Friday, December 19, 2014

Why We Keep Being Afraid...

Hey Friends,
As I posted the other day we re-read all our advent verses each morning as we add another one for the day. Each morning as Shay reads and asks questions to our little folks I am always struck at what the angels say to Mary and the shepherds...Do Not Be Afraid. Why? Why was that the first thing they said...not...

hey, I'm gabriel...
     Sorry it's so bright...
          I'm here to tell you some really important things...
None of those statements were first...just Do Not Be Afraid. I am by no stretch of the imagination a theological scholar. I tremble at speaking b/c the weight of that responsibility of always doing honor and grace to the words of the Almighty God...pressure people. Anyways, I do though have thoughts...why? Why those first words...I have to think it's because God knows us. He knows us well. He knows our first reaction with life, news, change, loss of control, or just loss...brings fear. And fear usually comes in a full house of spades (too many card references there?). He knew His angels had to speak in the first moment of Mary seeing Gabriel and He knew He had to speak to Mary's heart...Do Not Be Afraid. Our fear is so loud to Jesus. Our fear can be crippling. Oh I have fear...the ugly, not trusting Jesus, overwhelming kind of fear. I have to fight it. Every moment. Fear to fly. Fear to let others take my kids anywhere. Fear of our world (I can hear my mamma's voice sayin' "this world is goin' to hell in a handbasket."). Fear of change. Fear of not being known. Fear of being me. Fear of failing. Fear of loss. Fear of pain. Fear of falling a part. Fear of my kids hurting. Fear of dying. Fear of what others think. FEAR. Crippling fear. But even as God was announcing the Savior, His son to the world to sweet-servant hearted-pondered all these things in her heart-Mary...He had to tell her, "Do Not Be Afraid."

Friend, Do not be afraid...
            Do not be afraid...
            Do not be afraid...

Turn your heart and eyes to our refuge...our peace...our light...our grace...our love...our everything. He speaks so quickly to where He knew our heart would Mary...but still today to us. His first line to our unknown in our not be afraid. After our fear, let's run with His message...not just more fear.

Adventure and Wonder,

kanakuk ashley robbins

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Why Are Tears So Close at Christmas...

Hey Kanakuk Friends,
I love Christmas. I love the parties (wrote a post on that HERE). I love the cards (yep posted that here!). I love the cookies. I love the family movies. I love the lights. I love the trees. I love Christmas.

But is it just me or does it also feel like Christmas brings tears to the forefront of my eyes so very I could cry if you said Japan...or KFC. (weird connection. I heard on the radio as I was driving with all 4 littles buckled in their cage carseat to Target to get more cereal and the radio person said that in Japan the traditional Christmas meal is Kentucky Fried Chicken. WHAT? I was mystified. On Christmas day he said you actually have to have reservations for KFC. So odd...but that's where those 2 words came from in my odd brain).

Back on point...Christmas is so fun. Christmas is so full of blessings. Christmas is a time to reconnect to the Reason of all of this crazy world. But Christmas can also be hard. Our walls are full of giggles right now with our little zoo family. But yet my heart is so soft right literally marshmallow fluff. Thinking of buying for a little 7 year old boy who has nothing and showing up just one day a year to bring him shoes and a meal doesn't feel like "Christmas." Thinking of husbands and wives not holding hands anymore this season. Thinking of how we have so much but the world makes me still long for more junk...stuff. Meaningless stuff. The tears are big, longing for heaven type tears. Hurt. Sadness. Conviction.

I don't know how to process all the Christmas emotions...there is so much. How to go extreme in our focus of Jesus but enjoying Santa's pictures at Bass do we do this well? Each day we have been reading a verse for our advent time with our kiddos. We always re-read what we have learned because everyone knows with littles ones it's small bits of information and repeat for their little hearts to grasp it...and my take away is do we do it well?

