Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 in review- Part I . .January- April

It has been a crazy event-filled year. . . .I thought the high school years with the children were busy. . .and they were. .but the past 12-18 months have been so filled with significant events in our family, that I wanted to recap them so I will remember the time line when I am in the nursing home. . .you know how we get our years mixed up and we argue about who is right and when things happened?  Well, I'm going to chronologically go through the year, so that when the arguments occur years from now.. .I will be right!  :)
Brittany moves back to Killeen after spending 8 months living with us while Austin was deployed in Iraq.  We had 4 college-age girls living with us during most of 2009, so our house seemed like a college dorm. . .It was communal living at it's finest. .someone was always coming and going, but for the most part. . .it was great fun. . .We all learned to be flexible and considerate of each other and to operate out of our comfort zones. . . you have to do that to get along . .Georgia, Brittany, Lindsay and Myranda used all the extra bedrooms and poor August was a little homeless when he would come home from college and from traveling. . .but that wasn't often and we all managed.

August leaves for a semester of travel with Teen Pact as a student intern. August had been offered a internship with this ministry ( ) but had already paid an apartment lease and a meal plan for the Spring '10 semester at Texas A&M. . .He tried all fall semester to sub-lease his apartment with no success, so he thought he would have to decline the internship. . However, on Dec 1st, some of his friends from Teen Pact offered to raise the money for him to replace the funds in his college savings that had already been spent on housing and meals.  If they could raise $3,000 to cover what had already been spent, then we told him he could take the internship. . .His friends did all this fundraising strictly through email and Facebook.  . It looked like it was not going to happen, but on Christmas Day 2009, he got a phone call that all the funds had been raised. . .so God definitely opened the door for this opportunity and when January 2010 began, he was off to travel through 10-15 different states to lead Teen Pact conferences till May. . . .Only God could orchestrate that series of events. . .

I took a 2-week trip to Ghana with Cindi Dauphin to visit Joel and Hollie Dickens, medical missionaries and long-time friends. . .Joel had asked Cindi to stay with Hollie while he attended a medical conference in Kenya, and Cindi asked me to join her since I had traveled there with Brittany and Georgia in 2009. . .There is nothing like traveling to the other side of the world to a 3rd-world country with only one other person. . it really cements the friendship!  We definitely shared an adventure of a lifetime, spending time with Joel and Hollie and the children, visiting with the other missionary doctors who were filling in for Joel, seeing the clinic, the Ghanaian culture, and the incredible need of the people. . while also doing a lot of spiritual evaluation on ourselves. . .lots of memories. . .

My dad, Bill Helwig (age 80)  passes away on March 3th, 2010.  Dad had fallen while trying to pen some cattle in Nov. 2009, broke his hip and spend 40 days in the hospital. He lost over 40 lbs and his health did take a definite turn for the worse. .He was strong enough, however, to come home for Christmas and Mom did her best to care for him at home as he struggled to recover. . . His circulation in his legs was very bad and he had congestive heart failure, and when he woke on March 2th with a huge blood clog on his foot, Mom immediately took him to the hospital for treatment. . .The doctors seemed to think it could be dissolved with drugs easily, but early on March 5th, his health started failing fast, his organs began to shut down and he went into cardiac arrest. . .he was revived, but Mom made the decision not to do any other lifesaving measures with him, which was his wish. . .and he slipped into a coma and died that evening. With the serious heart condition that my dad had since he was 52, he lived alot longer than anyone ever expected. But life does change when you lose a parent. . . . The rest of the month is pretty much a blur. . . cleaning out and giving away Dad's things, making repairs on the house and helping Mom get adjusted to being alone.

Austin returns home from Iraq about April 10th after a year-long deployment. It was a much-anticipated return and one of my very favorite memories from 2010. . .It was joyous and patriotic and you could feel the sense of relief from everyone- the families and the soldiers. . .My heart went out to the soldiers who had no one there to greet them when they returned, as their families were too far away and it was too expensive to make the trip to Ft. Hood. . .I learned that if  I ever attend one of these homecomings again, I will be giving away lots of the hugs and trinkets to the guys standing alone. I think everyone, especially government officials need to attend at least one send-off and a return of a brigade of troops from these long deployments to see for themselves the emotional and physical sacrifices of these troops and family members. . There is a cost. . .freedom does not come for free.

