Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Lighthouse Family Retreat, Seaside, FL 2009

Good evening everyone! Our family just returned from being treated to a wonderful vacation in Seaside, Florida thanks to the Lighthouse Family Retreat! This was by far the best vacation that our family has EVER had. We left on Monday morning and drove 7.5 hours to Seaside. Seaside is actually where the Truman Show was filmed (or at least part of it). Matt, the kids and I had an AWESOME time and it was so great to get away for a little while. The Lighthouse Family Retreat is a great ministry and you should check out their website and consider getting involved. www.lighthousefamilyretreat.org

Monday - June 1st
We arrived on Monday around 2 CST and were greeted by our four Family Partners; Tim, Leigh, Jackie and Brayden. The four of them took care of us all week, by entertaining our kids, picking up after us and doing our laundry for us. We were literally waited on hand and foot for this entire week, which I am not used to at all. Back to the story of our amazing trip. We were checked in and taken to the house that the owners had given to the Lighthouse for us to use this week. As a matter of fact all of the houses but one were given to the Lighthouse for the week which I find incredible generous. We had a little bit of free time before we had to meet up with everyone so we all put our swim suits on and went down to the beach to and got into the water. This was Nathan’s first time in the ocean (or gulf) water and he thought it was great. He just laughed when the waves splashed into his feet. J Caleb has been in the ocean at least one other time that I know of but he was extremely young (a little younger than Nathan actually) and I think that the size of it was a bit overwhelming for him, but I think he did enjoy it. At 4 we were welcomed with all of the other 11 families and then we divided up into teams for the Lighthouse Olympics which was awesome too! Our family was on the blue team and the blue team was called The Blues Brothers… and Sisters. We had the Phillips, the Whites and the Tuckers on our team as well. Our team also consisted of the family partners for our families and several other volunteers. After that we had dinner which was prepared and served for us by volunteers.

Tuesday - June 2nd
Each morning we at met at 8 for breakfast which again was prepared and served for us by volunteers. At 8:30 we all walked down to Seaside Pavilion for Morning Watch where we sang two worship songs and had a short devotional. This was extremely nice because we started out our morning by praising God. The kids would stay with the volunteers at 9am and they would play with them and do different types of activities, which both of our kids loved. While the kids attended this all of the parents met in one of the houses for Common Grounds which was great. It was so nice to meet with other parents that have the same emotions that you have been through. We were all able to share our stories and talk about the emotions that we felt or the fears that we had. Lunch was served to us at noon and after lunch we had free time. Right after lunch while Matt got Nathan to take a nap, I took Caleb down to the pool so he could swim for a little while. To this point in our vacation, this is his favorite part, LOL. Today the mom’s didn’t really have as much free time as we did most days because today was Mom’s Pampering. At 2pm the moms were taken to this REALLY nice house in a little community called Water Color which was just right outside of Seaside. Here we received pedicures, back and neck rubs and manicures and just some quiet time. All of these were given to us by the female volunteers, who did a wonderful job. Tonight we also were treated to Parent’s Night out at a Five Star restaurant in Seaside called Café Thirty-A. I have to say this was fantastic! This was a seafood restaurant and neither one of us actually eat a lot of seafood so we both opted for the Filet Mignon which was served with yummy twice baked potatoes and asparagus. Before our entrée we both had a tomato mozzarella salad which was great as well. To end our evening we both had dessert that was really, really bad for us. LOL I enjoyed a chocolate cake with ice cream and a raspberry sauce while Matt enjoyed banana beignets served with macadamia ice cream. Did I mention that this restaurant provided this entire dinner to all of the parents with the Lighthouse Family Retreat??? They treated us to this awesome dinner and provided us with excellent service as well! It was at dinner that I had the opportunity to meet another mom whose son was born with cancer as well. She actually sat by me at dinner and it was such a pleasure to talk to her and realize that she had been through some of the same experiences that I had gone through. While the parents were at this wonderful dinner the volunteers had taken the kids for hotdogs and ice cream and then to see a play of Go Dog Go in Watercolor. Caleb really enjoyed this and I have to say that he enjoyed the ice cream too because he came back with his shirt covered in chocolate ice cream, LOL!

