Archive for September, 2011

End of an Awesome Weekend {JR #4}


NWCC staff
The Northwoods staff with Eric Ludy – we had such a fun time fellowshipping with the staff there! They are a great team with a servant’s heart.

Wrestling Prayer session
On Saturday morning, Eric Ludy preached two more messages – Wrestling Prayer and Hero Training. The Lord especially used the one on prayer in a powerful way – we didn’t want to stop listening! Just imagine what would happen if each attendee got a true grasp on effectual, fervent prayer!

Eric Ludy
Eric graciously agreed to do Q & A during his last lunch with us before heading off to the airport. :)

Our family with Eric

More times of prayer…

By now ya’ll must realize, we played a lot of volleyball…on the very last night, we had 8 teams of speed volleyball going at once! It was a blast! =)



In Mrs. Fagala's "livingroom" :)
Saturday afternoon, we had break-out sessions. Mrs. Kathy Fagala shared with all the women…

…and Mr. Wayne Fagala shared with the guys. It was a blessing to be able to talk heart-to-heart and glean from their wisdom!

The hamburgers were DELICIOUS.
(Check out the convertible truck in the background. :)

That evening we all went down to the lake and had a cookout. I think the pictures will give you a nice idea of what a special and refreshing time we all had together.



Dennah and Lillie


 Sunset on the lake


Singing around the campfire was really special.

S’mores = YUM.

The NWCC director surprised us with fireworks at the end of the cookout! We just had to sing the Star Spangled Banner. :) We then moved to the Lodge to continue fellowship and … volleyball, of course!

Bob Norvell
Bob Norvell preached the final message on Sunday morning, encouraging us to live as the tabernacles of God.

Caleb did a great job managing the sound booth – thanks, bro. ;)

Hannah was very happy to have 2 of the young ladies from her Journey team there.

Pyramid of guys :)

Saying good-byes…

JR Group Picture

Journey Reunion 2011

To God be the glory!

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Friday {JR #3}


Journey Reunion continued…

Each day right after breakfast, we had “God & I Time”, when everyone would find a place alone to spent time with the Lord. Some rose extra early and were out on the lake at sunrise…

Sunrise on Wolf Lake - photo by Charity

And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

I wish you could have heard the singing!! Triumphant, whole-hearted, worshipful praise to God…

"All that thrills my soul is Jesus!"
Robert did a wonderful job leading the music. Our Journey Reunion theme song for the weekend was “Higher Ground”, which really expressed all of our hearts’ desires for being at the Reunion! We sang it at least once every day. :)

Dr. Gothard spoke on the holiness of God and what that means for us as His children, and the importance of feeding on the Word of God daily. His sessions were full of practical truth!

DR group DR 
Eating another de-LI-cious meal!!

Upon request, Mr. Gothard did Q & A during lunch. :)

Afterward, Wayne Fagala led us in a prayer time. We took the words from the hymn “Day By Day”, discussed them, and prayed. It was unique and powerful!

Each afternoon, two hours were set aside for recreation and fellowship! As you can see, volley ball was the favorite, although a few went kayaking/canoeing, took walks, or spent more time alone with God.

Numbering off for SPEED volley ball!

Go, Carinna!!

Those guys really had it going!! =D

Eric Ludy
Another one of our featured speakers, Eric Ludy, arrived that evening. He and his wife, Leslie, have authored many books for Christian young people and have a discipleship ministry based in Colorado called Ellerslie. Eric’s books and sermons have made a tremendous impact on our family over the last couple of years, and we were SOOOO excited that God miraculously made a way for him to come! If you haven’t checked out the Ludys’ ministry, I would strongly encourage you to do so.

His first message was on the Costly Gospel – how God takes us to deeper and deeper places of surrender that result in us finding our all in Him.

Fortune ladies’ quartet – “Holy, Holy, Holy/Holy is the Lord”

HQ guys’ quartet – “Are You Washed in the Blood”

In his second message, Eric explained how we can reckon our old man dead and let Christ live His victorious life IN us. I’ve heard those truths all my life, but that night gave me a new perspective. Oh, may we not just know these things in theory but in actuality!


Photo by Charity

“But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened
through the deceitfulness of sin.” -Heb. 3:13

“…exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the Day
approaching.” -Heb. 10:25

Can’t wait to tell you about the next day! Stay tuned…

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Let It Begin! {JR #2}


Here’s a go for a recap of our preparations and first night of the Journey Reunion!

Northwoods Conference Center (NWCC)

This place is stunningly beautiful in all seasons of the year…especially fall!

We arrived on Tuesday evening, ate chicken fajitas on the dock with the staff, got settled into our rooms, and loosened our stiff joints with invigorating volleyball…the first of many games to be played. :)


Wednesday: It was so nice to have a whole day to set up and prepare – everything was a “calm busy”.