On April 15th, Georgia and I traveled to California to make final wedding plans and attend a bridal shower given by Jordan's family. . .We also spent an evening with Aunt Kay and Mal Bruce, my mom's youngest sister who coincidentally lives 25 or so miles from Jordan's family. Thanks to Jordan's mom, Cyndi Monroe, the wedding plans were finalized with wonderful friends who helped out and great vendors. . .and it could not have gone more smoothly. The bridal shower was my first chance to meet Jordan's extended family and friends and also see the location where the wedding was going to be held.  It was an afternoon of great fun and wonderful memories.  The Monroe family showed us off-the-charts hospitality and I loved getting to know them all.

The last weekend of April found us at HEB camp in Leakey, TX for House of Faith Family Camp. . .The location was outstanding, and it was total fun to watch over 300+ folks- parents, grandparents and children enjoying the Texas Hill Country and the Frio River- - canoeing, hiking, fishing, swimming and doing crafts. . .and the Video and Bible teaching , skits and worship were great! Todd and Scott Cotton helped at the canoeing station and were pros at it. . .It was a great chance for us to get to know the House of Faith staff and meet more of the families.  We loved it!  Can't wait till next year. . .

to be continued. . . .

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010 recap - House of Faith- "GO and make disciples. . ."

Todd helping with crafts during House of Faith Family Camp this past spring.
 I guess the biggest spiritual philosophy change that Todd and I have had during the past 12-18 months has to do with Matthew 28:19, where Jesus issues that command "GO and make disciples. . .", which is a change for us. . .For all the years prior, we felt called to minister to folks that God brought through our church, PaulAnn Baptist, where we have been members for 22 years. . .I remember specifically praying for God to bring people to our church property so that we could minister to them. . We had been active in almost every facet of that church's ministries. . .youth, children's ministry, college, Bible studies, small groups, . . .you name it. . .and this has been a good thing. . absolutely no regrets. . .we are thankful for our church family. . .

But after our last child left for college and our day-to-day parenting was over. . .we began to pray that God would show us what was next for us. . .and we could sense a change or restlessness in our spirits. . .Our friends could tell we were restless. . . Now, we believe he has showed us through His Word, and through Bible teachers such as David Platt, Francis Chan and others to journey down a different path. . . .

 In the next phase of our lives. . .we believe we are to  "GO". . .go to the streets, go to the unchurched, get out of our comfortable surroundings, . . go and help the poor, the needy, the widowed and the orphans. . .and we began to do that through a local ministry already in place here in San Angelo called "House of Faith". . HOF ministers to approximately 950 at-risk children by taking Backyard Bible Clubs to neighborhoods and elementary school campuses, as well as 200+ high school and middle students. . .( )We had taught weekly at a Backyard Bible Club that was actually held on the PaulAnn property for 3 years.  .we would show up each week, teach a lesson, take kids home. . .responsibilities done. . . no regrets. . . glad we did that. .

This year has been different. . . sensing that God wanted more from us and desired for us to dive in with House of Faith, we approached the staff at HOF and asked to be put to work . . . .and that has happened.  We assist with the Goliad Elementary club on Wednesdays, which is the largest club in the ministry, averaging around 130+ students per week. . .and we lead the Fannin/Blackshear club on Thursdays, which averages around 60 students. . .The Fannin/Blackshear students are now like our family. . .we get to be surrogate parents, teachers, mentors and friends to children who absolutely love having another adult in their life who cares about them. . . and we are getting to know their families and become involved in their lives, praying that all we say and do points them toward  Jesus. . . We see these new friends more often than our own family. . .We now do something involving HOF families almost every day.

