Monday, January 30, 2012

o, rodrigo

3 weeks down and many, many, many more to go for Club Neon!  Starting a new ministry is challenging, stretching, enlightening, inspiring, beautiful and downright exhausting sometimes...but this experience has been one of the most amazing of my life.  In three short weeks, I have been hugely blessed by leaders, volunteers and kids.  Meet one of my favorite kids, Rodrigo.

Rodrigo is 6 and is part of (small group) team purple.  I will never forget meeting him the first day of Club Neon, he was soooo excited. His parents came to drop him off and he was just running around- almost gleefully.  Even sitting in his small group and talking with his coach, Angie, I noticed he could hardly sit still.  The next week, God blessed me with one of those little moments.  As I was running around from one end of the church to the next and back again, Rodrigo came through the main gates with his parents...once again, he was "gleefully" running, ready to split and bolt from his parents as he kept saying, "I'm going to Club Neon!  I'm going to Club Neon!  Bye Mom and Dad!"  And off he went.  It was just a moment but truly one of those where you see the beauty of the Lord in a small child.  I don't know about you, but I need moments like that, and God frequently uses them to redirect my eyes back to Him.  It's as if He's saying, "Slow down.  Take a minute to soak it all in.  Don't worry about the details and the schedule and the papers, leaders, music, etc....just stop and listen to the excitement in this kid's voice.  That's ME!  Remember, Caroline, it's all about ME.  And would you just take a second to look what I'm doing."  It's not in a mean tone or like a slap on the hand.  It's like a soft hand on your shoulder that turns you around with a grin and a chuckle because of your current state of "chicken with its head cut off" that He finds so silly.  I love it when He does that.  I don't think it's ironic at all that these moments in my life generally always come in the form of children.  For everyone it's something different, but I know that God has given me a passion for children for a reason, because HE speaks to ME through THEM.  Amazing.  And blows me away every time.  Beth Moore was riding my same train of thought this morning as I studied in my Patriarchs bible study...check out what she said.  (I think she's maybe one of the wisest women ever BTW...besides the one and only Mary Ann McIntyre, of course!)

"Among the things God surely must enjoy doing, He can choose to reveal Himself any way He wants.  His revelation doesn't have to make sense to us.  We don't have to worry ourselves to death trying to get the Hebrew sentence structure to work for us.  We don't have to debate it in seminaries (though we can).  And we don't have to automatically accept a brilliant scholar's attempt to take the mystery out of it.  God can reveal Himself through flames of fire from within a bush, through a water-gushing rock, through a commander of an army, or through a voice out of a storm.  If I may be so bold, I think He rather likes the variety.  So today why don't we just sit back and enjoy it?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Club Neon

The day we had been waiting for...the kick off the ministry we have been working on all this time...FINALLY THE DAY CAME!!  Last Saturday night we had our Fiesta de Inauguracion de Club Neon, or our kick-off/launch party for our new children's ministry!  It was a mix of emotions (stress, nerves, excitement, anxiety) as we prepared to show all the families of El Camino what we have been cooking up.  And what a fiesta it was!!  We had a great turnout of families and I think everyone seemed to have a great time.  Everyone got a little preview of what was about to come...the very next morning!
Here's me and Nissi, one of our large group teachers, with our mascot, Sandy the ostrich.

Sunday we officially launched Club Neon!!  For the first day, everything went miraculously.  God has really taken care of all the details and put the right people in place for each and every area of the ministry.  We have more than 40 people currently serving in Club Neon, from small group coaches, to large group teachers, praise team, band and coordinators.  It is truly incredible to see how God has particularly gifted each person serving with the passion and skills that they need to do their part in serving the kids of El Camino.  I am so grateful that the Lord has all of this in His hands and under His control!  It was great to see these kids worshipping and experiencing the Bible together with their peers in a way they never had before.  Please continue to pray for us as we seek God's guidance in the next steps for the kids of El Camino.  I know He has great plans and I am so honored, blessed and excited that I get to see and witness what He's doing in Mexico.

{For some reason, I can't upload photos...if you want to see more photos from this weekend, check us out on facebookón}

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Home for Christmas

And oh how sweet it was to be back home for Christmas....somehow I didn't take hardly any pictures BUT maybe it's because I didn't have a second to take a picture with my jam-packed schedule of visiting friends, supporters and family all day, every day.  I loved being home and seeing everyone, the time just went by too fast.  A few highlights from my first homecoming...

Eating at Chick of course!  My most favorite things?  #1: chicken biscuit #2: Southwestern Chargrilled Spicy Chicken Salad  #3: "extra crispy" fries (learned this trick from the great Rachel Morris)

Night o' Fun with some of my favorite people, Kat, Jenna and Nolan.  We went ice skating and to a Boom Kinetic concert.  My absolute favorite and most fun concerts to go to!

Visiting friends...and often getting treated to my favorite meals.  I really miss this little Jack Jack who's growing up entirely too fast, his fab momma, dad and sis too.

Family photo session with the one and only Blanca Garcia.  If you haven't checked out her work, you should.

Dad thought he was the creative director for the shoot.  He was really adamant about a few things, a picture with sunglasses being one of them.  Gotta love him.

Family fun day at the Gentry Safari. 

I feel like he's saying, "whatchu lookin' at willis?"

CHRISTMAS!!  I think this one pic says it all.  Mom with "the mother of all bows".

HAPPY NEW YEARS!!  Got to ring in the new year with such a fun group of friends.

And before I knew it, it was time to leave again.  It was really hard leaving this little face....

BUT knowing what I was coming back to, made me all the more excited!  I arrived back in Puebla on January 6th and the January 15th date of the first Club Neon was approaching quickly!!

