What a blessing we have received! We were invited to attend retreat 4 in Seacrest, FL with the Lighthouse family retreat. We were scheduled to leave on Monday, June 13th; however, we were not invited to go until June 6th. We had a little less than a week to prepare for this trip and make the necessary arrangements with work. Thankfully Matt & I have great jobs and we were able to make the necessary arrangements to attend this wonderful trip.
Monday - June 13th
Matt & I got up at 415 am and had plans to leave the house by 500 am. Well, we ended up leaving the house and 520 am. The kids all fell back asleep in the car. We had to make a quick stop in GA to drop Caleb off with his dad. We dropped him off about 645 and he went inside and went right back to sleep. Anna & Nathan didn't wake up when we dropped Caleb off and they both slept until almost 800 am.
We ended up taking Hwy 27 down through Carrollton, then we went through Columbus, GA and crossed into Alabama shortly before Dothan. It was a more scenic route and not a lot of interstate travel. The kids were pretty good on the drive down with very few meltdowns. What should have taken us almost 8 hours took us 10 hours, but hey you have to stop a lot with two kids under 4.
Once we arrived at SeaCrest we were greeted by the wonderful volunteers at the Lighthouse family retreat. They immediately began helping us. We got all signed in the our family partners (volunteers that assist us all week), Heather, Bri, Rebecca, Daniel and Ashtyn showed us to the beach home that we would be staying in for the week. We were sharing the house with another family; Joe, Marilyn, Brittany and Shyanne. This is actually another family that was treated at the clinic in TC Thompson's. We had met this before and were excited to get to know them better throughout the week.
At 530 cst we meet 7 other families and all of the volunteers at the daily tent for a taco dinner. We had nachos or tacos with all the fixings. During dinner we reconnected with our family partners from our Lighthouse trip in June 2009, Tim & Leigh. It was great to see them again and can't wait to talk with them more throughout the week. After dinner we took the kids down to the REALLY awesome pool. This pool was huge with a total of 4 pools that were all connected by waterfalls or fountains. Incredible! The kids really enjoyed "swimming" by jumping off the side of the pool with our help and getting under the waterfall getting wet. What a great way to end out day.
Tuesday - June 14th
Happy Birthday to me! What a better place to spend my birthday than at the beach with some incredible people. God has been so good to me and has blessed me with another year with my husband and three babies. Today started out great, but hot. We headed for breakfast at the daily tent with the other families and volunteers. We had a yummy variety of foods for breakfast. There was biscuits and gravy, cheesy eggs, fruit, yogurt and cereal. After breakfast the parents and kids separated. The kids went to 'Flip Flop' where the volunteers play with them. Today the kids went swimming & you know they loved that! The parents go to 'Common Grounds'. Here we get to sit in an intimate setting and talk with other parents about our experience with childhood cancer. Today each family told the story of how their child was diagnosed, their child's diagnosis and what they and their family went through from the time of diagnosis to now. There were 5 families of Leukemia patients, 2 families of bone cancer patients, 1 with Rhabdomyosarcoma and then Nathan's Hepatoblastoma. It is amazing to hear other families stories and learn how they are completely different yet the same as our story. I know that we will be blessed this week by these families and pray that we are able to bless someone with our story of Nathan's cancer and God's grace to us through this.
This afternoon, we were all exhausted from yesterday's travel and the excitement of the morning so after lunch (donated Subway) we went back to our beach house and took a really long nap! What a nice birthday present that was. :)
Tonight was parent's night out. A local restaurant La Cocina treated all of the retreat parents to dinner. Matt & I shared a table with 4 other families; Joe & Marilyn, Jessica, Alicia and Anthony & Tonya. They are all parents of Leukemia patients. We enjoyed awesome conversations and some good fajitas as well. :) After dinner we had until 845 since the kids were having an ice cream party and watching a movie. Since we were finished with dinner by 630 we decided to go swimming without the kids. Joe & Marilyn went swimming with us and we enjoyed great conversations with them. By the time we got the kids back we were exhausted and ready for bed again.
So this post doesn't go on forever, I will post the next few days in another post. :)