The first few days of July had us leaving our friends in Grand Rapids and heading to Fairview, Michigan. Fairview is home to one of the most special places on earth: Camp Barakel. Camp holds an important place in my heart. It was at camp that I gave my heart to Christ, first understood God's unfailing love for me, first felt the joy of serving others, met my husband, where I first believed that marriage could be a good thing, the place where I first grasped that God could use me even though I was broken and extremely flawed, and the place where the first little seedlings of desire and passion for motherhood took root. This trip was especially meaningful to us as it was the first time for Alaina and Caleb to get to be a part of the camping program. They were campers for the week, Jason volunteered in construction, and the three younger kids and I spent the week with my dear friend Stacy and a few of her seven kids. It was a great week and I am so thankful that I was able to experience it all with my family! A special highlight was seeing Alaina bravely sing "This is the Day" during the weekly musical program — in English AND in Indonesian!
One not-so-wonderful moment was on the 4th of July. I was with my friend Stacy and Jason had taken the three little kids to the waterfront. We got a call saying that Katie had fallen on the dock and would need stitches. So after a one-hour drive to the hospital, a few hours of waiting, a screaming 4-year-old, and another one-hour drive back, we crawled into bed at about 1 am. If only that would have been the only ER visit of the summer...After leaving Camp, we headed back downstate where we enjoyed hanging out with Jason's parents, crafting trash-to-treasure items, helping them get settled in their new home, cooking, and enjoying summer things like free Slurpees on 7/11!
On July 13, we had a very special day. We found out we were expecting blessing #6! We had already scheduled family photos with my sister for that evening, so I waited until then to share the news with Jason. (We waited for about 8-10 weeks to tell the kids due to my history with recurrent miscarriage.) You can check out a lot more of our photos from this shoot in the post FAMILY PHOTOS. And if you are wondering about the bandaid on Katie's forehead...well, as we were getting out of the car for our photos, Katie bumped her head right where she had had the stitches removed from her fall earlier in the month, and the wound popped right back open! We put a bandaid on it, took some photos, and then headed out for emergency visit number two for our time in the States. Too bad there would be more!Later in the month, we drove down to Ohio to spend the weekend with some dear friends of ours that we worked with in Indonesia for three years. We had a beautiful weekend of walks, talks, and lots of laughs.
On July 23, we were back in Michigan for a short get-together with my side of the family. We hadn't all been together in SIX years! It was a fun afternoon of meeting nieces and nephews, eating, playing in the water, and attempting family photos!
On July 25, after a wonderful month with friends and family, we hopped back in the car for the 11 hour trip back to North Carolina. We arrived thankful, tired, and glad to be "home" in a space all our own again. However, I also arrived home very, very sick. Pregnancy and I do not get along.
On the day after we got back, Caleb was out with friends riding bikes. His bike slipped on the gravel and he shredded his arm. We tried to clean it out but after an hour or so we realized that there was no way we were going to be able to get it all clean and bandaged on our own. So we were off to the emergency room again! Even the doctor had a hard time getting it clean with all the shredded skin, so I am glad we went in.