Benj cleaning windows 

Abbie vacuuming the lobby
There was LOTS of cleaning to be done, centerpieces to put together for the dining room tables, bouquet for the podium, and this and thats. :)

Can't you just smell the coffee? :)
I loved how these centerpieces turned out = rustic elegance. :)

We even managed to squeeze in time to get our annual family pictures. Might as well take advantage of such a beautiful location while we’re there, right? We know from experience that it’s much more efficient to have someone else behind the camera, instead of using a tripod, running back and forth to check the pictures, etc., so we were grateful that Chad Paine helped us pose and snapped the pictures for us! Sorry, you don’t get to see any of them, yet. :)

Mr. Grizzly was our lobby greeter. :)

Thursday: The cleaning crew worked hard to finish up all the last details, we set up the registration table, and people began arriving!!


Ready with name tags and schedules!
By the way, John-Clay did an AMAZING job designing the website, name tags, schedules, and all our promotional materials!! Everything looked classy, professional, and fun. :) Thanks, J-C! We’ll definitely “hire” you again next time. ;)

Reuniting with old friends and meeting new ones...
It was rewarding for us to see the excitement on people’s faces as they arrived, so happy to be there! Several had stories of miracles God worked that allowed them to come. He is so good!! What a blessing to reunite with old friends.

Mr. Norvell preaching
After so much anticipation over the last months, weeks, and days, it’s hard to explain how thrilling it was for the Journey Reunion to BEGIN! =)
That evening, Bob Norvell preached for our first session of the weekend. His message was a fitting exhortation on evaluating whether we have active revelation of God in our lives, and to be Samuels (and Samuelas :) in this world.

"Praise the Lord together singing Alleluia!"
God worked in special ways to allow the Fortune family to be there. They served in many capacities throughout the Reunion, including ministering to us in song.

Prayer time with Dr. Gothard
Dr. Gothard, who began the Journey to the Heart ministry five years ago, led everyone in an hour of prayer. WOW! It was a precious time with the Lord and each other as we all knelt and communed with God.

We could sense immediately from this first night, a beautiful spirit of unity that lasted throughout the conference. This special group had invested their time and money to get away and seek God.

Everyone wanted to be there.
Everyone wanted to go deeper.
Everyone wanted to seek God with all their heart.

And as He promised, He richly rewarded us! (Hebrews 11:6)


Photo by Maggie

“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in
the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
Jude 1:20-21

More to follow! :)

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Travelin’ along, singin’ our song, side by side…{JR #1}


The green tank ;)

Just in case anyone is wondering, we didn’t fall off the face of the earth, but, we DID go all the way to the upper peninsula of Michigan and back, in our big green van! There’s our shadow in a corn field. =)

 Mom reading aloud to us

Burnett Kids! =) 

I love my family, and this was a trip of a life-time! All 10 of us were able to go together…something that doesn’t happen very often any more. The purpose of our trip was to coordinate and attend the Journey to the Heart Reunion.

Here’s how it started: Journey to the Heart is a 10-day retreat that 5 of us older kids have each been to. It’s a set-apart time to seek the Lord, and each of us has been very blessed to have had this opportunity. We enjoyed it so much, made some really close friends, and had a desire to go back to the Northwoods in Michigan where it is held. Back in December, we popped the idea to the Journey office about having a reunion for everyone who has attended Journey to the Heart. Long story made short, they loved the idea, but didn’t have the time to do it themselves, so they asked us if OUR family would like to coordinate it! After much thought and prayer, we excitedly took on the project and for the past 6 months or so, we’ve been planning, creating, organizing, designing, adjusting, promoting, recruiting, and praying!! It’s been a wonderful, HUGE, learning experience for us that we wouldn’t trade for anything, and now after months of preparations, it was finally here!! We can’t wait to tell you all about it, but we have sooooo many pictures, we are going to spread it out over several posts. This post is just to document our travels UP there. =) Ya ready?

Photo by Charity

Our first stop was in St. Louis, where we went to church with the Burns family (check out their exciting new film in the making!). We arrived early, so instead of sitting around, we stretched our legs and walked across this mile long bridge. There was a nice breeze, and the sun was shining which made it very refreshing. :)


This bridge used to be a part of Route 66.

Photo by Charity

Macho-man. ;)

Fixin' Nachos

After church, we went to the Burns’ house and ate lots of delicious nachos…

Playin' Foos-ball

played foos-ball…(while eating cookies??? :)

Great games

enjoyed some very entertaining games of “occupation telephone”…

great games

go Nick!…

Photo by Carinna

…and played a late night game of Settlers of Catan…

  Settlers of Catan

and of course they played it, Burns’ STYLE! We’re convinced that’s the only way to play Settlers now.

Burns and Burnetts

Thanks guys, for your generous hospitality, a great time, and all the good laughs! Now YA’LL have got to come see us! =)



We didn’t get very far down the road, when we stopped and got some REAL apple cider at a quaint little shop, then continued on our way.

