat in awe that I am living in Florida. And sitting outside, in October, in shorts with a refreshing breeze blowing.

Of all the things in my life that shock me, living in Florida is one of them. I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd live in the south. I'll tell ya what- I love it!

So what about your life shocks you?

33oC Review

This is at youth group we are in a series, a 33 week series, called 33 Weeks on Cool.
We're using a small book called every teenagers little black book on cool

Since we're a Bible believing youth group we've said the Bible's counterparts for the modern word cool are favored and accepted.

We started with 3 reasons why cool doesn't try- it is.

For your own beni I'll list them:
1.Being cool is an honor that only others can bestow on you. Only God and people can show you favor and acceptance.
2. Truly cool people focus on others, not on themselves. Matthew 23:12 says that those who humble themselves will be exalted.
3. Most cool people don't even realize they are cool. They're too busy making a difference in their world.

We then moved onto things that definitely are not cool as well as ways to know you aren't cool: like living in self-pity, having a sharp tongue and trying to impress people with your stuff being a few.

Three weeks ago we started a skit that will run all year, or at least the major part of the year. It involves 2 teenage boys, Eugene and Dewy, who are in a desperate search to become "cool". They've calculated all the figures and realized they are NOT cool, at least not cool as they they think it. So in the search for cool Eugene and Dewy have made themselves into Superheros Plunger Boy and Squirt. Last night was the unveiling of Plunger Boy (tall thin guy with black tights, silver cape, short shorts, mask and a plunger for a weapon) and Squirt (shorter heavy-set guy with purple tights, short shorts and a mask and squirt bottle)! It was hilarious when they came out, theme song and all!

The students seem to be taking to our new format this year and from what I see the majority are staying focused when Kev is speaking, engaging in meaningful conversations afterward and simply coming back week after week.

A note on our new format: we're running both our Wired, middle school, students and Refined, high school students on the same night. Wired meets for games and small group time and then comes to the main sanctuary for large group time, while Refined starts off with large group before splitting into small groups and games wrap up the evening. You know it's good when the small groups are still meeting well after our closing time of 9:00pm.

So, with only a few students complaining, and I wouldn't even call it that, about the new combined schedule, I think we're off to a good start.

On a personal note this year I am working with a small group of 11th grade girls. The past 3 years have seen me with 6th and 7th graders so it's been a time of adjustment for me. First of all my girls are mobile on their own and they're also a lot more mature than middle schoolers. There are 6 girls and myself who meet in the sweetest of rooms- Kev's office- and slowly but surely they're beginning to open up and share more. I've only been with them 3 weeks so the process has just begun. Last night was interesting as they asked some questions about me and my teen years- yikes! It is at these points that I wonder how I landed in youth ministry?

Overall last night went well, I've thought about grading our nights with a letter grade but that's not anything I'm good at, I'll either say A or F and with us I'd always lean toward an A!!

We're also starting to record all our skits and Kev's preaching/talking... whatever you call it, so once my techie wakes up I'll have him post it for ya'll.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Orange Belt and Outside My House

Thought it was only natural to post pictures of the new orange belt!
October marks the 1 year for Justin in karate, it was something he mulled over in his mind for close to a year before taking the plunge. More of an artist, musician and solo sport player Justin's sports journey took him through t-ball, baseball and soccer before landing at a sport he loves= karate.

Now onto outside things here at the Span Ranch.
I always thought it was funny that we entertain and hang out more in our front yard than our back. It's the nature of our house and not having anyone around us it's not like our front yard is exposed to the world. Then when I saw My Big Fat Greek Wedding I didn't feel so bad about front yeard entertaining.
So, last fall we layed a small amount of pavers out front to form the path to our new front door. Eventually the pavers will be extended to form a medium sized patio for outside eating and entertaining.
Phase 2: This fall I plan to pave under this table:

This table use to sit at the local airport's outside eating area, my mom's neighbor had it and when they moved they didn't want to take it, so naturally I jumped in and snagged it.
Reduce, reuse, recycle.
As you can see I've started to lay the bricks, of course Steve will come in, tear it all up, bring in the tractor and lay them the right way. My pre-lim work will just show how many pavers/bricks we need; which I am on the lookout for more pavers, so if you know of any I could pick up for free or cheap I'd love to know about it- I'm not concerned with style of paver, I can make it all fit.

As I'm outside working, I look up at the neighbors fence and see this:

One of the cats we feed hanging out on their fence surveying all I'm doing.
Good times.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

For Today

1. Homeschool math

2. Make list then grocery shop

3. Work at my j.o.b./meet with boss

4. Cut out fabric for hand embroidery baby projects

5. Wash outside of windows on front of the house

6. Locate sticks for fall decor, or have J do

7. Vacuum: living, dining, kitchen, boysroom

8. Have J mow lawn

Monday, October 13, 2008

Let's Hear it For the Boy!

Ten bucks to the first person to tell me the movie the title of this post is from. (actually not really ten bucks, just a yippy at ya!)

This post is dedicated to my man.
I don't get to be on the job with him as much as I'd like but today I had a chance to take some pics of the place he's been working on for the past 2 months.

Here's the outside of the building, he didn't do any of this work I just wanted to show it.

Oh and for those who don't know Steve is a jack of all many trades, master of a few. He's done everything from teach elementary, middle and high school, to working as an aircraft electrician in the Air Force to selling cemetery plots and making orange juice. Currently he is delivering the newspaper, installing windows part time, full time, whenever time and is working his own business as a carpenter/handyman. I'm so happy for him because in the 15 years we've been married he's really enjoyed finish carpentry work the best and it's been a dream job for him. The current job is a new outfitter store going in and it's been all custom work.

Anyway the front of the building:

Perhaps one of my favorite features is the entrance floor. Here's a shot through the front door.
A fish on the outside and their store initials on the inside. Very cool.

Here's the view of the shop from the front door. Steve's work is all along the outside walls, another friend build the freestanding cabinets.

One wall, all the cubbies and TV center with mini Florida tin-cracker roof were all custom made by my man!

Here's the displays behind the counter. The two pieces on the ends are IKEA and are sitting on top of some more of Steve's handiwork.

Another view of the entertainment center. Fishing shows and how-to's will play, while books line the shelves. This whole shop went from the mind of our friend, to paper, to Steve's magic!

Here's a view from where I'll be most, in the back.

This shop actually belongs to some of our friends and the "she" of the pair has her office in the back.
That's Steve in the front window and his cubbie work below the windows. The tough part about this job is that the building is way old and square corners were virtually non-existent.

Above the kitchen area he built great storage for inventory.

The back view, Steve's temp shop! He chose the Auburn tent because it was on sale and was NOT the FSU tent; funny because the couple who own the shop are FSU grads and if you know anything about the south and college football then you know this tent could have gotten Steve fired form this job!

So that's it, now you have a taste of what the other half of me does all day while I'm blogging here at home.
Happy day!


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