Friday, June 27, 2008

Happy PBU Campers!

"A happy heart makes the face cheerful." Proverbs 15:13

Josh and Brie are loving their first-ever experience at summer camp a few days a week. Thy are attending the Crimson Eagle Summer Camp at Philadelphia Biblical University, which is just fifteen minutes from home. The first day I picked them up, they said "Can we come back tomorrow?". The answer was "you'll be back in a few days", but I was so delighted that they enjoyed it so much! Does their parents' hearts good!

Joshua is enjoying baseball camp this week. As much as he LOVES football, basketball, and soccer, he has never played organized baseball. He is learning the sport with enthusiasm and interest. He's also persevering during this current heat wave! One of Joshua's things he recognizes about himself is that he perseveres. "Daddy and Mommy, I persevered!" He works hard and sees things through to completion.

Gabrielle spread her wings in theatre camp this week. She studied her lines faithfully at home without being asked. It also helped this little kindergarten graduate learn to read some challenging words! Here are a few pictures of her today at her "premiere". She was "The Imperial Hairdresser" and "The Princess". She isn't a drama queen in real life, and she handled this theatre experience nicely.


















We love hearing about your summer, too! :) Please share!

And to those many of you family and friends who have told us you are shy about commenting or intimidated by how to do it the first time, give it a try! (You all know who you are!) It really isn't that hard! Expand that comfort zone! It's really very fun, and it's an additional way to keep in touch! :) And have we mentioned that it is really fun!?!?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Camp of The Woods


"Exalt the Lord our God and worship at His holy mountain,

for the Lord our God is holy." Psalm 99:9 (NIV)

Whoo-eee...we are getting ready for what has become our favorite annual family summer vacation...here we come Camp of The Woods! COTW is a Christian family camp nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York on Lake Pleasant. It is the perfect vacation destination for enjoying the simple and wondrous pleasures of life. God's beautiful creation surrounds us as we delight in a week of soaking in His Word, VBS for the kids, afternoons on the beach, sports, miniature golf, meals in the dining hall and evening worship/concerts by an amazingly talented team of musicians and singers. Our entire family loves this week each summer.

"Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You dwell." Psalm 43:3 (NIV)

We were introduced to Camp of the Woods by the Doyle Family. Winnie Doyle (Joshua and Gabrielle call her "Aunt Doyle") has been going to COTW every summer for over 6 decades! The Doyle Family first invited us to COTW when Josh and Brie were tots. This is now our 5th summer at COTW. Thank you, Winnie, for sharing this meaningful family vacation legacy with us. Our COTW memories are treasures.

We will really miss our niece, Lindsey, who has gone with us for the last 3 years and who will just be getting home (in Texas) from a youth retreat/missions trip. (Go Lindz! We are proud of you!) And Billy, Laurie and Aaron, the camp fires just won't be the same without you this year! We will make and eat some Smores for you. We will really miss you, too. Billy, Jimmy is especially going to miss late night coffee talks with you!

Joshua and Gabrielle are great packers (they get that from their Daddy, who can perfectly pack a vehicle). They love helping me pack their suitcases. They are cooperative and happy while doing it, which makes if fun and pleasurable!

OK, this picture has nothing to do with COTW, but this scene made me laugh. I told Josh and Brie to play nicely and quietly while I took a quick shower this morning. When I came out, this is what I saw. How funny! Webkins, Build-A-Bear creations, various stuffed animals. How about Mickey hanging on there!?!? So funny! We'll keep it there as long they'd like...it makes us smile.

Off to tidy up our preparations for COTW. Our hearts and bodies sure are ready for this genuine and deep time of refreshing! Come and join us next year!

"Refresh my heart in Christ." Philemon 1:20

Monday, June 23, 2008

Home Safely Home!

Ahhh....we are all home, happy and healthy! What a sweet, sweet blessing and answer to prayer! I am home from She Speaks in North Carolina. Jim, Josh & Brie are home from visiting Pop Pop and Nana Sloan in the Pocono Mountains. (Pop Pop: please send pictures!) While last week took some serious pentagon-level planning and packing on my part to get us all out of town for the weekend (in different directions), the warm afterglow of our weekends and the sweet reunion of being home was worth every minute of it.


