Since I didn't send out Christmas cards or holiday letters this year, I decided to create a "Top 10" list of 2012 for the Carlson family. And since we are a real family it wouldn't be fair if I only shared the best moments without also sharing some of the not so great moments as well. Overall it was a great year and choosing a "Top 10" was not easy. So here goes:
#10 - In May we took our first college visit & Christian participated in his first SEC football camp. Now that he's a junior the college search gets more intense. At this point we have no clue where he will decide to go to college.
#9 - When school started in September, 3 of the 4 Carlson kids were at new schools. Noah started high school, Madison started middle school & Tyler moved to the intermediate school. Noah struggled a little at first adjusting to harder classes, but he seems to be applying himself more now. Madison never really adjusted to middle school and has struggled with the environment of a public middle school. So we have decided to return to online charter school for her and Tyler as well.
#8 - Noah went to his first school dance. He & Christian went to the Homecoming Dance with friends from church.
#7 - In September, Christian got his driver's license. Other than the increase in insurance, it has been great to have an extra driver in the house. He did have a minor incident with a light pole just a couple weeks after getting his license. So we don't let him drive the van...only the jeep!!!
#6 Christian and Tyler both had great football seasons. Tyler's team went to the Super Bowl and came in 2nd!! Christian's team made it to the first round of playoffs. Christian and 2 other d-linemen were featured on the cover of the local paper's sport's page. Then the following week he sprained both of his ankles and missed 2 games. He did make All Conference as an Honorable Mention.
#5 At the end of July, we spent a weekend camping at Natural Bridge, Kentucky with friends. We had a great weekend of hiking, swimming & family fun.
#4 We saw the FCA ministry grow throughout Dayton. We saw new huddles starting and new contacts made for huddles starting in 2013. We celebrated the end of the school year with a pool party. We were invited to partner with the Salvation Army for a kid's camp and it went so well that we'll be doing it again in 2013. Rich also spoke in the chapel services of Oneida Baptist Institute. We are still struggling with trying to raise enough support to become paid staff. God is continuing to meet our finacial needs and we have to continually remind ourselves that we must trust Him and His timing in funding.
#3 We started the summer of 2012 by going to camp!! Our entire family spent the week at Seneca Lake Kid's Kamp. It was my 3rd year as a Bible Learning Leader & Rich's 1st year as Rec Director. Christian & Noah both helped with rec while Maddy & Tyler were both campers.
#2 We spent lots of time doing missions & ministry trips. Rich & I returned to Nicaragua and were able to bring Noah with us. It was an amazing week of evangelizing & building a playground. Christian went to Haiti with a group of youth from church and conducted VBS. Then we went on a family missions trip to Oneida, KY. We went with several other families from our church and conducted VBS for the children of Oneida. We were able to return to Oneida in December and help deliver new shoes to all the children from Oneida Elementary School.
The top highlight for 2012, was definitely the donation of our van. After our blazer died in mid December of 2011, our only transportation was Rich's Jeep Cherokee. We began praying for a 2nd vehicle that was larger and would fit our family of 6. We were blessed in mid February by the generosity of friends from our church who God used to answer that prayer for our family. Without that van then most of the other projects we were a part of in 2012 would not have been possible.
As I look back over the past year, I see moments of victory and agonies of defeat. I see my children grasping a concept of who God is and I see them breaking His heart with their disobedience. I see parents who invest in teaching their children godly values and I see distracted parents letting disobedience go unpunished. I see days of showing loving patience to each other and I see days of harsh words and frustration. I see a family taking small steps closer to where God wants them to be and I see a family falling on their knees pleading for wisdom to make better choices. Through all of this looking back, I am thankful that through God's grace we have grown in our walk with God.
As we start a new year, I'm hopeful that we will continue to take steps to grow in Christ. So that when we come to the end of 2013, we can look back and realize that we're not the same as we were today.
Happy New Year from our family to yours!