At the Bontragers'

We were driving through Iowa and decided we couldn’t pass within 15 miles of the Bontragers’ house without stopping! So, we dropped by for about 30 minutes. They were having a huge Labor Day party, with tons of people, but they still showed us great hospitality, and served us ice cream! =) Next time we come through, we’ll definitely have to plan on staying longer!

Pretty little farm

Back on the road. Iowa was probably my favorite state that we drove through – all the rolling hills and picturesque farms were a sight to see!

Photo by Maggie

 Supper time!

Monday night, we arrived at the Dorninks’ house in Minnesota! (Dustin and Melody were on J-C and Hannah’s Journey teams in 2009.) We were definitely feeling a difference in the weather by this time…in a good way!  We had a great evening/late night/early morning (if ya know what I mean ;) filled with great food and fun fellowship.


Big game of 1-100! Grab the pen!!!

Volley ball with the Dorninks

They endured our my pathetic volley ball skills. :) …but we’ll have to play again sometime, because I improved at least a little by playing so much last weekend! =)

 Dorninks and Burnetts

Ya’ll are so much fun – thanks again for opening your home to us!

Photo by Maggie 

Photo by Maggie

Check out all that corn! We decided that for every corn field up there, there is a pasture of cows down here. :)

Lake Superior

On the 3rd day of travel, when we were about an hour or so from our destination, we stopped at Lake Superior and stretched our ‘tired of traveling’ bodies. :)

 Photo by Charity

Gorgeous shot, Charity!


This is a great way to streeeeeeetch after a long van ride! =)


Enjoyin’ the fresh air!


That water felt good!

 Maggie, J-C, and Caleb

Final leg: I see 2 mischievous lookin’ guys in the back row, hmmm. ;)


*Ahem, after 24 hours, split up into 3 days in the van, the chances of getting a little goofy increase considerably. :)

Fun times!

almost. there.


You should’ve been there to see our excitement when we saw this sign and pulled into the long awaited drive-way of the NORTHWOODS CONFERENCE CENTER!!! We are so thankful for the Lord’s protection the whole way and for Him sustaining us…and our van! =) Lord-willing, in the following post we’ll share more pictures and tell you about the great time spent with the Lord and our Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

Until then, God bless you all!

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Ranch Rodeo!


I hope ya’ll like lots of pictures and videos, ‘cause you are going to get your fill by the end of this post! Just in case you don’t know, I absolutely love rodeos, especially in our small town in southern Oklahoma! Ranch rodeos are different than regular rodeos, because ranch-hands from ranches (mostly in OK and TX) compete against each other. I love all of the boots, jeans, buckles, hats, chaps, lassos, spurs, all the cows and horses, and cowboys and cowgirls, all the grit and grime of hard working people, and the dirt flying from under the hooves of buckin’ animals! Boy howdy, bring it on!

 a cowboy prayer

To see this group of tough, country ranchers bowing their heads in prayer, with their hats over their hearts in respect for the Lord, wow , that will give you the goose-bumps!

muttin' bustin'

And the first event to get us started off was muttin’ bustin’! This little guy won and for the third year in a row! ( I betcha’ he’ll be on a bull in a few of years!)

wild cow milkin'

This is my absolute favorite event of the ranch rodeo…wild cow milkin’! You want to see some absurd, hysterical, rough, WILD, action? It’s all right here! (See the guy holding the tail? That’s what we call…Oklahoma ski!)

Here is a close-up view of wild cow milking.

I had to put this one up because it shows the whole  “Oklahoma ski” thing!! (Diggin’ the guy’s  green “cactus” boots!)


Talk about a classic cowboy!


Benjamin and all his “gear”  (yes, including the pickle :)

Get 'r' done

This looks good, cowboys and cowgirls…….

right on!

RIGHT ON! These guys really know how to “git ‘r’ done!”

Charity,Abbie and Hannah

Charity, Abbie and Hannah enjoying the rodeo!



Sorting. (If I had the choice to compete in any event, this is what I’d choose!)

steer riding

steer riding

Steer riding! Ride em’ cowboy!


This wild event is called muggin’. The video below shows it all!

calf branding

Calf “branding”. One guy ropes the calf, two guys flip it over and hold it down, while the last guy runs the “branding stick” from the bucket (stick with chalk on it) to the calf, “brands” the calf, then runs back to the circle (to return the stick.) The goal is to see how fast you can do this. The quickest team was 37.27 seconds!

calf scramble

    Kids in line for the calf scramble. Whoever gets the ribbon off the calves’ tails first, wins money. (There are about 4 calves.)


Wow, this bronc got so worked up, he knocked himself over!(I think the guy got a re-ride.)

In regular rodeos, if you touch the bronc with your hands,  you’re disqualified, but in the Ranch Rodeo, the more you hit and slap around on the horse… the better!


Yeehaw! (Love the purple chaps!)

So, there is a little glimpse of a small town rodeo. And  just for fun, I want you to comment and put what the first word is that comes to mind after reading this post. ;o)

Ya’ll have a great weekend!

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