Mike and I headed out west with the four youngest for our summer vacation. Bret and Remi chose Camp Allendale, a Christian camp. Lael and Arden chose two weeks at Summit Ministries in TN. Camp Allendale is a week-long church camp for 1st - 6th graders near our home. All our kids have went there and loved it. Summit is a ministry that trains people of all ages in "worldview" analysis. Lael and Arden attended a two-week conference with 350 teenagers (mostly high school, some college age). And for any skeptics who think we sent our kids off to be brainwashed, let me assure you--it is the opposite. Summit teaches kids to reason and think for themselves. They tell their students that they have to study and understand other worldviews if they want to have a true faith. In other words, Lael and Arden spent two weeks learning how to love God with all their mind (one part of what Jesus said was the greatest commandment - Matthew 22:37). I think I posted before that Michelle Bachman attended Summit when she was young! Lael and Arden both thought it was life changing in their walk with Christ. Whitney attended Summit in Colorado when she was their age and now all 3 say they would like to go back. This time Mike drove Lael and Arden down to TN a couple days before we headed out West. We were home one day when Mike had to drive back to TN to pick them up. Something else happened at Summit that makes me want to cry when I think about it. One day during the second week, 3 bus loads and a couple vans full of the kids headed further up the the mountain (they were staying in the Smokies) for a day of fun. On the way back down the mountain a semi behind the buses lost his brakes. The driver passed a couple of the buses, but realized he was not going to get the semi under control. He made a conscience decision that he was going to make sure no one died with him when his semi crashed, so he intentionally steered his semi off the road into a ravine. Lael said she was sleeping and never saw anything, but Arden did see the semi down the side of the mountain. The buses that were behind the semi when he crashed stopped, and the students inside cut the trucker out of his semi and saved the his life. The last we heard the man is still in the hospital. All these Christian kids were saved. I have to wonder if this wasn't an attack from the evil one? I don't have to wonder why they were protected--lots of people praying for these kids at Summit. Thank you God for hearing our prayers and protecting my kids.

St Louis. We got a late start because Mike just had to go to one more meeting. : - ) We kept driving though and got out of Missouri.


If you've driven west on I-70 through Illinois, you probably remember this cross. It is quite a sight.


Lyric on her way far away.


Plenty to look at (I'm no PETA member, but have to admit feeling a little sorry for these poor chickens)!


Ready to get back on the road.




I had to laugh when I realized people knew how much I like Starbucks just by reading my blog. Well, this is Panera and Mike likes their coffee better. We sometimes argue about where we are going.


This was actually several hours down the road.




Lots of pit stops.



Things start to change. Look at the old cowboys behind Stafan. By this time we were in Oklahoma.


Check Mike out. He was saying something like "Sir do you know where we could tour a ranch? My son wants to see uhh younger cowboys." No, he didn't say that, but I was saying, "Mike I would like to get to a aaah resort and away from these cheap hotels." Seriously, the McDonald's cowboys were cool!


Check out the hood of that car. This was Amarillo where we spent the next night. We did stay at a nicer hotel than the night before. It was a Courtyard by Marriott. Mike had carried in luggage with all the kids except Shepard. Shepard stayed to help me. I was at the end of the car and a little junky car pulled up. It was a younger man and woman in it. They both looked poor and well--not super bright. The woman was crying and the man started talking. He said "Please don't cuss me out. I've been cussed out all night. We are homeless and broke. Do you have any money?" I was standing there holding my purse. I was nervous, because I actually had quite bit of money for once. Truthfully, I am not the type to just shell out money to the homeless, but this time it did seem different. Who knows if I was scammed or not, but I couldn't not give them money and have a clear conscience. I was thinking something like--there but for the grace of God go I. I was hoping I was a little smarter looking and classier--kidding. I fished out $20 and was praying that more bucks didn't fall out when I took that one out. Shepard's eyes got big. He still isn't used to not being poor and hungry himself and $20 is a big deal. After fishing out the $20, I was afraid to go near the man's car. I was thinking how shall I give him the money? This isn't like if you see a mouse and make your boy go get it. So I sucked it up and walked over to the car and handed it to him. I think he said thank you and sped off! I was relieved he was gone as quickly as he appeared. I couldn't get the couple out of mind for quite awhile. I was putting myself in their shoes and that isn't a good place.


Moving on down the road. The temperature in Oklahoma was 109 degrees when we were driving through. About now you're thinking that you hope you don't have car trouble and wish you had taken some bottled water.




It really wasn't that bad, because the kids had TVs and DSIs.


Never saw so much brown in my life, but the skies were bluer than I ever saw! Now this is one more reason I know there IS a God!



When you get bored enough you teach the kids to do this. Lyric was totally freaked out by getting the truckers to honk. She kept asking things like, "How did you ever learn this?! How do the truck drivers know what to do?!"

The kids fought for the alone seat in back.



Hours passed and then we saw signs of life. I'm not kidding!




Thank you Jesus. Only a few more hours.


We decided to have lunch since this place looked like a cool and trendy place.




It looked great until they told us they had community seating. It isn't our thing to sit randomly with people we don't know. Mike got a buffalo burger and asked me to split it with him.


I said yes, but when it came down to it I could not take a bite.



Well, it is all I can blog tonight. Lyric has to have a cavity filled at 7:30 am! Stafan was mad and told her it was her fault he has to get up early. She said it wasn't and it was genetics. Actually, the dentist told her that she has an extra tooth and that could be genetics.