I get lots of crazy ideas. Some I share and some I don't. Some get put into action and do well while others just never come to fruition. Then there are those ideas that just stay with you. Have you ever gotten one of those crazy ideas that you just knew was from God? One of those ideas that God keeps laying on your heart until you share it with someone? Back in August, I got one of those ideas.
Our children's choir at church was about to start working on the musical "The Christmas Shoe Tree" written by Jeff Slaughter. The idea behind the musical was to show others how we can share the love of Jesus with people by meeting a basic human need.....a good pair of shoes. We were encouraged to do a Soles 4 Souls shoe dirve within our church. Soles 4 Souls takes gently used shoes and gives them to countries all over the world that need shoes. It is an amazing organization that has collected tons of shoes. This is where I felt God's voice speak to my heart.
As I thought about the shoe drive, God laid it on my heart to not just collect shoes to be sent to another organization to distribute but to get more personal and intentional with our choir's shoe drive. He wanted us to collect shoes for the children of Oneida, KY. Children that we had spent a week in July ministering to with soccer clinics & VBS during a family missions trip. Children who live in the 2nd poorest community in Kentucky. Children who deal with tough home lives and extreme poverty. Children who need to know that Jesus loves them. One hundred twenty nine children who needed shoes!!
One hundred twenty nine pair of shoes in one month was a big project that seemed slightly impossible. But I had faith that God would supply every pair. We started with the families in our kid's choir. Some of the kids chose children that they met during the family missions trip. Some chose children that were the same age as them. After every child chose, we opened up the shoe drive to the rest of our church. With the help of our church family, we were not only able to get a 129 new pairs of shoes but we were also able to purchase 2 pair of socks for each child. God wasn't done yet. He also provided the funds for a rental van to transport the shoes!! He was confirming for me that this was His project and He had all of the details worked out!!
When we arrived at the school on Monday morning, we were all so very excited and just a bit nervous. What if the shoes didn't fit? or the kids didn't like them? What happened next was amazing. There were smiles and "I love pink" and "Wow, look at these!" The responses from those beautiful children was so humbling and so overwhelming.
One of the first girls to enter the gym was a 4th grader whose face lit up when she saw the tables full of wrapped shoe boxes. She hugged her wrapped box and refused to open it. Everyone kept encouraging her to open it. She was the very last child in all of 4th-6th grade to open her shoes. In her box were also several pair of funky socks. One of the teachers commented, "That was the perfect gift for her. The extra socks couldn't have been given to a better situation." She beamed with joy and was so very proud of her new shoes. Her younger sister was a 1st grader and when she entered the gym she giggled and bounced with excitement.
This little 1st grader was wearing a cream colored coat that she refused to take off when she got to school. She was so thankful for her "new" coat. It was from Goodwill and was missing a button but she loved it!! She had this beautiful smile on her face that got bigger when she was handed a wrapped shoe box. After she opened her box she was absolutely giddy with excitement. Seeing the joy on her face brought tears of joy to my eyes.
Some kids giggled and hugged their shoes. Some put their new socks & shoes on immediately!! A few boys put their shoes on and ran around the gym seeing how high they could jump. One little boy got high tops and he said "Now I'll really be able to run fast on the basketball court."
Then there were a few who didn't want to unwrap their boxes. One little boy said he wanted to wait until Christmas because he wouldn't be getting any other gifts. Another little boy said he was going to have his mom rewrap his when he got home so he could open it again on Christmas. I've never seen so much joy and gratitude for a simple pair of shoes.
While it broke my heart to hear their stories, I needed to hear them. When we ignore or refuse to listen to the stories of struggle and need then we can go along with our happy little lives of ignorance and bliss. When poverty has a face, it makes it impossible to ignore. I'm now praying and asking God to give me another crazy idea to benefit the children of Oneida. An idea that only He can bring together
Do you have a crazy idea that you just can't forget??
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, a VBS crafter, a coupon clipper, a thrift store shopper, a football fan, a cook, a student of the Bible and an avid reader.