She Speaks was wonderful again this year. The best part is that the heart of the conference is to encourage women in an intimate relationship with the Lord. P31's passions is to get women into the Word of God so the Word of God gets into their hearts. They humbly come alongside the Body of Christ to equip and encourage women in their relationship with the Lord. The P31 staff is an awesome group of women who are passionate about the Lord, who are authentic and willing to be real with struggles and just "doing life" together, and who are excellent examples of servant leaders. The P31 staff is almost all volunteer with hearts to serve.

When Joshua was just a little tot and I was sleep-deprived and in shock of how much harder motherhood was than I expected, my sweet girlfriend Laura, came over one day and brought me a frapuccino (my first one ever) and my first P31 book "Women's Secret To A Balanced Life" (by TerKeurst/Jaynes), based on Proverbs 31. God used that book from my friend to lift my weary head back to Him, keep my eyes fixed on Him, and renew my passion for being in God's Word every morning. I can't do life or motherhood without Him. This year, one of my favorite joys was having Laura with me at P31 She Speaks and to introduce her to Lysa and the girls. I pray this was a time of refreshing for her.





The conference was also a time to meet new friends and see old friends. Last year, I met Raushanah, who is a beautiful woman with a surrendered life to serve the Lord. And, although Lysa TerKeurst has been part of my life since I read her first book several years ago, the Lord has beautifully woven our lives together over the last year with rare but distinct and precious threads. He has allowed our lives to cross paths for His purposes and for His glory. Lysa's books, life, authenticity and humor encourage me and point me to Him. He has graciously allowed me to be a small part of her life as well, in some unusual but truly "His story for His glory" ways. (Click on link to see one way.) Here are my friends, Raushanah and Lysa. (As I was in the elevator to the lobby getting ready to leave the conference on Sunday, I told the Lord that I'd really like to see Raushanah and Lysa before I left. As I turned the corner of the lobby, there was Raushanah. As I was speaking to her, I felt someone's hand on my back. It was Lysa. God is good. We took this picture.)




This is my friend, Renee Swope, who's real-life story this weekend about "mule in biblical terms", when I shared it with Jim this morning, had us both belly laughing (again). Renee, thank you for pointing us to Him and getting us into His Word.



Today, I am happily doing my favorite thing...serving my sweet family today and doing laundry, unpacking, grocery shopping an then pre-packing for our upcoming vacation to Camp of the Woods. My heart is full. Thank you, Lord.

In sincerity and reverence,
Sharon
"...with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord."

Col 3:22 (NIV)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

SHE LISTENS!


(Pic taken in 4/08 with P31 Gather & Grow friends &
Lysa TerKeurst, Pres. of P31)

"She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction
is on her tongue." Proverbs 31:26

Tomorrow, a couple of friends and I are driving to North Carolina for the She Speaks! Conference, hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries. Last year, my friend, Denise, and I went, which was a clear leading of the Lord in both of our lives. He did an amazing work of weaving, and the conference was heart-changing for both of us because HE spoke to our hearts through scripture, the Holy Spirit and His vessels.

There is only a small handful of reasons I would travel separately from my family. I am pretty much a happy home body. Although I do love traveling on family vacations together (our summer vacation is almost here!). For this weekend, I am already feeling a blend of sadness (for being away from my family) and excitement (to seek the Lord at She Speaks and to spend time with girlfriends). Going this weekend is another step of faith and trust for me.

I am excited to see all the Lord has planned for this year's conference. The conference is called "She Speaks" from Proverbs 31:26... "She speaks...faithful instruction." However, I, like other attendees, really go to first LISTEN for His still, small voice. We listen for His words of love, encouragement and conviction. Before I speak faithful instruction from my lips, I know must first listen to and yield my own heart to Him. Abiding in Him. "If anyone speaks, he should do it as speaking the very words of God...so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 4:11 (NIV)

"For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose." Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV)

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." James 1:22 (NIV)

Prayer for this weekend:

1.) that His Word is continued to be kept pure and goes forth abundantly, to penetrate souls and encourage hearts;

2.) that we yield to Him as God works in our hearts to will and act according to His good purpose;

3.) that we would be not merely hearers of the Word, but doers also.

4.) for perfect travel safety and health for us and all of the women in attendance; also for the families at home or traveling separately;

5.) for all the women at P31 and the volunteers who have labored in love to minister to, challenge, encourage and bless all the women attending.

Thank you for your prayers! Praying for you, too! :)

Looking to and depending on Him,
Sharon





Monday, June 16, 2008

Entertaining Angels

"...some people have entertained angels..."