" ...and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there will be no end..." (Luke 1:31-33)

"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11)

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

How do we do it well? We remember and long for Jesus. I fail so often. I fail in my tone with my littles. I fail when I just want to pick me over my hubby. I fail when I judge someone in my heart. I fail when I want earthly junk more than heaven, my home. I fail...a lot. Oh but Christmas...Oh to think of that little baby...a real life baby all snug in Mary's arms and heart. A snuggly tiny baby...who is my Wonderful Counselor, Mighty Savior and unquestionable Sovereign God.

Adventure and Wonder,

kanakuk ashley robbins
2nd Best Present...Kamp! 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Cards, I'm Fighting For You...

{source: IG / @lollyjaneblog)
Hey Kanakuk Friends,
I open the door each day and tiptoe run to my mailbox. It's usually around 4 pm after I have changed 2 diapers and all 4 littles are awake and eating a snack of some sort. The smallest little is usually crawling on the floor where I have tossed cheerios for her to scavenge. I reach the mailbox with excitement in hopes of an actual letter. Sometimes sealed with special Christmas stamps. Sometimes address labels with snowmen. It feels like tradition. It feels vintage and "old school." It feels like a Christmas card. And my heart soars.

Some of you may disagree with this post. I know they take more money and there are times when the cards just can't be made. But goodness I love them. I want to fight for them. I don't care if they are from Staples or fancy-schmancy Tiny Prints or Minted. I just love them. Each card is covered with fall trees or winter mountains or just a picture where everyone is somewhat looking and maybe smiling. It floods my heart with memories of that person. It makes me see Jesus in them as I pray they still hold His hand each day. It just makes me feel...CONNECTED. And isn't that something we all want. To CONNECT. To know and be known. And for some crazy reason a Christmas card makes me feel that. I don't think through the lense of "oh they look perfect so their life must be perfect." No offense to anyone that I get a Christmas card from but I know that to not be true. Why? Because I am sending them too...and guess what my kids are all smiling in our pic but our life is messy, crazy, full (of wrestling matches, dolls and poopy diapers). It's imperfect and I LOVE THAT. I want the imperfect. I want in the moments of seeing a Christmas card to praise the Lord for my imperfect and your imperfect...why...because it makes us all remember we need a Savior for all the imperfectness.

So Christmas cards...let's look at them different. Let's see toddlers that are cray-cray but so cute in those pigtails and bow ties (you will most likely see all my 3 ladies in pigtails but will never see the little man in a bow tie...more like camo overalls...yep, mini-daddy that one.). Let's see mom's that rejoiced and felt blessed as she clicked to order those Christmas cards even though it had been a hard day at least she could check off "order Christmas cards" off her to-do list that is always growing. Let's see marriages that are still together another year and pray for those couples to cover their marriage from the enemy which wants nothing more to make next years card without daddy in the picture. Let's pray for ministries and businesses that those men/women/dads/moms that they labor for and for Jesus to be made known in those hallways, office cubes or flights across the nation. Let's treasure those cards...because those cards hold our people. Our people that we love and maybe miss due to distance. Our people that we are proud of and maybe don't say that often enough. Our people that we think of but maybe their picture will make us pray for the newborn in the picture or their marriage since it's their first christmas married...whatever the  picture...treasure them.

So Christmas cards I love you. I treasure you. I flip through you all year. I pray over you. I will fight for you.

Adventure and Wonder,

kanakuk ashley robbins
Kanakuk...we send crazy Christmas cards!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Why Christmas Parties are AWESOME...

{source: Trainers: K-Kountry / Atmars: K1 / Perkins: KampOut)

Hey Kanakuk Friends,
Well I just don't get it. I don't get how this season is all "I'm so busy, it's so hectic...ugg..."

I'm all "I love Christmas, bring on the desserts, I'm going to fix my hair for this party, who doesn't love shopping!"

I love truly. I love the additions to the schedule with parties and cookie exchanges. I love dressing up and singing Christmas carols. I love shopping for the perfect gift for someone you love and care for at the best deal possible. I love it.

