Sunday, April 10, 2016

Club 56--Making their mark

I don't believe I have ever been as proud of my girls as I was today.  Lydia and Emily are part of a youth group--at our church--called Club 56.  It is a group of 5th and 6th graders, and another mother and I are the youth leaders.  Ryan was part of this group last year and the year before and now it is the girls turn.  Each year, our youth group preforms a church service for our local Presbyterian retirement community.  Many of the service attendees live in the assisted living portion of the community, but some come from the apartments within the community.  In addition, the residents who are not able to make it to the service because they are feeling sick, etc., the church services are piped into their rooms.  Well, today was the day for our service.

The last two years, Ryan has participated in being one of the ushers.  He has never been comfortable with speaking in front of people so he left the speaking parts to his group members.  Emily felt the same way this year.  She was not interested in speaking in front of anyone.  She felt comfortable with handing out bulletins and collecting the offering.

Because our group is a little smaller this year than it was the last two years, we needed to make sure we had enough kids who were comfortable speaking.  Lydia volunteered to do the Children's Sermon.  Emily agreed to hand out the crackers that were to go with the story Lydia told.  We do a children's sermon and the younger siblings of our group members are the children that come forward.  Lydia read the entire story (found at the bottom of this blog) and Emily handed out the crackers.  Lydia was amazing!  She even wanted to add to her prayer . . . "and all God's Children say . . . " and everyone in the congregation says Amen.  Our Pastor will often say that and she asked if she could add that to the prayer that we picked.  I was so proud of her.  In addition to the Children's Sermon, she also did the greeting.  In the greeting she welcomed everyone and explained who we were and what Club 56 was about.  She also introduced the ushers.  And then, towards the end of the service, she did the Prayer of Thanksgiving and lead the congregation in saying the Lord's Prayer.  She was wonderful!  All the Club 56 kids were wonderful!!  I was just so proud of the way she took this and ran with it.  We had talked about making eye contact, but didn't talk about it much.  I don't know if she forgot to do it or was nervous.  Most likely forgot.  Either way, thought it was good.  She never looked back and never hesitated or seemed nervous.  For 5th and 6th graders--they were all amazing!!

 Emily passing out bulletins with her club mates . . . Ashley, Connor and Megan (Megan used to be on the Crush softball team with Emily)
 Emily giving a bulletin to one of our dads.
 Lydia, delivering the service greeting.
 Lydia reading the Children's Sermon story to the kids.
I was not able to get a very good picture, but this is a picture of Emily passing out the crackers to the kids.  It was part of the story.
Emily passing the offering plates.
The four ushers dropping the offering plates at the front of the church and Lydia giving the prayer of thanksgiving and the lords prayer.

 The hymns and prayers are projected in the front of the church for the congregation  This was during her leading the Lord's Prayer.  I really was saying the prayer while taking this picture.  Can you see her at the pulpit at the bottom?
After the service, we took the kids to Golden Corral for Breakfast/Brunch.  This is tradition.  They had such a great time and enjoyed celebrating what they accomplished.

Here is the bulletin that everyone received in the service and the story that Lydia told during the Children's Sermon.

Here is the link to the service.  If you would like to watch it you can.  It is about 30 minutes, but of course you can skip over parts with kids you don't know.  So very proud of Lydia!!

Fun in Florida--Our last day :(

Thursday was our last day in Florida.  We went from Friday to Friday and did all of our crazy traffic traveling on Friday.  On Thursday, Mom had found this really great place called Myakka River State Park.  It was in Sarasota FL.  We took an air boat ride around the river and saw many alligators sunbathing.  We were also able to walk out on a deck thing that had alligators swimming under it and a grassy area where they were very close.  It was really cool!!  It was funny the people who were around us who were very scared and concerned for us because we were apparently too close for them.  :)

On our way to see the Alligators, there was this great tree that we took our picture in.  This branch was really thick, but moved when they moved.  It made the kids a little nervous that it would break, but it never did.  Made a nice picture I think.

Got kids and us in the pictures.
Our boat ride was really fun.  We were not all able to sit next to each other, but very close together.  It kind of worked out better this way as everyone ended up being pretty close to the side and could see pretty well.
This is Mike and Lydia on the other side of the boat.
My parents were with us at the state park.  Made a really great time with everyone.  Mom and Dad sat right in front of Emily, Ryan and myself.

Ryan took a few pictures of this boat.  We passed it on our boat tour.  It looked like the one we were on.  Our tour guide was Robert.  He was really great!
This is the fan that pushed us around the river.
Not sure how well you can see them, but there are two alligators in the above picture--sitting on the shore and one on the bottom with his mouth open.
This is a pretty big one with his tail showing pretty well.
My mom packed us all a lunch to eat there.  There were a ton of picnic tables there.  We enjoyed our lunch, but there was a squirrel there who came VERY close and tried to eat our food.  :)
Another feature in this park was the Canopy Walk.  It was a tower that was built over 780 feet in the air and a bridge that crossed from a smaller tower to the bigger tower.  Only four people at a time could walk across the bridge.  It was really pretty.

There was a nature walk from the road to the tower and bridge.  This is what is considered a forest in Florida.  Very different than the ones in Virginia.

This is the big tower we climbed up in.  I could not get low enough to get a really good look at the height of it.  Many flights of steps.  Very cool!

This is the view, over the treetops, from 784 feet up.  It was so amazing!  You could not stay up there too long.  It was a very small space and about 7 people could get up there at one time.  So you could look around, but had to move pretty quickly so that other families and people could have their turn.  Was really amazing!  These pictures really show nothing compared to what was visible in real life.

There was a couple up there when we arrived.  They asked that we take their picture and they returned the favor.  784 feet up.  The tower was swaying.  :)  Still so pretty!!

After visiting the Makkaya State Park, we headed south to Herrmann's Royal Lipizzan Stallions of Austria.  On our way, we crossed Sunset Bridge.  It is tall enough for the cruise ships to pass under and such a beautiful place to see the sun set from what I understand.  We did not pass at the correct time.  Off to both sides of it are parts of the old draw bridge.  They turned them into fishing piers that you can drive out on.  So neat!

It was really very beautiful!
This place does a training show each Thursday in the month of April.  They bring out their stallions and now also some of the mares, as it was started my Captain Herrmann many years ago.  They talked about the different ways the horses helped with fighting in the wars.  That before weapons were effective, the horses were the weapons.  Kicking and running, etc.  Was neat for the relating to back then.

They had a Shetland pony that was there for the use of the grandchildren in the family.  Lydia kind of liked him.

Duke is the head of the stable.  He is an old horse and there is another horse, Autaurus, who wants to have the dominating role, but Duke is not giving it up that easily.
This is the new pony.  Just a few weeks old.  He stood with his mother in the pin with the older mares. I am sure they are all careful with him.