Hebrews 13:2

A few Sundays ago, our family had the humble privilege of entertaining angels. About 17 teenagers, our 2 senior high youth pastors and 4 youth leaders from our senior high youth group came over for a picnic. They were preparing to leave for a missions trip to Brazil four days later, and they were gathering here to fellowship, pray, rehearse skits and puppet shows and sing worship songs. Some of their family members came as well, which was an added blessing!

It was such a joy to have this missions team here before they departed for Brazil. Jim and I really felt as though we were entertaining angels, angels who would travel to Brazil to spread the Gospel and the Lord's love. As the team fellowshipped, prayed and practiced their puppet show, we prayed for them, their families and the Brazilians to whom they would minister. We also prayed that God would impress Joshua & Gabrielle's hearts with a passion for missions and sharing the Gospel. As the team practiced one of their worship songs, with such sweet harmony, tears streamed down my face and my heart filled with such gratitude to the Lord that we could entertain these truly precious angels.

Please pray for this missions team, who will return on June 25th. To see some of the things they are doing in Brazil, visit http://www.ccphillymissions.blogspot.com/ .

"Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls

full of incense,which are the prayers of the saints."

Revelation 5:8

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

(Picture taken at Willow Valley Resort in Lancaster, PA, during our recent Anniversary/Memorial Day
Weekend family trip.)
"A good man obtains favor from the Lord..."
Proverbs 12:2
"If you then...know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father in heaven
give good gifts to those who ask Him."
Matthew 7:11
Happy Father's Day to our dads, grandfathers, brothers, brothers-in-law, uncles, cousins and friends! Enjoy your day! We are thankful for each of you.

For Jim, we are planning a day of SIMPLE PLEASURES, relaxing and resting. We are going to church and then out to breakfast (Daddy gets to choose where!...probably IHOP or a diner). Then we are coming home where Daddy can do whatever he wants. He is planning on sitting on a chaise lounge on the deck and sipping iced tea while he watches the cherubs play. (He'll join in the playing, too!) Maybe he'll take a little snooze. The kids and I are going to grill up some beef and vegetable shish-kabobs, blue-cheese stuffed hand-made burgers and corn on the cob. The beautiful and simple pleasures of family and a restful Sunday.

We honor and love you, Jim! God has blessed us with the best husband and Daddy in you! We love you endlessly! We thank our Heavenly Father for His perfect love and for the many blessings He lovingly bestows on all of us!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sweet Endings & New Adventures


"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up..."
Isaiah 43:19

Today was Josh & Brie's last day of school for the 2007-2008 school year. Joshua graduated from 2nd grade and Gabrielle graduated from kindergarten. They both had wonderful years at school, for which we are thankful to the Lord and give Him the praise! This picture was taken this morning before we left for school.

The kids and I sat together for their last-day-of-school chapel today, which was worshipful, meaningful, fun and sentimental. Joshua's teacher, Miss Clarkson, is not returning to CCA next year as she is getting married this summer and moving a bit further away. Gabrielle's kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Hershey (who lives across the street from the Reeses Family...we are not joking), is retiring after 26years of teaching. We are so thankful these teachers have been part of our lives and have impressed our children's hearts with such love. We love you, Mrs. Hershey and Miss Clarkson!

This summer, for the very first time, Joshua & Gabrielle will be attending summer day camp a few days a week (for 7 weeks out of the summer) at Philadelphia Biblical University "Crimson Eagle Camp". All total, they'll only be going to day camp less than 20 days this summer, but nonetheless, this will be a huge adjustment and step of faith for me. When I say I was a stay-at-home mommy, I mean I was a stay-at-home mommy! And I am so thankful for every minute of that (even the very hard minutes)! We've enjoyed (and been challenged by) summers completely together since they were born. My heart literally aches when I think of being away from them these camp days this summer. However, I know this will be good and necessary growth for all of us and wonderful for Josh and Brie. The camp has an excellent reputation and they'll see many of their friends when they are there. They are excited to do sports, theatre, art, K'Nex, swimming, bowling.....wow...sounds like fun! (Is there adult camp??)
On the days the kids are at camp, I will be working at my part-time job at church one day a week this summer, and I'll be tackling some home projects that having been calling my name for eons! On our non-camp days, we'll spend time with family and friends, going to the neighborhood pool, going to have lunch with daddy a few times, and just spending time chillaxing! (Is that still a hip word to use?...it's chilling and relaxing. I am so not hip!) Ahhh...planning a slow-paced summer so we can enjoy each moment!

