A month ago we flew West to spend time with my family during those fleeting summer days that are surpassingly beautiful in Montana. Bright sunshine, majestic mountains, blissful silence, remote regions, and plenty of my dear Yoder relatives all around us.
Our first stop was in Idaho at my sister Kris' house, where we gathered in the backyard for brunch under the shade trees.
After the meal, my little darlings asked me to go inside and see their toy collections. Somehow it turned into a jumping competition. This aunt is perfectly thrilled to cheer their efforts!
Jared and Kris live within walking distance of the Lake, which we were happy to discover on that first day.
Monday to Friday of the first week found Dale and Julian up bright and early, taking to the local waterways with fishing gear in tow. No sleeping in for these guys, just a few long naps in the middle of the day.
One morning there were four guys piled into the little boat. Yes, it's cold at this early hour, notwithstanding mid-summer on the calendar. The temps went as low as 40's, but also as high as 90's later in the day.
The littles loved to gather around Dale and watch him clean the fish. They certainly had no trouble keeping each other entertained! Dale and Julian both had so much fun with the youngest members of the clan.
They caught enough fish to provide us with a fish fry one evening. My brothers-in-law are amazing at grilling and frying fish. Now if I could just make my fish taste like theirs we'd eat more of it at home.
Jared fries the fish on a griddle.
Lavern does it in a frying pan on the gas grill.
Jethro cooks it over an open fire. All of the fish had superb flavor!
Later in the evening, it was time for corn hole and Adrianna decided to get in on the action.
Josh and Julian wait for their turn.
This little girl did not hold still for long. I got immense pleasure out of being surrounded by my nieces and nephews for days.
The perfect ending to our meal is huckleberry shakes, courtesy of my sisters, Renee' and Joyce. Yumalicious!
Last winter while at Mom's house I noticed that some of her photo albums were falling apart. I suggested we remedy that. Sorting and organizing old photos became our project for a few days. It's an excellent occupation for a family reunion. Uproarious laughter, great memories, and stories retold...
Children at play...
Bring out the games...
Jacki bakes muffins for us.
Our girls are making dinner for us. It's a beautiful thing! I'll say it again to mothers with young children, "They reach this 'grown up' age astonishingly fast; do not grow weary for you will reap the benefits of your training sooner than you might think at the moment." Contentment with the current stage of life can be challenging but it is the way to live with purpose and in peace. I have found that God gives grace for the moment when I live in Him.
The older I get the more I treasure my parents and thank God for the values they taught us and the godly example they lived. I don't know why I've been so blessed but I humbly thank the Lord.
We made several trips to this lovely little ice cream and coffee shop. Their homemade waffle cones are absolutely the best. Panhandle Cone and Coffee in Sandpoint is definitely a good thing!
I am in my happy place, surrounded by Mom and my sisters!
At the beach in Sandpoint. This guy steered his cute pirate ship our way and threw toys to the children.
For the love of a sailboat
Of a summer day
At the Rodeo
Our Adri is too cute and squeezable in her pink hat!
Our dear signature Mason boy! He had us all laughing many, many times with his funny quips and quirks. We decided someone should compile a list and call it The Mason Chronicles.
He sat on my lap for a portion of the rodeo and I was one proud aunt.
My darling Alexia with her cotton candy and orange pop and beautiful little smile. Very shyly and quietly, she came over and sat down beside me...and my heart went pitter patter!
These two, the oldest and youngest of the grandchildren, warmed my heart with their friendship. Adri decided she likes Julian, and after some persistent trying...
She found her way onto his lap...
...and won her way into his heart. I wanted to squeeze them both!
On another walk my sisters and I made an impromptu decision to snap a few photos. Finding our way into the right pose proved to be a hilarious process! I seem to have lost patience already...
Then Kris had us in gales of laughter...
And we finally strike an acceptable pose...how I do love my sisters.
Joyce - Kris - Renee' - Karyn
For a delightful time of renewing family ties, spending time in the gorgeous Montana mountains, and seeing brothers and sisters in Christ, we are most grateful to our Father.
Of course, it was not bliss and peace all the time. There were troubles to face, battles to fight, and a horribly intense situation with a sick child from my family's church. But that is real life and we weep with those who weep, we pray together, we war against the enemy of our souls, and we laugh and love and grow together in relation to each other and to Christ.
God has truly given us a priceless gift, life with purpose.