I have loved seeing the entries come in for the Forest Home Mother & Daughter retreat and the girls and I are so excited to draw a winner tomorrow.  I think we might just do it as a video on Instagram to make it more fun.  (Follow @joyshope to see if it's you!)  If you haven't entered yet, it's super easy.  Just click over to this post, and leave your comment at the bottom of the post.  I have temporarily allowed anonymous comments, so there are no obstacles to entry.  Please don't hesitate to contact me if there are any problems.

Since I have the mountains on my mind, and am in complete denial that school starts Monday, I designed some free forest and mountain themed printables for you.
Click below each image to be directed to the downloads page.

Now if only I could click something to make summer last forever.
The end of summer means school, which means packing lunches, washing uniforms, doing homework, and all four kids in soccer.
Four.  Because clearly we have lost our summer loving minds.
Plus, the end of summer means the beginning of my least favorite season.
Deep, sad, sigh. In my heart it will always be summer forever.
To hear me lament the end of last year's summer, and to download a pineapple printable click here.
Pineapples > dead leaves.

Take me to the mountains.  The mountains where there are no soccer games.  Or homework.
Take me to Forest Home, where all my meals are made for me, super delicious, they wash the dishes, my kids have the time of their lives, and so do the grownups.  And Jesus.
It's pretty much paradise.
Oh, and chocolate chip shakes.  There will be Forest Home chocolate chip shakes in heaven.  I'm sure of it.
{FREE 8x10 printable available here.}
 {FREE 8x10 printable available here.}
{FREE 8x10 printable available here.}

(Happy photos shot by the amazing DrewB.)

Life doesn't equip you for life.
It certainly doesn't prepare you for parenting.
Nor does it prepare you for how quickly time passes.
I didn't listen to those who told me to cherish every moment when I was wearing a path through our house, walking seemingly endless miles through the halls, trying to soothe and survive a colicky newborn.
I barely remember surviving the next colicky/ refluxy/ angry newborn, while trying to also care for her not quite two year old sister. 
I thought that was the epitome of how hard parenting could be.
Oh how wrong I was.
I had the nerve to blink and am now realizing that although those small years were tough, the years ahead of us are a different type of hard.
Newborns and infants need love and their basic needs met.  Get that figured out, and although you are bone tired, poured out, and exhausted, you are basically winning at this parenting gig.
Bigger kids need those basics plus ten million other things, while ten million other things are fighting for their time and attention.
My baby girl will be starting sixth grade next week.
We are so similar it is ridiculous.
            This squirrel loving dynamo is going to be a fourth grader. 
Her passion and determination is infectious.
This golden ray of sunshine will be a first grader.
I am pretty sure she was a bald newborn just five minutes ago. 

Our family has been through so much change in the past year, and these girls have walked along side us as we planned, prepped, and planted Encounter Church, with so much grace and flexibility.
They are used to sharing our home with people most days of the week, they come to church early, they stay late, the make new people feel at home.
They have been patient and loving as their parents were often overwhelmed.
They pitch in to help with happy hearts.
They are pretty much the best thing ever.

We recently returned from week at Forest Home Family Camp, and it was the very best thing we have ever done together as a family  (And we have done some really amazing things before.)
It bonded us and healed us in ways we never expected, and we left changed for eternity.
I will share so much about our time there (I cannot wait!) but today I have such HAPPY HAPPY NEWS!

Forest Home has so generously offered to give away a weekend at their Mother & Daughter retreat.

I will be there with my three girls, and I cannot wait to see how God is going to move and work in our lives and hearts.  I feel like so much of this last year they have been given a mom who is stretched thin (and I think that is a common thread amongst us moms), and I have hopes that this retreat we will be free from all the distractions at home and be able to stretch and grow and celebrate what we have as a family.

If you live or can get yourself to Southern California the weekend of September 11th-13th I invite you to join us at Forest Home.  I am praying that God has the specific family in mind that needs this weekend, and I cannot wait to pick a winner on Friday.

There are still a few spots available, and if you feel like this retreat is something you and your daughter(s) need, I encourage you to find a way to attend.  If you have been to Forest Home, you know what a special place it is.  If you have yet to visit, I wish I could come up with sufficient words to emphasise what a worthwhile investment it is.
You can read more about the weekend and register by clicking here.

Mother & Daughter Retreat
September 11 – 13, 2015
Kara Powell
Forest Center
Starting from $182* for daughters and $277* for mothers
6 prepared meals, lodging, programming, recreation and downloadable media

* Prices vary widely according to accommodations.
After they start crawling, it’s only a few short steps to college. And yet, with all the responsibilities of each day—demands of work, cooking and cleaning, picking up and dropping off—it can be difficult to slow down and spend time together. Let us cook your meals and clean your dishes as you take time to explore and adventure together, rediscovering the wonder of your child, of creation and of the Creator.

You and your daughter(s), ages 5 to 18, will have opportunities to nurture your relationship with Christ as a pair and as individuals through uplifting messages and age specific programming.


One reader will win the opportunity to attend the Mother/Daughter Retreat as a mother with her daughters; includes set retreat meals and accommodations, activities, etc.   
(Travel expenses and additional expenses during free time are not included.)

- To enter, leave a comment answering the following question:  Have you every been to Forest Home?  If yes, what is your favorite Forest Home memory?  If no, what would you be most excited to experience at the Mother/Daughter Retreat with your daughter?

- Additional entries:

*Follow Forest Home on Facebook
Leave a comment here letting me know you followed Forest Home on Facebook
*Follow Forest Home on Instagram  
Leave a comment here letting me know you followed Forest Home on Instagram
*Follow Forest Home on Twitter 
Leave a comment here letting me know you followed Forest Home on Twitter
Winner will be announced on Friday 8/28.
Come back this week for some fun camp and mountain themed printables, and to hear more about our time at Family Camp.
I truly hope to see you and your daughters together at Forest Home in September.