It has been a convicting year. . .this fall, I have been on many streets in San Angelo that I have never been on before. . .and I have lived here all my life. . . it's like a scene out of the movie "Blind Side" and I am ashamed of that. . .and I have asked God to take away my fear and hesitation and to get me out of my comfort zone. . .He has done that. . .and I have learned that love, a smile, sincerity, and respect goes a long way in building trust with new families. . .and God is also shaping and molding us more into his image each day on this journey. . .

It has not been easy. . .I would be lying if I told that it has been all fun, cheerful and uplifting. . .No, it's very tiring and the Enemy will battle you for every relationship you make with a lost person- adult or child. . so there are days of tears, frustration, and physical and mental exhaustion. . . . but really. . .what are we entitled to? The Bible says Death. (Romans 3:23). .so anything else we get to experience through knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior is a gift. . .even the hard stuff. . .

God may want you to "GO" and minister in a different context this year. . .in your own city and neighborhood  . . .or on the other side of the world to a people group who have never heard of Jesus as Savior. We are thankfully not all called to do the same thing. . .but we ARE called to do something!
This is where we are in 2010. . .doing ministry in a different way than we have ever done it before. . .and loving it. . . can't wait to see what God is going to do in 2011. . .

Some of our House of Faith students after a hike in the state park and making feather headbands. .
Fransico and Dominic ready to go hunting. . .

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2010 recap - Georgia & Jordan's Wedding- -A look back. . . .

Aside from Austin's return home from Iraq in April, the biggest family event of 2010 was Jordan and Georgia's wedding in Corona, CA on June 26th 2010.  We are blessed to have a ton of excellent pictures, thanks to Colin and Andrea' Feldhaus, who traveled with us from San Angelo to Corona to be the "official" photographers (  The beautiful wedding video was another unexpected blessing, and will be a great reminder of all the family memories. As we recap 2010, I want to remember some of the special people and events surrounding the wedding.

 Lemonia Grove - - the location of the wedding was an old lemon grove that had been established over 110 years ago, and some of the trees had been planted in 1893, and stood about 3-4 stories high. . .One tree alone provided enough shade for 150 people around tables at the reception.  The Jim Anderson family bought the estate in foreclosure over 10 years ago, and have gently restored and added to the beautiful landscape.  When I saw the location in mid-April, I was impressed with the layout, but when we returned in June for the wedding. . .it was breathtaking. . .The grass had manicured, the roses were in full bloom and it truly looked like something out of a landscaping magazine. . .We really don't have anything in West Texas that compared to it. . . I will always appreciate Jim and Patti Anderson, and all they did for us that weekend. . .they literally gave up their home to us, and worked like the ultimate team players in taking care of every detail. . including loaning an iron to me,  gathering up trash, washing windows, and moving tables and chairs around in a well- orchestrated chain of events on wedding weekend. . .Seriously, I really can't say thank you enough to them. . .The kindness and hospitality they showed to our family will never be forgotten and will serve as an example to us as we love on people who God puts in our path. . .

This was the gigantic tree that provided the shade for the wedding.

The John Pervorse family and the Brett Ladd family -  These two families are good friends of the Monroe's and Karen Pervorse made the wedding cake and headed up the catering duties for the reception.  I guess of all the people at the wedding, these folks worked the hardest. . .The food was great, the presentation was beautiful, every detail was covered. . . .and I know they were exhausted. . . I have been in those shoes, and they too will never really know how much we appreciated all they did for us that weekend, and all the time before in preparation and planning. I know how hard it is to prepare everything, transport all the food and the serving pieces, keep the trays replenished and. . . in the end. . .clean everything up. . . I just hope that I can keep a smile on my face and show the same type of unselfish servant's hearts as they did to us.  Thank you to both families. . .again.