One of my favorites of all the season is the Kanakuk Christmas Party. I don't just say that b/c this is a kamp blog. I truly love it. Everyone comes. It's at the beautiful and cozy Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks. We have delicious food (yes I had to helpings of their prime rib...y' don't understand how delicious it is?), laugh at the amazing Branson talent (Matt Gumm this year! From Clay Cooper show), got to mingle with people who are FAMILY, and then get moved to tears by the president of Kanakuk Land who is also our friend. WHAT? Is this a dream?

Last night Shay and I just felt full...our bellies were full but more importantly our hearts were full. We felt full to be in a community like this. Full that we are still stretched in our jobs to be more like Jesus but also affirmed each day in doing so. Full in our hearts to call the President and his "homecoming queen" our friends and mentors. Full to tear up as Joe shared of the Lord in this place and the gospel going forth b/c of so many folks behind the scenes in the K-world. Just full...full of Jesus. Full of love because of Jesus. Full of hope as a mechanic from kamp surprisingly got called on to come play piano for all of us and it made me think, "this will be the music in heaven someday."

Christmas you loathe them? Is it just another busy night? What if you stepped out of the business mind set for just a moment and saw them as chances to relish in the glory of the Baby coming down...leaving His Home and coming to this earth all the while knowing His last days of life for salvation of His children. The glory. The magnificence. The Love. The Hope...

Oh, let's remember we dress up and sing carols and eat wonderful food...let's remember Him...

Adventure and Wonder,

kanakuk ashley robbins Christmas every day!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Carry a Mary Poppins' Purse...

{source: me, my desk and my awesome trendy photography skills)
Hey Kanakuk Friends,
One of the best pieces of advice came from...well, I'm not sure...either past K1 directors Jennifer Farley or Callie Dolloff...they told me a kamp momma (you all truly have the best wisdom) shared with them that she always carries a fun game in her purse. And no, not your iPhone. An actual game. Cards or real buttons. She said she did it because she realized that sometimes her and her hubby weren't laughing enough together. So as they wait for dinner or sit and drink coffee together...they laugh. They game. can carry one around too in your hipster Kavu bags or what have you. Make your friends take a study break (that may last for hours). Teenagers do the same with your friends at lunch or Friday night Game Nights! It's cool...I promise.

This post is not sponsored for Spot It! cash or perks received. Betsy Boyce (full time Kanakuk Institute gal and K2 leadership friend) introduced me to it this summer and it's awesome. It's easy and intense and silly and fun. I would go around during lunch every once in a while and whisper..."Game on after lunch" to the leadership team and we would all meet in the leadership office and play a round. We ALWAYS had a consequence (ie: do a skit by yourself at backwoods, talk british all day, speak in 3rd person for our staff meeting, etc) for the person that lost! I would play with cabins of kampers or my staff small group. It is for 2-8 players and did I mention that it is so easy to play.

So I'm sure Spot It will have a spike in sales from this go grab a game. Here are some more fun ones I know of...

* Cards
* Go Fish
* Old Maid
* CatchPhrase (wouldn't fit in a clutch but most folks carry a bigger purse these days)
* Spot It! (it has all kinds of versions for young ones, character ones, sports leagues ones, etc)
* Simon (this is from my childhood and again would need a bigger purse but it's so fun...sort of loud beeps though)
* Bananagrams
* Deer in the Headlights (I have never played but I just bought this for my niece and nephew)
* Would You Rather Card Game
* Heads Up! (this is a phone app. I saw a family at Big Cedar playing it and it's so fun. It's interactive. The phone is simply taking the place of a card. So you aren't just staring at the screen you are interacting like charades. p.s. It's free right now. I just downloaded it.)
* Don't Say It (haven't played. looks small online for a purse)
* Pass the Pigs
* Mad Gab cards (hysterical!!!!)