Wednesday – June 3rd

This morning was much like yesterday we had breakfast, Morning Watch, Common Grounds and lunch. After lunch we decided to take a drive to let Nathan nap. We drove down to Sandestin, FL and grabbed lunch and went to a couple of the stores at the Outlet Mall. It then started raining on us, actually it started pouring! We drove back in the rain and enjoyed another nap before we headed down to the beach for a little swim before the Luau dinner. The Luau dinner was served by one of the pools which is where Pool Olympics were held as well. It was barely sprinkling when we arrived at the pool but they still had a covered area for us to eat and enjoy the wonderful catered dinner. Pool Olympics came after the luau dinner. During this event we split up into the same teams that we did on Monday and had a race across the pool on a lobster, tossed a beach ball through a hula hoop and had a cannon ball contest. Caleb was the only one from our family that participated in these events and he did a wonderful job. He was pulled by two people for the lobster race, he scored both of his shots for the hula hoops and he did an awesome cannon ball (he is really good at doing cannon balls and he loves doing them as well). After all of the Olympic activities we swam for a little while and then turned in for the night.

Thursday – June 4th

Again, this morning was much like all of the other mornings just a little more windy than usual. We had noticed the night before that Nathan had a pretty red bug bite on his left leg, but we just figured that it was a normal bug bite and we didn’t really need to worry about it. I actually looked at it on the walk down to Morning Watch and noticed that it was still red and thought that we needed to find something to put on it later that afternoon. While we were standing on the Pavilion for morning watch Matt pointed it out to me again and this time he had a big red swollen spot on his leg and the center of the bite itself was purple. The person that started the Lighthouse Family Retreat is actually a Nurse Practitioner and we had her look at it. She thought that it looked like a bite that might have gotten infected and said that she was going to call a local pediatrician and have him meet us to look at it before we went to lunch. We left at 11 am to go to a local restaurant for lunch and the pediatrician actually met us at the restaurant to look at his bug bite. He said that it looked like it might be a spider bite, but we could treat it with hydrocortisone and keep an eye on it. By the end of the day the bite was looking better. This pediatrician is actually friends with the surgeon that preformed Nathan’s surgery last June. Wednesday it will be one year since his surgery, but that is another blog. After lunch we all took a nap then went down to the pool and swam for a bit. Tonight we had a picnic in the park there in Seaside and got ready for the kids Talent show. Caleb hula hooped and Nathan tossed bean bags into a hole. They both did wonderful jobs as did all of the other kids that performed.

Friday – June 5th

This was our last full day with our Lighthouse Family. We enjoyed Morning Watch and Common Grounds while the kids enjoyed Flip Flop. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch and then headed down to the beach for a little while. It was a beautiful sunny day and we all enjoyed the time that we had. Matt actually headed back to the house to get Nathan to take a nap while I enjoyed lounging in a beach chair and Caleb helped build a sand castle and dug a hole with some of the other kids. We played for a while and headed back to the house to rest a little bit before we headed back down to the beach for Beach Olympics. Before we went down to the beach we stopped at this little restaurant, Pickles and got a hot dog to hold us over until dinner. Man were those good hot dogs, LOL. Next, we went down to the beach to prepare for Beach Olympics which we all participated in except for Nathan who cheered us on. These were a blast as well. It actually started to sprinkle right as we were finishing up. We had pizza for dinner tonight with a salad and watermelon. Once we finished dinner the kids had a dance party and the parents went to have a game show. I don’t know how much fun the kids had because Caleb didn’t really share that with me, he was too interested in playing with one of his new friends, but the parents had a wonderful time! We all laughed and enjoyed our last night together. To close out the night we all met up again and watched a slide show of the entire week. It was so nice looking back on out wonderful week with all of our new, wonderful, life long friends.

Saturday – June 6th

Today we prepared to leave our wonderful vacation behind and head home. Our family partners arrived at our house a little before 8 to help us get everything in our car and to make sure we didn’t need any help. Once we got the car all packed we took some pictures with our family partners and then headed for breakfast and our See-ya Laters. We had to say see ya to these wonderful friends that we have made over the past week. We exchanged email addresses with a lot of the people to be able to keep in touch too and then we got on the road to come home.

We were so blessed to have gone on this wonderful vacation and are so thankful for The Lighthouse Family Retreat! We were ministered to by so many wonderful people and realized a lot of things about our lives that we had never noticed before. God truly spoke to us through this entire trip as well as blessed us and our kids.


Love,

The Kelly Family

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