More to come...

Navidad en Puebla

For me, snow is not a requirement for a beautiful Christmas.  However, if it's going to be snowy temps then I need some snow and time by the fireplace.  

Here's some of my faves from Puebla this Christmas... Enjoy!

yes, there is fake snow falling from the sky.  
it was kinda nice...until it started getting my hair all wet and soapy.

snow flakes are so much more sparkly in the sun.

some view of beautiful puebla from atop a tour bus.


 Oh wow....I just realized I haven't updated the ol' blog in more than a month!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  Things have been a little crazy since I last updated on December 9th.  Let's see, my last week was in Puebla was filled with preparations to leave and go home to Arkansas for a little bit, as well as a few Christmas celebrations here.  This included many mornings working at the church with Diana, filled with task-lists and things to get done before and during the time I was gone.  We were working so hard to have everything ready because the first Club Neon would be January 15th!  Preparations also included many afternoons spent downtown shopping for pottery and fun, authentic Mexican Christmas presents to take home with me.  (I also ended up buying a 45 piece set of china for my Meme...but we'll get to that later.)  And of course I had to spend a lot of time preparing to bring out little Nina home.  Yes, I traveled across the border and into the US with a 3 month old German Shepherd (yet Mexican) puppy.  I ended up making pretty good friends with the guys working at the local pet store.  Only made a few dozen trips to buy a cage, a carrier, toys, a sweater, a collar and leash, waterbowl, etc... Traveling with a dog is stressful and I think I've learned my lesson.  DON'T GET A DOG IN ANOTHER COUNTRY.  It's just too difficult.  But how fun it was to celebrate Christmas with my Mexican family and friends, decorating a boot for Samy at his school with Diana, church Christmas dinner, small group Christmas dinner and of course Ana's 15th birthday!!  I took her to get her nails done and she was sooooo excited.

On December 14th, I embarked from the bus station at 8:30, heading to Mexico City and my ultimate destination of Nashville, Tennessee for my cousin's wedding.  When we (my friend Eddie was flying out of Mexico City the same day so we took the bus together and thank God because I would not have been able to handle the tub of china, the dog and my 2 suitcases alone!) finally made it Mexico City and I stood at the check in counter for at least a half an hour, got Nina checked and handed off all my baggage, it was time for lunch and then off I went.  Just a side note, it's usually so annoying going through customs in the states- taking off your shoes,  your jacket, pulling out all liquids, removing your computer from the bag and it's case, and not to mention my boxes of (insulin pump) pods, syringes, insulin bottles, etc. that usually get a double check over- however, in Mexico you are not required to take your shoes off.  I was almost offended like, "I need to take my shoes off or you're not doing a thorough check!  I could have a bomb in my shoe!"  Once I explained that the bump/machine on my stomach was an insulin pump, was thoroughly patted and waved down, I was sent on my way.  And of course in Mexican time, our plane left about an hour late, which made us late arriving in Houston, where I stood in line and got my passport stamped and stood in line and got my bags (and loaded them onto 2 carts) and stood in line with my 2 carts and got my dog checked (and my dog food taken away) and because the whole customs process took so long, I thought I had missed my flight so I stood in line to get my ticket changed only to be told that my flight was delayed and I would make it..."just stand over here and wait (some more) for a TSA rep to check in your dog".  Who at this point was so depressed and lethargic that they thought I had gone against the rules and sedated her.  Poor thing!  So, she gets checked and I run to the train, wait for it, ride it and run to my gate and of course, I missed the flight by a few minutes.  It's okay...I wasn't bothered my 2 hours wait time before the next flight, I treated myself to a new neck pillow and a little Starbucks and all was good.  When I FINALLY made it to Nashville, it was too late and I couldn't even get my first "wish for when on US soil" of going to Sonic because it was closed.  I was however, happily greeted by my parents and second parents, David and Marianne Meriwether.  It was good to be home...well, sort of.

We spent the next week or so in Nashville celebrating the beautiful wedding of my cousin Katie and new cousin, Stephen Alderman.  So fun!  What a beautiful wedding at Loveless...and of course good food too.  Here's mom and Katie at the rehearsal dinner. For explanation, Katie and Stephen both ride and work with horses so Mom, of course, had a perfect themed outfit that she was so excited about!

The happy couple and the fun photo booth favors!

We were able to spend lots of time with our old friends, the Meriwethers, while we stayed at their house and even got to see our old and favorite neighbors, the Campbells.  Lee Campbell was my best childhood friend, I mean the kid being two years younger than me, was the only one who could teach me to ride a bike without training wheels.  I hadn't seen them since we moved to Arkansas nearly 12 years ago, so it was fun to reunite!  Here's the Macs and the Campbells reunited once again...

Here's me with my other best friend from childhood, Laura Meriwether, and her fiance Brandon, eating at one of my favorite restaurants, Maggiano's.

I always love "going home" to Nashville and spending time with family and friends...and of course eating at our old stomping grounds.  We also spent a day in Chattanooga to visit Meme, Bob, Bryan, Suzanne, Bobby and our "Aunt Clara".  What fun!  And I got to see Meme open all her china which she was ecstatic about.  (She collects a certain pattern that is somewhat hard to find, when I found 45 pieces in Mexico, I just had to get it.  Crazy, I know but to see her happiness over all those dishes was worth it all.)

So true.

Eating with Meme at one of our favorite bakeries in Nash, The Puffy Muffin.

Oh, Loveless...

 After this fun filled, crazy-busy week, we took it on home with dog in tow and I finally made it home-home to Arkansas!  I'll save my Arkansas adventures for another post, I think this one's long enough.
And by the way....

from the McIntyres