I'm sure there are literally hundreds more but hopefully this is a great start list. Let's be families and husband/wives that we don't just sit at a table with phones out (seriously it's my biggest pet peeve! Put them down!) but that we are engaged and interacting. Don't even bring your phones (okay, I did put one phone game on the list but it's interactive people!) and pull out your Mary Poppins' bag and watch in awe as laughter starts and memories begin!

Side note...sometimes as a mom I do feel like my bag truly is a Mary Poppins bag...who knows what in there?

Adventure and Wonder,

kanakuk ashley robbins
Summer Camp is the best!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Be a Restful (& FUN) Place of Thoughtfulness...

{source: me. our advent almost done...#reallifeyall)

Hey Kanakuk Friends,
Well, it's December 1st...what??? How did that happen!? Wasn't summer 2014 just ending...

Today we are all cooped up inside as Branson quickly shuts down life when old Mister Winter comes to town. I kind of don't mind...pjs, lazy mornings, snuggles and lots of play time.

So with December 1st comes for our family the 24 fun filled days of our Advent. I started this when little #1 was 3 years old. It's been something fun and easy and not stressful. Please don't let an Advent calendar stress you out. I just search, pin and print. Then I add small, not expensive little activities to each day with a verse that we read together each day as a family that always brings conversation of the true meaning of Christmas. I am not a present hater or against Santa. That is one of our days is to go do our annual screaming kids picture with Santa at Bass Pro. They give you a free pic! Love that! Anyways, we are learning any chance we can we want to point the 4 little hearts we have in our home to Jesus...not presents, but Jesus. Not trees, but Jesus. Not cookies, but Jesus. Not Santa, but Jesus. Oh how we all need Jesus.

So why do one? It's by no means a requirement. It's just THOUGHTFUL. Oh how I want to be described as thoughtful...but I really have to strive to do so. It's so easy for my thoughts to be geared towards me, what I want, all my to-do lists, my kids' christmas gifts, and the list goes on and on. But as a momma...we have to stop and be thoughtful or our days with our kids slip through our fingers. Who am I kidding I already feel like I blinked once and #1 is 5 years old? I will do anything to slow down life a bit and embrace daily memory makers for my kids...our advent is filled with silly things like dance party to Shake it Off, make a video of us singing carols for their grandparents, late night donut run (late night means like 7:30 pm to our house), and one more dance party with fort building. We also have more serious ones like take food and gifts to our Giving Tree family, watch our Wedding video (our anniversary is this month) as a family, write our missionary friends a letter, color a coloring page (it's the same one each year. Thank you Diane Cooper for this idea). They don't take much effort or money. Just THOUGHTFULNESS.

So don't have one yet? It's not too late. 2 years ago I didn't start till December 10th. It's okay! Embrace imperfection (do you see the picture above...we haven't actually put ours together yet.) and do what you can!

Here are some ideas.

The Kanakuk Institute did an amazing job with an daily devotional advent calendar. You could just add the activities/memory makers to the back of them once you print them. Shay (my hubs and K1 director) is sending an email with the PDF attached. So check your inbox. If you don't get his email, email me and I'll forward it to you.

 So this is what ours will eventually (hopefully today as our December 1st activity is to put together the advent calendar) look like. So cute and little. I don't need anything huge in our house with 8 little hands all over! I just printed these out, cut, taped a toothpick and wrote out our activities and daily verse on the back. So easy!
Okay above is a list of activities and a reading plan if you have the Jesus Storybook Bible for kids. So cute. And again super easy! I must admit I just tried finding it on her blog sight and couldn't find it but I'm sure it's somewhere and I'm just very blonde and sleep deprived. You can find the picture on Pinterest by typing in Advent verses and scrolling down just a bit.
This is another great one I found on Pinterest. Just search Advent Verses or even free printable advent. Hundreds come up and they range from lots of craftiness required to not-so-much required. One year I used a shoe holder over the door, clothes pins and just circles with numbers.

This is an awesome list of activities! So easy and so memorable!

Adventure and Wonder,

kanakuk ashley robbins
Kanakuk is better than the North Pole!