Stories, laughter, memories, songs around the bonfire, sandcastles at the beach, family, friends, good food, good church, shopping, San Diego... and I quote, "It just doesn't get any better than this" (Paul Bertram). We had the distinct privilege and honor of reliving some old memories and making some new ones while visiting in Lakeside (San Diego), CA.
First let me say, I can never say enough about this family... set aside the fact that they are kin. These are genuine Christians. They don't just read the Word and watch out for themselves alone, but they have a huge burden as big as the sky for others. My cousin Paul is an incredible Pastor (in blue). I got to watch his devotion and commitment to God for the year Jeremy and I lived there. He was early to the church every day to pray. The fruit of that commitment is evident in the saints at Faith Mountain. They are some of the most dedicated, passionate, and committed Christians you will ever meet. We were so blessed to learn and grow with them that year.
In addition, his wife is also a Godly beautiful woman with strong conviction. She is a miner. She goes digging for things in people who don't know what they have yet. She did this for me. She pushed me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to play the piano and sing after Jeremy would preach. This frightened me to death because I only knew a few altar call songs that I was coordinated enough to sing and play at the same time. At our Ladies Prayer meetings, she began putting me on the schedule and having me teach every other week. I began studying and digging into God's Word like I never had before. She is an awesome woman. Now as we revisited the church I saw others she's mined something precious out of and I became so overwhelmed with emotion. For you Bri... you too Amanda... Christina... don't close up the mine... always keep it open. She is always the same. She is a nurturer in the truest sense of the word. She took care of me when I left my "home" for the first time. I called her my 2nd Mom. She fills every bit of that definition. "Her children rise up and call her blessed." I bless you today "Mom."
Also, their biological children, Johnny, David, and Chantal, are some of the best examples of Godly young people you'll ever find. When we lived there, I remember going into the church in the middle of the day and Johnny would be bent over the altar praying and seeking God (I am upset I didn't get a picture of him. I'll have to steal one from his mom's blog) . He is transparent and pure through and through. I also remember Chantal and David in youth prayer meetings, and Chantal specifically one time right before we moved, as she prayed with power and conviction. Her praying that night lead the group into another level of intercessory prayer(the beautiful blonde). God used her in a mighty way. Then my heart was bursting within me again this trip when I walked into the house one day and heard that familiar beautiful sound of praying coming out of David's room. These young people know who they are... they are HIS. And it is obvious that's all that matters. Oh how beautiful and refreshing it was to see this.
It wasn't all serious... we had some down to earth times like when I beat everyone in Big Boggle haha (we won't discuss those other two games); or I got to go to my fave Mexican restaurant: Rodeo's; or when Paul and my Dad came in from Walmart looking like two escapees from the asylum (loved the cap's green light attachment) and Chantal says, "You went to the store like that?"; or the day at the beach building a sand castle and trying to keep Noah from eating too much sand (ahhhh); or getting to teach the youth choir again; getting to see and be with all my old Faith Mountain friends; or spending too much money shopping (my excuse is that its for a good cause... our upcoming Harvest Festival)... on and on I can go.
Yes, you read right, I did mention my Dad earlier. My Mom and Dad also got to come down for the week we were here. I was so glad too. I couldn't have picked a better set of parents than these two. They helped me through a very traumatic experience while we were in SD... the BIG FIRST HAIRCUT. Yes, we finally did it. I wanted it to be special so Lorraine helped me find a salon that was not only kid friendly but they also had a special first haircut package. Noah got to sit in a sports car with Winnie the Pooh. The saved his hair and put it on a cute certificate. Well things started out okay with the cool sports car and as his hair "began" to be cut. After this strange lady started playing with his hair, he started freaking out. I ended up sitting in a chair with him in my lap because things got ugly really fast. Noah was not considering forgiving this lady for cutting his precious hair. So, we just decided to go for a trim and maybe wait a little longer for the BIG BOY styling haircut. All in all we enjoyed a little bit of heaven in SD... revisiting memories and definitely making new ones.
Mom and BriSis.Hoffer and meSis.Casias and meMe, Noah, and CynthiaMe and Bri