Our family considers the Feasts of the Lord in the Bible to be something we should observe today. This time of year we are delighted to celebrate Sukkot, also called the Feast of Tabernacles. Though it doesn't happen every year, we enjoy keeping this feast by camping with our friends when we can. This year we headed back down to Tennessee where it would be warmer than here in Indiana. We loaded up our van and a small trailer and headed south. It always takes us such a long time to get down there, but it makes our arrival so much more joyous. This time of year is called the Season of our Joy and camping with friends always brings so much joy.
This is the view from our campsite.
A picture place on the water.
Benaiah had so much fun roaming about on his bike and on foot, pushing his mighty machines around.
Is this not serenity at it's best.
First morning's breakfast. Hashbrowns and eggs. I wanted to take pics of the food that we prepared over the fire, but of course the time got busy and I didn't get that done. Just believe me when I say we had some delicious food all week!
Benaiah took along a lot of his tractors and diggers. All the children enjoyed moving stones and dirt AND mud. :)
Alegra loves photographing Saphira. She is a beauty!
The following pictures are of an area right behind our campsite. Behind our site was a dry riverbed that we sent the children off to explore. They quickly came back to invite us to see what was back there. They spent most of the week back there naming the different areas and sharing it with friends.
Josiah looked for any chance to scare people that he could.
Exploring the dry riverbed.
Doesn't it look like a far away land? Just wait, it gets better....
Our friends have arrived and they were so happy to show them of the amazing discovery behind our campsite.
Our temporary dwelling place for the week. This year we brought along fence posts and a tarp since rain was heavily in the forecast. We were so thankful for that tarp!
A little football action across the campsites. Josiah was in his element with the guys.
Second night of enjoying the fire and friends.
And the rain comes......
Girls enjoying our tarp while they draw.
Men enjoying our tarp while they look at the radar to see when the rain will stop. There was a lot of that going on this trip. :)
Josiah loved holding Yahkiyn. He looks pretty happy about it too.
I brought magnet dolls for Saphira. She enjoyed them as did her friends.
We went shopping and came back to this set up. A tarp over the fire to get us out of the rain more. It work really well although we all probably breathed in a little too much smoke. That just comes with camping I suppose.
Diella found this little snapping turtle behind our campsite. They found all sorts of creatures this trip.
Some friends from Tennessee got this cute little guy while camping from one of the families who breed Shepherds. The children had so much fun with him.
We were delighted to be a part of the unveiling to their children. They were so tickled about getting a puppy. Sadly they didn't get to stay the whole week, but the children enjoyed him while he was there.
Let the Father Son football game begin!
They weren't sure the teams were equal....
But the ones with the old men prevailed and won. So glad my man and his buddy were on the same team! Love cheering for my all star! :)
We had planned ahead of time to take a day trip down to Fall Creek Falls to do some hiking. We picked the day that was beautiful! It was such a gorgeous day and hike. There was word that some bad storms were going to be heading to where we were camping, so we decided to find a hotel closer to where we were planning on going the next day, Chattanooga. While some of them used their phones to keep checking the radar and weather and look for hotels, we all kept hiking and enjoyed the weather for that day.
This waterfall was very pretty and a short hike\to. The scenery was so grand!
Of course pictures of our littles and our friend's littles were captured during this day out. I took some and Alegra did too.
Alegra, Josiah, Benaiah and I braved the walk out onto the bridge. Phil took our picture from the bottom of the fall. I must say that bridge was a challenge for me too, but I went to help my children overcome their fear. They did a great job and felt bigger after doing it.
My great friend, Casie Lynn!
This was a waterfall to the side of the wider one.
It fell down into this river.
The canyons were just beautiful!
From above the falls. Alegra captured this one! She sure does a nice job!
Our little pumpkin enjoying the walk.
Eliyahna posing for Alegra.
The steps, the climbing, the adventure!
Standing right at the top.
We just love this kind of beauty! What's not to love?
Our pals, the Brothers, minus Zeky.
We then drove over to another set of waterfalls. These are taller, but not as wide. We were at the top here, but were able to hike down to the bottom which was a treat! Some very amazing sights awaited us....
It was all so beautiful and enjoyable! Every one of us had a wonderful time during the long hike down.
These are the adventures we are thankful we can have with our children.
We all left quite dirty from this hike. Some were dirtier than others. :)
That's our dirty boy. :)
That's our climbing boy. :)
And all of their friends.
Had to get Saphi in the picture too.
The children enjoyed finding lots of new creatures to be amazed by.
Had to have a little fun with the camera.
This one was really interesting.
So many amazing creatures.
We ended our hike with seeing some friends we Sukkoted with 3 years ago in Tennessee. It was so good to see them along the trail. The guys decided to go visit their parents and that their campsite in the park while Casie and I decided to head back to our campsite at our campground to take some things down and put things away before the storm that was forecasted to happen that night. Our friends that we left back at the campsite were so helpful in getting a head start to cleaning things up and taking things down for us. We had a little bit more to do, then the guys got back and did a little more, and we then headed south. Arrival at our hotel was late, and we were all pretty tired. I must say that the bed was so wonderfully soft, which my body was super thankful for! I went to bed not feeling the greatest. I woke up around 2am and felt really horrible. To the bathroom I went and was totally sick. I haven't felt that sick in a long time. I thanked Yahweh for allowing that storm to look so terrible to cause us to go to a hotel that night. I was so thankful to be close to a bathroom instead of a forever walk away from the bath house at the campground. Though I wasn't glad to be sick, I was glad to be right where we were at in that hotel.