I'd so cherish your prayers for a summer of growth in the Lord, excellent health, complete safety, nourishment of friendships and excitement to serve the Lord by serving others.

We are praying for you, too!
Thank you, Lord, for Sweet Endings and New Beginnings!


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Kudos and Kindness

"Encourage one another and build each other up...respect those who work hard among you..." 1Th. 5:11-12

My heart is passionate about encouraging others in sincerity and truth. One way of doing that is by giving credit where credit is due. For God to be glorified and honored, we want to give thanks and sincere kudos to the vessels and people He blesses us with and uses in our lives.

Thank you, Danielle, (of "Blogs by Danielle") for creating the framework of our new family blog! You have been so patient with me as I crossed the threshold into "bloggityville"! You do lovely work, and it was your creation of Our Little Ladybugs that first inspired us to consider blogging (a place we once vowed we would not go!). You have made "bloggityville" a very pleasant and welcoming place for us.

God has given you a gift. May He fill your heart the blessing and precious treasures of desiring and knowing Him!

Our family thanks you, Danielle!
Sharon :)

James J. Sloan, III


Jim is a genuinely devoted and caring husband, best friend, brother in the Lord and help-mate to me. He carefully listens intently and gives fair and honest feedback. He is the best Daddy to Josh & Brie, with a delicate balance of unconditional love and firm convictions to "train up a child". Jim is the Senior Director - Technology for Dow Jones Indexes, where God has shown him His favor. Jim honors God with his excellent work ethic and all that he does. His passions are Bible studies, family, football, movies, relaxing, swimming and the beach. We are thankful for the excellent husband, father and head of our home God has given us.

Gabrielle Regan Sloan




Gabrielle is our little lady whose precious hands reflect her personality....she loves glittery nail polish on her nails, and she has blisters on the palms of her hands from swinging across monkey bars, which she has been doing since she was three! She's all girl and yet she can keep up with Joshua and his friends as they play. She enjoys dancing and attending Awana. She has a gift of writing and art. Brie loves to sing, dance, is thoughtful, funny and generous. She's our sweetheart and our little Brie-Re.

Joshua James Sloan




Joshua is a wonderful son and a loving big brother. God has given him a terrific balance of strength, courage, athleticism and passion that blends beautifully with his tender, caring and gentle heart. He's our young gentleman. Joshua loves sports, especially football, basketball and soccer. He also is a musician learning to play piano and drums. He sings harmony sweetly without realizing it. His favorite subjects in school are gym and recess. Joshua is a loyal, gracious and enthusiastic friend. He just loves to play!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

SHARING OUR HEARTS AND HAPPENINGS

Family and Friends:

We joyfully welcome you to our new family blog where we will be sharing our hearts and happenings. We have called our blog "Joy in The Truth" (from 3 John 1:4) because our hearts' deepest desire and joy is to see and know that Joshua and Gabrielle are walking in the Truth every day of their lives. This is our continual prayer request for our children and for ourselves. We pray their little hearts hunger and thirst for Him and His righteousness. We pray they always know His joy and peace, which are companions with obedience to His Word. We'd be so blessed if you would pray along with us.

This is a daily labor of love to "train up a child in the way he should go". We look to Him in total dependence, for only He can satisfy, strengthen and equip us. He loves us with absolute perfection, and His perfect love never fails.

Our inspiration to do a family blog came as we so enjoy our friends' family blog called "Our Little Ladybugs". We haven't felt led to join this techno-trend called "blogging" until now. The Beals Family beautiful blog brings warmth and peace to our hearts each time we read it. Thank you, Heather, for shining His peace and for being so comfortable! You have inspired this family (with our mega-techy-guy head of our home) to joyfully and excitedly join the world of blogging! We hope our family blog is a treasure for our precious cherubs.

For our family and friends who live further away and whom we don't get to see as often, we hope this blog will be an additional way to keep in touch.

For all of you, we'd be humbled and delighted if you take time to stop by here and visit once in a while. As always, we love to hear your hearts and happenings, too!

(The blog design will be updated soon with "About Us" to the right as we are finishing Jim, Josh & Brie. We'll also be adding music...yeah!)

We pray you are refreshed each time you visit us here!

Thankful for you,
Jim, Sharon, Joshua & Gabrielle

"Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints." Philemon 1:17