Georgia's bachelorette dinner- - -Cyndi Monroe, Jordan's mom took us to a wonderful restaurant overlooking the ocean for a great meal, and following dinner, we took a stroll on the beach and on a fishing pier as the sun was going down. . . .it was beautiful. . . .I loved watching the surfers line up (I counted 20+) and wait for the waves to roll in . . .most of the surfers were high school age, and the waves were not huge. . but enough that it was a challenge for them and it looked like great fun.  It was the first time in my life I had seen real live surfers up close.  . . There is a reason why all those folks live in Southern California. . . The climate is perfect most of the time, and the ocean is, well . .gorgeous. It really is supernaturally beautiful. . .the vastness of the sea, the power of the waves, the tiniest perfect seashells on the beach. . .You cannot deny God's creative powers and the truth of Romans 1:20 when you take it all in. . yes, it's true. ."no man is without excuse."

Special friends and family time. . . .As our children enter adulthood and have lives of their own, the amount of time we spend all together becomes less and less . . .and is indeed more precious. Because Austin had been in Iraq, and August had been traveling with internships for most of 2010, it was the first time we had all been together in over 7 months. . .I truly relished the time we shared.  For us to have 3 1/2 days together with all our children, the grandparents, and special friends like the Dauphins, Kali Daniel,  the extended Monroe family and all the bridal party was historic and definitely a timeless memory. . . I know it was stressful that weekend, but somehow. .  now. . .I don't remember any stress. . .I just remember the smiles, the laughter, the beautiful location and the great relationships we shared in. . .and watching Georgia and Jordan be united as a couple with special friends and family as witnesses.

Yes, to the CAT students who were servers, the musicians, the sound guys, Erin Monroe and her friend who acted as the wedding coordinators, keeping us on task and to everyone who had a part in this event . . . especially to the entire Monroe family. . .a most sincere thanks for making a wonderful memory for all of us . . . .it was perfect. :)

 Nothing like a wet willy from the big brother . .

Thursday, December 9, 2010

2010 recap -August- the Travelin' Man

For our youngest child,  August, 2010 was a truly unique year. . Most 20 year olds don't get the opportunity to travel literally 7 months straight, living out of a suitcase and sharing the Gospel to hundreds of high school students across the United States. August had internships with two different ministries this year, Teenpact Leadership Schools (  and Worldview Academy ( ) He took a semester off from college and traveled with Teenpact from January till May, and then traveled with Worldview May-July. In the past couple of years, he has been in at least 22 states, and has traveled 12,000+ miles in a van. I really can't imagine what God is going to do with this type of experience, but I know one thing, all things happen for a reason and God will use it somehow (Romans 8:28).

With Teenpact, August would lead or assist with conferences for high school students that focused on the Christian perspective on state governments, discussing the mechanics of passing bills through state legislatures, as well as discussion the role of Christian citizenship. This ministry is geared to mainly home schooled students, who could attend this camp as a part of their government requirements for their high school transcripts.  August made friends from literally all over the United States.  His friends were not only the students, but also their families, as many of the home school families take a very active part in the Teenpact ministry. We are thankful to this group of people for hosting him and loving him as he traveled, and especially to those who financially made it happen. . .and that is another whole story in itself.

On the Worldview Academy staff, August traveled to a different college campus each week of the summer, hosting conferences for high school students on Christian Apologetics.  These conferences centered on discussions about different worldviews in our culture, as found in literature, entertainment and all types of media.  August led small group discussion with high school-aged boys and really enjoyed getting to invest in them, even if it was for just one week. He traveled all summer in a van, seeing more country than you and I will probably ever see, and made deep friendships with the other college students serving on staff as well.  We are very thankful for this opportunity for him, as he has been exposed to very sound Christian theology, great speakers/presenters and quality Christian people who are mentors to him. He plans to travel again with Worldview for the summer of 2011.

August returned back to Texas A & M in September for his sophomore year, and the adjustment back to college was good with minor difficulties, mainly in the form of Calculus! He has enjoyed getting back in to the Aggie Spirit, and having a winning football season this fall helped tremendously! The Aggies  have never beat Oklahoma and Nebraska in the same season in recent history. . .and he got to witness them both! 

I write all this down to remember what all God has done in his life, in such a short period of time. He has been on an unusual journey, and I know we will look back years from now and see how God orchestrated his path.  It's an amazing thing to watch as a parent.

Whewwww. . .what a year!