I woke up the next morning feeling much better, but still not able to eat much. By lunch time, I felt just fine and ate a full meal. Our journey continued as we ventured to The Yellow Deli in Chattanooga. Last year during Sukkot we met a wonderful group of people called the Twelve Tribes. They are such a loving and caring group. We have been in fellowship with a family from the Twelve Tribes who has been living near us in Indiana, so once we realized there was a Yellow Deli in Chattanooga, we were determined to make it one of our stops during our trip. What a blessing it was too!
The inside of these restaurants are just amazing! Their style and craftsmanship is beautiful! Every detail on every wall and around every corner is amazing!
We were seated on the deck, which was chilly, but again, such a beautiful area and design. I wish the pictures could show it better.
The family that lives here in Indiana called the restaurant and let them know that we were all coming. We were greatly welcomed and treated so well! Most all of them knew many of the people that we met last Sukkot, so it was really fun to make connections meet knew Twelve Tribes folk. While were sitting there trying to figure out what we were going to order, one of the ladies came over to our table with a paper bag full of breads. She gave it to us then our waitress said that everything we ordered was on the house. What? We all had wonderful food and drinks and felt so loved. Then they brought another bag over of cookies and desserts. We left with our hot drinks and smoothies for those that wanted them. Boy were we spoiled!
This place was just amazing! They gave us the grand tour of the restaurant and then invited us to their house that was a couple blocks down the road. We couldn't pass up the walk on this beautiful day and meeting more of their people.
We got a tour of their huge house and met some of the women and children. Made more connections with those we had met last year with some .that lived in the house, and got another glimpse of how they live in community with one another in one big house. It really is fascinating!
We left their feeling so refreshed and full from the love they poured out on us. Time to head back to the campground! We had some great nights of sitting by the fire, worshipping with the fellowship down there, playing, meeting knew people, and giving up on keeping the children from getting wet. It felt like laundry was needing done constantly, and I definitely didn't bring enough clothes for everyone to get wet and muddy. Oh well, it worked and we survived, and the children would probably tell you that it was the best Sukkot yet. They would probably say that every year. It is just a wonderful time filled with memory making moments and cherished times with each other.
Don't worry, we kept a close eye on that girl's feet. :)
This picture is fun. The one on the right shows what the riverbed looked like when we arrived at the campground. The one on the left is what it looked like after all the rain. The children had such a ball playing back in the woods with the wonderful surroundings.
The fellowship had an organized craft for the children, so that was fun to take them to for some added fun.
Since we believe this is closer to the time of Jesus' birth, the children made the scene with Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus.
Who snuck in my van and took a selfie? That Z$. :)
We also had some fun birds around....and squirrels. The first morning we saw a pileated woodpecker right behind our campsite. That was so much fun for all of us. Then one day Jonathon called us over out from under our tarp to look at something. The bird above was sitting right up from our campsite in one of the trees. We never did figure out exactly what it was.
The second to last day Alegra took Saphira and wondered off with her. I think she had photography on her mind. :) I found the following pictures on her camera. One reason we love this campground is for the views of the lake and the walk along the lake. The trail leads to another part of the campground where there is a pavilion where we do the group dinners, and there is a park that the children enjoy riding their bikes to.
See the dirt on her face? By the end, I gave up on washing anything. :)
Time to head home. We took a long time packing all of our stuff up, then saying good bye to old and new friends always takes a long time. Once we left the campground it was time for lunch, so we made one more stop with our pals at Mexican restaurant before heading for home. By the time we were truly headed home, it was in the afternoon, so we didn't arrive home until about 1:30am. Jonathon did a great job staying awake and returning us safely.
Benaiah was all serious about wanting a picture taken with nana (that's what he calls Alegra). See his arm around her? Then you've got the jokesters in the back. :)
She's just too cute to not take a picture of.
A selfie to end it all!
Alegra's pictures of Saphira are so wonderful. She loves taking them really close to see her eyelashes. She is a beautiful gem in our family, that's for sure!
I still have unpacking to do. Why is it so hard to just get it done! Trying to get back into school work and getting caught up on laundry has consumed my time. It's coming along, but every so slowly! We enjoyed it all despite the rain and sickness for me. I am so thankful that I could enjoy the rest of the week with my family camping. Yahweh truly showed me favor that night and all of the nights by allowing all of us to stay healthy and stay dry in our tents. He looked out for us along the way of our travels and caused us to have joy amongst the mud and rain. He rained down on us showers that washed away discontentment, nagging, disappointment, selfishness, unhappiness, and negativity. The rains were good, causing the children's dry riverbed to turn into a gushing stream of fun. The last afternoon the rains stopped, so we took our tarp down from over our fire. It made it feel like the real camping experience with the vastness of the sky, the surroundings in clear sight, and allowed for all smoke to float away easier. :)
With our tarp down and our fire going good, we invited a new family to our campsite for fellowship. They had led worship a couple times for the whole group and were such a blessing. We hoped that they would bring their instruments along to play and sing around our fire. Instead we had a lovely time of visiting and learning about one another, then we sang a little for them, and they went back to their campsite after truly wanting to stay to visit more. What a great blessing they were to us and we were to them! After they left, we walked up to the bath house with our friends in the dark (all children were nestled and asleep in bed). The reality of the darkness was overtaken as we gazed up into the night sky. The stars were absolutely amazing! All week the sky had been overcast. On this last gorgeous night, God blessed us with our last nightly walk to be filled with the glory of his stars. Wow, what a gift! Our packing up morning was a perfect day. We wished we could've enjoyed the weather, but were so thankful it wasn't raining when we needed to pack everything up. HE is so awesome and kind to us! His favor shone brightly during the week. His mercies were new every morning. His faithfulness is so refreshing. Looking forward to what next year's Sukkot will bring.