Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bradenton & Naples, FL - Playing the drums for Him

Last summer we were blessed to spend a week at Strawberry Lake Christian Retreat in Northern MN – which is why we were so excited to visit their southern location in Bradenton, FL. What a great community of people making a difference in the world.

We were also blessed to reconnect with an old friend we haven’t seen in over ten years. Marie recently moved back to the states from Bermuda with her husband and three-year-old daughter, Sienna. We spent a day with them catching up, kayaking, and checking out the manatees. Looking forward to seeing them again soon.

Next we headed a couple hours south to Naples and were so happy to see more familiar faces! Our dear friends, the Perrins, flew in from MN. They are here for a couple of weeks so we’re spending Christmas with them at Janet’s mom’s place.

Praying your Christmas is filled with the love, peace, joy, and hope that Jesus came to bring. We had a blast playing our drums for Him in the slideshow…Merry Christmas from the Bendicksons!

PS...The last blog about Tampa was from last year...sorry...I was messing around with the blog and somehow it sent it out...technology...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Orlando, FL - What Matters Most

We had a quiet week at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground. Rich flew to Minneapolis for a few days while the kids and I decorated the RV with our homemade Christmas crafts. I think we left the campground once… to stock up at Whole Foods, but other than that we spent the week reading, biking, playing tennis, decorating, and sending a few Christmas cards.

Jake finally got his birthday present – a LEGO Mindstorm – which is a LEGO robot that you build and then program to do different things. He was up at the crack of dawn building – his happy zone. He’s really excited that Dad is back to help him get creative with the programming part.

We didn’t do any Disney parks, but the kids took an archery class at the campground. This was their first experience with a bow and arrow and they had a blast perfecting their aim. The campground, by the way, is very interesting at this time of year. It is packed full of campers who take holiday lights to a whole new level. Many set up displays that make us wonder how they could possibly plug it all in without blowing every fuse in the place!

Our Christmas seasons have definitely changed since we hit the road. December was always a rat-race with so many good things vying for a spot on our overbooked calendar. There was always more to do than could be done. Unfortunately, what matters most usually fell by the wayside. It was exhausting. And often frustrating and disappointing. We definitley miss spending time with family and friends. But overall, we feel very blessed to enjoy a much slower pace of life these days. We’ve been journeying through the scriptures with our Jesse Tree, watching history unfold, and looking forward to the birth of Jesus. We are grateful to have enough margin in our days to stop and smell the roses once in awhile – to watch a deer in the woods - or an armadillo foraging for insects. Less is definitely more. More peace. More joy. More time for what matters most.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Williston and Titusville, FL

After Destin, we headed to Williston, FL, near Ocala in Florida horse country. We spent a few days at Williston Crossings over Thanksgiving and had an opportunity to visit the Parelli ranch. This is a working ranch where horse lovers from around the world come to learn “Parelli” horse techniques. You might remember we traveled to Kansas City last summer to attend a Parelli horse conference. Ashley’s horse instructor is a Parelli trainer – so needless to say, it was a highlight to visit headquarters and see the facilities.

Next stop was Titusville, FL, on the space coast. We enjoyed the nature trails and wildlife at the Great Outdoors RV Nature and Golf Resort. God really drew our attention to the heavens last week. First, we watched two incredible space-related DVDs: The Privileged Planet and Star of Bethlehem – both of which brought us to a place of awe and wonder about the Creator of the universe and tremendously strengthened our faith. Second, our memory verses for this week just happened to be from Psalm 19 – all about the heavens declaring the glory of God. To top it off, we visited Kennedy Space Center and spent the day pondering life from a very different perspective.

It is deeply moving to glimpse the complexity, enormity, and synchrony that God set in motion when He created the heavens and the earth. And is it not amazing that He created us in such a way that we can discover and begin to understand it? How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Lord!